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A New Beginning


How are things going? I know, answering questions like "How are things going" is ingratiating when we're all feeling cooped up, worn down, lonely, going crazy, etc. We all hoped this pandemic would be over by now, and we didn't expect 2021 to still be like this. We hope this article written by Nathan Schulte is a welcome, invigorating refresher on something all Christians get to enjoy: New Beginnings.

Starting the New Year with Paul

Where I serve in Ecuador and in many other Latin American countries, people have the tradition of burning monigotes on the last night of the year. Although the monigotes come in many different shapes and forms, they are basically big dolls representing the past year. Some families make their own out of old clothes. Others buy elaborate ones. But all of them are happily burned as the New Year comes in. The message is clear. Get rid of that old year! We don't want it anymore!

A lot of the monigotes this year were in the shape of (yep, you guessed it) a gigantic, evil-looking virus. Many people have many reasons to want this past year to stay far away from them. It haunts them. But every year seems to be like that, right? You start a new one invigorated and excited and end it frustrated, ashamed, sad . . . ready to burn the monigote, yet again.
If only getting rid of our past were as easy as tossing a match on a flammable pile of old clothes. Psychologically it feels good and relieving, but the sins, failings, and shame stick around. It's not easy dealing with the past.

The Apostle Paul also had a past. He had eagerly destroyed the church! He had blood on his hands. His past was full of horrible things. Paul had a past to haunt him . . . he also had a present and, in many ways, it also was not encouraging. A somber reading of Romans 7 opens up the inner battle that Paul had every single day.

A past and a present to deal with?! How do you deal with that? How do you escape?

Praise be to the Lord! "The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly . . . " Paul's words are also ours by God's grace. Nothing in us merited grace. Nothing in us earned a divine smile. Nothing in us brought God's love. Nothing. The only thing our past and present helps is to see God's forgiveness even more clearly. His love is so great and wondrous that it could even be for us!
The grace of our Lord was poured out for me abundantly
So, whether you burned a monigote this year or have a different ritual to turn the page on a New Year, I pray that you do so with a deep contentment and confidence of one who knows what God does with the past—he forgives it in Christ!

Stand in wonder. Here is your God: 1 Timothy 1:12-17, "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen."

About the author

Nathan Schulte serves as a missionary in WELS missions in Latin America. He lives in Quito, Ecuador.


No Stones

NO STONES : Women Redeemed From Sexual Addiction

by Marnie C. Ferree

Reviewer: Muriel Mathey

"This book is a serious, thorough resource for women struggling with sexual addiction. It gives a realistic view of the problems of women’s addiction, noting the ways it differs from men’s. In the book, Marnie Ferree doesn’t offer quick fixes but she does guide the reader toward hope and recovery."
Read the full article


5 Step Proces

5 Steps To Escape Porn

I’m trapped. How do I get out?
Since its inception, CtC has promoted a 5-step process to reject the temptation to use pornography. These videos walk through the steps (get real about the wreckage, get back to God’s grace, get rid of porn, get accountable to others, get ready for battle), sharing Scripture and practical tips to make porn part of our past. Why these 5 steps? Because they work. Maybe not overnight, but over time. The videos can be used by those struggling with porn and shared by loved ones who want to help friends and family say “no” to temptation.
Many of us are former porn users ourselves and know the struggle firsthand. Listen to CtC chairman Mike Novotny as he lays out these 5 steps in the following videos.
Check it out

Dear God,

You have called me to live in the light of your love, your truth and your Son. Expose to me all that I hide in the darkness. Lead me in repentance out of the darkness and into your light every day.


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