Lake County Seeking Foster Parents

You Can Make a Difference:

Lake County is urgently seeking foster families. Have you considered opening your home and heart to help children and families in need?

Children thrive best when they are with family.  We work diligently with families to prevent out-of-home placement whenever possible.  Most often foster care is temporary and children are reunited with their parents within a short time. In some cases, foster families may be asked to provide a permanent home for children that cannot be reunified with their family.

How you can help:

Foster Care provides a safe, stable, nurturing home and family environment for children who cannot live with their family.  Foster parents provide for the child’s educational, health, cultural and social needs. The life altering decision to foster or adopt comes with incredible rewards and challenges.

If you are interested in becoming a foster care provider or learning more about the licensing process, please contact Theresa at (218)226-4443.

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Sundays on Wednesdays!

Sundays <sic> on Wednesdays!

“Where your treasure is, your heart will be also.”
– Jesus
… in Matthew 6:21

In July… welcome to 6:21 PM Worship on Wednesday

Summer is busy… but it’s no time for a vacation from God! That’s why we’re offering worship on Wednesdays with a series of musical guests to enrich our time with God.

Gospel Music with Superior Sound

During these weeks, it’ll be a chance for me to introduce you to a book in the Bible that I have loved and appreciated through the years – Colossians. In these weeks, I’m hoping it will become for you a text that deepens your faith.

… And these summer evenings will be followed by ice cream fellowship!

So bring your family, bring some friends! Come to worship! Write some notes in your Bible! Have fun with us this summer!

  • Pr. Brendan

PS: Here is a video version of one of the many parts of Colossians that I love!

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Jesus and a Political Season

Dear friends in Christ,

As a pastor, I care about Jesus and Jesus’ Church. As your pastor, you ask me to consider things that matter. I am to be a steward of this congregation, the mysteries of God, and the good news of Jesus.

The problem is, though, ideas have consequences. Some of these are private. Some are  personal. Other consequences are political.

What follows is my pastoral reflection on elections in our country.

There are voices that invoke Jesus and Jesus’ Church in our country’s politics. However, faith has consequences. One cannot simply say “Christian’s should vote for…” and insert whatever candidate or position one wishes. Politicians cannot simply say they are Christian and have us take for granted they stand with Jesus. After all – we have Bibles we can read for ourselves.

And Jesus has consequences.

I don’t endorse candidates or parties as the “right one” for Christians to vote for – though I certainly vote and talk politics (though not on Sundays). If in your eyes a candidate will be the best for the common good of our society, vote for them. At the end of the day, though, no one fully aligns with Jesus or what Jesus stands for.

  • My hope is that you will reflect on God and Jesus
  • My hope is that you will not give into mere disgust at one party or another – or all of them.
  • My hope is that you will find a political view that isn’t unconditionally Democrat or Republican.
  • My hope is that you can find a voice of your own that sounds like Jesus

Jesus sounded like no political party or politician I can name. Jesus spoke truth to power. Jesus spoke grace to legalism. Jesus spoke love to enemies. Jesus spoke good news to the poor. Jesus spoke life to death. Jesus worked toward a day when evil is ended. Jesus valued all and gave up on none. Jesus called us to give up our lives, our hopes, and our dreams, to pick up our cross and follow Him.

What then do you believe Jesus would stand for today? What would Jesus work for? These are the political questions Christians should be asking. And if you believe I myself am misrepresenting Jesus because of my politics – check me and read Jesus instead. I’ll suggest the Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5-7 (It and some Bible art are included below). Think for yourself! You belong to Him as much as I do, and as much as any politician!

24101702220_33e934b5b7_oMay you refuse to let people disgrace Jesus by taking Jesus’ name in vain. May you be honest about the ways Jesus would see shortcomings in your preferred candidate. May you with Jesus seek the common good of our complex society. May you see all people – and all candidates – as beloved children of God, in need of God’s grace.

And may you be an instrument of God’s peace in the midst of political sound and noise that you may, with Jesus, care about what really matters.

Peace be yours, Pr. Brendan Johnston

 

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

The Beatitudes

5 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

The Law and the Prophets

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Concerning Anger

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

Concerning Adultery

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.

Concerning Divorce

31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Concerning Oaths

33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

Concerning Retaliation

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40 and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; 41 and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. 42 Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

Love for Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Concerning Almsgiving

6 “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Concerning Prayer

“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Concerning Fasting

16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Concerning Treasures

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The Sound Eye

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; 23 but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

Serving Two Masters

24 “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Judging Others

7 “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

Profaning the Holy

“Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.

Ask, Search, Knock

“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? 10 Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

The Golden Rule

12 “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.

The Narrow Gate

13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14 For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

A Tree and Its Fruit

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will know them by their fruits.

