Saturday, December 31, 2011

Open for 2012

I'm thankful to be a part of Crossroads Community Church.

Crossroads is gathering of people in the Dassel-Cokato area who know Jesus and who feel called to be part of this particular faith family for this particular time of our lives.  We are individuals and families who are on a journey to know Jesus more and more, and who want others to know Jesus in a personal way too.

Tomorrow at church we'll have the opportunity to sign a partnership agreement for the next year.  The agreement says this:
Trusting Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, accepting the Bible as authoritative for faith and life, we believe God is calling us together through 2012 to pray, worship, study the scriptures, serve, care for one another and give financially for the ministry and mission of God through Crossroads Community Church of Cokato.
Is God calling you to be a part of Crossroads in 2012?   
  • Perhaps you already know the answer to that question.   
  • Perhaps it will take you awhile to know if that the Lord is indeed leading you in this direction.  
In any case, I encourage you to come and be with us.  We won't have a "signing ceremony."  The partnership agreement will simply be placed in the back of the church where you can stop by and sign it at your convenience.

Being part of the Crossroads family is more than any piece of paper or "list" of members.  As we pray and worship and read scripture and serve and care and give together, we will grow together with one another and with the Lord Jesus. 

Being a part of the Crossroads family will help you hear Jesus' voice more clearly.  When it's time, you can choose to "sign up" for the year.  And if God calls you elsewhere, we will prayerfully and gratefully bless you on your way.  God is the boss of this church.  We must listen to him.

Whether or not you feel comfortable "signing," we want you to know the doors are open to you.

Friday, December 30, 2011

My Vindicator Lives

Yesterday morning I sat at a table with my father in law and three other men from his church.  (One of the other men was the pastor who confirmed me and who later served as bishop in the area where I worked as a pastor from 1986-1992.)

I was invited there for a men's Bible study and we were looking at chapters 18-19 of the Old Testament Bible book of Job.  The book mostly consists of long speeches made by Job's friends (and replies by Job himself), speeches that try to explain the suffering Job has gone through.  Job argues that there is no easy explanation.  In fact, throughout most of the book Job blames God.

But even though Job is convinced that God is responsible for his suffering, he remains even more certain that, in the end, he will be proved right.  That's when Job says "I know that my vindicator lives." 

The word "vindicator" is from a Hebrew word that can mean "redeemer," and the word "redeemer" is a more frequently used translation in Job 19:25 (click here for the word in context).  The sense, however, is that there will be someone, in the end, who will stand up beside Job and defend him, vindicating him as a good man.

Jesus is my Vindicator and my Defender.  How thankful I am I can trust in Him!  You can know the Lord's work in your life too.  The Lord will stand beside you forever when you surrender to Him.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Direction for 2012

On Tuesday night I fixed a couple of incomplete thoughts and sentences in the following, otherwise written Monday evening.  

Toni and I are home for a couple days after some time at my brother's yesterday over to this morning.  Our sons and some other dear ones are headed to Hutchinson in a bit to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie.  It's nice to have some time off.

Yesterday morning at worship we gathered 'round a manger that one of our church's willing workers had cobbled together as a prop for the Dec. 18 Christmas program.  At the south end of the circle we placed a throne style chair.  It also had been used at the Dec 18 program.  Isaac Morris had played the part of King Herod that day; and then on Christmas Eve during the Time for Children he'd been demoted.  The throne was meant for King Jesus, the same one who had been laid in the manger on the night when he was born.

Yesterday morning we heard the Christmas story once again, sang carols, and, bit by bit, wound our way to a message based on Revelation 1:5-6, where it speaks of us as a "kingdom" and "priests to serve our God."  I haven't yet listened to it on the website that Crossroads uses, but it seems to me that God was leading us in a good direction--a direction that God set for us on Christmas Eve.  If you can, take time to listen to the message from that night--it begins at about 25 minutes into the hour of worship that you can find at this link -

It's a good direction--but it is new.  I've served as a pastor for 25 years but I've never really focused on Jesus' role as King--nor of our place as princes/ses in the Lord's realm.

One of the dear ones that is with us these days is Kelly Gilbert.  She's soon off to Africa on a Youth Encounter Mission.  Tonight she loaned me a book that my sons have been encouraging me to read for some time--The Supernatural Ways of Royalty by Kris Vallontton and Bill Johnson.  The book is helping me understand more of what it means to be part of the KINGDOM of God.

The book, together with what the Lord was bringing our way yesterday is an important "opening" to our understanding.  Sometimes we consider ourselves to be "sinners saved by grace" period, while, actually, there's more to us "in Christ" that that.
"We are not just soldiers of the cross; we are heirs to the throne.  Jesus' divine nature permeates our souls, transforms our minds, transplants our hearts and transfigures our spirits.  We were made to be vessels of His glory and vehicles of his light."  (from Vallontton and Johnson's book)
As we move into 2012, the Lord is leading us to be more confident in who we are:  Christ's own kingdom, and priests to serve our God.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Thanks to everyone who came to Christmas Eve worship at Crossroads.

Tomorrow, Sunday, we'll gather for worship once more at 10:15 - informal "in the round" worship -- we'll gather 'round the manger of our Lord to celebrate and pray.  See you there!

Please let us know any needs you may have.  Feel free to call anytime - 763-291-3499.

Pastor Steve

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Letter from an Angel Warrior

The following is from Jacob Cherian writing in Beyond the Sunday School: Letter from an Angel Warrior:

I have seen some of your paintings of angels. Not very accurate. Why do some of your artists try to make us look like lovely, soft women or cute, chubby babies? Let’s correct that idea right now.

