Minnesota/Leech Lake

God's Living Word - Hebrews 4:12

Saturday March 12

God’s Living Word - Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

“For the word of God is living and active.” 

 

On the way to meet with the church one Sunday morning, I got a call from one of the Native brothers. He had just found out an infection in his toe was not healing (he’s diabetic) and was going to meet with his doctor soon to talk about possibly amputating half of his foot. He asked for me to pray for him that morning.

When I arrived for worship, I found that the reading for that Sunday was from Mark where Jesus said, “If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.” (Mark 9:45) I was stunned! I texted my friend and told him to check out this verse. I wasn’t sure how it would hit him, but I figured I’d let the Word of God do its work.

When I caught up to this brother a couple of days later, he was super excited.

“Can you believe how God’s Word spoke right to my situation!” he said. “And it was such good news too—even if I do loose part of my foot, I’m headed for life in heaven and there I’ll be whole and well again.”

Of course, the verse was also a call to repentance and that was not lost on my friend.

He said, “The verse was also a reminder that we have to take care of ourselves. I feel like I want to use this experience to remind my people who are diabetics that we have to take care of ourselves or this kind of thing can happen.”

Lord,
Thank you that in every situation, Your Word speaks to us with power and clarity—calling us to repentance and promising us your grace and forgiveness in Christ!
Amen.

 

Rev. Mark Peske - Bemidji, Minnesota

Hebrews 2:1 - Focus

Focus

"We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away." (Hebrews 2:1, NIV)

“I’m deactivating my Facebook account!”

The words were spoken with gravity and resolve. The young Native woman I was talking to had returned home to the Red Lake Reservation after spending her first year of college in South Dakota. She had come home to take over caring for her 6-year-old son.

“It’s just a big distraction for me. I can spend hours scrolling down my Facebook account, finding out what everybody else is doing. But my son needs me now! He needs a mom who’s paying attention to him, not one with her face stuck in a computer screen. And my little niece needs me, too, now that my sister has gone to jail for drugs and I have custody of my niece. These kids need me to focus on them so they feel loved! And you know what else? Since I’ve gotten off the computer, I’ve begun praying more and reading more from my Bible study books. And I feel way more calm and less stressful. It’s probably because I’m not all wrapped up in what other people are doing and just focusing on what I’m supposed to do—caring for these kids and staying close to God!”

Distractions. Focus. The words struck me with their weight. I couldn’t remember reading them in God’s Word, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized the Scriptures use other terms to teach us this important message.

Jesus said the seeds among the weeds were those “choked” (or distracted?) by the worries, riches and pleasures of this world. And Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us to “remove from our lives anything that would get in the way” (distract us?), and to “look only to Jesus” (focus!).

Lord Jesus, as we celebrate Your coming, help us to remove the distractions in our lives and to focus on You and what You want us to do. Amen.

- Rev. Mark Peske, Bemidji, Minnesota

Rev. Mark Peske served the Leech Lake region, sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with the Ojibway people. You can get updates from Mark's ministry, as well as our other ministry locations, by subscribing to our monthly email newsletter here.

Acts 1:11 - Going and Coming

Going and Coming

"Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11, NIV)

Some time ago, one of the Native brothers asked me if I could clarify his confusion about life after death and the end of time. He admitted he’d been hearing a variety of things but couldn’t quite fit them all together. So, we dug into God’s Word and here is what we found.

When a believer dies, Scripture says that they go to be with Christ. Jesus said to the dying thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Paul the apostle used the very same language when he admitted to the Philippians, “I want to depart (i.e., die) and be with Christ, which is far better” (v. 1:23). When we die, we too will go to “be with Christ.” We will hear His voice, see His face, feel His embrace and never be separated from Him again!

The Scriptures also teach that, not only are we going to be with Christ, but He is also coming back to earth and to all who remain alive at His return. Shortly before His death, Jesus told His disciples, “all the nations of the earth … will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather the elect from the four winds” (Matthew 24:30f).

Paul relayed this good news in his first letter to the Thessalonians: “According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive will … meet the Lord in the air” (vv. 4:15-17).

At that time, not only will those who have died in Christ receive their new, glorified bodies, but in a flash, all believers who are still living will be changed and have bodies like the risen Jesus! (1 Corinthians 15:50f, Philippians 3:20f.)

Lord, thank You that we are going to be with You when we die. Thanks also that You are coming back to earth to make all things new! Amen.

- Rev. Mark Peske, Bemidji, Minnesota

 

Read stories from our associate ministry in Minnesota and the Leech Lake Reservation.

Where Is God In Our Suffering?

During my 20 years as a missionary to Native people, God has blessed me to be able to baptize two dozen Native people who have confessed their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. But the Native community tends to be a very mobile group, and some have moved away from this area and now live in places like Duluth, Park Rapids, Moorhead, or even Canada. One man has died and gone to be with the Lord. And a few have returned to drug and alcohol abuse. I’ve been interested to discover how those who have moved away still find opportunities to stay connected with me even though there are miles between us.

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Photo by JFXie via Flickr

Pat is a 45 year-old Native man who is now living about an hour’s drive away in Mahnomen, Minnesota. His sister died about two months ago (liver disease due to years of excessive drinking). It really hit his extended family hard and Pat came up with an idea to help his brothers and sister, nieces and nephews. He suggested that they have a pot-luck dinner one Sunday afternoon and asked me to come and “share some verses from God’s word” with the family. I was glad to answer this call.

Pat (whom I baptized a few years ago) is the only believer in Christ among his rather large family, but they were all eager to gather in the living room after dinner and listen as I shared from Psalm 42 (“Where is God in our suffering?”) and sang a song on my guitar.

