Giving and Taking

One of the elements of our worship that blesses my heart each week is when the children bring their offering to the front. My prayer is that our young children are truly learning the joy of generous giving. In addition to being a blessing, sometimes a child’s effort to give their offering can be a bit comical. Such was the case on Easter morning with Jaxon Guy.

As I remember it, Jaxon’s mom first walked up the steps with him, and after helping him place his offering in the basket, they returned to their seats. Then Jaxon came forward a second time with more money, and after briefly pausing to think about what he was doing, he finally decided to drop his offering in the basket. Then after waiving to Grandma who was singing in the praise team, he went back to his seat. And then Jaxon came forward a third time with even more money for the offering, and after an even longer hesitation, he finally released his offering in the basket.

The three trips to the offering basket brought a smile to my face, but then my smile turned into laughter when Jaxon reached down into the basket and took back part of his offering, and then after waiving to Grandma again, he returned to his seat.

As I reflected on Jaxon’s offering experience, I thought about my own attitudes and behaviors when it comes to generous giving and living. Now, by no means am I suggesting that Jaxon was having a battle in his mind, but have you ever had a battle in your mind over whether or not to give an offering in the first place, but then to ease your conscience, you drop in some pocket change. And have you ever had it after giving your offering, you felt guilty because you know it could’ve been more. Or on the other hand, have you ever had it when you gave a very generous offering, but then after thinking about it, you wish you could take some back.

Likewise, I sometimes have the same battle of the mind when it comes to opportunities to serve. It’s those times when I know God has presented an opportunity to serve in some capacity, but because I’m selfish, I hold back from jumping all in. Or maybe I offer a token act of service, but know in my heart I could’ve given more.  And then of course there are those times when I give all that I have to a cause, but then turn around and complain because I feel like I gave too much.

As I continued to reflect on Jaxon’s offering experience the Spirit reminded me of two truths; first from   2 Corinthians 9:6, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give whatever you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

And then a second truth from Romans 12:1, “Therefore I urge you brothers and sisters [Mike], in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice: holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and  proper worship.”

May it not be so with you and me, that at the end of each day, we would ever regret giving and living full out for the joy of the King and his Kingdom. But rather, may we say like the Apostle Paul, “I consider my life worth nothing to me, my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord has given to me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

Refusing to reach back into the offering basket,

Mike Altena


Broken Things

We live in a disposable society. Paper plates, paper towels, diapers, water bottles, coffee cups, and shopping bags all go in the trash after just one use. Other items that exceed the one time use – used batteries, dried out ink pens, dull razors, and such – also end up in the landfill as their usefulness becomes depleted. Some things we dispose of just because the cost to repair them exceeds the cost of buying new. There’s truth to the saying “they don’t make things like they used to”, but we also don’t keep things like we used to, especially when something is broken.

Several weeks ago, the 3 hole punch that I use in the office became a source of frustration as it continually jammed and wouldn’t completely punch through where one of the holes was supposed to be. So I ordered a new one and the old punch found a resting place at the bottom of the garbage can. When the new hole punch was delivered, I quickly unpacked it and was eager to try it out. I pushed down the lever and pulled out the paper, revealing only two holes instead of three. I tried again; two holes. After further inspection, I could see one of the pieces that was necessary to punch the third hole was missing. I called the company.  Their solution: throw it in the garbage and we’ll send you a new one.

I’m tired of broken things. It seems that no matter where I turn lately, something is broken. Broken hole punch… broken pencil… broken toaster… broken windshield… broken trust… broken relationships… broken dreams… broken… broken… broken. I admit that I get frustrated with broken things. And yet that’s what I offer to God over and over. My own brokenness. Matthew West sings a song that has been looping in my brain like a broken record. Ironically, the title is “Broken Things”. I sing backup on every chorus: “I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King. I wish I could bring so much more. But if it’s true – You use broken things, then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours!”

