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We're headed to Dundalk Ireland!

If you would like to give towards the DMC mission trip

to Dundalk, Ireland please mail donations to:

Duluth Master's Commission

c/o Hermantown Community Church

4880 Maple Grove Rd

Hermantown, MN 55811

 

You can make checks out to "Duluth Master's Commission" and write "mission trip" in the memo line.

 

 

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How to Save a Life...

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How to Save a Life...

Tragedy happens everyday.  If we were to truly open our eyes to this world, tragedy would be surrounding us.  

We allow things to affect us to a certain degree. The attacks in Paris for instance, we have all let them into our hearts and prayers.  We’ve changed our Facebook profile pic to include the French Flag.  We mention them in our nighttime prayers.  Maybe we’ve even meditated on how tragic it truly is, but then what?  What do we do?  Do we really change anything?

Terrorism is tragic.  It should never happen.  Hatred is real.  Satan is creating hatred within people’s hearts to distract us from our ultimate goal of reaching others with the truth.  

Recently, I have had tragedy hit closer to home.  A student from my old youth group ended his own life.  To me, there is nothing more tragic than unrealized potential.  

This young man had a zeal for life. He loved God’s creation.  He was a true northerner at heart with a love for hunting, fishing, being on the water or in the woods.  I loved teaching him about God.  I loved his excitement about loving others and helping people through life.

He had so much potential.  I hate, HATE that the enemy can wedge himself into our minds and start stripping away at our hope, our purpose, and our joy.  I hate when others do not see the potential that I see in them.  I hate knowing that God has such a great plan for people and then seeing the enemy suck it away with lies, bitterness, self-destruction, and defeat.  

As a Master’s Commission Director, it’s an honor for me to be able to work with students who desire to do whatever it takes to fulfill God’s plan for their lives.  I would hate for any of them to ever lose that hope and ambition.  I love that we have eight students that are striving to become ambassadors of Christ, willing to do whatever it takes to fulfill the Great Commission.

Yet, as this one life was ended, it made me question, why aren’t there more?  Why aren’t there more young adults out there that desire to know God to their fullest potential?  Why aren’t their more people that believe in themselves enough to pursue their callings?  Why aren’t their more people that believe they have a purpose?  

There are far too many people who have lost hope.  There are far too many CHRISTIANS who have lost hope.  We have let negativity outweigh joy.  We have let monotony conquer purpose.  We lost the excitement of the Gospel; we have lost the passion of new Christianity.  We let life become mundane. We stop seeing people.  People are why we are here.  People are our mission as Christians.  Loving people. Showing others they have a purpose.  

It’s simple really.  Our purpose is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to teach others to do the same.  

Tragedy happens. We cannot allow it to steal our hope.  Share your hope with someone today.  Share your hope with someone everyday. Let’s combat tragedy with love.

 

 

 

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A Boy and His Slingshot

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A Boy and His Slingshot

1 Samuel 17

Sometimes I feel a little like David: a young shepherd boy up against a giant.  Maybe you’ve been there too.  In all honestly, if I could, I’d choose to only do what I feel I am capable of.  I don’t seek out extreme challenges. I prefer staying within my realm of ability and knowledge.  It’s a part of my personality. I suppose I’m different than David in that regard.  He sought out this challenge.  I merely follow God’s leading into them. (Read: pushed into them kicking and screaming.)

God seems to place me in positions where I am consistently faced with the contrast of what I feel capable of doing and what I feel God is asking me to do. 

I think about the story of David and Goliath and so many questions come to mind.  Why David?  Why not one of the experienced, full-grown soldiers? What did David offer that caused him be the chosen one?  He had no combat experience.  Although he had fought off lions and bears, he didn’t have the strength of Sampson.  His apparent skill was keeping sheep and his weapon was a boy’s slingshot.  Why did God choose him?

No matter His reasoning, it’s apparent in the Bible that God intended David to be the one to fight Goliath.  God used that experience to make David known to the king and to the king’s son Jonathan who’d quickly become David’s greatest friend.  God could have chosen the biggest, strongest soldier to fight the Philistine.  That would have made more sense to me.  He could have even performed a miracle to increase the strength of David to match that of Goliath’s.  But instead, He chose to use a young shepherd as he was.  And He chose to use what he had… a simple slingshot and some stones.

I certainly don’t understand the mind of God, but I do know what Scripture tells us.  God chooses whom He chooses to give Himself glory and to fulfill His purposes.  God chooses the willing.  God chooses the weak to confound the wise.  God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.  He uses imperfect, ordinary jars of clay to do incredible things.

