Greetings and God's Blessings!
Whether you are new to VLC or have been a member for many years, it is our hope that the following will be a blessing for you. Some of the most commonly asked questions are addressed in this section. For the purpose of simplicity, the information which you will find is in the form of questions and their answers.
You will see subjects about church membership in general, pastoral care and membership at Village Lutheran Church in particular. The questions range from our beliefs about Jesus to assumptions about church membership often with references to passages in the Bible. In some cases, general answers are given because specific programs and other variables may change over time. Should further questions or clarification be needed, we encourage you to call the church office (914-337-0207) and speak to one of the staff members or pastors, or just e-mail (contact page link) us.
We pray the Lord's blessings to you and to our church. To God alone be the glory!
Rev. Dr. Robert Hartwell, Senior Pastor/Trustee
- What is a church?
- What is Village Lutheran Church (VLC) and The Chapel School (TCS)?
- What is VLC's Mission Statement?
- What are the Core Values of Village Lutheran Church?
- What is does it mean to be a church member?
- How does one become a member of the VLC?
- What specifically is assumed about church membership?
- What specifically is offered for my personal spiritual growth?
- What kind of prayers and prayer groups are available?
- What else is available for my growth in my personal and family life?
- How can I get involved in the mission and ministry of VLC?
- What is the VLC's relation to Concordia College?
- What is a "voter's meeting" and what is a "voting member"?
- What about church "dues"?
- How do I arrange for a baptism or wedding?
- How does the VLC do first communion and confirmation of the youth?
- What kind of help does the VLC offer when I have a personal problem?
- When should I call a pastor?
- How can the VLC be of service at the time of death and dying?
- Is it possible to rent the facilities at the VLC?
- When are your worship services?
- How do I get to VLC?
- Is the Village Lutheran Church like all other Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod congregations?
- I need help or have questions about
- Death and afterlife
- Family conflict
- How to choose a church
The word "church" is often used in a number of ways. It may be a reference to a building or to the people who gather there every Sunday. It may also refer to a denominational group such as Methodists, Catholics, Baptists, etc. For our purposes, we understand the church to be those Christians who gather for worship and spiritual nurture around the Bible and the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion (1 Corinthians 1:2; Acts 2:42; 1 Peter 2:9).
2. What is Village Lutheran Church (VLC) and The Chapel School (TCS)?
Historically, The VLC was organized in 1916 with a Christian day school formed in 1947. THE VLC is one of the largest Lutheran congregations in the Atlantic District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (AD-LCMS.ORG).
As to our beliefs, we are Lutheran Christians. The Lutheran church is a worldwide communion of Christians whose mission is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people. We believe that God graciously forgives us and offers us new life through the death and resurrection of His Son. We are fully committed to serving our Lord and our community in the name of Jesus, the Christ (or Messiah).
Lutherans also believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God and the only reliable source and standard for what we know about God. The most important teaching of the Bible is the salvation of the sinner by grace through faith in Jesus Christ who died and rose again as our substitute.
Village Lutheran Church is a part of the 11th largest denomination in America called the "Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod" which numbers over 2.6 million members. The word "Synod" means "walking together." This is exactly what we as a denomination strive to do as together we believe, teach and profess the same things about Jesus Christ and work together on various projects which we could not do alone as single congregations.
3. What is VLC's Mission Statement?
Under the blessings of God, the mission of Village Lutheran Church is a ministry of Word and Sacraments. This ministry gives opportunity for mission witness, nurture, fellowship, stewardship and service. It focuses on the specific needs of individuals and groups within the congregation and extends to the church at large, the community and the world.
Chapel School is an integral part of the congregation's ministry directed specifically to children. It provides a distinctive Christian education enabling children to evidence a Christian lifestyle and to achieve academic success.
- We value the lost coming to faith and the faithful strengthened through the Word and the Sacraments.
- We value our Lutheran heritage of grace alone, faith alone and scripture alone.
- We value high quality worship in diverse forms.
- We value high quality Christian education and relevant preaching.
- We value faithful stewardship of time, talents and financial resources.
- We value lay leadership in ministry, especially the service of women.
- We value the care of body, mind and spirit.
- We value social justice and helping others.
- We value our strong commitment to the communities we serve: (the Bronx, Southern Connecticut, Upper Manhattan and lower Westchester County).
