Wet Wood

One of the ways Vicki and I kindle our love relationship is by engaging in some deep heart to heart conversation around a bonfire on the back patio. We reflect on the joy of being united as one, or about God’s vision for our lives and for our family, about the transformation we are experiencing, but mostly about the blessing of having so many deep friendships as we silently scroll through Facebook.

I believe most people enjoy gathering around a good crackling pit fire on a cool summer’s night. Pit fires seem to have a natural way of bringing about good conversations filled with reflections of the events of the past week, solving the world’s problems, or from fond childhood memories.

Memories like the time when Mitchell had a bunch of his high school friends over for a bonfire. It was getting late so Vicki and I decided to go to bed which apparently presented the perfect opportunity for the boys to throw an unopened can of pork and beans into the fire. Well wouldn’t you know it, in the same way pork and beans can create internal combustion in a human being, so it is when thrown in an open fire. We hadn’t been in bed long when we heard what sounded like a gunshot followed by an eruption of laughter, Yep, the can of beans exploded and we had pork and beans all over our yard, even on our deck that was 40 feet away. (Hey kids, you’ll have to try it sometime!)

As I was thinking about some of our more memorable bonfires, I also thought about the one we had last summer. Vicki and I were getting low on fire wood, so I stopped at a gas station in Rock Rapids and I picked up a couple bundles of tightly wrapped, precut logs that had been sliced into one inch by ten inch pieces.

Later that evening I neatly stacked our remaining supply of fire wood on the fire pit: I filled the nooks and crannies with newspapers and started striking a couple of rocks together. Soon Vicki and I were enjoying the warmth and light of a roaring bonfire.  Not long after, as all fires do, the flames began to die, so, eager to try out the new wood I purchased, I strategically added a few of the pieces. However, much to my surprise, rather than fueling the fire again, the remaining flames turned to red hot embers and the wood I added began to send plumes of white smoke into the sky.

Immediately I was overcome by feelings of disenchantment, but thank goodness the Holy Spirit reminded me of my Calvinist Cadets training—get the bottle of lighter fluid. I quickly grabbed the bottle and I gave it a good squeeze, as the stream of accelerant hit the glowing embers, the flames immediately leapt high into the air filling the dark cold night with a beautiful warm glow. But then, and again much to my disillusionment, the fire almost extinguished itself before I could slide the marshmallows on my roasting stick—my new bundle of wood was wet wood.

As I reflected on that memorable experience, I thought about the story in Acts 2 and how the Holy Spirit ignited that early church on fire to be a light in this dark world. And then I thought about the Apostle Paul’s warning in I Thessalonians 5:19 “Don’t put out the Spirit’s fire” (GW). Which led me to ponder; when it comes to the Kingdom fire blazing at ARC, in what ways am I good dry wood that fuels the fire, and in what ways am I like wet wood that puts out the Spirit’s fire?

When I reflect on the fire at ARC, in our Classis, or in our denomination, I’m wondering about the impact of wet wood.

I am the light of the world,

Mike Altena

 


I Wonder…

I’d like to take this opportunity to give an update on the activity of the Ridder Church Renewal (RCR) Team over the past eight months. For those who aren’t familiar with the RCR team, we have been commissioned by the Consistory to engage in a process designed by Western Seminary to help our congregation move towards God’s preferred future of faithful and missional living demonstrated personally and corporately.

In the initial module of our Ridder process, our team was introduced to two core values and three skill sets that are significant in helping us discover and live into God’s preferred and emerging future. The two  core values are authenticity and integrity and the three skill sets are developing a metal model of discipleship comprised of radical obedience, reflective living, and communities of grace and truth, learning how family systems impacts our ministry, and generating and sustaining creative tension.

Part of the homework of engaging the skill set of generating and creating creative tension was to identify our current reality specifically in regards to our understanding of engaging Christ’s kingdom mission. And if you remember, in August of 2017, we presented our narrative of what we believe is our current reality of missional engagement. Included in that document was information about the process, affirmations of how we are living on mission, as well as several “technical” and “adaptive” challenges.

Since last September the RCR team has been focusing on two areas. First, each team member has been intentional about living on mission, and in particular, seeking to engage those who have wandered far from God. At each of our meetings we reflect on how we are growing in faithful and fruitful missional living as well as the obstacles.

