Friday Followings with Pastor Tim

Friday Followings: I Once Was Lost but Now Am Found

Hello Gloria Dei,

There is a story about an elderly woman who was reaching the end of her life. A chaplain was called to be by her side and he attempted to comfort her, but to no avail. “I am lost,” she said.  “I have made so many mistakes in my life and I’ve hurt not only myself, but others around me too. I believe in Jesus, but I’m not sure he could love me. And now I’m dying, and I’m afraid.  There is no hope for me.”

The pastor saw a framed picture of a pretty girl on the dresser. “Who is this?” he asked. The woman smiled. “She’s my daughter, the one beautiful thing in my life.”

“And would you help her is she was in trouble, or had made a mistake? Would you forgive her?  Would you still love her?”

“Of course I would!” cried the woman. “I would do anything for her! I’m her Mom.”  –Why do you ask such a question?” 

“Well”, said the pastor, “because I wanted you to know that God has a picture of you on His dresser. He loves you as much, and more, as you love your daughter.”

People of Gloria Dei, God has a picture of you on his dresser too. By virtue of Jesus and his work on the cross, and through the waters of baptism, you have been made into a child of God. “I have come to seek and save the lost.” That the business God is in, and through the Holy Spirit he has found you and me. 

This weekend we focus on the story of Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was lost too. Yet through a Holy Encounter with Jesus, just like the ones we have with Jesus, Zacchaeus’ heart and life were changed. Read Luke 19:1-10 in preparation for worship as we continue in our series “The God of Second Chances.”

  • Gloria Dei is hosting what will be a great piano concert given by Calvin Jones, a Christian man from the Ukraine. Calvin will share his music and story with us this Saturday evening, March 25, at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary.
See you in worship!
Pastor Tim


Friday Followings: Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Hello Gloria Dei,

Being Norwegian myself, and today being St. Patrick’s Day, I want to tell you a little-known story about St. Patrick and his great and noble deed of driving the Norwegians out of Ireland. It seems that centuries ago many Norwegians came to Ireland to escape the bitterness of the Norway winters. Ireland was having a famine at the time and food was very scarce. The Norwegians were eating almost all the fish caught in the area. They were leaving the Irish nothing but potatoes.

St. Patrick, taking matters into his own hands like most Irishmen do, decided the Norwegians had to go. Secretly he organized the “IRATION” (Irish Republican Army to Rid Ireland of Norwegians). Irish members of IRATION sabotaged all power plants in hopes the fish in Norwegian refrigerators would spoil, forcing the Norwegians to a colder climate where their fish would keep.

The fish spoiled all right, but the Norwegians, as everyone knows today, thrive on spoiled fish. Faced with failure, the Irishmen sneaked into the Norwegian fish storage caves in the dead of night and sprinkled the rotten fish with lye, hoping to poison the Norwegian intruders. But as everyone knows, this is how lutefisk was introduced to the Norwegians and they thrived on the lye-soaked smelly fish.

Matters became worse for the Irishmen when the Norwegians started taking over the Irish potato crop and making lefse. Poor St. Patrick was at his wits end and finally, on March 17, he blew his top and told all the Norwegians where to go. And it worked. All the Norwegians left Ireland and went to Minnesota. And that’s why we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17.

Sorry for the bad joke. But I’m glad to know that we have “A God of Second Chances” and this weekend we continue our sermon series by the same name. In preparation please read John 8:1-11. On this St. Patrick’s Day, give thanks for all the saints in your life who have made a positive impact on you and your faith.

See you in worship!

Pastor Tim



Friday Followings: The Season of Lent and Agents of Grace

Hello Gloria Dei,

This past Wednesday was Ash Wednesday. At Gloria Dei over 700 people had ashes put on their foreheads as a reminder that we all come from God and that we will return to God. We shared in the sacrament of Holy Communion which assures us the presence and love of Christ as strength for our journey here on earth.

As you move through these forty days of Lent, leading up to Holy Week and the grand celebration of Easter, prioritize your relationship with God. On Wednesday evenings during our 6pm worship times we will focus on the “Marks of Discipleship”. This coming Wednesday will be the topic of Prayer. Throughout Lent we will move together through different marks of discipleship, like bible reading, service, worship, and Christian relationships.

