Friday Followings with Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: The Ten Commandments Power for Living

Hello Gloria Dei,

As part of our “Roots, Relevancy, and Renewal” preaching series, this weekend we’re taking a look at the Ten Commandments. God says that there is a time coming in which “I will put my teaching within them and will write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people”. –Jeremiah 31:33
 
That time has come. With the Holy Spirit filling us, and through Jesus’ righteousness being given to us, we are more able to naturally follow God’s ways of Loving God and Loving others. That’s what the Ten Commandments are about: Loving God and Loving others.
 
Martin Luther put it this way. By virtue of Christ, and by faith in him, we are made into good trees. And good trees naturally produce good fruit.
 
Billy Graham tells the story about a little boy. “Daddy, how can I believe in the Holy Spirit when I have never seen Him?” asked the boy.
 
“I’ll show you how,” said his father, who was an electrician. The father took his son to a power plant and showed him the generators. “This is where the power comes from to heat our stove and to give us light. We can’t see the power, but it’s in that machine and in the power lines,” said his father.
 
“Now son, let me ask you a question: Do you believe in electricity?” “Yes”, said the boy.
 
“Of course you do,” said the father, “but you don’t believe in it because you see it. You believe in it because you see what it can do. Likewise, you can believe in the Holy Spirit not because you see Him, but see what He does in people’s lives when they are surrendered to Christ and possess His power.”
 
People of Gloria Dei, you have the power of the Holy Spirit within you. Jesus said “They will know you are my disciples by your love.” Take some time this weekend to review the Ten Commandments. Many of you picked up a copy of Luther’s Small Catechism, which includes them. You can also find them in Exodus 20:1-17.
 
I want you to see the Ten Commandments not as a set of rules that God demands, but rather as life-giving teachings that flow from us by virtue of Christ’s Spirit living within us. Because Christ has first loved us, we are empowered to love God and love others.
 
See you in worship as we have some fun learning and reviewing the Ten Commandments. As Jeremiah says, “God is writing his teachings on our hearts.”
 
Pastor Tim


Friday Followings: Spirit Alive

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
I’m excited for this weekend as we kick-off the fall schedule with our “Spirit Alive” emphasis. Come, worship, and be renewed for your life today, even as we look back to our Christian and Reformation roots. We’ll be using John 3:16-17 as our biblical basis.
 
This weekend will also include a Ministry Fair. Booths and tables will be set up as we see a good sampling of what is available for us during the coming year at Gloria Dei.
 
Be reminded that Church School begins on Sunday, with two options in conjunction with our two worship services.
 
The new schedule for Church School looks like this:
  • Wednesday 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. (begins this Wednesday, September 13)
  • Sunday 9:20 to 10:05 a.m.
  • Sunday 10:50 to 11:35 a.m.
 

Wednesday worship begins this coming week, September 13 from 6:00 – 6:30 p.m.

 
One more thing: we are looking for a few more volunteers for the Food to You mobile food shelf. We’re serving this coming Thursday, September 14, from 5:10 to 8:00 p.m. at Messiah/New Hope Lutheran Church in NE Sioux Falls.  Sign up using the Dei Worker insert this weekend or just email Pastor Chris at chris.zuraff@gloriadei-sd.org to let him know you’ll be there to serve.
 
Thanks for your partnership in the gospel of Christ and I’ll see you in worship!

Pastor Tim



Friday Followings: Named Called and Sent in Christ’s Name

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
On this Labor Day weekend let’s be reminded that we have received the great gift of belonging to Christ and his family. Christian means “one who belongs to Christ”. That is our primary identity. What a marvelous gift!  And with that gift comes a calling (or vocation) to live out the Good News. “You belong to me”, God says. “I’ve purchased you with the life, death and resurrection of my Son. You’re a family member once again. And as my child, I’m giving you the joy of participating with me, your Heavenly Father, in the work of the Kingdom.”
 
Yes, we all have that same calling, yet it plays itself out in our lives in many and various ways. Called to live out the Good News through serving in our jobs, in our families, with our friends, in our church, in our neighborhood, and around the world, we use the time, talent, and treasure God has given us to give Glory to God.
 
