Pastor Ben Unseth
Ben Unseth is a long-lost Minnesotan delighted to be repatriated from California. In addition to serving as a pastor, he teaches and serves on the board of directors for Canadian Lutheran Bible Institute, has published books, managed sales teams, and led a social service agency.
He would love to welcome you into an encouraging community—Resurrection Lutheran Church. At your pace, he can help you dig into a few big questions: Why are you here? Why did God send Jesus into the world? What does the Bible have to say about you and your life?
He delights in helping people discover meaningful relationships, fulfillment in their work, and freedom from life’s negative baggage.
He helps people understand that you can reconnect with your Creator (Luke 19:10), experience a life of fulfillment and purpose (John 10:10), and find freedom from wounds and nagging habits (1 John 3:8).
His favorite blessing is from Moses’ last words to God’s people:
The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
May the Lord bless all your skills and be pleased with the work of your hands.
May he ride across the heavens to help you.
May you abound with the Lord’s favor and be full of his blessing. Amen
Our Family Table
Supper Together under the Trees, 6:30pm, July 14 and 28, August 11 and 25
Happy families have one thing in common—the Family Table. It is the cornerstone of family relationships. Families that don’t eat together are drifting apart from each other or have already disconnected.
My Memorial Day was the happiest I can remember because there were four generations around the Family Table. My mom and three of my brothers and their wives were there, each with one or two adult children, and some grandchildren. We were a collection of people who live hundreds of miles apart, some who had not seen each other in years, but we ate and laughed—and there were a few tears—around the Family Table.
This was the tragedy of COVID-19—the Family Table was outlawed. Memorial Day and 4th of July picnics, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, were all blacklisted in 2020. The stitches binding our families together frayed. What a joy this summer to reconnect!
Our congregational family is vitally important like our family of origin. So much so, that the Bible commands us to cultivate these relationships:
“Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more.” (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10)
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 11:24-25)
We are called to love God’s family more and more. We are called to spur each other to love and good deeds. As a joy-filled step in this direction, we will gather at Our Family Table—four fabulous potluck suppers, on Wednesday evenings, July 14 and 28, August 11 and 25. We will talk and laugh as we encourage each other in God’s Word. We will draw closer to Jesus and to each other.
Mark your calendar today. Pray about a friend to invite.
Admit it. You like taste tests. You’re walking through Costco or a grocery store, and a smiling person offers you a little treat that looks yummy. Yes, you have to use your pre-Covid memories to remember these experiences, but that is not long ago. Taste tests will return. We will enjoy them. Life is coming back.
Car dealers try the same thing. “How about taking a test drive?” the salesperson will ask. A small experience can make a big change in your life.
Wouldn’t it be something if people would line up for a Gospel taste test? I can hear them now: “Can I visit church this Sunday? No? You’re visitor slots are taken. Please put me down for next Sunday!” However, for most people, crossing the threshold of a church is like climbing over a wall into a strange place. It’s scary for people who are not connected to a church: How do I act once I’m inside? How should I dress? Do I have to talk to anybody? Or, what if nobody talks to me? How will I know when to stand up and sit down? Are they going to do anything really strange? Is it ok to walk out if I don’t like it?
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could point people to Jesus out in public while they are relaxed and in a place where they like to be? That is our opportunity with Sunday Boost at Scoops in Elysian.
Every Sunday afternoon in June, July and August, we can welcome Scoops customers to Sunday Boost! At 1:00pm, all those happy ice cream eaters will enjoy live music to launch their week and a story to touch their heart. I will be the storyteller most Sundays, and we will talk about hope, purpose, forgiveness and the love of Jesus.
If you walk inside at Scoop’s in Elysian, you will be facing 16 flavors from which to choose. “Which one would you like to taste?” a smiling scooper will ask. Once you taste, then you know.
This truth about ice cream also describes people encountering God’s love and joy and good news: Once you taste, then you know.
Any Sunday is a good Sunday to join us at Scoops. Resurrection’s special Sunday in June will be Taco Day on June 27. Come along for the fun. Pray for God to heal hearts.
When God’s Big Tent Came to Town
The day that Covid came to town we said good-bye to all our friends. We did not drown in tears because two weeks would flatten out the curve. It is not hard to say good-bye when knowing that you soon will hug again. And then a month slipped by, and two and three and twelve.
We walked past friends we love to see because we could not see their souls, we need to see a face. The eyes still shine above the mask, but they are only knotholes to the inner self. The face, the whole we need to see—behold—if we would see inside each other, if we would know the joy and wound that signals from the deep, the shiver and the shimmer of the sweetness of the soul.
