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??

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Great Quote

I have often remarked about how similar much Reformed theology is to Rome, although they would never admit it and be horrified at the thought.

I read this quote recently (though sadly, don't remember where!), which says the same thing, just much better:

"The Reformed ran so far away from Rome that they circled the globe and wound up back there."

:-)


Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Nice Try

Saw this "license plate" on a car as I was driving to the post office yesterday . . .

 


In case you can't read it, it says: "Plate applied for 12/4/20!" Not sure that's gonna fly with the police, but an A for effort? :-)


Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Election Day Worries?

A good read for you today . . .

God's Not Worried About the Election

1:30 pm update - I did not vote early. I am kind of an old fashioned guy who still votes on election day. Went to my polling place right after Noontime prayer and walked right in. No line whatsoever. 5 minutes tops. Thank you to everyone who voted early and waited in lines for hours to make my life easy today! ;-)


Thursday, October 29, 2020

Undoing the Reformation?

With Reformation day on Saturday, a post for the Reformation . . .



Undoing the Reformation?


One of the things that greatly helped the cause of the Reformation was technology - the advent of the printing press. Could technology now be undoing the Reformation?


Before the Reformation, the people were largely spectators in church. People watched what was happening (when they could see), but didn’t participate. There was very little preaching. Many didn’t understand the language (Latin), they didn’t sing (the choir did that), they seldom received the Sacrament of the Altar. It was for most “ocular” communion - the belief that they could receive some kind of benefit just by seeing the Body and Blood of Jesus lifted up by the priest, whatever “hocus pocus” had caused the bread and wine to be changed. For most, it was the “professionals” who were doing what needed to be done. The people just watched (when they could see), or prayed at side altars.


The Reformation changed all that. With the German Mass, people sang parts of the liturgy in their own language. They sang hymns that taught the faith. The Words of Jesus in the Sacrament were spoken loudly and clearly for all to hear. They received the Body and Blood of Jesus (both kinds, not just one), and frequently. Church was for them again!


But today, and especially with the rise of Covid, many people have reverted to watching church again. Because people could not come to church, churches (including mine) now live stream services on the internet. But I wonder - are people participating? Certainly, they cannot receive the Body and Blood of Jesus at home, but what else are they not doing? Do they stand at the appropriate times? Speak the congregational parts? Kneel? Confess? Bow their heads? Or do people just sit and watch as spectators again? The situation is not quite as bad as before the Reformation, since the preaching and liturgy are in the language of the people, but I wonder how many are watching the whole service? How many fast forwarding to the sermon? How many not even listening to the whole sermon?


Live streaming and recorded services can be good and provide a valuable service . . . for those who must quarantine, those who cannot physically come to church, the sick, and perhaps also as an introduction to the church for those unfamiliar with it. It is easier to click and watch before stepping in the door. Those are good things. But if the electronic church becomes a substitute for those who can come, and should come, if it makes the people into spectators again (as sometimes happens in some “contemporary” services, which are more of a show than participation by the congregation), then are we unwittingly undoing the Reformation (at least in regard to worship)? Leaving church to the “professionals” again. That would not be good.


Thursday, October 8, 2020

Good Virus and Coronavirus Information Video

I was informed about this video which explains viruses in general, and has a lot of information about the coronavirus in particular. The man presenting is a virologist and also the mayor of a town in California. His presentation is clear and easy to understand. I believe it is non-partisan, which seems to be hard to come by these days! (I cannot tell what political party he belongs to.) About 25 minutes into the video, after he gets through a lot of virus stuff, he starts to talk about the situation in California in particular - but not for too long. There is good stuff after that section, too, so don't turn it off at that point. So anyway, if you're not too Covid-weary and would like some clear information (and about viruses in general), click here.


Saturday, September 19, 2020

Back to Vacation

I never finished my vacation photos . . . I don't have many left, actually. After leaving southwestern Virginia, we went to Appomattox/Lynchburg and spent a couple of days there. We saw the site where Lee surrendered to Grant and the Civil War Museum there. Another day we went to see the Country Estate of Thomas Jefferson called Poplar Forest and the D-Day Memorial. So this was more of an historical stop than a hiking/outdoors spot, although our hotel here did have an outdoor pool that was OPEN, so we enjoyed that very much. :-)  Anyway, a couple of pictures of the D-Day Memorial . . .




The pictures don't do it justice. This was a very cool memorial that it took some time to walk through. Very well done. It you are down near Lynchburg, I highly recommend it. 

