From my perspective...
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From my perspective...

Return to Worship

by Pastor Dennis on 05/06/20

A Return to Worship plan has been approved for the weekend of May 9 & 10th.

 Overall, by God’s grace, we are fortunate to have no active cases in Oliver and Mercer county, but that should not lull us into a false sense of security. The wolf is out there and we must take precautions for the protection of others.

 First precaution: If anyone is coughing or running a fever for any reason, please stay home and worship on YouTube or the website.

 In May there will be two services a week.

  • Those who are at a higher risk if they catch the disease are invited to come and worship on Saturday at 9:30.
  • Saturday’s service will be recorded and posted on YouTube
  • The Sunday service at 8:30 will be for those in the lower risk category.

 We are asking you to bring a mask and wear it to decrease the possibility of infecting others when entering and leaving the church, whenever you are in a close conversation with someone else outside of those you live with and during singing.

 Physical distance will be practiced and overseen by the ushers. Every other pew will have the cushion removed. Ushers will seat worshippers to limit exposure. Families may sit with each other. Others will be asked to practice physical distancing.

 Hymnals, bibles, pencils and paper will be removed from the pews..

 Communion: Familial groups can come to the rail if they are comfortable doing so. Individual prepackaged elements will be distributed by the ushers to those who wish to remain in the pews.

 Announcements, scripture readings and/or weekly study will be available.

 A final caution is given. If folks want to visit, they should do so outside and to respect physical distancing.

 If things work well, we might offer coffee and cookies for outside fellowship.

 Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers and work as we walk through this.

 Pr. Dennis

Covid-19

by Pastor Dennis on 03/14/20

This week Pastor, Lee and Dawn Alderin and Charlene Sampson were involved in a North Dakota State Health Department Webinar concerning the CoronaVirus.

You can access current information at ndflu.com and https://www.health.nd.gov/diseases-conditions/coronavirus

One message was clear –take time to prepare and don’t panic.  Most of what was suggested is already in place as our response to seasonal flu. i.e. giving the sign of Peace and availability of sanitizer.

Wash hands often with warm water and soap – wash for at least 20 seconds. Sanitize in between – about the time it takes to pray the Lord’s Prayer or confess the Apostle’s Creed.

Stay home when sick.  Exactly what mom always taught.  If you are sick stay home and take care of yourself. You can find past sermons on the website and YouTube.

Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow.  Virus are spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Lastly, avoid close contact with others, who may be sick. (about 6 feet). Therefore, we will avoid shaking hands and give the Sign of Peace until the crises subsides.

We invite you to continue to pray for those around the world who are ill; for those who are experiencing paralyzing fear because of this virus; for all medical workers who are caring for the ill and for researchers trying to find the best treatments in the sure and certain hope that Our Lord is with us and will walk with us through this time of trial. 

Exploring the Gospel of Matthew, Wednesdays, beginning Jan. 8th.

by Pastor Dennis on 12/26/19

WHY? Jesus came for sinners and if we only look at Matthew’s profession, we fall short of imagining what Jesus saw in him. Matthew was a tax collector. He was condemned by his neighbors as a traitor, one who served himself by fleecing his neighbors. But then a wandering teacher comes who has no status and calls him and for reasons we can only guess at, he rises up a follows the One who came to save the lost and the oppressed, now he serves our Lord.

            Jesus saw something in Matthew’s heart and Matthew saw something in Jesus that changed his life, gave him a life worth living.

            In the Gospel we meet Jesus and through Matthew’s eyes we see the Master, our Savior and find ways to turn away from self-destructive lives to lives that are filled with good purpose and satisfaction.

 Choosing a commentary or study is a personal choice. Therefore, instead of everyone following one author’s perspective, please take a look at the six offerings below and chose one to your liking. The prices are approximate from Amazon.

Matthew: The Coming of the King. John MacArthur (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2007) $9.78

            “The MacArthur Bible Studies includes extensive commentary, observations and truths for today, and probing questions to help your study the Word of God.”

