Friday, May 29, 2020

You’ll Never Guess... What I Saw Out the Back Door of Church!

Fifteen folks with guns. Aimed not at each other, but at little orange discs made of clay!

For those of you unfamiliar with "trap shooting," it's like target practice and is designed to hone skills for later in the year when hunting ducks or geese. The little orange discs are launched skyward from a mechanical "thrower" and the participants take turns attempting to turn them into dust particles that fall back to earth. Some folks are "lights out" and really good! Others, like me, most often leave the little orange discs unscathed, later to be gathered and used again next time! We console ourselves with the idea that we're "helping the cause" by reducing the number of boxes of clays we need to purchase for the next shoot :)

That's "technically" what I saw on the 5 acres out back of our church building. But what I really saw - beyond the obvious - was the truth of God's statement in Genesis 2:18: "It is not good for man (or woman) to be alone!" You see, this was our first trap shooting outing of the spring. More importantly, it was the first time most of us were able to get together with anyone not residing in the same house since the COVID-19 lockdowns began a couple months before. What I saw went way beyond the normal fun of competition or of enjoying a perfect Minnesota spring evening. I saw smiles and heard the laughter that comes from being together instead of being alone!

God created us to be in community, to be interdependent rather than independent. He designed us to need each other instead of needing just ourselves. As we've seen so vividly highlighted these past few months, it is not good for man or woman or teen or child to be alone. I thank God for that trap shooting evening and the blessed reminder of just how good it is to be together! 

And, I hope you can join us this Sunday, May 31, as we finally are able to be together to worship the God who created us to be together!

Pastor David

Thursday, May 28, 2020

See The Light

Not a new song, but TobyMac recently released a new video for "See the Light" with the help of some friends, including his daughter and his Pastor. This was a good song two years ago when it was originally recorded, but the words take on a relevant meaning in our current troubled times.
Some things will never be the same
Some things are only for a season
And just the thought of letting go
Well, it’s brought you to your knees
Oh, but if you can make it
You can make it through the night
I can promise that the sun is gonna rise
You wake up just a little bit stronger
So, hold on just a little bit longer
To the people who are struggling, maybe emotionally down, or maybe dealing with issues larger than you can handle... God sees you in this place. "You've got more than you on your side and we gon' see the light."

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day

Today is  Memorial Day. The unofficial start of summer. Traditionally a day of backyard barbeques, public flag ceremonies, time spent with family and friends, or maybe visits to parks or beaches. This year is a little different in that we probably don't participate in the normal large social gatherings.

Perhaps this year, we have a bit more time to pause and remember to honor those who gave their lives to keep us free and the families they left behind. Time to remember that freedom is not free after all.

I hope you have a chance to get out and enjoy America, which despite all its problems and shortcomings is still a wonderful country that our fallen have defended for us. Have a safe and meaningful Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Blessing

In the May newsletter I shared a link to the new worship song, "The Blessing", which was released on March 20th, 2020 by Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes that was being performed by a virtual choir, which I thought was a unique concept. This song first starting playing on Christian radio on May 1st and has since become a hugely popular. During our current time of pandemic this song has become a phenomenon with virtual choirs around the world.

There are many versions currently online. In addition to many church choirs and individual performances, there are a variety of virtual choirs around the world publishing performances:

...and many, many more versions. This is an impressive listing since the song has only been out for a couple of months.  I believe that this is due to the power of the words that come straight out of the Scripture which we have heard many times:
"The Lord bless you and keep you. Make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace."  
One of the most impressive versions is the Global Choir of singers from around the world. I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Keep Me In The Moment

Jeremy Camp recently released a new music video with a message and story perfectly suited for America’s current quarantine.  Though "Keep Me In The Moment" was written for his movie I Still Believe, his new music video seems like the perfect theme song to describe the world’s current quarantine.

“Keep Me in the Moment’’ is about family and meaning.
As Americans and nations around the world social distance, staying home to protect others from the Coronavirus pandemic, the video, released March 20, shows similar American families, together at home.

Few Americans expected to be “shut down’’ even a few weeks ago
Here we are, ordered to stay home, thinking about our families, safety, our health and our future. Certain friends and relatives are kept apart for safety’s sake.

Our normal community activities including work, restaurants, movies, traveling, the gym and church are largely off-limits. And Camp sings: 
“Singing oh Lord, keep me in the moment. Help me live with my eyes wide open cause I don’t wanna miss what you have for me… show me what matters..’’
Our activities and our economy are stuck in place, suddenly barely able to move. Forced to read more, reflect more from home, Camp adds: 
Throw away what I’m chasing after ’cause I don’t wanna miss what you have for me. Keep me in the moment. Oh, keep me in the moment…’’
Our past was taken away, our future is uncertain…
When the future is uncertain and our past routines and communal activities have been disrupted “the moment’’ is literally all we have. As Camp sings: 
“All I got is one shot, one try. One go around in this beautiful life Nothing is wasted when everything’s placed in your hands.’’
The silver lining of our current crisis?

With communities and our very economy closed, most Americans have been forced to stay at home, forced to pull closer together, quarantined with loved ones, reflecting on the moment and the meaning of our very lives.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Hope In The Darkness

I wanted to share this email that I received from artist Jason Kotecki...