After the gathering finished and I was driving home, I thought about other things I would like to share with this family that is hurting and searching. Later in the day Pat called me and said everyone had talked after I left and said we should continue doing this kind of gathering. I was elated! Since that time, we have met once again and have plans to meet again next month.

Please pray that Pat’s family would be open to God’s word and embrace Jesus as their Savior.

And thank God for the creative ways He gives me to stay in touch with believers who have moved away!

Rev. Mark Peske, Bemidji, MN

Artist Michael Lemon Featured in Lakeland Public Television Series

We are pleased to share this video produced by Common Ground, aweekly series that highlights northern and central Minnesota culture on Lakeland Public Television. In the video, Michael Lemon, Ojibwe Native from Bemidji, Minn., is the featured artist at the "4th annual Art From Within exhibition in Bemidji. Art from Within began by promoting art from Native Americans who were incarcerated but has expanded its remit to include other artists whose work may not otherwise get publicized."

Mike is a longtime friend of Rev. Mark Peske and Lutheran Indian Ministries. Mark ministered to Mike while he was incarcerated and continues to be his spiritual mentor since his release. Over the years, Lutheran Indian Ministries has featured Mike's artistry on its Advent and Lenten devotional booklets.

We encourage you to watch the video to learn how Mike the artist, who "has 'done time', tells what art has come to mean to him and explains its importance in helping others to understand both his culture and his God."

Looking for a Miracle

Does God read our Facebook page? I think so ... of course, He knows everything right? This week I had an experience that showed me how God is paying attention even to “social media.” One of the Native men who is a believer, Mike, hasn’t been doing well lately and, among other things, it caused a break-up between him and his girlfriend, Nikki. So, one evening, I went to Nikki’s house to drop something off and found her at the door in tears.

Nikki is not yet a believer and I was glad to take a few minutes just to let her pour out her heart. Then I shared one of God’s promises in Isaiah 40, that, “those who wait on the Lord will soar on like eagles” (v. 31). I suggested she read the whole chapter that night (she recently began reading God’s Word using a “Women’s Bible” that Mike gave her). Well, when I got home that evening, Nikki sent me the following text message:

Hey, Mark. I just had to say thanks. I was feeling weak and posted on Facebook just before you came to the door,”Looking for a Miracle,” and you told me what to read and I feel a lot better (for being home alone). Thanks again for everything. God bless! 

Let’s keep presenting ourselves to God daily as His servants through Christ Jesus so He can use us to bring the little “miracles” people need each day!

Rev. Mark Peske, Bemidji, MN

"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

Connect with Lutheran Indian Ministries on Facebook: facebook.com/IndianMinistry

Click here to download a PDF version of this article

“One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism” by Rev. Mark Peske, Associate Staff

The Scriptures teach us that we are one in the Lord Jesus and the faith into which we were baptized. But each of us walks a different and unique road as we follow the call of God into His Kingdom. Three men have recently been baptized here on the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota. And each one walked a unique pathway to reach the Lord Jesus and the waters of baptism.

Alman Hare and I met at a Gospel tent meeting held last summer near Cass Lake. As we visited, Alman explained to me that he had recently been released from prison where he had turned to God for the first time in his life. “I want to go the right way, but I’m just not sure what I’m supposed to do,” Alman explained. I offered to meet with Alman at his house and read God’s Word together so that he could get to know God and His plan for us. Alman jumped at the chance and thus began a process that lasted several months. We met to go through the Scriptures together from Adam to Moses and then the life of Jesus. And on a clear October night, Alman was baptized in the hot tub on the back porch of one of my friends homes. (Alman had said, “I want to go all the way under the water!”) When I was talking to Alman a couple weeks after his baptism, he said to me, “I really feel different since being baptized...sometimes it seems like I’m actually breathing different air.”

Joe lost one of his best friends to a death that resulted from complications of alcoholism last summer. As a result I ended up meeting with him in his house to go through the Scriptures. Joe himself suffered from acute anxiety that had limited his social and vocational life. We also met regularly to go through God’s Word starting with the seven men in Genesis and Exodus and then going through the four main parts of Jesus’ life: His life, death, resurrection, and ascension.  When I came to see Joe a few weeks ago, he asked me, “Can you baptize me today?” And so I did. After he was baptized and prayed from his heart, I asked him, “How does that feel?”

“It feels like a load has been lifted off me!” Joe replied.

In the next few visits, I gave Joe some teaching about reading God’s Word himself. He got started and later told me, “I usually read something from the Book every day. If I do miss, I try to read twice the next day!

Jerry moved to the Bemidji area about one year ago. He and his girlfriend, Mara, were looking to resume taking care of Mara’s three children who had been living with their grandpa for five years. They expressed the need for some help knowing how to parent and I went to see them. I explained how there are lots of ideas about good parenting, but they will only work if we have the power to carry them out—power that only comes from God. So I offered to meet with them for two things: to talk about parenting, and to go through God’s Word to learn to know Him and what He’s done for us.

Thus began our process of going through the Scriptures, a process that would take about seven months. Two weeks ago, Jerry asked if he could be baptized. We held the baptism at my family’s home. Jerry’s mother and girlfriend were there to witness his baptism. After having the baptism and a time of prayer for Jerry, we all sat around the table and celebrated with pie! There was lots of good conversation and laughs. At one point Jerry got a big smile and said, “I feel so alive! I’ve told Mark that I’ve felt kind of nervous about the thought of ever going into a church. But I don’t feel that way any more, I feel like I could go anywhere! I just feel so alive.”