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Aboard the MainStreet Boat – 5th Anniversary Reflection

 

On January 15, 2017, MainStreet Covenant celebrated our 5th anniversary. Exactly five years ago, I preached an inaugural sermon telling the story of Erik August Skogsbergh, a renowned Swedish preacher and one of the founders of the Covenant, and of his dynamic ministry in Mound in the 1890s. In those days crowds took the train from the city to Lake Minnetonka on Sundays, getting off the train in Spring Park and boarding Captain Deering’s steamboat for the trip across West Arm Bay to Skogsbergh’s Point.

At the point they enjoyed picnics on Skogsbergh’s lawn, sang songs and  listened attentively to Bible expositions under Skogsbergh’s mulberry arbor. People came joyfully, people came expectantly. They went home spiritually recharged and sometimes forever changed. The Spirit was stirring hearts, and many experienced the gift of New Birth on the north shore of Minnetonka those many decades ago.

I have drawn much inspiration from the legacy of Skogsbergh’s Point these past five years. I have read and reread his personal memoirs and biography. Since moving few miles north a couple years ago, I now drive past his cottage (still standing on Rest Point on West Arm Bay) every day and whisper a prayer of thanksgiving for his life and ministry. I try to imagine the crowd gathered on the shore, and the sound of his voice carrying across the bay as another heart is ignited and another soul won for the Kingdom.

Five years ago, at our Grand Opening service, I rallied people living in the Mound region to join our church-in-the-making by sharing the story of Skogsbergh’s boats. There were days when the crowds of Mission Friends (what early Covenanters called themselves) coming to the Point from Minneapolis on Sundays would not all fit on the steamboat, and so Skogsbergh built his own barge to provide an overflow taxi to his place. As the story goes, the people made it across the waters to the Point safely on the barge, but it was anything but a dry, comfortable ride!   Continue reading Aboard the MainStreet Boat – 5th Anniversary Reflection

POEM: “Expand” by Danny Evans

Our friend Danny Evans is writing poems each week for a series of sermons on the seven days of creation based on Steve Wiens’ book Beginnings: The First Seven Days of the Rest of Your Life (2016). Enjoy!

EXPAND

by Danny Evans

Now is your chance for expanse.
It’s time to broaden where you are going to the God who is all-knowing.
This shift and stretch in life may cause a bit of strife,
But if you have faith in the Son,
This situation will be won.
I know you might not want to let go of what you possess,
But you will not be oppressed.
Stretch yourself with God’s help, and you’ll be blessed.
God will take your hand,
So you can expand.

POEM: “Light” by Danny Evans

Our friend Danny Evans is writing poems each week for a series of sermons on the seven days of creation based on Steve Wiens’ book Beginnings: The First Seven Days of the Rest of Your Life (2016). Enjoy!

DAY ONE: LIGHT

by Danny Evans

The dark made all afraid,
But a spark came to its aid.
Before the light developed,
The dark kept all good things enveloped.
Despair filled the world
As it danced and twirled.
It thought it had all in hand
Until light came to visit the land.
Light made sure that dark would understand
That only his way would go as planned.
Joy came to visit all
As it locked out dark with a vast wall.

The Palms of His Hands

I tend to be a bit forgetful at times. I’ll walk upstairs to get something but forget what it was when I arrive. I’m only 37 but I swear my short-term memory is fading!  The obvious solution for this affliction is to write things down, make lists, or plug it into my iPhone calendar.

Before iCalendars, I went through the post-it note phase. A sea of yellow notes covered my work desk, laptop cover, car dash, kitchen counter and refrigerator. I even flirted briefly with the idea of using different colored notes to organize my life.

Yet, far pre-dating post-it notes is the equally “handy” method: jotting reminders on the inside of the palm of your hand! Ever done this? I know you have.

Don’t be embarrassed. Even God Himself isn’t above this timeless tactic. But what do you think could possibly be so important that even the Creator himself writes it on his hand as a constant reminder? Continue reading The Palms of His Hands

28-Day Spiritual Fitness Challenge

screen-shot-2017-03-01-at-9-14-20-pmInstead of giving up something for Lent this year, how about taking up a 28-Day Spiritual fitness challenge?

Two amazing MainStreet friends — Jaimie Hanly and Melissa Noreen — created a wonderful tool for growing in one’s prayer life and relationship with God. It’s a great idea for this Lenten season.

In invite you to check this out, and join the challenge!

Check it out HERE.

Thanks again Jaimie and Melissa for your labor of love!  May it bear fruit in many lives!

Cabin 19: Footprints in the Snow

The wind was steady and the snow was blinding. I could barely see my own outstretched hand as I shuffled through the deepening snow. My bare legs were now numb from the cold as I plowed through drifts nearly up to my waist.

Jesus’ footprints were barely visible and disappearing quickly. I had to keep moving. I found myself running, stumbling, falling, getting back up — again and again.

My numb shins began to burn and itch from the prolonged exposure. My eye lids were nearly frozen shut. I had to keep peeling off the frosted flakes in order to keep my eyes on the trail Jesus was blazing.

Worse than the cold wind and blinding snow, was the deafening silence I was experiencing. Snow has an insulating effect, a way of dampening the sounds of around you, until all you can hear is your own breathing and your own thoughts.

And the last thing I wanted in the world right now was to be left alone with my own thoughts.

“Jesus!?” I had been yelling out continuously, but I hadn’t heard his voice for probably 30 minutes — which felt more like 30 hours.

In the ripe silence my thoughts grew louder. Have you ever listened closely enough to your thoughts to discern they often take on different tones? At one moment they had the voice of a scared child crying out for help:

Where is he leading me? How much further? I’m cold. I want to go home. Please slow down, Jesus. I can’t keep up.

The next moment my thoughts had the sneering tone of the Accuser:

This is all your fault! You brought this upon yourself! You should just lay down, close your eyes and fall asleep into peaceful oblivion. 

Then the voice of truth again:

No, follow Jesus’ footprints! That’s all I need to do. He will guide me through this.

But the snow only increased and the tracks were beginning to disappear. A huge blast of wind came suddenly, and I found myself stumbling forward, face first into a drift. In the few seconds it took to gather myself, I had somehow lost my sense of direction. Which way was I heading? My cold, numb muscles struggled to pull me to my feet.

When I finally stood up and looked around, the footprints had completely vanished.

Continue reading Cabin 19: Footprints in the Snow

Merry Parachoresis! A Christmas Reflection

DAILY ILLUMINATION | Reports from the intersection of faith & everyday life.

This is a repost from a couple years ago. -JB

The Christmas story is all too familiar for most Christians today. We’ve seen two dozen pageants, have basically memorized Matthew and Luke’s accounts of wise men, shepherds, overbooked inns and barnyard manger scenes. The problem with familiarity, as Dallas Willard puts it, is that “Familiarity breeds unfamiliarity — unsuspected unfamiliarity, and then contempt” (The Divine Conspiracy, 11).

Thus, pastors often struggle preparing their annual Christmas message.  But as my recent post argued (See “And There Were Shepherds”), the Christmas story is filled with shock and mind-boggling surprises.  One has to work very hard to make this story ordinary and boring.  The story of Christmas is the most extraordinary story ever told.

This Christmas I shared a brief Christmas message at our high school Christmas dance — yes, my Baptist friends, our youth group had a dance to celebrate…

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