“Our culture is starving for something.” Those are the words that Hugh Smay writes in the book, “Tangible Kingdom.” I agree, people are staving for something, they’re starving for a truly-living, life-giving, purpose-filled, genuinely-worth-living life. In short, they’re longing for the life that Jesus gives. Sadly, however, they see the lives lived by many Christians as being something that often makes it difficult for them to embrace the hope of Jesus. I like what Smay says, “I think we should start by looking for ways to witness to this gospel by bringing tangible slices of heaven down to life on Earth, and continue to do this until those we’re reaching out to acknowledge that our ways [not simply our words] are “good news” to them.” If you’re truly living the good news you’ll have plenty of opportunities to explain the theological aspects of the gospel. But if we continue to lead off with the WORDS of the Gospel instead of the ACTS of the Gospel, we’ll continue to make it hard for people to connect with what we’re saying.” When one studies the changing culture, they discover that a change has occurred. No longer are people swayed by “logical” arguments of the faith. Logical arguments are simply “blown off.” What matters is, “Does it make a difference in your life, and will it make a difference in my life?” In many ways this is exciting for those of us who hunger for people to come to faith in Jesus. What it means is that, instead of having to pursue people, people will be drawn to us (believers) with curiosity and openness, because they want to know what makes us different. Perhaps that’s why Jesus says, “Let your light shine before others that they might see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:16)
Christmas 2011 - Special thanks to Jamie at Otis & James Photography for the spectacular Christmas picture of the Our Savior Lutheran Church staff. These Christmas cards will be in the January OSLC newsletter which will be coming out Dec. 20th.
As I view this beautiful card, I am reminded of the tremendous gifts that God in which surrounds my life. In this case, I look at the staff Christmas card and give thanks to the Lord Jesus for such a great team of leaders to work with each day. Truly they are a blessing to me personally. Their love for the Lord Jesus, commitment to Christ’s mission, and personal faith are a blessing to many others as well.
Above all, they remind me of the greatest blessing that is mine this Christmas. It is the gift of a precious Savior who loved me so much that He would leave his heavenly home, walk on this earth, bear the punishment for my sin and open a heavenly home for me. This gift is the gift that changes everything.
More than anything else, my heart’s greatest desire is that all people come to know Jesus, His gift which is theirs to receive by faith, and the life that truly counts as they follow Him.
Christmas blessings to you!
A few weeks ago, I was standing in the church parking lot with the “mother of the bride” for an upcoming wedding.
The lot was abuzz with activity. Volunteer workers loading trailers; workers packing food; cars getting
ready to head to damaged homes in the city; it was a beehive of activity. I looked at the mother-of-the-bride and said,
“I am so sorry. Let me apologize in advance for the inconvenience that all of this might be for your guests.” There was a long silence, and then with a trembling voice she composed herself and said, “No. It’s OK. This is what a
church is supposed to do.”
To BE a Blessing
The truth of the matter is that the church exists for those outside its doors. Way back in Genesis chapter 12, God said to Abraham, “Through you,
all nations on the earth will be blessed.” In those words God was pointing to the day when He would step into our sin-broken world and through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, He would bring THE BLESSING that would put an end to sin’s curse. Jesus brought blessing to those with sickness; blessing to those in blindness; blessing to those who were guilt ridden; blessing to those with every physical and spiritual need. By becoming a blessing to people in their suffering, Jesus opened their eyes to see the Father in new ways, and to help them begin the journey back to God.
Jesus still does that today, only today He does it through you and me, His Church. Today WE are the people who carry the blessing of Christ into a world filled with need. This is what we do corporately, but it’s also what we do as individual Christians. When the new Spirit of Jesus lives through us, WE become people of blessing. Truth be told, you and I as followers of Christ are the ones who carry Abraham’s blessing into the corners of the world today, “Through YOU all nations on the earth will be blessed.” We bless people when we care for them like Christ. We bless people when step into their hurt, like Christ did. We bless people when we give them encouragement and hope that leads to healing for their hearts, like Christ did. And most importantly, we bless them when we help them know the Gospel, both in Word, but also lived out in deed.
Are YOU a Blessing?
It is in our DNA to look beyond ourselves and to be a blessing. This is who we are. I invite you to use the best of your abilities to look outward in the name of Jesus! There is need everywhere! Remember, where your joy and the world’s need meet is where you’ll find your purpose for the moment. Is your gift to listen to someone hurting? Then reach out today to someone. Open your eyes, because God is putting that person in front of you this very day. Is your gift to swing a hammer? Then reach out to someone today. In your path will be someone that God has
placed there who needs you. You might be the answer to the prayer that they tearfully lifted to God last night before crying themselves to sleep. Is your gift to bake muffins? (Yes, I wrote bake muffins) There is someone in your path today that will feel the love of Jesus through you as you give them a warm muffin wrapped in the love of Jesus! Is your gift to raise money? To manage tools? To make sandwiches? Do you have joy in making cards? Is your gift art? Music? Computer skills? There is someone who God will put in your path today that you can bless in the name of Jesus.
