Exciting news!

“Leadership in the small church”

When I heard about the above continuing education opportunity I was intrigued.  I serve two small congregations in SW MN.  So an educational event about leadership in a small congregation sounded good to me.  But then I heard it was at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, VA.  At that point I lost some enthusiasm.  I mean…that’s a long ways and would be a spendy continuing education trip…something my congregation might not be able to afford (let alone me).  But the title still intrigued me so decided I checked it out…to satisfy my curiosity.  I learned that this opportunity was fully funded by a Lilly Grant (travel, lodging, pulpit supply…everything).  Now my interest was peeked again.  Then I learned that only 25 pastors (and spouses) are selected from across the country.  There was a lengthy application process for me, my spouse and congregation to fill out.  There would be homework before, during and after, but it would be something that would enhance my ministry, offer support for my wife and encourage my congregation.  It seemed like a long shot but we decided to go for it.

And oh by the way…my bishop is the one who put me on to this and encouraged me to go for it.

So I gathered a team from Salem to fill out the church’s part of the application.  I gave Connie her information and I went to work on mine.  We were all very excited but still reserved.  After all…only 25 couples get selected, but what did we have to lose.

I got my stuff turned in by the deadline (Dec. 15, 2009) and we began waiting…and praying.  We would know by sometime in early February.

Well…today is February 1.  The phone rings and on the other end is a woman from Virginia Theological Seminary.  I knew right then and there they probably weren’t calling me to say I did not make it…and I was right.

My wife and I are going to Virginia for the Summer Collegium at Virginia Theological Seminary (check out the link for more information); June 23 – July 1 of this year.  Out of 175 applicants we were one of 25 elected.  PRAISE BE TO GOD!  My wife and I are humbled to be chosen and excited for the opportunity; excited for us and for our congregation.  Now the real work begins.  A packet of information will be coming my way shortly and I am sure you will be hearing much more about this throughout the year.

For right now…Connie and I are super excited and praising God for this opportunity.  I can hardly wait to see what God is going to do with us (and our congregation) through this event.

Praise be to God!

To be continued…


2012 – The end of the world?

If you spend any amount of time watching TV you have probably seen an advertisement or two about a new movie coming out called 2012.  It ‘s a movie about the end of the world that the Mayan calendar predicts.  These 2012; end of the world beliefs are starting to become very widespread in our culture and as Christians we need to be informed about what this is all about and how, as Christians, we are to respond to this.  Recently I listened to a podcast about this topic at a website called Breaking Unbelief at:  http://www.breakingunbelief.org.  The podcast is called What is the hype about 2012 and the end of the world.  I found it very informative and interesting.  It is about 30 minutes long.  One of the guys asking the questions in this podcast is Tim Chaffey (a college friend of my wife’s).  He spoke at Salem this past Sunday about God and suffering.  It was a great talk.  He is also a writer/contributor for the website Midwest Apologetics.  I haven’t thoroughly gone through this site yet, but I know Tim to be a very passionate and intelligent person.  I think he is worth a look.

The reason I am mentioning all of this is that the Gospel text for this Sunday from Mark 13:1-8 got me thinking.  I am not exactly sure how or if I will incorporate any of this on Sunday…but it still has me thinking.  Whether I include this 2012 stuff in the sermon or not I plan to do some more research so I can be better informed about this; so I can address this issue when it comes up with people.

Personally, as a Christian, the end of the world is not a scary thing.  Whether it happens on Dec. 21, 2012 or not should not be an issue.  But the more important thing to consider is that the Bible does not support such a belief (meaning an exact date…see Mark 13:32-37).  Maybe the Mayans were good with calendars and time, but predicting the future?  The Bible has about 500 some prophesies that have come true, but the most important future predictions that the Bible makes is that: (1) Jesus will come again, (2) there will be a resurrection, and (3) a final judgment.  The Bible talks about this and Jesus says “Stay Awake!”  As Christians we have an amazing opportunity here, but we need to be prepared and informed.

So with that…what resources, websites, etc have you found helpful in speaking about this 2012; end of the world belief that is out there?

I am going to continue my reading and will share insights as they come.

Praise be to God!


More processing…

O.K….I am back, writing about “the vote” at the ELCA CWA, but all I want to do here is share with you a couple snippets and let you process/respond to them.

FIRST — a woman came into my office last week to express her feelings about where the ELCA is going.  We had a very fruitful discussion, even though we have differing views.  She stopped in again today and handed me a piece of paper with 2 Cor. 6:14 – 7:1 written on it.  She said that this is where she is coming from.  She was on her way to another appointment so we couldn’t talk about it.  What do you think about this scripture in relation to the homosexuality discussion?

SECOND — I received this link on Facebook today.  It is a news release from the ELCA titled “The Church’s mission is bigger than one issue”.  I found this helpful.  What do you think?

Like most other people I am still processing.

Praise be to God!


