Tag Archives: witness

Acting Out

Yesterday I was excited as I taught the children to “leap” with praise.  In worship we read Acts 3, the story in which Peter and John healed a crippled beggar outside the temple gate and the man entered the temple with them, “walking and leaping and praising God.” The children and I enjoyed leaping up to give God’s praise. Their energy got me ready to preach.

The original healing and leaping gave Peter the opportunity to preach as well. The miracle caused such a commotion that Peter had to address the crowd to direct the crowd’s attention away from John and himself and back to Jesus Christ. He called the crowd to repent and turn to God (Acts 3:19).

This is Peter’s second sermon in the book of Acts. After the first, on the day of Pentecost, the crowd asked what they needed to do. Peter respond, “Repent and be baptized;” three thousand were baptized that day (Acts 2:38,41). Marvelous fruit for one sermon.

Peter’s second sermon had a different effect: the priest and officials of the temple arrestted them because they were proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead (Acts 4:1-2). Peter and John were “acting out” against the norms of their temple religion and had to be quieted in some way. So the leaders questioned Peter and John by whose authority they were teaching and healing. Peter, by the Holy Spirit declared to these religious officials,

Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead (Acts 2:10).

Nothing is keeping Peter from proclaiming Jesus with all boldness, even to the gang that had Jesus executed.

May we each have such boldness to proclaim Jesus Christ.

Lord Jesus, give me courage to speak your name, even to act out when needed.

Through A Mirror Dimly

Drew Jonell’s recent photograph ignited some deeper reflections for me on Jesus’ resurrection and my faith.

First, we see our risen Lord in “a mirror dimly, but then we will see face-to-face” (I Corinthians 13:12). We can never fully comprehend the wonder and reality of Jesus’ resurrection; he moves beyond our limited understanding of the universe. I once thought that if one had a video camera set up outside the tomb on Easter morning, one could “record” the resurrection and place it on you-tube for all to see. But with today’s CGI special effects one could not trust such a video. People still need to make a faith step.

Second, the dark window frame is in focus, just like I tend to focus on my immediate needs, situation and experiences. I can become self-absorbed. Even this blog can become an exercise in seeking attention for myself. Yet I must confess that I am called to be a frame that holds the glass through which the sun shines. God can use me, in spite of myself. The resurrection calls me to see life beyond my closed “tomb” like world, out in the glorious light of Jesus’ ever living presence.

Third, the morning sun shines bright, even though it is partially blocked by the frame. Jesus is alive, and though my witness may be streaked and pitted, his light will shine through. Peter, James and John were all flawed witnesses, yet the good news of the crucified and risen Lord shone through their testimony. Even the skeptic Thomas came to faith.

What do you see with the eyes of faith?

Lord Jesus, open my eyes that I might see you today.

Drew Jonell is a member of Resurrection Lutheran Church and you can see more of his creative photography here.

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.

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. while spinning

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is Dr. Martin Luther King day and when I woke up, I was not sure how to honor it.  I had planned to go into the church for scheduled meetings, but unsure if the holiday would truly register for me.  Prior to coming into the office, I went to the YMCA to do a group cycling class.  I expected a large crowd due to the holiday, however there were only three of us, including the instructor Sara.  

As she started the class, she told us that she had selected all the music, centered on MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech.   Some of the songs had only a vague reference to it, but others, like U2’s Pride, were a direct reference to Dr. King’s life of service.   Then, as we neared the end of the workout, she played for us a portion of the speech.   The three of us kept spinning as we listened again to the familiar cadence of Dr. King’s preaching.   One sentence stood out,  “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”  That hope still resonates for me.

What also struck me during this workout was how simple a testimony this instructor gave by her selection of songs and  the speech.  In a simple, caring way she integrated her witness to Dr. King into her daily life as an instructor.  I was impressed and thanked her for that simple act of honor.   I don’t think I cycled any better than usual because of that act, but my heart was a bit lighter and joyful.   The C in YMCA stood out.

Have you found ways to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr?

“I am a Runner” video

Grandma's Marathon with Son

Today a running buddy sent me a hilarious YouTube video that captures some of the zany conversations I have during my preparation to run a marathon.  http://youtu.be/Cw5MHsO-JI8   Some people see addicted runners as simply crazy.   Perhaps it is fortunate that I have been injured this winter, so the members of Resurrection Lutheran, my new congregation, have not been subjected to this conversation.  But come spring?!

On a more serious note,  I also wonder if conversations about spiritual matters can have a similar effect on the non-believer.  Can someone with a passionate faith in Jesus Christ come across as so weird, that it repels rather than attracts?   Especially if the conversation is so one-sided as this one.  On the other hand, it was the vitality and joy that I saw in so many runners that drew me into the fold.  Isn’t that true for the faithful as well?

Questions to ponder