After this top, we had a couple of days left and so headed back up to northwestern Virginia to hike some more of the George Washington National Forest and to some of the waterfalls up there. However, storms were moving in - both to where we were at and at home, so we cut short a couple of days and came home. But overall, a very good and relaxing vacation this year. 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

New Deck

 So we've been wanting to replace our deck for a few years now. Here's what it looked like:


It was in pretty bad shape. So two years ago I had some contractors come and give me an estimate. The one I really liked never returned my calls or emails. :-(  So I dragged my feet . . .  Last year I had three more contractors come over - two I really didn't feel comfortable with, and the third was okay. So I was going to go with him . . . but dragged my feet again. So this year, I contacted 5 more contractors and asked for estimates. Only one got back to me! But I felt very comfortable with this company and they were highly rated, so we went with them. Turns out it was a good decision. They did an incredible job, were courteous, cleaned up at the end of each day, and weren't put out by all my questions.



With this Covid summer, scheduling has been a problem for them, so they couldn't say exactly when they would be able to do the work. The county is very slow with their permits, weather delays, etc. They also told me that materials were not always available and that when they were ready, the materials may not be. So what we did was order the material right away and got it delivered to my house. My wife and I carried it ALL into the garage (and there was a lot!) where it sat and waited until they had an opening in their schedule to install it. And that was this week. :-)  They thought it was going to be a day and a half, maybe a two day job. Turned out to be 3 1/2 days! But the results are great. Then today the owner told me that my decision to buy and have the materials delivered and wait was genius - these materials are not available now and we would have had to wait a lot longer.

A couple of the things I wanted to do when they tore out my old deck was (1.) close off the fox den that was under there, so that if the foxes ever get back under there, they can't just move back in! And (2.) get rid of all the trash that had been thrown under there before. Successful on both counts. I also took a picture of some of the interesting items of trash we found under there . . .


A toy gun, a long drill bit, a fork, a steak knife, a wrench, and a chicken bone! I'm not sure if the chicken bone was left there by humans, foxes, raccoons, or some other critter, but all now gone. :-)  We are very pleased with the results, and I would highly recommend this company if you are looking into getting or replacing a deck.




Tuesday, September 1, 2020

A Couple of Books

For exercise, one of the things I do is ride my bike on a stationary trainer in my basement. If you've ever ridden a bike indoors, you know that the times on the bike drags! It seems like a ride takes forever. But if I read while riding, the time usually flies. So that's what I do. Sometimes theology, but not always. I like to read other things as well, and as I am somewhat of a history buff, and especially American (Revolutionary and Civil War) history, I read a bunch of that. 

So, I thought I'd share with you two books I recently finished:


I found this book in a used book store last year sometime. I've been to Saratoga Battlefield and knew the story somewhat. But what separated this book from the rest was that a good portion of it was dedicated to the events leading up to the battle of Saratoga - a lot of information not usually given. That helped put it into context and really shed some light. So if you like this kind of history, I recommend it. It's not a "page turner" like a Jeff Shaara book is (more popularly written), and it's not short, but definitely worth the time to get into the nitty gritty. I also see that he has written on the Victory at Yorktown and Battles at Trenton and Princeton - I might have to look into those.

The book I read while on vacation this year:


I've read other books by McCullough and have usually enjoyed them. This book is not new - written back in 1978, I think - but very highly rated and does not disappoint. Again, what I really like about this book is all the historical things that happened that are not usually presented. Like, how the French were the ones to actually try and build this thing, but failed. How America got involved. All the challenges building this canal presented. So again, I would recommend. :-)

What am I going to read next? Not sure. Maybe some theology. I have some books on tap to read. I just ordered a Jeff Shaara book on the Civil War Battle of Vicksburg - used, but that hasn't arrived yet. We'll have to see what I feel like this afternoon . . .

Monday, August 31, 2020

Stunned

So I was sitting out on my sun porch on Saturday working on my sermon when this little guy flew into the glass . . . pretty hard!


At first, he was on his back, just moving his mouth. Then when I unlatched the door and began to move it, he flipped over to his feet and just sat there, stunned. I talked to him a little, took his picture, but he didn't move for a bit. Until it started raining! Then he hopped under a planter box we have on our deck for cover, though it looked like he either hurt a wing or was still a bit loopy. A while later, I saw one of our neighborhood foxes going by and looked to see if this little guy was still on the deck - but he was gone. Glad he seemed to have recovered. :-)


Saturday, August 29, 2020

The Devil's Bathtub

Catchy name, huh? :-)

Before leaving southwestern Virginia, we had to hike to the Devil's Bathtub. It's a loop hike - about a two mile hike in one direction (and crossing 10 streams or so), and about five miles for the rest of the loop. I wanted to do the whole loop, but signs warned us that the dry, five mile section of the hike is not much used and therefore not as well maintained. So if we didn't have a map and a compass (which we did not), we should do the two mile out and back. So we did. :-)

We went early in the morning, and boy are we glad we did! Not because of the heat, but because of the crowds! We passed one couple coming back on our way out, but we must have passed 20-30 groups while we were returning. It's not an easy hike, but well-known and a popular destination. We saw some people we knew wouldn't make it the whole way. Not hilly, but the creek crossings could be tricky.