Ten years ago I heard a sermon that I will never forget. It was preached by a former member, Aaron Filipek, who has now become a pastor.
The theme of the sermon was simply, “Love people until they ask you why!” It doesn’t matter if they are rich or poor, single or married, man or woman, child or elderly … if there’s a need in their life, Jesus calls us to love them … and keep on loving them … and when they ask you why, to simply say, “Because that’s what Jesus would do for me if I were going through what you’re going through!” The mother-of-the-bride saw a church filled with busyness and saw it as nothing more than the love of Jesus.
I AM sorry
Has it been a little harried here at OSLC? Yes.
Has it been inconvenient for you? Sometimes.
Are there still things to figure out? Well, yes.
But that’s the risk. And truth be told, we’ve been a congregation willing to take risk in the name of Jesus from our very beginning. Four months ago I parked my car on the top of South Hill and looked across the devastation of the 2011 flood. These are the homes of the community I live
in, the people that I love. They are the homes of families, friends, people I haven’t met yet, people I will meet soon. Each one represents a life waiting for blessing. I prayed, “Lord, it’s so huge! Lead the way and show me and our wonderful church family how we can help.” Since a lot has happened: Over 11,000 volunteer hours have been managed through our partnership with Lutheran Disaster Response. A Christian Care Line has been established. Four very successful grants were funded for flood affected families.
We’ve created a Minot LCMS Flood Relief Committee to begin the processes to bring additional financial assistance to our LCMS families. We’ve been in contact with Lutheran Housing Assistance for long range Minot needs. In service to the community, we’ve networked with the national heads of eight faith-based disaster entities and have even worked with the White House Director for Faith Based and Community Initiatives – all that in addition to crisis pastoral intervention and daily work. Why? Because it’s in our DNA.
Thank you for being the people that you are: A people of blessing. In the name of Jesus, with His presence beside us, His mercy living through us, and His Spirit flowing within us, let’s continue to bring blessing to those whom God has placed in front of us. Because, “Through you all nations of the earth will be blessed.”
Looking for a member’s home I pulled up into the wrong driveway and discovered a man I had never met before. He was alone at his home, sad and somewhat lost. He had lived in this house more than 20 years, raised his family there, celebrated Christmas, Easters, graduations, and all the important events of life there, and now the home was gone. It was nothing more than a flood ravished shell. As I listened to his stories he would frequently say, “Sorry about the tears.”
Why do we sometimes feel the need to apologize for crying? Perhaps we look at tears as showing a weakness in our character or a vulnerability we don’t like. Maybe we’re uncomfortable or think our tears are making others uncomfortable.
Our emotions, however, are God-given. They are a part of the healing processes that God has placed in our life. More importantly, however, they’re a characteristic of our having been made in God’s image. We grieve because God grieves. In the Old Testament, God was sorrowful and angry about His people’s sin and the separation it caused between Him and them. Jesus, God in the flesh, joined His friends Mary and Martha in grieving over the loss of their brother Lazarus in John 11. The Bible says, “He [Jesus] groaned in the spirit and was troubled.”
He “wept”, not just cried, but “wept”, it tells us in verse 35. And then again Jesus breaks down once more as he comes to the tomb in verse 38. There was no apology for his tears. They simply flowed freely.
Someday when we get to heaven, there will be no more loss. As promised, “There will be no more sorrow, no more crying, no more pain … and God will wipe away every tear from our eyes.” (Rev. 21:4) In the meantime, the tears may flow. The healing can happen. No apologies needed.
The award winning Canadian poet, Di Brandt, put it like this:
He knows our burdens
and our crosses,
Those things that hurt, our trials and losses,
He cares for every soul that cries,
God wipes the tears from weeping eyes.
May God’s care bring you hope and peace in every way.
We all have conflict. Think of the people you know. They may not be in the middle of a big blow up, but they certainly have tense conversations around the breakfast table or difficulties with an overbearing boss. Or more seriously, perhaps their marriage is on the verge of falling apart. Perhaps you, along with the people you know, are looking for answers.
Resolving Everyday Conflict is an eight-week Sunday morning study that unpacks the amazing things the Bible has to say about conflict and relationships. Using materials from Peacemakers, the international Christian ministry, Resolving Conflict gives powerful and practical answers people are looking for to forever change how conflict looks in their lives.
