By Pastor Sam Coleman
As I’m writing this newsletter article I am looking outside my office window here at Charity at the new snow we received last night. The Ponderosa pine trees are covered with it, and even the harshness of the needles are softened by the beautiful snow resting on them. It’s amazing that even on these frigid days of winter here in the tundra (Sarah’s not-so-loving reference to North Dakota), there is spectacular beauty surrounding us if we are willing to stop and appreciate it.
I think about how often life can be encapsulated by even the simplest moments. There is the beauty of the newly fallen snow mixed with the harshness of -10, -20, or even -30 degrees below 0. This morning at sunrise, the snow became beautiful shades of blue and yellow and was breathtaking, but it took 20 minutes for my car to even become comfortably warm. I have to say that I love the beauty of winter but hate the cold.
A life lesson in this is that everything in life has its good and bad. I don’t think there is even the possibility of it all being good or all bad in this life. It’s always a mixture. The real question is in what we choose to focus on in the midst of the good and bad. Often a sad reality is that it is easier to focus on the negative to the detriment of the good.
Pastor Terry Sletto mentioned this in a sermon recently as he shared about meeting a woman that was so focused on the cold of winter and possibly the negatives in her life that there was palpable darkness surrounding her. He tried to cheer her, but she wasn’t able to receive the hope he offered. I think we’ve all been there at different times in our life and God knows our propensity to focus on the negative instead of the positive, so he gives us this command in His Word: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and just, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” - Philippians 4:8
This verse is a challenge to each of us to make a choice. We can focus on the things that are true, just, right, and the list goes on, or we can focus on lies, injustice, wrong, and the list goes on with that as well. And our focus not only determines our attitudes and perspective on life but also the effect that we have on the people around us and ultimately for eternity.
And this is also a command because as followers of Christ we have the most excellent example of what is true, just, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise.
We have Jesus.
We can have hope in the midst of sadness, pain, death, sin, and all the things gone wrong with us and the world because the winter of this world will end and spring will be sprung when the Son returns in all His warmth, love, justice, and splendor. Choose to focus on that.
The Power of Unity in a world full of Broken Families
I recently had my students take three minutes to come up with as many questions as could about family.
Most of the questions dealt with the hardship, pain, and disunity within families. As I analyzed a lot of these, I am led to ask another question. How often do we debrief as a family and hash out the good, the hard, and the ugly things? How often do we take the time to redirect in order to bring unity and direction as a family?
How do you keep family close now a days when everything in the world tries to pull you a part? Here are my thoughts. Yes, my personal thoughts. I don’t know how to parent, I have never had a sister, but I have seen my family fail over and over, so I have some wisdom to share.
While I was on the race, we had team debriefs every two months. We became family. It was directed in a way that broke down the flaws in my immediate family and gave me the ability to surrender my pride and selfishness and grasp the power of forgiveness and grace. So, what does that practically look like?
Well, it looks like sitting down on the couch with your family with no time barrier. Everyone get the opportunity to share how they are doing – what they think, feel, what’s good and what’s hard. As everyone intentionally listens, not to cretic or interject but simply to understand the leader (Father/Mother) can facilitate the conversation for more depth and to hash out the problems amidst the family.
Many times, this feels uncomfortable especially if there is conflict in the room, which there often is. However, if you never embrace the conflict and the problems then the disunity that takes place becomes like a wedge to drive you apart and to keep your relationships shallow. The Bible says in Ephesians 4 of how be unified and it starts with “always being humble and gentle, being patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. (Eph. 4:2)” However, when there is a lack of humility and a sense of pride that takes place, the conversation starts to look like blame and pointing fingers. The key to these conversations is ownership and personal reflection – its part of “working out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).
Families can be so hard, especially without parents who don’t know how to lead or direct these conversations. However, there is grace for them too. Know that in the hard is where the most growth and love is developed. Trails bring about the genuineness of faith and I believe the same is true with family.
When I was 16 my family finally sat down and had a debrief. By the end of the open, honest and real conversation, my whole family was balling all around the table. It was this deep realization that we had hurt each other in so many ways and we were holding unforgiveness and bitterness because of it. From that one moment it changed my perspective on the importance of creating the space to make that happen. I don’t know if my family has had a heart to heart like that since, especially now because everyone is out of the house. However, what an impact it can have when we are free to be and workout the problems in order to grasp more harmony within the family.
