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REFRESHED | Nov-Dec 2014

Nov-Dec 2014 | REFRESHED


from the publishers…

A look back and a look ahead for Refreshed As we approach another holiday season and the end of the year, we pause for a moment to reflect on what has been an eventful year for this publication. In January we announced that the Minnesota Christian Examiner, formerly known as the Minnesota Christian Chronicle, was going to experience an “extreme makeover” and be transformed into a full color inspirational magazine. Refreshed debuted in April and it has been very exciting to bring you a whole new look with inspiring stories and informational columns that are appealing, not just to the churched, but to the broader community. We want to extend heartfelt thanks to the folks at 98.5 KTIS for standing with us as a corporate sponsor during this first year. Their support has been very encouraging. And we thank our columnists for donating their time to write for us each month. Publishing at this level of quality does not come without a price. As expected, our printing costs have escalated substantially, but advertising sales, our sole source of revenue, have not increased as we had hoped and as we have needed. Therefore, at least for the near future, we are going to change our frequency to bi-monthly and publish every two months. This issue covers November and December. Our next issue, for January and February, will come out in early January. We covet your prayers that God would meet the needs we have. We encourage you to patronize our advertisers. Even if you don’t need their services, let them know you have seen their ads in Refreshed and thank them for their support. As far as we know, there is no other publication in the Twin Cities that offers inspirational and faith-based content like this. This community needs to be “refreshed.” One additional note: We want to express our deep appreciation for our editor of six years, Scott Noble. Scott has determined it is time for him to move on and devote all of his efforts to Noble Creative, which is his own writing and editing business. Scott has been a terrific part of our team. We wish him, his wife Wendy and daughter Maggie the best. From our family to yours, Merry Christmas. Lamar & Theresa Keener Publishers

Download a digital version of Refreshed magazine for convenient viewing on your favorite digital device.


PUBLISHERS Lamar & Theresa Keener EXECUTIVE EDITOR Scott Noble PROOFREADER Lis Trouten CONTRIBUTORS Joanne Brokaw, Jim Jackson, Wendie Pett, Jason Sharp, Colette and Jonathan Stuart, Doug Trouten, Yia Vang Copyright © 2014 Selah Media Group Refreshed is an independent, faith-based magazine published monthly by Selah Media Group. It is distributed in bulk, free of charge, to hundreds of locations throughout the Twin Cities metro region. For a 1-year mail subscription, send $24.95 to the address below or visit Refreshed welcomes story ideas. All unsolicited material is subject to approval of the publishers and is not returned. Viewpoints expressed in Refreshed are those of their respective writers, and are not necessarily held by the publishers. Reasonable effort is made to screen advertisers, but no endorsement of the publishers is implied or should be inferred. The publishers can accept no responsibility for the products or services offered through advertisements. The publisher reserves the right to refuse any advertising. ADDRESS ALL CORRESPONDENCE TO: P. O. Box 131030 St. Paul, MN 55113 E - MAIL PHONE/FAX (763) 746-2468 ADVERTISING (763) 746-2468 x305 FOUNDING CORPORATE SPONSOR


REFRESHED | Nov-Dec 2014

contents FEATURES

6 Morning Mail A Christmas short story

10 Shaping up

‘The Fitness King’ encourages soul and body nourishment

12 None of the above


The growing number of religiously unaffiliated in the U.S.

14 10 tips for finding a new church Area pastors provide suggestions in what to look for in a church search


16 Christmas happenings

Long-time traditions and new experiences


Events calendar






Community news

COLUMNS 23 Doug Trouten | unplugged 24 Wendie Pett | here’s to good health 25 Yia Vang | at the table 26 Colette & Jonathan Stuart | marriage matters

23 24

27 Jim Jackson | purposeful parenting 28 Jason Sharp | sharp focus 30 Joanne Brokaw | that’s life!


Nov-Dec 2014 | REFRESHED


Morning Mail A Christmas short story by MARY KAY MOODY illustrated by MARY HART


REFRESHED | Nov-Dec 2014


aggie McKnight clipped seat belts over Jake, 5, and Tyler, 3, then handed them their teachers’ Christmas gifts. She swatted snow off the windshield, eager to get going and cross things off her long to-do list. She flung a prayer that their old Chevy would start, turned the ignition, then smiled in the mirror at the two boys who occupied a large portion of her heart. “Mail’s here, Mom,” Jake said as they reached the end of the driveway. The box overflowed and the flap wouldn‘t close. “I’d better grab it. It’ll get soaked.” She stuffed two handfuls into her tote bag and drove off. “Mommy?” She checked the mirror. “How many days to Christmas?” Excitement glittered in Ty’s brown eyes. Those eyes, so like his dad’s. “Six, honey. Hard to wait?” “Oh, yeah.” ***** Selma looked out at the snow, a chill settling around her heart as Maggie and the boys drove by. On their way to school, no doubt. She waved, but no one looked her way, so this morning she got no return wave. A tear trailed down her wrinkled cheek. Swiping it on the sleeve of her thin chenille bathrobe, she turned to put on tea. Robot-like, she filled the kettle, turned on the stove, poured juice, and set butter and marmalade on the table. Winter is hardest she thought. Always is. Her breath caught in her throat, her hand suspended over the white enamel table. But this year’s the worst. The kettle’s piercing whistle interrupted her thoughts. She poured water into the teapot and enjoyed the aroma of orange spice. Two cups in the morning. Returning the kettle to the stove, her attention snagged on

pictures stuck to the refrigerator. She inhaled a ragged breath, drawing a line along the cheek of the handsome young serviceman in the faded black and white photo. “Joe, love of my life, do you know how much I miss you? When I shopped last Friday, I remembered our ritual, but I couldn’t bring myself to get cocoa without you.” Another tear escaped. “Second Christmas without you and this one’s even harder. My first alone in 52 years.” She rested her fingertip on his lips, then shifted her gaze to a color photo, a young man in a crisp blue uniform. A long sigh quavered. “Joe, do you know young Michael was killed in Afghanistan a few months back?” Tears streamed. “Losing you was bad, Sweetheart, but we had many years together. Watching our sweet Emily lose her youngest son. Well, it’s the hardest thing I ever had to do.” She gave another ragged sigh, then straightened her bony frame, tightened the sash on her robe, and ate breakfast, wishing she could spend Christmas with her family—what was left of it. ***** Maggie dropped the boys at school and drove to the doctor’s, sorting mail while she waited. Bills inside her purse, Christmas cards into her satchel, junk mail on the couch to toss in the receptionist’s wastebasket. But that miscellaneous stack tugged at her attention. Solicitations. From the local mission where folks receive food, shelter, job training, and teaching about Jesus. Organizations asking for a monthly commitment to relieve hunger. An agency that rescues children in distant countries from slavery or

prostitution. The thought o children in such straits of w wrenched her heart. The nurse called, and M Maggie shoved the stack of requests into her bag. Later. After her check-up, Maggie quickly crossed off three to-do items by picking up puppy chew toys, special chocolates for Christmas Eve, and the new fishing rod she wanted for her husband, Keith. Leaving the mall, she spotted the bell ringer with the red bucket. She reached for her usual donation, then paused. Should she give more? Unsure, she dropped a ten in the kettle and went to pick up the boys. After dinner Maggie settled under a velvety throw and emptied her tote. “Keith, what do you think?” She held up the stack of solicitation envelopes. He peered over the newspaper. “What about them, Hon?” “Usually we toss them. I tried that earlier and I just couldn’t.” She thumbed through glossy fliers. “I feel like we should send a contribution. But there are so many needs, I couldn’t pick just one.” “Painful, isn’t it?” Closing her eyes, she leaned back. “Especially the children.” A tear trickled down her cheek. “Honey?” She kept her eyes closed. “Yes?” “Have you prayed about it?” he whispered. “No.” She winced at the defeat in her voice. He folded the paper. “Heavenly Father, thank You for the many gifts You graciously provide. Maggie and I want to celebrate Jesus’ birthday in a way that will bring glory to You. Thousands are in deep need. Please show us clearly where you want us to help. Thank you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.” She opened her eyes as Keith walked over. Nov-Dec 2014 | REFRESHED


“I wonder if you know you’re part of God’s answer to my prayers.” He wiped her tears and flashed a grin. “We should know soon.” “Thank you. And thanks for not making fun of me.” “Maggie, your sensitive spirit is a gift I always appreciate.” “Next to Jesus, you’re the best Christmas gift.” She stood and hugging him, relished being in his arms. Next morning while Maggie stirred oatmeal, Keith asked, “Get an answer about where to send money?” “I feel like God’s telling me not to send money to any of them ...” He shot her a questioning look. “Though passing up that child rescue agency will be very hard. I think we’re to take that money and make a nice Christmas for Selma. Remember Sunday she said her family wouldn’t be coming this year?” “Because her grandson was killed in Afghanistan, wasn’t it?” He drained his coffee mug. “Yes. The rest of the family is going to his widow and kids’ place. It’ll be the first time Selma’s alone for Christmas.” ***** Selma was surprised when Maggie rang her doorbell. “Hello, Dear. Come in out of the cold.” Maggie entered the foyer and held out a handful of mail. “Morning, Selma. Thought we’d bring this in. The box won’t close.” She responded with a grin and a hug. “Thank you, that’s very thoughtful.” “You’re welcome.” Maggie’s gaze looked intent. “You mentioned that your family won’t be coming for Christmas this year. Please spend it with us.” “Oh, dear, I—” “Please do. We’d love it. You know the kids think of you as another grandma, don’t you?” Maggie held her hands together like a child making a prayer. Selma grinned. “Well, I’d like that