When you think of an angel, don’t think of soft clouds or little cupid-like cherubs decorating packages of bathroom tissue. Angels are terrible warriors. We are the army of the Living God, His heavenly host — a mighty, terrible host, surrounded with the blinding glory of the Almighty’s holiness. Our strength is incomprehensible to you humans.

Why one night while the Assyrian army was surrounding Jerusalem, one of our host went through their camp and put to death 185,000 of their soldiers (2 Kings 19:35). Cute, chubby cherubs, ha! Every time a human actually sees one of us, he collapses in terror. That’s why we always have to start our conversations with: “Fear not!”

Like your human armies, we have ranks and orders, differing duties and tasks. Some angels are not quite so military of course, but me and my boys are a real army. We’ve been in on some of the great campaigns. Our regiment follows the Commander Himself. He has a very particular interest in earth. So many of our operations have brought us into this arena of conflict.

Earth, you know, is contested territory. Oh, there’s no real question of who really rules, but the final mop-up action is being delayed in order to compete certain rescue operations in which the Commander has taken a personal part. We look forward to the end of it all. The day is coming when the last battle will take place. All of the hostiles will gather against our Commander and will mount a terrible offensive. We (and some of you too) will be with Him when He meets the Enemy on that day! There’s no doubt at all about the outcome of that conflict.

In the meantime, our present missions are typically restraining actions related to the ongoing rescue program. We move into an area and secure a perimeter of operations from enemy interference. For instance, on one occasion, Dothan, the village of God’s prophet Elisha, was surrounded by the Syrian army. Our unit was deployed to ensure the safety of the prophet and clear the area of hostiles. Elisha knew we were there. He had notification from our Commander. But the prophet’s servant was uninformed about our presence. Elisha told his servant, “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha requested from the Commander, that we angels be displayed for the servant’s benefit. So we executed a partial decloaking. The servant was duly impressed; as well he should be (2 Kings 6:8-17).

Most of the time, however, we remain unobserved. But we are present in fearsome power — hundreds, some times thousands of us. We’ve been there in countless operations with the Commander sometimes in warfare against the enemy, sometimes as auxiliary personnel to human endeavors.

I understand many of you may have the notion that serving in an army is a matter of grim, unquestioning duty. That may be the case in some human deployments, but it is emphatically not the case with us in the angel corps. Every last one of us serves because of love for the Commander. We would follow Him anywhere and do anything He requested.

Perhaps you can get some idea of our motivation for service by remembering how the soldiers under David loved him. My squad was in the area one time when David and his command were surrounded by a band of Philistines. At that time David was in his stronghold and he casually remarked how good a drink of water from the well in Bethlehem would taste. Three of David’s men broke through the enemy lines without being discovered and I might add that one of our personnel had something to do with that. They drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David, just because they loved him. (1 Chronicles 11:15-19).

That’s how it is in this army. We love the Commander. Not one of us would hesitate in the slightest to perform any assignment that He might choose to give us. You can hear our love for Him in the songs we sing when we are on the march. How does your proverb go? There are four things that move with stately bearing: a lion, mighty among beasts who retreats before nothing, a strutting rooster, a he-goat, and a king with his army around him (Proverbs 30:29-31). You should see our King with His army around Him!

Actually, some of you did see something like that once. I mentioned earlier that our Commander has taken a very personal interest in the rescue operation on Earth. According to His own plan He left heaven and was born into your human race. It was His mission to effect a decisive blow to the key power center of the enemy, effectively opening the gates from the inside to secure the escape of the rescuees.

We had been with Him in smaller companies since He joined Himself to His human mother’s flesh. We kept her under close guard during her season of pregnancy. But on the night He selected for His human birth, we were all there in full array. There was some possibility that the enemy would attempt to oppose His birth action, so we were prepared to secure the area. Of course, as it happened, the enemy was not encountered in the area that night. Only some time later did he mount a counterstrike through that King Herod. So on the night of our Commander’s birth we had nothing to do but stand watch, until we were ordered to reveal ourselves to a few shepherds. And after making the announcement about our Commanders birth, we sang.

Have you ever heard a really big men’s choir? Start with that idea, but imagine them not in choir robes, but girded for battle. Not grim draftees, but soldiers terrible in joy. Not so few you could count them if you tried, but thousands and thousands. Not bare, four-part harmony, but every voice with a slightly different song and all the voices fitting together like a million pieces of a stained-glass window into the glory of heaven.

Not singing with weak human lungs, but sounding eternal chords like the ones that we used at the creation of the world. Not a song with a few words and a chorus, but a song that could not be contained even if you knew all the greatest words from all the languages of your earth. And this song, if you tried to sing it, would say, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom the Commander’s grace rests.” That is the kind of song the shepherds heard!

That night was singing — a song full of terrible love for the Commander, a song full of God’s love for the earth. (You celebrate Christmas for this same reason, rt?) And if you have love for this God who joined your human race, maybe one day you will sing with our army.

As we stand before the throne of our Commander there will be a million upon a million voices of praise, voices singing of endless love, voices singing glory to God in the highest!

That is all I wanted you to know Friends, Hope to see you all soon.

—An Angel Warrior

(written by Jacob Charian)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Savior -- and KING!

David Being Anointed as King
I've worked as a pastor for 25 years.  But through these 25 years I've never understood the Christmas story in the way I do this year. 

Yes, I have seen how Jesus was born in the midst of danger and political machinations -- Caesar Augustus, Quirinius; the Roman Empire, Syria.  Mary and Joseph being ordered to appear in Joseph's ancestral home.  And poverty too: neglected by relatives, giving birth in a stable, attended by shepherds.  This is God coming to be with us in the lowest and most vulnerable way.  And, yes, I've recognized Jesus as Savior -- coming to this earth to save us from our sins. 

