I heard about a study recently that said couples who experience something new on a date have a closer connection after that date than if they do what they normally do on a date. One couple had decided to go on a flying trapeze experience instead of doing the typical dinner and a movie. Yes. They actually tried out swinging on some flying trapeze swings. The wife thought her husband was crazy at first but decided to go along with it. They talked about how amazing the experience was and how they were laughing all the way home about this crazy experience they had together.
I think this could apply well to our faith also. It might be time to try a new thing in order to go deeper in your faith. If the only thing a person does to grow their faith is go to church for year after year then their faith is going to be limited by that one faith growth experience. I know that as I think over my adult life many of the times my faith really grew were times I tried new things such as a small group bible study experience or a Christian retreat or a Christian book everyone was talking about. We have lots of new programs starting this fall (Financial Peace, ReEngage Marriage Ministry, Rooted Discipleship Experience, Divorce Care, Grief Care). Click here to sign up. Lots of ways for you to try something new. A new faith enriching experience can grow your faith in ways it has not grown for years.
In August, my oldest daughter, Sarai, heads off to college at Concordia Wisconsin in Mequon, WI. Talk about trying something new. As her father, I am nervous for her and I am sure it will be a very difficult day when we drop her off. But at the same time, I am very excited for her, she is ready, we have grounded her well and she is ready to take that next step. She is going to experience many new things. Some of the new things at college will challenge her faith and some of the new things will grow her faith. I am thankful she is going to this wonderful Lutheran University and has an opportunity to grow in her faith in all kinds of new ways.
So try something new this fall. Engage with your faith in a new way and watch it grow.
Pastor Chad Starfeldt
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran
Someone recently asked me, “Is it good to pray for the recovery of a person who is sick with an incurable disease?” My question back: “Is there a disease that is incurable for the Almighty God?” It says in Luke 1:37 “With God nothing is impossible.”
We hear in God’s Word about the “incurable” leper who asked for help in Mark 1:40 and Jesus healed him. Blind Bartimaeus at Jericho’s gate asked for help and was cured. (Mark 10:46) These situations and may others from God’s Word are historical evidence of God curing what humans thought were incurable situations.
Our Almighty God is still powerful, still active, still healing. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
It is very appropriate to pray with all confidence: “Lord, please heal ______ if it be according to your will.” There are many, many miraculous stories of people being healed when it seemed all that all hope was gone. We never know if God is going to heal a person for more time yet on earth or for their eternity in heaven.
Put down your smart phone or ipad! I have spoken with so many couples who are struggling with their marriage and often times one of them will say “I wish he would put down his phone and talk to me instead of checking the latest sports stats all the time.” “I wish she would put her phone away while we’re watching a show together instead of being more interested in what’s on Facebook than what’s going on in the show.”
When we are on our phone when our spouse is trying to talk with us or spend time with us, what is that communicating? It is communicating that “What I am looking at on this phone is more important than you.” That is not a good message to send to your spouse. That is a message that will wear cracks in your marriage over time.
A recent study said that the more you use your phone the less secure your spouse will feel in the relationship. Be a blessing to your spouse and put down the phone when they are talking with you or want to spend time with you. [http://time.com/4311202/smartphone-relationship-cell-phone/]
The bottom line is God tells us to “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” in Ephesians 5:21. Part of submitting to one another is putting away our own selfishness during a conversation and giving our spouse 100% of our attention. Part of loving your spouse is giving them the attention they desire.
Your spouse doesn’t want to talk to the top of your head. Your spouse doesn’t want to watch a show or movie with you and every time something funny happens you lift up your head from your phone and say ”What? What happened? What’s so funny?” Improve your marriage today by putting away the smart phone and talk to your spouse.
Pastor Chad Starfeldt
Next to Jesus Christ, Santa is probably the most visible figure during the holidays, also know as Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle and Father Christmas. Dating back to the third century as a priest and bishop in the church, St. Nick is attributed with doing many benevolent and charitable acts of kindness and generosity.
Revered and honored by many around the world, St. Nick has a resume of accomplishments and good deeds even the most celebrated saint would be envious of.
