ERIKKA SHEPP BIRTHDAY!

TRIBUTE FROM YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER!!

1  YOU BOUNCE BACK.

You rebound. If you get down, you don’t stay down. You let God or people take you back up.

2  YOU CARE FOR PEOPLE.

Makes you a really good friend. You love your siblings and they know it. Your commitment goes deep.

3  YOU ARE INTENSE.

You don’t go halfway. Makes you fun to connect with. When you are in, you are all in. Life was more exciting in the Anderson house when you came along. You were number four, but you held your own with three sibs ahead of you.

4  YOU ARE HONEST.

You speak the truth, even when it can be hard to receive. Because you are a woman of integrity, you don’t withhold things that can be of help to people, even if it may hurt. And at the other end, you are willing to receive it as well.

5  YOU AND DREW MAKE A GREAT ACT.

Quite a combination. You make it happen—between the two of you. You are both highly capable leader types. You deserve each other. I suspect that hell was not happy when you said “I do” to each other. Two for two!

6  YOU ADD TO EVERY SITUATION YOU WALK INTO, 

whether a group of women, some couples, a church gathering, or a family picnic. People want to be with you, because you exude joy. It comes out of you in life-giving ways. Just does. It is not that you are pushy; it is that you are positive and you are Erikka.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KAREN!

July 10

1  YOU LOVE ME WITH ALL MY FAULTS. 

Neither one of us has ever even whispered the word “divorce.” We’re having too much fun. But it’s not always easy. And when I get on you, I am thankful that you forgive me (and vice versa).

2 YOU ARE A WONDERFUL GRANDMOTHER.

Your kids know without a doubt that you love their kids. You do a great job of showing that you care. I am learning from you how to be a grandparent. We didn’t get any training for it.

3  YOU HAVE ACCEPTED A DIFFICULT LIFESTYLE.

The Ranch was a busy place, and you accepted it. Long live the queen. The Ranch is almost sold now, and 26 years of memories are history. But we still choke up when we remember the goodness of God in the midst of craziness. Thanks for being willing!

4  YOU LIVE WELL WITH ME.

I live out of the box. I am often inconsistent. I forget many things. You said “yes” to a style of life that would not work for many wives and mothers. That is maybe why God is now blessing you with all the little ones.

5  YOU ARE MORE JAPANESE THAN PEOPLE REALIZE.

That means “reserved, cautious, private.” Yeah, right! Did someone say, “Ranch!?” 

8 WAYS YOU CAN BE A BETTER DAD!

1 “Father” and “friend” are two different words. Kids need a dad. Let children their age be their friend. They need someone to bring order (eating together, communicating, chores, family devotions). Fathers who ignore these things should not be surprised at more chaos than peace. 

2 Be a child first. You are a son of the Father. The more you understand sonship, the better you will get fatherhood. The closer you are to the Father, the better you will father your children. We have been adopted into God’s family, chosen by the Creator, and we will always belong. We will never be alone, never without purpose or a future. Translate those realities to your children.

3 Understand vulnerability. I wish all fathers could have a meeting like we had a few years ago. It started with Andrew writing an email to his siblings, acknowledging his shortcomings as an elder brother. It continued with Gabriel, second brother in line, asking forgiveness of his siblings for arguing and joking. The atmosphere in the air led to a meeting that changed the way we did life at our house including Dad & Mom. When parents are vulnerable, they release grace into the air, making it easier for children to share their struggles and failures. I wish my dad and I had talked more about hard issues. Dad, how about asking your kids to share with you where you have failed them as a father?

4 Serve your wife. The children will know if you are laying down your life or primarily going after a career. If the kids see that you and Mom are not in unity, they will play one off against the other. Unity at the top brings unity to the family. The best marriage advice I received came from Jesus, not about marriage–about life: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34). It took me a long time to learn how to lay down my life, but when I got it, things changed. Marriage is not about doing your own thing.

5 Discipline with love. The kind that comes from heaven is deliberate, not reactionary, and it is given to strengthen character, purposeful rather than punitive. God doesn’t go from a 2 to an 8 in ten seconds. He is slow to anger. You don’t ever need to raise your voice. My dad didn’t–ever. I grew up knowing I was loved and cherished. We were never yelled at.