Secondly, we have been intentionally seeking the heart of God in regards to how he may be calling ARC to bring the kingdom of God to a specific issue in the community. Although not reported in the current reality document, after interviewing representatives from several subsystems, we discovered that some people are unable to find rides to doctor’s appointments. We discovered an increase of mental illness and a lack of respect among community members. We discovered a need for mentoring in the school system as well as lack of affordable housing. When meeting with a local banker we discover the growing level of personal debt and a visit with the Rock County Daycare Supervisor revealed a need for more daycare.

In our research we discovered many possible areas where ARC could invest intentional time and resources to bless our community, and yet we didn’t want to just rush into anything without seeking the heart of God, and so we worked through Ruth Haley Barton’s book, Pursuing God’s Will Together.

During this season of discernment, the daycare issue has come up a number of times and in a variety of unique ways indicating the Spirit might be speaking to us, and so on May 1 we met with Holly Sammons and Emily Crabtree to learn more about this issue. (See May 16 issue of the Star Herald about daycare).

We wonder…could God be calling ARC to partner with the city of Luverne and/or with other entities to address this need? Or could God’s preferred future for ARC include starting our own ministry of daycare and preschool? Maybe ARC’s niche’ in the daycare issue is providing affordable daycare and preschool for single parent families in our community. (Some single parents can’t work because of the daycare costs). And what do you think? When reading about this possible mission, is there anything that begins to stir in your heart? If so, I would invite you to join our next RCR meeting on Tuesday night, June 5 at 7:00 in the Commons.

I have heard of several things ARC has become known for, some good, some not so good. My prayer is that, whether personally or corporately, we truly are growing for God’s glory as we bless our community in the name of Jesus! Mike Altena

 


Track Record

According to ABC News, Orville Rogers of Dallas, Texas set 5 new US and World Records in the 100-104 age category at the 2018 USATF Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships in Landover, Maryland. Rogers started running when he was 50 years old and began competing in track meets when he turned 90. He has quite the track record in Track Records.

The term “track record” most likely originated with horse racing and referred to a horse’s best time at a track. But the phrase has expanded over the years to include many areas of achievement. For example, we talk about the track records of investments, sports teams, people, companies, and products. Track records can be positive or negative. They are simply the things that someone has done in the past that can be used as a way to judge what that person is likely to do in the future. Perhaps you have a track record for being late to work or for setting off the smoke alarm when you are cooking. On the other hand, maybe you have a history of generosity or compassion. Either way, your past behaviors are often a good indicator of future performance.

The Bible mentions the track records of many people. Abraham had a track record of faithful obedience, but also lying. Moses’ track record included an explosive temper, but also a heart for God’s people. Samson had a history with women. David was accomplished in trusting God against all odds. For Solomon, operating with wisdom was his standard. Each of these people had a history that gave a clue to their present and future.

The apostle Peter also had a track record. Most memorable was three separate occasions where Peter blatantly denied his best friend. Not only did he deny knowing Jesus, he disowned everything about him—everything he had done—everything he had taught. But Peter also had a track record of obedience, trust, willingness, and zeal. Peter didn’t hesitate when Jesus said, “Come”. His feet knew the sure foundation of the Savior both on land and sea. Peter trusted Jesus whether bringing him five loaves and two fish to feed 5,000 people, or by putting his boat out into deep water at Jesus’ request after a night of futile fishing.

Back in the boat is where Jesus found Peter following the roller coaster week that included Jesus’ death and resurrection and Peter’s track record of denial. Jesus had already appeared to the disciples so Peter knew he was alive, but so far there was no specific interaction between Jesus and Peter. I can only imagine the shame and disgrace that hung over Peter’s head. (Talk about an elephant in the room!) Peter, John, and some of the other disciples were out on the water and had been fishing all night with nothing to show for it. As the sun began to appear on the horizon, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples didn’t know who he was. After Jesus inquired about their catch, he informed them that they would find fish on the other side of the boat. The tired fishermen oblige the stranger and their nets become so loaded with fish that they cannot haul it in.

John is the first to see the recognizable sign of an overabundance of fish. Jesus had a track record too. John nudges Peter and nods toward the shore and shares his revelation: “It is the Lord.” Peter doesn’t hesitate and throws himself over the side of the boat. I can’t help but wonder if Peter was hoping that his past experience of water walking would hold true this time also.

After Jesus prepares breakfast and the meal is sitting heavy in the men’s stomachs, Jesus finally addresses Peter. Three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves him and then instructs him to care for his sheep. Jesus reinstates Peter and his future in God’s kingdom and cancels out his track record of denial and shame.

