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??

Sunday, December 27, 2015

How Would You Draw the Trinity?


Just surfin' around a little tonight and found this picture on the discardingimages blog. It is from a 14th century Swabian Bible. I'm not really sure what to make of it, other than simply to say it is interesting. The artist was definitely trying to avoid the common pitfalls of modalism and tritheism that are often fallen into when trying to describe or picture the Trinity. It certainly is unique!

HT: Father Z

Another Year Older

Some Peasant Family Christmas pictures . . .





Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Eve Fail

Hazard #117 when you do not own your own church building and have to remember to bring everything you need with you:

Forgetting the candles for the candlelight service.

And yes, remembered when there was no longer enough time to return home and get them. :-(  But the service went well anyway, because the Light of the World was present and proclaimed in His Word.

And a good number of visitors this year! Not local, unfortunately, but from out of town. But nice to have them with us. And today, the festival Divine Service. It will be a good day.  :-)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

O King of the Nations

The Great "O" Antiphons of Advent are historic liturgical passages used the final seven days of the Advent season, dating back to probably around the 10th century. There were a number of these written, but finally seven coalesced in use and became the tradition.

I mention all this because today's seemed particularly apt in the midst of the political campaign season and the eve of the primaries that will begin early next year. It read:
O King of the nations, the ruler they long for, the cornerstone uniting all people, Come and save us all, whom You formed out of clay.
Yes, He is the ruler we long for, and the one who can unite all people.

It also reminds me of Psalm 146:
Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God (vs. 3, 5).
That hope is fulfilled for us and the ruler we long for come in the birth of Jesus. Yes, a cause for great rejoicing . . . as well as faith and hope, no matter who is elected.  :-)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

You Can't Know the Father Without Knowing the Son

For those who still think all religions worship the same God . . .
No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.
~ 1 John 2:23

Monday, December 7, 2015

A Photo from Yesteryear


This is a picture of my father, holding a pheasant that he got with his dog Chum. He estimated he was about 16 in this picture - some 75 years ago!


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Holiday Lights


Here's a picture of some of the lights we saw last night at the local Botanical Gardens "Walk of Lights." It was pretty cool. Lots of interesting things to see. In this picture, you can see my father, wife, daughter, and sister in the foreground.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving


The Peasant Family Thanksgiving feast! Turkey and stuffing, cranberry, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, fruit and vanilla yogurt salad, homemade dinner rolls, and for dessert . . . three pies! Apple, pumpkin, and pecan. I ate waaaaaay too much, but it was a good and enjoyable day. Tonight we are going to a local botanical gardens to look at their "Festival Walk of Lights." The weather isn't supposed to be too cold, so should be nice!


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Great Quote

Read this the other day. Think about it and you'll realize the profundity of it.
The Law always comes at the gift refusal point.
(Bill Cwirla, "In the Way of the Law and the Gospel" in Dona Gratis Donata, 5)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

New Mission?

There is a church near my house. It was called the "Family Worship Center." I say was, for a couple weeks ago they changed their name to "Summit Church." Along with that name change was a new banner which said: "New Name. New Mission. Same Church."

Huh?

New mission? How does the mission of the church change? Are they no longer for families? No longer about worship? I do not understand . . .

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Pastor Appreciation, Part 2

One of the best gifts I received on Sunday was not meant to be a "Pastor Appreciation" gift at all, but it was. One man, leaving the church after the service, told me something like this (I don't remember the actual words, but this was the gist):
"Pastor, 167 hours a week, it's chaos and trouble. One hour a week, it's right and peace."
How very, very cool is that?  :-)


Friday, October 23, 2015

Champlain Canal Lock 5

We got to see this working canal lock on the Hudson River - very cool. We watched a few boats go through as the water level rose and fell and the gates swung open and closed. There are a bunch of these still operational on the Hudson.


You can see from the sides how far the water level falls.


