5.26.20 Tuesday

Good Tuesday morning after Memorial Day. I hope you got to enjoy some relaxing and fun activities over the weekend. I sure did. Walking through the Long Lake Cemetery while hearing the bell ring was a blessed event. I got in a bike ride, some good grilling time, my first visit to Plants and Things on Hwy 10, and a sweet ride in our old convertible, a 1988 Chrysler LeBaron, which of course ended at the DQ. Thanks to Will for helping us get it started and to Fornbergs for storing it over the winter!

Thanks to the Synod for providing a much needed Sunday off from worship prep for Shawna and me. I thought it was a lovely service and the bishop’s heartfelt words were wonderful.

I just got interrupted. There is a bunny two feet from my window and Mickey is going crazy!

I’m ready to jump back into the book of James. How about you? James 1:17-18 (NRSV)

“Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.”

James returns to the subject of God’s generosity. I love the image of “the Father of lights.” It brings to mind the brilliance of Christ in the transfiguration in Mark 9:3 “his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.” And Genesis 1: 15-16 is all about the creator of light:

“and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars.”

Finally James wrote, “He gave us birth by the word of truth.” God created us to be Christ followers by providing the scriptures, particularly the Gospel for us. It is good for us to spend some time reviewing God’s generosity to us. I invite you to give God some of your time today thanking our Lord for all you have been given.

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

5.26.20 Tuesday2020-05-26T07:39:44-05:00

5.25.20 Monday

Happy Memorial Day 2020. This is probably the strangest one I’ll ever live through. My family’s tradition for Memorial Day Weekend was that my mom insisted everyone come to the cabin in Canada. We were sleeping on beds, couches, floors, in tents and hammocks! Everyone came and often everyone brought more friends! Mom was delighted in the chaos. Pancake, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage breakfasts, fish fries, campfires and lots of s’mores. These are memories that will live on in all my senses. Dad often smoked a turkey on the Weber Grill that would feed an army. Mom made potato salad, pea salad and jello, of course, and a relish tray that was bigger than the turkey!We went through gallons of coffee and kool-aid, bags of Canadian pickle and ketchup chips and dozens of Coffee Crisp candy bars. It was a wonderful weekend that always hurt when it was over and we all headed back to the states for our jobs. Once mom passed, everything changed and it just didn’t feel the same even though we tried our hardest to capture the feeling.

This year, my family can’t even get into Canada as the border remains closed. I imagine new traditions will emerge and life will go on. God gave us the gift of memory so that we can sometimes just live in our heads and re-live those precious moments.

Blessings on this special day,

Pastor Sue

5.25.20 Monday2020-05-25T07:24:59-05:00

5.23.20 Saturday

Good Saturday morning. Pastor slept in! Very rare for me. I had the best day with Sara and Bea yesterday. BEA must have worn me out. My dream day was to take our bikes to a park with a picnic. We didn’t go far, but picked up a delicious pizza (Mexican Street Corn) from Pizza Luce and rode around Merriam Park in St. Paul. Bea’s best line of the day was, “this is a wish come true. Pizza in a park and riding bikes with grandma.” Oh, my heart nearly burst. Then on my ride home, I had a lovely conversation with Jim Werronen.

He was back from a full day of work in his “Street Life Ministry”. He wanted to thank LLL for the extra money he received. He says he feels so loved and supported by LLL and that we are in this ministry together with him. He feels the love. He said the men that they minister to could really use some socks and underwear, t-shirts and ball caps. They like tube socks and also need stick deodorant. The items don’t need to be brand new, but clean and in good shape.

I would love to see us do a drive and pack up a box of supplies to send to Jim. Who would like to spearhead a project like that?

On another note. President Trump made an announcement that churches are essential. We knew that already! LOL! We will send an e-mail to the congregation soon with our response.

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

5.23.20 Saturday2020-05-23T09:48:57-05:00

5.22.20 Friday

Good Friday morning and the beginning of another Memorial Day Weekend. Thank you to all who served our country and who are currently serving. I appreciate your sacrifices and courage. The American Legion will not be conducting any flag ceremonies this year due to COVID. That is a shame, but understandable. Our cemetery looks beautiful thanks to the hard work of Mr. Anderson (I can’t think of his first name) who was out mowing and trimming, and all the others who decorated gravesites.