6 Be present. Many children have father wounds because of absentee fathers who have convinced their children that the job environment is more important than the home. They seem to say to the wife, “You raise the kids; I will raise the money.” Family does not work that way. We worship a Father who is the most accessible person in the universe. “I called–He answered.” Be available, and especially in times of children’s greatest joy and greatest sorrow.

7 Emotions matter. You want more than facts. Find out how your kids are feeling about you, life, school, themselves, God, the opposite sex. Probe. Where are they struggling, hurting, questioning? What are they afraid of, hoping for?  Wish my dad had done more of that–me too.


8 Focus more on identity than behavior. If you focus primarily on behavior, you will not get the behavior that you are desiring. My dad said often, “Remember who you are.” Identity drives destiny!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ISRAEL!

I am only two weeks late. Here is what your mom and I love about you:

1 YOU ARE PLAYFUL.

You always have been, from the time you were small. The way it comes out now is in your love of a good story. You are often telling me the latest joke or showing me something on the internet that we can laugh at together. You help people to lighten up. What a gift.

2  YOU ARE ALWAYS LEARNING.

Wasn’t that way in younger days. You didn’t know you were smart. You thought you might be stupid. My, were you wrong. Now you have a thirst for learning, beyond what I see in anyone I know. That encourages me to be a seeker as well. You are contagious! You wanted to learn about the stock market–and you did REALLY well! You learned how to do a makeover of your house. WOW! I marvel at the challenges you take on–and you succeed!

3  YOU ARE MERCIFUL.

Jesus was “full of grace and truth.” You balance those two well. Those strong on truth but weak on grace can be judgmental. Not Israel. Those strong on grace and weak on truth can compromise the absolutes. Not Israel. I love the phrase in James: “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” It always does in your life. 

4  YOU ARE A GOOD FATHER AND HUSBAND.

I see you up close. You do both well. Because grace is strong in your life, you are willing to cut people slack, making relationships stronger. I see you working at being an even better father and husband. You don’t settle in like you have arrived. I appreciate your intentionality. Not easy to be a parent of three young ones. You do it well! And I know you are always working on your marriage, because we get to watch the kids sometimes on your dates!

5  YOU EXCEL AT WHAT YOU DO.

I suspect that you are one of the best  climbers at the gym. You make impossible movements look easy. You have become an expert craftsman. How did that happen? You were at the top of your class in college. 

Mom and I are proud of you. So are your sibs!

Love to you now and always!

CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF MINISTRY

Dear Friends of my Dad, Paul Anderson: June, 2021

I am writing in gratitude to God for giving my father a half century of fruitful ministry. After graduating from UCLA in 1966 and Luther Seminary in 1970, he served at Trinity Lutheran Church in San Pedro, California under Larry Christenson. When Larry moved to Minnesota in 1981, Dad became senior pastor, a position he held until 1995. Then he followed Pastor Christenson again, this time as director of Lutheran Renewal. That meant moving the family to the Twin Cities, except for me. I stayed to continue college. He traded St. Peter (San Pedro) for St. Paul, saying goodbye to 25 rich years at Trinity, to five sisters and many relatives. This opened the door to the yearly Holy Spirit Conference and much travel around the country and the world. It is rare that he goes solo, instead making it a team experience. Dad and Mom would include us in family ministry trips, too–locally and abroad as we got older.  Dad is still trying to include us. I may join him in Latvia in the late fall.

Dad has done a lot of writing, including a monthly periodical called “Especially for Pastors” (that he should publish), four books, a successful study booklet called “Building Christian Character,” a training book called “A Manual for Prayer Ministry”, and countless articles that often showed up in periodicals. His friend Pastor Eric Bluhm once said, “Paul is the only person I know who has no unpublished thought.” He continues to write and has 2 books nearing publication. He also does a regular blog, which you could find on pastorpaulanderson.com.

Dad has made friends around the world. I got to be with him for one of his multiple trips to Norway. For many years he has traveled regularly to Brazil. He often connects with friends in Latvia, having been there ten times. He recently did a zoom seminar with pastors and leaders of the Lutheran Church in Latvia. He will be doing one this summer for Latvian young adults. 

