The Gift of Your Membership

This week I’m in Augusta, GA, coming to you from one of the greatest golf courses in the world.

Well… sort of coming to you from there.

I’m not exactly a member so I just had a take a quick video because I was afraid I’d get kicked out.

Here’s the whole story:


(Here’s the YouTube link just in case)

For me, driving around the green hoping for a peak inside had to be good enough.

But that’s not the case with Jesus.

You never have to settle for good enough when you’re with Jesus.

He’s a member so you get to be a member. What a privilege that is!

Hear Him say “Come, see all the things I have for you.”

So much more than just good enough.

Have you ever gotten to “authorized personnel only” access to someplace special? How’d it feel?

I’d love to hear your story. Tell me in the comments or on Facebook.

God is good,

Peder

Preparing Like the Lynx

Wow, it’s been too long! I hope this blog finds you well! It’s been quite a summer with lots to talk about as well as awesome things to come.

I have a tradition to go with Allison to a Minnesota Lynx game. The Lynx are the WNBA team here in Minnesota. We are big basketball fans, and it’s Allison favorite sport. The Lynx are one of the top teams in the WNBA and have two championship banners. (More than my favorite NFL team ;))

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This year we were blessed by some friends who are season ticket holders to get in early and sit on the court itself during the shoot around. It was right up close.

To watch some of the best female basketball players in the world go through their pregame drills and shooting was really fun. To be up so close and feel the speed, focus, and intensity that these girls warm up with before even playing gave a new appreciation to how serious they are about their jobs.

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They were always verbal and affirming, which is a favorite part for me about girls sports. Always calling out “nice shot,” “you got this,” “push yourself,” and so on. Always positive. Even the coaches bringing their energy up always talking, communicating with the players.

They do this before every game! Every game. Add on to that the practices and the workouts.

Can we learn from this when it comes to how we prepare for worship, mission trips, coffee with friends, small group time, youth nights, and quiet times?

It might sound silly but sometimes we just jump in to our faith events with out any prep of prayer or study. Sometimes we jump in not even expecting God to show up.

Can we be a source of encouragement to those who are coming in the door? They’ve traveled to the event. Can we tell them how glad we are that they came? Or maybe we can look forward to what God has for them.

Can we make a prayer list before we get to our prayer time or quiet time so as not to get scattered and feel like we are not sure what our time was about?

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The Lynx won big that night. They won as team.

Preparation matters.

What would your experience if you look for some prep before your next time of worship?

Just an idea… but I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

God is good all the time!
Peder

Golf and The Church

I love the game of golf!

No secret to many of you.

I love the challenge of getting better, the competition, and the stories shared among friends.

No two rounds of golf turn out the same, and I especially love getting to play courses around the country I’ve never played before or are famous.

Unfortunately, I don’t play as much as I used to. A lot of circumstances play into why but I definitely appreciate every chance to play now more than ever.

It’s a game that tests the emotions, problem solving skills, coordination, and truly can expose your character good or bad. :)

It’s a fun moment when you make a long putt or hit a long shot that felt so right when you swung the club and lands close to the hole. It’s a game I hopefully can play a long time from now.

The worst thing I can do when it comes to golf is compare myself with other golfers.

Sounds kinda like a cute, simple thought but listen closely.

If I compared myself to other golfers, I would have quit a long time ago.

My brother Tom is a really good player. He beats me every time. I play with Tom more than I play with anyone else, and I’ve only tied him once.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to beat him some day. Beat him bad. I love him and he is my brother but oh I want to take him one time.

Tom and I golfing in Arizona

Tom and I golfing in Arizona

If I would have looked at his game then looked at mine and said I’m not good enough, I would have quit a long time ago.

Quitting would have saved me from a bunch of heartache, greens fees, golf balls, and emotional trauma.

But I also would have missed out on so many laughs. I would have missed out on being surprised in Florida by him and two other friends for a birthday golf outing. I would have missed out on so many good talks we have had about family, career, and life.