I want to offer myself to God as neatly packaged and as useful as possible. I don’t like to lay my brokenness at His feet, but as this song reminds me, “The pages of history they tell me it’s true, that it’s never the perfect, it’s always the ones with the scars that You use. It’s the rebels and the prodigals, it’s the humble and the weak. All the misfit heroes You chose tell me there’s hope for sinners like me.”

Contrary to our culture, God is in the business of using the busted up, cracked open, and crushed. He is attracted to the broken and moved to compassion. Psalm 34:18 says “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” and Psalm 147:3 affirms that “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” God doesn’t discard those things that are broken, he uses them. He uses our messes and mistakes, our trials and troubles. He uses all of it for our good and for his honor and glory. God is a master Recycler. But only when we surrender our junk to Jesus, can we be recycled and made useful again. Psalm 51 assures us that God does not delight in sacrifices and burnt offerings, but the sacrifices that God will not despise are a broken spirit; a broken and humble heart.

If you’re feeling broken today, don’t despair. I know a Man who was broken for you and is willing and able to use your brokenness to make something beautiful.

Erin Jacobsma


Reckless Love

This week our family has been reflecting on the events of Holy Week. It has been interesting to hear the different pieces of the story each family member has connected with. For myself, I have been meditating on the love Jesus has for me that ultimately held him to the cross. At any moment He could have tapped out and said, “No more, I’m done. It’s her turn!” But He didn’t.

The song “Reckless Love” has been part of my daily worship and as I have sat listening and soaking in the words, my heart has become overwhelmed by the depth of His love for me. A few lines from the song are “I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away. Oh the overwhelming, never ending, reckless love of God.”

While working on Sunday School Curriculum, I ran into this story. It’s not a story found in the Bible, although I believe it’s a great way to help us understand what Jesus did for us and His incredible love. The story is called “Grandmother’s Needle.”

Tommy lived with his Grandmother. Tommy loved his grandmother and she loved him. But Tommy had a bad habit of stealing. Tommy’s Grandmother punished him again and again for stealing, but Tommy just couldn’t stop stealing.

One day, Tommy’s grandmother said, “Tommy, I love you too much to let you continue doing this. The next time you come home with things that do not belong to you, I am going to take one of these knitting needles and heat it in a real hot fire. I am going to burn your hand so badly that you will never forget it.”

Eventually, Tommy forgot what grandmother had said and started stealing again. He came home with pockets stuffed with things he had stolen. He tried to hide his stolen goods, but his grandmother caught him.

“Where did you get these things?” demanded Grandmother. Tommy refused to answer her. “Tell me, Tommy, where did you get these things?” Grandmother asked again. Still Tommy wouldn’t answer. “You have been stealing again,” said Grandmother. “You know what I told you. You know that I try to keep my word.” Grandmother got her metal knitting needle and put in into the fire. When it was red hot, she called Tommy to her and said, “Son, hold out your hand.”

Tommy was trembling as he held out his hand, but he knew that he had done wrong. He knew that he deserved to be punished. Grandmother paused a moment and said, “Son, I want you to see the seriousness of your stealing. You deserve this punishment, but I love you so much that I am going to take your punishment for you.” With that, Grandma dropped Tommy’s hand. She took the red-hot knitting needle, and burned her own hand very badly. Holding out her burned hand, she said, “Look at my hand, Tommy. This is what your stealing cost me.”

Tommy said, “That ended my stealing. I saw how much Grandmother loved me and I saw what my sin had cost her.”

And so I leave you with this image today as you peer into the empty tomb. I pray you feel the overwhelming, reckless love of God. His Son, Jesus, has made a full and complete payment for you. What a gift of love.

Overwhelmed by His love,

Becky Ossefoort


Choose the Right Thing

This past Wednesday after work Vicki had a few errands to run in Sioux Falls. At one of her stops at Wal-Mart on Louise she set her phone down, and after becoming distracted she continued about her shopping. Then, while checking out after 40 minutes of shopping, Vicki realized her phone was missing. Remembering where she had set her phone down, Vicki immediately went to see if it was still there. It was gone!

She turned and headed straight for the customer service counter, hoping some very kind, compassionate, and honest person had turned it in. But no such luck!

