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, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

I sit here in the wee hours of Christmas morning. This is my time. I am a morning person. I can't stay up late but I can get up early. Everyone else is sleeping, but I can look at the tree, listen to quiet music, consider, think, ponder, relax. Last night was so hectic. So much to do between getting ready for church, entertaining guests, packing up, picking up a shut-in for church, not being able to get to church because the highway exit ramp was closed due to an accident, getting there late, rushing to set everything up in time for the service. So many things to think about.

But not now. Now is quiet. Now is peaceful. I think of my sins. Why do I get so agitated and angry? I want things to be right. I want things on time. I want our visitors to see a church that knows what it's doing and has its act together. Vanity? The Word is proclaimed, in Word, in music, in sermon. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. That's the important thing. And how I need a Saviour! Christ born for me. The forgiveness of sins. That's the message to preach today as well, and to receive in my Saviour's Body and Blood.

There's a siren outside - what's happened? An accident? An illness? A death? No "merry" Christmas for that person and their family. But still a blessed Christmas. The birth of our Saviour! The Word became flesh. God has bared His holy arm. He has spoken to us by His Son. That's what we'll hear today. Wonderful words. Peaceful and peace-filled words. Words I need.

At least this morning, arriving at church, the church will be set-up and all ready to go! No moving and shifting and hauling all our stuff up from the closet. How often I am jealous of those who have a church building! Just arrive and it's all set to go. Not quite that easy I know, but not all the set-up every week. But I wouldn't trade my church for another. This is where God has put me. And the people are wonderful. Peaceful. United. We had a visitor last night from another church. They have a building but no peace. Trouble and turmoil and hurt. Sad that darkness.

So just like Mary and Joseph receiving the Son of God in a borrowed place, we receive the Body and Blood of the Son in a rented place. Perhaps a reminder that this is not our true home. That's coming. Because the Son of God made His home here for awhile, our home will be there forever.

Ah, Christmas! I remember the Christmases of my childhood. It's different now - not only as an adult but as a pastor. Better? Worse? Neither. Both. Different. Different worries, different joys, different thoughts. Same Saviour! Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today, and forever. A constant in a changing and hectic world and life. A life of accidents and turmoil and hurt. A life of anger and anxiety and vanity. A life of early mornings and late nights. But an unchanging Saviour, unchanging forgiveness, unchanging promises. How good.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Words Matter

I am listening to the live broadcast of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge. We will do an adaptation of that in our Candlelight service tonight. But I am struck by this: after each reading, they no longer say: This is the Word of the Lord. It is simply said by the lector: Thanks be to God. How sad. Why this change? Is it because they no longer believe this is the Word of the Lord? Then why are they giving thanks to God? Not for the word; maybe for the birth? For the holiday? And I wonder how long have they done this? Words matter. Christmas is the Word become flesh. The Word that God spoke to us His love.

How sad.

Screwtape Letters on Stage

I took my sister (as her Christmas present) to see the Screwtape Letters on stage in Washington, DC yesterday afternoon. A very enjoyable show. The 90 minutes flew by and it was over before I knew it. It was a one man show (the under-demon Toadpipe was on stage with him, but in a miming role only), and Max MacLean did a very good job. After the show he held a 10 minute-or-so Q&A with those who wanted to stay, which was also interesting. If it comes to your town, I'd recommend it.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Keeping Score

Well, the Mayans were wrong. Go figure. Here's the score:

Jesus: 5,628,573
Date setters: 0

Friday, December 21, 2012

Is Today THE Day?

This is a little thought I sent out yesterday to one of my e-lists. I thought I would post it here also:

Well, if the Mayans are correct, tomorrow - December 21st - is the end of the world. As Christians, we believe that means that would be the day Christ returns and takes His own to their heavenly home. What a great day that would then be!

As I was thinking about that, I thought of words the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippian Christians:

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
~ Philippians 1:21

I think that reflects the proper attitude of Christians toward any predictions of the end of the world, whether it be of the Mayans, or Harold Camping, or whoever else will be next. If the end does come, it is gain for me! I will be in heaven with my Saviour and receive the goal of my faith. But if the end does not come, then I live on in my earthly vocations, as Christ to my neighbor, loving, forgiving, serving. 

