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Chain of Lakes Videos

Select a link below to view past videos of sermons. Don’t forget to also check out Pastor Paul’s blog!

June 26, 2022
Start of Series “Advice from Jesus” Stepping on People’s Toes
Video pictured above

June 19, 2022  Father’s Day

June 12, 2022
Chain of Lakes Core Values

June 5, 2022
Pentecost and Chain of Lakes Core Values

May 29, 2022
First Ever Worship Service in the New Church Building

May 22, 2022
Memories – last worship service at Davenport location

May 15, 2022
HOME, Building Spiritual Connections – The joy of home

May 8, 2022
 HOME, Building Spiritual Connections – Celebrating families
Video featured above

May 1, 2022
HOME, Building Spiritual Connections – Heaven, our ultimate home

April 24, 2022
HOME, Building Spiritual Connections

Easter Sunday, April 17, 2022
“He is Risen. Again!”
Video featured above

Sunday, April 10, 2022
Two part series, “He is Risen. Again!”

Sunday, April 3, 2022
Growing Up series – Vision

 

Daily Devotions

Comments about the devotion can be emailed to pastor@colpres.org

Monday, June 27

Read Luke 2:25-35   Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

  “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul, too.”

 It’s hard to find ourselves stepping on other people’s toes. Or at least it’s quite probable that we find it hard to step on other people’s toes. Very few people enjoy finding themselves in situations where a conflict exists, or a significant disagreement is happening, or others are hurt and perhaps even offended by an action of ours.

 And it might be easy to fool ourselves into thinking that followers of Jesus Christ should never step on another person’s toes, that we’re doing well when we get along with everyone and don’t have any disagreements.

Hopefully we know that not stepping on another person’s toes is impossible.

Jesus stepped on people’s toes. While being circumcised shortly after he was born, an older man Simeon confronted Jesus. Simeon took baby Jesus in his arms and predicted or prophesized that Jesus would be opposed in his ministry. People would push back against what Jesus said; Jesus would step on people’s toes as he communicated and lived out his message.

Have you ever convinced yourself that Christians shouldn’t get into disagreements with others? Please share.

 

Tuesday, June 28

Read Luke 7:18-23  The disciples of John reported all these things to him. So John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to expect someone else?”  When the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to expect someone else?’ ”  Jesus had just then cured many people of diseases, afflictions, and evil spirits and had given sight to many who were blind.  And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight; the lame walk; those with a skin disease are cleansed; the deaf hear; the dead are raised; the poor have good news brought to them.  And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

 One of the ways we can be comfortable in the result of stepping on people’s toes is being comfortable in our own identity. Pastor Paul asked two questions on Sunday about this. The questions are: 1) Are you clear on your own identity?

2) Are you comfortable with your own identity?

It seems almost funny to ask the question on whether Jesus could say, “yes” to these questions. It’s not funny because Jesus was human—just like you and me.

Jesus was clear about who he was, and we can see this clarity in his response to the messengers to John. “Tell John what you see,” Jesus essentially said, “I’m healing the blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf, the dead, and the poor.”

There was no apology from Jesus about what he was doing. He was so clear on his purpose that he wouldn’t sell himself short for being himself. We get no sense of apology from Jesus for what he was doing. We almost get the sense that he thought, “this is who I am and what I do; if John is upset about who I am and what I do, then that is John’s issue.”

What a refreshing and ultimately freeing way to look at the world. Our task is not to worry about how other people will respond to us. Our task is to be clear about ourselves and then to act based on that clarity. If we are acting from ourselves, then that is what is most important. If people get upset, then that is on the other people.

None of us purposefully tries to step on other people’s toes. Instead, we purposefully try to be ourselves.

Do you have a clear sense of your own identity? Is it hard for you to step on other people’s toes? Please share.

 

Wednesday, June 29

Read Luke 6:27-36  “But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you; pray for those who mistreat you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who asks of you, and if anyone takes away what is yours, do not ask for it back again.  Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive payment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. Instead, love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

 One expression that Pastor Paul shared on Sunday is speak the truth in love. One significant part of this phrase is to love people. Our task is to act and communicate agape love with all the people we meet.

Jesus was making the case for agape love in this passage taken from Luke’s Sermon on the Plain. Jesus was teaching people that they were to love their enemies; loving their friends does not give credit. But loving our enemies is very special.

Our task, then is to love people. Even if we find ourselves in disagreement with another person we are still called to love that person. Knowing that we’re loving another person can give us security to speak the truth. We want to love the other person so beautifully that the other person is clear that they are being loved by us.

This is the highest form of love and can be difficult to live out consistently. What is the biggest obstacle to you to living and acting out this love? Please share.

Thursday, June 30

Read Ephesians 4:15-16  but speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

At the end of this very significant passage in Ephesians, the Apostle Paul shared that followers of Jesus are to speak the truth in love. Speaking the truth in love is part of growing up.

Speaking the truth can be very difficult—especially if we know that we have to have a hard conversation. Some of us who might be conflict-avoidant, might rarely speak what is on our mind with another person.

However, if we are confident that we are loving another person, then we can much more easily speak the truth. In this case we know we are not bringing down the other person. Instead, we’re speaking the truth as we see it.

The combination of “speaking the truth” and “love” is significant. It can allow us to be honest with others and not feel guilty if we have stepped on their toes. We are not trying to bring the person down by our words—this would be the opposite of love. Instead, we are sharing the truth.

What resources have you found that help you speak the truth in love?  Please share.

Friday, July 1

Read Galatians 5:13-15  For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become enslaved to one another.  For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

 Loving our neighbor as we love ourselves gives us tremendous freedom. We can be ourselves and not worry about how we are going to be received. Because we are so comfortable in our own skin and because we know we are loving another person, we know we can speak the truth. Others might call us one of the most honest people they know. We are consistently sharing the truth.

This is the message written by the Apostle Paul in this section of Galatians.

Having freedom doesn’t mean we hurt other people or bring down other people. Just because we can do something does not mean that we do that something.

How often do you experience this level of freedom? Please share.

 

Saturday, July 2

Read Luke 10:25-28

An expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

These words written down by Luke carry some of the most important teachings in the Bible. The teaching is not new. Instead, the teaching is something that we work on every day of our life.

This passage is worth writing down and putting on a card that goes near your own personal Spiritual Place.

Try that today. Either carry around your card or put it in your personal Spiritual Place so you see it every day. Could this work for you? Please share.

Monday, June 20

Read Genesis 1:1

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,

This week we will have the opportunity to go deeper into the different names of God that are used in the Bible. According to the NIV and RSV translations, this first verse of the Bible starts out “In the beginning God …” The NRSV puts the word, “when” after “beginning.”

One way to think of the Bible is the story of God.

If we read the Scriptures in Hebrew we would learn that the names that are used for God are different. The Hebrew word that is translated as God is Elohim. “In the beginning, Elohim.” As Pastor Paul shared on Sunday the fact that God has different names doesn’t change the identity of God. Just as each of us has one primary name, we also might be described by a nickname or another name. These different names don’t change our own identity.

Elohim is plural. This doesn’t mean that there is more than one God at creation. The plural form describes the vastness of God. The singular form can’t adequately explain God.

Try using Elohim when you address God. As you pray to God say, Elohim instead of God. In doing this your prayers will probably feel differently.

Do you have a favorite name for God? Please share.

 

Tuesday, June 21

Read Exodus 3:13-15
But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”  God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ”  God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’:

 This is my name forever,

and this my title for all generations.

As Moses anticipated sharing with the Israelites the mission God had asked Moses to perform, Moses knew he needed a name for God. Moses essentially asked God, “What do I say to them when they ask your name?

God responded by sharing, “I am who I am.” Another way to describe this verse is “I will be who I will be.”

This is a rather cryptic expression by God of the divine name. But it was meant to be cryptic. To pronounce someone’s name is to claim power over someone. It doesn’t work for humans to claim power over God as God is so holy. Traditionally our Jewish friends don’t even say the name of God as they believe the name of God is too holy to be spoken.

The name that God shared consisted of four letters—YHWH. Sometimes the four letters are called the Tetragrammaton, which is Greek for four letters. Originally the Hebrew language has no vowels. Vowels were added to these four letters to form the name Yahweh. In some cases, the first letter is seen as a J and the third letter is seen as a V. This makes the four letters JHVH, from which the name, Jehovah comes.

Try using Yahweh when you address God today. How do you think that would work for you?

Wednesday, June 22

Read Hosea 11:3-4

Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;

    I took them up in my[a] arms,

    but they did not know that I healed them.

I led them with cords of human kindness,

    with bands of love.

I was to them like those

    who lift infants to their cheeks.

    I bent down to them and fed them.

 Another way to identify God is to have an image of God. An image of God is a reflection of who God is.

Most of the images of God in the Bible are male images; however, these verses share a female image. In describing how God had related to Israel, God shared that God was to Israel like “those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.” 