Matthew: Being Discipled by Jesus. Stephen D. Eyre and Jacalyn Eyre (InterVarsity Press, 2000) Life Guide Bible Studies. $8.99

            “In Matthew we learn how to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and how to disciple others.”

Three Months With Matthew. Justo L. González (Abingdon Press, 2002) $11.99

            “This book is an invitation to study and to adventure.” “There are many good methods for the study of Scripture. The one we shall follow consists of three fundamental steps: See, Judge and Act.”

Matthew: Steve Halliday. Karen Lee-Thorp, Ed. (NavPress 1997) The LifeChange Series $10.63

“A Life-changing Encounter with God’s Word. Walk through Jesus’ most famous teaching and learn what it means to live with Him now, so you can live with Him forever.”

The Gospel of Matthew. Max Lucado (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2007) Life Lessons series. $9.99

            “What is the purpose of the Bible? To proclaim God’s plan of Salvation, to save His children. God’s highest passion is to get his children home.”

The Gospel of Matthew. William Barclay (The Westminster Press, 1975) The Daily Study Bible Series $14.98 for Vol. 1 of two volumes. 

            “The Daily Study Bible series seeks to convey the results of scholarship to the ordinary reader.”

_____________________________________________________________

Happy Christmas

by Pastor Dennis on 12/16/19

from my perspective…

A tiny baby lies in the manger with outstretched arms. The parents, Joseph and Mary, who rejoice in birth of a son, look deeply into his eyes. Angels, proclaiming the good news of God have filled the silent night. The shepherds hear the good news, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11 ESV) The Shepherds seek the child and they find him.

Joseph must have been gratified to hear the shepherd’s story, for the angels confirmed the words spoken by Gabriel, in a dream, months before, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

Outside the stable, the dark wind oppression blows and the people of Israel struggle. They blame their leaders, Judean and Roman, for their plight. They are ordinary people with ordinary needs for peace and security and hope. This winter, many are far away from home, forced to travel so they can be counted, so that more taxes can be added to their burden. It is not a peaceful time. Hope is a luxury that few seem to have - for it is hard to trust and believe that God will act. But they pray anyway for God to save them, to deliver them.

They pray for a warrior-king like David, but God has a different plan. Instead of raising armies that kill, steal and destroy, the Savior-king will raise an army of believers who will trust and hope in Him, who will build up one another with this hope in the midst of hardship and oppression. Like a summer shower, the Savior-king creates drops of rain that fall on the righteous and unrighteous alike. They give life until they are a flood of hope and peace that washes away the armies of darkness and despair.

This hope seems unimaginable to those who have bought into the lie, that possessions or power or political solutions will make everything right. God’s plan - God’s truth is that each person who trusts and receives the gentle showers of the light of God, will have the power and spirit of God to lift their own burdens and lighten the burdens of God’s people.

The Christmas story is not a myth to encourage children but holds the very power of God for life. Those, who in child-like faith, receive the hope of Christmas, find healing and peace and hope; they find their burdens lightened and their regrets forgiven, for God’s salvation is at hand.

Many who thought they were unworthy before God; will find they are welcome at the manger. Many, who thought their sins were unforgivable; will find pardon. Many who struggle with shame and guilt; will find their burdens lightened.  They are invited to go out, justified and healed, reborn into a new life with the Lord.

Christmastime is a gift from God. On Christmas Eve families who rarely worship together, hear the story of God’s plan for deliverance and once again it mysteriously it warms their hearts. They have heard the story many times and yet somewhere in the experience, hope blossoms and once again they find hope and purpose for tomorrow.

Please, join us for Christmas and the New Year in church where the light of Christ, the hope and peace and love of God, prevail against the armies of darkness.

Your pastor, Dennis

Be merciful as your Father in Heaven is merciful

by Pastor Dennis on 09/10/19

To walk in the image of God is to walk in the mercy of God. However, in a self-centered worldview, mercy is expected but rarely given. And if given it is given because the person touched some part of a compassionate. That heart judge the person worthy of mercy. God on the other hand gives mercy to the undeserving. Doesn't seem fair, does it?

