Posts by Tami Kalhagen

“Pondering” – Cassi Piper

Posted by on May 16, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Ponder is not a word used often today. To ponder is to think or consider carefully, quietly, soberly and deeply. Probably its most well-known use is found in the story of the birth of Jesus as told by Luke. In Luke chapter two we first learn of the heavenly host of angels appearing to the shepherds, alerting them to the birth of their savior. Then in verse 16 we read, “so they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in a manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Ponder is also found several times in the Psalms. Psalm 107:43 says “Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.” And in Psalm 111:2 the psalmist writes, “Great are the words of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them.” I believe it is this type of pondering, to delight in the loving deeds and the word of the Lord, that describes Mary’s reaction to what was happening around her after the birth of her son. She was delighting in the incredible plan that God was allowing to unfold around her.

Contrast this to worry. To worry is to be tormented with the cares, anxieties and trouble of this life. And though Luke paints a serene picture of our savior’s birth, there was much that Mary could have been worried about. Was her child safe and secure in the stable? Who were these strangers wanting to see her baby so shortly after birth? Could they make it safely home with a newborn? Would her family and village accept the child they believed was born out of wedlock? What about the scriptures that prophesy that her son would suffer terribly, even unto death? How do you even begin to be a good mom to the savior of the world?!

It is easy for us moms to worry. How will our children fare academically? What will their character be? Will they keep the faith of their youth? What will they grow up to be? Who will they marry? Will my child be successful? Will I ever feel like I’ve got this parenting thing down? Will my husband and I ever go on a date again? I confess that at times I have worried about all of these things, and more!

But as scripture tells us, and Mary exemplifies, there is a better way. We can choose whether to focus on the trouble and obstacles of life or on the loving deeds of our Father. We can choose to remember the times he has shown himself faithful to us. The answered prayers. The miracles. The unexpected blessings. The provision. The promise that He is always with us and that His love knows no bounds.

Like Mary, we can choose to ponder. Will it be easy? No, probably not at first. Like any habit, change takes time. We may start with only one minute of pondering for every 10 minutes of worry. But as we allow the peace of God to invade our hearts and minds the worry will start to fade and we will be encouraged to ponder some more.

Mother’s Day is the perfect time to ponder. Whether you are a mom desiring to reflect on the faithfulness of God over the past year, or someone who is simply blessed to have a mom, it is my sincere hope and desire that we be a church who ponders. Jesus assured us that in this world we will have trouble. When that trouble comes, may we ponder the loving deeds and words of our heavenly father and experience His peace.

 

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“Always Remember Easter” – Pastor Mark Coughlin

Posted by on May 16, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

It’s been 24 days since we celebrated the
Resurrection of our Savior.

Some events fade quickly into our memory – like what we had for breakfast on Monday. But important events, like Easter, shouldn’t be allowed to fade so quickly. The message of Easter has a unique power to keep us focused on the new realities that came about because of Jesus conquering death.

There’s a song that is part of my Easter tradition. The words go like this:

Every morning is Easter morning from now on.
Every day’s resurrection day; the past is over and gone.
Good-bye doubt, good-bye fear, good riddance;
Hello, Lord, Hello, sun.
I am one of the Easter-People – my new life has begun!
Every morning is Easter morning from now on.

Those lyrics remind me that even though the lilies aren’t in the sanctuary any more and the white drape is gone from the cross, the past is gone! Doubt and fear no longer have the power to overwhelm – even though they try! When really difficult things happen we can be confident that Jesus is alive! And that makes all the difference! He is with us just as much on May 3rd as he was on April 16th. He will continue to be with us on June 27th, September 6th and everyday forward. It is that truth that gives us the power to say “Good-bye” to doubt, fear, worry and anxiety; all those emotions that threaten to take away our joy.

So take a minute. Think back to Easter Sunday. Remember something significant from that day. Refuse to let the circumstances of today hijack your joy!

As Jesus told his disciples so he tells us:
“In me you can have peace. In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33)

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“Holy Week” – Pastor Matt Ragain

Posted by on Apr 13, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

     In 2001, I was preparing to go to college.  After spending the summer waiting tables, I drove to Missouri with my parents.  The week leading up to my first class was a whirlwind of activity and preparation.  I needed to sign up for classes, meet my roommate, move into the dorm room, buy books and say goodbye to my parents.  That is usually how life goes.  When a momentous event is coming, preparation and activity come before the event.  This is true for weddings, having children and starting new jobs.

