Pastor's Corner


Pastor's Corner - April 2018

posted Apr 5, 2018, 7:19 AM by Linda Dickinson

Greetings Servants of the Risen Savior!


In these days after Easter, as we bask in the glory of the resurrection of our victorious Lord, it is good for us to stop and consider the goodness of our God.  Since childhood many of us have known the Bible verse recorded in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  The amazing events of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ are rooted and grounded in the love of a God who loves us so deeply that He is willing to lay it all down in order to be reconciled with His people who have gone terribly astray.  The apostle Paul describes it this way in Romans 5: 7-8, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates His own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Yes, it is true!  Even though you were a sinner, an enemy of God, He loved you with an everlasting love to the point of freely, willingly laying down His life on your behalf.   


As Alfred Ackley declares it in his well known Easter hymn, “Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the King!  The Hope of all who seek Him, the Help of all who find, none other is so loving, so good and kind.  He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!   He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.  He lives, He lives salvation to impart!  You ask me how I know He lives?  He lives within my heart.”


Yes, dear friends it is good for us to stop and bask in the glory and love of our God who loved us this much.  I pray that you personally have received Jesus Christ into the core of your life; that you don’t just know about Him, but that He lives “within your heart.”  This reality changes everything.  Let’s live each day like it is Easter morning, because we truly do serve a Risen Savior.  Hallelujah!


Basking with you in the glory,

Pastor Fred

Pastor's Corner - February 2018

posted Jan 26, 2018, 2:57 PM by Linda Dickinson

As Minnesota hosts the Super Bowl this month, the following famous teaching by Pastor Larry Christenson is very fitting. In the game of life we have much to gain by heeding this message. Pastor Christenson ran the race well and on December 26, 2017, crossed over the goal line and has now joined the host of heaven.  In honor of this remarkable man of God, we share a slightly edited version of: THE NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL TALK

Please refer to the February 2018 Newsletter to read the story: Newsletter: Spirit of Elmwood

Pastor's Corner - January 2018

posted Dec 29, 2017, 7:16 AM by Linda Dickinson

Dear Elmwood Family and Friends,

 

Revelation 22:13 declares, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

 

Here we are at the beginning of another year.  2017 is gone and 2018 has come.  How good it is to know that He who is the beginning and the end of all that ever was or ever will be, is with us, and actually goes before us to make a way personally for us.  How good and gracious the Lord is that He would not only make a way for us, but also be a light onto our footsteps.  Jesus didn’t say, “It is finished,” to indicate that He was done here and we were on our own.  No, He died on the cross to deal with our brokenness and sin, provide a new and living way to the very throne of God, and to actually BE the Way, the Truth, and the Life for us.

 

As the Word declares, Jesus wants to be the beginning and the end of our lives.  This past year we celebrated the birth of new babies and the death of old friends.  For Kai and me, we joyfully welcomed into our family our first granddaughter, Josephine Elise.  We also deeply grieved the death of our spiritual father, mentor, and friend, Pastor Larry Christenson.

 

In these times of joy and sadness it is so good to remember that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega. Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet and Omega is the last letter.  In other words, Jesus is saying, “I am the A and the Z, the first letter and the last letter, the beginning of everything and the very last of it all.”  From start to finish He is with us.

 

As this new year unfolds before us, the constant presence of Jesus gives us hope and also gives us courage.  Dear friends, we are going to need God’s hope and God’s courage this year.  Change is always happening, but this year life will likely push us to our limits on how much change we can handle.  Elmwood’s long and rich history of being a church that trusts in the Lord and lives by His Holy Word will be a vital resource in the days to come.  Not only will there be personal challenges to our life and faith in Christ, but as a congregation we will need His hope and courage to wisely determine His plans for our future.  As 21st century disciples of Christ we must choose to look not to the darkness of the world or the wild waves of change around us, but see Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega of our lives, the beginning and the end of all things, and trust in Him with all our hearts.