But I've never focused on what seems to be the main point.  The one who be born in the birthplace of King David is born to fulfill promises given through King David.  As we will read in Isaiah 9:

    ... A child is born to us,
      a son is given to us.
    The government will rest on his shoulders.
      And he will be called:
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
      Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
    His government and its peace
      will never end.
    He will rule with fairness and justice
      from the throne of his ancestor David
      for all eternity.
    The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies
      will make this happen!

Please pray that this Christmas Eve we will properly welcome and proclaim Jesus as King!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Be Mine

Thinking about family.  Will you be mine?

Many need family.  Many just don't "have" those to whom they are genetically related in the sense of "having" them ready to stand beside them through thick and thin.  Many ask, "Will you be mine?"  Will you be my dad, my mom, my sister, my brother?  Will you be mine for keeps?

Because of Jesus, there is no limit to the number of brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers any of us may have.  Barriers can be set up against the expansion of the Lord's family, but those barriers are not set up from God's "side."  The difficulty is with us--either we don't know about Jesus' ever expanding love, or we don't trust it, or, for some reason that I will never totally understand, we just don't want it.  Some would say that "faith" or "trust" or "belief" is a requirement from God's side, that unless we have this "thing" called faith God will reject us.  But I don't see that as true in this life, unless God chooses to let us go our own way for our eventual good, to teach us "the hard way" after we've turned away from him too many times.  God's plan and God's desire, however, is to claim us all, and that's what I believe we are called to share--open and unconditional love.

In a practical way we Christians need to find ways of expanding our family circles to include more than those to whom we are genetically related.  Some of our boundaries and barriers need to come down.  This is best done not in the context of individual family life, but in the church family, in local churches, where people are called out of the isolation of nuclear and extended "blood family" lines into the big family of God.
Matthew 12

46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” 48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
If you don't yet consider yourself a part of Jesus' family, I encourage you to investigate his love. In the end I believe you will be glad you did.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Open the Gates!

"Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in!" (Psalm 24:7).

What areas of your life are you hiding?  Are you afraid to let God deal with the weaknesses and sin in your life?  Have you been a believer for a long time but still see how certain parts of your life are displeasing to God?

I'm not speaking of areas of life where you are self-condemned.  False guilt is a huge issue for many of us.  And sometimes we are too scrupulous about relatively unimportant matters.  But are there areas of my life where I battle against any scrutiny?  Are there things I hide?  Are there things that, when they are addressed, make me retreat into my self-made fortress?  In what areas of my life am I just stubbornly unwilling to change?

Here's a thought that might help:  There is evidence, in scripture and in the stories of Christians in every day life today, that those areas that are not yet under the control of the Holy Spirit are places where God desires to build a testimony in us.  In the Bible, God dealt with the weaknesses and sin-infested parts of many people's lives.  Once they were dealt with, by mercy and/or judgment, the stories of those men and women became testimonies, that is, we can hear or read those stories now and see, in retrospect, how God was at work, completing His work in their lives, leading them and preparing them for the next spiritual battle, oftentimes making them ready for greater responsibilities.

As I consider those areas of my life that continue to cause me trouble, when I realize I am resisting God's intervention in those areas, can the thought of that future testimony be a way that I can lower my defenses and allow God to take over that place that I'm still guarding with my sinful nature?  Will the promise that he will be making those areas shine especially bright give me reason to open the gates of those areas of my life to let God in?  Will you?

A helpful way to open the gates to the Lord is to ask someone to pray for you about the area you suspect God may want to deal with.  Don't do this all alone.


For a bit more on this see Spiritual Gates.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Honest Hosptality

where Brad Brisco quotes from the book
I Was a Stranger: A Christian Theology of Hospitality
by Arthur Sutherland
"Jesus’ hospitality to the displaced and distressed was not calculated but casual. It is as though Jesus lived his life as a type of present participle: ' he was going, Jesus saw....'

"It is this casualness that undercuts much of what goes by the name of Christian hospitality today.  The churches of the country continue to promote program after program, committee after committee, to care for the poor, the naked, and the hungry.

"There is merit, of course, in organization. There is something good to be done by working together. But these efforts, as noble as they are, begin in process of institutionalizing care.

"When that happens, our ability to see the stranger 'as we are going,' is eroded.  Clothing and feeding, welcoming and visiting, become agendas.

"By adopting the vision of Jesus, by seeing as and how Jesus sees, our inclination toward hospitality will become natural and unforced. Hospitality ought to be ad hoc and personal."
At Crossroads, let's pray, listen for the Lord's voice, and then, step out on behalf of those in need, not waiting for a program or a committee to be in charge

It's best to do it with at least one other person, however.  Normally we go "two by two."  That keeps us both honest and safe.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Little Child Shall Lead Them

How kind of God to come to this earth as a child! It's a fulfillment of Isaiah 11:6, where it says, in part, "a little child shall lead them."

This Sunday at Crossroads our children will lead us in celebrating the birth of our Savior and our King -- Jesus. Come Sunday, Dec. 18 and honor our children and enjoy the gift of Jesus' presence through the Holy Spirit. 10:15 a.m.

O come, little children,
O come one and all,
To Bethlehem haste,
To the manger so small,
God's son for a gift
Has been sent you this night
To be your redeemer, your joy and delight.

He's born in a stable for you and for me,
Draw near by the bright gleaming
Starlight to see,
In swaddling clothes lying
So meek and so mild,
And purer than angels
The heavenly Child.

Kneel down and adore Him
With shepherds today,
Lift up little hands now
And praise Him as they
Rejoice that a Saviour
From sin you can boast,
And join in the song of the heavenly host.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Real Trust

The photo here is not from this morning, but it could have been.  It was foggy enough this morning that school was delayed two hours.  This reminds me of how God wants us to trust him even when we can't see all that well.  When we are following Jesus according to God's Will, He will bring us safely through any fog.

