September 21

The Lord took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to till it and keep it. Genesis 2:15

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5

Throughout the Bible God assures us that he created us, that we are precious, and that he has given each of us a place and purpose in his world. Sometimes we forget and feel that we are in charge. We neglect to realize that all that we have and are are gifts from him. We need to remain meek and know that God is leading us to perform his work while we remain on Earth.

Doing God’s plan for each one of us is not always easy. We hear day after day of the greed that controls the actions of many. Often what happens in such cases is sensational and makes the news. It isn’t always easy to focus on what God would have us to do. Often we would like more and enjoy taking credit for obtaining whatever it is, claiming we gained such through our own merit and efforts. But Matthew 5:5 says, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the world.”   

There are countless ways where we see people helping people, doing what is good and right. Last week I was in the post office to buy stamps, and the stamp machine was out of order. The line for a postal worker’s help was long, and the lady in front of me had four packages to mail. When she found out that I had one letter to mail she gave me a stamp and said, “Pay it forward when you have a chance.” This small act of kindness was such a day brightener.

Imagine what it must do for those in storm ravaged areas to see countless numbers of people coming from all over to help in countless ways. Daily, 911 dispatchers instruct callers through dangerous situations until help arrives. There are many ways in which neighbors feed others–the sandwich man, Loaves and Fishes, Wednesday night dinners, VEAP– just to name a few. Foundations founded by the wealthy from communities everywhere help in ways we will never know. 

Yet, the needs go on and on. We need to seek to find our purposes and passions to go about God’s work rather than our own wants.

Dear Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,

You have given us blessings beyond all we can imagine just by calling us your own and saving us through the death and resurrection of your Son. For this we thank you. Lift us from our foolish pride and help us to always look to you for our place and purpose in doing what you would have us to do. We thank you for our daily blessings.  Lift those who are hurting and give them peace. Amen.

Florence Smallfield      



September 19

You silence the roaring of the seas, the tumult of the peoples. Psalm 65:7 

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

We hear so much of the tumult in our world today. There are huge hurricanes on our East Coast, typhoons and hurricanes in the Pacific. Pictures of roads turned into rivers and yards into lakes are seen on all of our media. Along with this we have reports of those who have died, who have lost everything. We also get to hear about s reports of rescues and all the help that others are sending. 

God has power over nature – He can calm the storm as Jesus did in Mark chapter 4 for example. In Genesis, God hovered over the waters and brought forth all of creation. He brought order out of all the chaos of the untamed water. We read in many verses about the power of God over the seas. In Job God recounts all His powers including in 38:8 that we shut up the sea behind doors, and fixed limits for it. Again in Proverbs 8:29 we read that God gave the sea its boundaries so that it would not overstep His commands. Isaiah too relates that the Lord said He had the strength to rescue us and to dry up the sea with a mere rebuke. (Isaiah 50:2). 

Then the Psalmist also says God can silence the tumult of the peoples. He calms the turbulence among the nations, and in this case especially those nations that are enemies of Israel.  Since God is the Creator of nature, including all us humans, He has the power to calm us and to give us His peace. When peace is mentioned, it is more than the absence of war and conflict. It would seem to be, this “peace of God” as Paul states, to be something that is part of being in God’s family. It is the opposite of anxiety. To quote from the NIV study note it is “an inner tranquility based on peace with God – the peaceful state of those whose sins are forgiven. “ We can transmit all our cares to God, and worry about them no more. This is very hard to do, after all we like to hang on to our worries and cares. But God is much more powerful than anything worry we can imagine, His peace is there for the taking.   

Lord Jesus, you who command the wind and the waves, we ask you to calm the storms within our world. Grant peace to those in need and distress. Forgive us when we forget to trust in your peace. Guard us and lead us to place all our trust in Jesus. Empower us through your grace to be as Christ to others. Amen. 

Chris Gabel



September 18

Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. 1 Samuel 3:9

Let what you heard from them beginning abide in you. 1 John 2:24 

Judge Judy ( my favorite judge ) is always telling people to open up their ears and listen. She says to stop trying how to figure out what they are going to say next and listen to what she is saying now. Good advice.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer says: “a kind of listening with half an ear that presumes already to know what the other person has to say.” This, he says, “is an impatient, inattentive listening, that . . . is only waiting for a chance to speak.” Perhaps we think we know where the speaker is going, and so already begin formulating our response. Or we were in the middle of something when someone started talking to us, or have another commitment approaching, and we wish they were done already.

