Let’s Go Out For Supper

One of the things I appreciate about Vicki is her ability to cook and bake. She just has a knack for making really good meals and goodies, and she’s always trying something new. And since I highly dislike cooking or baking, even more I appreciate that she has been willing to cook for me day after day after day for nearly 39 years now.

That being said, there are those days, when I get a text late in the afternoon saying, hey it’s been a really busy day for me, do you mind if we just go out for supper tonight. I would guess many wives and moms know what I’m talking about; there are those times when you just don’t have the time or energy to cook something up and so you go out and let someone else do the cooking for you.

Well, in some ways I can identify. Not necessarily when it comes to cooking food, but when it comes to writing this archive article. Most often writing these articles is fun and they come fairly easy. Most articles begin when something happens during my week that interacts with the gospel. However this week I had so many exciting and challenging events happen that when I sat down to write about them I felt paralyzed. I actually sat at my computer for an hour and half this morning (Friday) trying to put my thoughts on paper. I felt mentally and emotionally tired. And because I gave some of my challenges to much space in my head, I sensed the flow from the Holy Spirit had dried up

I finally gave up and sent an e-mail to Erin saying, I’m not going to have an article for this week. Basically I was throwing up the white flag, I wanted to cook up a great article for all of you to feast on, but    in the end I just didn’t have the mental or emotional capacity to write anything. So I’m asking you as you read this, would it be ok if we just go out for dinner tonight? Would it be okay if I just let Jesus feed you in this article?

Well, I’m guessing, like I always am when Vicki asks if we can go out, you are more than happy to let Jesus prepare the spiritual meal for this article. So here it is; this is what I’m going to feast on and hope you enjoy it too.

From Matthew 11:28-30, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

And for desert, for those who are reading this on your electronic devices, please click on this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGFDplYGG-U

May in not be so with you and me that we become burned out with the rhythms of our current reality, but rather may it be so with you and me that we learn from the unforced rhythms of grace. Thanks so much for giving me permission to take a “real rest.”

May God bless you and keep, may his face shine on you and be gracious to you, and may the Lord turn his face toward you and grant you shalom.

Mike Altena


Optional or Required

One of the ongoing debates within the Covid pandemic is whether or not a person should wear a mask. With the recent spike in Covid cases, it appears that there are many more businesses, cities, or states mandating mask wearing. In preparing for the opening of school this fall, I believe one of the questions administrators are wrestling with is, do we make the children wear masks.

On one level the debate is about health. Does wearing a mask actually keep a person from receiving or transmitting the disease? Or does wearing a mask only serve as a reminder not to touch your face? And then are there any negative health effects from connecting the intake manifold to the exhaust system, if you know what I mean. Some people would claim wearing a mask is like sitting in the garage with the car running. Many people have difficulty breathing when wearing a mask.

On another level, the debate seems to be about personal freedom. Many people have the sense that no one has the right to tell them whether or not they have to wear a mask. Many people fear that mandating the wearing of masks is only a way for the government to see how easily the public submits to their rule. But then there are those who argue, it’s really not a matter of freedom, if you really cared about me, you would wear your mask. I’m still not sure if I should be wearing a mask because I love me, or should I wear a mask because I love you.

And then a final reason we resist the idea of wearing a mask is because of the impact it might have on our appearance. I wonder if in fact by wearing masks the spread of the covid virus was completely stopped, would some people still refuse to wear a mask because of how it makes them look. Such vanity.  🙂

As I reflect on my process of discerning whether wearing a mask is “right for me,” I realize I often use the same arguments when it comes to obeying God’s instructions. For example, in Luke 14:26-27 Jesus gave these instructions, “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.

In this passage Jesus basically is informing me as I count the cost of following him, that if I’m not willing to elevate my relationship with Jesus and engaging his mission as the highest priority in my life, then I cannot be his disciple.

And yet when reading those shocking expectations, just like when deciding if I’m going to wear a mask, I begin to question whether or not this is a command or suggestion from Jesus. Like, is picking up my cross of rejection and suffering really necessary? Can I get to heaven without making Jesus my top priority? What would my family and friends think of me if I became a “Jesus freak?”  Is Jesus establishing those guidelines and qualifications for my good, or is he just seeing how far he can push me to submit? And can I actually love Jesus without giving so much of myself?