Speaking of young adults, they have consistently been his primary target (along with leaders). I led an overhaul of the Ranch (the name dubbed for the Anderson house) in 2010, because our house was being overrun by young people. We added 1700 feet, making it just under 6000. That almost gave us enough room for the young adults who were filling our basement every week. We once counted 163 at our Tuesday night meeting. Hundreds of lives were transformed in that basement and in the mentoring that went on virtually non-stop. Many lived in our home, up to ten at a time. Dad would sometimes find young people he hardly knew on couches in the basement on Wednesday morning.

I graduated from a seminary my dad founded in 2001 called “The Master’s Institute.” A year later he started a network called “The Alliance of Renewal Churches” (ARC). He also founded a young adult discipleship school (The Harvest Project) that two of my siblings attended. He is now working on starting a network of house churches in the Twin Cities and beyond. 

Legacy seems to be a fitting word.  My dad has been a father to more than us six kids. And at 77 (in a few days) he continues to mentor us–and them. It is simply what he does–always has. Mom, of course, has said a solid “yes” to this kind of life and has participated fully in this venture, though she clings to her primary role these days as “Bachan,” Japanese for “grandmother” (to 16 so far). Time to honor fifty years of ministry.  I don’t think I could convince Dad to retire any time soon, especially since he hit his sweet spot in his 60s.  And it’s only gotten sweeter.  Besides, he says that he probably has at least twenty good years of ministry left. 

Here is to my father, my mentor, my example, my friend! We are proud of you, Dad! 

Joyfully and thankfully, 

Andrew Anderson (& my five siblings)

PASSING YOUR TEST! (part 2)

9 TRUTHS ABOUT TESTS:

3  TESTS ARE OF VARIOUS KINDS.

Tests are like workouts that put stress on different parts of the body. “Count it all joy when you face trials of various kinds…” They produce muscle. Short-term pain=long-term gain. Behind the pain is the purpose. Moses chose short-term pain, affliction with the people of God, “rather than enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25). Good decision, Moses!

4  TESTS DEVELOP CHARACTER.

“…knowing that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness.”  Persevere! We are in this for the long haul. We want to finish well, not just start well. God wants to graduate you, not flunk you. Tests are made to pass. “…so that the proof of your faith, more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:7). Paul ran a great race (2 Timothy 4:6-8), persevered, and finished strong. Demas left his race for worldly pleasures (4:9,10). How tragic. He was part of the apostolic band, but he quit!

5  TESTS GET HARDER AS YOU GROW STRONGER.

Look at the test to Abraham (Genesis 22). Graduate school is harder than grade school. Keep in mind that if it doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t help. For a test to be a test, it must test us. But just so you know, God wants you to graduate with honors. He is not interested in failing you.

6  TESTS CAN CONFUSE. ASK FOR WISDOM.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). It’s okay to ask God what’s going on. It’s not ok to complain about the test.

7  TESTS PASSED BRING A REWARD.

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12). God showed up in the fiery furnace and in the lion’s den. Daniel learned that God reveals mysteries and gave him lessons in great mysteries. God sees you as a champion. If you have struggled with anxiety and yet pass your tests, you come to know the God of peace. If you have had to live without and seen God come through, you come to know the God of provision. You have learned to live above the circumstances, not under them,

8  TESTS PASSED BRING A PROMOTION.

Joseph was tested for 13 years before becoming prime minister in Egypt. David was tested for 13 years before becoming king of Israel. Pass your tests and prepare for promotion.

“…perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Wow. Tests are a gift, not a nuisance.

9  TESTS PRODUCE A TESTIMONY.

We had a massive flood in our basement a week after I had spoken about tests. God used it to build a testimony. God is always with you in the tests He allows or brings. And you will testify to His goodness and faithfulness–like Daniel, David, Joseph, and Abraham!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ISRAEL!

