Sunday, October 4, 2015

Pastor Appreciation

This month is Pastor Appreciation Month. Some people have issues with this because they believe that we should be showing appreciation for, and praying for, our pastors throughout the year. I agree with that. However, I see this month as a reminder of exactly that. By having a specific month and day (Oct. 11th) for this, we are reminded that we do need to be showing those pastors and spiritual leaders that they are appreciated, and we need to be praying for them.

Today, we had this opportunity in Church. Our youth leaders/teachers banded together to arrange gifts and pictures and posters and prayers to show our pastor that he truly is appreciated and loved and that we are incredibly blessed to have him in our family.

Of course, the best part, was we kept it a secret from him. The kids even loved that when I told them today what we were doing. My group of K-2nd graders were so wonderful in wanting to do something special for our pastor. They all expressed how wonderful he is. They all worked together to help color pictures and make posters for him. And they were excited to be able to share their gifts with him. And they were so well behaved as we prayed, as a church, for him and his family. (Yes, I really love my Sunday School class!)

Anyway, regarding prayer... please please please pray for your pastors and spiritual leaders. Not just today. Not just next Sunday. Not just this month. Not just on Sundays. Pray every day for them. And pray for their families. Their spouses share them with you. Their children share them with you. They are on call 24/7, and constantly pray for you and care for you. God called them to shepherd His flock... let's try to help make that job a little easier.

Here's a few things to make sure you remember to include in your prayers regarding your pastor:

Wisdom to preach God's Word faithfully

Integrity and strong character to lead others on the right path

Strength and courage to face all challences

Comfort and peace  when they're feeling discouraged

Pray for their spouse as he/she stands beside him/her in ministry. Strengthen the spouse to face the trials of having a pastor as a spouse.

Pray for their marriage, asking God to keep it strong and to help them through any marital issue they may face.

Pray for their children, that God provide them with love, stability, guidance, and as strong a faith as their parents.

Pray for his/her ministry, providing guidance to preach God's Word wisely.

Pray for all the relationships within the church, that they are strong and working together for the betterment of the Church and all its people.

Pray that your pastor and the pastor's family are blessed with friends who will encourage them in their ministry, and can provide meaningful fellowship and rest.

Pray that they have the financial stability needed to raise a healthy family.

Pray they are protected from hurt caused by negative attitudes they may encounter such as criticism, discouragement, worry and stress. Pray they are healed of any hurts. 

Pray they get time to rest and relax and renew their faith and energy. 


I may have missed a few things... please comment if you can think of anything else our pastors need our prayers for. 

And to all those I have been blessed to be able to call Pastor - Thank you. You are appreciated. You are loved. 

God bless!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Today Lord

Today, Lord, please walk beside those who cannot stand on their own. Wrap them in your comforting embrace. Allow their tears to fall, and by your love let those tears wash away their pain and sorrow. And in love, wipe those tears away and let them see hope.

Today, Lord, please give courage and strength to those those who have none. Hold them near to you and allow them to feel your presence. Bring a light of hope to those who see only darkness. Bring peace to the chaos and despair which echos in their hearts and minds.

Today, Lord, please bring comfort to those suffering depression and loneliness. Allow them to feel your warmth and love. Give them hope for a brighter tomorrow.


Today, Lord, be with those who walk beside the depressed, the lonely, the grieving. Give them the strength to be your comforting embrace. Give them the courage to take the falling tears onto themselves, and to be able to give the gift of your comfort and love to those who desperately need it.

Today, Lord, please fill the hearts of the caregivers and loved ones with your love and light, so they can reflect this back onto those who are in darkness. Help them bring your peace to those who feel only chaos and despair.

Today, Lord, please bring comfort to these loved ones who are reaching out to the suffering. Fill them with your warmth and love. Give them hope for a brighter tomorrow.


In the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

Monday, August 24, 2015

Happy 3rd Birthday

Three years ago today, I was riding back from Fargo with a pastor. He'd taken me to go see my father-in-law who'd ended up in the hospital with cancer that he'd just a month earlier been diagnosed with. On this trip back home, the pastor was talking about how he still had to write a sermon for that Sunday. Jokingly, I offered to do write it for him. His response? "I'd love to see what you'd come up with."

Of course, I did not write his sermon for him, but that evening, after getting home, I decided to see what I could come up with. And Sermons from a Psycho was born.

It's been an interesting journey these past 3 years. I went from being a non-church going member of the UCC church to an almost-always present member of the ELCA church. I went from writing smut stories to now having over 400 "sermons" (only a few of which could actually be considered semi-preachable sermons). I have gone from someone who distrusts pastors to having two trusted pastors in my life who are continuously challenging me to grow. I have gone from not being active in a church to being a Sunday School teacher, the webmistress of the church website, helping with other things around the church, and have even had the opportunity and blessing to preach. I have gone from not understanding the importance of church, of fellowship, of worship, etc. to these things being a vital part of my daily life.

And it's all because of one silly little challenge that I couldn't let go unmet.

Thank you, God for bringing people into my life to challenge, guide, teach, and care about me. Thank you for bringing people into my life who have helped me develop a love for you and your church. Thank you for blessing me and guiding me in writing these "sermons".

