Friday, March 31, 2017

Day #1185

March 30, 2017 

Suppose there can only be one word when the skies are blue and the temperatures are warm - fever! As in Spring Fever!!! 

What a privilege to be out and about, visiting and taking care of business on this beautiful day!!!


Day #1184

March 29, 2017 

As I finished reading a new book on keeping faith alive in our lives (Sticky Faith), the author suggested using a twist on a question often used, “Where did you see God at work in the world,” to “Who did you see God working through?”

What a great question! I asked it in a couple of group settings and heard some great examples/stories. What a perfect reminder to keep our eyes open to the ways God is at work in and through us. Or, as the tagline for the ELCA suggests for our lives of faith: God’s work. Our hands. 


Day #1183

March 28, 2017 

One of the things I learned from a pastor mentor was to never hesitate to pray with folks - even over the telephone. There is much power in prayer and the reminder of what it means to people with needs should never be underestimated. I’m so thankful for ways to pray, even when you’re far away.


Day #1182

March 27, 2017 

The mystery of Jesus revealed today is as “Restorer.” The One who can and will restore health, inclusion in community, relationships, peace, hope, and more. When there is so much happening in the world around us, the reminder that Jesus through his life, death and resurrection fulfilled the ability to completely restore us is so comforting. Where we cannot often see the possibilities in a situation, Jesus can and does. Where we cannot often make things better or restored on our own, Jesus can and does. 

Thanks be to God for never giving up on us - and helping us see/navigate the way. 

Which is a reminder of the joy of this time of year. Spring is a visual reminder, especially to me, that new life can come from what was fallow and dormant, even seemed dead. We had to take this photo opportunity in front of a redbud tree - not something we often see now where we live. 

Happy Spring and hopeful restoration of whatever needs Jesus’ touch in your life! 


Day #1181

March 26, 2017 

A God-moment that gave me cold chills: the sermon ended with “Will we trust Jesus to remove our blindness so we also can truly see [him and our neighbors]?,” which followed discovering ways the man born blind had his heart opened to faith by “seeing” Jesus. The hymn that immediately followed the sermon? Amazing Grace. I once was blind, but now I see - I’m not certain those words have ever been more clear to me than today.

Yes, God's amazing grace!! So thankful.

From there, we took a quick trip to catch up with our niece who was traveling on her birthday in our time zone. This was taken in the final moments of a “9th something” year for her (at least mountain time) before a “0 something” new year begins tomorrow. 

What a great surprise - and looking forward to the fun I imagine we’ll have!! 


Day #1180

March 25, 2017

A morning spent in conversation/planning with the congregation council resulted in some deep discussion and honest feedback. Looking forward to continuing to work with these dedicated people - with all the dedicated people at OSLC. I am grateful to be here. 


Friday, March 24, 2017

Day #1179

March 24, 2017 

The word for the day - beautiful. As in the weather. And a word of thankfulness for a sunny, warm day! Spring is here, at least for today. :-)


Day #1178

March 23, 2017

I just do what I do, I thought as someone shared how a part of my ministry had made a positive impact. Their words were something like: what seems simple to you can be monumental to others. 

I suppose that is much like a doctor who takes the extra time to really hear your complaints. Or a teacher who goes the extra mile to explain a difficult concept. Really, anyone who does their “job” with what seems ease to them can mean more than they know to others. 

Today, however, I am giving thanks for the affirmation. 


