Friday Followings with Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: Glimpses Into the Future

Hello Gloria Dei,
I’m back in the office today after two weeks of vacation. Lorrie and I spent part of that time in Arizona. While we were there we saw old friends, and we drove around the “old neighborhood” where we raised our kids. As I ponder those days, I recall riding bikes with my daughter up and down the street when she was just learning to ride. I recall shooting baskets in our driveway with my son when he was just learning to shoot.
Yesterday evening I played golf with my son. He beat me last night for the first time of which will undoubtedly be many more to come in the future. As I saw him out-driving me, at times by over 100 yards; and as I saw me missing birdie putts and him making them, I smiled to myself. At first I was getting glimpses into the past – not only of riding bikes and shooting baskets with my kids when they were young – but also of me playing golf with my Dad. I remember beating him for the first time when I was about my son’s age.
But then I thought, “I’m also getting glimpses into the future.” Knowing how hard I tried to help my Dad fix his slice back in the day, my son will soon be giving me advice on how to fix my swing. And as I remembered me and my Dad as I played golf with my son, I thought of my Dad and my Mom, together in heaven with Jesus. And again I smiled. I was reminded in powerful fashion both how precious life is, and yet how relatively short as well. And I smiled when I thought too, that one day I’ll be there in heaven with my parents, my friends, and all of God’s people. And most of all, with Jesus, who calls and redeems each of us with his death and resurrection, and who will one day usher us into his glorious and everlasting kingdom.
Glimpses into the future, into eternity.  –Those moments when the future floods the present with its stunning reality. It’s good they don’t come along all the time, for we couldn’t stand more than a glimpse at a time, yet they are there, and they have a profound way of shaping us in the present.
People of Gloria Dei, live each day knowing that it is a gift from God. Love your family. Love your friends. Love strangers. Love God. Jesus has set you free to do no less. And most of all, know that God loves you and has destined you for eternity. None of us knows exactly what the future holds. But we do know that God goes with us and is there in the future. The great promise of Scripture is that there is nothing that can separate you from God’s love – not now and not ever.
In the loving embrace of our Savior, you and I have the promise of a great future.
See you in worship,
Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: A God Who Makes Choices

Hello Gloria Dei,

Did you know that God is a God who makes choices? Think about it: God chose to create the world. God chose to create humanity is God’s own image. And when Adam & Eve chose to disobey God, resulting in a separation and brokenness between us and God, God chose to do something about it.

God chose Abraham and Sarah to be the patriarch and matriarch of the nation of Israel. God chose to use the people of Israel to bless the world, from which the Messiah would come. We could go on and on. God chose Moses to lead the people out of slavery. God chose the prophets to speak God’s word to his people. And into the New Testament, God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus. Jesus, God’s Son, chose the twelve disciples. God chose Saul / Paul to be the great evangelist to the Gentile world. God chose to send the Holy Spirit to enliven and accompany us through life.

The Good News for you and me is that God has also chosen us. This weekend in worship we are focusing on “Covenants & Commands”. Last week Pastor Chris introduced us to Moses. As we move through the Old Testament characters, we are still on Moses, as he receives from God both covenant and commandments. I invite you to read Exodus chapters 19 and 20.

Just as God made a covenant with the people of old, so too God makes a covenant with us. In the waters of baptism God chooses us. As we grow in faith, hope, and love, God uses us. As we gather each week around Word and Sacrament, God meets us, empowers us, and reminds us that because of what Jesus has done for us, we belong to God. And as chosen people of God we are privileged to go out into the world, living our lives differently than so many in this post-Christian society, letting our light shine for Jesus.

Never forget your true identity as a person of God. God has chosen you, and chooses you today, to live your life, now and forever, loving God and loving neighbor.

One reminder: Many of you know singer and songwriter James Hersch. He will be providing special music during our Saturday worship service, and then will be putting on a concert at 6:30 p.m. here at Gloria Dei. Come and enjoy! All are welcome!

