August 1, 2019
Happy August, King of Glory!
I hope your summer months were good and that you enjoy the last few weeks that are left before school semesters start up and traffic worsens. J It has been an exciting last month for our church for sure. We welcomed 10 new members! We had an amazing week of VBS! And we called Deacon Leah Lind to be our new Deacon of Administration and Congregational Care! (By the way, thank you to all of you who attended the Q&A and the Congregation Meeting. It’s awesome to see your interest and investment in the future ministry of your church family.) Whoever said that summer months were a “break” from the busy season did not work at our church! This upcoming month is proving to be no different as we anticipate Leah’s start on August 5th, hiring a new permanent custodian, and hopefully finding a new Choir Director. (At the moment, we are not yet looking for an organist as Gwen Woloshun has graciously agreed to stay on—health permitting—to give us time to first fill these other positions.) Plus, of course, we are now starting to gear-up for our fall season, and it’s gonna be a good one! We have a great Growth Group series planned and a very fun theme already set for Advent (you’re gonna love it!).
With all of this busyness and more changes headed our way, I got to thinking about worry, especially in light of last month’s Gospel passage from Luke regarding Jesus’ visit to Martha and Mary’s house. In my sermon that Sunday, I didn’t focus too much on Jesus’ words to Martha, when he says, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things,” but these are important words for us all to reflect on (including me). The Greek words used here are μεριμνάω and θόρυβος which mean to literally be divided and tumultuous or in an uproar. I love those Greek words, because they describe so well the results that worry can have in our lives. Worry divides our focus and our hearts. It fogs up our vision, like a bathroom mirror after a hot shower. Anxiety puts our emotions on a roller coaster, like the ones at the OC County Fair. Taking care of our daily responsibilities with resolve and facing whatever comes our way with clarity and calm is important. However, when we let worry, stress and busyness cloud what is most important (i.e. our faith and relationship with God), then we find ourselves in Martha’s shoes.
I recently read a story about a woman named Ann Jillian who found herself in such a state when she discovered an irregularity in her breast. She immediately imagined the worst: cancer. Panic immediately ensued. As reported in Care Notes, she stopped by her church on her way to her doctor’s appointment, and saw these words inscribed above the church entrance:
The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either God will shield you from suffering, or God will give you strength to bear it. Be at peace, then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.
Ann Jillian had never noticed those words before and, “Up to that point,” she said, “everything was turbulent. Then I released everything into God’s hands. Of course God wanted to help me.”
What do you need to release into God’s hands today? God wants to help! What is causing an uproar or division in your mind and heart? Try taking some time to refocus on Jesus. Read some scripture—Luke 10 is a good place to start. Spend time in prayer. And remember that when we maintain our focus on God (the most important thing), then everything else finds its proper place or simply fades into the background, where it belongs.
Blessings to you and yours as you finish up summer vacations and prepare for fall,
July 1, 2019
Happy July, dear KOG friends and family!
These summer months remind me of spending time as a child in our garden, in the back yard at my childhood home in Minot, ND. My grandfather, Stan, (the one my Buick was named after) used to come over to our house and help tend our garden, since my dad would spend most of the summer away working at different pipeline sites in Montana and the Dakotas. Actually, both of my grandfathers grew up on farms in North Dakota and loved to garden once they moved into homes in the “big city” of Minot (population 30,000). In fact, Josh’s father, my father-in-law, Ron Baesler (who preaches here on occasion) is also a North Dakota farm boy who now loves tending to his garden here in Southern California. Personally, Josh and I have not had much time to carry on the family gardening tradition, but we hope to one day pass on that mantle to Jules. J What is it about gardening that is so attractive? So appealing? It’s especially great here in California where you can literally garden year-round! There is nothing like eating the fruits of your labor fresh out of your own garden, right?
God enjoys gardening too. Not only in the Garden of Eden, but in every human heart. God desires to grow the fruits of the Spirit in each of us. Just look to Galatians 5:22-23 where the apostle Paul writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23gentleness, and self-control.” These are the fruits of the Holy Spirit that God plants and waters and tends to in each of our hearts, so that we can taste of their goodness in our lives. Have you ever asked yourself, “What fruit is my life bearing?” or “How can I be more fruitful?”
Well, as I said, I’m only a wanna-be gardener when it comes to physical produce, but spiritual produce is a whole other matter, and one that I’m much more experienced in. I have two tips for you today on how you can be more fruitful, and they’re actually things that any good gardener knows.