We can imagine our own mom lifting us as infants to her cheek. We can imagine her bending down and feeding us as babies.

It’s very easy to get trapped into thinking that God has a gender. But God cannot be contained by gender. We can’t say that God is a “he” or a “she” because gender isn’t an adequate way to describe God.

Pastor Paul encourages people to use language about God that does not fall into gender categories. Why is this important?  Please share.

 

Thursday, June 23

Read Mark 14:36

He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me, yet not what I want but what you want.”

 Jesus often used the name, “Abba Father” when talking to God, the first person of the Trinity. Abba is like a phrase of endearment. Imagine Jesus saying, “Papa.” Or if we said “honey” when we were addressing our spouse.

When Jesus used “Abba” he was describing the closeness he felt with God.

These terms are appropriate for us to use also. Even though God is awesome and huge, God is as close to us as our breath. We can address God with intimate names.

Do you have particular names that you like to address God? Perhaps the name is a reflection of an experience that you had with God. Saying that name is a reminder of that experience. Please share!

 

Friday, June 24

Read Romans 8:15-17
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!”  it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  and if children, then heirs: heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if we in fact suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

 The last part of verse 15 and verse 16 describes the power of what a name means. Read these Scriptures over slowly again.

“When we cry ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”

Using the name, “Abba, Father” is a description of the relationship that we have with God, the first person of the Trinity. Our identity as children of God or even our identity as disciples is described by the name, “Abba, Father.”

In a way the name, “Abba, Father” is a statement of belief. By saying that name we are claiming that we are children of God.

Try this prayer today:

“Abba, Father, just by saying this name I am claiming my identity as your child. Throughout the day when I talk to you, may your name give me clarity about who I am. In your name I pray, Amen.”

 

Saturday, June 25

Read Genesis 1:1

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,

We end the week with the same Scripture in which we began the week. “In the beginning God.”

As we learned on Monday, the English word, God comes from the Hebrew word, “Elohim.” Many other names for God exist. Knowing these names and using these names when we describe God or talk to God is very important. Sharing the different names of God expands our own understanding of God.

Below are fifteen names from the Scriptures that describe God—Elohim, Eloah, Yahweh, Lord of Hosts, Lord, Adonai, El Shaddai, Creator, Father, Mother, Holy One, Mighty One, Shield, Shepherd, Rock. This list is certainly not exhaustive, but it does give a clear picture of the range of understanding of who God is.

Try an experiment. Take a name and use that name for one day. Perhaps today you could use “Rock” when talking to God. Then tomorrow a different name—perhaps, Shepherd. Then the next day “Shield.” You get the point. You have the possibility of using fifteen names over the course of fifteen days.

Doing this exercise will expand your understanding of who God is. What are your thoughts about trying this? Please share.

Monday, June 13

Read Genesis 33:1-17 

Now Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids. He put the maids with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all. He himself went on ahead of them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near his brother.

But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. When Esau looked up and saw the women and children, he said, “Who are these with you?” Jacob said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” Then the maids drew near, they and their children, and bowed down; Leah likewise and her children drew near and bowed down; and finally Joseph and Rachel drew near, and they bowed down. Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company that I met?” Jacob answered, “To find favor with my lord.” But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.”  Jacob said, “No, please; if I find favor with you, then accept my present from my hand, for truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God, since you have received me with such favor. Please accept my gift that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me and because I have everything I want.” So he urged him, and he took it.

Then Esau said, “Let us journey on our way, and I will go alongside you.”  But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are frail and that the flocks and herds, which are nursing, are a care to me, and if they are overdriven for one day, all the flocks will die.  Let my lord pass on ahead of his servant, and I will lead on slowly, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.”

 So Esau said, “Let me leave with you some of the people who are with me.” But he said, “Why should my lord be so kind to me?”  So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir. But Jacob journeyed to Succoth and built himself a house and made booths for his cattle; therefore the place is called Succoth.

 

Jacob was scared to death to meet Esau.  Esau was Jacob’s older brother.  When both were younger Jacob had stolen Esau’s birth rite and then fled in fear.   Jacob had never spoken to Esau since that incident.

Jacob agonized over meeting Esau.  The night before the meeting he wrestled all night with an angel of God; he sent presents to Esau in advance.  However, Jacob’s fear turned out to be greater than the reality.  Esau was very gracious in meeting Jacob.  Jacob’s advanced fears didn’t turn out.

Often our fears about a situation are much greater than the resulting reality.  When we know we have to disagree with someone, our fears often are much greater than they need to be. 

Healthy Disagreement is an important Core Value at Chain of Lakes.

Do you have a person with whom you are having a disagreement?  Do you have fears about meeting the person?  If so, are your own fears overblown? Without sharing personal names, please share your own story.

 

Tuesday, June 14

Read Matthew 18:15-22
“If your brother or sister sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If you are listened to, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses.  If that person refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church, and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a gentile and a tax collector.  Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if my brother or sister sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

 This passage from Matthew shares an excellent process for approaching someone with whom you have a disagreement.  First go and talk to the person in person.  If that doesn’t work, take another person with you.  If that doesn’t work, let the church—the community of faith know.  If that doesn’t work, then let it go.  The situation is in God’s hands.

Do you have someone with whom you are having a disagreement right now?  Consider visiting that person today!  Or consider contacting the person and setting up an appointment.  What is stopping you from participating in this process outlined in Matthew 18?

Do you have an experience of using this process when you had a disagreement? Without sharing names, please share!

 

Wednesday, June 15

Read Philippians 1:12-26

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually resulted in the progress of the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ,  and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear.

Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry but others from goodwill.  These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel;  the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment.  What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my salvation.  It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way but that by my speaking with all boldness Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me, yet I cannot say which I will choose.  I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better, but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith,  so that, by my presence again with you, your boast might abound in Christ Jesus because of me.

 The letter that Paul wrote to the people in the town of Philippi is often known as the letter of joy.  Joy is the principle theme of the letter.  The word “joy” occurs five times and the verbs “rejoice” and “be glad” occur eleven times.  If you have some time today, read this letter—it would only take about 20 minutes.

That Paul experienced joy is remarkable as he was sitting in jail not knowing if he was going to live or die when he wrote this letter.  Despite being under a death sentence, he wrote of joy.

How can this happen?  Paul was able to look beyond his own self and see how God was working and alive in the circumstances in which he found himself.  Paul saw that his own imprisonment was helping spread the gospel.  Paul was willing to suffer so that people would receive Christ.  This gave him joy.

Joyful Love is an important Core Value at Chain of Lakes Church.

How easy is it for you to look beyond your own self? Do you have a story of when you were able to do this? What happened. Please share.

 

Thursday, June 16

Read Jeremiah 1:4-10

 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy,’ for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”

Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me,
“Now I have put my words in your mouth.
 See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

This passage shares God’s passion for youth.  God didn’t believe that being a young person disqualified a person for service.  God issued a call to Jeremiah even though Jeremiah was a teenager.

This was quite a risk that God took to call Jeremiah. God wanted Jeremiah to share God’s word with the country of Judah. So much was at stake in what God was asking Jeremiah to do.

Jeremiah tried to avoid God’s call by sharing that he was only a youth. (look at verse 6).  Being a young person wasn’t a reason not to receive a call.  Look at what God said in verse 7, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you.”

Over time Jeremiah witnessed the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the terrible exile of the people of Israel. Despite what Jeremiah witnessed, he is still known as one of the most important prophets in the Old Testament.

Investing in Future Generations is an important Core Value at Chain of Lakes.

Do you have a story of seeing a young person being called to do something special? When have you seen youth go above and beyond what you would expect? Please share.

 

Friday, June 17

Read 1 Samuel 3:1-21

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.
At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the 
Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!”] and he said, “Here I am!”  and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down.  The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.”  Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.  The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy.  Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

 Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”  Then the Lord said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end.  For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.  Therefore, I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering forever.”

Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” He said, “Here I am.”  Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.”  So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, “It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.”

 As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.  And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.

Just like in the story of Jeremiah in this story we read a story of a youth who was called by God.  God called Samuel to be his follower.  In his life Samuel went on to help choose Saul and David to be kings—Samuel was one of the most important prophets in the Old Testament.

Not only was Samuel young, he was mentored by an adult.  Look at the start of this story.  “Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli.”  (1 Samuel 3:1)  Samuel received a call from God, but needed Eli to help him know that it was God who was issuing the call.  Samuel couldn’t have known that God was calling him if he hadn’t had Eli.

Do you know of a youth to whom you could be an Eli?  A youth who you could mentor, someone in whom you could take a special interest.  That youth could be a part of Chain of Lakes or the youth could be someone in your neighborhood. 

Think how powerful we at Chain of Lakes would be if every youth had an adult mentor in the church!!

Have you had an experience of mentoring a youth? Please share.

 

Saturday, June 18

Read Matthew 28:16-20

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him, but they doubted.  And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit  and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 This story of the Great Commission is a foundational story of the Bible. These are the final words of Jesus to his followers before Jesus ascended into heaven. Jesus commanded those who were with him to go out into the world and to preach the gospel.

