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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016
Fair time (08/25/16)
The Clay County Fair will begin in two weeks! The fairgrounds is an increasingly busy hub of activity as the day draws near. People have various thoughts on the Clay County Fair: -- Oh I hate it! It's noisy, and dusty, and concerts and the fireworks drive my pets crazy. ... I don't like the greasy food -- I don't need to eat anything on a stick for heaven's sake -- I am trying to reduce fried foods in my diet, and I always buy something I don't need!...
Pastor's Column (08/04/16)
If you want to live in the perfect will of God and experience His richest and best blessings for your life, you need to desire to do the perfect will of God. This requires honoring and obeying God and His Word, the Bible. In order to honor and obey the Bible, you must first find out what it has to say...
Confession and absolution (07/28/16)
I want to talk about confession of sin. Let me begin by asking a question. If we confess our sins, is that sufficient for salvation? If we go through the routine, "Lord, I'm a sinner. Forgive me." Is that sufficient for salvation? Not necessarily -- because merely acknowledging our sins doesn't wipe them away. ...
Pain and curiosity (07/21/16)
Sometimes we wonder why there has to be pain. What is the point of discomfort or outright agony? Yet pain is a gift. It is a signal, telling us that something is wrong. Pain is like a gauge that warns us, tells us to take care of ourselves. Either you are not functioning properly, or there is a threat from the outside. Your shoe is rubbing against your foot because you have a bunion. That is a problem of dysfunction. Your hand is on a hot burner -- get it off! That is an external threat...
Pastor's Column (07/14/16)
NBC's sitcom "Parks and Recreation" chronicled the story of the parks department of fictional Pawnee, Indiana. The show oftentimes pokes fun at the bureaucracy that paralyzes governments despite the best efforts of those involved. At one point, the main character Leslie is running for office and is being helped by one of her co-workers, Jerry, to stuff envelopes for mailing. ...
Soaring (07/07/16)
My wife, Denise, and I recently returned from a vacation to Glacier National Park and Portland, Oregon. We enjoyed an awesome trip with many new experiences and wonderful memories. I'd like to share one with you. We journeyed to Portland to visit our son, Luke, and his wife, Liv. ...
Test everything (07/01/16)
The last time I wrote in this space I discussed how we listen to sermons. Specifically, I challenged you to listen like the Bereans. Acts 17:11 tells us that when Paul preached the gospel in the Greek city of Berea: 11The Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true...
2 questions (06/23/16)
In the Bible we read of times when people are on the run, seeking shelter, seeking peace in the midst of chaos. We too can be literally or figuratively on the run, feeling caught up in things beyond ourselves that seem to take over us and seek to take our lives. ...
Take courage, parents and pastors (06/16/16)
A prophet that we read about in the Bible said, "And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry." (Habakkuk 2:2-3). A New Testament writer said, "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." (1 Corinthians 14:33)...
The importance of hope in our lives (06/09/16)
It has been said that man can live 40 days without food, three days without water, nine minutes without oxygen and only one minute without hope. It has also been said, if you could convince a man that there is no hope, he would curse the day he was born. So, hope seems to be an important part of everyone's life...
My big fat Scandinavian mouth (06/02/16)
I can't really blame my genetic roots for my mouth. I actually CAN blame my mouth for my words which came from my brain so... my brain is in big trouble with me. What I say is often exactly what I don't want to happen. Even the Bible tells me in the book of James that our tongue is unruly and needs a spanking! No man can tame it without concentrated help from the Bible. ...
Fear or heirs? (05/26/16)
Romans 8:14-17, "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him." ESV...
Pastor's Column (05/19/16)
(Note: I had the privilege of giving the baccalaureate message this week for the Clay Central-Everly School District. Some of us like to hear this kind of hopeful message but don't go to a baccalaureate service, so I thought I'd share a condensed version in my column this time.)...
Pastor's Column (05/13/16)
What do Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King Jr., and untold Chinese church leaders have in common? Each of them had to wrestle through the ways that their faith intersected with politics. Throughout history, Christians have had to wrestle with this intersection between faith and politics. ...
Pastor's Column (05/05/16)
What is so precious to you that you would never let it go? A wooden cross sits in my study. It is 10 inches high, hand-carved out of cedar wood. It is a beautiful gift from Carlton Quee, a 90-plus-year-old retired carpenter, a very gifted wood carver. Especially fascinating is that the cross is firmly gripped by an intricately carved hand...
