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Joy Ride: Marriage Part 2

Posted by Barbara Farland on OA10er @ 10:36 AM

Our “Joy Ride” series continues this weekend with a special message featuring insights from Karen Stevensen, a long-time full-time pre-marriage and marriage counselor who has also served in pastoral ministry. Using God’s Word as our guide, Karen, along with Pastor Carol Skjegstad, will help us understand the communication issues that affect marriage.

God created men and women with different sets of expectations and different ways to see the world around us. Many marriages begin with a heightened sense of passion, love and hope, but it might not be too long before our differences become more of the focus. It might not be too long before we deny Christ with our actions towards our spouses, resorting to our old ways of life versus celebrating the new creations He intends to make of us through our marriages. But by His strength, the truest forms of passion, love and hope can reside between husbands and wives throughout all their years together!

Karen has been described as down to earth, real and realistic in her work with engaged and married couples. No matter how heavy the issue, her suggestions and ideas are easy for couples to incorporate into their lives and effective in bringing their relationships under the authority and care of Jesus. This weekend’s message will include a video interchange between Karen and Pastor Carol—we hope you are looking forward to the conversation. Single, engaged, married or divorced—everyone is invited to glean new information on why God created marriage, designed it as He did and calls all of us to honor it.  

Interested in learning more beyond our message series? The following resources are recommended by Calvary’s pastoral staff:

NOTE: Consider Amazon Smile
If you choose to purchase any of the books listed above—or anything else for that matter—please consider setting up an Amazon Smile account so that a portion of your purchase may be donated to Calvary. Simply go to smile.amazon.com to set up or log into your Amazon account and to choose your beneficiary (Calvary is listed as “Calvary Lutheran Church Of Golden Valley”). Thank you!

 

Joy Ride: Real Life Is a Journey

Posted by Barbara Farland on OP4er @ 4:32 PM

The journey of life is full of ups and downs, trials, and hardships. However, when we follow Christ, God promises His joy in the midst of whatever we are experiencing. Wherever you at on this journey, we want to invite you to come and see the joy that is available to all who believe. Please join us over the next few weeks as we discover together the "Joy Ride" God has for us when we choose to follow Him.

The world and culture around us have a lot to say about marriage. However, the Bible has a lot to say about marriage as well. As we look at marriage, its purpose and God's plan for it, we need the voices of people in all places on the journey—those married, single, divorced and widowed.

God desires for marriage to reflect the harmony He enjoys in the Trinity, yet humanity has labelled marriage as a certain source of conflict and resentment. We can see this in the imagery of Ecclesiastes 4:12: "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." When we invite God into the marriage covenant, we deepen the value we place on marriage as followers of Christ.

God yearns for marriage to demonstrate a commitment that reflects His own generous and loving Spirit, yet humanity often ridicules marriage for the sense of obligation and supposed lack of freedom it brings into couples’ lives.

God presents marriage as a metaphor for Christ and His church, yet humanity remains blind to His will across all of our relationships, be them with our spouses, children, community and world.

Though “happily ever after” has never been part of God’s vernacular around marriage, it’s clear He designed it to be more than what we’re willing to receive from it. Taking a cue from our recent celebration of Easter, we have the opportunity to look at all facets of our lives with resurrection power—not to settle for what the world has conned us to believe about marriage and other life priorities, but instead, with the Holy Spirit’s help, to accept and seize the joy that God has woven into every fiber of His plan. We hope you’re looking forward to the ride!

 

Easter & Holy Week: “Who Do You Say That I Am?”

Posted by Richard Knopf on OP5er @ 5:18 PM

Throughout our Lenten journey, we’ve focused on who Jesus says He is: “the bread of life,” “the good shepherd,” “the gate” and everything the world’s great “I Am” claims to be. Now, in Jesus’ darkest hours and in preparation for the Good News of Easter, God asks us to respond to the most important question of all time: “Who do you say that I am?”

This was the question posed to Jesus’ disciples as the revolutionary purpose of His life and ministry became more widely known and challenged. This was the question that settled deeply into the disciples’ hearts as they continued to follow and learn from Jesus from the hills of Judea to the Galilean seashore. And this was the question that proved to be their breaking point as the cry for Jesus’ death overwhelmed the courts of Jerusalem and tested the disciples’ trust and devotion.