REFRESHED | Nov-Dec 2014

very much. But you must let me help.“ “Done.” Maggie gave her a quick hug and left. Selma moved to the door and waved to the boys. This morning she was graced with return waves and went to prepare breakfast with a smile. After eating, she took her cup of tea to the parlor and sorted the mail into stacks. The mound of requests for aid weighed heavy on her heart, so she prayed about them. ***** Christmas Eve, cold and snowdusted, the McKnights took Selma to the candlelight service, then home to celebrate. Maggie put cocoa and cookies on the coffee table, and smiled watching Ty who literally bounced. A human Tigger. Lights twinkled on the tree, the fire crackled, and music floated in the background. Selma nestled on the cushy sofa. Thank you, Lord, for reminding us of Selma. “So, boys,” Keith’s rich baritone blended with the music. “What’s your favorite thing about Christmas—besides getting presents?” “I like you bein’ off work so we can do stuff together,” Jake bubbled. “Selma, my dad’s takin’ us sledding tomorrow before dinner.” “Yeah, sledding.” Tyler did an excited dance. “O-o-h, sounds like fun.” Selma matched the boys’ grins. “I used to love sledding.” Jake turned to her with big eyes. “You can come with us.” “You’re more than welcome,” Keith added, choosing a cookie. “Thanks, but I’m past my sledding prime.” Selma giggled. They shared holiday memories until Keith announced it was time to open Christmas Eve gifts. The boys opened

storybooks, a tradition, then new trucks that Maggie knew would hold them until morning. Maggie gently placed a sparkling package on Selma’s lap, setting smaller ones on the couch. Selma appeared speechless, and Maggie, noticing tears pooling in the older woman’s eyes, put an arm around Selma’s shaking shoulders. “We’re sorry you’ve had so many losses.” “You’re such dears,” she said, looking at each one. “You’ve given me much joy. I don’t even need to open these to feel it.” “But open ‘em,” Ty crowed, shattering the sadness. She grinned. “Want to help, Ty?” They laughed and worked together. She lifted the box lid and sat open-mouthed, her fingers stroking an ivory fleece robe that resembled a cloud. The satin collar and cuffs, embroidered with gold garland, sparkled in the firelight. “Why, this fluff is softer than Emily’s flannel baby blanket. I never …” Her eyes misted again. Jake and Ty handed her packages until all were opened. Piled in front of her were matching quilted slippers, afghan, a pewter picture frame, and a basket of teas, honey, biscuits, chocolates, and tea cup and saucer. “I hope these remind you daily that you’re loved,” Maggie said. “They will, dear.” Again Selma glanced at each one. “I wonder if you know you’re part of God’s answer to my prayers.” “How so?” Keith said. “I love Christmas, but without my family around, this one was going to be hard. I tried not to be discouraged after my surgery, and then Michael’s death …” She blinked away tears. “Then you invited me into your home. And this robe.” She held it to her cheek. “It’ll be warm as one of my Joe’s hugs. Thank

you for a wonderful Christmas.” Keith and Maggie exchanged a glance. Selma continued. “God answered another prayer in a most unusual way. I asked Him what to do with the money I planned to spend on Mike for Christmas.” Selma gulped. “I expected He’d tell me to give it to Mike’s widow, or maybe a military charity. I was confused—and sure missed Joe and his wisdom.” A faint smile appeared, then grew. “But the Bible says God is father to the orphans, husband to the widows—and sure enough, He told me what to do.” Each looked at her expectantly. “He told me to give it to an agency

that sent a solicitation in the mail. They rescue kids.” She lifted her eyebrows. “Isn’t that strange?” “Not for God, Selma.” Maggie smiled and lifted her eyes to heaven. Everybody’s expecting their best gifts tomorrow. I just got mine. ■ Mary Kay Moody is a free-lance writer with a passion for exploring life at the intersection of our plans and God’s purposes. If you stop by her website or blog,, sit a spell at the crossroads and chat. Merry Christmas, all.

Nov-Dec 2014 | REFRESHED


Shaping up ‘The Fitness King’ encourages soul and body nourishment by SCOTT NOBLE


ike many young boys of his generation, Ron Henderson saw Jack LaLanne—the influential body builder, personal trainer and TV host— as a mentor. Known as “The Godfather of Fitness,” LaLanne encouraged people around the world to take better care of their bodies and get into shape. As a young boy growing up in Fridley, Henderson was small for his age. “I was a little guy,” he recalled. “I wrestled at 98 lbs when I was in ninth grade. I was little but that was probably, I think, where it got me really interested— it was just watching [LaLanne].” So Henderson began to work out, not realizing that his newfound activity would eventually lead to notoriety and a successful career. “I just started working out,” he said. “I wanted to improve where I was physically, because I couldn’t do a whole lot about certain things financially. My parents couldn’t buy me a car … but I could work out. I could improve that. I could have something that I could feel good about.” The results he gained from being in shape made Henderson feel secure and confident. But when his parents got divorced and moved to north Minneapolis when Henderson was in high school, the following few years were tough. He began to get into trouble before a good friend helped introduce him to Jesus Christ.

Finding faith

For 30 years, Ron Henderson has established himself as one of the leading fitness experts in the Twin Cities.


REFRESHED | Nov-Dec 2014

“I (had gone) to church,” Henderson said, “but I’d never heard the salvation plan.” When Mark, his best friend to this day, invited him to a Christian camp, that ultimately changed the course of Henderson’s life. “I remember [the pastor] saying, ‘I surrender all. All to Jesus I surrender,’” Henderson said. “I remember I couldn’t

“People need to be spiritually fit and physically fit. We’re spiritual people, but we’re in a physical world.”

sing it. All I thought about was how happy those people were. There was just a peace that they had; I wanted it.” Henderson responded to that invitation and gave his life to Christ. His life immediately changed, but he still struggled. He would do really well, he said, and then he would fall away. “I was always trying, and the conviction was there,” he said. “But I stayed in church because I always wanted to make the change.” Henderson recalled attending a church service where the message was about spiritual battles. “They were preaching about if you knew in your heart that you really want to be free from something but you couldn’t, they said you probably have some kind of almost like [spiritual battle going on],” he recalled. “‘Come forward for deliverance, for prayer.’ I went forward.” That commitment helped deliver Henderson from the struggles he had with falling away from the faith. In his new book “Fitness and Faith: Balancing the Scales,” Henderson writes: “It wasn’t until 2003 that I made a true commitment to the things of God. It was then that I received deliverance from my fleshly ways. I made a permanent decision to give it all to Jesus and in return Jesus gave me His all.”

Pursuing fitness

In the early 1980s, while Henderson was working at a public school as an assistant to the principal, he was getting requests to help people with their workouts. He began to work on a business plan for a fitness company. He also wrote his first book. With the business plan complete, Henderson put an ad in a local newspaper and was overwhelmed by the number of phone calls he received. People were interested in getting trained, and he

soon became one the Scales.” In of the main goit, he writes that to trainers in the he was unable to Twin Cities. achieve his top Since those physical shape early days, Henuntil he took derson has beproper care of his come a successful spiritual life. He trainer, speaker encourages readand host of severers with personal al radio and telestories and Scripvision programs. ture to consider He currently hosts the importance of the “Fitness and physical fitness to Faith,” show on the spiritual life. cable television. Henderson He works with also tackles what a variety of clihe calls “one of Ron Henderson’s new book, ‘Fitness and Faith: ents—including the many lies Balancing the Scales,’ integrates the importance of local celebrities, straight from the faith with a fitness regimen. pastors and othdevil,” which is ers—on weight the belief that training, cardio fitness stretching and people who work out are too concerned strengthening exercises. with the flesh. What makes Henderson unique, how“The truth is,” he writes, “that people ever, is his approach to fitness, which inwho exercise and are thoughtful about cludes a focus on having an abundant life taking care of their bodies are really gloas referenced in John 10:10, Jesus says, rifying God … No matter where you are “The thief comes only to steal and kill in your spiritual walk, you need to know and destroy; I have come that they may that taking care of your body is actually have life, and have it to the full.” a requirement.” “I’m hoping to motivate people to The book also includes a self analytake care of what they have,” Henderson sis form and tips and suggestions about said. “People need to be spiritually fit workout plans and fitness regimens. and physically fit. We’re spiritual people, Since he was a young man, Henderbut we’re in a physical world.” son has been committed to working out. And just as in the physical world we Today, that commitment is still strong, make deposits into our bank account, but he has further developed the link Henderson wants to make sure people between fitness and personal faith—bemake deposits into their bodies. When lieving that our bodies need important something bad happens, “What does nourishment just as much as our spirits. your body have for a bank account?” It’s that combination of approaches Henderson asks. that continues to make Ron Henderson one of the leading fitness experts in the Balancing faith and fitness Twin Cities. ■ Henderson recently released his latest book, “Fitness and Faith: Balancing Learn more at Nov-Dec 2014 | REFRESHED


NONE of the above The growing number of religiously unaffiliated in the U.S. by SCOTT NOBLE


he term is bandied about in increasing frequency across the country’s religious landscape. “Nones.” The growing number of people who do not identify with any particular religious tradition. For most of U.S. religious history, this was a small group; most people believed this group included mainly atheists or agnostics. But as their numbers have grown in recent years, their significance in American life has grown exponentially.

