Monthly Archives: March 2016

PROCLAIM – “I see” Say the Blind

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of the sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” – Jesus (Luke 4:18-19, 21b)

I enjoy living in a small-town. Small-town living has its strengths and growing edges. One strength: everyone knows everybody!   We easily know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We know each other’s families. We play together, we work together, and our children/grandchildren go to school together. This can build strong and lasting relationships. A growing edge: everyone knows everybody. It can also be tempting to look at someone and place them in a box of who they are, what they’ve done, and who their parents are. This can often blind us to changes that are happening in other’s lives. This happened to Jesus.

Jesus made his mission clear – to proclaim the good new of freedom to those in need. He was in his hometown when he proclaimed these words. First his community spoke well of him and were amazed as the gracious things he was saying. In the next breath they began to doubt him, saying “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” Jesus responds quickly and strictly, showing the people that doubting the prophet blinds them to God’s promises. Out of rage, the people run Jesus out of town. Instead of trusting his words and God working in him and through him, they began to doubt based on the knowledge they had from the past. In doing this, they missed the great miracle of God’s son standing right in front of their eyes! In doubt they became blind.

At times, we are like Jesus’ community. We can be blind to the miracles the Holy Spirit is doing in and through the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ because we are so busy remembering whose son or daughter they are. At other times we are like Jesus. We are proclaiming this truth in our words and action but they are received in doubt; it can even feel like we are being run out of town. This brings wounds to an individual and a community.

The good news is this – Christ’s promise is much more powerful and lasting than our doubt, fear or rage. Christ frees us from captivity to these strong emotions and helps us see the truth in eyes of faith. In trust, Jesus gives us fresh eyes to see each other in a new light each and every day. He helps us find security even in the midst of rejection. Christ proclaims that healing freedom is promised, both in our lives and in our communities. Healing begins – not with our strengths – but in our weaknesses; by acknowledging our need for Jesus’s healing and trusting his promises. And this is a message well-worth proclaiming!

Your Neighbor,

Pastor Sarah


PRAISE – Praise you In this Storm

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. Hebrews 13:15

It is easy to praise God when the sun in shining and the birds are singing; when we have our health, our wealth and are following our dreams unhindered. What about when the storm clouds gather and darkness descends; when our dreams shatter, our security falters, and we suffer great loss? How do we praise God then?

My husband and I have had trouble conceiving a child. One month I had great hope that it would be the month God answered our cries. I said a prayer before taking the test, promising God that I would praise him either way. My greatest fears were realized when it showed that I was not pregnant. My dreams were crushed yet again and it felt like my heart would never mend. I didn’t know how to keep my promise to praise God no matter what the outcome was. As I knelt on the ground to pray, tears overflowed my eyes and I asked Jesus for help to keep my promise. The Bible verse I quoted above came to mind. This truly was a time to offer God a sacrifice of praise. It took everything I had to open my mouth and say the words “Praise the Lord.” Then a song came to mind and I sang:

“I will praise you in the storm. I will lift my hands. For you are who you are no matter where I am. And every tear I cried you hold in your hand. You never left my side and, though my heart it torn, I will praise you in this storm.” – Casting Crowns “Praise You in This Storm”

Life is not always sunny. We experience darkness and storms. God promises to be with us no matter what the journey entails. We don’t have to feel happy or peaceful to praise God. We can praise God when we feel angry, numb, joy, sadness or fear; and it can feel like a great sacrifice to give. Praise is not a feeling.  It is a choice to keep our eyes on Christ rather than the wind or the waves. Rather than speaking about our situation, it is choice to speak of who God is in every situation. We can’t do it in our own strength. Praise often includes calling out for help. And Jesus promises to lend a helping hand. We do not praise the storm. We praise God IN the the midst of the storm.

In Praise,

Pastor Sarah

PEOPLE – Sheep Aren’t Dumb

I recently had a conversation with a shepherd. He has been caring for sheep since he was a teen. I asked him what I could learn about shepherding. He thought for a moment before he replied “Sheep aren’t dumb. They just follow each other when they’re scared and can get themselves in trouble.”

God’s people are referred to as sheep many times in Scripture. Most of us have heard the parable of the lost sheep, (Luke 15:4) or heard Jesus’ saying that He is the Good Shepherd that lays his life down for the sheep. (John 10:11-12) Nowhere does this say that sheep are dumb, regardless of what myths may try to tell us otherwise. Neither are we dumb. We simply tend to rely on ourselves and follow each other which gets us into trouble. When we do this we get separated from the safety of our loving shepherd. And also like sheep, when we are ill or wounded we tend to separate ourselves from the group  rather than seek out the healing of our shepherd, Jesus Christ. This is happening in large numbers in congregations all over the United States.

According to PewForum…

America’s Changing Religious Landscape – Pew Research Center (article)

Christians – U.S. Religious Data, Demographics and Statistics (statistics)

…15% of people raised in a Christian Church are no longer affiliated with a congregation. In addition, there has been a 13% raise in people who identify themselves as unaffiliated with a church. This is affecting almost every denomination of Christian church across the nation. It is not confined to a particular generation.  I do not share this in order to scare, but rather as a call to prayer.

Jesus Christ, you are the good shepherd. You laid your life down for us, your sheep. You are continuing to seek out those who are lost or are in need of healing. Thank you! How are you calling us, as your people, to be a part of relentless and necessary ministry? Teach us and show us the way.

Your Fellow Sheep and a Shepherd-in-Training,

Pastor Sarah

Worship Services

9:15am Sunday School & Adult Bible Study
10:00am Fellowship
10:30am Worship

Pastor Sarah Carlstrom
(church) 320-312-7729
(cell) 320-226-5676

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