A bias toward the Word (04/28/16)
I have been doing some thinking about preaching, and particularly, what makes us good listeners when the Word of God is preached. My hope is that we will listen like the people of Berea, who the Bible says were people of "noble character" because "they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." (Acts 17:11)...
Pastor's Column (04/21/16)
A newborn baby cannot live without the sweet nourishment of its mother's milk or some facsimile. As the child matures so does its digestive tract and the desire and, in fact, the need to consume solid food. In the movie from 2002 "Antwone Fisher," directed by Denzel Washington, a young Navy man is forced to see a psychiatrist after a violent outburst against a fellow crewman. ...
Pastor's Column (04/14/16)
It seems that as the temperatures of the cold winter days are rising, the clothing that people wear to maintain decorum of modesty is rapidly plunging, leaving only the bare essentials that the store keepers require. (Thankfully there is a standard of shirts and shoes, although a minimum standard.)...
Pastor's Column (04/07/16)
Ah, the Tower of Babel. When we read that story in Genesis, we smile to ourselves and think (somewhat pridefully), "Silly ancient humans. Did they really think that they were going to be able to make it to heaven by building a tower? Didn't they know that God doesn't live 'up there?'"...
Pastor's Column (03/31/16)
From this Saturday it will be just three weeks until "Love Spencer." I look forward to seeing all of the participating churches and fellow believers uniting together to share the love of Jesus in a tangible way throughout our community. I really think these simple acts of random kindness impact many of the recipients in a very positive way...
Pastor's Column (03/24/16)
Jeremiah 31:34 "'The time is coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers . . . I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.'"...
Pastor's Column (03/17/16)
Here we go again. "God's Not Dead 2" is soon to hit theaters. As a minister, some people expect me to eagerly expect its release, and to encourage people to see it. I might tell people to see it, but not for reasons you might think. I urge Christians to see it so that you will look at it from a different perspective than your own. Look at it through the eyes of all those yearning to know God, to be forgiven, to belong to a community characterized by compassion...
Pastor's Column (03/03/16)
At our church we are doing a sermon series based on Jesus' parable of the Prodigal Son. You probably know the story: A young man asks his father for his share of the inheritance, now. He basically wishes his father dead. He says that his father's stuff is more important to him than his father. ...
Pastor's Column (02/18/16)
You may see a person around town this week wearing a simple bracelet of elastic with black letters on white cube beads, reading LIVE IT. People who attended the Community Lenten Service on Wednesday, Feb. 17, had the opportunity to make such a bracelet, and then were invited to wear it, share it, or use it as a tool for prayer, like prayer beads...
Pastor's Column (02/11/16)
A new commandment I give unto you, "That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another," John 13:34 KJV. I wonder if I am the only husband that gets a nervous cold sweat when reminded of Valentine's Day. There was a day when I really thought that I was suave and I said and did the right things for Valentine's Day. ...
Pastor's Column (02/04/16)
Many of us have heard the quote "Don't worry about anything, pray about everything." In the day in which we live, that is often easier said than done. Many nations of the world, including America, are experiencing chaos through terrorism, economic upheaval, weather extremes and a multitude of life issues...
No dead ends (01/14/16)
What is it like to be an Iowan in January 2016? It is to be bombarded with messages of aspiring presidential candidates. Terrorism and migration are hot topics this year, but they are only two examples of the complex issues facing our nation and our world. Those seeking the presidency claim to have answers, but we all know that any U.S. president has limited power and wisdom to make a real difference...
Pastor's Column (01/07/16)
As we stand at the beginning of a new year, many of you may find yourself standing at a place of new beginnings. Perhaps the year 2015 was a rough year for you, and you are looking forward to a new start. As the calendar turned from Dec. 31 to Jan. 1 a sense of optimism was in the air, and you were determined to make this year count...
Exchanging gifts (12/17/15)
All of us enjoy the Christmas tradition of exchanging gifts with loved ones. It is a rhythm of giving and receiving. What would be your favorite Christmas gift of all time? The very first Christmas, wise men brought gifts for the baby Jesus. The gifts we give and receive express love...
Christmas in a world of terror (12/11/15)
The events of the past month have shaken us deeply. The attacks in Paris, France, were so random, so arbitrary. Streetside cafes? Concert halls? How do you prepare for someone who decides to open fire on a pedestrian mall? But at least Paris is "over there." I think Americans felt empathy for the French, but also took comfort in the fact that attacks like these were taking place an ocean away...