Concerning Self-Deception

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’

Hearers and Doers

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”

28 Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, 29 for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

 

The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. 1989 (Mt 5:1–7:29). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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Easter is Coming

 

Easter is coming
But for many of us, this is not the ultimate reality
There is too much pain and suffering in the world today
Death has the last word
It would therefore be foolish to say that
The life and death of a first-century Jew named Jesus makes a difference
Why
Might makes right
Power is superior to compassion and
Despair is stronger than hope
So I refuse to believe
A man can come back from the dead
Sometimes the most important facts are the hardest to accept
Resurrection is a false hope
How can you say
An empty tomb changes everything
Don’t you see “God loves the world”
Is a lie
“Money is God”
And
“The one who dies with the most toys wins”
I will tell you what I tell my children
There is no more to this world than what you can see, hold, and buy
There is no mystery in everyday life, and
There is nothing sacred about ordinary things and people
Many of us simply do no believe that
God can give life to the dead, bring light from darkness, and create something out of nothing

But what if the testimony of the women at the tomb was true? Then…

God can give life to the dead, bring light from darkness, and create something out of nothing
Many of us simply do no believe that
There is nothing sacred about ordinary things and people,
There is no mystery in everyday life, and
There is no more to this world than what you can see, hold, and buy
I will tell you what I tell my children
“Money is God”
And
“The one who dies with the most toys wins”
Is a lie
“God loves the world”
Don’t you see
An empty tomb changes everything
How can you say Resurrection is a false hope
Sometimes the most important facts are the hardest to accept
A man can come back from the dead
So I refuse to believe
Despair is stronger than hope
Power is superior to compassion and
Might makes right
Why
The life and death of a first-century Jew named Jesus makes a difference
It would therefore be foolish to say that
Death has the last word
There is too much pain and suffering in the world today
But for many of us, this is not the ultimate reality
Easter is coming

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FISH FRY FOR GLORIA DEI REBUILDING FUND MARCH 4

Grace Lutheran Church in Hermantown invites the community to a fish fry benefit for Gloria Dei’s rebuilding fund.
Friday March 4, 2016 from 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
ADDRESS…. 5454 Miller Trunk Hwy, Hermantown, MN 55811
Tickets are $11 for Adults
$6.00 For kids 3-12 years of age
Kids under 3 free.

Great food, Bake Sale, Silent Auction, Fellowship

 

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Snow White


Snowflake Circle

Friends and Family of Bethlehem Lutheran,

As a Minnesotan, snow has been to me alternately:

  • Toy
  • Slide
  • Sculpting Medium
  • Exercise Equipment
  • Object of Denial
  • Nemesis

One thing it’s never been – not really anyways – is food. Having never seriously considered eating my way through a snowstorm, I discovered something that got my attention:

Snow Ice Cream:
Mix together freshly fallen snow; milk, cream, or condensed milk; sugar; and vanilla.
(Some recipes call for the addition of whole raw eggs, making the snow cream custardy.)

Snow Ice Cream

Image: Dessert from the sky: a freshly made serving of snow cream. (From Chloe Tuttle)

It was a disappointment, though, to receive this recipe with a health warning. Snow Ice Cream, when it’s homemade, includes on it’s ingredient list all of the local air pollutants – ‘things like sulfates, nitrates, formaldehyde or mercury.’ Apparently one of the contributions to our clean air here in the northland is falling snow – with those intricate crystalline  arms catching hold of chemicals as they fall around us. To be clear – all those hazardous chemicals in the snow out your window are “all at levels well below toxic” (even in smoggy places?)

Isaiah 1:16-18 – ‘…Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.’ (NRSV)

From the point of view of Ancient Israel, snow was about as white as anything could possibly get. That makes sense – could you make anything whiter than fresh snow? And if sin is anything that taints the holiness of God’s people, what better image could there be than pure white snow?

And yet, apparently, Israel was mistaken. The definition of purity isn’t as pure as we’d thought.

So it is with us. We’re not as good as we think we are – the power of Sin is to creep into places we least expect it. So people have learned to say – “I’m doing okay. I’m not perfect, but who is?”

God is. God is perfect. God is unfathomably more holy and perfect than our minds can imagine. God is so pure, it is threatening to stand in God’s presence.

But it is what God does with God’s holiness that makes God worthy of worship. Because God gives purity – true purity – to you as a gift through Jesus.

Remember the wonder of being God’s child as you play in, endure, or devour our fresh snow!

Pr. Brendan

snow-winter-christmas-deer

 




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Christmas Program hits the road! 12/20

The Sunday School Christmas Program is hitting the road and visiting Ecumen during the Sunday School hour on 12/20.

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