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Our Savior: From the World

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Overcome to be Thankful

It is November! Maybe you are still knee deep in collected, colorful, wrapped, hardened sugar and chocolate.  Maybe the carved rind of the large orange pumpkin is still holding up.  Maybe the outfit that won first prize for best non-traditional superhero still hangs proudly in your closet.  Maybe crazy, half-used makeup containers still litter your bathroom vanity counter, but November turns our eyes to Thanksgiving…and turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, melted marshmallow covered yams and more.  The name of the holiday implies that you have things for which you give thanks.

Do you? Or, as you think about that, are you reminded of the daily battles you face?  Do you struggle?  Are there days you feel under siege on all sides.  Family problems? Health issues?  Haunting mistakes from the past you regret but cannot change? Do you feel you have much more trouble than opportunities for thanksgiving?

Jesus once said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Is that a simplistic and ignorant claim from Jesus? How could he possibly hope to cover all the potential issues that could come up in your life, in mine, in the lives of the whole wide world?! How can people you trust a promise that was made 2,000 years ago?

Jesus didn’t talk about overcoming the world by healing diseases or mending broken relationships, although there were times he did just that. He spoke of something far more important than health issues, relationship problems, or regrets from the past. Jesus promised to break and overcome the cause of all suffering and all trouble in this world. Jesus spoke of his victory over sin. Sin is the root cause behind all pain and heartache. Sin is to fall short of living well and good.  It is when we fail morally, ethically, or in any way.  It is to put ourselves first when we know deep down someone else should occupy that spot. Sin totally sets you against the God who gives all good things.  Sin robs you of life, joy, and true thankfulness.  Jesus overcame sin.  He overturned its dramatic consequences.  He overcame every trouble of this world that we will face.  He overcame when he died to it on the cross and then rose in triumph over the very cause of his death.

Now you can overcome the world too – by putting ourselves aside and placing our trust and reliance in Jesus. He leads us through the hardest of times and finally will take us home to his world—the kingdom of heaven he has prepared for all who believe in him. When you know that Jesus overcame, you can be thankful. You can be thankful even if and when you face trouble because you can look beyond the trouble and see Jesus who has overcome.

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

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Our Savior: The One and Only

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her son, our saviorThe ball has dropped in New York City. It’s 2016. How did you ring in the New Year?  Did you make any resolutions?

A common resolution at New Year’s is to lose weight and improve fitness. People aim for that goal in different ways. Some strive to improve their diet; either eating smaller portions or switching to healthier foods. Others focus more on exercise; building up their strength or following a cardio workout plan. Any or all of those options can help a person lose weight and reach their fitness goal.

Some goals don’t have as many options. One goal in particular only has one option. If your goal is to obtain eternal life in heaven, the one and only way to reach that goal is through Jesus. Jesus is the world’s one and only Savior.

Many people disagree with that. Maybe even you. It seems like there might be many ways to reach such a goal. Perhaps Jesus is one option among many.

Jesus didn’t come to be a path; he came to be the path. Jesus didn’t come to show us how we could obtain heaven on our own; he came to show us his glory and to be our Savior.

Many New Year’s resolutions will be abandoned. We know how weak we can be. We are incredibly weak when we try to live up to God’s expectations. We fall horribly far short. Jesus is not weak. Jesus is true God who came from heaven. Yes, he became human like us, yet he was without our weaknesses. He was without sin, that is, he never fell short. His great love caused him to leave heaven and dwell among us. He came to take away our sins by giving his own life as the payment for our sins – every time we have fallen short. He calls you to follow him.  He calls you to trust him as your Savior. He freely gives you the gift of heaven and eternal life.

Perhaps that’s a resolution you could take up: to follow Jesus. It’s not a resolution to discard after a few months. To follow Jesus is a goal that last an entire year, even an entire lifetime. It’s so worth it, because Jesus is the world’s one and only Savior and your one and only Savior.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14

Join us at Beautiful Savior on Sunday mornings at 9:30am to hear more about your Savior, Jesus.

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August 2015

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Credo Pt. 3

Vicar Mike Schwab

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

These are the words that we say as part of our creed. In our creed we confess what we believe. What is the Holy Spirit? What is the holy Christian Church? The communion of saints? We say these phrases every Sunday, and I have to admit, often enough my mind goes on autopilot and my mouth does all the work. Sunday after Sunday the meaning is lost.

When we think about God, what comes to mind? We look around and we see God’s creation, and we are reminded of our heavenly Father. But what from God’s creation can tell us about the good news of Jesus our Savior? How can I come to know and believe in God’s saving work for the world if I was born into a sinful world?

The world into which we were born was fallen into sin. All people by nature are dead, (Eph 2:5) blind, (1 Cor 2:14) and opposed (Romans 8:7) to God.

The Holy Spirit is revealed to us in God’s Word as the sole provider for faith.

Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus Christ is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

–1 Corinthians 12:3

Simply by grace are God’s people brought to glorify his name. Popular thought in some Christian circles today establishes faith as a work that man does. You have to make your decision for Christ! Accept Jesus as your Savior! While we might be able to understand these statements correctly, there is a misunderstanding to avoid. The danger in this philosophy is that man is still weak with sin. The seed of faith is planted there, but he sprouts up and relies on himself. Then when trials and persecution come, he starts to wonder, what is Christianity all about? I thought things were going to be better now!

If we rely on reason to be holy, if we rely on intelligence to be right with God, our confession of faith only scratches the surface. If we think that being part of the holy Christian Church is something that we’ve grasped with sheer willpower, we’ve put aside the source of all wisdom and knowledge just for the chance to say, “I did this.” What’s the point in satisfying the prideful man inside, when you don’t give the new man a chance to grow?

“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.”

–1 Peter 1:23

Those who confess Jesus as Lord can only do so with the help of the Holy Spirit, and by the Holy Spirit we receive blessings that come through Baptism, Holy Communion, and the Word of God. We receive forgiveness of sins, we get to cheat death (resurrection) and we have eternal life. These are the gifts that come to us through the means of grace (Word and sacraments) so that we can glorify his name. That awesome task is something we can do with all our gifts and talents in whatever we do. We also have the specific opportunity to glorify God as we gather for worship.

When we say our creed, we confess with the whole Christian Church on earth the glory that is due to God for all his grace. To create us, preserve us, redeem us, and preserve the Church for the glorification of his name.

Take a moment to see God’s hand in everything you do, that he has bought you back and restored you to a new life to live in his glory. We are his saints, washed clean in the blood of Christ.

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

–Ephesians 2:10

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April 2015

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Gloria in Excelsis

by Pastor Boushek

God’s mercy has been received. Forgiveness has been announced. God’s people respond with thanksgiving and praise: “Glory to God in the highest!”

The Gloria In Excelsis is the next standard part of the liturgical worship service usually followed at Beautiful Savior.  It is exactly as it sounds; a song of magnificent praise for our magnificent and glorious God. Our song borrows language from those angels who first announced the birth of Jesus.  It was so much more than a birth announcement.  It was a declaration that God had kept his promises, he had sent a Savior, and he had restored peace between himself and mankind. Swept up in the incredible mystery of God’s love which they proclaimed, the angels burst into jubilant song and praised God:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

Every time we gather to worship our God and hear his Word, our Savior Jesus is central to our focus. So we also sing out the praise of God, knowing that he saw his greatest glory in what he did for us.  While there are many versions of this song, and the lyrics change between them, they all focus on God’s glory as it is displayed to us; God’s glory displayed in his awesome work of creation; God’s glory displayed in Jesus, the Son of God, who is the Lamb of God who has taken away our sin; God’s glory displayed as Jesus sits at the right hand of God and intercedes for us on a daily basis, God’s glory displayed in each person of the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

How appropriate as we celebrate Jesus death, and his incredible resurrection, that we resume our great songs praising God’s glory. Before Jesus entered into the last week of his life, he said,

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” (John 12:23)

What greater glory can we think of than Jesus’ own resurrection from the dead? He made his glory known as he declared his victory over the grave; a victory he also shares with us.  Each and every day we can rest in God’s glory, because his glory has become ours.  We can trust in his promises, we can know that we too will join him in glory:

Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” – Philippians 3:20-21

Your citizenship is in heaven, and there you will receive a crown of glory that will never fade, spoil, or perish. May that increase your joy this month as you sing out the glory of God.