Day #1177

March 22, 2017

In light of the Gospel for Sunday from the 9th chapter of John, this from the d365 devotion’s “think” portion by Matt Andrews reminded me of the importance of each person’s voice and I had to share:
Seeing isn’t always believing. At least that was the case for the Pharisees. After several rounds of probing this now-seeing blind man, they still wouldn’t accept Jesus as a man from God. You can hear the frustration in the voice of the young man on trial, “I already told you, and you didn’t listen. Why do you want to hear it again?” 
Have you ever felt unheard? As a young minister, I once expressed disagreement with a particular program at a youth camp my students were attending. Instead of respecting my opinion, the camp directors verbally abused me and threatened to send my students and me home early. While having been strongly supported in my ministry since then, I still carry the wounds these religious authorities inflicted. 
When your voice seems unheard, it’s tempting to believe your voice is not worth hearing. In times like these, I hope you remember the young man in this passage. In the midst of insult and disbelief, he remained confident in his voice, ultimately becoming a teacher to his teachers.

Day #1176

March 21, 2017 

In solidarity with Jason’s family and friends, someone suggested that fellow students at his High School write “Romans 1:16” on their hand when they returned to school following his death. His father had posted this earlier on FaceBook: “Jason has a verse on his Instagram profile from Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel. For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…””

The person suggesting this show of support said “This is not to say or push on anyone that this is your belief, although my hope is that it is…but rather a tangible way for us to honor this young man using something he BELIEVED in and held onto.”

Jason’s life has made a difference. His testimony of faith, and the sharing of it by his family and friends, has made an impact on so many others. I’m thankful for having known Jason and pray for peace in the days and weeks ahead for all who have had him as a part of their life.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Day #1175

March 20, 2017 

The word for this Mystical Monday is reconciler - specifically Jesus as reconciler. And “No one wants to make a cake” from the WELCA blog seems an appropriate place to begin: 
I ran into a conflict buzz saw a few days ago. When a touchy subject came up, a friend weighed in with her disgust. When she finished, no one else said a word. But we were silent not because we all agreed or disagreed, but because we were overwhelmed. I remembered back to when I ran into my first conflict buzz saw. My grandma assured me that conflict was nothing to be afraid of, but instead a process in life that produces something new. Her example was making a cake. “Eggs and sugar and flour in a bowl together are not a cake,” she said. “They’ve got to have a little conflict and get knocked around until that they decide to work together and blend into batter.” Instead of conflict being a process that we go through to grow and move forward, it has become a sport where sides just shout out their opinions and hold on to them. No one wants to make a cake. Our children are watching these tantrums so I ask: How can we reverse direction on how we handle conflict? This message is an excerpt from an October 2009 Women of the ELCA blog by Valora K. Starr.
Considering the above, how might Jesus be thought of as a reconciler? Seems the more we learn about him, the more we see his desire to make certain all are welcome, all are seen, all are shown to have value. 

Consider, for example, the woman at the well (see John 4.4-42)— Jesus spoke to her, invited her, and showed no judgement toward her - only worth. And through his actions of reconciliation, there is restoration to community. That’s amazing grace.


Day #1174

March 19, 2017

We celebrated the ministry of Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp at worship. Its director shared the sermon and provided information about the transforming qualities of spending time away doing camp activities and learning about God. There was much excitement and many stories were shared. 

Who might you invite to camp this year? There are many to choose from, and different experiences at each, but the love and grace of God is shared at all. It’s truly a great experience!


Day #1173

March 18, 2017 

In the midst of the Russell Art Week here in town, it is easy to be almost overwhelmed by the talent and beauty of those who paint, sculpt, carve, and create all kinds of lovely works of art. What an amazing opportunity to see so much beauty in one place - well, in one town. 

We cannot begin to see it all, and certainly cannot purchase it all, but we’re doing the best we can. And in the meantime, also enjoying time with family. 


Day #1172

March 17, 2017 

The word for today - heartbroken. I'm not asking why, but I'm not really able to articulate my feelings, either. Simply heartbroken.

Rest in peace, Jason. May the Lord bless you and keep you and may the Lord sustain your family and friends. 