There are too many stories we tell from being out on the course that we did together that could never be told because they never happened.

I would have missed those things! All because I compared myself to someone else.

To the Christian Church, I make this appeal: please don’t compare your self to other churches.

Don’t measure your worth on how good you are based on how other churches are growing or their technology or what ever.

If you do that, you’re missing what’s going on in YOUR church.

God is doing things in your church that are not being done anywhere else!

Are you aware of that? Are you seeing them?

Set The Temp!

Sorry I missed last week. No excuse just missed it. Might be the weather in Minnesota. Kind of a bummer. It’s like we have become the state of one season: wet, dreary, and cold. I still have hope.

It makes me think of my approach to each day’s challenges lately. I will confess I don’t think I have been taking on my days very well lately. I have found myself feeling like I’m on defense a lot and not moving forward. It’s not an inspiring way to wake up.

It’s not a great feeling to go places thinking a battle could come towards me, what the environment will be and, in a some of cases, what are people thinking of me.

Is there any thing worse than wondering if the whispers are about you and are they good?

Fear creeps in and then crud…defeat.

I love sports. Watching, playing, teaching, but especially coaching. I think it’s a lot being a pastor. You are given a group of people to teach skills, teach plays, inspire, hold accountable, send out, tend to injuries, send back out, make in-game adjustments, cheer on, make substitutes, and all along try to equip them for something bigger than themselves.

Maybe it’s too simple of an analogy but for our conversation, it’s workable.

When I coach my girls’ team, I often speak about trying to be a thermostat rather than a thermometer.

The thermostat sets the temperature while a thermometer reflects the temperature.

As a player, you want your team to set the pace, tempo, flow, attitude of the game. You, of course, make some adjustments, but you really want to stick to your game plan.

If your opponent gets frustrated or takes cheap shots, you don’t want your team to do the same. You don’t want your team to respond negatively to refrees’ calls that don’t go your way.

Doing that you become thermometers because you are letting the other team influence how you play and what you do. A player who is a thermostat is not changed by her opponent. You stay to the course you have chosen.

Teams that stay thermostats get better, win more games, and walk away feeling they did their best.

Jesus says we are the light of the world! Not the mirrors of the world. Light changes how a room feels, what it looks like. A mirror just redirects whatever light there might be. If any light leaves, so does the purpose of the mirror.

What if we focus on being a thermostat rather than a thermometer?

That means when you get up in the morning you set the climate for your children rather than reflecting what they are like.

If your friends are crabby and gossiping, then you change that temp by getting their eyes focused on something else and not fueling the gossip with your own to be part of the group.

When you arrive at worship on Sunday, you become a worshipper rather than waiting to see if it’s your favorite songs or favorite pastor giving the sermon.

Didn’t Jesus say go into the world but not be of it? Thermostat or Thermometer?

Is it easy? Nope!

Does it always change? Not right away but I believe it will even if it takes a longer than you want.

Why? Because the Kingdom of God doesn’t lose.

The Holy Spirit who lives in us will not lose. If the Holy Spirit flows from us, it will do whatever it wants and it WILL be good! Because God is good!

It’s not about manipulation or being in control of people. It’s about living in the Kingdom of God which is all love, grace, truth, joy, acceptance, healing, and sanctuary. It’s about being Jesus to those who have forgotten or don’t even believe He is in the room.

You are that thermostat!

It’s not a calling because callings separate us into groups where some are and some are not. Instead it’s what Jesus made us to be in His death and resurrection: a thermostat.

I have to get better starting today. I can’t just try. In the words of Master Yoda “There is no try. Do or not do!”

That’s a thermostat.

Can you do?

Let me know.

God is good all the time!

Peder

The Star Still Shines

I love what I get to do. Not only do I get to help people love Jesus, I get to see His love in His children.

On Christmas Tour I got to spend time with a family of three brothers and a sister after one of the concerts.