This would be a good day to drive by the church at noon, hear the bell ring and park by the cemetery to pray.

Remember the part of the Lord’s prayer that says, “Lead us not into temptation”? The verses in James today are about temptation.

Luther’s explanation of the sixth petition of the Lord’s Prayer in the Small Catechism goes like this:

“And lead us not into temptation.”

“What does this mean? God tempts no one. We pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Although we are attacked by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory.”

James wrote:

James 1:13-16 (NRSV)

“No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my beloved.”

Some Hellenistic Jews believed that each person had both an evil inclination and a good inclination; and since God created both inclinations in humans, the individual could blame God for their moral lapses. James lovingly (my beloved) says, “no, no, no! That’s not how God operates.”

Luther should have loved James for writing that! As we go into the Memorial Day weekend, let us not be tempted by the world; let us not be tempted to speak nasty words about our brothers and sisters in Christ; let us not be tempted to blame God for our evil inclinations. Let us rejoice that we have a God who loves us dearly and who keeps God’s promises to us.

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

5.22.20 Friday2020-05-22T07:45:49-05:00


Good Thursday morning. Once again, I was up at 3:30 listening to the turkeys. They are quite amusing. It was nice to watch the sunrise and hear the birds come to life this morning. The creativity of creation always amazes me.

I think James was a pretty good creative writer. The language in this next set of verses is pretty and rich in imagery, but “scorching” in its condemnation.

James 1:9-11 (NRSV)

“Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same way with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away.”

James is reminding his readers that our status on earth should not be our main concern, but rather our status in eternity. What he is not saying, I believe, is that it is bad to be rich. The Judean church was grappling with worldly distractions just like most of us today. James is lifting up the poor and how they have been treated by the rich. The issue at hand is more about behavior than amount of money.

This has been a subject of controversy throughout the ages, but especially in our time of prosperity. Inequality is not God’s plan. Money is not evil, but the love of money is a problem. It’s what we do with our money that either pleases or displeases God. Our time on earth is short; let’s make good use of it!

Psalm 103:15-16 (NRSV)

“As for mortals, their days are like grass;

they flourish like a flower of the field;

for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,

and its place knows it no more.”

But, don’t despair at the ephemeral status of humanity; the reliability of God is our good fortune.

Psalm 103:17-18 (NRSV)

” But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting

on those who fear him,

and his righteousness to children’s children,

to those who keep his covenant

and remember to do his commandments.”

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue


5.20.20 Wednesday

Good Wednesday morning. 5.20.20 has a nice ring to it, very mathematical. Maybe that’s why I slept in until 5:20 this morning! Someone ate my oranges and all the jelly in the oriole feeder last night. I wonder who that could be? Racoon? I’ll watch for the sticky critter.

Back in the day of James, around 60 CE, Christians were a tiny minority among large, but indifferent or hostile populations. James’ letter is concerned that these early Christians not adopt, or fall back into the values or the behavior of the surrounding population. The testing that the Christians were experienced could help them learn and be transformed.

James 1:5-8 (NRSV)

“If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”

The term, “double minded”, is unique to James. It does not appear anywhere else in the bible. It means holding two incompatible views, wavering in thoughts, insincere, marked by hypocrisy. The term “double-minded” comes from the Greek word dipsuchos, meaning “a person with two minds or souls. James writes of the doubting person that he is “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” A double-minded person is restless and confused in his thoughts, his actions, and his behavior. Such a person is always in conflict with himself. One torn by such inner conflict can never lean with confidence on God and His gracious promises.

It brings to mind the “pushmi-pullyu” of the Dr. Doolittle stories, an animal with a head at either end of its body and which was constantly trying to walk in two directions at once. Such is the double-minded human.

I pray that today, you single-mindedly focus on God and His gracious promises. That your day is filled with faith, love and hope, and that you walk in one direction toward God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

5.20.20 Wednesday2020-05-20T06:49:32-05:00

5.19.20 Tuesday

Good Tuesday morning. I pray that you are all staying well and are ready to enjoy some outdoor activities with the warm weather approaching. Many businesses are reopening, but we still need to be very cautious and diligent about physical distancing, washing hands, wearing masks around people, and not touching our faces. Please continue to be safe and keep others safe around you.

We begin our study of the book of James this morning. This letter is accepted as being written by James, the brother of Jesus who eventually became a church leader in Jerusalem. It was written around the mid 60’s CE and contains moral instructions and wisdom sayings.

