Showing posts from 2016

Family Traditions

Among the things that make the holiday season memorable are family traditions. One dictionary defines tradition as “the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation.” While growing up in Moorhead, Minnesota, my family had our share of Christmas rituals. One of them was my sister Tanya and I taking turns opening up the little flaps on our advent calendar.
My immediate family always opened presents on Christmas Eve after Dad came home from work in the late afternoon (or in the morning if he had the day off). To pass the time Tanya and I played the board game Monopoly, which often took two hours to complete. Sometimes we also went to a candlelight service at the Lutheran church we attended across the river in Fargo, North Dakota.
Later that night I would get together with my mother’s side of the family at Grandma Tweiten’s house. Often we ate a light dinner but then always sang Christmas carols before opening presents. Eventually my Aunt Gaye added a tradition I grew to…

Travel Tips for American Missionaries

It’s been several years since I owned a car. Therefore, I mostly depend on public transportation to go from city to city. Along the way, I’ve learned a few things that will be shared in this article. Although much of this information can be helpful when traveling to other nations, I will mainly focus on three types of public transportation available within the U. S.
1) Planes - Obviously flying is a more attractive option when going longer distances. However, security lines became longer after 9/11 as well as the list of things passengers cannot bring aboard an airliner. Check the TSA website if you’re uncertain about what you’re allowed to transport in your luggage.
Speaking of luggage, one of my biggest pet peeves is baggage fees. Nowadays almost every American airline charges $20 or more just to check a suitcase. Some such as Spirit, Frontier, and Allegiant also charge for carryon bags. United Airlines will soon charge economy travelers for the use of overhead bins if their carryons …

Hollywood and Islam

Mark Wahlberg recently suggested that “Hollywood bubble actors” stop talking about politics because “they’re pretty out of touch with the common person.” One actress who appears to be taking positive action on the latter is Sally Field. In an interview on Chelsea Handler’s Netflix show, the “real Momma Gump” announced she joined Twitter “in order to better understand how the American people could elect a man like Donald Trump.”
Ms. Field, I’d be happy to enlighten you on some things. First, this nation was founded as a Constitutional Republic…not a democracy as you and many Americans wrongly assume. I wish more celebrities who desire to use their fame for good have Judeo-Christian values like that of our Founding Fathers.
Moral reasons were given in a previous blog article as to why I vote Republican. Here I want to point out a key reason why Hillary Clinton would have been a bad president. The former Secretary of State talked of admitting 65,000 Syrian refugees (most if not all of them…

More Than a Survivor

One of the most popular programs on TV is CBS’s “Survivor.” This reality show features a group of contestants marooned in an isolated location where they must provide for themselves and compete in challenges to avoid elimination. Derived from a Swedish series called “Expedition Robinson”, the U .S. version of “Survivor” debuted in 2000 and quickly became a ratings success. Until recently I never watched an entire episode but now have a passing interest in it. 
Sunday Burgquest and her husband Jeff oversee the Family Support Ministry at Living Word Christian Center, the church I attend when in the Minneapolis area. Sunday is currently one of eight surviving contestants for Season 33 of “Survivor.” This past Wednesday a group of us gathered in the fellowship hall to watch the latest episode. The sound was turned down during commercial breaks so Sunday and Jeff could share behind-the-scenes stuff. They were cautious not to reveal information that could disqualify Sunday from eventually wi…

Standing on the Wrong Rock

Despite living in Minnesota most of my life, I consider myself a North Dakota native having been born in Fargo. A recent oil boom has caused a marked increase of the Roughrider State’s population. It’s also resulted in a protest that has captured the world’s attention. The issue at hand is the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline that would run from the Bakken oil fields in western North Dakota to southern Illinois, crossing beneath the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, as well as part of Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. 
Many people including a few celebrities are “standing with Standing Rock” by blocking construction of the pipeline. One reason is to protect the water from a possible oil spill (the phrase “water is life” is often used by protesters). What should be pointed out is another pipeline and other utilities have been previously built underneath the Missouri River. The chairman of the Standing Rock Tribal Council happens to own a gas station.
Another reason given…

Your Family Can Be Saved

As a minister of the gospel I often receive prayer requests. Many of them are for lost loved ones. This article is to encourage those of you standing for a family member’s salvation.
It was my sister and her husband who led me to Christ. A personal crisis made me recognize my need for Him. On March 19, 1991 I drove to Fargo, North Dakota (the city where I was born) to talk with Greg and Tanya. After three hours of clearing up many misunderstandings I had about Christianity, my brother-in-law invited me to pray with him. I asked Jesus to come into my heart and felt the power of God flow throughout my body. Later I learned Greg and Tanya prayed for years I would recognize my need for Jesus and wanted to play a part of my salvation.
By July 1994 I had become a committed soul-winner and went back to the Fargo area specifically to witness to family members. Quite a few of them already knew the Lord. One morning I stopped to see my Aunt Gaye. She didn’t have a phone and so my arrival totally …

Reflections on the 2016 Election

It’s finally over. After weeks of mudslinging during a very divisive election, Donald Trump will be the 45th U. S. President on January 20th. At 70 years old, Trump is the oldest person ever elected to a first term (surpassing 69-year-old Ronald Reagan in 1980). Many reporters have called Trump’s victory “an upset” despite huge crowds that showed up at his campaign rallies.
On Election Day I went evangelizing at a mall having already voted for Donald Trump using an absentee ballot. Then I watched the election returns on TV. Because the results were a bit close and a few networks stalled in declaring Trump the projected winner of selected states, I stayed up past 2:30 a.m. praying until he made his acceptance speech. It was also gratifying to hear the Republicans still have control of Congress. This will hopefully result in Trump repealing (as he calls it) “the disaster known as Obamacare.”
It’s sad how this election caused some Christians to be ensnared by a political spirit. Last weeke…

Does God Pick Politicians?

