Pastor Archive

Pastoral Devotion for October

Posted October 1, 2018 By admin

Render unto God

Read Mark 12:1-17

Scheming to find a way to get rid of Jesus, the Pharisees asked him, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?” The Pharisees’ question suggests there are things that belong to this world and things that belong to God. The Church often falls into this same trap. Bring this text up within a meeting or Bible study and almost immediately people will say everything belongs to God, even our money. Our behavior concerning our possessions and our money would suggest we feel otherwise. The power of money is deceptive and deadly.

Money buys material goods, material goods provide personal comfort, personal comfort leads us to a false notion that we are in control of our lives. The more goods we have, the more we feel we need. Luxuries become necessities; extravagance becomes essential. Even worse, the more we have, the more we feel we deserve, when in truth, because of our sin the only thing we deserve is death. Thankfully, the power of God’s love is stronger.

Jesus says, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” All we have, even our very lives belong to God. Yet our Father provides all we need for life. As we render taxes and other payments, we do so understanding the authority and responsibility of the institutions also come from God.

O Lord, our provider, we thank you for your many gifts, especially the gift of your grace through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday Morning Bible Study

Posted September 25, 2018 By admin

Morning Bible Study will resume on Wednesday, October 31 at 9:30 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall. The focus of our study will be taking a look at several of our favorite hymns. We will discuss the origins of hymns, why we love them so much, and study their biblical references. Being October 31st is Reformation Day, our first beloved hymn under study will be “A Mighty Fortress.”
Plan on attending as you are able.

Married Couples Retreat

Posted September 25, 2018 By admin

Our first annual Married Couples Retreat will be held at beautiful Camp St. Christopher on Seabrook Island just south of Charleston. During this retreat we will explore the vocation of Christian marriage, discuss ways of growing in faith together and strengthen the commitment of husbands and wives in their life together. The retreat will take place from 7:00 p.m. Friday, January 25 through 11:00 a.m. Sunday, January 27. Registration fee is $300.00 per couple. Participants may check in to the camp as early as 3:00 p.m. on Friday and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. We still have room for several couples to join in. Please register as soon as you can in case we need to arrange for additional lodging. Registration forms are available in the Narthex. Please contact Pastor David Nuottila if you have any questions.

Coffee Fellowship

Posted September 25, 2018 By admin

We will have our Coffee Fellowship on Sunday, October 7 after the service in the Fellowship Hall.

From the Pastor’s Heart

Posted September 1, 2018 By admin

Disciples
By: Pastor David

In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus gives his disciples, and thus his Church, the mandate to go into the world making disciples and teaching all he commanded. For years and years, Christians viewed this “Great Commission” as Christ’s invitation to ministry but it is nothing of the sort. The Great Commission is a mandate from God to God’s people. Jesus said “Go.” But, in order to make disciples, one must first become a disciple, and this is not an overnight process.

Our NALC Bishop has placed this mandate from Jesus at the feet of our pastors and congregations. We are to be a disciple making Church. With this understanding, I have initiated a discipling program here at St. Jacob’s. The program is based on small group ministry and includes one on one accountability and faith sharing. In NALC terms, it is Life to Life.

If you have not been asked to be part of a small group, please to not take it personally. The initial process goes much like Jesus calling his first disciples; it is through an invitation to follow our Lord and grow into a new identity. Over time, our small groups will expand, and more church members will become a part of this ministry. The goal is to create a discipling culture where individuals are equipped to come alongside others and disciple them in the faith.

For now, I ask that those who are invited will remain committed to the journey. I also ask for the prayers of our congregation as we begin this Life to Life process. Truly, as we begin to immerse ourselves in the Word of God, following our Lord Jesus, and supporting one another in prayer our collected efforts will bear fruit for God’s kingdom.

