Devotion for Sunday, October 21, 2018

“Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the Lord Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” (Psalm 100:1-3)


What is there really to fret about? You know where life is heading. You have good times and times you call bad. The Lord has promised that all will work together for good. Why do you worry? Come to the Lord and give Him thanks for all the goodness He gives upon the earth. Yes, the wicked do what they do, but you have been called into the presence of the Most High.

Lord, I do worry in the moment. I am concerned with the world around me and all of those who go through life as though You are not there. This will not change in this age. Help me to live a different way by standing in Your presence and knowing that You are the good God who created all things and knows the beginning from the end. Change my heart to trust You above all things.

Lord Jesus, You had Your share of difficulties when walking the earth. You know how cruel people can be. Yet, it was You who paved the way for all who come in faith to walk the humble and simple life of knowing that all things are in Your hands. Guide me, O Lord, in the way You have established that I may now and always walk in the way You would have me go, and praise the Father for all good things. Amen.

Devotion for Saturday, October 20, 2018

“O Lord our God, You answered them; You were a forgiving God to them, and yet an avenger of their evil deeds. Exalt the Lord our God and worship at His holy hill, for holy is the Lord our God.” (Psalm 99:8-9)

 The ways of the Lord are unchanging. Each generation seeks to do things the way they think they ought to be done, but only the way of the Lord, established in the beginning, is true and lasts forever. Come then into the Lord’s presence and walk according to His statutes and know His goodness. Walk humbly before your God and know that He is the One who is forever.

Lord, this world tempts me to walk in its ways. The ways of the world are not just. Lead me to practice the way You would have me go that I may learn the way of eternity. Help me through every temptation that would call me in another direction that I may now and always practice Your ways. Guide me to worship You alone and dwell upon Your holy hill now and forever.

Holy Spirit, work on my inward life that I may be guided by Your presence and purpose. Help me always to see that the Truth is the only way to live life. Regardless of the temptations that are around me, or the tugs to go in another direction, help me to live into the life to which I have been called. May I dwell in the light of truth all the days of my life and live in the eternal way. Amen.

Letter From the Director – October 2018


That is a theme that I heard twice during the same week – at both the LCMC annual gathering October 7-10 and the Lutheran CORE-sponsored, Spanish and bi-lingual ministries Encuentro on October 12.

Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries and keynote speaker at the LCMC gathering, was sharing how our nation as a civilization is showing deep signs of stress. Our culture is deteriorating from the inside. For the church of Jesus this undeniable reality is a great opportunity. If you were to ask unchurched people, “What do you think it is going to be like for your children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren?” their response is likely to be one of hopelessness. This hopelessness is a sign of receptivity to spiritual things. It is a lie from Satan to say that people today are not receptive. We are living in a season of receptivity. As a simple way in which everyone can respond to this season of receptivity, Dr. Hunter suggests that you ask the person who is waiting on you at a restaurant for their name, and then ask them if they have any concerns that you can pray for when you pray for your food. People are hurting. People are in need. People are receptive and will value and respond to your offer to pray for them.

I saw this principle illustrated a few days later at the Lutheran CORE-sponsored Encuentro in the Hermosa neighborhood of northwest Chicago.  The previous Saturday a two-year-old boy had been tragically shot and killed in an eruption of violence in the area surrounding the host church. The following Monday there was a neighborhood gathering with city officials and law enforcement personnel. Keith Forni, pastor of the host church, St. Timothy’s, as well as pastor of First/Santa Cruz Lutheran Church in Joliet, coordinator of the Encuentro, and member of the board of Lutheran CORE, was present at the gathering and was asked by a city official to lead in prayer. Keith told about the prayer gathering that had already been planned for the closing of the Encuentro the following Friday evening. This time of prayer out in front of the church was being held for the city of Chicago, which has seen so many homicides and so much violence, and for the victims of shootings and their families. This prayer gathering was announced in the Chicago Tribune, and cameramen from two local television news stations came to film the vigil and to interview participants. What an opportunity. What a moment of receptivity.

Pastor Forni also described the practice of Las Posadas as an opportunity for a congregation to do neighborhood ministry. Reenacting the search of Mary and Joseph for a place to stay for the night, Lutherans in changing neighborhoods can reach out to and take the first step in connecting with a neighborhood that they may have lost touch with.


