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What Are You Reading? (January 2015)

With each New Year, many people make a list of books they plan to read throughout the year. Personally, I don’t make a list, but I always have a stack of books ready to choose from at home, and books in mind to look for at the public library or on WILBOR (the online library.) I’m also on the watch for new books and when they will be released by the publisher.

Today, we’re asking you…Do you make a reading list and what are you reading now?

Here are a few highlights of books Gloria Dei staff members are reading:

 

Pastor Phil Robarge, Director of Adult Ministry

Love DoesLove Does by Bob Goff 

“Before I read Love Does, I saw Bob at a conference. I walked away thinking that even though I didn’t know Bob personally, he was on my top five list of favorite people on the planet. He was funny, engaging, and made me think (which can be dangerous). Shortly after the conference I picked up Bob’s book Love Does and found that he writes just like he speaks—with passion and humor. 

I would recommend this book to people who are looking to be challenged to think about their life of faith differently. Because…God’s love changes things. It brings hope, it revives faith and makes a way forward where there seems to be a dead end. Love works and risks. God’s love does.” ~ Pastor Phil

From Amazon:

As a college student he spent 16 days in the Pacific Ocean with five guys and a crate of canned meat. As a father he took his kids on a world tour to eat ice cream with heads of state. He made friends in Uganda, and they liked him so much he became the Ugandan consul. He pursued his wife for three years before she agreed to date him. His grades weren’t good enough to get into law school, so he sat on a bench outside the Dean’s office for seven days until they finally let him enroll.

Bob Goff has become something of a legend, and his friends consider him the world’s best-kept secret. Those same friends have long insisted he write a book. What follows are paradigm shifts, musings, and stories from one of the world’s most delightfully engaging and winsome people. What fuels his impact? Love. But it’s not the kind of love that stops at thoughts and feelings. Bob’s love takes action. Bob believes Love Does.

When Love Does, life gets interesting. Each day turns into a hilarious, whimsical, meaningful chance that makes faith simple and real. Each chapter is a story that forms a book, a life. And this is one life you don’t want to miss.

Light and fun, unique and profound, the lessons drawn from Bob’s life and attitude just might inspire you to be secretly incredible, too.

 

Karen Kennedy, Director of Publicity and Promotions

Generous Justice by Timothy KellerGenerous Justice 2

“Being a fan of Timothy Keller caused me to read this book. I think I have read it three times and have underlined most of the book. It has caused me to think and rethink my responsibility to the most vulnerable in our society: the widows, the orphans, the refugees and the poor.”  ~ Karen

From Amazon:

It is commonly thought in secular society that the Bible is one of the greatest hindrances to doing justice. Isn’t it full of regressive views? Didn’t it condone slavery? Why look to the Bible for guidance on how to have a more just society? But Timothy Keller challenges these preconceived beliefs and presents the Bible as a fundamental source for promoting justice and compassion for those in need. In Generous Justice, he explores a life of justice empowered by an experience of grace: a generous, gracious justice. This book offers readers a new understanding of modern justice and human rights that will resonate with both the faithful and the skeptical.

 

Laura Rath, Assistant to the Senior Pastor

Hope 3 - smHope for the Weary Mom: Let God Meet You in the Mess by Stacey Thacker and Brooke McGlothlin

“I’ve been reading Stacey Thacker’s blog for years, so I was pretty excited to receive an advance copy of her new book. Co-authors Stacey Thacker and Brooke McGlothlin are two hope-filled moms living in the trenches of motherhood. They share from their own experiences and encourage fellow moms to find hope…even in the middle of the messiest days.

Hope for the Weary Mom releases on February 1, 2015, but can be pre-ordered now.” ~ Laura

From Amazon:

Do you ever feel like you’re fresh out of amazing? Daily pouring yourself out for your family, you’re tired, overwhelmed, and have nothing left to give. Hope for the Weary Mom is an honest look at where you find yourself living. In their new book, bloggers Stacey Thacker and Brooke McGlothlin (creators of the online communities Mothers of Daughters and The MOB Society) lead you to the God who meets you in your mess and show you that you don’t walk through life alone. You will…

  • invite God into your mess
  • reconnect with His heart for you
  • experience the peace and freedom of walking with Him

It’s easy to forget that God knows you by name when you’re numb with the daily grind. Join Stacey and Brooke and begin the journey from weariness to hope.

