Friday Followings with Pastor Tim

Come and Meet Jesus

Hello Gloria Dei,

The season of Advent is one of preparing for the best gift ever given.  God’s Son arrives on our behalf to defeat the power of sin and death and to call us to a life totally given to following him.  At Gloria Dei we’re off to a great start to Advent with our ongoing Weekend and Wednesday evening worship, the little kids singing last Sunday at 10:30, and the inspiring Church School Christmas program this past Sunday afternoon. 

A reminder about upcoming Advent and Christmas events:

Service of Hope & Remembrance:  This Saturday, December 10, at 5 p.m. we gather for the worship service of Hope and Remembrance.  We all experience loss in one way or another.  Come and remember loved ones who have died and light a candle in their honor. Come and bring life’s challenges to God in prayer.  Together we have the promise of Christ who meets us in our grief to bring about hope and abundant life.

Advent/Christmas Cantata:  This Sunday at both 9 and 10:30 a.m. worship, the Gloria Dei choirs, ensembles, and orchestra will bring God’s word to life through music in the annual Advent/Christmas Cantata.  Invite friends and family members to join you in worship.

Preschool Christmas Program:  On either Wednesday, December 21 or Thursday, December 22, at 10:30 a.m., you’re invited to come and enjoy the Gloria Dei Preschool Children Program, as the kids inspire and uplift all of us, while giving glory to God through song.

Christmas Eve Worship Services:  On Saturday, December 24, we celebrate Christ’s birth as we worship at 3:00, 4:30, 6:00, and 10:00 p.m.  The 3:00 p.m. worship centers around children of all ages helping to tell the Christmas story.  The other services are filled with carols and candlelight.  At the 10:00 p.m. service, Holy Communion will be offered.

Christmas Day & New Year’s Day:  Christmas Day and New Year’s Day both fall on Sunday this year, and as such, we will worship at our regular Sunday times at 9:00 and 10:30 a.m.  God meets us in worship through his Word, the Sacraments, and within our fellowship of believers. 

Come and meet Jesus at all of the special events within this Advent / Christmas season.  May you continue to live always under the umbrella of God’s grace, hope, and love, which come to you fully in the person of God’s Son, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

See you in worship!

Pastor Tim

 



A Practice of HOPE

Hello Gloria Dei,

Happy Advent Season to you. As December arrives, so does our preparation once again for the great news of God coming to this earth to be one of us. Jesus shows up in our world and in our lives to bring us, among other things, a word of sure and certain HOPE.

This week I’ve included a mantra provided by Tammy Devine, a Diaconal Minister within the ELCA. It is entitled “A Practice of Hope”. I trust you will find this exercise helpful each and every day in your Advent preparation and anticipation of Christmas. God’s blessings during this season and always.
 
See you in worship, 
Pastor Tim

A Practice of H-O-P-E

H Hear one another. Listen carefully to others, and for God’s voice. Faithful listening allows God to be your guide.
  • Remind yourself to curb your speech when you catch yourself talking over another
  • When your mind is racing, use a mantra to calm and focus your thoughts, like “O come, o come, Emmanuel”
 
O Observe through God’s eyes. Recognize Christ in others rather than being quick to judge or make assumptions.
  • Pick a symbol or color that can remind you to see the world with Christ’s eyes whenever you spot it during the day
  • Choose a centering melody to hum, such as “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less.”
 
P Be Present in the moment. Remember that wherever you are, there is God. Practice acknowledging this presence through intentional reflection on your day.
  • When did I feel God’s presence? What (or who) helped me recognize God?
  • When did I feel disconnected from God? What got in the way of connecting with God?
 
