Monthly Archive for: ‘April, 2013’

Finding “Team” in Our Faith Lives

Preparing for worship 5-5-13

Acts 16:9-15

After Paul receives a vision to come to Macedonia, Luke’s narrative suddenly includes himself. And once in Macedonia, Paul and Luke meet Lydia whose heart is open to the gospel and who responds by sharing her resources, providing a place to stay. Three persons in Luke’s narrative, all part of a team. The operative pronoun used by Luke is the first person plural: “we.”
All four years in high school, the conference basketball championship was won by our school. And all four years there was one message: You are a team. “Move the ball to the open player.” “Feed the ‘hot’ hand!” Paul, the great apostle; Luke, the gifted author and beloved physician; and Lydia, who was skilled in caring for others. But it wasn’t about three individuals alone. It was about being a team, about first person plural stuff. We are a team!
Are we, today, realizing what it really is with us? That we’re a part (a unique important part) of the Body of Christ? Not Lone Rangers, not a solo flight, but a team. Today, do we have the grace not only to help others, but to be helped by others?

Dear Lord, you have taught us to pray “Our Father” rather than “My Father.” We are thankful that today we will experience the joy of shared ministry with others. Amen.

Bruce W. Hanstedt
Manitowoc, WI
Master of Divinity, 1963; Doctor of Ministry, 1988

reprinted from “God Pause” a  publication of Luther Seminary

The Spring of the Water of Life

Sermon From Worship at Good Sam

April 28, 2013

“”The Spring of the Water of Life”

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You Can’t Jump in and not Get Wet

Taking the Message with You

 (reflecting on worship from 4-28-13)

I used to swim – a lot.  It was all competition oriented.  Five AM workouts diving inalmost every day.   Jumping in and getting wet was always the hard part.  There was always this moment,  preparing to hit the water for the first time that morning when you set your mind.  How you set your thinking in that moment could shape the whole day, including the workout.  Until acceptance comes you never really give yourself to the activity before you.  It can certainly diminish and undercut your workout, but more than that, it sets the tone for the strides you will or will not make that morning and that day.

Maybe its the same with community.  How do you go about being a part of a community where something new and exciting is happening?  Some will sit and watch to see it all happen.  Some will feel the excitement well up in them and find a spot to jump in and do their part.  Some will philosophize about a better way to do it or notice what things might be done better. Some will give credit to a leader in that community and smile at what they have accomplished.

Others will recognize these elements are a sign from the Lord and take to heart the opportunity that lies before them to be nourished and encouraged in their diving in 2journey of faith – they engage the workout before them.  They will intentionally come to breathe in the life that flows in that place and in turn recognize that somewhere they too are called and invited to pass along that gift and breath of life.  So they will go into the connections and acquaintances that fill their week and look for places where that gift of life can be shared in welcome, caring, understanding, acceptance and hope.  It is very much like setting your attitude in that moment before you hit the water for that days work out.

Where will you go this week with the gift of the spring of the water of life?

Pastor Mitch

At God’s Picnic There Are Always Surprise Guests

Preparing for Worship  4-28-13

Acts 11:1-18

Recently I went picnicking with my family at a local park. We spread out a quilt on the ground and unfurled a feast of sliced turkey, bread, chips and fruits. I was at peace.

It’s hard to imagine that the surreal picnic in the reading from Acts was peaceful at all (especially considering its menu). In this re-telling of Peter’s rooftop vision, he is attempting to respond to critics who were ticked that Gentiles were being included in the Christian movement. Many of the traditions these early Christians inherited from Judaism concerned purity and distinctiveness. The idea that God was inviting those who were “unclean” or “profane” to the picnic was earthshaking.

This picnic unsettles us still. Although today we take for granted that you don’t have to be Jewish to be Christian, we often fail to see where God has given the Holy Spirit and, instead, get in the risky business of prescribing where, in what conditions, and to whom the Spirit is manifest. Today we’re given an alternative pattern to such legalism and boundary drawing: discernment.

Perhaps our picnics will be more peaceful once we learn, like Peter, to see in those different from ourselves through the gift of the Spirit and respond in kind: Who am I that I can hinder God?

O God, open our eyes to see your Spirit in those different from ourselves, that we may never hinder you. Amen.

Lutheran Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Neb.
Doctor of Ministry, 2011

(taken from “God Pause” an email publication of Luther Seminary.)

Coming and Going with the Lord

Reflecting on Worship from 4-21-13

(Taking the message with You…)

The Sign over the Fellowship Hall entrance reads, “Family, Faith and Friends.”

It is a nice reminder that when we come in or when we go out to take or bring these values with you.  This is a great practice.  It is always helpful to remember why we came or what we are going out to do:  To be faithful, to be friends and to be family.