- We value our partnership with the Atlantic District staff and with the congregations, schools and ministries that the District serves.
- We value our partnership with Concordia College as an institution and with the students, faculty and staff.
While the people, programs, preaching and other aspects of a church may draw someone to a church, becoming a member is a significant decision which should be carefully made. A church is not a club, but it is a community of faith in our Savior Jesus.
Membership is a personal commitment of individuals and families to one particular group or community of Christians. When one becomes a church member it is understood that their primary worship life will be expressed at that one church with their fellow members. Their primary means of Christian nurture will also be with that one group and their primary expression of service will be in connection with the community with which they have identified as "their church." When one joins a church, one is no longer alone. The new member becomes part of a group, the forgiven people of God in that place.
The membership process may happen in a variety of ways:
- a person may transfer in from another Lutheran Congregation. To do so, request a letter of transfer from your home congregation and speak to Pastor Hartwell at (914) 337-0207 (1022) or Pastorh@VLC-NY.ORG.
- a person may attend a "new member class" and then seek to be welcomed into membership through baptism (if not already baptized), the right hand of fellowship, or even an official confirmation (if desired). Speak to Pastor Hartwell at church or by calling (914) 337-0207 (1022) or Pastorh@VLC-NY.ORG.
- a person may speak to Pastor Hartwell and receive private instruction.
No matter how one seeks to become a member, she/he should complete the online membership form at http://www.vlc-ny.org/index.php/membership-form.
Certain things are assumed of members when they join the VLC. There is a commitment to the teachings of the Lutheran Church and to the mission and ministry priorities of the VLC. Thus there is a common or shared faith and a common or shared profession of faith among all the members. We also join hands in a common mission.
The VLC offers a standard menu of options like Sunday school from babies through 6th grade during the 9:00 A.M. service, Saturday worship at 5:30 P.M. and Sunday morning worship at 9:00 and 10:45 A.M. Confirmation and numerous other Bible study opportunities for spiritual study and nurture are available for teens and adults.
In addition to these, the VLC is blessed with a number of Bible Study Groups which meet regularly.
There are numerous opportunities to grow in Christ here at the VLC, and numerous opportunities to serve others in our community. All members are encouraged to take advantage of all avenues of spiritual nurture including daily personal devotions through Bible study and prayer, and to demonstrate their hunger to serve others in the name of Christ, that the Lord would add to His number daily.
In addition to the Sunday morning prayers offered for those who have notified the church office, we have many other opportunities for prayer. A Service of Prayer for healing is offered on the last Saturday of each month at 6:30 P.M. in the sanctuary.
Various classes for family and marriage enrichment are periodically offered. Parenting classes, marriage enrichment classes, support groups for all ages are available. To strengthen the Christian family, we also offer classes which help equip parents to pass on the faith to their children. The Sunday morning bulletin * http://www.vlc-ny.org/index.php/news/bulletins/) and Village Voices (our monthly newsletter at http://www.vlc-ny.org/index.php/news/village-voices) are all excellent sources for finding out what is currently being offered--as well as checking for periodic updates on www.VLC-NY.ORG.
Weekend worship is the highlight of our week together as a church and community of believers. Through this first step, personal faith is strengthened, friendships are formed and one learns more about the life of the VLC family.
Another step is to attend the various activities such as the picnics, outings, dinners, school programs and musical events which are regularly offered. Finally, every member will naturally seek out at least one avenue for service to the Lord within the context of the VLC and Chapel School. This may take on a variety of activities and roles.
The VLC began as a campus ministry of Concordia College (www.concordia-ny.edu). Although we branched off and became a community church, the VLC is still the "Town and Gown" church of the College and seeks all meaningful partnerships with students, faculty and staff. The VLC is grateful for the blessings of the college and is a strong supporter of this outstanding academic ministry situated in one of the most vital urban centers in the world.
The VLC has three annual meetings whereby the congregation has the responsibility and privilege of determining God's direction on a variety of matters. One method is through the casting of a vote. Any member (18 or older) in good standing of the VLC is eligible to become a voting member of the congregation. They submit their name at the beginning of a regularly scheduled voter's meeting. At the next meeting they sign the constitution and are eligible to vote and are encouraged to voice their views at the meetings.