Day #1171

March 16, 2017 

d365’s blog entry by Kellie Wilson is certainly worth pondering in light of the “what if” question of Day #1170:
One of my seminary professors told my class we have two basic thirsts — to be known and to know what we are supposed to do. Most of our life’s questions boil down to these two questions: Who am I? What am I called to do? Only God can quench our thirst for answers to these questions. If we seek the answers from our friends, family, magazines, TV, or social media, we will never feel satisfied and will need to seek for answers again. Only when we ask Jesus to give us our Identity (Who am I?) and Mission (What am I called to do?) do we feel that our thirst for answers has been quenched. By turning to Jesus we discover, individually and collectively, that we are God’s beloved now and into eternity. We discover our purpose is to join in God’s mission of reconciling all people to God and one another. This identity and purpose never changes and will allow us to love others with the same mercy and forgiveness with which we are loved.


Day #1170

March 15, 2017 

We are using the ELCA World Hunger Lenten Study for our Wednesday Bible study during Lent. As we considered lesson 2, the question “what if” kept coming to mind. “What if” we lived a life that focused on the grace of God rather than the merit of humans? In other words, “what if” we lived in gratitude for God’s simply loving us, rather than trying to earn God’s love? Might there be a difference in the way we live our lives if we really trusted that God loves us first, before we could even begin to try and earn it? Would we be more willing to share lavishly and fight for justice for all because we see all as equally valued and loved by God? 

What if? A good question to ponder and allow to transform our lives.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Day #1169

March 14, 2017

Perhaps it is mid-Lent weariness. Perhaps it is that most all of us were together, which seems to happen less and less. Perhaps it is a little spring fever settling in. Whatever the cause, the laughter among colleagues as we gathered to study the scripture for the upcoming Sunday was a welcome release. 

I am so very fortunate to have this group of colleagues (actually, I have been blessed throughout all my ministry with wonderful colleagues!). Thank you for the giggles. And the learning!


Day #1168

March 13, 2017

On another Mystical Monday, the word used for Jesus is anointed, meaning set apart or chosen. Jesus, as God’s son, was chosen for a particular purpose and set apart as the only one to fulfill the mission. 

I may not understand, I may struggle to believe, but I do trust God knows what God is doing. I am thankful for God’s wisdom that passes all understanding. And for Jesus’ ability to fulfill the mission - for all.


Day #1167

March 12, 2017 

This is titled: Jesus came to church

During the brief Lenten study following worship, a rather disheveled man came walking up the sidewalk and entered the building beside the room where we were gathered. I quickly excused myself and followed after him. “Sir, can I help you?” I asked. He stopped and turned around. “Do you help folks pay for a motel room?” he asked in a rather matter-of-fact manner. Making an assumption the request was for him, I tried to explain that I did not have the resources available to do so at that moment, but asked if he had tried the local shelter. No, he explained, I don’t need that. Well, let me get you a resource list of what is available in town, I said. No, that’s ok, I was just wondering if you paid for folks to get a room. Then he looked at me and said, “Here, take this for the church” and proceeded to offer some money to me. Not sure how to respond, I said, “No, you keep this. You need it for yourself.” But he insisted that this was for the church. “We need to pay God,” he explained, “but many don’t,” and he pressed the money into my hand.

As I stood flabbergasted, he turned and walked back out the door he had entered just moments before. I watched him walk down the sidewalk and then went back into the room where those gathered looked anxiously at me, waiting for an explanation. Still not sure what to make of it all, I told them that I had just had the most amazing experience, and proceeded to tell them what had happened. We sat in silence for a moment, thinking of the man and his witness to us. 

I must admit, I believe Jesus DID visit today, and taught us a bit about stewardship, graciousness, and commitment. So why didn’t I even ask his name? I was so floored by what he did that I didn’t even think to, but I thank him (I also thanked him profusely before he left). And wish him godspeed. 


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Day #1166

March 11, 2017 

On this day, many years ago, a wedding took place. The bride and groom were surrounded by friends and family, two pastors and an intern, and the love of God. There was much rejoicing and laughter. Much celebration and dancing. And commitments, vows and a covenant were made. 

