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Greetings all, Merry Christmas and prayers of blessing for 2015! I know, I know it's been a long while since I got out my "monthly" mic check email. It's been a very busy fall and early winter with a ton of things happening. Quick updates as I try to catch you up to speed!

THANK YOU download of Emmanuel Has Come: I want to thank you again for your prayers and support of me, my family and of this artist ministry. Without you it doesn't happen this way and I could not be this far along without you. As a thank you, please enjoy a limited free download of my entire Christmas Album "Emmanuel Has Come" from noisetrade. I would love it if you would pass on this link to friends, facebook pals, twitter friends and the like and let them have a chance to hear the story: CLICK HERE

CD Update: I have been working hard and as time allows to wrap up my new CD, which will come out in early 2015 called "Songs We Carry". I have one song left to finish recording in the next couple weeks, all the others are done and just about in final form. We did an awesome photoshoot with Emily Ebeling and a friend of mine, Joel Kanitz who helps lead worship at Crosswalk in Phoenix and is the front man for the band "This Century", is helping put together some of the artwork for the album. The songs sound fantastic and I really can't wait to get this album out there. Look for more updates coming in the new year!

Campus Ministry Update: I will be stepping down from my formal role with The Point of Grace in Milwaukee, WI. I will have only some responsibility in reaching out to high schools moving forward as TPOG has a more solid idea of what it needs to become. We have seen that TPOG really needs to help serve and service student organizations on college campuses to help students serve their campus with Jesus, while creating a safe place for college students to hang out and meet new people and helping them find mentors as they wade through the crazy years of college life. My own interests and abilities are moving in a little different direction with Awake and Alive as more of a conference/community event for the 18-25 generation, college or not in college. So please keep them in your prayers, they have been doing ministry on a shoe string of a shoe string budget for a long time. With proper support people and financial support, this ministry could be a game changer for a lot of high school through college age students and for our area churches too!

Innovative Weather Update: IW is going very well of late. It is hardwork and I'm turning over my senior staff as they start moving into different roles of life. If you want to learn a little more about us, you can check out this Milwaukee TEDx video that my boss, Dr. Paul Roebber, did to help educate people about the depth of this internship program. In many ways, this really is my best campus ministry. I can't preach Jesus, but I can love them and care for the young men and women who I have a chance to walk with as best I can. You can see the video here We'll also have an article coming in the Journal Sentinel soon as well.

Ministry Update: I have been seriously contemplating what God is asking me to do in music and in ministry. I don't know that I have the answers, but I was challenged by a good friend and mentor of mine and it has really made me think about some things. When we do our concerts, many people tell me how "if we knew it was going to be like this, we would have... invited, come, had more people etc..." One piece of advice is that I can do a better job of communicating what I'm about and what we do to help people understand what our concerts and ministry events are like and why we do them. On the other hand, if people know what I do and do not find value in it or are not able or willing to support it his question to me was... do you really have an artist ministry?

It really is a great question and one that I have actually been wondering for about the past 18 months. It has led me to conclude that an artist who writes original material and works hard at their craft needs four things to pursue it with excellence. Talent, Opportunity, Support and Time (I believe this to be true for most of us who love what we do). I believe God has given me talent. Time is changing as my kids move on into teenage years and I need to be more available to my family. That changes what I really think opportunity is and I still need to feed the family so there is a measure of support that is needed to do this with excellence. So I'm wrestling, waiting and serving where God gives me a platform. And trying to listen.

The Future: In my heart, I know that I am not a Pastor of a church, it is not my role in the kingdom. However, I do Pastor my family, my band and my operation. I am a proclaimer of the Gospel and my heart loves to be in the waking moments when faith is rekindled or comes to life in a deeper way, a remembered way or more genuine way. Awake and Alive, the ministry for the 18-25 generation that we started with St. Paul's Muskego and TPOG is probably where my heart is most. Whether in worship, concert or conference the prayer is simple. Make me AWAKE to who I am in Jesus, Lord make me ALIVE to living it out in my real life today and may it be with the PURPOSE to reach one more with the Gospel, that Jesus brings life from death. This is what I would consider an "opportunity" and I know that I can't pray that prayer for someone else, unless I'm asking God for these same things in my own life too. I'm not the church, where the living out of Christian community happens with deeper roots, but God can use what we do to be a spark that ignites the passion for living out this faith we have. To be a joy filled reminder of the love we've been shown and to be an encouragement to tell the personal stories of God's faithfulness in our own lives to a world that wonders why we even bother to do "religion".

I have three things I want to accomplish in this artist ministry in 2015. Finish the Album that I'm wrapping up right now. Finish a series of blog posts called "Accessible Worship" as a way to explain to people what I've learned in the world of contemporary music and worship in the WELS. And finally to give better definition to what I actually do and hope to do in music and artist ministry. From there, I will see how to answer my friend as to whether or not I actually have an artist ministry in the WELS. My music ministry continues in my home church of St. Paul's and The Bridge in Muskego, WI, but the artist ministry is the one that tours and partners with others so we will see if what God has put on my heart is what people outside of my home church can and want to support and partner with once we lay out what "opportunity" looks like.

A last encouragement: As I wrestle with learning to be content with the platform I've been given, I want all of us to consider that we have ALL been given a platform to serve God and serve others to make Jesus faithfulness known through all generations. Don't think you need to be a "professional Christian" to make a difference. The church really does have enough Pastors of churches. What we have lacked is the pastoring of our families, our sports teams, our music departments and jobs. Yes single moms, pastor your family when dad ducks out or is taken from us too early. Yes teenage kid, pastor your group of peers when the opportunity to stand firm comes for you amidst the pressure to give in. Yes grandma and grandpa, pastor the younger generations that need your wisdom and love. The moment you opened your eyes today, God gave you an awareness and desire for him. Take whatever platform he's given you to serve him and to serve others for his sake, even if it's in a hospital bed and the platform of prayer is the only one you have left. For those of us who have been in the Gospel story and have experienced the waking life that God put in us through Jesus, step up and serve with a shepherds heart, the heart of a Pastor. You will find our own Pastors to be even more valuable when you do!

Check out www.mikewestendorf.com for the latest details! May God bless your Christmas celebrations and may you find and make known his faithfulness as you reflect on 2014 and look forward to the new year!

 


"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:17-19

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