God directs us to live in covenantal relationship with Him and all people that carries a covenantal responsibility. What does it mean, then, to be merciful  as our Father in Heaven is merciful?" (Luke 6.36-38)

I could give you some examples, but it better if you discover God's truth for yourself. If you would like to chat - give me a call.

from my perspective

  When human beings are attacked, they have a tendency to gather all their resources, fold their arms around them, bow their head and hunker down. Their first concern is reserved for their own house. They retreat, wrapped in the darkness of their own insecurity. They are quiet for a while, and then they emerge to see if the danger has passed. 

  If the threat continues, some will retreat; others will shake their fist in bravado. Either way or everyway in between, stress-filled emotional buckets will fill up until they overflow in words of anger and fear. Concurrently, and very quickly they will cry, “When will this ever end?!” “When will we return to normal?” Meaning, of course, “When will I feel comfortable again and be able to do what I want to do without fear.”
  
  The situation we find ourselves in, this spring is unique in our lifetime, but it is not unique in the history. Plagues have erupted in days-gone-by in unexpected and uninvited ways. We might ask, “How does faith help in times of ‘novel’ events?” But the greater question that needs to be asked of Jesus’ followers in times of crises is, “What kind of people does God want us to be in the midst of threats?” 

  Jesus taught His disciples to give up the temptation to look only to their selves and love one another as He has loved them and gave His life for them. He taught His disciples on the night in which He was betrayed, “Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13, ESV) Persecutions and trials will come upon them, He warned, but He commanded them to “love one another, by this all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) When the disciples were tempted to curl up and hide away, Jesus commanded them to be more concerned with how their life of faith could inspire peace for “all people.” Furthermore, Jesus commands His Disciples to be “His witnesses …to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) 
In order to be faithful witnesses, it will be necessary for them to stand firm in the midst of trials and temptation. To accomplish this, God sent His Holy Spirit to remind them that God will continue to provide and protect them. With this Spirit in their hearts, they are strengthened to set aside their own fears and pride; to look to the cares and concerns of others; to minister to them as Christ ministered to all who came to Him who were fear-filled or paralyzed.

  In addition, it is good to realize that Jesus didn’t choose the disciples to be His witnesses because they were perfect in faith and strength. He called them because their hearts were willing to remember His example and to follow Him. For instance, they might remember how He rested quietly while the storm raged and how He calmed the storm and healed anxious hearts with His words. It should be no surprise to us that the early church was not called “the church” but “the way.”

  In this time of concern, we have the opportunity to live out our faith as Jesus’ witnesses, by how we address our stress and how we respond to fear-filled news. We will be tempted and we will stumble. We will, at times, lose control of our emotions in unexpected ways. But our Lord is forgiving and His strength and spirit is everlasting. Therefore, let us get up, trust the Lord, and live for Him.

Your working pastor, Dennis

P.S. If the numbers of cases remain low, I would like to invite youth and adults to gather together in small groups for conversation and communal inspiration beginning Wednesday, June 3rd. Zoom and isolation are wonderful tools during quarantine but it comes with a cost. Meeting face to face for our spiritual well-being, rooted in the Word of God, is important for God’s people. 

  If the parents approve, I would like to meet with confirmation students on Wednesday afternoons in June. 3:00-4:00 at St. Paul and 4:30-5:30 at Our Savior’s.

  3rd year confirmation might meet on Sunday afternoons. Time and place to be announced.

  Adults are invited to meet on Wednesday evenings in June. 6:00 p.m. at Our Savior’s and 7:30 p.m. at St. Paul. Bring your Bibles.

Please feel free to call with questions and concerns.  

Welcome!

I welcome your comments regarding our shared ministry at Our Savior's.
 If you would rather comment privately; please, email me at dristvedt@westriv.com

I deeply desire to bring Christian comfort and the power of prayer to those who are challenged with sickness or circumstances in life. 

Neither the hospitals or care centers are allowing visitation.
 If it a matter of life and death, call me and I will contact them.​
 

Pastor Dennis