Should I wear a mask? Certainly in those places where it’s required, otherwise, still optional for me.

Should I make Jesus and his mission the highest priority in my life; even if it leads to persecution and suffering? May it not be so with me that I would ever question, resist, or consider this mandate from Jesus as optional.

And my prayer is the same will be true for you.

Grace and peace to you, Mike Altena


God is Good

God Is Good.

Are these three words foundational truth, or just a good catch phrase? Is this declaration dependent on circumstances, or unconditional? Is God good even when conditions are not?

Last week our family was thrown into the midst of a challenging situation. My daughter, Gretchen, and her boyfriend were traveling down a South Dakota highway when another car came into their lane, resulting in a head-on collision at 65 mph. Plans for fun and relaxation, quickly melted into seven hours of fear, panic, pain, sirens, needles, x-rays, scans, tests, prayers, phone calls, and tears. In the end, it was truly a miracle that the two of them walked out of the emergency department with many bruises and scrapes, but not one broken bone or life-threatening injury. I was able to take my baby girl home, tuck her in bed, kiss her goodnight, and tell Jesus ‘thank you’ a thousand times before I drifted off to sleep. God is good.

The following morning on my way to work, as I drove past the funeral home, my throat became tight, my stomach turned, and my eyes filled with tears, at the thought of what could have been. Rather than going about my regular Thursday activities, I could be pacing the floor in the ICU waiting room, watching my child cling to life with the aid of machines, or planning a funeral. By the grace of God, that was not to be. And again my heart was overwhelmed with gratitude. God is good.

Last week my family also enjoyed a productive day of outside projects in the hot summer sun. We were pleased with our accomplishments only to come inside to discover our thermostat hovering at 80 degrees. Further investigation revealed that the comfort of a cool home would not be a cheap fix. The compressor on the air conditioner was caput and repair was not an option. God is good.

This week, the multiple rains that poured down heavy in our area created a river through our ditch and also through our basement. Three sump pumps are laboring to keep up and the dehumidifier is running non-stop. The new dehumidifier… the old one died last week. God is good.

Now why in the world would I say that God is good even in the midst of pain and suffering, trauma and tears, struggle and brokenness? Because He is! I resolved a long time ago that God is inherently good and nothing in this world can add or subtract from that. In life, God is good. In death, God is good. In prosperity, God is good. In poverty, God is good. In wholeness, brokenness, ease, struggle, peace, pain, joy, sorrow… God is good.

Yes, at times life is hard, the struggle is real, and some days just plain suck. But God is good, all the time. Favorable life experiences don’t add to God’s goodness, neither do traumatic events negate His goodness. Goodness is a part of who He is, in addition to being omnipotent, faithful, loving, merciful, holy, omniscient, eternal, and perfect. He can’t not be good.

Psalm 100:5 states, “For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” For me, that is a foundational truth. It’s not conditional or questionable.

“O, taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:8)

Erin Jacobsma


Swamp Monster

If someone offers you a free pool, you take it! At least I did a few years ago. My husband would argue the silly swim hole is anything but free, but he knows better than to say anything negative about “my pool”. He has learned when I come home after a long day and take fifteen minutes to float in silence things will go better for all involved. I sometimes feel a little guilty as I float around, but I can actually stop and be still when I’m not looking at laundry, dishes, and the couch pillows everyone seems to think belong on the living room floor. The worries and struggles of the day seem to disappear as I listen to the birds chirp, a pig or two squeal in the distance, and breathe in the fresh country (cattle yard) air.

A few weeks ago the crazy, tornado like winds we experienced threw my water balance off and I soon had a pool with green water. Because of commitments to organizing and helping with the mission week in town, work duties, baseball practice, serving as the executive of mom’s taxi service, and less than ideal weather other days, algae began to grow and I didn’t have the time to get it cleaned up before it got a little out of control.

