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praising serving praying

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April 2014 | REFRESHED


from the editor… SCOTT NOBLE

A new beginning Here in Minnesota, April is a welcome month, a time when—hopefully—the last vestiges of a long and brutal winter lose their grip. It’s a time of renewal, as grass slowly springs to life and flowers blossom across the revitalized terrain. April is also a time of new beginnings and hope. As Minnesotans, we begin to tinker with our lawn mowers, making sure they are ready for action; we sweep off the deck and prepare the backyard grill and bonfire pit for those long, glorious summer nights; and we make plans to visit the cabin or finalize the details of our trip to the Boundary Waters. It’s a time full of newness, possibility and expectation. April is also the perfect time to launch the inaugural issue of Refreshed magazine. Just as our environment is “refreshed” each April with spring, we’re hoping Refreshed magazine will do the same with our spirits, minds and bodies. Each month, our goal is to tell stories of hope, encouragement, faith and renewal—all from the local community. We hope these stories inform and inspire readers. We also want to present columnists who can speak on every-day topics such as faith, fitness, technology, parenting, marriage, humor and numerous other important aspects of our lives. In this first issue, you’ll read about Amber Leone Murphy’s journey from alcoholism to offering help to those struggling with addiction. You’ll also read about Mary Johnson’s remarkable story of offering forgiveness to the young man who murdered her son. Hopefully as you read this issue, you will notice the grass popping to life outside your window and the warmer breezes of spring rustling the budding leaves on the trees. We also hope you’ll experience this same newness and encouragement of spring as you page through this first issue of Refreshed.

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


PUBLISHERS Lamar & Theresa Keener GENERAL MANAGER Lana Branham EXECUTIVE EDITOR Scott Noble PROOFREADER Lis Trouten COVER PHOTO Brad Person Photography CONTRIBUTORS Joanne Brokaw, Mart DeHaan, Sam Helgerson, Jim Jackson, Sean McDowell, Wendie Pett, Terrance Rollerson, Jason Sharp, Colette and Jonathan Stuart, Doug Trouten 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 (760) 746-2468 ADVERTISING (651) 964-2750 FOUNDING CORPORATE SPONSOR

For information on the benefits of being a corporate sponsor, please call Lana Branham at (651) 964-2750.


REFRESHED | April 2014

Welcome to the premiere issue of Refreshed, the Twin Cities’ inspirational lifestyle magazine. The greater Minneapolis/St. Paul area is home to scores of periodicals serving a wide variety of niche markets. While these local magazines offer an extensive range of interests, none serves the community with an editorial philosophy that embraces a contemporary lifestyle within a framework of faith. We’ve decided to change that by taking our 25 years experience in publishing the Christian Examiner newspaper and making a rather radical change in order to produce a full color magazine that focuses on bringing our readers hope, encouragement, inspiration, and practical solutions to the complexities of life. To that end, we aim to offer informative and thought-provoking columns, inspirational articles, human interest stories, and intriguing accounts about life in the local community, as well as occasional features on nationallyknown personalities. This is a rather significant change for a Christian newspaper that has been a fixture in this market for more than 35 years. And there is a sense of loss for a newspaper that for decades has earned the reputation of being the finest community Christian newspaper in the country. But it is time for this change to take place as we seek to remain culturally and technologically relevant in an everchanging world. If you have been a reader of the Minnesota Christian Examiner newspaper, we invite you to become a regular reader of this new publication and to share copies with your friends and neighbors. You can find us at more than 700 locations throughout the Metro or take advantage of our multiple digital options at It’s so easy to read on a digital device. Thank you for embarking on this new journey with us. May it truly be refreshing. Lamar & Theresa Keener Publishers

contents FEATURES

6 Grace after brokenness

Woman finds freedom from the grip of addiction

10 The power of forgiveness A mom forgives her son’s killer

13 Heaven became real

How a skeptical author came to believe a little boy

14 Heaven is for real What will it be like?

16 10 reasons to believe


Evidence for the resurrection

19 Mary Beth Carlson celebrates 20 years of music DEPARTMENTS 18



Events calendar


Community news


COLUMNS 26 27 28 30 32 34 36 38

Doug Trouten | unplugged Sam Helgerson | leadership sense Jason Sharp | sharp focus Jim Jackson | purposeful parenting Wendie Pett | here’s to good health Colette & Jonathan Stewart | marriage matters Terrance Rollerson | inspired living Joanne Brokaw | that’s life!

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32 April 2014 | REFRESHED



After years of alcoholism, Amber Leone Murphy now helps empower others to overcome their addictions.

Grace in


Woman finds freedom from the grip of addiction By SCOTT NOBLE


REFRESHED | April 2014


he was only 8 years old when a family member gave her a sip of beer. That introduction to alcohol at an early age significantly impacted her life and left her searching for years—definitely for the alcohol, but also for something more fulfilling, more peaceful. “I just remember it was in a pink plastic cup,” she said. “I remember feeling very strange and warm and then after that it was kind of like a mental obsession to want to get more.” Imagine that experience and the “mental obsession” that followed when you are just a child. Most kids that age are trying to sneak an extra can of pop when their mom isn’t looking. Or maybe trying to play a few extra minutes of their favorite video game. That wasn’t the case for Amber Leone Murphy.

The trigger point

Amber’s family moved from Minnesota to Montana when she was 11 years old. Her mother had recently remarried and had herself become sober only a couple of years before the move. While in Montana, Amber’s grandmother, who still lived in Minnesota,

“Breakdowns lead to breakthroughs.”

passed away. As a kid, Amber visited her grandparent’s house almost every weekend, and the bond between grandmother and granddaughter was strong. Amber was only 13 when her grandmother passed away. She had come back to Minnesota to visit her while she was sick, believing she would get better. She didn’t. The day her grandmother passed away, Amber wrote in her diary, “I need to have a drink or some pot.” Her desire was soon met. “I found it at a family member’s house when I was all alone,” Amber recalled. “There was a bottle of vodka sitting on the top of the fridge. I had to make a really hard phone call to my mother talking about the day’s events, because my mom had gone back to Montana because my grandmother was supposed to get better. “I had to make that hard phone call and before doing that, I got intoxicated. I just remember being on the phone crying. My mom had no idea that I had been drinking. That was my first vodka, when I was 13.” That was Amber’s trigger point, so to speak. “After that, it was off to the races,” she said. “It numbed me out. I didn’t have to feel my feelings, nor did I know how to deal with those kinds of feelings of great loss until I got sober.” For Amber, alcohol served as an escape, something to occupy her mind when she didn’t want to deal with pain. And it did so for the next many years, until she was in her 20s.

Riskier behavior and a brief encounter with God

Once back in Montana, the pain of her grandmother’s death and her inability to deal with it without alcohol led Amber to riskier behavior, including attending parties with older people, promiscuity and smoking pot. Her brief foray into pot culminated when she gave a friend some of the drug on school property and was quickly caught—forcing Amber to explain her-

self in front of the principal and the town sheriff. Her riskier behavior led her outside the norm, and it also led her to something unique and tantalizingly lifechanging. “I went to a church when I was 15 with my best friend and her mother,” Amber recalled. “The pastor was up there and was talking about Jesus. It was the first time I remember going to church and being affected. I’m sure I had visited several churches. I don’t really remember any of them, but I’m sure I had. “[The pastor] asked [people] up to the altar that wanted to ask Jesus into their life and into their heart and to be saved. Something just, like, came over me. I couldn’t stop crying, and it was just beautiful. I felt so much love. I just felt enveloped in this love that I had never experienced before. I remember my best friend saying, ‘What are you doing?’ I’m like, ‘I’m going up there. Why aren’t you going up there?’” She went to the altar and asked Jesus into her life. But her newfound faith was shortlived. “Then I turned away,” she said. This wasn’t the first time Jesus intrigued Amber. While the family didn’t attend church regularly, Amber always had a fascination with Jesus. She would visit garage sales as a kid and see pictures of Jesus and bring them home, the images speaking to her in ways she still can’t understand. “My mom would be like, ‘Where did you get that?’” Amber said. “I remember my favorite picture as a kid was Jesus with children with, like, a rainbow … and He was reading to them. I just felt like this beautiful safety inside of that belief. I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know why I was drawn to pictures of Him.”

Drifting, drifting

Amber’s journey into alcoholism was progressing, but she still felt caught between two competing worlds: the pull of trying to do the right thing and the oftentimes much stronger pull of the pur-

suit of alcohol and the role it was taking in her life. Amber briefly moved back to Minnesota during high school and lived with her grandfather, who was still grieving the loss of his wife. She recalls him going to bed early—as early as 6:00 p.m. each evening—leaving a teenager with lots of time to sneak out and attend parties. At the end of her junior year of high school, Amber’s mom caught her drinking. Amber wouldn’t admit it, so her mother called the cops, and they administered a field sobriety test. Amber’s insistence she hadn’t been drinking was easily disproved. During these years, as she was drifting further into alcoholism, Amber said, “I always felt like I was a liar. I had so much shame.” But the shame never led her to admit she had a problem. “I felt bad, but I never thought I had a problem,” she said. While working at a radio station in the Twin Cities soon after high school, Amber attended a holiday party. “I got absolutely snockered at the Mall of America,” she said. “They didn’t know about it. The night was a blackout. I don’t remember anything that happened. I remember the first 25 minutes of the night. That was my first scary blackout. I was 19. I woke up in my bed with my coat on and my shoes were by the bathroom toilet, and I had no idea how I got there.” She later discovered that her friend called Amber’s uncle, who had to carry her to the car and then drive her home. The incident scared her, but her attitude was unchanged. Over the next several years, Amber moved around the country: to Georgia, New York, Los Angeles, Washington state. The locations changed, but her addiction did not.

Bankruptcy and sobriety

“I remember the week before I got sober,” Amber recalled. “I quit my job and filed for bankruptcy.” April 2014 | REFRESHED


“[It] is good to be broken because those who say no to being broken also refuse blessings.”

That was early November 2005. Her life had continued to spiral out of control, but somehow at this particular time, she understood the consequences. “I was flirting with disaster,” Amber said. At this point, Amber was engaged to be married, but shortly after he proposed her fiancé shipped out with the Navy. With no job and no fiancé, Amber was looking for companionship and something to do, and she focused

few hours and drove there. She sat in the car, looking at the building. “I knew that if I left, I wasn’t going to come back,” she said. But she didn’t leave. Nov. 7, 2005 was Amber’s sobriety date.