A season of waiting (12/03/15)
When you feel like you just can't wait -- take a breath. Be still. Slow down and savor the in-between time where something is germinating, growing, however imperceptibly. As Gertrude Mueller Nelson says in her book "To Dance With God," "We equate waiting with wasting ... ...
Thankful for our heritage (11/19/15)
I am thankful for our heritage. The Congress of the United States of America on Oct. 3, 1863, as proclaimed by President Abraham Lincoln, passed an act of Congress designating an annual national day of Thanksgiving: "I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States ... ...
Pastor's Column (11/12/15)
Your relationship with Jesus Christ affects every aspect of your life and defines who you really are. Who are you really? You are the living life-giving manifestation of the love of God. You live in a body that sees, hears, tastes, smells and touches but none of these natural senses will produce spiritual results...
Pastor's Column (11/05/15)
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:28) People of faith worship! Worship is the central fruit of faith. ...
Pastor's Column: Gritty gratitude (10/29/15)
Boy, am I ready for November to come! It is out of character for me to say that, because I dread the approach of winter. But the calendar can't get past Oct. 31 too soon for me. For the past few weeks, we have been subjected to many commercials for scary movies and TV programs on a horror theme. ...
I just got out of prison (10/08/15)
Yes, I was in prison. My experience there is always physically and emotionally draining, but spiritually exhilarating. Last week, I went to prison for four days at North Central Correctional Facility in Rockwell City, a minimum security prison. Though it is a bit unsettling to watch and hear the huge barbwire gate lock shut behind you, I found that the men inside are beautiful souls who have the same hopes and dreams, human emotions and basic needs as any of us. ...
Pastor's Column (09/24/15)
This is my favorite time of year to drive across Iowa. With the arrival of autumn and the coming harvest, the landscape always seems covered in every green and earth tone. Light green, dark green, yellows, tans, oranges, browns, and all under a brilliant blue sky ... despite not being heavily forested the state of Iowa has its own colors and characteristics of autumn. This is a time for seasonal change. School has begun, the Fair is complete, fall sports seasons are well underway...
Pastor's Column (09/17/15)
The hold-out signs of "Back To School" and our routine is the Clay County Fair. Fall is here and I love it! Fall meant to me as kid: summer is over and it's back to school, pompous grass in the ditches waving to a bus of sleepy school kids stuck to sweaty "pleather seats" (plastic made to look like leather), a brand new box of nontoxic crayons, safety scissors (the kind that always cut like they were lefties in a right hand), and fall football practice...
Pastor's Column (09/10/15)
Harvest in northwest Iowa is upon us. It seems only yesterday that our farmers were planting. Time has a way of getting away from us and according to James 4:14, life is even a vapor. There is a wonderful promise in Genesis 8:22, While the Earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. ...
Pastor's Column (09/03/15)
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." In the above verse, if you are a believer, if you will pray with humility with the intent to seek God's way, and if you will repent of any wicked ways, then you have God's promise that He will hear your prayer, He will forgive the sin or sins that you repented of and He will heal your land.. ...
Pastor's Column (08/27/15)
Hebrews 11:1-3 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible...
Love like a moon (08/20/15)
Two weeks ago I accompanied 14 youth from Hope (Everly) and Bethlehem (Royal) Lutheran Churches, our youth director Chris, and his wife Alyssa, to Kansas City, Missouri, for a week of urban mission work. We had the privilege of meeting Marty, an urban gardener who helps supply food, teach children to garden, and raise funds for the Niles Children's Center. ...
Skunk moments (07/30/15)
On a recent vacation to the north woods of Minnesota, Denise and I turned onto the sand road called 'Hideaway Lane' as we neared our family cabin on Big Wolf Lake near Bemidji, Minnesota. Less than a mile from our destination, I slammed on the brakes and skidded to a stop in the sand. We almost wiped out a momma skunk and four nearly grown young ones crossing the road. Relieved, we waited as they slowly waddled into the brush. "Cute" was not the word which came to my mind...
Pastor's Column (07/23/15)
A while back my family went out to eat at a nice restaurant. When we got there, there were several people milling around in the entry area, so we knew there might be a wait. We went to the hostess stand and we were told the wait would be about 15 to 20 minutes. We gave them our name and went to find a place to sit...
