Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Isn't it funny how life can appear to be going so well, but then there is just one little trigger that opens up a Pandora's Box of things that were bothering you that you didn't even realize. For example, life has been going swimmingly. Then, this morning, I hopped in the car to head in to church and all I heard was click-click-click-click-click. Great! The car won't start! Somehow that opened up the floodgates to feeling every last ounce of stress that is currently somewhere in my life all at the same time. Now there is this foreboding feeling that today just might not be the best of days. We'll have to see how that goes and judge later. It just just seem like a great way to start off the day, it kind of makes everything feel a little "off."

Speaking of cars & off, remember, we're leaving on our mission trip on Saturday morning. Your prayers are greatly appreciated. This is also a reminder that I probably won't be posting much until sometime in July.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Why do we wrap up our identity so much in what we do? I think when we do that we devalue who we are, who God has created us to be. I ask the question because I know that I am terribly guilty of this.

For example, last Saturday was Grandma's Marathon and I found a part of me feeling kind of weird because I wasn't running. I think in part because I've defined myself as a runner, as a marathoner even, and yet I haven't hardly run a step in almost nine months. If I don't run who am I?

I do it in other places as well. I do it in ministry as well. Because I define myself as a pastor I find myself measuring myself against other pastors and ministers. How well I do ministry in comparison has a way of defining how "good" I am as a person.

Now, I don't share these examples as a plea for others to tell me what a great person I am. Instead I share them because I have a hunch others act in a similar way and have seen the destructive nature of it, or maybe need to see the destructive nature of that thinking. I share them to ask the question of, "How do you break free from that kind of thinking?"

Monday, June 18, 2007


We leave soon on our mission trip to Logan, WV, Saturday morning actually. It should be a great adventure, but we need your help still. Please start to pray for the trip now, and keep praying throughout our trip until we return late in the afternoon on July 1. You can pray for safety, for lives to be changed, or just plain pray!

The students attending are: Megan, Natalie, Dani, Laura, Abby, Jenny, Katie, and Emily
The adults attending are: Jane, Ken, and myself.

ALL of your prayers for this trip are VERY MUCH appreciated. If you are a member of Christ Lutheran who is reading this please know that we will be sharing about BOTH of our mission trips this summer on Sunday, July 29, so please come and join us that morning.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Yesterday we were driving into Rochester for a hospital visit after text study. The theme of the passages we looked at for this coming Sunday were about our forgiveness. As we were driving in there was some graffiti that rather struck me...


"This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: "Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you." -Jeremiah 30:2 (NIV)

Have you ever had one of those days where you've got so much whizzing through your brain, because of a problem at work, a family argument or something else, that you can't stay focused enough to pray... because your brain is bouncing back and forth between things? What do you do in those situations?

Sometimes, if I can slow down enough, I like to write. I'll write a prayer to God, or a poem or something of that nature. It's funny, how that can sooth the soul and draw out things I didn't even realize where in me. Prayer can take on all different forms, even writing. It's a gift of sanity... I think.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


So my earlier post got me to thinking... Do we need any further proof that God has a desire to see beauty? Probably not, we don't have to look too far outside our window, but just in case. Here are a couple of pictures from our recent trip to Salt Lake City. The pictures actually come from Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks...


Tired. I'm just really tired today. I'm not sure exactly what it is, but something about it struck me during devotions today. I was reading again from ODB and the author was talking about function verses beauty. She talked about how engineer types are great at making things work, and work efficiently, but how it looks is not all so important. She went from there to talk about the need for "arts" in worship and how that adds a certain beauty.

We do certainly need both in this world. We need both in worship. Personally, I think I need a balance (although perhaps weighted a little more towards the creative, artsy side of things). I'm wondering if part of my tiredness isn't from spending so much time recently on the details of making things function that I've not gotten to tap the inner creative side of things. Maybe. It's a theory at least.

So I wonder, has God called you to, gifted you for, function or form? How are you using your gifts today to that end?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


This last weekend as we were at the wedding reception of a friend I found myself "playing" with a friends soon to be kindergartner. We began imitating each others every move. It was fun game filled with lots of giggles.

I remember as a kid wanting to be just like various other older kids. I would wear my wrist bands in certain way when I played basketball so I could be like the players I looked up to. I tried to walk like the cool kids walked. I have to admit I still find myself doing the same from time to time as I try and imitate others I admire in hopes of becoming more like them.

My parents are ones that I wouldn't mind imitating a little more. They are celebrating their 42nd anniversary today. That wouldn't be bad to imitate.

Today at "Our Daily Bread" the author spoke about imitating Christ, drawing upon 1 Corinthians. Not a bad idea. Perhaps we could all afford to try and imitate Christ a little more. Why not start with a mentor type person? I think we all know people in our lives who live Christ like examples. Perhaps we can start by imitating them. It's the kind of thing Paul encouraged, that others would imitate him who was attempting to imitate Christ. Go ahead, give it a shot. What do you think?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Do as I say...

Have you ever heard someone say, "Do as I say, not as I do"? I've heard it before and I hate it. Isn't the old adage "Actions speak louder than words" much more true? I love sports, but it drives me nuts to hear these young players talk about how great they are. I want to tell them to stop talking about what they think they can do and start talking about what they have done. Have you ever noticed how really great people never seem to boast about their accomplishments?

One of the most phenomenal, talented, marathon runners I have ever known personally is actually a member of this congregation. If you were to talk to the person you would never know. You might be able to get out of them that they enjoy running, but you wouldn't know that they have been one of the best runners in the state for a number of years.

