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??

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Things That Make You Go . . . Huh?

I had to go to Staples today to purchase 500 rubber bands. Did you know that they do not sell rubber bands by number, but by weight?! Hence, each package contains 1/4 pound of rubber bands . . . but they do not tell you how many that is. You have to guess. Who thought of that? Not very helpful.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Of Old Dogs and Pastors

You can't teach an old dog new tricks.

You've heard that one, I'm sure. Let me add a new next line: but you can remind him of the old ones he should remember.

The pastoral ministry is a great gift God has given to His people to care for them. It is a gift of grace that He has placed a sinner like me into such a office. I am grateful for the wonderful seminary education I received, but in addition to that I learn more with each year that goes by what it means to be a pastor. Some of that learning is with experiences I have never had before and some of that learning is by being reminded of what I had learned, but had forgotten . . . or forgotten the importance of.

An interesting combination of learning and reminding is what prompted this post.

Paul tells Timothy: "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction." (2 Tim 4:2) I know that verse and often remind myself to be patient in my teaching. I have found that what is easy in that verse is to correct, rebuke, and encourage - what is often difficult is to do so with great patience and careful instruction. I know how long it takes me to understand things sometimes, and so I try to have great patience in my teaching, not expecting folks to understand something I teach the first time and ready to teach it again and again.

But interestingly, while I have applied this verse to teaching, I needed to be reminded again to apply it also to times of pastoral care - those times of visitation, listening, and caring one-on-one with folks who are hurting. The Word of God applied in those places also needs to be with great patience and careful instruction. For while I realized that a particular teaching might not be understood all at once and need repetition and patience, I did not realize the same could be true of the comfort of the Gospel - that this too might not be understood or accepted and need to be repeated and given over and over again. That, in fact, for some in certain situations, receiving this comfort is even harder and requires even more patience.

God used a parishioner of mine to help teach me this the past few days. I am grateful. It will make me a better pastor now and in the future. I also encourage you to read this paper which has many such good reminders and tidbits in dealing with hurting souls and the great patience and careful instruction that is often required.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Recent ELCA Decision

A lot has been written in the Lutheran blogosphere about the ELCA's recent decisions regarding the acceptance of homosexual unions/marriages and clergy. But here is a nice little video by the president of Concordia Theological Seminary regarding these decisions.

Monday, August 24, 2009

And We're Back

Yes, back now from vacation. It was a nice two week break, but now catching up on everything that piled up for those two weeks! Picking hymns for the rest of the church year (always an arduous taks!), catching up on visits, household and family chores, getting the kids ready to start school, other new plans for the Fall - never a shortage! And then the never ending barrage from satan against the flock . . . yet I know he cannot win! Lord, I believe; help Thou my unbelief!

One more thing: many bloggers have already posted this, but I wanted to also. The following is a letter from Dr. Timothy Quill - the Lutheran Seminary in Siberia is facing dire straits and needs our financial assistance. Anything you would be able to do would be a great help. So much good work has been done there! Here's his letter:

In 1995 Concordia Theological Seminary began working extensively in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union. Under the oppressive Soviet government, Lutherans were persecuted, churches destroyed and most of the clergy killed, imprisoned or sent into exile. In 1997 CTS helped organize a new Lutheran Seminary in Novosibirsk, Siberia to train a new generation of Lutheran pastors. Following the dark era of communist oppression, the resurrection of a new, thriving Lutheran Church in the former Soviet Union is nothing short of miraculous. These new congregations and mission stations need pastors. Last year 25 students were enrolled in the LTS seminary and pre-seminary Bible School programs. The Seminary also holds regular seminars and conferences for pastors, church leaders and laity. In May of 2009 five seminarians graduated after completing a rigorous five years program of theological and practical preparation for the holy ministry. This was the third class to graduate.

Since its inception, the work of CTS in Russia has been financed entirely by the private charitable foundation whose founder had a great heart for the millions of Lutherans and other Christians who has suffered for so many years under atheistic communism. Due to recent economic problems in the United States, the foundation was forced to cut their support for Lutheran Theological Seminary in Novosibirsk last year by 50%. This year they will cut it 50% to 70%. CTS is also under considerable financial pressure. President Wenthe is doing a tremendous job keeping the institution afloat and healthy, however, CTS is not in a position to subsidize the Novosibirsk Seminary. Without a secure home base, foreign mission work is a mute question.

In short, the Seminary in Russia will receive no funds from the foundation until March of 2010. Thus we need to raise $150,000 to keep the Seminary in Novosibirsk from closing. The next nine months are crucial. We can not simply close the Seminary for a year and then reopen it. The lives and wellbeing of faculty, staff, students and their families can not be put on hold for a year. Furthermore, after years of legal battles with the bureaucracy in Moscow the Seminary recently received is registration as an official educational institution. To close the Seminary now will jeopardize registration and cause legal problems and suspicion with the authorities.

Rector Alexei Streltsov and I have prepared a drastically reduced budget which will not only enable the Seminary to survive the current crisis, but to keep its doors open, classes running, and send a positive message to those who desire to matriculate with the next new class in September of 2010.

Donations should be made out to Concordia Theological Seminary accompanied with a note that the gift is designated for the support of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Novosibirsk, Russia.

Thanks for any support you are able to give - especially your prayers.

Monday, August 3, 2009

On Vacation

No posts for two weeks as I will be on vacation. No computer, no email, no cell phone, no nothin'! Just me and my family and some time away.

See you on the 'net when I get back!