Pastor's Column (07/16/15)
Back in the '50s and '60s, family life was closely linked to the church. The church provided a place not only for worship and Christian education, but was a center for social times -- women's luncheons and study groups, cradle clubs, youth sports leagues, men's study groups, quilting and sewing bees. The face of Christianity has changed with the cultural shifts of secular humanism, technology and the never-ending thirst for meaning and significance through what we do and what we possess...
Pastor's Column (07/09/15)
While my mom and dad were here in Spencer last week, I heard again a story that I really liked. She reminded me of a time when my older brother came home from boot camp; a U.S. Marine. He was wrestling with me showing me how strong he was. I didn't think much about it at the time, but my grandfather, a University of Iowa college wrestler, had shown me a few take-down moves during my junior high school years. ...
Pastor's Column (07/02/15)
Born in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence, America has had only one form of government. Neither our closest allies nor our fiercest enemies have experienced the stability with which God has blessed America.
When the founders approved the Declaration of Independence in 1776, John Adams suggested the way in which the day should be celebrated. ...
Pastor's Column (06/25/15)
Whenever I meet new people, and through conversation they discover that I am a pastor, they are always quick to let me know what church they attend. I respectfully hold to the opinion that for a Christian, there is only one Church. The apostle Paul tells us that Jesus Christ is the head of the body, the Church (singular), who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He, Jesus, may have the preeminence...
Pastor's Column (06/18/15)
As believers in Christ, we have the most magnificent heavenly Father. Father's day is this Sunday. You dads out there certainly love your children. You don't give them a phony love. You love them and you mean it. However, we are only human. As human fathers, we may say and believe one thing and then turn around and let our children see us doing something else. ...
The king's banquet: A fable (06/11/15)
There once was a beautiful palace where a king lived in splendor. However, this ruler spent a great deal of time among his people. He disguised himself often in the garb of a field worker, wandering through the markets, riding through the countryside, and watching the children at play. Because he was so familiar with his subjects and their needs, he was able to provide for their needs and listen to their concerns, passing judgment with compassion and wisdom...
Why should I attend church, and often? (05/28/15)
Studies have been showing that when most youth leave home they stopped attending church, even if their parents have been faithful in attending a church. So I looked into some of this statistic and I was surprised to find out that the average church attendance for a family in the United States was only to attend church about half the time. ...
Pair plan digital redemptions (07/28/14)
Both Sarah Palin and Paula Deen are launching subscription-based online networks. Apparently, it's a "thing." The two, one a disgraced cooking show maven, the other a politician whose 15 minutes are over, both cited the freedom the new media opportunity offers them to "be themselves." Those who like the uncensored Deen and Palin can, for a fee, have access to their content 24 hours a day...
How should the resurrection of Jesus change me? (03/27/14)
Most of us are probably very familiar with the themes we celebrate during Easter. We know that Easter celebrates the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We also know that Jesus' death on the cross pays the penalty of the sin for all those who trust in what Christ did. ...
Positive surrender for the New Year (12/27/13)
The year 2014 is right around the corner, and while you might not be a person who makes New Year's resolutions, the diet and exercise industries bank on a fair amount of people turning over a new leaf in January. Why not? A new page on the calendar is as good a reason as any to shed unwanted pounds or at least develop healthier habits...
Who is Jesus Really? (11/28/13)
Lots of people like to think of Jesus in good terms, but is just saying good things about Jesus enough, C.S. Lewis wrote in his book "Mere Christianity," "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we...
Pastor's Column: Give thanks (11/22/13)
Our world today provides many reasons for skepticism and negativity. Perhaps that is why Jesus declared, "be of good cheer I have overcome the world." He also reminded us that we are in the world but not of it. In a few days we will celebrate Thanksgiving. As I have been considering this particular holiday's name, I am reminded of the lyrics from a couple of songs. Hopefully for some, this can be an encouragement to put a more positive spin on our world and the day in which we live...
Dealing with disaster (11/15/13)
It seems to happen every month: somewhere in our world, tragedy strikes and hundreds - if not thousands or millions - of people find their lives suddenly turned upside down. Right now it is in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, perhaps the strongest storm ever measured. Earlier this year it was tornadoes in Oklahoma and a fertilizer plant exploding in Texas. In addition, there are the man-made tragedies such as the Boston Marathon Bombing or the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting...
