Monday, October 31, 2011

A Home For Love

As of last Thursday, Toni and I are purchasing (we have a mortgage) the house pictured above, 785 Mooers Ave., Cokato.  We are so thankful for the ways that we have seen the Lord's direction in this big decision.  A member of the Crossroads board of directors noticed that it might be for sale.  A good friend served as our real estate agent, guiding us through the purchase.  Now we've hired some work to be done (insulating. etc.) and, thanks to relatives and friends, we've started moving.  We plan to begin living there sometime later this week and will soon call this house home.  Our kids will be "home" this weekend and we can hardly wait!

Toni and I pray that the Lord would use our home to continue his work through us in this particular community and among all those we consider "our own" -- friends, family, neighbors, church partners.  We pray that through our home we would proclaim how much the Lord has done for us, what mercy he has shown us, so many may come to know his agape love and follow Jesus in all of life.  (See Mark 5:19-20.)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Prayer for Crossroads

God is working through us to set people free to follow Jesus in all of life.  

This is God's action, not ours.  God does this work   We participate in this work as we tell the truth.

So, I am praying that we tell the truth.

How do we tell the truth?  First we must know the truth.

So I am praying that we would know the truth.

The first truth is that we are loved no matter what.  Jesus reveals that truth most clearly.

I am praying that we would know this truth of God deeply, to the point where we will not doubt it. 

The second truth is that God gives us responsibilities in this life, responsibilities that flow out of who we are, responsibilities that are full of God's authority and power.  Our responsibilities flow from who we are--and we are loved by God!  Unconditionally.  Totally.  Without reserve.  Our responsibilities are to love God and to love "our neighbor" as ourself. 

Therefore, I am praying that God would reveal to each of us specifically how it is we ought to be doing, how it is that we ought to be sharing that mighty love of God, in truth, with our neighbors at this time and in this place and that we will act boldly on what he reveals.

We can dare to seek God's truth, to pray for it, and then act on it no matter where it leads.  We can do this because of God's great love.  I am praying that we will never be afraid.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Extreme Makeover

Toni and I are sitting in the living room with our son Dan.  Dan's been home for a few hours; our son Jon was here for a long weekend so it's been great to have part of our little family around.  We're looking forward to a visit from our daughter Naomi and her husband Tim in less than two weeks.  We are so thankful.  Honestly.

Back in the summer of 2010 I attended a Thorson family reunion in the Hesper, Iowa area.  I learned then that the Thorsons were known for drunkenness and violence.  (True story, I'm not making it up.)  Along the way something happened, and I remember saying to those gathered that it would be great to know how our family members got to know Jesus.  Something changed, and I'm sure, from the rest of the family heritage I've learned about, that Jesus had a lot to do with it.

Jesus is in the extreme makeover business.  He doesn't just reform our lives, making them a bit better.  Like Extreme Makeover Home Edition, he rips them down and makes a wonderful new creation where the Kingdom of God moves.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

More Doing, Less Writing

Some changes have made me less inclined to blog these days.  I'm working regularly as the pastor of Crossroads Community Church plus about 20 hours a week as a school bus driver.  Then we're also in the midst of buying a house in Cokato and we're doing our best to support and befriend those we see regularly (and less often) around here... and, of course, keeping in close touch with family.  Lots is going on at church too.  Check out  I mostly maintain the "home" page there and, if you're curious, you can hear me and others on the recordings you'll see at, the Crossroads "worship" page.  Perhaps I'll write more on this blog this week!  In any case, I'd love to hear from you!  Give me a call 763-291-3499 or email me!  Thanks!.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bible Basics

Last night we had the first introductory session of the first class that I'm teaching at Crossroads.  I say the "first" introductory session because I know there are some who could not make it last night and who might want to come next week, so, next week we'll repeat, more or less, what we covered last evening.  I'd like to share a bit of it here too because there are those who can't make it next week either, perhaps because of travel plans around MEA weekend.

I'm calling the class "Bible Basics."  It's based partly on a book called The Bible for Dummies, one of a many in a "For Dummies" series of non-intimidating reference books.  I encountered this book a few weeks ago and have been looking through it and much of it I really like.  For last night's class I distributed a few pages of the book ("fair use") and asked those attending to read that part before the second official session, scheduled for Oct. 26--the week after our second introductory session.  Pick up a copy of those pages at church or pick up a copy of the book itself at the bookstore of your choice.