 

Now it’s your turn…what are you reading?

 

Merry Christmas!!

GD Merry ChristmasFor to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 NIV

 

What are you reading?

That’s the question we’ll be asking Gloria Dei staff each month and highlighting a few of those books here on the blog.

We’re asking you too…what are you reading? Share with others in the comments by telling us what’s on your reading list.

 

Jo Lynn Yeutsy, Director of Tiny Treasures

Left NeglectedLeft Neglected by Lisa Genova

“I just joined a book club, and this is the book that was chosen for this month because I hear it’s a good one to discuss. I’ve just started it, but it’s grabbed my attention so far!” ~ Jo Lynn

From Amazon:

Sarah Nickerson is like any other career-driven supermom in Welmont, the affluent Boston suburb where she leads a hectic but charmed life with her husband Bob, faithful nanny, and three children—Lucy, Charlie, and nine-month-old Linus.

Between recruiting the best and brightest minds as the vice president of human resources at Berkley Consulting; shuttling the kids to soccer, day care, and piano lessons; convincing her son’s teacher that he may not, in fact, have ADD; and making it home in time for dinner, it’s a wonder this over-scheduled, over-achieving Harvard graduate has time to breathe.

A self-confessed balloon about to burst, Sarah miraculously manages every minute of her life like an air traffic controller. Until one fateful day, while driving to work and trying to make a phone call, she looks away from the road for one second too long. In the blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her jam-packed life come to a screeching halt.

A traumatic brain injury completely erases the left side of her world, and for once, Sarah relinquishes control to those around her, including her formerly absent mother. Without the ability to even floss her own teeth, she struggles to find answers about her past and her uncertain future.

Now, as she wills herself to regain her independence and heal, Sarah must learn that her real destiny—her new, true life—may in fact lie far from the world of conference calls and spreadsheets. And that a happiness and peace greater than all the success in the world is close within reach, if only she slows down long enough to notice.

 

Karen Kennedy, Director of Publicity and Promotion

Wounded by God’s People by Anne Graham LotzWounded By God's People

“In a passing conversation, a friend mentioned this book, and it caught my attention. I loved the book’s detailed study of Abraham, Sarah, and especially Hagar. I had never considered Hagar’s plight, her emotional and spiritual darts came from every direction. In many regards, she was a product of a lot hurtful choices from others as well as from her own bad choices. But for me, the incredible part of her story is God did not leave her alone and actively pursued her. I finished reading the book with a fresh understanding that there is absolutely no person or situation that God does not want to redeem.” ~ Karen 

From Amazon:

Tucked into Abraham’s biography is the story of Hagar, a young Egyptian slave with whom Abraham had a son named Ishmael.  Hagar stood out because she was wounded—not physically, but in ways that were as emotionally and spiritually painful as any injury to a body would be. Some wounds were provoked by her own bad behavior, but others were inflicted by those who considered themselves God’s people.

Anne Graham Lotz too has been wounded by God’s people. Some wounds have been deeper than others, some have come out of nowhere, and still others have been provoked by her own behavior, but all of the wounds have been deeply painful. They seemed to hurt even more when the wounders wrapped their behavior in a semblance of religion or piety.

As Hagar’s story unfolds, you will discover that wounded people often become wounders themselves. While Anne identifies with the wounded, the unpleasant reality is that she also identifies with the wounders, because she has been one, too.  She knows from experience that wounding is a cycle that needs to be broken.  And by God’s grace, it can be.

Many have had similar experiences. And perhaps you are among those who have been so deeply hurt that you have confused God’s imperfect people with God. Maybe you have even run away from God as a result.  Or perhaps you have been a wounder to the extent that you are living in a self-imposed exile, believing you are unworthy to be restored to a warm, loving relationship with God or with God’s people. Whatever your hurts may be, Wounded by God’s People helps you to begin a healing journey—one that enables you to reclaim the joy of God’s presence and all the blessings God has for you.

God loves the wounded. And the wounders.

