Archives For grace

forgiven much

June 18, 2013 — Leave a comment


June 16, 2013. Ruthfred Lutheran Church in Bethel Park, PA.  Luke 7:36-50

Is this it?  People struggle to find their groove with Jesus, I think. I mean, everyone has to decide what to do with the man who claimed to be the Son of God, and the Savior of the world, and the ONLY WAY to find peace with God. Everyone decides. Many ignore Him. Some fight Him. Church people analyze and study Him, and many people, both inside and outside the church, try to follow His loving example – the WAY of the Lord, without the “Lord” part. Do you agree with the majority of people in America that what really matters when it comes to Jesus isn’t Jesus Himself, so much, but the example he set and the lifestyle of grace and selfless service that he calls us to?

>> I encourage you to read the short account first in Luke 7:36-50. You can read it online here.

Click on the tab below to stream the audio…

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through water and fire

November 1, 2011 — Leave a comment

October 30, 2011. Living Hope Church in St. Michael-Albertville, MN.  Sunday night service.  This message is taken from Isaiah 43:1-7. It’s a message to Christ followers who are going through extremely difficult circumstances… times the old testament writers would refer to in poetic, idiomatic language… “going through water and fire.” In these desperate times, Isaiah 43 brings us this encouragement:

Don’t be afraid, because God is with you!

VIDEO NOTES: The video here begins a few minutes into my message after I had talked about my dear friends Jeremy and Jenny Erickson. You can see their picture on the screen behind me as the video starts. Jeremy was in the hospital awaiting news of a bone marrow scan that would eventually reveal a pre-leukemia disorder, and Jenny had just received word that her dad had died in a car accident. That is going through water and fire. I had the Ericksons in my mind as I prepared and delivered this message.  Ongoing prayers for their family are deeply appreciated.

Also on this video, we decided to include some of our closing song. If you are interested in finding it for use in your own church, it is called “Covenant Song,” written by Aaron Senseman, copyright 2000 Stuntman Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)

We ended our service Sunday night in a prayer huddle around Pastor Bob’s son, Joshua Halvorson, who is a Marine being deployed to Afghanistan this week… through water and fire. We will keep Joshua in our prayers, too.

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“through water and fire” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Last night I read a tweet that made me laugh out loud.  The basic jist (gist?) was this… “I don’t make New Years resolutions because I’m already really good at failure.”

Nice.  I can relate.  And so can you, by the way.  Who hasn’t blown it?  Repeatedly?  Well, we’re in good company – among friends here.  Good times.  It seems clear to me that to post today about my great intentions for the coming year may only serve to put highlighter all over my weakness.  So the “Top Ten Resolutions for 2010” option is out the window.

But I find it fascinating, as a new-to-the-scene blogger this year, to see how other writers are handling the turning of the decade.  I guess I’m supposed to be posting top ten lists of the best this and the worst that…   And unquestionably, I need to post my “Best Posts of the Year” or “Most Controversial Posts of…” or “Top Ten Favorite Posts From Me About…” or “Ten Most Beloved Posts I Wrote Concerning the Parallels Between French Literature of the Late 1800’s and Modern Era Science Fiction.”  Um… no.  Not today.

Truth is, I just have one thought worth sharing as I’m staring down a New Year.  It may not whack you in the face like it has me this year, but to me, this one thought has made all the difference.

I get a fresh start.

That’s it.  My “Top Ten” list has one bullet point.  A fresh start.  I don’t even care if I’m playing psychological head games with myself.  Tomorrow is, in reality, going to be exactly the same as today.  BUT… it will be a new year.  A new decade.  A fresh start.  A clean slate.  “A New Hope.” (You’ve all been waiting with baited breath for the Star Wars reference, right?  Good times.)

Am I looking back on 2009 with loads of regret and a past I’d like to forget?  No way.  I love my life, and I’m grateful for the work God has already done in and through me.  But I’ve got many places in my life – in my heart – that need to grow up.  I want to be a better man.  And the good news is two-fold:  because of Jesus I CAN be a better man, -and- I’ll never “arrive…”  So I always have a new hope to look forward to.  I always have a better tomorrow on my horizon.

My soul has been bought for God.  He’s in charge.  When I think about this next year, I see failure coming my way.  Like it does every year, in  a hundred ways.  But I also see victories.  Victories coming one after another, like they do every year, in  a hundred ways.  I’m at peace in the tension of growing up.  God is my shepherd.  His joy is my strength.

When you begin the new year, you may want to write down a list of resolutions.  That may work for you.  Or you may throw that list quietly away while no one is watching round about January 13th.  Either way, don’t miss the significance of a new start.  Whatever your past, Jesus offers a new hope for you.  He calls us “a new creation.”  He removes our sin from us “as far as the east is from the west.”  I believe in my clean slate – and in my promised fresh start – with as much faith as I believe the sun will come up tomorrow. (And if you just pictured a short, brash but endearing redhead singing platitudes about the rising sun, I apologize…)

In 2010, I will be a better man.  Jesus, help me out.  I’ll be a better man.  But I’m not telling you how.  No top-ten resolutions list for me, thanks.  That’s for me to know, to list my goals in private, and to sheepishly chuck into the recycling bin mid-January.  Ahhh… Thank you Lord, for grace.

What does the coming New Year really mean for your life?


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