JOIN PASTOR KRUEGER for Resolving Everyday Conflict, Sunday mornings, beginning Sept. 18th, at 11:00 AM in OSLC’s great room. You just might find something that makes a difference for you!
As we move into the next phase of the Flood Response we’ll begin to make a shift in the items that we’ll be needing. Some items will be items to borrow, some will still be donations.
1. AIR CARD DONATION – Bonnie Rennich, OSLC’s Director of Music and Congregational Ministries, is working remotely from her family’s lake property near Bottineau. The same thing is true for her husband Tim whose business was flooded. Since their home is one block from the river in the center of town, they will be evacuated for an extended time. A laptop computer has been supplied for Bonnie to allow her to work from Bottineau. The challenge is that cell coverage exists, but DSL service for the computer does not. The solution is to provide an AIR CARD for Bonnie so that she can have remote access and connections to the rest of the OSLC staff via the computer. A donation is being sought for this purpose.
2. The EOC (Emergency Operations Center) meals phase of OSLC’s flood recovery has come to a close. During the month of June, OSLC volunteers served 100+ meals for 20 days as the flood fight ramped up and went into its critical phases. Almost all of the meals were covered by donations of food and money from OSLC members with the remainder covered by a grant from LCMS World Relief and Human Care.
3. Items that will soon be needed include generators and gas powered pumps. Some are available for use toward the end of the week. Working with the ND District and with Orphan Grain Train, OSLC members will have the opportunities to use some of these larger pieces of equipment and more as soon as some of the practical items, such as storage, training, etc., are worked out.
4. On Tuesday, OSLC receive a large amount of food items from Eagle Valley Church in Libby, MT. Eagle Valley Church heard of the devastation Minot was facing and decided to take an offering for the Christians in Minot. Through connections with one of our OSLC members, they delivered a large pick-up load of non-perishable food and approximately $800 in cash to OSLC’s Flood Relief Fund.
5. In addition, $1000 was received from Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Greenville, Wisconsin, along with a $500 check from a neighbor living in the Prairie Bluffs addition directly east of our building. We’re grateful for such kindness as we use these dollars to assist our members.
With the water still at record levels, but slowly, slowly receeding, here’s the latest OSLC efforts for our members and our community:
1. Pastor Krueger will begin the weekly team meetings with Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR) www.ldrnd.org this Wednesday as LDR brings a national presence and 14 years of North Dakota disaster response expertise into our city. LDR will take the leading role in the city as they did in Grand Forks and be the means through which many of the OSLC flood response items will happen. They will also work with the churches of Minot to coordinate servant groups in the long-term clean-up and recovery. God’s people are intended to be a blessing to their communities, and through the partnership with LDR we hope to assist many.
2. OSLC applied for and has been granted $14,600 from “LCMS Human Care and World Relief” which is being distributed to flood ravished families to meet immediate needs that they may find themselves facing. In addition, OSLC’s Flood Relief Fund has received an additional $4000 through online and personal gifts that will be used for people’s immediate short term (non-FEMA covered) needs. All funds contributed to the Flood Relief Fund are going directly to assist families.
3. We’re beginning to assess the equipment necessary for the recovery. Over the weekend a pair of pumps were delievered to the church. Wednesday morning we have a telephone conference with a volunteer team who specialize in other equipment necessary to assist families and clean up teams following disasters such as ours. This group has the ability to provide everything from mobile kitchens, to shovels that can be used in the clean up processes.
4. Names of Servant Teams from across the country are now starting to be collected. Teams from as far away as Michigian and Oklahoma have already begun their plans to assist in the Minot area. These names and contact persons are being kept in an OSLC data base. LDR will assist in the coordination of teams and individual home owners as the time for clearing homes begins.
5. The need at Our Savior - Listed here is the best assessment of Our Savior’s families and the impact of the flood:
- Our 7/3/11 assessment shows that 79 Our Savior Families were evacuated from their homes (or business) on June 22, 23.
- 42 families have homes which are total loss, meaning water is to the roof lines or greater
- Added to that are 12 families who are facing what we’re calling “total loss with special circumstances”, meaning homes are collapsed or dislodged from foundation, or the family lost both a home(s) and a business.
- 22 families are facing a partial loss, meaning water filling the basement and lapping on the main floor, or they were renting a home where they can no longer return.
- 3 families (three generations – grandparents, parents, adult grandchildren) whose homes are intact, but whose business, which supports all three families is a total loss.
- OSLC full-time and part-time staff members are included in the above totals. The staff losses are as follows:
- Administrative Secretary (full time) – Home is a total loss.
- Director of Music and Congregational Ministries (full time) – Home may be a total loss, husband’s business is a total loss.