 

Laura Rath, Assistant to the Senior Pastor

Gluten FreedomGluten Freedom by Dr. Alessio Fasano

Is it gluten free? has become a frequent question in our world now. For some, eating gluten free is a choice. For many others, it’s a necessity, due to celiac disease and other gluten intolerances. For my family, celiac disease is a reality and eating gluten free is an absolute must. I’ve just started reading it, but I think it’s going to be a good resource.” ~ Laura

From Amazon:

World-renowned gluten-related disorders expert Dr. Alessio Fasano presents the groundbreaking roadmap to a gluten-free lifestyle, and how millions can live better by going gluten free.

For centuries, bread has been known as the “staff of life.” But for millions of Americans affected by gluten-related disorders, consuming gluten, the complex protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, can be hazardous to their health. In a recent poll presented by Scientific American, over 30% of Americans reported wanting to cut down or eliminate gluten from their diets; the gluten-free market is a $6.3 billion industry and continues to expand.

Now, in Gluten Freedom, Alessio Fasano, MD, world-renowned expert and founder of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Celiac Research, reveals the latest developments in scientific research and treatment, and the answers they provide for this rapidly expanding audience. This groundbreaking, authoritative guide is an invaluable roadmap for the newly diagnosed, for those already dealing with gluten-related issues, and for anyone who thinks they may have an issue with gluten.

Distinguishing scientific fact from myth, Gluten Freedom explains the latest research, diagnostic procedures, and treatment/diet recommendations, helping consumers make the best choices for themselves and their families. Gluten Freedom also discusses important nutritional implications for behavior-related diagnoses such as autism and conditions such as depression, anxiety, and “foggy mind.” Other highlights include:

  • The differences between celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and wheat allergy
  • Current best practices for gluten-related disorders at any age
  • Practical information on setting up a gluten-free kitchen, reading labels, and staying safe and healthy in a world filled with hidden sources of gluten
  • The psychological impact of a diagnosis and its effect on a family
  • Groundbreaking research for prevention and therapy
  • Reliable and accurate resources for patients, parents, and physicians
  • And even recipes for an authentic gluten-free Italian dinner from Dr. Fasano’s home kitchen

Now it’s your turn…what are you reading?

Week 8: Do I recognize God?

baddesley clinton

A few years ago I was talking with my nephew. I asked him where he was at with his relationship to God.  He said, “I still believe in God but sometimes I just wonder where He is.”

For me it is easy to see God. I look at the beautiful blue sky and the birds flying back and forth and I see God. I look at my wife and daughters and I see God. I look at the home I live in and the food on my table and I see God.  I think about how God brought me to Gloria Dei and all the events that made that possible. I think of how blessed I am in every way and I can’t help but see God.  The reason I see Him everywhere is because I am always thinking of Him. He has created faith in my heart and that faith leads me to see every day and every thing as a gift from him.

Why didn’t my nephew recognize God in his life? I think in the struggle of life he has wandered and become disconnected from Jesus. When our choices don’t include God or our routines don’t have a time with God our faith weakens, our ability to see Him everywhere diminishes.

To recognize God we have to search for Him where He has promised to be—in His Word and Sacraments. When we gather with our family of faith for worship we find strength, comfort and encouragement. When we spend time one on one with God He speaks to our souls and gives us His peace.

Faith is a gift also.  With faith we trust and believe. With faith we grow closer to God. With faith we begin to see things as He sees them—see people as He sees them and find comfort in all the places we see Him.

A little bit about Pastor Phillips. Pastor Tim Phillips is the Director of Congregational Care at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church where he has served for ten years. He and his wife Kim are passionate about connecting people to Jesus and helping people find their way in life.

Two University Students Laughing

How can I engage with others?

Matthew 8:1-17 New International Version (NIV)

 When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”

 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.

When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.

When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

“He took up our infirmities
 and bore our diseases.”

John 9:1-7 (NIV)

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”

 By Steve Kowbel, Director of Worship Ministry

As I read through these gospel passages several things leap out at me about Jesus and his ability to engage with others.

In Matthew, it’s quite clear that Jesus was not taking time to persuade or convert people from their belief system to change them to believe what He had to say. All of the people He engaged with were coming to Him believing that He had to offer something greater than themselves or the situations that they were in.

I love seeing that the prophecy spoken by Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases” was fulfilled through engaging action. Engaging with others is an active awareness of those who are around you and the ability to assess what their real needs are.