The Service Over Self week filled me and created a great sense of joy and accomplishment within and I actually forgot about my murky tank of water for a little while. Watching students give up their summer vacation to love on others, expecting nothing in return, is incredible to witness and be a part of. But when the devil sees joy, he seems to work overtime to destroy. I’m not sure he even had to work overtime because by Tuesday morning I was a crabby mess. My pool was a swamp, I had a full schedule for the week, someone had aired their concern over a situation, and not to mention the other day-to-day hiccups of life. By the end of the day I had had it, so I got out some pool equipment to get my retreat in tip-top shape. Once again, the pool turned out to be more of a place of therapy than activity.

In order to get the gunk off the bottom of my pool, I first need to raise the water level with fresh water. The newly added water ensures there is ample water to suck the yucky stuff off the bottom through a brush and hose and out of the pool. The pool guy calls this very simple device a vacuum and it does wonders in just a matter of a few minutes. Once it was all hooked up and ready to go, I climbed in the pool and started vacuuming. As I went about my work, I thought about the things that had me down and crabbed to myself in my head. When I was about half done vacuuming, I looked up to check the water level and heard a voice say, “Remember, you need to put the good stuff in to get the bad stuff out.” I froze as guilt flooded my body and I recognized my lack of filling up with God’s goodness over the last few days. The things I had been so frustrated with caused me to shift my focus away from the eyes of my Savior and my heart had quickly become a green, smelly swamp just like my pool.

While I did quick finish the vacuuming, as soon as I got out of the pool I sat down and filled up on the words God had for me in His scriptures. My little retreat on the patio was just what my soul thirsted for and I’m happy to report the condition of my heart looks a lot less gross than it did just a few days ago.

How about you? Do the things of this world have your heart turning into a green slime monster? I beg you to stop and feel God’s presence today. Find a place to retreat in silence and just be still before Him. God’s voice will speak and be a comfort to you.

I’m out of space to share the verses I read on my patio, but below is a list of a few to help get you started. While it may feel easier and a little faster to simply read the scripture from this page, I can promise digging into the Bible and seeking God for yourself is way more fulfilling than anything I can retype!

Exodus 15:2; Deuteronomy 20:4; Psalm 19; Psalm 23:3; Psalm 27:1; Psalm 46; Psalm 51:13-17; Psalm 63:1; Psalm 73:26; Isaiah 12:2; Isaiah 40:31; Matthew 6:25-34; Matthew 11:28-30; John 3:16; Acts 3:19-20; Romans 15:13; Ephesians 6:10-12

Enjoy your retreat!  Becky Ossefoort


Seeking the Truth

In seeking to discern the truth of our current situation in regards to the Black Lives Matter in America, I have been hesitant to jump on the band wagon like many of my Reformed Church in America colleagues. Not because I don’t  believe that black lives matter, because I do believe that black lives matter. However I’ve been cautious to fully support the movement because I just don’t know enough of the vision behind the movement.

After spending a little time researching the movement last week, I ran across a response to the movement from Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. who serves as the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. It’s a 2400 word document that I would encoauge all of you to read, especially if you feel led to support the movement. It’s not a movement fully guided by Biblical principles, but rather by Marxist ideology.  (I have copies if you would like one).

In my research, I also ran across an article by Michael Foust who wrote a much shorter summary of the document written by Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. https://cnmnewz.com/2020/06/19/affirm-black-lives-matter-but-reject-the-organization-mohler-urges-christians/  I have included it below.

And just so you know, I agree, Christians should affirm the phrase “black lives matter,” but we must reject the organization that penned the slogan.


“Christians should affirm the phrase “black lives matter” but reject the organization that penned the slogan,” seminary president Albert Mohler Jr. says in a news column.

The president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary says the three words that have been embraced by Americans of every race and religion are “profoundly true” because “God made every human being in his image, which means every life on the planet, at every stage, matters.”

“[T]here are very real and urgent moral concerns about the lives and well-being of black Americans,” Mohler writes at ThePublicDiscourse.com.

But Black Lives Matter – the movement that was founded in 2013 and is behind BlackLivesMatter.com – takes stances that oppose biblical sexuality, Mohler writes.