You can actually walk out on the gates and watch, and we did, though we didn't go for a ride when the opened and closed!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Rest in Peace, Dear Brother

Just learned that my brother in Christ, Rev. Allen Vomhof, was called home by our Lord last night. He had been suffering with cancer that had moved to his brain for quite some time, and was most recently on hospice. I was able to be with him and his family a couple of weeks ago and to give them the Lord's Supper. Now Al is enjoying his eternal rest in Jesus, triumphant over his cancer finally. Yes, triumphant! For his cancer did not win and it did not take his life. It couldn't! His life was safe in Jesus since the day of his baptism, and Jesus has now fulfilled the promise He made to Al in that wonderful, magnificent water. And this promise too: Today, Al, you will be with me in Paradise. Today forgiven. Today alive. Today at rest. Rest in peace, dear brother.

Church



A picture of the chancel of the small, traditional New England Lutheran Church we attended on vacation. A very nice place! :-)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Animals!


Penguins holding "hands!"


That's a meerkat on my daughter's head!


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Releasing Our Inner Squirrel

Also on vacation we want to an "adventure park," which is a ropes and climbing course strung in the trees, with obstacles, zip lines, and stuff like that.  Here's a sign with the descriptions of the courses:


We started on yellow just to get going. Moved to green. And then my older daughter and I did the blue, while my younger daughter and wife did a second green course. The blue was pretty tough! As you can see, the harder the course, the higher up in the trees it goes - and I'm no fan of heights! But sometimes you just have to "pucker up" and do it, and it was a lot of fun. I was actually so focused on the obstacles that the height wasn't a problem, even on the zip lines. We ended in the dark and could do no more, but it might be fun to go back and try the single black diamond course in the future. I might be too old for the double diamond!

Here's a picture of my wife and daughter all geared up at a different, smaller course we went to earlier in the summer:




Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words

Going to start posting some long overdue vacation photos. This one taken by my daughter's GoPro:




Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ethical Dilemma?

World Magazine this week has an article provocatively titled: Life after death: Where vaccines saving millions of lives are derived from the tissue of aborted babies, is it ethical to use them? Here's the link to the online article.

This is an issue that I knew absolutely nothing about until it was brought to my attention about a year ago. I tried to find out more information online, but sometimes good information is hard to find! And this, it seems to me, is an important matter to think about, and one that may crop up more and more in the future. Can a Christian, in good conscience, use such vaccines?

I imagine most people are like me and never realize what goes into the making of a vaccine and where they come from. This article does a good job in laying out the history is a pretty short space. I appreciated that. It also laid out the case that such vaccines can also be manufactured by using animal cell lines - the cell lines of aborted babies are not essential. And this, the article concludes, is the direction we should be going. I concur.

Where I was disappointed was in the answer to the question posed in the title: Is is ethical to use them? Actually, I was disappointed that there really wasn't an answer given or any thought process presented to think through the issue. What was cited were opinions put out by the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life, and the Christian Medical and Dental Associations (CMDA), whose conclusion were (1.) that "we should not risk the lives of our children [now] in order to avoid a remote connection that is tangentially related to an evil act" (Baptists); (2.) it is "permissible . . . to use such vaccines "on a temporary basis" if no animal-based alternatives [are] available" (Vatican); and (3.) since the manufacturing of such vaccines does not require ongoing abortions, it's permissible for Christian to use them until alternatives are available" (CMDA).

It's nice to have such opinions to salve the consciences of Christians who may be struck by guilt at having received themselves or had these vaccines given to their children. However, two problems exist here: What was the reasoning used to come to such conclusions? The Baptist answer seems to be pragmatic, the Vatican answer practical, and the CMDA's utilitarian. I would like to know more, especially to think through such problems - and related ones - that will certainly arise in the future, as medical technology grows and becomes able to do many more things. I wish the article would have provided some of that instead of just conclusions, though I understand their space was probably greatly limited. The other problem that exists is a really practical one: how many doctors or nurses are going to know where their vaccines come from and how they were manufactured? I would guess very, very few. So what is a Christian to do in that case?


Part of the problem of being a pastor in the 21st century is trying to stay current on so many ethical issues facing us in our world today. There simply isn't enough time or energy to read up on everything - or even to know about all the dilemmas out there. Which makes it all the more important to know that we live under grace. That we live in the forgiveness earned by Jesus on the cross for us, and that is true for sins of ignorance, sins of weakness, sins committed as the lesser of two evils - all sins. My eternal life does not depend on my doing everything right, but because Jesus did everything right, and then died for my sins and gave me His perfection. That's not a free pass to sin or not care about such matters, but it is the salve this pastor's conscience needs! And it's true for you too.


Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Small World

My father is 91 years old and has been living with me and my family for about two years now. He has some dementia; he is somewhat forgetful. I have begun to notice that his world has become very small. What I mean is that his focus is very narrow, on the task at hand. If he is eating dinner, that's his focus and he really doesn't seem to be cognizant of the rest of us eating with him. He goes about his routines, which give needed structure to his life, and does not consider much else. It seems that with age, and maybe because of the dementia, his world has become very small. I don't know how else to describe it.

That's interesting to me for when one is a child, the world is so very big, with lots of things to explore, things to try and experience. But now, for my father, the exact opposite seems to have taken place - there is where he is and what he is doing, and not much else. Perhaps that is a blessing, I'm not really sure. It hasn't been easy for him or us making this life transition, but the Lord has given us some extra years and extra time with my father, and I am learning a lot about myself and serving and patience. And that's good.

Been a long day. I'm going to bed. :-)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Good Word from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Those working for the gay rights agenda often compare themselves to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights battles of the 60's and 70's. So to them, I offer this quote from the man himself:
Who you would change you must first love.
If you really are following in the footsteps of this man, then would you be forcing businesses to close, jailing those who disagree with you, and hatefully shouting down anyone who may voice another opinion? What you are doing may be advancing your cause, but it is not helpful to our culture, our society, or ultimately to yourselves.

I'm not saying that persons on the other side of this debate, including many Christians, are always loving. We don't get a pass either, and if the only Christians you know are from Westboro Baptist, I don't blame you for hating all Christians. But we're not all like that, you know.

So maybe we should spend some time talking to each other, rather than just at each other. Maybe we should try to understand the other side before calling them haters, bigots, racists, homophobes, or worse. Maybe we should try to love our neighbor, for after all, there was someone who said that long before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
And one of them, a lawyer, asked [Jesus] a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
~ Matthew 22:35-40
Maybe we should give it a try. And maybe then, we'll find out something about love, too.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Religious Liberty

Hi. I know I still haven't posted anything about vacation. Sorry about that. Just haven't been motivated to post much and have a lot of balls up in the air right now, trying to juggle them all. I'm hoping things settle down in a few weeks and I can have a month to breathe and catch up a bit. (I seem to say that a lot and it never happens!)




This week I was privileged to attend the above conference on Religious Liberty, sponsored by the new (but not yet opened) Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty. (Click here for more information on the Center.) I learned much these few days listening to good speakers and had good conversations with the other attendees. It is also encouraging to know that there are highly skilled and intelligent people thinking about these issues and presenting the truth about them. We talked about these issues from theological, legal, and philosophical points of view. All are important in presenting the truth to both those in the church and those outside of her. We also heard about how to move forward after the Supreme Court's recent decision. The Center will play an important role with that - moving forward.

So I am glad I went, though it set me back a bit with my other work. Now to read and think more about these issues and how to teach and present the truth. And withstand the persecution that seems to be coming . . .

Friday, September 4, 2015

Moses and Ephesians

Well, I'm back from a great vacation. I'll post about that soon with some pictures, but for now, just something I noticed from Morning Prayer today . . .

Moses' life can be broken down into three 40 years segments:
From birth to 40 years old in Egypt.
Then 40 years a shepherd in Midian.
Then 40 years wandering with Israel in the wilderness to the border of the Promised Land.

Now, this isn't perfect - it doesn't account for however long it took for Pharaoh to agree to let Israel go and the time it took them to get to the border of the Promised Land the first time, but still, it seems pretty interesting to me!

But maybe I'm just weird . . .  :-)

And then also we read this from Ephesians (4:17-20a) this morning:
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—
Sounds a lot like modern day unbelievers. And then we read from Gregory the Great who said:
. . . refuse to put wicked fables before the clearest truth, and what you may happen to read or hear contrary to the rule of the catholic and apostolic creed, judge it altogether deadly and diabolical.  . . .  Indeed, they put on a cloak of piety and chastity, but under this deceit they conceal the filthiness of their acts . . .
What are the wicked fables we so hear today? Untruths, half-truths, that many consider truth? And how often it has to do with two things: money and sensuality. Monsters those two can be. Had another recently leave the Confession of the truth for this. It always saddens me. Not just the leaving, but the blindness, thinking the truth isn't changing. Really?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Vacation!

