What do we need?

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 9:8, 9

Since we have just begun our stewardship series for this year I would like for you to take a moment to read and look at the scripture above. We just heard last Sunday a lesson in Contentment. What do we need?

God gives us all we need, plus extra and generously. We may not see that at times in our lives but God is with us always even in the midst of the bad times.

I have a book written by Dave Sutherland and Kirk Nowery called The 33 Laws of Stewardship.  I think these two quotes from that book is a great reminder for each of us.

“We are stewards of God’s abundant blessings, guardians of all that he has done and is doing in our lives. Our priority is to manage these unique resources with thankfulness and thoughtfulness.”

“No one else can give a first –person account of what God is doing to guide you, provide for you, empower you and bless you as you serve him. Be a faithful witness.”

My prayer is that each of you will use and manage your abundant blessings and be that faithful witness.

Shelley Shultz

 

Buddha and Our “Away Game”

A few weeks back I was driving by the Vietnamese Buddhist Temple in my neighborhood when I noticed something.  It was late on a Sunday afternoon and they were taking down a decorative tent that had been covering the white carved Buddha in the front yard.  I saw this statue up close and remember it being a very big and fat Buddha with little fat cherub-like figures all around him.  I know what it looks like.  I have no idea what it means.  I have even less inclination about why the decorative tent had covered the Buddha that day, or why people had carefully placed flowers all over it.  But I wanted to know.  I wanted to know their traditions and their rituals and the meaning behind their activities.

When I was at the Church of the Resurrection Leadership Institute with 10 others from Glendale (plus another 2,000 of my closest friends), I heard Leonard Sweet say something profound:  “For the church, they are all away games anymore.”  What he recalled was that in the 1950’s, they were all home games.  People in the culture around us generally knew about the traditions of the church and the meaning and timing of our rituals.  We lived in a predominately Christianized culture.  But that is not so today.  We are very much living in a post-Christian culture and “they are all away games” now.

Much in the same way I did not know or have even an inkling of why or what the Vietnamese Buddhist Temple in my neighborhood was celebrating, the folks in our neighborhood are, on the whole, unlikely to know why and what we are celebrating.  They do not know the story of Christ.  They do not understand the traditions of the church.  We can no longer assume when we say things like “Lent Mid-week Worship” or even “Easter Sunday” that people will get what we mean in the church.  Our rituals and traditions and celebrations have very little culture context, and when they do, they are often associated with a fat, white-bearded man in a red suite or a bunny hoping through Spring.  That’s just the reality.  In  my mind, it doesn’t really matter what happened to create the “away-game” culture as much as it matters what we are doing about it as people of faith.

In our “away-game” culture, may we learn to tell our story anew, that people may come to know the story of Jesus and God’s work in the world, and in knowing the story, find the peace and joy and meaning and purpose we have found.

Blessings,

Pastor Becky Jo Messenbrink

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  There is no law against such things.  Galatians 5:22-23 (NRSV)

Recently a friend said they had looked up the definition of joy and discovered that it means “exuberant happiness.”  That reminded me of a plaque that another friend gave me several years ago that read, “Happiness is not a destination; it is a journey.”  Joy = exuberant happiness.  Sometimes we have a tendency to believe that we will be happy when…when we get our degree; when we get the perfect job; when we find the perfect girl or guy; when we can afford the perfect house; or maybe even all of the above!  Yet how many people do we know who have everything I’ve mentioned who still are not really happy?  We are told that living in the Spirit provides all those fruit, but while many say they have the fruit, my experience is that what they say and how they live don’t always match.

I used to be one of those persons who thought, “When this happens, then I’ll be happy.”  Yes, I felt pride and accomplishment when I completed my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees.  There was great satisfaction in going into the ministry.  My marriage has been fulfilling and full of love, and I enjoy our home.  But I’ve learned that true happiness does not come out of adding things to my life.  Instead, it is available to me when I take things out of my life:  anger, resentment, irritation, judgment and opinions about how others ‘should’ be, jealousy, and annoyance.  When those are gone, then there is space in my heart to experience exuberant happiness.  I like the way Eugene Petersen puts it in The Message:

But what happens when we live God’s way?  God brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity.  We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people.  We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.  Galatians 5:22-23.

May you always be exuberant about life!
Barbara Moore

Last weekend it was close to 80 degrees and this weekend mentions the possibility of snow flurries.  Got to love Minnesota weather!

I know that change is a part of life, but going through two recent life transitions was not something that I was excited about.  Last month, I became an empty nester and my role at work suddenly changed.  Neither one of these were necessarily a bad thing, but I still initially struggled with the “new definition of normal”.  Prayer and the knowledge that God will see me through it was what changed my attitude from one of worry to peace.

God has seen me through worse changes; including a divorce, a custody battle, health scares and deaths in the family.  I remember many sleepless nights during those times and it was asking for HIS help that gave me the strength to go on.

“Footprints in the Sand” (author unknown):

Last night I had a dream.  I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.  Across the sky flashed scenes from my life.  For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonged to me, the other to the Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me, I looked back at the footprints in the sand.  I noticed that at many times along the path of my life, especially at the very lowest and saddest times, there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.  “Lord, you said once I decided to follow you, You’d walk with me all the way.  But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life, there was only one set of footprints.  I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

The Lord replied, “My precious child, I love you and I would never leave you.  During your times of suffering, when you could see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

Lisa Duffy