Well, after she had given the store clerk my phone number just in case, Vicki began to pray that whoever had her phone would come under deep conviction and would return it. Vicki then headed for home fearfully thinking all of her pictures were gone forever. And then God answered her prayer, at 6:11 I received a phone call that someone had turned her phone in. YEA!!!!

Now here was the real hook for me about her adventure. I really have no idea, but I wonder what was going through the person’s mind from the time they picked Vicki’s phone up until the time they returned it. See, although the distance from where Vicki had left her phone to where the customer service counter is, was only a one minute walk, and yet at minimum, the person would’ve had her phone in their possession for at least one hour.

I pondered, was the person being tormented while thinking about stealing it as she walked around with it. (Thankfully Vicki had a security lock in place so the person couldn’t open the phone). Did that person spend that time thinking about who she knew who could figure out the security code? Or maybe, did the person innocently put the phone in her purse and then did her shopping before she turned it in. I just couldn’t help but wonder all the thoughts that went through this person’s mind as she walked around with a phone that didn’t belong to her—was she being tormented about whether or not she would do the right thing.

And then I began to reflect, I’ve been in situations like that—situations where I had plenty of time to decide if I would do the right thing or not; times when I was being tormented of whether or not I would keep what I had stolen. I’ve had those tormenting times when I wondered whether or not I should click on the computer mouse. Not to mention, I’ve had those times when someone entrusted with me with some private information, but because it was so significant, I felt tormented because I wanted to share it with someone.

How about you? Remember the times you felt tormented in those moments when you were trying to decide whether or not you were going to do the right thing.

And then I began to think about all of those who were tormented in their thoughts about whether or not they would do the right thing during Holy Week. I think about Judas and all the tormenting time he spent thinking about, and looking for, the perfect moment when he would betray Jesus. I think about Jesus being tormented in the Garden of Gethsemane of whether or not he would drink the cup of suffering. I think about Peter when he was accused of being a disciple of Jesus. I think about Pilate as he was being tormented over whether or not he should have Jesus crucified. I think of the soldiers who tormented Jesus; were they ever tormented in their spirit of whether or not they were doing the right thing.

Well the good news for all of us, even though he endured great torment and suffering, Jesus chose to do the right thing. Which of course is a great reminder, the best choice when being tormented about deciding between good and evil, be like the person in Wal-Mart—be like Jesus—choose the right thing. And hopefully someone will be praying for you when you’re wavering.

Because He chose the right thing – I have my life back!

Mike Altena


Value and Purpose

Over the past couple of months, during my free time, I have enjoyed watching the old television show “Battlestar Gallactica,” which ran from about 2004-2009 on Amazon Prime.  By this time you all know I am pretty nerdy, but this article should add even more depth to that reality.  I’ve always claimed I refuse to watch Star Trek, and that is where I draw the line of geekiness, but this show is pretty much the same thing under a different title.

The first episode dispenses with any sort of build-up or character development and throws you right into the middle of a crazy battle between Battlestar Gallactica, her sister ships, and the hordes of Cylons who are bent on eliminating the human race.  Over time you gather the main plot, which is fairly typical, that at some point human beings created artificial intelligence, the robots took over and nuked all the planets where humans live, blah blah blah…  Now there are a little less than 50,000 people left, and they are living on the run throughout the whole universe.

The reason I bring this show up is because of the deep questions it asks as the story develops.  It is no coincidence that the main character is named Commander Adamas, who is referred to by the crew simply as “the old man.”  In many ways he represents them all, just as Adam represents the human race in the Bible.  Probably the main question posed by this series is this:  After all the pain and suffering human beings have caused each other over the years and inflicted on the environment around them, do they even deserve to be saved from destruction?  If so, for what purpose?  Throughout the course of the series, this question is asked in different forms by humans and Cylons (robots who look like humans) alike.  Through an ironic twist, it is only through the suffering the people undergo that some of them come to believe in the One True God.