That wedding was no ordinary one for me. In fact, it was one of the most important moments of my life and the beginning of our joint lives. Oh, there have been good moments and not so good moments over the years, but through it all I give thanks for the man who “chose” me and who I also “chose.” I love this man, like this man (he's my best friend), and am thankful for this man, everyday. 

But on this day, I also give thanks for all those who have been a part of our lives, especially those who are no longer with us, and who helped us celebrate on that special day years ago - and again today on our anniversary. We love you all!!


Day #1165

March 10, 2017 

Today was a Continuing Education day. It was a very good day spent learning new ideas and receiving inspiration for preaching. What a privilege and responsibility it is to share the word of God. And a good reminder that all Christians actually share that privilege and responsibility. 

Thank you for the class, the inspiration, and the stretching!


Day #1164

March 9, 2017

From long before our godson was born, actually in 2005, this was written by us to his momma:

She texted this picture of it to me. I am very thankful she still has this and hope she always remembers its truth. Oh, what a gift she and all her family have been, and are, in our lives! 

And then this from an unknown source:

Thank you!!


Day #1163

March 8, 2017

March 8 is known as International Women's Day. But what is it about? 

This is from the ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton: “…we celebrate and support the God-given gifts of women and recommit ourselves to seek justice for women who are suffering in our midst and in communities around the world.”

And this from Bishop Jessica Crist of the MT Synod ELCA: 
While it isn't an official holiday in the United States, it is in some 27 other countries. International Women's Day was instituted in 1977 by the United Nations as a way to encourage and empower women across [the] globe. It is a day, also, dedicated to celebrating women's achievements throughout history and across nations. Each year there is a theme associated with the day. This year it is “Women in the Changing World of Work.”
Having recently been to a Fair Trade event, which supports fair wages for women, I am reminded it is vital to advocate for women around the world.  

And because there are many we know who are suffering, this from the Moravian Daily Prayer seems especially appropriate: 
O God of all comfort and grace, be especially near to those who are suffering from illness and pain. May their souls and bodies be flooded with the light that penetrates our deepest darkness. Send your healing presence this day. Amen.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Day #1162

March 7, 2017 

These words from the Moravian Daily Text
Praise the Lord! How good it is to sing praises to our God. 
Psalm 147:1Paul wrote: Speak to one another with the words of psalms, hymns, and sacred songs; sing hymns and psalms to the Lord with praise in your hearts. Ephesians 5:19 (GNT) 
O God from whom all blessings flow, when the echoes of songs and praises from Sunday grow dim, revive them in our hearts and minds. May the songs of grace accompany us to our classrooms, offices and homes this day. Amen. 
Music can surely reach places in our hearts and minds that words simply cannot. I am always thankful for the hymns we sing in worship, often saying what I or the prayers have missed the mark to convey. And when a hymn sticks in my mind long after the notes have ended, well, that is quite the gift. 

For all that I say thank you to those who share their gift of music making! It truly is a gift to the world.


Day #1161

March 6, 2017 

Mystical Monday - and the word to describe Jesus for the day? Healer. 

The healer of our body, mind and spirit. The Great Physician. But what happens when the physical or emotional healing we pray for doesn’t come as we expect? Has Jesus let us down? Does it mean Jesus isn’t who we think he is or have been taught to believe he is? 

Difficult, honest questions and ones with no easy answers. Yet, they are all ones Jesus understands. Things do not always go as we pray for them to, but that doesn’t mean Jesus isn’t the Great Physician. There may be things we cannot know that are happening behind the scenes, things that impact our lives. I cannot begin to understand all the ripples my life makes, or those of folks around me. But I trust God knows, and I ask God to help me to trust.

Ultimately, I do believe Jesus is the Healer providing me with love and grace I also cannot fully understand. Thanks be to God for that!