 

I am excited to see how our Lord and Savior makes Himself known, in even greater ways, to us in the days ahead.  I am also confident, that as His Word declares, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God,” so “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”

 

With joy and expectation we press onward, our utmost for His highest,

Pastor Fred

PASTOR'S CORNER - DECEMBER 2017

posted Dec 2, 2017, 7:47 AM by Linda Dickinson

Dear Elmwood Family and Friends,

The words of the lovely Christmas carol “What Child is This?” have been in my thoughts lately.  I did some research and found that William C. Dix, an English business man, had been critically ill in 1865 and during his sickness and recovery he had a powerful spiritual awakening.  Out of his new born faith he wrote a poem “The Manger Throne” from which this carol is taken. Set to the tune of Greensleeves it quickly became a favorite, especially here in the U.S.  Following the Civil War, this carol spoke to the deep pain of our war torn nation. The carol boldly asks us to consider this Boy-child whom angels greet and shepherds seek.  Why is this king found in such a mean estate?  Why is He found where cattle are feeding?

The carol invites us to recognize Jesus as the King of kings who brings salvation to us sinners and to actually enthrone Him in our hearts.  When, like Dix, we choose to “own Him”, we find the same compelling grace flooding our lives, causing us to boldly proclaim that this Jesus is truly Christ the King; whom shepherds guard and angels sing.  With them, once again this Christmas, let us make haste, haste to bring Him laud, praise Him forever more, this Jesus, The Babe, the son of Mary.

A very blessed and joyous Christmas to all,

Pastor Fred and Kai

HOW DO WE FACE THE “IMPOSSIBLE”?

posted Nov 1, 2017, 12:46 PM by Linda Dickinson

By Kai Thoni

 

At the time Elmwood hosted Alpha, I downloaded an app onto my iPhone. It is the Alpha Bible in One Year app. One day while listening to the daily Bible readings, I was struck by a passage from Numbers 11:23.  Moses is in a difficult spot. The Israelites are grumbling about the steady diet of manna. (Never mind gratitude for daily provision.) The Lord tells Moses that he has heard the people’s wailing and the complaint, “We were better off in Egypt!” The Lord tells Moses that they are about to get meat, meat and more meat!  

Moses counters with the reality of the “impossible that he sees” by saying to the Lord:  “Here I am among six hundred thousand men on foot, and you say, ‘I will give them meat to eat for a whole month!’ Would they have enough if flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them?” God’s answers Moses: Is the Lord’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”

God’s words, “Is the Lord’s arm too short?” struck me. I realized that for us not to call upon Him and trust in Him to do the “impossible” is really an insult. The opposite is also true: To call upon Him and trust Him in difficult situations is what is needful and honoring.

When Dan Moose met with the Elmwood Church Council in September, he called for us to be in dedicated prayer for Elmwood.  This is why during the month of November and the first week of December we will be dedicating the last part of each Sunday morning’s worship service to prayer for Elmwood. It is a time for us to honor God by placing our faith and trust in His plans for Elmwood’s future and to say to Him: “We trust you. We know that Your arm is not too short! We honor you! Your ways are higher than our ways!”

Be encouraged in your prayers for Elmwood by these Scriptures: 

·         Isaiah 59:1:   Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.

·         Isaiah 65:24:  Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.

·         Jeremiah 32:17:  Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.


"If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and see my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place."          ~ 2 Chronicles 7:14-15

Pastor's Corner - October 2017

posted Oct 4, 2017, 9:21 AM by Linda Dickinson

Dear Elmwood Family and Friends,

 

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ…Stand firm in one spirit, contending as one person for the faith of the Gospel, without being frightened in any way.”  Philippians 1: 27-28.

 

This passage from God’s Holy Word was the theme of our service Sunday, September 24.  During the message I shared with the congregation an update from the September Church Council meeting.  At that meeting we welcomed Pastor Dan Moose, multiplication catalyst, from the North Central District office of the EFCA.  His job is to assist churches of the district in finding a way forward with the current challenges of aging congregations, declining church attendance, lack of vitality and growth, and the secularization of our society.  Dan is a man of faith and prayer, humble and wise.  He came with a listening ear, asking questions, seeking to help us know and understand ourselves and the options for the future.  This was his first visit with the Council and he will return in November to continue this process with the Council.

