Friday, January 29, 2010

Sitka: A Special Piece of God’s Handiwork

One of my favorite places to overnight on trips is Sitka, Alaska. Located in the panhandle of Alaska on Baranof Island, it is one of God’s masterpieces. Sitka was originally inhabited by the native Tlingit, but was overrun by the Russians in 1804. The city still has remnants of both its Tlingit and Russian ancestry, including the beautiful Saint Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral. With a population of around 9,000, it’s the fourth-largest city in Alaska.

I love running in Sitka – it has wonderful trails. You can run through the muskeg, which is boggy with sparsely populated trees affording incredible views and something akin to Spanish moss hanging from the trees. Running along Indian Creek is especially impressive when the salmon are running. You can reach down and touch them as they make their way back to their birth waters – as long as a grizzly doesn’t reach out and “touch” you first. The trails along Indian Creek have the most impressive engineering of any trails I’ve been on, with all sorts of ingenious ways to keep the trail going over water and through tight spots. If you’re up for it, there’s several mountains to climb as well, and if you're even more adventuresome, Sitka Sound is an awesome place to kayak.

Sitka has an ELCA and a WELS church, but no LCMS church.

For you aviators out there, the Sitka airport is on an island with man-made extensions, so there’s water on all four sides of the runway. When the weather gets bad the surf can kick rocks up onto the runway. Landing a 737 on a 6,500 foot runway can get interesting if the runway isn’t dry.

Enjoy the view. At some point in the future I’ll post a few more pics. There’s plenty of scenery to go around.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Trumpet Will Sound

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:50-58 ESV

photo credit: lonecellotheory

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sign Up Now for the BJS Conference

The Second Annual Brothers of John the Steadfast National Conference is rapidly approaching. Better sign up now before they run out of space.

This year's speakers include Pastor Todd Wilken, the Host of Issues, Etc., journalist Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, and Pastor Klemet Preus, who's got too many responsibilities to keep track of. The theme for this year is "The Fired and the Staff" - I'll let you figure out the witticism.

The conference will again feature No Pietists Allowed Parties, a Pastor Charlie Henrickson dunk tank (Shhh..., keep it quiet, he doesn't know it yet), multiple meals including a Friday night banquet, and worship services.

The conference is being held at Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, Illinois (Chicago suburbs), beginning on Friday, February 12, with a welcome reception at 4:00 p.m., and concluding on Saturday with lunch. For further information and to sign up, click here. I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dr. Kuhn Sets the Record Straight on the BRTFSSG Final Report

Very early in the day on January 18, Rev. Dr. Robert Kuhn, former President of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, stood up before those gathered for the Lutheran Concerns Association Conference to set the record straight. It was obvious from his demeanor that there was something important that he wanted to discuss. He pointed us to page nine of the Final Report of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance (BRTFSSG), which lists the members of the BRTFSSG.

At the bottom of the page, last on the list, Dr. Kuhn’s name is listed:

**Dr. Robert Kuhn, president emeritus of the LCMS, served on the task force until early 2008, when he found it necessary to devote his time to personal matters.

It was certainly to the Task Force’s advantage to leave Dr. Kuhn’s name on the list, even though he hadn’t participated in the Task Force for a year and a half, since his name added a confessional cache to the report. So why did Dr. Kuhn find it necessary to point this out? Because the reason given by the Task Force for his resignation was inaccurate. While it is true that Dr. Kuhn wouldn’t have been able to continue his work on the Task Force because of personal matters, he had already resigned from the Task Force prior to that, not because of personal matters, but because he disagreed with the direction the Task Force was headed. This untruth greatly disturbed Dr. Kuhn – he did not want his name associated with the BRTFSSG Final Report. It seems as though this untruth is yet another example where the words of the Final Report don’t really line up with the facts.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Back from the Fort

We made it back from Fort Wayne Saturday night. The two symposia at Concordia Theological Seminary were a great success. I’m told that well over a hundred more people attended this year’s symposia than last year. I’d like to thank the faculty, staff, and seminarians for their hospitality, allowing us to be members of their community for the week.

We were treated to a stellar group of speakers that included Dr. Arthur Just, Dr. Charles Gieschen, Dr. Scott Hahn (Franciscan University), Dr. Peter Scaer, Dr. David Scaer, Dr. Dean Wenthe, Prof. James Bushur, Dr. Lawrence Rast, Dr. Adam Francisco, Dr. Benjamin Mayes (Editor, Concordia Publishing House), Prof. Roland Ziegler, Dr. Paul Raabe, Dr. William Russell (Texas Lutheran University), Rev. Mark Chavez (Director of Lutheran CORE and VP of WordAlone Network), Dr. Joel Lehenbauer (Executive Director of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations), and topping it off in a way that truly combined the transcendent with the immanent, Dr. William Weinrich.

Not only were we able to listen to great speakers on stimulating topics, we were also showered with God’s gifts through the Daily Offices in Kramer Chapel. To hear God’s Word preached and music and voice combined in such a wonderful setting, rising like incense through the peaked roof of Kramer Chapel, was a real joy. Dr. David Scaer delivered a provocative homily, as did Dr. Rast.