In a similar way God has wrestled with the problem of our unfaithfulness and destructive tendencies on many occasions.  The most obvious example was during the time of Noah, when human beings had become so corrupt that He decided to start over with one faithful family.  Later, after God made his promise to Abraham and his descendants, there were many times He almost gave up on them as well.  He offered to start over through Moses’ line (Exodus 32:12-14), He allowed Israel to be captured and carted off to Assyria (II Kings 17:5-6), and the nation of Judah eventually was dispersed to Babylon (II Kings 25:11).  Even in the history of the Christian church you can make a case that various branches of the faith strayed so far away that God eventually just let them go.

As Easter approaches, however, we can be encouraged by the truth that despite our lack of faithfulness, God remains faithful, and he sees value and purpose in us even when we don’t see it in ourselves.  The ultimate proof is sending Jesus into the world to offer us redemption through His shed blood on the cross and the power of His resurrection, and partnership in building His kingdom until He returns.  So whether we find ourselves in a time of peace and prosperity and possibly drifting from the faith, a time of persecution when we are on the run and calling out to God, or somewhere in between, may we find our value and purpose in our identity as God’s beloved children.

Cory Grimm


Praise the Lord!

People always say expect the unexpected, but if you expect the unexpected, isn’t it expected?  Recently, I shared with a close friend about a challenge that I was facing.  I expected her to sympathize with me and offer some encouragement or words of wisdom.  Instead, the words that came from her mouth were, “You need to praise God.”  I was a little surprised at her response, but I immediately knew she was right.  I had been focusing on the problem at hand instead of the Problem Solver.  Over the next few days, God relentlessly reminded me of the need to praise Him no matter what.

Praise is easy.  When life is going well, we give God the glory.  We are quick to praise Him from the mountaintops and areas of beauty, but what place does praise have in the valley and the darkness?  The Chronicles of the Old Testament record a beautiful picture of the power of praise.  King Jehoshaphat finds himself and all the people of Judah in quite a pickle.  Messengers have come to the King and reported that a huge army is on its way to attack them and he knows there is no humanly possible way in which they could be victorious.  King Jehoshaphat is alarmed and summons all the people to join him in the most sensible way he knows how—to seek help from the Lord.  The King pleads with God Almighty to save them from this impending calamity.  From the midst of the assembly, the Lord speaks through one of the young men and assures the people that the battle is God’s and they do not need to be afraid.  They do, however, need to go out the next day and face their enemy.  Upon hearing these words, King Jehoshaphat and all the people bowed down in worship before the Lord and several men in the group stood up and praised God loudly.  Early the next morning, the King gave the people a spiritual pep talk and appointed men to sing to the Lord and praise Him for the splendor of his holiness as they led the army of Judah forward.

The next words in 2 Chronicles 20:22 strengthen me.  “AS THEY BEGAN TO SING AND PRAISE,” the Lord set ambushes against their enemies, causing the opposing forces to turn on one another and they were defeated.  Yay, God!

The people of Judah didn’t have to lift a finger, all they needed to do was lift their voices.  Could the same be true for us?  The people not only praised God after things turned out in a positive way, they praised God before the battle even got started, and continued to praise him in the midst of their attack.  As my friend reminded me, my commitment to praise God didn’t change because of my circumstances.  Praise should be an ongoing response to the splendor of the Lord and He will fight for me.

Praise is a powerful weapon in our spiritual arsenal.  Praise confuses the enemy and it takes our focus off the storm and forces us to look to the only One who can bring calm.  Hebrews 13:15 reminds us, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”  Whatever situation you find yourself in today, will you join me in praise?

I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.  I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.  Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. (Psalm 34:1-3)

I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High. (Psalm 7:17)

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (Psalm 42:5)

Erin Jacobsma


The King of Heaven Wants You

I was working on a project the other day with one of my children. We were moving along with our task together in perfect unity. As we were nearing completion I noticed I was getting pushed away little by little and the child was gaining more and more control. To add insult to injury, the phrase “I got it, Mom.” was uttered from his little mouth, as though I was not needed at all. While I probably was not the greatest asset for getting the tractor out of the shed, I certainly did not need to be reminded by an 8 year old! To be fair, I had never started or driven this particular machine so I was carefully assessing the situation only to have my pride left hurt and annoyed by being told he knew better than I did.