 

As Dan began, he spent a considerable amount of time seeking the Council’s response to the question, “What are the good things about Elmwood?”  This was done to celebrate what the Lord has done and is doing here in our congregation.  He filled the white board with the Council members’ responses.  Here’s a quick run-down of the list; they are not in any form or order of importance:

·         Sweet fellowship

·         Hospitality

·         Ministry of “hosting” other churches and ministries

·         We hold our things loosely

·         Praying for one another

·         A good reputation in the community;

§ With the school district, police, & fire dept.

§ Pay our street assessments

·         Truth/whole Bible is preached

·         Loving and caring pastor

·         Excellent givers

·         Good stewards of our property

·         Bible studies

·         Seniors group

·         Faithful servants

·         “Tech savvy”

·         Living our mission

·         Mission minded

·         Good connection with local Bible colleges and universities

·         Open to the work of the Holy Spirit

·         Strong history

·         Altar prayer ministry

·         Encouragement

·         Mission support 10-15%

·         Solid foundation in Christ

·         Kingdom minded

·         The church is not “ours”

·         Generosity

·         True Body-life

·         Unity

·         A sending church

·         Music ministry

 

After we talked and talked about all these great things about Elmwood we were asked by Dan to make a short list of what we would label as the “Elmwood Legacy”.  What is it that we want to see passed on to the next generation of the Body of Christ?   This list included:

·         The Truth of the Bible

·         Being open to the leading of the Holy Spirit

·         Strong dependence on prayer

·         Faithful abiding in Jesus

·         Daily living out the Gospel

·         Serving other followers of Jesus

 

In order to continue our legacy, what would be needed:

·         Remain true to who Elmwood is

·         Be multi-generational

·         Become multi-cultural

·         Continue to support the other ministries that are here with us

·         Keep the Gospel flowing freely

·         Continue to be open to the free working of the Holy Spirit

·         Discover new ways to take “the church” out of the building

 

In Dan’s final segment we began to discuss the issues that we must face as a congregation in order to move forward and thrive:

·         We will have to change

·         We must be proactive

·         Continue to make room for more “nests” in our big old elm tree

·         We must learn how to keep the legacy going

·         We need younger people

·         What must be done to keep the light of the Gospel shining from this place

·         How can Elmwood be more of a community church that reflects the community around us

·         Dealing with finances and up-keep

·         Need for more people power to meet the needs of doing ministry

 

Our first session with Dan was excellent.  He gave the Council much to pray and think about.  This will not be an easy process or one that can quickly happen. As a congregation, it is vital that we consistently be in prayer for the will of God to be done in this place and that the Holy Spirit would guide and direct us. It is also important to not fear or give any place to the evil one, but that Jesus would be glorified as we go through this process.

 

Glory be to God, a work in progress, to be continued,

Pastor Fred

Pastor's Corner - September 2017

posted Aug 31, 2017, 11:12 AM by Linda Dickinson   [ updated Aug 31, 2017, 11:12 AM ]

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Last Sunday I spoke about the important question that Jesus asked His disciples at Caesarea Philippi, “Who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  (see Matthew 16:13-20)

Our answer to this question is incredibly important.  How we answer it not only has bearing for our lives today, but also for all of eternity. There were those that saw Jesus as a great teacher, others saw Him as an amazing healer and miracle worker, still others said Jesus was a prophet, or was He certainly a wise philosopher, or even a radical revolutionary?

So when Simon Peter is inspired by the Holy Spirit and declares, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” the glorious truth is revealed and it becomes apparent that the disciples are actually beginning to see and to understand who Jesus really is. As I shared on Sunday, Jesus was just six months away from going to the cross. Time was short. These men were the ones who would carry on with the proclamation of the Gospel when Jesus’ earthly ministry was completed.

