The Pastor Challenge

The Pastor Challenge

The Assist Pregnancy Center's Walk-Run-Ride for Life is coming up in May and this year I am challenging myself in order to challenge all of you! I am challenging myself to ride a "Metric Century" (100 kilometers) in four hours, and if I can ride farther than I ever have at one time before, I challenge all of you to support me more than ever before. I set my goal this year at $5,000, and our team (Lutherans for Life) at $7,500! If I can do it, you can do it. Assist helps so many mothers and babies, and they are expanding their facility to help even more - and so need our help more than ever, especially coming out of this pandemic. So please help! CLICK HERE to go to my sponsor page to sponsor me, or you can sponsor anyone else who joins the team, or the team as a whole.

Will you step up to the challenge??

Monday, January 21, 2008

Symposia Papers

I appreciate going to the Ft. Wayne Symposia each year, though some years are better than others. This year I found many of the papers helpful and am looking forward to reading them when they are posted online. Over the next few weeks, I hope I will have some time to reflect on them and post some comments. However, when the papers are posted, the ones I recommend reading are (in no particular order) the two from Dr. Gathercole, Dr. Gibbs, Dr. Gieschen, Dr. Nordling, Dr. Masaki, and Dr. David Scaer. If you want to read a very provocative paper, read Dr. Root. His challenge to the construction of 20th century Lutheranism is thought provoking, and there are some things I both agree and disgree with in his presentation. (I was not able to hear the first two papers, by Dr. Maier and Dr. Peter Scaer, so I cannot speak to them.)

I was disappointed that attendance continues to decline. There are a couple of reasons for this, I think. One is that some guys are disgruntled with the seminary administration and the direction the seminary has been going, and so show it by staying home. They believe attending is a sign of support for the seminary. I don't think that is true, and don't want to impoverish myself from the learning I receive there. And while I also do not agree with everything going on, neither do I know the whole story, and I am still willing to "put the best construction" on things. The second reason folks have been staying away (I believe) is that in recent years the presentations had gotten too "esoteric" and were not enough directly addressing the needs of the Church. I think that changed this year, and I hope we will continue in a better direction.

All in all it was a good week.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Some Cool Thoughts

Just a few "cool thoughts" from the symposia this far (either explicitly stated or formed in my own thoughts) . . .

+ Mark tells us that Jesus was "thrown out" into the wilderness after His baptism. Why that verb? He is beginning to experience the same thing as the first Adam when he was "thrown out" of Eden and into the wilderness.

+ In the beginning, creation was not "neutral" -- but served sacramentally (small 's') to aid/contribute to our communion and fellowship with God.

+ God breathed life into Adam. What is one of the first things Jesus does after His resurrection? He breathes on His disciples and gives them the Spirit, to give them life. Creation - re-creation.

+ How does Jesus paying the "Temple Tax" foreshadow or fit into the truth of the atonement?

Very enjoyable so far. I am looking forward to today's lectures.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

On the Road

I will be on the road tomorrow morning traveling to the theological symposia at our Ft. Wayne seminary. I will try to offer some posts while I am there. Please pray for safe travel for all pastors and laity who will be traveling there this week.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Lutherans and Orthodox

If you are even somewhat a reader of the Lutheran blogosphere, you know that every so often a topic emerges that “discusses” Lutheran versus Orthodox theology. (I put that in quotes because often times it seems as if the discussion devolves rather quickly into sniping, accusations, and worse.) Me, being hopelessly and semi-permanently naïve, thinks this is a good thing. For responding to the theology and challenges of those who disagree with us serves to sharpen our own theology and thinking.

I know this is true for me, and not just about Orthodoxy, although certainly including it. One of the wonderful things about my congregation is the great questions they often pose to me on a whole host of topics. And while it is often frustrating to me not to have the answers they are looking for, it forces me to dive into the Scriptures, study, and keep reading. I don’t let my folks get away with “cliché” answers in class and constantly ask them why they are answering as they are. So it is good when they come up with questions for me and want to know why.

This is also why recent talk in our Synod about lessening the education required of pastors before ordination scares me. I know how unworthy and unable I am to meet all the challenges of being a pastor (a fact that becomes more evident to me with every passing year) though I thought I was very well trained coming out of seminary! I wonder what our Synod’s current path will lead to . . . but that is probably a topic for another post.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Taking It Home

Many folks have trouble taking their work home with them. Not trouble doing it, but trouble not doing it! The result is often that family and home life suffers for the sake of job, money, or advancement. It seems to me that if anything should be true, this should be the other way around. We do not realize how important our vocations as fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, really are.

Yet I have found as a pastor, I am particularly afflicted with this problem. The sadnesses of the ministry and my own failures follow me home. I have trouble turning off my mind and focusing on my family, as sermon writing, questions, issues, and concerns keep filling and turning over in my mind. I do not willingly bring these home with me, but they follow, unwanted. And so I find myself not being the father and husband I want to be for my family.

Pastors are always on call. I can handle that. The hours I work, the evening and weekend schedules, I have some say in. That’s the physical part, and perhaps for me, the easiest part. But the emotional and mental stress of the ministry I found not so easy to deal with. I may have to share in the suffering of my flock, but my family shouldn’t have to. Perhaps realizing it is half the battle.