Dreaming again

April is Alcohol Awareness Month The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) designates every April as Alcohol Awareness Month. The designation is meant to increase awareness and understanding of the issues related to alcoholism. This year’s theme is “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow” and encourages local communities— schools, colleges, churches, nonprofits and others—to help educate people about the dangers of alcoholism, its prevention and help for those caught in its grasp. This year, NCADD is highlighting the problems with underage drinking. According to the organization: • More than 6,500 people under 21 die from alcohol-related accidents each year. • Alcohol is the drug of choice for America’s young people. • 7,000 children under 16 years of age take their first drink each day in the U.S. • Approximately 4.65 children are killed each day as a result of alcohol-related injuries. For more information about Alcohol Awareness Month and the NCADD, visit


REFRESHED | April 2014

on a friend. “I had been eye-balling him at parties all week, because I didn’t have a job,” she said. “Finally, push came to shove, and he came this close [to kissing me]. All of a sudden I was present for my own experience.” She had already been drinking for 10 hours that day. “I should have been blacked out,” she said. “It’s like I saw my life flash in front of my eyes. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, you are going to sabotage your whole entire life. No.’” Somehow, this realization served as another trigger point in her life—this one causing Amber to change her life for the better. Waking up the next morning, she looked out her window and with tears in her tears, prayed, “God, please help me. I can’t do this anymore.” That was her breakthrough. “I needed help, and I was broken, and I admitted I was broken to God,” she said. “Through that breaking, there was a blessing.” She immediately went to her computer and looked up recovery meetings. She found one that started in a

The intervening years have not all been easy. Amber said she struggled with spiritual warfare and with always making God the main focus in her life. It’s been a difficult journey, but one that has consistently brought her closer to God. Since her sobriety, Amber has worked with hundreds of recovering addicts in Minnesota and in other locations. The Twin Cities resident is also currently developing a seminar series to help empower women in recovery, and she has written the not-yet-published book “Daily Letters for My Sober Sisters.” Her tagline communicates the new journey she is on: A sober life is not a boring life. Looking back on her journey from an 8-year-old dabbling with alcohol to someone who was in its grips for many years to now being a woman helping others with recovery, Amber hopes people who are struggling with addiction will look at their lives and see where their actions will take them in the future—if they do not change. “With prayer and meditation and asking for guidance, I believe we can play our lives forward,” she said. “The decisions I make today are going to impact my tomorrow. My tomorrows impact my years ahead. So today does matter. Life’s too short to have guilt and shame and resentment.” Those things, Amber said, are not from God. ■ Amber Leone Murphy speaks at church recovery groups, colleges, workshops and women’s retreats in the Twin Cities area. To request more information, you can contact her at


NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER Join prayer warriors from the Twin Cities area for the 17th annual

West Metro National Day of Prayer Breakfast /…ÕÀÃ`>Þ]Ê>ÞÊ£ÃÌ]ÊÓä£{ÊÊUÊÊȇnÊ>°“° Medina Entertainment Center Keynote Speaker:

Jean Peterson author and vocalist Emcee: Pastor Carol Skjegstad

Worship Music:

Tonia Hughes & Friends th

Individual Tickets $16 ($20 after April 16 or at the door) RESERVATIONS APPRECIATED

Send names and checks payable to: Calvary Lutheran Church 7520 Golden Valley Road, Golden Valley, MN 55427 Attn: Pastor Carol, West Metro NDOP Purchase a table of 14 for $224 or a table of 8 for $128. Groups must send checks and names in one envelope. Tickets WILL NOT be mailed. Receive table assignments the morning of the breakfast.

Worship begins promptly at 5:55 AM. Please consider an additional $25, $50, $100 or more to support the NDOP and provide scholarships. Contributions are tax deductible.

+ÕiÃ̈œ˜Ã¶ÊÊ >Ê >ÀÊ-œÃÌÀœ“Ê>ÌÊÇÈ·{Ç·ÎÇÎä œÀÊ*>Ã̜ÀÊ >ÀœÊ>ÌÊÇÈ·ÓΣ‡Ó™nÎʜÀÊV΍i}ÃÌ>`JV>Û>ÀÞ°œÀ}

The 63rd Annual National Day of Prayer

Thursday, May 1, 2013 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.


“So that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:6 sState Capitol observance begins outside at 2:30 pm. s Worship and praise lead by Dan Adler and “Heart of the City” worship band. sInside rotunda program begins at 3:15 pm. sPrayers of the people will be lifted up in the unity of the Holy Spirit concluding at 4:30 pm.

COME JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR OUR STATE AND NATION Please check the national website for other Minnesota National Day of Prayer observances April 2014 | REFRESHED



POWER of forgiveness

A mom forgives her son’s killer By SCOTT NOBLE PHOTOS BY BRIAN MOGREN


just hugged the man that murdered my son. I just hugged the man that murdered my son.” Mary Johnson was bent over as she repeated this sentence. The man who had killed her only son had just left the small meeting room at the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Stillwater, one of the state’s most notorious prisons. Their meeting—between mom of murdered son and the man who killed him—had been years in the making, not only from a procedural standpoint but also from an emotional and spiritual perspective.

A day that changed everything

Mary remembers Feb. 12, 1993, starting out as a regular day. After her morning devotions, she rode to downtown Minneapolis where she worked at a telephone company. Everything up to that point in her day was normal—nothing had prepared her to what the next several hours would entail. “I got into work, and my phone rang,” Mary recalls with poignant accuracy. “My older sister was calling, and she was sharing a dream she had. There was this great big room, and it was dark, but there was this big white curtain just kind of flowing, blowing in the wind. She said she saw a shadow.” Mary questioned her about the shadow, but her sister didn’t want to talk about it anymore. So the sisters hung up and went back to their respective days. At the time, Mary didn’t think about some of her own dreams, where the men in her family were dying. She knew death was around, but she believed these dreams were probably related to her father, who at the time was the oldest man in her family. About 20 minutes after Mary hung up the phone with her sister, her phone rang

Mary Johnson and Oshea Israel share conversation on the front steps of the building where they lived as next door neighbors for the first three years following Oshea’s release from prison.


REFRESHED | April 2014

Oshea Israel and Mary Johnson on the day Mary threw a homecoming party for Oshea, following his release from prison.

again. This time it was her sister-in-law, and she asked Mary if her son, Laramiun, had come home the night before. Mary said he hadn’t. “I don’t know if it’s true or not, but they’re saying that Laramiun is dead, and his body is at North Memorial or Hennepin County,” Mary’s sister-in-law said. “I didn’t get upset, because she said she didn’t know if it was true or not,” Mary recalled. “I asked her who had given her that information, and she said her sister. So I got her sister’s number and called her, and she immediately transferred me to a lady who was well known in the community. This lady said she got a call early that morning, and that the caller just kept saying, ‘They killed Laramiun, they killed Laramiun.’” Even with this added information, Mary still didn’t know what to think. But soon after, confirmation would come—along with a visit from police detectives. Mary’s worst fear had come true: Her only son was dead.

Anger and questions

Even though the police and coroner confirmed that Laramiun was dead, Mary had a difficult time believing it. “I couldn’t eat,” she said, referring to the hours and days immediately following the news. “I really couldn’t sleep. All I could do was drink coffee, and I wasn’t even a coffee drinker. But that just seemed to be the only thing I could get down.” Sometimes the arrest of a murder suspect brings a small sense of solace to those grieving the loss of the deceased, but when the detectives informed Mary that Laramiun’s killer had been arrested, it brought her no such comfort. “It was hard,” Mary recalled about those first few months. “I was off work for a while. I was very angry. I wanted this kid to be charged with first-degree murder. That’s what was my focus. That he would never, ever get out of prison. I wanted to make sure he would get life in prison because he deserved it. He was an animal.”

The trial would not take place for nearly two years and during this time, the anger and bitterness in Mary’s life were constant companions. Oshea Israel, the man who was charged with killing Laramiun, was 16 years old at the time of the murder, but he was tried in court as an adult. He was subsequently found guilty of seconddegree murder—after initially being charged with first degree murder—and sentenced to more than 25 years in prison. As part of the judicial process, those affected most by a crime are sometimes allowed to give impact statements to the court in an effort to communicate the pain a particular crime has wrought on family and friends. When Mary gave her impact statement, she told the judge “how appalled I was at the things I learned that went on in a court. I had told Oshea, ‘If my son would have taken your life for the same reason you said you took his, I would expect him to have to pay the costs. So I expect you to have to pay the costs.’” After her impact statement, Mary told Israel that she forgave him. She sincerely believed it at the time, but over the next several years, Mary discovered her forgiveness was not complete. “I only did that because I’m a Christian woman, and that’s what the Bible says,” Mary recalled. “In order to be forgiven, you must forgive. It says forgive, forgive, forgive, forgive … all over the place.” Mary hugged Oshea’s mother as she left the court that day and invited her to church. The terrible experience of having your only son murdered and then having to sit through a trial of his murderer was seemingly behind her.

Traces of healing

One day after the trial, Mary opened a book and came across a poem called “Two Mothers.” “It was about two angels in heaven and, because of the crowns they wore, they both knew they were mothers on earth,” Mary said. “They began to talk about their sons and one mother said, ‘I would have taken my son’s place on the cross.’ The other mother fell on one knee and said, ‘Oh, you are she, the mother of Christ.’ The mother of Christ lifted her and kissed a tear from her cheek and said, ‘Now tell me of your son so I may grieve with you.’ She said, ‘He is Judas Iscariot. I am his mother.’” Mary read the poem again and heard, “I want mothers of murdered children and mothers of children who have taken lives to come together and heal together.” This was a dramatic change in focus for Mary. She was still fighting the bitterness and anger that would accompany any parent of a murdered child. And now she was feeling encouraged to bridge the divide between mothers on opposite sides of a nearly unspeakable life experience. She resisted the charge at first but as the years passed, she kept hearing, “This is what you’re to do.” It’s often during these critical life moments that several disconnected things come together to speak new direction in our lives. Around this same time, Mary’s pastor asked her to teach a class about forgiveness. She still didn’t feel up to the task. But these two impulses—the voice telling her to bridge the divide between mothers and the urging to teach a class on forgiveness—caused her to make one of the most dramatic decisions of her life. “If I’m to do this two mothers [proApril 2014 | REFRESHED


Oshea embracing his ‘two mothers’ — spiritual mother Mary Johnson and biological mother Carolyn Green-James.

gram],” Mary thought, “I have to go to prison and meet this man who took my son’s life. Because, if I’m still full of hatred for him, there’s no way I can do this.”

The transforming decision

With her new realization intact and giving her encouragement, Mary contacted the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) at the end of 2003 and asked to meet with Oshea. His response? “Absolutely not,” Mary recalled. So she waited a few more months and asked again, this time with a different response. Oshea agreed to meet. In preparation for their time together, Mary went through four, two-hour meetings, discussing the reason for the meeting, the expectations and any other questions that might arise in victim/offender dialogues. In 2005, the meeting was finally confirmed and scheduled. There would be five people involved: Mary; her friend Regina; a representative from the DOC; a social worker who would serve as a facilitator for the meeting; and Oshea. The morning of the visit, Mary and Regina had their devotions and just felt as if things would be OK. But how could they? So many emotions, pain and resentment were bundled inside the people who would gather in a small room at what is perhaps the state’s most infamous prison. As Mary walked up the ramp to the entrance, she broke down, the years of emotional turmoil overwhelming her. She told God she couldn’t do it. Twelve years of pain and hurt prevented her legs from taking another step. But God seemingly had other plans,


REFRESHED | April 2014

ones that would include forgiveness, restoration and hope for others. “God said He would send us out two by two,” Mary recalled, sensing God’s gentle encouragement. “I’m grateful because Regina was behind me, and she just pushed me up the ramp.” Once in the room and with all the parties seated, the official from the DOC went over the rules for the two-hour meeting. As a way to set the stage for this potentially powerful meeting, Mary said to Oshea: “I don’t know you. You don’t know me. You didn’t know my son, and my son didn’t know you. We need to get to know one another better. We need to build a foundation here.” So they did. They told each other about their lives and slowly the years of anger, mistrust and pain began to melt away. Mary told Oshea that on his day in court she had told him that she forgave him, “but today from the bottom of my heart, I forgive you. I can do it because of who is within me.” They talked some more and then Oshea asked if he could hug Mary. She agreed. “We walked around the table, and we hugged and I was hysterical,” Mary recalled. She started to fall, and Oshea had to hold her up. “I think right then and there, there was some type of bond made,” Mary said. “He could have dropped me, but he held me.” And in that moment, “there was such an instant release of knowing that all that hatred, all that bitterness, all that animosity, all that junk I had inside me for 12 years, that it was over.”