Either way, I am under His love and care each and every day. 
Either way, I am safe and secure in His forgiveness. 
Either way, I need not fear, for Christ has taken care of my past, my present, and my future.

So don't worry about tomorrow! But today, there is much to do. Proclaim the message of Christmas, hug your children, forgive those who sin against you, be God's blessing to others. And rejoice! Rejoice in your Saviour, who we will celebrate this Christmas - either as the babe in the manger, or as the Lamb on the throne in heaven. Either way, it will be a Merry Christmas! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Note to Publishers

To: All publishing houses
re: Solicitation calls the week before Christmas and Easter

Gentlemen and Gentleladies,

I know you mean well, and perhaps the week before Christmas and the week before Easter is the best time to catch pastors in their studies, but please know that this is NOT the best time to call me and ask me to buy Vacation Bible School materials! I am NOT thinking about these things now, have a lot to do, and really don't want to chat with you and hear how great your stuff is right now. I really don't. And this is really not helping your cause. When you call at such time, you make me LESS want to buy from you, even if I really want what you are selling.

So please, stop. Please wait until after the high Holy Days. Thank you.

Monday, December 17, 2012


The President spoke at an interfaith prayer service in Newtown, CT last night, and in his remarks said that he would use whatever power his office held to protect the lives of our children. Really? I wish it were so. But the reality is that millions of our children will continue to be slaughtered while still in the womb, and our President will support it and advance it, even requiring health insurers to pay for it.

Here is an interesting reflection on our society becoming more and more violent. Something to think about, pray about, and repent about. This isn't finger-pointing; none of us are guiltless. But it is because of just such times and events that we have Advent - that we await our Saviour who came to redeem us, who comes now to forgive us, and who is coming again to take us home. Come, Lord Jesus! And until then, help us to protect and value ALL human life.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Another Shooting

More shocking news today. A whole classroom of children. What sadness. Please pray for those mourning in Connecticut after this school shooting. I cannot imagine the pain they must feel, the pain I would feel if my dear Joanna were not to come home from school one day. Here are some prayers and readings to help, posted by our President Harrison.

Kyrie Eleison.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Could They?

I was speaking to one of my Elders recently and joked that if the congregation ever got hard up financially they could just drop my health insurance and pay the $2,000 Obamacare tax/fine/assessment/penalty or whatever they are calling it this week, and save a lot of money! To which he remarked: unless they wouldn't cover me unless I preached and taught a certain way.

Hmmm. Could it get to that point? Right now (in my somewhat limited understanding of all this) there are "health exchanges" set up with private insurance companies. But will that last? Will health care really become government coverage? And if it does, will they use health care as a weapon like this, trying to squash and control teaching against what is politically correct? Or, could they prevent pastors who speak against certain issues from participating in the exchanges? I hadn't considered that before, but I wonder . . .

I already have said that I thought churches who won't do gay marriages would eventually lose their tax exempt and charitable status. How else could the government try to control what churches teach and preach? It is an interesting question. It should not change anything - the church teaches the truth, no matter what the consequences. But is persecution like this coming? Maybe.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Some Weeks . . .

Some professional golfers consistently do well on certain courses. They say that the course just "fits their eye." I think the same is true of pastors, at least this one. There are some Sundays in the church year that I seem to have an easier time preaching on than others. I wonder if other pastors feel the same way . . .

Saturday, December 1, 2012

This is Cool . . .

As a Ph.D. student who has spent some time looking at old manuscripts (though I am by no means a paleographer!) I thought this was cool. Some student were able to decipher some old notes by Roger Williams in an old manuscript.

In other school news, I have basically finished the paper for my class this semester - my final class! I had to finish it now since I will be traveling a bit next week and then have to turn it in. So I have a few days to sit with it, edit it, and improve it a bit. But it's basically done! I am quite excited that this phase of my schooling in now done. Next, I have some exams to pass, including my comps. Next semester I will begin to prepare the reading lists for my comps and do the reading. I plan to take the comps in the Fall. Then if I pass, I will officially have candidate status! It's a long road, especially part time.

But now with school done for the semester, I am quite looking forward to Advent and Christmas. Things don't look too hectic at this point. I hope it stays that way . . .