Article: Trying to Forget

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19

There are some things in my life I would love to forget. If there was a way to block certain and specific difficult memories in my life, I would be first in line.

I don’t know about you but I have had moments in my life that I do not wish to relive because they were either painful or embarrassing. Yet, every so often they pop into my head and I am recalling a portion of my life that plays like a movie trailer in my mind’s eye. 

When those moments happen, I turn to Isaiah 43:18-19. God instructs us not to live in the past. As the old adage goes,“let by-gones be by-gones” because those days have gone by and they have gone bye-bye. 

It is easy to live in the past and live a very nostalgic if not troubled life. God reminds us not to dwell there because we are called to live in the present moment. Not to dwell in the past or even the future. 

I choose to do that both in my life and at church. God is doing a new thing and I am trying to keep up!!! It does me no good to live in the past because we have a God of the present moment. So much has changed in the past 10 years. Not only in our lives but in society too. Yet, God is always making a way. That is what He promised. 

Even though I live in a desert (and I suspect most of the readers of this are too), our connection with God doesn’t need feel that way. Time and time again in scripture God promised never to leave us alone especially when we struggle. 

Turn to God because promised to give us  “streams in the wasteland” of our lives. Cool baptismal waters that remind us we are never alone.

God bless,
Pr. Ben

Article: Old Things and Eternal Things

I recently came across an article from the Good News Network about some very old trees.

In 1993, a cypress tree stump in Chile was confirmed by tree-ring-counting as 3,622 years old—showing the capacity of these slow-growing relatives of sequoia to endure through centuries.

However, another scientist recently found that a living individual, known as the “millennium cypress” or “great-grandfather” could be more than 5,000 years old—which would make it the oldest tree on Earth by nearly half a millennium.

That would make it the oldest single tree by a couple hundred years, beating out a 4,853- year-old bristlecone pine tree in Great Basin National Park in Nevada called Methuselah.

I can barely get my head around the age of these trees. When I think about Biblical history, these trees are older. Older than King David, older than Sampson and even older than Abraham. Wow.

I know 5000 years is a short time when compared to geologic time or even how long ago the dinosaurs walked the earth. However, these trees are still alive!

Yet, nothing compares to the eternal nature of God. Before everything there was God and one day after everything is gone, God and His Kingdom will still going strong.

I am reminded of the words of God spoken through the prophet Isaiah…

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8 

Even God’s Word is eternal. That is why I preach from scripture. The Word endures.

I want to (metaphorically speaking) “hitch my wagon” to something that is going to last. Something that will sustain me in and out of season until I see Jesus face to face. That is why I turn to the Bible for inspiration and strength.

This weekend, we will celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives and the life of the Church. When Jesus was talking to the woman at the well in John chapter 4, he spoke about the Holy Spirit this way…

“Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14

The water Jesus is referring to is the Holy Spirit. I am thirsty for more of the Spirit in my life because I know it will sustain me until I enter eternity.

Old things are amazing but eternal things are the best! Cling to the infinite gifts and let go of the rest!

God bless you,
Pr. Ben

Article: Sabbath Rest

I am currently visiting my father in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. Rice Lake is in the northwest portion of the state. I believe the town is named after the lake and not the other way around.

Although I leave for Chicago, IL tomorrow and then to Galesburg, IL after that, I am taking the time to rest a bit. The fancy biblical word for rest is sabbath. A time to rest.

If you remember when God gave the Israelites the 10 Commandments, one of the directives was to take a day of Sabbath rest. Work six days and rest on the seventh. I normally do that on Monday.

However, some time away from CLC allows me some extra rest from the day to days duties of your pastor. It has been a real blessing to me to spend the last three days with my father. Our time together is precious and way too infrequent. 

By the time I fly home with Rachel, I will have driven from Minneapolis, MN to Rice Lake, WI to Chicago, IL to Galesburg, IL and back Minneapolis, MN… yet I have already had time to reflect on this sabbath break.

I am reminded of the words of the great reformer, Martin Luther when wrote about the third commandment to “remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.”

Luther wrote, “The spiritual rest, which God particularly intends in this Commandment, is this: that we not only cease from our labor and trade, but much more, that we let God alone work in us and that we do nothing of our own with all our powers.

SNM314966 Portrait of Martin Luther, aged 43, 1525 (oil on panel) by Cranach, Lucas, the Elder (1472-1553); © National museum, Stockholm, Sweden; (add.info.: Luther (1483-1546) German religious reformer;); German.

Good words. It is a reminder for me in this time to let God alone work in me and guide me as I spend time with my family and celebrate our youngest’s college graduation. I will be open to what God has in store for me over the next week and let the Spirit guide me including the times it tells me to rest.

I use this time to: Stop, Listen and Breathe (thanks Bruce Ewing!) so that I come home refreshed and ready to pick up where I left off! 

God bless you my friends!

Pr. Ben