This certainly was an Outward Focus. Jesus didn’t want his followers to keep the message about him to themselves. He wanted his followers to share the message with outsiders.

Having an Outward Focus means we focus on personal needs of people who are not part of our congregation, and focus on community or social needs.

To learn the personal needs of people we need to build a relationship with them. By being in relationship with them we communicate how much we care about them.

The Connection Team has talked about each person at Chain of Lakes inviting four friends to our congregation who are outside of the church.

One step to living out this Core Value is to immediately know of these four friends. Do you have four friends who you consistently invite to Chain of Lakes. Please share.

Monday, June 6

Matthew 28:16-20  Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  When they saw him, they worshiped him, but they doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit  and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

This past Sunday Pastor Paul preached about four Core Values of Chain of Lakes. A Core Value is a principle, quality, belief, and/or attitude that is foundational to our community. It’s worth thinking about the Core Values of Jesus. If you have some extra time today, think about this question, “What is foundational to Jesus?”

One of many foundational teachings from Jesus is this story from Matthew. The church has called this teaching the Great Commission. Jesus shared this teaching with his followers after he had risen from the dead. This teaching is like the last lecture of Jesus.

The Great Commission is something we could study for a long time and still learn something new. One idea from the Great Commission is that of making disciples. Jesus wanted his followers to encourage others to be a disciple.

A disciple is a follower of Jesus. This means putting Jesus first in our life. We want our thoughts and our actions to be consistent with the thoughts and actions of Jesus.

Do you find this foundational teaching of Jesus to be hard or easy to follow? Please share.

 

Tuesday, June 7
Luke 10:25-28 
An expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”  He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself.”  And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

Another foundational teaching of Jesus is in these four verses. People have called this teaching the Great Commandment. In answering a question from a lawyer Jesus taught that to inherit eternal life his followers were to love God with all of their heart, soul, strength, and mind. And they were to love their neighbors as they love themselves.

The word for love, of course, comes from agape. This is a self-sacrificing quality that looks to the interest of others. Jesus wanted his followers to embrace agape love.

How do you want to be known after you pass from this earth? We can have many answers to this question. We might want to be known as someone who loved our family, or a person who had a terrific faith, or someone who accomplished quite a lot.

Jesus taught in this commandment how he wants us to be known. He wants us to be known by agape love.

When people talk about you when you are not present, what do they say? Our hope as disciples or followers of Jesus is that people will say that we love God and that we love our neighbors as we love ourselves. As followers of Jesus we want people to say that we are full of agape.

How hard or easy is it for you to live out agape love? Do you believe that others describe you as someone who is identified as living out agape love? Please share.

 

Wednesday, June 8

John 4:7-15, 27-30 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”  The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?  Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”  The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

      Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?”  Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?”  They left the city and were on their way to him.

One Core Value of Chain of Lakes is Hospitality. We understand it to mean that “We will go out of our way to welcome people as Jesus welcomed them, with an open heart and open arms.”

In this story Jesus welcomed the presence of a Samaritan woman. Normally Jesus would have ignored the woman who was at the well. People would not have been surprised if Jesus had acted this way. But Jesus initiated a conversation with her. It became obvious that Jesus loved this woman and wanted the best for her.

When the disciples arrived at the well they were astonished that Jesus was talking to this woman. We can almost hear the judgment working itself out in their minds. “If Jesus really knew,” we can imagine them thinking, “who he was talking to, he wouldn’t be talking to her.”

Jesus resisted this judgment. He welcomed this woman with an open heart and open arms.

On Sunday Pastor Paul preached on the spiritual energy that happens when people live out hospitality. You can’t be lukewarm towards another person and share hospitality. Hospitality prompts you to look at helping the other person.

What is at stake in living out hospitality? Please share.

 

Thursday, June 9

Romans 12:1-2  I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, on the basis of God’s mercy, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable act of worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Another Core Value of Chain of Lakes is God’s Church. We understand it to mean that “in every decision we seek to discern God’s desire. No leader, person, or ministry is more important than what God wants.”

This Core Value causes us to be a people of discernment. We’re always seeking to discover the will or ways of God—that which is good and acceptable and healthy.

No person or pastor or Presbytery owns the church. God owns the church. People and pastors and the Presbytery have important roles to play, but those roles are subordinate to what God wants.

What is at stake in living out God’s Church? Please share.

 

Friday, June 10

Matthew 13:1-10  That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on a path, and the birds came and ate them up.  Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil.  But when the sun rose, they were scorched, and since they had no root, they withered away.  Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. If you have ears, hear!”  Then the disciples came and asked him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?”

Another Core Value at Chain of Lakes is Relevance. We understand it to mean, “Jesus successfully communicated his message by using examples and symbols of first century culture. We will be open to using examples and symbols of our culture to communicate Jesus’ message.”

By sharing parables Jesus showed his relevance. He wanted to do everything he could to communicate successfully to his followers. Think about the many ways Jesus could have communicated. He could have lectured them on what it means to be a disciple. He could have shared five to ten principles of being a disciple. But Jesus didn’t do this. He shared stories.

Often his stories took real-life situations and people to communicate his message. By sharing parables Jesus illustrated his relevance.

Too often churches are caught in the past. We use old models and methods. We look with scorn on new possibilities. What is the newest Social Media platform? We need to be using it!

What is at stake in living out relevance?

 

Saturday, June 11

Matthew 11:28-30  “Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Another Core Value at Chain of Lakes is Acceptance. We understand it to mean, “We accept people without judgment, regardless of what has happened in their lives or where they are on their faith journeys.”

It is hard to live without judgment. Some of us grew up in families where judgment was normal. Some of us might be in work settings where judgment is expected. We take our own ideas of judgment and place them upon Jesus.

Jesus had expectations of people, but he didn’t judge them according to the ways others expected him to judge. He loved a criminal on the cross; he wanted people who were weary with heavy burdens to come to him. He didn’t ask why the criminal was a criminal or why someone has a heavy burden. He accepted that person.

What is at stake in living out acceptance?

Monday, May 30

Genesis 12:1-3  Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

 This week we have the opportunity to go deeper into the Purpose Statement of Chain of Lakes Church. We will look at certain words and see their importance for our own faith. Whether we are part of Chain of Lakes or not, we can grow in faith this week.

The first word is “call.” The Purpose Statement starts out with the statement “We are called.”

A call is something that God asks people to do. It can be a big thing or a small thing. A call can also be something that relates to our character—something God wants us to work on.

In his sermon this past Sunday Pastor Paul talked about the Inspirational Intersection. This is the intersection between what God wants us to do and be AND what we want to do and be. At this intersection is a place of tremendous energy, imagination, and love.

We could replace the words, ‘We are called’ with ‘We want to live at our Inspirational Intersection.’

Abram received a call from God in this story. He was asked to do something extraordinary. Through his life he was living at his Inspirational Intersection.

Have you had a time in your life when you were at your Inspirational Intersection? A time when you were excited about what you were doing. Every ounce of our being was attentive to the task. When has this happened for you? Please share

 

Tuesday, May 31 
Matthew 23:1-13  Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’s seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it, but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others, but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others, for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long.  They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to have people call them rabbi.  But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers and sisters. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father, the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant.  All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in you stop them.

  Another important word is authentic. At Chain of Lakes God has asked the people to be an authentic, Christian community.

Jesus never used the word “authentic,” but he had opinions about people who didn’t live authentically. He called them hypocrites. He was very critical of the Pharisees and the Scribes—religious leaders who weren’t were not living authentically.

Another way to understand a hypocrite is a “play actor.” Jesus was declaring that the Scribes and the Pharisees were play acting at their faith.

Young people have a high intolerance for hypocrites. In fact one reason they fall away from church is they see people play acting in their faith.

Can you relate to the criticism of Jesus? How hard is it for you to be authentic in your faith? Please share.

 

Wednesday, June 1

Acts 2:37-47   Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.”  And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.  They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Awe came upon everyone because many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common;  they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Another important word in the Purpose Statement is community. We are not called to be a place of individuals who gather. Instead we are called to be a place where individuals form community.

In this story we read of the power of community. People came together and accomplished fabulous things. Awe came upon everyone because of what they saw.

Another word for “awe” is “wow.” When a community is functioning at a high level people say “wow” often.

Can you remember a specific time when you were involved with a community where people often said “wow?” What was happening at that time. Please share.

Thursday, June 2

Deuteronomy 10:17-22  For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing.  You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.  You shall fear the Lord your God; him you shall serve; to him you shall hold fast; and by his name you shall swear.  He is your praise; he is your God who has done for you these great and awesome things that your own eyes have seen.  Your ancestors went down to Egypt seventy persons, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in heaven.

 It’s easy to think that we should be afraid of strangers or ignore them. This passage from Deuteronomy teaches us a different way. God has a particular love for the stranger. God was telling the Israelites that they were strangers in the land of Egypt, and God loved them deeply. Because they were strangers and were loved, they are called to love the stranger.