In worship this weekend we’ll focus on our God-given calling. In preparation, read 1 Corinthians 12:12-26.
 
A few reminders about our life together:
  • Spirit Alive Sunday is September 10. Invite a friend. It will be a great day at Gloria Dei as we worship together and discover ways to get involved.
  • Wednesday programming begins on September 13, including WOW – Worship on Wednesday, from 6:00 to 6:30 in the Sanctuary.
  • Families, remember we are adding a Church School session during the 10:30 worship service. I’d like to encourage you to consider this new option, as the others are getting more crowded. The new schedule for Church School looks like this:
    • Wednesday 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
    • Sunday 9:20 to 10:05 a.m.
    • Sunday 10:50 to 11:35 a.m.
See You in Worship!
Pastor Tim


Friday Followings: 500 Years

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
This fall, Christian churches around the world are marking and celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. In 1517 Martin Luther posted 95 sentences, called The Ninety-Five Theses, for discussion and debate among the church’s priests and professors.
 
As a monk in the church of his day, Luther taught at the University of Wittenberg in Germany. He became concerned and angry about the church’s teaching that a person could buy their way into heaven. By purchasing a document, called an indulgence, it would provide God’s forgiveness for them (and their loved ones). The sale of indulgences became quite a money maker for the church. Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses to debate this issue, arguing that this practice went against God’s Word.
 
Martin Luther made the Ninety-Five Theses public on October 31, 1517, a full 500 years ago. The Reformation in essence began. His life endangered, Luther hid out in the Wartburg Castle, where he translated the entire Bible into the language of the people. This, combined with the invention of the Printing Press, enabled all people to have and read the Bible for themselves, instead of relying on pastors and priests to tell them what it said. In so doing, the Christian Church was reformed and is still reforming today, striving to keep God’s Word in the forefront of what it teaches and preaches.
 
At Gloria Dei, we are embarking on a Preaching Series called “Roots, Relevancy, and Renewal.” Beginning the weekend of September 9th and 10th we’ll connect the dots of Luther and the Reformation to our modern lives. God’s Word is still as relevant and meaningful for us today as it was back in Luther’s day. Stay tuned for information on Reformation Celebration events.
 
Reminder – We’re adding a Church School Session this year during the 10:30 Sunday morning worship service. Just like at the 9:00 service, children will begin in worship and will go to their classes about 20 minutes into worship. Class time will be 10:50 to 11:35. If possible, please consider this option, as numbers at the 9:00 a.m. session are getting crowded, and we’d love to even out the two Sunday sessions. God is good! All the time!
 
In preparation for worship this weekend, please read Philippians, chapter four.
 
See you in worship!
Pastor Tim


Friday Followings: Finding the Balance

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
As summer winds down and a new school year is soon to begin, I hope you are able to take advantage of these nice August days and spend time with family and/or friends. Jesus serves as a good model for us. I know his public ministry was busy with preaching, teaching, and miracle working. After all, the very Kingdom of God came near to us in Christ.
 
Yet Jesus took ample time to spend with his family and close friends. The Bible records multiple occasions when Jesus would be at the home of his “family away from home”, with Martha, Mary, and Lazarus in Bethany. In addition, he would often be out having dinner, or going to a social event (wedding at Cana and many others), both enjoying himself and also deepening relationships. Yes, time with friends and family was important to Jesus.
 
In addition, Jesus would often “go to a lonely place” (as the Bible says) to be alone with God the Father, just being quiet. I imagine him going for walks near the Sea of Galilee, or finding other beautiful places within creation to witness and soak in the beauty of God’s handiwork. Alone with the Father, Jesus could talk with God about anything and everything, rejuvenating his spirit and allowing him the purpose, motivation, and energy to keep going. All of this, in addition to regular worship in the synagogues, was vital to the well-being of Jesus.
 
Let’s allow Jesus to be our model. Work is important. It helps provide purpose, but also gives back to others. Family and friends are important. No doubt our loved ones are very central to our lives. Alone time with God and regular worship are vital too. Keeping God number one in our lives helps us to not only love God, but also to love ourselves and one another.
 