New beginnings

Four years later, in Dec. 2009, Oshea was released from prison.

On March 7, 2010, Mary’s organization, From Death to Life, along with the Visitation Sisters, held a “Welcome Home” party for Oshea. This gave him a chance to continue the restoration process and find encouragement in his journey away from prison and back into community life. Mary founded From Death in Life in 2005 as an organization committed to “ending violence through healing and reconciliation between families of victims and those who have caused harm.” The two—Mary and Oshea—often speak together at community events now, sharing crucial elements of their own stories. The journey to forgiveness took Mary 12 years and was filled with anger, bitterness, resentment and even hatred. But she eventually embraced forgiveness and offered it to someone who took the most precious thing she had. For those struggling with forgiveness, Mary encourages them to embrace the freedom that results from offering it. “The main thing I want people to know about forgiveness is that forgiveness is for you,” she said. “It’s not for the other person. It’s for you so that you can be released from all that hatred and bitterness and anger, all of that garbage, all of that baggage you are carrying that will hurt you. Forgiveness is freedom for you. You are really the offender who is being set free.” Is the journey easy? No, “It’s not easy; it took me 12 years,” Mary said. ■

LEARN MORE WHAT: From Death to Life FOUNDED: 2005 PURPOSE: Dedicated to ending violence through healing and reconciliation between families of victims and those who have caused harm. ADDRESS: c/o St. Jane House 1403 Emerson Ave. N., Minneapolis, MN 55411 ONLINE: INQUIRIES:

Heaven became real How a skeptical author came to believe a little boy By Anita K. Palmer PHOTO BY VINCENT REMINI

Before she became a writer of The New York Times best-selling books, Lynn Vincent spent 12 years as an investigative reporter for the news magazine World. Her work was cited in Congress and before the U.S. Supreme Court. Confronting corrupt politicians and deceptive clergy sharpened Vincent’s antennae for lies and supercharged her relentless focus on truth. Vincent next became a sought-after author of hard-hitting nonfiction books. She knocked out titles like “Never Surrender,” with U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, one of the founders of Delta Force, and “The Blood of Lambs: A Former Terrorist’s Memoir of Death and Redemption.” Not to mention,“Going Rogue,” with Sarah Palin. She was profiled in The New Yorker magazine. Why, then, would Vincent put her national reputation on the line to tell what many would consider a far-fetched story of a little boy’s supposed visit to heaven? If you aren’t among the 10.5 million who have purchased a copy of “Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back” or one of its ancillary products, here’s a quick synopsis. A small-town Nebraska boy named Colton Burpo claimed that when he was nearly 4 he visited heaven during emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix. There he met Jesus and John the Baptist, as well as (spoiler alert) a miscarried sister his parents, Sonja and Todd Burpo, had never told him about. Was this implausible tale just the hallucinations of a severely ill youngster with a vivid imagination? Or was it the true story of a real visit to an actual, physical heaven? Vincent had to answer those ques-

Author Lynn Vincent, who co-wrote the book ‘Heaven is for Real’ with tions before she would acTodd Burpo, said her own views on heaven shifted after working on cept the assignment to cothe book project. It went on to become a mega best-seller and is the write with Todd Burpo. subject of a new movie by the same name. “There were those things account heretical. “Do I leave the wings that Colton knew that he out because I’m going to lose credibility couldn’t have known, such as the miswith some evangelical Christians?” carriage,” Vincent said. Here’s another “We both said that either we believe example, among many: Colton described the story or we don’t,” Vincent said. “And meeting “Pop,” Todd’s grandfather, who if we believe it, then it’s God’s story and died 30 years before Colton was born, we don’t get to edit it.” and whom the boy correctly identified as a young man in a photograph he’d never A figurative door seen before. Vincent said no one was expecting Vincent also probed the motives of this small book—divine or not—to break Sonja and Todd, a pastor of a small Weseven, let alone break sales records and leyan church in Imperial, Neb. touch millions. “Todd and Sonya resisted writing a Readers aren’t the only ones the story book, which was a point in the believhas affected. ability column. In fact, (Todd) had to be “I’ve always been a ‘here-and-now’ convinced to do it,” she said, describing Christian, figuring I’d worry about heavhim as old-school. “He was practically en when I get there,” said Vincent, a fordragged to the table by another pastor mer naval air traffic controller who came in his same denomination who saw how to Christianity as an adult. people were finding hope and comfort She smiles and points to the new edifrom the story.” tion of “Heaven is for Real.” The cover is

If we believe it

Confident of the character of the Burpos, Vincent verified the facts of the story where she could and took the rest at face value. But there were a few claims that gave her pause. The wings, for example. Colton said that in heaven everyone—except Jesus— has wings. True, the Bible doesn’t describe people in heaven wearing wings. Does the lack of a mention in the Bible mean something doesn’t exist? Vincent wondered. She discussed the issue with her editor, who also was concerned about the reaction both from skeptics and from biblical conservatives who might label the

a photo of a little boy peering through a gigantic light-filled door. (It is a tie-in to the soon-to-be released major motion picture, directed by Randall Wallace of “Braveheart” and “We Were Soldiers” fame and featuring Greg Kinnear and Kelly Reilly. Connor Corum stars as Colton.) “The project opened a figurative door for me,” the author said. “Now I see this life and the afterlife as one life.” It’s changed the way she prays, too. She now pictures herself approaching the Father, joining all the saints who already are at the altar “from every time and nation,” and knowing she’s speaking to an actual Person. Smiling, she said, “There really is a ‘there’ there.” April 2014 | REFRESHED


Heaven is for real What will it be like? By Sean McDowell


f you knew for certain that you only had three days left to live on Earth, how would you spend your remaining time? Recently I posed this question to a group of high school seniors. Their answers included skydiving, traveling, surfing, and (of course) sex. I followed up with a simple question, “So you think there may be some pleasures and experiences in this life that if you don’t partake of them before you die, you may miss out in Heaven?” All but two of them said, “Yes.” Sadly, the prospect of Heaven had simply not captured their imaginations. Despite the unsurpassable majesty of Heaven, they thought there were experiences in this life that could be more fulfilling and exciting. Could the same be true for us? Is it possible that we have failed to capture the wondrous beauty of Heaven? In a quote from Randy Alcorn’s book, “Heaven,” science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov writes, “I don’t believe in the afterlife, so I don’t have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse.” This view, sadly, is common even among Christians. Our vision of Heaven is often limited to an extended, boring, uninspiring church service. Somehow Heaven has not captured our imaginations and transformed our lives. How did this happen? Where did we get such a view of Heaven? Lacking an eternal perspective can set us—and in particular, young people—up for discouragement and sin. So many of us think there are certain pleasures that if we don’t experience them now, we may never. Since God will forgive us, why not indulge? So many of us think we want sex, money, drugs, good grades and popularity. But what we were truly made for is to be in

relationship with God and others now and, ultimately, to dwell in Heaven. Missing this truth can have disastrous consequences in this life. In Alcorn’s provocative book “Heaven” the author demonstrates that an unbiblical view of Heaven has deeply infiltrated the church. In fact, he says that if we truly understood the reality of Heaven, it would radically transform our present lives. We would have far more resolve and boldness if we saw the world from an eternal perspective.

What is Heaven like?

We have too often been taught to “spiritualize” the new Heaven and new Earth into a non-physical realm. But here is the problem with such a view: The New Heaven and New Earth can’t be merely spiritual (understood as non-physical) for we will be resurrected. A non-physical resurrection is like a colorless rainbow. It’s a contradiction! We have misunderstood the biblical doctrine that the New Heavens and New Earth are a physical place where God and his people live together, surrounded by physical beauty with real gardens, cities, kingdoms, rivers and banquets. We will be resurrected with physical bodies to live in the New Heavens and the New Earth. The world we live in now offers us a glimpse of the joys and pleasures we will experience in the New Heavens and New Earth. Alcorn explains, “All our lives we’ve been dreaming of the New Earth. Whenever we see beauty in water, wind, flower, deer, man, woman, or child, we catch a glimpse of Heaven. Just like the Garden of Eden, the New Earth will be a place of sensory delight, breathtaking beauty, satisfying relationships, and personal joy.” In other words, the greatest joys of life in the present are merely signposts to an even greater reality in

Heaven. Consider a few of the biblical descriptions of Heaven.

Heaven as home

Heaven is described as home: After a long trip on the road does anything seem more appealing than going home? Sleeping in our own beds, a home-cooked meal and fellowship with family and friends are some of the greatest joys in life. When Jesus spoke of his pending death, he spoke of building us a home with his Father in heaven (John 14:2). To understand Heaven is to grasp the real meaning of home. Undoubtedly many people have had difficult home lives. But our true home in Heaven will have all the good aspects of home, increased many times, without any of the bad.

Heaven as community

There will be community in Heaven. Without the presence of sin we will be free to be more relational than we are now. Heaven is not like the Buddhist nirvana, where people lose their individual personalities. Rather, we will maintain our identities, memories, gifts and passions to be used for God’s glory and the good of the larger community. The New Jerusalem in Heaven is often described as a city of dazzling beauty (Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 21:2). Cities are full of inhabitants, streets, buildings, cultural events, entertainment, athletics, and other community events. If the New Jerusalem didn’t have these city-defining characteristics, then why would Scripture so often refer to it as a city? Heaven will have the positive aspects of the city minus the crime, poverty, pollution and corruption that mark cities today. To imagine such a beautiful community is to take a large step toward envisioning the world God is planning to bring about as a result of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

‘Heaven Your Real Home,’ pastel-pencil rendering drawn by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used with permission from Joni and Friends. To order a print, visit

Heaven as rest

Heaven is described as a place of rest. One reason we will rest is because we will serve God in Heaven. There will be work in Heaven! But this is not work as we often experience it today. There will not be pressing deadlines, stressful co-workers, homework assignments or bitter competition. Rather, we will feel truly fulfilled because we will work in a manner fitting to the way God has designed each of us. The pain, corruption and sin that tarnish work today will be gone forever. We will be free to work for the benefit of God, others, and ourselves. Have you ever felt truly fulfilled as a person? Have you ever felt the power of truly serving other people? That was a small taste of what work will be like in Heaven. And as a result of our work in Heaven we will experience the most peaceful and fulfilling rest imaginable.

