Joyful Noise

“Oh come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!”
[Psalms 95:1-2]

Many of you did this yesterday. Many of you entered sanctuaries and other places of worship. You gathered with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to worship our awesome God through Jesus Christ. You sang songs/hymns using a variety of instruments. You confessed your sins and heard absolution in the name of Jesus. Scripture was read and the Word was preached. Some of you celebrated and participated in the sacraments. You gave your offerings and lifted your petitions to the Lord.

[At least, I hope all this happened in your worship. That’s me, but I digress…]

My point this morning?

I love the fact that scripture encourages me to make a “joyful noise” to God, because when I make a sound with music, to others, that’s exactly what it is, noise. Call it what you want, coming out of me, though, it is a joyful noise because of who God is through Jesus Christ. Therefore I will “sing”.

So sing your hearts out and never let someone tell you to keep it down. And not just on Sunday’s (or whenever you worship) but everyday. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord that the whole world may hear and give glory to God. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord because trust me, no matter what anyone thinks, when the “noise” comes from your heart, God smiles 🙂

The Pastor -|—

Flowing Praise

Hey, all you creatures here below,
all whom our Father we should know.
Praise God here, always and now.
Praise God with a holy bow.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise God from whom all creation goes.

Praise God from whom true grace is shown.
Praise God from whom true love known.

Praise God from whom eternal life is given.
Praise God from whom Satan is ever driven.

Praise God above, ye heavenly host;
praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

A little praise to start your day 🙂

The Pastor -|—

Morning devotions ~ Don’t wait to be asked

After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.” [Acts 13:15]

After reading from the Law and the Prophets, the ruler of the synagogue urges Paul to share words of encouragement with all those gathered. No doubt they had heard of Paul and his ministry, now they want to hear for themselves. And so Paul goes on to talk about Jesus, who was crucified and raised from the dead. Paul shares that through this man (Jesus) there is forgiveness of sins and freedom from that which the Law of Moses could not free you.

Upon hearing Paul’s words of encouragement and the Good News they begged him to stay and say these things again the next day. And why wouldn’t they? When you hear Good News you just can’t get enough of it.

Christian, do you really know Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Do you believe that your sins have been forgiven through faith in Jesus? Do you cling to the hope of the resurrection? I mean, do you really? Does this excite you and give you encouragement? Then don’t wait for people to find you and ask you to share words of encouragement, because chances are they won’t. If the Good News is really Good News then share words of encouragement without being asked.

And sometimes you don’t need to start out saying words. Sometimes your life is enough to get people’s attention. But don’t let that be enough for you. Don’t simply do things for others but also say words. Paul writes in Romans that faith comes through hearing (not seeing alone). Faith comes through words (not actions alone). Faith comes through YOU speaking words so therefore, do so without being asked.

But what am I saying, if Jesus is the Word of Life; I mean really the Word of Life for you, then you are probably already doing what I have said. If Jesus is not the Word of Life for you then I pray that the Holy Spirit infects your hearts with hope and leads you to faith in Jesus as your Savior.

And once you have said these words of encouragement, say them again and again because if people are anything like me, you just can’t get enough of the good stuff.

So in the words of TobyMac from his hit song Speak Life:

So speak Life, speak Life.
To the deadest darkest night.
Speak life, speak Life.
When the sun won’t shine and you don’t know why.
Look into the eyes of the brokenhearted;
Watch them come alive as soon as you speak hope,
You speak love, you speak…
You speak Life

Speak life and praise God always and forever. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Garbage in, garbage out

Most days I am up at 5:45am and at the fitness center in the high school by 6am.  I bring with me my water and MP3 player (which is loaded with Christian praise and worship music).  I bring my music so I can listen to some awesome praise and worship music music, to help pass the time and to counter the music the high school kids turn on when they arrive.  The students start arriving around 6:15 to 6:30am and head straight to the stereo.  And it goes without saying that their music is not my music.  At least they are respectful and don’t crank the music up so loud that I can hear it through my headphones.

