June 2019

Jesus said,…”unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” (Matthew 18:2-3)
As Julie and I prepare for our good bye, I find myself thinking about a lot of things, and many of the great memories of experiences I have had and hold as treasures are memories of the children of Glossbrenner. VBS last summer, our praise dance ladies, the Children and Youth Retreat, and our children and youth have created great blessings. And I especially remem-ber trying to help many adults understand this teaching of Jesus from Mat-thew. People spend too much time in life competing for status and position, trying to be in control and uptight about where they stand in the hierarchy, when Jesus invites us into the wide-open blessings of grace and the crea-tive power of the Holy Spirit, where all of us have a place in God’s heart.
Child-like Wonder & Trust
Key to understanding our faith and the great relationships God offers us, is to go back to the basics of many of the stories of the Bible, and how we came to faith by hearing them. They are just as important, even more im-portant for our lives as we grow older. Stories don’t stay put; they grow and deepen in our hearts. They inspire wonder as they lift up our awareness of God’s miracle of creation. We need them even more as adults than when we were children, because the stories keep releasing new insights into new situations as they open our eyes, ears, and hearts. In the book, Leap Over A Wall, the author shares some great insights: stories gather up new insights and enrichment and give it back to us in fresh form. Likewise, one of the great impoverishments in a person’s life is the absence of “children’s stories,” as many people even avoid listening, or experiencing them reenacted.
Children Bless Our Lives
When we are children we experience the world from the ground up, work-ing with the basics. No matter how powerful, or how much experience or education we have, no matter how wealthy or old we may be, as human beings we are always dealing with and in relationship with the basics. Stat-ure may elevate and insulate or even isolate us, to cause us to become less aware of our grounding in the basics, but the foundation of life is still there. And God wants to reach through to us. We may lose our sensitivity, but we can never get away from this most important dynamic of needing God in the most personal of ways.

In Leap Over A Wall, Peterson goes on to say that as children we are explorers in discovery, every child is a Columbus, Marco Polo, or a Neil Armstrong, a Chuck Yeager, a Galileo, an Abraham, or a King David. The world has a wide-open horizon, and creation an even more broad, incredible multi-dimensional dynamic full of miracles. There is much to see, to hear, taste and experience that God assures us is good. God promises to be with us; God is always faithful. Stories help us develop an imagination and consider the possibilities before us. And while many people may feel as though stories that appeal and are shared and taught to children of-ten seem to be foolish fantasy, we need to come to terms with how they are very real and help us develop our imaginations and open us up to possibilities we might never have considered. Our first impressions of what we like, dislike are often wrong; being open to what God wants to teach us is vital for our growth, maturity, and participation in the Kingdom of Heaven.
A Beloved Story
We know the story of King David as very real, and very much a part of our faith history that is taught to us when we are children. His courage as a boy willing to stand up to Goliath inspires our hearts as it also sets us free to live life courageously. David shows us how to become human, one of God’s own. He is far from per-fect, often influenced by people and events, yet his relationship with God shines through. He matures, grows up and we are provided with an intimate, insider’s view of just how it all happened.
When we receive David’s story as part of our story, we find that we have acquired a God-dominated imagi-nation while rejecting a Goliath-dominated one. When David showed up that day of the battle, Goliath-imagination people treated Goliath’s power as all-important and saw David as insignificant. Too many imagi-nations are ruined by Goliath lovers-watchers and become incapable of seeing and accepting what God is doing. Yet David had spent much of his young life living close to God, where God refined and honed the ways David lived his life by faith. David lived in God’s creativity. So when King Saul wanted David to take Saul’s armor and do it Saul’s way, David chose to face the giant authentically by faith. He was as vulnerable as one could imagine with everyone on the battlefield laughing or embarrassed by him. David had the rare balance of being modest and yet bold enough to reject popularity and Saul’s expectations. No armor or sword, and only a sling shot! God would bring courage and victory; God received the glory.
Perhaps Jesus was making the link for us with this story and his teaching about the kingdom of God. “The mo-ment we permit evil to control our imagination, dictate the way we think and shape our responses, we be-come incapable of seeing the good and the true and the beautiful.” (Leap Over a Wall) It is no wonder so many are stuck, powerless in the face of evil and tragedy. Like the crowd that day, we risk becoming power-less cowards, confined, limited, and kept away from God’s possibilities and creativity. In Christ evil is defeated; God leads us to overcome the confinements of sin.
Disciples Living In Possibility
As disciples living in resurrection’s power, we experience the same empowerment that David demonstrated. My hope for everyone at Glossbrenner is that God will always be at the center of everyone’s hearts and lives. In faith, through our baptisms, our lives are centered not on what the world says about us, or even by what we say about ourselves, as much as it is always what God has to say and share and teach us. We need nothing more. As summer approaches, you all will be in my prayers, as we also pray for Pastor Brian and Barb, his wife. I pray that a spirit of adventure in God’s love is always leading all of you in life, friendship, and fellowship to grow closer to God and one another. I trust and am confident that new creativity will bless the fellowship when God leads. I give thanks for the faithful ways God has blessed us all. And with David and all worshipers we say, “by thee I can crush a troop, and by my (our) God I (we) can leap over a wall!” (Psalm 18:29) May you all overcome the confinements of this world to live and love as Christ has showed us – Tim

May 2019

Luke 23:34: “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do!” As faithful, thoughtful people we ask the question, “How could Jesus have forgiven people the way he did from the cross?” Oh, yes, he was the Son of God, God incarnate and has extraordinary powers. Yet it is a question that has something deeper to ask of us that can lead us to greater understanding about ourselves, human nature, and God’s grace and mercy. One way Jesus is able to forgive is that Jesus trusted us to learn from the events of his life, as God trusts us to learn from our sins. He also knew that his example would lead us in the ways we live and love God and each other that saves us from lives of bitterness and hatred.


