How is God working in your life?



The Apostle Paul writes, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” This Sunday our ‘daily bread’ is from Philippians 2:12-18. I encourage you to read and reflect on these verses and consider how God is working in your life or you might ask yourself, what are things that hinder God’s work in my life?

Sheila Walsh tells us, “His Beauty and Grace shine through my brokenness.” Our witness and gift to those who do not yet know Christ is our life surrendered to Jesus so that His beauty and grace shine through our brokenness. Have you ever thought that your brokenness is the bridge to Christ and to others?

Thank you to Mike Maas for sharing last Sunday how God is working in his life through Pilot Outreach Prison ministry. This Sunday we will be blessed to hear Kari Eckenberg Kanneshare part of her story. Come and be blessed at 8:15, 9:30 or 11:00 at Central in Elk River. Join us as we purposefully stop and consider how God wants to grow us through our hurts, habits and hangups.

Paul Johansson

P.S. We will commission three groups at worship; the Lake Geneva Campers, the Tanzania Mission team and the Costa Rica Mission team.

WOW – Great Week at CBC!


WOW! What a great week at Community Bible Camp!

  • 379 children were registered
  • 168 volunteers ranging from 12 to 89 years old loved the children
  • 9 churches were represented from the community
  • $3708.34 was donated by the children to The Reel Hope Project (a CBC record!)

Bailey Gerdes shared, “We were blessed with incredible weather, volunteers, worship music, crafts, games, snack, and storytelling. The kiddos learned how they are victorious through courage, faith, unity, strength, and most importantly Jesus! I’ve heard many stories of how God worked within volunteers, groups, and kiddos all week and if you’d like to hear them, I’d love to tell you!”


THANK YOU to Joy Goodwin, Bailey Gerdes and all the members of Centrals Children’s and Family Ministry team for all your work and witness this past week! THANK YOU to so many of the members of Central for your prayers, financial support and volunteer efforts to make CBC such a great week! Tomorrow at worship we will be blessed to have a short video giving us a glimpse of the great week!

Hope to be with many of you tomorrow as we gather for worship around one of the most magnificent passages of Scripture about Jesus found in Philippians 2:5-11. Mike Maas will also be sharing his story of how God is working in his life!

Paul Johansson

In Remembrance of Mary Becker


Thanks be to God for the life and memory of Mary Louise Becker. Mary was born September 10, 1936 and went to be with the Lord on July 6, 2017.

She was preceded by in death by her husband, Dennis Becker; daughter, Carrie Becker; brothers, Earl Dornfeld Jr. and Clarence Dornfeld. Mary is survived by children, Ken (Sarah) Nygren, Scott (Chris) Nygren, Debbie Becker, Tom (Dawn) Nygren, Jody (Brock) Becker Bloemke, 10 Grandchildren; 3 great-grandchildren; brother, Richard (Joan) Dornfeld; other family and friends.

A memorial service for Mary will be at 11:00AM, Thursday, July 20, 2017 at Central Lutheran Church, 1103 School Street NW, Elk River, with one hour visitation prior to service. Lunch will follow the service. The Psalmist declares “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.”

Pastor Johansson

It’s All About Growing


“To live is Christ and to die is gain.” – Philippians 1:21

At the heart of our life is JESUS CHRIST! This Sunday our food is from Philippians 1:19-26. The Apostle Paul writes “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  In his letters Paul uses the phrase “in Christ” over 200 times. As followers or disciples of Jesus we do not merely believe truths and facts about Jesus; we are people in whom Jesus Christ lives and dwells. The miracle of being a disciple is that through the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ resides in us and we in him.

We are “in Christ” not because we’ve agreed to adhere to certain doctrines and behaviors, nor because we have a lot in common. We are one because of Jesus Christ’s presence in each one of us. What does this mean? On Sunday, we will reflect on what Paul declares, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Begin to ask what this means for you. What does it mean for you to stake your life on the truth “to die is gain”? What does it mean for you to stake your life on the truth “to live is Christ”?