In John Chapter 10, Jesus reminds us that it is through the Good Shepherd that we come and go and find pasture.  It is the Good Shepherd through whom we find protection and a clearer understanding of the good life that God desires for us.  We invite you this week to think about going out with Jesus and coming home to Jesus.  It is the Good Shepherd who knows where good and green pastures are, and it is the Good Shepherd that brings us home.  He is the Gate through which we find care and protection and security.

Let us be mindful that goodness and mercy do follow us all our days, when the Good Shepherd is near and his leading and guiding are the focus of our coming and going.  We might re-read Psalm 23 in reflecting on these themes as well.  May the goodness and mercy of God, guide and guard all our coming and going in Christ.  Amen.

Pastor Mitch

Feed My Lambs

baby-sheep-lambs-2-1-800x800Reflecting on Worship 4-14-13

(Taking the Message with You…)

We invite you this week to step out and make yourself available to feed the lambs of Jesus.  Somewhere, one who Jesus passionately loves will cross your path and you will have the gift to care for them in some way.  Look and listen for how you might care for that one that catches your attention.  Resolve to do what you can!  Invite Jesus to show you what might be needed.

Have you had the experience of being of help or encouragement to another before?  How did you recognize the one who needed feeding?  How did you decide how to help?  What happened…? How was God involved?

These experiences can help us make ourselves available in the future when a lamb of Jesus crosses our path.

Pastor Mitch

The Grace of Coming and Going

(Preparing for Worship 4-21-13)

It’s kind of fun that the earth has a magnetic order to it.  The fields of  magnetism move in and around the earth flowing through the poles and around the whole globe.  Such fields  manages to provide guidance and direction to many creatures who travel the globe as a matter of migration and life.  Earths_Magnetic_Field_i000014188754

Amazing how the needle that always points consistently to the North can orient us and give us guidance and direction.  We suspect that even migratory species have tapped into this gift for guiding their epic journeys.  It is hard to understate how important this gift of magnetic order has become to the comings and goings of life.  It’s as though God knows intimately our need to come and go and to do it accurately and safety.  Such geographic features are integral to how lives and moves and has its being.

compassI believe that as this activity is alive and active in the physical world, so it is also true in the spiritual world where God actively guides and directs us in ways that give life and breath and movement.  Perhaps this is very much like what David the Psalmist means when he writes: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall lack for nothing.  He guides me to green pastures and leads to beside still waters, he restores my soul.”

This Sunday we will explore the meaning and experience of being guided by the Shepherd, the Lord.  Join us.

Pastor Mitch


Sermon at Good Sam on April 14, 2013

Based on Acts 9:1-19 and John 21:15-19

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Teach Me Ever to Adore Thee

Acts 9:1-20 and John 21:15-19

  (preparing for Worship 4-14-13)

In the lessons for this Sunday, so much is going on.  Saul is actively pursuing those who follow the Way, seeking to arrest them, breathing threats and murder against those who follow Jesus.  This is how he has grown since the day when he held the cloaks of those who actively killed Stephen, stoning him for his faith in Jesus.

And then there is Peter who is disconnected enough (even after the resurrection) that he returns to Galilee and start fishing again.  Some of the disciples join and follow him.  Is there really any hope for the church?  Two of the “great ones” of the church seem to have nothing in them that is of God.  Is it not like the great hymn says, are we not really prone to wander and stay from the God we love?

“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; prone to leave the God I love…”

(“Come Thou Font of Every BlessingLBW #499 vs 3)
{click on the link above to hear a nice version
 of this verse  by Lindsy  Morton & Joseph Schlegel}

How is it then that any good can come about in our lives if we are so prone to wonder?  Well, this is the miracle and power of Easter again:  We are not left to our own wondering and our own devices.  God continues to come.  Jesus continues to call.  Peter is again inspired to love the lambs of Jesus and Paul is turned around and inspired to become a follower of Jesus too.  This Easter living is quite a miracle – and completely dependant of God’s ongoing activity.

Listen again to all three verses of this great hymn,

Come Thou Font of Every Blessing

Pastor Mitch

1      Come, thou Fount of ev’ry blessing,
        tune my heart to sing thy grace;
        streams of mercy, never ceasing,
        call for songs of loudest praise.
        While the hope of endless glory
        fills my heart with joy and love,
        teach me ever to adore thee;
        may I still thy goodness prove.
2      Here I raise my Ebenezer*:
        “Hither by thy help I’ve come”;
        and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
        safely to arrive at home.
        Jesus sought me when a stranger,
        wand’ring from the fold of God;
        he, to rescue me from danger,
        interposed his precious blood.
3      Oh, to grace how great a debtor
        daily I’m constrained to be;
        let that grace now like a fetter
        bind my wand’ring heart to thee.
        Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it;
        prone to leave the God I love.
        Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it;
        seal it for thy courts above.
* Stones piled high in memory of a great encounter or significant experience that has changed us and made us who we are today.

Text: Robert Robinson, 1735-1790, alt.

Signs of Jesus’ Presence

Message from Worship at Good Sam April 7, 2013

Based on John 20:19-31

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