The seminary president quotes the position statements on the movement’s website. “We are guided,” the BlackLivesMatter.com website says, “by the fact that all black lives matter, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status, or location.”

On transgenderism, the website says, “We make space for transgender brothers and sisters to participate and lead. We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.”

Further, it says, “We foster a queer‐affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise).”

The Black Lives Matter organization, Mohler writes, “adopts and promotes the entire worldview of the sexual revolution.”

The organization’s website also “seeks to remove any vestige of the traditional nuclear family,” Mohler says. He quotes the organization’s stance on the family: “We build a space that affirms Black women and is free from sexism, misogyny, and environments in which men are centered. . . . We make our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We dismantle the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work ‘double shifts’ so that they can mother in private even as they participate in public justice work. We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another.”

Mohler also examines the beliefs of the Movement for Black Lives, a partner organization founded in 2014. The Movement for Black Lives published a booklet that calls for “a right to restored land, clean air, clean water and housing and an end to the exploitative privatization of natural resources – including land and water. Democratic control over how resources are preserved, used and distributed and do so while honoring and respecting the rights of our Indigenous family.”

“These are radical claims, which imply the abolition of private property,” Mohler writes. “In this scenario, who would determine what land and water use constitute exploitation? And who would have the authority to seize property from owners who are deemed exploitative? Although this aspect of its message is emphasized less than its anti-racism, the group’s literature demonstrates that the Movement for Black Lives seeks an end to capitalism and free markets.”

Mohler asserts: “When you look at this language, it becomes clear that Black Lives Matter and the Movement for Black Lives share little in common with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.”

Although Mohler says he affirms the phrase “black lives matter” without “hesitation and with full enthusiasm” he “cannot use” it “because it will be heard, nearly universally, as a movement, not as a sentence. The sentence is no longer a sentence – it is a movement, a platform, an agenda of revolution at odds with the gospel, contrary to and destructive of God’s creational order.

“At the same time, Christians must be those who realize the hurt and fear of our African American brothers and sisters, indeed, of our African American neighbors and coworkers. We must be attentive to what they are saying – we must hear them, listen, and act in a way that demonstrates an urgent level of compassion and Christian love,” he writes. “We will need the spirit of Christ to do this, because mere words clearly will not do.”

Seeking the Truth that will set me free,

Mike Altena


How Do I Respond?

From the efforts to impeach President Trump, the pandemic, the murder of George Floyd by a police officer, the protests against police brutality and racism, the riots, the canceling of culture, the questionable charges of murder against a police officer who killed Rayshard Brooks, to the recent supreme court rulings, it seems impossible for me to make sense of what is going on in our country over the past six months. What is my responsibility and how should I respond to all that is happening?

It appears that Solomon wondered the same thing in his day as we find his wisdom expressed in Ecclesiastes 8. I have copied the chapter below from The Message. In this chapter, I find at least five nuggets of wisdom for how you and I should respond to our current situation. Can you find them?

1 There’s nothing better than being wise, knowing how to interpret the meaning of life. Wisdom puts light in the eyes, and gives gentleness to words and manners.

2-7 Do what your king commands; you gave a sacred oath of obedience. Don’t worryingly second-guess your orders or try to back out when the task is unpleasant. You’re serving his pleasure, not yours. The king has the last word. Who dares say to him, “What are you doing?” Carrying out orders won’t hurt you a bit; the wise person obeys promptly and accurately. Yes, there’s a right time and way for everything, even though, unfortunately, we miss it for the most part. It’s true that no one knows what’s going to happen, or when. Who’s around to tell us?

No one can control the wind or lock it in a box. No one has any say-so regarding the day of death. No one can stop a battle in its tracks. No one who does evil can be saved by evil.

All this I observed as I tried my best to understand all that’s going on in this world. As long as men and women have the power to hurt each other, this is the way it is.

10 One time I saw wicked men given a solemn burial in holy ground. When the people returned to the city, they delivered flowery eulogies—and in the very place where wicked acts were done by those very men! More smoke. Indeed.

