Not My Will But Yours

By Bishop Brian Maas

Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” –Mark 14:36
When this text was chosen months ago as the theme for April’s Tell the Story blog theme, we were thinking primarily of Holy Week. We had no idea how fitting it might be instead for the experience we all share of living in a time of pandemic. With Jesus, we pray to the God in whom we know all things are possible, that the cup of suffering known as COVID-19 might pass from us. In faith, we also pray, “not what I want, but what you want.”

Our understanding and our experience of God is that it is not our suffering that God seeks. Contrary to what some preach, I am utterly confident that—I stake my life on the certainty that—this virus is not God’s weapon to punish us or to teach us a lesson. It is simply one consequence of a world broken by sin, a world in which things do not yet function as they will when all creation is made new and perfect. Until tha…

Still Blessed

By Brenda Rivas, Communications Manager

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial”   ---James 1:12

I remember it like it was yesterday. I had flown into Boston less than eight hours before. The hour-long car ride had me ready to sleep long before I made it to my parents’ house.
As soon as I walked in the door, I slipped off my white worn-in sneakers, dropped my bags, and snuggled up on my mom’s grey overstuffed couch to rest my eyes. The next thing I knew it was morning. My mom was shaking me saying- Wake up, wake up! You have to see this. It can’t be real!
I opened my eyes to see a large red stripe across the TV screen that read- Breaking News: tragedy at the twin towers New York City. I immediately sat straight up and tried to clear my vision. But there it was, clear as day. One tower lit up by flames with a large, dark cloud of smoke billowing out from inside. The other tower suffering the same fate as a commercial plane flew into its side. I couldn’t believe it. I had been…

Blessed: Even in Times of Uncertainty

By Gary Overfield, Nebraska Synod Council

What a week to agree to write something for the Synod blog! March Madness is out, St. Patrick’s activities are being dramatically curtailed, movie theaters are limiting the number of people in their auditoriums, and (gasp!) most fast-food restaurants have closed their dining rooms! This pandemic keeps getting more real.

I’ve spent the last few weeks doing what most people have been doing, going about my business as usual. I washed my hands more often and looked with suspicion at anyone who coughed or sneezed around me. Every time I had a scratch in my throat, I wondered, Is this it? I dug out an extra couple of bottles of hand sanitizer to put in my car and checked our toilet paper supply. I called my doctor to see if I should go on a short road trip with a friend who was flying in (from SEATTLE, of all places!). I reassured my sister, who was concerned when she heard that the first case of the virus had been in Fremont. And our own children, in…

We are so Blessed

By PMA Sandy Terry, member of Salem Lutheran Church, Fremont, NE

“I am so blessed!”  “You are blessed!”  What does this really mean?

Does it mean I am lucky to live in the United States, have a house to live in, money in the bank, clothes to wear, and plenty of food in my pantry?
Does it mean that I have raised two wonderful children who have received an education and are gainfully employed?
Being blessed could mean a variety of things from health to relationships.  The Merriman Webster dictionary defines blessed as enjoying happiness or to bring pleasure, contentment or good fortune.  Yet scripture shows that blessing is anything God gives that makes us fully satisfied and draws us closer to Jesus.
Using that definition then, I can truly say I am blessed.  There are many days when all I am able to do is to thank God for all that he has given me and pray that I can be a good steward of those blessings.
Several years ago, I attended my first Global Mission Event and began to have the urge to…


By Bishop Brian Maas

the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 2:22-23)

I have to confess that my day to day “laboring in the harvest,” as Jesus refers to the life of discipleship—especially as the current cultural climate of polarization, reactivity, and fear expresses itself as heightened anxiety and open conflict in congregations—too often has me paying attention to, and complaining about, the weeds and thorns that I encounter among the harvest. It’s so easy to be distracted by the minor annoyances and petty behavior (or to dwell too long on the question, “is this really how we treat each other for Jesus’ sake?”). I need regular reminders that no one is sent into the harvest to worry about the weeds.

That’s the point of daily spiritual practices—prayer, devotional reading, contemplation, even just taking a few moments of quiet to breathe and be mindful. That helps provide the mental and spiritua…

Return to me

By Deacon Connie Stover, Director of Seeking the Spirit Within

The words “spiritual director” could be interpreted or understood to mean that a spiritual director issues directives or commands.  This description of spiritual direction is far from the reality of the intentions of this ministry.  Spiritual directors listen far more than they speak; and when words are spoken, they are often in the form of questions.
Spiritual direction is more like making use of a compass that is always pointing in the direction towards God.  Each of us can easily get distracted and lose sight of God in this life of never-ending activity, heavy responsibilities, and high expectations.  We can forget the truth and beauty of who we are and whose we are.
We are children of God!  We belong to the One who says, “Return to me with all your heart.” 

When I hear God say “return to me,” I feel God’s loving desire for each one of us.  And it is my sense that this desire is not just for what we may think is acceptable …

Return to me with all your heart

By Rev. Otto Schultz, Faith Partners Nebraska, Project Developer