In the gospel of Matthew, the week before Jesus’ crucifixion is no different.  Roughly 1/3 of the entire book of Matthew takes place during this time.  Something big was happening and Jesus was preparing for it.  Jesus did so many things in such a short period of time.  He cleansed the temple, cursed a fig tree, ate the Last Supper, prayed at the garden of Gethsemane, and he taught.  Jesus gave many parables, including the parable of the Ten Virgins.  He confronted the religious establishment over their hypocrisy.  Jesus also gave warnings to those in Jerusalem over the imminent judgment of God.

As we read through Matthew we come to realize that Jesus was not just preparing himself for his death, he was preparing his disciples and followers.  As we let the words of Matthew guide us, we prepare our hearts for Jesus’ death.  Holy Week is such an important time of the year.  It’s the deep breath before the plunge.  How do you prepare your heart for Good Friday?  What are some practical things you can do to get ready?

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“Stuck” – Cassi Piper

Posted by on Apr 13, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

 

“Be still and know that I am God.”                 Psalm 46:10

Last week my son missed our Wednesday night children’s program at church. No, he didn’t have a fever or cough or some other ailment. Nor did he have somewhere else to be. He wanted to go, he simply couldn’t. He was stuck.

The theme for last week’s program was to dress up like the person you wanted to be when you grew up. My son announced he wants to be a deep-sea diver. So, I rifled through our bin of dress up clothes and found a makeshift oxygen tank we had made for a fireman costume. I then searched through the garage and found a snorkel and mask. Convinced these would make a great deep-sea diver outfit, I proudly presented them to my son. What ensued was a tantrum, the likes of which I have not seen in recent history.

“I want a tube that connects my snorkel to my oxygen mask!” My son demanded. “I want a wet suit!” I gently explained to him that I didn’t have those items. “How can I be a deep-sea diver without proper equipment?” He fumed. Trying to be accommodating I thought up several possible quick alterations to his outfit that might fit the bill. All were refused.

An hour later it was time to go to church and my son was still in a tailspin. Storming all over the house with hands being thrown around without care for anything in their path, my son simply could not let go of the expectation he had convinced himself he was entitled to. Exasperated, I left him behind with my husband and toddler.

As frustrated as I was, I couldn’t help but be reminded that I too have been stuck. I remembered the day our home of eleven years was sold in a sheriff’s sale. What I had feared for months was finally official, we were in foreclosure. “We tried so hard!” My spirit yelled. “How do I explain this to our kids?” I questioned. “Where are we going to go?” God tried to calm my spirit, to remind me that He was there, that He had it figured out, but I didn’t want to hear it. “I will never feel like any other house is home!” I cried.

Fast forward three years, two moves and too many Godly interventions than I can count. Today we found out that we can purchase the dream house we never before knew we wanted. No, it’s not huge, or fancy or anything we would have coveted prior to losing our previous home. But God used our loss to change our desires and priorities and led us to a place of peace and rest. For the first time, we truly feel we are home. Had I remained stuck in my mindset of anger and fear, we might not ever have realized God’s awesome plan for this next chapter of our lives.

It’s never too late to get unstuck. Just take a deep breath, be still and listen. God is bigger than our circumstances and wants to use them to shape us into His likeness. It can be messy and painful and hard, but what an amazing blessing and encouragement it is when we can look back and recognize His faithfulness and provision all along!

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“The Perception that Matters” – Pastor Mark Coughlin

Posted by on Mar 30, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Last week one of the readings from Our Daily Bread made me laugh – and also made me think.  Here’s the gist of the article by Sheridan Voysey:

To celebrate Sir Winston Churchill’s 80th birthday, the British parliament commissioned artist Graham Sutherland to paint a portrait of the celebrated statesman.  Churchill reportedly asked the artist, “How are you going to paint me?  As a cherub or as the Bulldog?”  These were Churchill’s two favorite perceptions of himself by the British people.  Sutherland replied, “I will paint what I see.”

Churchill was not happy with the results!  Sutherland’s portrait had Churchill slumped in a chair wearing his trademark scowl – true to reality but hardly flattering.  After its official unveiling, Churchill hid the painting in his basement.  Later it was secretly destroyed.

Like Churchill, most of us have an image of ourselves that we want others to have of us too.  We might want them to see us as successful or godly, friendly, beautiful or courageous.  And we will go to great lengths to conceal what we feel is our “bad side.”  Maybe deep down we fear we won’t be loved if the real us is known.

But listen to what God said to the people of Israel, when they were at what they felt was their worst.  “You are precious and honored in my sight and…I love you.” (Isaiah 43:4)  Even though God had allowed them to be captured by their enemies, He said he knew them by name and he was with them through every humiliating trial.  They were secure in his hands and precious to Him.  They were loved.

God says the same thing to us.  He knows the real you.  When we believe that and let it really sink in, we will find ourselves more secure in God’s approval and less motivated to need the approval of others!

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