The sister cherishes the time she gets to spend with her friends and has a great passion to help others. The brothers love to talk sports which, of course, I don’t mind at all.

Even though we cheer for different teams, we found common ground in our favorite players. It was fun to hear them share their wealth of knowledge of both basketball and football. I was even more impressed with how these three brothers took turns sharing their thoughts and stories, never trying correct each other or outdo each others comments.

For almost an hour, the four of us sat around the table sharing why we liked or didn’t appreciate certain players and teams. While the boys didn’t always agree, they respectfully listened to one another and each one got a fair chance to share his opinion.

photo credit

photo credit: CliffMuller via photopin cc

Throughout Advent we’ve been talking about light. Both literal light like on my farm and while I’m running and also figurative light like the light of traditions.

Those boys shine a different kind of light. They shine the light of Christ.

When the baby Jesus was born, the star over the manger could be seen all around. It’s how the magi found the Christ child. They saw the star, were drawn to it, and followed it until they found Jesus.

Light still points people to Jesus. Except now it shines in us.

Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

If we’re walking in Him, then His light shines in each one of us in the way we live our lives, the choices we make, and the words we use.

It shines in the way we treat each other. From the convenience store clerk to the people living in our house.

His light is His presence.  If you are a follower of Christ, carrying His light is bringing His presence.

Chances are this Christmas you’re going to spend some time with your family. Maybe your family gets along great. Maybe you’re like my family and sometimes there’s some tension.

Sometimes shining the light of Christ isn’t the easy option. But it’s the right choice. The good choice. It’s what family does.

No matter which sports team you’re rooting for, root for one another.

Merry Christmas, my friends,

Peder

Running in the dark

Finding time to run is getting harder and harder these days. We’re trying to juggle so many schedules in my house, it gets dark earlier, and, of course, it’s colder this time of year. Running’s just not easy to fit in.

I try to take what I can get, so even if the sun’s going down, I head out to see if I can get some miles in. It’s inevitable that I’m gonna finish my workout in the dark.

Luckily, my running route has a decent path. It’s not narrow and not real rough. However, it’s also not well-lit and there are a number of moments when I can’t see the path.

It’s hard to run when you can’t see the path. It feels more stressful because you can’t see where your feet land, and it makes you run a different rhythm. You strain your eyes trying to not step on a crack or some uneven ground that would send your ankles into pile of dust. When you don’t know where to step, it adds tension and changes the way you run. It’s more work and less fun.

In the Psalms, there is the scripture I’m sure your familiar with that says “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and light unto my path.” God has made a path for us that leads us into daily living, not just surviving. Scripture is about giving us the light to see where to go so as to not fall into the ditches of this world by taking our eyes off God’s plan for us. When you have light on your path, it’s less stressful, more rhythmic, more fun. It lessens the stress of rolling your spiritual ankles on edge of the path when you lose sight of the middle.

God even used a star as a sign that Jesus had come to the earth.

We need light to live.

We need Jesus, the Light of the World, to know real life.

This world was really spiritually dark and God sent his Son to be light to show us Himself, save us from ourselves, and give abundant living.

This second week of Advent, give thanks for The Light that has come to the world in Jesus, the Savior born to you this day.

Without Jesus we would be truly in the dark.

God is good all the time.

Peder

The Joy of Planning!

I love to create. I love to make new things. I guess it’s a part of why I love what I do. I love to write songs, create events, write devotions, blogs, basketball offenses and defense, dates for my wife, surprises for our kids, etc.

Right now we are putting the pieces together for the Wondrous Love Christmas Tour 2013.

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We have done Christmas tour for many years. Every year I am so excited to bring the music from our three Christmas projects and even some new surprises. My traveling crew is the best. The hosts of each concert are amazing and bless me every time.

Planning out the show for the evening is about each location, the avenue of communication using song and story, the presentation of sound and lights, the audience in attendance, the passion we want to share with, and, of course, being clear in what Christmas is about.

