Thursday, December 3, 2009


This month, as I have been living in the Advent season and preparing for Christmas, I have been spending a lot of time reflecting on love - the love that God has for us and the love that we have for one another. I ran across an older video that I had seen before, but it spoke to me, once again. It is the story of a father and son, and all that the father does out of the love for his son. It's moving - let me know what you think.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


This week we enter into the season of Advent, and this is one of my favorite seasons of the year. Advent is where we live on a daily basis - in the in-between times. it is a season of hope and a season filled with preparation. It is also a season that is filled with promise.

Last week Pr. Jennifer's grandmother passed away. She was 91 and lived a wonderful life. Her wit and sassy nature will be missed by everyone. During her last few days I was filled with a sense of awe - for her was this wonderful lady preparing for the end, and yet she had this spirit of hope continuing to permeate her being. She knew that she was embarking on a new journey where the promise of God would continue to hold onto her and bring her to the new life that was promised to her.

And that is what Advent is all about - the promise of God that we are his children and always will be. For now, we live in the gray, we live in the season of Advent, holding onto that hope and remembering that God will always be there for us - blessing us, loving us, and caring for us - as we are his beloved.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Diving into Job

Tonight we started a Bible study on the Book of Job (we are doing the same thing on Thursday at noon if anyone is interested). So I read through the book again and was reminded of how this was such a troubling book for me.

I have always struggled with the idea of bad things happening to good people - as I believe most of us have. But I also know the realities of life, and I know that bad things do happen to good people. As we have started this book on of the things that really stood out to me were the three friends of Job. Later on they are problematic, but at the beginning, they do just what I like to see friends do - they come and sit with Job as he is going through a difficult time.

Having friends like that is a true treasure. Having someone who will come and just be with you as you endure trials and struggles is a true gift. I have a few of these friendships, and I treasure them.

So today, I invite you to think about the people who have come and sat with you during difficult times. Think about the support and live you have been given. Then let them know. So often we take these friendships for granted - let's try not to do that anymore.

Friday, September 4, 2009


As we have been reading through the Bible in the Bible Challenge, I have come back to some gems that I had not spent a lot of time with recently. And it always amazes me how I see something new in the Scriptures, even if it is a story that I have read over and over again.

Today we covered the story of Joseph, and in reading through it this time my mind hung on the word "redeem." Even in the most difficult of times that Joseph faced, God was with him, empowering him, redeeming him, and using him to redeem others.

It is a reminder to me that God is a God of grace. He blesses us over and over again, sometimes without us even realizing it until after the fact. Even in the lowest points of our lives, or maybe especially then, God is there - lifting us up and giving us what we need to make it through those "valleys of the shadow of death."

So today, I invite you to reflect on the grace God has showered on you. Reflect on the blessings you have been given, and take some time to reflect on the ways God has entered into your life.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

90 Day Challenge

At Our Savior's we have started a 90 Day Bible Challenge. The Challenge is to read through the entire Bible in 90 days. We have reading guides and a ning site set up to facilitate discussion as we strive to read through this book of faith in a fairly short amount of time.

For me, this is a wonderful challenge. In the past I have read through the entire Bible, but it has been over a much longer period of time and sometimes the stories have lost a bit of heir power when they are broken up rather than read as a whole. This pushes me to dive back in and read these life-giving stories in their entirety in a much shorter period of time.

It also helps to focus me. Too often I get tied up on the busy-ness of church work that my devotion time is shortened. This forces me to take half and hour every day to dive in and live with Scripture again, something I love to do.

So if you are interested in joining us in this challenge, let me know and I will get info to you. Have a blessed day.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


That is the number of lunches we served today at our lunch ministry. Last week we had 86, this week we grew huge, even ran out of sandwich meat, twice! But boy, were they ever happy to get meals!

This ministry is really at the heart of how we live out our calling as Christians. We are empowered to serve God by serving others. We are gifted by the Spirit to share our gifts with others. We are enriched with God's grace so that we may enrich others in their lives. To be a follower of Christ means we need to get our hands dirty, and in the process we may see the face of Christ shining back at us. And I saw that beautiful face many times this afternoon as I was scurrying around trying to make sure we have enough for everyone to eat.

So may you be blessed with dirty hands as you bring the light of Christ to others.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


A couple of weeks ago a pastor in the area issued a challenge to me - six months to see which of us can lose the most weight. I readily accepted it and have been in the gym pushing my body at least three times a week since then.

As many of you know, weight has often been an issue for me. And now, with this challenge, I am being held accountable by someone else, which is a good thing. As the time goes on I will update you to let you know how it is going.

The body is a wonderful gift, and we have the responsibility to take care of this gift. At times in my life I have lived up to this responsibility quite well, at others times I have not. So as I move forward with this I offer words of encouragement to you as well - get out for a walk, have an apple rather than the cookie that is on the counter, pair up with a friend and do something healthy together. Take some time to take care of your body and you will feel much better for it in the long run.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Compassion Take 2

This afternoon we ran out of prepared meals for our lunch program. We had prepped for 80 - which was 10 more than we served last week, and half way through the distribution we had people in the kitchen making more - all in all I believe we served close to 90 people in an hour.