This little story problem of my life led me to think about how I treat my Heavenly Father while we are working on a task with one another. It’s a little hard to admit, but I have watched myself start in perfect harmony with Him, only to say “I’ll take it from here, Lord!” Who am I to tell the Creator of all things, I don’t need you anymore? Yet, I do…all too often. Oh how I struggle with wanting to be in control of where my life is going and the plans I have for myself. One would think God would become annoyed and hurt by my actions, like I was as I rode out of the shed with the 8 year old at the wheel. Yet He has never turned His back on me and is always near, making a way for me, with outstretched arms.

I do not know about you, but I can really struggle at times with full surrender. When I am faced with a challenge (both good and bad) I cannot help but wonder if God has thought about everything like I have – pathetic, right? When will I learn to fully trust His will and submit to the plans He has for my life?

The lyrics from the song “Control” by Tenth Avenue North have really been speaking to me the last few weeks. They remind me while I may not understand His way at all times, I still need to let go of my control and trust Him to lead me on the right path. A few of the lyrics go like this:

Here I am; All my intentions; All my obsessions; I want to lay them all down; In Your hands only your love is vital; Though I’m not entitled; Still You call me Your child

God You don’t need me; But somehow You want me; Oh, how You love me; Somehow that frees me; To take my hands off of my life; And the way it should go

God You don’t need me; But somehow You want me; Oh, how You love me; Somehow that frees me; To open my hands up; And give You control; I give You control

I’ve had plans shattered and broken; Things I have hoped in; Fall through my hands; You have plans to redeem and restore me; You’re behind and before me; Oh, help me believe

You want me; Somehow You want me; The King of Heaven wants me; So this world has lost its grip on me

God could easily do all things on His own, but He has invited me – invited you – to partner with Him to redeem and restore this broken world. It’s amazing He would want anything to do with us when I really think about it; after all, He is the one and only King of the universe. He does not need us to accomplish anything for Him, yet He comes down from His throne and meets us here in our messed up and broken lives. It is the most beautiful picture of love and friendship because there is absolutely nothing you need to do to earn His affection. So as you journey with Him here on this earth, remember He only wants one thing – all of you.

The King of Heaven wants you, my friend!

Becky Ossefoort


Challenging Times

A few weeks ago I was invited by some friends to attend the Nobles Rock Cattleman’s Association banquet. When I arrived I was surprised to find over 450 people had gathered to hear from John Phipps who is the award winning humor and commentary writer for Farm Journal and Top Producers magazines  (Well, that and /or to enjoy a nice big juicy scrumptious rib eye steak complete with taters, corn and ice cream).

After the meal, recognizing those in our county who had made significant impacts in the beef industry, and completing the business, they introduced Mr. Phipps.  Now at this point, I always wonder how a speaker seeks to motivate and inspire his/her audience from a secular perspective (my assumption was Mr. Phipps would not base his talk on God’s Word). See because truth from a secular perspective is most often determined by the person who has the greatest power or by the opinion of one that is affirmed by the greatest number of people.

Well, after Mr. Phipps shared how exciting it was to speak to a group of people other than corn or soybean growers, he briefly gave his outlook for commodity prices in general for the next few years. In a very nice way he kindly expressed somewhat of a bleak outlook, especially for the beef producer. And it was because of the challenges that lie ahead, he suggested that we must embrace the following four values.

First, he believed we all need to do a better job listening to each other. And one of the reasons we need to be better listeners is because social media seems to have evolved into a platform where everyone apparently has the right to freely offer their opinion. Another reason we need to be better listeners is because we are distracted by so many things. I was totally in agreement with this point and I was eager to hear more about his insight into our level of distraction, but then I got distracted by the caterers when they started cleaning up the tables from which they served. Buy the time I was ready to become a better listener, Mr. Phipps was about to move on to the second value we must hold to in challenging times. However, I began to wonder what would happen in the church if we spent less time offering our opinion and more time listening.

