I am so grateful that we have a God who is faithful. I remember this verse when I am struggling with something little like keeping up with my laundry, or something big like a friend’s overwhelming crisis. During these moments I remind myself that God has promised not to abandon us to the realm of the dead.
He meets me where I am, but he never leaves me there. And that really is a reason to rejoice, to be glad, and to rest secure!
Have a Wonderful Week,
Cheeley’s celebration of life. Betty and Herb (or AKA “Larry” to Minnesotans) created a legacy through their four children’s lives, which grew with grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Betty influenced the lives of her students, too. Several former first-grade students said that Betty’s guidance helped shape the rest of their lives—quite a legacy, since when she passed at age 91, those former students would have been elderly themselves! It was said that her calendar was full of obligations, visits, volunteer work. Surely, she impacted each of their lives, also. But, how?
Vickie Johnson’s memorial had the similar eight pews full to overflowing of the legacy she and Ray created just within their own family. The remaining pews were filled with former employees, co-workers, friends, acquaintances, admirers. The legacy of a life well-lived were evident. But, what was that legacy?
I’ve heard the phrase (and perhaps used it myself a time or two), “There’s no instruction manual for how to live a life.” However, I think that’s incorrect; there is an excellent one: the Bible. So, what did Betty, Vickie, Bill Hjort, Larry Strobel, and others have in common that created such a rich legacy? I believe it wasn’t how many children they created, it’s that they demonstrated a life lived in the fruit of the Spirit that affected those children and people they encountered.
In the Bible, Paul was frustrated that the Galatians had lost their vision of salvation by faith in Jesus alone and that they had added the need for human effort in order to receive salvation. Paul redirected them to remember that the Holy Spirit lives inside each believer. As we give the Spirit more control in our lives, He shapes us and grows us into His likeness. Then, as the fruit of the Spirit grows within us, our character becomes more like Christ’s.
Betty was described as “being a Christian.” She was loving, joyful, calm, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. She modeled a life where people could see Christ through her. Pastor Neal Nybo has repeatedly preached that when we act in a way where people can see Christ in us, they will want to come be a part of us. That is probably why people were so drawn to Betty, Vickie, Bill, Larry, and others like them. While living their lives, one could see that Christ lived within them.
If the only legacy that we leave behind is that people are drawn to want to live a life modeled after Christ, could we leave behind a better legacy than that?
Your friend in Christ (who is trying to live that life),
others around us. As I reflect on this season in my own life, each week I'm reminded of the fruits God has blessed us with, and am always humbled by the encouragement to grow into and nurture each fruit.
This week, I've been challenged by the fruit of patience. When you are so eagerly awaiting something, do you find it easy to become impatient? Maybe you're looking forward to a visit from someone special, an upcoming vacation, a yummy meal … it could be anything. For me, a lot of changes are on the horizon, some very exciting, some bittersweet, but at the end of the day, I know I can anticipate great joy, peace, and love in this season. When I find myself feeling impatient in this season, I pray for wisdom, for peace, for patience … and I pray that I can extend those to the people around me.
My encouragement for all of us this week is to pick a fruit, any one of them, and reflect on who has exemplified that fruit or how you've experienced that fruit in your life … then think about a way you can spread it to others!
In His Name, Kierstie
soloist. She had the words of her song printed in type large enough that I could easily read it over her shoulder from where I was sitting. It was as if I could see the future of the service written on that sheet of paper. I knew what would happen in a few minutes. The soloist has a beautiful, haunting voice. She has a way of singing that draws in your soul and makes you feel the emotions she is singing. So, when I read the words on her music stand, I could anticipate the joy we were all going to experience when her turn came to sing. And, the anticipation was nothing compared to the experience of hearing her sing it.
God has a similar relationship with you and me. God sees our lives in the coming days, months and years, long before we live them. In Isaiah 46:10 God says, “Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.” God sees what is coming. He can’t wait for the joys and he grieves the challenges and disappointments that await us. Whatever is coming our way is no surprise to our God. He stands behind us and sees our future over our shoulder. He knows what is coming and he will never leave us or forsake us. We know our Lord is walking with us into the future. While it is unknown to us it is as clear to God as those words on that music stand were to me. I take comfort in that knowledge and I hope you can as well.
In His Name, Pastor Neal
is harmful to me and not something anyone wants to celebrate. Avoiding issues, minimizing hurts, and running scared is not something we give out medals for. The problem is that this type of behavior comes so naturally to me.
There are several passages about running in the Bible. Beautiful passages of hope, like Isaiah 40 which highlights that with God’s help we will not grow weary. Psalm 119 is a wonderful chapter on God’s faithfulness and wisdom, and those who choose to run in the path of His commands will find a broader understanding. Hebrews 12 challenges us to throw off worldly things meant to entangle us and run with perseverance. Perhaps one of my favorites is in 2 Timothy 4 where the apostle Paul near the end of his life describes having finished the race and the joys waiting for him in heaven.
There are also passages of great men and women of God who ran in fear, which is nothing new for humans. Adam and Eve ran and hid after they ate the fruit. Cain was nowhere near the first murder scene when God asked him where his brother was. Jacob ran from his brother and his father-in-law. Joseph’s brothers ran from the pit they threw him into so they could discuss their next move. Moses ran from Egypt. Elijah ran in fear for his life and cried out to God in heartache, thinking that all of his fellow prophets had been killed. Jonah and his famous attempt to run away only to be swallowed whole for a few days of uninterrupted self-reflection. Those familiar with the Bible are also familiar with Peter, who vowed never to leave Jesus’ side only to run away in fear and shame when challenged by a young servant girl.
Perhaps one of the most unexpected stories of running in the Bible is the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15. Jesus used this parable of the prodigal son who ran from all of the goodness of his father’s house only to find himself in a pig pen. The son suddenly realized even his dad’s servants back home had food to eat while he was starving with the local swine. So he begins the long walk home, thinking how to convince his dad to accept him as servant, with all hopes of being accepted as a son were gone. What the son did not know was that his father stood by the road hoping for his son to return. The happy day came when from a distance the father sees his son, and the Father runs to meet his son. Before the son can beg for a job, the Father embraces him and declares his love and joy for the return of his son.
Somewhere between the hopeful passages of running with perseverance and the humbling stories of running in fear is where we find the Father. It is God’s desire that all humans find peace and rest to stop the fearful obstacle courses we so naturally build for ourselves. Instead of running scared, Jesus came to show us a new perspective, one of running toward something: relationship. In our various forms of running, we often forget that God himself ran the good race towards restoration and relationship so that we could have the joy of eternity with Him. If running has left you weary and in some messy places, I encourage you to turn your eyes to God, and you will find the Father ready to run towards you, eager to join you as together you run the good race.
Our staff is voluntold each week and with grace they share their thoughts.