How's your eyesight in the fog of this day?  Will you trust God's?

Monday, December 12, 2011

What's Keeping You?

Here are my notes from yesterday's worship at Crossroads, copied directly from a "Word" document and pasted here.  The songs (titles in quotes below), the "Welcome and church family time" and the scripture readings were led by others.  Other aspects of worship were not written out ahead of time and the message entitled "Use Your Voice" was not delivered exactly as written here.  A link to the audio is available at the Crossroads worship page (  Just scroll down to the sermon player. THANK YOU so much to the tech team for uploading the audio so quickly!

"O Come, All Ye Faithful"
Welcome! and Church Family time
Time for Children – giving thanks before something has actually happened…
Offering with "Breath of Heaven" sung by Ann Benson
"For the Lord is Good"
"Here I am to Worship"
Luke 1:57-80
We’ve been reading through the first chapter of Luke each week since Thanksgiving, and now we’ve arrived at the section that comes just before we hear about Jesus’ birth.  You’ll remember that one of the main characters, Zechariah, hadn’t been able to say a word ever since he’d heard that his wife Elizabeth was pregnant. We pick up their story nine months later.
You'll notice there are some parts in bold to read aloud.
57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.
59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. 60 But his mother said,
  He is to be called John.”
61 They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.”
62 Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him.
63 He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.”
And all of them were amazed.
64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God.
65 Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea.
66 All who heard them pondered them and said,
“What then will this child become?”
 For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.
67 Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy:
68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, 70 as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
72 Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, 73 the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
74 that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.
78 By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
80 The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.

Use Your Voice
Silent night… sleep in heavenly peace.
Christmas isn’t actually all that silent.
Angels singing
Shepherds chattering, questioning, praising, giving glory to God.
And the run-up to Christmas—major songs of victory and justice, and loud shouts of joy!
When Zechariah could speak, he did!  And so did Mary—we shared her song in church last week.  Mary and Elizabeth were the first human beings to know and tell the good news of Jesus Christ!
Mary’s song and Zechariah’s—both of them are filled with truth that first came out of the Old Testament! 
Both Mary and Zechariah knew the scriptures!  Mary was truly an extraordinary woman… and Zechariah… well… he was a religious professional so he should have known.
It took Zechariah longer to believe, didn’t it?  It wasn’t until the child was actually born that he could use his voice.  Unbelief kept him quiet as a mouse.
Still, we sing that song, Silent Night… and it’s a nice song… but it’s good to know that it doesn’t really do a very good job of telling the truth about what happened around Christmas.  The song Silent Night was simply written because someone’s organ didn’t work.
Normally, neither Christmas nor the people of God are to be quiet – except when you are listening for God’s voice, except when you are listening…
Listening to God speak through His Written Word…
Listening to the Father speak to us through His Son…
Listening to the guidance and direction and correction God gives…
What does it say in John 10?  Comparing us to sheep, Jesus says, “I know my own and my own know me… and then, in verse 16… “they shall hear my voice…” and verse 27… “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. “
So we listen for God’s voice… we listen for God’s promises… we listen for his purpose in our lives… we follow… we don’t stay stubborn… we know who gives us life, we know who loves us and who can raise us from the dead someday…
And then, having heard, we speak.
Like Mary we heard from last week… from Luke 1:46 and following…
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48  for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50  His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
And like Zechariah when he finally believed.  Luke 1:68
68  “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come and has redeemed his people.
69  He has raised up a horn
of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
70  (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71  salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
72  to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
73     the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74  to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
75     in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
Once we hear from God, we speak.  We use our voice.
That’s the lesson for today from Zechariah!  It was unbelief that kept him quiet. 
What’s keeping you?
Sometimes, like with Zechariah, silence is a curse.
When Zechariah didn’t believe that his wife Elizabeth was going to have a son, the angel decreed that Zechariah would not be able to speak until God’s promise came true.
And when the promise finally did come true, Zechariah burst into song!
So how do we use our voices?
To praise God (for his covenant promises, for signs of his kingdom)
To prophesy! (speak God’s word)
Here are a few verses of encouragement:
Isaiah 40:9 - Get you up to a high mountain when you have good news!  Lift up your voice with a shout!  Lift it up, do not be afraid!  Speak to your neighbors, speak to your family members, say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!”
And Jeremiah… Jeremiah 20:9… here it’s not good news… God is speaking judgment and Jeremiah says “if I say, ‘I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” 
In Numbers 11 we have Moses speaking wishing that ALL God’s people would be filled with the Holy Spirit and speak God’s word!  “I wish that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!” That’s Numbers 11:28.
And that wish was godly… it was a wish that had come from God…  One of the most important ways to know if someone is truly hearing and speaking God’s Word is to wait and see… to see if what has been said actually is true in real life…
Moses said that God would set his people free from Egyptian slavery.  He said that he had been sent by God to set them free.  But when God did set them free, bringing them through the Red Sea and leading them through the wilderness toward the promised land… then the people began to recognize that this Moses was truly able to hear God and speak His Word.
And that’s one of the tests of someone who speaks in God’s name today. 
As Moses said in Deuteronomy 18: 21 You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?” 22 If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.
We know Moses was a true prophet because what he said came true… remember that he wished that all God’s people would be prophets and that God would pour his Holy Spirit on all of them!
That came true when the Holy Spirit came down on all of Jesus followers at Pentecost… from Acts 2[as the prophet Joel had said:] “ I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy... 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!

One of the signs of God’s work in our lives is when he brings us to the point where we actually use the voice God has given us!  When we use our voice to praise God… and when we use our voice to speak God’s word… 

That’s what the word “prophesy” means.