The other book that we'll be using in the class is Covenant and Kingdom by Mike Breen. We started introducing the concept of "Covenant" in worship over the past two weeks.  A Covenant is a trustworthy relationship, a relationship that, like a marriage, has been sealed by some sort of "covenant act."  One commonly known example of a covenant act is the placing of the rainbow in the sky after the great flood.  A lesser known but deeply significant covenant act is found in Genesis 15 -- see this brief article for an explanation.

Last night we looked at signs of the covenant in Genesis 1.  We see that in the act of God to make human beings with a special divine connection.  God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..."  This making of human beings in the image of God means that we are imprinted with God's own self, imprinted in the sense that a hand print, pushed into something soft (like clay), leaves a place especially made for the hand.  This not only tells us that we are made special, but that human beings are designed for a relationship with God, a relationship that God seals with his promises and demonstrates with covenant acts.  As we look at the Bible we will see many signs of this wonderful covenant, excellent promises that God will not break.

We also then looked at the other half of what Mike Breen calls "The DNA of the Bible."  Like DNA has pairs (Adenine-Thymine, Guanine-Cylosine) so God's work in the world is based on COVENANT (a sure, solid relationship with God that we can trust) and "KINGDOM," the first sign of which we see as God gives his authority to human beings over the earth and its creatures.  We human beings are truly blessed!  We'll be looking for signs of this "Covenant-Kingdom" structure throughout the Bible as we move from week to week.

Sadly, we human beings rejected that original blessing.  We chose to reject our maker and believe the devil instead.  So, we hide from God (leaving an empty place where the imprint or image of God should be filled by Him) and to turn over the authority to the devil, bringing much evil.  BUT GOD IS FAITHFUL!  He has a plan to bring us home to him, and to restore us an the rest of creation to how it should be.  The Bible is the story of how that has taken place in the past and how it will be in the end.

That's a brief summary of what was presented last night.  We also took a quick look at some questions (about picture/poetic langugage in the Bible, why there are lists of names, whether God knew evil would come to be) and had a bit of  time for conversation!

This pastor's class will continue for six weeks (beginning with next week's "second introductory" session and the real "second session" on Oct. 26.  Come when you can.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Free to Follow Jesus in All of Life

Our Lord wants us to be free.  Since the beginning of humanity's time on earth we have been wrapped up in destructive patterns of life.  Through Jesus God has acted to set us free. 

Unfortunately that freedom is hidden from so many, often because religious authorities get between us and our Lord.  Instead of following Jesus we follow pastors or preachers or denominations. 

Now the Lord is showing us a new way. Crossroads Community Church is dedicated to spiritual freedom.  I serve as pastor, but I'm not the authority.  It's the pastor's job to point to Jesus, not to him or her self.  I hope that's what I do.  I am a leader, but a leader who wants to shift the attention away from self to the Lord. 

Please pray that all of us in the Dassel-Cokato community would be set free from whatever binds them so we can follow Jesus in every area of our lives.  Please pray that I would never get myself in the way.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mental Health Awareness Day

I don't usually get interested in "special days" and even in this case I can't say that I know lots about it, but I do know that mental health (and mental illness) is something that most of us know very little about, perhaps because mental illness provokes fear, and when we are afraid we don't really want to learn.  I've written about this subject before and get very little feedback on it, but because this is an "official day" of sorts, I thought it would be good to at least share a bit more on the subject.

Partly I'm thinking of this because we were recently victims of a theft and many people who are desperate enough to steal are also sufferers of mental illness.  This doesn't excuse the crime, it just helps us know, perhaps, that there is more to their story than what first meets the eye.

Let's be compassionate and smart as we care for ourselves and our neighbors in Jesus' name.


The following was prepared by someone I don't know, a "30 something" mother from Britain.

