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??

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Giving King

The reading from the Treasury of Daily Prayer today was from 1 Samuel 8, where Samuel tells the people of Israel who are clamoring for an earthly king so that "we also may be like all the nations" what that king will do. He will take . . . he will take . . . he will take . . . he will take . . . he will take . . . he will take. What a contrast to their true and right King, the Lord of hosts, who doesn't take, but gives! Do they really want to be like all the other nations? Do they really not want to be God's special people, His special possession? Do they really want to live under a king who does not give but takes? They think they do. They say yes! Can't you hear their heavenly Father sigh . . .

Yet don't we do the same thing when we make sin our king? Sin which takes but does not give us what we want. There is still and always will be only one King who gives and, in fact, gave Himself for His people, even to death on the cross. That He may give us not only life, but forgiveness and eternal life. That He may not only give us food, but the food of eternal life - His very Body and Blood. That He not only give us what we need as servants, but adopt us as His sons in Holy Baptism. What a wonderful King this is - a giving King.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A God Who Bleeds

A sermon from LCMS Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller of Hope Lutheran Church in Aurora, Colorado, whose church is not far from the sight of Friday’s movie theater massacre.
John 10
“A God Who Bleeds”
Dear Saints,
The devil comes to kill and steal and destroy. He delights in every drop of blood split, in every tear, in every heart broken, family torn in two, every last breath. The devil loves death, he loves violence, he loves darkness; he loves this tragedy that has unfolded in our neighborhood this week.
But he is never content. He kills, and he wants more. He destroys, and he wants more. The devil is not sitting back tonight, shaking the dust off his hands, content with the pain already inflicted, he wants more. He wants you wrapped up in the chains of the fear of death. He wants your mind and heart to be draped with despair.
As the dust settles around in Aurora, the devil comes to you to tempt you, to tempt you to anger, to tempt you to fear, to tempt you to despair, perhaps worst of all, to tempt you with the idea that because you are suffering God has deserted you, has left you to yourself, that God is far away.
“Where is God in all this? He must hate you, or worse, He must not care.” That, dear friends, is the devil’s voice, the devil’s temptation, and we’ve heard enough of that voice.
We are gathered here this evening to hear the voice of Jesus, your Jesus, who is not a stranger to suffering. Listen, Jesus is not a stranger to suffering. You do not have a god who sits far off, who is distant, who sits on top of the mountain, or is beyond the clouds, who is looking the other way. No, you have Jesus, the Good Shepherd, the one who doesn’t just watch over the sheep. He lays down His life for the sheep. He takes His life and His righteousness to the cross for you. You, dear friends, have a God who bleeds, who bleeds for you, who suffers with you, who hears of the death of His friends and weeps, weeps over death, and fights against death for you. Jesus stands under the devil’s torment, under God’s wrath, under the condemnation of the law, stands with you, stands in your place, and suffers for you.
And if your Jesus suffers for you, then He will certainly suffer with you. When you suffer it does not mean that God is far away. He finds you in suffering; He saves you by suffering. When your friends and neighbors are suffering it does not mean that God has forsaken them or abandoned them. He can’t. He loves them, He loves you too much.
Jesus cries out from the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” so that you never would. He prays Psalm 22 so that you can pray Psalm 23, “Yeah though I walk through he valley of the shadow of death, Thou art with with.” In the shadow of death, He is with us. In the shadow of violence, He is with us. In the veil of tears, He is with us. He cannot leave you or forsake you, He has bound Himself to you, written His name on you with His blood, claimed you as His own and promised you life, His life, eternal life.
Jesus is not far away. The One who died for you now lives for you, prays for you, helps you in time of trouble. He sends His Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to comfort you with His presence and His promises, His forgiveness.
And it is His forgiveness, at last, that sets us free, even from the fear of violence, even from the fear of death. For in life and in death you are the Lord’s, your life is His, and because for you to live is Christ, for you to die is gain. Amen.
And the peace of God which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
+ + +

Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller
Hope Lutheran Church | Aurora, CO

Saturday, July 14, 2012

VBS, Day Last

Well, our VBS is over for another year. I'm always relieved, for it is quite a busy week, but also sad that I'll probably not see some of these children for another year and they're really great kids and a lot of fun. My daughter (who is gifted at such things, unlike me!) made a short video of the week. I think it's too big to upload to here, so I put the file on our web site. Click here to watch it.

