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Staff Trax

What Should We Do Next?

Lately, people have been asking me, “What are Salem’s plans for the future?” Although I cannot provide a complete answer to this question right now, I can assure you that Salem’s leadership team is moving forward with a strategic planning process advocated by Mike Ward, an experienced Lutheran pastor, author, and recognized leader in stewardship ministry.

Before rushing to answer…

Healer of Our Every Ill

Lately, I have struggled to make sense of the news of war, displaced refugees, and the sheer magnitude of the world’s brokenness. If we are not careful, despair and hopelessness can quickly envelop us like a quagmire from which we cannot free ourselves. When this happens, I find it helpful to give to God what is simply too difficult for me to bear. The same is true when a dreaded diagnosis or…

Remember That You Are Dust

Dear Partners in Ministry,

The “bright sadness” of the Lenten season will soon be upon us. Lent, a Christian practice dating to the 4th century, involves a 40-day journey when we “fast before we feast.”

It is a time of mindful preparation, one that the author Martin L. Smith refers to as a “season for the Spirit of truth” that begins with the words, “Remember that you…

Canoeing the Mountains

Dear Ministry Partners,

There are moments when the pace of change and the disruption of what is familiar can be deeply upsetting. So much so, that the resulting discomfort and the loss of what once was may give rise to feelings of anger, grief, and bitter disappointment. Change and disruption may also fuel unfulfilled longings for an idealized return “to the way things used to be.”

Advent Hope

Dear Partners in Ministry,

Soon we will be entering the season of Advent and another busy time of holiday preparations, Christmas programs, family traditions, travel, and never-ending to-do lists. Amid the chaos of our busy lives Advent invites us to make time for Sabbath renewal. But given all that has happened during the past year, many may struggle to experience the “hope, love, joy,…

One of You Is the Messiah

Recently I came across a fascinating story recounted by M. Scott Peck. At the center of the tale is a once-thriving monastery that over time has been reduced to a shell of its former glory. The abbot, concerned that the few remaining elderly monks could not sustain the ministry, went to the woods surrounding the monastery to pray.

Deep in the woods was a little hut that a rabbi from a nearby…

Open Hands

Recently I discovered a powerful story while reading my daily devotional prayer book. The reflection highlighted the insight of a Roman Catholic missionary who spent 40 years serving with and among the people of Guatemala. During that time, the priest experienced many challenges, including death threats and financial struggles. Yet, through it all he remained happy, fulfilled, and generous in spirit.

Good Grief

Recently, quite by accident, I discovered a scrap of paper with words of encouragement penned by Brazilian lyricist and novelist Paulo Coehlo. It reads, “If you are brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.”

But saying goodbye is difficult to do, isn’t it? During times of grief, loss, and unexpected change, many of…

Let Us Go Across to the Other Side

Like the disciples who journeyed with Jesus across the Sea of Galilee, many of us may struggle to heed Jesus’ invitation, “Let us go across to the other side” (Mark 4:35). It is only natural, after all. Our brains are hardwired to resist change. We hesitate to venture into unfamiliar waters. Or maybe we just prefer to remain where we are, anchored in the comfortable and familiar.

Living…

Transitions

Transitions are never easy. Are they? Change is often unsettling. It disrupts what is familiar and comfortable. Transitions also involve a lot of work, particularly the heavy lifting required of any move and the emotional energy that we invest in the forging of new relationships. As the unpacking, organizing, and establishing new relationships continues to unfold, the verse from Ecclesiastes 3:1…