Friday, October 31, 2008

How do we uplift marriage in our churches?

We are failing! As the divorce rate hovers around 50% and the number of people who just live together without the commitment grows, we are fighting an uphill battle. Since most weddings take place in a church of somesort, the church at large is probably the biggest reason why divorce is so high. Our problem is that we usually blame society and do not take responsibility for our lack of action.

So where in the world do we start? I have to admit, I am at a complete loss. I need input. Not only for ideas but also for support. For too long, the church has just kind of followed culture and for a long time, culture was not that far off. However, we no longer live in that world. The culture is based off of Friends, ER, Desperate Housewives, etc, and if you have ever watched those shows, it does not look like the church. In general, people spend 5-6 hours watching shows during the week, over 40 hours in public schools that do not promote traditional marriage, and almost no time discussing marriage with parents. So at best, children and youth have 1 hour a week to hear God's pure truth and 90% of the time, marriage does not come up. So who is going to win?

As we are a church based on the Word, where in the world do we start? Give me thoughts and I will address it soon!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Divorce not an option?

"The key to a good marriage is to say that divorce is not an option" proclaimed Will Smith recently on TV. As many people know Will Smith has been married to his wife, Jade Pinkett, since 1997. Eleven year of marriage in Hollywood is like celebrating 50 years for most people! It is fascinating that Will Smith from Hollywood knows a secret that many in the church do not...divorce is not an option.

During our pre-marital coaching sessions here at St. John's, the first page of our series is titled, "Options for divorice." The rest of the page is empty. Not a single word. Why? Because, when you go up to the altar and proclaim, I Will, you are doing it for life.

The first reaction I get from people is, what if....1) One of the spouses cheats, 2) The husband is abusive, 3) One of the spouses leaves the other. Those are extreme cases that do happen, more than we want to admit. But we should not focus on the minors, because most peope get a divorce out of frustration and even more so because they didn't take it serious to start with.

Are there exceptions, of course there is! But I would argue that our main problem is that both spouses are not take their vows serious and many people get hurt in the process.

So how can we help save marriages? That is next post! Give me some thoughts!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Back in my office room...hope in my father's room...

I have been out of my office since December. Snow, melting, ice, and damming all took place on a roof that was poorly put together and BAM! The ceiling comes through and three staff are roomless for 10 months+. It was no one's fault, it is just what happens.

Over the last 10 months, I never realized how difficult it is to not have a place to call your room. You ask yourself all the time, "What's the point?" What's the point of organizing, what's the point of decorating (or my wife doing so), what's the point of keeping it clean? By the end of this time, I will be back in my office, back in my room, and I can do all of that later. However, in the process you become very frustrated, irritable, and disjointed because their is no place to call home. Please keep me in your prayers for the staff I work with as we are a week away from getting back into our office!

This reminds me of Jesus' words of hope from John 14 "In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? [2] 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” [3] 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Sometimes we all feel like we are one's who have no room or place. We become irritable to the things God's presents to us and disjointed as if something just isn't quite right. And that is when our Lord points us to the hope that only comes through Christ. That when we are baptized in His name, when we look upon the love that goes so far as to die on a cross, we realize that we are part of something. We have a room, not only in heaven, but also a place in His arms today. May we live as one's who have a permanent home with Him!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Golf and grace...

Today was a day for golf. Probably the last game of the year. This year I golfed 6 times, which quadrupled my times golfing in my life. I have learned a lot: 1) I like 9 holes more than 18, 2) Don't move your feet while swinging, 3) That if you play with the right people, you never go above 8 strokes! (Which is why I typically golf a 72 in 9 holes).

Since I am new to the game, I have been blessed with many gracious friends who have given me a lot of advice. And the greatest of all, they allow me to drop a lot mulligans after I have lost my ball in the water and in the woods. I am given a new ball after my worst of shots.

This is much like the grace of our God. We miss the target of God's will all the time, most of the time we lose sight of Christ and his forgiveness, and end up lost. But it is our Lord who drops us down after we ask for forgiveness, a new creation and thrown into our world. After we have done our worst, God gives us a new ball!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fireproof the movie is outstanding...