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How many are there?

According to Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project, which has completed a major study on the “nones,” in just the past five years, the number of people who do not identify with a religion has grown from 15% to nearly 20% of U.S. adults. That includes 13 million agnostics and atheists, as well as more than 30 million people who do not subscribe to any religious tradition. Today, one third of adults under the age of 30 are considered “nones.” ounder of Think Eternity and According to Matt Brown, founder author of the upcoming book “Awakening,” it’s important to remember that just because the “nones” don’t have a religious tradition doesn’t mean they don’t have a hunger for God. “More and more people are growing up completely disconnected from the life of the church,” he said. “We need to be aware of them and the questions they ask about me they don’t care about God and faith. We can’t assume de all of us with an inspiritual life, because God made ner hunger for Him that is nott satisfied until we find Him.”

Why is this happening?

Part of the reason can be attributed ttributed to the ebb and flow of history. New generations emerge and develop their own habits and affiliations, which can be diss. similar to previous generations. The Pew Research study says that “generational replacement” is a maement: jor factor behind this new movement: “the gradual supplanting of older generations by newer ones.” p noted However, the research group lso that the rise of the “nones” is also apparent among Generation Xers and Baby Boom-

Grandparents come for FREE!* ers. More than 20% of Generations Xers and 15% of Baby Boomers consider themselves religiously unaffiliated, according to the 2012 study. That’s another major reason for the rise of the “nones.” But these two narratives play into a much larger narrative—and that is the emergence, according to researchers, of “a gradual decline in religious commitment” across the country. While this trend is still in its infancy, some researchers believe it could be critical if it holds true long term. “It’s important and encouraging to remember there have always been challenges to Christianity,” Brown said. “Right now we all know the big issues, but we often forget that previous generations weren’t perfect; they faced seemingly insurmountable challenges as well in reaching their generation with the gospel. We can’t affect culture today with the tools of the past. We need wise, humble leaders to guide us into new, authentic movements of sharing God’s love.”

What do ‘nones’ believe?

Pew researchers found that “nones” are a diverse group and encompass a wide variety of beliefs and practices. Five percent attend worship services weekly, one-third say religion is “somewhat important” to them, and belief in God is held by two-thirds of the unaffiliated. They tend to view religious institutions with some skepticism, believing they focus too much on money and power. However, a majority believe religious institutions can be a positive for society. t say, most of the unaffiliated are not searching Needless to for a church.

Root causes

The Pew R Research study provides some provocative theories on the reason for the rise in the number of unaffiliated. They include political politica backlash against what they perceive as an alignment betwee between religion and conservative politics. Another ttheory focuses on delays in marriage, which can play a role in religious affiliation. Less socia social engagement and secularization are also possible reasons why more people tend not to identify with any particular religious ttradition. While ch churches across the country are coming to grips with the new rreality of the “nones,” they are faced with challenges unlike any they have seen before. How do you reach millions o of people—many of them young—with the message of th the gospel in an increasingly adversarial culture? “W “We need to be more intentional in teaching our congr congregants how to be good friends, to have a heart to connect with their neighbors and co-workers without being too pushy about faith,” Brown said. “We need a moveo believers in our nation who are full of God’s love ment of and jjoy. This will draw those outside the church to the gra of the gospel, which is so different from what grace ou world offers.” ■ our Learn more at nones-on-the-rise and at

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for finding a NEW CHURCH

Area pastors provide suggestions in what to look for in a church search by SCOTT NOBLE


t’s inevitable. People will leave a church, stumble around trying to find another church and eventually land on one. In our increasingly mobile society, millions of people each week are looking for their next church—the right church for them personally and their family. But it’s a tricky endeavor. What kind of church do I choose? If I’m a Baptist, must I only attend a Baptist congregation? How about Lutheran? Should I only consider a Lutheran church when I’m looking for a new congregation? How about other things? What characteristics should I look for in a new church, its pastor or its worship style? Are there things I should avoid in my church search? How about church programs? Are they important in my church search? Each Sunday, millions of Americans sit in the pews of their church—places of worship they have attended for months, years or even decades. At the same time, there are millions of others who are looking for a church to call home. Some may have left their last church because of a specific problem or disagreement. Others may have left the church because they moved and have yet to find a church in their new location. Increasingly, however, many Americans are staying home, frustrated because they can’t seem to find the right church for them. Some have even given up and resigned themselves to their couch on Sunday mornings watching NFL pre-game shows. In addition, there are many Americans who are looking for their first church. They might be new Christians or interested in regaining the faith they had earlier in their lives—or maybe they are just curious about Jesus and want to see what a church looks like in person. Regardless of the reason, millions


REFRESHED | Nov-Dec 2014

of Americans are looking for their first church, a new church or maybe just something different from what they are currently experiencing. In light of this, we asked numerous pastors and ministry leaders from across the Twin Cities—urban and suburban— to give us their insights and recommendations into finding a new church. Following are their top 10 tips to consider when looking for a new church.


Find a church committed to preaching the Bible.

This may sound simplistic, but pastors and ministry leaders overwhelmingly mentioned the importance of Scripture as a key characteristic in finding a new church. Leaders also recommended a church where Scripture and the story of Jesus are key components in a congregation’s daily life. Not a church that rarely preaches from the Bible or one that casually draws upon the values of the story of Jesus. One pastor commented, “Where people are taught how to read and study Scripture for themselves. They’re taught how to learn the Bible—framework, major themes, how it fits together, etc.”


Find a church where leaders are authentic and trustworthy.

There is no perfect church, and no one is perfect. However, look for a church where leaders are honest and willing to admit their faults. No one has all the answers, so a solid leader should be willing to admit when he or she doesn’t have it all figured out. The personal example of the leadership should mirror what they preach from the pulpit, the classroom or the worship stage. One ministry leader wrote, “If they talk a good talk but aren’t involved in doing it themselves, find another church.”


Find a church where you can invest your time and energy.

It’s easy to attend on Sundays—and weekdays when events or classes are held—and not become involved with the community of the church. Millions of Americans are church consumers, meaning they seek out a church experience but do not invest themselves in the active life of the church. The life of a church can take many different shapes and forms depending on the size and its structure. Some churches may have dozens of support groups, community groups, classes and Bible study sessions in which to engage. Others, especially smaller churches, may have only a fraction of these opportunities. Find a church where you can easily plug into the life of the church—not just on Sundays—and become an essential component of its mission to the community. One pastor urged people not only to invest yourself in the life of a church, but to “stay with it long enough so, like a rock tumbler [where rough edges are smoothed off], you start experiencing what it means to live in the Body [of Christ].”


Find a church that has a heart for its community.

Every church, regardless of where it’s at, is located in a community. It might be in a suburban community, an urban location, rural or even in an industrial complex behind a shopping mall. Regardless, it is surrounded by a community that could use the innovative, strategic and life-giving influence of a group of believers. Many churches are involved in missions work around the world, and that is essential. In addition, churches should be involved with their own communities:

volunteering, providing food, hosting events, providing resources and a host of other services. Find a church that cares for its community and shows it care by spending its resources—human and material—on those in its own backyard.


Find a church that has authentic, moving worship services that focus on God.

There are a variety of worship styles across America. From traditional to contemporary to something approaching a rock concert. People will be drawn to worship services that typically provide the type of music and structure in which they feel most comfortable. Some prefer hymns while others prefer contemporary music and others prefer something completely different. That’s fine and good. However, it’s important, according to our poll of pastors and ministry leaders, for that worship to focus on “magnifying God and not so much on us or other aspects of life.”


Find a church that is both welcoming and provides a sense of home.

Churches come in all shapes and sizes. Many people worship in churches with several thousand people while others make their home in churches of 75 people. The majority of worshippers across the country, however, populate churches of 100 people or less. The size of the church does not matter. What matters is that you have the sense of being at home and you feel welcomed. That can happen in a church of 5,000 people just as easily as it can in a church of 100. You will know it when you arrive on your first Sunday and on your

fifth Sunday and on your 500th Sunday. Do people know your name? Do they ask your name if they don’t know it? Do they make an effort to get to know you and invite you into their church community?


Find a church where people exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.

The fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” These are essential characteristics of people who have committed their lives to Christ and are manifesting that new relationship in how they treat others. Again, no one is perfect and not everyone equally exhibits the fruit of the Spirit. But look for a church where the leaders and church members can generally be recognized by these characteristics.


Find a church that is intergenerational and diverse.