If we’re honest with ourselves, would we have stood firm in our faith as part of that scene? Even today, do we boldly proclaim Jesus as the Messiah, the Risen Savior of the world? We know we fail and that reality breaks our hearts but, just as it did with the disciples, may our repentance and Christ’s forgiveness embolden us for our next steps in loving and serving Him!

This week, we have the opportunity to contemplate our own tendencies to reject Jesus—our own sin that led to His torture, crucifixion and death. But Easter’s coming! As Jesus rises from the dead and conquers death for all time and all humankind, we are given the chance—over and over again—to say, “Yes, I receive Jesus as my Savior. I believe! He is risen indeed!”

Calvary exists to support and strengthen you and all people for that very thing. May our Holy Week Art Show inspire you to join fellow believers in expressing your faith in profound, beautiful ways. May our Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services bring the reality of Christ’s obedience and suffering into very personal perspective. And may the joy of Easter give you continuous hope and reassurance that Jesus is who He’s always claimed to be: alive and almighty forevermore!

Holy Week Art Show schedule>>

Easter & Holy Week schedule>>

 

Giving Generously Within & Beyond Calvary

Posted by Richard Knopf on OA11er @ 11:38 AM

From Pastor José Macías, Associate Pastor

Palm Sunday commemorates when Jesus enters Jerusalem on His way to offer Himself for our sake—by far the greatest gift of all time. It’s this gift that propels our own giving to the work of the church and for the sake of the world.

Though Christ’s journey to the cross is not what God expects of our lives, there are qualities within Jesus’ generosity that should inspire our own. First, Jesus’ giving was intentional. Throughout His ministry, He constantly examined His current actions and next steps with the will of His Father. He knew His existence on Earth was preordained to accomplish a God-given purpose and He allowed the truth of Scripture to direct His path. This kind of intentionality is also our calling as we serve as Christ’s disciples.

Second, all that Jesus gave to the world was to glorify His Father in Heaven. And “all” means all! When it comes to giving, many of us tend to think of our offerings as our gifts to God, with the rest being up for grabs. But God asks us to be prayerful around all we have, entrusting everything to His plans. Of course, His plans often involve blessing us in special personal ways, but all glory is His when we surrender our desires to His leading and respond with gratitude versus greed.  

Finally, there’s the matter of sacrifice. Jesus endured betrayal, mocking, brutality and death, not for His own profit or pride, but instead with all of humanity’s salvation in mind. Sacrifice is also a quality that God asks us to emulate in our giving. Google defines “gift” as “a thing given willingly to someone without payment.” May our own giving consider the debt that Christ’s pain, suffering and ultimate sacrifice pays on our account.

Among our six priorities as a congregation is to “give generously within and beyond Calvary.” As we continue our journey to the cross over the coming week and anticipate the miracle of Easter, may we understand and demonstrate giving in ways that honor the gift of Jesus’ life, death and eternal kingship. May our “hosanna” ring clearly and loudly through our generosity every day of the year!

 

Jose Macias said...

Posted on OP2er @ 1:38 PM -
Rachel,

I am so glad that you were able to hear God's voice through my message. I wish you the best as you prayerfully look for direction.

Bendiciones,

Rachel Recknagel said...

Posted on OP10er @ 9:32 PM -
I was really touched by the message last week, I had been wondering if I made the right career choice by taking a position as a supervisor in my department. Wednesday before Palm Sunday I was considering a career change. it was bad. So my prayer for guidance was answered in the message Pastor Macias delivered. The phrase "if you want to make people happy.. sell ice cream." has resonated with me all week. I have shared this with several co workers and when one co worker today commented on how joyful I was, I said "I'm filled with God's love!" with all sincerity. I love my church!

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Working with Local & Global Partners in Christ

Posted by Richard Knopf on OP2er @ 2:30 PM

From Pastor Carol Skjegstad, Associate Pastor

Most of us have seen evidence of it firsthand: God creates a holy synergy through the connections we make and the partnerships we form with other individuals and organizations who, like Calvary, commit their work to the glory of Jesus.