6 THINGS YOUR MOM AND I LOVE ABOUT YOU:

1  YOU BALANCE GRACE AND TRUTH WELL, 

with a special strength in grace. You give people the benefit of the doubt. You are non-judgmental without being a flake. You are both unbending and full of mercy.  You don’t have an edge, which makes you deeply caring.

2  YOU ARE A GREAT FATHER.

You don’t pop off and yell at your children. You are predictable. No big surprises. You are consistent in the way you live and relate. You and Johanna make a wonderful team. You read your kids well. You see their strengths and weakness and you have a plan. You have picked off-the-chart names, because you expect them to excel. They will!

3  YOU HAVE A THIRST TO GROW.

There is a lot going on with you, and you manage a busy life well. You are not in the high stress department, though you easily could be with all that is happening. Always a high learning curve—impressive. You take advantage of time to improve yourself with books, podcasts, whatever is available.

4  YOU LOVE TO LAUGH.

You share your latest joke so we can enjoy it together. In the midst of life’s seriousness, you often come with something to entertain us.

5  MUSIC TOUCHES YOU DEEPLY.

 You could be a full-time musician, but you have so many other interests as well.

6  YOU DON’T STOP GOING FOR IT.

You tell me about the latest book you just digested. You jumped in head first and learned about the stock market. IT’S WORKING! I couldn’t do that. You have renovated your house.  You are not just a reader-learner; you are a man of action.

PASSING THE TEST!

The normal response to three guys getting threatened with the fiery furnace if they don’t bow down is to submit on the outside but stand up on the inside. They said instead, “We’ll take the furnace.”

The normal response to getting beaten up with rods and thrown into prison with feet in stocks would be to complain about the miserable situation and cry out why. Paul leaned over to Silas and asked, “Hey, do you know any good worship choruses?”

The normal response to being commanded to offer up your only son in a sacrifice on an altar would be to say, “God gave me this son. He really doesn’t want me to do such a thing.” Abraham did it, confident that God would raise his son from the dead.

The normal response to being thrown in prison is to say, “I guess no more preaching for me.” Paul instead said, “What has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. It has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ” (Phil.1:12,13).

The normal response to being told that if you prayed to anyone but the king you would be thrown into a den of lions would be to pray quietly and in secret. Daniel prayed like he always did in his upper chamber with his windows open toward Jerusalem.

The normal response to finding no water in a huge desert would be to complain. That is just what the Israelites did, and to such an extent that God said, “You’re not going into the promised land.” Instead of passing their tests, they tested God ten times (Nu. 14:22).

The normal response to heading for the dump with your car and trailer and to start losing things out of the back of the trailer, then to blow a radiator hose, then have the car heat up and die on you on a public thoroughfare and block traffic during afternoon rush hour for two and a half hours while you wait and wait for Triple A to show up is to get discouraged and wonder what is happening. Instead, I prayed, “If this is a test, I want you to know, Father, that it is an easy test and I plan to pass it.” I would much rather be a victor than a victim. Wouldn’t you?!

9 TRUTHS ABOUT TESTS

1  EVERYONE GETS TESTED–FREQUENTLY.

“Count it all joy, my  brothers, when…” (Js. 1:2), not if.

“Resist him…knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world” (I Peter 5:9). “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man” (I Cor. 10:13). “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (I Peter 4:12).

Don’t say, “I can’t believe this is happening to me,” and play the victim role. Tests happen all the time. And unlike teachers who give tests, God does not usually announce the test in advance, so we can get ready for it. We need a mindset that is ready to be tested.

2  TESTS REVEAL THE ATTITUDE OF OUR HEART. Can you count it all joy, or are you going to complain about it? Joy says you trust God to use it in your life. You look past the pain to the purpose. And you count it joy when you face trials, not when you finish them, at the outset, not when you are finished. (More to come)

6 WAYS YOUR MOM AND DAD APPRECIATE YOU, ANDREW PHILIP!

1  YOU WALKED IN OBEDIENCE.

I am trying hard to remember the times I disciplined you. You were a great firstborn, an excellent model for the five who followed. You are respected by your sibs for being who you are.