Anyway, some pictures . . .




After this hike, there was another one we wanted to do - three waterfalls of decent size, all within one mile of the trailhead. It was a bit of a drive, but we found it. Unfortunately, my hiking boot thought we were done for the day . . .  It had started to come apart walking back from the Devil's Bathtub, but while on this little hike, it really become a problem! Then it started raining (really hard!) and I had to slog back to the car with a hiking boot that looked like this:


So, a trip to Wal-Mart, purchase some Shoo-Goo, and a repair job was next up. :-)  And good-bye to Natural Tunnel State Park . . .


Thursday, August 27, 2020

Huh?

 In Morning Prayer today, we read the following words:

. . . if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my rules . . .

~ 1 Kings 9:4

Huh?

How could God say such things of David? Doesn't He remember Bathsheba, the adultery, how David tried to cover it up, and then finally murdered her husband?

Well, no, actually, He doesn't remember! David was forgiven. That means those sins of his were separated from him as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). Now, when the Lord looked at David, He did not see an awful sinner - He saw a forgiven son.

And that is how He looks at you, too! Your sin, your unworthiness, your shame, your guilt, all that would separate you from your heavenly Father has been put on Christ and taken away from you. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). With the forgiveness of sins, that is all gone. 

Pretty awesome, huh?  :-)


Wednesday, August 19, 2020

More Vacation . . .

After a couple of days in Shenandoah, we drove down to Roanoke and spent the weekend there. We went kayaking on the James River - no pictures, though, as I didn't want to risk getting my camera wet! But we went down the river for a few miles, including some rapids areas. A nice day.

We did get to see the "Roanoke Star" - a famous landmark there. 


Here it is up close.  :-)

We also ate at a place called "Awful Arthur's Seafood." And while Arthur may be awful, his food was pretty good.

We then traveled down to the far southwest corner of the state and stayed in Natural Tunnel State Park. As you can see, the cabins there are REALLY nice!


And the Natural Tunnel is cool, too. Here are some views from the top and bottom, and you can see how deep the gorge that it's in is!


View from the top.


From the bottom, looking into the tunnel.


And the size of the gorge!

We hiked throughout the park the days we were there, though we did get caught in the rain. The forest blocked a lot of the rain, but we still got pretty wet.


Here we are a bit waterlogged, sitting on the porch of the cabin.

While we always hoped to see some bears, we didn't get to see any. We did see a bunch of wild turkeys, though, which look really funny when they're running!

After this, on to Appamattox!

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

A "Little" VBS

So with all the Covid restrictions still in place, our VBS this year (as many are) is online. Craft packets were delivered to all the children ahead of time (thanks Jess!) and we can have some time together hearing God's Word in our WebEx room. Not ideal, but something, at least. A few pictures . . .


From the small chapel set up in my basement. From this chapel I did our Lenten midweek services after the closures went into place. This is where I do Noontime prayer as well. So seemed like the right place to have VBS opening, story, and prayers as well.


Lighting the candles.


Reading the Scriptures.


Turning water into wine!

The children seemed to have fun with it today. Hopefully that will continue. Trying to figure out how to have some kind of Sunday School for them in the Fall as well, since we are not expecting any relief from the current restrictions until next year. I hope I'm wrong! But I doubt it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

One Year Ago Today

2:17 am. August 12th. My father was called home to heaven. My sister, wife, and I at his bedside, holding his hands. Very hard day. I miss him every day. 


Since I was up in Pennsylvania on Sunday to preach, I stopped by the cemetery on my way home. I got him a little rose - he always loved roses. Always had them in the garden in front of his house. He was a fantastic gardener. I remember that he was always frustrated at the Japanese beetles eating his roses, and when they got blackspot disease. He taught me how to properly prune them, though I've forgotten now. Maybe one day I'll plant a rose bush around the house for him.



Looking forward to our reunion in Christ Jesus . . .

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Waterfalls

A lot of the hikes we took were specifically to waterfalls. My wife got a book out of the library to direct us to them. So the first few days in Shenandoah were hiking to waterfalls. There was some rain and we did get wet, but it was all good. One thing that was disappointing was not be able to watch a good sunset because of the clouds.

Some pics . . .






In this last pic, if I didn't know that was my youngest daughter, I wouldn't be able to tell. Looks exactly like my older daughter!

Monday, August 10, 2020

Vacation Stop 1

I promised some vacation posts . . .

Our first stop was Shenandoah National Park. We decided that in this Covid time, this would be a largely outdoor vacation - lots of hiking and stuff. 

When we entered the park, we turned off at the first overlook and found a hiking trail up to a place called Mary's rock. A very good beginning. Pretty much uphill the whole way (and so downhill the whole way back!), but with a great view at the end.


On the way up.


At the top. Those roads you see? That's pretty close to where we started.  :-)

My wife told me about a cool app called "Map My Walk" (they also have one for biking called "Map My Ride") - so I tried it out on our hikes. Here's some of the data from this one:


These apps are from UnderArmour and track you on GPS. I haven't used the bike one yet, but am looking forward to it!

Another Visitor

Apparently, the chairs on our front porch are REALLY comfortable! Just a day or two after our other resting visitor (see previous post for that), we had another napper . . .


Now I wonder who will be next?  :-)

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Back from Vacation

Back after a little R & R. Vacation. Or holiday if you're British. Walkabout if your Australian. I'll post some pictures and tell you what we did in the days to come. But all in all, a good detox from most technology for me. No computer, no iPad, though I did have my phone - though I tried not to use it very much. 

But this morning, our first morning "back at it," we had a welcome back from one of the neighborhood foxes. I've posted about them before. Here's one of the little fellas this morning:
He's just chillin' in one of the chairs on our front porch. :-)  Not sure if it's just plain comfy, or a good vantage point to watch for chipmunks! (They have a hole in the garden right under the plants in front on him.) He looked a little tired though, maybe from hunting all night. Maybe he'll get a little nap.

Monday, July 20, 2020

In Case You Ever Wondered . . .


I case you ever wondered what I would look like with hoops! (C'mon, I know that you were!) We took this picture while moving my daughter into a new apartment in Richmond on Saturday. It's almost twice the size of her old student apartment next to VCU. Her cat, Bronx, wasn't too sure he'd like it, but I think he's getting used to it . . .  :-)

Ordination


Ordination of Brett Witmer (one of our adopted seminarians)
at Bethel Lutheran Church, Sutherland, IA
(He's the guy with the big smile in the middle!)

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Installation


Rev. Daniel Broaddus
Pastor of Zion Lutheran Church
Edgerton, Ohio

While I was there for the installation, I found out that this church and some of the others in the area were started by Friedrich Wyneken (one of the fathers of the LCMS) himself, who served as a circuit rider in that area. Pretty cool. Nice little church. Nice people. Very well kept. 

Friday, June 5, 2020

Just a Thought . . .

Are we so afraid of death that we are now afraid of life?

Jesus died and rose again not just to give us life later, but life now.
Set free from the fear of death, we can now live.

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
~ John 10:10b

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Will Things Ever Be the Same?

I have been seeing lots of articles asking how the Church will look after this pandemic is over. Will it be the same? Will it ever? Or will some things never be the same as they were?

Let me answer that question: We will be the same.

During this time we have adapted, we have adjusted, and we have in some ways expanded. What we have not done is change. Before, during, and after this pandemic, the Church is all about Christ and His gifts. Before, during, and after this pandemic, same Christ, same gifts, same Gospel. As it was before the pandemic, so it is now, and so it will be after.

Perhaps there are some churches which have lost their focus and for which being church meant something else. For them, maybe things will not be the same - and that would be a good thing! A return to a focus - or a re-focus - on Christ and what really matters. And maybe we have learned (or re-learned) this, too. And that’s a good thing.

But as far as delivering the gifts - nothing will change. We will still gather as God’s people. We will still sing. We will still confess and receive the absolution. We will still proclaim Christ and him crucified. We will still have baptisms. We will still give the Lord’s Supper - including using the chalice. We have not stopped, and we will not. For all this is the life of Christ given to us. And there is nothing more important.

So when this is all over, or at least restrictions are eased, and you come back to church, you know what you will find? The same church. You might sit farther apart for a while, maybe some of you will wear masks for a while. But those things aren’t what the church IS. What the church IS will not change. You’ll recognize it. You’ll hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. And you’ll rejoice in His goodness and mercy, that has brought us through this time - and all times - until He brings us home to Him.

Thanks be to God!

Monday, May 11, 2020

Graduation

So Saturday was my daughter's graduation from VCU . . . but, of course, without all the pomp and circumstance. She came up and we had our own celebration that day. It was nice to spend the day with her and recognize her achievement. Here are some pictures. Pretty good, I think! #ProudPapa