As we know, Luther focused on Paul’s writings about being saved by grace alone. James reminds new Christians that a faith that fails to bear fruit in the moral life cannot save. This caused Luther to discount the book of James. He called it “an epistle of straw.”

First, the Salutation–one of the two uses of the name of Christ:

“1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:


2 My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; 4 and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.”

That sounds a lot like Paul’s writing. We sure are facing trials and testing this year, in our homes, in our families, in our church, and in our country and world. Difficult times for sure. Can we consider it joy? Because testing produces endurance? I don’t want to be tested this much! Do you?

Unless, this testing produces endurance, maturity, and a greater faith! This, then is worth the test!

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

5.19.20 Tuesday2020-05-19T05:55:20-05:00


Good Monday morning. The weather report looks nice this week after a rainy weekend. It was wonderful to be back in church for yesterday’s service. Too bad the sound wasn’t quality and the first part was backward. Trial by fire. We are learning. I recorded the service again last night in case you couldn’t hear the morning service.

This week I have the opportunity to attend the Festival of Homiletics online. It was supposed to be in Atlanta and features really good preachers. I am looking forward to hearing what they have to say!

We finished Philippians, so how about jumping into the book of James? Martin Luther didn’t like this book and didn’t think it belonged in the bible. “He didn’t think it expressed the “nature of the Gospel,” it appeared to contradict Paul’s statements about justification by faith, and it didn’t directly mention Christ.” (Zondervan Academics)

Luther wrote, “St. John’s Gospel and his first Epistle, St. Paul’s Epistles, especially those to the Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, and St. Peter’s Epistle—these are the books which show to thee Christ, and teach everything that is necessary and blessed for thee to know, even if you were never to see or hear any other book of doctrine. Therefore, St. James’ Epistle is a perfect straw-epistle compared with them, for it has in it nothing of an evangelic kind.”

Luther wrote, “We should throw the epistle of James out of this school, for it doesn’t amount to much. It contains not a syllable about Christ. Not once does it mention Christ, except at the beginning. I maintain that some Jew wrote it who probably heard about Christian people but never encountered any. Since he heard that Christians place great weight on faith in Christ, he thought, ‘Wait a moment! I’ll oppose them and urge works alone.’ This he did.”

Yikes. Kinda rough, eh? That makes we want to study it all the more! Let’s find out for ourselves if Luther was right. We’ll dig in tomorrow, but why don’t you read through it today? It is really short with only 5 chapters.

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue


5.16.20 Saturday

Good Saturday morning. Happy birthday to my niece, Wendy and Happy birthday in heaven to Rick’s dad, Phil. I talked to my brother last night. This will be the first missed Canadian fishing opener in his 68 years. He will be sitting on the American side of Rainy Lake due to the border closing. I feel for him!

Today, we close out our study of Philippians with Paul’s acknowledgment of their generosity.

Philippians 4:15-20 (NRSV)

You Philippians indeed know that in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you alone. For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me help for my needs more than once. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that accumulates to your account. I have been paid in full and have more than enough; I am fully satisfied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

The terms he used: “profit…accumulates to your account…paid in full” are a series of business terms used metaphorically in the context of friendship. I have not really thought of friendship as an account, but I can see where Paul wanted to thank them for supporting his ministry, but also for their friendship. Friendship is an important part of being in ministry. I, too, value your generosity along with your friendship.

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

5.16.20 Saturday2020-05-16T06:46:35-05:00

5.15.20 Friday

Good Friday morning! The sun is shining and it looks like a beautiful day. I hope you get a chance to do something outside. We are so fortunate to have room to explore, unlike being quarantined in a high-rise in a big city. I can’t even imagine that.

These last few verses in Philippians are pretty well known. He has given thanks for them; he has told them of his situation; he has appealed to unity; he has given them examples to follow. Now he asks them to think about what they have learned, keep doing good things; and to be content with what they have. These are all good lessons for us today.

Philippians 4:8-13 (NRSV)

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Acknowledgment of the Philippians’ Gift

I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it. Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Say that last verse out loud: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Say it again even louder! My mom used to remind me of this verse when I got discouraged. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me!” Ya sure ya betcha!

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

5.15.20 Friday2020-05-15T07:16:52-05:00