A healthy church should include people from all walks of life and situations. To a degree, churches reflect the communities in which they are located. However, that shouldn’t necessarily become an obstacle to reaching outside its comfort zone to welcome others from backgrounds and age groups that aren’t noticeably represented. Churches should be welcoming institutions for everyone, and a healthy church should be populated by people from all walks of life. One urban pastor wrote: “A place of people of many ages and backgrounds. Twenty-somethings need to learn from 70-somethings.” Continued on page 22 Nov-Dec 2014 | REFRESHED


Christmas happenings Long-time traditions and new experiences compiled by Gianna Kordatzky


he Twin Cities’ Christmas spirit comes alive with many activities and performances. Remembering the true beauty of the season in the gift of the newborn King, these events can enhance your merriment.

Winter Wonderland: A Nordic Christmas

The American Swedish Institute gears up for Christmas every year with one of the most beautifully decorated sights around the Twin Cities. Winter Wonderland: A Nordic Christmas is this year’s theme of the season which runs from Nov. 15 through Jan. 11. The Turnblad Mansion is filled to the brim with Christmas spirit. Christmas rooms designed by Nordic designers, family gingerbread house decorating (Nov. 30), guided tours throughout the mansion, and live performances throughout the season encourage us to enjoy the holidays. Nov. 15 kicks off the holiday fun with Family Day: live music, Christmas ornament-making, and food. The most unique Christmas tradition the American Swedish Institute celebrates involves a little fellow by the name of Tomte. Tomtes are a delightful Scandinavian custom celebrated most often at Christmas. Resembling a garden gnome, the tomte’s role is to guard its home. On Christmas Eve children leave a bowl of porridge overnight for Tomte. The American Swedish Institute took the love of Tomte and created an annual tradition of searching for him throughout the castle: The Great Tomte Hunt. Learn more at

Holidazzle Village and the Minneapolis Christmas Market

Happening at Nicollet Mall between 10th Street and 12th Street, Minneapolis, this holiday extravaganza is designed to feel like an open-air German Christmas market and, located on Peavey Plaza in Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Christmas Market invites families to stroll through the marketplace looking for the most festive holiday gifts from one of the more than 30 huts. The Minneapolis Christmas Market opens daily


REFRESHED | Nov-Dec 2014

Nov 28 to Dec 24 from 11:00 a.m.-9pm. As the sun fades away on the weekends, enjoy the twinkle of the season as the Holidazzle Village comes to life from 3pm-8pm. This new festivity in Minneapolis replaces the Holidazzle Parade and provides us the same glittery holiday sparkle. The strains of live choir and band performances will float over you while you meet Holidazzle characters, stroke live reindeer and enjoy a Christmas storytime. Learn more at

Sacred Christmas Musical Performances

The birth of the Son of God is celebrated on Christmas day—even if Dec. 25 is not technically the date—and it is only right to welcome Him in songs of praise and adoration. Whether you enjoy choral harmonies and the sound of deep devotion or want to kick up your heels to an energizing rhythm, there are plenty of performances from which to choose.

DEC 4-6 • THU-SAT Bethel University’s 58th Annual Festival of Christmas, Our Sacrifice of Thanksgiving: A Service of Lessons & Carols. Usher in the season with the student musicians and Bethel Choir alums in the stunning Benson Great Hall • DEC 5-7 • FRI-SUN Christmas at Northwestern: Out of Darkness Into Light. Joining together the Northwestern Choir, Orchestra, Symphonic Band, Women’s Chorale and Varsity Men’s Chorus Christmas at Northwestern has been a tradition since 1982. Maranatha Hall, University of Northwestern - St. Paul • www.unwsp. edu/web/events DEC 6 • SATURDAY Candlelight Christmas Concert. The intimate setting of this performance will quiet your heart as the powerful message of Christmas is presented by the Women’s Choir and the String Orchestra. Our

events calendar

Lady of Victory Chapel, College of St. Catherine, St. Paul • DEC 7 • SUNDAY A St. Thomas Christmas: Light of Light. Performing in this showcase of the season are the University of St. Thomas Chamber Singers, Concert Choir, Liturgical Choir, Women’s Choir, Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the Brass Ensemble. Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis • DEC 12-13 • FRI-SAT Messiah: Hallelujah! If you want to experience God’s majesty, you won’t go wrong with Handel’s Messiah presented by the Minnesota Orchestra. Central Lutheran Church, Minneapolis • Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge Christmas Concert, featuring Mike Weaver of Big Daddy Weave. One of the season’s most worshipful concerts. This choir is comprised of individuals who are humbled by the glory and grace of our almighty Savior since their lives have been redeemed out of the pit of addiction. This is not a professional choir, but it is the most beautiful. Grace Church, Eden Prairie • DEC 13 • SATURDAY Amy Grant & Michael W. Smith Christmas Concert. Two of the biggest Christian music stars are together to celebrate the season with you. Target Center, Minneapolis • DEC 13-14 • SAT-SUN Denver & the Mile High Orchestra. Wanna rock around the Christmas tree? This band celebrates with exuberant joy and a swinging beat. North Heights Lutheran Church, Arden Hills • DEC 17 • WEDNESDAY Canadian Brass: Christmas Time is Here. The sound of triumphant celebration comes from this superb brass quintet. Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis • DEC-18-20 • THU-SAT St. Paul Chamber Orchestra plays Handel’s Messiah. Just days before Christmas, remind yourself of the true gift of the season and worship the Lord as you have a second chance to journey through Handel’s Messiah. The Basilica, Minneapolis • www.

Theatrical Christmas Performances

You will not find the typical Christmas drama with these two productions, but you will walk away with a renewed love for the season.

NOV 13-DEC 28 A Christmas Carol. No holiday season is complete without a performance of this Charles Dickens’ traditional classic. This year marks the 40th anniversary production at Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis • DEC 3-6 • WED-SAT Opera: Menotti Amahl and the Night Visitors. Join the three wise men as they journey to visit the Christ-child. On the way, they come upon another mother and child in need. Watch their lives transform as they receive forgiveness, faith, hope and love. Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis. Young people’s concerts, Wed-Fri, 10am & 11:35am. All tickets $5. Must have a child with you. Family concert, Sat, 2pm, $15 adults, children free (2 per adult) • www. DEC 5-30 Christmas in Niatirb. Based on a Christmas essay by C.S. Lewis, theater-goers discover the lives of the inhabitants of the island of Niatirb—Britain spelled backwards—and their traditions of Exmas and Christmas. A lighter side of the season is presented while asking probing questions. Open Window Theatre, Minneapolis • There are many more holiday festivities in the Twin Cities from which to choose including a free Santa Claus play at Bachman’s on Lyndale in Minneapolis or various Minnesota Sinfonia concerts. Throughout Dec, local churches celebrate together whether by a live nativity or a choir concert. If you join together in celebration this Advent season, Christmas will be a profound and holy holiday. ■ Gianna Kordatzky is the co-founder of Family Fun Twin Cities, LLC—a company dedicated to celebrating families and the Twin Cities. She has been married to her college sweetheart for 15 years and is the mom of four rambunctiously fantastic kids: 2 girls and 2 boys ranging in age from 4 to 9. You can find Gianna (and her partners in crime—Anne Kingston and Joy Peters) at Nov-Dec 2014 | REFRESHED



Rogue film script would mean exodus for ‘Exodus’ The success of the epic motion picture “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” set for pre-Christmas release on Dec. 12 and starring Christian Bale, will largely depend on how much producers stick to the biblical storyline, a new survey says. The survey was conducted by American Insights, a research firm that found that 80 percent of the Christians it surveyed would see the movie if it accurately portrays the biblical account. The number drops to just 31 percent if producers tinker with the plot line. The survey was conducted in conjunction with the research group’s partner, Faith Driven Consumer, an online community that promotes the unique needs of Christians to the broader marketplace, including entertainment and retail outlets.

Christian audiences are eagerly anticipating the Dec. 12 release of “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” but a new survey finds they will stay home if the storyline diverts too much from the Bible. “When Hollywood’s content resonates, faith driven consumers go out

Good to the last laugh! Kids 17 & under half price

Triple Espresso returns Nov. 21 thru Feb. 15



Box Office: 612-874-1100 Groups: 612-874-9000 Music Box Theatre 1407 Nicollet Avenue Mpls., MN 55403 18

REFRESHED | Nov-Dec 2014

of their way to spend their hardearned dollars and time to show support,” said Chris Stone, certified brand strategist and founder of Faith Driven Consumer. While 2014 has been deemed “Year of the Bible” because of a series of successful faith-based films, including “Heaven is For Real,” “God’s Not Dead” and “Son of God,” Christian audiences balked at “Noah,” which took liberties with the script. “We regularly meet with Hollywood industry leaders, encouraging them to create more and better content that resonates with faith-driven consumers specifically and the overall Christian market in general,” Stone added. “When products don’t resonate—as we saw earlier this year with the storm over ‘Noah’—they stay home.” Stone said the findings also show that the producer, Ridley Scott, could wind up with a megahit if he also engages the faith community, particularly pastors. “If done correctly, ‘Exodus’ could earn true blockbuster status and beat the box office record set by ‘The Passion of the Christ’ 10 years ago. If done poorly, it will be another massive missed opportunity.”