“Are you listening?” God might be asking us.

I think most of us would yes, God, we are listening. But are we really. It takes energy to block out the distractions that keep bombarding us, and the peripheral things that keep streaming into our consciousness. There are many things that can distract us from spending time with God. We are always on our phones, tablets, etc., the whole world trying to get our attention. Even the times when we try to make ourselves available for God, our minds may wander to other subjects. Making quiet time, free from as many distractions as possible, is difficult but, I think, very important. We also have to humbly recognize that we don’t have all the right answers. We need to prepare our hearts so we have courage to do what is right, no matter how our fears or selfish ambitions may try to persuade us otherwise.

Word of Life, your voice calls me to servanthood. The many voices of the world seek to drown you out, and to often I listen to them. In this moment’s stillness let me listen to you. Let me serve you. Let me become your voice for others, proclaiming that you make your home in the hearts of your people. Amen.

Peace,

Susan Hanson



September 17

“They shall know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, says the Lord God.”  Ezekiel 34:30

“You did not choose me but I chose you.  And I appointed you to go and bear fruit.”  John 15:16

I recently read John Steinbeck’s book “Travels with Charley”.  More than once Steinbeck comments that we do not take a trip but the trip takes us.  We return restored, refreshed, invigorated; inspired by beauty, informed by history, eager to learn more.  I think this is all good, but I think Steinbeck means being forever changed and transformed; more aware, insightful and understanding; not just for a week of showing off pictures; but as a way of life. 

So it is with our faith journey.  We feel refreshed and inspired, eager to accomplish all the sights and goals we envision.  But the steps along the way may not follow our plan.  As God unfolds the map, the journey will take us down different, unforeseeable paths.  Open-minded, submitting to God’s plan, the journey “takes us”. 

God initiates the “scheme” in the first place.  Some say “He/she got religion” or “found God.”  Rather, God finds us – whether on the sure right path, or lost and confused, or hopelessly stuck.  The journey may not go as we planned, but it is not aimless.  The Holy Spirit calls, sanctifies, and keeps us.  Enlightened with gifts of the Holy Spirit we are changed and transformed.  God intends that we “bear fruit”, that we scatter seeds of compassion and kindness, mercy and grace.  Restored, invigorated and motivated to help others to the extent we are able, and strengthened to take the hard steps God’s route may be leading.   

“O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Amen  (Holden Prayer)

Verla Olson



September 14

Wondrously show your steadfast love, O savior of those who seek refuge.  Psalm 17:7

And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Luke 18:7

Refugee is a word we see rather frequently in the news these days.  Specifically, refugees from other countries seeking refuge, protection, comfort, safety.  Sadly, there is little we can do to help with this huge problem.  However, no matter our mindset about this issue, we must take to heart the fact that human beings are suffering.

People on the southeastern part of our country are becoming refugees as I write these words, fleeing from their homes as a killer storm approaches their shores.  Foremost on their minds, “what awaits us after the storm?  Will we have a home to go home to?”  Although there is a world of difference between these two examples  of refugees,  each individual clings to hope that soon, things will be better.

Yet another group of refugees, those without homes to go home to, seeking refuge in a tent city along Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis.  Vulnerable because of drug use or mental health issues, they feel safer being close together.

Such is the reality for many people in our country.  We who are snug and secure and safe in our homes can hardly imagine what it means to face the difficulties of homelessness,  poverty,  hunger.  We must believe that our mighty and faithful God has a plan and is working in our hurting world. And that we who are his beloveds have a part in his plan.

Loving God, open our eyes and ears, our minds and hearts, that we may see and hear the cries of those who call out for help. We rely on you, “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  (Psalm 46:1). Be with those who need you now, let them feel your presence and your love.  Thank you.  Amen.

Joan Perlich



September 12

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. Psalm 57:1 

I am writing to you, little children, because our sins are forgiven on account of his name. I John 2:12

Psalm 57 is one of those attributed to David when he was hiding – “when he had fled from Saul into the cave” it says in my study Bible. Verse one starts out the Psalm with a simple plea for help, David is looking for deliverance from many nasty enemies. So, he turns to the God who is always there for him, even when his behavior has not been the best. Reading the whole Psalm we can see the imagery of the dark night of danger followed by the morning of salvation. David’s prayer is basically one of asking God for mercy,

The author of I John is just as sure of the salvation that is provided by the Lord. The verse is addressed to “little children” perhaps a Sunday school group? Probably John is not addressing actual children, but is speaking to those who are new in their Christian faith. A few verses farther on they are told they are written to because they have known the Father. They have learned about and know Christ and the salvation that is theirs for the asking and praying. Others addressed in these verses include the young men who have overcome evil, and the fathers who have known God from the beginning. Those that first learn of God’s salvation, in turn tell this Good News to others.