The need is so great - and we are so blessed to be able to serve.

Compassion really is about getting your hands dirty. It is about diving into the muck and mire of life in order to walk with others as they are struggling. We do this by being the shoulder to lean on, the ear to listen, and the hand to help up. Compassion is a hands-on activity, and can take many forms as there are many needs around us.

So today, may we all be blessed with compassionate hearts. May we find ways to get involved with the lives of others. May we be the face of Christ to a neighbor.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I know it has been a long time since I last posted - the summer has become much busier than I expected it to be. One of the new ministries that we started here that has taken a lot of my time is a Lunch Ministry. What we do is every Thursday we provide free sack lunches to anyone who wants one. It has become quite an amazing outreach here at the church.

We started with about 40 people coming to get something to eat. But as the summer has progressed we are now preparing to serve at least 80 each week. We have a group of volunteers who come and make the lunches and then serve them for about an hour. The responses from the people who come are amazing.

"I cannot believe you are doing this - it helps my family so much"

"Can I take a second one for my dinner tonight"

"Thank you and God bless - this is wonderful"

Just a sampling of what we hear every week.

In the fall we are going to transition to serving a hot lunch, probably soup. The need here is great, and to have the ability to serve those in need is a true blessing to everyone involved.

This got me thinking about compassion - how we enter into the struggles with others as they are facing them. The way the world is today, there is a huge need for compassion. There is so much hurting, so much pain, so much struggle - and we are so fortunate to be able to show compassion and care for others.

I preached about this last week, and after the sermon the response was overwhelming. People were coming out of the woodwork to find ways they could get involved. I received a letter from on lady who said - "Was impressed and saddened by your sermon, we want to help with the expense. We have so much to be thankful for."

So today, may we all have our eyes opened to ways we can be compassionate to others. May we be blessed with open hearts and open hands to serve others. May we be the face of Christ in a sometimes dark world.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Language of Faith

As I have been reflecting on a variety of things from the conference over the past week, one of the biggest struggles I have is finding ways for people to be fired up about diving into the Bible.

Quite often we hear people say, "We really want to have a Bible Study." And then we when offer studies, very few people show up. There seems to be a hunger, but the follow through just doesn't happen. So I have been trying to find ways to open up this life-giving book in ways that will draw people in - and that is one of my big focus points for the upcoming year.

To start it all off, in September we will have a 90 Day Bible Challenge. For those who are interested we will challenge ourselves to read through the entire Bible in 90 days. Every few weeks we will get together to discuss what we have read and go over the questions we have. We might even have an online discussion as well.

Following the 90 Day Challenge there will be a variety of classes for follow-up. These classes will go a little deeper into different books and characters in the Bible.

But the ultimate goal is to get people talking about and reading the Bible in their homes, with family and friends. Hopefully we will have guides developed in the next year to help facilitate this.

This book called the Bible really is a life-giving book, and the more we study it, the more we grow in our relationship with God. I invite all of you to join in this holy conversation.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Let the River Flow

For the past three days I have been at a conference in the Twin Cities. There have been some great speakers, some decent workshops, and a wonderful time of worship with 550+ leaders in other churches. Now I am taking a little time to reflect, get my bearings, and try and discern where the Spirit is leading us next.

A couple of things have come to mind. First is that we, as a whole, need to become more fluent in the language of Scripture. Many times we offer studies or classes and people come, then when the end, we do not have much follow up. In thinking about all of this, I have decided that this fall we will have an opportunity for people to read through the entire Bible in 90 days. This will be something we do on our own, but meet occasionally to discuss questions that have come up and hold each other accountable. After the 90 days we will follow up with focused studies on different parts of the Bible.

Second, we have a lot of leaders in the church, but again we do not have a lot of follow up once the leaders are in their places. I would like to have opportunities for leaders to gather, grow in leadership skills, and find ways to implement new ministries that fit the gifts of new leaders.

Finally, story-telling is an art form, and people relate to stories in amazing ways. I am trying to find new ways for people to hear and tell stories that help to inspire others. This is a work in process and I will probably use technology in different ways to help this process.

So that is the inspiration for today. Any and all thoughts are always welcome.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Long Time Gone

It has been about a month since my last post. The last month seems to have gotten away from me - with the wrapping up of the school year, celebrating prayer week, and just running through life as a whole - it has been a little crazy:)

And summer will not be any slower. We are starting some new studies, a sermon series, new youth programs, and the list just goes on and on.

But one of the things that has not gotten away from me is family time. I may miss blogging for a bit, I may forget to write a letter or two - but time with family is of the utmost importance to me. So I still make sure to get home in time to read some books, go to the library on a Saturday morning, and run and play in the park as the girls squeal with joy. These are things that help to ground me and give me life.