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Friends join Guy Penrod for debut Christmas recording

Grammy and Dove Award-winning artist Guy Penrod celebrates the season this year with his debut holiday recording, Christmas. Christmas captures 15 seasonal favorites including “Tennessee Christmas,” featuring Amy Grant and Vince Gill, as well as “Twelve Days of Christmas,” which is a family affair featuring vocals from his eight children and his wife, Angie. The album showcases Penrod’s powerful country-tinged vocals with heartfelt melodies that include many all-time favorite Christmas classics. One of the most popular artists ever featured on the Gaither Homecoming Video Series, Penrod is well-known for his long gray locks and outlaw look. He spent 14 years as the lead singer of the Gaither Vocal Band before launching a successful solo ministry with combined career sales now in excess of four million units.

Mandisa remixes it with new album

Grammy Award-winner Mandisa has released her first full remix album, Get Up: The Remixes, which showcases some of her biggest hits, including “Overcomer,” “Stronger” and “Good Morning.” Mandisa has performed all three of those singles on ABC’s Good Morning America. The upbeat remix release comes amid a busy year for the American Idol alum. In June, the vocalist was named Female Artist of the Year at the K-LOVE Fan Awards, held at the Grand Ole Opry House. During the award show, Mandisa performed “Overcomer,” which earned a Song of the Year nod at the fan-driven event. The title album also received a Grammy earlier this year for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album and

Best Contemporary Christian Music Song for writers David Garcia, Ben Glover & Christopher Stevens.

Alabama releases album of gospel favorites

The legendary country music group Alabama recently released an all-hymns album on the Gaither Music Group label. Angels Among Us: Hymns and Gospel Favorites includes 12 popular songs ranging from “I Saw the Light” and “The Old Rugged Cross” to “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” and “I’ll Fly Away.” Alabama, one of the most acclaimed country groups of all time, has sold more than 75 million albums and singles, achieved 43 No. 1 songs, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

tunes 10th album for Chris Tomlin

Prolific singer songwriter Chris Tomlin unveiled in his 10th studio album Love Ran Red in late October. The project features the pre-released singles “Waterfall,” and “Jesus Loves Me,” an original ballad bearing no resemblance to the popular childhood hymn originating in the 1800s. The album was produced by Ed Cash, a longtime friend and collaborator who also penned some of the songs, as did Tomlin, Matt Redman, Jonah Myrin, Ben Glover, Jason Ingram, and Ben Fielding. A special Deluxe Edition will feature the full-length studio album along with four bonus tracks.

‘The Dream’ from Sanctus Real

Sanctus Real joins the list of Christian groups releasing fall albums with the Oct. 14 drop of The Dream, billed as a “direct reference to finding your dream and the band’s dream of making the album of their lives.” The project includes the singles “Lay It Down” and “Head in the Fight.”


a gift of peace & joy 20th Anniversary Christmas Concert

with orchestral ensemble

Friday, December 12th, 7PM St. Michael’s Lutheran Church 9201 Normandale Blvd., Bloomington Guest vocalist Ben Utecht

General Admission $16 (ages 16 and under FREE) Call for group rate of 10 or more $12

Order tickets online at or call 952-934-2319 Nov-Dec 2014 | REFRESHED


community news

Mary Beth Carlson celebrates 20 years with annual Christmas concert

BLOOMINGTON — “Christmas… A Gift of Peace and Joy” is the theme of Mary Beth Carlson’s annual Christmas concert. The accomplished local pianist is celebrating her 20th anniversary of music performance. She will be joined by guest vocalist Ben Utecht, whose professional football career was cut short due to multiple concussions. His compelling story, “Faith, Football and Brain Injury,” was told in the August issue of Refreshed. Other musicians who will accompany Carlson include Diane Tremaine, cellist; Elisa Horning, violinist; Justin Knoepfel, violist; Mark Henderson, woodwind artist; Cory Wong, guitarist; The Trones Family, vocalists. The concert will be held Friday, December 12, at 7:00 p.m. at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling (952) 934-2319.

Triple Espresso to perform at Clean Comedy Night

MINNEAPOLIS — Triple Espresso will host the “KKMS Clean Comedy Night” on Tuesday, Nov. 25 at the Music Box Theatre in Minneapolis. Written by local playwrights Bill Arnold, Michael Pearce Donley and Bob Stromberg, the popular trio has performed around the country and has entertained audiences with its family-oriented and high energy humor for more than 15 years. “We are very excited and honored to partner with Triple Espresso and the Music Box Theatre for a clean and fun-filled night of comedy with our listeners,” said Nic Anderson, general manager of Salem Twin Cities, via a media release. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $25. For additional information and to purchase tickets, visit

Grace Church to host Christmas concert

EDEN PRAIRIE — The MN Adult and


REFRESHED | Nov-Dec 2014

Teen Challenge choir will perform two times at Grace Church for its seventh annual Christmas concert. The 350 members of the choir will be joined by Mike Weaver of Big Daddy Weave, who will perform as a soloist. The concerts take place on Friday, Dec. 12 and Saturday, Dec. 13 at 7:00 p.m. at Grace Church in Eden Prairie. Doors open 45 minutes prior to the event. Tickets range in price from $10 to $75. The $75 ticket includes a “Meet and Greet” with Mike Weaver. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit events/christmas-concert or call (612) 238-6184. For more information about Grace Church, visit

ForEver Friends Fellowship to host Thanksgiving celebration

EDEN PRAIRIE — Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie is host to ForEver Friends Fellowship, a program of praise and worship of JRG Ministries, Inc.—a ministry that meets the spiritual needs of those with disabilities. The group will hold its Thanksgiving Celebration Dinner on Thursday, Nov. 20 at Wooddale Church. This year’s guest entertainer is Mary Beth Carlson, an award-winning pianist who has recorded numerous CDs, including her latest, “A Brand New Day.” The event begins at 6:00 p.m., and the program and dinner will start at 7:00 p.m. For more information on the Thanksgiving Dinner Celebration, call (763) 420-4774 or visit

North Central University breaks ground on soccer field

MINNEAPOLIS — North Central University recently broke ground on a NCAA-regulation soccer field in Elliot Park, which is located near the school’s urban campus. The soccer field will be built as a result of a partnership with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

The field will be shared between the university and the City of Minneapolis. “With ideas and dreams and people working together, it’s amazing what can be accomplished,” said NCU President Gordon Anderson, via the school’s website. “This field will be the right size that, if Minneapolis ever hosts the World Cup, we can do it right here!” For more information about North Central University, visit

Bethel to host ‘Festival of Christmas’

SAINT PAUL — Bethel University will host its 58th annual Festival of Christmas Dec. 4 – Dec. 6. The concert will feature student musicians as well as Bethel Choir alums. They will “usher in the Christmas season through scripture and joyful song,” according to the university’s website. Concert times are Dec. 4 and Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 6 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices range from $6.50 for kids to $16.50 for adults. For additional information or to purchase tickets, visit events/arts/box-office, email or call (651) 638-6333. For more information about Bethel University, visit

Jonathan McKee featured at Recharge conference

BROOKLYN PARK — Jonathan McKee will be the main speaker at Recharge: a Conference for People Ministering to Children, Youth, and Families on Saturday, Jan. 10. McKee is a speaker and the author of more than a dozen books, including “Get Your Teenager Talking” and “The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenagers.” The event will be held at Grace Fellowship in Brooklyn Center and will begin at 9:00 a.m. More than 20 workshops will be offered on a variety of topics, including “Ministry to Teenage Girls,” “Thinking Creatively about Sunday School in a Small Church,” “Redefining Urban Youth

community news

and Children’s Ministry” and “Adventures in Puberty.” For additional information, including registration, visit or call (651) 484-9400.

Event to feature Dorothy Sayers’ book

SAINT PAUL — MacLaurinCSF, a Christian study center located on the University of Minnesota campus, is sponsoring “Readers’ Theatre: Dorothy Sayers’ ‘The Man Born to be King’” on Thursday, Nov. 20 at 7:00 p.m. at the MacLaurinCSF Study Center in St. Paul. The event will be introduced by Kathryn Wehr, who teaches Systematic Theology 3: Christology and Soteriology at North Central University. The organization is also hosting several additional lectures and events this fall and winter.

For a complete list of events or for additional information about MacLaurinCSF, visit or call (612) 378-1935.

Seminar to focus on ministry to boys and girls

BLOOMINGTON — Youth Leadership will host the one day seminar “Unique Ministry to Boys and Girls” on Thursday, Dec. 11 at its headquarters in Bloomington. According to an announcement from the group, “There is no doubt that boys and girls are different. Each is unique and the church needs to be intentional in how to reach both.” Speakers at the event include Amanda Berger, a youth worker from St. Philip of the Deacon and Ralph Gustafson, who has nearly 30 years of experience leading young boys. For more information on the event

and registration, visit or call (651) 484-9400.

‘Out of Darkness, Into Light’ theme of UNW’s Christmas concerts

SAINT PAUL — “Out of Darkness, Into Light” is the theme of the University of Northwestern’s Christmas concert. The annual concert includes the Northwestern Choir, Orchestra Symphonic Band, Women’s Chorale and Varsity Men’s Chorus. The concerts will be take place on Dec. 5 and Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. and on Dec. 7 at 4:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for UNW alumni, $10 for students and $5 for UNW students. For additional information about the concert, visit or call (651) 631-5151.