Did you know:
  • 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year
  • Suicides rates show that British men are three times as likely to die by suicide than British women
  • Self-harm statistics for the UK show one of the highest rates in Europe: 400 per 100,000 population
To read the rest of Sharon Howard's information, including videos on the subject of mental illness, go to

Friday, October 7, 2011

Driving for Inspiration

Toni and I are back in town after spending a few days in Des Moines for the LCMC Annual Gathering (brief summaries here--more to follow).  It was a tremendously encouraging event, definitely worth the 5 hour drive and the 40 minute commute to and from Kellogg, IA where we stayed each night (at the home of John & Marilyn Berthelsen -- thank you SO MUCH for wonderful hospitality).  The overall sense of the event was one of FREEDOM, JOY and INSPIRATION.  Next year the annual gathering will be in Denver.  Let's plan a trip!

Below you'll find an embedded video of one of the Wednesday morning sessions... it's nothing like being there... but still, it's a taste. The message, by Pastor Gemechis Buba, is on THE SEVEN CONVINCING PROOFS OF THE RESURRECTION--it begins at about minute 40 of this video.  You can meet Pastor Buba in person at 7:00 TONIGHT Community of Hope Church in Rosemount (for directions click here or at the Alliance of Renewal Churches Midwest Gathering later this month... more on that below the video.  
Watch live streaming video from markeysav at
Other LCMC gathering videos, including
opening worship with a message by Pastor Bill Bohline
the concluding worship hour with a message
by Pastor Jaynan Clark

are available -- click the links above or go to

Later this month, on Wednesday evening, Oct 26, Dr. Buba will speak on THE POWER OF PRAYER at the MIDWEST GATHERING of the ALLIANCE OF RENEWAL CHURCHES.  Making the drive to Arden Hills is worth it just to hear him speak!  Come if you can or attend another time at your convenience.  The evening sessions are all free.

2011 ARC Midwest Gathering
The Alliance of Renewal Churches
Prayer – Ushering in a Kingdom Uprising
Wednesday – Oct 26
6 p.m. Registration at North Heights Lutheran Church-Arden Hills - click link for map
7 p.m. FREE Opening Session
• Worship and Prayer – Stephanie Midthun and Friends
• Message - An Evening of Worship and Prophetic and Healing Prayer Ministry with Rev. Gemechis Buba
• Worship and Prayer Ministry

Thursday – Oct 27
9 a.m. Chapel - Worship, Meditation, Communion, and Prayer – Nathan Hoff and Friends
10 a.m. Morning Session
• Worship
• Message: Prayer – Fighting for God’s Purposes. A conversation with a Father of the Renewal – Morris Vaagenes, Senior Pastor, Lutheran Church of the Master
• Worship
12:30 p.m. General Lunch/ARC Pastors Lunch
1:30 p.m. Workshops
• Proximity, Presence and Prayer, Kendra Diehl
• Topical Intercession, Mike Swecker
• Celtic Spirituality: Prayer, Work and Mission, Danny Mullins
• Inner Healing Prayer Ministry, Robert Walter and Amanda Starck
• Pastors, Vulnerability and Prayer, Paul Anderson
3:00 p.m. Free Time and Dinner on our Own
7:00 p.m. FREE Evening Session
• Worship – Stephanie Midthun and Friends
• Offering
• Message: Underground Prayer, Robert Walter, ARC Leadership Team members
• Prayer Ministry and Worship

Friday – Oct 28
9:00 a.m. Chapel - Worship, Meditation, Communion, and Prayer – Nathan Hoff and Friends
10:00 a.m. Adult Morning Session
• Worship – Ryan Kowlessar and Friends
• Message: I Give You Authority, Kristi Graner
• Worship and Prayer Time
11:30 a.m. Connecting with One Another
12:30 p.m. Lunch
1:30 p.m. Workshops
• The Power of Sabbath and Prayer, Agust Olafsson
• City-Nation Transformation Through Prayer Evangelism, Dan Clites
• Praying Through the Beauty of Discipline, Midge Wietzema
• Soaking Prayer Ministry, Julie Beghul
• Journey Inward-Journey Outward, Joe Johnson
3:00 p.m. Break
3:30 p.m. Workshops
• Healthy Intercession and Intercessors, Joy Frenette
• Praying in the Spirit, Fred Thoni
• Teaching Children to Pray, Scott Boecker
• Praying the Psalms, Scott McLaughlin
• Celtic Spirituality: Prayer, Work and Mission, Danny Mullins
5 p.m. Dinner on our Own
7 p.m. FREE Evening Session
• Worship – Eric McIntyre and Friends
• Offering
• Message: What’s in the Air Makes a Difference, Mike Bradley, ARC Director
• Worship and Prayer Ministry

I'd really encourage you to come for one of those evenings, perhaps especially on Wednesday.  Dr. Buba is an exciting speaker, solidly grounded on God's word and his own relationship with Jesus Christ. Honestly, this is a can't miss kind of opportunity.