I find tremendous encouragement when Jesus says to these dear men, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades (Hell) will not overcome it.” The original Greek word for “overcome” can actually be translated “to be strong against.” Our Lord is saying here that the gates of Hell will NOT be strong enough to hold back the Christian church. No matter how hard the evil one tries to attack and destroy the Body of Christ, he will not succeed. Sure the attacks will be fierce and the battle long, but we know the end of the story: our God wins! We serve the Risen Savior, the Victorious Christ!

Jesus never promised that life would be easy.  But He did promise to always be with us and that the gates of Hell will not overcome us. The devil will try to keep us from doing the work of the Kingdom in this generation. However, God’s Word also declares, “Greater is He (Jesus) who is in us, than he (Satan) who is in this world.”  (1 John 4:4) It is our honor and privilege to be Christ followers in this land and at this time.

We all have challenges to face each day. It may be an outright attack from Satan or it may be health or family issues.  Nevertheless, we must not despair or give up. While we still have breath we must wholeheartedly seek to be diligent in our service to our friend and master, Jesus.

What would you say if Jesus personally asked you, “Who do you say that I am?” How will your answer impact today?

Eternally grateful,

Pastor Fred

Pastor's Corner - August 2017

posted Jul 28, 2017, 11:03 AM by Linda Dickinson

Greetings Dear Elmwood Family and Friends,

Over the past weeks I have been thinking a lot about the challenges that one meets in life.  All around us there are people who are dealing with major life issues.  They certainly come, don’t they?  Either we have just been through something, are in the middle of something, or there is something coming.  That may sound pessimistic, but I don’t mean it that way.  Life is not easy, and certainly not trouble free.  In Psalm 27:5 we are told, “For in the day of trouble…”  God’s Word states this as a fact, not as a possibility.  Friends, there will be “days of trouble”.  Even our Lord Jesus tells us, “Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  This world we live in is not a perfect place.  It is broken and we cannot fix it.  As I shared recently in a sermon, the wages of our sinfulness brings the payment of death.  Sin, death, and the devil have brought about this brokenness.   Mankind cannot fix it.  No matter how hard we may try.  Only our holy perfect God could remedy the lostness and brokenness.  This is why our Heavenly Father, in unfathomable love, sent His Son to do something about it all.  Therefore, even in the middle of our “days of trouble” we can rejoice, for we are not without hope.  We are not a people abandoned or forgotten.  We are never alone.  The Lord has promised to be with us and never leave us or forsake us.  Jesus says in Matthew 6, “Do not worry then”, be like the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness”.

I realize that it isn’t easy to seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness when one’s life is under assault or falling apart.  We may just be trying to survive.  But that is exactly why we must trust in the Lord and not try to cope with these things by our own strength.  We must acknowledge that we are a needy people and that we need someone beyond ourselves to rescue us, and be there for us in the tough times.

Sitting here on my book shelf is a smooth white stone which I picked up in Israel last March from the dry brook-bed in the valley of Elah.  (See 1 Samuel 17)  It was from this very same place that David, the shepherd boy, picked up five smooth stones when he decided to take on the Philistine giant, Goliath.  As David courageously took him on, he placed His trust in the LORD, not in the sword or spear of King Saul.  He boldly declared, “The battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into my hands.”  And He did, slaying the vile Philistine.  My smooth stone reminds me continually that I serve the same LORD, and that the battles that come in my day of trouble will not defeat me for the battle is the LORD’S. 

Give your battles each day to the LORD.  Stand and see His deliverance.  He has revealed His love and might in the death and resurrection of Jesus.  His victory is our victory and His joy is our strength.  Thank you, Jesus!

Pressing on with you in Christ our LORD,

Pastor Fred

Pastor's Corner - July 2017

posted Jun 30, 2017, 3:19 PM by Linda Dickinson   [ updated Jul 5, 2017, 11:41 AM ]

PASTOR’S CORNER

Dear Elmwood Family,

The following article from Wallbuilders is a great reminder of what’s good and wonderful about our country.  Truly we are blessed to be a blessing.