Look at the action phrases found that describe what Jesus did in both of these passages:

He saw

He reached out

He said

I will go

He touched

He sent

Jesus challenged accepted assumptions, took time for meaningful conversations and pursued direct contact with people who were on his path in life. I believe engaging with others can be as simple as having an awareness of the people who are around us, and being willing to pursue meaningful conversations with those who are open. Let’s not get distracted with convincing people who are militantly against the cross and Jesus Christ about what we believe.

How many people do we pass by daily who are open to the truth that Jesus has to offer, open to something greater than themselves and the situation that they are in. Do we need to be right or engaging?

Week 4: How Can I Connect to God?

Plug In

How can I connect with God?

One thing I really don’t like… when I’m vacuuming the floor and the plug dislodges from the outlet.  What once was a beautiful humming machine, cleaning my house, has now become quiet and very useless (unless you consider hauling around a heavy object that doesn’t do what it’s suppose to do useful).  I get frustrated when I have to follow the cord back to the outlet and then find another outlet to plug it into.  But once I do… no longer useless.  I can go about my business and vacuum the floor.

Connecting…what is your power source?  What energizes you to go out and make a difference in this world?  What do you connect to in order to perform the way God created you to perform?  It’s easy for us to find things in this world to connect to:  sports, music, job, friends, and family.  The list can go on for a long time.  Yet, in the end, those things don’t supply us with enough power to truly live the life that God has planned for us.

God has set up a never-ending supply of power for us.  It’s called the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16).  This spirit that lives in you is God himself.  You have this source every single day, hour, minute and second of your Christian life.  God invites you every single day to be connected to Him and to be aware that He is with you.  Giving you power to live for Him.

Just like any battery, it runs down and needs to be replaced or recharged.  Our faith life is the same.  The weight of this world and the demands of life cause us to wear down.  Sometimes even to the point of giving up.  God has a promise and invitation for you.  In Psalm 34, verses 4-9, God’s word tells us to seek Him, look to Him, call out to Him, taste and see that He is good!  In order for us to stay strong in our faith, we must seek, look, call out and come to Jesus for our faith battery to be charged.  When our faith is charged up, there is nothing that can stand in our way.

Every weekend we have an opportunity to worship our God!  Every week we have an opportunity to gather together to study his word!  Every day we are invited to spend some time with him in devotion and prayer!  Every moment of our lives are connected to the powerful, loving God of the universe! How are you connecting to Him today?

IMG_0241A little bit about TK: Tim Kightlinger is a 47 year old man (48 at the end of February) and loves his wife, his four kids (and two son-in-laws), his two awesome grandkids (#3 on the way), God and sports.  Being in youth ministry for over 20 years has taught him that a life that God changes can do great things.  He just bowled his first 300 game (and is still shaking from the adrenaline).  One of his goals to land a 360 off a tabletop while snowboarding.  And just another random thing about Tim: he really dislikes the spray that come off the car tires that hit his windshield after all the snow melts.

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,900 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

What’s Your One Focus?

One Focus - GD

It’s that time of year when we tend to take stock of our lives. We look back at the year, and we look forward with changes in mind.

Changes we write as resolutions.

Changes that often don’t make it past January 31.

What if we skip the list of things we want to start or stop doing, and instead have a focus for the year?

One focus. Something to think and pray about throughout the year.

It might be one area God wants you to pay attention to, or one word that will shape your year. Maybe it’s one Scripture verse you want your life to reflect.

Whatever it might be, one focus is easier to remember than a list of resolutions, and it’s less frustrating because you have the entire year to ponder your focus.

If you get to February 1 and realize you haven’t been working on your resolutions, it leads to discouragement, possibly feeling like the year is already off to a failing start. But, with one focus, you can be thinking about it before it’s time for action. In fact, you might not be able to stop thinking about it, even if you’re not sure what to do with it.

How do you decide on one focus for the year? For me, I pray about it, asking God what He wants to show me, or what I need to learn. And then, I wait, and I listen.

One year, I questioned the word I felt God giving me. When I dismissed it, He gave it to me again. And again. After a few weeks, I realized He wasn’t going to let it go and I better get used to the word. Obviously, I would be in for a year of learning something, even though I didn’t know what it was yet.

This year, He’s given me two words. (Sorry, I’m not telling what they are yet.) At first, I thought it was just something going through my own thoughts. But the next day, those two words were more firmly on my mind and I realized God was answering my question of what He wanted me to focus on.