E Expect that God is at work in the midst of the chaos and weariness of our world – and through you.
  • Cultivate a sense of joy by practicing small daily acts of kindness
  • Pray for patience and strength as you live your life as a member of the body of Christ with wisdom and grace


Radical Call; Radical Generosity

Hello Gloria Dei,
This weekend I’ll preach on Luke 5:1-11. Please read it in preparation for worship. I love this story of the miraculous catch of fish and the calling of the disciples. Jesus performed the miracle, but I give Simon Peter lots of credit too. Simon has been fishing all night and has caught nothing. He’s just pulled in his nets and is cleaning them, and Jesus asks him to cast his nets out once again into the deep water. I might have responded with something like, “You’re nuts Jesus!”
Yet Simon does as Jesus asks. He’s not thwarted by what may seem hopeless. It’s easy to let circumstances that seem unfavorable stop us from going forward in faith. If we wait until all is perfect, then our opportunity to be part of a miracle may never come. Yet Simon moves forward with trust in Jesus, and he is overcome by joy; and overcome by being in the presence of the very Son of God. Jesus then calls Simon to follow. Answering the call, Simon begins on what is a tremendously purpose-filled life.
This weekend is Stewardship weekend. We will offer ourselves and our financial commitments for 2017 at the altar as act of saying “Yes” to following Jesus. Within worship we’ll hear just a sampling of the miracles that we are all part of as followers of Jesus in this place.
There is no more purposeful living than to trust in Jesus’ promise of love for you, and to follow him with all you’ve got. God wants it; desires it; and expects it. Why? It’s for your own good and the good of God’s world that he loves. And guess what, the journey goes on forever. Pray about your giving level to God through Gloria Dei. If you can’t be in worship this weekend for some reason, we will follow up with you very soon.
Sacrificial giving is in response to our Lord who sacrificed his life for us. We have lots happening at Gloria Dei and it really does take all of us to give generously as we follow the generous and radical call of Jesus on our lives.
See you in worship!
Pastor Tim


Praying and Giving Thanks for our Country

Hello Gloria Dei,

On this Friday I wish a blessed Veteran’s Day to all of you.  We are so very grateful for those who have and who are serving in the military for this great country.  We are blessed to live in the United States and we say “thanks” to veterans.

As you know, we’ve just come through a long, painful, and divisive presidential campaign. Its results have some people excited and pleased, while others are disappointed and even angry.  Even within Gloria Dei our spirits were divided over this choice, more so than many of us realized. I’ve had private conversations with many.  We live in a sharply polarized nation, and there is no denying that division. 

As a Christian pastor writing to Christians I want to first call on each of us to remember Jesus’ prayer that we in the church, despite our many differences of opinion on certain matters, might live together as one.  Jesus knew that unity in the gospel is a unity that can last. It is a unity that overrides other types of differences.  Of course, we all have views on which direction or which policies may be better for our country.  We live in a democracy, with freedom of speech being one of our most cherished characteristics.  It’s okay, even healthy, to debate national policy.  Yet let’s be careful so that our political differences don’t seep in and disturb our unity in Christ.  I ask you to join me in praying for unity and peace in our country and in Christian churches around this great land of ours.  The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that this election was decided on policy.  A majority of our states wanted a change in policy, so we all can respect that. 

Secondly, as a pastor, the questions I’m receiving most of all are not about policy, they are questions about character and behavior.  I’ll address you as I’ve addressed my 25 year old daughter and my 22 year old son.  Character matters.  We are all flawed; we are all in need of forgiveness.  But character matters.  I’ve told my adult children that if their work place has a policy not to use private email for work, then don’t do it. It is wrong. Character matters.  I’ve told my daughter that if anyone, even a rich and famous man, comes on to you with unwanted and aggressive advances, you have a right to defend yourself and to report it.  It is wrong. Character matters.  And I’ve told my son that if he hears or participates in the kind of “locker room” talk we’ve heard about, he needs to walk away, or better yet, to put an end to it.  It is wrong. Character matters.

I’m not saying anything you don’t already know.  Even though I can try to influence others with the gospel, I can’t control other peoples’ behavior and character.  But I can control mine.  And you can control yours.  As people who confess each and every week that we are followers and disciples of Jesus, let’s continue to act, think, and behave in manners that give glory to God and his principles. Let’s never allow anyone, even presidential candidates, to normalize things that we know are out of character with Jesus’ teachings on justice, righteousness, and behavior.  All people matter to God.