First, gardening and growing the fruits of the Spirit are both about partnership. According to Rev. Rick Warren, God uses a two-part process. In Philippians, Paul writes you must “work out your own salvation” and then he turns around and says, “…for it is God who is at work in you.” That seems like a paradox and against Lutheran theology, right? But Paul isn’t saying we have to work for our salvation. That has already been gained by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Just as God is the one who creates the seed that turns into the plant, our salvation comes from God alone. But we can work it out, as in work with it or do a spiritual workout; we work our gardening skills, lift those spiritual weights, to get the most out of what God has already given us and is trying to work in us. If we want to grow the fruits of the Spirit, we need to work at them.
Secondly, gardening and growing the fruits of the Spirit take time and patience. Just as a seed doesn’t turn into a full grown blooming and deliciously ripe tomato plant overnight, our spiritual growth—growth love, joy peace, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—takes time and patience. There are no short cuts or quick answers. I’ve heard that some farmers will spray CO2 on green unripe tomatoes to make them turn red right before they go to market, but one bite into those tomatoes and you can tell, right? There’s no comparison to a vine-ripened, fresh out of the garden tomato, where the inside matches the outside, and has taken it’s time soaking up sunlight and water and fertilizer. That’s what God desires to grow in us. But we too need to be patient and stick to the task at hand, soaking up God’s word, worship, and prayer to help us in our fruit-growing endeavors. This summer, may you grow a fabulous garden or enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labors (maybe one of our KOG gardeners!), but above all, I hope that you continue to work with God to grow the fruits of the Spirit in your heart.
June 1, 2019
Happy June King of Glory! There are two things I’d like to begin with. First, don’t forget to join us on Sunday, June 9 at 10:00 am for our Unity Service (we only do these twice a year now, so don’t miss out!), plus we’ll be having our summer kick-off BBQ afterward with lots of good food and fun. Secondly, I wanted to say Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers and fatherly folks out there. A free picture awaits you and your family between services that day as well as some yummy pastries. We hope you’ll join us and have a blessed day!
It has been such a busy winter and spring hasn’t it? Maybe that’s why I have recently been pondering a word that occurs in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament nearly 74 times. It’s a word that I first heard about in seminary, when I was studying ancient Hebrew (a requirement for Lutheran seminary students). Although there are many words in Hebrew that are difficult to translate directly into English, this word is particularly fascinating, because it isn’t just that we can’t translate it perfectly, it’s that we can’t translate it AT ALL! Why? Because scholars don’t even know what it really means. The meaning has literally been lost over the millennia. What is the word? סֶלָה or selah. Nearly all of selah’s occurrences are in the Psalms. Maybe you’ve noticed it there? Or maybe your eyes just read right past it. That’s what most people typically do, and what I myself used to do, but as I said, my interest in selah has been peaked again recently.
So what do we think selah means? One hint we have comes from where it occurs. Selah almost always either ends a Psalm (e.g. Psalms 3, 24 and 46) or it comes at the end of a verse in a Psalm, though there are a few exceptions. That particular location is one reason why scholars think that this word was meant to cause people to stop and listen, to pause and let the words they have just heard or read or sung truly sink in. Others however point to how selah is similar to another word in Hebrew that means “to hang on” or “weigh”. Others think selah is similar to the word “amen” in Greek and a comment on the desired truth of the prior words. While others yet say it means “forever” or “always” and is an affirmation of the enduring nature of the words just shared.
Although we can’t know for sure selah’s intended meaning when it was scribed thousands of years ago, it can still bear great meaning for our lives today. This word can serve as a reminder from God to us all that it is necessary and prudent to allow for moments of selah in our day. Much like how God calls upon us to take a Sabbath during the week, with selah, God calls upon us to regularly stop and listen throughout our day: to listen to God, one another and the needs of our own hearts. Selah asks us to take a pause from the busyness and stress and worry and to remember the enduring truth and weight of God’s word for us. Selah asks us to hang our hope on God’s promises alone. Could you use a little more selah in your life? What would your moments of selah look like?
As you move into this summer season, may God’s selah interrupt and disrupt the rhythms and routines of your days and provide you opportunities to stop, listen and hang your heart and hope upon the truth, love and grace of our God alone.