The word “prophesy” means nothing more or less than using our voice to speak what God has first spoken to us.
And it’s not just for the pastor!
For example, here’s a section from First Corinthians 14
It’s a Word from God given to the church in the city of Corinth… First Corinthians 14:
29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.
The vision of the church that God gives us is of many speakers, many proclaiming the Word of God
In the church that the Lord was speaking to in First Corinthians 14 there were lots of people speaking… everyone was excited about what God was doing! 
In that particular circumstance, needed to calm people down… reminding them that they could decide themselves when to speak what the Holy Spirit was saying to them… God’s plan was that only two or three people should speak and the others should listen and consider carefully what was said. 
For us, this is a great encouragement to go ahead and USE YOUR VOICE!
It’s really not your job to sort everything out.  If you suspect that God may want to speak through you, go ahead and speak!  But know that the rest of us will need to listen and discern what you’ve said…
We’ll need to compare it to what God has said in his Word.  Not just in one verse but in the whole of scripture.
And yes, we will notice if you seem to have a particular gift for using the voice of God…
If you never publicly witness to what God is doing in your life, if you never speak in praise of God or in telling the good news of Jesus… then we might give what you say extra scrutiny… extra prayer…
So the Lord’s encouragement to us… beginning with Mary last week, singing her heart out to God, and today with Zechariah, who finally believed when he saw his son being born… better late than never!!! 
…The Lord’s encouragement to you is to USE YOUR VOICE!
Don’t need to worry too much about being correct.  The Lord will use the rest of us to help us sort it out.
This all applies, by the way, to what I say…
When I speak, weigh it carefully.  And especially compare it to the Word of God, especially to the center of God’s Word… to the Word that is born in Bethlehem and dies for sinners on the cross, for you and for me…
Pray over this… God is calling all of us who believe and trust in Jesus to use our voices often.  Too often, like Zechariah, we are muzzled by fear and unbelief.
When you are too quiet… when you never speak God’s Word, then it’s time to pray for faith… for courage… for boldness…
Yes, there are times, when it’s best to be quiet… it’s good to think before you speak.  That’s why the Bible says to wait if anger is getting control of you. 
But the normal thing, is to speak the truth… to speak the truth in love.
One of the things that the Holy Spirit did when He first came upon the disciples was to make them speak!
So don’t think just being quiet is the best thing.
We can sing “silent night” at Christmas… that’s fine… but, honestly, let’s not take that too much to heart.
I really don’t think this is supposed to be a silent time.
God’s desire is for his people to speak. 
And to sing.

"Hosanna, Praise is Rising"
PRAYER – pray for those who are muzzled by fear and unbelief… pray that God would loosen their tongues to praise God, to pray, to prophesy [speak God’s word]… pray for boldness and humility… pray for discernment, for wisdom, for patience, for kindness as we speak to one another… pray that we God’s Word would be known among us, that we would desire to know God’s Word… pray for the lost, that they would be saved and that God would use our witness to save many!  Pray for voices of anger to be quiet… pray that we would not just use our voices to grumble and complain… bind any spirit of murmuring and dissension…  pray for respect and the ability to listen to each other and especially to God as he maybe speaking to us through others…  pray for an increase in faith and faith active in love and speaking the truth in love… pray for the Holy Spirit’s inspiration…
Lord’s Prayer…
Revelation 1
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
7    Look, he is coming with the clouds,
and every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him.
So shall it be! Amen.
"Soon and Very Soon”


Friday, December 9, 2011

Steps of Faith for the Next Generation

The following is from the conclusion of the message given to us on December 4th at Crossroads.  The message began with a reading from Luke 1:26-56.  Audio of the entire message, and, in fact, the entire hour of worship can be found at

...You remember that last week (Nov. 27) I referred to Romans 4 verse 16.  In this particular verse it shows how we, who are not related by blood to Abraham, come under the promises that were given to him two thousand years before Jesus, that he would be a blessing, and that his family would be a blessing, that there would be a wonderful future.  We come under that blessing by faith.
Romans 4:16

The promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring-—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham.  He is the father of us all.
The promise comes not only to those who are of the law, that is, of the Jewish heritage, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham.

When we come to trust Jesus Christ, the promises of God that were given to Abraham come down also on us... and the promises are not only for any one of us, but also for our children, for the next generation. 

That's something important to know because a lot of us, as I said last week, spend so much time being worried about our kids. 

God is not going to abandon us.  We can trust him.  No matter how challenging the times are.  You can trust God.  Not only for ourselves but also for our children.

That's why I showed the picture of the duct tape on the van.*  For many years that van carried Tonia and , the adults, but also our kids.  I'd like you to think about this.  There's no duct tape on the van that God gives.  It doesn't close off the next generation.  They can also be claimed under the grace and mercy of God.

There's only one qualifier.  That's that word "trust."



Coming into a relationship with God where we know that God is our Father.

We come into that right relationship simply by trusting.

That doesn't mean we can't have questions.  Trust does not mean never having any questions.  You can see that in the story that we just shared from Luke 1.  When Mary is confronted with this wonderful promise does she have any questions?
Luke 1:34

Mary asked the angel,
"But how can this happen?..."
How can this happen?  How can this be?

You may be wondering the same thing about the assurance God wants to give you about something in your life.  How can it happen?

So you can ask those questions.

But then, when you receive the assurance--when an answer comes that God gives--then it's important to step out.  Because trust is not trust unless you step out in faith.

It's just like Hayden is sitting in this chair.  If he did not trust that chair to hold him up, would he be sitting in it?  He probably doesn't think about it at all.  But you can't trust without actually relying on it.  If we say in our head that we trust but we don't act that way, is that really trust?  No, it's not.  Then we're walking in fear.