The second value Mr. Phipps suggested was that we must avoid shaming each other when we fail or make mistakes. There are just some things that happen between friends, families and co-workers that don’t have to end up on Facebook or in the coffee shop. If I remember right, he shared the story about a soybean farmer’s son who began combining his field when he forgot to put the cover back over the return elevator and the result was the son combined a great distance and all the soybeans poured out into a nice row on the ground. Then instead of keeping the costly oversight between the father and the son, the father shamed his son by making a big deal out of it in the coffee shop in town. I began to wonder what would happen in the church if we stopped shaming each other when we fail.

A third value in challenging times Mr. Phipps suggested was that, because farmers are often known as whiners, beef producers must quit whining about their hardship and figure out ways to be more competitive and productive. And the reason why a person must quit whining about the challenges, and instead must focus on new possibilities or practices, is because there is always someone out there who is going to figure it out and take your place.  I began to wonder, what if the church stopped whining about how the old ways of doing things aren’t working and began focusing on new possibilities and practices before someone else takes our place.

And then a fourth and final value Mr. Phipps closed with was the power of community. Because the natural tendency in the midst of hard times is fear that leads to independence and isolation, the key to success is in the power of community. And in particular he highlighted the importance of being kind to one another—to do unto others as you would have them do to you. I began to wonder, what would happen through the church if we actually started thinking community, and we began with the virtue of kindness.

Although it became clear that Mr. Phipps was a Christian, he used no scripture, but he still gave the audience an inspiring and motivating picture of what life is like when you and I bring the kingdom of God in challenging times.

To God be the glory,

Mike Altena


What’s Got Your Attention?

Last week during our welcome and call to worship I shared briefly the story about the young man who got rich buying into Bitcoin. (Although we found out we are all rich, right!) I’ve probably had more comments and questions on that welcome than most other ones, so I want to share a little bit more of that story and application for you to think about this week.

The young man’s name is Erik Finman, now age 19, and you can google him and read his complete story from many different sources. It turns out I had a few of the details wrong. Erik was lucky, but that wasn’t the complete story. He also has a lot of entrepreneurial spirit in him. Seven years ago he received a gift of $1,000 from his grandmother, and he used it to buy his first 100 bitcoins. Again, I won’t take the time to explain what Bitcoin is, exactly, and I’m not even sure I could. The main idea is that it is an online, encrypted currency that claims to be able to protect itself from the other threats to regular currency such as theft, deterioration, and counterfeiting. However, detractors such as Warren Buffet, tell us cryptocurrency has no real value and could implode at any moment… so I don’t suggest risking your savings on it!

Eric watched the value of his investment grow, and finally he sold the bitcoins for $1,200 each, or over $100,000 after taxes. Then he launched his own online-education company, called Botangle, and later sold it for 300 more bitcoins. Today he has 401 to his name, and his net worth is close to $4 million. Although both of his parents are Stanford-educated doctors, he made an agreement with them that if he was a millionaire before turning 18, he wouldn’t have to go to college. He won. Now he spends time giving advice to other young people about investing, as well as collaborating with NASA on a future project.

I have my own story along these lines on a much smaller scale. Back in 2008 when the markets were in major turmoil due to the mortgage crisis and other issues, I had saved up about $6,000 and decided to try my hand at online investing. The volatility was off the charts that year, so it was possible to buy a stock in danger of bankruptcy one day and see it double the next. Of course the opposite possibility was true as well. To make a long story short, over the next six months I made a lot of money and lost a lot of money, but in the end I had tripled my investment account to close to $20,000.

So why didn’t I just keep going and become like Erik Finman or Warren Buffet? The truth is I probably got lucky that year and things would have eventually evened out, because I don’t have the talent or steely nerves of those guys, but the more pressing issue is that I could feel my hope shifting away from God. I would wake up in the morning, sometimes after a bad night of sleep, and the first thing I had to do was check the markets to see how I was doing. It was easy to project in my mind how at the pace I was “making” money, I could be quite wealthy in only 5 or 10 years. But before I got too deep into that mentality, God graciously called me back and reminded me there was much more to life than material wealth, so I gave up online investing and renewed my focus on ministry and family. Later the money I made enabled us to live in Haiti as missionaries, so it is good to know God can use even our wanderings for His purposes.