7th Annual Mn Adult & Teen Challenge


The Mn Adult & Teen Challenge 350 person choir

Featuring Mike Weaver of Big Daddy Weave

Friday, Dec 12, 2014 @ 7pm Saturday, Dec 13, 2014 @ 7pm Doors open 45 minutes prior to concerts. Holiday treats available after the concert.

At Grace Church

To Purchase a Ticket

9301 Eden Prairie Rd, Eden Prairie, MN 55347

Ticket range by section $10 - $25 seats, $75 Limited seats + Meet & Greet with Mike Weaver.

For more information: 612-238-6184, Melissa Varriano

Nov-Dec 2014 | REFRESHED


church’s vision and mission after only a few visits. If that person continues to attend, she should be able to see the mission and vision reflected in how the church operates. A church that clearly articulates its vision and develops its life around that vision is attractive for those searching for a new church.

Continued from page 15


Find a church that has a clear vision and mission.

Nearly all churches have a vision and mission. Some may have them written down in some official book that gets trotted out only at annual conferences or major church functions. However, healthy churches will not only have a mission and vision, but they will be clear and regularly communicated—and acted upon. Someone who tries a new church should be able to hear and articulate a


Find a church that equips people and uplifts their gifts.

As church consumers, it’s easy to visit different churches and never get

Grace Seventh Day Baptist Church

A Baptist Church with a Difference! We are small but ready to grow UĂŠ/Ă€>`ÂˆĂŒÂˆÂœÂ˜>Â?ĂŠĂœÂœĂ€ĂƒÂ…ÂˆÂŤĂŠĂƒiĂ€Ă›ÂˆViĂƒ UĂŠiÂ?Â?ÂœĂœĂƒÂ…ÂˆÂŤĂŠÂ“i>Â?ĂŠ>vĂŒiÀÊi>VÂ…ĂŠĂƒiĂ€Ă›ÂˆVi

UĂŠ-ÂœÂ?ˆ`ĂŠ ˆLÂ?iĂŠĂŒi>V…ˆ˜} UĂŠ Ă›iĂ€ĂžÂœÂ˜iĂŠĂœiÂ?Vœ“i

Services every Saturday 10 AM to about 11:15 AM We meet at Emmaus Lutheran Church, 8443 2nd Ave. South, Bloomington, MN Call 952-432-7490 or visit our website for more information:

Come celebrate Christ on Sabbath Grace is a branch church of Dodge Center 7th Day Baptist and the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, Janesville, WI

H.E. H.A.D. Faith Ministries A non-denominational Christian Church worshiping on the seventh day Sabbath (Saturdays) Teaching Scripture alone, not the traditions of men. Discover the biblical truth about the Sabbath, end time events, hell, and the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.

Call 612-743-3841



FOR A FREE CATALOG, CONTACT US AT WWWLBCSORGsLBCANDS GMAILCOM 352-621-4991 or write to us 5480 S. Suncoast Blvd., Homosassa, FL 34446

Liberty Bible College & Seminary 22

REFRESHED | Nov-Dec 2014

involved. This is represented in the old adage that 10 percent of the people do 90 percent of the work. But a healthy church should make an effort to discover the particular gifts of each person and match them with ways to become involved with the activities of the body. Since we are all created differently, we all have different and unique gifts. One person may have the gift of singing and can easily get plugged into the church choir. Another person may have the gift of project management and can help the church plan and carry out activities and campaigns. Yet another person might have the gift of helping and be eager to participate in any activity or program that needs help. Regardless of the gift, churches should find a way for each person to play a role in its daily life. These 10 tips to finding a new church are not intended to be exhaustive. There are numerous other tips and ideas that can help form the basis for finding a new church. However, these 10 tips should serve as a baseline for the next time you’re looking to find a new church home. Who knows? Tomorrow, you might get transferred to a new city! â–

plugged in DOUG TROUTEN

The social media filter: How does your life compare? The election is behind us, which means we can look forward to nearly two years of freedom from political ads. For months, we’ve been deluged with ads claiming that our elected leaders are stupid and corrupt, followed by ads insisting that their political challengers are corrupt and stupid. Campaign ads are finally behind us, but now we’re entering another season of misleading communication—this one meant to convince you that everyone you know is much happier than you. I’m referring, of course, to Christmas letter season, that time of year when your mailbox is filled with triumphant tales of the year your friends and family members are concluding. You’ve read these letters. They’re the ones insisting that little Billy cured cancer during recess. His sister, Sally, just finished her album of cello duets with Yo-Yo Ma. Your high school girlfriend just took a break from her career as a supermodel to publish a bestselling cookbook. Your college boyfriend asked Google to stop promoting him because the constant moving to larger offices was cutting into his volunteer time. Even if the letters aren’t packed with fabulous details of enviable lives, the mere fact that somebody found time to get their Christmas letter out may testify to a life much more put together than your own. (I once had a co-worker whose mother delighted in going against the grain by producing Christmas letters that featured awkward and embarrassing moments from the family’s year. Those letters were wonderful.) The whole “look at our fabulous lives” carnival of comparisons used to be limited to the Christmas season, but now it is a year-round phenomenon. Thanks to social media, we can all continually put forth idealized versions of

ourselves who are filled with desirable qualities and living amazing lives. Dutch university student Zilla van den Born demonstrated the power of digital false realities last year when she faked a fiveweek vacation in Southeast Asia. After waving goodbye to her family at the airport, she took a train back to Amsterdam and spent 42 days in her apartment creating the appearance of a fabulous trip. Through the magic of Photoshop, she was seen snorkeling, visiting a Buddhist temple, sampling authentic Thai food and lounging on tropical beaches. Eventually, she admitted to the hoax and explained, “I did this to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media—we create an ideal world online which reality can no longer meet. My goal was to prove how common and easy it is for people to distort reality.” In an age where social media “friends” outnumber real face-to-face relationships, it’s easy to forget that the image we see through the window of social media has been carefully curated. We post the pictures where we look the best, tell the stories with happy endings, weigh in with knowledgeable insights gleaned from a Google search and share our witty retorts when we’ve had a day to think of them. As Brad Paisley sang, we’re all “so much cooler online.” Social psychologist Leon Festinger’s social comparison theory says people are driven to evaluate themselves by making comparisons with others. When we look at people who are better off than us, our self-worth takes a hit. When we look at people who are less well off,

…she faked a five-week vacation…

that downward comparison makes us feel better. Facebook seems to encourage upward comparisons. Recent studies suggest that Facebook users tend to see their friends as being happier people with better lives. If peering into the lives of others through social media (or Christmas letters) makes you feel inadequate, remember that you’re comparing your “behind the scenes” view of your own life with the “highlight reels” of others. Social comparisons seldom lead to real happiness. As poet Max Ehrmann wrote, “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.” Instead, work to follow Paul’s advice to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15, NIV). Realizing that other people’s lives aren’t about you frees you to enter into their joys and sorrows as a friend, rather than as a competitor. Doug Trouten, Ph.D., is a professor of communications at the University of Northwestern – St. Paul.

Nov-Dec 2014 | REFRESHED


here’s to good health WENDIE PETT

Bust through the obstacles to exercise Ever find yourself experiencing a roadblock when it comes to exercise? Whether it’s mental or physical, does that roadblock seem too difficult and almost next to impossible to get around or over? The thought of exercising “sounds” great, but the action feels like such a chore. Obstacles are expected if you’re running the 400-meter hurdles but not always expected when it comes to general exercise. How do others make it look so easy and fun? Well, it’s all in how they see the hurdles and maneuver over them. In high school, I ran the 400-meter hurdles. It was one of my favorite track and field events. But there were times when I didn’t fully clear the hurdles and

always surprised to see how many hours are wasted in a day without intention. I’ve actually had one woman report that she spent 22 hours a week watching television, and yet said she didn’t have time to workout. Very eye-opening! Just think if she used her TV time and did exercises while watching her favorite shows. That’s one obstacle to get around easily. How? Make a habit of watching your favorite show on the floor. Stretch during the show and during commercials hop up and do a few quick cardio bursts. A few of my favorites are jumping jacks, highknees, jump squats, burpees, punchouts and push-ups. When you trade wasted time for productive activity, then you will reap the benefits of getting or staying healthy. A healthy body requires movement! Maybe you have the “obstacle” of having a desk job? Did you know that you can workout throughout your day and receive great benefits physically and mentally? Working out all in one session isn’t mandatory to see success. Get creative. What if you made a conscious decision that every time you got up for a drink of water, to use the bathroom, the copy machine or whatever you do often within your day, that you would practice doing a set of one exercise? You could use your phone or watch alarm as a reminder to do 3-5 minutes of an exercise at the top of every hour. I call it “Power by the Hour.” Do a set of squats, walking lunges, or a few

When you trade wasted time for productive activity, then you will reap the benefits of getting or staying healthy. ended up knocking some over. While knocking a hurdle over doesn’t disqualify you from a race, it can slow up your pace. That is exactly what obstacles do related to exercise … they slow up your pace for best success. Obstacles can keep you from reaching your wellness goals if you allow them to control your thoughts and emotions toward exercise. For instance, one of the biggest “perceived” obstacles around exercise is that people are too busy to fit a workout into their day. I always find this “obstacle” interesting and entertaining. I’ve had many of my clients write out their detailed daily events for an entire week—from sun up to sun down. They are


