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
Peace: Our Greatest Need—God’s Greatest Gift
Our society has ADHD. We trend from fad to fad. Marketers press our buttons with: You need this! If only you had that! They worm their way into our subconscious and plant seeds of discontent.
But crisis, danger and tragedy destroy the façade of misplaced priorities. Eleven U.S. marines and a sailor were killed by a bomb on August 26 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Scores of Afghans died in the same explosion. People are falling off planes and being beaten or executed in public. U.S. citizens, green-card holders and Afghans who have risked their lives to help Americans are in danger—in their homes, in the street, at the Kabul airport.
When I lived among Afghan refugee camps, my friend Zia told me that he had found peace in the middle of oppression and confusion. He knew peace in Jesus. A few months later he was kidnapped, and then executed, for following Jesus.
Some blame God. However, in warning us about the devil, Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). Jesus came to give life.
We have desired and spent our time on many things. What actually matters? Peace. Peace on the outside. And even more importantly, peace on the inside.
When Jesus’ host, Martha, was slipping out of synch with God’s peace, he invited her back, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42). Whatever is happening in the news, seek Jesus first.
Pray. Pray for the peace of Kabul and Afghanistan. In harmony with the psalmist, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6). Pray for our servicemen and women risking their lives to rescue our fellow citizens and those who need our help. Pray our nation to turn back to God!
An odd tract was titled “17 Things You Need to Know to Go to Heaven.” Seventeen questions with a requirement of an A+ grade? If there is a heavy-duty interrogation like that at the Pearly Gates, some of us will be left on the outside. I’m glad that Paul offers a simpler way, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). One of the greatest theological scholars of the last century was Karl Barth. After a deep lecture at the University of Chicago, he was asked if he could summarize his entire life’s work of theology in one sentence. Barth answered, “Yes, I can. In the words of a song I learned at my mother’s knee, ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.’”
We can also continue to learn about Jesus our entire lives. Paul said, “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).
There is always more to learn, but where should we start? In the 300s, Cyril of Jerusalem said to teach new Christians the Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer. Thus, 1,600 years later, when you were confirmed, that is what you studied. You may have enjoyed Confirmation classes as little as I did. Augustine warned about “Various Causes Producing Weariness in the Catechism Student,” yes, 1,600 years ago. Some things don’t change.
The Catechism is where we started, and it remains an excellent tool for continued growth. When someone asks me to explain Baptism, I open Luther’s Small Catechism, “What is the significance of baptizing with water? It signifies that the old Adam in us, together with all sins and evil desires, should be drowned by daily repentance and sorrow for sin, and be put to death, and the new person should come forth every day and rise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”
The Catechism is valuable for our first steps and for our lifelong journey. With that in mind, last summer we spent five Sundays exploring the Lord’s Prayer. This month we are digging into another portion of the Catechism, the Apostles’ Creed. I encourage you to revisit the Explanations of the Apostles’ Creed. You will expand your grasp of the width, length, height and depth of the love of Christ. I pray that you may “know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
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.