11 Because the sentence against evil deeds is so long in coming, people in general think they can get by with murder.

12-13 Even though a person sins and gets by with it hundreds of times throughout a long life, I’m still convinced that the good life is reserved for the person who fears God, who lives reverently in his presence, and that the evil person will not experience a “good” life. No matter how many days he lives, they’ll all be as flat and colorless as a shadow—because he doesn’t fear God.

14 Here’s something that happens all the time and makes no sense at all: Good people get what’s coming to the wicked, and bad people get what’s coming to the good. I tell you, this makes no sense. It’s smoke.

15 So, I’m all for just going ahead and having a good time—the best possible. The only earthly good men and women can look forward to is to eat and drink well and have a good time—compensation for the struggle for survival these few years God gives us on earth.

16-17 When I determined to load up on wisdom and examine everything taking place on earth, I realized that if you keep your eyes open day and night without even blinking, you’ll still never figure out the meaning of what God is doing on this earth. Search as hard as you like, you’re not going to make sense of it. No matter how smart you are, you won’t get to the bottom of it.

Ok, did you find them? Here’s my take away. Even if you and I had access to all the world’s wisdom, the wisest man would know very little. No one can fully comprehend what God is doing. There will always be more questions than answers. We mustn’t allow the unknown to cast a shadow over our joy, faith, or work since we can be confident in the providence and sovereignty of a God who loves us. Don’t let the fear of an uncertain tomorrow rob you of the abundant life Jesus wants you to enjoy today.

Clinging to faith like a child, Mike Altena


Show Me Your Scars

Scars. We all have them. If you disagree with that statement, tip your head and take a look at your navel. Regardless if it is an innie or an outie, your belly button is a scar resulting from a wound on the day of your birth. According to Wikipedia, “A scar is an area of fibrous tissue that replaces normal skin after an injury. It is the result of the biological process of wound repair. With the exception of very minor lesions, every wound results in some degree of scarring.”

Besides my belly button, I have other scars… two distinct marks run parallel to my spine carved by a surgeon’s scalpel, remnants of a 3rd degree burn coat the back of my leg, and a relic by my eyebrow occurred from the carelessness of my older brother. (I won’t name names J) Each scar has a story to tell. Some stories we enjoy retelling, while others we’d rather conceal. I know a young lady with scars on her legs and arms. She isn’t proud of them and doesn’t want anyone to know they are there. They are reminders of self-inflicted wounds to her body in an attempt to take away the pain of wounds to her heart.

Yes, some scars form on our skin and are very visible. Other times it’s our mind and heart that are affected. We are wounded within. And just as all people have a scar on their exterior, I think you would  have a difficult time finding someone that hasn’t been wounded on the inside. As is evident in our society, some people’s hurts are still gaping open, gushing, or oozing, while others have allowed wounds to heal and scar over.

Scars seem ugly and we attempt to reduce their appearance, but if you think about it scars are really beautiful. Scars signify healing. While a wound shows evidence of an injury, often bloody and gross, scars only form after a wound is bound up and completely healed. And as a friend reminded me, “Scars only form on the living.” Let that sink in.

Isaiah 53 speaks of a Man, Jesus Christ, who bears the scars of a sacrificial wounding. “He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Jesus was wounded (flesh ripped open, body nailed to a tree, side pierced through) to bring healing and restoration and to bind up our relationship with God. Without Jesus’ wounds, we would never experience healing and right relationship with the Father.

Psalm 147:3 says, “He (the Lord) heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” I often have a picture in my mind of a doctor suturing a deep cut and wrapping gauze around the injury when I think about binding up wounds, but as I’ve been thinking about scars, these words are a beautiful picture of the healing and restoration that God does in our lives, even if it does leave a scar.

So tell me about your scars. Do you have battle wounds that you are proud of, souvenirs of a victory from the past? Marks that are thick with life lessons and transformation? Maybe your scars are buried deep within your soul and very few people, if anybody, even know about them. Maybe they are your own doing and are bound with shame, or maybe they are twisted with bitterness and unforgiveness. Or perhaps you have wounded another, left a decisive mark on their body… or their heart. Maybe you threw a punch, or shot careless words that pierced deep within. (If that’s you, I encourage you to take action to clean up your mess, and apply the healing balm of a humble apology and reconciliation.)