REFRESHED | Nov-Dec 2014

Visibly Fit™ isometric presses. Doing something is always better than doing nothing. An hour of working out isn’t always doable for many who work and have a family, so creativity with your exercise is your answer. It’s proof that having a desk job may feel like a hurdle, but it’s one you can jump over if you desire. It’s entirely up to you! Are you too tired when you get home to exercise? That’s another obstacle (excuse) I hear often. The reality is that the more sedentary you are, the more tired you become. When you move your body and exercise, you’ll be more invigorated and have more energy … not to mention burn excess stored calories. You can adjust your schedule to get in exercise by waking up earlier, doing your workouts throughout the day like I do or exercising immediately when you get home. Here’s a tip—don’t plop down on the coach after work because you just might not get up. Press through the tired feeling and get some exercise. The tired feeling will go away, and you’ll have great energy all evening. Simple adjustments and a renewed mindset toward exercise can get you over just about any hurdle that has been in the way. When you exercise, you feel better, look better, you have more confidence, a better attitude, you’re more productive and others become inspired by you as well. So, get going … get your sweat on. Wendie Pett is a nationally-renowned fitness expert and coach, mother, TV host, speaker, author and creator of the Visibly Fit™ exercise program. Learn more at

at the table YIA VANG

An untraditional ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving meal Thanksgiving is a very traditional American holiday but coming from a non-American family, we’ve altered Thanksgiving to contextualize it to our culture. When you walk into the house, there are the voices of laughter and kids running around like the normal “American” family. We have football on TV, and some uncle or aunt is always late and everyone is waiting for them. Then you have that one uncle or aunt who gives a speech, and it’s way too long and everyone is looking impatient. But the thing that’s a little different is the dinner table. The food at Hmong Thanksgiving has your traditional turkey, gravy, stuffing (or what we think is stuffing) and some kind of mashed potatoes. Then it gets a little funky, because we have items like laab, a meat dish with herbs like cilantro, mint, culantro, pea pak, Thai chili peppers and tossed with fish sauce and toasted rice crumple. Then we add some stuffed chicken wings and red curry chicken. Mix that up with some egg rolls and rolled rice crepes with pork. Add to that the sweet meats of braised pork belly and bamboo shoots. The list goes on and on and then, to top everything off, we have pumpkin pie with whipped cream. This bountiful table of food is my “traditional” Thanksgiving menu. Thanksgiving is a time when we gather around and eat together. For some families, they set aside their issues and sit at a table together and eat. For other families, they don’t set aside their

issues and bring them to the table. Regardless, traditional American Thanksgivings revolve around food and family. In the Hmong tradition, we don’t

have a traditional “Thanksgiving” holiday, but we have what is called nog peb caub, which is translated to “eating of the 30th,” or better known as the “Harvest Feast.” This Harvest Feast can be dated back to the highlands of Laos, where Hmong villages wanted to gather together to celebrate a year of harvest. The Hmong people are agricultural people, which means they make most of their living by gardening and harvesting. After a summer of harvest, the village celebrates by throwing a large feast. The message would be sent to other villages, and they would gather together. The hosting village would slaughter a pig, and they would take their harvest crops and create a feast for their guests. This was the party of the year. Friendships were forged. Business deals and partners were made. This is also where young suitors would try their luck in catching the eye of a young lady. This

is where families would see each other again. This is the time where people who had issues with each other would lay them aside for a little while and gather at a feast and eat side by side. The closest event that we have today in America to this is “Hmong New Year.” It’s not technically celebrated on a “new year,” but it has the same principles. Many people travel in from other cities and towns and gather at a central location (St. Paul) and pack the area out with vendors, food, music and sporting events. As Thanksgiving is around the corner, I reflect on this last year of the bountiful harvest that God has blessed me with. I reflect on my job on staff at a local church, and I am thankful for all He has provided for me there. I reflect on my family. Even though we are all over the United States, we still keep in contact with each other. I reflect on the fact that this new year we welcomed new family members into our families. And lastly, I reflect and am so thankful for the grace of God over me everyday. So take some time and reflect on God’s bountiful harvest that He has provided for you over the last year. Yia Vang graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a BS in Communication Studies. Shortly after, he went on staff with Cru. He is currently the Lead Kitchen Ministry Coordinator for Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Nov-Dec 2014 | REFRESHED


marriage matters COLETTE & JONATHAN STUART

How committed are you to your spouse? Have you ever thought of your marriage in terms of strength and growth areas? Some pieces such as your personal habits or beliefs might come together more naturally, and other pieces like your orientation to finances are going to take more deliberate work. This is the relational paradigm used as a foundation of the widely used Prepare-Enrich (P/E) marriage assessment. We got connected as facilitators of P/E through a relationship with our neighbor, Amy Olson. She is an author and marriage and family therapist whose parents developed P/E in 1980. It is most commonly known as a tool for engaged couples but is also used by couples who are already married. It might not be a huge surprise that in an analysis of 50,000 marriages (married couples who have completed P/E), the area that most highly distinguished between happy and unhappy couples was communication. Other potential strength or growth constructs such as financial management, partner style and habits, conflict resolution, and relationship roles may also come into play. But communication was the single biggest indicator of marriage satisfaction. Olson shared that P/E data identified two specific communication sub-issues that best discriminated between “happy” and “unhappy” couples. These were feeling satisfied with how they talk to one another and feeling understood by their partner. Communication can be a very big subject, but thinking about these two areas can set the groundwork for practically working on it as a marriage growth area. The other two P/E constructs that were highly related to stronger marriages were “closeness,” which measures emotional connection, and “flexibility,” which looks at the capacity of a couple to change and adapt when necessary.  After taking the assessment and get-


REFRESHED | Nov-Dec 2014

ting our P/E results, we came to identify how these two issues were modeled differently in our families of origin and how this played into our marriage expectations. Regardless of which “couple type” (vitalized, harmonious, conventional, conflicted, and devitalized) the P/E tool identifies, a “successful” couple can actually fall in any of those areas. However, it was sobering to learn from Olson that in over 2,000 “devitalized” marriages, only 23% reported high commitment, whereas 95% of couples in “vitalized” marriages reported high commitment. In other words, the state of your commitment level to one another could either be a huge risk factor or a potential strength no matter what season your marriage is in. It is very encouraging to remember that commitment, in and of itself, makes a difference. On the topic of marriage strengthening practices, one surprising piece of advice that Olson gave was to consider going on a double date. This actually has more beneficial evidence than going on a date night with your spouse alone. She noted how double-dating allows you to see your partner in a broader context beyond your immediate relationship while at the same time strengthening your sense of “we-ness.” We actually tried this just recently by going to see a movie and then out for appetizers with a couple we have recently gotten to know from our neighborhood. They are friends with kids in the same classes, and it turned out to be one of the best couple times we have had all year! We have found that using the P/E assessment with engaged couples and in married couple groups has actually

strengthened our marriage. By using it to frame our relationship in terms of strength and growth areas, it gives hope that though we may always have work to do, there are practical ways to continue making our marriage stronger.

Three tips for couples

1. Take turns identifying which of the P/E assessment type areas (vitalized, harmonious, conventional, conflicted, and devitalized) you believe you are currently in. Explain the specific interpersonal behaviors that lead you to this conclusion. Conclude by expressing your commitment to the other person. 2. If you’re looking for a good book to read together, get “The Couple Checkup.” It combines P/E research along with exercise questions to strengthen your growth areas and an online profile. 3. Ask another couple out on a double date together!

Jonathan Stuart, Ph.D., is a faculty member in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system. He specializes in training and mediation services. Colette Campbell, M.A., is an adjunct faculty member, speaker/consultant and coach. She offers workshops on connecting to your calling, working with differences, and workingbetter2gether.

purposeful parenting JIM JACKSON

7 steps to building trust with your kids Trust is important. Trust activates love. Trust leads to respect and relational safety. Where trust fails, relationships—even those where love is high— fail too. So earning kids’ trust is perhaps the most important thing a parent can do to express love to their children and train them in the way they should go. When kids trust they feel safe, they know they’re loved. They receive parents’ guidance. They accept responsibility. Their obedience will be true obedience, not fearful compliance. Kids who trust look to their parents for answers and follow their parents’ examples in desirable ways. Kids are built to trust. If trust is betrayed and not restored, the kids are hurt and they live in resentment. They rebel. They hurt back. They disregard what parents say is important because they don’t trust it. They may do what they are asked to do out of fear—or to get what they want—but it’s not out of trust. The problem here is huge and has plagued humanity since the beginning: We are destined to fail in our efforts to gain trust. We can’t get it right, and we’re bad at acknowledging our own shortcomings. We get defensive and protective. So if earning trust is so important but is something parents can’t totally get right, how are we ever to earn our kids’ trust? Successfully earning trust must include the confession that you will fail. A recent encounter ounter with my 24-year-old daughter ghter sheds light on the way to trust. ust. I recently asked her what she thought was my greatest strength ength as a parent.