This morning was no different.  The kids came in and turned on their music, but I kept on doing my workout…enjoying my own little world away from them.  When I finished I went to get ready to leave.  I turned off my music and the chorus I heard on the stereo was this, “Highway to hell…”  I wanted to turn my MP3 player back on…but the lyrics were already stuck in my head.

My father-in-law is known for saying to his students “garbage in, garbage out“…referring to music.  I know there are people that would refute this claim, but I believe music has a profound impact on people.  And when I happen to hear the lyrics of some of the music out there I am very worried.  I know how Christian music makes me feel and it makes me wonder how lyrics like “Highway to hell” is affecting our youth (and there are far worse lyrics out there).  Maybe I should get to the fitness center early some morning and have my Christian music CDs playing.  I’m not sure how the kids would react but I am curious.

As a church I believe we need to expose our kids to music that have positive lyrics (specifically…Christian music).  Have Christian music playing as they arrive to confirmation or Bible study.  Talk about music with them.  Examine lyrics and have a discussion about them (sometimes they don’t even consciously know what they are hearing).  One thing I do is bring kids to Christian music festivals.  And that has been a hit.

What goes in has an impact on what comes out.

After hearing those lyrics in the fitness center this morning I turned on my car radio (obviously to the Christian music station) and the first lyrics I heard were “I give glory to your name…”  Ah…that was more like it.  Now…those “other” lyrics from this morning are a distant memory.

In Christ alone I will glory…

…from on my computer right now…you just can’t go wrong with that.

Praise be God!


Monday morning check in

Summer is unofficially over.  Are we all sad now?  I have mixed feelings about that.  I am sad that the “freedom” that summer brings is gone for 9 months, but I am also excited for things to start up again.  Next week Release Time (grades 3 – 5) begins.  In two weeks, Wednesday Night Live (age 3 – grade 5), 6th grade Bible class and Confirmation (grades seven and eight) begin.  The unofficial end of summer also means I have to re-adjust my routine.  Everything will change next week with the addition of class preparation.  It usually takes me a few weeks to get back into the swing of things, hence, September is usually a busy and stressful (but a good stressful) month for me.  So I am going to prepare my Release Time lesson this week as sort of a practice run before the real thing begins next week.  How are the rest of you viewing September?  Is it stressful, exciting, etc?

The LifeLight Festival was this past weekend.  LifeLight is a free Christian music festival just outside of Sioux Falls, SD at the Wild Water West water park.  I think is it absolutely amazing that they can put on a festival like this and not charge admission.  We were told that it costs about $800,000 to put on LifeLight.  Businesses, churches and other faithful supporters make this weekend possible.  If you haven’t been to LifeLight plan on checking it out sometime.  It is held over Labor Day weekend every year. 

On Friday night of the festival this year the headliner was Switchfoot; Saturday it was Michael W. Smith and Sunday night Casting Crowns closed things out.  On Saturday night the crowd was in excess of 100,000 people.  Standing up and surveying the sea of people definitely made me me feel very small.  Other artists we heard throughout the weekend included: Matthew West, Lincoln Brewster, Sanctus Real, Natalie Grant, Family Force 5, and much more.  It was indeed a very fun weekend.

Today I am thanking and praising God for rain.  It has been dreadfully dry here for a long time.  When I walked on my grass last night it crunched beneath my feet.  But today I can here a collective “sigh” from all the lawns in town.  And according to radar this rain will last for quite a while.  God is indeed faithful.  We go through these dry spells every year and every year we get nervous and wonder if this is the year we will need to replace the lawn.  But every year God brings the rain to nourish the crops and the grass and everything else.  God proves to be faithful year in and year out.  Maybe one of these years I will learn to trust God.

Heavenly Father, I believe, help my unbelief.  You prove to be faithful yet we worry about tomorrow.  You prove to be loving yet we often fail to show love toward our neighbors.  You prove to be gracious yet we fail to show grace to others.  Thank you God for your Son who died for us despite our shortcomings and rose to New Life so we may live.    Lord God, thank you for your faithfulness, in Christ name we pray, Amen.