 This message is consistent with how Jesus acted. Jesus went out of his way to love those who were on the outside of the culture. Jesus had a special place in his heart for the widows and the orphans. He loved the Samaritans and the poor. Jesus loved the stranger.

The beginning focus of Chain of Lakes is the stranger. We are called to go out of our way to love the stranger, to become friends with the stranger. We don’t need to be afraid of the stranger; instead we learn about the stranger when we share love with that person.

Who would you identify as strangers in our community? Who needs special care and attention from a group of followers of Jesus? Please share.

 

Friday, June 3

John 15:12-17   “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.  I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing, but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.  I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

An important word in the Purpose Statement is “friend.” In fact the tagline for Chain of Lakes is “strangers become friends.”

Jesus had plenty to say about being a friend. He talked about the ways people could be a friend with him. He clearly taught in this passage that to be his friend people were called to do what he commanded them. And that command was to love.

To be a friend of Jesus means we love him and we love others.

The Great Commandment is another way to understand what it means to be a friend. Jesus commanded people to love God with our heart, soul, and mind and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This is what it means to be a friend.

The love that Jesus taught was agape love. This is a self-sacrificing, do whatever it takes to help another person type of love. By this people Jesus taught that people were friends.

When newcomers come to a congregation it’s vital that they sense this love. When they sense this love, they will know that they are safe to make friends in the congregation.

 

Saturday, June 4

Acts 4:32-37   Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common.  With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold.  They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.  There was a Levite from Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”). He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

 A significant word in the Purpose Statement is “impact.” The people of Chain of Lakes want to be disciples who impact the world.

We can see impact in this story from Acts. The people have deep love and appreciation for each other. They love each other so deeply that they didn’t even claim private ownership of their possessions. Everything they had was held in common for the good of others.

The important point from this reading is the connection that people had to each other. Because of that connection, an impact was made in the world. This is not the only way to make an impact. But having deep community is one way.

Have you had a time where you’ve felt such a connection in community that an impact was made in the world? If so, please share.

Monday, May 23

Read Matthew 8:1-13

With this being mental health month, it’s important to read and know stories in the gospels that focus on mental health. This week we have that opportunity.

The two people that Jesus healed in these stories were quite different.  The first was a leper.  Lepers were seen as morally unclean.  Their skin disease was seen as a sin.  People were not supposed to touch lepers or they would become unclean.

Jesus was not afraid to cross this boundary.  He was more interested in healing people than following a boundary that separated people.  We might be so familiar with this story that we can’t see the surprising nature of Jesus touching someone who had leprosy. 

In one sense the Roman centurion was a powerful man.  He was a military officer and a Gentile.  He had people under his command.  He was an outsider to the Jewish people.

In another sense the centurion was an outsider to Jesus.  He wasn’t a Jew.  He was part of the hated Romans.

Again, Jesus was willing to cross a boundary to heal this girl.  He didn’t even touch the girl.  He healed her.  Just as important as the healing was Jesus’ willingness to go outside the “respected” circle of people to be a healer.

Have you ever had a time when you had to cross a boundary to share love with someone?

Tuesday, May 24

Read Matthew 8:14-22

This story happened in Capernaum, the fishing village on the northwest side of the Sea of Galilee.  In other gospels the story takes place at the beginning of the gospel. 

We can sense that Jesus wanted to heal people.  He had an orientation of wanting to help.  When Jesus saw Peter’s mother-in-law in bed with a fever, he immediately healed her.  There was a deep compassion inside of Jesus to help.

When we live with compassion we enter into another person’s suffering. We don’t experience that suffering ourselves, but we do our best to understand what the other person is feeling and thinking.

We might not be able to heal people like Jesus, but we can carry this orientation of compassion with us.  When we see someone who is struggling we can immediately try to help.  Our helping comes from our compassionate heart.

Who do you know who is an example of this compassion?

Wednesday, May 25

Read Matthew 8:23-9:1

Jesus showed that he has authority over the wind.  He told the disciples that they need not be afraid.  This message of “do not be afraid” was the same message that angels frequently told the people they encountered.

We can understand the stigma in mental illness in the second story.  The people of the village were probably afraid of the person who suffered from a demon, who was identified as a Gadarene or Gerasene demoniac.  In other gospel versions of the story there was only one person who suffered from a demon. 

The people were probably confused and bewildered by the man’s behavior.  They probably tried to stay away from him.  They shunned him. 

People who suffer from mental illness acknowledge similar treatment from others.  They are shunned and ignored. 

Jesus, of course, was very willing to enter into the person’s problems.  He healed them.

What can you do to help reduce the stigmas that people have about Mental Illness?

 

Thursday, May 26

Read Matthew 9:1-8

When Jesus told the paralytic that his sins were forgiven, he was criticized by the scribes.  The scribes were Jewish leaders of the day.  The focus of the scribes was so wrong!  They were more concerned about a particular point of view than about the possible healing of the man who was paralyzed.

We can lose focus too.  A point of view or an ideology can be more important to keeping and promoting than a life-giving instance of healing.

What if we had an orientation of healing?  Even if we can’t heal people, what if we looked at the world not through an ideology, but with our heart?  Our hearts would leap to want to help someone—no matter what they believed, thought or how they behaved. 

This orientation is an example that Jesus taught.

What would it look like for you to look at the world through the lens of your heart?

 

Friday, May 27

Read Matthew 9:9-26

The woman who suffered from a hemorrhage was an outsider.  She had tried to get medical treatment but had never received any help.  The doctors gave up on her.  The fact that she practically snuck up on Jesus from behind to touch his cloak showed how beaten down she was by the world. She was too beaten down to identify herself to Jesus as needing help.

When Jesus encountered her, he immediately embraced her!  “Take heart, daughter, your faith has made you well.”  Matthew 9:22

These words from Jesus are a prime reason to call him Lord!  He was willing to help people who the rest of the world ignored or couldn’t help.

Do you know of individuals or groups of people who are easily ignored?

 

Saturday, May 28

Read Matthew 9:27-38

Jesus continued to heal people by healing two blind men and a man who was mute.  Like before, these were people who the world ignored.

Jesus concluded these chapters by saying, “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”  Jesus wanted people to be like him.  Even if people didn’t have the power to heal others, he wanted his followers to reach out to people on the margins.

Would you be willing to be a laborer for Jesus?  Would you be a person who responds to folks on the margin with compassion?  A great harvest still exists.  Jesus wants us to be a laborer.

What can you do to help people who live with mental illness?

Monday, May 16
John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it.
When Chain of Lakes enters into its new home, we want it be full of light. Light brings life. We read in John,
“What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:3b-5)
These words from the “Prologue to John” describe a foundation of life. We read about this foundation all throughout the Scriptures. We read about it in Psalm 23:4 when we learn that “even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we fear no evil.” We learn about it on Easter morning when Mary Magdalene went to the tomb to tend to a dead body, but instead discovered that Jesus was alive.
The relationship between light and darkness is not only a physical relationship. It is a spiritual relationship. “Even though” we go through hard times or see people suffer, the promise of light is that these hard times and suffering won’t last. The light can be muted for a while, but it can’t be extinguished. This spiritual reality defines the belief system of a disciple.
Reflect today on how you have internalized for yourself this spiritual message. Even though pain and darkness can come, to what extent do you have faith that the light will ultimately come?
 
Tuesday, May 17
Psalm 4:6-7 There are many who say, “O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!” You have put gladness in my heart more than when their grain and wine abound.
In a number of different places in the Old Testament we read about the shining face of God. If you have some extra time, read Numbers 6:22-26, Psalm 31:4-6, Psalm 80:3, and Psalm 89:15.
When Chain of Lakes enters into its new home, we want the face of God to shine among people.
The face of God is a metaphor for God’s light. We don’t think that God has a face, but we can imagine God’s face shining light.
When a person has a sense of peace, we can literally see light shining in the person. The person’s expression shares light and energy, and ultimately peace.
The light of God’s face is not a physical light—it’s deeply spiritual. As you pray today, ask that the light of God’s face might be with you. Look for that light in other people’s faces. Pay attention to when you see this light.
 
Wednesday, May 18
Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
When Chain of Lakes enters into its new building, we want God’s light to give each person who enters the building a sense of confidence. This is what the writer of Psalm 27:1 was communicating.
God’s light gives us an assurance that we can’t receive from any other place. This light gives us a confidence, a sense of peace, and the reality of connection.
Even if we have moments of being afraid, we do not have to fear. These moments of being afraid are temporary and aren’t necessarily long-lasting. God’s light leads us to a far different place.
We can see the relationship of God’s light and joy. One definition of joy is “letting God’s light shine with us.” When this happens, we enter a different realm. It’s a place of inner peace and serenity.
Today pray that you have confidence that these moments of being afraid won’t last for you. Pray that you can have this type of confidence.
 