Acts 19:2-6 [Paul writes] “…Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? They answered, “No we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”….v.6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them…”
This month, I wrote my newsletter article during our annual NALC Lutheran Week and Convocation. Our theme was centered upon our life with the Holy Spirit. In this context, I remembered a devotion I once read that was offered by fellow NALC pastor Gemechis Buba. It was written with reflection upon the above verses in scripture. Pastor Buba suggested we answer the question proposed by the apostle Paul: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” The people of the church in Ephesus were quite honest in their answer to Paul. They informed him that they not even heard of the Holy Spirit. Reading this passage again with this in mind, I have to wonder how we as a congregation might address our receiving God’s Holy Spirit.

As Lutheran Christians, I don’t think we talk enough about the Holy Spirit, much less talk about being blessed with spiritual gifts. Yet as baptized people of God we truly are blessed with this same Spirit of God that Jesus’ disciples, Paul and the saints at Ephesus received. We Lutherans tend to be more reserved when it comes to acting in what we perceive to be a “spiritual way.” But Pastor Buba is right when he says “the truth of the matter is Christian life becomes powerless, meaningless and dull” without the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit fills the hearts and minds of Christian people with the joy and hope of God’s amazing grace. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is a tremendous blessing, a life-giving blessing…a life SAVING blessing.

Think about it for a moment. As Lutherans we have been taught that it is the Holy Spirit that brings us to belief in Christ Jesus. As sinful creatures we cannot, by our own power, come to believe, let alone have faith in the resurrected Lord. By its very nature, our sin seeks to drive us away from having a relationship with God. Yet, as we are baptized and the pastor lays hands on us (as Paul laid hands on the saints at Ephesus), God pours out his Holy Spirit upon us, cleanses us from the stains of our fallen humanity and clothes us in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. This, my friends, should bring us to loud shouts of thanksgiving. It is at this particular moment in time when we are brought to new life in Christ. Through this gift of the Holy Spirit, God calls us to live differently; He calls us to live as children of God. Such a Spirit filled life is both joyous and exciting.
My question to you this month is, how does the Holy Spirit lead you to express your faith and the joy of salvation? What spiritual gifts are you blessed with and how do you use them for the sake of the gospel, especially as you consider Jesus’ mandate to go into the word making disciples?

Friends, as baptized children of our loving God, we are invited into a deep and rich relationship with the One who created all there is. If we are honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that each of us could enjoy a little more spiritual awareness. Believe me, when you realize the presence of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you, your life will certainly not be powerless, meaningless and dull. The joy of faith brought through the power of the Holy Spirit will fill your
heart and spill into the lives of others.

Let us be honest with ourselves and admit we need to experience the love, hope and peace the Holy Spirit brings to us. Let us all welcome the Holy Spirit into our lives and not be afraid to show others just how joyful we are to be God’s children. I promise you that as you live in the power and love of the Holy Spirit, God will satisfy the hunger and thirst of your souls and pour out blessings upon you. Express this joy as often as you can so that others can see how God changes the lives of people. Now go ahead and welcome this precious Holy Spirit of God into your life, in Jesus’ name!

Grace to you and peace,
Pastor David Nuottila

Pastoral Devotion for September

Posted September 1, 2018 By admin

Bearing fruit Read: Luke 13:6-9

If you read the above scripture passage, you would have noted that in Jesus’ parable the fig tree isn’t expected to do anything miraculous. It’s in a vineyard, but it isn’t asked to produce grapes. The owner of the vineyard doesn’t demand that it become something it is not. He only asks it to do what fig trees do…bear figs. When these expectations are not met, the owner orders the tree cut down.

The parable of the fig tree makes one point very clear; God has expectations for his people. God expects that his children will bear fruit for his kingdom. What is said concerning the fig tree, can be said for those who profess a faith in Christ. God does not expect his people to become something they are not. He merely expects that they share his love with others, producing good fruit for the kingdom. Sadly, many Christians feel that if they simply attend worship regularly, they are meeting God’s expectations. They are like the fig tree, putting out branches and leaves, but no fruit is produced.