When I was in Jr. High I was watching my dad run a race. The guest starter that day had, at the time, the second fastest marathon time in the world. He ended up standing next to me. He was more interested in how fast I had run the mile as a 7th grader than he was about how fast he had run.

1 John 3 says, "My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth."

Who have you loved today? I'm hoping you've told at least a family member or two that you love them... but have you shown anyone that you love them today?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

We Are In The Middle of It

Years ago a man was traveling by ship with his young daughter across the ocean. Earlier that particular Sunday he had preached a sermon about God’s love. It had been a very difficult service to preach, because he was newly widowed.

He was standing against the rail of the ship, looking out at the vast and magnificent ocean, when his daughter asked him if God loved them as much as they had loved her late mother.

“Of course He does,” answered her father. “There is absolutely nothing bigger or more powerful and all-consuming than God’s love for us. It’s the biggest thing there is!” The little girl pressed on for more information, wanting to know exactly how big God’s love was. Finally her father with great tenderness said, “Well, look across the sea as far as you can. Look up and down and all around. God’s love stretches around to cover all of that; above the blue sky and deeper than the deepest part of the ocean underneath us.”

The little girl pondered for a minute and replied, “And to think Daddy, we’
re right in the middle of it.” And we are. We’re right in the middle of God’
s love. We don’t need a miracle to tell us that. Most of us have known God’s love all our lives. Of course, that is not to say that miracles do not occur. They do--to the eyes of faith.

King Duncan, Collected Sermons,


At home we try really hard to have green thumbs. Sometimes we do pretty well. Much of the time, though, we struggle. We're trying a vegetable garden this, I'll be interesting to see how that all turns out. What we're finding difficult is that it seems that every plant needs a slightly different combination of light and water. If you get that mixture right, they take off like no other. If they aren't nurtured with the right combination of light and water? It can get ugly quick.

Isn't that the case with people though, as well? Each person needs just a slightly different combination of being nurtured with the light of love & compassion and watered with our prayers. I think it's the case whether we're talking about kids or adults who appear almost hopeless. With the right nurturing we can all grow in faith and love. Thankfully, in this case, God is the head gardener... and I'm confident his thumb is a bit greener than mine.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Applause for Heaven

Last week when we were gone on vacation we stopped at Bear Butte Lake State Park, just outside of Sturgis, SD. When I woke up in the morning I went for a short little walk. Not far from the campground was the lake, or at least what once was the lake (it was nearly dried up when we were there).

On the shore end of the fishing dock was a cottonwood tree. Since we were in South Dakota there was a bit of a breeze blowing. As I paused to look out over the lake area underneath the tree I couldn't help but hear the rattle of the leaves. I closed my eyes.

At first it almost sounded like rain. In fact, it sounded very much like when we would "make it rain" around the campfire at camp. Then I listened a little closer and I heard something different. It started to sound like applause. It sounded to me like the tree was clapping. The tree, in my imagination, was cheering and saying, "Yeah God!" Like a little kid so proud of their accomplishment.

It made me wonder, when was the last time I applauded God for the amazing beauty that is around me. I have a tendency to do so when I am in the midst of majestic mountains or the tranquil beauty of a calm lake surrounded by trees. However, I often miss it standing in my back yard, even though it is there to. Perhaps today would be a good day to thank God for the beauty that surrounds us each and every day.

Comfort Food

The devotion from ODB today made reference to "Chicken Soup for Your Soul." The books have been runaway hits with their touching stories. Of course didn't the title just draw us to it as it brought us back to when we were a kid and the only thing that could cure our cold was a warm blanket and a bowl of Mom's chicken soup? We call that kind of food comfort food, because when our body doesn't feel well it makes us feel better.

I think it's great that beyond these books we have comfort food for our souls, for real. When we are aching spiritually we can find comfort in God's word. Perhaps it Psalm 23 or Romans 8, whatever the passage is that you have tucked away it can bring comfort in those times of need. This coming Sunday we will read from Psalm 30 with one of my favorite verses, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy is going to come in the morning." Now that's comfort food.

Isn't it great how God feeds us?

Friday, June 01, 2007

Strange Marriage

We've all come across them haven't we? You know, those marriages where you wonder how the two ever really came together. Maybe it is a couple of friends, a relative, or perhaps you wonder about yourself. Anyway, I came across one of those strange marriages this past week.

No, it wasn't the wedding of my dear friend that I attended in Salt Lake City. Rather it was while we stayed the night in Vail, CO the other night. This wasn't the first time I had come across it, but I had forgotten and it struck me this time through. On Wednesday as we were leaving they were just beginning the Teva Mountain Games. Personally, I think it's kind of a strange marriage.

Let me try and explain... Teva Mountain Games is something very much like the X-games. It's competitions that involve things like white water kayaking, mountain biking, and rock climbing. Many of these competitions began as kind of a sub-culture, as something rather anti-mainstream. On the other hand Vail is the picture of wealth. No not wealth, but extreme wealth. When I lived in the area for the summer three years ago (I got to preach at a Lutheran Church out there) the first day I opened the paper I found an add for a home that read, "Reasonably priced at $3.5 million"... reasonable? Really? In whose world?

Anyway, I just found the marriage to be kind of strange. Oh, I think I can understand why it happens. It's a great location, good for the sponsors, etc. Still, I find it kind of strange.