It was a dark and stormy night…

…that lasted for two months.

That’s the season we find ourselves in, when darkness has filled the entire world and months feel like centuries.

As I think about darkness, I can't help but think of a strange quality we humans have. Whether it’s a handful of birthday candles in a darkened room, the glowing embers from a campfire in the woods, or the flickering stars in a night sky, we can’t help but be drawn to the light.

Throughout this pandemic, a particular phrase has resurfaced again and again during my morning quiet times: fix my eyes.

I’ve been encountering it so often, in songs, books, and videos, that I was curious to look it up and see if I might glean some deeper understanding. According to one dictionary definition, this version of “fix” means to direct one’s eyes, mind, or attention steadily or unwaveringly towards something.

I immediately thought of a story In the Bible in which Peter, one of Jesus’ most lovable and bone-headed followers, gets to walk on water. The thing is, when he’s focused on Jesus, all is well and he is able to do the impossible. But when he shifts his attention to the raging waves, he’s swallowed by fear and begins to sink.

The only difference is where Peter has chosen to fix his eyes.

Back to this peculiarity that human beings are born with an innate attraction to light. Spend any time at sunset on any beach in the world, and you will find every single person staring at the sun. No one is facing the opposite direction.

It’s not that we don’t notice the darkness. There have been times during this pandemic when I have been sucked in by it. It’s a scary place to dwell. During those times, my anxiety levels increase. Fear grows.

But then I notice it.

My attention is pulled away by something else…a tiny firefly, glowing amidst the expansive backdrop of black. Before long, I see another, and then another.

These fireflies are the helpers. The people who have decided to help where they can. It’s the same light, but expressed by individuals in different ways.

The high school principal visiting over 600 graduating seniors. 

The woman delivering donuts to her staff who are working from home. 

The DJ leading dance parties in the street. 

It may be just as dark at one in the morning as it is at three, but only one of them is two hours closer to dawn. For most of us, it’s still night. But sunrise is closer than it was a month ago.

The fireflies are hope in the darkness that we will see the light.

Until morning comes –  which it will – may we continue to fix our eyes on the humble lights pulsing with hope all around us.

And may we flash our own light for others.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Sometimes the best verses are ones you stumble upon!

Every month we have what we call a "Discipleship Verse." We recite it three times in each worship service during that month to help commit that verse to memory. Well, I was looking for a verse for the month of May that would speak to our current "Stay at Home" situation here in Minnesota. Proverbs 3:5-6 came to mind (maybe because it has always been one of my favorite verses). If you're not familiar with it here's what God tells us in it:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.


And after I read that proverb I glanced down at the next one. (A proverb is a "short saying that expresses a practical truth." i.e. "Wise words for life.") Here's what I saw:

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.

I put those last two lines in all caps, because "healing" has been front and center in our prayers and on our minds since early March. And here's a passage that not only tells us what to do that will bring us health, but the instruction comes from no less than God!!!

God has been called "The Great Physician - of both body and soul." Here's His prescription:

Don't be arrogant or proud. Don't pat your self on the back for being so smart. Instead, be humble and have a healthy respect for the Lord and His power. And stay far, far away from anything that's contrary to what God wants ("evil").

Or maybe put even simpler:   "Remember that you aren't god, but that I Am!"

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Hurry Up and Wait

MercyMe has a new song that they released a few days ago called "Hurry Up and Wait" that is inspired by the scripture of Isaiah 40:31
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint
The new video that they released with this song shows that Bart and the rest of the band may be going as "stir crazy" as the rest of us during this quarantine...

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Walking Miracles

Our sermon a couple weeks ago and the May newsletter featured a Matthew West song, "Forgiveness" and the story behind the writing of the song. Matthew likes to write songs about real life experiences that inspire him. In January of this year he released a song called "Walking Miracles". Just yesterday, he released the video talking about the story behind this song. The message is an encouraging one about how God can create miracles in everyone.

You can even upload your photo on Matthew's website as a "walking miracle".
Find out more about Matthew's mission to tell the stories of other people and their experiences.

Finally, on a less serious note, check out Matthew's video on "Quarantine Life".

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

God Can Do All Things

A new video released today from Caleb Grimm (a member of Anthem Lights) and his wife Kelsey called "Never Lost". They perform under the name Caleb and Kelsey and maybe some of you saw them last year when they performed at the New London Performing Arts Center or in Willmar last December. This is an excellent song with a great message. I hope you enjoy...


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

How Are You Holding Up?

As the pressure build in the chaos of our "new normal" we might be ready to give in. At a time like this, we look to the Bible for guidance and reassurance. It tells a story of how Moses struggled to hold his hands up in prayer to God as his people were being attacked. Listen as Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour, shares this story and tells us what it teaches us about holding each other up in times of difficulty and uncertainty.

HOLDING UP from Lutheran Hour Ministries on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Together We'll Get Through This.

A brand new song from Steven Curtis Chapman called Together (We'll Get Through This) featuring Brad Paisley, Tash Cobbs Leonard, and Lauren Alaina. The video was just released on 4/30/20.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Psalm 23 & Me

I thought this was an interesting way to show how God's Word remains relevant and important to us today...