Also, we raised $580 for Project: Clean Water! (See below for a video on that.) Our kids were great, bringing in almost $140 in pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters, and then after my promised match and a generous donation from Great Falls Design and Build (Thanks!), we'll be able to send a nice big donation to help provide clean water for children around the world. Thanks everyone for your generosity!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

VBS, Day 4

VBS has been humming along rather well this year. The kids have been great and soaking up the teaching. So not much to report, other than a comment over heard by one of our helpers: "I wish VBS weren't just five days, but five weeks!"  :-)

File this under what I've written before: Things that warm a pastor's heart.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

VBS, Day 2

Not much to report - the day went normally and well. All the children came back and we are having a good time of learning and fun.

So what I will share with you today is the short video about our VBS mission project. Two years ago, we collected money for Christians around the world being persecuted for their faith. Last year, we raised money for the Lutheran Malaria Initiative, to buy mosquito nets and help save the children of Africa. This year, it is "Project: Clean Water," to help children in Haiti and Cambodia have good and safe drinking water. Here's the short video about it:

Monday, July 9, 2012

VBS, Day 1

Well, it was an interesting morning at VBS! We did not get many registrations from outside the congregation this year, so we were planning on a pretty small group. But that's okay - whoever the Lord leads to us we'll teach and care for. Well, some of the children arrived and asked "Can my friends come?" (Of course!) Then a couple of children who attended two years ago showed up (unannounced and unregistered) with their cousin (c'mon in!). So we wound up with about twice as many as we were expecting! That meant we were short on some materials, but adapted everywhere else. But what a good and pleasant problem to have!

What added to our challenge this year was the presence of two young ladies from Iran who do not speak much English. Actually, we found out, very little English. But whoever the Lord leads to us . . . ! So after the opening, I made a phone call to one of my members whose father is Iranian and who can still speak some Farsi which he learned as a youth, and he came and translated for them. As soon as he came in and began speaking, big smiles broke out and their eyes lit up! It was great. How many folks have someone who actually speaks Farsi in their congregation? Think the Lord's hand had anything to do with this?  :-)

Can't wait to see what tomorrow holds . . .

Sunday, July 8, 2012

More? :-(

Just found out that we're losing another family in our congregation. They are moving to San Francisco. If you're keeping count, that's 11 people just this past month.  :-(  That's a big hit for our little congregation. They have to go where the work is though, and they will be a blessing to the church they go to, just as they were to us. And I know God will provide and lead more folks to us. I don't have to like it, though! These are my friends, members of my flock, children I baptized, an adult I baptized - I wish they all would stay!

Friday, July 6, 2012

When It's Hard To Be a Dad

So my teenage daughter wants to go to a concert. OK. Haven't had to face this one before. What is the concert? OK, that doesn't mean too much to me. Where is the concert? New Jersey (we live near DC). That's a four hour drive. It's an all day concert, with lots of bands there. Hmmm. Her friend's Dad is going to drive them. Hmmm. Please? Please?

My heart is telling me to let her go, for she really wants to go and I want her to be happy. But my father's gut is telling me no - it's too far away, I don't know her friend or her friend's father, and while I trust my daughter, I do not trust whoever else may be at that concert. So I tell her no (of course, my wife was in on the decision too, not just me). She is disappointed, but I am sad too. I don't like saying no, but I love her too much to say yes. Seems to me this falls into the category (of the olden days!) when you father would get ready to spank you and say, "This is going to hurt me more than it's going to hurt you." You never really believe that until your on the other end, then you realize how hard it is to discipline, to say no, to be a father.

To her credit, my daughter is taking it well. No tantrums, no yelling. I am proud of her for that. How often am I that mature when my heavenly Father says no to something I want? I hope someday she'll realize that saying no is a way of saying I love you, whether that's from me, from her heavenly Father, or from her to her boyfriend who wants to go too far. Of course, I'm still learning that, too. It's a hard lesson to learn.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Higher Things, The Picture

This is me and my crew at the Higher Things conference. We are in the courtyard of the dorms we stayed in at Wake Forest, and we are wearing the "official conference T-shirts." The youth really enjoyed their time there and are already looking forward to next year. Maybe we can get a few more to go along with us . . .

UPDATE: (Well, not really an update - more like an addenda!) Do you know how many miles it is from my house to Wake Forest University and back again? Exactly 666!  :-)