So what is it that grounds you? What is it that gives you life and inspires you on a daily basis?

People often say that summer is a time to slow down but I have noticed summer seems to be busier than any other time of the year. So as we enter into this summer, take some time and discover what it is that builds you up. Reflect on the things that give you the energy you need to make it through the day or the week. And make time for the important things and important people in your life. God is all about relationships - may your relationships be strengthen in and through him.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The gift of age

Today is my birthday, and every year at this time I take a little time to reflect on the past year, what I have done, where I have gone, etc, and I set some goals for the upcoming year. It is often a day of reflection.

Today, as I look back on the past year I see many blessings that have come my way. I have been blessed with another daughter (who is in a kick of getting up at 5:30 nowadays, so much fun). I have been blessed to see a number of people realize their gifts and put their faith into action. I have been blessed with a wonderful wife and family who help me to see the face of God every day in their love and forgiveness. It has also been a year where the church has become more active and people more willing to step forward and take leadership roles. Overall, it has been a truly wonderful year.

And the next year is quite bright as well. I will be returning to MT for a class reunion in August, we will be going to MN for a conference this summer I am looking forward to, and there are many new ministries, esp youth ministries, that will be coming that are very exciting.

All the years we are given here on earth are true blessings. They go by fast and we all need to sit back and enjoy this gift of life we have. My prayer for you today is that you would celebrate this gift of life and enjoy all that you have been given.

Friday, April 24, 2009


This week I have been working on a class I am teaching on Leadership, and the session we are on has to do with listening - esp how well we actually listen to those around us and to God. It is one of those sessions that is good for me to teach because it reminds me of how I need to slow down and make time to listen - to family, friends, co-workers, and God.

Listening is not passive. It is now just sitting there when someone is speaking. But rather it is active. It is being engaged with the person you are with and truly hearing what that person is saying. There are too many times in all of our lives when we are preoccupied with other things going on that we do not give the attention needed to the person we are with.

And the same goes when listening to God. How often in our prayers do we spend the entire time just naming things off to God that we want changed, healed, or made different in some way? Part of prayer is active listening, making that time of silence available to actually hear what God is saying to us - because I truly believe that God is speaking, he is talking, to each of us. We just don't always hear what he has to say.

So today, I invite you to participate in active listening. Do it with family, friends, whoever you are with. Show them how important they are to you by being fully engaged in what they say. And do the same with God. Turn of the TV, computer, radio, whatever it may be, and spend some time listening to what God may be saying to you today.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Here is the new video we have on our website for those who are visiting for the first time.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Return

Earlier today we returned from a nice week of R and R in Florida visiting family. It was a nice break, but I am ready to be back.

During this time off i read through a couple of books and have been mulling over a couple of thoughts, esp about how we, the church, relate to God and relate to others. What is our purpose as the church, and, even in a different context, what is our purpose as humanity as a whole.

The more I have thought about this, and reflected on how I view God (which is in a very relational model), I have started to reflect on how individualism is a barrier we set up to promote self and even idolize at times.

Now this is a thought in process, so at this point I am just brainstorming.

God is relational. Relational in God's own being - the Trinity - and God desires to be in relationship with us - we know this because of the way that God keeps coming to us, forgiving us, and working to restore our relationship with him. So when we focus on our selves, when we promote our own individualism - what we want, things we deserve, desire, etc, are we setting up barriers between ourselves and others, and even barriers with God?

As a part of the body of Christ, the church, I believe that we are called to put aside our strong desires of individualism - our wants, desires, etc - to try and build relationships with others, and even grow in our relationship with God. This is not an easy thing, because human nature seeks to put our selves above others. But in working to grow in these relationships, we start to see the face of Christ in a new light. we start to see that what matters more than anything is the relationships we have.

This means that we will not always get what we want - or does it? Because if the relationships are what are truly essential, then everything else becomes secondary.

So how do we do this? The first step is to start by sitting down and really getting to know people. Spending time with them, where they are, finding out what they are going through, and truly listening to them. As we do this we will start to see the ways that God is working through these people - and working through us as we grow in love of these others.

Second is to try and develop new relationships. New people come into our lives all the time, but do we spend the time needed to actually get to know them and develop a relationship with them, or do we just pass by, missing the opportunity to see God working in their lives as well?

Like I said, this is a thought in process, any comments are welcome.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Later this afternoon we are taking off on a week long vacation (Note - I will not be posting anything during this time). It is our annual post-Easter vacation and we are all looking forward to a little time away.

So today I thought I would leave you with a couple of things to ponder while I am off.

1 - In the resurrection story Jesus tells Mary to "Not hold on to him." When Mary saw the risen Lord, she may have assumed that everything was going to go back to the way it was before he died, but Jesus says no - everything is different now. How is your life different knowing that sin and death have no hold over you? What does this mean for how you live out your life?