May 2, 2019
Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Happy Easter, dear friends and family of King of Glory! I hope you all had a meaningful Lenten season and Holy Week, and a joyful Easter! First, I want to thank everyone who helped make this special season of reflection, study and faith development possible. Thank you to the Wallaces for heading up our Growth Group ministry yet again this year. Thank you to all of our small group leaders for giving of their time. Thank you to Nancy Cotta for arranging our Wednesday Lenten Soup Supper speakers and to the folks who helped to set-up, clean-up and bring soup for these lovely suppers. Thank you to Catherine and Alan Marcum for running sound and projection at these Wednesday services and for all others who stepped up as needed to serve during worship. Thank you to Karen Ronchetti for decorating the Sanctuary and to the staff for their extra efforts during this especially busy time. Thank you to all those whom I am not naming here but who also gave of their time and energy. Thank you also to our two staff members who recently announced their resignation—Penny Benetatos and Heather Stolte—both of whom agreed to stay on until the end of the Easter season. We have appreciated so much your efforts and wish you both all the best on your new endeavors! And lastly, thank you especially to our Sunday morning speakers, who were willing to share their personal stories of God’s transforming and sustaining Grace in their lives: Ned Gould, Amanda Pulos, Rhonda Fisher, Paul Wallace and Jodi Coffman! You all are amazing and touched many folks by your words.
Recently, there has been a Psalm running through my head, Psalm 30, which is one of our lectionary texts for the first Sunday of May. It has some famous lines in it that many of you have likely heard before if not memorized yourselves: “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (vs. 5b). This Psalm also has some other well-known verses, such as, “You have turned my morning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me in joy.” Such juxtapositions as these are common in our faith vernacular, right? I was lost, but now I am found. I was blind, but now I see. I was dead and now am alive. I was a slave to sin, but now I am free. I lived in darkness, but now I see light. What others can you name from scripture or song? Such powerful testimonies of how God’s grace can change one’s life and perspective. Thank goodness we have people who are willing to share such testimonies, like the writer of Psalm 30 and those who did so in our own congregation during Lent, so that others can be filled with hope and inspired to turn to God in their times of distress.
Even though the Easter season is upon us, times of trial and temptation, times of sorrow, doubt and despair, they still linger, for the day of God’s Kingdom has not yet fully come. My question for you is, how have you experienced God’s deliverance? What would your testimony be? Below are some of the questions I shared with our Lenten speakers, to help them in their preparations. I share them with you now to hopefully help you as well in naming and articulating your own testimony of how God’s grace has effected your life.
- What biblical story or passage best describes God’s grace to you?
- Max Lucado writes that God’s grace changes, emboldens, strengthens, rewires and softens us. Describe a time when you have experienced the power of God’s grace.
- Grace is God’s promise that Christ will live not only for us but within us, that a new spirit will be put in us, that we get a “spiritual heart-transplant.” When have you experienced Christ living within you? Did you forgive someone who wronged you? Find the strength to choose a better path? Make an unexpected life change? Stand up for others in a way you never expected yourself to?
- Personally, I like to think of grace as when judgment is warranted, but instead favor/blessing is found. Does that spark any thoughts, memories, realizations for you?
If you have not done so yet, I strongly encourage you to consider what your own testimony about God’s grace would be. How has God changed your weeping into laughing, your night into morning, your blindness into sight? You never know who may be needing to hear your testimony today.
Grace, Peace and Easter Blessings to you all from our Risen Lord, who has turned death into life!
April 1, 2019
Hello again, dear friends and family of KOG!
Happy Lent! I hope you are enjoying our Sunday guest sermon series and Growth Group focus on Max Lucado’s book Grace. I am taking a little break from talking about grace for a moment and instead wanted to focus on a recent Netflix program I’ve been obsessing over: Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Have you seen it? It’s about a Japanese woman, Marie Kondo, who helps transform people’s lives by helping them tidy and declutter their homes. It’s addicting and touching and inspiring. Each episode has not only reminded me of how much our physical spaces effect our emotional and mental health, but it has also made me want to do some major spring cleaning and purging of my own. And it seems like this is the perfect liturgical season to do it, right? After all, Lent is a time when we are called to declutter and purge the things that have clouded our souls, minds and lives. This is the season when we try to do a fresh sweep of our selfishness and ask God to give our hearts a good cleansing. What in your life needs to be purged? Bookshelves? Office files? Kitchen cupboards? Or perhaps it’s constant busyness? Perfectionism? Past hurts and grudges? I know it is difficult, but only by devoting intentional energy and effort to this physical and spiritual process can we open up and prepare ourselves to receive the new and unexpected blessings God desires for our lives.