Whether you have been the wounded or the wound-er, make a choice today to allow Jehovah-Rapha, the God Who Heals, to bind up your wounds and bring complete healing to your body and your soul. Your scars are proof that God heals. So don’t be embarrassed about them, tell their story and tell of the amazing power of God’s healing in your life.

Erin Jacobsma


Whoomp, There It Is!

“Whoomp, there it is! Whoomp, there it is! Whoomp, shaka-laka-shaka-laka-shaka-laka-shaka” If you are a ninety’s child like myself, you are probably singing this chorus in your head as you read. (You’re welcome!) It was a catchy tune and now nearly thirty years later I honestly had to look up the lyrics before writing this little article. I’m sad to report the lyrics aren’t the most wholesome and I found much more comfort in the Kidz Bop version! My young, naive self probably had no clue what the original lyrics meant and the other half of the lyrics, well I’ve never been able to understand rap music. Regardless of what I heard or didn’t hear, it was a catchy tune and was played on the Discman connected to the cassette player in our cars as we cruised the loop in Edgerton. (Students, you’ll have to ask your parents to explain this entire paragraph to you. J)

While I haven’t heard the song in years, I often say, “Whoomp, there it is!” in my head or occasionally out loud. We all have our quirks, right? I usually save it for special occasions like a grand slam hit in a baseball game, a dramatic breakup scene in a movie, or I even once uttered it out loud when my husband grounded our daughter. (Oops!) It’s my 90’s version of the more modern “Mic Drop” moment.

So what does this have to do with anything for our church Archive Article? Well, nothing really other than I have now cleared 200 words which will help me fill this page. I’ll get to the point – The other day I heard myself say this little phrase in my head when I saw the verse Micah 6:8 for like the hundredth time in just a few days. Growing up Micah 6:8 was our theme verse at Calvenettes and at each meeting our leader would prompt us with “What does the Lord require of us?” and in unison the group of girls would say, “to act justly and to love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. Micah six verse eight.” It’s just one of the many verses I hid in my heart as a young girl. But, as I said, it’s a verse I have seen repeatedly lately as I have read my devotions, scrolled through my Facebook feed, and the familiar words even caught my eye as I was looking at wall decor the other day. “Whoomp, there it is! Again!” I thought to myself.

Do you ever see or hear something repeatedly and finally realize maybe God is trying to get your attention? For me it means it’s time to pause and listen carefully because God is about to say something. I trust God has something for me with this scripture just as he has before. Maybe it’s a simple reminder to stay calm in this ever changing and challenging time we find ourselves in. What started as precaution a few months ago has turned to frustration, loneliness, and lots of opinions. The last couple weeks we have watched protests and riots reveal what seems like an even greater divide among many and deepening heartache within our world. So what is it the Lord requires of us when times get tough like this?

I’ve been asking myself what it means to act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly each day. Not just what it means, but rather what it means for Becky. Whatever I am doing, I wonder if I could do it with a more generous and honest heart, love more deeply with no strings attached, and how to simply be a brighter reflection of my Savior to everyone I encounter. And I pray, as I shine my Savior’s light in this ever darkening world, I may do it in complete obedience and humility.

Are you up for the challenge? Let’s all keep our eyes and hearts open to grow in how we act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. After all, what does the Lord require of us? (Whoomp, there it is!)

Becky Ossefoort



As I sit behind my keyboard on this Thursday morning, I feel compelled to offer some kingdom insights that might help us process the horrific murder of George Floyd and the response of the angry protestors who have ravaged a portion of Minneapolis.

And yet, like I’m sure is true for many of you, I am speechless. After staring at my blank page for twenty minutes now I am unable to scrounge up a few words that would adequately describe the behavior of the four policemen, the protestors turned rioters, and the venomous responses offered by the arm chair protestors on social media.

My fingers feel paralyzed to write anything as I try to imagine how a person would become so full of contempt that they could actually slowly squeeze the life out of person while his three partners emotionlessly ignored the desperate cries for help from Mr. Floyd and that the process of apprehension was grossly inhumane.

