Monthly Archives: March 2024

A Life Changer

wheels on suitcase

Travel got a lot easier for me on a recent trip when I took my new suitcase with wheels instead of lugging my old 1984 Samsonite around the airport. Walking to the gate was a breeze, going up elevators, escalators and stairs was no problem. The “wheels” of my suitcase got me to my rental car and my hotel with much less pain and effort on my part. Dare I say, my new suitcase was a life changer.

On this eve of Easter, I say to you now that we are on the verge of a life-changing moment like no other. The resurrection of Jesus takes away the burden of sin we have been lugging around with us. The resurrection of Jesus makes our journey through this life (even with its ups ad downs) a joy and a thrill because we know that Jesus has opened the way for us to heaven, where we will one day arrive to experience no pain, no problems, no sorrows. Those have all been whisked away by Christ through the heavy lifting he endured on the cross for our salvation.

Easter, more than any other day, is a life changer for us. Enjoy and savor the change.



I got a new iPhone a couple years ago, and one of the things that new iPhones do NOT have now is a port for headphones. This is old news to the computer savvy among us, I’m sure, but to remedy this problem, Apple created something called a dongle, a short cord that connects my headphones to a different type of port on my iPhone so that I can use my headphones as I once did.

The experience of having to buy a dongle to connect my phone to my headphones made me think that we live in an age where we are forced to connect in new ways that were not even invented or known before. This tendency toward new ways of connecting is not limited to technology, but is also felt in connecting with one another. Very broadly speaking, people are not as available as they once were, people do not respond as readily to the old ways of connecting, and there is a sense that people have a very low tolerance for interruption.

We feel this especially in the Church where things like door-to-door evangelism, cold calls on land lines and the delivery of paper newsletters in the mail are outmoded or obsolete. So what is the Church’s dongle? What is the new way of connecting? For me personally, I have connected more with fellow members of my church more often through text messages. They are no longer seen as intrusive as in the past and people can respond to them when they have time. I also notice that people are more aware of posts we make on social media and we can connect to people in our church body through comments on posts or through conversations at church later on about what was posted. I have the feeling I know what is going on more with people through social media when I see them in church, so conversations are easier to start. We live in a time when we can be creative with our connections with members of the Church and the results can be just as impactful or even more impactful than they once were. Keep an eye out for making new connections in the name of Christ.

Swaying to the Music

swaying choir

At a concert by the St. Olaf Choir, I watched as choir members gently swayed back and forth to the melody of one particular song. I noticed how they were in sync with each other in their swaying and how the swaying seemed to bring extra energy and harmony to their voices. The swaying proved to be an effective way of expressing the style and message of the music.

This visual brought to mind for me the way we as members of the Church sway in sync with each other in our work for the Lord. When one near us goes one way, we all lean that way. When we get out of step in life, it is easy for us to get back into the rhythm of the life of faith in motion by so many around us.

The following verse comes to mind for me in Paul’s description of the body of Christ:

If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. 1 Corinthians 12:26

We sway in the way that one member is going so that we can be a help and support to him or her. We are never alone in the body of Christ. We always have people around us who are moved by the Spirit to care for us and love us and surround us, no matter what we are going through. The song of our salvation in Christ continues in and through us in every major and minor and dischordant key we are in. Our lives blend together when we have a common goal of serving others. Keep swaying with one another until that day when we join with the choirs of heaven in praise to the Great Conductor, our almighty God.

Beware Our Itching Ears

itching ears

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4

I think the wording of “itching ears” is fascinating here. In the NRSV, this verse is translated, “having their ears tickled.” Both “itching” and “tickled” indicate our human desire to want to hear those things that please us and those things that sound good to us. Today we call this phenomenon “confirmation bias.” We tend to seek out, listen to and follow those words that are in line with our own thinking.

But St. Paul warns us that such words may not be in line with God and his will. The message of the Gospel is hard to hear at times. It involves acknowledging our sins. It requires the sacrifice of the Son of God. It means persecution in one form or another for believers in an unbelieving world.

But the Gospel is truly Good News for us, even if it is not as appealing as other messages might seem at first. All other salvation claims are myths. Only the Gospel message that we are saved from sin and death through the death and resurrection of Christ is the truth that we claim with all our hearts, souls and minds and faithfully listen to with eager and ready ears.

Follow Close

follow close

We say in Lent that we follow in the footsteps of Jesus on his way to the cross. But what does that mean exactly? In a sermon I heard a few weeks ago, the preacher talked about how disciples in Jesus’ day walked so close behind their masters that dust from their masters’ footsteps fell onto them. That’s how close we should follow Jesus this Lent. We should let his words, his life, his ways fall on us and become a part of us and who we are.

What is more, many disciples in the time of Jesus were spokespeople for their masters. They knew what he would say. They knew what he would do. They knew how he would respond. We who have read the gospels and know the trajectory of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection can speak with certainty that Jesus would say, “I love you.” We know that he would do the job of a servant to show his care. We know that he would respond with mercy to every confession of sin.

Our lives should be in lockstep with our Savior. Our walk should always mirror his. As St. Paul tells us, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but when it comes to our imitation of Christ, it is the sincerest form of faith. Be a faithful follower of Christ today.

Giving Up

no chocolate

“So what are you giving up this Lent?” Has anyone asked you that in this season? For many, the answer is simple. “Yes, chocolates, TV, using your phone too much,” etc. But for others the answer is a little more complicated and personal: an addiction, a truly sinful habit, a bias or prejudice. Lent allows for it all. Whatever you may be giving up this Lent, do it with all your heart. This is an opportunity to really get to the bottom of what is really holding us back from a true and honest, full and close relationship with God. The Bible warns us not to give up on giving up:

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. Hebrews 12:3

We turn to Christ for guidance when we feel ourselves wanting to give up on giving up those things that distract us from God. Jesus never gave up on the way to the cross. He never turned back. He kept going even in the face of ridicule and pain and disgrace. He gave completely of himself so that we could completely experience the love of God for us in his forgiveness and everlasting salvation.

We may not be able to see it now, but the goal of heaven is coming. Doing the good that God wants us to do in response to his love for us thus becomes a part of who we are when we know what awaits in the end. As St. Paul tells us,

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9



But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord. Jonah 1:3

The exact location of Tarshish is lost to antiquity, but symbolically speaking here it is meant to describe a place very far away. The connotation in this verse from the Book of Jonah is that Jonah was going as far away as he could to get away from God and God’s call to him.

What is your “Tarshish,” your place very far away to escape from God? For many, it may be our smartphones. We can go down rabbit holes of information that can take us very far from our faith. We can hide away from God in addictions or obsessions. We can sail away on the winds of secular society which often has no place for God in its worldview.

The joy of Jonah is that Jonah does not reach Tarshish. God sends a great fish to swallow him up and return him to where he should be. Jonah then follows God’s call, and the people he was called to preach to listen and repent and turn their lives to God.

We have a God who pulls us out of any “Tarshish” or path to “Tarshish” and places us where we should be that we might serve the Lord as he has called us to. Even a “Tarshish” cannot keep us away from God forever. Thanks be to God.