Fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Romans 12:2 MSG

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


The Holy Spirit has come into the world through the rush of a violent wind and a spreading fire.  The Holy Spirit has been breathed upon the world through the very mouth of Jesus.  The Holy Spirit has been unleashed through God upon the very heart of Jesus in his baptism.  The Holy Spirit has moved over the waters of creation and unleashed the ongoing creative power of this vast cosmos.  The Holy Spirit moves and has its being amongst us – the disciples of the living Christ.

There is a great power in this Spirit.  There is great healing in this Spirit.  There is a great hope in this Spirit.  The Holy Spirit makes possible things that we could hardly ever imagine or ever ask for.  The Holy Spirit is for us – the living! 

Do you have the Spirit?  The good news is whether you feel like it or not, you do.  The Holy Spirit is with you – this world – and all creation.  Are you alive in the Spirit?  Now this is a deeper question.  This question begs of us as to whether or not we are living as though this Spirit fuels our life or not.  Does the Spirit of the living God drive you to do the previously thought impossible?  Does it bring clarity and focus to your life’s mission?  Does it lead you in new pathways and into new possibilities for the world?  Does it open you up to live unleashed and fully empowered?  Does your life look like the rest of what is seen, or is it taking on new shades and new heaven sent dreams?  Does it carry you through the darkest of times and shower upon you the light of a new day in Christ?  Does it fuel, fire, hone, shape you?  Does it take you from quiet pastures to bold horizons?  Does it take you from the known to the unknown?  Does it invite and encourage you into making an impact in others lives?  Does it put a burden on your heart and a vision for tomorrow?  Does it lead you to unlock your doors and to embrace what is to come?  Does it take you from a grazing complacent sheep to a spirited roaring lamb?

Now before reading on – consider that image – a spirited roaring lamb.  What would it look like for you to live as a disciple of Jesus in this way?  Journal a few thoughts here before reading on………………..

I continue with a quote from Bob Briner that I feel appropriately challenges our discipleship movement in today’s world.  “I’m afraid many in the world view us as a flock of lambs grazing in the safe pastures surrounding our churches that have been designed to blend right in with the neighborhood landscape.  We’re good neighbors.  We look like everyone else.  And except for when we worship, we follow the same patterns of behavior as those who have little or no interest in following Christ.”  Or as asked above, “Are you alive in the Spirit?”
Just because I am alive, taking up a parking space, able to breath and have a pulse, paying a mortgage, able to shop, cook dinner, care for kids, run errands, work out at a club, engage in conversation, attend worship, give away time and funds, does NOT mean that I am fully alive.  Sure, I have life with these above mentioned things, but not necessarily a Spirit fueled discipleship life.  I have been witness to all kinds of living just like you have.  But we are not always witnesses to the roaring lamb lifestyle that Jesus shepherds us into.  We must confront this fact, especially when confronted with all that God does on our behalf, all that God hopes for on our behalf, and all that God yearns for in this world. 

I put a caution before you.  Living the World’s Story versus God’s Story we are tempted to put our faith to sleep.  I see huge gaps between what we profess to be most important – and then the actions that follow.  I see kids and young people living on the edge of the extreme choices that bring about hurt, pain, and even death.  I see families so fragmented that they are losing their very souls.  I see white hot anger.  I see cave-person like reactions acted out on well meaning folks.  I see an increased diminished quieted faith.     

If the time of our life is consumed with hearing about God, watching about God, learning about God, as if we were to sit passively in front of a 52 inch television and let that be our experience of the world and God, then we may have had breath, but we never really lived. 

That is why our worship is participatory, why we stress so passionately the commitment to community, and why we strive in all we do to make our outreach hands on and life impacting.      

The disciples got a clear picture of this post the resurrection and on that Pentecost day.  They always had the Spirit, but now they were confronted with what to do when you are alive in it!  A radical difference I must say.

Daily we go to work here in the body of Our Saviors as we move from with the Spirit to alive in the Spirit.  It is life giving to see the transformation and change between the two.  Here are some roaring examples:

This past month during the Rite of Confirmation for our 9th graders – I saw with my own eyes the coming alive of our youth.  Through the confusion of what faith all means, through the tears of pain, through the articulation of why we need God in our lives, through the befriending and Christ like sharing, through the willingness to step up and put hearts on the line, voices brimming with ‘we must live this faith,’ the youth moved from complacent lambs to roaring lambs.