I pray as you move through Lent that you will experience above all a God who loves you so much that he gave his very own Son for you. And as you let this grace pour over you, remember that God invites you to drop your guilt, drop your pain, drop your fear, and drop the heaviness of life onto him.  As you do, you will be equipped to be an agent of grace for others.  It’s hard for me to share grace when I’m filled with guilt. It’s hard for me to offer comfort when I’m heavily burdened myself. That’s the gift of God in Christ; I’m free to live and love in Christ’s name.

So, during Lent, focus with us on the “Marks of Discipleship” and soak in the God’s never-failing grace. As you do, you will be better equipped to be agents of grace for others.

For Saturday and Sunday worship we begin a new preaching series called “The God of Second Chances”. For this weekend please read Acts 9:1-22. Saul the persecutor is transformed into Paul the missionary. Like he does with Paul, so too God changes our hearts, minds, and lives to be agents of grace and love.

God’s blessings on your day!

See you in worship!
Pastor Tim


Friday Followings: Reminders

Hello Gloria Dei,
 
Last week in my Friday post I mentioned that it was 65 degrees and sunny.  Today, as I’ve finished clearing the snow at my house, and I look out my office window, things have changed. It reminds me that amidst the constancy of our routines and amidst the changes that come our way, God remains our faithful, grace-filled, Lord and Savior.  Praise God!

Just a few reminders today: 

*Keep our Nicaragua Mission Team in your prayers. They are involved in medical clinics where they minister to hundreds of people; they meet new friends and renew relationships with the Lutheran Church of Faith and Hope in Nicaragua; they experience, receive, and share God’s love. You can see photos of the trip on Gloria Dei’s Facebook page.

**Gloria Dei serves at The Banquet on Thursday, March 16. Sign up on the kiosk at church or on the Go Therefore page of our website.

***Ash Wednesday is this coming Wednesday. We will have two worship opportunities that day:  Noon and 6:00 p.m.  Both services will include Holy Communion and the Imposition of Ashes.

****We continue this weekend with our preaching series, “Questions of the Faith”. Pastor Sarah brings us God’s word and will focus on the theme, “Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen?”

May God bless you today and, as one of my favorite psalms says, “May the Lord keep your life…. May he keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever-more.” Psalm 121:7-8

See you in worship!
Pastor Tim


Friday Followings: Give Thanks in all Circumstances

Hello Gloria Dei,

The Psalms tell us to “Bless the Lord O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name”. And again, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, and his mercy endures forever.”

This weekend in worship we continue our theme on “Questions of the Faith.” Last week Pastor Chris preached on the question, “Can I Believe Even if I have Doubts?” The answer is most assuredly yes. God meets us with love and grace even amidst doubts.

This weekend I’ll hone in on the question, “What if I’m Tempted (And I Am)?” As I ponder that question, the above verses from the psalms come to mind. An attitude of gratitude is so important to keep us grounded in who we are and whose we are. Intentionally give thanks to God for the blessings of the day, and asking him to bless even the most challenging of circumstances, helps to keep the evil one and his temptations at bay. By contrast, if we are always complaining and bitter, then Satan has fertile ground to tempt us away from our true identity as people and children of God.

I know life is not always easy, but even on my bad days and weeks, I can always find signs of God’s presence and activity in my life and in the world. I try to give thanks in all circumstances.

Today, for example: 65 degrees and sunny in mid-February is reason to give thanks to God – and further, it is a reminder of Christ, the Light, who came into this world to bring light into darkness, joy into despair, and faith in the midst of fear.

Many of our children have a break from school over these next days. Enjoy time together, worship as a family, and find reasons to give thanks in all circumstances. Keep Pastor Sarah and our Middle Schoolers in your prayers as they head out for a day of skiing on Saturday; remember the Nicaragua Medical Team getting set to depart on their mission this Wednesday; take a look at Bible Study and Fellowship opportunities at Gloria Dei, and keep your eyes open for ways to love and serve in Jesus’ name, including serving at the Banquet on March 16.

“Bless the Lord O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name.”

See you in worship!

Pastor Tim



Friday Followings: Questions of the Faith

Hello Gloria Dei,

All of us have questions about our faith. All of us go through periods of time when we wonder about God: Is God present for me when I’m tempted? Is it normal to have doubts? And all kinds of other questions.

This weekend we’re beginning a three-week preaching series entitled “Questions of the Faith”. Pastor Chris, Pastor Sarah and I will each preach on a different heartfelt question over these next weeks. This weekend Pastor Chris will kick us off with the question: “Can I Believe Even If I Have Doubts?”

