Tag Archives: Resurrection Lutheran Church

New Year’s Run and Devotional

My running group had a New Year’s Day run, even though the temperature was -5 degrees at the start.

Bundled Warm for a 4 mile run

Bundled Warm for a 4 mile run

Here is the devotional we shared together prior to our run.

Mark 1:1  The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Today is the beginning of a new year.   Recently I was reading in Mark’s gospel and I was struck by this opening sentence.  It is the Beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ.  Now that may not be so profound, because it is the start of the gospel.  But on the other hand, there is no final statement in the book that says, the End of the gospel.   Only the beginning is mentioned.  This reflects our relationship as a reader of the Gospel and as a disciple of Jesus Christ.  We have a beginning in our relationship with Jesus, but we don’t have a finish line.  We are continually growing, running, moving, becoming the person Jesus created us to be.  God is not finished with me yet.  And that is truly Good News.  

Prayer:   Lord Jesus, in our relationship with you, we are closer to the starting line than the finish line.  Throughout 2014 increase our trust in you, so that we can run, and leap and rejoice in your love for us.  May our spirits hunger for you each day and may we find ways to serve you as we serve one another.  Guide us as we run today, in Jesus name. AMEN

Afterwards, we enjoyed some pancakes and conversation. 

Enjoying the warmth inside Resurrection Lutheran Church

Enjoying the warmth inside Resurrection Lutheran Church

How are you starting your New Year?

Which are you?

This morning I worship with our youth group at Highland Lutheran Church in Denver Colorado. We heard a perfect sermon for the beginning of our mission trip on the parable of the Good Samaritan. Pastor Dena Williams asked us who we are in the story.

Are we the lawyer, the priest, the Levite, the Samaritan or possibly the innkeeper?  Many of us like to think that we are a Samaritan willing to help others. She reminded us that Samaritans were marginalized, foreign, mostly hated people.  Is that really how we see ourselves?

Yes sometimes we are people who give help but we can just as easily be the broken person, beaten up and left for dead on the side of the road. We can be beaten up in so many ways: job loss, broken relationships, mental illness, chronic pain. We can give aid but we also at times need to receive aid.

As the youth of Resurrection prepare to serve in Denver I pray that we may be as open to receiving aid and love as to giving comfort and care. We seek to trust Jesus, the storyteller, to give us our proper role.

Prayer Challenge

Looking to Heaven in Prayer

Last Sunday I challenged the worshipping community at Resurrection to a prayer commitment.  Following Jesus’ example of prayer in John 17 where he looked to heaven, I asked people to pray for three things and to commit at least five minutes daily to this task.  Consistent prayer is vital to a congregation’s mission.  Are you open to a prayer challenge? 

The first part of my challenge is to pray for those who are close to you: your spouse, children, siblings, parents, or significant others.  Jesus prayed for his disciples.  They had shared years of ministry together and had become a family.  He asked his Father in heaven to protect his disciples.   Our prayers for loved one can be that simple: for God to bless, protect and encourage them. 

Second, I encourage you to pray for your congregation’s missionIn our secular age, it is easy to forget that congregations have a God-given mission to accomplish.  Jesus gave his mission to his disciples: to proclaim “eternal life, that they may know you, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).   At Resurrection we have that same mission, only we call it the Vibrant Life of Faith in Christ. 

Third, I invite you to pray for your adversary, for the person with whom you struggle daily or weekly.   It might be someone at work, at home or in your neighborhood.   In Matthew 5:44, Jesus told the disciples, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” 

A friend told me about his struggle to love his adversary.  Every day as he went to work he saw a picture of the person and felt this internal anger rise up.  It got to the point where he would take a different route to work so as to avoid the picture. He was discussing this with his wife when she suggested that instead of avoiding it, he simply pray for God’s blessing and joy to be with his adversary, to envision the person covered in God’s light.  He listened to his wife and started praying.  At first there was no change in his emotions, but he persevered.  Gradually he felt his animosity dissipate.  He grew to see his adversary as a fellow child of God. 

What are your prayer challenges?

Lord Jesus, bless my family, church and enemies.

Habitat Day

Yesterday, five of us from Resurrection worked at a Habitat for Humanity house in St. Paul. In spite of the heat and humidity we hung sheet rock in the upstairs bedrooms. The challenge was learning how to put up ceiling sheet rock, especially above the stair case. Fortunately our crew had an excellent crew chief, Roger Henry, who showed us the right techniques and special tricks to get the job done.

Roger Henry

I have known Roger for over a decade. He has been a long-time volunteer and champion of Habitat for Humanity. He brings his own tools to the work site and gladly teaches novices like myself how to use them. He knows that most Habitat volunteers are not skilled construction workers and that he could probably do the job more easily by himself. Yet teaching others is one of his passions and joys. I like working with Roger (but please don’t tell him that!).

