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Love and Pity (You are loved!)

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." - 1 Corinthians 13:13



As I sat listening to the bible reading for a wedding I played for recently, I was reminded of the passage above and the thought struck me.  “How much different would it be if 1 Corinthians 13:13 ended with, “the greatest of these is pity”?  Lately, I’ve been wrestling with a deep seeded thought that has been with me for as long as I can remember.  Somehow in my time as a child the phrases about my relationship to God that I remember most about me were the pretty harsh ones.  God’s love seemed a lot more like pity than love and that’s where it stopped for me, I just didn't realize it.  Perhaps I haven’t lived long enough to put it into words correctly, but considering relationship with...

Worship is Seeing

Matt Redman is a Christian songwriter on many favorite songs that are sung today, probably best known for "10,000 Reasons" and "Blessed Be".  One of the phrases that he says frequently is that "Worship is about seeing.  Before you can worship God you must first see God"  I've been thinking about that quote along with how I have been raised to see worship and liturgy in the Lutheran church with that idea that in Christian worship "God comes to us (Word and Sacrament) and his people respond (Praise, Proclamation and Exhortation)"  I love that picture that worship always begins with seeing, which is part of the reason why worshiping the God of scripture is sometimes a challenging thing.

Saved From... Saved For!

I've been thinking a lot about some familiar saying that I've heard as a Christian growing up around the church and I've been wrestling with why they often seem hollow to me.  Martin Luther is quoted as making this statement "We are all mere beggars showing other beggars where to find bread.”  We hear in our words and in our church culture that "I am sinner saved by grace".  And I'm reminded many times that by Grace through faith I have been saved from death, sin and Satan.  All of these are true and I don't argue with them, but all of these statements hide the full truth and I'm concerned about what that does to our Christian witness and the healthy worship life of the church.

On our own, apart from a grace fueled relationship with Jesus, we are simply sinners without eternal hope and life; we have no relationship with God.  We are beggers hoping to find something that will fill our appetites.  Death, Hell and Satan stalk its prey and we need a savior FROM these things.  But my concern is that we continue to see our identity as a sinner, a begger and someone who only need be saved from horrible things.  As I lived out my identity this way, much like Luther I tried to feel more "sorry" for my sins.  Church worship was not a place of celebration on a regular basis, only on Easter Sunday and Christmas did my heart leap for joy.  Church was supposed to feel more like Lent and Good Friday because that's how beggers and sinners who need to be saved from death should behave, speak, sing and look.  And my heart hurt... until...

Add Value!

Honestly, it's been a month of being stretched over the past 4 weeks as we've been helping my wife recover from surgery.  She is doing well, but we've both been surprised at just how much work has to be done in recovery.  It's just a much slower go than we were thinking and it's actually pretty crazy just how busy things are in this house.  As I prepared for the talk last weekend I had 5 encouragements that I wanted to give to the guys when it comes to serving our wives, but one that has been helpful to me in other relationships in my life.  John Maxwell is a leadership speaker and he shares that one of the key values of a leader is...  keep reading

Simple Wisdom for the Struggle

34 Blessed are those who listen to me,
watching daily at my doors,
waiting at my doorway.

35 For those who find me find life
and receive favor from the Lord.  -  Proverbs 8

What To Do With Fear



I've been thinking a lot about what fear does to people, but thinking more on what it actually is. Fear is really a confession of a need for help. A circumstance happens and in that moment we often react to the fact that we don't have enough information about what is happening in the moment and we have exceptional anxiety about negative impacts in the future.

And then we ...

Play Nice?

“The righteous detest the dishonest; the wicked detest the upright.”  And here in is the reality, the question will always come down to perspective.  One believes in the protection of human freedoms to do whatever they want, the freedom to remain the god of their lives and Biblical Christianity is a serious threat to that way of living.  Christians believe sin causes death and they believe with the wisdom of verse 2 that “When the righteous Thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.”  Sin is a serious threat to the stability of a people, a family and a nation and even more importantly people’s eternities...