Pastor's Column (11/08/13)
A few weeks ago I came across a wonderfully uplifting story about a canceled wedding in Atlanta, Ga. Just 40 days before her wedding, Carol and Willie Fowler's daughter decided to cancel the nuptials for reasons that remain unknown. Of course, that close to the wedding date, the family's deposit on the reception hall and the caterer was non-refundable...
Pastor's Column (11/01/13)
Hebrews 12:28-29 "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire." Dear friends of Christ, faith worships. Worship is to faith as breathing is to the body. ...
The Fields are White and Ready to Harvest (10/25/13)
Harvest 2013 in northwest Iowa is drawing to a close. It seems only yesterday that farmers were planting. Time has a way of getting away from us and life is a vapor, according to James 4:14. There is a wonderful promise way back in Genesis 8:22. "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." Jeremiah had some Spiritual insight for harvest and summer in 8:20. ...
The Best Church Doesn't Fit You (10/18/13)
In a conversation about what our adult children are doing these days, a friend mentioned that her daughter and son-in-law are trying to find a church to attend in their new community. They wish there were some kind of service or directory that could tell them what each church in their city is like. They half-joked, half lamented that there wasn't a kind of rating system, or an app, for finding a church...
Practice matters (09/27/13)
Today is the Spencer High School homecoming celebration. The community is abuzz with excitement for the Tiger Football team to take the field. The players will play their hardest, marching band will play their best, the spirit squad will pump up the crowd, and the fans and alumni will cheer their loudest. Everyone will take to Dale Norton Field in hope, rather expectation, of a big win for the home team...
Distractions! (09/13/13)
In each of our lives, we have a God-given mandate to do some specific thing. He didn't forget to assign a task to you or retire you to the bench to watch the game, no participation required. Each of us has a role to fill designed by God. He formed us to fit what He created us to do...
Sacred festivals (09/06/13)
I love the fair. We live near the fairgrounds, so right about the time the "No Parking" signs spring up on our lawn I know it is time to start planning my week. I set my schedule for volunteering as Fair Chaplain and working at the Kiwanis booth and manning a Nutty Bar stand. I get a fair brochure and start planning out the free shows I want to see. I make a list of mealtimes and chart out which foods I need to eat before the fair closes...
It's the most wonderful time of the year (09/03/13)
Summer's over. School's begun. And, despite last week's oppressive heat, fall is on its way. That can only mean one thing -- Clay County Fair time is nearly here! Beginning on Labor Day weekend, the collective pulse of the Clay County community rises. Schedules shift, making time for display set-up, project completion, baking, sewing, flower arranging. Everyone, it seems, has something special to do to get ready for the biggest show around...
Pastor's Column (08/23/13)
I want to talk about a few ridiculous stories -- at least they sound ridiculous -- but in reality they are true events from the lives of people of great faith in the only true and living God. The first ridiculous statement is made in Hebrews 11:3, "By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command." Did you catch that? "God's command ..., so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." How many people in our world believe that today, that God created the world out of nothing? Not many. ...
Praying for change (08/09/13)
CHNG. Can you guess the word I have shortened? It's change. Why shorten it? Well, it seems as though change is a four-letter word to a lot of people. Change is hard for all of us, but there is something that is even more difficult: changing someone else...
How do I make sure I am right with God? (07/19/13)
Many people do not feel close to God because they are not sure they are right with God. King David struggled with how to get right with God after he sinned and felt this great separation from God. When David was king he committed adultery and then had the husband of the woman he cheated with killed in what he tried to make look like an accident...
Comfortable Christianity (07/12/13)
A famous author once wrote, "I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don't recommend Christianity." His name was CS Lewis. Some of you would recognize a few of his works like "The Chronicles of Narnia." He might be surprised to find out that a few awesome movies were made out of his books. Entertaining is not what he was about most of the time...
Pastors Column (07/05/13)
Dear friends of Christ, what does it mean to be free? Are you free spiritually? What do you feel when you see the cross? Do you feel that excitement of freedom? Or are you bound to sin? Do you know and understand the flag of Christ's redeeming love that forgives all sin? Do you understand the words of Paul from Romans 6, "For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin -- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.". ...
Pastor's Column (06/28/13)
The Fourth of July holiday is quickly approaching, and I know that many are digging out their red, white, and blue clothing and making plans with family and friends to celebrate the birth of our nation. There will be community celebrations, barbecues, swimming, and dazzling fireworks displays overhead to dazzle us with their beauty...