Rosh Hashanah began for our Jewish neighbors this past Monday (actually Sunday night at sundown.) This is the “New Year” a two day time period where there is both celebration of the New Year and time to review the past year. It is a time to admit to the sins committed, ask for forgiveness and resolve not to repeat the sins. Other customs include performing good deeds and donating to charities, as well as eating foods sweetened with honey.   I have a Jewish friend, who is fighting cancer, and whose birthday was Monday. He is excited to have his birthday actually began a New Year for him, with all the hope that entails as we pray to and trust in God’s forgiveness. In his thanks to many of us for our prayers and thoughts, he mentions that he knows that these are not just empty words, but that faith and prayer are important to me, to him, to all of us. We can only have this faith with the help of those who came before us, who told us the stories of God’s love and forgiveness.

Loving and merciful Christ, refuge for our souls, we are thankful for the comfort we have in you. You forgive us, protect us, restore us and renew us. As you fill us to overflowing with your love and mercy, may we in turn pour out your love and mercy to others each day. In Jesus’ name, Amen 

Chris Gabel



September 11

“Because your heart was penitent and you have humbled yourself before me, I also have heard you.” says the Lord. 2 Chronicles 34:27

The royal official said to Jesus, “Sir, come down before my little boy does.” Jesus said to him, Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way. John 4: 49-50 

Life is filled with “why” questions. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is there so much suffering in the world? Why am I hurting? Without a doubt, some of these questions are hard to answer. And, I think many of them relate directly to our relationship with God. Why do I have to wait along time for answers to my prayers? How come some of my prayers never seem to be answered?

The fact is a lot of our questions in life can’t be answered with our limited human understanding. But when we’re faced with spiritual struggles and dilemmas, we can find comfort in knowing that one question has a relatively simple answer: “Why should we pray?” There are many reasons, but one solution might be by stating that prayer connects us with the heart of God.It’s a strong source for finding understanding of His plan for our lives. We receive guidance and wisdom through prayer, and I believe it can have a tangible impact on our everyday life. Prayer forms a unique, powerful communication link with God—an intimate, “heart-to-heart” conversation with Him. That alone is a compelling enough reason to pray. 

Lord Jesus, forgive me for not trusting that I can come to you for anything. Create in me an open heart and humble spirit for your dwelling place. Remind me today that talking with you can become easy and natural. I’m thankful that you promise to listen and help me through any situation. Amen.

Peace,
Susan Hanson


September 5

Return, O faithless children, I will heal your faithlessness. “Here we come to you; for you are the Lord our God.” Jeremiah 3:22 

And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:6

In Jeremiah we see an unfaithful Israel. A few verses before our verse for today, we hear God saying how He would treat them like sons, give them a desirable land, and bless them. But, what happened? They did not call Him Father, and they turned away from God. Now there is weeping and pleading due to this forgetting of the Lord who created and takes care of them. But God holds out the option – all they need do is return and God himself will cure them. He will heal the people of their faithfulness.

We might think that first we have to repent, which is what returning can mean, and then we have to have lots of faith before we can approach God. Yet here in Jeremiah we see that all the people had to do was return, see that they had sinned, and let God help them with their faith. Paul in writing to the Galatians tells us the same thing. When we were but children, or as he terms us, “slaves to those who by nature are not gods: (verse 8). We were in slavery under the basic principles of the world (verse 3). But God sent His Son to redeem us. Then, as we read in verse 6, He also sends the Spirit. We now can call on God as our Father; we are not slaves, but children of the Lord with the full rights of sons (and daughters.)

We are privileged to call on God for help any time, any place, no matter that we have not been faithfully praying every day. God is there to listen and to get us back into the fold. He will listen to prayers for healing, for comfort and for increasing our faith. Of course it is better to pray regularly and to maintain the relationship that God has established for all of us. We can regularly pray thanking Him for all He has done, and petitioning for ourselves and others.  God is very patient with us; He apparently has faith in us. We can be faithful too with the help of His Spirit.