Thursday, May 19
Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. People do not light a lamp and put it under the bushel basket; rather, they put it on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
We want our new church building to be known as the light of the world.
In his most famous sermon Jesus said, “you are the light of the world.” The you in this phrase is plural. One way to interpret this is to say that communities of people reflect God’s light.
Faith communities can be known for this light—really it is a spiritual energy. When people come into contact with the community they sense that something is different about this place. Often in the first minute of a visit, people can get this impression of energy. Even if a person experiences a faith community in an on-line setting a person can get this sense of energy.
Today as you pray, pray that congregations will be known as communities of light. Pray that Chain of Lakes Church will be known as a congregation of light. This spiritual energy can last with a person for a very long time.
 

Friday, May 20

John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
Seven times in the gospel of John, Jesus made an “I am” statement. These I am statements share the identity of Jesus. These seven statements are worth knowing.
“I am the bread of life.” (John 6:35)
“I am the gate for the sheep.” (John 10:7,9)
“I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25)
“I am the good shepherd.” (John 10:11, 14).
“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)
“I am the true vine.” (John 15:1, 5)
And today we read that Jesus said,
“I am the light of the world” (John 8:12)
Followers of Jesus Christ are looking to be led by this light. It’s the light of life and love and wholeness.
Sometimes people make faith to be much more complicated than it really is. To know Jesus is to be willing to be led by this light. It’s a light that always shines in the darkness.
Recommit yourself to this light today. Pray that you can be on the lookout for this light.
 
Saturday, May 21
Revelation 22:1-5 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month, and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
The last chapter of the Bible is similar to the first chapter of the Bible in that light appears. In the Creation story we read that God said, “let there be light.” This was a physical light. These verses from Revelation say that God will be the light of all people and that this light will never be extinguished.
These verses are a description of heaven.
When people have near-death experiences, they often remark how they saw a light. This light is wonderful and beautiful and very inviting.
This light is a profoundly spiritual illustration of God’s Kingdom.
Today as you pray, pray for the light of the Kingdom in our new church building. Pray that heaven can indeed come to earth. And that when heaven comes to earth the words of this last chapter of the Bible will come true.

 

“HOME, Building Spiritual Connections” Devotion

by Pastor Paul Moore

Deuteronomy 14:22-29

“Set apart a tithe of all the yield of your seed that is brought in yearly from the field.  In the presence of the Lord your God, in the place that he will choose as a dwelling for his name, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, your wine, and your oil, as well as the firstlings of your herd and flock, so that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. But if, when the Lord your God has blessed you, the distance is so great that you are unable to transport it, because the place where the Lord your God will choose to set his name is too far away from you, then you may turn it into money. With the money secure in hand, go to the place that the Lord your God will choose; spend the money for whatever you wish: oxen, sheep, wine, strong drink, or whatever you desire. And you shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your household rejoicing together.  As for the Levites resident in your towns, do not neglect them, because they have no allotment or inheritance with you.

“Every third year you shall bring out the full tithe of your produce for that year and store it within your towns;  the Levites, because they have no allotment or inheritance with you, as well as the resident aliens, the orphans, and the widows in your towns, may come and eat their fill so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work that you undertake.

As we near the end of the “HOME, Building Spiritual Connections” campaign, let me share a bit of my story regarding my views of tithing.

I’ve attended church my entire life. I’ve heard many sermons on stewardship and giving of money. Most of them were very well done. I really enjoy hearing people give sermons on money. The topic Jesus talked about the most was money. The giving of money mattered to Jesus.

When I was in college, I made the decision to give back a tithe of everything I received. In one sermon I heard, a pastor shared that God is the owner of everything we have. This made sense to me. God has given me the gifts that I have. When I use my gifts with my family, or in my work, or in the community the source of what I have is God. God created me, God sustains me, God leads me, God inspires me. I belong to God.

Keeping ninety percent of the money I have earned and giving back ten percent makes sense to me. Since God owns what I have earned, keeping ninety percent seems to be a very good deal.

My first job after college I worked for the farm workers in California. I lived in community, was given gas for my car, and received $32.50 a week. I gave back $3.25. I have kept the habit of tithing ever since.

I don’t think there is anything magical about giving away ten percent.  Jesus was critical of people who gave a tithe and looked to receive credit for their giving from others. I don’t think we earn extra favor from God from tithing, and I certainly don’t believe that we earn salvation through a tithe. At Chain of Lakes we communicate that no one receives special treatment because of financial giving. I don’t expect special treatment from anyone for giving a tithe, and I only share my own story of tithing as a reflection of what I think God asks of us.

When I met Amy and we decided to get married, I told her that I wanted us to tithe.  Actually this was non-negotiable for me, but Amy had no problem in agreeing to tithe. We give part of our tithe to Chain of Lakes and the church Amy serves; we give some of it to other organizations in the community whose purpose fits our beliefs. Amy & I receive so much joy in giving money away.

Every morning that I pray I give thanks to God for my family’s financial situation. I am very aware that if the world was lined up by net worth, my family would probably be in the top ten percent of that line. In this area we are middle-class. In terms of the world, we are rich.

I’ve never thought about what I could do with the money I have given away in my lifetime. My only regret is I haven’t given more money away.

I encourage people to give a tithe. Certainly it’s terrific when the church has enough resources to do ministry. But there is a deeper point to tithing. When we give a tithe, we are making a spiritual commitment to God. We are saying that God has blessed us with resources—even $32.50 a week! I get to keep ninety percent of those. This is the least I can do for God.

If you don’t tithe, try it—I think you’ll like it!

“HOME, Building Spiritual Connections” Devotion
by Nancy Amundsen
1 John 4:12 NIV: No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
I was raised in a Christian home with loving parents. I remember them sitting in the kitchen reading the Bible together and how comforting that was. I would have to say I have always believed in God but didn’t always listen. My siblings and I were always taught not to judge people by who they are on the outside, but to get to know the person they are inside because we haven’t walked in their shoes. We were often reminded that the most important things we needed to do throughout our lives were to love God and love people and to give without expecting anything in return. That is how generosity was taught in our home.

Many years ago, I read an article in Readers Digest talking about the importance of starting conversations with people we don’t know. It said that no matter who we are speaking to, there is something we can learn from them that we don’t know. My husband Kevin and I often do this when we travel and have learned so much from so many people. So many of them were just so happy to have someone to talk to. Even if someone seems to be in a bad mood, just ask them if they are okay. They might just need you to care. It is such a joy to meet new people at Chain of Lakes where strangers really do become friends!
One of the things I love about Chain of Lakes is our value of acceptance, “We accept people without judgement, regardless of what has happened in their lives or where they are on their faith journeys.” We all have our “scars” from bad choices and experiences in our lives. I know there are definitely times when I wasn’t listening to God and made bad choices but that is another story for another time. The great thing is that God is always there, waiting patiently, to lift us up and help us get back on the path he has for us. The people of Chain of Lakes have been there to lift others who are feeling bruised and broken and say, “It’s okay, we’ve got you.” We have been able to help many in the community who just needed someone to care.

I have a favorite prayer that has helped me through some of the difficult times:
Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Amen
“HOME, Building Spiritual Connections” Devotion
by Amanda Serfling
Hebrews 10:35-36 “Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
There was a time in my life when I felt extremely confident in my God. I had been to Bible School, taken hours and hours of theology courses, and I set my course to work in ministry full time. I was a lover of learning, and the deeper I dived into the Bible, the more questions I had. The more questions I had, the more there was to learn. This rhythm of seeking and asking was the pulse of my faith and growth as a Christian. Eventually I began serving in ministry and traveling all over the world serving the poor and teaching others about Jesus. It was incredible.
Then one day, everything changed. I had been in a terrible earthquake overseas and the devastation and loss of life was catastrophic. It was the worst thing I had ever experienced. Though many said it was a “miracle I survived” and they “praised God for sparing my life”, I was left with so many questions. “How could this happen? Why didn’t God do more to help? Who is God really, and can I trust him?” Eventually, there were no answers that sufficed and somewhere, I lost my rhythm. Rather than finding comfort and confidence in my relationship with God, I found confusion and fear. God wasn’t who I had thought he was, my confidence was rocked.
That event happened more than ten years ago. I have been on the long journey of deconstructing and reconstructing my faith over the past several years. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve had to let go of a lot of the things I thought I knew so well. The one truth that I have been able to hold onto is that God never leaves me. My confidence is not in my knowledge, but in His presence. He is faithful.
I once heard it said that. “Those who are looking for truth, are really looking to see what (or who) can be trusted”. Finding a spiritual community and church home at Chain of Lakes has given me a safe place to not only navigate my faith but to be brave and trust again. To trust a faith community, to trust myself and to trust God.
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, thank you for your kindness and patience towards us, as we try so hard to discern what is true and who can be trusted. Help us to trust you in our uncertainties, and find safety in your presence. Let all who come to our faith community experience your love and acceptance, wherever they are in their walk with you.” Amen
“HOME, Building Spiritual Connections” Devotion
by Kathy Brevig
Romans 12: 4-5: For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.
“Why do I need to go to church? I can be a good person, a spiritual person, on my own.” That’s what I told myself for many years. After my divorce, God gently guided me towards community, starting with the support of quilting friends, up-north cabin friends, then the wonderful women at Clearwater Chrysalis. Oak Grove Presbyterian Church, my childhood church, was next, but more than 30 minutes from my home. Oak Grove introduced me to one of their guest preachers, Pastor Paul Moore. His church was just four miles from my home, so when he invited me to visit Chain of Lakes Church, I did. It was a storefront church! Between a dance studio and Doug’s Power Equipment! I almost didn’t go in, but I’m so glad I took a leap of faith, got out of the car, and entered into a community that has changed my life.
 