In conclusion, maybe its time to debrief. Start a new tradition. Have a conversation that is not bound by time. Listen to each other, humbly correct and encourage each other. Enjoy the fellowship and strive for unity in the body. “For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all and living through all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
By Lauri Desir
Sunday Pastor Scott Bauman shared a message about how Satan tries to attack us every day. I wanted to add a couple of practical ideas I try to remember when I realize I’m in a spiritual war. I’m sure you know these tips already, but even if I’m reminding myself, it’s still helpful as we all press on towards the goal. We know , but sometimes we need to confidently declare that truth, so the enemy knows the fight is over.
Warfare to me involves: First, acknowledging that Satan is trying to dissuade me from my Christian walk. Second, deeply believing that I do belong to the Lord Jesus Christ so nothing can separate me from Him and lastly declaring the name of Jesus.
I want to focus on how we can boldly proclaim the saving name of Jesus when we are in a bind. Most of our battles go on in our minds. The good news is that Jesus can transform our stinky thinking to His holy praises with just the mention of His name!
Announce to yourself, the enemy and the world where your allegiances lie so there isn’t any confusion. Wouldn’t you love to, “live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says, ‘Oh no, he/she's awake!’ ”
The first way to do this is to broadcast His name. Every morning when we wake up our first thought should be “Lord, I give you my heart!” (from Hillsong Worship song, see lyrics below).
Hopefully, you’re carving time out of your schedule to spend in prayer and His Word each morning. I’m trying something new this year, and after I spend my quiet time with Jesus, I am writing one tidbit on my hand in pen. I pick out either part of the verse, an idea to focus on, or a song that it reminds me of and then I have that to peek at through the day as challenges come up.
Next is to put on your Armor of God from Ephesians 6:10-18. Figure out how to work this into your day, but one idea I’ve heard is as you get dressed to speak forth the parts of the armor as you put your clothes on. Someone else I know prays over it as she drives to work.
We must also keep the Word close to our hearts. If we have an arsenal of weapons ready, with bible verses memorized, then nothing can attack us. Sometimes before I speak God’s Word, I say the lyrics of Michael W. Smith song, “Surrounded” that we sang in church on Sunday. THIS is how I fight my battles. This is HOW I fight my battles. Emphasis a different word in the sentence each time as you meditate on the meaning.
During the day, be prepared with biblical declarations to speak over yourself. For example, if you are starting to feel the enemy wants you to be afraid, you can say, “I am anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, I let my requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard my hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
God has not given me a spirit of fear. He gives me power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV).
Last is to be ready to watch for spiritual warfare going on around you. If the enemy thinks he can attack your family or people you see as you’re out and about, ask if you can pray for them. Do not allow the enemy to take any ground when you are present. Wherever you are is holy ground, and you need to keep it pure, both for yourself but to cast out demons who want to attack.
In staff devotions last week, I told about how I was driving in the car with my foster kids, and both boys started saying they hated themselves. I knew it was an attack from the enemy and I wanted everyone to know we would not stand for it. As soon as I started to sing these words from an old Bill Gaither song, the boys’ mouths were zippered closed! WOW! There is no kingdom greater than our Master!
“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus; there’s just something about that name.
Master, Savior, Jesus, like the fragrance after the rain;
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, let all Heaven and earth proclaim
Kings and kingdoms will all pass away,
But there’s something about that name.”
If you feel like you are in bondage and need more help, run to the book of Ephesians and read about the power you can claim. Call another Christian to pray with you or take time to fast and focus on the strength God can give you.
This is indeed the day He has made, and we will rejoice in our freedom! Amen!
" Lord, I give you my heart" by Hillsong Worship
This is my desire
To honor You
Lord, with all my heart
I worship You
All I have within me
I give You praise
All that I adore
Is in You
Lord, I give You my heart
I give You my soul
I live for you alone
And every breath that I take
Every moment I'm awake
Lord, have Your ways in me
First of all, before I even begin “blogging” I feel the need to confess that I’ve never done anything like this, in fact, I had to look up what “blogging” was and what needs to be communicated when you “blog.” Which, from what I can tell it’s wide open so here goes nothing, I guess.
I’m going to talk about ConnectKIDS because most of you know it’s a ministry close to my heart. I know a little about it (which they suggested you should have a little bit of knowledge about what you’re writing about - seems legit to me).
For those of you that don’t know, I’m the director of Charity’s Bus Ministry and, I need to confess that, in addition to having never blogged before, I’m not a big social media fan (AT ALL) I don’t like putting myself out there AT ALL.
But, since this has to do with Charity and you are all my church family, I’m honored to be able to communicate in this new and hip (is this hip or am I aging myself with that word) way?
Here’s the meat of my message. My heart has been touched by the outpouring of support and love our congregation has shown for those less fortunate and our ministry. On Sunday, Jan. 27, our amazing group of volunteers, along with the amazing vision and organizational skills of Nancy Jensen and Brenda Whitman, presented our ministry to the Charity congregation. We poured out our hearts, and the congregation received, loved on, and poured back into us.
And for the love I feel from our church and the family we have in the members that do so much for so many, I am forever thankful. You know the crazy thing is it’s not just the ConnectKIDS ministry you guys love-on and support, it’s a whole bunch of other ministries and people whose lives you have touched that makes you so special.
You are so loving and generous, and you are such beautiful people! I feel your love every time I walk through the doors of Charity. Sometimes the love comes out in stories and observations and sometimes it comes out in questions and concerns for how the kids we bring on Sundays and Wednesdays are behaving. Please know I appreciate all of it and I know your hearts are all about loving others and sharing God’s word with others.
If you have questions about how or why we are doing this, please know that it’s okay to question this ministry. We care about what you think and how you feel about what we’re doing. We welcome all of it, the good, the bad, and the ugly. This ministry has been around for just a couple years, and it seems like each week we’re tweaking and trying to make it better. We don’t have all the answers, and we certainly don’t know everything there is to know about sharing God’s word with others. I believe that God speaks to and through EVERYONE so please, If God has laid something on your heart that I or someone else involved with ConnectKIDS needs to hear, please contact me at Melissa.firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text me at (605)545-3161.
If you’re more comfortable with another staff person, feel free to contact them instead. Keep in mind that we’d prefer to have a name associated with your questions/concerns so we can connect and converse.
Everyone matters and everyone’s happiness is important to the Charity family and the ConnectKIDS volunteers. Please share your wisdom with us. Thank you for your support and for reading my first-ever “blog.”
By Andrew Hershey
High School Director Charity Lutheran
That is a question of my heart since I was so little. Why does he get that? Why don't I get that? He gets more one day, I get more a different day.
What about others around me who are super rich? Who have a bigger house? Who get to be in the starting lineup?
Why can't life be fair? Because if it were fair, maybe I would have more, perhaps I wouldn't be jealous, maybe I wouldn’t have to worry about others.
NOT TRUE AT ALL.
If everything was fair, I'm pretty sure that I would have less than I have right now. If life were fair I would get what I deserve. I would be in charge of the punishment for my sin and no one could take that away from me. What is fair is for me to be punished for every foolish word and action I have spoken and done.
How thankful I am for life not being fair. For when life isn't fair then I can receive grace and mercy I don't deserve. I can show compassion and give forgiveness. I have offer hope when all else seems hopeless.
Oh, our foolish mentality that we look at others and think, “that isn't fair?” For we are one of the most blessed in the world. We live in America where there is constant abundance. When was the last time we haven’t had three meals a day? When is the last time you haven't had a place to stay? With around 7.5 billion people in this world 325.7 million people live in the United States. Want a percentage on that? Well, it's 4.34 percent. So what does that mean? It means only 4.34 percent of people have the liberties that America provides; and that includes the ability to pursue wealth. That means 95.7 percent are most likely on a lower class than you. So, if everything were fair others would need to increase, and we would need to decrease our status.
It is said to be around 80 trillion dollars floating around in the world right now. If you evenly divided that between every person in the world everyone would be given $1,142.85. If life were fair anyone who had more money than that would have to give up all that they had. And everyone that had less than that would be given more.
I’m sorry but catch this statistic by the Credit Suisse Survey in 2014. American's average net worth is around $301,000. Wow! Talk about fair? We would love a lot, we deserve a lot less. We don't deserve the wealth, yet it is God’s grace to us.
In the Kingdom “to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.” - Matthew 25:29
We have a responsibility here because life isn’t fair. We have the ability to give generously because we have abundance. So what about spiritually? Have we received that grace, that forgiveness, that love that is so overly abundant that we are able to generously give it to others.
Who cares who is first? What matters is that they get in. If the last shall be first and the first shall be last, what a great reward we get to look forward to the longer we wait.
When I have received a gift I often want to savor it because I know when it is open that is it. It's no longer a gift anymore when we open it. When we get into the kingdom of God and finally receive our crown what an amazing time that will be because of how long we have been waiting in expectation to receive it.
So here is the challenge: When life isn't fair, don't question “why me?” Why not me?” Believe the truth and celebrate for our brother or sister. The Bible talks about it in Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” Think about those people who finally come to repentance at the edge of death - will we question and say, “why do they get to experience heaven when they didn’t care anything about God during their whole life?” Or will we celebrate praising God saying, “Glory to Jesus this person doesn’t have to experience eternity apart from you.”
