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??

Friday, July 25, 2014

Some VBS Pictures

My daughter Sarah is our official VBS photog, and she took some pretty goods pictures! Here are a few . . .

Singing together.

I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him CRUCIFIED.

A little outdoor fun.

A little indoor fun.

Pastor and his "brother" Creed the Awesome!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Life and Death

This is VBS week for us. I don't have any pictures to post yet, but the week has been going well. A couple of hiccups - I won't get into them here. But while it is always a busy and tiring week for me, it is also always a good week. I enjoy teaching the kids and they soak it up and are always disappointed when the week ends. We are using the Higher Things VBS curriculum "Crucified." I highly recommend it to you. It isn't filled with lots of flashy stuff - just the Word. Jesus' death to give us life. Nothing better than that.

Last night I was on my way out to Bible Study and our street was filled with police cars. Not sure what was going on, but they were at our neighbor's house across the street and diagonal from us. I stood a watched for a moment and heard my neighbor cry out a few things. My guess from what he said: I think his wife committed suicide yesterday. I hadn't met this neighbor yet, but my heart went out to him, he was in such agony. If I am right, his wife died and he felt like he had died. His wife died, I don't know why. Maybe this life was too painful or hopeless for her. The police were still there when I got home from the study, still taking pictures and investigating. Procedure, I guess. But today in VBS I get to teach the kids about the resurrection of Jesus and the promise of life. I get to teach our hope and victory over death. Boy do we need it.

Finally, my vacation is coming up! About a week and a half away now. We are going up to Michigan for my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary. It will be a little shorter than usual, but it will still be good to get away and leave the computer and internet and schedule behind, and just relax a bit.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Calvinistic View of Prayer?

Have you ever heard someone say: "Why pray? God doesn't change, so we can't change His mind, so why pray for things? God already knows what He's going to do."

Bummer. Wonder why people don't pray more?

But it seems to me this is kind of a "calvinistic" way of looking at prayer in that it is quite like the doctrine of double predestination: God elected some to salvation and some to damnation. There's nothing you can do about it.

The problem with both of these things is that they begin with God in eternity. They start with the hidden God that we do not know and can only speculate about. And that's always going to lead us down the wrong path and into wrong and destructive teaching, as shown above.

The Lutheran way of things is to start with God as He has revealed Himself to us. We do not start by trying to figure out God in eternity, but with God in His Word, God as He has given Himself to us, God in Christ Jesus. And with that starting point, we find quite a different picture of God! For example, Moses prays for the people of Israel. A LOT. They're constantly grumbling and complaining against Moses and against God. But Moses prays for them and we read: "And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people" (Exodus 32:14).

How do we understand this? If we start with the calvinistic precondition, we will say: Well, God knew He wouldn't do it - He just wanted Moses to pray. Really? How about instead: Moses' prayer made a difference! But, how can an unchangeable God change His mind? I don't know. He hasn't told us that. But how He has revealed Himself to us is as a God who listens to and answers our prayers, and that our prayers make a difference. So I will pray!

Jesus prays, too. If it is pointless to pray, why does Jesus do so? Or how about the story in Mark 9 when Jesus comes down from His transfiguration and there is a demon the disciples could not drive out. What does Jesus say? When the disciples ask Him afterward: "Why could we not cast it out?" He said to them, "This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer" (Mark 9:28-29). Or how about the passage in James (5:16-18) which reads:
The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
So let's stop the "crypto-calvinistic" view of prayer that has crept in among us, and stick to the Lutheran view. This is how God has revealed Himself to us. I will not try to figure out how it can be so, but will trust and believe . . . and pray.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Very Cool Story

File this in the "Don't underestimate what you can do" department.  :-)