Take, for instance, our Hope for the Hungry packing event in January. Without Feed My Starving Children, their recipe and ingredients for “MannaPack” meals, and their worldwide distribution network, we wouldn’t have been able to provide more than half a million meals to people who desperately need them. On the flip side, FMSC needed us to invest our time and money to accomplish their life-saving ambitions around the world.

Another example? Our Calvary Works day. Like last year, on May 21 of this year, we plan to scatter across the city to serve dozens of organizations that help us put our mission into action. They offer opportunities for us to enjoy the camaraderie of working side by side in service for Christ. As a result, we get to bless them with fresh coats of paint, newly planted flower gardens and all manner of fulfilled needs.

And Calvary’s commitment to partnership goes well beyond annual events. Every day we nurture our bonds with local organizations like PRISM, Redeemer Center for Life and Plymouth Christian Youth Center. Every day we pray for and do our best to expand the impact of our missionaries across the globe. Every day we honor our kinship with other congregations who join us in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus to people from all walks of life.

There seem to be two important factors in building and maintaining effective Christian partnerships:

Uniting around what we have in common
When it comes to different Christian groups, our ministry priorities and strategies may be all across the board. Our rituals and practices may look very different in comparison. And our theological slants may lean this way or that. But all of these factors are insignificant in light of our shared God-given goal: to bring the hope of Jesus to all people. All together, we share in God’s mission, and God’s mission matters!

Give and serve sacrificially
Two weeks ago, Pastor Jason Roton helped us explore Calvary’s priority of uniting in outward-focused community. Calvary exists for the sake of the world, not for the sake of ourselves. One can definitely claim with confidence that, if it wasn’t for a spirit of partnership, our efforts in this vein would bear little impact. Thus, we strive to be generous and give well beyond what it takes to “run Calvary.” Pastor José Macías will speak more to this kind of sacrifice next week. Generosity is not just good practice—it’s yet another one of our main priorities.

If you are not acquainted with our main roster of local partners, global partners and missionaries, I encourage you to take a look. Let’s continue to pray for the great work they do to represent and lift up the mission of Christ. And let’s continue to celebrate how partnership allows us the privilege to know them, love them and work together!

Local ministry partners>>

Global ministry partners>>

Missionaries>>

 

Pastor Carol said...

Posted on OP2er @ 1:51 PM -
Amen Lisa! We are indeed blessed to be a blessing in this world! We are to be the hands that serve; the arms that embrace the broken-hearted; to feed the hungry; and to be a beacon of hope and light to the world! Thank you for being a beacon of Christ's hope and light to the children in Haiti.

Lisa Paulson said...

Posted on OA10er @ 9:22 AM -
So very true. We all have the capacity to reach out and help others from wherever we are. It was such a blessing for me to be able to see the complete circle of giving with Feed My Starving Children. From helping at the mobile packs.and giving money; and then overcoming my fear of going to a 3rd world country where I helped distribute the food to the missionaries, and then to actually serve the food to the child of Haiti. Wow!

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Equipping God's People to Serve

Posted by Richard Knopf on OP1er @ 1:19 PM

From Pastor Jason Roton, Associate Pastor

What do you look for in a church? Are you feeling challenged to stretch yourself and serve others beyond what you ever dreamed possible? As the Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 4:12, it’s the responsibility of the church to “equip God’s people to do his work” (NLT).

Do you remember the first time someone trusted you to do something really important? Maybe it was your first time babysitting? Or your first job? The first time your parents left you home alone? Maybe it was the first time you were given the keys to the family car? Those keys meant freedom, trust and ownership. Jesus gave His disciples the keys to ministry when He sent them out. He gave them “authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness” (Matthew 10:1, NLT). The church has to be a place where we are giving away the keys to ministry to people of all ages based on their gifts, talents and passions. This is what Martin Luther meant when he talked about the priesthood of all believers. If Calvary is going to move forward and reach this generation and the next, we have to become a place that gives the keys of ministry away.

Of course, right now I can’t help but think of Lenten mentoring as an example of such equipping and such growth as a church body. It started with a call on the hearts of our mentors to invest themselves in our youth, perhaps in a way they had never considered or tested before. Then, back in February, we assembled as a group to prepare for the work ahead—to anticipate what it might feel and look like to be in faith conversations with kids. Then, after a kickoff celebration, the mentors were launched into ministry much as Jesus’ disciples accepted by faith how He would use them on the mission field. I’ve already heard great stories of what this year’s Lenten mentoring has meant to the spiritual lives of both mentors and mentees. To me, this only confirms that God’s promises are true and the gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4 are real—they’re ours and we’re living them today!