God wants us to know.  That's why he keeps reassuring us with his promises over and over.

Over the past two years many of us have struggled with doubt and questions about our future.  We've asked, we've prayed, and God has answered with miraculous signs.  God has given provision for this church.  This is a testimony to the faithfulness of God for those who trust His Word.  It's about the Word of God.  And for those who trust His Word, God has been faithful.

God has been faithful.

So it's good for us to ask for assurance  It's good to ask for prayer and to have Christian friends come alongside... but then the time comes when we have to act--trusting God.

Mary said "How can this be?"  Then God gave an answer.  And then Mary said, "Let it be."  "Let it be with me according to your word."

Let it be.  I'm not going to resist anymore.

How many of you today know that there's been resistance?  ...  How many of you today know that there are some areas of your life where God is calling you to step out in faith--but there's just this huge block--this resistance.  ...  God is calling you to step out in faith.

I'd like to dare you to do something today.  I'm not going to ask you to talk, but I would like to ask you to come forward so we can pray for you...  If you just raised your hand I'd just like you to come up so we can pray for you now.

[Several people, perhaps a dozen or more, came forward.  I then prayed for them.]

Here we've got a lot of Marys and Josephs.  They need the assurance.  They need to know in some way that you are with them and that they can step out in faith and do what it is you are calling them to.  

Oh Father!  I pray that you would grant to each one the assurance of your salvation that you poured out for them on the cross.  I praise you Lord and thank you for what you have done for us.  

Whatever there is in our lives that still stands as a resistance to you and your ways, in Jesus' name, we ask that you would take it from us.

Would you repeat that with me?

In Jesus' name, we ask, that you would take it from us.

We ask, Lord, that you would do that now.  And I pray that each of these here would take a step of faith, whatever it is that God is calling them to--whether it's stepping out in some ministry, following your call in some way in their lives, so they can know, Lord, that you are with them every step of the way.  and that you are with them for their children.  

Father God I thank you and praise you.

If there are those here, Lord, who do not yet know that they are under your blood, under your salvation, I pray that you would grant to them, Lord, the assurance of your love.  We pray in Jesus' name.

God bless you all.

You know it's not just about coming up one time in church.  It's a lifestyle.  It's taking steps of faith every day.  Every day God calls us to different things.  It's a matter of paying attention to what God is saying to us, checking it out with a couple friends and then stepping out.

Don't try to do it all by yourself.  It doesn't work.  That's one of the reasons we gather as a family in church.  That's one of the reasons we have this thing we call communion... so you will know you're not alone.

Now I wish that we could all gather right up here in a little circle, all together, and have communion together.  Wouldn't that be sweet?!

Did you know that, in your home, with your family, that you can gather your family around and share the Lord's supper?  Did you know that?  There's no rule in the Bible about that.  We have a tradition that the pastor presides, and that makes everybody feel comfortable, but I'm not sure God always wants us to be comfortable.

God is going to be calling us to step out in different ways.  Yes, I'll preside here.  That's fine.  I'm used to it.  I'm more or less comfortable with it, being in a big group.  But I encourage you, if the Lord calls you at some point, maybe at Christmas time, to share this gift of God...

If you want some coaching, I'll coach, I'll help you learn.  If you're the head of the household, it's a wonderful gift to give to your family.  God calls us to step out in faith. Don't do it unless your convinced.  Don't do it just 'cause the pastor said...

We're going to share the Lord's supper at this time.


* The van's back door has a broken latch and shouldn't be opened right now so with sofistikated duct tape I'm making sure it stays closed.  Just don't close off your family, or the others God wants to bless through you, including in the generations to come.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Lessons of Between

God is faithful.  Among all the lessons that the Lord has taught us over the past years, that is the most precious.  God is faithful.  He will not abandon us no matter how long the journey may be.  His promise is true.

At some point during the past year or so I picked up The Land Between, by Jeff Manion.  In the book the author "uses the biblical story of the Israelites' journey through the Sinai desert as a metaphor for being in an undesired transitional space... After enduring generations of slavery in Egypt, the descendants of Jacob travel through the wilderness (The Land Between) toward their new home in Canaan.... Manion explores the ways in which the Israelites' reactions provide guidance on how to respond to God during your own transitions..."

In the second chapter, Manion suggests that, through "The Land Between," God is leading the Israelites through life-threatening situations to prove that he can be trusted.
The people are supposed to be learning trust along the way... the Land Between and its hardships are meant to train and transform the people.  God's intent is to use the harsh conditions of the wilderness to prove his faithfulness.  If these faith lessons take hold, then the people will be molded into a people of trust, prepared to enter the land promised to their ancestors.
Do you see that in your life?  Can you see that whatever "Land Between" you are in is meant to get you ready for the promised land?  The question being asked of you through your trials is "Who is the source of life?  Upon whom will you depend for what you need?"

In the case of the ancient Israelites, once they entered the promised land they would need to resist looking to the other gods for protection, for provision, for direction and life's purpose.  The desert was a training ground.  There they would learn to be dependent on God, and on God alone.
Hear the whisper of the Creator:
"I am all sufficient."
"Turn to me." 
"Trust me." 
"I am proving myself as capable provider."
How do you and I respond in the harsh conditions of the Land Between?  Do we trust?  Do we respond in faith?  Are we allowing ourselves to be disciplined and trained by the hardships we experience in the Land Between so that we can live in greater dependence on God alone?

Remember, our patterns of response to our challenges and trails will shape who we become.  That was true of God's ancient people.  It's also true of us in Dassel-Cokato in these days.  God has been leading us, setting us free so we can follow Jesus in all of life.  Will we continue to trust?  Will we continue to follow the providential guiding hand of God?  There is great reward when we do.