My wife and I went to "Fireproof" tonight with Kirk Cameron. It was very, very good. It was not your typical Kirk Cameron movie. No Rapture, no accepting Jesus (at least not outright), and it focused on the cross. I would say it is a must see for all married couples and those who are engaged.

The best part was that it focuses on Biblical Marriage in light of the cross. As marriage is a symbol of Christ's love for the church, the movie does a tremendous job of manifesting what Ephesians 5 and Genesis 2 proclaims. Would I do the movie a little differently as a Lutheran? Sure. But this movie is just what we need for current day movies.

Go to for more information

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why go to church? Part 2

We have established that one goes to worship to receive the gifts of God (forgiveness, the Sacrament, life, and salvation). We go because it is in worship that God has promised to be working in physical and spiritual ways.

Are there any other reasons? I will never forget a response by my mother as a child when I asked why we needed to go to church. She said, "To see all of our friends."

I would argue from Acts 2:42-47 that we go to worship for the support of other Christians. In the early church they joined together for worship, eating, fellowship, and providing for each others needs. If there was a need, they helped each other out. They worked together, raised kids together, and made sure that everything was provided.

In our world, the visible church is as close as we get to the early church. The church at its best is centered around the gifts of God and supporting each other in our daily needs. The church is to be a support system when we go through the rough times. Also a place to join with each other during times of celebration!

Can the church work on this? Sure. But we are called to help make the church what it is called to be. So while going to church, dont' run out the door after worship, but greet people, bring baked goods, truly ask people how they are doing, and make a hotdish for those who are struggling.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Why go to church? Part 1

"I don't need to go to church to be a Christian" If I hear this another time, I think I might scream. It is kind of like saying, I don't need to breathe to be a human. Do I need to breathe in order to be considered human? Not necessarily, but it is a good idea for life!

The number one reason for attending worship, To receive the gifts of God! In worship, He has promised to be there, when the Word is preached and Sacraments administered. God gives his forgiveness, changes us through the Holy Spirit, and keeps us in the one true faith.

This is the top reason why be in worship. However, what is the typical parental response to a high schooler when they are about to be waken up for church, "You go just because you are supposed to" or, "If you loved Jesus, you would go" or "To be around your friends." However, not only is it all law, but what if they don't have friends at the church, what if no one talks to ya, is it still the church or should we go the YMCA or some social club to get the much needed community?

How much do we talk about gifts? How much do we talk about a need for the Word? How much do we talk about the Word outside of the one hour?

Jesus promises in John 15, "4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."

Worship is the time that God has promised to work in our lives through His means, so we are called in Baptism to be part of that community and be changed by Him. My prayer is that all of you make worship a priority and receive His gifts!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Why go to worship and be part of a church? To be addressed this week

Why go to church? This is the biggest question within the church at large (especially by us crazy 20 somethings!). I am looking for arguments, thoughts, and ideas on how to look at this vital part of our lives together as Christians.

It will all start on Tuesday, October 14th.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Minnesota 6-1, Nothing to do with Baptism, but just awesome!

The Minnesota Gophers are 6-1. This is big news for us Minnesota fans because last year we were 1-11 and everyone predicted us to be last again. Now they have won 2 Big Ten games and improved every week. Does it mean anything to life, not really, but as a fan who went to a game every year since 3rd grade until Seminary, it is just awesome! Tim Brewster is a great coach and Adam Weber at QB will do not but get better these next few years.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Stock Market, Retirement Accounts, and bailout, Where's God

It is hard to do anything without being reminded of the current fiscal situation on Wall Street. It makes all of us a little, if not very, nervous over the future. We wonder, will we have enough to retire, will we have enough for college, will we have enough for a home, and the list goes on and on. We look at history and attempt to stay calm, patient, serve in our vocations, and ride out the storm. However, it does become very difficult within the church when people are losing jobs, finances are tough, and people have a hard time seeing the blessings in their lives.

