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November 23, 2018


BWCA - Immanuel Women

My compass in life

By Kelly Kautz

At the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, I chose the word “TRUST” as my word to guide me throughout the year, and it continues to be the word that I turn to as I take on new adventures.

This summer as I canoed in the Boundary Waters for the first time with a group of ILC women, I was worried about getting lost, and grateful for my friends, Barb and Deb, who had been in the BWCA before and knew how to read the maps. We headed out and before long we were surrounded by water and islands and land that all looked the same to me. My map was in front of me, on my Duluth pack, but it made no sense to me in relationship to my surroundings. Yet, I trusted Barb & Deb (and Deb’s compass) and we arrived safely at our destination at day’s end.

My compass in life

The next day, I began to learn how to read the map and notice the landmarks, not yet independently, but with guidance. I learned how vital the compass is in navigating, to confirm our location and to guide our path. Often my idea of where we were, based on looking at the map and studying our surroundings, was wrong. Proceeding without checking the compass would have taken me in the wrong direction.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed and lost in life. I question myself and my abilities. Then I remember my word - TRUST! I don’t trust blindly. Just as I must rely on my compass in the BWCA, so I rely on my compass in life - God’s word, prayer and my “faith friends.” Reading the Bible reminds me of God’s promises for me and what God expects of me, through prayer I put my trust in God (yet again), and my faith friends encourage and guide me as God is at work in and through them. Trusting in my faith compass, I am able to walk along life’s path with confidence.

Proverbs 3: 5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

November 16, 2018


Poem by Beth Hansen

The Way

By Beth Hansen

We each have our way
Our paths aren’t the same
We each have our day
To act in His name

Our backgrounds are different
Our talents may vary
And so do the demons
And crosses we carry

Step into His word
Let go of your sins
As you walk in His path
Redemption begins

Open your ears
Listen to His song
Sing as you walk
It can be your own

We each have our way
But His way has a place
In our actions and thoughts
As we each run this race

We each have our way
Our paths aren’t the same
But don’t wait a day
To act in His name

November 9, 2018


Dinosaurs at church

Dinosaurs at Church

By Pastor Angela

Kids love dinosaurs.  Once a little 4-year-old boy I know was sorting his little toy dinosaurs on the floor and was asked by an adult if he was sorting them by color, and he said “Nope.  Carnivores and herbivores.”

Angela's quote

That little kids (and big kids!) love dinosaurs – and know a lot about them – is not news to us.  So, what a joy to visit the 5th and 6th graders in “God Squad” one recent Sunday morning to draw a random question of theirs from the bucket… about dinosaurs.  Rather than answer solo, I decided to include them fully this time around.  That day there were 6-7 kids who happen to be wearing bright green T-shirts (like dinosaurs), so I decided to ask them to wrestle together with what they think of all of big “W” questions (who, what, when, where, why – and how) of creation/dinosaurs.  They were amazing (and dove right in!), recognizing God’s great imagination, especially with respect to God’s timing, and of what little we know.

Ultimately, we all decided that the most important thing we do know about creation (& dinosaurs) was WHO created.  GOD.  I see God continually at work through our 5th and 6th graders every week… through their faith-filled responses as we explore questions together as children of God – green shirts, or otherwise!

November 2, 2018

FaithBIT - Stewardship Edition

Ben Orton

Letting Go

By Ben Orton

My first big lesson in generosity came when at age 20 while in college at the Air Force Academy.  Cadets could not own cars until they became juniors so upon reaching that milestone, USAA offered an extremely low interest rate loan of an amount that could fund the purchase of a new car (a very successful tactic).  Not long after receiving those funds, I was approached by family with a large need which those funds would go a long way towards meeting.  I found myself initially burdened by this request and the thought of paying back a loan for years which I wouldn’t receive any benefit from.  But God used this opportunity to reinforce that all I had was from Him and all of it, including me, were His to be used for His Kingdom building work.  Further, I was richly blessed and well positioned in life to have a blessed future, one in which I would be given opportunities to be a part of building His kingdom of which this was one. 

Ben's Quaote

The act of letting that money go was a step of faith which was richly rewarded as I saw a tremendous burden lifted from someone dear to me.  In the end, I didn’t miss the money or what it could have purchased but rather felt a deep sense of gratitude and connectedness to God’s work that He allowed me to be a part of. 

Hosea 13:6 says “When I fed them they were satisfied, when they were satisfied they became proud, when they became proud they forgot me”.  God gives us all we need.  Jesus taught us to pray each day that God would provide our daily bread and asserted in the desert that it isn’t just bread that sustains us but every word that comes from God.  Ultimately, Christ, and his grace are sufficient.  The opportunities God brings us to be generous are invitations to remember Him, to believe these promises, and to draw nearer to Him as He performs His world changing work through us. 

October 26, 2018

FaithBIT - Stewardship Edition

Brian Vik - All about giving

All about giving

By Brian Vik

On the corners of Immanuel’s altar platform sit two banners which echo the church’s and our own individual missions - - one reads “Called to Care” and the other “Sent to Serve”.  When we depart from church each Sunday we are told to, “Go in peace and Serve the Lord”.  The message to each of us? Go out and serve!

For 12 years the Lord has granted me the privilege to serve one of the ministries Immanuel supports, Cornerstone. I signed up as I enjoy this type of work - never once thinking that this would last for 12 years. I also never imagined that in serving others I would be rewarded way beyond description. The smiles and thank you’s from the families we serve inspire me and remind me that the power of simple giving is amazing. 

Brian's quote - Cornerstone

But the real blessing is seeing my fellow members of Immanuel assist with the meal and interact with the families. Jesus taught us to care for the least of his children and to love our neighbor. I see each month how the kind actions of my Immanuel brothers and sisters help those we serve feel love, and know that Jesus and his many servants care.