With liberty and justice for all,

Pastor Fred

˜ ™˜ ™˜ ™˜ ™˜ ™˜ ™˜ ™˜ ™

Happy Fourth of July!

 

America is celebrating her 241st birthday! Our unprecedented freedom was the result of specific ideas, many of which were drawn directly from the Bible. In fact, at the 150th anniversary celebration of the Declaration of Independence, President Calvin Coolidge affirmed:

No one can examine this record and escape the conclusion that in the great outline of its principles the Declaration was the result of the religious teachings of the preceding period. . . . They are found in the texts, the sermons, and the writings of the early colonial clergy who were earnestly undertaking to instruct their congregations in the great mystery of how to live. . . . Placing every man on a plane where he acknowledged no superiors, where no one possessed any right to rule over him, he must inevitably choose his own rulers through a system of self-government.

On the 200th anniversary, President Gerald Ford also affirmed its Biblical roots:

Our Bicentennial is the happy birthday of all fifty States, a commonwealth, and self-governing territories. It is not just a celebration for the original Thirteen Colonies. . . . The earliest English settlers carried the Bible and Blackstone’s Commentary. . . [and] American families in prairie schooners like these took with them on the overland trails the principles of equality and the God-given rights of the Declaration of Independence.

As we celebrate our 241st birthday, let’s make sure we preserve our memory of these unique governing principles.

Read the Declaration of Independence. [https://wallbuilders.com/the-declaration-of-independence/  It is both a pleasurable and a rewarding experience that should be enjoyed by every citizen. The Declaration is a deep, rich document, giving the twenty-seven reasons that America was birthed, and also setting forth in its first 155 words the six immutable principles of American government – the six principles on which the Founders later erected the Constitution of the United States – the six principles that still produce American Exceptionalism today.

Learn something new about those who wrote the Declaration. Look at the names of the fifty-six signers; find one you don’t know – perhaps one you’ve never heard of before, and look him up and read a short bio about him (perhaps from sites such as Colonial Hall) or get a copy of Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence by Benson J. Lossing, so that you can have a short bio about each one of the signers. In short, rediscover a new Founder.

John Adams said that Independence Day “ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore.” So enjoy the fireworks and parades and celebration – but also make sure to honor and thank God.

Happy Birthday America! May God continue to shed His grace on Thee!

By WallBuilders, January 4th, 2017

Pastor's Corner - June 2017

posted Jun 2, 2017, 3:27 PM by Linda Dickinson

Greetings Dear Friends,

Henry van Dyke declares in his famous hymn, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”:

All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Chanting bird and flowing fountain,
Call us to rejoice in Thee.

The Apostle Paul likewise calls us in Philippians 4:4 to:  “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again:  Rejoice!”

The praise of God is not to be a secondary aspect of our lives, but central.  We have been created by God to be a people of praise.  We are privileged to join with all of creation joyfully proclaiming the greatest of our Heavenly Father’s love, the incredible goodness of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the never-ending provision of strength by the Holy Spirit.  As a part of the on-going hymn of praise that continuously rises before the throne of God, we truly join with the angels themselves when we worship.

This month as we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost take heed to God’s Word in Ephesians 5:18-20:  “Be filled with the Spirit.  Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

As Scripture calls us, let us day by day seek to bring a “sacrifice of praise” to our Lord and Savior.  We cannot buy or earn His love, but we can freely express our joy, gratitude, and adoration consistently and faithfully throughout all that life brings.  It easy to praise Him when things are going well and when we feel we are at the top of the world, but it takes discipline to worship the Lord in the toughest of times and when we do not feel like rejoicing and being glad.  That is exactly when we need to look up and beyond our current situation and praise Him. 

As Francis of Assisi, the hymn writer of “All Creatures of Our God and King” writes: 

Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him!
  Alleluia! 
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One!
 
O praise Him!  O praise Him! 
Alleluia!  Alleluia!  Alleluia!

Together may our praise continually be poured out to the glory and honor of our God and King.  Amen!

Praising God for each of you,

Pastor Fred

1-10 of 64