Jesus lived a joyful and purpose-filled life. That is God’s desire for each one of us. Follow Jesus and model your life after his. And enjoy the gift of these August days given to us by God who loves us.
 
For worship this week read chapter three of Philippians. 
 
In Christ,

Pastor Tim



Friday Followings: So Blessed

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
God continues to bless us with a growing number of families and children within this community of faith. Did you know that some of our Church School grades are now hitting the 60 and 70 mark for numbers of children registering? Praise God! This is a great challenge to have.
 
In order to meet this challenge and to provide a quality setting for learning and experiencing faith in Christ, we are adding a Church School session this fall. In addition to our Wednesday and Sunday morning sessions from last year, we will add a 2nd Sunday option. The new schedule for Church School looks like this:
 
Wednesday      4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday             9:20 to 10:05 a.m.
Sunday             10:50 to 11:35 a.m.
 
As you know, children enrolled in Church School on Sundays are dismissed from worship to their classrooms approximately 20 minutes into worship. Families do, of course, have the option of worshiping together for an hour and having the kids in one of the alternate Church School sessions.
 
If you have children or grandchildren, I’d like to give a push for our second Sunday option. I realize families get into patterns, so a new pattern isn’t the easiest. We are, however, wanting to have close to an equal amount of children in the 10:50 to 11:35 session as we do in the first Sunday session. As of now, a majority of those registered are opting for the first Sunday session. Pray about possibly choosing the second option. Classes of 50 or more, while awesome, make it difficult for volunteer teachers and staff to continue the best quality of Christian learning. Thanks for your consideration.
 
As I write today I hear the great sounds of children in the background. We are wrapping up a fantastic week of Vacation Bible School and Day Camp. Lots of adult staff and volunteers, together with Camp Counselors from NeSoDak, have come together to make this week one which our kids won’t soon forget. They are having fun while singing songs, dramas, and learning, all focused on the Christian message of God’s love in Jesus Christ.
 
Yes, we are SO BLESSED by God to have so many kids, youth, and adults within this community of faith.  Growing deeper in faith and wider in outreach, the Holy Spirit is creating faith within each of us, and in our growing number of children. Praise God!
 
Within worship we continue our journey through the short book of Philippians. For this weekend read chapter two.
 
Together in Christ,
Pastor Tim

 

PS If you have not signed-up for Church School yet, you can do so using this link:
http://cyf.gloriadei-sd.org/church-school-registration/ or grab a paper registration form from the Welcome Center


Friday Followings: It’s All About Grace

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
As I was away on sabbatical over a three month period, I did lots of reading, praying, and meditating on the meaning of the gospel, the call of the church, and why we do what we do as the body of Christ on earth. As a pastor now for 27 years, a time of sabbatical is meant to be a time of re-centering and renewal. So such questions are normal. These and many other questions ought to be part of every Christian’s deliberations.
 
My mind went in many different directions and to many different places. Yet, what it kept coming back to was grace. Former seminary president Al Rogness puts it this way. “Heaven is greedy. God and all the angels yearn to have you and me forever. Christ died on a cross to make it possible. When that grace gets a hold of us, heaven tingles with joy.”
 
If you think about it, grace in its simplest form is that God accepts you. Think of your life. The astounding message of grace is that despite anything you are or are not, anything you have ever done, or failed to do, you are accepted in and through Christ.
 
So for a few moments right now, and a few moments each day, simply sit back and let that great news sink in to the depths for your being. You are loved; you are chosen; you are being held in the gracious embrace of God.
 
It is this word of grace, when you ponder its significance, which gives our lives their purpose. Nothing is more meaningful. And when that word of grace envelopes us, watch out. We are freed and launched into the world and into relationships to love, forgive, and do great things in service to humanity. This gives glory to God.
 
Yes, God is greedy. God wants all people to be in a loving relationship with him. God, the angels, and the vast cloud of witnesses already in heaven, are watching you, praying that your life will land on the rock of your salvation, Jesus Christ. It’s all about grace. For now, simply know and accept the reality that God accepts you. God loves you.
 