- Director of OSLC’s Child Development Center (full time) – A single parent with three children, home may be a total loss.
6. OSLC volunteers concluded daily meals at the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) on Friday, July 1st. Our volunteers prepared 100+ meals per day for a total of 20 days during the month of June, taking into account the flooding at both the beginning of the month and at the end of the month. Thank you to all who generously donated food, dollars, and time.
7. As the recovery phases begin, the following volunteers will be needed. As the Lord moves your heart, perhaps one of these areas will be an area that you would find joy in serving:
- Case Mangagers – working with LDR, you would receive training and assist families in walking through the recovery process. FEMA, SBA, and a whole lot more agencies will all converge, leaving individuals wondering if they’ve taken the correct steps and walked through the proper processes. As a Case Manager, you would guide a family and assist them in this important process.
- “Cut and Muck” – The recovery begins as homes are cleared of debris and sheetrock is removed. This process will take many hands, and at the same time workers will give great hope to people who are simply overwhelmed by the task. Servant teams from all over the country are making plans to travel to Minot and assist. Minot volunteers can make a great impact as well. In the next little bit our focus will begin moving in this direction.
- SBA Assistance – working with LDR, you would receive training to assist applicants in completing the SBA loan forms. The forms themself are a thick stack of papers that can feel intimidating for a person even before they begin. Working through the church you would provide a trusting, caring encouragement and practical assistance for people completing the paper work. This too can be an exceptional way to asssist.
8. Thanks to the kindness of OSLC members Michael and Wendi Johnson, a camper trailer has been provided for Karla Ross, our child development director to live in. With this trailer she’ll be able to have her children close by and will no longer have to commute from her rented “sleeping room” in Berthold. Thanks Mike and Wendi!
9. OSLC Pastor’s continue to provide counseling care to individuals who are faced with such devestation. Please continue to hold the people of Minot in your prayers.
10. ONE STOP REGISTRATION at www.oslcnow.com. The OSLC web site will be the collection point for:
- Servant Event Teams. Servant Event Teams from all LCMS congregations anywhere in the nation will be directed to register their groups through the OSLC web site. These names will be automatically pushed into the LDR volunteer system where they will be matched with Minot area homes.
- Homeowner Registration. Homeowners in Minot will be able to register their home for volunteer assistance through the OSLC web site. When the city and county have given the approval to begin, this data will be matched with servant event groups by LDR and the helping hands of people across the nation will be coming to Minot homes. This will be for both the “Clean Up Phase” and the “Rebuild Phase” of Minot’s recovery.
- Financial Donations. Flood Recovery donations will continue to be gathered through the secure giving button found on OSLC’s web site.
- Prayer Requests. The OSLC web site is equipped for prayer requests which are directly forwarded to our pastoral staff. This service will be available to anyone in the community.
Thank you for your generous support of OSLC’s Flood Response.
Giving that makes a difference! Thank you for all that you’ve contributed so far whether it’s been by cash donation or by physically dropping items off at the church.
Here are the OSLC flood crisis donation needs for Friday and Saturday, July 1 and 2
1. Food for Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Meals:
Each day OSLC serves 100+ meals to the leaders at the Emergency Operations Center.
Items you can help with by donating:
Friday July 1 – Chow Mein Hotdish
15 lbs hamburger
Cream of mushroom soup – 15 cans
Chicken Rice Soup – 15 cans
Mixed Frozen Veggies – 5 packages
Saturday July 2 – EOC Meals Come to a Close. Thank you so very much!
DELIVER THESE ITEMS TO THE CHURCH – Thanks!
(By the way, your cash donations are used to purchase items that are not physically donated for the meals. Thank you for your donations as well! You can make cash donations online by using the GIVE button on the home page and following the directions for OSLC’s giving kiosk.)
2. LHLH Kitchen Help Needed for dish washing during the duration of the “water boil“
The added time for boiling water and handwashing dishes is causing the LHLH center to relocate care givers from their classrooms to assist in the kitchen. Most of the dishes are paper/plastic, so there would only be the cooking dishes. Time would be approximately 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM while the boil order stays in effect.
3. OSLC Staff member can use a camper for temporary housing! Karla Ross, OSLC’s Child Development Center Directorwas evacuated from her “evacuation house”. Her children are currently housed in different parts of town while Karla rents a “sleeping room” in Berthold. With the early morning and late night hours that she holds, along with the separation from her children, this situation is very difficult for her to say the least. Can you help us find a camper that can be used for 2-3 months to help alleviate this difficulty? If one can be found, the plan will be to place the camper at the east end of the OSLC parking lot and supply it with electricity for the duration. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated in the search.
PLEASE CALL PASTOR KRUEGER 852-6404 TO FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION.