Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"Praise the Lord!"

There's a little old Christian lady living next door to an atheist. Every morning the lady comes out onto her front porch and shouts, "Praise the Lord!" The atheist yells back, "There is no God!"
She does this every morning with the same result. As time goes on the lady runs into financial difficulties and has trouble buying food. She goes out onto the porch and asks God for help with groceries, then says, "Praise the Lord."
The next morning she goes out onto the porch and there's the groceries she's asked for; of course, she says, "Praise the Lord!" The atheist jumps out from behind a bush and says, "Ha! I bought those groceries -- there is no God!"
The lady looks at him and smiles and shouts, "Praise the Lord! Not only did you provide groceries for me, Lord, you made the Devil pay for them."

-- Faith Free Lutheran Church newsletter

Monday, July 30, 2007

mood swings

Are we condemned to be passive victims of our moods? Must we simply say: "I feel great today" or "I feel awful today," and require others to live with our moods?
Although it is very hard to control our moods, we can gradually overcome them by living a well-disciplined spiritual life. This can prevent us from acting out of our moods. We might not "feel" like getting up in the morning because we "feel" that life is not worth living, that nobody loves us, and that our work is boring. But if we get up anyhow, to spend some time reading the Gospels, praying the Psalms, and thanking God for a new day, our moods may lose their power over us.

-- Henri Nouwen Society

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Some thoughts on prayer by Abbot John Chapman used to conclude my message tomorrow at Beaver Lake Lutheran:
Pray as you can, not as you can't.
The only way to fail at prayer is not to show up.
Sometimes God sends distractions and/or sleep. Accept those as you would any other grace.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Prayer 101

Prayer 101
is the title of my message this Sunday when I'll be returning to the pulpit at Beaver Lake Lutheran Church. I will be preaching on the Gospel lesson from St. Luke 11:1-13.
The service is at 9:30 a.m. and I would love to see you there. For directions go to this link on the Church's web site. Do note that the exit from Hwy. 36 unto McKnight road is closed.
You will find Beaver Lake to be an open and welcoming congregation where the Holy Spirit is working through the members.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Listening is not always easy.

Monday, July 23, 2007


You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.
- Amy Carmichael

Sunday, July 22, 2007

the same God?

These days it is common to run into discussions about whether we, Christians, worship the same God as Muslims or Jews. The following questions were posted on a forum that I thought were helpful (maybe not) in considering the issue of the "same God." Let me know what you think.

This is, to my mind, a very strange question. What does "the same God" mean? What's a different God? Do you worship the same God I do? Who has successfully delimited God so as to say "That's mine and that's yours"? Who owns the copyright on "God"? What in the world does this question MEAN?

Friday, July 20, 2007

understanding our fellow Christians

A few months ago Francis Beckwith, president of the Evangelical Theological Society, resigned from that office and rejoined the Roman Catholic Church, the church of his childhood. I am posting the link to his blog, not to advocate his decision, but so that you may appreciate a great man's struggle in seeking God. Even more illuminating are the comments following his blog entry -- supporting as well as condemning him. Reading them will give you a wide spectrum of views showing how various individuals who consider themselves Christians look at their beliefs as well as those with whom they disagree. I wish more of us were willing to use the approach of Paul in Acts 17 addressing the Athenians. To see Dr. Beckwith's final comments you have to scroll to the bottom of this blog entry. (click here)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

monks sell

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Who gets the credit?

Commit a random act of kindness every day,
and give the credit to God.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mary & Martha

As an Oblate of St. Benedict, affiliated with Blue Cloud Abbey in Marvin, South Dakota, I regularly read the comments by the Abbey's Abbot Thomas on their web site. His current observation is about Mary & Martha, based on the Gospel text for next Sunday. I will be preaching about the two women next Sunday at Beaver Lake Lutheran Church. During the summer there is one service at 9:30 a.m. Directions to the church are on their web site -- do note, however, that the exit to McKnight road off Hwy. 36 is presently closed.
I would love to see you Sunday!

Monday, July 16, 2007


When a doctoral student at Princeton asked, "What is there left in the world for original dissertation research?" Albert Einstein replied, "Find out about prayer. Somebody must find out about prayer."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

exciting discoveries

I'm not quite sure how this would fit into my search for God, but I do like the quote.
One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.
-- A.A. Milne

Saturday, July 14, 2007

seeking God

"When you search for me, you will find me;
if you seek me with all your heart,
I will let you find me," says the LORD

Jeremiah 29:13-14

Friday, July 13, 2007


The most vital time to relax
is when you don't have time for it.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it.
Psalm 24:1

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Solitude is the best vehicle for calm.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

find joy

Learn to find joy in the simple things,
the quiet things,
and the things which come free.

Friday, July 06, 2007

the calling

I have learned that ignoring a calling can lead to depression, anger, frustration, and a deep dissatisfaction with life. And I have learned that following a calling can also lead to moments of depression, anger, frustration, and loneliness. Yet, underneath those feelings will be a profound sense of peace and satisfaction.
—Kirsten Strand

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

a few excerpts from my Independence Day sermon

What should matter most to each of us is a permanent, personal peace. A peace that comes from knowing where we will spend eternity – after our few years on this earth. . . .
We as Christians do not have to fear the end times. Don’t let the Left Behind series scare you. We can look forward with eagerness to see Jesus – our Lord who, as we read in verse 8 (Isaiah 25), will himself wipe away the tears from all faces.
Does this sound too good to be true? For some people it does. Satan would have us believe that we have to do a certain amount of good works to be received in heaven – that we have to behave in a certain way in order to be saved.
We don’t! -- and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
If we ever have doubts about whether we are saved -- we need to turn to Ephesians, Chapter 2: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast.”
But aren’t Christians supposed to do good works? Aren’t we to avoid committing sins? Of course we are. But that’s putting the cart before the horse.
Our good works – our avoiding sin – is not what saves us. We are saved by our faith in Jesus. When we accept that Jesus died for our sins – when we are truly sorry for our sins – they are forgiven – and the slate is wiped clean.
It is after we have turned to Jesus – it is after we come to love him for what he did for us – it is then – out of our love for him – that we will let him guide our life and do good works.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Two Kingdoms

The following commentary, in my opinion, is right on regarding the separation of church and state; it is appropriate food for thought this July 4th. Rev. Lenz is the current pastor of Faith Free Lutheran Church, which I served from 1998 to 2004.

The Fourth of July is a good time to reflect on the two kingdoms in which Christians live. Martin Luther talked about the kingdom of the left hand (state) and the kingdom of the right hand (church). He was alluding to what Jesus said about His kingdom which "is not of this world" (John 18:36).

"Thy kingdom come" we pray as Jesus taught in the Lord's Prayer. Luther's Catechism instructs us that the kingdom of God comes "When our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit so that by His grace we believe His holy Word, and live a godly life here on earth, and in heaven for ever."

The church's job, therefore, is to proclaim God's Word by which the Spirit gives us His grace to believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. Then people will live as Christians who are "salt and light" in the world. Our Job is not to "Christianize" politics. The mission of the church is not to take over the government. Rather it is to preach the gospel, knowing that the gospel cannot legislate for the world, nor the world for the gospel.

In his blunt style, Luther wrote: "It is better to be ruled by a wise Turk than a stupid Christian." In other words, the church has no special knowledge about social justice and criminal codes, no sanctified wisdom about economics or foreign policy. Sadly, church people have demonstrated that they have no monopoly on moral purity either. Those who anoint themselves as moral leaders, claiming the "moral high ground" in public policy debates, tend to be blind to their own sin which they share with all others.

"The role of church leaders, rightly understood is to disavow all religiously-infused politics and politically-infused religions for the sake of the integrity of both kingdoms." (The Lutheran Hedgehog, March-April 2006)

However, Christians are not exempt from public service. As individuals we work through political systems out of love for our neighbor. We affirm the legitimacy of military force as a necessary option when threats to safety cannot be stopped by negotiation. And always, we remember that the peace of Jesus is "not as the world gives." (John 14:27)

-- Rev. Greg Lenz, Faith Free Lutheran Church (AFLC), Minneapolis, MN

Monday, July 02, 2007


The test of a preacher is that his congregation goes away saying, not, "What a lovely sermon!" but "I will do something.”
-- Billy Graham

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Catholics & Muslims

Read Abbot Thomas' interesting commentary on Islam from a Catholic point of view. Click here & go to the bottom of the page.

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