Granny Tree

If you know me well, you know I like old things.  When I say old things, I do not necessarily mean unique and valuable antiques.  Actually, I am particularly fond of everyday items, especially those with a memorable story to accompany them.  For instance, in my kitchen hangs a long shelf made of a thick lumber from an old barn.  Displayed on the shelf are many items like antique blue mason jars, a broken rolling pin, a chipped wooden spoon, and a vintage cream and sugar set.  Each item has little to no monetary value, but each piece is from a kitchen of someone I love dearly.

Last Christmas season I added a special touch to my dining room corner.  Much to Josh’s excitement, I crammed a second Christmas tree into our rather small farm house and adorned it with old, colorful Christmas ornaments from my Grandma Welgraven’s basement.  I have many memories of helping my grandparents decorate their tree as a little girl, but at the time, I recall thinking they needed to update their chipped and fading ornaments.  I guess I didn’t appreciate the beautiful old-fashioned treasures until the delicate decorations were discovered while clearing a shelf in Grandma’s basement last summer.  The moment I saw them, I knew I wanted to display them as a reminder of two people whom I love very much. My “Granny Tree” was complete when I hung a dozen delicate snowflakes my Grandma Stoel carefully crocheted many years ago.  For most who view my tree, it’s simply a tree full of old things; to me it’s a tree full of rich memories, and a glimpse of where and who I come from.

I’m sure the last thing any of my loved ones thought they would pass on was an old, chipped wooden spoon, or a tarnished Christmas ornament, but I know there was one thing they were intentional about passing to the next generation. It was the love they had for their Heavenly Father.

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

While the many little treasures I have accumulated in my home remind me of my loved ones, the little trinkets will never compare to the gift they gave me “along the road” of life.  My family did their very best to impress the command “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and will all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:5) on my life.  While we did not literally tie symbols on our hands or place them on our foreheads, they were certain to make God a part of my life each day.  It is my prayer that I too may pass on more than small knick-knacks from my life and be remembered for sharing the love of my Lord and Savior with my children and their children after them.

This year, as we enjoy the many rich customs of the Christmas season, may it not be said of us that we pass on empty traditions.  Rather, may it be so of each of us that we teach our children and grandchildren the faithfulness, promises, and love of their Heavenly Father at work in their life each and every day.

Becky Ossefoort

 


Completing the Good Work

On Thanksgiving Eve we spent some time giving thanks for those in our community of faith who share in the calling of proclaiming and demonstrating the message of the kingdom of God.  Although we didn’t take the time to read all of Romans 16, the Apostle Paul highlights several of his fellow Gentile co-workers in Jesus Christ and the specific qualities, characteristics or actions that he appreciated about each.

In verse 23 Paul includes a greeting to the Romans from “Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works…” Now I don’t know about you, but when I see that Erastus, the city’s director of public works makes the list of Paul’s special partners in the gospel, I wonder what made him so special.  Was he, like Luverne’s Director of Public Works, responsible for leading the team of men in our community who are responsible for  all aspects of street maintenance including: snow removal, park maintenance, tree removal and tree trimming on city boulevards, seal coating, street overlays, storm sewers, sidewalk maintenance, stop sign, yield sign, and all other sign maintenance?

Was Paul blessed by Erastus’s dedication to providing the best streets and parks in his community?  Or was it more about how Erastus lived out the gospel while seeking to make his community a better place to live?

When I think about Erastus I think about a week ago this past Friday over the noon hour when I was driving past the corner of Highway 75 and Crawford and I noticed a gushing spring of rusty water bubbling up from the ground.  I immediately thought to myself, “That’s not good.”  And sure enough, about ten minutes later after returning from running an errand, I saw Matt Buntjer shutting off the water valve in a street nearby.  I’m not exactly sure of the cause of the water leak, however I did notice that a number of our city employees spent several hours making the repair.