St. Nicholas was born in Patara, Turkey in 270 A.D. His wealthy parents died when he was young. St. Nicholas used his inheritance to travel to the Holy Land to learn more about the Savior Jesus. He then used his parents wealth which he inherited to care for the poor and needy, in particular presenting the three impoverished daughters of a pious Christian with dowries so that they would not have to become prostitutes. He was very religious from an early age and devoted his life entirely to Christianity.
The custom of gifting to children at Christmas was propagated by Martin Luther as an alternative to the previous very popular gift custom on St. Nicholas day, to focus the interest of the children to Christ instead of the veneration of saints. But Nicholas remained popular as gifts bearer for the people.
Santa was first a faithful follower of the baby Jesus. He was a Christian, a priest, a Christian leader. He never would have wanted to take away from the message of Jesus, the Savior who was born at Christmas.
In the end what St. Nick has set down for us all is a lifestyle of service and going the distance for the Lord Jesus Christ. St. Nick took his faith to the streets and made a difference-a worldwide difference-as a follower of Christ.
Pastor Chad Starfeldt
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran
This months blog post from me is going to be really short because I mostly want to hear from you. I want to hear your questions.
I want you to shape my blog posts for the future by giving me the questions you want answered.
Your question can be close to anything as long as it has some relationship to God, Jesus, living out our Christian faith or the Bible. Here are some example questions you might submit:
Pastor Chad Starfeldt
You might know someone who says they believe in God but they live as if God does not exist. 7 out of 10 Americans say they believe in Jesus but many of them don’t live like they are followers of Jesus.
If I say I am a follower of the Green Bay Packers than I do things that a fan of the Green Bay Packers does.
I watch the games. I read about the team. I watch news reports about the team. I go to a few games every year. I talk to other people about the Packers. I wear Green Bay packer stuff.
If a person says they are a Christian then their life should show that they are a follower of Jesus Christ. They should go to worship. They should read the Bible. They should spend time in prayer. They should share their faith with others. A Christian should serve others and God.
A person who says they believe in God but doesn’t live to honor Him might be called a Cultural Christian or a Christian Atheists.
Titus 1:16 says “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.”
When we claim to know God our actions need to follow that claim. Do you say you are a Christian? Does your life show that you are a Christian?
1 John 2:3-4 says “We know that we have come to know Him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.”
When we know God deeply we want to spend time with Him because there is no one as loving, forgiving and as powerful as Him.
If you are married and are in love with your spouse then you want to spend time with him or her. You enjoy doing things together. You enjoy spending time with each other. You like to do some of the same things. You get each other gifts. You miss each other if you are apart for an extended period of time.
The same should be true with your relationship with God. If you really know Him and love Him and have a relationship with Him then you want to spend time with Him, you want to serve Him, you want to hear from Him through worship and prayer and time in His Word.
It is my prayer that everyone, everyone in the world, would not just know the true God in Jesus Christ but following Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.
If you or someone you know, knows God but aren’t really following Him, I encourage you to:
Pastor Chad Starfeldt
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran
Is it really possible to be married and happy? Yes, I believe it really is. Schawn and I do not have a perfect marriage, but we have a very good marriage for a few reasons. Mostly, Schawn is amazing. She is loving. She is forgiving. She is very patient. She is a godly woman. She doesn’t nag. She doesn’t leave me TO DO LISTS. It helps to be married to a saint.
We also have a good marriage because we both do a lot of forgiving. We DO NOT hold grudges. We forgive and forget. We both have hurt each other. We both have said things we regret. We both have been selfish with wanting our way. But when those times happen we seek to come back to each other and say, “I’m sorry.” It’s such a powerful statement. It shows that we are putting our relationship back as the higher priority than our own wishes or desires.
I recently got very upset with Schawn. I wanted to make a large purchase. I had it in my head, probably before I even spoke with Schawn about it, that she would not want me to make this purchase. Every time we tried to talk about it, it would get heated. Schawn finally said, “I will not talk to you about this until you can talk to me calmly.” I did not like hearing that at all but that is exactly what needed to be said. When I finally was able to talk with Schawn calmly it was not at all that she did not want me to make the purchase. She just needed more information about where the money was coming from and how a few other financial things would play out as a result. I said “I’m sorry” and it all worked out. When we were able to calmly communicate with love and respect then things went much better. It’s amazing what happens when we approach our spouse calmly.