My pride was unprepared for her answer. I was thinking she’d say something about my wisdom or my faith. Perhaps my positivity or ability to have fun even in tough times. She said no such thing. Without hesitation, she confidently said, “You apologized well.” And herein is the conundrum of earning trust when I have yet to attain perfection. Earning trust is as much about admitting when you’ve gotten it wrong as it is about getting it right. You see, whether or not our kids can say it out loud, they intuitively know when we parents have blown it, when we have selfishly disciplined, impatiently made a demand or thoughtlessly ignored them. The kids feel confused, hurt, ignored or otherwise resentful. Many parents don’t notice this is happening. Others justify their actions or just vow to themselves to do better in the future. But kids don’t forget. Their intuition leaves them feeling unsettled, unsafe and untrusting. The unsettled feelings become the mortar for bricks in a defensive wall. The mortar will dry and bricks will be added if the unsettled feelings are not resolved. Working harder to do better in the future will not undo the hurt from the past. The hurt needs to be revealed and healed if our kids’ trust is to be regained. It is up to us to recognize our failures and effects of those failthe effec ures ur on the kids. It is our job to have the humility to speak it out loud so that the kids have words to accompany their intuition.

When we can put words to our kids’ intuition about our parenting mistakes, we become safe again. We gain authority. We earn trust. Here are the basics we teach parents for earning trust: 1. Figure out and write down the kind of parent you want to be. This is your parenting vision. 2. Tell the most important people in your life your vision and enlist their feedback—even your kids. 3. Act on your vision. Be committed to it and to working through your challenges. 4. Ask yourself frequently, “How am I doing? What are my kids seeing? Is this what I want them to see?” 5. Ask your kids how you’re doing. Give them permission to tell you when you’ve missed the mark. 6. Learn to admit and apologize when you’ve blown it. 7. Repeat. I’m 54 years old. I’ve eaten a lot of humble pie in my day. I’ve seen many parents benefit from this teaching, but I’m still learning the basics myself. I still blow it often. And when I do, I eat humble pie again by committing to admitting and apologizing (still difficult sometimes because I remain more stubborn than I’d like to be). The complex taste of this pie has grown on me over the years, and I find it increasingly rewarding to eat it as the years go by. Perhaps you’d join me for a piece? Jim Jackson is the cofounder of Connected Families, author, speaker and parent mentor. Learn more at www. Nov-Dec 2014 | REFRESHED


sharp focus JASON SHARP

The stain on my shirt Are you more likely to define yourself by what Christ has done for you or by a misstep you have made along the way? Something you might consider a life-defining failure or something others might consider an #epicfail? I tend to concentrate on failures. It was an incredible day! After considering it for years, I decided to reserve my spot to go skydiving. Yes! I was ready to jump out of a perfectly good airplane and see if the adrenaline rush was everything I thought it was going to be. Feeling strong and courageous, I arrived at Forest Lake Skydiving on time for check in, watched a five-minute training video, got suited up and boarded the plane. (I know, I was thinking it would take a lot longer, too!) After quick instruction on how to jump from the plane, my tandem professional and I maneuvered our way into the extremely cramped quarters. Luke was my 28-year-old “pro,” who had jumped out of a plane 900 times. He was certified as a licensed tandem jumper just two weeks earlier, and this made my wife, Julie, very nervous. As our plane climbed to 10,000 feet, I quickly got to know this young fella in whom I had put all of my trust and faith. You should know that I struggle with motion sickness. In preparation for this plane ride, I had taken two Dramamine’s® earlier in the day, so that I wouldn’t get an upset stomach. I wasn’t worried about the jump—just the plane ride. At 8,500 feet, Luke strapped himself to me, and we prepared for launch. What seemed like seconds later, we maneuvered around the cramped quarters toward the door. As the door sprang open, the cold wind blew in, and I put my feet on the step near the wing. Luke yelled “One, two, three!” and we rolled out of the plane.


REFRESHED | Nov-Dec 2014

Our free fall through the clouds lasted asted for 45 seconds, and I was having ng the time of my life. At one point, Luke yelled elled in my m ear, ear “You’re flying!” ing!” Any thought of danger was gone, and I couldn’t have enjoyed the adrenaline rush any more than I did. It was pure awesome! The next thing I knew, Luke pulled the parachute strap, and the wind that was incredibly noisy as it hit my face a few seconds earlier suddenly became overwhelmingly peaceful and quiet. I was literally floating through the air on a Minnesota Saturday afternoon. In hopes of giving me the most memorable experience possible, Luke suggested we attempt some 360s in the air. You know, spinning around in circles? I should have known better—but I didn’t stop him. You’ll recall my issues with motion sickness? Three spins later, I had to ask him to stop because I felt like I was going to get sick. And as soon as I said it, I did. Luke screamed, “Sweet—my first puker!” I was embarrassed. I was mortified. Here I am floating at 2,000 feet in the air, and I’m sick: all over the harness, the equipment and me. I begged for-

giveness from L Luke and apologiz gized profusely. Luke assured me with w these words, “Dude, w it’s no worry—you just ou of an airplane!” jumped out lande safely, my famWe landed ily hugged m me, and I had to explain the “s “stain” on my shirt. Our friends tha that were there noticed the sta stain, and I’m afraid that’s all they’l they’ll remember about my jump. To be hones honest, I’m still struggling to think of anything else but the stain. But I keep recalling Luke’s w words that suggested I rem remember the jump for what it w was and not for a small, unplanned shot to my ego that I experienced along the way. What’s the stain on your shirt? Dear friend, please don’t define yourself by a stain you have collected along the way—surrender it and find your identity in what Christ has done for you! And enjoy the ride—it’s pure awesome! “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). Jason Sharp is station manager of 98.5 KTIS in the Twin Cities. Follow him on Twitter @ KTISjason.

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that’s life! JOANNE BROKAW

Dance of the jingling multitasker I’m trying to make a pie crust, which isn’t easy to do when you’re also trying to write a column. It’s not that I’m a terrible baker or a terrible writer. I’m pretty good at both tasks (although my presentation of words is much prettier than my presentation of pie). No, my problem is that I’m a terrible multitasker. When I was a kid, the running joke was that I couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time. I probably couldn’t run and tell a joke at the same time either, but we’ll never know. When I was in kindergarten, I got run over by a classmate while we were doing laps in the gym. That pretty much put me off running for the rest of my life. I used to feel inadequate because of my lack of multitasking abilities, until I learned that multitasking isn’t the ability to do two things at the same time. It’s the ability to quickly switch back and forth between two tasks. That’s a little better, but not much help when the tasks you’re doing need to appear as if they’re simultaneous. Like when you’re belly dancing. As part of my “I’m 50 and trying new things” mentality, I recently signed up for a one-night belly dancing class. I almost backed out because of pain in my hips, but I’m also learning that in order to stay out of pain I need to move when I’m in pain, which I guess is actually doing two things at the same time. But I digress. The goal of the hour-long class was to master a very short routine that consisted of simple steps and hand movements. The instructor brought some of her own jingly scarves for us to wear, so that when we shook our hips we could hear the jingles jangle. We started by learning some hand movements, which, the instructor said, basically meant doing whatever we


REFRESHED | Nov-Dec 2014

wanted as long as we felt pretty. We could flutter our fingers or wiggle our wrists or make bird wings with our arms. Flap, flap. Look at me! I’m dancing! The next part of the lesson involved a series of dance steps coupled with hip shakes. Step forward with your right foot, shake your right hip, jangle your jingle scarf. Step forward with your left foot, shake your left hip, jangle your jingle scarf. Step, shake, jangle. Step, shake, jangle. We repeated the steps, moving forward and backward, and then to our left and right. So far, so good, although the pain in my hips was starting to amp up. In fact, after just one round of steps I wasn’t able to actually shake my hips to jangle my jingle scarf. Instead, I just grabbed the ends of the scarf and jangled by hand. Things got a little more difficult when we learned to turn. Not only did I have to pay attention to my own steps, hip shakes and scarf jangles, but I also had to watch out for another woman in the class whose turns took up the entire dance floor. While most of us turned in our own little spot, she started at one end of the room and wound up clear on the other side, usually pinning me to the wall with her wild hand and hip movements. I cut her a break. Obviously she was unable to think and spin at the same time. We multitasking failures need to stick together. Once we got down the basic steps,

we set them to music. And that’s when the trouble really started. The steps that I could manage one at a time were now sped up to happen in the same beat. Add in the hand movements and the rogue spinner, and I was in over my head. While everyone else was doing stepshakejangle, I was still on step. By the time I got to shaking my hip, the rest of the class was spinning. When I was ready to spin, everyone else was finished. During our second run through of the routine, all I could do was stand in place and tap my foot. The only hand movement I could manage was to jangle my jingle scarf. Fortunately, our instructor told us that in belly dancing, you can pretty much do whatever you want as long as you feel good and are having fun. I guess the class was a success then, because I really had fun with the jingle scarf. In fact, I might get one to wear when I’m writing a column. Fortunately, I can think and jingle at the same time. Award-winning freelance writer Joanne Brokaw spends her days dreaming of things she’d like to do but probably never will— like swimming with dolphins, cleaning the attic and someday overcoming the trauma of elementary school picture day. She lives with two dogs, a cat, six chickens and one very patient husband. Learn more at

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Refreshed Twin Cities • Nov.-Dec 2014  

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