As I was reflecting on the water leak several things came to mind.  One, I’ll bet the guys who were responsible for fixing the leak were glad it wasn’t ten below zero.  Second, although they had to work later than normal, I’ll bet they were glad the leak didn’t start during the night.  And thirdly, I thought how fortunate our community is to have employees who are so dedicated and take such pride in maintaining our streets, our water and our electrical system.

I run the risk of forgetting someone from our church who is dedicated to maintaining our public works system, but I am grateful for Aric Uithoven, Matt Buntjer, and Derek Elbers.  I am grateful for the men from our congregation who maintain our county and state roads.  In addition, I am grateful for several men from our congregation who volunteer their time to serve on the fire department.  And I am also grateful for those who serve on the Emergency Medical Team.  As I think about it, I thank God for all of you who play a part in making Luverne a great place to live out our God given purpose.

Just like in the body of Christ where everyone is vitally important, so too, a community is only as good as the “Erastus’s” who faithfully complete the good works which God has prepared in advance for them to do.  Thank you so much!!

…The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you… I, Mike Altena, who wrote down this article, greet you in the Lord.  Mike Altena

 


Masterpiece

I’ve been writing a lot of songs the last month or so.  They usually come in bunches like that.  The lyrics below are from a song called “Masterpiece” which reflects on my belief that each person is incredibly valuable and has a unique calling from God.  The first line,  “I want to see your real face” is sort of a dig at the growing addiction to Facebook and other social media platforms, where we can construct a false self to present to the world.  I’d rather see your real face and know your real dreams!  Enjoy…

I want to see your real face, and hear your real voice

What you are is beautiful, so won’t you give us all the choice

To accept you…unconditionally

In all your brokenness, nothing more, nothing less

Take off your frozen mask, and let your feelings out

No need to be too quiet, no need to scream and shout

Just the authentic you, I can handle the truth

You’re a child of God, in His image, and your humanity is the proof

I want to see your real face…You are a masterpiece that can never be replaced

We go online and use up our time in pursuit of affirmation

Outside there’s a real live world in need of our attention

How soon ‘til we start to live, and give all we’ve got to give?

How soon ‘til we stand up and make things right?

I want to know your real dreams, and feel your real pain

For the people who are dying, in a world that’s gone insane

They are crying out, and it tears you apart

But your past is filled with shame, and you don’t even know where to start

Give up regrets and doubt, abandon all your fear

In the moments of your weakness, the Spirit’s power will be near

Just the authentic you, serving right where they bleed

The intersection of your passions and society’s greatest need

I want to know your real dreams…You are a masterpiece, and your story’s been redeemed

We go online and use up our time in pursuit of education

Outside there’s a real live world in need of emancipation

How soon ‘til we start to live, and give all we’ve got to give?

How soon ‘til we stand up and make things right?

I want to see your real face… You are a masterpiece that can never be replaced.

I want to know your real dreams… You are a masterpiece and your story’s been redeemed.

Cory Grimm

 


Turn North

“Ring around the rosie, pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down.”  This rhyme and several others are a delight for young children who love to spin in circles.  However, I don’t think the same could be said of those who navigate the roundabout travel circle on Hwy 60 by Worthington.  At least three times in the last several weeks, the roundabout has been the scene of somebody’s very bad day.  Two overturned semi trucks and an airborne camper have not delighted in this particular circle.  While the travel circle is intended to reduce the likelihood and severity of collisions by slowing down traffic and minimizing the amount of T-bone and head-on collisions, the roundabout has proven difficult for some travelers to navigate.  Personally, I would rather wait at a stop light than try and figure out the circle.

I wonder if the ancient Israelites might have said the same thing.  For 40 years they circled and wandered through the hill country of Seir.  This was part of God’s retirement plan for those who grumbled against him and refused to trust and follow him.  God had proven himself faithful over and over again between Egypt and the Promised Land—parting the Red Sea, destroying the Egyptian army, bitter water made sweet, manna, quail, water from a rock, not to mention pillars of fire and clouds as their personal travel guide.  And yet when God asked them to take the next step, they placed their trust in a handful of naysayers rather than God himself.  So God said “walk”.