And that focus scared me a little. Well, maybe it was more than a little. I prayed about it, thinking I could still be wrong. But, no, He only gave me those two words.

Here’s the thing…if your focus doesn’t scare you a little, it’s probably not the right focus. After all, the purpose of this is personal growth and change, right? And that’s scary.

But…it can also be kind of exciting. My two words aren’t causing me to squirm anymore. I’ve accepted that this is my focus, and I’m anticipating God will be challenging me in some new ways this year.

So, are you ready to consider one focus for 2014?

For more information, you may want to Google “One Word 2014,” but be ready for more links than you probably want to explore. To narrow it down, here are two resources on the One Focus topic worth visiting:

Oneword365.com

Myoneword.org

If you are looking at one focus this year, whether it’s a word, phrase, Scripture verse, or something else, will you share it in the comment section? Let’s encourage each other this year.

 

In Christ,
Laura
Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith
 

Merry Christmas!

GD Merry Christmas

An LCMS Pastoral Response to Controversy

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) has been in the news (National and Local) recently with controversy surrounding a prayer vigil in Newtown, CT after the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings, in which a LCMS pastor gave a benediction. If you would like to catch up on the issue click here to find the links to the letters from the different parties involved.

Pastor Ron Burcham, the Sr. Pastor at Gloria Dei, wanted to make known where he stands on the issue. His response is the following:

You may be aware of the “Public Prayer Controversy” that has been the topic of headlines across the country. It has brought The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), the national church body of which Gloria Dei is a member, into the national spotlight. Rev. Rob Morris, a young, recently ordained pastor of the LCMS, was requested to apologize for “exceeding the bounds of practice allowed by the Scriptures, our Lutheran Confessions, and the constitution of our Synod.” The request for this apology came from the President of the LCMS, Rev. Matthew Harrison. There is a link on our website to his letter and all other mentioned letters or articles.

The controversy centers on a prayer vigil that was offered after the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. The prayer vigil had participants from various Christian denominations and representatives from the Baha’I and Muslim faiths. President Obama was present and addressed the crowd.

According to President Harrison’s letter: Pastor Morris took specific steps to insure that there would not be the impression that those present were in agreement in their beliefs. President Harrison also notes in the letter that Pastor Morris “asked for an announcement before the event to make it clear that those participating did not endorse each other’s views. He read from Scripture when he spoke.”

Nonetheless, President Harrison concluded that the vigil was indeed a worship service and that Pastor Morris had acted contrary to the constitution of the Synod and Scripture. Pastor Morris offered an apology to those whom he had caused offense, but not for participating. Pastor Morris wrote; “I did not believe my participation to be an act of joint worship, but one of mercy and care to a community shocked and grieving an unspeakably horrific event.”

After the news media capitalized on the story, President Harrison issued another letter of apology to the church for the way he handled the situation. In addition President Harrison, Pastor Morris, and Pastor Morris’ District President issued a joint letter of harmony.

There are various opinions as to whether Pastor Morris should have participated in the vigil. Unfortunately many of the opinions have been shared over the internet and many have simply ignored the 8th commandment. In the Small Catechism’s explanation of the 8th commandment Luther wisely wrote about how we are to speak of our neighbor: “We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.”

Pastor Morris made a decision in a short amount of time with limited information. Only he knows all of the emotions and thoughts that went into that decision and it is unfair and unjust to throw stones after the event. In my personal opinion, he acted correctly and demonstrated maturity beyond his years and certainly beyond his experience in ministry. He proclaimed the love of Jesus to a community that needed comfort and hope. Unapologetically he proclaimed the Gospel and gave voice to God’s compassion and grace in the public square.

I understand that we never want to give the impression that there are various pathways to God or heaven. We never want to lead anyone to believe that the differences between Christianity and other religions is unimportant, but I do not believe that anyone watching the prayer vigil would walk away with that impression. What they saw was a community coming together to try to make sense out of a senseless act of violence.

My final thought is, what message would have been given if Pastor Morris had not participated? What message would people assume about his congregation and the Lutheran church? I believe it would have been the impression that we are uncaring and very closed. Both would be completely untrue, but nonetheless, I believe that would have been the impression.

I know that all do not share my opinion and I respect that. I felt that you, the members of Gloria Dei, would want to know where I stand on what has become a very public event in our church body.

In Christ,

Pastor Burcham

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