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??

Monday, December 25, 2017

A Christmas Gift

You were in church last night. I was so overjoyed to see you. It had been so long. I’d been thinking about you and hoping to see you. And then I did, and my heart leapt for joy. 

Some people criticize those who come to church only on Christmas and Easter. I do not criticize you. Do I wish to see you more often? Yes. I want to see you every week. But that does not lessen my joy that you were there last night. I hope you felt my joy in you.

Last night we rejoiced in the gift of a Saviour. But I received another Christmas gift last night: you. Thank you for coming.

And if you’re reading this and didn’t come last night, I missed you. And I pray that you are my gift next Christmas. Or maybe sooner than that . . .

Your Good Shepherd and His unworthy undershepherd

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Good Words

You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off;
fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

                                                           ~ Isaiah 41:9b-10

Monday, December 18, 2017

Does God Answer Prayer?

What a question for a pastor to ask! Does God answer prayer? Of course the answer is yes. He has said so in His word. That settles it.

So . . . why this blog post?

Well, because I included some prayers in the Thanksgiving sermon I preached this year. [Click here to read that sermon - the prayers are the second half.] After I did, I had a parishioner say to me: "I wouldn't pray those prayers!" Well, God seems to be answering those prayers. I've been struggling a bit of late. Things too big for me, humbling me. Sadness, anxiety. God seems to be answering my prayers to strength my faith and work me in. It's been tough. But I know it is also good.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

What Your Pastor Wants for Christmas

Note: Some of the things below are true in my situation, but some are not; some are from things brother pastors have told me and that I know they are going through.

Do you know the story of the man who has been working so much and has spent little time at home? One night he brings home flowers for his wife. She appreciates the gesture. They're nice. But it's not really what she wants. What does she want? She wants him. For him to be there for her. To spend time with her.

Well, do you know what your Pastor wants for Christmas? You.

Cash, gifts, cards, they're nice. They are appreciated. But what he really wants is you.

For you to come to the Bible class he has prepared. (Not interested in the topic? Tell him what you are interested in!)

For you to come to church every Sunday (did you know he writes a different sermon every week?), or to the midweek service, especially if it is online and you don't have to go out - just log on with your computer! Or maybe leave work a little early once in a while to come?

For you to forgive him when he is having a bad day. Did you know pastors have bad days, too? And pastors mess up - maybe more than you know.

For you to bring a friend to church.

For you to be a friend. Pastors get discouraged sometimes. They get an awfully lot of bad news and bears the sorrows, griefs, and struggles of a whole lot of people. That can be a really heavy load, in addition to their own guilt and struggles and worries.

For you to pray for him. A lot.

For you to read what he writes. It takes time, effort, and care to compose things for you. But if you don't care enough to read them . . .

For you to hug him once in a while. You might be surprised what that little gesture might mean.

And maybe you already do all of the above for your pastor. If so, THANK YOU! It means more to your pastor than you know.

But now, if you've read this far, I ask you: What do you from your pastor for Christmas? I know not many people read my little blog, but if you would, add a comment on what you want. (Be anonymous if you want.) I have some thoughts - maybe I'll share them another time. I'd rather hear from you right now. What do you want from your pastor for Christmas?

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

What Advent Is All About

The season of Advent is usually the time we also receive Christmas cards - although not as many any more. Just as email has replaced snail mail, so too has Facebook (though I'm not on it) replaced the Christmas letters that come in Christmas cards as the preferred method of updating folks on what's happened this past year. But we still get some and yesterday we received the card that is almost
always the first one each year, from some friends in Philadelphia. Opening the card and the letter, I immediately remarked to Laurie that the letter was shorter than usual. Well, turns out that was because it was all this now widow could manage to write as she told us of her husband's stroke and then death two days later . . . just one month ago. Sadness. I had even thought to myself last week that something must be wrong since we hadn't received their card yet!

Christmas letters have often been called brag letters, telling folks how great the kids are and all the accomplishments of the year. But a sad Christmas letter in Advent . . . well, it seems to me, that's what Advent is all about. Jesus coming for us. To save us from sin and the wages of sin, death. So a letter like this . . . it's why we celebrate Christmas. And it's the greatest gift this grieving widow will receive this year - the gift of knowing that her dear husband is celebrating this Christmas with Christ. And knowing that she will, too, someday. With him again.

So yeah, letters like this - this is what Advent is all about.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Don't Let Christmas Ruin Your Advent

This is one of my favorite phrases that I have coined (at least I don't recall hearing it from anyone else!): Don't let Christmas ruin your Advent.

I like that because most people tend to think the other way around - that the Church, with the season of Advent and its focus on repentance and holding off singing Christmas hymns until Christmas, ruins the Christmas season. Its a giant downer when the rest of the world is merry and bright.

But perhaps there's another way to look at it . . . That if we let the merry and bright of the world's Christmas overshadow Advent and make us miss out on it, that we are missing out on something beautiful in its own right. For Advent is a beautiful season. A season of yes, repentance, but also of waiting and rejoicing in the gifts of God, especially the gift of His Son who came, is coming, and will come again.

And then there's this, too: this holiday season with all its demands can make the month of December a quite busy, hectic, and difficult time - a time people just try to get "done." But Advent helps us stop and rest and take a breather in the midst of it all; a time to hear the Word of God speak to us in the midst of busy life; a time to pray and focus on more than just merry and bright. So that when Christmas does come, our joy is not ending but just beginning!

So don't let Christmas ruin your Advent. Enjoy Advent and Christmas both this year. :-)