2 - The church is not a building or a place you go, but rather the church is who you are - a member of the Body of Christ. When you are out in the world, do people know that you are a part of this body by the way you act?

Have fun this week, talk to you all when I get back.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia.

Whenever we brush Sierra's teeth we sing a song. Normally we sing "Halle, Halle, Halle," but throughout Lent we need to change it - for there no Alleluia's during Lent. So we sing the same tune, but change the words - "Water, Water, Water - mel-lon" or her favorite "Motor, Motor, Motor, cy-cle."

For the past week she has been reminding me, when I get up on Sunday, we get to sing Halle, Halle again. So i ask why and she says - It is Easter, silly, and Jesus got up.

Yes, today is Easter, and Jesus is up. The powers of death could not hold him, the tomb could not hold him, new life has been born - Alleluia!

Today is the central part of our faith - Jesus is raised from the dead and no longer do sin or death have any power over us. It is a day to celebrate.

So I am going to go upstairs, wake Sierra up, and we will sing, as loud as we dare, Halle, Halle - for today we celebrate the gift of new life in the God who comes searching for us and walks with us.

Have a blessed Easter!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Holy Saturday

Today we live in the in between times. Passion of Christ is over. No more beatings, no more nails, no more pain. What we see is a sealed tomb. We are still waiting for the breaking of the dawn. Still waiting to see what is lurking in the darkness. Still waiting to see what great miracle God has planned

Yes, this is the in between time. In between death and new life. In between sorrow and hopeful joy. In between reality of suffering and promise of peace.

So what can we do as we wait in the darkness. What can we do as we live in the in between time?. We do what we can – we pray. Pray that God’s grace and love will be showered on all God’s children. Pray for comfort and peace for those who mourn. Pray that darkness will end and new light, a brilliant light, will break into out lives

Yes, today, as we wait in the darkness, we pray. And we pray with hopeful hearts. We pray resting in God’s promises. We pray that we will see, once again, how God will have the last word. And what a word it will be. For we pray that the last word will be one of new life.

So let us pray.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday Music

I have just finished the first of two Good Friday services, and as I sit here, reflecting on the service and preparing or Easter, I am reminded of the gift of music and how music moves the soul.

In the service I had Jennifer sing a verse of a song during the sermon, and then, at the end she did a duet of Pie Jesu. These two pieces of music were ones the brought me to my knees, for they were so filled with emotion, so filled with faith, that they brought right to where I needed to be - the foot of the cross.

We also sang "Were You There," which is one of my favorite songs. This day of reflection would not be complete for me if I did not join with my brothers and sisters in contemplating all that Christ has done for me in song.

Music moves the soul. Music brings us to where we need to be. Music is powerful.

So today, may you be blessed with the gift of music in your life, and may you have moving Good Friday experience.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Expensive Week

It has been an expensive week at the Jelinek household. This week our washing machine died, and it would have cost more to fix it than buy a new one. So yesterday I was running around trying to find a good machine at a decent price. Since Easter is coming, and we are on vacation after Easter, we needed one to clean our clothes and trips to the laundry mat were not in our schedule. Luckily, I found a store who can deliver today.

So after running around and spending money (doing our part to stimulate the economy I guess), I sat down and started thinking about the expensive week.

Today is Maundy Thursday, the day we gather and celebrate the gift of the Lord's Supper. It is a somber time, for we know that this is also the beginning of the end for Jesus' ministry. After today, things get very painful for Jesus, and tomorrow we gather to watch as he dies for us.

It is an expensive week, for this week we are reminded of the price that God pays so that our relationship with him may be restored. It is an expensive week, for it is a time when we are called to see that price of human life that is paid so that we may live, and live eternal with God. It is an expensive week, for this is the week we see Jesus blood being poured out as payment for our sin.

Yes, this is an expensive week. But is through this expense that we are given hope. We see that God loves us so much that he is willing to give his life all so that we may experience his love for us in a new and powerful way.

So during this expensive week I invite you to reflect on the gifts that God has given you, and the expense he went through to ensure you of these Gifts.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Morning Walk

When the weather is nice, and I get to sleep at a decent time, I try to go for a walk in the morning. This is a time for me to get some exercise, which is always needed, and enjoy the early morning.

I have always been a morning person. I love getting up, hearing the birds chirp, watch the sun rise, and bask in the glory of a new day. It is a very comforting time of day for me.

When I was growing up, my dad and I were the two morning people in the family. It was our time to catch up, watch the news together, and just spend time with each other. I have many great memories of the two of us sitting the kitchen in Billings and enjoying the break of day.

This week the morning has a special significance. This week we will walk into the darkest night of human history - the night we now call Good Friday - and we will be surrounded by the darkness of death - the death of the Christ. But we do not stay in this dark place. For as it is with all nights, it too will come to an end. And then we get to bask in the glory of a new day, a new day of the resurrection.

This new morning that we are walking towards is one that changes all of humanity. For in this new morning we are given hope - hope that death is not the end and a new morning, a new life, is breaking into our lives.

So as we journey towards the new morning of Easter, may we always be reminded of the steps Christ took to make this new morning a reality. May we be blessed with the hope of new life in our lives. And may we celebrate the Son-rise every day of our lives.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Sunday

On Wednesday night during our regular youth activities the kids kept coming up to me saying, "Pastor Erik - can we show our march?" Finally, when we were done I said yes, and these little kids ran out of the sanctuary. Then, they appeared in another door, arms raised, and started marching through the church singing - Hosanna, Hosanna. The joy on their faces was a beautiful sight to see, and the excitement in their voices and actions was wonderful.

Today is Palm Sunday, and it is the start of that last days of Christ's life. We march with him into Jerusalem, singing our praises to the King of Kings, all the time knowing that Friday will bring great sorrow and next Sunday will be the moment of joy that brings hope and new life to all the world.

So this week my prayer is that you will take the time to reflect on this leg of Jesus' journey. That you will slow down, walk with Christ into Jerusalem, sit with him in the Upper Room, and weep with him during his final hours. For when we go through these experiences, the joy of Easter is so much sweeter. May you be blessed with a powerful Holy Week this year.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Lent and all that

I know that it has been a long time since I have put anything up here - and I apologize for that. The season and everything else has come crashing down on me and the blogging has just gotten away from me. So today I want to put down some random thoughts about the different steps I have been taking over the last month.

Step 1 - stepping into Lent towards Easter

This is always a busy time of year for me. All the extra sermons, worship services, and everything else that comes crashing onto my plate. The thing is, I really love this time of year. Changing up things, devoting time to reflect on the journey that Christ made for us, preparing for the Easter season - i love all this because it pulls me back into the heart of faith. Every year, when I feel overwhelmed I sit in worship, sing Holden Evening Prayer, and travel with Christ as he prepares the make the ultimate sacrifice for us.

Step 2 - Hospital trips

Our church has been having a bunch of people diagnosed with cancer lately. Taking steps with these people is painful, yet it is also a time when I see the face of Christ shining in their lives as well. Others step up, offer help, and bring a little joy into the lives of those who are struggling.

Step 3 - always trying to move forward

Those of you who know me know that I don't do well just sitting back. I am always trying to look forward and find new ways to reach out with God's love in the lives of others. Over the past month I have had the opportunity to take steps with people as they dream big dreams and start to put those dreams int action. It is a true blessing to be a part of their steps as well.

So as we continue taking our steps to the cross and beyond, may you be blessed to see Christ stepping with you - giving you all that you need and empowering you to step out boldly.

Friday, March 6, 2009


As I have been taking this Lenten journey this year, many of my thoughts have revolved around the issue of hunger. Now the hunger I am talking about is not the type I feel because of the Health and Wellness program the church has started, but rather it is the hunger that is deep in our souls and cannot be filled by food alone. It is that hunger that sometimes aches in us, and we long for something, anything, to fill us and give us some hope in what is sometimes a dark world that we live in.

There have been many times in my life when I have felt this hunger - times of loss, confusion, and even fear. It is a hunger that gnaws at my bones and drives me to search for something to fill it.

This Lent I have been reflecting on this spiritual hunger because of a baptism that I did last week. This young man came into my office and was basically begging to be baptized. He was hungry. Hungry for God, hungry for spirituality, hungry to make a change in his life. That Saturday night the congregation lit up as this man stepped forward and was received into the Body of Christ. They lit up not only because there was a new member of the congregation, but also because this man was/is so full of energy and spirit.

And in this event, I was reminded of how our spiritual hunger is satisfied. It is not by the things of this world, but rather it is satisfied by God. It is satisfied by the people who develop spiritual friendships with others and bring the light of Christ into another persons life. It s satisfied by the Word of God coming to roost in the life of a brother or sister and seeing how that new life brings with it an excitement and joy that was lacking before.

So today, may you be filled - filled with the grace, love and forgiveness of God, once again. And may you develop spiritual friendships with others so that their hunger may be filled as well.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of our journey into the Lenten Season. This is a day when we are reminded of our mortality, and reminded of the steps that Jesus takes to bring immortality to life.

When we are marked with the cross of Christ with ashes on our foreheads, we hear those words - you are dust, and to dust you shall return. This morning at the daytime service I made that mark and said those words to my wife and baby girl. It was a powerful moment, and one where, in my spirit, I fell to my knees and was reminded of the delicate nature of life.

And then, as I walked forward to receive communion, with that same baby girl in my arms, I received the body and blood of Christ and was reminded of a promise. A promise that yes, we are dust and shall return to dust, but that was not the end. For through the death and resurrection of Christ, we are also promised a new life - one where the bread and wine are but a foretaste of that great feast to come. One where there will be no pain or suffering, only the joy of resting in the arms of Christ.