For this weekend’s worship read chapter one of Paul’s short letter to the Philippians. He has some things to say about grace, thanksgiving, and joy.
 
See you in worship!
Pastor Tim

 

 



Friday Followings: It’s Great to Be Back

It’s Great to be Back!

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
First of all I want to say thanks for the great gift of sabbatical. It has been a fantastic twelve weeks of Sabbath time. I truly did experience rest and renewal in all areas of life – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
 
Part of my time was spent here in Sioux Falls yet Lorrie and I also enjoyed trips to the Black Hills, to the Twin Cities, and to Arizona. I was even able to visit my two sisters in Lake Wildwood, California.
 
Learning opportunities included a ministry conference for pastors and spouses in Florida, and a week at Luther Seminary in St. Paul. I did lots of reading and, believe it or not, I worked on my golf game. Somehow my game still hasn’t gotten back to where it was when I was in my thirties. Go figure! No course records were endangered, but I did have two eagles in my twelve weeks (and more bogies than I care to count).
 
Secondly, while it’s been a great three months, I can honestly say that it’s good to be back at Gloria Dei and to be gearing up for the start of another fall season of ministry together with you. Gloria Dei is a special place where God’s Holy Spirit is alive and well, working in all of our lives to experience and know the transforming power of God’s love in Jesus Christ.
 
I want to thank my fellow pastors and our entire staff for taking on extra responsibilities during my time away. We are blessed with a superb team and the best volunteers anywhere. Thanks!
 
This weekend in worship the “Summer Blockbuster” preaching series wraps up. Be sure to be here as Pastor Sarah opens up the book of Daniel (along with the movie Star Wars) to proclaim the sure promise that God is with us in the midst of troubles.
 
Again, it’s great to be back and I’ll see you in worship!
 
Pastor Tim


Friday Followings: Plagiarize Jesus

What’s that saying, “Out of the frying pan, and into the fire”? Wow. Summer is here with a vengeance. My family reunion in Ireland had us enjoying a week of temperatures in the mid sixties with a couple of days of light rain. As I write this, the local ambient temperature is 95° with a heat index of almost 100°! My Irish cousins would melt! Karla and I are very glad to be home and I look forward to worshiping with you this weekend.

Our theme with Scripture this weekend is how and when God talks to us. In keeping with the “Blockbuster” theme in this series, I’ve chosen “Cool Hand Luke” as a template to discuss our communication with God.

This movie is a classic rather than current blockbuster. Filmed in 1967 and set in the 1950’s, this film portrays a decorated Korean War veteran recently discharged from his military service that gets arrested after cutting off some parking meter heads while drunk. Things go wrong very quickly for this like-able protagonist who “fails to communicate” several times. Feel free to get the background in Wikipedia before Sunday. I won’t spoil my sermon with any more hints about where I’m going with this movie.

Obviously, we can’t function in our family, faith or work without effectively communicating our needs. Its not enough to just throw a certain volume of words at each other. It is key that we speak to each other in a way that our audience can hear and understand. After trying to communicate with non-English speaking people for two weeks, this topic is particularly fresh for me. My greatest fear as a pastor is to “speak past” anyone in the congregation or to muddle a sermon with theological mumbo-jumbo. I pray that I faithfully render the promises of God to everyone that hears me. My Systematic Theology professor, Dr. Stephen Paulson told me, “Your job as a preacher is to plagiarize Jesus!  Don’t make up new words. God has already written down the best ones!”

 

All of you have the freedom to question me about any topic on your mind. I will always do my best to give you a clear answer with as little ambiguity as possible.

 

In Christ,

Pastor Bob



Friday Followings: But I Come Back to the Water

Hey Gloria Dei!

I’ve been absent from worship for the last two weekends in a row and I’ve missed worshipping with all of you! I had an incredible continuing education experience with a spiritual retreat in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota the first week I was gone. Paddling the lakes and rivers of the Boundary Waters reminded me of the wonderful handiwork of our amazing Creator. The waters there are special and, more than any place I’ve ever lived, those waters feel like “home” for me. Every so often, the waters call me “home” and I spend my precious time paddling in the cool lakes, silently pulling a canoe along those ancient, natural highways.
 