It’s a community that has helped me grow in faith, grow in love. I first volunteered for the cleaning team, and still serve on that team and look forward to seeing them each week. Then I volunteered to help in the office, and that led to being hired as the church administrator! Amazing! I love being part of a church that is so active in the greater community. The Holy Spirit has guided me into friendships with young adults I would never have met if not for Chain of Lakes. Their friendship and that of so many others has enriched my life immeasurably. Often during worship services the love and presence of the Holy Spirit is so strong that I feel lifted and so blessed! How wonderful to soon have a home church building that won’t cause people to hesitate to enter because of its location. It will beckon to all with an aura of love.
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for the gift of community. Please help me be a blessing to the Chain of Lakes Church community, and guide Chain of Lakes Church to be a blessing to the greater community. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen
“HOME, Building Spiritual Connections” Devotion
by Gloria Ivers
Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”
This is how I experience the stillness of God inside of me. It is the same way I experience Love and Joy in my heart, soul, body, mind and eventual actions. It often happens when I am praying for someone or something that means a lot to me. A smile of love will start in my heart and before long I can feel the smile on my face and it spreads to my whole being. It feels like the Holy Spirit is with me and we are connected in God’s love, and I know I am not alone. I feel God’s energy within me and spreading out on everyone and everything. We are all connected to one another with the Holy Spirit within us. This makes my heart smile and soften and I feel the peace of Christ’s love fill my whole being! Wow… love is everywhere and I know it is inside of me.
If and when I start feeling disconnected or alone, I just have to remember to go within where God is, and everything I need is there, recently I found God’s holiness there. We come from a long line of holiness. God wants us to be holy. To be holy means you are in God’s presence.
This is what I am feeling at Chain of Lakes Church. We are coming to be a Holy presence in our new neighborhood.
Yay God! This is so exciting because the world needs to experience God’s love and I see everyone who comes in our doors, both bring blessings and leave with blessings, blessings of God’s love and holiness as we learn to love and care about one another.
Prayer: “Dear God, I love you and I thank you and I am so grateful that when I start to feel alone, or have questions, I can always come to You and there You are. May everyone come to know your Holy Spirit is right there within them, just a thought away.” Amen
Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God”.
I found God in the stillness and I believe you have also, or can.
“HOME, Building Spiritual Connections” Devotion
by Heather Butterfield
1 Chronicles 29:1-20 Then King David said to the whole assembly: “My son Solomon, the one whom God has chosen, is young and inexperienced. The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for man but for the Lord God. With all my resources I have provided for the temple of my God—gold for the gold work, silver for the silver, bronze for the bronze, iron for the iron and wood for the wood, as well as onyx for the settings, turquoise, stones of various colors, and all kinds of fine stone and marble—all of these in large quantities. Besides, in my devotion to the temple of my God I now give my personal treasures of gold and silver for the temple of my God, over and above everything I have provided for this holy temple: three thousand talents of gold (gold of Ophir) and seven thousand talents of refined silver, for the overlaying of the walls of the buildings, for the gold work and the silver work, and for all the work to be done by the craftsmen. Now, who is willing to consecrate themselves to the Lord today?”
Then the leaders of families, the officers of the tribes of Israel, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of the king’s work gave willingly. They gave toward the work on the temple of God five thousand talents and ten thousand darics of gold, ten thousand talents of silver, eighteen thousand talents of bronze and a hundred thousand talents of iron. Anyone who had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the temple of the Lord in the custody of Jehiel the Gershonite. The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly.
David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.
“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. Lord, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep these desires and thoughts in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you. And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, statutes and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.”
Then David said to the whole assembly, “Praise the Lord your God.” So they all praised the Lord, the God of their fathers; they bowed down, prostrating themselves before the Lord and the king.
Devotion: I recently read the above verses in 1 Chronicles about building the temple and thought it was perfect for us at Chain of Lakes since we are in the middle of building right now! I love that verses 10 – 13 are part of the Lord’s Prayer which we pray every Sunday. I am glad that is one of our church body traditions that brings us together! I also love that God and his greatness, power, wealth and might are the focus, not the building. Everything is his and he shares with us. Since he is so generous with us, we can be generous back to him with a heart of love and thanksgiving. In humility, King David thanked God for choosing him and choosing the people of Israel. With joy, integrity, willingness, and generosity, they built a temple for God’s Holy Name. Likewise, we also humbly, with joy, want to thank God for choosing us to be his children and for this opportunity to build a home where he can be worshiped and from where we can minister to the surrounding community.
Prayer: “Lord, as King David prayed that the people would have wholehearted devotion to you and your commands, the greatest of which are to love you with all our soul, heart, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves, we pray that you would help us to love you, be faithful to you, and to love our neighbors, strangers, and even our enemies. Help us to be faithful as you are faithful and please forgive us our sins. In Jesus’s holy and mighty name.” Amen
“HOME, Building Spiritual Connections” Devotion
by Richard Pederson
Luke 10:27 “He answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself”
The answer to Jesus was from an “expert in the law” who asked Jesus “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus asked him what is in the law? After the man’s answer (Luke 10:27), Jesus said: “Do this and you will live.” When the man asked: “and who is my neighbor?” Jesus told the Parable of the Good Samaritan who cared for a person who had been robbed and left by the side of the road. Two people had passed him by, but the Samaritan took him where he could recover and paid for his stay. Often Jesus demonstrated that everyone is our neighbor, and our mission is to help our neighbors in need. He healed the sick, cast out demons, even restored life. His message was that we reach out to our neighbors, feeding, clothing and caring for those in need. This message is crucial to the mission of Chain of Lakes Church and very much a part of my life.
I was born in Minneapolis, 2ndof six children and moved in 2nd grade to a farm. Most memories are about farm work and social life in school with small classes and church where I knew everyone (mostly white, northern European protestants). I did hear about hunger, homelessness, slums, racial tensions, distant wars, our civil war, slavery, divorce, famine, etc. But I had no personal experience with distant neighbors and world needs. Following high school in 1960, I was married, had three children, earned an MA and taught on a college campus during the turbulent sixties. I then was a social worker in a youth treatment center for 34 years. I could not ignore world troubles and I became involved in causes to help our neighbors.
Teaching and modeling by parents, preachers, teachers and friends was primary to development of my faith. First memories of God, Jesus and Holy Spirit were provided by my parents with daily family devotions, prayer at meals and bedtime and weekly Church services. Sunday school was warmly anticipated. I loved Bible stories. At Christmas we read the Christmas story, sang carols, then opened presents. Although I generally met parent expectations, I did have questions about my faith. I wasn’t so sure about those Bible Stories. I wasn’t convinced by answers to my questions. I did believe in Heaven, that Christ lived and died for us and in living a Christian Life. I prayed faithfully. Yet, I kept waiting to be swept away by a spiritual conversion which never happened. I did experience receiving messages from God about my life and it felt like I was doing the will of the Lord, but at other times I felt like I was not following Christ. During college there were questions, but my faith increased. A professor was an important influence. He took time to talk with me about what I believed, how that impacted my life, deciding my major and plans following graduation. We also talked about my relationship with God and how that impacted plans. My church, pastor, friends, parents and family were crucial. Most importantly, my wife for 60 years gave me the support to continue growth in my faith. We didn’t talk a lot about our faith, but we tried to live it. Through all of the lows and highs of our relationship, raising three children, balancing budgets, we grew our relationship with God.
Sharon and I were searching for a new church home when we visited Chain of Lakes Church in 2017. It quickly became clear that we wanted to keep coming. What we experienced was a warm, loving, giving atmosphere. Sermons were scripture based, but clearly related to our everyday experiences with a major emphasis on acceptance of “everyone”. The congregation was excited about exploring ways we could “Live the Gospel”. We would have many opportunities to help those in need. A focus then and still is on funding ways to reduce homelessness and hunger in the community. We have been impressed by the willingness of Chain of Lakes disciples to give abundantly to any cause that is identified as a need in the community.
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, thank you for the opportunity to worship with members of Chain of Lakes. They have modeled generosity to neighbors in need. Please help us to continue finding ways to support Your mission to connect with neighbors in the community and meet their spiritual needs.” Amen
“HOME, Building Spiritual Connections” Devotion
by Ivy Cavegn
Micah 6:8 And what does the LORD require of you but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
I read this verse many years ago and it became my mantra. It’s the measuring stick by which I gauge my actions. Am I acting justly? Are my actions and interactions merciful? Do I walk through life with humility alongside my God?
Micah was a minor prophet, a contemporary of Isaiah. He was fearful for his people as he witnessed the hateful injustices around him, especially the oppression of the poor. He warned them that their sacrifices raised up in smoke on altars were not going to save them from the wrath of God. Only justice, mercy and humility would bring them in right relationship with the Lord.
This seems like a simple enough recipe for life. But I have found it is not. Ego gets in the way of so much of what we know we should be doing. Our interests, our desires, our happiness too often take precedence. If the needs of others get in the way of what we have determined to be OUR needs, we step back, recalculate, renegotiate, rethink if and how we want to proceed. Too often there is a lack of justice, mercy and humility in our final decision.
I have found this happens in very subtle ways. Do I really need that stunning pair of red shoes? Yes, I decide, though I know my charitable contributions are on the light side. Should I go see that film tomorrow afternoon or visit my neighbor who I know can use a little companionship? I opt for the movie as I’ve been wanting to see it for weeks. Should I call my sister who I haven’t talked to in months? Well, it’s her turn to call me! Yes, I’ve said that. These seem like minor things, but each time we are pulled in these directions, we are pulled further from what God has told us is good.

