April 2024 Newsletter

From Pastor Michael Onstad

 Greetings, saints and friends of St. Paul’s! It’s been a joy to connect (and reconnect!) with many of you here as I have begun my call part-time, and I look forward to continuing to get to know you all more in the days to come! I am free for some visits during my part-time schedule, so feel free to reach out to me if you’d like me to come visit with you, chat with you, pray with you, and bring you the comfort and counsel of God’s Word. To help you get to know me a little bit better, here’s a bit about me and my wife and how we got here.

My wife Taylor and I hail from Grafton, ND, and Park River, ND, respectively. We first met each other where many great Christian marriages start: Bible camp. We got to know each other as campers at Park River Bible Camp, which we had been attending for years. I then began working there in 2010, and she began working there in 2014. During that first summer working together, we began dating, and that continued on until we got married on August 21st, 2021. In between, we spent time together in Fargo while Taylor attended NDSU and I attended Concordia in Moorhead. Then, our relationship went long distance while she attended Creighton’s School of Dentistry in Omaha, NE, and I went to our AFLC seminary in Plymouth. We both graduated a week apart in May 2021, and then Taylor began her dental work in Fargo while I filled the pulpit at, and was later called to, Valley Free Lutheran in Portland, ND and stocked the numerous shelves and displays at Scheels. Now, you can find Taylor at Saving Smiles Dentistry, and you can find me here at St. Paul’s!

Park River Bible Camp was a special place for both Taylor and I not just because it’s where we first met, but it’s also where our faith was nourished and grown through the hearing and study of God’s Word every summer, and it was where I first sensed the call to ministry. I loved working with the kids and teaching them about Jesus, so youth ministry seemed a natural fit at the time. However, throughout college, that call morphed (At least from my perspective. God knew what He was doing the first time) into a call to pastoral ministry. I didn’t want to just teach youth about Jesus. I wanted to bring the comfort of the Gospel to ALL ages. Romans 5:8 became a favorite verse of mine in college. It says that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” I became acutely aware of just how much I fell short as a Christian while in college, and I’m still aware of how I fall short today because I am a sinner. But that verse always brings me the comfort that, because I’m a sinner, Jesus died for ME. He died for you, too. That’s the comfort I love to preach! I enjoy preaching the whole counsel of God as a pastor, don’t get me wrong, but there is a special joy in preaching the Gospel to those who are in desperate need of it. That joy is one of the main reasons I’ve loved being a pastor. I pray that that verse would comfort you just as much as it does me when you feel convicted of your sins!

Finally, my wife affectionately calls me nerd, and I bear that title proudly. I’m a nerd about a host of things, and have been for most of my life. I’m a nerd about theology (especially Lutheran theology), and especially apologetics. I was drawn to C.S. Lewis’s nonfiction books in late high school and early college, and have loved them, and him, ever since. I also listen to a handful of podcasts on theology, worldview, culture, and apologetics, so let me know if you need some book or podcast recommendations! On the less academic side, I’m a big fan of most anything in the fantasy genre…within reason. The Legend of Zelda video game series and the Lord of the Rings movies and books are two of my absolute favorites in that department. Reading books and playing some video games (often while listening to podcasts while playing) are, thus, two of my favorite hobbies. But, I have more, I promise! I also enjoy playing the guitar, at least at an elementary level. I can’t do much more than strum chords, but that’s enough for me to play many of my favorite camp songs, so praise God for that! Both Taylor and I are also avid board game lovers, so that is definitely a great way to get us over for a visit! I also enjoy playing golf, frisbee golf, and ultimate frisbee especially, but I’m not usually too picky if someone wants to play something else. As long as we can all have fun in fellowship together!

And that’s a bit about your new associate pastor! I look forward to sharing in some of these common interests with you, and I look forward to enjoying what some of you like to do as well. But most importantly, I look forward to sharing the Gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins with you all and ministering alongside you by God’s grace. Have a blessed Easter season, everyone! He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia!

View the April 2024 Newsletter here.