This story is confirmed in Elmer Bendiner’s book, The Fall of Fortresses.
Sometimes, it’s not really just luck.
Elmer Bendiner was a navigator in a B-17 during WW II. He tells this story of a World War II bombing run over Kassel, Germany , and the unexpected result of a direct hit on their gas tanks. “Our B-17, the Tondelayo, was barraged by flak from Nazi antiaircraft guns. That was not unusual, but on this particular occasion our gas tanks were hit.
Later, as I reflected on the miracle of a 20 millimeter shell piercing the fuel tank without touching off an explosion, our pilot, Bohn Fawkes, told me it was not quite that simple. “On the morning following the raid, Bohn had gone down to ask our crew chief for that shell as a souvenir of unbelievable luck.
The crew chief told Bohn that not just one shell but 11 had been found in the gas tanks. 11 unexploded shells where only one was sufficient to blast us out of the sky. It was as if the sea had been parted for us. A near-miracle, I thought.
Even after 35 years, so awesome an event leaves me shaken, especially after I heard the rest of the story from Bohn.
“He was told that the shells had been sent to the armorers to be defused. The armorers told him that Intelligence had picked them up. They could not say why at the time, but Bohn eventually sought out the answer. “Apparently when the armorers opened each of those shells, they found no explosive charge. They were as clean as a whistle and just as harmless.
Empty? Not all of them!
One contained a carefully rolled piece of paper. On it was a scrawl in Czech. The Intelligence people scoured our base for a man who could read Czech. Eventually they found one to decipher the note. It set us marveling.
Translated, the note read: “This is all we can do for you now…”
HT: Fr. Z

Monday, July 14, 2014

Seminary Ad

Above is the new ad that Concordia Seminary, St. Louis is placing in magazines now. I've seen it in several publications. Young, buff, millennial guy. Got it. That's fine. Cool little pictures in the margins - he reads his Bible. Check. Even categorizes what he reads by the pictures! Pastor material!

BUT . . .

Here's my question: Look at the Scriptures in the background (click on the picture to enlarge it). Look at all the passages that are underlined. What do they all have in common? All are Law. None of the Gospel passages (of which there are plenty) are underlined. Why not? It seems like a small thing, but small things are significant. We are training pastors to proclaim the Gospel. Yes, we need the Law, we're not antinomians. But all Law and no Gospel? Really?

Well, maybe the ad is trying to convey this fact: Like all of us, this young, buff, seminarian is drawn to the Law, but the Seminary is going to teach Him how to proclaim the Gospel and so in the future, it will be the Gospel passages that will be underlined! Not us, but Christ! But, it says he's a vicar already . . . so . . . uh . . .  

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Cool Pictures

To see some pretty cool photos:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Few Things . . .

Not really having a good week . . . tired, hard to focus, but pushin' through.  :-)  Some items:

(1.) + Klemet Preus +  Rest in peace, my friend.

(2.) Laurie and Robbie have left for Western New England University for his orientation. So I have to hold down the fort for the next three days.  :-(

(3.) The Senate Harry Reid is already introducing legislation to counteract the Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case. Here's the story. Boy, Harry, that didn't take long. "Do nothing Harry" can act fast when he wants to!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Higher Things - Day 4

Last Day! Always somewhat sad. Here's a picture I forgot to post yesterday, of Sam playing in the drenching rain before Evening Prayer:

The last day always has a lighter schedule - opening Matins (which I preached at), then the final plenary session, lunch, and the closing service (which I also assisted at). Then quickly check out and get on the road. Thankfully, it did not start raining (although we heard thunder during the service) until we were all loaded and in the van. :-)

Since we missed a good part of the opening service (see first Higher Things post) it was good to be able to soak in the whole closing service. Great pipe organ, great singing, ending with the Te Deum hymn (LSB #941) - which, by the way, is the theme for next year! Te Deum! So we'll get to sing it at least twice. :-)

Here's a picture from before the final plenary, but first, an explanation. The College Volunteers who help out at these conferences always have a different color t-shirt so they can be quickly identified. This year it was yellow and they kind of looked like the minions from the "Despicable Me" movies! So they dressed up like them for the final day . . . 

(Sorry my picture is not better! I think my flash was off and I was sitting back a bit.)

The drive halfway home was pretty easy. We stopped in Florence, SC - got here about 11 pm. When I booked the hotel on the internet, it looked really nice. Well, instead of using the word that starts with "F" and ends in "bag," (let the reader understand), let's just say they had a really awesome photographer! I would highly recommend them if you are in need of one! ;-)

So, off to breakfast shortly, and then the rest of the way home. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Higher Things - Day 3

With day three always begins the creeping and accumulated tiredness of the conference, but there's still much happening!

This is a picture of the youth filing into our chapel for Matins. We don't quite fill it, but it's great hearing all the kids and a great pipe organ singing our great hymns. We're here at least three times a day for Matins (morning), Vespers (afternoon), and Evening Prayer (evening). Wonderful liturgies that the kids really love.