It can only be a movement of the Spirit that brings out 10 sets of hands and feet to go and serve alongside our brothers and sisters on the Rosebud Reservation this summer.  When we get out of our zip code we come back more alive to serve in our local context.  Who else can get the credit when time, talent, and treasure is given passionately and freely so that others can experience more life.  Let’s just say that this servant experience is full of roaring lambs.

The team of folks working feverishly to get VBS launched and ready for the kids of this entire surrounding community are moving towards roaring lamb status.  The kids and fellow adults who are graced by this ministry will experience Christ, his love and hope, and if the past is a predictor of future success, then we already know that the Spirit will be blowing through this place.

The youth and adults attending Confirmation Camp in the coming weeks are another sign of this advancing Spirit.  Many show up as seeking complacent lambs, only to return as roaring sheep with stories to tell! 

Our cries, our hurts, our hopes, our spirit fueled inspiration is changing the face of our world – one person – one place – one prayer – one story at a time.

All of these are prime time examples of how the Spirit is moving amongst us.  Our call as church is to fuel and fan the flames of that same Spirit as on the day of the first Pentecost.  When we do that – we find ourselves more and more alive – coming alive – breathing alive – advancing alive – dreaming alive – roaring alive.

Our culture – our world – our own neighbors and friends – are wondering and watching.  They are wondering and watching in trying to figure out exactly how this Jesus thing works.  They are often left to wonder whether He and the Spirit make any difference at all.  It has been mused by many a doubter over time, whether disciples of Jesus shape the surrounding culture or whether the surrounding culture shapes and changes us.  Some have even gone as far as to say that the church is a nonentity when it comes to shaping our world.  The very thought of this being placed upon the church and disciples of Jesus brings me roaring back to life.  Our mission – our call – our life – is to important to just simply step back and watch it go on by.  We are made to be more than sheepish lambs.  We are made to be more than a carbon copy of the surrounding culture.  We are made to be more than lullaby Christians.  We are made to roar in Christ – for the world – for each other.

And so…how can you and we collectively grow more into the likeness of Christ?  How can we become more inspired by the Spirit of life?  How can we take the Spirit that has already been so freely given to us – and let it roar? 

As you pray in the Spirit, may you remember that this summer is a great time to be a roaring lamb – and may you be so inspired by the roaring lambs around you, that you too roar alive as a disciple of the risen and roaring Christ!

Pastor Chad            

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Have you ever felt like you just don’t fit in?  That you don’t quite belong?  That what you live for and believe in seems disconnected from much of what appears to be going on around you?  That you were made for this moment in time and yet struggle to find how best to live out the gifts you’ve been given?  That there are moments of great sweetness and at the same time moments of painful bitterness?  That you can feel so alive with something and yet live with some angst and turmoil in your heart, mind, and soul? 

If so – good!  You are living as a resident alien.  You are participating in the already and not yet of God’s world.  You were made for now and for a beautiful future.  You exist as Jesus’ gift today and you are raised up for life and saved by him.  You belong to this earth and to God.  You are light and light eternal.  You are a resident alien.

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, Paul has called the Philippians to be part of a spectacular journey – namely, to live and die like Christ, to model their lives so closely upon Christ that they bear within themselves the very mind of Christ.  Yet he also calls them to “rejoice” (3:1), because in them, in their ordinary life together as a congregation, God is enjoying them as divine representation in the world. Great demands but also great joy at the wonder and adventure of being the church.

The image that evokes this adventure for us is found in Philippians 3:20 – “our commonwealth is in heaven.”  One translator more vividly translates this politeuma as “We are a colony of heaven.”  Think on this image.  You, We, the church, are a colony of heaven upon this earth.  We exist to bring heaven to a full and rich realization for the world. 

This image for us as church is not too startling nor overwhelming.  We all, and it seems within so many passing conversations of which I am a part of, whether that be for pastoral care reasons, within a faith formation realm, or a leadership component for how we can more faithfully live as Our Savior’s for the sake of the world, have our minds fixed on heaven.  Perhaps our minds are fixed on this because we are made for heaven.  We are made for more than now.  We are made for a promise and a future. 

However, we need to remind ourselves that being made for heaven is both now and eternal.  And so this vision of Paul in Philippians, we are a colony of heaven moving and having our being upon this earth.  This is life giving!  This adds great meaning and value to our lives!  This raises the stakes on what it means to live and breathe as the church!  This shouts the call for the church to fully live, grow, thrive, reach out, expand, go deep, to be of good cheer and support, to be long in prayer and faithful in all things, to be steadfast and longstanding with the poor, powerless, and disenfranchised, and certainly, for the church to gather often for worship and song, for bread and wine and water to be defining marks of a gathered community, and for the gospel to fully come alive through regular teaching and devotion.  How else would a world come to know the gift of heaven that God desires to bring about, without a ‘colony,’ a ‘covenant community,’ a ‘gathered people,’ living out the promise of faith, hope, and love in a world culture that is defined by marks of separation and despair? 