So this Ash Wednesday, take time to reflect on the gift of life you have been given, and spend time reflecting on the gift of eternal life that is promised to you.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Health and Wellness

At our church we started a Health and Wellness program last week. The program consists of exercise classes offered at the church, a class on health and diet, opportunities to chart weight loss, and we are letting people "pay" for the classes and weigh ins by donating food that goes to a local food pantry. The turn out for it has been wonderful, with over 2 dozen people participating in various ways.

For me, this is a great way to be held accountable, and that is a good thing. I am one who has struggled with weight loss for years, and to have a group of people to work with and see what I am doing is a good thing because it keeps me focused. The first week I dropped 5 pounds, and I will keep you updated as to how I am doing here as well.

Health and wellness is something that affects all of us - whether it be the need to lose a few pounds, or eat healthier, or just get some exercise. Our bodies are a gift, and we need to take care of them and honor them as the gifts that they are.

So today, I invite you to take some time and look at your life. Where are some ways that you can grow in the area of health and wellness? What are some small steps you can take to improve your gift of the body? And who can you take these steps with on order to grow on your journey?

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Today I was reminded about how much I need reminders in my life. I need reminders when I go shopping, I need reminders about meetings, I need reminders for many different things.

And I also need a reminder to thank God. So often I get busy with everything going on, and things seem to be going so smoothly, that I forget to thank God for everything I have in life. Even when things are going poorly in life, I still need to thank God for the blessings that I have.

And I was reminded about a sign one of the churches in Beloit has. On it is printed the saying - Life is not always fair, but God is always faithful. God will be faithful to his promises to us always, even when we may doubt them. God promises that he will walk with us, strengthen us, and love us - esp. in the difficult time.

So today, I invite you to take some time to thank God for all that he has given to you, and I invite you to remember that God is faithful - faithful to you his beloved child.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Blessed Church

Last year our Congregation Board read a book called "Becoming a Blessed Church." This is a great read that helps all of us to take time and focus on what God is calling us to do, while trying to put out will and desires in line with what God wants. The book was so popular that we are getting the author to come to our Synod and lead an event n March.

As I read through this book, again, I was reminded what a blessed church this is that I serve. The vast majority of the people are filled with joy and really want to find ways to use their gifts to further the kingdom. It is exciting to see all the ways people are stepping forward and doing new things and taking ownership in different aspects of the church.

And I was also reminded how we need to take time and reflect on the blessings that others bring to us. We need to let others know what a gift they are to us and how they help us to grow in whatever ways they do so.

So today, I have a challenge for you - call, write, or e-mail someone who has been a blessing to you. Let that person know what a gift they are to you and offer them some words of encouragement. When we do this, we help to shine the light of Christ in the lives of others.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Scarlett is at the wonderful age that when she sees someone she knows, she smiles. It is one of those smiles that covers her entire face and lights up a room. Whenever someone sees her smile, it just brings joy to that person.

Yesterday I went out with my mom, Sierra, and Scarlett and spent the day in Rockford. We drove through the snow sculptures, went to the mall, and had a little lunch. Scarlett slept through the entire thing, until we were about to eat. Then she opened her eyes, saw me, and just smiled. She spent the next hour just looking at us and smiling.

That little thing, a smile, just made my day. Watching her bring joy to others, seeing her have fun and smile as she watched other kids run and play, it was a true blessing to me. And it got me thinking, thinking about how such a little action, such as a smile, can make such a difference in someones life.

Little actions do a lot. It is in these actions that we can see the face of God and be reminded of what a gift life really is. So today, may you bring a moment of grace to someone else with your smile, and may you be blessed to see God's face through someone else.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Joy at the end of the Pool

Last week at Sierra's swim lesson, as the lesson was coming to an end, the teacher came up to the three students and said, "You have all done so well, we are going to do something new. We are going to take the kickboard and swim the entire length of the pool." Well, Sierra was up first, and she was excited. She grabbed that kickboard and took off with her teacher right next to her. She went the entire length, with very little help, and was excited, and tired, when she got done. She then got up on the end of the pool, in the deep end, and watched her teacher go back for the other girls.

As she was sitting there I saw pure joy on her face. Here was this little girl, sitting all by herself on the edge of the deep end, just laughing and smiling. It was one of those moments when she knew she had done something really good, and she was giddy with joy over her accomplishment.

Seeing her sit there and smile and laugh reminded me of how accomplishments give us such joy. When we do something we have never done before, there is a sense of relief and happiness in what we have done. Sierra just let that happiness ooze out of her body as she sat there and it was a true blessing to see.

So today, may you look for the joys of life in both the little and the big things. May you celebrate your accomplishments, however great or small they are. And may you thank God for giving you the gifts to accomplish those goals.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I have been thinking a lot about steps lately - and the many different type of steps we take in our live. We have our first time rolling over, crawling steps, first steps, dance steps, skiing steps, and the list goes on and on.