Common questions

Will there be sex in heaven? While there may not be sexual intercourse as we presently understand it, there will be deep pleasures beyond anything we can presently grasp. In his book “Miracles,” C.S. Lewis explains how sex is a signpost for an even greater fulfillment in heaven: “I think our present outlook might be like that of a small boy who, on being told that the sexual act was the highest bodily pleasure should immediately ask whether you ate chocolates at the same time. On receiving the answer ‘No,’ he might regard absence of chocolates as the chief characteristic of sexuality. In vain would you tell him that the reason why lovers in their carnal raptures don’t bother about chocolates is that they have something better to think of. The boy knows chocolate: he does not know the positive thing that excludes it. We are in the same position. We know the sexual life; we do not know, except in glimpses,

the other thing which, in Heaven, will leave no room for it.” Will there be animals in Heaven? While the Bible does not answer this question conclusively, there are significant clues indicating that animals will be with us in Heaven. For one thing, animals have always played a significant role in God’s creation. Animals populated the Garden of Eden, God saved them in the flood, and they were present at the birth of Christ. And there is precedent for believing they will populate Eden restored as well. Consider Isaiah 11:6 “The leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together, and a little child will lead them.” Second, the Bible teaches that animals have souls (Genesis 1:30; 2:7). While they are not human souls and animals are not made in the image of God, animals and humans do share a unique feature: they are living beings. This does not guarantee that animals survive death but it does indicate that God may have a future plan for animals as he does for both mankind and Earth. It would be consistent with God’s character for Him to populate Heaven with animals.

The truth about Heaven

Heaven is not merely a lofty idea created to give people comfort amid the pain of life. Rather, Heaven is a real place, awaiting believers in Jesus after their death. As Jesus demonstrated in his resurrection, death is not the end but merely a portal into eternal life. Shortly before his death Jesus put it this way: “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). Have you taken the time to really reflect on the reality of Heaven? When we die we will eternally be with our Creator! Do you get goose-bumps just thinking about it? Are you eagerly anticipating the day when this life ends and you enter into God’s presence forever without any of the painful effects of sin? If not, it may be possible that you have lost a vision for the majesty, beauty and power of heaven. ■

Sean McDowell, an expert in the biblical worldview, is an assistant professor in the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. He also serves as head of the Bible Department at a Christian high school.



to believe

Evidence for the resurrection by MART DEHAAN


n a world filled with belief systems making religious claims, how can you know what to believe? How can you know who to follow? This article offers ten pieces of evidence and witness that verify that following Christ is reasonable. As this evidence is examined and tested—we find that it can also be trusted.


A public execution assured his death

During the Jewish Feast of Passover, Jesus was swept away by an angry crowd into a Roman hall of justice. As He stood before Pilate, the governor of Judea, religious leaders accused Jesus of claiming to be the king of the Jews. The crowd demanded His death. Jesus was beaten, whipped, and sentenced to a public execution. On a hill outside of Jerusalem, He was crucified between two criminals. Brokenhearted friends and mocking enemies shared in His deathwatch. As the Sabbath neared, Roman soldiers were sent to finish the execution. To quicken death, they broke the legs of the two criminals. But when they came to Jesus they did not break His legs, because from experience they knew He was already dead. As a final precaution, however, they thrust a spear into His side. It would take more than resuscitation for Him to ever trouble them again.


A high official secured the gravesite


REFRESHED | April 2014

The next day, religious leaders again met with Pilate. They said Jesus had predicted He would rise in three days. To assure that the disciples could not conspire in a resurrection hoax, Pilate ordered the official seal of Rome to be attached to the tomb to put graverobbers on notice. To enforce the order, soldiers stood guard. Any disciple who wanted to tamper with the body would have had to get by them,

which wouldn’t have been easy. The Roman guards had good reason for staying alert–the penalty for falling asleep while on watch was death.

infallible proofs, being seen by [the apostles] during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).


In spite of guards, the grave was found empty


His apostles were dramatically changed


Many people claimed to have seen him alive


Witnesses were willing to die for their claims

On the morning after the Sabbath, some of Jesus’ followers went to the grave to anoint His body. But when they arrived, they were surprised at what they found. The huge stone that had been rolled into place over the entrance to the tomb had been moved, and Jesus’ body was gone. As word got out, two disciples rushed to the burial site. The tomb was empty except for Jesus’ burial wrappings, which were lying neatly in place. In the meantime, some of the guards had gone into Jerusalem to tell the Jewish officials that they had fainted in the presence of a supernatural being that rolled the stone away. And when they woke up, the tomb was empty. The officials paid the guards a large sum of money to lie and say that the disciples stole the body while the soldiers slept. They assured the guards that if the report of the missing body got back to the governor they would intercede on their behalf.

About AD 55, the apostle Paul wrote that the resurrected Christ had been seen by Peter, the 12 apostles, more than 500 people (many of whom were still alive at the time of his writing), James, and himself (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). By making such a public statement, he gave critics a chance to check out his claims for themselves. In addition, the New Testament begins its history of the followers of Christ by saying that Jesus “presented Himself alive after His suffering by many

When one of Jesus’ inner circle defected and betrayed Him, the other apostles ran for their lives. Even Peter, who earlier had insisted that he was ready to die for his teacher, lost heart and denied that he even knew Jesus. But the apostles went through a dramatic change. Within a few weeks, they were standing face to face with the ones who had crucified their leader. Their spirit was like iron. They became unstoppable in their determination to sacrifice everything for the one they called Savior and Lord. Even after they were imprisoned, threatened, and forbidden to speak in the name of Jesus, the apostles said to the Jewish leaders, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). After they were beaten for disobeying the orders of the Jewish council, these once-cowardly apostles “did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42).

History is full of martyrs. Countless men and women have died for their beliefs. For that reason, it is not that significant to point out that the first disciples were willing to suffer and die for their faith. But it is significant that while many will die for what they believe to be the truth, few if any will die for what they know to be a lie. That psychological fact is important because the disciples of Christ did not die for deeply held beliefs about which they could have been honestly mistaken. They died for their claims to

The Garden Tomb, just outside the ancient walls of Old Jerusalem, is believed by many to be the garden and sepulchre of Joseph of Arimathea, and therefore a possible site of the burial and resurrection of Jesus.

have seen Jesus alive and well after His resurrection. They died for their claim that Jesus Christ had not only died for their sins but that He had risen bodily from the dead to show that He was like no other spiritual leader who had ever lived.


Jewish believers changed their day of worship

The Sabbath day of rest and worship was basic to the Jewish way of life. Any Jew who did not honor the Sabbath was guilty of breaking the law of Moses. Yet Jewish followers of Christ began worshiping with Gentile believers on a new day. The first day of the week, the day on which they believed Christ had risen from the dead, replaced the Sabbath. For a Jew, it reflected a major change of life. The new day, along with the Christian conversion rite of baptism, declared that those who believed Christ had risen from the dead were ready for more than a renewal of Judaism. They believed that the death and resurrection of Christ had cleared the way for a new relationship with God. The new way was based not on the law, but on the sin-bearing, life-giving help of a resurrected Savior.


Although it was unexpected, it was clearly predicted

The disciples were caught off guard. They expected their Messiah to restore the kingdom to Israel. Their minds were so fixed on the coming of a messianic political kingdom that they didn’t anticipate the events essential to the salvation of their souls. They must have thought Christ was speaking in symbolic language when He kept saying over and over that it was necessary for Him to go to Jerusalem to die and be resurrected from the dead. Coming from one who spoke in


parables, they missed the obvious until after it was all over. In the process, they also overlooked the prophet Isaiah’s prediction of a suffering servant who would bear the sins of Israel, being led like a lamb to the slaughter, before God “prolong[ed] His days” (Isaiah 53:10).


It was a fitting climax to a miraculous life

While Jesus hung on a Roman cross, crowds mocked Him. He helped others, but could He help Himself? Was the miracle suddenly coming to an end? It seemed like such an unexpected ending for someone who began His public life by turning water into wine. During His three-year ministry, He walked on water; healed the sick; opened blind eyes, deaf ears, and tongue-tied mouths; restored crippled limbs; cast out demons; stilled a violent storm; and raised the dead. He asked questions wise men couldn’t answer. He taught profound truths with the simplest of comparisons. And He confronted hypocrites with words that exposed their coverup. If all this was true, should we be surprised that His enemies didn’t have the last word?


It fits the experience of those who trust him

The apostle Paul wrote, “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in

you” (Romans 8:11). This was the experience of Paul, whose heart was dramatically changed by the resurrected Christ. It is also the experience of people all over the world who have “died” to their old ways so that Christ can live His life through them. This spiritual power is not evident in those who try to add belief in Christ to their old life. It is seen only in those who are willing to “die” to their old life to make room for the rule of Christ. It is apparent only in those who respond to the overwhelming evidence for Christ’s resurrection by acknowledging His lordship in their heart.

You’re not alone

You’re not alone if you find yourself honestly unconvinced about whether Christ rose from the dead. But keep in mind that Jesus promised God’s help to those who want to be right with God. He said, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether My teaching comes from God or whether I speak on My own” (John 7:17 NIV). If you do see the reasonableness of the resurrection, keep in mind that the Bible says Christ died to pay the price for our sins, and those who believe in their heart that God has raised Him from the dead will be saved (Romans 10:9-10). The salvation Christ offers is not a reward for effort, but a gift to all who in light of the evidence put their trust in Him. ■ © RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Used by permission. All rights reserved. April 2014 | REFRESHED


outtakes 2014: Year of the Bible Movie

The Chinese may be celebrating the Year of the Horse, but fans of faith-based films have declared 2014 the Year of the Bible Movie. Here is a summary of what to expect in 2014:

‘Son of God’

Produced by the husband-wife team of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, the epic picture was mostly a recast from the couple’s 2013 blockbuster mini-series “The Bible.” According to Box Office Mojo, “Son of God” ranked second in ticket sales its opening weekend, selling $31.49 million. After four weeks the total box office sales exceeded $57.8 million. The movie ranks fifth all-time in overall gross ticket sales for Christian films and fourth in opening weekend tills in the same category, beating out “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”


Perhaps the most anticipated faithbased film of the year has been director Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah,” starring Russell Crowe, Emma Watson and Jennifer Connelly. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Aronsofky has contemplated a film based on Noah since his success with the 1998 film “Pi.” With a budget in excess of $125 million, there has been persistent public wrangling between Aronofjsky’s creative intentions for the film and Paramount Pictures’ desire to not alienate its significant ticket draw— Christians. Critics of the film said “Noah” takes liberties with the biblical content by focusing on such topics as environmentalism and overpopulation. In late February, the National Religious Broadcaster issued an “explanatory message” with Paramount telling moviegoers to expect “a dramatization of the major scriptural themes and not a line-by-line retelling of the Bible story.” The disclaimer, they said, would appear on all future marketing materials. In the statement, Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, president & CEO of NRB, called it “an imaginative interpretation of Scripture, and not literal.” At the same time, he


REFRESHED | April 2014

thanked the studio for taking on a film with strong biblical content. Johnson also advised believers to use the non-Scriptural moments in the film as teaching moments to engage others in a respectful dialogue about the greatest selling book of all times. The movie released March 28 with opening weekend ticket sales of more than $44 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

‘Heaven is for Real’

The captivating story of heaven from the eyes of a pint-size package— who reveals compelling details of his ethereal trip after a near-death experience—hits the big screen April 16. “Heaven is for Real,” starring young newcomer Connor Corum, with Greg Kinnear and Kelly Reilly as his parents, is based on the blockbuster bestselling book by the same name. The book, released in 2010, spent 64 weeks in the No. 1 spot on The New York Time’s best-seller list. Published by Thomas Nelson, the non-fiction work was cowritten by San Diego author Lynn Vincent and Nebraska pastor Todd Burpo, whose 4-year-old son experienced a taste of heaven after he nearly died during surgery to remove his burst appendix. Three and a half years after the book’s release, it remains on the Times best-seller list, having sold 10.5 million copies in 25 languages. For the film adaptation, “Heaven is for Real” widens its scope, incorporating Todd’s struggles in deciding to go public with Colton’s story. His son’s story not only impacts the Burpos, but also their small town, which was inundated with media in light of the revelations about the child’s experience. While immensely moving and comforting for some fans, the book has its critics and skeptics.