In the twelfth chapter of 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul explains that each Christian is blessed with certain gifts for ministry. These “spiritual gifts” given at the time of our Baptism enable us to do the work God sets before us. God expects that each of us, as individuals, and as members of his Church, to use these gifts for the sake of others. In doing so we produce fruit for God’s kingdom.

From Pastor David’s blog “In The Beginning” found at http://in-the-beginning.org

Pastor David Nuottila is a second career graduate of Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina. He was ordained into the office of Word and Sacrament on July 26, 2008 at Messiah Lutheran Church in Hanahan, SC. Bishop David Donges was the presiding minister for the ordination.
On Sunday, July 27, 2008, Pastor Nuottila began his ministry as Pastor at St. Barnabas Lutheran Church in Charleston, SC. As part of his call to St. Barnabas, Pastor Nuottila also served as the Lutheran Campus Minister at The Citadel. During his time at St. Barnabas, Pastor Nuottila was very active in the community ministering to the large homeless population surrounding the church. Pastor Nuottila also led his congregation in forming a food pantry through which groceries, winter coats, clothing and health kits were made available to those in need. In 2008, Pastor Nuottila also began publishing daily and monthly devotions on his personal blog. This is a ministry that continues, and several of his devotions have been published by Lutheran Digest, The Disciple-Ship, NALC Mission and various Christian blogs around the world.
In September 2009, Pastor Nuottila became a member of the
Steering Committee for a group of pastors and laypersons who opposed the tragic decisions made by the 2009 ELCA Church-Wide Assembly. He served in this capacity for two years, and in December of 2011, resigned from this group and also the South Carolina Synod.
In January of 2012, Pastor Nuottila began his second call at Union Lutheran Church in Salisbury, North Carolina. As a pastor in the newly formed NALC, Pastor Nuottila began working to build the Youth and Men’s ministries for the Carolinas Mission District. During this time, Pastor Nuottila led a series of Youth Retreats for youth groups throughout the Carolinas. He also led his congregation in hosting annual youth events such as the Advent Ball. A highlight in youth ministry is that Pastor Nuottila teamed with Pastor Carl Haynes (Christiana Lutheran Church, Salisbury) to form an all NALC Confirmation Camp Cluster of at least ten congregations at Lutheridge in Arden, NC.
In April of 2013, Pastor Nuottila organized a group of lay volunteers to begin building a Men’s Ministry for the Carolinas Mission District. In February 2014, a gathering of Lutheran Men was held in Gastonia, NC where Carolinas Lutheran Men adopted its provisional constitution and selected a leadership committee. Pastor Nuottila agreed to serve as Chaplain for the group.
During the annual Mission District Convocation in 2015, Pastor Nuottila was runner-up in the voting for Dean of the Carolinas Mission District. With the Rev. Dr. Nathan Yoder elected, Pastor Nuottila was elected to fill Pastor Yoder’s vacated seat on the Mission District Executive Council. In this capacity, Pastor Nuottila became a member of the Carolinas Mission District Missions Committee. He also became a member of the Communications Committee and editor of the Carolinas Mission District website. Pastor Nuottila served two terms on the Executive Council and also as Assistant Dean for the Carolinas Mission District. He continues to chair the Mission Team and Communications committee.
In November, 2017, Pastor Nuottila accepted a call from St. Jacob’s to be their pastor and began his ministry there on December 1st. At the onset of this ministry, Pastor Nuottila began leading Bible studies, teaching confirmation students and making plans for the beginnings of a Discipleship program. In addition, Pastor Nuottila has instituted the beginning of a Children’s Choir program and is busy finding ways in which St. Jacob’s can establish a greater presence within the community.
A hallmark of Pastor Nuottila’s ministry is his ongoing mission work with the Lutheran Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Pastor Nuottila began working with fellow NALC pastor Stéphane Kalonji as a missionary to the Congolese cities of Kinshasa, Boma and Matadi. Traveling to Congo every other year, Pastor Nuottila provides theological training for pastors and lay leaders and leads Christian education seminars for Women and youth members of the church. There are two activities in his mission work that are especially gratifying. One such ministry is feeding orphaned children in the care of the Congolese Lutheran Church. The other is to provide funds to “free” babies and mothers who are detained because of unpaid fees.
Currently, Pastor Nuottila is enrolled in a Doctor of Ministry program at St. Paul Lutheran Seminary in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. His goal is to publish a series of articles or a book to be used as a resource for family ministry and pastoral counseling. His anticipated graduation date is the Spring of 2020.