Finally, please join me in praying for all our elected officials.  Join me in praying for our current President and for our President elect:  that they will govern and act in ways that give glory to God and in ways that help to bridge the current divide.  We live in a great country.  More than that, we have a great God, who loves, forgives, transforms, and sends all of us out to be his agents of love, service, and reconciliation.  As the prophet Micah says, and as Jesus modeled for us:

–“With what shall I come before the Lord?  He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

See you in worship,
Pastor Selbo


Cubs. Miracles. Vikings?

Hello Gloria Dei,

I don’t want anyone to tell me ever again that they don’t believe in miracles.  The Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years.  Miracles indeed do happen each and every day!

Miracles happen in, around, and through Gloria Dei too.  Hearing God’s word of grace, love and forgiveness creates the miracle of faith for all of us.  Responding to and living out that good news produces miracle after miracle.  Hungry people are being fed, thirsty people receive water, new communities of faith are beginning, houses are being built, medical needs are being met, grieving men and women are gathering together for Christian support – these are just a few of the miracles being produced by you and your commitment to God’s work through Gloria Dei.

In addition, multiple Bible Studies and small groups are happening regularly.  1000 kids and youth are growing in their faith.  Over 1000 each week are being spiritually fed in worship by God’s means of grace in Word and Sacrament.  Fellowship; Music Ministry; Children, Youth and Family Ministry; Pre-School; Mission & Outreach; Evangelism and Invitational Ministry:  in all of these areas and more, stories of changed lives for Christ are being told.

Miracles happen every day.  God is good… all the time. 

As we move toward November 19-20, the day in which we will make our pledges and estimates of financial giving for the year 2017, I want to first thank you for your ongoing generosity.  The Bible says that “God loves a cheerful giver.”  The miracles that happen at Gloria Dei happen in part because of your financial gifts that support our ongoing mission and ministry.  As you know, we have assembled a talented and mission-minded staff.  We have lay leadership and a full congregation that takes seriously both the Great Commission of Jesus to go and make disciples and the Great Commandment of Jesus to love one another.  Through Worship and Discipleship – more and more people are coming to faith; and more and more people are being impacted by the love of Jesus in concrete, physical, emotional, and spiritual ways. Thank you!
Secondly, I ask that you please commit to being present in worship on November 19 and 20.  Pray about your level of giving and raise it if you can.  We have gladly accepted Christ’s call to step out in faith by becoming fully staffed and by reaching out to the local and global community in a big way with the love of Christ.  All of this takes generous financial support.  In this growing community and this growing congregation, it is exciting to see God at work.  So, if you’re in town, please come to worship on November 19 or 20 as we pledge our level of financial giving for 2017.
 
In addition, you’re invited on the evening of November 13 to join in fellowship and good food at Callaway’s from 5 to 7 p.m.  This adult only event is a way of saying thank you to all of you, but also a way to hear of some of the new initiatives our church council is working on.

Yes, God is performing miracles all around us.  The Cubs win the World Series.  Who knows what might be next….The Vikings winning a Super Bowl?  I am always filled with hope.

See you in worship!
Pastor Tim


“You will know the Truth, and the Truth will make you free”

“You will know the Truth, and the Truth will make you free”
–John 8:32

Hello Gloria Dei,

The words written above are straight from the mouth of Jesus. “The Truth will make you free.” What is the Truth with a capital “T”? And how can we know it? Later in John’s gospel Jesus gives us more than a hint when he says about himself, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.”

Knowing Jesus means knowing the ultimate truth, for knowing Jesus means knowing in a deep and lasting way the very love and heart of God. When you think about it, what is it that truly sets you free? It is loving relationships. In my marriage, for example, I know my wife loves me. Therefore, I am free to be open, vulnerable, awkward, honest, caring, funny, and all the rest. In other words, I am free to be myself, sharing in mutual love and support with and for her.