I have a short prayer that begins each of my days: “Lord, place me where I need to be today in the way you need me to be there.” It is my simple request that I serve Him and others with mercy, justice and humility. And I believe that simple request has placed me and my husband in the Chain of Lakes church community. We see here the response to the Lord’s call to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
“HOME, Building Spiritual Connections” Devotion
by Allen Mavis
The scripture I chose is Matthew 25:14-30 concerning the use of talents and money. Specifically, verse 18 “But he who had received the one talent, went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.” Reading this verse always makes me think of the fact that we can do this same thing with our own skills. We can take what we are good at, and bury it inside of us, not sharing it and using it for the good of others. This idea has certainly guided me both in my career and in music. But perhaps most profoundly, that idea has turned into its own lighthouse for me as Chain of Lakes church has become a home.
The truth is that the acceptance and grace I have felt since coming to Chain of Lakes has opened me up to the holy Spirit guiding, speaking, and pushing me towards using what I have to give for a purpose greater than myself.
Now teaching and music have always been central to me as vocations, but God has been navigating those two things together in such a powerful way that, I feel playing praise message music without sharing it, without being a conduit for others to experience the goodness of God seems wrong and selfish. I did start the planting of a volunteer music ministry about a decade ago, but for various reasons, God said I wasn’t ready. What he put in my path instead was the opportunity to teach young adults; and in teaching, I learned what he needed me to learn so that I am now ready!
So very simply; Chain of Lakes has been a huge catalyst in bringing my faith and calling to another level. And especially in these hard world times, it has been a shelter and a mentor!
Prayer: “God, grant us the ability and desire to use our skill gifts to the glory of Heaven. As there is so much that we can offer to each other Lord, don’t let us hide our skills from others. Instead, unlock our skills from all that hold us back so that we can use them in community!” Amen
“HOME, Building Spiritual Connections” Devotion
by Jan Boehm
Genesis 12:1-3 “Blessed to be a Blessing”The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse, and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
I have been involved in the church my entire life. Growing up I received years and years of perfect Sunday School attendance awards and beginning in Junior High School I began playing the church organ once a month at the Anthon Methodist Church. After my husband, John, and I settled in Ankeny, Iowa, we got involved with the Ankeny First United Methodist Church. It seemed that whenever I was ready to add more to my plate, an opportunity would present itself at the church. First as organist, then as children’s choir director, youth choir director and orchestra director. Finally, the position of Worship Director presented itself and I was ready for the challenge.
 
After 15 years at this full-time position, I decided to step down, slow down, and spend more time with my husband, children and grandchildren. I didn’t vanish completely, as I still participated with the praise team occasionally. Our retirement together, however, was short-lived as John developed a rare blood disease and after a stem-cell transplant succumbed to the disease.
 
With my children and grandchildren all living in the Twin Cities area there was now a push to move me closer to them, and before a year had passed, I had moved to Blaine…one week before the COVID shut-down. It was a move I needed to make, but it wasn’t an easy decision, as I loved my acreage, my neighbors and my church family. I was subbing in the Ankeny elementary schools and giving piano lessons. I was lunching with my friends and was comforted by friends and family during this first year as a widow. I was only 2 ½ hours from my aging father. Moving would take that all away and I would be starting over.
 
After moving to Blaine, I decided to ride my bicycle around The Lakes, where I live, and explore my new neighborhood. I came upon this vacant lot where a church was to be built. The website was colpres.org. Growing up Methodist I brushed it off. Then I started visiting Blaine church websites and attending worship on-line. Having retired from a large church, I decided I wanted to find a smaller church home. Then I saw a question on The Lakes Facebook page asking for opinions on a church gym vs. church multi-use space. Since one of our church sites in Ankeny was geared toward sports ministry which included a gym, I put in my two-cents worth. The next day I received a call from Pastor Paul and we visited for over an hour. He invited me to join his small group via Zoom. I was still “church-surfing” but found myself coming back to Chain of Lakes. I started volunteering at Hope for the Community Food Distribution Site where I met several Chain of Lakes disciples. Finally, Pastor Paul asked if he could visit with me again, this time in person. About that time, I was beginning to miss being a part of a praise team and was prepared to tell him I wanted to be a part of the music at Chain of Lakes. However, by the end of our conversation I was pretty sure I had a job as the new quarter-time music director! Once again, when I was ready to share my gifts, there was a church who needed these gifts. While I’m often told I am a blessing to this church, I am also blessed. Blessed to have found a new church home and family! And blessed to again be leading worship to God!
Prayer: Father God: You placed me in a place where I was needed and I needed to be. Thank you for giving me the gift of music and the passion to share this gift with all who will listen. You have also given me so many gifted friends who like to play and sing with me in church. I have truly been blessed beyond measure! Amen.
“HOME, Building Spiritual Connections” Devotion
by Chris Audet
I Corinthians 12:27 “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
Earlier in Chapter 12, Paul discusses how a body is made up of many parts, and the function of the body depends on them being different from each other and working together. A body doesn’t work if every part is trying to be an ear or a toe! Here’s a story about how I found my “part.”
I grew up going to church with my family, attending a conservative school held at our nondenominational charismatic church. I believed in God from an early age, and it was hard to imagine anything else—I was pretty sheltered until I went to college. But in my teens and early twenties, it was harder for me to feel at home at any church, and I mostly stopped going except when I visited my parents.
I connected with Chain of Lakes in 2012 through some long-time friends who had started coming, and joined in helping lead music once a month. I was made to feel welcome, and it finally seemed like a place where it mattered when I showed up. About 18 months later, I was going through a major change—the end of my marriage because I was gay. I had been raised to believe that being gay was wrong, and I knew I my choices to act on my feelings had hurt my spouse deeply.
I needed to talk to someone, and reached out to Pastor Paul to tell him my story. He listened and shared that he supported both of us. I took that lifeline of friendship, and his recommendation of a counselor. I really needed to figure out where to go next. Based on how I was raised, it felt that I had to choose between being Christian or being fully myself. I confessed the whole story with my family, and while they said they loved me, they didn’t believe that being gay was okay. It was a very painful time, like being torn in two.
The licensed counselor helped me navigate my way to a new understanding—taking responsibility for my past actions, but also facing the truth of who I am. This was what it meant for me to be a person of integrity. Being a “people-pleaser” for years had led me to put up a facade that would always disappoint. I had to accept the Body-Part that I am!
I decided to come out (slowly and carefully), and was welcomed and embraced by nearly everyone at church. When I brought a boyfriend to church, he was welcomed too. We were supported and encouraged as a couple, and welcomed into leadership at Chain of Lakes. And we were the first couple to be married at Chain of Lakes, in 2019.
Not everyone agrees with my conclusion, and that’s okay; but I was able to move forward in life, in fellowship and in spiritual development because this church focuses on what brings us together, not where we disagree. May we all remember the good doctor’s words:
Luke 6:37-38 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Campaign Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you for all the ways you have blessed us. Through your guidance we have become a community of people who build spiritual connections through love, compassion, and acceptance for others. Through your gifts we have been empowered to make an impact both within and beyond this congregation. Help us to glorify you by continuing to welcome strangers with open arms and give with open hands with great faith in the plans that you have for us and the surrounding community.
In Christ’s name we pray, Amen
“HOME, Building Spiritual Connections” Devotion
by Melanie Vosdingh
Romans 12: 6 – 8 We have different gifts according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is…”
In recent years, as things have drastically changed (multiple times) in my life, I have learned that the gifts we are given, by the grace of God, change as our seasons and situations of life change. And that building is always a journey and never a destination.
As we build “our house”, I find it important to settle ourselves first (as is referenced in Psalms 131) and to be grateful even when we have more strife than we think we deserve.
What others recognize as your spiritual gifts may be what they need to form or complete one voice. It is important to know what your true and real gifts are so that you can give them “cheerfully” as is stated in Romans 12:8.
Prayer: “We pray for guidance that the Holy Spirit is present as we “build our house” and come together using our active gifts to be one voice – cheerfully!” Amen
“HOME, Building Spiritual Connections” Devotion
by Doreen Sampson
For decades I had very long commutes to my work. I relied heavily on the numerous car radio stations to keep me entertained and pass the time in traffic. I listened to and embraced nearly all available stations on my dash. I found myself often channel surfing so that I had variety in the types of music and talk chatter. There was one station though that I NEVER EVER listened to. EVER. During an extremely troubling time at my job when I arrived in the parking lot after that long commute, I’d shut off the radio and pray in silence. I’d pray for that day, that I could be motivated, that I could cope and that I could do my work to the best of my ability and that I’d be in a peaceful atmosphere serving our customers. Or something like, “Dear Lord, help me get through this day!” This became a prayer or a plea most mornings. Then one day during my morning drive and my usual radio channel surfing I actually stopped on that station that I ALWAYS bypassed. And I listened. And I kept listening. It was KTIS, the local worship music station. That was the beginning of a love for that prayerful, rich music. Sometimes a lyric was familiar from verses in the Bible. I could never really explain why or what made me WANT to stop and listen to that music. It continued to be a part of my daily drive. I had no explanation. I eventually realized that it was God’s presence! God was showing up to answer my prayers for peacefulness. That music helped start my workday with more positivity and less dread. Today, I still listen to radio worship music especially as a break from the trouble that surrounds us.
Philippians 4:5-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I have experienced God’s presence during the ministry at Chain of Lakes. Sometimes it’s from a powerful message from Pastor Paul. Other times it’s from the melodies or voices that provide our praise music during services. We’ve had a variety of music worship leaders, music styles, instruments and participants. Each experience is unique. There are times that I get a feeling of spirit filled warmth flowing to and through me. Kind of like goose bumps. Other times it can be moist eyes as my ears take it all in. I also observe how others are moved by the joyous sounds which make them sway, sing and lift up to God. Then I see we all have a worship unison. It’s like a cozy blanket of prayers that you want to hold tightly and not let go of. It can also be felt as a congregational energy that is really a buzz. This is the invisible yet certain presence of God.
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, Thank you! We are grateful that your love fills our vessels each week as our Chain of Lakes congregation unites to honor you. We pray that when we feel weak, strengthen us. When we are anxious, calm our storms. When we are uncertain of our direction, lead us to that guidepost of peace. Lord, continue to assist us to grow in spirit, faithfulness and deeds.” Amen

