Thursday, July 23, 2009

With Jesus There is Enough

I’m beginning work on Sunday's message. The text is John 6:1-15 (see below). I think I’ll focus on how often we are so afraid that there won’t be enough but when we give what we have to the Lord Jesus it becomes enough not only for us but for others too. I’ll try to put together some practical examples of how people ARE giving what they have to God: meager abilities, limited time, tiny resources, small faith and how, when we trust our Lord by acting on what we DO have, He works among us “to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine.” That quote is from another of the scriptures, Ephesians 3:14-21.

I’m curious, ___your name here___, how have you found this to be true in your life? Are there times when you’ve been tempted to think you can’t but when you look back you’ve seen how God has worked when you’ve just moved ahead trusting God? Please comment or call or email if you have some thoughts to share.

Sharing through this blog is one way that the Lord provides "enough" as I get ready to preach. I know I don't have enough wisdom or "inspiration" on my own. So we trust the Lord to provide it to us when we dare to share what we have, no matter how little we think it is.

John 6:1-15
1 Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2 A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3 Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5 When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” 10 Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Last Call

Contact the church office or Nate Bendorf TOMORROW MORNING, Thursday, July 23 if you want to join a group of 50+ adults, families and youth from our church and community at the Lutheran Night at the Twins Game on the evening of August 26. The game starts at 7:10 p.m. Select from three seating options - $22 for lower reserved, $17 for upper club, or $7 for upper general admission. Ride a charter bus at no cost. Departure time is yet to be determined. Many of us are going for the $17 tickets... if you can't afford it but want to go, call or email me personally & we'll make it possible.
FUN EVENTS with our church family are well worth it. Even if you aren't a great baseball fan, spending time with friends and acquaintances from church is an opportunity for building relationships... and we're in the relationship business. Yes, we want to build relationships with our Lord in spiritual way, but along with that, we want to know one another, and we do that as we take time to be with each other, even at a ball game.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Never Unloved

I'm often reminded of the many gifts that we receive from our Lord, especially as they come to us from other people. Today we had the pleasure of celebrating my dad's 83rd birthday. Mom and dad were both there, as were my sisters and brother, a couple of spouses and three children. How excellent it is to reflect on the love that has bound us together down through the years.

Our church family is an even more excellent gift of God for us. The church is the primary way we share love that does not end. This especially true for those who are, for one reason or another, at a distance from families of their natural birth. Praise God for the Holy Spirit who gives us new life in a new family, the "one body" of Christ (see First Corinthians 12:13).

Sometimes we might be annoyed by the complications that come as we are a part of a local church. Whenever we do good things, whether in the "Victory Garden," at worship or as we watch over our elders and our precious children, we get attacked by trouble. It's not surprising, since God binds sinners together in this way before He has finished "working" on our lives!

So let's pray that our gratitude will always overcome our sense that others are a "nuisance" to us or we to them. You and I are God's blessing to one another. Let us not forget.

I read the following at today. It was written by Bart Campolo, the controversial son of Tony Campolo, a Christian speaker and author I've admired for years. Bart's "church" is "Walnut Hills Fellowship," a "small group of inner-city neighbors learning to love each other and the rest of the world according to the teachings of Jesus..." Evidently there have been some troubles in that "church" community that Bart has written about. Today, however, Bart writes this:
"...I figured you ought to know that everything in Walnut Hills isn’t dark and heavy all the time. On the contrary, we have plenty of happiness running around us here, in the form of the little people we adore, the big people we enjoy, and the ceaseless Grace that holds us all together, even when things get tough. And we have you, to remind us that we are never alone, and never unloved. Whether or not such nurture makes us smarter, it surely makes us better. Month-in and month-out, thank you for that."
Any of us in any sort of family or church community need reminders like that. Let's be thankful. See you, I hope, Sunday morning if not before.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Truth and Cowardice

Jim Tegelhutter's facebook comment "I continue to learn that truth is often the casualty of perception... and to never underestimate the cowardice of the religious..." is so true.

The second part is very easy to understand and certainly hits the mark, though it's sometimes challenging to discern, from the outside, what is "cowardice" and what is "kindness."

In the first part: "truth is often the casualty of perception" is it that we have sinful fallible hearts that do not want to look at the log in our own eyes?

I'm preaching this week on very churchly lectionary texts from Amos and Mark, specifically Mark 6:14-29 (the beheading of John the Baptist). Amos roars through the whole of his book and John is no coward either. Both of them speak truth to power and suffer because of it.

When anyone catches me being cowardly, please challenge me to change my ways!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The "Days of Elijah" Come to Cokato

Beginning in the 1960s Northern Ireland suffered through "the troubles," a time of ethnic and political violence. Finally, in 1998, an agreement was signed. Now its people enjoy peace and visitors are no longer afraid. They are committed to a future with hope for themselves and their children.

How has this happened? Why have continuing tensions and occasional violent incidents not sparked cycles of revenge? One thing cannot be denied: Christians of all denominations, Catholics and Protestants, have been praying and talking, enjoying fellowship. They have come to believe that their peace is a gift from God.*

The Dassel-Cokato area has enjoyed remarkable blessings as members of our various churches have studied scripture, prayed and worked together. We would like to share that through a community worship and praise event on Thursday, September 3. It's my prayer that many will come to share, pray and worship God together at the Dassel-Cokato Performing Arts Center, 4852 Reardon Ave. S.W., Cokato, MN 55321.