The church is different from a social club where dues are required. We are a community of faith committed to Jesus and the mission He has given to us as His church. God has loved us in Jesus Christ. We belong completely to Him: body, soul, talents, abilities and all our material goods. God simply gives all of these things to us to manage for a time in order to glorify Him and advance the mission of Jesus Christ. Thus we respond to God's love with our worship, the service of our hands, our generous offering of time including our intentional, regular financial offerings. God does not require equal giving but equal sacrifice among the members of His church (Psalm 116:12; 1 Corinthians 16:1-3; 2 Corinthians 5:15; 8:1- 9:15). We teach that tithing is a Biblical goal which one can prayerfully strive to meet or exceed.
Annually, pledges or promises are asked of the membership for the purposes of prayerfully setting the ministry priorities through the budget of the congregation. Yearly statements are available for tax purposes.
Baptisms are scheduled through the church office. In the case of children's baptisms, a short conversation with the pastor provides the opportunity to receive instructions about how the baptism will take place and review the meaning of Baptism from the Bible. This meeting also serves as a checkpoint for you while you are on your spiritual journey of faith. At the time of the meeting a mutually agreed upon date for the baptism will be scheduled. Once the date is set, the online form may be filled out at http://www.vlc-ny.org/index.php/baptism-application. Adults who have not been baptized typically receive this sacrament after a time of preparation.
Weddings are also scheduled through the pastor. A meeting with the pastor provides the opportunity to review costs and procedures and reserve a date for the wedding. Once the date is set, the online form may be filled out at http://www.vlc-ny.org/index.php/wedding-information-form. A second meeting is required to speak about Christ in marriage and to go over the specifics of the service. Additionally, meetings may be held with the minister of music to discuss the service.
First communion is celebrated in the 5th grade on the Sunday before Palm Sunday after 3-4 weeks of weekly classes with the Pastor and at least one parent or guardian. Confirmation is celebrated on (or near) Pentecost after two years of weekly confirmation classes taught by the Pastors and youth minister.
THE VLC has a number of options for those in need and those who would like to serve those in need. Our pastors are available for pastoral counseling and can make referrals to trusted psychologists in the area, including our partners at the Lutheran Counseling Center, with an onsite Counseling Office (http://lccny.org/).
The Pastors are here to serve you in times of joy and questioning and need:
Times of joy: Pastors desire to be present to rejoice with you over answered prayer, and to learn about what God is doing in your life. For example, you are encouraged to call a pastor following the birth of a baby.
Times of question: When you need help understanding your faith or the Bible. When you need help living and expressing your Christian faith.
Times of need: In times of hospitalization, surgery, despondency, or impending death of a loved one, or other personal problems or needs. Our pastors strive to bring you a personalized ministry.
Caring Christians are extremely important during these trying times. The pastoral staff and the angel group are available for regular support for caregivers and the dying. Funeral arrangements are made and coordinated with local funeral homes.
The staff and members of the VLC can be helpful in answering questions and preparing for services and funeral receptions. In the event that the VLC is named for memorial gifts by friends of the family, the office staff is available to record the gifts and assist in thank you notes.
THE VLC's facilities are available for service to members and school families. Reservations may be made through the sexton, Mr. Michael Schultz (914) 337-0207 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Guidelines and fees are available from him
Saturday 5:30pm and Sunday 9:00am*, 10:45am
*Sunday School from birth- 6th grade is at the 9:00am service.
Attend our Prayer Service! Last Saturday of Every Month at 6:30pm!
VLC is located at 172 White Plains Road/Route 22 in the Village of Bronxville, Town of Eastchester, Westchester County, north of Mount Vernon and south of Scarsdale and Tuckahoe.
From New York City, New Jersey and Upstate New York:
Take the New York State Thruway (Major Deegan Expressway/Route 87) to the Cross County Parkway. Go east to exit 8, Route 22/North Columbus Avenue. The church is located 1.4 miles north.
From Long Island:
Take the Hutchinson River Parkway (off the New England Thruway) north to exit 13, Cross County Parkway. Continue on the Cross County Parkway to exit 8, route 22/North Columbus Avenue. At the end of the ramp, turn left onto Route 22. The church is located 1.4 miles north.