Take care and God bless!


Monday morning (or should I say “afternoon”) check in

I am finally back in the office…but a little late on getting to my blog.  If you could have seen the pile of stuff I had to deal with I think you would understand.  I enjoy getting away for awhile; its just the getting caught up that I don’t like.  But I think I am there.

Last night I had an AWESOME night…

…that is Point of Grace and I had third row, center aisle seats for this concert.  AND…it was free.  This was the finale of the Okoboji Lakes Bible and Missionary Conference that I attended this past week…and everything is free…it has been that way for 74 years.  This is an amazing conference and I am always blown away that they can put on such an event based solely on the contributions of generous supporters. 

Each morning started with prayer and then a Bible study.  At 10am we have some fellowship time before we head to the “communities” (small group sessions) at 10:30.  There isn’t anything going on in the afternoon but we reconvene at 7:15pm for the evening worship celebration time with a different (usually a nationally known) speaker (i.e.  Tuesday night was Phil Vischer, the founder of Veggie Tales).  And did I say that all of this is FREE?

The “community” I attended in the mornings was lead by Phil Vischer and his brother Rob (a law professor at St. Thomas Law School in the Twin Cities).  They spoke about Christ and Culture.  I missed the Monday and Tuesday communities but I am glad I made it to Wednesday’s.  Here Rob Vischer spoke about the Christian perspective on family law.  The basic premise was the evolution of the same sex marriage debate.  This is something that has been brewing for quite a few decades.  But what was really scary is where the law is headed in the future.  Basically the family unit is being de-valued and more emphasis is being placed on individual liberty.  Hence…people starting to be allowed to decided who’s in their family.  Rob said that on the horizon the next debate will be polygamy because if two men or two women want to get married, why not expand that definition to include more people.  The direction that family law is headed is very scary.  This was indeed an eye opening “community”.

So much more happened this past week but I am still trying to process everything.  I got a feeling that as other learnings begin to bubble up that they will soon find themselves on the pages of this blog.  But in the mean time I will take my leave of this topic.

In the future
There are some other blog topics that I have started that I haven’t dealt with for a while…and I am going to be returning to these topics shortly:
(1) Evangelism — at the end of July I was invited to participate in a meeting at the ELCA headquarters in Chicago.  My bishop along with a synod minister and our synod V.P. attended this meeting.  We heard a number of presentations and participated in some fruitful brainstorming for the synod.  I also got appointed to the “Serving in God’s World” board (evangelism and outreach) for the SW MN synod.  I am looking forward to writing more about my involvement here.

(2) Business meeting model vs. Ministry meeting model — this was something concerning church councils.  Wrote a while back about my efforts of changing how our church council looks at themselves.  We need to be a group of people focused on advancing the mission of Christ in the world around us.  Someone commented and asked me how I was going to do this and I responded that I was still working on it.  Well…I want to return to this topic in the near future.  I have a council meeting this week and I hope to implement a new “agenda item”.  I will say more about this later.

(3) Learnings from the Okoboji Lakes Bible and Missionary Conference.

Whew…that’s a lot of stuff coming up and I am excited to get started writing.  I guess time off really did me some good.

Anyway…take care and God bless!


Monday morning check in — Post-Sonshine post

Here I am…in my office…post-Sonshine…procrastinating on writing my newsletter article (of course, by the time my secretary reads this I WILL be working on my article, I promise).

Anyway…we had a great time at Sonshine Festival.  We heard lots of great music from the likes of Jars of Clay, Third Day, Jeremy Camp, Toby Mac, Hawk Nelson, Peder Eide, Barlowgirl, David Crowder, and much more.  That list is definitely not listed in order because that would be to hard to do.  But Hawk Nelson is a group I never really listened to before but I am now developing a new appreciation for them.  All the groups were (and are) great examples and very open about their faith.  It was fun and inspiring to hear them and worship with them.  And for $68 for the weekend…for all that music…you just can’t beat that.