Jesus offers the same opportunity to us. No matter what our track record has been in the past, Jesus extends the opportunity to start a new way of life of faithfulness, obedience, trust, and service that will be a new normal. It’s not too late. Start a new record with Jesus!

Erin Jacobsma

 


Adoration

Since becoming a mother I have experienced many emotions while watching my children grow up. I’m not sure one is ever completely prepared for any of those feelings as different situations arise. It sure would be nice to just box up time and keep our children little. Yet, that’s not the purpose God has for them, or us.

Just the other day in the school drop-off lane I experienced something new that left me speechless and perhaps a bit sad. Now, my son is growing up and would prefer I not give him a big kiss in the school parking lot, and I choose to respect that – most of the time. J As I was dropping him off at school I said “Have a great day. I love you!” I waited for a response as he stepped out of the car but there was none. Thinking he had not heard me, I repeated “I love you!” just a little louder than before. Just as I did, he  turned his head a bit and I noticed huge dimples and a smile on his face. Oh, he had heard me alright, but refused to verbally acknowledge what I had said. I was a bit surprised and even a little hurt when I realized my little boy is not so little anymore, and saying “I love you” to your mom is not so cool when your buddies are around. Little does he know the dimples and smile was just enough to avail my need for his affection that morning.

As I pondered what had happened, I felt a twinge of conviction as I drove away from the curb. I began to think about my relationship with my Creator, I wondered if I do the same thing to Him at times? How often do I withhold my sentiments of love, adoration and praise from Him? Does He experience the same emotions of hurt and sadness when I suppress my affection from Him?

One way I have found to show my adoration and love for the Father is to pray scriptures. There is really nothing like using God’s very own words to glorify Him. As I do so, I find myself aligned with His heart and full of praise for whom He is, not just what He does for me. Just this week as I was doing my morning devotions I found myself peering out the window, completely overcome by the beauty and variety of ways God is still creating. The newness of spring and the loveliness of the green grass, chirping of birds high in the trees, and bright green buds poking out their heads from branches grabbed my attention. I thought to myself, “Only my God can create so much beauty through one small window.” I flipped the pages in my Bible and allowed God’s words to help me praise and express my love for Him. I quickly found myself completely overwhelmed by His Sovereignty and love for all His creation.

So, even though my experience in the drop-off lane at school was a bit painful, I am thankful for it. The experience was a gentle reminder to examine how I speak my love to my Heavenly Father and to include more prayers of adoration and thanksgiving in my prayer time. Our lives are all busy, and our days are constantly filled with noise. But when we find a quiet place to pray and praise Him, we are able to connect and find ourselves drawn closer to Him. And when we choose to put ourselves and other distractions aside and spend time admiring Him from deep within our heart, it is amazing how He speaks.

What a Mighty God we serve!

Becky Ossefoort

 

 


Come Again!

One of the magazines I subscribe to is Outreach magazine and the reason I enjoy it is because it helps fuel my passion for connecting with wandering sojourners as well as equipping me to become a better evangelist.

After consulting with hundreds of churches, Thom Rainer submitted an interesting article in a recent publication entitled “10 Reasons Guests Don’t Return to Your Church”. Rainer writes, “Most church members have forgotten what it’s like to be a first-time guest. They now have established relationships in the church. They love their church. Their biases tell them their church is great.” And let me add, they are familiar and comfortable with how the church functions.

Rainer continues, “But many church members and leaders are wrong. When we asked hundreds of guests about their experiences visiting churches, it was not a pretty picture. We asked specifically why they did not return to a particular church.” Here were their top ten responses:

  1. The stand and greet time in the worship service was unfriendly and awkward. Some guests saw it as only a ritual for the members while others felt ignored or inundated with superficial greetings.
  2. Unfriendly church members. Most church members usually don’t speak to guests because they don’t know them and instead retreat to holy huddles of the people they do know.
  3. Unsafe and unclean children’s areas. If your church does not have clear safety and security procedures, and if the children’s area is not clean and sanitary, young families will not return to your church.
  4. No place to get information about the church. Guests are trained to look for a central welcome and information center, however, some churches didn’t have one or it was hidden or it was unmanned.
  5. Bad church websites. Two critical items guests want to see on a church website are the physical address of the church and times of the services.
  6. Poor signage. Guests get frustrated when they don’t have clear directional signage for parking, the worship center, the children’s area and others.
  7. Insider church language. Listen carefully to the words and conversations in the worship service. See if members say things a first time guest would not understand.
  8. Boring or bad worship services. In a digital age, with so many affordable resources, no church is allowed that excuse.
  9. Members telling guests they were in the wrong pew or chair. In fact the common comment was, “You are sitting in my pew.”
  10. Dirty facilities. A dirty church facility communicates to the guest, “We really don’t care.”