Take the Merritt Parkway to the Hutchinson River Parkway south to exit 18 W, Mill Road. At the end of the ramp, turn right onto Mill Road and continue 0.7 miles to Route 22/White Plains Road. Turn left onto White Plains Road. The church is located one mile south.
The Village Lutheran Church is an autonomous congregation of the LC-MS. This means that it agrees to work with the other churches of the LC-MS. However, each LC-MS church is autonomous and congregational and each chooses the unique way that they minister Christ in their own community. The VLC tends to be more open to diversity, more moderate in her views and strongly committed to sharing the love of Christ. You will find the VLC very comfortable, yet unique and welcoming.
- Death and afterlife
- Family conflict
- How to choose a church
Death and Afterlife
HE IS NOT HERE
The Grave is empty!
He is not here!
He is risen!
You, too, can live, now and forever!
As we visit the old cemeteries and look at the headstones, we find them saying, "Here lies . . .," then the name and date of birth, followed by the date of death and perhaps some praise of the good qualities of the departed.
But Jesus's tomb is different. His epitaph is not written in gold or cut in stone, but is spoken by the mouths of angels. It is the exact opposite of that put on other tombs: 'He is not here! He is risen!" His body does not lie in the ground, but He is alive and now sits at the right hand of God to plead for us sinners.
Do we believe this? Does it make a difference? Scripture tells, us, "If Christ has not been raised, then your faith is a delusion and you are still in, your sins"-l Corinthians 15:17.
The whole Christian faith stands or falls on the fact that Christ arose from the grave.
Ask Mary Magdalene to whom Christ first appeared after His resurrection.
Ask the other women, who when they saw Him, fell down, grabbed His feet and worshiped Him.
Ask the two disciples who met Him on the road to Emmaus and ate with Him.
Ask the disciples who were behind locked doors for fear of the Jews.
Ask doubting Thomas, who when he saw the nail prints in His hands and saw the spear-pierced side, exclaimed, "My Lord and my God."
Ask the many others to whom He appeared after His resurrection, and be not faithless but believing.
Let them tell you about it by reading the last chapter of the gospels-Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
In John 3:16-17 we also read, 'God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its Savior." "It was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!"-Romans 5:8b.
"If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised Him from death, you will be saved"-Romans 10:9.
Believe this and you have been raised to life with Christ.
If you would like to talk to a pastor about death and the afterlife, call (914) 337-0207
Taken from Concordia Publishing House Tract 10-1208
I need help or have questions about: Cancer
By: Stephen Wenk
"I've been healthy my whole life, and now this!"
Jack was slumped in the chair next to his hospital bed. He sounded and looked haggard, unlike his true self. He was unshaven and was wearing a blue-striped hospital robe. Above the silence in the room was the soft ticking of his IV pump. This was Jack's first of three rounds of chemotherapy. With him was Carol, his wife of 16 years. Their three children were with Carol's parents because, as Jack had said, "I don't want them to see me like this."
Three weeks ago the doctor told Jack that a biopsy had confirmed the diagnosis of cancer. Carol had gotten angry. "It's not fair! All the criminals and other lowlifes out there just seem to waltz through life. It's always the decent people who end up like this. What does God think he's doing?"
Jack didn't believe that getting angry did any good. He seemed to take it in stride. "If this is God's will for me, then I'll just have to put up with it. "Besides," he told Carol, "I think we can beat this thing. Then we'll get back to life as usual."
Each partner responded differently to Jack's cancer, but their responses were in character. To Jack's way of thinking Carol was always flying off the handle and losing perspective; in Carol's mind Jack's laid-back attitude told her he wasn't taking his cancer seriously enough.
HOW SHOULD I FEEL?
A person with cancer faces many potential losses: loss of health; loss of a sense of well-being; loss of control over what is happening to him or her; loss of a positive body image because of the disfiguring effects of illness or treatment; even loss of life. Over time, other feelings may surface, in no particular order.
There is no one way you should react when you're told you have cancer. There are no feelings that are out of bounds. Often, the first reaction is shock: a feeling of numbness and a sense of confusion. "I felt as though the wind had been knocked out of me" is how one patient put it. It takes time for your mind and emotions to absorb the news, and your system may simply shut down as a way of protecting itself against emotional overload.