Walking on a journey is tiring; walking in circles is maddening.

After the final member of the Generation Doubters had breathed their last, God spoke to the people again.  “You have circled this mountain long enough; now turn north.”  I have been stuck in the Worthington roundabout for one or two circles and have experienced great peace of mind when I get headed in the right direction again, but can you imagine the celebration and relief of Moses and the people when God revealed their new northerly travel plans?

Truth be told, these same words have also been life changing for me since I heard God speak to me at a Women of Faith conference in 2009.  As I heard the presenter read this story in Deuteronomy, the Holy Spirit convicted me of mountains in my own life that I had been traveling around and around for years.  Not the mountains of Seir, but mountains named Anger, Unforgiveness, Jealousy, and Pride.  Mountains that had been sucking the life out of me.  Mountains that were growing instead of shrinking.  The invitation to stop the madness, break the pattern, and change directions brought freedom, joy, and peace.  The north bound lane hasn’t been easy.  There have been speed bumps, flat tires, traffic congestion, and even an occasional roundabout along the way, but it has been so much better going north with God than traveling in circles alone.

It’s just a hunch, but I’m guessing you have a few of your own circles with a well-worn path.  You don’t have to keep walking them.  Ask God to help you with a change of direction.  Let Jesus be your travel companion and allow the Holy Spirit to do some recalculating on your journey.  The past is in the past.  A new day is dawning.  Are you ready to turn North?

Erin Jacobsma

 


What Do You Hunger For?

As you all probably know, my family lives on a small acreage northeast of town. We have only been out here a handful of years, but I sometimes have to remind myself we ever lived in town. My kids have no fear with the cattle or hogs we raise, and my husband reminds me frequently he was driving tractor at a much earlier age than AJ is now. I guess the farming life fits my family well.

Evan, who is almost eight, has been accused by the neighbor of raising a strong, healthy, bottle calf like no other. He must pour some type of extra loving care into each one because oftentimes they look no different than the calves who stay with their mommas all summer. I’m told this is a little unusual. It is not uncommon, after finishing their bottle, for Evan to run in circles with the calf chasing him, tail in the air. Then they switch directions and eventually Evan trips and the calf nudges him to keep going. It’s really quite a site. As this mom watches, it’s cute and terrifying all at the same time.

Out on the farm you think of a rooster crow for an alarm clock. We don’t have chickens or a rooster, so usually it is the beep of an alarm clock to get us to rise. Except this summer. Evan’s calf, Heidi, started waking up earlier and earlier crying for her bottle. Though faint at first, eventually she would walk out to the little outdoor pen where she spent her sunny afternoons. Shortly after she started bawling, the other bottle calf would make her presence known. There really was no sleeping in at our house this summer, and I’ll admit, it was a little like having a newborn around again!

When the bottle was mixed and brought to the pen, you needed to look out! At first sight of the bottle, there was a dead sprint for the nipple and I don’t think the animal would breathe until the milk was completely gone. (No, she was not starving; I asked the big farmer.) Turns out she prefers the sweetness of the white liquid more than the perfectly prepared feed and hay that was provided in the trough throughout the entire day.

This reminded me of the scripture from Hebrews 5, “11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

While it is true the calf needed the bottle morning and night, eventually she needed to start eating more of the grain provided for her – the solid food. The same is true of us. When we were young, much of our nutrition came from the milk we drank, but little by little, solid table food was offered to our palate. God’s Word instructs us to do the same with our spiritual life. We were fashioned by the Creator of this universe to be lifelong learners and to share our knowledge and love, as teachers, with others. It is important as we travel this journey, no matter what age, to continually dig into the depths of God’s Word and “chew” on it as we faithfully serve our Lord and Master.

What did you have for your spiritual breakfast this morning? I pray, whatever it was, it left you hungering for more.