My second week was again spent in northern Minnesota, this time vacationing with my family for our 10th wedding anniversary (where did all that time go?!?!) My wife, Katie, and I took our 3 kids and the now-grown flower girls from our wedding day, up to the North Shore. We perched ourselves in a beautiful home right on the edge of Lake Superior. Again, the waters were special. Not “home,” like the Boundary Waters, but special none-the-less. Our flower girls came along to babysit our kids while Katie and I spent time hiking and eating out at some of the great restaurants along scenic Highway 61. Katie and I had some amazing time to reflect on the many ways God has blessed our marriage through thick and thin, good and bad, over the last 10 years. It’s been an amazing journey so far and we are excited to see what God has in store for us as we prepare for baby number 4 in early October!

This weekend, as we gather for worship, we are finding ourselves in the heart of our sermon series: Summer Blockbusters. We’ll take a look at the ways in which water is, for Christians, and important part of our spiritual life. In the majestic waters of creation, God creates and sustains every living creature. In the powerful waters of the flood, God destroyed a sinful generation. And in the sacred waters of our baptism, God calls each and every one of us to a life of service in Jesus’ name. Water is not only symbolic for us as Christians, but is also the physical element attached to God’s promise made to you when you were baptized. Baptismal water doesn’t have any special powers on its own, but when poured on our heads together with God’s Word, the promises of God are given to each and every one of us.

Like water, God’s Word has created and sustained you as a new creature, God’s Word has destroyed the power of sin in your life, and God’s Word calls you to a new life of service in Jesus’ name (if you’re looking for an easy way to serve, check out the post script at the end of this email)!

Our film focus this week is one of the newest Disney features, “Moana.” If you have a chance, you should watch the film. It is family friendly and full of great symbolism and meaning. Hopefully we’ll have all the kiddos in worship singing along with the clip we have prepared for the sermon! In the film, water is a playful, joy-filled, and even dangerous character that calls Moana beyond the safety of her home island into an adventure that takes her through a journey of self-doubt, fear, frustration, facing evil, and eventually vulnerability, forgiveness, and the healing of her world. I think that these are also the themes of life as Christian people called by the baptismal waters of God. We experience our own self-doubt, fear, frustration. We face great evil nearly every day. In the end, we are left with our vulnerability as human beings, knowing that with God there is forgiveness and ultimately healing. Join us this weekend in worship or online to hear more!

Let’s GO Gloria Dei!
Pastor Chris

P.S. We’re collecting packages of toilet paper to be donated to a special program held at Peace Lutheran on the west side of Sioux Falls called Necessities for Neighbors. While you are out shopping in the next two weeks, grab an extra package or two of toilet paper and bring them to church. We’re done collecting on Friday, August 4th, so don’t waste any time! 



Friday Followings: A Minister and a Fly Fisherman

Dear Gloria Dei Friends,
 
This weekend we are celebrating the 5th weekend of Pentecost and Pentecost is a great season of the church year often referred to as the teaching season; meaning that the scriptures focus on lessons of faith that teach us about the qualities of God that strengthen us, guide us and empower us in our living.
 
This weekend at worship our scripture texts focus on the greatest of God’s gifts given to us. The gift of His love. What a gift of God love is! God’s love gives us power for living and to love completely when we don’t completely understand.
 
This weekend in worship we continue our sermon series called Summer Blockbusters. This sermon series centers on scriptures that lift up a quality of God that gives us life!  This weekend we will focus on the power of God’s love that gives life. And to illustrate the power of love we will watch a clip from the movie, A River Runs Through It, a movie in my estimation, all about love. And the message of A River Runs Through It is: “we can love completely, without completely understanding”
 
In I Corinthians 13:7-8, Paul teaches us that God’s love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. God’s love never ends! Jesus, in John 15:12, in his farewell address, lovingly commands that we are to love one another as he loves us.
 