God, I am so grateful that You choose to use me as I am… faults, weaknesses, strengths and all.  Help me to maintain a submissive, willing heart so that no matter what circumstance or giant I face, I will always say, “I’ll go...”

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Stand Tall

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Stand Tall

I always fear that when I get to the elderly stage in life I will have a horribly curved back. One so bad, that it is impossible to even stand up straight. Being a waitress, I saw many elderly shuffling into the restaurant hunched over with a disfigured back. Every time I saw this I cringed inside, silently praying that I would never have that issue. Then I would wonder, “How did their back get this way? Could they have done anything to prevent it from happening? Were they in an accident and couldn’t prevent it? Was it from years of poor posture or simply genetics?”     

A couple days ago God revealed something to me. As Christians, often times we live out our lives just like the person with the disfigured back. There are many times where we let the situations in our lives drag us down. We walk around spiritually stooped over, defeated by the enemy. There’s no money in the bank to pay the bills (stoop). Your children are making poor decisions (stoop). You can’t seem to hear God’s voice (stoop). By the time life happens, the devil has us so hunched over it seems impossible to stand up straight. However, this is not the way that God intends our lives to look like. He wants us to stand STRAIGHT. 

James 1:12 says “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” God has promised his blessing when we choose to stand up to the trials of life. Allow God to help you stand tall during the difficult times. Give him your problems and I guarantee that you will grow stronger than ever before.

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There WILL be green grass, and flowers, and leaves on the trees...

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There WILL be green grass, and flowers, and leaves on the trees...

On our way to school one frigid April morning, my oldest son looked out the window at the falling snow and asked with utter frustration in his voice,  "Mom, when is it REALLY going to be spring? … with flowers and green grass?"  To be honest, I completely shared in his frustration.  I too was ready for warmth and the sight of sprouting green leaves.  It had been a LONG, snowy winter.  I was tired of being trapped inside.  I was tired of feeling cold.  Winter had gone on for long enough.  I was SO ready for a change.  I wanted spring!  

Somehow God helped me to respond to his question with an answer that challenged my own heart...

"It will be spring when God wants it to be.  God knows what we need even better than we do.  We can trust Him.  Winter WIlLL end.  Spring WILL come.  There WILL be green grass and flowers and leaves on the trees.  And we can trust God that it will happen at just the right time."  Taylor seemed content with that response as his reply was, "Well, the snow IS kind of pretty."  :)

Maybe you are finding yourself in a difficult season of life right now.  Maybe it's been a season that has felt never-ending.  I want to encourage you to not give up.  Keep hoping and expecting that things will change.  Keep trusting your Heavenly Father who makes all things new.  Your winter WILL end.  A new season of life WILL come with flowers and green grass and leaves on the trees.  You can trust God's timing and wisdom as He knows what you need even better than you do.  

Psalm 31:24 (MSG) Be brave. Be strong. Don't give up. Expect God to get here soon.

Song of the day: "All Things New" by Elevation Worship

 

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It's Just One of Those Days

No one is immune, we all have "those days."  You know... the sort of day where you're told that you woke up on the wrong side of the bed 'cause you may or may not have punched Cap'n Crunch in the face just because his box had only half of a bowl of cereal left in it.  "Those days" can seem like everyone and everything in life is out to get you. 

Sometimes there's stress in life causing our emotions to get a little overworked and overwhelmed and sometimes we have no idea why we're having a rough day.  It's just rough.  And so we fight.  We fight with our emotions.  We fight our family members and/or friends.  We fight cartoon characters on cereal boxes.  We can even end up fighting God.  Make no mistake about it, we fight because there is a legitimate battle going on.  But we place our focus and attention on all the wrong things.  

If you’ve grown up in the church you may have heard a sermon or two on how the musicians lead the Israelite army into battle.  There are probably a few different reasons for it.  Maybe it was a strategic decision to get rid of annoying cymbal players and off-pitch singers.  (Ha. J/K)  More likely, it was the power of worship and what it does to defeat the enemy that brought the musicians to the frontline.  

The truth is, when I worship God, my focus and attention are on Him.  The Almighty.  The Creator of the universe.  The Alpha and Omega.  He is Holy, without fault.  He is faithful.  He is love.  He is our provider.  He is our healer.  He is the lifter of our heads.  He goes before us.  He goes behind us.  He prepares the way for us.  A way that is good and for our benefit.  He is and does all of these things and I haven’t even scratched the surface of His greatness.  When I am focused on Him and all of these things, how in the world can I feel defeated, depressed, neglected or angry?  My bad day or stressful circumstances aren't even on the radar when my thoughts are consumed with God Almighty.  Worry and stress fade away as I am reminded of the goodness of the Lord.