It is always a joy to represent Lutheran CORE at the annual LCMC gathering. These people are warmly welcoming, fervent in their love for Jesus, and passionate in their commitment to mission. They are innovative and creative in their seeking to share their faith in a twenty-first century world. They are not going to become discouraged. For example, I was talking with a man who has been president of his congregation in Texas. After their pastor retired, they found that they no longer had the numbers and resources to call a new pastor. Rather than close the congregation, the church council told the president that they wanted him to be their next pastor. That person is now pursuing theological training online so that he will be able to fill the role that has been given to him by the congregation. I was reminded of the number of times in the New Testament when the apostle Paul appointed leaders in churches after he had been there for only a short time, and then he wrote letters to those churches in order to teach them what they should believe and how they should live.

As I experienced at the NALC convocation in August, there were so many people at the LCMC gathering who came up to me or who came up to my Lutheran CORE table and told me how they read our materials and how much they value and appreciate the work we are doing. They particularly mentioned reading our recent correspondence with ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton about the ELCA youth gathering and our evaluation of Bishop Eaton’s response. We were mightily encouraged by all the expressions of appreciation and support from our friends in LCMC.

Attending the gathering also gave me abundant opportunity to tell people about the upcoming Congregations in Transition ministry initiative and the Rekindling Your First Love event.


The Congregations in Transition ministry initiative is an effort to train (mostly retired) Lutheran pastors to serve as coaches to congregations whose pastor has retired or resigned to take another call. A very generous gift has been received to cover the travel and lodging expenses of pastors for a three-night, two-full-day training and relationship building event probably in early April 2019 in the Phoenix area.  The need for this initiative is greatly increased by the number of soon-retiring Baby Boomer pastors, declining seminary enrollment, increased student debt for those graduating from seminary, the loss of congregational momentum that can occur during an interim period, and the fact that interim pastors will not always be available.

In this initiative a congregation organizes a Leadership Team of a few key leaders (separate from the church council and the call committee), which then works with their coach, primarily online. The ministry arrangement begins with an initial onsite visit to introduce the coach to the entire congregation and that includes the coach’s spending a full day with the Leadership Team. The primary purpose of this ministry is for far more than simply offering encouragement to the congregation in a time of crisis. It also includes helping the Leadership Team maintain not just stability but momentum in regards to the congregation’s vital ministries during this transition time.

There is no financial cost for those who volunteer to serve as coaches. Their travel and lodging expenses for the training event are being covered by a generous gift. There are very few financial costs to the congregations. The trained coaches are active retired pastors who are willing to volunteer their time. The only significant expense for the congregation would be if they decided that they would like their coach to visit their church.

Please watch for more information about this ministry initiative in future issues of our newsletter, CORE Voice, and in future letters from the director. Please contact me at if you are interested and/or if you would like to know more.


Another one of our upcoming projects which I was very happy to be able to tell people about at the LCMC gathering is our “Rekindling Your First Love” event. This gathering will take place on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 in the Baltimore area and will be a full day of spiritual and emotional renewal for pastors. It will include presentations, discussion, processing, prayer, fellowship, worship, determining next steps, and personal ministry time. NALC pastor Tim Hubert will talk about “Rekindling Your First Love for Christ.” NALC pastor Wendy Berthelsen will speak on “Rekindling Your First Love for the Church as the Body of Christ.” ELCA pastor Brian Hughes will address “Rekindling Your First Love for Mission and Ministry as the Work of Christ in the World.”

The idea of the gathering is as follows. At the end of his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul commended that church for their undying love. A generation later in Revelation 2 when John writes to the church in Ephesus he tells them that they have lost their first love. Many pastors – because of the demands of ministry, the painful experience of being hurt and even betrayed by congregational members, and having to deal with so much conflict – have lost their first love. If that is you, we want to invite you to rekindle and regain your first love. Please be watching for more information, which will be available soon.


We are also working with Perry Fruhling, LCMC coordinator for pastoral ministry, to identify congregations that have seen two or more people go to seminary recently and pastors who have seen two or more people go to seminary during their ministry. We will then work with these pastors and the leaders of these churches to identify the common factors that make a congregation and a pastoral ministry a good nurturing place for future pastors.