A late vacation this year, but finally here!
See you all when we get back.  :-)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Protest Pictures

Here are a couple pictures from the protest at Planned un-Parenthood today. I was told there were over a thousand folks that  came! By the end, we lined the street all around the block, surrounding the building - pretty impressive. I hope there will be some reports about how the protest in other cities went. A few folks from my church were able to come also. 


This was the crowd already there when I arrived.


Later. You can see the people now extending all the way down to the end of the block.


Two of my newly confirmed came! Good sign!


And they got a free shirt too.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Come to the Protest Tomorrow!

Come to the protest in front of Planned Parenthood the baby death camp and organ supply depot tomorrow. You need to do this. Don't have time? Neither do I. I am leaving for vacation and have about a thousand things to do before that, not to mention getting ready for Sunday. But if not now, when? The videos have exposed an evil that cannot be denied. Come. Your presence and voice is needed. This has to stop. Now. Come. Really.

9:00-11:00 am
303 S Maple Street Suite 300
Falls Church, VA  22046

Here is a link to the Facebook page:


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Abortion Video Collateral Damage

Our local pregnancy center sent out an e-mail with a very good and important point. As horrified as we have been with the videos showing the callous disregard for life and the selling of baby body parts, imagine the woman who had an abortion because she believed what she was told about it NOT being a baby, but just a clump of cells. Now she is coming to grips with what she has done . . . oh my. Let us not forget these women and their need for our love and Christ's healing forgiveness.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Summertime, and the Living is . . . busy!

I don't know if this is the case for all pastors, but my summers are not times when things slow down, but are busier than ever. We had VBS right after school ended. Then I finished up my catechumens and rejoiced in their confirmation. Then off to Higher Things for a week, followed by a visit from  Bishop Omolo from Kenya with some meetings and get togethers for him, and in between all these things and their preparation, Circuit Visitor trips and meetings. Also, I just finished finalizing plans for our Circuit Pastor's Retreat in September. I am looking forward to that time with my brothers spent in liturgy and Scripture study and discussion.

So, I'm tired and much looking forward to vacation! I still have a couple weeks to go - taking a late vacation this year, combining it with dropping my son off for his second year of college. Soon . . .

Also, here is a picture of the pectoral crucifix we purchased as a gift for Bishop Omolo and presented to him during his visit:


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Nyapalo, Kenya Lutheran Church

We are hosting Bishop Joseph Omolo of the Lutheran Church in Kenya for a few days. Last night he shared with us a picture of the church in Nyapalo that our congregation has partnered with and helped to build. Here are before and after pictures:


This is what the church looked like when I preached there. Very small and the walls were mud and stick construction and as you can see, beginning to fall apart.


Here is the new church. Brick and mortar construction and much larger. No windows or doors yet - they are trying to raise the needed funds for those.

It was good to finally see a picture of the church we helped to build! I know that there have been controversies with the church in Kenya and with the leadership, but how good to be able to help our brothers and sisters in Christ this way. Yet, in a way, ironic, as they have a church building and we do not! :-)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Sunday Transformation

I will post a final Higher Things post soon, maybe tomorrow. For today, just wanted to show you our sanctuary from this morning. The Adventists from whom we rent space for church have their Vacation Bible School this week, starting tonight. They always decorate quite heavily for this, as many churches do. But for them it includes the sanctuary, which is the space we also need. So, each year there is one Sunday (at least) where we have lots of less-than-worshipful-and-sacred things in the church. This year, it is Mt. Kilimanjaro! Here are the before and after pictures:


Here is the chancel when I arrived.


Here is the "Lutheranized" chancel!

We hung curtains in front of all their decorations and placed our altar, pulpit, and candles in from of the curtains. Nothing we could do about the things on the side walls, but at least our view forward wasn't bad. :-)

The Adventists are usually pretty good at taking their stuff down after their VBS is over, so hopefully next Sunday it will all be back to normal. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Higher Things Day 5

Last day of the conference! :-(  This is always both a sad and joyful day as we rejoice in all we've done and received, and yet leaving friends old and new and re-acquaintances. So this morning, Matins and the final plenary, lots of thank yous and packing, lunch, and then the closing service. The closing service is always great, as we have the choir and instrumentalists who have been practicing all week, a sermon that wraps everything up, and get to sing the conference hymn one more time. (We also got to sing For All the Saints, one of my all-time favorites!).