Fear is very common--fear of dying, of pain, of the unpleasant side effects of treatment, of losing relationships. It's helpful to try to name exactly what it is you're afraid of. Naming your fear can help reduce your anxiety and enable you to deal with it openly and honestly.
You may also experience anger, and it may surprise you that it comes most readily toward those closest to you. By giving voice to your anger--even toward family and friends--you are giving them a true reading of what you're going through. This will foster more honesty in your relationships. Carol's anger toward God, while it may sound irreverent to some, was a cry of frustration that finds expression in the Psalms: "Out of the depths I cry to you. 0 Lord: 0 Lord, hear my voice" (Psalm 130:1).
Guilt, too, is common. Jack didn't want his children at the hospital, partly because their presence reminded him of the burden he felt he was placing on them as a result of his illness. Others may see their cancer as some sort of divine punishment for not having lived a "good enough" life. God speaks tenderly and clearly to your guilt. Any threat of punishment has been removed by Jesus' suffering and death. Through him you have "access by faith into this grace in which we now stand" (Romans 5:2), so we have "peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).
The point is not that you should grovel in your emotions. Rather, acknowledge that your feelings, too, are a gift from God. Your emotions provide needed clues to the ways you deal with stressful situations. As such, they are an important coping resource.
FACING ULTIMATE ISSUES
Having cancer likely will bring you face-to-face with ultimate issues: death, the meaning of life, heaven, salvation, and your relationship to God. The stress of serious illness can result in doubts and anxieties about any or all of these. You may wonder if cancer is God's way of testing your faith, but he is not responsible for your illness. God's purpose is always to bring you closer to him, not to drive you further away. Through Jesus' death and resurrection, he tore down the wall between him and us. He used love, not cancer.
Being told that you have cancer is not a pronouncement of death. Cancer can and is being treated more effectively today than ever. Yes, certain types of cancer inevitably will result in death. For Christians, however, living with death in sight is not the end. Countless people who have survived cancer have discovered new purpose in life and have been willing to take risks in order to make their relationships more meaningful.
TAKING A SECOND LOOK
In stating that he wanted to "get back to life as usual," Jack may well have touched on the key to how effectively he will cope with his cancer. Life as he had been living it may have contributed to his condition. Cancer, as with many illnesses, is something that develops over time. It is your body telling you that something may be flout of sync" in the balance that God intended for you--mind, body, emotions, and spirit. Jesus made clear the connection between our spiritual, emotional, and physical health. He touched people, and they were restored to wholeness. But it was never merely a restoration of sight or of hearing or of limbs. His healing was primarily a restoration of the person to God through the forgiveness of sins. This relationship of grace is the key for your spiritual health.
Illness provides an opportunity to take a second look at your life. Are there ways in which you have been living out of balance as you relate to yourself, to others, or to God? Strange as it may sound, many have come to understand their cancer as a gift. Not only have they survived their cancer, they see it as a pathway that leads to true recovery and health.
If you would like to talk to someone about cancer, call (914) 337-0207.
Taken from Concordia Publishing House Tract 10-1678
I need help or have questions about: Addiction
I AM ADDICTED
by: N.C. Sincebaugh
I don't know what is wrong with me. I sometimes think I'm losing my mind I know that I drink more than I used to, I guess more that I should. But it seems to help me. If only I could get a handle on the pressures that hit me every day. I know I could stop drinking.
If only my family would let up and give me some breathing space. My boss is always getting on my case. I never seem to be able to please anyone. Drinking helps me to escape, to forget. Sometimes I drink to get up enough courage to face them all. It calms my nerves and gives me hope. I didn't used to be this way. I could go about my work without any problems.
I was pleasant to my family. I was reliable. I didn't make excuses, like I do now. I didn't need a drink every day. Now I can't wait to get home and have the usual cocktail, and I know I mix them stronger and usually have a couple. But I deserve this opportunity to relax and unwind. Besides, they say it's good for the appetite.
But something must be wrong with me. At times I fall asleep before supper and wake up long after mealtime. The other day one of my children asked me about a promise I made. I can't even remember talking about it. Am I losing my memory? Do I have blackouts?
One evening a coworker called, and the next day I didn't even remember the call or what we talked about. It seems every time I watch TV or listen to the radio there is a message about getting help for drinking. Even the magazines have ads about it. That bothers me. I can stop drinking anytime I feel like it! Yet, I've tried and didn't stop. I would be totally embarrassed if people knew that I was fighting a drinking problem.
It would be humiliating to even let my family know. What would they think of me? I would be ruined. I wouldn't be able to face anyone at work. Do I really need help? Well, that was my experience. I finally did get help.
I found forgiveness through Jesus, who gave his life to pay for my sins, even my sins of abusing alcohol. I now have peace of mind and strength from the Lord to rebuild my life.
FOR YOU TOO What about you? Do you need help? You think you can stop drinking anytime you make up your mind to do it. But you haven't stopped. You think no one knows about your drinking habits? Your family knows. Mine did. People at work can tell. I found that out, too.
Too much alcohol affects the organs of your body--even though you may not dis- cover the damage until much too late. Your actions tell others that you have been drinking, even though you try to act normal. Your perception is altered. You look at things differently. You talk more. And people around you know.
Look at yourself. How many things that ordinarily didn't bother you do now? How many-arguments do you have with your spouse, your children, your coworkers? Is anger and resentment becoming part of your behavior? Are you sometimes out of control?
Do you ever,- miss work? It's hard to say, "I need help." It's even harder to get help. But you are the only person that can do it. It helped me to know that God loved me and cared about me. He was using all those things that were said--"There's some- thing wrong. "You need help."
"You have a drinking problem"--to call me to the help He provides. He provides help in the person of a caring pastor, loving family, friends who have walked the same path (such as those in Alcoholics Anonymous), professional counselors, and treatment programs. I don't know the best route for you, but I do know that there is help that can change your life and give you a new sense of peace and joy. I am an alcoholic, and I always will be one, so I will always need help from others.
Now is the time for you to admit that you need help. Now is the time to take the steps that will put your life back in order. There is nothing wrong with you that the Lord can't forgive and repair! Jesus did it for me. He gave me the assurance of forgiveness and the strength to rebuild my life.
From the tract "I AM AN ALCOHOLIC"
If you would like to talk to a pastor about your addiction, call (914) 337-0207.
Taken from Concordia Publishing House Tract 10-1665
I need help or have questions about: Family conflict
FAMILY COMMUNICATION GUIDELINES
Be a ready listener and do not answer until the other person has finished talking. Proverbs 13:12; James 1:13
Be slow to speak. Think first. Don't be hasty in your words. Speak in such a way that the other person can understand and accept what you say. Proverbs 15:23, 28: 21:23; 29:20; James 1:19
Speak the truth always but do it in love. Do not exaggerate. Ephesians 4:15, 25. Colossians 3:9
Do not use silence to frustrate the other person. Explain why you are hesitant to talk at this time.
Do not respond in anger. Use a soft and kind response. 15:1, 25:15; 29:11; Ephesians 4:26:31 Proverbs 14:29;
When you are in the wrong, admit it and ask for forgiveness. James 5:16.
When someone confess to you, tell them you forgive them. Be sure it is forgotten and not brought up again. Proverbs 17:9; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13; 1 Peter 4:8
Avoid nagging. Proverbs 10:19; 17: 9; 20:5
Do not blame or criticize the other but restore them, encourage them and edify them. Romans i4:3; Galatians 6:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:11
If someone verbally attacks, criticizes or blames you, do not respond in in the same manner. Romans 12:17,21; 1 Peter 2:23: 3:9
Try to understand the other person's opinion. Make allowances for differences. Be concerned about their interests. Philippians 2:1-4, Ephesians 4:2
If you would like to talk to a pastor about family conflict, or if you and your family would like to learn more about continued growth and nurture in Christ, call (914) 337-0207.
I need help or have questions about: Depression
DEPRESSED? THERE'S HOPE
By: Joel R. Hempel
Do you feel sad and lack energy? Is your self-esteem at a low ebb? Are you at times irritable and at other times teary eyed? Do you have difficulty sleeping and find yourself-overeating or without an appetite? Are you dissatisfied with life and want to withdraw from people, work, and other activities? Have you thought about ending it all? Do you feel guilty or ashamed before God, or just out of touch with him? Is it hard to pray?
If you answer yes to most of these questions, you are probably suffering from depression. But take heart. There is hope.