We are very grateful to Kim Smith for taking on the role of president of the board for Lutheran CORE. Kim has been serving on our board for a little under two years. She is the one who developed our new website and now is keeping it current. She is also editor of our newsletter. I was elected president of the board in early 2015. A year later I was also hired as part-time director. Because the ministry is ever-increasing, we are very grateful that Kim is willing and able to serve as president of the board while I remain as executive director.

We are also very grateful for all of our friends – individuals as well as congregations – who support our work. This is the time of year when many congregations are determining their benevolence budget and mission dollars recipients for next year. We urge you to speak with your pastor, and, pastors, we ask you to speak to your church councils about including Lutheran CORE in the list of missions which will receive financial support from your congregation next year.

As a partner with you in seeking to make use of every opportunity to share the love of Jesus,


Pastor Dennis D. Nelson

Executive Director of Lutheran CORE


Devotion for Friday, October 19, 2018

“Moses and Aaron were among His priests, and Samuel was among those who called on His name; they called upon the Lord and He answered them. He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud; they kept His testimonies and the statute that He gave them.” (Psalm 99:6-7)


The Lord lifts up those who will speak the truth of His presence and will. It is not just those who are great, but all who believe are called to witness of His love and mercy. Come as one called to speak the truth of His Word to others that they may have the opportunity that You have had to hear the truth of the ages. As He spoke to you, He sends you to speak to others.

Lord, help me overcome whatever it is in me that does not speak freely of the truth You have revealed to me. Lead me to be one who practices my faith with the words I speak as well as the actions I perform. Lead me to see clearly that You are growing in me what You have grown in all of the faithful that I may now and always speak the truth of Your presence in my life.

Lord Jesus, You have come that I would be conformed by grace to Your image. Lead me, O Lord, in the way You would have me go that I may now and always live into the goal of being like You. It is a big role that I cannot imagine, yet You have given the promise in Your Word that all who believe shall be conformed to Your image. Lead me this day one step closer to the goal. Amen.

Devotion for Thursday, October 18, 2018

“The strength of the King loves justice; You have established equity; You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. Exalt the Lord our God and worship at His footstool; Holy is He.” (Psalm 99:4-5)


The Lord is not as we are able to imagine. His justice is perfect and the world, which is not just, cannot fathom a perfect and just God. Holy is He; so holy that we are unable to begin to fathom His holiness and goodness. Yet, though He is beyond our ability to grasp, He has made Himself known through His Son that we may come to Him and be in His presence. He has provided the way for us to walk with Him.

Lord, Your way is too good for me. You are too great for me to stand in Your presence and yet You have invited me to walk in the light of Your grace to be with You in eternity. Far above my ability to comprehend, You have done these things. Lead me, O Lord, by Your Spirit to walk now and always in the light of Your countenance that I may be in Your presence forever.

Lord Jesus, God in the flesh, many do not understand Your presence in this world. They do not know that You are He of whom the prophets foretold. Even Your presence in this world is more than I am able to understand. Guide me in humility to walk with You wherever You lead that I may abide in You and You in me all the days of my life. Lead me, Lord Jesus, by Your grace. Amen.

Devotion for Wednesday, October 17, 2018

“The Lord reigns, let the peoples tremble; He is enthroned above the cherubim, let the earth shake! The Lord is great in Zion, and He is exalted above all the peoples. Let them praise Your great and awesome name; Holy is He.” (Psalm 99:1-2)


The most powerful One of all eternity is treated as nothing by many. Great is He and greatly to be praised. Those who know this are blessed. He is Sovereign though the nations pretend otherwise. Come to the Lord and see the truth of the ages. See that He is good, mighty and worthy of all honor. Come into His presence and abide now and forever in His goodness.

Lord, I get caught up in the anxiety of this age and live life with You as a side note. Help me to shake off the fog and live in the truth that You are God and there is no other. Lead me in the goodness of Your grace and mercy that I may now and always live a life that is one of praise of You for the good things You have created. Lead me in the way I should go that I may dwell in Zion.

Lord Jesus, You have come to rescue the weak and lowly and lift us to the place where we may abide in the Father’s presence forever. In Your grace, lead me, O Lord, that I may now and always live into the life to which You have called me. You are great and worthy of all honor. You have accomplished for those who dwell in Zion the way of life and liberty from this age of sin. Amen.

