Weekly Devotional June 21 2018

Strike up a conversation and then listen. Soon, it will become obvious that Storms and Giants are commonplace in our lives. This Sunday our Bible readings will lead us to stormy seas and let us catch a glimpse of a giant named Goliath. Sometimes Bible readings seem difficult to connect to daily life. But, storms and giants? We face them, or see others face them, many times during life. It wasn’t that long ago I watched my Dad and Mom–as one was still recovering from battling cancer, the other was going through two hip replacement surgeries. Sometimes I visit with families and wonder why, so often, challenges come one like one wave after another. While we may not know a giant named Goliath we know giants that go by other names–cancer, addiction, bankruptcy, terminal, divorce and the like. There’s a saying, “Old Age Isn’t for Sissies.” It’s a flamboyant way of saying, “sometimes it seems the storms are too frequent and the giants are too strong.”

Spoiler alert: Jesus calms the storm. David slays the Giant. God prevails! Whatever storms you face today. Whatever giants threaten a friend or family member you care about–somehow God will prevail. Somehow God gives the strength to face whatever is next. If you are facing a giant read I Samuel 19:32-50. If you’re facing a storm, try reading Mark 4:35-41. Let the words be your courage. If you are in town over the weekend, come and hear more about God’s strength in the storms.

If you, or a loved one, are facing a challenge, a helpful approach to prayer may be whispering, “God, help me trust you will prevail.” You might try breathing in during the word “God” and breathing out during “help me trust you will prevail.” Repeat as needed.

God’s peace, strength and courage,

Weekly Devotional June 8 2018

When the laughter begins–heartfelt laughter that is not laughing at someone’s misfortune–we find ourselves drawn to it. Being around light-hearted people lifts our spirits. As followers of Jesus we are meant to be light-hearted and joy-filled because Jesus says his burden is easy and his yoke is light. Yet, it is all too easy to let our worries, fears and hurts crowd out the joy Jesus offers. This upcoming Sunday we’ll explore Mark 3:20-30 where Jesus is literally healing people and lifting their burdens. Unfortunately, the “church” of his day does not rejoice and celebrate. In fact, the most religious literally begin to worry the devil is at work in the healing.

Are you carrying a worry today? Does it seem easier to see fate working against you than God working for you? Last week when I was at Annual Conference a woman by the name of Dr. Simbo shared these powerful words in a prayer she offered. “The joy you give us is not conditional upon the circumstances of our lives but upon your unconditional gift to us in Christ Jesus.” We can choose to believe God knows what God is doing in our lives and is at work even when we don’t see or understand it. We can pray for the gifts of faith and trust. One wonderful prayer is found in our hymnals. My guess is you’ll recognize the words and maybe find yourself humming the tune.

“Because he lives, I can face tomorrow.

Because he lives all fear is gone;

because I know he holds the future,

and life is worth the living just because he lives.”

God’s joy be yours this day.

Weekly Devotion May 31 2018

This morning as I sat at the MN United Methodist Conference, I heard the freeing words we would be blessed to repeat to ourselves daily. “Jesus cannot be contained by our fears” (Tyler Sit). This year’s theme for the conference is “Discover Joy – Live Deeply.” Joy doesn’t happen where fear rules. And joy and abundance is what Jesus came to offer us. My prayer for you today is that Jesus love will conquer any fears or worries that linger in your lives. And, if God grants the opportunity, maybe you will have a chance to help another overcome fear and embrace joy and hope. Jesus cannot be contained by our fears. Amen.

Blessings,

Pastor Roger

Weekly Devotions May 25th 2018

A teacher of the law came to Jesus by night. After Nicodemus told Jesus that he’d heard some of his teaching, seen some of his healing and knew Jesus was connected to God, Jesus interrupted him. Before Nicodemus could ask Jesus a question, Jesus shared an answer. “You must be born anew–born of water and the Spirit.” the late J.I. Packer (not from Green Bay) said, “Once you become aware that the main business you are here for is to know God, most of life’s problems fall into place.” Being born of the Spirit is allowing God to help us make life-giving changes in our lives. Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). If joy, abundance, or a lightness of heart have quietly slipped away in your life, Jesus still whispers across the centuries, “invite the Spirit in to help you start fresh.”

This Sunday, of course, we’ll take some time to remember those who have served our country and have gone on to heaven’s shore. But, we’ll also be inviting God’s Spirit to come into those places in our lives where we need rebirth and transformation. Please pray for the service and those who will be attending before-hand. Pray for any who are feeling the need for a fresh start, release from weariness, or a renewed sense of purpose. If you have the chance, read John 3:1-3–and ask God to show you where God is offering newness in your life.

Blessings,

Pastor Roger

Church Leadership

Our Church Leadership

Our Church thrives because of the energy and style of the people who are a part of our leadership. Here are a few of the people that make our church community special:


                Roger Grafenstein - Pastor

            Pastor Roger and his wife Chele are entering the empty nest

            phase with two grown children--a 25 year old daughter and an

            20 year old son.  They share a passion for seeing the beauty in life:

            growing flowers, appreciating nature, and seeing God's image in

            others.

On Pastor Roger's office wall is a plaque:  "The Pastor's Study - You are welcome here.  Within these walls each word is safe, each burden gladly borne, and each blessing gladly shared."  Such is the work of ministry and worship leadership--creating safe, sacred times and spaces that are sanctuaries where we are reunited with the God who made us.  In these worshipful settings we are renewed to love and serve God's people and and creation.  Telling the stories of God's loving, healing presence in our everyday lives is Pastor Roger's passion.  Learning to live and love like Jesus and encouraging others to do the same is his daily goal.  By following Jesus we are transformed on the inside and become part of transforming the world into a place where God's kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven.