We as the church live as a colony, a different kind of colony for sure, perhaps even as a whole different kind of animal (we can thank those Frontier Airline animals for this characterization), of one type of culture in the midst of so many others.  In baptism, our citizenship is transferred from one dominion to another, and we become, in whatever culture we find ourselves, resident aliens.  And so we as the church survive in this world by supporting one another through the countless small acts through which we tell one another that we are not alone, that God is with us.  And as the Scriptures remind us, “God is at work in us, both to will and work for his good pleasure.”  We exist to fully participate in God’s dreams for the world.  That makes us a different kind of colony, a whole different kind of animal.

The church is not God’s social strategy for achieving a better society, even though that may happen if we were to fully participate in it.  The church, as envisioned in the whole tapestry of Scripture rather, is an inbreaking of a whole new society.  There are stories of promises, instances, imaginative examples of life in the kingdom of God.  The stories aren’t necessarily how to be better individual Christians, but rather pictures of the way the church is to look.  The scriptures overarching direction is pointed toward which God is desiring to move the entire world.  The church is invited in to live the long haul, the difficult times, to be a part of the transformational processes of God and God’s hopes and dreams for the world.             

And so we as the church don’t give up or abandon this life or world.  Rather, we see the world aright, to grab hold of the world wisely.  The world is a place of trials and temptations for us, but also a place of great opportunity for serving, for pouring ourselves out, a world of servant leaders, the church serving Christ.  We are the first fruits of God’s ongoing creation, and thus as church we live the already not yet, more than most.  That can feel lonely.  That can make you angry and pessimistic.  It can cause you to ask, “what is the point in all of this.”  And it can also gift you with the fullest and richest life possible. 

As Lutheran Christians we are invited to live the beauty of the and versus the but. Some examples may include:  I am tired and energized.  I am troubled and focused.  We are questioning and faith filled.  We are hurting and blessed.  I am sick and strong.  We are pouring it out and being filled up.  What a difference it makes in the approach as we live as resident aliens.  Our faith culture touching the world’s cultures.  Our church community gaining in heaven sent perspectives.  We not giving into the temptation to retreat or sell out on the Jesus work we are called to.  Rather, living as a colony of great promise!

These past months of ministry work here at Our Savior’s has been strong.  Our monthly newsletter and the stories that are being told attests to so many of the great things happening through the church.  These happenings can only be the work of God within our midst.  How fortunate we are to be called, invited, and offered up, as resident aliens for God’s church on earth. 

May we all enter into God’s promises, and may this church named and claimed Our Savior’s be a home for Jesus resident aliens throughout our community and world.

Residing for this purpose with you,


PSALM 67 BLESSING (5-17-17)

May God be gracious to us and bless us, and make his face to shine upon us…….

This is a prayer of blessing that has been stated so many times over….in worship….in devotions….in prayer….in the sending of people to do great things in faith in this world.  And what a powerful blessing it is.

May God be gracious to us…………
            What is the grace that you are seeking?
            What is the heart of God reflecting to you?
            How are you at receiving that which God most wants to give to you?
May God bless us……….
            What blessings can you name that come from God?
            What is the abundance of blessings that you have received over your lifetime?
            Can you see the blessings of God throughout our world?
May God make his face shine upon us…….
            What does it feel like?
            How have you felt this in your life?
            Does God really shine his full presence on us?

During worship this weekend, and as with all times that we worship, the hope is that we come to know the full presence of God.  That we leave here as more hopeful and joyful people, because we get what it means to have this amazing God always with us.  Just imagine – God shining on us!  Because God shines on us….we can shine for God.

And that is the movement the Psalmist takes us to.  After this powerful opening of a call to praise, he gives the mission statement for why God would be so gracious and good to us…….and it is in the words that follow….

That your way may be known upon the earth……..
            Not our way…..but God’s way.
            God is the giver of abundant grace.
            God is the one who we come to rest in.
            God is the one who we move, live, and have our being in.
            God is our sure and ever present hope.

And so we as the gathered people of God are called to live in such a way as to make it possible for others to see this God of our world.  In everything we do, out of the great gift of grace that we ourselves have received, we point back to God.  In doing so, others can see and receive the gift that God seeks to give to all people. 

This week……feel the SHINE of God upon you.  And SHINE for God!

Pastor Chad