A tribute to Christian fathers (06/14/13)
It is wonderful to have a child or children show appreciation toward their parents while they are still living. The following letter was penned by such a daughter, a pastor's wife, and was an expression of the love, appreciation and memories she had of her father which represented the feelings of the rest of the family...
Jesus is the bread of life (05/17/13)
What does Jesus mean when He said He was the bread of life? Well, bread was the most common food source of Jesus' time and bread became associated with basic food. Give us this day our daily bread means more than just bread but the food we need. We might say today that Jesus is the meat and potatoes of life...
Going after 'the one' (05/10/13)
Anyone who is a parent knows what it feels like to lose sight of your child for a few minutes in the grocery store. Terrifying. You'd want to yell, "Lock the doors and everybody comb the building! My child is missing!" Even if you're the shy type, you could become loud and demanding if you couldn't find your kid. ...
Pastor's Column (04/26/13)
A few days ago I woke up to the strangest sound: birds. Even now as I write this article I can hear them singing outside of my window, and they are beginning to become regular visitors to the trees around town. Birds, of all things, are a sound that I had grown unaccustomed to hearing...
Pastor's Column (04/19/13)
Revelation 21:4 "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away." Dear friends of Christ, how many things have you broken throughout life? I don't know about you, but I've been guilty of breaking plenty. ...
Who are we going to trust? Jesus is coming again! (04/12/13)
We are living in a day when it is hard to know who you can trust and what you can trust. Christians know that they can always trust in the Lord and in His Word. Hebrews 13:8, Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and forever. 1Kings 8:56 ... there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, Psalms 34:4 The Word of the Lord is right .....
Darkness and light (04/05/13)
A couple of years ago my husband and I went to see "Knowing," a suspenseful movie about someone who discovers a code that predicts disasters. It is a page filled with numbers, which turn out to be dates, and the location and number of casualties for each major disaster...
Palm Sunday crowd: right and wrong (03/22/13)
Palm Sunday. The Triumphal Entry. It is a story we are all familiar with. One we love to commemorate on our Church calendars and in our Church services. It is a real pivot point in the season of Lent. Here is the beginning of Holy Week, the start of the roller coaster that brings us hurtling at breakneck speed toward the cross. ...
How to find great happiness (03/15/13)
Almost everybody is looking for happiness. It is strange that the Bible tells us clearly how to find great happiness, but rarely do people follow God's advice. Maybe we have become so convinced by advertising that happiness is found in security, money, things, or human relationships that we don't trust the Bible anymore. The Bible is clear that there are forces working against us to find any lasting happiness (or an abundant life) in this world. John 10:10 The thief...
Compassion: Love in action (03/08/13)
St. Francis of Assisi said, "Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words." Jesus said the world will know that we are Christians when we demonstrate brotherly love. If there is anything that the unsaved person needs from the Church, above all else, it is to be loved, accepted and forgiven. ...
The God of Angel Armies (03/01/13)
Chris Tomlin has a new song on his latest album that has been getting some airtime on Christian radio and which we recently began singing at our church. It's called "Whom Shall I Fear," and the chorus goes like this: I know who goes before me I know who stands behind...
Faith and civil discourse (02/22/13)
In late January, I had the pleasure of attending Re-Mind and Re-New: A Conference on Faith and Civil Discourse at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I always enjoy my time at the seminary because of the deep, lasting relationships that I have formed there, as well as the opportunity to be challenged and pushed in new and exciting ways. ...
What is Ash Wednesday about? (02/15/13)
On Ash Wednesday Christians come to have ashes placed on their forehead and to hear these words: "Remember - you are dust, and to dust you shall return." But not many churches have Ash Wednesday anymore. It's kind of humbling walking around in public with a black cross on your forehead, isn't it. The ashes mark you as someone "different." And who wants to be "different?"...
It is time for a heart examination (02/08/13)
Heart month is a good time for a heart examination. From what I have read, Planet Heart is a widely popular screening program. The screening can help identify heart-related health risks and can then enable them to treat their patients to prevent serious medical conditions. That is wonderful news for our physical hearts, knowing that heart disease is the number one cause of death in our nation. Everyone wants to be healthy...
We are all treasures to God (02/01/13)
My husband and I like to watch the show "American Pickers" together. Two men from Eastern Iowa travel all over the U.S. looking for "treasure" in people's old sheds and attics. It's fun to see what they can uncover that has some value. What looks like old junk to me, they rescue and sell for decent money...