Day #1160

March 5, 2017

What could be more inspiring than having all the chairs around the table (plus a few more) filled with folks eager to be reminded of the basic teachings of Martin Luther using the Small Catechism. Thank you Marin Luther for your all important question - what does this mean - that stretches our minds and increases our faith. Good stuff!

Also, what could be more fulfilling than being with a family in their time of deep need/fear? What a privilege to be with and pray for folks. Thanks be to God for hearing our prayers - always!


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Day #1159

March 4, 2017 

The word for the day - prayer! 

Fervent prayers for those who are afraid, bewildered, tired, clinging to hope, grieving, or in any need. God is with you and may you know the peace of that promise!


Day #1158

March 3, 2017

The second half of the prayer for this week in the daily online devotion, d365, strikes me as so true. Thank you to Rob Mueller for these words that remind me not to beat myself up. I am not a complete failure when I fail, and neither are you. 

The words of his prayer: “You are an amazing and good creation of God, who sometimes fails to live up to God’s trust in you.”

And you know what, tomorrow is another day!


Day #1157

March 2, 2017 

As I gathered with colleagues and friends today, I am reminded that the journey not only of Lent but of daily being a disciple/apostle of Jesus can be painful and heart-wrenching. What words can be said? What encouragement can be offered? What hope can be reminded when it seems as though the culmination is similar to Jesus’ death on the cross? 

And therein may lie the answer. We cannot save anyone, or any thing, but Jesus can - and did. A good reminder on this second day of Lent.


Day #1156

March 1, 2017

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” 

These words begin the Lenten discipline. This evening folks were invited to write down an intentional way they plan to be disciplined in these forty days of Lent, 2017. I was blown away by those who opted to share these as an offering to God. Ways like prayer, giving, and forgiving were among those I will keep in my own intentional discipline of praying for members by name daily.

May you enter these forty days in expectation of God’s presence and transforming power in your life - and may you exit at Easter more fully reminded of the cost of this journey and how we may each respond to God's love and grace.


Day #1155

February 28, 2017 

I have spoken before of there being no "coincidences" with God, yet I am still often surprised by the perfect timing of being in the unexpected right place at the right moment. A visit today reminded me of the perfection of God’s timing and that it is no coincidence I just happened to show up when needed!

And what fun to eat pancakes, sausage, and have fun fellowship on the eve of Ash Wednesday. A huge thanks to the Women of the ELCA who flipped flapjacks and provided for a very nice Shrove Tuesday evening.


Day #1154

February 27, 2017 

"Mystical Monday" and the word for Jesus today: Revealer.

On the heels of Transfiguration Sunday, my thoughts are on who we see God as in Jesus’ transfiguration, and also through Moses and Elijah who happen to show up. Moses is the representation of the law, Elijah of the prophets and the words they spoke about what was to come with and through God, and Jesus as the present fulfiller of the law and the prophecy, and a glimpse of the future of his glory. Well, perhaps the present of his glory, too. And through the bright white and light, we hear of a glimpse of who he is as incarnation of human and God.

An amazing understanding of Jesus. Want to read more? Check out the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 17, verses 1-9.


Day #1153

February 26, 2017 

While there has been concern expressed about area congregations coming together to sing hymns at a local brewery, the Ministerial Association once again “sponsored” a couple of hours of doing just that - and a fun time was had by the few who attended. 

The lower attendance may have been due to the weather being lousy, the Grammys on television, or that it was just a night of conflicts. However, this way of taking the Good News out into the world meant a couple of neat things happened:
  • One patron had just stopped in with no idea he would be surrounded by singing, much less hymns. However, he said he loved it and felt the present of the Lord.
  • Another said he would love to do more (the event has also been a fundraiser for Family Promise) not only with the organization, but with these “singings.” 
  • And one more said he loved it and that it took him back to his childhood. 
Guess we never know where we might can be a witness. Sometimes it may be in the most unlikely of places. A reminder that God is good, all the time!