Five years ago during a prayer meeting at a church in West Fargo, North Dakota, I was praying for the 2012 presidential election and specifically asked for God’s choice to be elected. Michele Bachmann’s name came up in my mind but I didn’t immediately speak that out. Seconds later, the prayer group leader started praying for the congresswoman from Minnesota.
A few days after that I posted a comment about this on Michele Bachmann’s Facebook page. Unfortunately that triggered mostly negative responses. One person argued that God doesn’t choose politicians…people do. It’s true in a democracy, the candidate with the most votes gets elected. Nevertheless, God does anoint selected individuals for positions of authority such as King David in 1 Samuel 16:12.  
One might question if I really heard from God regarding Michele Bachmann becoming president since she dropped out of the race months later. Regardless, if more God-fearing people sought the Lord before going to the polls, we would see mor…

Rest in Peace

This past Monday, Bobby Vee died at 73 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. Although I wasn’t a big fan of the singer, his death hit close to home. Bobby’s first concert in February 1959 (following the plane crash in Iowa that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper) was five blocks from the house in Moorhead, Minnesota where I spent most of my childhood. At that time my dad went to Fargo Central High School with Bobby and shared an art class with him. 
Another famous singer who died this past week was Pete Burns of the English band Dead or Alive. They are perhaps best known for their 1985 hit “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)”, a song I used to play as a nightclub disc jockey.
Whenever people die, those who care about them will often say “rest in peace.” Sometimes the initials R.I.P. are engraved on real headstones as well as Halloween decorations. R.I.P. originated from the Latin phrase “requiescat in pace.”
The truth is that all dead people are not resting in pea…

Kundalini Chaos

Some Christians are quick to demonize Holy Spirit manifestations unfamiliar to them such as people shaking. A few of these watchdogs accuse certain ministers of allowing a Kundalini spirit at their meetings. Kundalini is a yoga term whose origin is the Sanskrit word for snake. One dictionary defines Kundalini as “latent female energy believed to lie coiled at the base of the spine” and “a system of meditation directed toward the release of kundalini energy.”
In response to a YouTube video posted to “expose” one well-known evangelist/pastor, I pointed out these Kundalini hunters don’t know how to test the spirits. 1 John 4:2 says, “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.” The minister in question has altar calls for salvation that include leading newborn believers to say, “I confess Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.”
One critic responded, “So did Jim Jones. What does that prove?” I replied by asking him to prov…

A Eulogy for Leonard

Back in 1995 I became friends with another serious soul winner who was part of the evangelism ministry at Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. Leonard Micklin led hundreds to the Lord apart from the church’s scheduled outings. Often when I arrived prior to an outreach or service, Leonard was sitting in the sanctuary confessing the word. I admired his faith in God meeting his needs without having a job or car.
Leonard didn’t seek to promote himself but the gospel. He often wore a baseball cap with the name of Jesus on it and sang praise songs after leading someone to salvation. During one outing in downtown Minneapolis, I was the leader but perceived the Lord wanted Leonard to lead our team for awhile. Leonard was reluctant but agreed to do so. Later I learned the heads of the evangelism ministry were already nudging Leonard to become a team leader.
Not long after I started working for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Leonard often said, “Say ‘Hi’ to Billy …

Think Before You Pink

When in the Upper Midwest I frequently patronize Caribou Coffee, a chain of coffee shops I refer to as my “office.” I like working on my laptop in the relaxing atmosphere plus most Caribou locations give free refills of their Coffee of the Day. Because of my preference for light or medium roast coffee, I usually show up at Caribou in the morning since they sometimes serve only dark roast later in the day.
For now I’ve temporarily cut back on my visits to Caribou Coffee. This time of the year they heavily promote Amy’s Blend, a coffee flavor that is (in my opinion) very overrated. Amy’s Blend is named after Caribou’s original roastmaster Amy Erickson who died of breast cancer in 1995. In addition to coffee, Caribou sells mugs, tumblers, and related merchandise as a tribute to Amy. Their web site states: “Every October for the past 19 years, Caribou Coffee has donated 10% of retail coffeehouse proceeds from Amy’s products to support women and men impacted by cancer in Caribou communities…

Productive Public Preaching

When people hear the term street evangelist, some think of men and women standing in public places shouting out Bible verses. That’s one way of reaching multitudes who might not hear the gospel otherwise. Romans 10:14 says, “And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” All the prophets of old as well as Jesus and the Apostle Paul preached in the marketplace. 
Unfortunately many open air preachers I’ve seen lack compassion and do not speak the truth in love. They preach more about God’s judgment than His mercy. Some call women “whores” because (in their opinion) they don’t wear enough clothing. Jesus didn’t talk like that to the woman caught in adultery. Rude preaching repels sinners instead of drawing them closer to God. 2 Timothy 2:24-25 says, “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentanc…