Pastor Mark’s Devotions, May 18


Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Father feeds them.” Matthew 6:26


Last week, I received the email that is reprinted below. The article peeked my curiosity because it asked me to imagine that I was born in 1900. My mom’s dad, Oskar Johnson was born in 1900. Today is his wife’s, my grandmother’s birthday. Josephine Johnson was born on May 18, 1902. My grandparents, on my dad’s side, were born in the years, 1881 and 1889 respectively. Sometimes, it seems incredible that one of my grandparents was born only 16 years after the Civil War. All my grandparents were born and raised in South Dakota. Oskar Johnson and Frank Bankson both died of cancer years before I was born. Oskar was a farmer, who died of lung cancer in 1939. My mom was 8 years old. The family moved into the tiny town of Worthing, south of Sioux Falls. They lost the farm and opened a small oil and gas business. My uncle Bob joined the Navy and went off to fight in WWII. He returned to help his mom work the gas and oil business for the rest of his life. Eventually, my mom left home and attended Augustana College in Sioux Falls, where she met my dad.

Grandma “J”, as we would call her, visited our family many times in California. We also returned to visit her in South Dakota, in the summer, every other year. Grandma J died in her early 80’s. At the time, I thought she had lived a good, long life. Now, it doesn’t seem quite as long as it once did. Sometimes we heard stories about her growing up as a young girl. She grew up with no running water and no indoor plumbing. She attended a one room school house. At times, it was a long bitter cold walk to school. She grew up with no telephone and few automobiles. Flying across the country and flying to the moon were absolutely unimaginable.

The following article continues to paint an even clearer picture of what that generation experienced and had to endure. Gaining a broader perspective is always a good thing. I’m thankful for my grandparents who endured many hardships yet still kept a strong faith. I pray that we all will do the same!


Keeping Things in Perspective


Maybe we don’t have it that bad?

It’s a mess out there now. Hard to discern between what’s a real threat and what is just simple panic and hysteria. For a small amount of perspective at this moment,

Imagine you were born in 1900. 

On your 14th birthday, World War I starts, and ends on your 18th birthday. 22 million people perish in that war. Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until your 20th birthday. 50 million people die from it in those two years. Yes, 50 million. 

On your 29th birthday, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, the World GDP drops 27%. That runs until you are 33. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy. 

When you turn 39, World War II starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet. And don’t try to catch your breath. On your 41st birthday, the United States is fully pulled into WWII. Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war. 

Smallpox was epidemic until you were in your 40’s, as it killed 300 million people during your lifetime.  

At 50, the Korean War starts. 5 million perish. From your birth, until you are 55 you dealt with the fear of Polio epidemics each summer. You experience friends and family contracting polio and being paralyzed and/or die.  

At 55 the Vietnam War begins and doesn’t end for 20 years. 4 million people perish in that conflict. During the Cold War, you lived each day with the fear of nuclear annihilation. On your 62nd birthday you have the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, almost ended. When you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends.

Think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How did they endure all of that? When you were a kid in 1985 and didn’t think your 85 year old grandparent understood how hard school was. And how mean that kid in your class was. Yet they survived through everything listed above. Perspective is an amazing art. Refined and enlightening as time goes on. Let’s try and keep things in perspective. Your parents and/or grandparents were called to endure all of the above – you have been called to stay at home and stay six feel apart.

The sun is shining. The birds are singing. Thank you, Lord, for another beautiful day.

God Bless You All,


Pastor Mark


Pastor Mark’s Devotions, May 12

“Living History”

“He is not here, he has risen” Luke 24:6


Have you thought about the fact that we are “Living History”? History by definition is the study of past events, particularly in human affairs. But what we are living in right now, we know will be studied and examined for decades to come. Some people might even define their lives by these moments, having lived through this year, 2020.