I recall asking myself before entering seminary: “Okay Tim, do you really believe that Jesus is Son of God; that God showed up on earth as a human being; that he lived and taught among us; that he died on a cross and was raised to new life; and that he’s still among us through the Holy Spirit?” You see, if I was going to dedicate a big part of my life to professional ministry in the church, I needed to answer those questions for myself. It was a gift of the Holy Spirit that I was, and am, able to answer a strong “Yes” to those questions. That doesn’t mean that I never have doubts, because I do. Yet even in the midst of doubt, God is present creating and strengthening faith.

You, too, are a minister of the gospel. Ask yourself those same questions. Do we always have absolute certainty? Probably not. Faith is, after all, faith. Yet it is a true gift of the Holy Spirit that we can trust and believe in Jesus, the Son of God, as our Savior and Master. We embark on the journey of a lifetime when Jesus calls us and claims us in baptism and says, “I love you; follow me.”

Make every effort to be present in worship over these three weekends and engage yourself and your loved ones in some stimulating and important questions of the faith. In preparation for this weekend please read John 20:19-31.

See you in worship!
Pastor Tim

 



Friday Followings: God’s Grace is Sufficient

Hello Gloria Dei,

In his second letter to the Corinthians the apostle Paul tells of his struggle with a personal ailment that has bothered him for years. He continually prayed to God about it, and the answer he received are the simple words from God: “My Grace is Sufficient for you.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

One of my favorite worship songs is Chris Tomlin’s “Your Grace is Enough”.  You know the lyrics:

Great is Your faithfulness oh God of Jacob; You wrestle with the sinner’s heart. You lead us by still waters into mercy; And nothing can keep us apart. So remember Your people, Remember your children, Remember your promise Oh God. Your Grace is enough, Your grace is enough, Your grace is enough for me.

A simple yet profound reminder for you today: You are defined by God’s grace. The world around you may tell you something different, but don’t let the world get you down. If the world tells you you’re no good, don’t believe it. God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness put you in Jesus’ camp. If the world says great things about you, that’s wonderful. Yet don’t let false pride and arrogance seep in, as God’s grace and mercy are the real definition of what it means to be you. Let Christ’s love and light shine through you in strong yet humble ways.

For this weekend’s worship, we’ll combine parts of the book of Jonah with Jesus’ words in Mark 1:14-20 where he announces the arrival of God’s kingdom and calls his followers to a fishing of a different kind.  God’s kingdom is all around us. Remember, you are a child of God. God’s grace defines you. You are loved by God. God’s grace is sufficient for all of life.

See you in worship!
Pastor Tim


Friday Followings: Jesus, Tamales, Friendship and Salvation

Hello Gloria Dei,

In John chapter 6, after feeding the 5000 with only five loaves of bread and two fish, Jesus says to the crowds: “I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” –John 6:35

Jesus, of course, is concerned about our spiritual health. He is the one in whom we find life; he is the one in whom we find purpose and well-being and salvation. Yet Jesus is also concerned about physical hunger and thirst. The crowd of 5000 was hungry, and so he fed them. Taking care of physical hunger led to his important message about spiritual hunger.

As you may know, Gloria Dei is a supporting partner in ministry with Pueblo de Dios, a largely Latino congregation in downtown Sioux Falls. Members of Pueblo will be here on Friday evening and all day Saturday making Tamales to sell after this weekend’s worship services. The tamales are fantastic. I plan on ordering two orders of twelve tamales each; one for our “starving” student son; and one for Lorrie and me.

However, in addition to physical food, we are hopeful for a deeper spiritual experience as well. You are invited to join in the time of food preparation, learn from members at Pueblo, and experience a deeper fellowship and connection with the great people of this partner congregation.

Come and go as you please and are able. No need to stay the whole time – but food preparation will take place from 5 to 9 pm tonight (Friday) and from 9 until 5 tomorrow (Saturday) here in the Gloria Dei kitchen.

Jesus is the Bread of Life. In him we discover life-giving community and relationships. I hope you can come and have some fun while making tamales, all the while making new Christian friends. And be sure to support the Pueblo de Dios ministry by purchasing some tamales after church.