Ephesians 5:33 says “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Showing love and respect is critical. Research reveals that during marital conflict a husband most often reacts when feeling disrespected and a wife reacts when feeling unloved. Research found that when they asked 7,000 people this question: “When you are in a conflict with your spouse, do you feel unloved or disrespected?” 83% of the men said “disrespected.” 72% of the women said “unloved.” Though we all need love and respect equally, the felt need differs during conflict, and this difference is as different as pink is from blue!
Showing love and respect to each other can be a secret key that unlocks a beautiful marriage.
If you want to grow more together check out the series LOVE AND RESPECT: Getting Off the Crazy Cycle. It is on Right Now Media. IT’S FREE. Watch it together.
Here’s more about it:
We know that divorce is a major issue in our culture today, both inside and outside the church. Despite our best attempts at love, couples find themselves paralyzed by dysfunction and mired in conflict. Why do we face so many seemingly insurmountable problems today? Is there hope for the struggle? What are we missing? In this 4-part series, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs sheds light on an often overlooked, yet indispensable element of a healthy marriage—respect. Combining biblical instruction with scientific expertise, Emerson provides insight into the unique ways in which God has designed both men and women and how they can rightly embrace their differences in marriage. As couples come to see the heart behind their partner's complaints, they will better understand the place for both love and respect between husband and wife. Rather than becoming another statistic, struggling marriages can break their Crazy Cycle and become thriving marriages by living in accordance to God's good design. https://www.rightnowmedia.org/Content/Series/225912#Trailer
I pray that you will have a HAPPY marriage. May we seek the Lord as we grow together.
Pastor Chad Starfeldt
It’s becoming more and more common to be an atheist. There are atheist conferences, atheist “churches,” atheist clubs and atheist t-shirts. Do you have an atheist family member or friend?
When I was studying to be a pastor I decided to do an experiment. I decided to get together with 4 men (husbands of some of our members at our church) who were not Christians. We met about 6 times at Applebee’s and we talk about: 1. God, 2. Jesus, 3. Heaven, 4. Hell, 5. Creation and 6. Evil in the world. One of the men was an atheist and the other 3 were more Agnostic. (They believed in some higher power but did not have much clarity about the higher power.)
The atheist had Jewish ancestry but did not see himself as a Jew spiritually. He said his parents rarely went to the synagogue and that he was basically raised as a secular Jew. His parents always said they were Jews ethnically but atheists spiritually. He thought the purpose for life was to make the world a better place. I was happy with that answer. He wanted nothing to do with church or any Christian holiday. He was not at all scared to die because he believed that there was absolutely no afterlife. He thought the practice of the sacrificial system in the Old Testament was barbaric and rather horrific of God to kill animals to pay for humans wrong doing.
He saw no reason to believe in God and it caused me to start understanding, for the first time, how atheists really see the world.
The discussion that made him scratch his head the most was the discussion we had about Creation. We had lots of discussion about evolution but he really could not explain where the stuff all came from that started evolving. I asked him “WHERE DID THE STUFF COME FROM that exploded in the big bang? Where did the stuff come from that supposedly started evolving into living cells and then living animals? DID ALL MATTER COME FROM NOTHING? Something cannot come from nothing. That does not make any sense. There had to have been something that created all the stuff that caused life.”
As the discussion went on He eventually agreed that he never really had a good explanation for how it all began, where all the stuff came from at the beginning that was the building blocks of life. He then admitted that his father, towards the end of his life, admitted to believing in some higher power because he just had no good explanation for how anything came to be without a Divine Instigator.
So even this atheist admitted that, to some extent, atheism is a delusion. It makes NO SENSE to believe that SOMETHING CAME FROM NOTHING. There is really no explanation for where matter came from accept from God.
So, Is Atheism a delusion? Yes because nothing comes from nothing and something comes from something.
I strongly encourage you to watch the free 60 minute video on the website link below. If you have high school or young adult family members watch it with them or email them the link and encourage them to watch it. If you have an atheist friend, email them the website and ask for their thoughts on the video.
