• Daily Devotions. Day 8, Patient in Affliction

    Image may contain: nature and outdoor, text that says 'Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer ROMANS 12:12'

    As I mentioned yesterday, Romans 12:12 is a succinct summation of the Christian life. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Yesterday we talked about being joyful in hope. So today, we talk about being patient in affliction.

    Patience is the one thing I definitely need more of in this time. Patience with technology as I keep learning new tools to connect with people, patience with governmental leaders as they make extremely challenging decisions that affect millions of people, patience with medical researchers as they continue to work on ways to fight, cure, and test for COVID-19, truly patience with everything and everyone.

    Yet the patience I find most lacking is patience with myself. It has been a challenging month. I’m tired. My to-do list keeps getting longer and longer. There are hundreds of people looking to me to be their pastor and I’ve never been a pastor through a pandemic. None of my pastor friends has either. It’s new territory, and it requires exceptional amounts of patience.

    Be patient friends, for God is with us through every trial and affliction, including this one.

    God’s blessings on your day. Keep the faith.

    Pastor Andy

  • He Came Seeking Fruit

    Jesus tells a parable of an vineyard owner who wishes to cut down a barren fig tree, the vinedresser intervenes on behalf of the tree to help it bear fruit. Jesus is the Vinedresser. He is chopped down in our place and through His death and resurrection be bear the fruit of the Spirit.
  • Pastoring and Farming

    I’m on vacation this week back in my home state of Minnesota. Even though Stephanie and I haven’t lived in Minnesota for a decade, I don’t think I’ll ever stop thinking of myself as a Minnesotan. I grew upon a farm in the south-central part of the state, eight miles from the nearest town. I knew from a very early age that farming wasn’t going to be my chosen vocation. I didn’t mind the hard work, but I just wasn’t mechanically minded. And if you didn’t know, more than half of a farmer’s time is spent fixing things that are broken be it tractors, trucks, or some specialized piece of equipment that most people don’t know exists.

    Despite not wanting to be a farmer and not being gifted with the skills to be a farmer, such an upbringing has been incredibly useful in ministry. As a farmer, you have to learn to go with the flow. Sometimes it rains and you can’t do the work you had planned on. Sometimes something breaks and you have to take the time to fix it. Sometimes prices are good and you have to sell the corn and the beans that are in the bin. Sometimes prices are terrible and you have to tighten your belt and wait. Farming is a life of patience, a life of persistence in the face of uncontrollable factors.

    The same is true as a pastor. Sometimes a member is hospitalized and the things I had planned have to wait. Sometimes people are broken spiritually, and they need healing. Sometimes attendance and giving are up and things look really encouraging. Sometimes they are down and things look a bit bleak and desperate. In each circumstance, pastors simply have to keep moving forward, doing the work that is given to them, serving the people they have been called to serve.

    My farm upbringing has taught me many valuable things including the need for flexibility, patience, and hard work in the face of things beyond my control. This is a reality for both farmers and pastors. Such lessons promote a dependence upon God to provide the growth, both in the field, and in the church.

    God’s blessings on your week.

    Pastor Andy 

  • The Steadfastness of Job

    James mentions the Old Testament character of Job as an example to us of steadfastness in the face of suffering. This sermon reviews Job's story and compares it with Jesus' story.
  • Three Words of Encouragement

    This week we start an exciting journey. For the first time in about a decade, our Sunday School kids will be in the entire worship service with us. They will have time for a fuller lesson (with a new curriculum that I hear is stellar). There will be a few new Sunday School teachers.

    The kids also will get the opportunity to listen to the Bible readings, hear the sermon, confess the Creed, and participate in the prayers and the offering. For many of these kids, this will be one of the first times they have been a part of these important moments of worship.

    To help facilitate this change, I have a few words of encouragement.

    1. Be patient.

    When you do something for the first time, it is simultaneously exciting and nerve-wracking. I don’t expect our kids to be perfectly behaved and neither should you. I expect them to be kids who are learning something new. They will probably have questions. As a congregation, let’s work together to teach them, lead them, and answer their questions with patience. Let’s try our best not to give parents or kids dirty looks or yell at kids for misbehaving. Let’s share with them the joy we find in worship as we get to hear the good news of God’s promises.

    1. Help them follow along.

    Some of our parents and grandparents have several children they are looking after. This is the first time in a long time they’ll have to do that for a full hour of worship. Don’t be afraid to sit with a family and help out a little bit. Some of our Sunday School kids may wish to sit with other families and build relationships with them (with their parents’ permission of course). That’s great! Worshiping together as a family is wonderful. Some parents and children really take joy in that experience. I know I did. My sister loved sitting with Grandpa Jack and Grandma Delores (not really our grandparents, just family friends). Sitting with family and sitting with others can both be great. Let’s be flexible with that knowing each family and each child is different.

    1. Model what to do.

    As humans, we often learn by observation. If you’ve ever been to a new church before, you know how this goes. You sort of wait and watch to see when other people stand and sit and sing. You react to those around you and follow their lead. Starting this Sunday we’ll have a page for sermon notes in the bulletin. Take notes. Draw a picture. Take that page home with you. Ask your kids what notes they took in the service.

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