Again, Lenten mentoring is just one example, and you’d probably do much better than me in listing the countless ways we reflect Jesus’ plans for ministry at and through Calvary. I look forward to our gathering around God’s Word this coming weekend and processing together the invitation and the challenge to equip and to be equipped for His service. I’m certain that we have a lot to learn from each other, but most importantly, I trust that the Holy Spirit will inform our understanding and application of how we are to live confident and equipped in our mission for Christ. It’s an amazing privilege to be on this journey with you.   

Uniting in Outward-focused Community

Posted by Richard Knopf on OP1er @ 1:44 PM

From Pastor Jason Roton, Associate Pastor

What if the church really exists for the sake of the world? What if church is not about the people inside getting fed, but the about the people outside getting the opportunity to experience a place where they are loved, belong, and are not alone? What would happen if Calvary was united in our vision and white hot in our passion obey the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19)?

And just how exactly does Jesus say we can live this way? It all starts when we understand the love God has shown to us through His Son (John 15:9-17). Jesus says we will never be united in love or be passionate about loving others until we fully understand the love He has for us. It is by the power of being in this loving relationship with Jesus that allows us to lay aside our wants and desires for the betterment of our neighbor. Putting aside ourselves to serve God by loving our neighbor will bring us closer to Jesus, our fellow believers and our community.

In other words, knowing and following Jesus unites people for service beyond themselves. From its earliest days, the Church has come together as brothers and sisters in Christ—as a family. Like any family, we have differences and disagreements, but we are united by what Jesus has done for us and how the power of His Spirit is among us. We are not turned in on our own needs and preferences; rather, as Jesus was sent to the world, so we are sent (John 20:21). Locally and globally, we focus on reaching our neighbors together.

If this sounds like hard work and sacrifice, it is. But back to what John writes in our passage for the week: There’s no other way to complete joy! In Isaiah 58:6-12, we learn the details behind this divine cause and effect:

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Justice. Freedom. Protection. Community. The constant presence, guard and guidance of the Lord. Altogether, this is the place of love and belonging that Jesus offers—may our serving others in His Name make it a profound reality in all of our lives. Most importantly, may our outward-focused mission to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ bring others to their knees in recognition of their Savior and into the complete love and belonging we now experience as His followers.

 

Inviting All People to Experience the Love of Jesus

Posted by Richard Knopf on OA9er @ 9:38 AM

“Whoever has ears, let them hear,” says Jesus (Matthew 13:9). In these words lie the work of the church: to speak the truth of the Gospel and the love of Jesus into the lives of all people.

It’s in Matthew 13:1-9 that Jesus shares “The Parable of the Sower,” an illustration of a farmer scattering his seed among arid places, rocky places and fertile places. One might think this particular farmer to be rather careless, and justifiably so. His method seems wasteful, his agricultural wits quite dim. But Jesus strives to make a point through this imagery: It’s not for us to determine or know who will outright reject the seed of His Word, who is ready for it or who will receive it. Jesus tells us that we are to scatter seed everywhere and to everyone along our paths, trusting God to produce the growth.

This command to scatter seed is what inspires our priority at Calvary to “invite all people to experience the love of Jesus.” What does that mean to our day-to-day lives as His followers? Well, it certainly means that we have some hard work to do—that’s the “farming life,” after all. But with this kind of work also comes a glorious freedom—without inhibition, we can take courage that God will direct our steps and use us wherever we’re at among whomever is there with whatever we bring in His Name.  

You’ve seen them before and you’ll see them again this coming weekend—inside your worship bulletins will be small bundles of business cards. Their purpose? To serve as seeds you can scatter on your paths inviting others to the Alpha Film Series beginning March 26! The Alpha presentations have been revamped into a fast-paced yet thoughtful documentary-style series that, like the old course material, points clearly to the foundational truths of Jesus and the Christian faith.