Worry and stress are such big tools of the enemy.  Improper perspective on who we are or our life’s situations seem to perpetuate them both.  However, when we are focused on the Lord, He is able to renew us from the inside out creating proper perspective, allowing us to see ourselves and our circumstances through the light and truth of His Word.

I don’t know if you are finding yourself in the middle of “one of those days” or maybe you just need to take a step back from trying to figure everything out and let the God of peace realign your thoughts and change your perspective to view things as He sees them.  But I encourage you to take an offensive approach to your internal battle and worship the God Almighty.   Even now if you are able, take a moment to focus on Him and worship the Great I Am.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5CWGi82N7k 

Romans 15:13 (NLT)
"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."

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Life With a View

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Life With a View

It can be incredibly difficult to look beyond ourselves when we are going through a difficult time.  We get caught in patterns of thought that are negative, depressing, and/or void of hope.  We may feel stuck and have trouble looking at things in a positive way.  It may feel like your world is crumbling around you. I’m convinced the only way to make it through difficulties in life is to have a constant; something you can focus on.  Make Jesus your constant.  Look to Him and take in the truth of who He is.  Let his beauty shine through the darkness.  His beauty is never dependent upon your circumstances.  He is always the same.  Always. Yesterday, today, and forever.... He will never change.  His promises are ALWAYS true.  His love for you will never change.  It will never be more.  It will never be less.  

Mountains, valleys, struggles, trials, joys, and triumphs... they all have the same incredible view when you're focused on Jesus.   Anchor your thoughts on Him and you will find a perfect peace no matter the circumstances surrounding you.

Kari Jobe sings a song called “Beautiful” which talks about this very thing.  It’s been on repeat this morning and it’s been so refreshing to clear my mind and focus on the beauty of Jesus.  Take a listen...

 

Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)

You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you! 

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Puppets, a Perm, and a Paraplegic

During my super cool years in Jr. High I was a part of the puppet team at my church.  Ok, so maybe the puppet team didn’t equate to cool.  Truth be told, I was not cool at all.  I was a band geek with braces and a perm that made my head shaped like a pyramid.  Only my mother owns pictures of such times and had I any good sense I would have burned them all before heading off to college.  Anyway, one year our puppet team entered a puppet team competition.  (The cool factor just skyrocketted, didn’t it?)  Our entry was of a song titled “There’s a Hole in My Roof”.  It’s based off of the Bible story of the paraplegic who was lowered through the roof to Jesus so that he could be healed.  Randomly, that song started playing in my head the other day.

 “There’s a hole in my roof.  It’s the truth I wouldn’t spoof.  It was chopped there for a man with diseases.  And they lowered him down to Jesus.”

(Those of you who’d like proof that puppet team competitions actually exist can find our performance on youtube here.  And in case you were wondering how we did, we won a gold medal.  That’s right, my friends and I were super cool AND winners.)

Remembering that song caused me to ponder that story and encouraged me to read it again. (Luke 5: 17-25).   What caught my attention was the whole tearing apart the roof business.  How strange that may have appeared to the neighbors.  If you're familiar with the story, you know the reason the paralyzed man’s friends had to remove part of the roof, was because there were too many people crowding Jesus.  Lowering the man through the roof was the only way they could get him near Jesus to be healed.  It made me wonder what I would be willing to tear apart to get to Jesus.

My roof is pretty important. I mean, it’s basically my safety and security from the elements.  I live in northern Minnesota.  I need a good roof between me and the 87 feet of snow we get every winter!  But what if my “roof” was a figurative example of my safety and security?  Am I willing to do something that may expose me to difficulties or a lack of security?  Am I willing to do something that may appear incredibly strange to those around me just to get to Jesus and to receive His best for me?

What is it that you need from Jesus?  Healing like the paralyzed man?  A new job?  Direction in life?  A mended relationship?  I encourage you to go ahead and tear apart whatever it is that’s between you and Jesus’ best for your life.  You may look strange to those around you.  It may mean being willing to take a step of faith and potentially put yourself in a position that is more adventurous and less secure.  But in the end of that Bible story, the man got up off of his sick bed and walked away completely healed.  Not only was he healed, but because of his faith, Jesus chose to forgive him of his sins as well.  Being healed would have been a miracle enough, but Jesus had even more in mind.  I don’t doubt that Jesus has even more in mind for you too.

Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

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