First Steps

First a confession: I’ve never blogged before.

Not very encouraging, huh?

If you’re going to keep reading, you need to find something worthwhile fast. People can access a blog from around the world, but my target audience will be the people in and around Clarkfield, Minnesota, a very rural, very traditional, relatively poor, barely-hanging-on-by-its-fingertips community of about 800 souls. You may not have a church home, but you do have an intense spiritual interest. Maybe you landed at this site in a private quest to find out if this little congregation called New Life Church is safe for someone like you to visit.

Perhaps you’re checking out the sermons online. Please bear with us while we get the technical stuff sorted out. We just started making recordings. Sometimes we miss the beginning of the message. Sometimes we miss the ending. Sometimes the sound quality just isn’t very good. So not all sermons will be posted. But we’ll try to give you fair samples. Hopefully they’ll get better when we get some new equipment.

Below are worship notes which might help you know what to expect in the “Where?” series during the summer of 2013:

June 9, 2013

Recently I told a group of C&MA pastors I planned to preach on creationism vs. evolution and lay out the various interpretations and theories about the question of origins.

“Why would you want to do that?” one seasoned pastor asked with genuine concern.

Another pastor simply said, “Good luck.”

What worried them, I suppose, is this is a closed-case debate in the evangelical church. Many Christians already have made up their minds about origins. Most people want their views reinforced, not called into reexamination.

There’s a genuine danger that this series will be lighting matches in a dynamite factory. So wear a fire-proof suit! That’s a price we pay in the quest for knowledge. I can get defensive when I hear something from a different perspective. It happened to me just a few days ago at West Point. But the agitation was my fault, not theirs.

Truth isn’t fragile. It won’t shatter if we press it and put it under a microscope and examine it one more time with an open mind. If it’s true, it can withstand the scrutiny. Every belief and presupposition, no matter how sacred, is on the table and open to cross-examination. If we don’t take that bold step of maturity, we’re not pursuing truth, we’re merely clinging to dogma and prejudice.

It’s easy to tell if our minds are closed because our words will carry more heat than light. Ridicule, sarcasm and scorn merely expose a shallow mind, a discourteous spirit, and a blind faith. That doesn’t honor Christ. And it doesn’t persuade the multitudes for whom Christ died.

So this summer we’re going to do more than answer questions. We’re going to question our answers. We have nothing to fear from that except criticism from people who don’t have the courage or the character of Christ. His Word will still be true. Our examination will not change the facts.

Despite all that, some of you still may be agitated until you find out exactly where I stand on this issue. I’m not trying to hide it at all. I’m a young earth creationist. But it’s great if you’re not. In fact, I’m rather disappointed that we have so few old earthers hanging around New Life. It’s far too predictable (and unfruitful) preaching to the choir.


July 7, 2013

My wife says I’m an expert at making messes. Usually she’s making the point in jest when we’re having fun. But we both know she has a point. I allow clutter to accumulate on my desk, on my dresser, and in the bill drawer.

I wish I had a more beneficial field of expertise, but nothing comes to mind at the moment. So I’ll just have to share with you today my superb expertise about messes.

From time to time (that means when a blue moon falls on a Tuesday in years ending in “7”), I make a genuine effort to clean up my clutter. Yes, it’s mundane. But what happens is that I take the clutter and separate individual items into piles based on specific criteria: old or new, church or personal, file or toss, act on or ignore.

It never dawned on me before this week that separation is a key step in the task of creating order from chaos. It’s true in my field of expertise; it’s also true of God in his work of creation. In fact, several times in the first few verses of Genesis 1 that God separated things—light from darkness, water above from water below, land from water.

That’s interesting! And it’s very practical. Stay tuned.