See you in worship,

Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: A Few Reminders, June 2018

Hello Gloria Dei,
Just a few reminders today.
Please keep in your prayers the “going into 7th grade” campers who are returning today from Confirmation Camp at NeSoDak with Pastor Sarah. I’ve heard good reports from their time together.  Also pray for the High School Seniors who are on a Mission Trip in Tampa with Sandy Berven this week. I’ve also heard good reports about their service, fellowship, and fun. They will return Sunday.
You are all invited to the Gloria Dei Family Game Night tomorrow evening (Saturday), at 6:30 p.m.  One idea is to come to worship at 5 pm and stay for game night. Game Night will take place in the Youth Room and it will be a blast. Light snacks will be served.
Calling all O.W.L.S. (Older and Wiser Lutherans). It’s potluck day for the OWLS this Sunday at 11:45 a.m. The OWLS group is now open for anyone 55 and older. Bring a dish to share and come enjoy great fellowship and food following the 10:30 worship service.
The new couples’ Bible Study is off to a great start. Come with your spouse or significant other. The study meets at Gloria Dei on the 2nd and 4th Monday evening of every month for about an hour, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The focus is usually on the Scripture reading and sermon from the previous weekend. You are invited and encouraged to attend.
The Vacation Bible School registration deadline to receive a T-Shirt and CD is July 2 (registrations after July 2 are welcome, just not in time for the T and CD). VBS week is July 30 through August 3.
There is lots more happening through these summer months, so please check the website at

This week in worship we take a look at one of the great characters of the Old Testament: Moses. God used Moses in incredible ways to bring the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. The Moses story is a great reminder of the way in which God sets you and me free from slavery to sin, death, and the power of evil, by way of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. If you’re up for a good read, take a crack at reading the first 14 chapters of Exodus. Fascinating, inspiring, and faith-filled Scripture.

See you in worship!

Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: The Great Story of Joseph

Hello Gloria Dei,
This weekend in worship we’re taking a look at one of my all-time favorite biblical characters, Joseph. This is not the Joseph of the New Testament, the earthly father of Jesus (although I like him too!) No, this is the Old Testament Joseph, the great grandson of Abraham and Sarah, and one of the 12 sons of Jacob.
The Joseph story is an important one, and can’t be told fully in my brief writing today. But I once heard the author Max Lucado tell the Joseph story using alliteration with the letter P. It went something like this:
Thrown into a Pit, Promoted by Potiphor to a Position of Power, Put into Prison, Promoted to the Position of Pharaoh’s Prime Minister, the story of Joseph is Picture of God’s Promise and Providence.
That’s not a bad telling of the story. The Joseph story contains all the drama of a reality TV show. His life is a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, yet through it all, Joseph remains faithful to God and keeps his integrity and character intact. And through it all, God’s promise and God’s providence are evident. As we say in worship, “God is good… all the time.”
This weekend in preaching I want to explore the reality that God is present and active in our lives, just as God was present with Joseph, even amidst the ups and downs and roller coaster rides of life.
Please take fifteen to twenty minutes to read and ponder the full story of Joseph. It is found in chapters 37 to 50 of the book of Genesis. One of the key verses is found near the end of the story, Genesis 50:20, which has Joseph telling his brothers who abandoned him years earlier: “Even though you intended to do me harm, God intended it for good, in order to preserve life for numerous people.”
God is in the business of Life with a capital L. Jesus once said, “I have come that you would have Life and have it abundantly”. And again, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”. And again, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”  And even though this story of Joseph happens thousands of years before Jesus shows up, we see in its details God’s goodness, God’s grace, and God’s promise and passion that we will have life in his name.
See you in worship!
Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: First They Did Something Else

Hello Gloria Dei,
In Acts chapter one, immediately following the risen Jesus’ ascension into heaven, you might think the disciples got right to the preaching and spreading of the good news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. But no! First they did something else.
Instead of getting to the exciting work of evangelism and outreach (that came soon in Acts 2 after the coming of the Holy Spirit) the disciples gathered for a church business meeting. You can read about it in Acts 1:12-26. You see, while the proclamation of the forgiveness of sin and the freedom which comes in Christ is the all-important task of the church, it is important to have a good plan to accomplish the work of the church in the best possible manner.
Over these next two days, the South Dakota Synod will be in Assembly. At the Synod Assembly, delegates from all the ELCA congregations in South Dakota will come together here in Sioux Falls to do the business of the larger church. Gloria Dei will send ten delegates, including our four pastors, to attend and participate in the hearing of reports, voting on resolutions, and adopting a financial mission plan for the coming year. Please keep Bishop Zellmer, as he leads the Assembly, and all who attend in your prayers. This is important work. We will provide a report to the congregation in the upcoming weeks of the Assembly highlights.
On another note, I know we’ve been promoting travel opportunities. For those interested in the Oberammergau Passion Play trip to Germany and Central Europe in the fall of 2020, please know there will be a meeting this Tuesday, June 5, at 6:30 p.m. here at Gloria Dei to review the trip details and to answer any questions you may have. Please call Judi Schwerin or Pastor Dwight in the office if you are interested, but cannot attend the meeting.
And finally, as we continue our preaching series on the Old Testament characters, please read Genesis 27:1-40 as we’ll encounter Jacob and Esau, the twin brothers born to Isaac & Rebekah. It’s a great story. God uses ordinary people (like you and me) to accomplish his extraordinary work.
May God bless you and I’ll see you in worship!

Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: Thankful for Service

Hello Gloria Dei,

As our nation celebrates Memorial Day this weekend, let’s be sure to truly give thanks to God for those who have given their lives for this fine country and the freedoms that don’t always come easily. Find someone you know who has, or is, serving in any branch of the military and say thanks for serving in this way. We are grateful to God for them.

We are grateful, too, for those who have spent their lives in sharing the good news of Christ with us. Think of parents, grandparents, teachers, pastors, relatives, friends, authors, who have made an impact on you and your faith. Give God thanks for them, too. And be sure to pray that God will continue to use you for the sake of good, for the sake of freedom, for the sake of sharing and living out the gospel in whatever ways you can. As we live together as a community of faith, we are thankful for each other and for the God who continues to bring us together.

I mentioned in my Friday Followings last week about the travel opportunities to the Holy Land in 2019 and to Central Europe and the Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany, in 2020. If you are interested please call the office for more information and get your deposits in, as the trips are filling up quickly.

This week I want to highlight another trip – this one a Mission and Service Trip. Pastor Chris will be leading a group to the Appalachians, with ministry projects ranging from working with children and/or the elderly, to work and building projects. This mission journey will take place November 9 to November 17, 2018. There will be an informational meeting at 11:45 a.m. in the office conference room on Sunday, June 10. Please come to the meeting on the 10th, or email Pastor Chris if you are interested:

All of us are servants of God, whether it be through the military, or within our families, or at work, or with friends, or going on a mission trip, or taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We give thanks to God, the one who has created us and continues to minister to us through Christ and his Holy Spirit, and the one who empowers us to serve in his name.

For worship this weekend we’ll focus on Abraham and his son Isaac. Please read Genesis 22:1-14.

May God bless you this Holiday Weekend, and may God bless your service. See you in worship!

Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: Travel Opportunities

Hello Gloria Dei,
I hope and pray you all are enjoying the nice days we’ve been having and that as we move toward the end of another school year, you are experiencing God’s grace-filled presence in your lives.
Today I want to simply remind you of two travel opportunities coming available to Gloria Dei members and friends. We are having an informational meeting this Sunday morning, May 20, at 11:45, in the sanctuary regarding the following two trips:
  1. The Holy Land – Pastor Tim & Lorrie Selbo and Judi Schwerin are hosting this trip to the land of the Bible. We’ll walk where Jesus walked, including Nazareth, Galilee, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem. Leaving out of Minneapolis, the trip dates are March 23 to April 2, 2019. Cost is $3999 per person (double occupancy) plus optional trip insurance of $224. Single occupancy is available at a higher cost. Brochures with full itinerary are available in the office, and will be handed out at the informational meeting on Sunday.

    2. Oberammergau Passion Play / Central Europe – Pastor Dwight & Kathy Stensgaard and Judi Schwerin are hosting this trip to Germany and Central Europe. Every ten years the German town of Oberammergau puts on a play of Jesus’ last days on earth, including his suffering, death, and resurrection. Begun in 1634, this is the world’s most famous and largest Passion Play. Along with Oberammergau, many other sites and cities in Central Europe will enhance this journey, including stops in Munich, Prague, and Salzburg. This trip will take place in late August or early September, 2020.

For more information on these trips, come to the meeting on Sunday. If you cannot come and want more information, please contact Pastor Tim, Judi Schwerin, or Melissa McKinney in the church office. These trips will be filled on a first come, first served basis.

In worship this weekend we continue our focus on the Characters of the Old Testament. Please read Genesis chapters 15 and 17:1-22 as we take a look at the way in which God used Abraham and Sarah.