Here are the stats from the conference:


Right after the closing service we checked out and headed for Ohio. Spending the night in North Lima. That will get us roughly halfway home, maybe a little more, so not too much driving for Saturday. The hotel here is basic but clean, so both hotels this year were definitely better than last year's debacle!

Just a few more odds and ends . . .

Yes, the Mike and Ike's made an appearance driving last night! In case you don't know, they are the official candy of Higher Things road trips. (And the red ones are still nasty!)

"Flat Jesus!"


There was some kind of challenge going on for one youth group to get a picture of all the pastors there with "flat Jesus." (Think of "Flat Stanley" and this will make more sense. And if you don't know who Flat Stanley is, ask the Google, who knows everything.) Though I think he looks more like Flat Moses. Anyway.


Kitty and a new friend at lunch.


Another picture of Bumper Ball - you can see how crowded and bumpy it is!

So home later today, early afternoon probably. As usual, all want to come back next year! That will probably be in Nashville, TN for us, at Vanderbilt University. Theme: Bread of Life. Can't wait!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Higher Things Day 4

Thursday is the last full day of the conference and it is always packed with stuff. I taught my breakout session for the second time - better than the first time, of course! I ran out of time, though, and had to rush a bit at the end. But it was good. Good questions and comments from the kids.

The preaching all week has, as usual, been outstanding. It is a pleasure for me to be able to sit and be fed. And so often! A couple more pictures of the chapel:




And then, being our last night here, there's lots to do during free time. One of the fun things was called "Bumper Ball." What's that? It's this:


You put on a giant inflatable ball and run around crashing into other people while trying to play soccer and score goals. What happens is not so much soccer, but trying to crash into people and knock them over!


Yes, that's me tumbling to the ground!

Each game was to either three goals or seven minutes, whichever came first. I thought to myself, "Seven minutes? That's not very long." But when you're inside one of those bubbles, it is! I was really tired at the end of the time.

Then I was encouraged by the girls to jump into the pick-up basketball game next door. 


Yeah, that was a good idea . . . trying to go with a bunch of kids a THIRD my age! But it was fun. Even though I'm going to be sore for the next few days, I'm sure.

I also got to meet a fellow SELC Pastor from the Chicago area and talk to him a bit. I was also stopped in the hall way by a man who wanted me to know that he logs onto our Morning Prayer on the web every once in a while, when he can. Wow! That's kind of cool.

So today we have Matins, the final plenary session, lunch, and then the closing Divine Service. And you what the best part of that will be? Me not assisting, but getting to sit between my kids for the service. That doesn't happen often enough. Then the long trek home . . .

Higher Things Day 3

(Sorry this post is late, but the internet on campus was out this morning and I couldn't get anything done.)

Wednesday is the longest day at Higher Things. Three of the breakout sessions (half) are today, along with the plenary. However, the day was enjoyable for me as I did not have to teach or lead anything, so I got to wear comfy clothes and enjoy listening. :-)

The first breakout I went to had the bishops of the Lutheran Church in Thailand and Ukraine talk to us via Skype. After hearing about their churches, challenges, and joys, the kids had a chance to ask questions. I think their situations were pretty eye opening for them. Here is a picture of the bishop from Thailand speaking with us:


I wish we had a little longer for this session. These guys were very interesting.

After that I went to see the art work in the Lutheran Church close to the campus here. A man in the congregation, a very gifted artist, depicted the Te Deum on the walls all around the sanctuary. It is very impressive. When I have more time, I'll post all the pictures with some explanation, but for now, here is glimpse:


Here you can see the panels wrapping around
the sanctuary.


Here is the prophets panel.

For the evening breakout I went with my daughter to listen to a campus ministry pastor talk to the kids about surviving your first year at college. He made many good points, and maybe can help me get something kick started at George Mason again, where we've been struggling a bit.

For the evening free time, I went to see a local improv group perform - very funny. And a couple more pictures:


Sarah and I waiting for the plenary to begin.
You can see how full this large auditorium is!


This year's official group photo.

Finally, the weather has been fabulous. The food . . . meh.