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Randy Upgren

Rev. Randy Upgren, pastor at Charity Lutheran Church in Bismarck, has written his first book, "The End is the Beginning: Betting Your Life on the Ultimate Second Chance." 

A pastor at Charity Lutheran spent the summer cranking out his first book, writing more than 250 pages in four weeks.

A sabbatical and return to seminary made the feat possible for Rev. Randy Upgren, whose book is titled "The End is the Beginning: Betting Your Life on the Ultimate Second Chance." 

He draws on life experiences all can relate to: moments of brokenness, disappointment and failure.

"A lot of times when we find ourselves in those moments, we feel it is the end of something," he said. "God comes in and turns those end moments into new beginnings."

Upgren's book explores that theme in a variety of scenarios, starting with Adam and Eve and the end of innocence. He weaves in personal stories and other anecdotes as well as scripture.

He later addresses the end of anonymity through the story of Noah.

"God doesn't let him stay there," Upgren said. "There's something about building a boat the size of an aircraft carrier in your backyard that will end your anonymity."

Near the end of the book, he expands the theme to cover the bigger picture. He writes about death, resurrection and heaven.

In his job as lead pastor of preaching and teaching at Charity Lutheran, Upgren often works with thematic ideas that originate in scripture.

"I'm one of those guys who has like 10 book ideas in his phone," he said.

Upgren said he chose this particular theme because he wanted to write about something with which people can easily connect. He returned to Fuller Theological Seminary in California, where he received his master's of divinity. Drawing upon a library and professors, he wrote a chapter a day until it was finished.

The book is intended for believers and nonbelievers, which he explains in the foreward.

He said he would consider it a success if a nonbeliever or agnostic decided to read it.

"I would be so honored by that," he said.

At Charity Lutheran, a class of adults welcome from any denomination will use the book as curriculum when they start meeting after Christmas. Upgren will lead the group and encourages readers to underline, highlight and write comments in the margins.

He self-published this book, though some agents expressed interest in it. They told him his platform isn't big enough. While Charity Lutheran has a large congregation at 1,700 people, it's no megachurch, he said.

He plans to write more down the road on the themes of spiritual giftedness and grace.

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(Reach Amy R. Sisk at 701-250-8267 or amy.sisk@bismarcktribune.com.)

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