I was feeling all ready to go with my Lenten purge . . . then Josh and I sold our condo. This, of course, was/is a wonderful thing, but it also meant there was no time to purge, only pack, and pack we did and then move in the flurry of one weekend with the help of some very gracious church members. We are currently living out of suitcases and boxes at my in-laws in Placentia waiting to move into our new home. My dreams of tidiness had to be packed up as well during this process, to be opened another day. Just as I was about to begin feeling discouraged, I came across a wonderful thought in my new favorite devotion book: Gracelaced. In it, the author, Ruth Chou Simons, discusses Psalm 92:2 in which the Psalmist writes, “I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.’” Chou Simons writes about how her tidy home used to be her refuge (before she had 4 boys!) and of her struggle to maintain that refuge with her growing family and busy schedule. Rather than bemoaning it as a loss, however, she says it helped her realize that a tidy home, or office, or man-cave, were never meant to be our refuge. God is our true refuge. Only when we seek to find our rest, peace, and strength in God, will we be satisfied.
Now, you may be thinking, “Pastor Lund, you’re confusing me. First you said that tidiness is good and now you’re saying it’s not?” Yes, it may sound like a bit of a flip-flop, but here’s my point: it’s necessary and good to do our Lenten practice of spiritual tidying, but let us not forget that tidying itself is not the answer to peace and happiness. Let us not let our newly purged and organized homes and hearts become our new idol. Instead, do the tidying, do the hard work of Lent, but then remember that in the end it is not your work that is the answer. The answer is always God and the work God did through Jesus Christ for you. It all comes back to Grace. God’s grace is our true refuge and strength; the one and only place that deserves our trust and devotion. As Lent draws to a close, let us all say to God as the Psalmist does, “You are my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.”
Blessings to you on the rest of your Lenten journey and whatever tidying you undergo, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
Peace, Pastor Kinndlee
Happy March to you all! This month marks the beginning of Lent, so I have a few exciting things I wanted to share with you regarding that and then an update from our office.
First, let’s talk about Lent. This Lenten season we will be doing our regular Wednesday evening schedule, beginning Wednesday, March 6th, with our special Ash Wednesday services. Those services will be at both 12 noon and 6:15 pm. The schedule for the other Wednesdays in Lent will be a Soup Supper at 5:30 pm, Worship at 6:15 pm, and Growth Groups from 6:45-7:45 pm. As you may have heard, we are doing our Growth Group study on Max Lucado’s book Grace: More than We Deserve, Greater than We Imagine. For Wednesday worship, we are trying something different with the music—each song will be by request, so come ready with your favorite hymns (just so long as they don’t have an “alleluia” in them). On Sundays, we’re going to have some new fun things planned too. For the 8 am Traditional Service, we will be trying a new liturgy called Chosen People which will have its own liturgy books from which the service will be led. And at both services throughout Lent, we’ll be hearing personal stories from our own KOG members regarding ways God’s grace has touched their lives. I’m really excited for these next 6 weeks and their focus on God’s amazing grace and how it changes and enriches the lives of those among us.
Secondly, I wanted to share a couple pieces of news from our office. On a sad note, our new bookkeeper, Christy Borack, resigned effective Friday, March 1. She received an unexpected offer for a full-time job with the school district, which she just couldn’t pass up. We are overjoyed at the opportunity she has been given even though we had already come to enjoy and appreciate her presence so much on the staff. Filling in as our interim bookkeeper will be a phenomenal lady named Jera Ricktersen. Jera is the bookkeeper for Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Huntington Beach and Christ Lutheran Church in Orange. We’re lucky that she is fitting us into her busy schedule, which will mean that her office hours will not always parallel the hours our office is open. We’re going to give this a try and see how it works as Jera brings with her a fantastic level of experience and expertise and ringing endorsements. Another change in our office is that Heather Stolte, our Office Manager, has changed her position to be our Campus Administrator. Simply put, this means that Heather’s responsibilities are more focused on the scheduling and coordination of our facility use as well as general office duties and Catherine Marcum will now be the point person for all things that have to do with Sunday morning worship. In conjunction with this change, Heather has reduced her office hours to Monday and Wednesday from 9 to 3 and Thursdays from 10 to 1. Lastly, this also prompted a change in her email address, so there is no longer an [email protected] email address. Instead you can reach Heather at [email protected] We’ve had more changes in the office than anticipated this early into 2019, but hopefully it’s setting us up for a successful year.
Blessings to you all during this upcoming Lenten season,