This week I finally got out skiing with Sierra. For Christmas we got her a pair of cross-country skis, and we finally had the snow and not so cold weather where we went into the front yard and skied around a little bit. After about 10 minutes she said - Daddy, can we go down to the place with all the trails and ski there? I loved it, and we will be going there next week if the weather holds.

For me it was a great joy to watch her start to learn how to take the first steps (and I use the term loosely with the skis) and watch her progress so quickly on them. It took a while to figure out how to not cross her tips, and turning is still a problem, but over all she had a blast and did a great job.

We all take different steps in our lives. Sometimes these steps are scary and involving leaving something we know behind, such as moving from crawling to walking. And other times, they are steps that propel us into the future with joy and excitement. One thing I noticed is that the steps we take always seem a little bit easier when we take them with someone by our side.

And that is the great joy of our God. He has already taken all the steps we take in his life, even he step into death. So he knows the paths we are walking and is taking those steps with us as well - always there to be the one who catches us when we stumble or fall.

So may you be blessed as you take different steps in your life. May you be reassured that you are not taking these steps alone. And may you always step out, taking a chance, and know that God is there to catch you.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Last night Jennifer and I went to our first dance lesson. It was a Christmas gift that I gave her this year, knowing that my two left feet would be a challenge to overcome. So we drove down to Rockford yesterday evening and embarked on this new journey.

Now this was not the first time we have done this. About six years ago we took lessons out in Montana, but my muscle memory for dancing is quite short. So after a little introduction, we were out on the dance floor, with me trying to avoid her toes.

Overall we did quite well - I never stepped on her feet and some of the steps came back quickly. But I was reminded that dancing takes a lot of thought and the two partners really need to work together.

I am not going to talk about the whole "life is a dance" thing today, instead I want to write about the power of direction and guidance. You see, as I was out there on the dance floor, the instructor continued to remind me which foot to use, where to step, and how to balance my body. After a few reminders, I started to do fairly well.

We all need some guidance at times in our lives. We need to be reminded which direction to go and how to avoid pitfalls that are in front of us. When we are given these reminders, and we listen to them, we see that life can get easier, and we can even have a little more joy.

So today, may your ears be opened to the Spirit who gives us direction in so many different ways, and may your hearts be opened to the joy God gives us when we listen.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Today my thoughts are revolving around the issue of love, in particular how we are loved by God. When Jesus comes up out of the waters after his baptism God speaks and says - "This is my Son, the beloved, with him I am well pleased." This phrase has been rolling around in my head all week.

I think one of the reasons it has stuck with me is that this is the beginning of Jesus ministry. He is about to start on the path that will lead him to the cross and God loves him and is pleased with him - not because of anything he has done but rather because of who and whose he is - God's child, God's beloved.

And it is the same with us. God loves us and is well pleased with us because of who we are - his children, his beloved. He is the ultimate parent who may not always like what we do, but he loves us, unconditionally. And this love, when we recognize it, changes us. It tells us that no matter where we go, God will be there. He will be the one who picks us up when we fall and scrape our knees. He will be the one who wipes the tears from our eyes. He will be the one who empowers us with his love to live out our lives in the best possible way.

So today may you experience the love of God in your life. May you know that you are always loved, cared for, and needed. And may you always rejoice in that love that is given to you.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Moving Forward - A Little Random

I am not big on resolutions. In the past I have made some, but halfway through the year I forget about them or just lapse into old ways of doing things, and then I feel guilty for failing. Instead, I try to make what I call "life changes." These are things that help me look and move forward to grow in healthy ways throughout my life. If I fail at a life change, I don;'t feel as guilty, but rather I look at why or how I failed and then move forward with a new plan.

Over the past few weeks I have started working one a few goals for changes in my life. I started exercising again (with the birth of Scarlett I faltered on that one, but am back in the saddle now). I have adapted my devotional life, in order to try new things and expand my spiritual life. And I have started looking long range for both myself and the church. It is fun and exciting to see all the possibilities that are out there.

So today I am focusing on moving forward - on ways I can open my ears and hear where God is calling me to go and what he is calling me to do. The struggle I have with this is trying to quite my mind and actually listen. If you are at all like me, then you know that it is tough at times to block out all those ideas that are floating around in your head. With the busy-ness of life, times of silence and listening are rare. But when I get those moments, when I have that time, God's voice seems to ring in my ears. The key is slowing down and actually listening to what God has to say.

This morning as I was reading through a devotional by C.S. Lewis, I was reminded that all the rules we read throughout Scriptures are guides to direct us back to the ultimate point of Scripture - God and his relationship with us. They are in place so that we can live healthier lives and grow in our relationships with all people and with God.

So today, may we be able to slow down and hear God speaking to us. May our ears be opened to the relationship God desires to have with us. And may we experience the love of God each and every day of our lives.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


This week we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus in worship, and it is one of my favorite weeks of the year. The reason for this is two-fold: First - We invite everyone who has been baptized in the past year to come back and we have a public recognition of all those baptisms. Second - the text, when it comes from Mark's gospel - demonstrates how God is loose in the world, and with God loose, who knows what is going to happen.