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Older and Wiser

Proverbs 9:1-6; Psalm 34:9-14; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58

How many of you have heard the expression "older and wiser"?

How many of you agree with that expression?

I remember as a teenager and young adult, hearing that phrase and not believing it. Sure, there might have been one or two who fit the phrase, but in general, most "old" people were not very wise at all. It wasn't until I got a little older - and perhaps a bit wiser - that I understood the true meaning behind being "older and wiser." It wasn't until I got a little older that I learned the importance of it.

All of our readings today deal with two concepts - age, and wisdom. But the age that is spoken about is not physical age. Instead, it is our maturity - emotional and spiritual maturity.

In our text from Ephesians from a few weeks ago, we were told we will grow up (or, as some translations say it, we must grow up). In our text from Proverbs this morning, we see a similar statement when we're told "lay aside immaturity and live and walk in the way of insight." In our Psalm, we're referred to as children - "Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD."

Both insight and fear of the Lord are pieces of wisdom.

The first verse of our Proverbs reading this morning says "Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn her seven pillars." The first time I read this text, I was immediately curious about those seven pillars. What do they refer to? What are these seven pillars? How can I be wise? Obviously, the secret to wisdom must be those seven pillars.

I began scouring the internet trying to find the answer - trying to gain the knowledge of what wisdom is. (This is the reason I am rather late in writing this sermon.) What I found - no one is entirely certain what these seven pillars are. But even though there was no clear cut answer, I did find some information which seems to make sense.

First - there is the number seven. This number is generally used in the Bible to express completeness or divine perfection. In numerology, this number is associated also with truth (or with being a seeker of truth). When we consider Truth from a biblical standpoint, we are not simply referring to knowledge. Truth in the Bible is more than this. It is more than just knowing what the Bible says - what God says. It is the utilization of this knowledge. In John 14:6, we hear Jesus say that he is "the way, the truth, and the life." This truth that Christ is - that God is - is wisdom, and is something we should seek.

But how? How do we grow up? How do we lay aside immaturity, and be wise?

Several sources I found point to James 3:17: "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy."

Using this verse, the pillars would be to be pure, peaceable, gentle, not stubborn, compassionate, humble, and sincere.

Several other sources cite the previous chapter of Proverbs - chapter 8, verses 12-14: "I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion. To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power."

Using these verses, the pillars would be: prudence, knowledge, fear of the Lord, counsel, sound judgement, understanding, and power.

I see wisdom as a combination of all of these. Wisdom is to take the knowledge we know and use that knowledge in a way which is beneficial to others and serves God.

One of the wisest people I know - a person whom I go to quite often whenever I find myself troubled by a problem in my own life - has several of these traits. He is a good, upright man. Yes, naturally a sinner - he's human after all. But he tries to make the "right" decisions in life. He is a peaceable person, gentle and kind. Humble and sincere. He can be stubborn, but only when he truly is in the right and I am in the wrong. If and when the other happens, and I am in the right, he is willing to concede rather than argue just for the sake of "being right." He gives good counsel, based on truth and knowledge. He tells it how it is but with kindness and understanding.

Wisdom is to speak the truth in love and kindness. It's knowing when to speak, and when to hold your tongue. It's about knowing the Good News of Christ, and living it. 

Seeing What We Want to See

In the past few days, I've had a few items come across my Facebook feed that struck a chord in me.

The first was a video which spoke about how some people get bent out of shape about how we look when we show up to Church on Sunday morning.

The second was a story posted on a funeral home site of a young lady who passed away much too early from a heroin overdose. 

These two items made me realize just how much emphasis we put on what we see, rather than what is important. It made me realize how we see only what we want to see, rather than the truth.

Which is more important - that someone comes to Church, wants to worship God, wants to embrace and be embraced by the Body of Christ? Or that this person comes shows up in ripped jeans and a dirty tshirt?

Which is the important truth - that a young woman is just a worthless drugged out single mother? Or that this young woman had so much pain and confusion inside her and just needed to be embraced by someone willing to be God's hands?

This habit of not seeing the important and real truth is something many of us are guilty of. When we have a friend who isn't there for us every day like we believe they should be, we get angry and feel this person no longer cares. We refuse to even try to see the truth. Perhaps this person is just simply busy. Perhaps this person has so much stress and pressure on them that they are unable to meet our needs as well. Perhaps this person has slipped into such a deep depression that they're so exhausted trying to keep themselves afloat they just don't have the energy to keep anyone else afloat as well.

We are blind to the truth. It's not even blindness - it's a refusal to even bother to look. We get so self absorbed in our own needs, our own beliefs, or own desires, that we don't look further. We see people's actions, but not the motivations for those actions. We see their appearance, but not the conditions they face that lead to that appearance. We put what is on the outside above and beyond what is on the inside.

We measure a person's worth by what we see with our eyes. And when this "worth" doesn't measure up - we fail to be God's hands for this person.

Stop looking at someone with your human eyes, and instead look at them with godly eyes - with eyes of compassion and love and insight. Get to know people. Learn their story. Love them because of their story - not in spite of it. Reach out to one another regardless of how someone looks, or acts, or lives. Love one another regardless of these things.

Love as Christ loves.