The same is true, but in an even more perfect way, with God. As we know the love of Christ, we are set free to be our true selves. Free to be Christ for one another. Free to love, free to serve, free to simply be who God created us to be. “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son?” Yes, it is God’s love in Christ that sets us free.

This weekend we celebrate with 43 young people as they publicly proclaim their faith in Jesus Christ and his promise of love for them. Come and join in Reformation worship (wear red if you’d like) as we give praise to God, as we support our confirmation students, and as we experience the very love that sets us free.

See you in worship!

Pastor Tim

 


Faithful Living: Teach Us to Pray

Hello Gloria Dei,

God’s word is filled with prayers.  The book of Psalms is a great book of prayer. Take some time today and flip through Psalms, reading one or two or more of the psalms, using them as your own prayers. 

God’s word also exhorts us over and over to pray. 

  • 1 Peter 4:7 – Be serious and discipline yourselves in prayer
  • Colossians 4:2 – Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving
  • 1 Thess. 5:17 – Pray without ceasing.

Why is God’s word so filled with prayers and exhortations to pray always?  Because first and foremost our Christian faith is about a relationship; namely, our relationship with God.  Talking, listening, communicating with the almighty God is a tremendous gift given to us by our Creator.

In Luke chapter 11 Jesus’ disciples ask him to teach them to pray.  He responds with what we now call “The Lord’s Prayer”.  Jesus goes on to teach about being constant and persistent in prayer. 

In Philippians 4, Paul urges us to worry less and pray more.  Why?  Because our quality of life, emotionally, spiritually, and physically, is much healthier when we give everything over to God.  Our lives are more abundant when we are in a deep, loving, honest and grace-filled relationship with our Lord and Savior.

For this weekend’s worship, please read Luke 11:1-13. Our focus will be on prayer.  And please take some time (even five minutes or more) to pause and talk to God about anything and everything. As you get into this habit, your life will change in remarkable ways. God loves you.

See you in worship,
Pastor Tim

P.S.  I want to call your attention to a new educational opportunity starting this Wednesday night, October 19, and running for four consecutive weeks.  Pastor Chris will lead the class entitled “Get to the Point”.  The first class will focus on what it means to be a Lutheran Christian.  Classes will go from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.  All are welcome!



New Preaching Series: “Faithful Living”

Hello Gloria Dei,

As you’ve been hearing, our major focus this year at Gloria Dei is “Deeper in Faith and Wider in Outreach”. Within that overarching theme, we are moving through different preaching series’ that tie in to the bigger picture.

I’m excited that this weekend we are beginning a five-week series entitled “Faithful Living”. We’ll explore different ways in which our Christian faith is put into everyday life.

The five weekend schedule looks like this:

October 8-9: The Art of Caregiving
October 15-16: Teach Us to Pray
October 22-23: Passing on Faith to our Kids
October 29-30: Free To Be Who God Made Us to Be (Reformation/Confirmation)
November 5-6: Radical Trust (All Saints Day)

And just a reminder we also worship on Wednesday evenings from 6:00 to 6:30. This is a great way to be intentional about your relationship with God midweek. Our themes on Wednesdays are different than weekend themes. This Wednesday we’ll begin six weeks using the theme “I Believe”, focusing on God as Father/Creator; Son/Redeemer; and Holy Spirit/Sanctifier.

Our Christian walk of faith is like breathing in and breathing out. As we gather for worship, we breathe in God’s love, grace and presence. As we go out into the world, we breathe out the love, grace, and presence of God to others. Our lives are marked by the ebb and flow of Worship and Discipleship. May God bless you as you worship in the name of Christ and as you become his presence for one another.

See you in worship,
Pastor Tim


Jesus: Hero or Savior?

Hello Gloria Dei,

We all have our heroes:  historical heroes, political heroes, sports heroes, military heroes, faith heroes, even heroes in our everyday lives. It is good to have heroes: those whom we look up to, those who inspire us to be all we can be.

