Pray the Devil Back to Hell

I am still at my synod’s Fall Theological Conference.  I have calmed down a bit from yesterday’s rant but still am praying for person B (see “Get out there” from yesterday for more).

Anyway…

Last night we had the opportunity to watch a very powerful documentary and I would like to commend it to you.  It is called Pray the Devil Back to Hell. It is a movie about the women’s movement in Liberia that lead to the end of a bloody civil war and to the election of the first woman president in Africa.

The women of that country had finally had enough of the suffering of the children and the rape of women so they banded together (Christian and Muslim women side by side) and proclaimed “We want peace.  No more war“.  Their message lead to peace talks and eventually an end to the violence.  It was powerful.  I had no idea what really happened over there.

Some of you may know that recently three of those women that lead that movement have been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize (which they are sharing).  It is amazing what they accomplished.

Praise be to God!

edh -|—

My big run

Well…I am doing it again…

…Grandma’s Marathon is coming up this Saturday (June 18) and I will be in the field of nearly 10,000 runners who will be vying to complete a 26.2 mile run from Two Harbors to Duluth, MN.  This will be marathon #3 for me.  After marathon #1 (Twin Cities 08) I thought I was done but I was beat by a 85 year old man so I had to try again.  After marathon #2 (Grandma’s ’10) I thought I was done but my brother-in-law wanted to run his first marathon so I said I would run with him.  Now I am saying that marathon #3 will be my last ~ well…we’ll see I guess 🙂

I’ve been asked why do I put myself through this; why do I subject my body to running a grueling race such as a marathon.  The only and best answer that I can give is: “Because I can“.  After giving that answer to someone one time they responded by saying, “Well…I can jump off a skyscraper but it doesn’t mean I will“.  To which I responded, “It doesn’t take determination, dedication, training and hard work to jump off a skyscraper.

I also think about the greatest running movie of all time; Chariots of Fire; a movie about Eric Liddell, a devote Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God and won the gold medal in the 400 meter run in the 1924 Olympics.  Eric Liddell’s answer to why he runs was “I believe that God made me for a purpose.  But he also made me fast, and when I run I feel his pleasure.”  That is a great quote and it gave me goose bumps when I heard it.

Now…I am not saying that I am fast.  I am not saying that I am anything special when it comes to running.  I am definitely no Eric Liddell.  But I believe I run because God made me in such a way that I can…flat feet and all.  I am simply using the ability that God gave me.  Granted…I am not going to change the world through running another marathon but since I am doing something I enjoy; something God gifted me with, I feel a connection to God.  Because it is only through the grace of God that I finish a marathon.

So if you are at all interested in following my progress you can sign up to receive email or text messages updating you on my progress by going to:
http://grandmasmarathon.com/site/index.php?page=runner-tracking

Once at the site you simply enter my name: Eric Hullstrom

All runners wear a timing chip on their shoe to keep track of them on the course and to record times at various locations along the way.  My goal is to run Grandma’s in under 4 hours (I ran it last year in 4:02:39).  The race starts at 7:30am on Saturday, June 18.

If nothing else please pray for me…I can use all the prayers I can get.

And in the end all praise and glory goes to God our Father through Jesus Christ.  Amen!

-edh-

All things new

Last night we watched the movie “The Passion of the Christ”.  I have seen this movie about 5 times or so…and each time something else grabs me.  Granted…it is a hard movie to watch.  The flogging scene and the crucifixion scene gets harder and harder to watch each time, but I force my way through those scenes because it shows me how much Jesus loves me and how serious he was about his mission.

But what grabbed me this year?  It came during the scene when Jesus was carrying his cross through the streets.  At one particular moment he fell down and Mary came running through the crowd to Jesus (as a flashback scene shows she did when Jesus fell down as a child).  When Mary got to Jesus she spoke something to him and Jesus responds, “…today I make all things new“.  I got goose bumps as I thought of what Jesus truly did for us.  Wow!

All things new…indeed.  Praise be to God!

What does it mean to you to hear Jesus say “I make all things new”?

-edh-

The Passion of the Christ

Happy Holy Week!

That almost sounds strange to say, but someone said that to me this morning…so why not?  I know Holy Week is about the last week of Jesus life; about his arrest, trial, beating, crucifixion and death.  But through all of that we get to celebrate his resurrection and the victory Jesus gives us:

Death has been swallowed up in victory!
Where O death is thy victory?
Where O death is thy sting?
The sting of death is sin,
and the power of sin is the Law;
but thanks be to God for giving us the victory,
through our Lord Jesus Christ.

(1 Corinthians 15:54-57)

So…Happy Holy Week…

To kick off Holy Week each year, I have been showing the movie, The Passion of the Christ.  Yesterday marks the fourth year in a row we have done this.  Each year we get new people to come and watch; usually only around 8 to 15 people.  Last night we had 9.  This year I sent an email to the churches in town inviting people to come and of the 9 that came last night 5 were from other churches.  One particular couple stands out though.  I can’t remember their names right now, but the wife is legally blind.  I see this woman around town and have talked to her a few times so I think she can still see a little.  But when I walked into the Fellowship Hall last night I was surprised to see her there with her husband.  After the movie got going they realized that there were subtitles and she could not see well enough to read them.  I started feeling bad for her.  Then I heard something that made me smile and gave me goose bumps…her husband started reading the subtitles and read every single line to her throughout the whole 2 hour plus movie.  Every once in a while he had to describe a scene to her and which character was there and/or speaking.  It was a really amazing display of love AND ministry. There are so many things we take for granted.  The reading of the lines was not at all distracting…actually…it added to the movie for me.