Sometimes the drive is worth it.  This is one of those times.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Learning to Make Disciples

I'm in the lower level of the Des Moines convention center at a "break out" session here at the LCMC annual gathering.  There are quite a few down here listening to Bob Rognlien, a pastor from California.  He is sharing in depth about a ministry model (based on "huddles*") that we are also working on at Crossroads.  These "huddles" are, and will be, practical ways for us to move step by step, toward being more than just a group of believers who happen to worship together--toward being a truly disciple-making church.  After all, Jesus final words to his followers here on earth was to make disciples... not to just make "church members."

At Crossroads, we want to be what God is calling us to be: a transformational "extended family" of believers who live in relationship with each other and learn to be disciples from one another.  We're getting a good start!  Pastor Bob is giving us a picture of how that works in a larger context. 

This "huddle*" model of disciple making is found over and over again in the Bible, particularly in the stories of Jesus and his disciples.  One example of this is found in Luke 6:
"...Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles... He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon." (Luke 6:13-14, 17)
In this scripture passage and many others, you'll see how Jesus lived in three dimensions.  He lives "UP," that is, in a close relationship with God the Father.  He lives "IN" a small group of, in his case, twelve disciples (and, in that small group, he teaches them by his example).  Then Jesus lives "OUT" toward the many who are in need -- the "multitude." 

There's more to say, but I need to get off to the next session!

*A "huddle" is a group of 8-10 Christians who meet regularly.  Marcus Haug is leading Crossroads first huddle.  We have met four times so far.  For more see Huddle Logistics.

Monday, October 3, 2011


NOTE from Oct. 7:
Beginning Sunday evening Oct 1 and continuing through Wednesday Oct. 5, Toni and I and 1,200+ others were in Des Moines for the LCMC Annual Gathering. I stayed an extra day for a "New Ministries workshop."

Now we're both back in Cokato. Both Toni and I were greatly encouraged for our work here through this event and we would love to share more about it.

While we were there the main sessions were available to be viewed and heard live over the internet (for free) and that video was shown here.  Go to Driving for Inspiration or the LCMC website for recordings  As of now (early Friday morning, Oct. 7), there are brief summaries of each day's events on the LCMC blog

Sunday, October 2, 2011

You Are Worth It

When Jesus rose from the dead he showed himself alive to the same people who had followed him before his execution.  He restored those relationships.  This shows how important relationships are.  We should not just let relationships die.  By his example, Jesus shows us how "worth it" it is to keep relationships alive and to do all we can (and pray all we can) to restore relationships when there is a falling out.  When you get a sense that there is a relationship that needs restoring, it's probably the Holy Spirit that is pushing you to reach out.

Earthly, human relationships are not the most important things.  When relationships are based on lies, or when lying is necessary to maintain them, then we have a problem.  Relationships require truthfulness if they're going to be blessed by God.  Emotional ties are traps when they require people to suppress truth.  But when love and truth live together, that is goodness... that is near unto goodness itself.

I had the privilege this week of walking alongside a family as they laid a loved one to rest.  In the months prior to this death, the Lord used a particular individual (not me) to encourage family members to reconcile, to put behind them what had been many years of division.  God was present at that funeral.  I was so thankful to have a small part in it.

One of the reasons it's good to come to church on any given Sunday is because the Holy Spirit is there AMONG those who gather, not simply "within" the individual believers.  Those who were able to come to the Friday and Saturday church retreat (Sep 30 - Oct 1) were blessed by His mysterious and empowering presence.  I'm looking forward to the same as Toni and Wendy and I attend the LCMC Gathering in Des Moines beginning later today for the same reason.  It's worth it to take the time. 

Those who we gather with, whether at our local church, in our families, or in associations that require travel, they are worth it.  You are worth it.  The Holy Spirit will make it so.