What is amazing is how much we will worry about what might happen tomorrow, when we have absolutely no control. With our salvation being set through our Baptismal identity, we are pointed to Jesus' words on the mount in Matthew 6. "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

God is in control and He have proven through the cross that He will take care of us. Continue steadfast in your vocations, hear the Word, receive the body and blood of Christ, and let today be today and let tomorrow take care of itself.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

How do I serve my neighbor locally?

Who is my neighbor? Everyone! Where do I start?

It starts with opening our eyes to those around us, to the places that are the most important to us. Your family, your physical neighbor, your church, your town/city/village hall. Ask your church what is needed. Ask you neighbor if you can help with anything. Ask your town hall what needs are in your community. And see where that takes you.

Secondly, support local mercy works in your community. One of the most common things in a community are food pantries. Find the food pantry that is available and see how they run things. Here are a few questions to ask (this is information from our local food pantry director):
  • What is your mission?
  • How do you determine who gets food and who doesn't?
  • Do you have resources for individuals to find jobs and housing?

These are important issues, because some food pantries are giving a hand out as opposed to a hand out!

Finally, recruit people in your church who have an interest in mercy ministries. Find the current needs of the community, see if the church can address the need, and finally, pray for opportuntieis to serve your neighbor.

For more information on quality food pantries talk to Cindy at Mukwonago Food Pantry,

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Who is my neighbor?

I recently watched Veggies Tales, "Are you my neighbor" with my 2 girls. Little Asparagus was struggling to know who is neighbor is and he finds out through an adventure to space, that those who are close to us are our neighbors. Great movie for little kids, great ideas for a child, and a fun time for parents to sit with your kids.

But does it hit home the true biblical idea of our neighbor? In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus tells us to "love your neighbor as yourself." Who is your neighbor? Our neighbor simply put is everyone! Yep, EVERYONE! Your physical neighbor, your neighbor in another town, your neighbor in China, Africa, etc. Everyone!

How can we serve them all? Well, that will be our next post. For right now, realize that our calling as Christians is a very high calling for all people and we live under His grace to do so! For the next week or so, we will cover the question, "How can I serve all my neighbors as Christ has called us?"

Friday, October 3, 2008

Blindness the movie....our blindness to God

Here it comes, another theological point from a movie. A new movie came out today called, "Blindness" with Julaine Moore. The basic premise of this movie is that one person becomes blind and the blindness spreads to the whole world within weeks. The first people infected with this blindness are quarantined in a secluded area and left to basically die. While quarantined, original sin goes wild (selfishness, murder, rape, infidelity, and greed) and there is basically no hope. At the end of the day, it shows that if everyone in the world is blind, where is the hope?

This movie reminds me of our condition as human beings. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit, humankind became spiritually blind and unable to see, walk with, or believe in God. This infection has spread to all people born into this world and we were basically quarantined to a life of original sin going wild. At the end of the day, as we try to make our ways through this life, where is the hope?

Our hope is in a God who took our spiritual blindness and opened our eyes through the cross 0f Christ. When He breathed His last, it was like he opened all of our eyes to see God and the hope of His grace. He opens our eyes through the Holy Spirit to see how He has done it all for us through Christ and we will live with our eyes fully opened to be with Him at the final resurrection.

May God have mercy on us the spiritually blind.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

40 days of life campaign is here..

From now through November 2, people in 179 cities in 47 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa and two Canadian provinces are taking part in 40 days of prayer and fasting, constant vigil and community outreach!

This is an emphasis to pray that God would lead our country to see the high view of life and be vessels of that view to our world. Each person is a precious gift from God and we are called to love our neighbors in the womb of their mothers.

Here are just a few of the ways you can participate:

  • Read the daily devotions and pray along with us
  • Visit the site nearest you and join the vigil.
  • Please consider a contribution to help continue this mission
There are a number of other resources to look upon concerning life. Within the Lutheran church is Lutherans for Life (, which has many resources on life issues and local chapters to connect with.