“Gloria In Excelsis”

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Jesus Is….Son of God; Son of Man

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JesusWhat titles do you have? What titles would you like to have? Doctor? Professor? Governor? Mr. President? Princess? (Seriously!) The appeal is understandable. Those titles carry honor. They carry prestige. Some we can earn. Masters, doctorates and other post-graduate programs are in high demand. Some are simply given. All provide opportunities to have a great or better life.

What about these titles: “Holy One”? “Son of God”? Jesus had the highest of all titles already at his birth. The Bible shares how an angel named Gabriel spoke to a woman named Mary: “The holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Jesus is holy. He is the true Son of God. The titles “Holy One” and “Son of God” indicate that all power, wisdom and authority belonged to Jesus even at birth because as true God he possessed them from eternity. His name is above every name and over every title and authority that can be given.

Maybe you struggle with the concept of a God who is over ou universe and a man named Jesus who lived 2000 years ago supposedly has an impact on your life right now. Maybe that’s too much for you to put any stock in, but consider what it means for you if the Bible is true. Jesus, the Holy One, the Son of God, di not keep himself from seeking another title, decidedly a step down. It did not require a four-year graduate program or many evening classes, but it did require humble service, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Jesus also took the title Son of Man. He came down from heaven to earth to take up our cause and to die a humble death on the cross—a death that should have been ours, because we were born and created to be God’s own, but have instead pursued this title: sinner.

Jesus became our Savior. Even with the title Son of God he willingly took the title Son of Man, in order to die for us on the cross. Jesus loved us enough to do that for us, and now he gives you a new, prestigious title: Child of God!

“The holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” - Gabriel

“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” - Jesus

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May 2014

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A Needed Relationship

This month we remember and celebrate our mothers. What could be more appropriate than to celebrate moms?  They care for us, they nurture us, and on the very deepest level, we all need our moms. Even if your relationship with your mother has seen ups and downs or worse, you cannot deny you needed your mother.  Without your mother you wouldn’t have any good thing you have experienced, or ever will experience, because without your mother you wouldn’t be here.  For nine months she carried you inside her womb – she kept you safe and provided the nutrients your tiny body needed to grow.  What a humbling thought! A humbling thought that moves us to celebrate mothers.

The author of Psalm 16 had a similar thought.  He knew a relationship without which he could never survive.  The relationship he knew was one with God.  He wrote:

Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge.

I said to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”

Just as we absolutely need our mothers, we absolutely need our God.  Apart from God we have no good thing. Apart from God life is not worth living. Maybe we think we can exist and function apart from God, but there won’t be much joy in it – certainly not as we look to the inevitable – death. To be cut off from God is to be cut off from life, as certainly as a premature fetus removed from his mother’s womb will die. Apart from God we have no good thing.

With God we have every good thing. He sent his only Son, Jesus, to take away everything that cut us off from his blessings.  In Jesus’ life, his cross, and his empty tomb, our perfect relationship with God has been restored, and he gives us every good thing. The psalmist writes:

Surely I have a delightful inheritance.

One good thing our mothers give us is advice, even if sometimes it takes a while for us to accept it. When we face some of our toughest life decision, our mothers can be invaluable. God and his Word are also invaluable.

I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.

In his Word, God gives us not only the keys to salvation, but also advice and counsel for our lives, but notice how the verses continue:

I have set the Lord always before me.  Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

God never abandons us, but sometimes we fail to keep him close – sometimes we turn away from him.  Set the Lord always before you.  Keep him close.  Keep him close in prayer and keep him close as you stay close to his Word. Then you will know every good thing that comes from this relationship.  Then you will have cause for celebration. Remember the joys and promises of Eater and celebrate the needed relationship Jesus has granted you.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grace, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.  You have made known to me the path of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Beautiful Savior’s newsletter articles in 2014 will focus on portions from short Psalms.  These Psalms can be easily committed to memory and serve as wonderful prayers and tools for daily meditation on God’s Word.

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April 2014

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How Majestic!

“Ride on, ride on, in Majesty…”  Jesus rode into Jerusalem as our majestic King.  That classic hymn is fitting, isn’t it? Jesus does exude majesty.  Our God exudes majesty.

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”

So begins, and ends, Psalm 8.  God is truly majestic.  We see it in his creation. When we remove the distractions and distortions of stubborn hearts, or complaints, or regrets, we are compelled to praise God for his majesty.  Children understand the greatness of God and are quick to praise him for it.  Certainly there were children among those who lined the path with palm branches as Jesus rode into Jerusalem.  What joy must have filled their young voices at the sight of Jesus! When the Pharisees told Jesus to rebuke the crowd and silence those children, Jesus said, “If they were silent, the stones would cry out.”  The Psalmist captures that compelling nature of God’s majesty:

“You have set your glory above the heavens.  From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise…”

Yet, when we consider God’s majesty aren’t we struck by our own unworthiness?

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”

God’s creation opens our eyes to his power, his goodness, and his perfect majesty.  His works, made by his own hands sit in stark contrast to the works we try to accomplish with our feeble hands. When we look at our life and our work, what majesty is there?  None.  Instead we see the blemishes and defects of sin littered across the landscape of our life.  Why would God care for us?

That’s his true majesty. God crowns us with glory and honor, even in our imperfection. God’s true majesty is found in what he did for us through Jesus.  After Palm Sunday it seemed Jesus’ majesty was stripped from him.  He was beaten, ridiculed, and hung upon a tree to die.  The creator of the heavens and the earth suffered as the worst of criminals.  Yet, this was God’s majesty: the king who would die for his subjects; the king who really did care for his people; our God who cares for us.  So Jesus died for us. He died to remove our blemishes and he rose to life to give us his majesty.

On Easter we celebrate his life and the life he gives to us.  Psalm 8 speaks first about Jesus and then what Jesus gives to us:

You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.  You made him ruler over the works of your hands; and put everything under his feet.

This Easter, and always, let us join to say:

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”

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March 2014

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Drama, Drama, Drama

Do you enjoy drama? Are you a “drama queen” or “king”? Maybe you aren’t, but the idea of drama seems to be welcomed and expected today, doesn’t it? The entertainment industry thrives on our desire for more and more drama: more twists, more turns, more cliff-hangers. We import drama into our everyday conversations as we overemphasize the details of our most recent dining experience, or the other drivers on the expressway, or our children’s teachers, or the dating adventures among our circle of friends. Drama is all around us.

Then real drama comes crashing down on our own lives and we have a problem. We can’t handle actual drama. When drama hits home it is no longer welcome. When drama hits home it can be annoying, frustrating, saddening, maddening, or downright depressing. Too much drama crushes us like a ton of bricks and leave us feeling helpless and alone. King David knew what real drama felt like. Listen to what he writes in Psalm 6:

“Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are in agony.”

“I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.”

It’s hard to say what drama had entered David’s life when he wrote these words. We know there were agonizing moments in his life: when he understood the crushing guilt of his sins with Bathsheba; when the child of that adulterous relationship perished; when one of his adult sons rebelled against him and tried to snatch his kingdom. Whatever the drama was, it was severe. He felt it go deep into his body – all the way to his bones. He was worn out from all his groaning. His sobs and tears had drenched both his bed and his couch. He couldn’t keep his eyes open because they swelled from those tears. Have you ever felt like David did?

Then keep reading.

David turned to God. God doesn’t mess around with drama. He has always had one, straightforward plan in mind. Perhaps we see incredible drama in that plan: who would have thought God would send his only Son to redeem us from the dramatically damaging effects of our sins? Who would have thought God would die on a cross? Who would write the story-line so captivating? Who would expect Jesus to burst forth from the grave, alive? God did. God sent his only Son. He died. He rose. God did that for you. Do you think he will listen when drama hits home?

“…the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.”