I also have an abiding passion for Habitat for Humanity. I believe in its mission to build safe, affordable housing for people in need. They do NOT give away homes, but they invest in people. Any potential home owner needs to put over 500 hour of sweat equity into the organization, he or she needs to attend classes about home ownership responsibilities, and the family will have a mortgage when they move into the home. As Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat, once said, “Habitat is not a handout, but a hand-up.” The modest house we worked on yesterday is only 1400 square feet and will probably house a family of five or more. Twin Cities Habitat has built more than 850 since its inception in 1985. Learn more at their website.

Hard Work and Good Food

And whenever I have worked at a Habitat site, I have enjoyed a great lunch!

As I reflect on the day, I am extremely thankful for organizations like Habitat for Humanity and for individuals like Roger Henry. They are expressions of hope and joy and make me smile. In a world that often seems dark and foreboding, they shine with the light of Christ.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matt. 5:16

What people or organizations give you hope in today’s world?

Lord Jesus, may we together shine with your light of hope.

Running Club Passion and Pain

One of my passions is consistent aerobic exercise. However my passion has been inconsistent, waxing and waning through the years. Through most of my adult life, I have had spurts of consistent running, only to be sidelined by the “urgency” of my daily life. This was especially true when my children were little.

The Running Club in a non-running moment

Then in the winter of 1999 Tim Torgerson approached me about starting a church-based marathon training group. He was looking towards October’s Twin City Marathon. I was gullible and naïve and so said yes. The training group started in March, running together on Saturday mornings. Each week we were accountable to each other. I had a training schedule to keep and people checking on me.

However a dreaded “running injury” struck and I had to take a month out in June for physical therapy. Still I felt this need/desire to be back with the group as quickly as possible. Finally on October 3, 1999, I finished TCM with seven others from the group. After our suceess “the training group” became a year-round running club.

Over the next ten years the St. Andrew’s Running Club gave me the support and encouragement to finish ten marathons. Last summer when I finished Grandma’s, I knew I needed a break to recover from some nagging injuries. Later I said good-bye to St. Andrew’s Running Club as I followed God’s call to Resurrection Lutheran. After a long winter of physical therapy, I am now finally ready to start running. Last week I was able to do three runs of 2-3 miles.

I have also discovered a new joy with cycling. Last Wednesday Dave Johnson from Resurrection showed me some of the great bike routes nearby. Yesterday I biked with Tim and Dan and needed their support as I experienced my first three flats.

Through these experiences, I have discovered that I benefit from a group to help me stay consistent in running or cycling. Which leads me to a question: Is anyone interested in a running or cycling club based here at Resurrection? Let me know.

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another, Proverbs 27:17

Lord Jesus, lead us into the fellowship groups you want us to have so that we might live the vibrant life.

New Website for Resurrection

Trust Live Serve

After six months of thought, discussion, prayer, work and waiting, Resurrection Lutheran Church has a new look for its website.  I am so thankful for all the creative work Sue Guck, Matthew Mayer, Susan Asplund, Sarah Storvick, and Betsy Hickey put into this project.  They not only worked hard rewriting and reformatting information, but they had to tolerate my occasional rants and false starts.  They are a great team and I am so thankful for each of them.

The website has some new features: calendar, map and streaming audio.  In the coming weeks we expect to add other features such an on-line registration, store and video.  It remains a work in progress and your feedback is welcomed.  Our primary goal is to introduce visitors to Resurrection and then to serve people within our community.

The new look is part of the process of communicating our congregation’s mission and vision.  Like many congregations, Resurrection is seeking how to best utilize the many tools the internet now provides: web, e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter.  This blog is also part of the overall process.  No one tool is sufficient by itself.  Together they have the potential to reinforce our congregation’s mission: to call all people to a vibrant life of faith in Christ.

The internet is a powerful set of tools for our mission.  Yet there is an even better tool available. I am convinced that the best way to invite people to join our mission is face-to-face invitation.  A warm personal invitation to a neighbor or co-worker has the power of the Holy Spirit with it.   People are more likely to trust your personal words of invitation than all the e-mail, blogs or tweets that I or anyone can send.  You are God’s missionary in your community.

Jesus said,  “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

The last time I checked south Washington county is not beyond the ends of the earth.

How do you bear witness to Jesus in a creative or caring way?

Lord Jesus, show me a way to bear witness to you today.

To Run or To Clean

This morning I had a decision to make.  One choice was to attend the Cemstone Run for Others, a 5K or 10K road race at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, my old congregation.  I co-directed the race for over ten years and the lead pastor, John Hogenson, invited me to attend.  My other choice was to help with the spring cleaning projects at Resurrection Lutheran, my new call.

For various reasons, I decided to help with clean up at Resurrection.   For one thing, the clean up would all be in doors, and this morning’s weather was raw with a cold wind and snow.  I always enjoyed running in the Run for Others, but this year I am still in recovery mode and would not have been able to run.  I certainly would have enjoyed seeing the many colleagues, congregants and community members at the race in spite of the weather.  They are many deep relationships there for me.