This Sunday Pam Wagner is going to share part of her story as to how “God works in our choices.” Thanks to Roger and Jay for sharing the last two Sundays and thanks to Pam for sharing this coming Sunday. If you sense God calling you to share how God is working in your life speak to Ryan, Sonja or me.


Community Bible Camp

Hello Everyone!

We are under three weeks away from our 2017 Community Bible Camp! Community Bible Camp is a FREE camp for kids ages 4 through those in 5th grade in the Elk River and surrounding communities. This year Community Bible Camp will be July 9th-13th from 6pm-8:45pm in Lions Park. We are able to offer a free camp because we have many wonderful volunteers, and a generous congregation who understand the importance of sharing Jesus’ love. That is why I’m here today! 

Central has a goal to sponsor 220 kids who will be attending this years camp and we need your help! We are 84 kids away from reaching our goal. ONLY 84 KIDS!  We estimate it costs about $10 per child to attend for the full week. The best part, during the week, kiddos from our congregation and across the Elk River Community get to spend time together in fellowship and fun, all while learning about Jesus in a safe and loving environment! 

I’m here today to ask of you for three things!

1. Volunteer! We are in need of volunteers who love Jesus, love kids, and want to help make a difference within the Elk River Community.

2. Sponsor! If you are financially able, I’m asking you to consider sponsoring a child to attend camp. Because of sponsorships we are able to keep this event free for the entire     community. 

3. Pray! Last but certainly not least pray! Pray for the volunteers, families and community members who will be attending this year’s camp. 

Just click the button below to be taken to the website to sponsor a child, register to volunteer, or register your child to attend. 


If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to myself or Central’s main office.  

Again, thank you for your support and prayers! We are SO excited for this year’s Community Bible Camp!  



Bailey Gerdes
Associate Director of Children & Family Ministry
Central Lutheran Church
1103 School Street NW
Elk River MN 55330
Office 763-270-1126
Cell 763-232-3068

In Remembrance of Don Eckstrom


Thanks be to God for the life and memory of Donald Lee Eckstrom. Don was born May 28, 1945 and died on Wednesday, May 31, 2017. 

Don is survived by wife Carole of Otsego; daughter Wendy (Clay) Lacey of Rockwall, TX; son Robert Eckstrom of St. Louis Park, MN; grandsons Hayden and Brennan Lacey of Rockwall; father-in-law Lloyd Schleicher of McIntosh, MN; and many other relatives and dear friends. He was preceded in death by twin sons; his parents; brother, Wally Eckstrom; sister, Patty Eckstrom; and mother-in-law, Gladys Schleicher.

Memorial service to be held Thursday, June 29 at 11 am at Central Lutheran Church, 1103 School St. NW, Elk River, MN. Visitation 1 hour prior to service. Private interment at later date. We will gather in the promise of I Thessalonians 4:14, “We believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” 

 We pray for Carole and her family as we entrust Don to the never-ending love and mercy of God. May the Lord give each of us a heart of wisdom and teach us to number our days so that we will live in righteousness all the days of our lives.

Paul Johansson

A Passport to get Unstuck

Our summer journey through Philippians, FROM STUCK TO FORWARD, begins this Sunday! Our starting point is Philippians 1:6; “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” Do you know that you can have a passport to being unstuck?

How is God working in and through your life? So many in this body are feeling stuck BUT what if they are not stuck? What if they come to know that their brokenness is an opportunity to encounter God’s mercy, grace and favor instead? So, the question becomes, “How do we connect with God’s favor?” Quick answer: Ask a good question! The starting point in discovering God’s favor and kindness is always: “Father, what is your highest good for me in this situation?”

 This question lifts me to a place of looking to “the one who began a good work among us and will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.”  Discovering God’s favor is a growing focus on our privilege in Christ. This means that there is going to be a continuous growth in being filled by the Holy Spirit. We are continually lifted from where we are to the place where God sees us in Christ. Favor overwhelms us with who God is for us! It is where we are esteemed, approved and accepted by God Himself and we experience the peace and purpose of God which passes all human understanding.