Jeremiah 29-11 “for I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

This scripture has been ever present as I began my faith journey. Growing up I was taught religion, but from so many viewpoints I was often lost in the true meaning and others interpretation or use of religion. It often left me confused, angry and frustrated. I knew in my heart there was a higher power but struggled with the many differing interpretations of the Bible.

In my young adult life, 16 to 24, I struggled with many things. I had been abandoned by so many people who I thought were supposed to be there to care for me, and did not have an attachment with a parent who would love me unconditionally. Everyone I loved somehow managed to be ripped from me or betray me.

I grew up believing I probably wouldn’t live past 25 and had little faith in who I was or in ever being anyone. I went through a very dark period of my life. I was in a relationship with someone who promised to love me and be my family and take care of me. I gave him everything I had, literally and spiritually. He betrayed me and I betrayed my own beliefs and values. I did not have family I could turn to, or anyone else, as he had groomed me and separated me from anyone close to me. I spent the next several years of my life being sex trafficked. I survived in fear and began an understanding of our basic need for survival and how desperate and displaced that can be. I turned to alcohol and drugs to numb any feeling I had. I tried to get out several times but somehow always ended up in the same situation.

I felt that God was always calling to me, but he was not someone I could reach. I can name countless times he was there for me in times I should have been dead. I began to believe he did truly have a plan for me. Though I was suffering, there were so many people who touched my life. For everything there is a purpose no matter how dark and evil. I know I could not do the work I do today or come close to understanding the pain and torment so many people in our society endure. We often look at others with disdain and fear because of their situations, though they are often through no fault of their own. If your circumstances were the same, who is to say what choices you might make to survive. God had a plan for me and though it was painful it made me a better person.

When I was saved it was such a surreal moment and I knew that it was beyond anything that I could make sense of. It was Father’s Day and I had been trying to quit drugs and get out of the life, living in another state but traveling to work in other cities/states a week out of the month and then return to my miserable existence. It was on the last of these journeys, I truly could not go. The thought of it made me sick to my stomach and I know someone was praying for me at that moment. I had so many strange and odd experiences I don’t think most would believe me, but it felt like it all had purpose, like I had a purpose. I reached out to my father, and he delivered. It was not easy, as I boarded the plane with nothing but the clothes on my back. I was anxious, sad, numb but joyful as I knew that I had a choice. God had given me a choice at that moment, to be who I had determined I would be – dying at the age of 25, or to live the life he intended for me. I chose to stop living in fear and live the life he intended. The journey ahead was not easy, at the age of 24 starting all over again. There are many things I relearned and many more I have learned to forgive and forget. What I do know is that even in those darkest moments God had a plan for me. It is amazing the things God puts in our lives to test us and to give us strength and hope. I truly believe that to everything there is a purpose.

When I came to Chain of Lakes it was, remarkably, Mother’s Day. I had been searching for a church in the area and came upon the signs for COL. I journeyed in with my older sister who has helped me in the darkest times. What I found was a warm, welcoming, calm environment. For once in my adult life, I did not feel judged as I stepped through the door, the place did not light on fire (lol) and I felt welcomed.

What I have found in feeling judged most of life, I have learned to judge others above me.

It is something that I struggle to let go of. I love my work “calling” and I feel comfortable in my clients’ presence. I can relate to many of their stories. What I often find I cannot relate to is the stories of people with loving mothers, fathers, families with a sense of normalcy. I have learned to not judge them in return. God has taught me that we all have stories no matter how small or big they make us who we are and the path we are meant to be. I continue to grow in my understanding of a higher power and God’s teachings. I find all religions have a purpose and your beliefs may be central to who you are within his purpose for your life.

At Chain of Lakes, I have found a loving family that cares for each other and gives each other hope and faith and extends that to the community. They give without expectation and embrace all those around them. Even in struggles they may not understand, they recognize their need to grow and reach out to understand and teach others. That is growing up!

Prayer: “Lord bless all those on this journey of love and faith. Continue to walk with us and beside us in our most dark moments to the times of exuberant joy. Continue to lead us on a path of understanding and love. Heal us from our transgressions and help us to understand and love all unconditionally despite their circumstances. Remove our judgement and replace it with compassion and understanding, and a willingness to learn from others different from ourselves. Thank you, time and time again, for carrying us through our darkest moments and giving us hope and a future. Thank you for loving us unconditionally.” Amen

Today, Sunday, April 24, Chain of Lakes Church is launching a second Capital Campaign, called “HOME, Building Spiritual Connections.” Starting tomorrow, Monday, some of the disciples at Chain of Lakes will share devotions, many of them celebrating spiritual connections. These devotions will take the place of Pastor Paul’s devotions Monday – Friday for the next three weeks. Prepare to be moved and inspired! The Capital Campaign Leadership Team thanks everyone who shared their very personal and uplifting faith stories, and would like to offer the Campaign Prayer:
Heavenly Father, we thank you for all the ways you have blessed us.
Through your guidance we have become a community of people who build spiritual connections through love, compassion, and acceptance for others. Through your gifts we have been empowered to make an impact both within and beyond this congregation. Help us to glorify you by continuing to welcome strangers with open arms and give with open hands with great faith in the plans that you have for us and the surrounding community. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen

Events

Church Calendar

Community Gardens

Very big pumpkin grown in the Chain of Lakes Community Garden by Jeremy Feuks. 10/7/2021
Chain of Lakes Church is excited to offer a Community Garden Ministry next to the new church building at 2650 125th Ave NE, Blaine, MN 55449. It’s just east of  Malmborg’s Garden Center on 125th Ave NE in Blaine or .8 miles east of Radisson Rd on 125th Ave NE, Blaine.
 
Contact the office for information at 763.208.8049 or info@colpres.org
 
If you are interested in a garden plot complete this form:
Community Garden Plot Application 2022 – Chain of Lakes
 
Please print and complete the application, and up until May 22, mail to:
Chain of Lakes Church
10130 Davenport Street NE #160
Blaine, MN 55449

Event Photos

Some highlights from recent events in the community! Click on image for clear, entire picture