Songwriter Robin Mark** will be our leader. He is a worship leader from church in Belfast, Northern Ireland. That church began when students who believed in God began to organize and pray together "24/7" for peace. (See below for more about Robin Mark).

Come and worship, learn and share this special time with brothers and sisters from many denominations!
  • 4:30 p.m. - An hour of fellowship and conversation with Robin Mark. He will share his story and talk about how worship impacts lives, churches and communities. See Second Chronicles 29 and bring your Bible.
  • 6:00 - 7:00 - Supper (food available from vendors). This will be a time of conversation for worship & prayer leaders, pastors and others. Let's share and pray together to mutually strengthen prayer, worship and peace making for the good of our communities.
  • 7:30 p.m. - Praise Concert and Worship led by Robin Mark. Lyrics will be projected so all present can worship and sing along. Local songwriter Rachel Kurtz will lead the first 20 minutes. She currently serves as minister of worship, music and young adult ministries at Faith Lutheran Church, Hutchinson.
The overall sponsor for this event is Minnesota Disaster Relief, a non-profit group of volunteers. The costs associated with bringing this event to Cokato are bring covered by donations and ticket sales. A $100 donation will give your church or group 10 tickets plus 2 complementary tickets for pastor(s) and/or lay leader(s). Individual tickets are available for $12 each. All tickets are general admission, so come early for the best seats. For more details go to If anyone needs financial assistance to attend, please contact me.

A representative of the sponsoring group would be glad to address your congregation or group in person to promote this event. They would be glad to come to your church to bring a brief invitation at worship or at any other convenient time. Please contact Allan Nagel at 320-275-7621 or email him at Al's address is 17965 718th Ave., Dassel, MN 55325.

Let's get together on Thursday, September 3 for the sake of God's peace here in Minnesota, in Northern Ireland, and around the world.

*A June 30, 2009 report from Northern Ireland and an excellent video on how prayer and conversation helped bring peace there can be seen at this Christian Broadcasting Network webpage.

**More about Robin Mark:
Nominated in 2006 for a Dove award for his song “Days of Elijah”, Robin Mark is already well known to many in the Christian Church in the U.S. His five Integrity Music albums, "Revival in Belfast," "Come Heal this Land," "Revival in Belfast 2," "Days of Elijah" and "East of the River" have become best sellers in America and throughout the world reaching number 1 spots in Praise and Worship charts in five separate countries. His songs have been translated into many different languages and cover the entire globe. Yet this unassuming man, still residing in Belfast, Northern Ireland, would prefer not to extol any of his own accomplishments, but rather what God can do through anyone who chooses to serve Him.

He combines the roles of Father and Husband, University Lecturer, Businessman, Emeritus Director of Worship and Music Minister in one frenetic package, perhaps mirroring the lives that many of us lead in the world today. In the midst of all this his one great desire is to serve God in whatever way he can, minister to the church at every opportunity and bless the greater Christian body and the world with whatever gifts God has bestowed on him.

This year a new album is released, which will be available in the summer, called “Year of Grace”’. Year of Grace refers to the revival year in Ireland, 1859, when over 100,000 people became Christians. His new album “Year of Grace,” his book Warrior Poets of the 21st Century along with a music and story book from his last album “East of the River” and all his other albums will all be available at the concert.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Just Words Won't Do

On Sunday we will read this from Ephesians 1:3-14
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5 He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14 this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.
In the original Greek language, that is all one sentence.

What do you feel when you read those promises from God? If you don't feel anything, read it again in this version (alt.):
3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for the spiritual blessings that Christ has brought us from heaven! 4 Before the world was created, God choose us to live with him and to be his holy and innocent and loving people. 5 God was kind and loving and decided that Christ would choose us to be God's own adopted children. 6 God was very kind to us because of the Son he dearly loves, and so we should praise God. 7/8 Christ sacrificed his life's blood to set us free, which means that our sins are now forgiven. Christ did this because God was so kind to us. God has great wisdom and understanding, 9 and by what Christ has done, God has shown us his own mysterious ways. 10 Then when the time is right, God will do all that he has planned, and Christ will bring together everything in heaven and on earth. 11 God always does what he plans, and that's why he appointed Christ to choose us. 12 He did this so that we would bring honor to him and be the first ones to have hope because of him. 13 Christ also brought you the truth, the truth of the good news which saves us. You put your faith in Christ and were given the promised Holy Spirit to show that you belong to God. 14 The Spirit also makes us sure that we will be given what God has stored up for his people. Then we will be set free, and God will be honored and praised.
You can't feel that by just by reading, or just by coming to church now and then. The kindness of God toward us needs to be experienced in our homes and among the people of God gathered regularly for worship and fellowship. God chose us to share His love.

If you know of anyone who is missing out on feeling God's kindness or trusting God's promises, please reach out to them this week.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Passing It On

We returned from family camp at about 5:00. Every year when we get back I think, "How can we get others to experience this great week?"

Take a look at this link. There's a video on it that tells a great story.

The effects of a week like this continue in the families that participate. It's one one of the things that has made our family strong in Christ. A great investment!

If you would like to go still this summer, there are openings. If you need help financially to attend, let us know.