To stay stuck is to not see ourselves as God sees us. Perhaps the enemy or circumstances has blurred your focus and you don’t see yourself as God sees you. This summer may each of us, no matter what our circumstances shout at us, experience God’s favor. And remember, the evidence and result of God’s favor is that in every circumstance, event, situation and relationship, we are becoming more like Jesus.


P.S. This Sunday we welcome 31 new members to Central! A reception in the lobby will take place to welcome these new brothers and sister in Jesus Christ. The Church Council will also be installed for their leadership amongst us this next fiscal year.

The Kiss of God!

What’s that all about? A Pastor acquaintance of mine from North Carolina wrote the book, The Kiss of God: 27 Lessons on the Holy Spirit. 

This Sunday we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birthday of the Church of Jesus Christ. Ten days after Jesus Christ ascended into the heavens the Holy Spirit was poured out on the followers of Jesus on Pentecost. My prayer for worship is that each one of us will be freshly filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. At each worship, we will have five prayer stations where you can come and offer yourself afresh to be used as an instrument of the Holy Spirit. Please join me praying that the Spirit of will descend upon our heart.

We also will be honoring our High School graduates and gathering for our congregational meeting at 12:00Noon in the Family Life Center. As I think of our graduates leaving High School and beginning this next season of their lives my prayer for them (and for each of us) is;


Take me where you want me to go;

Let me meet who you want me to meet;

Tell me what you want me to say;

And keep me out of your way.



Hope to see you on Sunday!

Paul Johansson

Jack Rustad


Thanks be to God for the life and memory of Jack Rustad. Jack was born on August 20, 1964 and died on Saturday, May 202017. Jack is survived by wife, Siri (Spong); twin sons, Ian & Soren; step-mother, Carol; Sisters, Cindy (Kurt) Wachtler; Linda (Greg) Miller; Becky (Randy) Evans Slone; Connie (Terry) Wagner; Laurie Denning; brothers, Phil (Cathy) Benson; Jim (Mary) Rustad; Brian (Mary) Benson; Rob (Renee) Benson; and many nieces and nephews. He was also dearly loved by the Spong family; Larry; Rick (Maryanne); and Amy (Matthew Nordby), and their children. Jack is preceded in death by his parents and 1 younger brother.

A Memorial service will be held at 11:00 on Friday, June 2, at Central. Visitation from 5:00 – 8:00 PM on Thursday, June 1, at Dare’s Funeral home, 805 Main Street NW, Elk River, MN 55330 Also at 1 hour prior to service at church.

Psalm 46 declares that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.”



HAPPY ASCENSION DAY! 40 days ago we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus. Today we celebrate his Ascension. 10 days from now we celebrate the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. The story of Jesus’ Ascension is told in Luke 24:49, Mark 16:19 and Acts 1:2-9. Putting these accounts together, we find that after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples and others. He spoke about the Kingdom of God and the coming of the Holy Spirit. After 40 days of appearances, Jesus was ascended.

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth. And when 
he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

According to Augustine of Hippo, the Ascension originated with the Apostles and is one of the oldest celebrations of Jesus, possibly going as far back as AD 68. Whether or not we actually celebrate Ascension Day, it does reminds us that JESUS is now present at all times and in all places! It is a reminder that that we are part of the Kingdom of God and of the ever-present Holy Spirit living within us and through us. 1 Peter 1:3 reminds us of our hope.

Colossians 1:15-20 is a beautiful and indescribable picture of the power, presence and mystery of the Ascended Christ. Jesus Christ is with you at all times and in all places. May
you know Christ this day!

Paul Johansson

P.S. I look forward to worshipping with many of you this Memorial Weekend. We will begin each worship with a time of remembrance for those who have gone before us.

Sunday Worship

8:15 am – Traditional
9:30 am – Blended
11:00 am – Innovations

Learn more about Worship


Central Lutheran Church
1103 School Street

Elk River, MN 55330

(763) 441-2363