Sunday, August 31, 2008

Letting Go

Today is our summer intern's last day. Amy has been with us all summer, working with Vacation Bible School, designing a Prayer Room, doing visits, and a host of other things. She has been a blessing to us this summer with everything she has done, and will do well wherever she goes in the future.

Our Summer Internship ends with the intern preaching. Amy's sermon has to do with Letting Go - letting go of our desires, our wants, our wills, and letting God lead us where he wants us to go.

This is a lot easier said than done.

So often in life, we want to be in control, we want to be in charge, we want a little bit of power when it comes to shaping our destiny. But as I have heard before, if God is our co-pilot, then we are in the wrong seat. God has created us with certain gifts, and he has a purpose for us in using these gifts. The question is, are we willing to let go and follow God, wherever he is leading us?

The first step to letting go is taking time with God to discern where it is he is leading us. This means making time in our busy lives to spend in prayer and Bible study. It means gathering with others who are searching as well - in worship, in small groups, wherever it may be. This may take months, it may take years, but we are continually asking God - what is it that you want me to do or be?

During this time we continually ask - is this your will for me, or is my will getting in the way of what you want? It is not an easy process, but it is one that reaps great rewards.

So today, may you make the time to serarch with God as to what he is calling you to do. May you be blessed with an open mind and heart to hear where God is leading you, and may you see the face of God every day.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Setting the Table

One of the things that Sierra loves to do at our house is set the table. She takes each item, one by one, to the table and palces it where she thinks we should sit. First are the plates, then the silverware, then the cups. They all have their order, they all have their place.

Earlier this week, I was in a bit of a rush to get back to church for a meeting, and was going to set the table myself. But Sierra wouldn't hear of it. This was her job, and she wanted to do it as she had in the past. So I had to slow down and let her set the table.

When I look forward to a new school year at the church, I am reminded of how Sierra sets the table. Quite often we come to this table empty and hungry, and people are there to feed us, sometimes faster then we can handle it. But there is an order to setting the table. We cannot eat the steak until we have the plates, forks, and knives on the table. We cannot drink the milk until we have a cup to put it in. We need to start at the base of the table and build up. Sometimes it takes awhile to get to the steak, but the preparation is well worth the feast that is yet to come.

So this fall, I want to start back at an empty table. We will set it by laying out the plates of prayer, Bible study, and spiritual practices. We will add to it the silverware of blessings and worship, and we continue to drink of the fruit of the Spirit. Step by step, as we set the table, we will continue to grow in relationship with God and with others, always looking to see the face of Christ shining back at us.

May you take the time to set your spiritual table, and feast on the grace of God each day.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Moving Forward

After the past week, which was filled with everything you can imagine, I have been trying to get in gear for this week. It seems like whenever I have a busy week, the next week is one of catch-up - making sure all the little details are taken care of, and this is draining to me. But, it is one of those things that just has to be done.

So this week I have spent most of the time in front of this computer. Working on youth activities, confirmation, planning studies for the fall. I love doing all this, but at times I am just dragging.

So today I picked up Sierra a little early from daycare and went to the park for a bit. We didn't stay long, because of the rain, but she got to run around and have some fun. I love watching her at play. After that short time with her I was able to come back here, feeling renewed and ready to get going again.

Then I looked at a confirmation lesson for this fall, and it was on the Sabbath Day. We all need these Sabbath days in our lives, times to recharge and get ready. Sometimes the sabbath rest we need can be a quick trip to the park with a child, other times we need longer breaks in order to get focused on what we are doing.

So what do you do to recharge your batteries? What are some of the things that give you strength to get back into the groove?

May we all be blessed with the rest and renewal that we need.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cleaning House

With only five weeks until the new arrival comes, I have started cleaning up the house. Currently I am working in the basement to make room for all the stuff that has to be moved out of the room that the new one will be living in soon. It is amazing how much junk a person can gather in such a short period of time. I have found boxes upon boxes of things that I forgot we had.

I have also come across a number of boxes that mom passed on to me. They are items that my dad had and never did anything with. See, dad was a guy that would find wierd things and then send them out to people as gifts, such as the plastic duck with a holder for the remote. There were a number of things that he collected, but never sent off to people, and now they are in my basement (at least until Friday when the garbage goes out).

In looking through all of this stuff, I was reminded of the great sense of humor that dad had, a sense of humor that I have inherited. He always wanted to make people smile and laugh, to see the joy in life. With everything going on in the world this is something I think we need more of - not necessarily the strange gifts (yes, I was given a singing bass as well) but the idea that we need to look for the joy in life.

So today, may we all see the joy. May our eyes be opened to the fun little things in life, and may we receive the blessings we have been given with a smile on our faces.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What a weekend

The weekend is finally over, and what a busy weekend it was. We had the 90th anniversary of the church on Saturday and Sunday morning, then we ran up to Milwaukee for my sister-in-law's wedding, then ran back here for another doctor appointment (the baby is doing great), and now I am getting ready for another funeral. It was a lot of fun, but I was just plumb tuckered out last night.

Sierra was a flower girl at the wedding, and she did a great job. She didn't even want to sit down during the service, so she spent most of it standing next to her aunt Becky pulling on her dress. After the service was over, we went down to the reception and she danced like crazy. As you may imagine, the photographer loved taking pictures of this little girl having so much fun.

With everything going on over the past week, I have been reflecting on the joy of family. It is a true blessing to have people around who love and care for you. People who are willing to stop whatever they are doing to help. People who will both celebrate and cry with you, depending on the circumstances. Since we are all human, we know that there are times when we struggle with family, but those struggles are often minimal when compared to the love and support that we get from these people who know are faults and love us in spite of them.