Let's walk together through the lessons toward the future God has prepared.  God is setting us free so we can set others free!  What a generous and good God!  What a blessing to follow Him!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Use Your Voice

Luke 1
    59 On the eighth day they came to circum- cise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”
    61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”
    62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.

That's part of the scripture reading for this coming Sunday at Crossroads.

When Zechariah finally acted in obedience to the revelation that had been given to him, he was able to speak, and when he spoke he lifted up his voice in praise to God.

How do you use the voice God has given you?  Will you speak?  Will you sing?  Perhaps you will write. Perhaps you will chat online.

God calls you to repent, to believe, and then, use that voice!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Unless the Lord Builds the House

I got up early this morning and listened to two presentations of "Working Preacher" and then to part of a sermon preached by Bob Burmeister at the Roseville campus of North Heights Lutheran Church.*  The sermon was from last Sunday and was on a similar theme to the one we shared at Crossroads last week.  The basis of the message was a Bible verse from Psalm 127:
Unless the Lord builds the house,
the work of the builders is wasted.
Pastor Burmeister reminded the crowd in Roseville that their founding pastor, Morris Vaagenes, had often used that verse (Ps 127:1a) when the church embarked on building programs.  But, as Bob also said, the word "house" does not really mean a church building or a brick or wood or stone structure.  Instead, "house" here refers to a family line, a heritage that is passed down from one generation to another.  I could paraphrase that verse this way:
Unless the Lord builds the family,
the work of parents is bound to be frustrated!
The most important thing parents (and, in fact grandparents and any other adults who want to have a positive impact on the next generation) can do for kids is to allow God to work on their own lives, that is, on the lives of the adults, allowing him to transform US through repentance and ways of living that give God control.

That is the same basic message that I shared at Crossroads last Sunday.  God's promises are not only for individuals.  They come to the whole "house" when we live by faith in Jesus.  You can listen to the message at the Crossroads worship page (scroll down to the sermon player) or at  The message begins 36 minutes after the beginning of Sunday's recorded worship.


* The church I serve, Crossroads Community Church of Cokato, building a relationship with a new "association" of local churches headed by Pastor Per Nilsen of North Heights Lutheran Church (Arden Hills and Roseville) and Community of Hope Church (Rosemount and Hastings).

Friday, December 2, 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

God's Internet Gift

People have communicated at a distance for thousands of years.  During most of history that communication was physically written words on paper or other materials.  During the past few years communication has grown tremendously.  It's mostly electronic communication -- and much of it via the internet.  At the moment I'm chatting via facebook with Andria Jasper, a missionary that our church has supported, someone who came through town on foot but who we kept connection with via the internet.  Now she's in Thailand.  Wow!

Back in the Old Testament there is a story about how God scattered people who had become too proud.  But the Holy Spirit gathers us together again in Jesus' name.  He does that as we gather face to face, but also as we connect by whatever means are provided for, including the internet and other electronic communication. 

Last night I was on the phone with friends in the Twin Cities and Texas, and left a message for friends in Wisconsin.  Other friends connect via email and facebook.  And occasionally someone comments on this blog, either here directly, more often, when I link to the blog via facebook. 

Those connections are so good.  They are ways that the Lord has provided to do battle against isolation and loneliness, isolation and loneliness that can lead to depression and despair unless they are brought into the light.

Unless we step away from face to face interaction, and if we don't avoid talking with people, for example, on the phone, I believe we can praise God for His internet gift.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In The Midst Of

Here's a note I sent to our church's first "huddle" group.
The Lord woke me up early this morning, and, in the last hour or so, has revealed something to me that I want to share. 

For a very long time I've been puzzling about why it is that God wants us to stay here in Cokato. 

This morning it became clear to me that one of the reasons we are still here is that the Lord wants to be active AMONG us and IN us, among us and IN our relationships with one another.

If people leave without being clearly called elsewhere, that cuts off what God wants to do IN and AMONG us. 

One of the things huddle is about is allowing God to deal with us personally, to look, not to our intellectual convictions but to what HE is doing IN us... and a lot of what God is doing IN us he does by our interactions with one another.  Loving God does have to do with loving one another! 

This, as many of the things God is saying to me, needs to be clarified, but I'd ask that you would be praying about it.

After all, the word Cokato does mean "in the midst of."  And that's where God is working through His Holy Spirit... in our midst.
Your partnership, and your comments, whether in person or through this blog, are important ways that the Lord is at work among us.  Please do not hold back.  God calls us to speak and to listen to one another.  Please do not remain silent if the Lord is speaking to you.  I cannot state this strongly enough.  If God is to work in our midst, we must speak what the Lord lays on our hearts. (And don't worry too much if you don't live in the town of Cokato.  The name of the town is just an illustration and county and town boundaries are truly artificial lines drawn by people, not by the Lord!)

The Lord impresses on me that when we hold back on what the Lord is saying to us,  when we hold back the Lord's word that he has planted in us, that his Holy Spirit is grieved.  See Ephesians 4:30... read the entire chapter to see it in context at this link.

For more on this subject, please see Pastor Bryan Lowe's "Rolling Stones Theology."  

Peace to you all in Jesus' name.

Monday, November 28, 2011

One More Step

It's been about two years since Toni and I have really felt "settled."  At some point after the August 2009 ELCA vote* it became apparent to us that the life we had known for 25 years was coming to an end.  It wasn't until February of 2011 that we actually moved from the Cokato ELCA parsonage but there has certainly been a sense of being off balance since 2009. 

Not that it's been all bad.  Being thrown off balance has caused us to cling in a deeper way to the source of our faith, to God Himself.  We and our family have learned and grown spiritually through this time, and so have many others who have been part of the ELCA.