 My dad was born in 1930. I can remember him talking about, The Great Depression of the 1930’s. He was born at the beginning of the depression. He was still a young boy when the United States entered World War 2, which formally ended the era of The Depression. But it didn’t end for my dad. When I was a young boy, I can remember my dad often referring to the fact that he was a “depression baby”. He used this phrase to define himself. When he was worried about money, debt, food scarcity, or job security, he would refer to the lasting effects of The Great Depression. The Depression left a lasting mark on this young boy. My dad used to explain that he took life so seriously and didn’t really know how to have much fun because of those depression years. Life was serious business that was passed down from his parents. He used to tell me that his dad picked up 4 ounces of beef steak, from the butcher, which was like shoe leather, each night for their family of four during those depression years. Hard work and responsibility were drummed into him at an early age. When he grew up, he definitely passed on those ideals to his children. He grew up with the attitude that if anything was to be accomplished in life, he, himself would have to make it happen. Financially, he was a lone ranger who had to find his way; and he worried about it.

Looking back at the history of my father, I would say that The Depression was THE most defining national event of his lifetime. The world moved on from the Depression after ten years. But in many ways, the ten year old boy did not move on from The Depression. It had made its mark upon this young boy and he would wrestle with it throughout his lifetime.

We are currently in the midst of “living history.” As this year, 2020, is playing out, how do you think it will influence us? Have you considered how these events might play out upon the psyche of our children and grandchildren? Will the next generation simply move on, as often parents think of their kids simply moving on from a divorce or a death or some other traumatic event? Is there the potential for a 10-year old boy or girl to attach attitudes and actions about life forming right now in the midst of this pandemic?  Will people live lives more protected, guarded, and cynical due to the effects of this pandemic? Perhaps the next generation will grow up with a low-grade level of PTSD.

Or perhaps we can help remove the level of high anxiety by the way that we live history today.

When children face highly traumatic events; so also, when soldiers return from traumatic battles, one helpful way people live through those experiences is to expose the trauma, talk about it, and appropriately frame it in greater context.

We have the opportunity to help this next generation not lose hope and help them see a future that is framed full of possibilities.

Certain markers in history have been said to have stolen certain qualities from a particular generation.

The Great Depression is said to have stolen the nation’s sense of security. JFK’s assassination is said to have stolen our nation’s sense of innocence. 911 is said to have stolen our nation’s sense of freedom. Where will 2020 line up on this list of loses?

Maybe we have the opportunity to frame this experience of 2020 in view of other pictures.

Most markers in a nation’s history seems to revolve around conflicts and wars. But when I was a boy, I watched a different moment in history. I was nine years old on July 20, 1969 when the Eagle landed and Neil Armstrong took the first footsteps upon the face of the moon. This event was a marker moment not drenched in pain and death. This moment in history catapulted a culture forward to dream impossible dreams. This moment in history highlighted a country coming together. This country sought to achieve something that seemed beyond the imagination. Unlike the 10 years of struggle and survival of the Depression in the 1930’s, this 10-year journey and achievement of Apollo 11, in the 1960’s, invigorated a generation to look beyond the stars.

As we attempt to put this coronavirus in context, could we perhaps frame it in a picture of togetherness? Can we talk to our children about all the heroes who are sacrificially serving one another for the greater good? There are pictures all around us of people reaching out to others in love. Let us hand those pictures on the walls of our minds.

Then to add more color and definition, where can our faith be painted onto the canvas? How can we expose the truth and discuss the events in context to our living Lord Jesus Christ?

Rather than a Picasso painting depicting a “Depression Baby” or “2020 Baby” with its detached shapes and figures, is there a way to discover a Rembrandt drawing of, “The Resurrection Baby.” Can we help this next generation find themselves and locate their identity in the One who is still living history? For this to happen, we must first locate ourselves within this identity. We must let go of past identities and definitions of ourselves that have found their way onto our canvas. Then we must expose, discuss, and frame our faith in the larger context of God’s plan. When we can see our lives clearly within the framework of God’s creation and salvation, that is the context to paint the picture for those others in our lives.  

Let us embrace this living history. Let us embrace Jesus Christ! May this living history become oral history, which is spoken of regularly. Let us share our thoughts, hearts, hurts, and faith in the God who is greater than any other moment in history.

God Bless You All!

Pastor Mark