2  YOU HELPED ME IN MANY WAYS.

You probably got nervous when you received a call from me, often an SOS. I was not blessed with your smarts. You even led the charge for the massive upgrade of the Ranch in 2010, saving me $20,000. Where did you learn all that?  We could not have survived without your ongoing service. Your presence gives me peace. You have gone low and served your whole adult life. Now you are on my board. You are an anchor for me.

3  YOU ENJOY A GOOD CONVERSATION.

You are not in a hurry like your dad sometimes is. You listen well and contribute wisely, but you never steal the show or monopolize the conversation. You value interaction. You are a man of grace, and your dad learns from you. 

4  YOU ARE A GREAT TEACHER.

Your patience enables you to take things in steps with people, which also makes you a great pilot. You are brilliant, but you never make people (like me?) feel stupid. You always have time to teach in the midst of fix-it mode. I marvel at this. You didn’t get that from me.

5   YOU LOVE MUSIC.

Finally something I can take a little credit for. Music touches you deeply, as it does your mom and dad. 

6  YOU ARE NOT JUDGMENTAL.

You are careful not to put people down, even if they disagree. You value interaction and you let people camp on different ideas without belittling them. You are slow to judge. 

You helped to keep things steady in the family. You have lived well and married well. You are named after your grandfathers, two godly men–like you!  Happy 45th anniversary of your birth, Andrew!

7 HABITS OF ONE GREAT MAN! (part 1)

The way people die can sometimes tell us how they lived. Jesus died forgiving enemies, redeeming a thief, caring for his mother, overcoming the darkness, confessing human need, finishing an assignment, and trusting His Father in death.  What a way to die! What a way to live.

FATHER, FORGIVE THEM, FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO. 

“Yes they do, Jesus.  They’re killing you, an innocent man. Why aren’t you angry?”  It’s hard to forgive, especially when it’s unjust, like when a young man who was homeless and stayed at my home ripped me off when he left. Jesus really got ripped off!! 

When East Germany asked forgiveness of Israel, they responded, “The shame of the action cannot be removed.”  But Corrie ten Boom managed to forgive a guard who showed up at one of her meetings. She had gotten ripped–her sister Betsy died in prison. “Father, forgive them…” No more gracious words were ever uttered. They were given on behalf of His killers. I wonder what impact it had on them. They had heard foul messages coming from crucified ones—never like these. 

TODAY YOU SHALL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE.

Jesus was getting ridiculed from the ground up. Even the two thieves joined in (Mark 15:32). But then one told the other, “We deserve what we are getting (conviction), but he has done nothing wrong” (revelation). First came the deep awareness of his own guilt. He was not a victim of Roman imperialism; he was a guilty sinner. He wasn’t embracing an entitlement outlook. He was getting what he deserved. How kind of Jesus to do evangelism in his darkest hour. Salvation is extended to a criminal, who has nothing to contribute before passing into eternity.  He will still shine with the stars of heaven, and he will praise the blood of the Lamb.  Better people will go to hell because of their refusal to do what he did.

Listen to his request: “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” In eight words he acknowledged that the Man next to him had the power to forgive, was a king, had a kingdom, and was going to defy death and go there. What revelation! What grace! Imagine Peter asking him at the gate, “How can you come in?  You’re a thief.”  He would respond, “Jesus said I could.”  “Really? When?”  “A little while ago.”  At his dying moment he took more than he had ever taken as a criminal—eternal salvation.  We will meet him in heaven, thanks to Jesus.  One blasphemed–the other believed. What a difference for eternity. Wouldn’t you like to share the Good News with some unlikely person like that?  What simple faith: “Remember me…” And what a response:  “Today…”

WOMAN, BEHOLD YOUR SON.  BEHOLD, YOUR MOTHER!

In times of pain, we tend to think of ourselves first. Others can wait–we need attention. Jesus is thinking about the people who are killing him, about the robber next to him, and about the mother below him. The word of Simeon was being fulfilled; a sword was piercing her heart, even as a sword would soon pierce his side. The unique Son of God was also the son of Mary, her firstborn. That meant that in the absence of Joseph he took responsibility for her care. With younger brothers who were skeptics, Jesus put his mother into the capable hands of his beloved friend and disciple, John! Such a painful time–such care!