Likewise, I’m also trying to imagine how a group of people could be deceived into thinking that destroying and looting your neighborhood would relieve the pain of their broken hearts.

There are no words. Hurt people hurt people. Injustice often breeds injustice. What we see happening is the ultimate effect of people whose consciences have been seared—people who are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts making an attempt to make sure justice is served while doing the very thing they are protesting.

As anxiety and anger begin to fill my soul, I also feel a need to release it, I begin to think about who is to blame. But then I began to wonder, when it comes to addressing injustice, who in the George Floyd story am I most like.  Do I become like the cop who blindly carries out his own justice? Am I like the other three  policemen who quietly stand by and say nothing even though people are alerting me to the fact that something is not right?

I also wonder in what way am I like the watching crowd who were taking videos of the arrest but didn’t have the courage to make a greater attempt to stop the policeman. Or I wondered, has there ever been a time when my quiet protest over an injustice didn’t bring about the immediate results my soul was hoping for? And so instead I gave into the little voice in my head which reassured me of my right to release my pent up anger from the times I had been hurt, regardless of whether or not I would hurt someone else. And how easily do I find myself being motivated by the synergy of the looters and rioters who have also taken up my cause, even though I know what we are doing is wrong?

As I reflect on the current events happening in Minneapolis, I realize more and more how broken this world is. I realize how intense the battle is becoming. I realize how important it is for me to be aware of how I respond to injustice. And I realize more and more how the world would be different if we embraced Romans 12:9-10;14-21.

9-10 Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

14-16 Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.

17-19 Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

20-21 Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

Oh God, grant us the grace that would protect us from destroying ourselves,  Amen.

Mike Altena


Under His Mercy

One of our greatest challenges the past ten weeks of living in the midst of the pandemic is discerning whether or not we can trust those who are leading us. For example, after months of trying to avoid touching any unnecessary surfaces, the Centers for Disease Control is now suggesting that it’s not very likely that a person could catch the COVID-19 virus from touching surfaces. (I’m guessing the makers of Clorox wipes are not very fond of that report). I’ll do my best to withhold my judgment since I’m certain the CDC is still learning many things about the nature of the virus and how it spreads.

On a different issue, I am noticing in myself and in others an increase in anxiety in response to how Governor Walz is reopening our state. There appears to be some significant disparities in his timeline of who gets to be open, when they get to be open, and to what degree they get to be open. Like most notably, why did the famous yellow candy store near Minneapolis get to be open before the local main street stores get to be open? And then why does the Liquor Store, Bomgaars, Menards, and Costco… you know the narrative. All of those inconsistencies have a way of causing us to lose trust in those who lead our state.

And then even more frustrating to you and me is the fact that reopening churches appears to be the last activity we will finally be given permission to engage in. Add all of those things up, and many more, and now a person or people group move beyond losing trust and respond by saying, we don’t care what our leaders say, we’re no longer going to submit to the authority.

So how does a Christian respond when they disagree with authority? The Apostle Paul writes this in Romans 13:1-5, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.”

Wow! Looks like we best continue to submit to our Governor. But then what do you do if your Governor is acting beyond the bounds of his authority (the Constitution of our nation which says we have the right to gather for worship)? Or are there reasons and occasions when we are no longer required to submit?

In Acts chapter 5:29, having been instructed by the religious authorities that they could no longer proclaim the gospel in Jesus’ name, Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!”

I think we would all agree that we are called to humbly submit to those who are in authority over us, unless they require us to do something God tells us not to do, or unless they insist that we refrain from doing what God has told us to do.

So when it comes to the directives, or the lack of them, from our Governor, do we continue to submit? Or having discerned that the Governor is infringing on our Constitutional rights, do we begin gathering for worship?

Knowing when to submit to authority and when not to has been a very challenging conversation for our Consistory over the past few weeks. And it would be a great discussion to have with your children to help them understand why our Consistory has decided to reopen for worship even though the Governor has asked us not to.

Under His mercy, Mike Altena