1000 Miles for an Audience of Seven: Spiritual Lessons from the Road

In a few weeks I will be returning to Murphy, NC to do a benefit concert to support an addiction treatment center as part of a thank you to something that God did in my life in one of the most unassuming places I could have imagined.  In town to do a concert with a radio friend of mine, I was blown away at what the final outcome was and what it has meant for me in ministry and in life.  Sometimes the biggest disappointments are the most fertile ground for God to plant the best desires.  This is part of my story.  - Mike

Leaners

Worry nagging at your confidence and playing on your fears?  Do you feel like running forward to "make something happen"?  Do you feel like running away because of what HAS happened?....   The empty tomb of Jesus is historical fact and it ensures that what God says he will do, he will do.  Grace is freely given.  Forgiveness bought and paid for by Jesus so that for every repentant "leaner", for every one who has been lured away to addictive crutches and habitual falling, could stand once again in the foundation of the God who made them, loved them, restores them...

The Best Part of Being Alive

The Gospel story is incomplete if we don’t carry the heart of healing into the world. This is not a "law" statement at its heart. I believe we miss out on the deepest joy and most complete realizatio...

The Gospel - Good News or Good Message?

The Gospel is more than good news.  It's personal, it demands attention and it requires action.  The Gospel is the best good message we could hope for, because the sender of that message wants you and I know where life comes from, what it is and how it lasts forever.

 

Worship in Reverse

I am part of the worship leadership team and in the ministry team setting we do spend a decent amount of time discussing the sermon topic of the week as well as the worship service elements and songs so that we can help tell the story and give people a chance to respond to it as well.  Worship in a Lutheran setting has regularly been translated to mean this: "God comes to us (word and sacrament) and his people respond (to Him and to one another about Him).  We are in a bible series called "Stuck?" looking at encouragements

Awake and Alive - Wake Up to Who You Are!

What is it that makes waking up and getting out of bed so difficult?  The alarm clock goes off, we reach for that 10 minute snooze.  Perhaps you're like me and you intentionally set your clock ahead 5 minutes to afford you that opportunity to smack the snooze bar.  Or perhaps...

Accessible Worship - Is It Really About Style?

Over the years, I have helped lead in many worship settings from traditional/classical, to contemporary/modern worship settings in our WELS churches and I believe that God has given me something to share that I hope will be an encouragement in the end.  I am working at trying to articulate some of what I have learned as an artist that has been able to travel to different parts of the country and worked with a myriad of different church cultures over the past 10 years.  The end result is a presentation that

When Push Comes to Shove

 Recently as part of our "Gathering" Series of speakers for our campus ministry in Milwaukee, we had well known author/speaker on the topic of Creation and Evolution named Jay Seegert.  Jay opened his talk just readily admitting that he is a Christian and as such, believes in God and that the Bible is His Word.  Shortly thereafter, I found myself in a bit of a back and forth between differing views on the topic and found it interesting to wrestle with what I know, what I don't know and the essence of faith and what I believe.  As it so often does on the internet, the conversation boiled down to people on two sides that ultimately started talking past each other.  This was my response to it and thought it might help others who are stuck in the middle of these "debates/arguments".  I don't have it all together, but Jesus is what I have and that is more than enough.  I hope somehow it's an encouragement.

Wearied by Worry

"I'm tired of worrying about how we're going to pay for this!!"

"I'm worried about when my kids will come home... it makes me tired!"

"All this anxiety and worry about the government burns me out!"

 

Have you ever felt like this?  If you're a human being with any level of responsibility the chances are really good that you would say yes.  The Great Recession has cast us with mounting debt and too few resources to pay for things.  We have put off repair work, upgrades and regular maintenance.  We've down sized, budget battled and gone without.  In some cases we've given up on dreams or at least postponed them until... well I'm not sure when, but some other time that has to do with "not now".

Clarity Through Tragedy

I was recently asked about how I view what happened in Oklahoma City, if I get excited to see weather of that magnitude or if the seriousness of the situation trumps my excitement. To be honest, the reason I loved the weather was because of a huge storm in Michigan when I was about 7 years old. A funnel cloud went over our sub division and touched down about a mile from our house. The damage wasn’t like OKC, but to a 7 year old what we saw was nothing short of amazing. I remember having to walk through corn fields to find some of our outdoor stuff including a hoppity horse that was 10 rows into the corn. For me, that’s where my amazement with the weather took off and I still am awed by it every day.

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