Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

Children see the world differently. For a toddler, a caterpillar is a miracle. For a kindergartener, a tall pine is a modern marvel. For any kid wearing galoshes, water is as much for joy as it is for survival. Then, somewhere in our childhood – in adolescence, maybe – peer pressure mounts to outgrow suchContinue reading “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise”

Glad Tidings of Great Joy

“How does a weary world rejoice?” The question for our Advent is as honest as it is challenging, looming large over heart, body, mind, soul, and spirit: How does a weary world rejoice, when everything in and around feels like it’s coming apart at the seams and flying off the rails? It’s a confusing paradoxContinue reading “Glad Tidings of Great Joy”


The Lord God sometimes – oftentimes – appears in unlikely places to share the unexpected gift of undeserved grace. Whenever that happens – whenever the joy of heaven to earth comes down, great, beautiful, and wonderful things begin to happen: Shadow becomes light. Darkness gives way to brightness. Wee hours dawn a brand-spanking new day,Continue reading “Turtle-Watching”

First and Greatest: How to Live Your Best Life Ever

Midsummer brought the start of our Sunday morning walk of faith through the Ten Commandments. At every step of the way, my unwavering encouragement has been simple: You must view the Commandments through the lens of Jesus. That means you read God’s Law with eyes of love, and you embody God’s Law with a heartContinue reading “First and Greatest: How to Live Your Best Life Ever”

Another Day in Paradise

Technically speaking, God’s Tenth Word tackles coveting. “Thou shall not covet” your neighbor’s house, or your neighbor’s spouse. Not another’s servants or hired help. Not a donkey or an ox – or anything else that belongs to your neighbor. Or a friend, and even a stranger. Just so we’re all on the same page, toContinue reading “Another Day in Paradise”

Speaking in God’s Sted (Take It Easy, Pinocchio)

Among the many, many descriptors assigned to God, you likely would be surprised to see “risk-taker” on the list. The Lord God definitely rolls the dice when he, in our Creation, gives humans the ability to speak and the power of speech. God well knew then what we’re only just now beginning to grasp: WordsContinue reading “Speaking in God’s Sted (Take It Easy, Pinocchio)”

Meet My Friend Jeff

When you do more than scratch its surface, you discover a treasure-trove of faithful living concealed deep under the weight of the Eighth Commandment’s thunderous prohibition against theft. As I suggested last Sunday, the Spirit through the Eighth Word compels hard questions – pondering and wondering if people richly blessed with lots of money, mostContinue reading “Meet My Friend Jeff”

‘Come, Have Breakfast’

Pastor Grant M. VanderVelden shared this message on Friday, September 30, 2023, at the funeral for member Duane Miller, who died Sunday, September 24, 2023, at age 89. Commentary and reflection by Scott Hoezee and St. Teresa of Avila inform the message. A nourishing fringe benefit of being a small-town pastor is the surprise deliveryContinue reading “‘Come, Have Breakfast’”

Sticky Fingers

Over our two months of exploration, a couple major attractions should be overshadowing our walking tour of the Ten Commandments. What I hope first captures your attention are the positive aspects of the Commandments – the holy attitudes and loving behaviors that the Lord prefers and encourages. Those Words of Life, first given to MosesContinue reading “Sticky Fingers”

Wrestling with Erotic Energy

Moses should have asked for more. As he stood high atop Mount Sinai, dutifully noting Yah-Weh’s directives for faith and life, Moses should have asked the Lord for some more details about No. 7: “You shall not commit adultery.” Five words, period. End of sentence. And down the list the Lord moves on. A fewContinue reading “Wrestling with Erotic Energy”