All of this to help people draw into the season of Christmas. I have so much fun planning and so get nervous each year hoping it blesses all the people who come to the concerts.

Have you ever thought about how excited God was to unveil his Son to the world? Think of the planning that went into it. The timing (perfect), the location (Bethlehem), presentation (angels, star, manager), the avenue of communication (Mary and Joseph), the audience (shepherds, sheep, cows), the passion (John 3:16).

I don’t equate my planning to God’s by any means but think of the point that God sending Jesus to be born was not a whim.

I love these verses in Ephesians 1. I use The Message because I think it really shows God heart about the “Christmas Plan.”

How blessed is God! And what a blessing He is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in Him. Long before He laid down earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love. Long, long ago He decided to adopt us into His family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure He took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of His lavish gift-giving by the hand of His beloved Son.

God’s plan was not a duty or obligation. It was His pleasure. And what a presentation He gave us.

I hope to see you on Christmas Tour. More so I pray that you discover in a new way the truth of God’s amazing plan that was made long ago. It was about bring real Joy To The World!

God is good all the time!

Peder

Wondrous Love Christmas Tour 2013 Dates

December 3-Farmington, MN
December 6-Marion, WI
December 7-Racine, WI
December 8-Pewaukee, WI; Sycamore, IL
December 13-Wausau, WI
December 14-Grafton, WI
December 15-Grafton, WI
December 18-Fargo, ND
December 19-Grand Forks, ND
December 21-Hampton, IA
December 24-Englewood, CO

Find full event details on the tour page here.

Sports, Church, And Family Are More Similar Than You Think

I spent this past weekend attending and coaching my three older kids in their sports. It’s so much fun. I am a sports fan on many levels. I love playing, watching, coaching, you name it.

Ethan’s 12AA baseball team on Friday night was in a tight game. Understand, Ethan’s team has had a really up and down season of some good wins but also really hard losses. It was affecting everyone because sports take emotion. We had won in the morning but it felt like a rough win.

The night came we played well with solid defense and a good spirit.

It had it gone back and forth and literally came down to the last inning. Our pitcher, Trayton, had just struck out the previous batter which was huge! They had two outs, runners on second and third, and their best hitter was coming up.

In his previous bat, this kid hit a rocket to right field over the fielder’s head. The coaching staff told Noah, our right fielder, to back it up.

Trayton threw two amazing pitches and put the batter in an 0-2 count. The coaches, parents were on fire, so loud, so intense. The batter then fouled off the next pitches. Even though we were up by one, the runners on second and third would go when the ball was hit so any outfield ball meant we had no chance.

Then Trayton threw an outside fastball…

CRACK!

Another rocket to right field! Nobody breathed. The coaches were silent. I heard some voices say “Oh no!” It felt like slow motion.

In right field, it was just Noah. All eyes watching, waiting. He backed a step and stopped. His glove went up, he leaned back, his glove went up as high as possible…

Catch! WE WON!

The coaches, players ran onto the field, screaming, cheering, jumping all over Noah.

It was so fun!!!

Ethan's 12AA team qualified for 3 state tournaments! Love the faces:)

Ethan’s 12AA team qualified for 3 state tournaments! Love the faces :)

Friends, I really see church and family being a lot a sports team. We have coaches (pastors, parents), team names (church name, family name), players (the congregation, children), the game (our mission, our life), and goal (1 Cor. 9:24-27, Malachi 4:5-6, Luke 1:17).

It should be intense, fun, full of action, voices cheering each other on, hugging, victories, and most of all delight and passion in the One who owns the team, the game, the purpose and by His grace allows us to play. Even more than that goes crazy with us and over us simply because He is our Abba Father and loves to watch us, coach us, and, I dare say, play with us!

It reminds me again to remind you. Respond and engage in worship at least like a ball game. Celebrate family and church family moments of marriages being healed, baptisms, weddings, sermons, the offering like it’s “the catch”!

Because it is way more important than that!

What are your thoughts? Agree? Disagree?