Last night, sadly, it rained pretty hard right before Evening Prayer. We tried to wait it out, but it just kept raining. But you know what? The kids all ran to the chapel (several minutes, depending on how fast you are!) and would rather be soaking wet than miss Evening Prayer! And I don't just mean my kids - ALL the kids here. I give them a lot of credit for that.

Here's our group photo after Evening Prayer in our - at varying stages of wetness - conference t-shirts.

The rain also meant we didn't go to the fireworks. :-(  I love fireworks. So we stayed in and played games instead - which were a lot of fun, too. Some pictures:

Today is the last day, and then the long drive home. Another good week! Now, breakfast and the kids get to hear me preach!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Higher Things - Day 2

Things were a bit more normal today! Lots of opportunities for worship and learning. I taught my one breakout "What's Your Worth?" for the second time today. Tomorrow I will teach: "Lord, Teach Me to Pray!" Sadly, most of the kids didn't know their catechism when I asked them about a part of it. :-(

Rob and Sarah have been playing violin during some of the prayers offices. I don't yet have a picture of them together, but here's Rob next to the organ, introducing the closing hymn at Evening Prayer last night.

The excitement for the day came after dinner in the dorm. The fire alarm went off. (It's VERY loud!) At first, one of the University people came through and said it was just a test, but shortly after that he came back and said in a very stern voice: Everybody out - now! 

We waited across the street for a little bit as the fire and police men checked out the building. Then a policeman came strolling across the street carrying a fire extinguisher . . . yup, one of the kids had sprayed it and that set off the fire alarm. I think they found out who did it, not sure. We still had to wait for a while before entering our floors as they cleaned up and reset everything. Hopefully, no repeats tonight!

So, we went and played some basketball at the Rec Center on campus. We didn't do too badly!

Finally, it was back to the dorm for a little rest and talk and for one of the kids, a shower. Can you guess who? (He/she did not want his/her picture taken! But that never stops me. :-)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Higher Things . . . So Far

Well, we're into day two of Higher Things-Gainesville. I had hoped to post each day but the internet connections I have had were not being cooperative! Now, however, I do have a connection, so I'll get you caught up.

Monday was driving day. We drove, and drove, and then drove some more. We landed in Savannah, GA around 6 pm and arrived at our hotel. Good thing about the hotel: it was cheap. Bad things about the hotel: internet connection, breakfast, fold out cot in the girls' room. Interesting thing about the hotel: the dog that kept trying to come in for the free breakfast!

But it was only for one night, so no big deal.

However, was turned out to be a somewhat bigger deal was the next morning . . .

We got a metal spike in the tire and so couldn't leave on time. We got everyone up and fed and the van packed by 8 and were all ready, but when we started out, the van was making a bad noise! So we pulled over and discovered the flat. :-(

The kids were great, though. The girls worked on getting the spare down and out, Rob worked on the jack and getting the flat off, and I tried to locate a place to fix it for us. Problem: one of the lug nuts wouldn't come off. So I went over and gave a couple of mighty tugs in each direction . . . and the nut came off . . . along with the lug stud (or post, or whatever you call it)! Ugh. 

So, got the spare on with only 4 lug nuts and start up I-95 ten miles north to the nearest tire place. Car keeps making more and more noise. Get to the place: Nope, sorry, can't get you in before lunch. Go to the next place: Nope, sorry, can't get you in before lunch. That man directed me another 2 miles north to a place he thought would take me quickly. So of we go again . . . car getting louder. See a "Goodyear" sign and stop there. as I get out of the car, I check the spare tire - and I can turn all the lug nuts easily with my fingers! The tire had been wobbling so badly that the lugs were coming off and if we had drive much farther, the tire might have come off all together. (Thanks to the angels for holding the wheel on for us!)

So Goodyear took us in and got us fixed in about 1.5 hours (had to buy a new tire, too). So, instead of leaving at 8, we left at 11 - so we were going to be late arriving. We arrived around 2:30 pm or so, missing a good part of the opening service. The rest of the day was quite hectic as we struggled to get caught up with everything we thought we'd have enough time for.

(Chapel set-up at UF-Gainesville)

I was on the schedule to teach during the first breakaway section. I wish I could have waited until the next day as I was still feeling a bit frazzled from everything, but it worked out. 

Now I have to change and get ready to teach again, so I will end this post now. But check back for some more info later!