‘Left Behind’

Set for release sometime this year is a remake of the 2001 picture “Left Behind.” Starring Nicolas Cage, Chad Michael Murray, Cassi Thomson, Nicky Whelan and Jordin Sparks, the remake focuses on the first few hours after the Rapture and “the chaos of the world in the wake of millions of people vanishing with no explanation.” The reboot is directed by Vic Armstrong and produced by Paul Lalonde, who

also co-wrote the script with John Patus. Filmed in Baton Rouge, La., the $15 million action-thriller will be released through Stoney Lake Entertainment. As with the original, the remake is based on the best-selling series by Alpine resident Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. The original movie was released on DVD in September 2000 and then hit the theaters in early 2001. With more than 65 million copies sold, it is estimated that one in eight Americans has read at least one of the 16 books.

‘God’s Not Dead’

Art imitates life in Pure Flix Entertaiment’s “God’s Not Dead,” which released March 21 and has brought in $22 million through its second weekend. The screenplay, based on the Rice Broocks book by the same title, depicts the adversarial relationship between college freshman Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), a devout Christian, and Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo), his dogmatic and argumentative philosophy instructor. Several other storylines add dimension to the plot. Produced by David A.R. White, a founding partner in Pure Flix Entertainment, the film centers on the ongoing tension created when Professor Radisson forces Wheaton to prove the existence of God over the course of three short class presentations. If Josh fails to convince his classmates of God’s existence, Radisson vows to flunk his young student. Also featured in the film are Christian rockers the Newsboys and Willie and Korie Robertson, stars of the A & E reality show “Duck Dynasty,” who appear as themselves.


Just in time for Christmas, noted English director Ridley Scott is expected to release his big budget film “Exodus,” starring Christian Bale as Moses, and Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley. The storyline, crafted by Bill Collage, Adam Cooper and Steven Zaillian, centers on Moses as he leads the Israelites out of Egypt and their forced bondage as chronicled in the Bible’s second book. Scott’s previous directing work includes “Blade Runner,” “Thelma and Louise,” “Robin Hood” and “Prometheus”. “Exodus” will be distributed by 20th Century Fox.

Composer and pianist Mary Beth Carlson has encouraged and inspired audiences with her music for two decades.

Mary Beth Carlson celebrates 20 years of music Composer, pianist to hold anniversary concert in May By SCOTT NOBLE


omposer and performing artist Mary Beth Carlson admits there were two periods during her life when her hope and inspiration were challenged. “The first was learning that our daughter was born with cerebral palsy and soon after diagnosed with autism,” she said. During this first challenge, Carlson said she was determined to find ways to reach her daughter. “Learning that music was a strong bonding force between us, I gradually realized her increasing level of responsiveness to songs I sang and piano music I played for her,” she said. “In my quest for understanding Jody more deeply, I wrote songs as a perception of what she sees, thinks and how she feels about her world.” The second challenge to Carlson’s


20th anniversary concert Mary Beth Carlson Friday, May 16, 7:00 pm St.Michael’s Lutheran Church Bloomington COST: $15 ($7.50 16 & under) TICKETS: hope and inspiration occurred when Jody was 17. She developed a severe mental illness following the death of her grandfather and other losses in her life. “The consequences of her psychosis and related illnesses have been devastating and for a season, hope and inspiration seemed nearly out of reach,” Carlson recalled. “I again turned to writing music. It was more important to me than ever to reach out to others who are impacted by similar challenges.” Over the past 20 years, Carlson has produced and recorded two dozen albums of piano orchestral music and six DVDs. In addition, she has been featured on numerous other CDs.

To celebrate the 20-year anniversary of her music, Carlson is holding a concert at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington on Friday, May 16. She will be joined by Mark David Williams, John Trones and Debi Kilde, Kenni Holmen and Cory Wong. “How exciting it is to look back on 20 years of writing, recording and performing music God has given me to share with such appreciative, supportive listeners,” Carlson said. “I’m truly blessed to give a concert of celebration with some of the world class, gifted artists I’ve worked with from the very beginning up to my 21st year in this ministry.” Carlson’s two decades in music have been driven by her desire to honor and glorify God with her music. “My vision for the music ministry God has given me has always been driven by His purpose and plan for how He can be most effectively and powerfully honored and glorified,” Carlson said. “This is revealed to me through His Word and in prayer as well as through people He has placed in my path to encourage me, teach and affirm specifically how God may be lifted up.” ■ April 2014 | REFRESHED


events calendar THRU APR 20 Bethel University’s Johnson Gallery, Wayne Roosa exhibit “Honest Mistakes” • (651) 638-6527

April 4-18 Easter Production “All Things New” musical, North Heights Lutheran Church, Arden Hills • (651) 7977071,

Country, Target Center. Presented by 98.5 KTIS •

APR 5-6 • SAT-SUN The Rabbi Who Found Messiah: A Prophecy Seminar, Brooklyn Park EV Free Church, Brooklyn Park • (763) 391-6140

APR 6 • SUNDAY Teddy Bear Band in concert, Living Faith Church, Circle Pines • (763) 784-1760



“Fully Engaged: Pursuing Integrity in Work & Leisure,” Bethel University’s Humanities Program, Session 1 • (651) 638-6133

“Writing Spiritually,” The Commons, Minnetonka • (952) 470-0230

Abortion Stories of Hope & Healing, Redeeming Love Church, Maplewood • (651) 777-5200 x33

Master’s Voice & Sweetwater Revival concert, by Music for the Master, Edinbrook Church, Brooklyn Park • (651) 638-6333,




“All About eBooks, Publishing & More,” MN Christian Writers Guild, Bethlehem Baptist Church • (952) 807-7795


Bethel University hosts “Vision Casting” pastor’s seminar, Brushaber Commons • 651.638.6400

Christian Songwriters Workshop, Frontier Fellowship, St. Paul •

Prophecy Seminar with Carl Gallups speaking. Brooklyn Park EV Free Church • 763-391-6140

“Delivered,” Calvary Lutheran Church, Golden Valley • (612) 29-1505


Twin Cities Master’s Chorale Spring Concert, 7pm. Bloomington Covenant Church • (952) 831-8339

Twin Cities Quartet Convention, Discover Church, Burnsville • (612) 961-5992,

The SpLINT Worship, Christ in Your Recovery, Church of Peace, Richfield • (612) 866-0069

“Writing spiritually,” The Commons, Minnetonka • (952) 470-0230



APR 4-JUN 18 “Beneath The Surface: Exploring The Layers,” an exhibition. United Theological Seminary, New Brighton • (651) 255-6138

M.O.M.S. 12th Annual Benefit Concert & Silent Auction, Faith Covenant Church, Burnsville • (952) 890-5072 Casting Crowns, with special guests Laura Story and For King and

“Genes, Freedom & God” Lecture, St. Paul Student Center Theater, U of M St. Paul Campus • (612) 378-1935 Growing Through Loss, Augustana Lutheran Church, W St. Paul. • (952) 890-0045

Prayer for North Korea, Bethlehem Baptist Church, downtown campus, Mpls •

Twin Cities Master’s Chorale Spring Concert, Salem Covenant Church • (651) 633-9615

Understanding the Times 2014 Conference, Grace Church, Eden Prairie • (763) 559-4444,


APR 15 • TUESDAY Messianic Passover Service, Beth Immanuel Messianic Congregation, WI • (715) 386-0106 Twin Cities Disability Ministry, New Hope Church • (763) 494-3480 Twin Cities Creation Science Assoc., “The Genetics of Adam & Eve.” University of Northwestern, Roseville, FAC Room F2128 •

APR 17 • WEDNESDAY “Victorious” Revelations by Calvary Lutheran Church, Golden Valley • (612) 29-1505

APR 18-19 • FRI-SAT Feed My Starving Children hosts Fully Invested Lenten Packing Sessions, Coon Rapids •

APR 19 • SATURDAY Community Easter Egg Hunt, Excelsior Commons Park by Our Savior Lutheran Church & School • (952) 474-5181 Passover Candlelight Resurrection Service, Beth Immanuel Messianic Congregation, WI • (715) 386-0106

APR 21 • MONDAY Seventh Day of Passover Messianic Synagogue Service, Beth Immanuel Messianic Congregation, WI • (715) 386-0106 REFRESHED | April 2014

APR 25-26 • FRI-SAT

“Voices from the Passion” cantata, St. George’s Episcopal Church, St. Louis Park • (612) 377-4450

“Siblings without Rivalry,” by Hope for Parents, Hope Lutheran Church, Mpls •


“Fully Engaged: Pursuing Integrity in Work & Leisure” Session 2, Bethel University’s Humanities Program • (651) 638-6133

Twin Cities Master’s Chorale Spring Concert, Grace Point Church • (651) 633-7515

APR 27 • SUNDAY Twin Cities Master’s Chorale Spring Concert, Buffalo Covenant Church • (763) 682-1470 The Southern Gospel Trio Declaration concert, The First EV Free Church St. Paul, Maplewood • (651) 777-5180

APR 30 • WEDNESDAY End-Time Bible Prophecy Seminar, Freedom Church, Ramsey • (763) 350-7458

MAY 1 • THURSDAY West Metro National Day of Prayer Breakfast, Medina Entertainment Center • (763) 473-3730, 6th Annual Pastor’s Appreciation Lunch, The Lafayette Club, Minnetonka. By AM 980 KKMS • (651) 405-8800, Pray for America, National Day of Prayer event at the State Capitol. 2:30pm, worship with Dan Adler; 3:15 prayer inside rotunda

EVENTS ONLINE For more events and community news, please visit www.

community news

Concert to celebrate Joni and Friends ministry

Complete Exam and X-rays



$2700 era

MINNEAPOLIS — Bethel University’s Humanities Program will sponsor the “Fully Engaged: Pursuing Integrity in Work and Leisure” discussion series on April 11, April 25 and May 16 starting at 5:30 p.m. The discussions will be

held at Tealwood Asset Management in Minneapolis. The events are designed for business professionals “looking for more holistic forms of engagement in life and work,” according to an announcement from organizers. Professor Daniel Ritchie will lead the discussions, which will include readings from novelists, essayists and


SAINT PAUL — Bethel University’s Johnson Gallery will host the Wayne Roosa exhibit “Honest Mistakes” until April 20. An announcement from the University describes the exhibit as: “Where we live—body and soul—hovers between the abstract ideals of perfect architecture and the botched repairs of the illequipped handyman. These paintings amuse themselves with the sorry beauty of that state.” The gallery is open Monday thru Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and on Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. For more information, visit www. or call (651) 6386527.

