Life gets in the way of being thankful. I take some time to discuss the things that prevent us from being thankful this time of year.
Have you ever felt left out or to use a football term… have you ever felt like a “second string” player? Today we look at the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19 and see how Jesus can change give us something money can’t buy.
This weekend we celebrated “All Saints Sunday.” This is way more than remembering those who have gone before us to heaven. It is “All Saints” and not just “Dearly Departed Saints Day”. Listen in as I talk about the obstacles of seeing yourself as a saint and hear how Jesus feels about those who struggle.
This is my second first Sunday at Community Lutheran Church in Las Vegas. I begin on a holiday weekend: Reformation Sunday. Listen in as I talk about the importance of the Reformation in 2019.
This is my final reminder to Bethel Lutheran Church and my last Sunday with them. The reminder is to be bold and do not compare. Side Note: I will start posting sermons again at the end of the month from Community Lutheran Church in Las Vegas, NV
It has been quite a week. Rachel and I went to another doctor’s appointment yesterday as Rachel seeks to make a decision about her upcoming surgery for breast cancer. I am finishing my time at Bethel and I feel the sadness of saying goodbye to people I care about. I am about to move to Las Vegas and see old friends which is a joy. I am trying to coordinate my move in two weeks. My son just got a job. One of our dogs is under the weather and will soon visit the veterinarian. Oh and we have had no electricity at our home for the past 38 hours because of the fire danger.
Am I stressed? Yes. I can feel it.
Am I tired? You bet I am.
Am I using this platform to complain or feel sorry for myself? You be the judge… just read to the end.
I am (my family too) are experiencing all the joys and sorrows of life all at one time whether or not we want to. (We don’t.)
I am starting to believe the old adages, “When it rains, it pours” and “having mixed emotions.”
Yet, I know this is a part of life… ups and downs, hills and valleys. If our emotional state was graphed, it would read like an EKG reading of someone’s heart.
The real question is this: Has any of this, especially the difficult stuff, caused me or Rachel to question our faith? Absolutely not.
Without Jesus, we would be like a ship without a rudder. Without the love, care and concern of others… especially our brothers and sister in Christ, we would feel all alone. We both are so grateful to be within and surrounded by the family of God. We are also thankful that our biological families are watching over us (and are also a part of God’s family too).
We know that so many people have our backs in this tumultuous time of our lives. I give thanks that Rachel is being prayed for by people all over our nation because she is on several prayer lists and our friends are scattered far and wide.
A few years ago, we spent a good part of the year at Bethel talking about biblical joy. Some of you might remember that. We used a verse from Nehemiah (Old Testament) to remind us of the importance of joy especially in difficult circumstances.
Nehemiah addressed the people of Israel when they were upset about something they heard. This is what Nehemiah said, Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10
Godly joy will build us. Despair will deflate us. We may not always be happy about our circumstances but our joy is connected to our faith in God. It is our trust in Christ that gives us strength and joy in these difficult days.
Like the past couple of weeks I am sure the next few weeks will be filled with both tears and laughter, because there will be both joy and sorrow. We are ready for that because of Jesus’ love and presence.
I am also reminded of the words of God found in the Old Testament book named after the prophet Isaiah. In chapter 43 God proclaims…
But now, this is what the Lord says— “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior… Isaiah 43:1b-3a
Exactly what I needed to remember at this point in the Bergren family journey.
God bless you,
We are week two of three in a series about the most important things. I am reminding Bethel Lutheran Church of the things they need to hold on to after I am gone. This week I remind them that when all else fails…love.
Did you see this news article about the 5th graders who righted a 60 year wrong? It reminds me that the power of grace will always be stronger than hate. Here is that story from CBS News…
Reverend Gilbert and Grace Caldwell were overjoyed about tying the knot 60 years ago. They were then immediately heartbroken, however, by the honeymoon that followed.
Back in 1957, the Caldwells got married at a church in North Carolina before driving eight hours to the Mount Airy Resort in Poconos, Pennsylvania for their honeymoon.
Despite having a reservation, the happy couple was forced to drive eight hours back home after they were turned away from the hotel for being the wrong skin color.
The incident spurred the Caldwells to join the civil rights movement where they worked side-by-side with Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. In the decades that followed, Grace and Gilbert continued giving speeches and lectures to schools and organizations about their experience with racial injustice.
But when they told the story of their honeymoon to the New Jersey fifth graders at Bear Tavern Elementary back in January 2018, the kids became especially saddened by the tale.
Months after seeing the Caldwells speak at the school, all of the fifth graders banded together and wrote letters to the Mount Airy Hotel asking for an all-expenses-paid second honeymoon—and their wish was granted.
“It makes me feel really good inside because we know that even though we’re just kids, we made an impact on the world,” one student told CBS News.
It is never too late to right a wrong. It is never the wrong time to do the right thing and never forget that love can undo the damage of hate. If 5th graders can do, so can you.
Did you notice that the children who heard the Caldwell’s story had nothing to do with the original offense? Yet, they took it upon themselves to repair the damage that someone else inflicted on the Caldwell family.
Isn’t that what Jesus did? He came and fixed what he didn’t break. He came to right an uncountable number of wrongs including the brokenness in our lives.
It is the grace, love and power of Jesus that gives me the ability to push forward in my life instead of being mired in the mistakes of my past. With everything that is going on in my family’s life right now, we need to be looking forward knowing that Jesus has been more than faithful in the past.
With the knowledge that Jesus will walk us into our uncertain future is of unmeasurable worth. I am not sure if I could even take step forward in life without Jesus.
I also know because of what God has done in my life, I can pay that grace forward by helping others let go of their painful pasts.
The next three weeks will be devoted to reminding Bethel of the most important things. Things to hold onto as we move into a new and different futures.
We spend some time looking at an interesing parable of Jesus. This a story of extremes to help make the point that we can be easily distracted from what matters most in life.