Devotion for Tuesday, October 16, 2018

“Let the sea roar and all it contains, the world and those who dwell in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy before the Lord, for He is coming to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with equity.” (Psalm 98:7-8)


The earth is filled with its own rhythm. The Lord reflects who He is through what He has made. Look around and see all that the Lord has made and know that it has its own rhythm which He has implanted in it. Be guided by the Lord and His goodness and know that in Him alone is the only eternal hope. He is righteous and will guide those who come to Him in His righteousness.

Lord, open my eyes to see Your goodness and mercy. Open my eyes to see the beauty of all that You have created. Guide me according to Your goodness to walk in the way that I have been created to walk. Clear my eyes that I may see more clearly and do those things which You have given me to do. May I be guided by Your goodness and mercy all the days of my life.

Lord Jesus, You are the example of One who walked in the Father’s will. By Your example and Your leading, guide me today and every day to walk as I should walk in this creation of Yours. Lead me in the upward path of becoming like You that I may see and understand how I fit into Your creation. Raise me up to become like You, a willing and obedient child of the Heavenly Father. Amen.

Devotion for Monday, October 15, 2018

“Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody. With trumpets and the sound of the horn shout joyfully before the King, the Lord.” (Psalm 98:5-6)


Music is a language the Lord has given that all can speak. Do you make music for the Lord? Is the rhythm of your life such that it is a pleasing song to the Lord? Seek the way of the Lord and live in harmony with His will and way. Come then and be whom the Lord created you to be that you may live into the life to which you have been called, knowing that in Him is a life to come that cannot even be yet imagined.

Lord, I hear the words and sometimes even hear the music, but find that I have been born without the rhythm. Teach me to sing a new song. Teach me to live a live that is in harmony with You. Teach me to grow in the abilities You have given me that my life would become the song You created it to be, a song of praise to You whose work alone endures forever.

Holy Spirit, teacher of joy, guide my heart to be lifted up that I may now and always play the music of heaven. Teach me to be the instrument of Your love in this world. Guide me according to the Father’s will that I would now and always live as I have been created to live. Lift me into the upward path to do those things which are right and fitting as one becoming a child of the Heavenly Father. Amen.

Devotion for Sunday, October 14, 2018

“He has remembered His lovingkindness and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; break forth and sing for joy and sing praises.” (Psalm 98:3-4)


For those who know that the Lord prevails, He grants mercy and grace. Though your sins be as scarlet, yet will He grant His presence that you may know His purpose. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good and His love endures forever. Know that in Him are life and liberty and the ability to walk through this crazy age of rebellion with godly purpose and, in His power, blessed assurance.

Lord, keep my eyes lifted up that I may now and always abide in Your presence. Grant that I may be aware of all that is around me through the eyes of faith. Lead me to live according to Your purposes knowing that Your grace alone enables me to walk humbly in Your presence. Lift my heart to give You thanks and praise in all circumstances knowing that You alone are worthy of praise.

Thank You Lord for the gift of Your presence in my life. Keep me on the narrow way that I would now and always walk straight, knowing that I am in Your presence. Help me to live through the difficulties that come and abide in Your comforting arms of mercy. Guide me this day to do what is pleasing in Your sight. May I live a life of praise of You who alone is able to do all things. Amen.

Devotion for Saturday, October 13, 2018

“O sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonderful things, His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him. The Lord has made known His salvation; He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations.” (Psalm 98:1-2)


The Lord does not deal in wishful thinking, but knows what will happen. Salvation has been assured. Not will be, but is assured. Come to the One who knows all things and know the goodness of His grace and mercy. Know that it is He who has made all things and holds you in His hands. He is mighty to save and will guide you all the days of your life.

Lord, when the world seems so troubled and I hear those who hate You yell and rant, help me hear clearly through the noise of this world Your clear and simple voice that says, “It is all in my hands.” Lift me up with You to walk humbly in Your presence that I may now and always praise You for the mighty things You have done. Guide me, O Lord, to walk in Your ways now and always.

Lord Jesus, You have made the way of salvation possible – not only possible, but assured. Guide me, O Lord, in the way You know I need to walk that I would proceed humbly in Your sight. Lead me according to Your purposes to give praise and thanksgiving for the gift of life, salvation and the eternal hope that You alone provide. Lead me this day to learn from You the way I should walk. Amen.