Jesus Makes an Invitation to Thomas


I believe that instead of calling the disciple of Jesus “Doubting Thomas,” as many people do, we need to call him faithful Thomas, because he was being open and persistent in his quest for an authentic, real faith; he was no faker! He raises questions other people think about, but perhaps don’t have the courage to raise or are unwilling to confront God and other people about. He seems like a New Testament version of Job. The crucifixion must have been very raw and painful for him to witness. I believe it hurt him deeply, especially when he thought of his own reluctance to stand up with Jesus when it count-ed, and the sense of betrayal that followed. It’s tough to trust other disciples when you’ve seen them run away too, which may be why he wasn’t with them earlier than he was. God wants us to live authentically by faith; the Psalms and Job, along with the life of Jesus show us.
In John 20:27, in the midst of his doubts, fears, and pain, Jesus comes to Thomas and invites him to touch his wounds as he says, “Put your finger here and look at my hands. Reach out your hand and place it in my side. Stop doubting and believe!” In that moment there is more than forgiveness offered by Jesus to Thomas, he invites extraordinary intimacy in touching the scars of pain. In moments of doubt, fear, and pain, God invites us too to come to know him more intimately and to touch the places where human sin has caused God pain. It’s a sacred moment when someone invites us to see or touch their wounds of life. Ours is not a flowery, superficial faith, but one that seeks to bring out the best in us in maturity of love and grace.


Signs of Resurrection


You and I are now part of living the resurrection as we are part of the Body of Christ, the Church. How we live our lives, especially when we live them in the courage to face the truth, will witness to the world about the love of God that Jesus offers. We reach to God, trusting in God’s love and grace. In Acts chapter 5 we are given a witness of what courageous, faithful living is like, and how it stays alive. The disciples had been arrested and thrown in jail, and then miraculously set free by an angel. In spite of the threat to their lives and well-being, they go right back to preaching and sharing the news, their stories about Jesus and his teachings. They are arrested again and appear before the High Council and give their testimony, holding the Council members responsible for what they have done. The Holy Spirit and the teachings and examples from the life of Jesus, especially his sacrifice and forgiveness from the Cross, empower them in their work in ministry. They have been transformed from living lives in hiding, and times of denial, betrayal, and fear, into lives of courage and trust in God. They are now part of the Resurrection, and there is always a place there for you and me, and our world in need too. In faith, we can live lives of courage to seek, learn and know the truth, because God loves us and is with us. I want to give a very grateful thank you to the ladies of the Grief Group that have been meeting on Tuesdays. We may be a small group, but we have shared a lot of blessings together. In the material we recently covered our need to forgive in the midst of grief. A list of teaching about forgiveness was listed in our workbook:


Forgiveness:

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you approve of what the person did, or that you now trust the other person.
Forgiveness is bringing your relationship with God into balance & keeping it central Forgiveness frees us from a lifetime of bondage to a bitter & hardened heart Forgiveness is not a one-time act; it requires us to continue to choose to forgive
We forgive responding to God’s love & forgiveness of us.
Forgiveness does not mean you are letting the other person off the hook It is entrusting God to take care of the situation for you
Forgiveness is not reconciliation; reconciliation is a greater step:
Reconciliation requires genuine repentance on the person who was wrong As Christians our journey in faith and our salvation is a life-long process that God has made a promise to help us with; we also need one another. The promise of Easter is that God’s love and mercy is stronger than fear, sin, and death. The love of Jesus Christ is eternal and lives on, and now we can embody it today. Thank you to everyone who helped us prepare for, live, and celebrate the season of Lent, Holy Week, and Easter. We pray for our faithfulness as we move into the future. May we be blessed by the assurances and the guidance of God with us. – Tim

April 2019

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.” Philippians 4:4-5 I want to add an exclamation point to every one of those statements by Paul. They are words that ring true for us as Christians, and often serve as a guide. The All Stars Class has been studying Philippians for the past two months, and it’s a great portion of scripture to focus on. Paul goes on later in the chapter to encourage that we concentrate on the blessings and good things that God is doing, as we also focus on how we can participate and engage proactively in our discipleship. Many times Julie and I have made a clear decision that instead of dwelling on what is going wrong, we choose to join together to celebrate the ways God is blessing us, and how we have so much to be thankful for. We make a list, and see how strong our blessings are. Together it empowers us to see what resources God is providing, and how we can make the most of them. We’ve been doing this a lot in the last two years. It has inspired our giving and sharing, and kept us focused on the better priorities. “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable….if there is anything worthy of praise, think (or dwell) on these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard…”4:8-9 It also challenges us to do our best, to live by our convictions, to make the most of what has been entrusted to us, resources as well as friendships. Paul’s words do not call us to ignore the realities of life; they empower our responses. Christianity is not an escape, or living in a dream or fantasy world. Quite the contrary, we seek to mature in our love by faith in Christ. The Cross keeps us aware of the sacrifices that have been made, and the ones that may be required. I am prayerful about the days, weeks, and months and year ahead for all of us, and for our fellowship at all levels. I am working to trust in God in new ways in new chapters in our lives. I am hopeful that the hard work of our hearts through the years will not be lost. There are so many reasons to be fearful of the future. And yet there are also many great reasons to be hopeful, especially when we see how God is empowering us to thrive and grow in faith. I pray that whatever the fears or concerns that may be filling your hearts and minds, that all of us can see, respond, and live in the understanding that God’s love is stronger than anything we are afraid of. God’s blessings as we move forward this year. – Tim