I have come to realize that being “called to care” is all about giving - and in doing so, you receive the gift of knowing you made a difference and that you are continuing to do the work that Lord started and expects of you.  My wish and hope is to do more, as I feel that I have more to give.  The weekly call to action, “serve the Lord”, is a continual reminder to continue to pay forward the many blessings I have been given. 

October 19, 2018

FaithBIT - Stewardship Edition

FaithBIT - Bible Study

The center of life

By Gary Hammer

On a Thursday morning in February 2009, I walked into our Men’s Bible Study at Baker’s Square in Eden Prairie.  Someone asked me, “How’s it going, Gary?”

I replied, “Well, my 401(K) is a 201(K) now!”  I was half joking, but my comment was serious, too, following the drop in the stock market and retirement planned within 10 years.  Yet, I felt a calmness that was much different than Black Monday in 1987.

Why?  God has been changing my attitude toward money over the years.  A big part of that is the story of the widow in Mark 12: 42-44…

“Presently, there came a poor widow who dropped in two tiny coins, together worth a penny. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘Truly, I tell you this poor widow has given more than all those giving to the temple, for the others who have given had more than enough, but she, with less than enough, has given everything.’”

A widow gives two tiny coins—all she had—for the temple.  Not only was she extremely generous, but she trusted totally in God for her care.  She didn’t fret.

Gary's quoate

I realized that she had removed the power of money with her generosity.  The center of her life was God, not money.

Now, when a financial disaster (or any disaster) strikes, I know that I remain in God’s continuing care and that’s all that matters.

October 12, 2018


Jon - Hot Tub Prayer Machine

Hot Tub Prayer Machine

By Jon Ebert

Like many of us I’ve prayed sitting, standing, kneeling, at church, at work, in the car, and most anywhere the time and place felt right; however, my favorite and most common place to pray is in my hot tub. I’m a morning tubber and I’m in the hot tub nearly every morning year-around. I suppose you can say it’s my substitute for morning coffee as it energizes me in both mind and body and I find it the perfect place to connect with God for my daily prayers. I have a ritual for my prayers but I’m always revising to keep them fresh. I start by thanking God for my family and that we may be a blessing to others. I pray for critical needs for those whom I know as well as broader needs for our brothers and sisters throughout the world. In closing, I thank God for our “special angels” (naming family members who are watching over us from heaven) and end with the Lord’s Prayer.

Quote - Hot Tub Prayer Machine

There’s something very calming and relaxing about water and combined with the symbolism of baptism it’s the perfect place for me to connect with God. My travels have brought me around the world and given me unique settings from which to pray. Some of my most spiritual memories while traveling are floating on my back in a pool of water gazing up at the clouds praying to God and reflecting on how the sky is the same no matter where we are on the planet—bringing me emotionally closer to my loved ones and making my away-from-home prayers so much more meaningful. My morning hot tub prayer machine enriches my faith walk each day by connecting me with God in a peaceful setting that guides me throughout the day on a path of purpose and gives me clarity for a meaningful life.

October 5, 2018


Emilyn and Kids - Sisseton

Loved to love

By Emilyn Ryski

It was a day like any other; I was up way too early and doing a million things at once. I decided to take a break and go to Kids Club to see my kiddos. What I didn’t know was that Jace, a 6-year-old I hadn’t seen in a year was going to be there waiting for me. I walked into the craft room and was immediately greeted with a huge smile and a hug. Reconnecting with Jace who loves unconditionally and remembered me from last summer was a turning point for my week. It was one of those weeks where I needed a reminder of unconditional love.

Emilyn's quote

This summer I was reminded to love our neighbors as ourselves. Our words and actions impact the people around us more than we think. And although that may be intimidating to think about, it is really easy to love others. Kind words, a compassionate heart, and a welcoming smile are enough to change someone’s life. Every day I took time to listen and care for the kids of Sisseton and because of that, my faith grew. These kids have been through so much in their lives yet they are so quick to love others and open up their hearts to new friendships. Sometimes people just need us to sit and listen for them to be reminded that they matter. And the beautiful thing is we are all neighbors and beloved children of God.

September 28, 2018


Cari Larsen and small group

Rejoice in the day!

By Cari Larsen

“This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

I have to admit that while this is a Bible verse I’ve known since I was a child, I don’t always take it to heart. Some days I get caught up in frustrations at work – some days parenting takes its toll – some days I’m a grumpy wife, sister and daughter – some days the lament of my neighbors weighs heavily on my heart. Before I know it, I’ve let a day pass by without experiencing the joy that God intended for our lives.

In May I finished up co-leading a confirmation small group for a group of Immanuel students – including Faith. This fall I’m starting to co-lead a confirmation small group for more Immanuel students – including Caroline. I remember when I was preparing for Faith’s group – three years of Wednesday nights seemed like a huge commitment and a stretch of time that would go on forever. Now, as we are kicking off activities for this year’s 7th graders, I know that these three years will go by in the blink of an eye; that the Wednesdays will turn into weeks, months and the three years will fly by.

Cari's quote

I believe God has been using this time of reflection to remind me to slow down, pay attention and rejoice in the days that have been created for us! I know God doesn’t want us to ignore our neighbors’ laments – or not to work through the challenges of being a member of a family – or not acknowledge difficulties with co-workers or other relationships in our lives. I have just been sensing that God wants us to experience true joy that comes from the day that the Lord has made.

So, as the school year starts for my kids and as confirmation and many other programs kick off for the year at Immanuel, I’m going to try to remember each day to rejoice in the day that God has made and share that joy and the love of God with my family and neighbors.

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