After the movie we had a time of discussion and this woman participated.  She enjoyed the movie and thought is was very moving (even though she can’t see as well as you and I).    In addition to watching the events of Jesus life and death unfold, I got to experience the love of a husband telling the Passion Story to his wife.  I will never forget that night because in a way, I got to experience first hand one way the “passion of Jesus” is displayed and showed to people.  It is one thing to say that Jesus loves you and he died for you, but it quite another to display that love in your life.  This husband did that last night (and I am sure every other day in their lives).

I have seen this movie at least a half a dozen times and each time I get something new out of it.  Last night…I experienced something new…and for that I thank God.

I hope and pray you have a blessed Holy Week as we celebrate the victory won for us through Jesus death and resurrection.  God bless!

-edh-

Facing the Giants

I just watched an incredible movie tonight called Facing the Giants (click on the link to go to the movie’s website).  This is a movie about living your faith in every aspect of ones life and the incredible power of God.  This movie will make you smile and cry and will give you goosebumps like you can’t even imagine.  I am going to be planning a movie night for the congregation (and anyone else who would like to come) to watch this movie.

I feel like I should write more but I think that would do the movie a great injustice.  Instead…go watch the movie for yourself.

Has anyone else out there watched this movie?  What did you think?

-edh-

Monday morning check-in

Sermon prep-less week

I know "prep-less" is not a word but like I am fond of telling my wife, "If it comes out of my mouth, then it is a word".  That may or may not be a good idea, but I am going to apply that logic here. 

Today begins a sermon prep-less week.  For those of you who are not solo pastors this may not seem like a big deal.  But if you are used to preparing a sermon (nearly) every single week of the year…a week off seems kind of strange.  This weekend is the SW MN Synod Assembly.  It's been called the synod's "business" meeting (I don't like that title).  Others have called this weekend a "forced day off" for pastors (that may be closer to the truth…the "forced" part not the "day off" part).  Whatever the weekend is "officially" called, it is a time for me to re-fuel a little bit.  I enjoy preparing and preaching sermons, but I still need a week off now and then to help me appreciate this craft more.  But even though I am not engaging in my "official" sermon prep routine, I still think I am still going to go to my favorite coffee house on Thursday for lunch (with my laptop) to do some writing.  I guess some habits are just too hard to break.

Prince Caspian

Yesterday the churches in Jackson hosted a day at the movies for people to come and watch The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.  A number of businesses donated door prizes which we gave away before and after the movie.  After the movie we also had a time for questions and answers. 

Without giving too much of the movie away I thought there was a lot of violence in the movie (epsecially for younger kids).  There was one family that walked out during the movie for that very reason.  Granted…the violence was not as bad as most movies; there was no blood and gore, but a lot of people/characters died.   The first Narina movie did not have this much violence and the books don't have the violence either.  Hollywood definitely took a lot of creative liberties with the movie.  Even though it is rumored that the C.S Lewis family approved how these stories were protrayed, I find it hard to believe C.S. Lewis himself would have approved.  These stories were written as children's stories.  And the last time I checked, "children's stories" generally don't contain that much violence.  But that aside…I still really enjoyed the movie and recommend it.  I just don't recommend it for young children.  Please preview the movie before letting children see it.  And that is all I will say about it.  I don't want to ruin it for anyone.

Training

117 days, 19 hours and 14 minutes (give or take a few minutes, hours or days…depending on when you read this) until the Medtronic Twin Cities marathon.  This past week or so my running has been a little slow.  My right hip has really been hurting me lately, but is feeling better today.  I can still run, but it takes a few miles for my hip to loosen up enough for me to get up to pace.  Maybe this is a sign that I am indeed getting old (but let's not tell my body or my wife…I still plan to run this marathon).

With that I take my leave of you.  Since this is a sermon prep-less week, I am going to take advantage of it and get some things done that I haven't done for a while.  I am also going to try to get outside this afternoon and enjoy this blue sky that I haven't seen for awhile.

So take care and have a very blessed day!

-edh-

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

This is a fun little quiz based on movie The Chronicles of Narnia.  Follow this link to take your own quiz and find out what character you are most like (my results are to the right):  http://www.jamiefrost.co.uk/narniaquiz/quiz.php?lang=

Just in case you have been living in a cave, the new Narnia movie, Prince Caspian is opening on Friday, May 16.  Salem and Our Savior’s Lutheran Churches are planning a Prince Caspian event on June 1 at our local theater.  There will be door prizes and other drawings.  After the movie there will be a time for questions and discussion.  Our hope is that people will not get too anxious and go out of town to see the movie, but wait until June 1 (Disney won’t let our local theater have the movie on opening day…I guess we are too small).  But as for the rest of you…go out and see this movie asap.  I have read the book and it is going to be a fun movie.

But I do have one request…please don’t comment here anything about the movie before I have a chance to see it on June 1 🙂

-edh-