Beginning after my August 2010 resignation from the Cokato ELCA church we started to pack things away.  I am a bit ashamed to admit that my wife ended up doing the lion's share of that packing as both of us struggled spiritually and in other ways.  I wrote and studied and prayed (a lot), did some job searching, commuted back and forth two days a week to Minneapolis beginning in January for a class (Psychology and the Church) and connected with friends and colleagues.  In February we moved to Dave and Barb Yeager's home and then in March we moved to a rented farm house three miles north of town.

The "one more step" today is to go back out to the farm to work on finishing the cleaning there.  It will be so good to get this taken care of.  All of this time of being unbalanced has taken time away from my pastoral work, and I'm looking forward to a better focus on that. 

Of course, just getting the farmhouse and garage out there cleaned out doesn't mean the move is done.  Far from it.  We've still got boxes stacked on the floor of the garage here in own that need to be put up on something so they don't get wet with the Minnesota melting slush that will surely soon be falling off our car and van.  I've told Toni that it will take a year to get completely settled.  Hopefully that's an exaggeration, but still, it's good to think we'll get one more step taken care of today.

What's the one more step that God is calling you to work on today?  There's no sense worrying about tomorrow.  One day at a time is enough.

* click this link to be reminded what that was about.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Children ARE A Blessing!

(This is the beginning of what I'm preparing for Sunday, Nov. 27 at Crossroads.  Still a work in process!  This Sunday is the First Sunday in Advent, a season of preparation before Christmas.  The Thanksgiving-Christmas Season is a time when our hearts turn, more than any other time of year, toward family.  The message God has put on my heart for this Sunday is an encouragement to trust God for our kids, even when we are tempted to worry or hover or, on the other hand, just give up on kids that just seem too far out of control.  God has given us promises we can trust about our children.  That's the encouragement the Lord is calling me to bring this week)

Children are a blessing.  That should be obvious.  Often, however, children bring anxiety.  So much about kids is beyond our control!

Scripture promises that children are a blessing from God. (*See below for some of those Bible promises.)  We all know that God's plan is for us to "be fruitful and multiply," and children into the world.  Another big clue as to God's blessing is that God chose to come into the world by means of a family -- and I'm not only thinking about the once-in-a-world way that God came to be born into a family headed by Mary and Joseph -- God chose a family line beginning with forty times great grandparents Abraham and Sarah.

God used those families--Abraham and Sarah and their children, Isaac and Rebecca and their children, Jacob & Rachel and their children (and on and on times forty) to bring Jesus into the world.  And those little family units were so often dysfunctional, often horribly so.  Still, God promised that their children would be blessings in the end, and they were!  God was true to the promises he made.

And, you know what?  When you and I come to trust in God as our Father through Jesus Christ, the promises that God gave that family come to your family too. 

Did you know that?  Did you know that you honestly do not need to worry about your children?

Oh yes, pray for them!  Love them!  Treasure them!  But do not worry about them.

As God protected Isaac, and Jacob, and Judah, and their wives and their children and grandchildren and great grand children, making them such a blessing, so God will do for your kids.  No matter what happens, God will protect them.  No matter what things may look like now.  Just keep praying.  Continue to trust.  And love them always!

All God asks from you is trust and love.  Trust in his Word.  Trust in the One who came through the family of Abraham and Sarah, that is, Jesus Christ.  And love them as best you can.

According to Romans 4:16, for example, the promises given to Abraham and his family are now given to you when you trust the One who gives the promises.  And those promises come to your children as well.

Parents - Do your best.  But then trust God.


*Here are some Bible passages about children:

Psalm 127:3
3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him
Prov 17:6
6 Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.
Psalm 128:3–4
Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine,
flourishing within your home.
Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees
as they sit around your table.
That is the Lord’s blessing
for those who fear him.
Genesis 1:28
28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”
Genesis 15:4–5
Then the Lord said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!”
Genesis 24:60
60 They gave her this blessing as she parted:
“Our sister, may you become
the mother of many millions!
May your descendants be strong
and conquer the cities of their enemies.”
Genesis 33:5
Then Esau looked at the women and children and asked, “Who are these people with you?”
“These are the children God has graciously given to me, your servant,” Jacob replied.
Genesis 41:51-52
51 Joseph named his older son Manasseh, for he said, “God has made me forget all my troubles and everyone in my father’s family.” 52 Joseph named his second son Ephraim,* for he said, “God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief.”
Genesis 48:4
He said to me, ‘I will make you fruitful, and I will multiply your descendants. I will make you a multitude of nations. And I will give this land of Canaan to your descendants* after you as an everlasting possession.’
Deuteronomy 28:4
Your children and your crops
will be blessed.
The offspring of your herds and flocks
will be blessed.
Joshua 24:3–4
But I took your ancestor Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him into the land of Canaan. I gave him many descendants through his son Isaac. To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. To Esau I gave the mountains of Seir, while Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.
1 Samuel 1:19–20, 27; 2:20-21
19 The entire family got up early the next morning and went to worship the Lord once more. Then they returned home to Ramah. When Elkanah slept with Hannah, the Lord remembered her plea, 20 and in due time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I asked the Lord for him. ... 27 I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request.” ... 2:20 Before they returned home, Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the Lord give you other children to take the place of this one she gave to the Lord.” 21 And the Lord gave Hannah three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.
1 Chronicles 28:5
And from among my sons—for the Lord has given me many—he chose Solomon to succeed me on the throne of Israel and to rule over the Lord’s kingdom.
Isaiah 8:18
18 I and the children the Lord has given me serve as signs and warnings to Israel from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies who dwells in his Temple on Mount Zion.