A great community (01/25/13)
If someone asked, "Do you live in a good place?" we would all say, "Absolutely! Spencer is a fantastic community, for a whole variety of reasons." We enjoy excellent quality of life, outstanding schools, great businesses, good employment opportunities, high-quality civic leadership, numerous service clubs, good churches, and good opportunities for youth and adult recreation. All of us could add to this list of high praise, reasons we are glad and proud to say, "I live in Spencer."...
The whole nine yards...of what? (01/18/13)
The other day I was listening to a fascinating radio program about the etymology (or origin and meaning) of different common phrases. Well, it was fascinating to me, anyway. They discussed the phrase "the whole nine yards" and all the various myths and rumors about where "the whole nine yards" came from. ...
A cure for the after-Christmas Blues (01/11/13)
Most of us get the after-Christmas blues. The holidays are over, the bills are due, the vacation time is usually spent, and we have the cold winter to look forward to. If we viewed life just from this world's narrow perspective, of course we should get depressed. That is why the Bible calls us to see things from God's perspective. In John 4:36 Jesus says, "Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together."...
Walking together (01/04/13)
Pastor Barb - Recently, I had an injury to my back that kept getting worse. It seemed like it altered my life almost instantly. I couldn't do the things I wanted to do and even needed to do because of the debilitating throb! What was strange about it was that the pain I was feeling was not in my back; it was in my leg! The injury originated in my back but, because everything inside of me is attached, it caused the pain to be felt all the way down my leg! Weird! But that's a body...all the parts are attached to each other. ...
A Current picture of Jesus (12/28/12)
When you think about Jesus, what picture comes to your mind? Having just come through Christmas, a lot of people think of the Nativity. They have an image of Jesus as a tiny infant, laid carefully in a manger. The Word of God made flesh. Other people most commonly think of Jesus in His passion, hanging on a cross with a crown of thorns upon His brow. ...
A savior is born (12/21/12)
We celebrate Christmas every year with awe and wonder, as we consider what really happened 2,000 years ago in a stable on the other side of the world. How incredible it must have been to see God's plan of redemption coming to life; to witness history and the Bible blending together as one. ...
The matchless gift (12/14/12)
Christmas continues to be an exciting time of the year. It is a time of great celebration for many Christians and non-Christians all over the world. It was all God's idea. He so loved this world that He gave, John 3:16. And we are to follow His example. ...
What difference does it make? (12/07/12)
We do good things during the Christmas season. We shop at a Target store and drop a dollar in the Salvation Army kettle out front. We bring a few canned goods to the 4H dinner. We buy a pair of mittens for the mitten tree. We send a few extra dollars to the children we sponsor around the world. Sometimes we might ask ourselves, "It is such a small thing to do. Am I a fool thinking that it can make a difference?"...
The shortest verse (11/30/12)
Remember when we were children in church school and asked to memorize a Bible verse? How many of us chose John 11:35? You remember? "Jesus wept." It was short. But this shortest verse in the Bible is a word of dynamite in a small package. It stirs all kinds of questions and thoughts within me. "Why did Jesus weep?" "Do I ever cause Jesus to weep?" "What things in the world cause Jesus to weep today?" God weeps with us; God weeps over us...
When Blessings Are Best (11/23/12)
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I enjoy the time with family and friends. I love some of the holiday traditions. And, of course, I love the food. It's wonderful to be able to spend some time set aside for the purpose of giving thanks for God's many blessings...
Getting back to the original intent of Thanksgiving (11/16/12)
In 1777 Congress adopted the Thanksgiving declaration from a draft by Samuel Adams. It is interesting to read the document and note the original design they had for of what they determined would make our country great. The start of the second paragraph of that document says:...
A branch of the vine (11/09/12)
Jesus said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." This Bible verse reveals the importance of every believer having continuous fellowship and literally being yoked to Jesus. Your life is an outflow of Jesus living in you and through you. Living in vital union with Him empowers you to touch people with His love, supernaturally impacting them through simple acts of kindness...
Church and Politics (11/03/12)
It's an election year. I know, because my phone rings more than it ever does otherwise. In the last few weeks, much has been made about the IRS rule that prohibits tax-exempt organizations (like churches) from endorsing a particular candidate or party. ...
'We are God's Workmanship' (10/26/12)
Eph. 2:7-10, "In order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - 9. Not by works, so that no one can boast. 10. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."...
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