Becky Ossefoort

 


My Mouth Will Speak Your Praise

I was recently visiting with one of our farmers and he was telling me about how good some of the yields are in his fields. He said it’s amazing what kind of crop God can produce with so little rain during the most critical growing stage this summer.

And then I’ve had at last three conversations in the past ten days with people who are facing significant health issues; each of them shared with me about how they were experiencing the power and presence of God.

Add to it, my cousin’s daughter and her husband recently buried their 12 day old baby girl who died from significant birth defects. And yet she spoke of how she experienced the comfort and grace of God in those 12 days.

On top of that, yesterday a gal shared with me how God had done an amazing work of reconciliation in the midst of some conflicted relationships.

Oh and then I mustn’t forget the testimony of a couple from Woodstock that I will be marrying in a few weeks. In doing their homework the future husband shared with me how God clearly warned him about being harsh with his fiancée while doing his homework. He was overwhelmed with how much God loved him.

When spending some time reflecting on where I’ve seen God at work lately, the Spirit reminded me of Psalm 145. Let me encourage you to spend a few minutes meditating on each verse of this Psalm.

I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever.  Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.  Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.  One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.  They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works.  They tell of the power of your awesome works—and I will proclaim your great deeds.  They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.  The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.  The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.  10 All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you.  11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, 12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.  13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.  14 The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.  15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.  16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.  17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does.  18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.  19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.  20 The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.  21 My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.  Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.

OK after meditating for just a few minutes on the verses above, what praise is on your lips in regards to how the Lord has been revealing himself to you. What attribute of God do you celebrate today? What wonderful work of God could you tell your kids or grandkids about?

Feeling overwhelmed by my God the King,

Mike Altena

 


Habitual Disobedience

Last week I had a chance to visit for about half an hour with a person who identifies as transvestite, but that isn’t the main point of this article.  We’ll get to that later.  I was filling in at the office for Cornerstone Prison church inside the South Dakota State Prison, because Pastor Rick Van Ravenswaay’s brother recently had an aneurysm, and Rick was with his family most of the week. (prayers needed)  Requests were piling up to visit with a pastor, so I went in and met with a few people to ease some of the workload.

The man I met with had recently accused another inmate of a very serious crime against him, and we talked through the hurt feelings involved in that experience.  That was when he explained his identity to me and his plans for his future.  At this point he identifies as male, and he goes by his given name, but he feels he will be happier if he can undergo the treatments necessary to become a woman.  He shared with me the name he has picked out given the opportunity to become female.

It was a challenging conversation, but one moment really stood out.  This individual recently accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord at a Faith Fellowship retreat, so I asked him how he was reconciling his faith to his plan to become a woman.  I asked if he had prayed to God about this decision.  He simply said, “I know God will love me either way.  If I go through with the change, God will still love me.”  No profound response came to mind at the time, but God later used his words to give me a glimpse into my own heart.

Remember after David stole Bathsheba from her husband, Uriah, and tried to cover over his sin with deceit and murder?  It took being confronted by the prophet Nathan to come to his senses.  Nathan shared a parable of a rich man stealing a poor man’s prized lamb and then this happened:

David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die!  He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”  Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”  (2 Sam. 12:5-7)

In the same way I was convicted by the inmate’s words and my own reaction.  After he justified his plan by saying that God would love him no matter what he does, part of me wanted to pass judgment on him and say, “With that reasoning, anybody could do anything they want, right?  Your decision makes me question your faith.”  However, the point of this article is that even though I can easily see the holes in his argument, I am often blinded to the ways I use the same argument in my own life.  How many times do I willingly make a bad decision and either consciously or unconsciously let myself off the hook by appealing to God’s grace?

Mike introduced the term “areas of habitual disobedience” last week.  In a sense these are the behaviors or decisions in our lives where we miss the mark yet justify it by thinking, “God will love me anyway.”  God’s grace is boundless, and yet “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left…”  (Heb. 10:26)  The question is not whether or not you have areas of habitual disobedience in your life.  You do…and so do I.  The question is what we are doing to address them and bring our lives in line with the obedience God desires and demands.  As the story above illustrates, we see faults in others, yet sadly we remain oblivious to our own.  May it not be so with us!  May each of us have a prophet Nathan in our lives, and may we also lovingly play that role for someone else.

Cory Grimm

 


Following the Rules

I have been working through a study book on the life of Paul. As I have been studying, I have found the way Paul – then Saul – was raised to be very interesting and also pretty convicting. Saul was raised in a culture that seemed to have a law and a way of doing tasks for everything. Some of the practices of his youth seem very strange to me. For instance, each morning he had to put on his tefillin (phylacteries) “at the first moment in the morning when enough daylight was present to recognize a neighbor at a distance of four cubits.” Say what? At our house we are lucky to get up in the morning without hitting the snooze button more than once!

As a young man, Saul set out to obey the scriptures and show his deep devotion to God on a daily basis. He lived a life of following the law and seeking that of what pleased his Creator. Saul was sent off to rabbinic school to learn and upon graduation set out for a place to serve. However, somewhere on his life’s journey, something changed within him and his obedience of serving God became more about obeying the law and religious practices of his day. His love was removed from his obedience, and his love of following the law and his religion quickly became his god.

I have been reflecting on my reading wondering what God wants me to learn from Saul’s young life. What areas of my life have I allowed to become more about law-abiding rather than serving my Father out of love? After all, without love as my motivation to serve, I am just trying to be good. Where have I crossed the line and made how I raise my children and practice my daily life more about religious actions rather than humbly serving our great King?

In Matthew 23 we see Jesus addressing the religious leaders and Pharisees, “13Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” Those are some powerful statements. There are others in Matthew 23, but verse 13 grabbed me and caused me to stop. Do my actions ever shut the door to the kingdom of heaven for those I encounter? What about us as a church? Do we have empty religious practices we are passing down to our own children? Are we rule followers for the sake of following rules or are we acting in love as we seek to be obedient?

I have often wondered what God thinks about how we do certain traditions both in our lives and in our church. What motivates me to teach my children about their Savior? Is it because of my love for God, or because it is the right thing to do according to my religion? When we commune as the body, do we come with a humble heart remembering all Jesus did for us, or do we concern ourselves more with how the bread and cup are prepared and to whom they are served?

Beth Moore says, “Godly people are valiant people. They are people with the courage to ask God to spotlight areas of weakness, sin, and failure. Then God can strengthen, heal, and complete what is lacking.” May those words be so of each of us as we seek to open the doors to the kingdom for all we encounter. I encourage you to ask your Father in Heaven to reveal your weakness, to highlight your failures, and perhaps examine the influences in this world that may be keeping you from showing others the door to the kingdom of heaven.

Becky Ossefoort

 


My Pleasure

Several weeks ago part of our family had the opportunity to attend the Great Minnesota Get-Together.  We were among the almost 2 million people who poured through the gates of the MN State Fair.  The trip was planned so our daughter could participate in the 4-H judging of her Grand Champion pretzels.  But, truth be told, we were there for the food. J  Yes, we enjoyed seeing all the 4-H exhibits, picking up freebies, inspecting trucks and tractors and motorcycles and boats, perusing the booths of many organizations, and riding the SkyGlider, but a State Fair trip would not be complete without foot long corn dogs, cheese curds, and Sweet Martha’s cookies.  However, by the end of the afternoon, the crowds were getting thicker than the mosquitoes and we decided to head for home.  Our daughter and her friend announced their desire to stop at Chick-fil-A for supper before leaving the cities and thanks to smartphone technology, we were able to find one along our homeward route.