See you in worship! (In preparation, please read the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37)

Pastor Tim



Friday Followings: Growing in our Identity as the Sent Ones

 

Hello Gloria Dei,
Today in our country it is “Inauguration Day”.  We usher in a new President.  This is a unique day in that, for the first time in our country’s history, we have a President who has never either held a prior government position or served in the military.  Therefore, it will be a new and daunting task


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Epiphany – “Aha”

Hello Gloria Dei,

In the church year we are currently within the season of Epiphany.  Epiphany literally means “to show, to reveal, or to make known.”  To have an epiphany is, therefore, having something revealed or made known to us. It is kind of like having an “Aha Moment”.  Following Christmas, we realize that God has made himself fully known to us; he has revealed himself to us in the person of Jesus, born in a manger, and destined for the cross and resurrection. “Aha. So that’s what God is like.”

A particular emphasis during the season of Epiphany is evangelism and outreach.  The three wise men, or Magi, are from other nations.  They came to worship the newborn Christ.  This tells us that the good news of Jesus is meant for us, yes; but also for all people of all nations.

We are in a year-long emphasis at Gloria Dei called “Deeper in Faith and Wider in Outreach”.  Under this theme, we are currently in a sermon series entitled “God’s Grace, To Us and Through Us.”  Last week we focused on the theme of Evangelism.  This week in worship we read Jesus’ great parable of the laborers in the vineyard.  Read Matthew 20:1-16 in preparation for worship.  God’s amazing grace may not seem fair, but it is extravagant and generous.  God’s good gifts are showered upon us, and for that, we are grateful.

May God continue to make himself known to you throughout this season of Epiphany.  Watch and listen for God being active in your life.  And make every effort to be present in worship where God meets us in his Word and Sacrament.

Happy Epiphany!

Pastor Tim



Sunny or Cloudy, God is Present

Hello Gloria Dei,

In the Old Testament God’s presence and glory show up for his people in many ways.  Sometimes God speaks from the fire, as in the burning bush to Moses.  Sometimes God shows up on mountains, as when he gave the Ten Commandments.  Sometimes God speaks from thunder; other times he speaks in a still, small voice within people’s hearts.

As we begin a new year, I find it both comforting and interesting that God even shows up in the form of clouds.  Exodus 16:10 says “They looked, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.”

When I lived in Arizona and was playing summer golf in 105 degree weather (yes, and I loved it), it was a pleasant surprise when a cloud would briefly roll in and shield us from the burning sun.  As I drive down I-29 and see a summer thunderstorm forming in the distance it is an awesome sight that reminds me that God is ruler over all creation, and that through the clouds, God provides rain for the earth.  Some of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen have been mixed with clouds to create incredible beauty and color.

This year, 2017, and throughout your life, don’t panic when clouds come your way.  Our prayer is that this will be a happy, healthy, and meaningful year for all of us.  Yet we know that life’s clouds have a way of showing up.  When life’s hard times come it is easy to get discouraged.  But we trust that within the clouds God is still present and can use them for unexpected blessings.

All of us, to one degree or another, experiences clouds in life.  Make it a habit in 2017, and always, to look for Jesus, the light of the world, in your sunny times and in your cloudy times.  God is present within all of life, with his love, his light, his glory, and his purpose for you.  Together, in Christ, let’s love God and love others with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind, trusting that God’s grace and love are with us now and forever.

***For worship this weekend, please read Luke chapter 15.  We’re beginning and exciting and insightful series called:  “God’s Grace to Us and Through Us.”

See you in worship!

Pastor Tim



The Advent of God’s Messiah

Hello Gloria Dei,

One of the great biblical texts of Advent is from Isaiah chapter 11, verses 1 through 11.  Please read these verses today.  The prophet Isaiah gives us a great vision of what the coming Messiah will be like.  Through the line of David, a new King will show up.  The Messianic Age will begin.  Righteousness, justice and peace will win the day.  Take time to meditate on these verses and give thanks to God for the coming gift of his Son, the Messiah.

As we give thanks for Jesus, his birth, his life, his death and his resurrection, we know we are made to be righteous saints in God’s eyes because of Christ.  My prayer for you is that you and your loved ones will know the true joy and peace this Christmas that is yours as you are, because of the Messiah, the very children of God. 

Reminders:

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. 

December Partnership Ministries:  As you finish your Christmas shopping, please consider, as you are able, donating items to our December partnership ministries: Bishop Dudley House and the youth at Soldier Creek on Pine Ridge.  Needs are listed in the December Newsletter, the worship Bulletins at Church, on our Facebook Page, and at the Christmas Outreach Tree near the front entrance of the church.  Pastor Chris would love to take a van load to each place.  Donations will be made this coming week with a deadline of Noon on Thursday, December 22.

A Blessed Advent and Christmas Season to all of you!

See you in worship!

Pastor Tim