Pastor's Message

The Good News

Posted by nancy on July 12, 2016

The Good News

 

Messiah Lutheran Church exists to share Good News with the people of Alpharetta/Johns Creek.  Someone for whom I was her pastor once said something that stuck with me.  She just started to take some medication for some joint pain she had.  She said that she appreciated feeling good again, because she had felt so bad.  She experienced the contrast; the greater the contrast, the greater the ability to appreciate feeling good.

That is true in a spiritual way.  God gave us his commandments.  An honest, self-effacing comparison of what they say will cause us to hurt.  David had a way of saying this so many ways in the psalms.  In Psalm 32 he writes, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.   For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.”  His sins made him physically ill.  He was depressed. 

But the psalm doesn’t quit there.  “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”  The cover-up ended.  Acknowledgement of the reality of his sin was out in the open; he was honest.  He was also honest about God’s holiness.  God is holy.  He is just and punishes sin.  But then comes the good news.  The Savior, David’s Son, would come.  He took David’s place.  He took the place of all the world.  He offered to the Father in heaven a perfect life.  Yes, God demanded perfection but also supplied it in Jesus.  That same Jesus took our sins upon himself so we could be healed.  That’s the good news!  The best news! 

I try to make very sure every sermon I preach or a Bible class I teach that basic message of Good News is there loud and clear.  We call it the Law and Gospel.   I invite you to come and hear it.

Pastor Larry Zahn     

 

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Easter Means Everything

Posted by nancy on March 15, 2016

Easter Means Everything

I have moved three times to three different churches.  The first was after graduating from the Seminary.  I was called to start a church from ground level.  Those were great years.  I can’t tell you how much that first church means to me.  My second church was an established church with a school.  I learned a lot there too.  There was a lot going on in that church.  Sometimes it was overwhelming but it sure was interesting work.  My third church, Messiah Lutheran Church in Johns Creek, Georgia, is a church that was formed from the first church which I began under the Lord.  I have known some of the people here since I began the ministry in 1977.   One thing I have learned is this:  There is a tremendous bond that God creates through his word with people.  As a pastor preaching the love of Jesus makes for special fellowship.   The Bible uses the word fellowship – you me and God who brings us together.  The bond among Christians is special.  We are brought together because of the Lord, and we stay together because of the Lord.  Eventually we all go the way of all flesh.  As a pastor I know this: The person I saw the day they were born and born again in Holy Baptism, the person whom I taught the truth of God’s love to, the person who shared a meal or a personal problem with one day dies.  It is not easy to officiate at the funeral of such a person whom I got to love and appreciate over the years.  At a time like that, Easter means everything.  Because I live, you will live also, says Jesus. For the Christian family there is never a final good bye.  Jesus died; Jesus rose; Jesus lives again and so do we.  That’s the guarantee of Easter.  That’s why Easter means everything.  Come see us if you aren’t sure! 

Pastor Larry Zahn 

 

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What Ails This Nation

Posted by nancy on September 10, 2015

What Ails This Nation

 

We are living in troubling times.  As I get older the more I think about what I am leaving behind to my kids and grandkids.  Yes, my wife and I hope to leave some money to help our kids and grandkids in some meaningful ways.  I am not sure that we will be able to do all that we are planning. Health costs are rising astronomically.  A national debt that is staggering needs to be paid down.  I am sure that taxes will need to rise.   I wonder, if the world continues for any amount of time, what will be left. 

 

Politicians promise all kinds of things.  They say they will fix it all.  With all the presidential candidates it appears that there are plenty who think they can do it.

 

The problem is that our nation is turning its back on the solution and thinking that by doing so we have the solution.  We are like the person who refuses to take the medicine that will make the patient feel better.  We turn our backs to God who is our solution.  

 

This is not the first time by any means that backs turned on the Lord led to problems. Study the Old Testament.  My own personal Bible devotions have been for the last while from Jeremiah. Through Jeremiah God said of Judah, “My people are fools; they do not know me.  They are senseless children; they have no understanding.  They are skilled in doing evil.”      

 

The problems begin deep within the soul of humanity.   Collectively the state of our nation and the world only proves that the soul is wicked.  Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?”  That is tough to hear and accept but it is truth.  Jeremiah says, “Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns.”  Don’t be satisfied with a hard heart; it is time to change.  Don’t think you can produce good things when hard ground will only produce hard ground. 

 

Let God speak to you and do the stirring and changing.  Let him speak the truth about our sin and cold and hard hearts.  Let his Word prepare your heart.  Listen to the truth about sin and listen to the truth about forgiveness in Jesus too.  The truth is that changed hearts love Jesus and all the virtues he upholds.  That changes countries one soul at a time

 

In Him,

 

Pastor Larry Zahn

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WHAT AILS THIS NATION

Posted by nancy on September 10, 2015

We are living in troubling times.  As I get older the more I think about what I am leaving behind to my kids and grandkids.  Yes, my wife and I hope to leave some money to help our kids and grandkids in some meaningful ways.  I am not sure that we will be able to do all that we are planning. Health costs are rising astronomically.  A national debt that is staggering needs to be paid down.  I am sure that taxes will need to rise.   I wonder, if the world continues for any amount of time, what will be left. 

 

Politicians promise all kinds of things.  They say they will fix it all.  With all the presidential candidates it appears that there are plenty who think they can do it.

 

The problem is that our nation is turning its back on the solution and thinking that by doing so we have the solution.  We are like the person who refuses to take the medicine that will make the patient feel better.  We turn our backs to God who is our solution.  

 

This is not the first time by any means that backs turned on the Lord led to problems. Study the Old Testament.  My own personal Bible devotions have been for the last while from Jeremiah. Through Jeremiah God said of Judah, “My people are fools; they do not know me.  They are senseless children; they have no understanding.  They are skilled in doing evil.”      

 

The problems begin deep within the soul of humanity.   Collectively the state of our nation and the world only proves that the soul is wicked.  Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?”  That is tough to hear and accept but it is truth.  Jeremiah says, “Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns.”  Don’t be satisfied with a hard heart; it is time to change.  Don’t think you can produce good things when hard ground will only produce hard ground. 

 

Let God speak to you and do the stirring and changing.  Let him speak the truth about our sin and cold and hard hearts.  Let his Word prepare your heart.  Listen to the truth about sin and listen to the truth about forgiveness in Jesus too.  The truth is that changed hearts love Jesus and all the virtues he upholds.  That changes countries one soul at a time

 

In Him,

 

Pastor Larry Zahn

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The Power of the Forgiveness

Posted by nancy on May 19, 2015

Mitsuo Fuchida, commander of the Japanese Air Force, led the squadron that attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. 

 

American bomber Jacob DeShazer was eager to strike back, and the following April 18th, he flew his B-25 bomber, the Bat Out of Hell, on a dangerous raid over Japan.  After dropping his bombs on Nagoya, DeShazer lost his way in a heavy fog.  He ejected from the plane as his plane ran out of fuel.  He was taken prisoner and tortured.   For two years DeShazer suffered from hunger and cold and dysentery.

 

In May of 1944, he was given a Bible.  He was told that he could keep it for three weeks.  He clutched that Bible and always kept it close to him.  He read it through several times.  He tried to memorize passages.  Matthew 5: 44 meant a lot to him, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” He tried to put it onto practice he best way he could.  His own personal anger melted away.  As he prayed and lost his anger he noticed the guards treated him much better.  They often gave him extra food and supplies. 

After the war DeShazer returned to Japan as a missionary.  He wrote a book entitled “I was a Prisoner of the Japanese.”  Thousands wanted to see the man who loved and forgave his enemies as his book had stated.  He even established a church in Nagoya.  One man was affected very much by the testimony that was found in the book.  The man went to visit DeSazer.  What was his name?  Mitsuo Fuchida, the man who led the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

Coincidence?  Not at all!  The power of forgiveness that comes from Christ and is shown in his people made all the difference.

 

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How Much “I” Should there be in Worship?

Posted by nancy on March 10, 2015

 

 

How Much “I” Should there be in Worship?

As I sat in church this last Sunday, the thought kept going through my mind. As I sat there in God’s house, hearing his Word, singing his songs, I kept thinking, “This isn’t about me.”

The problem is that it can so easily become about me. Without realizing it, many Christian people fall into the subtle trap of making worship about me. They look for music to entertain and inspire me. They pick hymns that talk about how God makes me feel. They preach sermons that focus almost entirely on me and my life. Now, don’t get me wrong. All of those things can be good in the proper perspective.

But, really, worship isn’t about me.

Worship is first and foremost about my God and Savior. The music of our worship shouldn’t focus so much on how I feel as much as on what God has done to save me. Good preaching should first and foremost proclaim the forgiveness and freedom that Jesus won for all people on the cross. Worship is about our God and what he has done.

Worship is also about those sitting around me. The writer to the Hebrews encourages us: “Do not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25). Worship is about engaging and encouraging each other. We not only sing our hymns to God. We sing them to encourage one another. We lift our voices in prayer for one another. In the creeds, we proudly proclaim to each other what we believe.

Think about that the next time you park yourself in the pew. This isn’t about me. This is about my God who speaks to me in Word and Sacrament. This is about praising and thanking my God for the wondrous works he has done. This is about encouraging and building up those who are sitting around me. And the amazing blessing is that through the gospel message proclaimed in worship, I too will be encouraged. I too will be built up. I too will be inspired.

In Christ,

 

Pastor

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THE VITAL JOURNEY

Posted by nancy on February 10, 2015

The Vital Journey

 

An advertisement for the NCAA basketball season that begins in November and goes to March has been dubbed the “Journey to the Tourney.”  There are over 300 college basketball teams that are trying to make it to the NCAA tournament and hundreds more that are trying to win the smaller school tournaments that brings an end to the college basketball season. I have my favorite team.  I am pulling for them to do well.

 

During this very time of the year we also have another more vital journey that we commemorate.  It is the journey that Jesus took to the cross to make all who believe in him winners.  Because of the supreme significance attached to the suffering and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Christian Church has designated the six weeks preceding Easter as a season in which to center its attention on Christ’s cross in a special way.  We know these six weeks as Lent. 

 

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, a day so named from the ancient custom of worshippers coming to church in sackcloth and ashes and bare feet and having their foreheads daubed with ashes from palm.  These are signs of repentance.  That’s what Lent is – a time to repent and remember the vital journey Jesus took to Calvary to forgive you.  Join us for this special journey every Wednesday starting February 18th through March 25th.

 

Looking forward to seeing you!

 

Pastor Larry A. Zahn

 

 

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OFFERING JESUS TO YOU

Posted by nancy on December 16, 2014

 

 

Offering Jesus to You

 

In her book Legacy of a Pack Rat, Ruth Graham writes about meeting a young man named Pashi.  He was a student enrolled in college not far from where Ruth Graham lives.  She spoke to him about Jesus.  He, however, didn’t have too much good to say about Jesus.  He said, “I would believe in Jesus, but I never see a Christian who was like Jesus.” 

 Who has?

 Someone once said that Christians are merely “pilgrims in progress.”  Everyone of us falls short of being like Christ.  Besides, what does it mean to be Christ-like?  How are we to be like him?  Heal?  Cast out demons?  Face accusers calmly? Chase people out of God’s church when they become too money-minded?

 Being like Christ is to have an attitude like Jesus toward our Heavenly Father. In speaking through the psalmist the Savior prophetically spoke about his life, “I came to your will…I delight in doing your will.” (Psalm 40)  He had come to do what the Heavenly Father wanted.

 Yet we do that imperfectly.  That’s why we believe in Jesus as our Substitute and Savior. He did what we couldn’t do.  He did his Father’s will perfectly for us.  He bore the sins we have done perfectly on the cross so they are no longer held against us…for every sin ever committed in history past and history future.

 While it is true that God want us to imitate him so others see Jesus in us, we won’t be perfect, just forgiven.  We don’t offer you ourselves, we offer to you Jesus.   

That’s what we do at Messiah 365 days a year.  Come anytime.  Call Pastor anytime at 770-751-9357.  Especially do we invite you this Christmas Eve at 7 PM and 11 PM for our Candlelight worship, but please come anytime.

 Love in Christ,

 

Pastor Larry Zahn

   

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THE LIVING CHRISTMAS

Posted by nancy on December 4, 2014

 

 

The Living Christmas

MessiahLutheranChurch

4765 Kimball Bridge Road

Johns Creek, GA.

 

What is it?

  • ·         A live nativity within a set constructed to be Bethlehem
  • ·         Live animals from The Little Red Barn (You will love them!)
  • ·         Citizens of Bethlehem dressed in costume
  • ·         Music and skits by choir and Sunday School from Messiah
  • ·         Visitor participation in your favorite Christmas hymns
  • ·         Games and crafts for the children
  • ·         Refreshments
  • ·         Friendship and fellowship

 

Purpose

  • ·         To glorify Jesus, the Savior of the nations
  • ·         To aid in the celebration of Jesus’ birth
  • ·         To celebrate our Christian heritage of Christmas
  • ·         To help everyone take their minds off the busyness of Christmas
  • ·         To aid moms and dads to teach their children about Jesus’ birth.

 

 

Cost

  • ·         It’s free
  • ·         It is a ministry of Messiah Lutheran Church; we want you to enjoy this event
  • ·         A free will offering with 100% of proceeds going to North Fulton Community Charities if you would like to give

 

When

  • ·         Friday December 12th and Saturday December 13th
  • ·         6 PM to 9 PM each night

 

Parking

  • ·         Follow the luminaries
  • ·         Follow the attendants
  • ·         Please be careful and alert for everyone

 

Please come! 

 

May the blessings of the newborn King and Savior be yours always!

 

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THANKSGIVING GRATITUDE

Posted by nancy on November 13, 2014

Thanksgiving Gratitude

 

Barbara Ann Kipfer began keeping a list of her favorite things as a teenager.  It was such a habit that she saw good things in everything and everywhere she went.  She would see things eating breakfast or riding the bus.  She would keep a notebook at the side of her bed and think of things in the middle of the night.  Twenty years later and dozens and dozens of notebooks later she published a book entitled, 14,000 Things to be Happy About.

 

The Bible says, “…always giving thanks to God in everything, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:2o)  As we approach the Thanksgiving celebration it is a good idea to approach the celebration with optimism and with a positive attitude.  We can give thanks for everything – even the trials that we go through.  How?  The child of God needs to remember that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and resurrection from the dead has made you sure of God’s love.  He gives the benefits unconditionally.  He gives the benefits because he loves you.  Because he loves you, all he does shows he loves you even when he tests you and puts you through trials.  There are lessons he wants us to learn.  I can’t tell you what they always are.  He simply asks you to believe it. 

 

The apostle Paul went through all kinds of trials.  He was imprisoned, he was beaten, and he was in shipwrecks and a whole lot more.  One thing he knew without fail.  God loved him.  The proof was the cross and the grave on which Jesus died and rose.

 

Count your blessings!  We invite you to our Thanksgiving service on Wednesday evening November 26th at 7:30 PM.  

 

Pastor Larry Zahn     

 

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