Our group consisted of my wife and I along with one senior high girl from Salem with a group of 10 from Our Savior’s.  There were more adults than youth in our group, but everyone had fun.  We camped in tent city where there were thousands of tents crammed in together.  It is hard to describe the scene but trust me, it was a zoo.  The “city” never really completely died down.  There was activity all night long for all four nights.  My wife and I came home on Saturday and let me tell ya…a shower and my bed felt great on Saturday night.  But over all it was a great experience and we are already looking forward to next year.

Ramp update
I haven’t said much in this area for a while but here’s a quick update (just in case you were wondering).  All the cement is poured and now they are on the brick work.  Red-ish (basic brick color…whatever that is “offically” called) bricks will be placed on the side of the ramp and a brick wind break is currently being built on the north side of the ramp by the sanctuary door.  The time table for completion is still mid-August sometime.  I will get some pictures posted soon.

One week to go…
After this week I will be out of the office for a couple weeks.  On Sunday I fly to Chicago for a special meeting on evangelism and outreach.  I was invited by the synod office to attend this meeting (I will discuss this more in another post this week).  After I get back on Tuesday I go on vacation until Sunday.  On Sunday I am still out of the office but for continuing education.  The week of Aug 3 – 10 I am at the Okoboji Lakes Bible and Missionary Conference.  A free conference in the Okoboji Lakes area (about 20 miles from here).  That too I will write more about later.  So this week I have a lot to get done before I head out.

With that…I leave you with this quote I came across…one I used in my sermon yesterday: “We are not in the land of the living, but in the land of the dying — someday we shall be in the Land of the Living.”  What a great reminder of the hope we all have in Jesus Christ.

Take care and have a great day!


Basking in the SonShine

This morning I am packing my gear and heading out to SonShine Festival .  This is a Christian music festival in Willmar, MN.  Salem and Our Savior’s Lutheran Churches are taking a group and of course I have to go.  It’s a rough job but someone has to do it 🙂  Because of this I will be away from my computer until Sunday.  So no new blog posts until then…I hope you can survive without me 😉

Anyway…i hope you have a wonderful week.  I look forward to telling you all about our experience.  Take care and God bless.


Sunday morning prayer – 02/24/08

Greetings and salutations…happy morning to you all!

…don’t ask…I just woke up this morning full of energy and ready to go…despite the trying week I have had.  Maybe it’s because I haven’t preached and lead worship for a couple weeks…I don’t know, but I am ready for the day.

Another death
My trying week involved not only mourning my grandma’s death but also mourning the very unexpected death of a 77 year old woman in my congregation on Wednesday morning.  Gladys went in on Tuesday for a "routine" surgery (whatever that means), developed a blood clot on Wednesday and died at around 2am Thursday morning.  I was at the hospital on Wednesday night with the family (I never got to see Gladys) but left at 10pm…fully expecting to see Gladys the next day.  I guess you just never know.  Please pray for her family.

The orchestra
My highlight of the week, though, was listening to the Minnesota Orchestra during their concert here in little ole Jackson, MN.  It was an absolutely amazing show.  One of my favorite pieces featured a bassoon duet.  WOW!  According to my wife, bassoons often get the nickname "belching bedposts" (no offense to any of you bassoon players) but these two bassoons were far from being "belching bedposts".  They were amazing.  My wife and I along with four of our friends went to the concert…dressed in "formal" wear.  After all…we were going to the orchestra.

So this week has been an up and down one.  I am praying for an "up" day today.  So to start things out let’s join together in a word of prayer…

Loving God, you sent your Son, Jesus Christ to seek and save the lost.  You sent your Son, Jesus Christ to seek and save us.  You know our sins.  You know our past. You know that we will let you down again and again…but that doesn’t matter to you…for your love is great.  Thank you for sending Jesus into the hostile territory of our hearts; quenching our spiritual thirst and desire.  Thank you God for not holding our sins again us but rather offering "Living Water" to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Thank you God for saving our lives.  In Christ’s name we pray…Amen. (reference made to John 4:5-42 – The woman at the well)

Take care and have a very blessed day.