Everyone can help at Resurrection

Still I enjoyed my morning at Resurrection.   Allison and Owen are two young kids who came with their dad, Ian, to help out.  They vacuumed up the small metal shavings on the tables that Ian and I repaired.  They also helped sharpen pencils and clean some of the carpet.  At a recent new member class Allison and Owen helped me carry out some of the garbage and then we had a wonderful adventure exploring the nooks and crannies of their new church.  Their participation along with the twenty adults who came made this a memorable morning for me.  For me, a new fellowship of caring relationships is forming.

When a pastor moves to a new congregation, it can be tough to bring closure to the many relationships at the old congregation.   I realize that has been a challenge for me. Yet the greatest joy comes in being open to the new relationships at Resurrection.   This is where God has called me and where I plan to give my emotional and spiritual energy for many years to come. 

Someday I may run again in the Cemstone Run for Others.   But it wouldn’t be the day when Allison, Owen, Ian and I are doing our spring cleaning.

Making Space for Service

Jim, Carol Ann and the Bookcase

Yesterday was Faith in Action day at Resurrection .  More than 210 people participated in various service projects.   The text for worship was from John 13, Jesus washing the feet of his disciples and instructing his followers to be servant leaders.  I was impressed with how the Faith in Action Team had organized our service into teams.  Along with others, Jim Popkens and I were sent to a subsidized senior-housing complex to assist with any spring clean-up chores. 

We knocked on the door of our first assigned apartment and no one answered.  At our second apartment, we were greeted by a friendly, small woman whose apartment was immaculate.   She needed help with only one thing: to clean behind her refrigerator.   Jim and I did find some dirt, but we were finished in less than five minutes.  We had a brief chat with the resident and then moved on to our final apartment.   I was thinking, “We may be done in less than twenty minutes.”  

My thoughts quickly changed once we entered Carol Ann’s apartment.  It was overflowing with craft projects, magazines and books.  She had a bookshelf from Target that needed assembly to help with her storage.  Fortunately, Jim had some experience with these project.  We cleared some space in her small living room and pulled out all the wooden pieces, connectors, brads, screws and instructions out.  It was warm in her apartment, so she offered us a glass of water.  Under Jim’s guidance, the bookcase slowly  took shape. Once, as we tried to fit the lower and upper halves together, nothing seemed to work.  Nothing that is until Jim discovered how the special internal latches had to be turned just so.  I think I would still be there if I had been doing the project alone.  

As we left Carol Ann’s apartment, she asked us about why we did this.  We briefly explained that it was part of our church mission to serve, to give back to the community.  She thanked us and we started our journey home.  Our service was nothing profound, yet I reflected my own love of books and how vital a bookshelf can be.   Service can often be simple: washing feet, cleaning behind refrigerators or assembling a bookcase.    Yet simple acts are at the heart of Christian love.

How has your faith been active of late?

Bet the Farm on Jesus

My blog’s name, Trust Live Serve, comes from Resurrection Lutheran Church where I am  pastor.  As a congregation we are called to Trust in Jesus as Savior, Live the call of God’s Word, and Serve the World God loves.   The first phrase, Trust in Jesus as Savior, gives centrality to Jesus Christ.  Without Jesus’ life, death and resurrection there would be no reason for any church to gather.  As we move towards Holy Week and the mystery of the cross and empty tomb, I am mindful of how Jesus trusted the Father throughout the passion.  Jesus is not only the object of our trust, but a model of what trust looks like.

The Oehlke farm house remains on church property

Yesterday, I met another example of trust.  Inez Oehlke was the former owner of the farm on which Resurrection Lutheran is now built. She had been a faithful member of a neighboring Lutheran congregation, Gethsemane, and she wanted to make a contribution to her congregation.  She also knew that her farm, on the corner of Bailey Road and Woodbury Drive, was prime commercial real estate because, in time, it would be adjacent to a major intersection in this growing suburb.   She had been approached by various commercial vendors who wanted to purchase parts of her farm, but she had a different vision.  She wanted and prayed for a church on the corner.  And her prayers were answered twice.

Resurrection Lutheran from the farm buildings

Not only was Resurrection Lutheran able to purchase this prime location at a very reasonable price, but St. Ambrose Catholic church as well (St. Ambrose is across the street from Resurrection).  Inez used the purchase price to benefit her own congregation and Luther Seminary.  She now lives in a modest apartment here in Woodbury and, at the age of 91, continues to give “talks” or testimonials on the value of being generous.   After my visit with her, I came away blessed by her trust in Jesus.  Inez continues to live a vibrant life of faith.   Trust in Jesus is in the very foundation of this congregation, even in the soil itself.

Who has been a model of trust in Jesus for you?