Resource for preaching in difficult times

There has been much discussion about the ELCA vote last week at its Churchwide assembly.  And no doubt that many pastors wondered how to handle this at their respective congregations this past Sunday.  I know that I number of us dealt with the issues at hand and a number that choose not too.  Whatever you did in your congregation I trust that you are doing what you feel is best for your particular congregation.

Following is an article I came across by Dr. David Lose, the Marbury E. Anderson Biblical Preacher Chair at Luther Seminary (and the prof I had for my senior preaching class).  Dr. Lose posted this article on http://www.workingpreacher.org — a sermon prep website.  The article is titled Preaching Amid Controversy: Pastoral and Homiletical Counsel. I found this to be a very helpful article and a great reminder what we are called to do.  The article specifically mentions the ELCA Churchwide assembly, but it provides some wisdom for any difficult/trying situation in our congregation’s life.

I invite you to check this out and offer your comments.

As a pastor/preacher did you deal with the ELCA vote in your sermon this past Sunday?  Do you find Dr. Lose’s counsel helpful?


Act of God?

A friend of mine posted this link in a Facebook message to a group of us and it sure got the few of us talking.  I post the link here to see what you link of it.

The Tornado, The Lutherans and Homosexuality

It is John Piper’s interpretation of the tornado that struck during the ELCA CWA in Minneapolis last Wednesday.  Was God sending the ELCA a message?  Check the link out and see what Piper has to say and then let me know here.  I am curios what your thoughts are.

I will let you know what my thoughts are later.


Swinging on Monday, Aug. 17

O.K…it is time to get back into the swing of things once again.

Today is Monday, Aug. 17 and the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) is convening in Minneapolis for its Church wide assembly.  And this year promises to be one of heated (and hopefully) civil debate over the issue of homosexuality.  Tops on the agenda is the social statement on Human Sexuality.  Closely behind that is the ministry recommendations that would allow ordaining gay/lesbian pastors who are in life-long, committed relationships and for the blessing of same sex unions.  No matter where one stands; no matter what happens, there will be some polarization in the ELCA.  I hate to say it, but its going to happen.  My prayer is that the mission of Christ still continues marching forward and that we don’t let issues derail us.  Satan would love nothing more than for the Church to lose its focus.

Today is Monday, Aug. 17 and I am deep into getting ready for confirmation.  I mentioned in an earlier post that I am revamping my confirmation program here.  It is not a complete overhaul, but rather some important (and intriguing) additions to the schedule and requirements.  One of the key things I am doing is putting a greater emphasis on parental involvement.  I will talk more later on what I am doing with this.  I have a couple more piece I am finalizing yet, but I am really looking forward to this year.  It’s going to be a fun one.

Today is Monday, Aug. 17 and I am starting to feel a little anxiety.  In less than a month, Salem Lutheran Church will be celebrating its 125th anniversary and I don’t feel ready to go yet.  The big weekend is Sept. 12 and 13 and it keeps creeping closer and closer every day (duh…i guess).  It’s just that there is so much to do here at church and in the parsonage…and I just want everything to go smoothly.  But on the other hand I am looking forward to the celebration.  We have former pastors coming back and other special guests returning for the weekend.  You can go to our church website for a complete schedule of events at http://www.salemjackson.org

Today is Monday, Aug. 17 and I feel like I am back into the swing of things…again.  But with everything that is coming up I am hoping and praying that I do not “strike out”.

God bless your day!


“New” blogs and websites

O.K…they’re not really new sites but they are fairly new to me…in any case…

…I thought I would highlight a couple recent additions to my blogroll and my favorite website section on the right side panel of this blog.

First my blog roll:
(1) Angry Lutherans is an interesting site I came across through a new website I will mention in a bit.  It is worth your time to check out.

(2) Augsburg Fortress: One Mission Blog obviously is the blog for Augsburg Fortress.  This is a great way to read about new publications coming out or things going on in connection with Augsburg Fortress.

Favorite websites:
(1) Lutheran Central is a website I stumbled upon through someone else.  It is a site that has a bunch of Lutheran information, resources and links.  They are currently updating some links but what they do have is neat.  My blog is also featured on Lutheran Central (hence part of my motivation to return the favor here).

(2) Working Preacher is a great sermon prep resource.  Each week there is an in depth write up about each of the lectionary texts.  There are also various other preaching resources and even a discussion board to chat about the upcoming texts.  I have found this sight to be very helpful in my sermon prep during the week.  Even if you are not writing a sermon you can still find some helpful insights into scripture.

I hope you find these useful/interesting.

God bless.


P.S.  It is VBS week here so hence my relative lack of posting anything recently.  I am checking back to see if any comments need to be responded to though.  Hopefully I will have a “meatier” post coming up soon about the Sunday texts and maybe even some thoughts/highlights from VBS.  So I will catch ya later.


WorkingPreacher.org is a new preaching resource put out by Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN.  It contains a number of excellent articles and text studies on the upcoming lectionary texts.  The web address is…well…just what the title suggests:  www.workingpreacher.org

And…its FREE!

I highly recommend this site.  I have already gain some important insights to sermon preparation.