Confirmation Instruction

Posted August 30, 2018 By admin

Confirmation instruction for our youth members in grades 7-9 who have not been confirmed will resume on Sunday, September 9th in the Fellowship Hall. Our classes will meet at a new time, 3:00 pm and in a new place, the Youth Sunday school room. Our first session will begin with a meeting of all students and parents. Please mark your calendars and plan on attending.

Lemonade Talk

Posted August 30, 2018 By admin

Mark your calendar to join Pastor David in the Fellowship Hall on Sunday, September 2nd for his Lemonade Talk. We will see you immediately following the service.

From the Pastor’s Heart

Posted July 31, 2018 By admin

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink
his blood, you have no life in you. John 6:53

Each week, as a family of faith, we gather in worship around God’s Word and Sacraments. The Word is the gospel through which faith is passed along. The
Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion are the means by which God imparts His grace through faith. Simply put, we receive the good news of Christ in our hearing, and then we receive the benefits of this good news through water, bread and wine connected to God’s promise of salvation.

As sinners, we are not worthy to gather in God’s house on our own. We do not deserve to come to His table of grace as a result of our own actions. Yet, thanks be to God, we are made worthy through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit sanctifies us through the blood of Christ, extends
forgiveness of sin and nourishes our faith through Christ’s very body and blood.
Realizing this, the hearts of Christians are filled with joy as we partake of this heavenly food. Still, there is a disturbing trend that has emerged within the Christian Church.

As congregations gather, we do so as people who have busy lives and full schedules. We are also a part of a society that seeks fulfillment in earthly endeavors. We compartmentalize nearly all aspects of life and fit those into convenient blocks so as one will not encroach upon another. When one activity spills over into the next, something must give, and so we move on. It even happens in worship on Sunday morning.

Over the years, I have noticed more and more
Christians leave worship immediately following their receiving Holy Communion. Other pastors have
encountered this same behavior. For me, this points to two things. The first is that worship was not the highest priority for the day. The second is that there is a lack of understanding of the Eucharistic movement in worship.
On the heels of our sermon series of the Ten
Commandments, we will recall that God said, “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” God
provides one day in seven for His people to rest from their labors and to be refreshed by His Word of grace. As humans, we need this time apart from earthly demands. As sinners, we need this time for repentance, confession, absolution and renewal. To rest in the Word and promise of God is to forsake earthly timetables and gather with the faithful to be strengthened by God and through one another.

The Eucharistic movement within our
service beckons us to follow our Lord’s
invitation to the table and receive the feast of forgiveness and life. As invited guests, we should come with great reverence and respect for Christ our host. We enjoy the company of fellow Christians saved through the sacrifice of our Lord and
Savior, tasting His goodness and basking in His mercy and love. To suddenly get up from the table and leave before the meal has ended robs worshipers of hearing the blessing of Christ and the benediction (good words) our Lord rains over His
children. Just as we desire for guests at our table to remain and enjoy the benefits of our friendship, God enjoys the fellowship of His people as they remain until all are fed and blessed with His love.

The human may say these are just words, but the sinner longs to hear this blessing for it is music to a sin-sick soul. My prayer is that we all enjoy the meal of God’s grace together. Gathered as a family of faith, I pray we savor the joy of our life together and share in the blessing of our Lord’s love for His
children.

Grace to you and peace,

Pastor David Nuottila