     Del Larson - Certified Lay Minister

Del is assigned by the District Superintendent to assist where needed at Grace UMC.  Del isn't a paid staff person, but he did work through a series of prayer and study modules designed for personal spiritual growth and leadership development.  Del was a key person in completion of Grace's Picture Directory, in creating a new way of organizing Grace's Rollag Fundraiser, and this year was the Vacation Bible School storyteller.  Del also arranged for Grace to be the HERO drop off site in Moorhead.  If you have unused medical equipment you may drop it off at Grace UMC and HERO will then distribute the items to those in need.  Del is focusing his ministry on visitation with the elderly and coordinating volunteers to serve meals at Churches United every 5th Wednesday.  Outside church Del has been highly involved in Moorhead's Special Olympics.  Del and his wife LuAnn are lifetime Moorhead residents, proud of their church and community.

Staff

  Office Administrator - Sondra Vick

Sondra has her finger on the pulse of Grace's congregational life--as keeper of the calendar and organizer of seeminginly endless information.  If you have a question regarding any administrative portion of Grace's Church life, Sondra will have or will find the answer to your question.  Sondra also compiles Grace's newsletters, readies Sunday bulletins and PowerPoints, and is at the center of most of Grace's correspondence with members and the community.  Most important, however, is that Sondra will always greet you with a smile and a gracious willingness to help you get the information you need or spread the word for a Grace project you're a part of.  You'll find Sondra in the office M 9 AM - 2 PM and T- F 9 AM - 1:00 PM.

Choir Director - Kyle Schwartz

                                              Choir Accompanist & Bell Choir Director - Sharon Fangsrud

 

Music is an integral part of my spiritual life – I would be lost without it. My church life began back in my home town in South Dakota in a Baptist congregation, where, as a young girl in junior high, I began playing for Sunday School and youth group, "moving up the ranks" to play for the Sunday morning church service and accompanying the choir as well as soloists and small groups. I inherited the love of music from my loving Grandfather (who I was blessed to be able to accompany often) and Mom (who was the first pianist when the Baptist church was organized in Milbank), and I will be forever grateful to them for the encouragement they gave to keep going. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with many musically talented musicians. It has been their love and ministry that has inspired me to share my talent and carry on their ministry – through singing, playing piano, or directing the bells. I pray that my ministry will do the same for others.

Weekly Devotional April 11th 2018

First a reminder that the “Relationships Built on Kindness: Moving Beyond Bullying” workshop will be held at Grace UMC this evening starting at 6:20 PM. It is for all ages. Now, onto this week’s devotion.

The United Methodist pastors in MN are all reading a book entitled “God Unbound.” Near the end of the book there is a word about prayer based on the Psalm 23 image of “God preparing a table before us in the presence of our enemies” (those things we fear). The author suggests prayer involves:

1) Showing up–aware of self, neighbors and the world
2) Paying attention–to what we feel and what’s going on around us
3) Having an attitude of cooperation with God’s invitation, instruction or correction in our lives
4) Releasing the outcome of our prayers to God. God is God and we are not.

It’s #4 that is most challenging for me. Sometimes its hard to be present in the moment or identify my own feelings. But, those practices always seem easier than turning the outcome of my prayers over to God. Honestly praying with Jesus’, “Not my will but Thy will be done,” is easier said than done. Jesus’ prayer, “Not my will but Thy will be done,” models for us what God Unbound means. God understands our situations better than we do. God knows our loved ones better than we do. God seeks to work in this world–but not always in the ways we expect. So, for us to pray in a way that frees us means to pray in a way that “lets God be God and reminds us we are not.”

Perhaps you’ve been praying over a situation in your own life or in the life of someone you care for. Maybe you have an outcome in mind. What would it take to turn that outcome over to God? “These are my hopes God, but not my will, let your will be done.” Such a prayer is not easy because it is a form of letting go of control. Not being in control is frightening. But, allowing for God to do what God sees fit can be calming. When we struggle to let God be in control one thing we can do is pay attention to every time we feel anxious or worried. Every time we feel those feelings, we can repeat Jesus’ prayer, “Not my will but thy will be done.” If we are not driving, we might even close our eyes and quietly repeat “Not my will but Thy will be done” 2 or 3 times.

If you are more musically inclined, you may even consider softly singing,

“Be not dismayed whate’er betide, God will take care of you;
beneath his wings of love abide, God will take care of you.
God will take care of you, through ever day, o’er all the way,
God will take care of you, God will take care of you.”

If you’re in a place where you can watch a video perhaps let this version orchestral version of God Will Take Care of You performed in Germany be part of your prayer today. Click on:

Blessings.

Pastor Roger

Prayer Focus

Prayer for those who struggle to believe the best each day because their lives are
going through a season of struggle. Pray for strength a day at a time and a step
at a time.

First Mile Mission

First Mile Mission Giving begins in all UM Churches with
Apportionments: ‘A Portion Meant’ for mission. Grace’s 1st Mile
Mission Giving Goal is $20,460 or $122.00 each member based on
a membership of 168. Generous givers are already Paving The way
to meeting that goal, with $2,538.02 given to date.