It's time to have a kingdom perspective and get rid our selfish desires and let the love of the Lord change us to celebrate with those around us.
Praise the Lord that life isn't fair.
Welcome to our Charity blog that will take you deeper than just the Sunday and Wednesday sermons. We have heard your requests that you want more information that you take home and study throughout the week - and are going to make that possible.
Wednesday at WOW we discussed the fact that God can use our daily habits to grow our faith. The scripture verse was Titus 2:7-8. Some daily habits that are important to establish are prayer, bible reading, bible studies, and devotions (both personal and family).
If we want to cultivate our friendships, we hang around with our friends. We spend time in conversation and eventually it will bring us to enjoy each other's presence. When we choose to allow prayer to become a part of our daily habit, our relationship with God begins to grow. As that relationship develops, you will find that you aren’t just going to God in the hard times - you go to him in the good times too. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 is an excellent reminder that we should pray always.
Read Colossians 4:2-4, what does Paul tell the Colossians about prayer? How does this apply to you in your walk? Are you steadfast in prayer? If you aren't steadfast, it’s ok! What are some action steps that you could take to become steadfast?
It can be overwhelming to a new believer who chooses to start reading the Bible. Where do I start? What am I looking for? Why is this important? One thing that goes hand in hand with reading the Bible is to make the conscious decision to obey what the Bible says. Reading/Hearing the word but not doing or believing in the validity are contrary to each other. When you read, you will find that God uses our habit of reading to not only comfort us in our time of need but will convict us of truth’s that we need to obey. It can be gratifying and hard at the same time. If you are beginning to open God’s word, here are some things that can help you get on a plan that works for your day. There is no one size fits all strategy for everyone. With the internet at our fingertips, you can google anything and find some great ideas.
Devotions are a great thing to help you and your family to look at God’s word. If I were to answer the question of Bible reading or devotional? I will always say Bible reading. (Matthew 7:24) God’s word is sufficient, and the way he works through his word to reveal things to us is amazing. If you want to add something to your Bible reading, then I would say add a devotional. Devotionals can help us pull different parts of the Bible together, offer insight, or even apply the word in a way we hadn’t previously thought of before. I like to use a mix of personal and family devotions. As one of the kids is finishing up a devotional, I’ll pray over what is going on in their life and ask God to reveal qualities or characteristics that may need some focus. Then, I’ll go to the Rainbow Shop or start to look online for something that works. If you send your older kids to Crystal Springs Camp in the summer, they will get signed up for a free year of devotionals that the church sends. I believe one a quarter. They have been great.
One of my favorite resources to find great free devotionals is the YouVersion app on my phone. This free app has many resources at your fingertips. What it is - a Bible, a daily bible verse (delivered to your phone each day), devotions, and much more. You can find a devotional or bible study plan to meet you where you are. They range from topical, to gender, vary in the number of days, and age range.
Spend some time at the Rainbow shop; they have a great range of devotionals that vary as much as the YouVersion app. I have found a few great devotional books that my family is currently using. Here are a few of them:
Me (the mom): “Awaken” by Priscilla Shirer. This devotional is 90 days long. I love how much scripture Priscilla has for each day. She is a talented writer (you should check out her Bible Studies). Some days, when time is a bit tight, I just read the devotional and ponder her questions at the end. On other days, I look up all of the Bible verses and reflect on them, trying to discern what God is telling me.
Children (ages 9-12): Jim and Elizabeth George - “A Young Woman After God’s Own Heart,” and “A Boy After God’s Own Heart.” They also have others available. “Unseen” by Priscilla Shirer is a great devotional for tween boys who like action/adventure. “Between You and God: Devotions for Girls” by Tyndale has a good devotional for my 9-year-old daughter.
Children (age 4-6): “Bible Devotions for BedTime” by Daniel Partner is good for those smaller children. Sarah Young has a “Jesus Calling” for children that is very beneficial.
Blessings to you and your family! As we begin this new year, I encourage you to pray and ask God to reveal what he is asking you to start adding to your daily routine. As we talked about at WOW, we desire every single person at Charity to wake up every day proclaiming “GIVE ME JESUS.” We want you to have a personal relationship with Jesus so that when those storms come - the waters will rise, the winds will blow, and floods will flow - you will persevere because of your relationship with Christ. You won’t come through unscathed, but will come through as he walks with you! Our God is so good.
Jessica Toman - Charity Youth and Children’s Coordinator