Beautiful Savior’s newsletter articles in 2014 will focus on portions from short Psalms. These Psalms can be easily committed to memory and serve as wonderful prayers and tools for daily meditation on God’s Word.

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Jesus Is…Savior

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It’s a simple word, but it’s not so simple to say, is it? It’s an admission of vulnerability. And nobody wants to be considered vulnerable. To cry out “Help!” is to admit that you can’t get yourself out of whatever predicament you are in. You need someone to come and save you. You have to swallow your pride, display some humility and admit that you can’t do it. You need help.

There was a writer who lived nearly 3000 years ago. His name was Asaph. Asaph needed help. So did everyone around him. Foreign nations had invaded his homeland. They trashed the reputation of Asaph’s God and threatened Asaph’s life, and the lives of his countrymen. So Asaph and his fellow countrymen went to their God – the only God.

They knew they hadn’t done anything to earn God’s help. In fact, part of the reason they needed help was because of their disobedience against God and his will. But they still turned to God because of his reputation: he is the God of salvation. They knew God is in the business of helping. In fact, not only does he give help freely but he specializes in it. Only God could help them out of their difficulties in life. Only God could save them from their greatest difficulty—their sin. They were not disappointed. God did save them from their enemies, but more importantly, he forgave their sin. That’s his reputation. He is the Savior.

God has the same reputation today. He is your Savior. Not too long ago we celebrated Christmas, the day when God sent us his Son, Jesus. We needed God’s help desperately. We were separated from God. We had sinned. We couldn’t help ourselves to get rid of our guilt. God helped us. God sent us a Savior. He forgives all our sin. God is in the business of helping. That’s his reputation.

God is your Savior. You can call on him for help and deliverance. He promises his forgiveness and love. He will help you out of trouble. Call on your Savior for strength to carry your burdens. Look to your Lord Jesus for help. He – and only he – can help you. He – and only he – is your Savior.


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I Need More…Joy!

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After hastily opening the wrapped package and making the obligatory “thank you’s”, it certainly didn’t take long to turn away from the thoughtful gift as something ho hum.

Then three year old Eleanor came along, stopped by the discarded item, and exclaimed, “What a beautiful gift! Is that yours? You must be so happy?”

As she walked away I thought to myself, “Why don’t I have joy like that?”

At times we have those feelings which cause us to cry out, “I need more joy in my life!” It’s even true at this time of year. For one reason or another we find ourselves lacking joy. There are indications everywhere that joy should fill our lives. Decorations are going up inside and outside. Christmas music surrounds us and cards start arriving daily.

Some days the festive joy does fill our hearts as we excitedly go about our holiday shopping and schedule planning. Yet, deep down we know this joy will not last. Planning becomes overwhelming, schedules start falling apart and decorating gets tiresome. Above all, we know from experience, there will be no joy when we find we don’t have enough money to purchase the perfect gift or when credit card payments come due. All of that may lead us to shout out, “I need real joy! I need joy that will last!”

Here’s some great news. Christmas brings us joy that does last—the true joy found in Jesus.

With a love we cannot comprehend, our heavenly Father gave his only Son, born to be save us. Starting in the manger in which he was laid up until he was placed on the stone slab of a borrowed tomb, Jesus lived the life of perfect obedience all of us are unable to live. Each and every evil thought, evil word and evil deed we have done has been picked from us by our heavenly Father and placed on Jesus. On Calvary’s cross, Jesus bowed his head in death declaring, “It is finished.” These words of Jesus bring us true joy. They mean that all is done and Easter’s announcement “He Is Risen!” guarantees that God our Father has accepted Jesus’ life and death as payment in full for all our sins. Easter’s announcement guarantees the announcement of Christmas: “A Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” True, lasting joy is found in the forgiveness of sins that is ours through Jesus.

While we are in the midst of the season when it seems hard to keep joy in our lives, focus on the true Joy Giver. Ponder again the words of the angels to the shepherds, “Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born. He is Christ the Lord.” Come and worship the Babe born in Bethlehem, and may God the Holy Spirit fill you with a joy that never ends.

Join us this Christmas to hear about the child born to save us!

Christmas Worship 2013 at Beautiful Savior


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