Over the years, countless people have come to Alpha from all backgrounds and circumstances—from steady comfort to great pain, from unwavering faith to big questions. All leave with a fresh perspective on who Jesus is—and many gain a whole new life with Christ as their Savior! We pray eagerly and expectantly for our Alpha Film Series to yield a harvest of this remarkable sort. With that, we pray for the initiative and courage to do our part. May God bless the sowing of our seeds!  

Living Under the Bible's Authority

Posted by Richard Knopf on OA10er @ 10:27 AM

Last month, Pastor Jason Roton introduced us to a memorable illustration. He filled a glass jar full of golf balls, which represented marriage, work, church, rest and other big life priorities. He then poured some beans into the jar showing how items of less importance still had room in the jar, ending with sand and a little coffee to fill the remaining gaps. The point? Order is important. If we don’t put our priorities first—if we allow the beans, sand and coffee to fill the jar first—they won’t fit. Watch message>>

As we begin this season of Lent and journey with Jesus to his death on the cross, it seems especially appropriate for us to reexamine and recommit ourselves to the priorities we’ve set as his followers and as a faith community. Over the weekends leading to Easter, we’ll delve into the six priorities that were authored and refined in a collaborative effort between our staff and Council in 2016:

  • Live under the Bible’s authority.

  • Invite all people to experience the love of Jesus.

  • Unite in outward-focused community.

  • Equip God’s people to serve.

  • Work with local and global partners in Christ.

  • Give generously within and beyond Calvary.

We’ll start at the top of the list this coming weekend with the importance of living under the Bible’s authority. We’ll tackle some critical questions when it comes to proclaiming and living by the power of Scripture: Why is it important for us to live under God’s Word? What difference does it make? How does it help us both individually and as a church? On top of that, we’ll draw connections between the discipline of Bible reading, teaching and reverence, and our mission to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

This first priority will also be demonstrated in our Lenten series beginning this week. Through an original dramatic production titled “Common Grounds,” we’ll not only become acquainted with a whole host of colorful coffee shop characters, but also dig deep into the Gospel of John and Jesus’ seven “I Am” statements. We’ll consider how Jesus as “the bread of life” (John 6:35) is the only way to satisfy our spiritual hunger. We’ll look to him as “the gate” (John 10:9), the only way leading to relationship with God. We’ll grow even more in love with our “good shepherd” (John 10:11) who promises ultimate truth and life. Whether you will be taking in our evening activities or joining us at our noon services, I pray this Lenten season will draw you into God’s Word in a remarkably fresh and personal way.

Our Mission Matters: Priorities>>

Lent 2017>>

 

Special Worship Guests: Life Center Choir

Posted by Richard Knopf on OA11er @ 11:30 AM

One of our key priorities as a church is to support and learn from local and global partners who are also in ministry for Christ. Such is our opportunity this Sunday as we welcome Life Center Choir as our worship guests (7:50, 9 and 10:30 a.m.).

The mission of Life Center (formerly known as the Inner City Church of Minneapolis or “ICCM”) is to change the lives of impoverished people through the power of Jesus Christ. Life Center reaches out to people who are often at the margins of society—those who are homeless, struggling with addiction, entangled in violence, etc.—with what it calls the “4-T Life Change Process.”

The process involves confronting trauma with programs centered on healing and refuge, offering ongoing support systems that help treat pain and destructive habits, providing resources that transform lives to be characterized by confidence and independence, and staying connected with participants through ministries that train them for community and spiritual impact.

The choir’s visit is planned in part to commemorate Black History Month, which occurs every February. According to John Swanson, Calvary member and Life Center volunteer, “...nearly 100 percent of [Life Center’s] outreach is to the poor in the black community.” May the Holy Spirit help us better understand and empathize with the plight of many of our urban neighbors, celebrate the wondrous work that the Lord is accomplishing in them and, on top of that, seek ways to build stronger bonds of reconciliation, mutual trust and generosity. A free-will offering benefitting Life Center will be taken at the close of each worship service. More about Life Center>>

I think it is fitting that Life Center Choir visits on the threshold of our diving deeper into our mission and priorities over the coming weeks. May we be inspired by evidence of God’s transforming Spirit and be ever encouraged that he is using us in his mission for the sake of the world!

 

JOHN SWANSON said...

Posted on OA10er @ 9:58 AM -
Thanks Pastor Jeff for your leadership and support for the Life Center and Black History month at Calvary this Sunday.

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