God of tender mercies, hear our prayer. So often we become distracted and lose our way. We wander spiritually homeless and hungry. We long to come home to you, Abba, Father. We crave your love and acceptance. Thank you for the gift of your Son and the Holy Spirit that leads us to call for your help. Welcome us again into your fold. With grateful hearts we pray. Amen. 

Chris Gabel



September 4

O sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things. Psalm98:1

Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord. Ephesians 5:19

Music has power. Power to bring up memories, power to share our feelings, joy, sadness, love. A powerful way to deliver messages. Couples commonly have a “song” which commemorates a special part of their relationship (first date, anniversary, proposal, etc.) Companies also use music to advertise and sell products. Jingles, although everyone seems to be using pop songs.

Music has also been used in warfare. The bugle, trumpet, drums and song itself have been used to motivate soldiers to march into battle. The Bible has examples of the power of music as a weapon. When Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, the priests were to march around the city seven times blowing from ram horns. It was the signal for the people to shout. And then the walls came tumbling down. Even as I wrote that last sentence, it was hard not to sing it. Power in the music.   

On Sunday mornings, music is used to praise God, to thank Him, and to remind us of His grace. This past Sunday morning, not only was Rick’s sermon really good, but when Rick and Steve started singing, emotions were brought to the surface. Not only is In Christ Alone full and so were my eyes. They were singing their faith. Power in the music.

Holy God, We give thanks to you for song. Forgive us when our hearts stray from your presence. Fill us with hymns of praise and songs of love. Help us to share our gifts of music and love. Amen.

Peace,

Susan Hanson



August 31

The Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” 1 Samuel 3:4 

Jesus saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they followed him. Mark 1 19-20

The verses I am writing about are such short ones, and yet they convey so much bravery that was done by normal everyday people, living their normal, everyday lives until the moment their lives changed forever.  I would guess that people like James and John were seen as a blessing to their families when they were born, but that their families didn’t look at them as infants and think that they could and would change the world, each in his own way. 

Samuel’s mother Hannah cried bitter tears, praying to be given a child, promising that she would give her child to the church. The Lord blessed her to her great rejoicing and gratitude, and she kept her promise to the Lord.  I don’t know if the position he was given in the temple was very powerful, as a servant boy to the priest Eli, but it still must have been a source of pride for her to know that he had an honorable job in a powerful place.

The honor to them really came when they were called, these three men, and that they didn’t hesitate to answer.  Samuel thought that it was the voice of his master, Eli, calling him, but came immediately, and even when he realized that it was the voice of a stranger, at Eli’s command he went willingly to see what he could do, never imagining that he was to become a great prophet and leader of people. 

We don’t know that James and John had ever seen or heard of Jesus before the day that he called to them, but they put down the work they were doing and followed.

I look with great admiration at those in the world who have heard the call of the Lord and gone, especially those who have gone around the world – Jim and Arlene Knutson, Phillip and Lou-Marie Knutson, and Rick and Nancy Turnquist heard the call and went willingly and gladly to see what the Lord was calling them to do. 

When we hear the call within the walls of Christ the King, asking us to serve, how do we respond ourselves?  Announcements have been made many times over the years:  We need volunteers to teach Sunday school, to teach confirmation classes, or to be a mentor to a child or a teen.  Or will you help with Families Moving Forward?  Please join the choir! We need ushers on Sunday morning.  Would you help out with serving communion at the Saturday evening service? 

I have to admit that when I hear requests like that, I too often think to myself, Oh I don’t have free time this week.  Next time they ask, then I’ll do it.  Or, Oh, I’d be too nervous to read a lesson in front of the whole congregation.  

Hearing the call to do something doesn’t have to turn into a major life change.  Or conversely, it can change you, just when you least expect it.  Do you hear the call?

Listen!  Listen, God is calling, through the word inviting, offering forgiveness, comfort and joy!  **

Lord, open our ears to hear you calling us to new opportunities as exciting changes in our life.  Remind us that a journey is begun with one step, whether it is across the world to serve you by loving and helping others, or a step across the aisle on Sunday morning to embrace a friend or across the street to invite a neighbor to welcome a stranger to join us in worship, hospitality, or to share a meal. Increase our bravery and strengthen our hearts and minds to do new things or to make a fresh start to an old practice.  In Your holy name we pray, Amen.

** Kenyan hymn 

Lynda Tysdal