This virus is our version of the ancient, wicked scheme—today’s edition of the curse first sown alone in Eden, Eve and Adam felt its poison kiss. Then Jesus warned about the enemy who comes to steal, kill, destroy: bubonic plague, the World Wars and famine are his calling cards. Between these ambushes on human life, society and family, sin snipes us singly, siphoning the joy from work, relationships and nature.
Sometimes our enemy attempts a sneak attack, twists Christianity into a form that hurts instead of helps. He squeezes joy out from the lemonade. He drains the melody from music. He whispers lies until an artist aims at ugly rather than transcendent beauty. This famine of the soul will suffocate as surely as will drought or epidemic. The day that Covid came to town we said good-bye to all our friends.
When we were kids, the day the circus came to town…everything else stopped. The colors of our thoughts enriched from drab to vibrant dreams. “Impossible” soon lost its grip on our imaginations. The things we knew could never be…occurred inside the tent, within the rings. Reality expands our hobbled minds and resurrects our lifeless spirits.
The day God’s big tent came to town…the Ringmaster declared a new world. Ringmaster Jesus threw out demons who had terrified the countryside. Ringmaster Jesus called the cripples from their mats, walking and leaping and praising God. Ringmaster Jesus walked into a funeral procession and called the corpse to go back home. Ringmaster Jesus walked up to a sealed tomb and called aloud, and Lazarus his friend came waltzing out. Ringmaster Jesus turned the other cheek and saved his greatest act for last—he raised himself up from the grave to take his joy around the world.
The day God’s big tent came to town…a few sourpusses said that faith is fake, that Jesus’ love demands we follow all the rules that they make up. But Acts 15 declares that God has come to rebuild David’s fallen tent so large that anyone around the world can fit inside. Galatians shouts: God’s big tent full of joy and life has come for you to enter in and never leave and never pay a dime.
So in this merry month of May, please join our celebration thanking God for his salvation as we marvel at the rings inside his tent: Acts 15-the Church; Galatians 1-the Gospel; and Galatians 1, 2 and 4-the Trinity.
Wanted: Disciples of Jesus Christ
Christians, disciples, belong to Jesus. We are his followers, his apprentices. As we journey through Holy Week, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday offer unique opportunities to experience the passion of Jesus. Join Jesus in the Upper Room and the Garden of Gethsemane. How did his first disciples respond to his arrest? Why did Jesus allow his unjust suffering and trial? Count the minutes and hours as Jesus hangs on the Cross for you and for me.
There are no shortcuts to apprenticeship. Follow Jesus step by step through this sinister, essential conspiracy.
Sometimes I have looked down at Peter for cutting off a man’s ear to defend Jesus. Jesus, however, did not disqualify Peter for rash action. Peter was a do-er. Nothing happens without do-ers. It is easier to be an observer, or a thinker, or a donor. Jesus calls us to do. Jesus tells us to talk to people about him. Pray about whom God wants you to talk to. Then, invite that person to come to church with you—Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, or another Sunday. It may be the scariest thing you have ever done. Jesus will guide you.
When I was in middle school, I would quiver with pain when my knees bumped the bottom of my desk or the crossbars on a lunch table. I was in my growth spurt, and growing can hurt. God is growing you into a fruitful disciple. I wish that he would roll up my life in bubble wrap and scoot me unbumped, unbruised to heaven. He loves us too much to do that. He will use the storms and the manure of this broken world to grow us into phenomenal fruitfulness. Good trouble is where God finds us…and grows us.
Prayer Is High Priority…and the Focus of Our Lenten Worship!
If God is all-powerful and all-knowing, why should we pray?
1. Jesus and the Apostles Give Us the Example of Praying
“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35). “Peter went up on the roof to pray” (Acts 10:9). Paul said, “Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers” (2 Timothy 1:3).
2. Jesus and the Apostles Call Us to Pray
“Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1). Jesus did not say, “If you pray.” In triplicate, he said, “When you pray…. When you pray…. When you pray” (Matthew 6:5, 6, 7); then he promised, “your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (v. 6).
Paul said, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2). James said, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise” (James 5:13).
3. God Is Overwhelmingly Stronger and Wiser Than We Are
When we work, we work. When we pray, God works! God is the God of grace, or favor. When you are working in the light of God’s favor, it is like sailing with the wind at your back. It is like playing tug-of-war with the 800-pound gorilla on your end of the rope. You become unstoppable. Resources? God owns “the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10). Wisdom? God says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). God makes a way through “the sea,” through “the wilderness” (Isaiah 43:16, 19), or whatever impossibility rises up against you. “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). When we pray, we unleash God on our problems.