Series tackles work, leisure

Th ins is o ur ffe an r d ce oe be s n ne ot fic ap iar p ies ly . to f

Art exhibit to address ‘botched repairs’

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BLOOMINGTON — Sounds of Praise 2014 will be held on Friday, May 2 at 7:00 p.m. at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington. The concert serves as a celebration of the disability ministry of Joni and Friends Minneapolis/St. Paul. Guests include Mary Beth Carlson, The Benson Family, The Kingery Family and Maureen Pranghofer. The event is free, but a freewill offering will be taken to support the ministry of Joni and Friends Minneapolis/St. Paul. Joni Eareckson Tada will share a special video greeting. For more information on the event, visit or call (952) 933-7777.

Conferences hopes to ‘refine’ lives

MINNEAPOLIS — The Refine Conference is coming to the Hilton Airport at the Mall of America May 9-10. The women’s event is designed to help attendees “walk away from these two days feeling renewed and encouraged,” according to organizers. Speakers include Liz Uram, Cathy Paper, Megan Tamte and numerous others. For additional information, visit

HealthSource of Hopkins Brenda Higgins, D.C. 724 Mainstreet Hopkins, MN 55343 (952) 943-2584 HealthSource of Albertville Andy Konz, D.C. 5676 LaCentre Ave Albertville, MN 55301 (763) 497-0777

HealthSource of Plymouth Kristin Rogney, D.C. HealthSource of Minnetonka Scott Walter, D.C. www.healthsourceofminnetonka 4345 Nathan Lane N. Derek Anderson, D.C. Plymouth, MN 55442 14413 Excelsior Blvd (763) 536-1112 Minnetonka, MN 55345 (952) 746-1506 HealthSource of Blaine HealthSource of Chaska Robert Vaughn, D.C. 10904 Baltimore St. Tyler Hasse, D.C. Suite 103 122 Pioneer Trail Blaine, MN 55449 Chaska, MN 55318 (651) 583-7634 (952) 856-8563

April 2014 | REFRESHED


community news political philosophers. Session one on April 11 will focus on harmony, while session two on April 25 will cover work, and session three on May 16 will tackle leisure. For more information or to register, visit or call (651) 638-6133.

Healing retreat planned for those affected by abortion

HUDSON, Wisc. — Rachel’s Vineyard will host a weekend retreat for those affected by a past abortion decision. The retreat, scheduled for May 16-18 in Hudson, Wisc., is sponsored by Project Healing Ministries. According to organizers, the retreat “provides a supportive, confidential and non-judgmental environment for women and men to express, release and reconcile painful emotions to begin the process of restoration, renewal and healing available through the love of Jesus

Christ.” For more information, visit or

Seminar to address church building

MINNEAPOLIS — Several organizations are sponsoring “Faith, Facilities, Future: Facility planning for the next generation” on Thursday, April 3 at the Station 19 All American Event Center in Minneapolis. The seminar is designed to help church leaders in planning remodels, new construction or an interior refresh. Sponsors include Station 19 Architects, Inc., Langer Construction, Wells Fargo, and Hal Johnson and Associates. The seminar will be offered in two identical sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. For more information or to register,

visit or call (651) 457-5993.

Dr. Robert Jeffress to keynote pastors’ event

MINNETONKA — The Rev. Dr. Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, will serve as the keynote speaker for the 6th annual Pastors Appreciation Lunch on Thursday, May 1 at 10:30 a.m. The event is sponsored by AM 980 KKMS and will be held at The Lafayette Club in Minnetonka. According to a news release, Jeffress said: “I am looking forward to being with all of the pastors and ministers in the Twin Cities area as we encourage one


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Jerry and Ginger, celebrating 54 years in Gospel Music ministry, invite you to an evening of lifting up the Lord. LEGACY FIVE has been recognized as one of the top Southern Gospel groups in the nation as well as top recording artists of the year. The group has two Dove Awards. They are featured in the Gaither Homecoming Video Series.

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REFRESHED | April 2014

community news PRESENTS

Master’s Voice another. In these critical days of our nation’s history, it is important for pastors to stand firm in their bold proclamation of God’s Word.” The event is free and open to all pastors and ministry leaders. For more information or to register, visit or call (651) 4058800.

‘All about eBooks’ seminar for writers

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Christian Writers Guild will hold its spring seminar “All About eBooks” with David Sheets on Saturday, April 12 at Bethlehem Baptist Church. Sheets has worked for top publishers including Tyndale, Multnomah and Harvest House and is currently the president of Jerry B. Jenkins’ Christian Writers Guild. He will cover marketing and trends in the publishing industry with a focus on eBooks and print on demand.

For more information, visit or contact Amy Lindberg at

Disability ministry to hold quarterly event

NEW HOPE — Walk Right In Ministries will hold the Twin Cities Disability Ministry Quarterly Connect Meeting on Tuesday, April 15 at 9:30 a.m. at New Hope Church in New Hope. The meetings are designed for church leaders and those who serve in disability ministries. Participants will get a chance to network, share ideas, and receive prayer support and encouragement. For more information, email lisa@

COMMUNITY NEWS ONLINE For more local community news and an expanded calendar of events, please visit

A fun, high-energy team of musical evangelists

Sweetwater Revival

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Thursday, April 24, 7 p.m. Edinbrook Church 4300 Edinbrook Pkwy N, Brooklyn Park

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Discover Church, 14300 W Burnsville Pkwy, Burnsville

Order tickets online at or by phone 612-961-5992 April 2014 | REFRESHED


community news

Multiple events to mark National Day of Prayer The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation. It was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. This year’s theme is “One Voice, United in Prayer� and is taken from Romans 15:6.

West Metro prayer breakfast

The 17th West Metro Prayer Breakfast will be held Thursday, May 1 at 6:00 a.m. at the Medina Entertainment Center Grand Ballroom. This year’s keynote speaker is author and vocalist Jean Peterson. Music will be provided by Tonia Hughes. “It is a thrill each year to seek the Lord for divine direction, to encourage others to get involved and to gather with other believers to lift up our city, state and nation,� said Dar Sjostrom, co-chair of the event, via a news release. “Through NDOP efforts, I have had the opportu-

nity not only to grow personally but also to help others develop a daily disciplined prayer life.� To download a registration form, visit www. or call (763) 473-3730.

State Capitol worship and prayer

A worship and prayer event will be held inside the State Capitol rotunda on Thursday, May 1 at 3:15 p.m. At 2:30 p.m., outside the Capitol on the south steps, those gathered will sing and worship, with Dan Adler leading the praise time.

State prayer breakfast

MINNEAPOLIS — The 54th annual Minnesota Prayer Breakfast is slated for Tuesday, May 13 at the Minneapolis Hilton Hotel. The event will begin at 7:00 a.m. The breakfast is similar to the National Prayer Breakfast and typically attracts leaders from business, civic, nonprofit and faith sectors. Learn more at

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Friday, May 2, 7 PM St. Michael’s Lutheran Church 9201 Normandale Blvd. Bloomington, MN 55437 FREE Admission Info: 952-933-7777

Benson Family Singers

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With a special video greeting from Joni Eareckson Tada

Mark David Williams

The Kingery Family

Maureen Pranghofer

Artist Norm Daniels adds some strokes to a canvas in his garage studio in Pine Valley. His lifelong love of the ocean is a common theme in many of his works. April 2014 | REFRESHED


plugged in DOUG TROUTEN

The temporary allure of a new phone A cell phone is both a convenience and an electronic leash. I resisted carrying a phone for years, and remember explaining to a supervisor that one of my favorite things about being in my car was that nobody could call me when I was driving. Eventually, I was dragged kicking and screaming into the modern age, and now it’s hard to remember what it was like to not always be connected to everything. Remember when people used to wonder about things, rather than just pulling out their phone and asking Google? Remember when you wouldn’t know that your cousin was thinking about baking a pie unless you happened to talk to her? Remember when we communicated in words, rather than just initials (FWIW, LOL)? Those were primitive times indeed—it’s a wonder we survived. So when my three-year-old phone began to develop a new feature inspired by the music of Prince that involved filling the screen with virtual drops of purple rain that wouldn’t go away, I plunged into the world of phone shopping and was astonished by the new technology that’s available. The Samsung Galaxy tracks your eyes and reads your fingerprints (“The perfect phone” raves the National Security Agency). The Motorola

Moto X learns to recognize your voice so it can respond to your commands while ignoring others. And the Apple iPhone lets you stand in line every year or so to buy a new phone that’s a lot like your old phone, only shinier. I eventually bought a Nexus 5 from Google, since I assume that soon Google will own everything worth owning, including all of us. It’s a pretty good phone, but I have a few ideas for new features in future releases: • PhoneTooth: Based on Bluetooth technology, this dental implant would send sound directly to your ears through bone conduction, and capture the sound of your voice before it even leaves your mouth. With PhoneTooth, you’d get the convenience of a Bluetooth headset without the visible earpiece that makes random strangers want to slap you. • WinterWatch: This special app for Minnesotans would combine weather data from the web and readings from the phone’s built-in barometer to identify which of the five stages of winter you’re currently in (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, April). • FutureCall: If the phone detects that you’re about to take a second of pie, it would simulate a call piece o from a future you, running on a treadbegging you to reconsider. mill, b Dial-a-Prayer: This feature re•D sponds to your prayers with a genuine audible voice from God (Siri doesn’t count). Unfortunately, there are a lot of technological (and theological) barriers to be overcome before this feature is introduced, but I’d pay big bucks for this app. In tthe future, it’s possible that we’ll


REFRESHED | April 2014

do away with phones entirely, replacing them with surgically implanted tech that connects us directly to the Internet, pumping sensory information into our bodies and placing a virtual display directly into our field of vision. This sort of always-on technology could increase the average teenager’s social media use by up to 5 percent. Despite my love for futuristic communication technology, I’m also the proud owner of an old-fashioned rotary phone, which boasts of its own strong features: • The retro handset reminds users why sticking your g out y thumb and little finger became me the universal al sign for “phone call.” • The phone can’t be misplaced, thanks to patented “Stuck to the wall with a wire” technology. • The rotary dial gives you plenty of time to think about whether you really need to be making this call. Best of all, that heavy, clunky rotary phone is built so solidly that it could easily be used for home defense. It’s still going strong a halfcentury after it was manufactured. Somehow I don’t think I’ll be getting quite that much mileage out of my new cell phone. Doug Trouten is chair of the Communication Department at the University of Northwestern – St. Paul.