Sometimes we even see Jesus as a hero.  I love it when he feeds the 5000 and heals the sick. I love it when he outsmarts the Pharisees who try to trick him into saying something wrong. I love it when, out of righteous anger, he knocks over the money-changers’ tables in the temple. I love it when he doesn’t give in to the devil’s temptations.  Jesus comes across as a true hero.

Yet, truth be told, Jesus doesn’t want to be our hero.  This week in worship we are continuing our two week series on “Jesus is”.  Last week we focused on “Jesus is Lord”.  This week we’ll hone in on “Jesus is Savior”.

You see, Jesus came to this world not to be our hero, but rather, to be our Savior.  We are not a bunch of little heroes who need a leader.  We are sinners who need a Savior.  If all we needed was a hero, Jesus would not have had to go to the cross and suffer and die.  If all we needed was a hero, Jesus could have gathered his disciples and overthrown Rome and marched off in victory. 

But Jesus didn’t do that.  He suffered and died for my sake and for yours.  He is first and foremost our Savior, who then bids us to trust him with our lives, and he becomes the Lord whom we follow.  As we do, he calls us to enter into the suffering of the world to have an impact in his name.

For this weekend, read once again those great verses in Matthew 16:13-28.  Jesus asks us, “Who do you say that I am?”  How you answer this question changes everything.  Jesus is our Savior, who saves us from sin, death, and the power of evil.  He is the one who truly sets us free.  This Lord and Savior Jesus deserves our worship.  Come this week and always to gather with your family of faith in worshiping Jesus, the Savior of the world.

See you in worship,

Pastor Tim

 



It’s All About Jesus

Hello Gloria Dei,

Many years ago I read an author who said that in the church, as in other endeavors, it’s important to “keep the main thing the main thing.”  He went on to say that the “main thing” in the church is not a thing at all, but a person:  Jesus Christ.

I’ve tried to heed this advice in my 27 years of ordained ministry.  Jesus, God in the flesh, is to be our main focus.  One of the values we lift up at Gloria Dei is that “It’s all about Jesus. The rest is just details.”


Read more...

Faithful and Active Christians

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.  –Psalm 121:8

Hello Gloria Dei,

What a great week we’ve had at Gloria Dei. Last weekend we kicked off the new school year with Spirit Alive and began our year-long emphasis on going deeper in our faith and wider in our outreach. God has saved us in Christ by grace through faith, and now empowers us to be faithful and active Christians in the world. The introduction to the “Deeper in Faith and Wider in Outreach” theme continues this weekend.

On Wednesday we began our midweek church school, confirmation, music and choral rehearsals, youth gatherings, and much more. 

We also began Wednesday evening worship. If you’d like a midweek infusion of God’s word and some great music, we worship from 6:00 to 6:30. For these first four Wednesdays we’re following the theme “Fearless”, using Max Lucado’s book with the same title as a guide. 

Pastor Chris led us in worship and brought us God’s good word. Pastor Sarah will continue the “Fearless” theme this coming Wednesday night.

I pray that God will bless you as you get back into busy routines with family, friends, church and work. God’s grace covers us always. As the psalmist says, “God will watch over all of our comings and goings from this time forth and forevermore.”

See you in worship!
Pastor Tim

P.S.  For this weekend’s worship, please read John 4:1-30 and Matthew 28:16-20.



Deeper in Faith

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. -Hebrews 11:1

Hello Gloria Dei,

This Sunday is Spirit Alive Sunday. It serves as a kick-off for our fall scheduling. Church School begins for children on Sunday and Wednesday this week; music rehearsals, Bible studies, fellowship events, there will be a lot happening.

All of this and much more that we do through the year is to go deeper into our faith in Jesus Christ and to widen our outreach to the surrounding neighborhoods and the world. Therefore, the theme we’ll be using throughout the year is “Deeper in Faith and Wider in Outreach.” God has planted us here as


Read more...