In the movie, A River Runs Through It, a father loses one of his sons, and in his time of loss, grief and uncertainty he says;we can love completely, without completely understanding”. The father says this to comfort his other sons’ confusion that comes in tragedy and love.
 
A River Runs Through It, (written by Norman Maclean) begins this way; “In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. We lived at the junction of great trout rivers in western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ’s disciples being fisherman, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fisherman on the Sea of Galilee were fly fisherman and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman”.
 
Later in the movie as I mentioned, tragedy happens and one of the boys dies and the father reflects by saying; “we can love completely, without completely understanding”. This reflection is shared by the father mainly to comfort his surviving son’s despair over not being able to understand the tragedy of his brother’s demise in light of his deep confused love for him.
 
Scripture makes one THING abundantly clear over and over again, and that is, that GOD IS LOVE and that God’s love is a love that is perfect, complete, certain, for always, there is nothing, we are assured, that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.  And WHEN we know in our heart of hearts – that God’s love is true, and that it can be depended upon and counted on; EVEN WHEN OUR WORST NIGHTMARES COME TRUE, even WHEN IT SEEMS THAT THE BOTTOM HAS DROPPED OUT BENEATH US in life we are strengthened by knowing the love of God for us. In this world where uncertainty often confronts us and tries us, there is one thing we can count on and know to be true. And that is, that GOD IS LOVE, which allows us the fortitude to love completely, without completely understanding.  
 
I look forward to worship with you as we celebrate God’s love for us, as we reflect on God’s call to live in His love and how God calls us to share God’s love with everyone we meet.
 
See you in church!
Pastor Dwight Stensgaard


Friday Followings: The Gift of Hope

Dear Gloria Dei Friends,

This coming week we will celebrate our country’s Independence Day on July 4th. So, Happy 4th of July everyone! What a great day, and it is so great because it is the day we give thanks for the gift of freedom we enjoy in this great land we live in. What a gift freedom is!

This weekend in worship we will celebrate the gift of freedom and the gift of hope. A great American and inspiration, Christopher Reeve, known as superman, faced a lot of challenges in the movies and in real life. Although he was disabled he was a champion for hope. He said, “Once you choose hope, anything is possible”. I’m thinking that the choices we make in life, make all the difference and it is not life’s chances but life’s choices that shape and destine us in life.

Speaking of hope, this week we continue our sermon series on Blockbuster Movies. This week we will reflect on the movie, Shawshank Redemption, a movie all about the Gift of Hope.

What gift of God hope is! We cannot live without hope. Where there is hope, there is life.

Hope – gets us busy living. One of my favorite pictures of hope is in the movie Shawshank Redemption. It’s a movie with two leading characters. Andy Dufrense (Tim Robbins) who was sentenced to Shawshank State Prisonin Maine for life for murdering his wife (something he did not do) and the other character is Red (Morgan Freeman) who is always being denied parole. Well, one day after Red was denied parole and Andy had just gotten out of solitary confinement – they were sitting in the Prison yard – Red’s head was down – Andy’s head was up and he was dreaming about life on the beach in Mexico. Red says to Andy, “YOU CAN’T DO THAT TO YOURSELF, HOPE IN THIS PLACE WILL KILL YOU. Andy says to Red, “I GUESS IT COMES DOWN TO A SIMPLE CHOICE REALLY. YOU EITHER GET BUSY LIVING OR YOU GET BUSY DYING”. Andy – as the movie ends has tunneled himself to freedom and ends up on the beach in Mexico. HOPE GET’S US BUSY LIVING.

What a gift of God hope is! The hope God gives is what gives sight to the blind and mends the broken heart! There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better tomorrow. Hope is what gets us to where we need to go and keeps us going, even in the darkest moments of life. Hope helps us look beyond the walls of this life that contain, confine and threaten us, and helps us visualize ourselves with our obstacles behind us.

And hope comes to us from the one who defeated our worst enemy, death – and gifted us with saving grace, a grace that gives us hope and life now and forever. Without Christ life is a hopeless end, but life with Christ is an endless hope. With Christ we can get busy living!

Receive this blessing from Romans 15:13. The Apostle Paul writes; “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”.

Pastor Dwight Stensgaard