So today, may you celebrate your family. Take some time to write a note, send an e-mail, or call a family member and let them know how much they are appreciated. And may we all see the face of Christ in those who love us so much.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


This week we have been hosting vacation Bible school at the church. We have 20 kids who come for two and a half hours, eat, sing songs, learn Bible stories, do crafts, and have a great time overall.

Yesterday was water day at VBS, and our intern, Amy, planned a special time for the kids - with waterballoons. At the end of the night she had 300 waterballoons filled and they were given the chance to soak themselves and all the other kids.

When she opened the lid to the waterballoons, the kids did a mad rush to grab as many as the could. It was pure chaos. Sierra happened to be in the middle of all of this, and it scared her. Way too many kids running and screaming, and she just stood in one place and cried out for us to get her.

So I trudged into the fray, picked Sierra up, and carried her out of the mess. We got to the side and she started to calm down right away. Amy brought her a couple of balloons, and she and another little girl went off to the side and played catch with the balloons. At that point everything was good in her world.

There are times in our lives when we are overcome with fear. We feel the world crushing in upon us, and all we can do is stand there and cry out for help. The beauty of God is that he is always there to pick us up out of the chaos, and bring us back to the safety and the sanity of his grace-filled life.

So today, may you be blessed with the presence of God's love. May you be carried out of moments of fear, and may you always know that God's grace and love is given to you.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I love the Olympics, the problemis that it affects my sleep cycle. I stay up late, watching as many events as I can, the cycle to ESPN in the morning as I try to catch up on what I missed.

As i watched the opening ceremonies, I was, like so many others, amazed at the show. The teamwork f so many people, the pagentry of the show, and the technology that was used was hugely impressive.

As I watched one of the things that impressed me the most was how the 15,000 people invovled worked so well together. I know that it took hundreds of hours of practice, but they seemed to move flawlessly from one amazing show to another.

Isn't it amazing how the gifts we are given, when honed, can do such impressive work?

This week I have been talking a lot about gifts in a Bible study - how we are blessed with so many different talents and passions in our lives, and when we use these gifts we not only bless others, but we also feel great about ourselves. When we do what we are good at, what we are passionate about, what we have been gifted with - we are using the gifts we have been given and honoring God at the same time.

So today, may you be blessed to spend time doing what you love, blessing others with your gifts, and enjoy your gifts and talents.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Laughter Take 2

After yesterdays blog, I kept thinking about what I wrote - how we are impacted by the people that we surround ourselves with. Today I had an opportunity to surround myself with some pretty great people, and I have had a pretty great day.

It started out with my regular Friday morning golf outing. Every week I meet with a couple of guys and we chase that little white ball around. None of us are all that good but we have a lot of fun. This is a time to relax, connect with friends, and laugh at a wide variety of things, including our bad shots.

After that I had a meeting scheduled with a friend who serves a church northwest of Madison. We are starting to meet regularly to tke about life, ministry, and how we do what we do. It was a great time to catch up and support one another.

Later in the day I ran into another friend at the library and we spent time talking in the parking lot about how we are both doing.

It is these connections, these times with people and the relationships that we build that impact us in such amazing ways. Relationships are one of the things that pull us through tough times and help us to see the face of God in a much clearer fashion.

So today, may you be blessed with renewed relationships in your life, and may you treasure the relationships that you have.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


One of the many great things about OSLC is the staff that works here. We have a lot of fun together, we laugh with each other, and we are there to support one another during tough times. Being able to work and live out the calling I have been given with such great people is a true joy, and I am reminded daily of how much fun life can be.

Coming in to work with people who bring joy and laughter to me is a true blessing. Being with people who are happy and upbeat makes my life a little better and I enjoy what I do even more.

A lot of this goes to the point that who we surround ourselves with has an impact on how we act and how we live our lives. If we surround ourselves with negative people, those who see the glass as half empty all the time, who live in the past and see nothing good about today, etc - well, we then start to fall into their traps. We start to see less and less of the joy of life and we start to wallow in the darkness that these people live in.

But, when we surround ourselves with the joy people - the people who see the good things in life, who celebrate the blessings that they have been given each and every day - well, we start to see more and more of that in our lives as well.

We are influenced by who we surround ourselves with - so my question for you today is - Who will bring you some laughter and joy today and why not give them a call?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Earlier today I was asked if I was slacking with my entries on the blog, so I knew that I had to get a post up today. Since returning from my mini-retreat, things have been hectic, but the busy-ness is a good thing, for it keeps me focused and ready for the busy year that we have planned here.

As I have been getting ready for this weekends sermon, I have been thinking about the different storms that we face in life, and the different things that we fear. The lesson I will probably be preaching on is from Matthew's gospel, and it is the story of Peter walking on water, then being overcome with fear, starting to sink, and being raised up by Christ. There are three things in this story that stand out to me.

First, is that Peter thinks he can walk on water - why? Peter was one called by Jesus to be a disciple, and to be a disciple means more than just follow someone. Rather, to be a disciple means that you will follow, learn, and grow all the while knowing that sometime you will be able to do what the rabbi you are following can do. So Peter, being a disciple of Jesus, believes that he can do what his rabbi, Jesus, can do.

Second, Peter is overcome with fear. We all fear different things in our life, and sometimes we let these fears dicatate our lives. Peter's fear of the storm, or failing his rabbi, or the gust of wind, or that fact that he was doing something he never though he could do - it comes crashing down on him, and this fear freezes him and he starts to falter. Ever had a time in yout life when fear paralyzed you?

Third - Jesus is right there, with a hand, lifting up the one who is falling. You see, Jesus cares so much for us, that no matter what happens, he is right there with us, reaching out his hand, grabbing us with his grace and love, and promising to never let us go.

So today, may you bring your fears to the one who will always walk with you. May you be blessed with grace and love, and may you always feel the presence of Christ in your life.