We have frequented Chick-fil-A restaurants in the past and have always been very pleased with their food, service, cleanliness, and atmosphere.  So maybe it was the calorie hangover from Fair food, or the feeling of getting herded like cattle through the cheese curd pick-up line, or the rubbing of shoulders with thousands of impatient strangers for the past 6 hours, but I was particularly impressed during this visit.  While we were there, every time we said “thank you” to a staff member, their response was “my pleasure”.  “Thank you for our drinks… my pleasure; thank you for bringing our order to us… my pleasure; thank you for the refill… my pleasure.”  Clearly this was part of their employee training program, but it still seemed sincere.

The more common response to a word of thanks is usually “you’re welcome”.  This reply is definitely polite and indicates an acceptance of your thankfulness, but “my pleasure” goes beyond the familiar reaction.  It seems to say that I was not only obligated to do the task for which you are thanking me, but it was my privilege and has also been a blessing to me and I enjoyed doing it.

As we left the restaurant, I began to think about all the times we say “thank you” in our prayers and I pondered what God’s response might be.  I could imagine an obligated response from the Father, mostly because sometimes my appreciation seems perfunctory as well.  But the Bible paints a much different picture for us.  Ephesians 1 tells us about the grace which God has lavished on us through the giving of the One he loves, Jesus Christ.  Hebrews 12 continues with telling us that because of the joy set before him, Jesus endured the cross and all our sin and shame.  That doesn’t sound like an obligated response to me.  When I say “thank you” for God’s gift of salvation, I imagine he is saying, “My pleasure!  It has been my privilege!  I love you so much that I would have done it all—just for you!  You are worth it!”

Jesus expects the same response from us.  He commands his followers to serve one another and to love each other just as he loves us.  As you go about your week, I pray that serving others, loving others, and helping others, would be your pleasure and privilege for the glory of God.

Erin Jacobsma

By the way, it is my sincere pleasure to serve as office administrator at ARC!

 


Golden Years

Please hear me, I’m by no means complaining, but a yearly check-up this week revealed that my glaucoma is progressing and a visit to the doctor due to intensifying pain in one shoulder and in one knee resulted in a diagnosis of tendinitis in both. In fact, I have a bag of ice on my knee as I’m writing this article.

As I was reflecting on the fact that my body seems to be falling apart, several things came to mind.  First, on the southwest side of our parking lot, there is a beautiful silver maple in the boulevard loaded with bright green leaves. However there is one section that is turning a beautiful shade of crimson red. I feel like that tree. Lord willing, I will have so many more days ahead of me where the leaves are green and don’t wither and fall off, and yet there are days when I feel like the leaves are beginning to turn color.

A second thought in regards to my increasingly “fragile and impotent matchstick body,” I thought of the truth written in Ecclesiastes 12:1-5, “Honor and enjoy your Creator while you’re still young, before the years take their toll and your vigor wanes, before your vision dims and the world blurs and the winter years keep you close to the fire. In old age, your body no longer serves you so well. Muscles slacken, grip weakens, joints stiffen. The shades are pulled down on the world. You can’t come and go at will. Things grind to a halt. The hum of the household fades away. You are wakened now by bird-song. Hikes to the mountains are a thing of the past. Even a stroll down the road has its terrors. Your hair turns apple-blossom white, adorning a fragile and impotent matchstick body. Yes, you’re well on your way to eternal rest,
while your friends make plans for your funeral.”

Now before you think I’m ready to order my six-sided pine coffin from Amazon for $30.95 plus shipping (oh yes, check it out J), I don’t want you to think I’m getting ready to tap out. But rather, as Paul would write in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, day by day I am growing in living my life as if Jesus were living my life.

16-18 “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”

Regardless of what season of life you’re in—regardless of how old you feel—regardless of how well your body is functioning, may it be so of you and me that each day we live, love, and lead like Jesus.

And finally, let me also remind you to pray for the elderly of our congregation as they experience the effects of growing older; as many of them say to me, “The Golden Years aren’t so golden.”

Grace to you and peace! Mike Altena