See you in worship,

Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: Ordinary People, Extraordinary God

Hello Gloria Dei,

I hope you enjoyed working our way through the gospel of John of these past four months. I know I have. But more than enjoying it, I pray that the Holy Spirit has worked to strengthen your faith in Jesus, the one who gives us life.

This weekend in worship we will begin a new preaching series that will take us through the summer. We will be working our way through many of the major characters of the Old Testament and learn of God’s plan of salvation culminating in the coming of Jesus. We’re calling the new series:  Ordinary People, Extraordinary God.

We’ll be meeting people such as Adam & Eve, Noah, Abraham & Sarah, Isaac, Jacob & Esau, Joseph, Moses, along with a few of the judges and prophets. We’ll meet Esther, Daniel, Joshua, Ruth, David, Elijah, and more. Through this series we’ll not only become more familiar with the overarching story told in the Old Testament, we’ll also explore together how God uses ordinary people like you and me to do the work he has for us and to accomplish his Kingdom purposes.

I look forward to seeing you in worship this weekend as we kick off this series right at the beginning with Adam and Eve. In preparation for worship, please read Genesis chapters 1, 2, and 3.

God’s blessings on your week,

Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: What’s Our Purpose?

Hello Gloria Dei,

Over the past four months we’ve worked our way through the gospel of John. I pray you’ve not only enjoyed it, but have been enriched by it, and ultimately, have had your faith and trust in Christ strengthened.

It’s interesting that at the end of chapter 20, John sets out for us the reason for his writing of this gospel. John writes:

“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” –John 20:30-31

During worship this weekend I want to explore with you the purpose of this gospel using these two verses, but I also want to dig into our purpose as human beings. Why are we here? What is it that gives our lives meaning? Where is true, abundant life found? John’s gospel has given us some definite direction in answering those big, first order questions of life. I hope to see you in worship this weekend.

In addition, this Sunday in worship we will be hearing two pieces from world renowned pianist Calvin Jones. Originally from Pierre, South Dakota, Calvin now lives in Ukraine, and is currently touring and sharing his faith through music.

Calvin will be gifting us with a performance this Monday evening, April 30th, at 7:00 p.m. I encourage you to come and experience the incredible passion, emotion and breath taking beauty of his original and timeless masterpieces, as he engages the whole person; mind, body and soul, drawing you into the very presence of God. This free concert will be in the sanctuary at Gloria Dei. Invite your friends and family, as I know you won’t be disappointed.

God’s blessings on your week,

Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: Loved, Restored, and Sent

Hello Gloria Dei,

This weekend in worship we have one of the great encounters in all of Scripture. Found in John 21:1-19, it is between the risen Jesus and his disciple Peter. If you recall, before Jesus died, Peter, while keeping warm around a charcoal fire, denied even knowing Jesus three times. Afterwards, Peter felt awful. How could he turn his back so terribly on his good friend, especially right when Jesus needed him the most? Peter went and wept bitterly.

Fast forward to after the resurrection. This time it is again around a charcoal fire. Peter has been fishing. When he comes back to shore, there is Jesus, making breakfast on the fire. The sight and smell of the fire reminds Peter of the darkest day of his life: his denial of Jesus.

Yet Jesus does a truly remarkable thing. He asks Peter if Peter loves him, and when Peter responds affirmatively, Jesus gives Peter his life’s purpose: “Peter, feed my sheep”. The same question, answer, and purpose is repeated not once, not twice, but three times. In response to Peter’s three-fold denial, Jesus restores him three times. It is forgiveness and reconciliation at its deepest and best. Rather than meeting Peter with condemnation, Jesus provides instead love, forgiveness and purpose.

I love this story. Why? Because I think it lays out for us in such a powerful and poignant manner, God’s very attitude toward you and me. So often we are broken by sin. So often our lives become filled with, and are often defined by, our guilt and our shame. Things we have done; things done to us; regrets; burdens. Like Peter, we even let God down by what we do or fail to do. It’s hard to shed it all and move forward.

Yet, into the midst of our brokenness steps the risen Jesus. He meets us, loves us, forgives us, and gives to us in joy our life’s purpose. “Go and feed my sheep”.

This weekend at Gloria Dei we are celebrating a Mission Festival. We will be highlighting ways in which you, the people of Gloria Dei, are active in the community and the world. There will be displays of ministry going on beyond our walls, and will give each of us opportunity to jump in and help in “feeding Jesus’ sheep” around the world.