leadership sense SAM HELGERSON

Building emotional intelligence There are many things that we cannot change about ourselves. If you listen to the experts—the sort of people who study such things—you’ll find that our basic temperament is largely in place by the time we turn 6. Our Intelligence Quotient, or IQ, settles in some time around mid-childhood. This begs the question: Is there anything we can do to change ourselves and our leadership ability in any meaningful way? Since Daniel Goleman wrote the book that described emotional intelligence, a good deal of research has gone into better understanding it. It turns out that Emotional Intelligence is a skill that can be developed. Emotional Intelligence, often referred to as EQ, is the ability to manage our own emotional response while at the same time possessing the ability to understand the emotions of others. Studies have indicated that most

other point of view is a key developmental skill. When we are able to move away from our own, often fiercely selfish point of view, we are better equipped to make sense of things around us and do something helpful. There is no doubt that we need to lead with our minds. Every situation comes with its own set of hard data, findings, evidence, strategies and plans. We also need to learn to lead with our hearts: Emotional Intelligence involves finding the connection to the people behind the data. This is not just about being warm and fuzzy. It’s about taking responsibility for one’s own emotions and for one’s own relationships. It means having the courage to build (or rebuild) bridges to keep working relationships strong. Good emotional intelligence results in improved motivation and also in better collaboration. There are three simple things you can do to begin developing your Emotional Intelligence. First, pay attention to your emotions and understand the factors that trigger negative responses. For example, learn to recognize when you are just starting down the path toward losing your temper. This will help you develop the ability to control your reactions. Second, be aware of how others re-

Connecting Emotional Intelligence with your hard skills will improve your ability to lead well. leadership failure is due not to a lack of technical skills but to breakdowns in two areas: ethics and character. It turns out that both of those are closely connected to Emotional Intelligence. I discovered early on that I had the capability of shredding people with my words. I had enough emotional intelligence to know what to say for the greatest negative effect. I’m sure I’ll never fully understand the damage that I did to others. Thankfully, God changed my heart, and He used people and circumstance to help me see my behavior from the other side. The ability to see things from an-

spond to your presence. Ask yourself why people respond to you as they do— if you like the response, build on that. If not, learn to interact with others in ways that allow them to respond to you in positive ways. Consider the possibility that your varying emotions are creating discomfort and uncertainty for others. People seem drawn toward consistency. Third, take responsibility for fixing your broken relationships. This might involve deep humility training but if you find that you keep running into the same issues wherever you go, consider that you might be the one common variable. Seek to grow out of destructive patterns by identifying them and taking action toward change. Act in ways that build trust. Be careful to be respectful of all people, all the time. Connecting Emotional Intelligence with your hard skills will improve your ability to lead well. This has been demonstrated through studies of military, corporate and academic settings, though it may be even more important in informal, social settings. Living life with Emotional Intelligence requires honesty, compassion, courage and flexibility. The Apostle Paul wrote of the importance of “speaking the truth in love.” Emotional Intelligence demands an unfailing commitment to telling the truth and doing so in ways that are kind, compassionate, sensible. Sam Helgerson, PhD, is the program director for the Master’s program in Organizational Leadership and the assistant dean of Business and Leadership Programs at Bethel University. April 2014 | REFRESHED


sharp focus JASON SHARP

Living passionately with purpose If you pull a lollipop out of your mouth, you’ll see it. Wake up after a solid night’s sleep, and you may feel it on your pillow. Yes, I’m talking about spit, also known as saliva. Saliva is that clear liquid that’s made in your mouth 24 hours a day, every day. It’s made up mostly of water, with a few other chemicals produced by the salivary gland. Spit serves a purpose and is super for lots of reasons. For instance, saliva wets our food and makes it easier for us to swallow. Without saliva, a turkey sandwich would be dry and difficult to gulp down. It also helps the tongue by allowing you to taste. A dry tongue can’t


REFRESHED | April 2014

tell how things taste; it needs saliva to keep it wet. My mom told me never to do it, at least in public places. She must have known that in most communities in the United States, spitting in public is considered a minor crime, which could lead to a disorderly conduct offense or a $500 fine. God takes it seriously, too. I was raised in a Christian home. My parents took my two older siblings and me to church on Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night and every single night of revival. My parents even took us to evening church on Super Bowl Sunday. The Sharp’s were fully committed. I attended a Christian grade school, high school and college. I was active in my youth group and enjoyed church camp every summer. I was called to the ministry at the age of 13, and God would later reveal to me the ministry He called me to was the ministry of Christian radio, where I have worked my entire adult life. Despite “growing up Christian,” I fell into a lukewarm lifestyle and was neither “hot” nor “cold,” which means, sadly enough, that I have made Jesus sick. I should have understood that being tepid with my faith was/is an unacceptable way to live. In Revelation 3, Jesus warns us against the lukewarm effects of trusting in the things of this world rather than pursuing a dynamic relationship with Him. The city of Laodicea was famous for its wealth, but the Christians of the city were spiritually wretched, miserable and poor. We must not make the same mistake of giving up on our spiritual fervor only to become occupied by the things of this world. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you

are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16). One way to think about these verses is to see both “cold” and “hot” as positive terms. Cold water refreshes, hot water heals, but lukewarm water has no positive benefits. While most like it hot, to my dismay, some people like their coffee cold. However, I have yet to meet anyone who enjoys it lukewarm. In a similar way, Jesus would rather that you and I be cold or hot in our deeds, not apathetic. The church at Laodicea was useless to the Lord because they provided neither refreshment nor healing, only nausea that made Jesus sick, so He “spit” them out of His mouth. There is nothing mediocre, muted, halfhearted, so-so, indifferent, subdued or lukewarm about Jesus. How about you? In his book “The Ragamuffin Gospel,” Brennan Manning writes, “Anyone we come in contact with, we either offer them life, or we drain them.” You and I must ask ourselves: Do I provide spiritual refreshment to those around me, both believers and unbelievers, or do I exhaust them and encourage them to give up? Am I known for bringing others encouragement or discouragement? What am I indifferent about today that I once had spiritual fervor for? The Lord wants us either hot or cold. I encourage you to live passionately for Him, share His truth and make a difference with your life. Jason Sharp is station manager of 98.5 KTIS in the Twin Cities.

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purposeful parenting JIM JACKSON

Finding grace in our messes I’ve never been very good at requiring obedience of my kids. The reason? I myself struggle to obey. Oh, my disobedience isn’t obvious like theirs, but maybe that means it’s even worse. Where my kids were blatantly rude, I was secretly arrogant. If they were loudly demanding, I was quietly intimidating. I somehow felt superior to them and justified in my mandates. When the outside of the cup looks pretty clean, it sometimes hides what’s really happening on the inside. This came to light one day as I raked the yard. I wanted help but didn’t ask. When my son, Daniel, saw me from the front porch, I figured perhaps he’d naturally jump into action to help me. He was on the phone. He yelled over to me, “Can I go to Nate’s?” This would have been a perfect opportunity for me to help him understand the relationship between responsibility and privilege. I could easily have practiced good listening on the way to understanding and constructive problem solving. But I was irritated that my need hadn’t been noticed, and no offer of help was made. In my human anger, I was not thinking as cl cclearearly as I might. My


REFRESHED | April 2014

controlled response was sinful but not obvious: I acted like I hadn’t heard him. He disappeared into the house. I figured maybe he was going to get some work clothes on. He didn’t appear for a while and when he did I huffed, “Are you going to help me or not?” My inquiry triggered him. “Dad, get off my back!” he snapped. “You ignored me. Why should I help you?” This wasn’t like him, and I felt a bit stunned. “No kid of mine gets away acting like that!” I thought to myself. I knew something was off here, and so I felt unsure about what to say. In the pause, Daniel announced, “I’m leaving.” I took a deep breath. For the first time that morning, I wanted to clear my head and speak wisely. I realized that Daniel’s wasn’t the only problem to address. In my sophisticated grown-up way, I was as guilty of misbehavior as he was. Many of us have learned that it is a parent’s job to require obedience. But if we are going to “require obedience,” we’d best be obedient ourselves. If out of our o own sin we require ki kids to behave, go a setup for we’ve got trouble of all kinds. An A nd who of us, if And ful honest, can fully es escape our own sin in the quest for our children’s obedience. So Something more is n needed in the dis discipline process— cess—something rarel considered rarely when te teaching par-

ents to “be the parent.” Humility. Wisdom. Patience. Grace. These attributes catalyze effective discipline. As Daniel turned to walk away, I was still unsure what to say, and I knew that any efforts to require him to do the right thing at this moment would still be infused with my own selfishness.

In my sophisticated grown-up way, I was as guilty of misbehavior as he was. So I simply said: “I’m sad I ignored you. I’m not ready to be respectful to you yet. Why don’t you go ahead to Nate’s, and we’ll connect later to figure this out?” I then took another deep breath, smiled and said, “I love you.” Daniel smiled and winked and said, “I love you more.” Some might think Daniel got off the hook here. He didn’t. I just wanted to make sure that when I addressed him, my heart was settled. As we sorted it all out later that day, he admitted to feeling bad about how he’d treated me. He apologized and offered to work extra time the next day on whatever chores I assigned. He followed through with a great attitude. What I learned that day is that thoughtful kindness really does lead to repentance (see Romans 2:14). Real life gives us constant opportunities for such kindness. If we watch for them. Are you watching? Jim Jackson is the cofounder of Connected Families, author, speaker and parent mentor. Learn more at www.

April 2014 | REFRESHED


here’s to good health WENDIE PETT

Mind over blubber: 7 habits to eat more mindfully You probably know the feeling—that sensation of “Awwww, this tastes heavenly!” followed quickly by “I could eat the entire package!” Often, so begins a downward spiral that leads us to crave foods that trigger an appetite for more. It’s a fact—most of us live to eat. Studies show that more than 1 in 5 adults are overweight, a third of which are obese, and we’re not even talking about children. Our society has gotten larger and not necessarily geographically. The mind is a wonderful thing. Our brains instinctively know the body’s energy needs. It also knows that our brains crave certain foods that create a feelgood boost of energy, one that sometimes lends itself to overeating—most frequently for the foods that aren’t good for us and/or prompt us to overeat. Today’s popular foods and beverages (think carbs, certain oils, soft drinks, processed foods and chocolate) have a knack for tricking our brains. It’s the empty-calorie food items that greatly heighten euphoric, “happy” feelings. Refined carbs (i.e., empty-calorie foods) have a way of making us feel good. Our desire for more empty-calorie

foods increases, and we fill ourselves with mood foods such as white bread, pasta, cake, cookies and chocolates. The result: a downward spiral, healthwise, and waistlines that show it. But what can we do about it? We’ve been ensnared by dopamine—the devilish neurotransmitter that’s heavily involved in the pleasure center within the brain. The dopamine neurotransmitter is only as good as those who put it to good use. Common symptoms of dopamine’s deceptive chemical release within the body could include mood changes, focus issues, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, and, in particular, compulsive overeating resulting in weight gain. As a brain neurotransmitter, dopamine influences alertness, attention, creativity and concentration, to name a few. Dopamine also affects brain processes that control movement and emotional response. Too little dopamine leaves us in craving mode (whetting our needs for food, stimulation, energy, even sex, etc.) while too much could potentially lead to addiction behaviors. In fact, many processed food companies bank on this behavior. Even some of their advertising is blatantly telling

you their product is addictive. Remember the Lay’s potato chip ad? They tell you, “I bet you can’t eat just one.” You see, they already know the hidden truth behind their ingredients. Unfortunately, many people don’t discover that truth until it shows up in their poor health. It’s time to fight back! The next time you find yourself constantly going back to the candy dish or the chip bag, remind yourself that your mind’s playing tricks on you, and it can’t fully help it. You are what you eat! Your brain is only begging for more “feel good” foods that ultimately make you feel bad. So, eat healthy foods (which is what your body really wants) and curb your desire to eat unhealthy treats.