We have answers to people’s difficult questions. We just need to get the answers out to them.
Today I got a message from one of my friends in Haiti. His name is Wilson. He is about 19 years old. He had been elated for the last few months because his aunt in New York City said she would bring him to New York to go to college.
Wilson’s parents do not have money to send him to college. He graduated from High School last year, and now he teaches computer classes at his church for free and helps high school students with their assignments. Like many young adults in Haiti he struggles to find a job. There just aren’t many jobs available in Haiti. Some young adults make things like necklaces or paintings to sell to missionary teams. Some work on building a church or home for a few months, but then they are unemployed again. Some try to sell drinks or produce at the market. Some fix motorcycles but it’s not full time. There are very few full-time jobs available in Haiti.
Wilson was so excited when his aunt first told him that he could come to the U.S. because he wants to be a doctor or work with computers. He is very smart and is very good at English. He knew coming to the U.S. meant he would get an education from a very good university and that would increase his chance of staying in the U.S. and getting a good job.
But today his aunt told him that she can’t afford to bring him to the U.S. She just can’t do it. Wilson was devastated. With tears Wilson said to me, “I don’t know what I’m going to do Pastor. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I wake up every day without a way to provide for myself. My parents can’t help me and my two little brothers. I know God is with me. He is the beginning and the end. He is the alpha and the omega. God will make a way where there seems to be no way. He is the Way.”
Wilson faces every day not knowing where his meals will come from for that day. Wilson faces the daily struggle of having huge dreams and not having the resources to pursue any of them. Wilson faces the daily challenge of not being able to provide for himself even as a young man AND YET he trusts God. He turns to God. He believes God will provide a way. He doesn’t know the way that God will provide but he trusts that God will provide the way. Daily he sees people living in poverty, not being able to send their kids to school because they don’t have the tuition money, not being able to feed their children enough, not being able to provide adequately for themselves or for their families AND YET he trusts God. He believes God will make a way.
Do you have a faith like that? Could your faith survive that kind of daily trial?
Saint Paul told us in Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” When we trust in God, we will overflow with hope. When we trust in God when things don’t go our way, we receive joy and peace and hope that comes supernaturally from our Heavenly Father. When we trust in God, it keeps us from feeling defeated or hopeless. There is always hope with God.
May we keep trusting in HIM,
Pastor Chad Starfeldt
Do any of you feel like you're losing your kids to their smart phones?
Maybe you feel like your kids have a stronger relationship with their phone than with you.
I don't know about you, but I have said many times, "I would love to just get rid of my kids' phones." But part of the problem is we love our phones too, don't we?
How many of us can't watch a TV show or a movie anymore without looking at our phone during the show?
How many of us take out our phone the second there's a lul in a conversation even with our own children?
How many of us have our favorite social media app or news app or game on our phone and look at it more times per day than we care to admit?
Schawn and I have always taught our children that people are more important than things. We've always said that God wants us to spend time investing in people and relationships more than accomplishing or consuming for own desires.
So how do we help our families and ourselves invest in people instead of consuming on our phone? Here's a few things we're trying to do at our house.
1. When we are able to eat together, phones are not allowed at the table.
2. When someone walks in the house, they need to have a conversation with those in the house and not just put their head into their phone.
3. For kids 15 and under we've always had a time limit for amount of gaming per day.
4. We're working on keeping our phones away while we're watching a movie or TV show together. It's surprising how much you interact as a family during a show when the phones are away and how much we don't interact when our phones are out.
There's nothing sinful about being on the phone a lot. But it can lead to sinfulness, and it can create loneliness, separation and disconnection in relationships when our phone is our best friend.
What did Jesus say the two greatest Commandments are? Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.
Our smartphones really cannot help us do either one of those things very well. Let's put down our smartphones and ask our kids to put down their smartphones and let's give more than one word answers to the question, "How was your day today?" It's going to help our relationships grow stronger, it's going to help our families grow healthier, and it's going to help our marriages grow deeper as well.
Pastor Chad Starfeldt was installed at Shepherd of the Hills in June of 2012.