So I started thinking about the God moments in my life - those times when God pops up and I see the many and various ways he is at work. An example of this happened when my dad died. Now, I have a number of friends who I had not seen in a long time - people I was close to in high school, but over time we went different ways and time and distance separated us. We would stay in touch occasionally by e-mail or phone calls, but the contact was limited.

When dad died, I e-mailed and called two these friends since they knew dad as well. All I was expecting was for them to share their sympathies. Instead, both of them said - I will meet you in Billings in two days. Neither of them lived anywhere near Billings and both would have to take some time off of work, but they were coming - one even beat me there.

This was one of those God moments where I saw the Spirit unleashed through others. You see, God is all about relationships - our relationship with him and with others. And he wants us to know that no matter where we are in life, he is there. And he uses other humans to bring his peace, comfort, and love to us. This was shown in a brilliant way to me at that time, and I continue to see those God moments, as long as my eyes are open.

So today, may your eyes be opened to the unleashed Spirit in your life. May you have a God moment or two, and may you be the instrument of God as well in the lives of others.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Last night we had a swim lesson for Sierra. It was the first in the new session, and over our vacation we had worked with her on jumping in and practicing her strokes. See, she has been really good at a lot of the swimming stuff, but refused to jump in. Well, last night she wanted to surprise her teacher, so before class started she told her that she had a surprise, got the teacher to go in the water, and jumped right into her arms. She then proceeded to have her best lesson every - swimming with the kickboard and noodle without the teacher holding on to her, jumping in, and bobbing like crazy. I just gleamed with pride as I watched her do such a good job.

Later that night, when I was the only one awake, I started thinking about pride - the pride I had in Sierra for what she had done. And I started thinking about God - how when God sees us move out of our comfort zones, challenge ourselves, and use the gifts he has given us - how he must feel that same sense of pride.

God is that loving parent who wants us to grow and flourish in life. He showers us with gifts, love, and forgiveness - all the things we need to take chances and reach out in life. And when we try - not necessarily succeed, but try - God must have a grin on his face like I did last night. For he sees us out there, living life to the fullest, and his heart is filled with joy.

So today, may you try something new. May you boldly jump into the waters of life, knowing that God's hands are there to catch you and care for you. And may you sense the pride that God has in you each and every day.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Cleaning House

Upon returning from vacation we entered into a massive cleaning of the house. We had left it as a disaster area, taking off on Christmas morning and leaving everything piled high in the living room. And when we returned, we knew we had two days until a group of pastors were coming over for our annual after-Christmas party. The cleaning has been happening at a frantic rate.

But I am one who is easily distracted. So I was cleaning like crazy, then ran across some old photos from high school and college, so I sat down and started looking at them. I found some great ones that I then scanned and posted on facebook, getting many comments about how much all of us have changed.

After that little time-out, I went back to work, cleaning, putting away princess gear, and trying to make the place look good.

Reflecting on that, I was reminded how we all need to clean house every once in a while. We need to go into our personal lives, reflect on where we have been, where we are going, and get rid of some of the junk that we are hanging onto. It is never easy to do, and there are times we get distracted with old memories, but in the end, we fell much better when we have cleaned out some of those dark places we don't look in very often.

So today, may you be blessed with the opportunity to clean house, to get rid of some of your junk, have fun with some of the memories, and be cleansed knowing that you are a beloved child of God.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year

Happy New Year to everyone out there. We are back from our week of recovery following Christmas, and it was a nice break away. We stayed at a hotel in the Twin Cities that had a pool, so I swam twice a day with Sierra. She loved it and is now able to jump into the pool all by herself - a big step in her swimming development.

We also spent some time catching up with old friends. A lot of my college and seminary friends live in the Cities, and this week I got to see an old roommate and his family. It had been a few years since I last saw Per, but when we get together it is like time stood still. We reflect back on our time at school, catch up on where we are today, and laugh like we had never been apart. Being able to reconnect with old friends is a true blessing, and being able to see where life has taken us is a true gift.

For me, the new year always brings with it a time of reflection - reflecting on the past year (or years) and looking forward to what awaits me in the future. As I sit and reflect now, I look back on a year filled with joy - the birth of a new daughter, the exciting growth of Sierra, the wonderful times spent with Jennifer, and the joys of all the ministries and events at the church. It was a truly blessed year for me.

And as I look forward to 2009 I am filled with joy as well. Even with the world being as crazy as it is right now, there are so many great things going on here. People in the church are excited and fired up to share their gifts and reach out in new and exciting ways, and our family is doing well and we will see first steps and new school journeys in the next year.

As for me, I am just basking in the blessedness I have been given. God is good, and God will continue to bring new adventures my way, which I will happily share with others.

So as we enter into this new year, may your eyes be opened to the blessings you have been given. May you see God at work in your life everyday. And may you always know that you are a beloved child of God.