Sometimes we struggle because God does not work on our timetable; we don’t like to read “Wait on the Lord.” We stumble because God, in perfect wisdom, sometimes answers with “No, I have something better for you.” However, we can trust our Good Shepherd.
During each of our Lenten Services, we are exploring and practicing a different kind of prayer through the Psalms:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit” (2 Thessalonians 5:16-19). Come pray with us on Wednesday evenings!
The God I Almost Knew
Two years ago I buried my father.
As I wrote those simple words now, my eyes welled up with tears. It’s difficult to explain precisely why. I miss his voice. I miss listening to him pray for every child, grandchild and great-grandchild. I miss playing Scrabble with him. I miss talking about the Bible with him. I miss his stories.
And yet, he is the man I almost knew.
Einar Unseth was a guarded man. As a pastor, he built the habit of speaking cautiously. By temperament, he avoided conflict and would avoid saying what he actually thought about something if there might be friction. By upbringing, or some other factor, he wanted to remain in control of what he was involved in. That made it difficult to discuss issues with him when I was growing up. He did not welcome my thoughts if they differed with his. Thus, we never learned to converse openly.
We loved each other. We respected each other. We shared faith in Christ, our understanding of the Bible as God’s inspired Word. However, I am not sure if I knew my father—not as I could have known him.
To know someone is a treasure! To know Jesus is essential! Yet talking about Judgment Day, Jesus said that he will tell some religious people, “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23). Jeremiah gives us an invitation from God for personal relationship: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me” (9:23-24).
I urge you to reconsider Ash Wednesday and Lent this year. It is not a season to suffocate yourself. It is an opportunity to expand your relationship with Christ. In these six weeks together, we will explore prayer through the Book of Psalms. On Ash Wednesday (Feb. 17), we will focus on Listening to Jesus. In our Lenten Worship, we will focus on Talking with Jesus:
…about Your Mistakes – Psalm 103 – Prayer as Confession – February 24
…about Who Is in Charge – Psalm 50 – Prayer as Consecration – March 3
…about Your Day – Psalm 95 – Prayer as Thanksgiving – March 10
…about His Day – Psalm 145 – Prayer as Adoration – March 17
…about Your Calling – Psalm 67 – Prayer as Intercession – March 24
Jesus does not want to be the God I almost knew. Come, let us draw near to God, and he will draw near to us. We will never be the same.
My Best Gift to You
King David said that the Bible is “more precious than gold, than much pure gold…sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:9-10). God said that his kings should keep a copy of God’s Word with them and read it, and David took this seriously. He said that God’s Word is “more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold” (119:72). When life seemed dark, David declared, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (119:105).
In 2021, the very best gift that I could give to many of us is a successful trip through the Bible, from Genesis through Revelation. But there’s a problem with that. Most people do not read books. Pastors do not like to admit this, but it is true.
Daily devotionals are the greatest tool ever for getting people to read Scripture on a daily basis, but devotionals do not get us through the whole Bible. Christians aspire to read the Bible, but it feels like a high hill to climb. If we start in Genesis, many give up in Exodus, or if we are strong, in Leviticus. We run in to parts that are awfully hard to understand. We have never read giant books like War and Peace or Moby Dick. Tackling the 1,189 chapters from Genesis to Revelation feels huge!
May I repeat? The very best gift that I could give to many of us is a successful trip through the Bible, from Genesis through Revelation. My good news for you: We have a way to do this together this year!
We will read one chapter a day (not 3 or 4), and we will understand the whole Bible from beginning to end. We will read chapters that can be understood on their own. We will read chapters from the Old Testament that tell the story of God’s work among his people and chapters that point us to Jesus—the Messiah and Savior. As we read key chapters from the Old Testament, our Sunday readings will be weekly visits to the New Testament. As we walk through Lent toward Easter, we will find special Lenten readings, and we will read the Gospel of Luke in the month leading up to Easter. When we begin the New Testament, our Sunday readings will be weekly visits to the Old Testament, especially the Psalms. We will read the Gospel of John and selected chapters from Acts and the Letters (Epistles).
Special readings will lead us up to Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. At Thanksgiving, in a season of New Testament chapters, we will enjoy a full week of Psalms. At year’s end, we will have read chronologically from Genesis to Revelation, from every book in the Bible!
You will never be the same!
This is a no-guilt project. If you miss some days, jump back in on the current day. If you want to read those missed days, good, but do NOT worry about it.
There are booklets in the entry if you want to see the whole year’s readings. Or, simply follow along in the newsletter calendar, or on Facebook to see each day’s reading.