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Amazed and Astonished

Preparing for Worship 5-19-13

                “…you have received a spirit of adoption.  When we cry, “Abba! Father!”  16it is that very Spirit     bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  17and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.”  (Romans 8:16-17)

Preparing for and growing into our adoption with Sara has been a monumentalSara and Dad journey for me.  In the beginning it was about imagining and re-imagining myself; who I am and who I might become through adoption.  I had no idea how this adventure might turn out.  I didn’t even know if I was really ready.  But, I knew it was right for me to dive in.

When we first took Sara to a large gathering of people ( Synod Assembly last spring with 400 other church leaders), we were amazed at the conversations we had.  Again and again people would come up to us and tell us of their adoption stories.  Often it was adopting a child, but some were of their own adoptions.  What we saw in their faces and heard from their hearts was the power and strength of life and hope that had come to them through adoption.  We had no idea so many people in one room could have been so powerfully touched by adoption so as to come up to us and visit with us about Sara and their lives around adoption.

One of the great joys I had recently was visiting Library Story Time with Sara, who is there regularly with Shannon.  It was my great surprise and delight to be identified and known as simply “Sara’s Dad.”  No other title or anything.  I loved it!  Truly she is not just ours, but we are hers.  This adoption thing has begun to change who we are, indeed.

Do you recognize this spirit of adoption?  Paul talks about it in our second lesson for this Sunday.  It is very much the same way in which we get caught up in the life of Christ – slowly and surely Christ becomes part of us and we become part of the body of Christ.  This is God’s work and it is amazing.

Pastor Mitch

Too Short a Time Under Her Wings: The Mission of Nurturing

Sermon at Good Sam on May 12, 2013  (Easter 7 and Mother’s Day)

Based on Acts16:16-34 and John 17:20-26

Sermon Video

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Taking the message with you            (reflecting on worship 5-12-13)

Have you had a chance to sit and think about the people that God has placed in your life who have really had a positive impact in making you who you are?  Perhaps some of those people have been people of faith from whom you have learned from and discovered faith in Jesus for yourself.

This Sunday we learned that Jesus’ prayed for this work (John 17:6-26).  He prays for his disciples and he prays for those who will come to believe through them.  Here Jesus in interested in our lives of faith as believers and also how we will share that gift with others who have yet to grow into faith and life in Jesus.

Has anyone ever told you that you have helped shape their life and faith in Jesus?  How does this work happen?  I pray to Jesus for insight and wisdom around how to be an example of faith.  I ask Jesus for opportunities we I can uniquely encourage someone if in faith.  I ask Jesus to help me know with whom and where I can do this gifting of Jesus.

Would you join me in furthering this urgent work that Jesus cares so much about?  Will you seek with me to be directed to those with whom we can serve, support, encourage and nurture faith in Jesus?  Imagine how blessed we will be to have a strong sense of how we have shared the life of Jesus with others in our words, our actions and in our intentional service and care of people in our life.  Surely we will come to better know how the grace and mercy of God show themselves in the world today.

Pastor Mitch

A Gift for Every Situation and Season

Message in Worship at Good Sam on May 5, 2013

Based on Revelation 21:10, 22 — 22:5 and John 14:23-29

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Pastor Mitch Watney

Happy Mother’s Day

(Preparing for Worship 5-12-13 at Good Sam)

This Sunday (May 12th) is Mother’s Day.  It’s a great time to give thanks to God for this vocation which is foundational in most all of our lives.  We must also give thanks to those who have accepted this call and given themselves to it, for we have benefited greatly this work of God in the hands and heart of our mothers and those who have nurtured us into life.

Please enter the url to a YouTube video.

Pastor Mitch

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

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