In his autobiography, "Leaving Home," columnist and humorist Art Buchwald "goes public" regarding his battle with clinical depression. Although Buchwald is a funny man, there is nothing funny, he admits, about the pain of depression. When he was feeling the worst of the symptoms, he thought he would never laugh again.
Depression can make you feel like you are in a deep pit with no way out. It's like walking through quicksand, or finding yourself in a dark tunnel with no visible light from either end. Depression can be overwhelming. But there is hope!
THREE THINGS THAT HELP
To get out of depression's despair three things need to happen:
Recognize that depression does not make you a bad person. There are at least four reasons for being depressed, and none of them have to do with being bad.
One cause of depression is the loss of someone or something of value. If you have not grieved sufficiently, the pain stays inside of you like a jagged object. When you try to bring it up, it hurts; so you let it be. The trouble is, it doesn't go away. Sometimes the unfinished grief can be forgotten for many years. Then something happens and that pain comes seemingly out of nowhere.
A second cause of depression is similar to the first. holding in, a strong emotion such as anger or hurt. If you don't deal with it, it will likely deal with you.
Being out of sorts spiritually can be a third cause of depression. Your personal relationship with God may be the problem. Such things as unrepentant sin, not accepting God's forgiveness, or refusing to forgive yourself are serious problems. Other spiritual difficulty comes from neglecting your relationship with God or resisting God's invitation to grow. These kinds of spiritual difficulties can lead to a king of depression called desolation.
Finally, depression can result from a chemical imbalance in the brain. If this is the cause of your depression, it must be treated with an antidepressant drug or possibly with electroshock therapy, both of which can have miraculous results.
The second thing that needs to happen in order to overcome depression is to put yourself in the company of King David. Actually, if you are depressed, you already are in his company. David had some very depressing times in his life. Listen to the anguish in his psalms: "Be merciful to me, 0 Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul-and my body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak... I become like broken pottery... In my alarm I said, 'I am cut off from your sight." (Psalm 31:9-10, 12, 22; see also Psalms 6; 22; 51; 55; 69; 77; and Job 30)
David did, indeed, battle depression. But like Jesus, who on the cross was also tempted to despair, never gave up on God: "I trust in the Lord. I will in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my heart. Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love" (Psalm 16)
The third reason you do not need to despair is because help is available. Don't make the mistake of thinking that you can tough it out or pray it away. When we break an arm or get sick lungs, we generally don't rely on prayer alone. We go to a trained professional. Broken emotions or a broken mind are no different. Get help! You are suffering, but you don't need to.
First, seek help from your minister Be honest and open. Depending on the severity of your depression, he may need to refer you. Your pastor may be able to provide the name of a pastoral counselor and a psychiatrist.
When you go to a counselor or psychotherapist, remember that you are the consumer. You have the right to "shop around" until you find someone with whom you feel comfortable. God wants you to be whole. He has created you and redeemed you in Christ so that you can live a full and meaningful life.
Remember the words of St. Paul, "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed" (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Be certain of this: The God who will raise us up on the last day, will raise you up out of despair, out of the pit. And God will likely do that through one of his many servants who have been called and equipped to serve you.
Get help! You deserve it!
If you would like to talk to a pastor about depression, call (914) 337-0207.
Taken from Concordia Publishing House Tract 10-1678
HOW TO CHOSE A CHURCH
I need help or have questions about: How to choose a church
ONLY TWO RELIGIONS
Many people are confused by the great variety of churches. "How can I tell which church to join?" It may help you to know that there are really only two religions in the world.
One teaches that we must save ourselves by our own good character and works. The other, that God saves us by an act of mercy in Christ, Who as our Substitute, suffered and died for our sins. That should make your choice easier.
Choose a church which teaches you to trust in Jesus for salvation. You can't save yourself any more than you can lift yourself by your own bootstraps. The Bible says, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy He saved us... through Jesus Christ, our Savior." Titus 3:5-6 (KJ)
LOOK FOR THE GOSPEL
In choosing a church you ought to notice whether or not the Bible, and particularly the Gospel, the good news of salvation in Christ, is prominent in the preaching, in Bible class, in Sunday school lessons, and in the church's programs.
You will have to take the time to find out and compare the church's teaching with Bible truth.