The staff took some time to discuss this list and it was helpful to have Missy Buckland’s input. Our conversation revealed that we are doing some of these things well and that some areas could use much improvement. I realize that several of the complaints had to do with the consumerism mentality that has infiltrated the church culture, and yet my hope is that we would always be a welcoming, kind, attentive, and authentic gathering of Christ followers. And I would encourage you to have a conversation with your family or Life Group about these observations.

I am grateful for all of you who give special effort to making our guests feel welcome and loved and I am especially thankful for our weekly greeters, ushers, and hosts. I realize we all have different personalities, and yet with Christ living in us and the greatest Good News on our lips, my prayer is that our guests will always feel like they encountered a little piece of heaven when they join us for worship.

Laboring for the harvest, Mike Altena

 


God’s Great Dance Floor

In my message last week I shared about an experience when God most powerfully manifested his presence in a worship experience at a Promise Keepers event in St. Louis. If you’ve ever had an experience like that then you know you don’t quickly forget it because of the overwhelming sense of awe and delight, love and peace. It’s a spiritually euphoric experience birthed through intimacy with God.

Although I don’t believe God calls us to seek those euphoric experiences, I have found they happen often during worship through song. Such was the case a few weeks ago when I was listening to a song on YouTube by Chris Tomlin entitled God’s Great Dance Floor.

Now when you first hear the song or read the lyrics, you might wonder what the big deal is. It goes like this:

I’m coming back to the start
Where you found me
I’m coming back to your heart
Now I surrender
Take Me
This is all I can bring

I’m coming back to the start
I got this freedom
In here we feel your heart
Your heartbeat for us
Take Me
This is all I can bring

You’ll never stop loving us
No matter how far we run
You’ll never give up on us
All of heaven shouts let the future begin
Let the future begin
Take me
This is all I can bring

You’ll never stop loving us
No matter how far we run
You’ll never give up on us
All of heaven shouts let the future begin
Let the future begin

I feel alive, I come alive
I am alive on God’s great dance floor

Again, the song is just a simple chorus, nothing profound doctrinally, yet very rich in theology. But here’s why I believe God manifested his presence for me when listening to the song. In the chapter on Halal The Fools of Praise in his book, Holy Roar, Chris Tomlin tells the story of how he and Martin Smith had gathered for a song writing session.

Chris explained how Martin had written an extended ballad entitled “Back to the Start,” which explored prodigal themes of return and rescue. Chris found it to be “a beautiful song—melodic, almost transfixing. And just when I thought it might end, it began to build, and build, and build into a closing refrain of celebration: I feel alive on God’s great dance floor.” A bit surprised by that line, Chris asked Martin, “What was that?” To which Martin explained, “It’s the prodigal return. When we come back to the Father, he throws a party. It’s not a time of lament, but rather a time of celebration—it’s a time to dance like a child.”

Months later, Tomlin found himself preparing to use the song at the Passion 2013 Conference (Annual Passion Conferences purpose is “to unite students in worship and prayer for spiritual awakening in this generation”). But first, because Tomlin also believes that worship is often more about seeing than singing, he went to a local Mexican restaurant and found a mariachi trumpeter to play with them.

Later, reflecting on the amazing response to the song, Tomlin wrote, “The crowd kept clapping, kept moving, but you could see it, they were transfixed by the man who seemed so out of place in the moment. He raised his trumpet, and when he played the first note, the stadium erupted. It was a dance party, a party of praise. It was a party fit for the return of the prodigals, the return of all sons and daughters.”

As I watched the YouTube video and reflected on my years of wandering far from God, I felt overwhelmed by God’s love expressed through his patient and graceful way with me. I thought about how the father ran to the son and welcomed him home and how he immediately called for a party… and then God manifested his presence and I began to weep as I thought about the longing in my heart to be a little more undignified in   my worship.

If you are able, I would encourage to watch God’s Great Dance Floor on YouTube, and imagine what the celebration was like when you returned home.

Halal, a fool of praise,

Mike Altena

 

 


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