During the last few weeks Mike has given us some great teaching on stewardship and how to leverage our resources for God’s glory, but the truth is what God really wants is very simple. He wants my heart, and He wants yours. He desires that relationship above all else. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13) Money and wealth aren’t bad things, but they have the potential to distract our attention from God and our calling to build His kingdom, and that’s where the true riches are found!

Cory Grimm


I Have a Dream

I have a dream.

Depending on your age, those four words probably trigger a memory of Martin Luther King Jr addressing a crowd at the March on Washington, or possibly a whimsical song from the movie TangledTangled is a story about Rapunzel who has a dream to see the floating lanterns that appear in the sky each year on her birthday.  Through a tangled web of events, she enlists the help of the kingdom’s most wanted thief, Flynn rider, to take her to see the lights.  That is until they end up at the Snuggly Duckling Tavern and a group of ruffians capture Rider and Rapunzel’s dream seems to be on the verge of unraveling.  Rapunzel uses her long hair to disarm the bandits and confronts the group of thugs to plead her case for her dream of seeing the lanterns and asks them, “Haven’t any of you ever had a dream?”  The ringleader grabs an ax and approaches Rapunzel with anger in his eyes when he turns and says, “I had a dream… once.”  What follows is the “I Have a Dream” song where the room full of vicious scoundrels share their unlikely and touchy-feely dreams.  In the middle of the song, they ask Flynn Rider what’s his dream.  Rider denies his singing ability and having a dream until he’s held at knife point.

I recently watched a video of Gary Haugen, founder and CEO of International Justice Missions, who talked about leaders having a dream and not being afraid to follow those dreams.  Haugen went on to say that fear was the silent destroyer of dreams.  And while our most powerful dreams flow out of love, fear is a preoccupation with ourselves.  His personal fear in leaving a good job to start a non-profit global ministry was the fear of looking like a failure.  This was all very interesting to me, but as I listened to the presentation, I felt like Flynn Rider and not having a dream that was worth singing about.  As a youngster, I had a dream to become a nurse, but that dream was short lived with the realization that the sight of blood made my head spin and my stomach roll over.

Some people have grand dreams of opening a restaurant or writing a book.  Others dream of being famous or fighting an injustice.  As my mind hovered on the verge of my “No Dream” pity party, the Spirit began to remind me of the dreams I do have.  Though maybe not as concrete as a college degree or a Super Bowl ring, I have a dream, or maybe multiple dreams.  I have a dream to help people experience the freedom of surrendering their life to Jesus Christ, to know the power of his unfailing love and accept his grace and mercy.  I dream of a world where each person is celebrated as a child of God regardless of their past or present.  I dream of a community that cares for all it’s people.  I dream of a church where all would be welcomed and loved, where pettiness would disappear, and where people would worship with all their hearts and be willing participants.  I dream of families that would stick together, respect, honor and serve one another.

I don’t think it would take much to imagine that the apostle Paul also had some dreams for the world in which he lived.  He dreamed about people having the eyes of their heart enlightened that they would know the hope to which they were called, the riches of their glorious inheritance and the incomparably great power for those who believed (Eph 1:18-19).  He dreamed that the people would be rooted and established in love and that they would grasp the width, length, height and depth of the love of Christ (Eph 3:17-18).

Another dream I have stems from the conversation in Mark 12:30-31 where Jesus tells the people that the two most important commandments are to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself.  I don’t want to start a new program or develop a new ministry, but I envision God’s people being deployed in this community, wearing t-shirts that say Love God – Love People, and humbly offering a hand wherever and whenever there is a need… cleaning up after a storm, picking up garbage after a baseball game, pitching in at Hot Dog Night or Tri-State Band Festival, living a life of service for the glory of God and the transformation of the world.

So how about you?  Do you have a dream?  Is there a dream or vision that God has for ARC?  I’m confident he does!  Let’s seek that dream together!

Erin Jacobsma