Here are a few tips:

Water is a wonderful filler, and it does a body good. Drink a glass before every meal. Don’t buy anything at the grocery store that isn’t healthy. If you buy it, you’ll eat it! Bypass the person at the office who always has the “treats” on his or her desk. Say “no” to fast food drive-thru restaurants. Eat more greens! Your body is craving vitamins and minerals … not junk food. Prepare your healthy meals ahead of time for the week. You’ll save money and calories. At restaurants, ask for a “to-go” box right away and put half of your meal in it. Out of sight … out of mind! Wendie Pett is a nationally-renowned fitness expert and coach, mother, TV host, speaker, author and creator of the Visibly Fit™ exercise program. To learn more,



REFRESHED | April 2014

Mn Adult & Teen Challenge

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Is Chemo Always THE Answer? Try something new today, try to think differently. Consider that not all cancers are the same, that the CAUSE can be as diverse and unique as each individual patient. Consider that there IS a reason WHY behind EVERY SINGLE CANCER, and that chemotherapy is not the only solution available. There is hope for every cancer patient and it can BEGIN with a natural, safe and complementary approach. Integrative Cancer Therapy is our passion and our mission. Find Hope Today.

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April 2014 | REFRESHED



Opposites attract Pop artists have written songs about it, and we’ve all heard the phrase “opposites attract.” But what happens once the initial sparks lead to daily marriage interactions? The attraction of differences in each other that brings us together is often the thing that can drive us nuts. If we’ve learned anything in our 14 years of marriage, it’s this: We are really different! Our general personalities, approaches to work and family, and perspectives are all more dissimilar than alike. Some differences are obvious and make sense. Other things, such as how we approach work or parenting, are initially less noticeable, but we have found these cause a significant rub. Waiting for the other person to change—to see it our way or be more like us—just isn’t going to happen. When we first met, some of our differences didn’t seem as important, and like most couples early in a relationship, we found ways to compromise. But somewhere along the line, the little things start to add up. We can think of these differences as toxic to our relationship. They cause frus-

be freeing. The things about our spouse that are attractive to us will in some way contrast with our natural disposition. In other words, we need each other. It has been our experience that by recognizing and valuing our differences, they can become strengths instead of detriments to our relationship. This certainly isn’t easy or always comfortable, but it fundamentally allows for love and respect. In talking with other couples about this topic, we can see that our differences don’t have to drive us apart. They can actually make us better. Marriages with an absence of conflict are not fundamentally stronger nor do they necessarily last longer. Instead, it is those relationships that have experienced significant differences but which both partners have worked to address that survive, even thrive. One helpful way to frame this is a quote attributed to Count Zinzendorf of the Moravians: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” This can be applied by thinking about

Waiting for the other person to change… just isn’t going to happen. tration and often get discussed in unhealthy ways, leading to one partner feeling disrespected or unloved. Negative patterns develop around behavior and around the communication about those behaviors. We start to worry that we’re “just not wellsuited” for one another. But there is another way to look at our differences. One of the principles of positive psychology is that we may never be great at certain things or fundamentally come to change our weak areas. In marriage, that might sound fatalistic, but it can also


REFRESHED | April 2014

what things unite us and what our nonnegotiables are. Throughout the course of our relationship and through the ongoing challenges of being different, a few things have been unifying, essential elements. The first is our shared faith, which brings the humility and accountability needed to work things out. Another is our similar sense of humor. Our differences still often cause frustration, but changing our fundamental frame of reference about them gives us hope to see them as assets. Those things that were originally attractive about one another ultimately still appeal to us. Instead of seeing our differences as unresolvable tensions, they can be viewed as hallmarks of relational growth. We make that choice every day. Here are some questions you might find as good conversation starters around this topic: • In what ways are we opposites? How might these differences play out as negatives? How might they be seen as positives? • What are the essentials of our marriage that we want to be unified around? Are there things that are non-essentials where we can give leeway to each other? • How do we rely on our differences or lean into each other’s strengths? In what ways could we do this more? 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.

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April 2014 | REFRESHED


inspired living TERRANCE ROLLERSON

Reclaiming your joy The desire for happiness has probably reached its peak in our culture today. This is an innate drive found in every person’s nature. Everyonae wants to be happy and seeks it in varying ways and with varying degrees of intensity. We desire bigger homes, boats, planes and vacation homes. More alcohol, money, titles, food and drugs. All of these areas and many others can lead us down many roads, trying to find the thing that gives joy, but we continually find only emptiness. King Solomon conducted a series of experiments in a quest to get the most and best out of life. His experiments not only included most of those things listed above but also laughter, the finest wines, wisdom and building projects that were the envy of the world. He built houses for himself, planted vineyards and gardens, built water pools, acquired male and female servants, male and female singers and musicians, herds and flocks that were unparalleled, silver and gold and valuable treasures. Solomon said: “I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem ‌ whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them ‌ I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure ‌. Then

I looked on all the works that my hands had done ‌ and found it to be nothing but vanity and a striving after windâ€? (Ecclesiastes 2:1-12, emphasis added). As a result, Solomon reasoned, “I completely despaired of all the labor in which I had toiled under the sun ‌ it was all vanityâ€? (Ecclesiastes 2:20-25). Solomon admitted that his quest rewarded him with a degree of joy, yet he still found that it did not satisfy him. Most people think they would have had an endless amount of joy were they as blessed as Solomon was, but Solomon concluded that it is God who determines whether or not we experience joy (Ecclesiastes 2:26). The experiences of people the world over tell us that no matter how secure and wonderful their sources of joy may be, human joy does not last long. Biblical joy is inseparable from our relationship with God, and springs from our knowledge and understanding of the purpose of life and the hope of living with God for eternity when there will be joy evermore. Joy is the sign that life has found its purpose and its reason for being.

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Christ’s message to us is that joy is possible at all times if we live as He commands us to live. Those who were listening to Jesus’ discourse at the time were hoping that He would conquer Rome and set up a Jewish empire. They all wanted their circumstances changed so that they could be happy, but Jesus did not fix their circumstances or set up an earthly kingdom. Still He said that they could be happy if, and only if, they let the kingdom of Christ rule in their hearts. We were not created for joy that is circumstantial in nature. Our circumstances have the tendency to send us into valleys of despair where we not only get lost, but we build houses and begin to live there. It is one thing to fall into a valley and another something to begin to live in that valley. To experience the secret of joy, we must carefully reflect on the path of joy as it is outlined in Scripture. Twice in Philippians 4:4, Paul gives this command, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say rejoice.� Just because God’s Spirit dwells within us does not mean that we will necessarily experience joy— we must make a choice to let Christ be our joy. When we falter in our faith, we try to manufacture our own joy and that is simply not possible, because God is its author and the perfecter of our joy. Only when we find our happiness in the person of Christ can we experience true joy. Rev. Terrance J. Rollerson is pastor of The Compass Covenant Church in St. Paul.

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that’s life! JOANNE BROKAW

Adding up my ignorance There’s been a lot of talk lately about Common Core, the new national education initiative, and the way students are now being taught to do basic math. From what I can understand, based on this example of Sam and his marbles, kids don’t just add two numbers to get one answer. They “decompose” numbers and perform several additional problems to solve the original problem. I’ve been told that this process allows students to learn “various strategies to solve addition and subtraction problems.” But why complicate something just because you can? Eight plus 7 will always be 15, no matter how much you decompose it. I confess that I (obviously) don’t know much about math or Common Core and the debate over its evils or merit. What I do know is that if this is the way kids are being taught today, I would never survive elementary school. Back then, I barely knew my own name. Picture this: It’s the first day of first grade and the bright classroom is filled with eager students sitting quietly at their desks. The teacher calls the roll, gently sounding out names which are answered with a “here” by child after child. She finishes with the Zs and asks, “Is there anyone whose name I didn’t call?” I raise my hand. “What’s your last name, dear?” “Keltz,” I answer, embarrassed as all eyes turn to me. We’re sure I’m in the wrong room, and even first-graders know when to savor someone else’s pain. “Oh! I did call your name, sweetheart.” She smiles and puts a checkmark on her list. “Elizabeth J. Keltz.” “No, my name isn’t Elizabeth,” I reply, frightened, because I’m the center of attention, and pleased, because I am the center of attention, and curious, because someone else in the room has the


REFRESHED | April 2014

same last name as I do. “I’m Joanne.” “I see,” she says with a puzzled look on her face, and calls the office secretary, who calls my parents, only to find out that, in fact, I am Elizabeth J. Keltz— the “J” being Joanne. Now I’m puzzled, because I’m pretty sure no one ever told me that. I’ve redeemed myself as the kid who couldn’t find the right classroom, but am now forever pegged as the firstgrader who doesn’t know her own name. What a stupid-head. Things apparently got a little better over the years, as evidenced by my fourth-grade report card. The teacher gave me high marks in language arts, science and social studies. But in mathematics? She wrote, “Joanne could use more work on the fast recall of multiplication and division facts, especially those involving 7, 8 and 9.” (She also wrote that I offer “a great deal to our class discussions,” which I think was a polite way of saying I talked a lot.) To be honest, I still have trouble with my multiplication facts, especially those involving 7, 8, and 9. (And it will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I still talk a lot.) But I’m not stupid. Sure, I’m not the first person you’d call if you needed to divide a cookie into three equal pieces so that everyone got the same number of chocolate chips. And yet I’ve still managed to grow up to be a reasonably successful adult with a keen interest in learning, someone who can carry on an intelligent conversation on myriad topics. But even I admit there’s a lot of stuff they taught in school that I never learned. I did learn at an early age that touching frogs won’t give you warts. But even though I took high school biology, I can’t dissect a frog or tell you where its vital organs are located, even if said frog is already partially dissected by the

blades of a lawn mower. While I’m sure that knowledge of frog anatomy comes in handy for some adults, the less complicated fact—hat frogs aren’t contagious—has been far more useful to me. I really stole the show at my brother-in-law’s outdoor wedding, for example, when I caught a frog with my bare hands. And that’s my point. Learning should be about solving problems, not creating more of them. Forget complex math. Teach kids how to chase and then catch a frog at a dinner party (with bonus points for doing it in a dress and heels). That’s a core skill that’ll actually come in handy later in life. 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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April 2014 | REFRESHED



REFRESHED | April 2014

Refreshed Twin Cities • April 2014  

Refreshed is a monthly, faith-based lifestyle magazine that features informative and thought-provoking columns, inspirational articles, huma...

Refreshed Twin Cities • April 2014  

Refreshed is a monthly, faith-based lifestyle magazine that features informative and thought-provoking columns, inspirational articles, huma...