I’m excited that Seminary Student Rebel Herd will bring us God’s Word in worship. Rebel heads up “Church on the Street”, a word and sacrament ministry among the homeless population right here in Sioux Falls. Rebel has been called by God into this important ministry, and it is through the ongoing support of Gloria Dei and many other congregations that this mission of “feeding sheep” is made possible.

Being loved, forgiven, reconciled, and sent by God is a great gift that belongs to you. Unwrap the gift, put it to use, pray for others, and be about the good work that God gives for you to do in Christ’s name.

See you in worship,

Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: Doubts – The Ants in the Pants of Faith

Hello Gloria Dei,

The Christian author Frederick Buechner writes: “Whether your faith is that there is a God or that there is not a God, if you don’t have any doubts, you are either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.”

For me, I believe there are some people given the extraordinary gift of faith so that their faith in God never wavers. I also believe this is a very small group of people. For the vast majority of us, doubts creep into our faith and we ask all kinds of questions. I believe asking the hard questions is a good thing. Why? Because asking the hard questions of life is what God wants from us, and ultimately these questions and doubts serve to strengthen our faith.

In our gospel reading for this weekend one of Jesus’ disciples, Thomas, isn’t with the others when the risen Jesus appears to them on the first Easter evening. Later he is told that “Jesus is alive.” I think we can understand Thomas when he says, “No Way. It can’t be. Dead people don’t come back to life. I won’t believe unless I see Jesus for myself.” Thomas is simply being a realist. It’s hard to believe that a person you saw die on Good Friday could be alive again on Sunday. Yet, a week later, Jesus shows up again, and this time Thomas is present. Thomas believes and confesses about Jesus, “My Lord and my God.”

For worship this weekend, please read John 20:19-31, as we’ll take a look at this important encounter between Jesus and Thomas. Jesus encounters you and me today too in a multiplicity of ways. Don’t be afraid to ask your questions to God. In the long run, they serve as the “ants in the pants of faith” and they keep faith alive and moving. Through worship, through digging into God’s word, and through the fellowship of Christian believers, faith is strengthened even amidst our doubts and questions. Watch for God showing up for you today. See with the eyes of faith. God is alive and active in our world and in our lives.

WEATHER ALERT – We are watching closely the reports regarding the snowstorm coming into the area tonight and tomorrow. At this point we are planning on our normal weekend worship schedule. However, there is a chance that Saturday worship will be need to be cancelled due to the storm. We want for everyone to be safe. Please watch our website,, or Facebook page, @GloriaDeiSD, for updates regarding Saturday worship. At this point it looks like Sunday morning will go on as planned.


Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Hello Gloria Dei,
First of all I want to say thanks to all of you for making Holy Week so beautiful and inspiring. As a congregation, we participated in and told the greatest story ever: Jesus giving himself for us, dying on a cross, and being raised to new life. Praise God! Alleluia! He is risen! He is risen indeed!
It takes lots of hands behind the scenes to make it all so rich and meaningful for those who come to worship. Throughout Holy Week we welcomed over 4800 people into the sanctuary to hear, learn, and experience the life-giving love and grace of God. We also welcomed 154 third and fourth graders to the Lord’s Table for their First Communion. The Palm Sunday Brunch was excellent, the fellowship outstanding, and the message of God’s love came through powerfully all week long through word and music. God is good… all the time.  Again, thank you for your commitment to Christ and his church.
This weekend we’ll continue in the season of Easter and put our focus on Jesus’ appearance to his disciples on the first Easter evening. Jesus continues to make himself known to us too. Make it a habit to share with your family, your friends, and your church community, how it is that Jesus is showing up and impacting your life. In preparation for this weekend’s worship, please read John chapter 20, paying special attention to verses 19 to 23.
April 21-22 Mission Festival
I also want to let you know that coming up in a couple of weeks Gloria Dei will have be highlighting its ministry of Mission and Outreach outside of our walls into the community and the world. This Mission Festival will take place the weekend of April 21-22. We will have displays set up; we’ll share in a meal following the 10:30 worship service; we’ll hear about many opportunities we all have to serve our neighbors in love. And we’ll hear from Rebel Hurd, who is the Director of Church on the Street, a Word and Sacrament ministry among the homeless population in Sioux Falls. Please watch the bulletin and newsletter for more details, but plan on being present for this marvelous Mission Festival opportunity.
See you in worship.
Pastor Tim