TO BE SPECIFIC
Does this church believe that the whole Bible is God's revelation to man? "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." 2 Tim. 3:16 (KJ)
Does this church believe in the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit? "Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Matt. 28:19 (RSV)
Does this church believe that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God and the only Savior of the world? "The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world." I John 4:14 (KJ)
Does this church believe that Christ died for the sins of the whole world? "Christ died for our sins." I Cor. 15:3 (KJ)"...for the sins of the whole world." I John 2:2 (KJ)
Does this church believe everyone is saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ's atonement? "By grace you have been saved through faith." Eph. 2:8 (RSV)
Does this church believe that Baptism washes away all sins? baptized and wash away your sins." Acts 22:16 (RSV) "Rise and be Does this church believe the words Jesus spoke when He instituted the Lord's Supper? "This is my body ... This is my blood, which is shed for the remission of your sins." Matt. 26:26-28 (KJ)
A FEW DON'TS
Don't select a church merely because it happens to be the nearest one or because it has the most imposing building.
Don't suppose that all churches are alike, that all are equally good and lead to the same place.
Don't neglect the truth of God, the eternal truth by which you will be judged, the truth by which your children are to be guided through life and death.
The Lutheran Church does not claim to be the only saving church but it does endeavor to preserve and to pass on the truth as it is found in the Bible. It teaches, not the opinions of men, but the revelation God. It does not destroy the truth of God by believing only what seems reasonable. Our Church invites you to worship and to work with us in serving God and man. Our pastor will be glad to discuss your problems and needs with you. "Come with us, and we will do you good." Numbers 10:29 (RSV)
If you would like to talk to a pastor about joining our church, call (914) 337-0207
Taken from Concordia Publishing House Tract 10-0416
I need help or have questions about: Baptism
BAPTISM - ITS MEANING AND POWER
By: Charles Vanderhyde
Baptism is more than a ceremony, more than a tradition, more than a christening (like a ship). Baptism is being brought into God's family.
"In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:26-27).
And so that there be no doubt in our minds that we belong to God's family, He baptizes us into Christ.
"Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved" (Mark 16:15-16).
We receive God's forgiveness when we accept what He has done for us in Christ.
"God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
Baptism is not just an act of obedience by people. We don't do it (to ourselves by ourselves). It is done to us (Scripture says, (Be baptized"). It is done by God.
Titus 3:5 (God) saved us ... by the washing of regeneration."
Ephesians 5:25 "Christ loved the church ... having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word."
1 Corinthians 12:13: "By one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body."
Forgiveness is a washing away of sin because God has connected His promise to baptism.
Acts 22:16: Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins."
Ephesians 5:25: "Christ loved the church ... having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word."
New life is ours as a child of God.
John 3:3, 5: "Unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God... Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."
In the early church, when the head of a family believed, the entire family was baptized.
Acts 2:38-39: "Repent and be baptized ... for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children....'.'
Acts 16: "Paul baptized Lydia and her household, and the jailer and his family."
Infants are baptized because:
People are born sinners, and need to be reborn in Christ, no matter what their age. Romans 3:10, "None is righteous, no, not one."
Infants can have faith in Jesus. Jesus uses a little child as an example of what it takes to enter the kingdom of God.
Matthew 18:3: "Unless you become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
Faith is not an intellectual process; it does not depend on a person's ability to think or understand or make decisions: faith is a gift from God.
The power of Baptism doesn't depend on the person being baptized, but on God.
If you would like to talk to a pastor about baptism, call (914) 337-0207
Taken from Concordia Publishing House Tract 10-1197
I need help or have questions about: Weddings
WHAT IS THE PROMISE OF MARRIAGE?
Two can accomplish more than twice as much as one, for the results can be much better. If one falls, the other pulls him up, but if a man falls when he is alone, he's in trouble! Also on a cold night, two under the same blanket gain warmth from each other, but how can one be warm alone? And one standing alone can be attached and defeated, but two can stand back-to- back and conquer; three is even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken! Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
A WEDDING PRAYER
You created marriage, Father, because two are better than one. In marriage we will get more done, help each other, and provide our spouse with warmth and protection. Bless our marriage, and grant to us many years of happiness, God, we also ask that you be the third strand to our marriage. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us so that we may walk in your ways, to your glory. In the name of Jesus, our Savior. Amen.
If you would like to talk to a pastor about marriage or a church wedding,
call (914) 337-0207