I was able to make a pilgrimage to the bookstore (actually several of them), which is why I could barely get my bag jammed into the overhead bin on the flight back to Seattle. (Dr. Scaer was kind enough to autograph one of my books.) I also compared notes with Pastor Bill Cwirla at the Higher Things reception, and said “Hi” to Pastor Matt Harrison, among others.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

By Repentance

"The Christian struggle against sin is not done by rule-keeping, but by repentance."

- Pastor Todd Wilken, from his article “Legalism & License,” in the latest edition of the Issues, Etc. Journal.

photo credit: frozenminds

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Changing DNA

On the January 11 Issues, Etc. a caller asked guest Chris Rosebrough what the definition of a healthy church is according to seeker-driven church growth proponents? Here’s his answer:

Well here’s the deal. What’s underlying all of this is basically they’ve changed the DNA of the body of Christ. Think of it this way, is that, I now live in the Midwest, and we’ve got a lot of guys out here who grow corn, and so I get to see commercials on television for corn growing, and for, you know, guys who are offering seeds when it comes to corn. Well a lot of the seed growers out here, they actually genetically manipulate the corn seed so that it produces a higher yield. What the seeker-driven guys have done is they’ve actually manipulated the DNA of the body of Christ, and they’ve spliced into the body of Christ DNA from the corporate world in order to produce a higher yield. So in their mind, a healthy church is a growing church and they’ve studied to death the best practices out there by every growing church, regardless of what that denomination teaches or confesses, they basically work from the concept that growth is good no matter which church it is that’s growing. But I submit to you that Islam is growing, that does not, that’s not good, it’s not good growth, and that’s not from God, and so these guys, they’re basically applying almost a nonsensical corporate metric that has to do with growth, and applying it to the Church regardless of doctrine, and assume that that means that the Church is healthy.

photo credit: hongiiv

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

News from the Front

Here’s an update on the Lutheran Concerns Association Conference, which was held yesterday in Fort Wayne. I’ll hit a couple of the highlights. I’m told they will post the video on the internet, so once that’s been accomplished I’ll go back and copy a few of the many excellent quotes for you. Pastor Charlie Henrickson also live blogged as the conference went along. You can check out his report here.

My day started out on a good note, as I joined Mr. Harry Madsen and his wife Millie for breakfast. Harry is the President of Lutheran Public Radio, which brings us Issues, Etc. We compared notes on our eccentric habits of collecting books from the oddest of places. Harry also told me a few entertaining stories of his time spent in Korea during the Korean War. There’s no way I can match Harry’s stories.

I drew the lucky straw on the seating chart for the Conference, sitting at the same table as Dr. Jim Voelz (Dean of the Faculty at Concordia Seminary), Joe Strieter and his wife Alice (Joe is on the Ohio District Board of Directors), Dr. Robert Kuhn (former LCMS President), Walter Dissen (who was on the Board of Control during the Seminex debacle), and Christian Preus, Esq. (the President of the LCA).

Dr. Kuhn opened with a brief devotion, followed by Dr. Fritz Baue (Pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church in Fairview Heights, IL) speaking on the abandonment of Augsburg Confession Article XXVIII and the pastoral office in the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance (BRTFSSG). Dr. Baue’s presentation was first rate, surpassed only by his trademark bow tie.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A New Listening Opportunity: Reformation Underground Radio

If you’d like to get in on the ground floor of a soon-to-be burgeoning internet radio operation, check out the freshly minted confessional show Reformation Underground Radio, which is the voice of Reformation Underground: Dead Theologians Society.

The Co-Hosts of the show, David Appold and T. Emmett Bramwell, both exhibit the singular trait of being in varying degrees of preparation for entrance to Concordia Theological Seminary – but we won’t hold that against them. Dave holds a BS from Concordia University – Ann Arbor, and Ty is currently studying theology in the same venue.

To quote from their website, “Reformation Underground Radio is a must listen to program that walks through history, trampling on butterflies (thank you, Ray Bradbury) in order to affect the way Christians today receive the waves of information bombarding them in the name of Christ. Basically, if people know what theologians have said about God in years gone by they will be better equipped to discern what people are saying about Him today. The hour long show is an on-air RUDTS meeting where David and Ty talk through the details of various theological works as well as analyze what they mean for Christians today.”

I listened to the maiden voyage of their show, which airs on (you can download the podcast), and was both informed and entertained. They spent a few minutes explaining what their show is going to be about, offered us a serving of audacious audible atrocities added to annoy and alert (which actually was pretty entertaining), and spent a fair amount of time “exhuminating” Melanchthon’s "Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope."

They’ve obviously done their homework, with a really nice website complete with articles, contact form, links, even apparel, as well as facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages. Best of all, they’re on iTunes for your downloading on-demand convenience. I’m looking forward to hearing more, as they exhuminate a few more dead theologians so that our faith may be “grounded” in the truth.

Reformation Underground Radio – Examining the dead, to better understand the living.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Help for Haiti

The earthquake in Haiti certainly brings to the fore the question of “Why?” Why does God allow these sorts of things to happen? I don’t know the specific answer to why a devastating earthquake rocked Haiti, but I know the general answer – it’s a part of God’s plan. The God who created the universe did not afterwards turn His back on His creation and walk away, but continues to sustain it through His mighty Word. Through disaster God calls people to repentance and draws them closer to Him. I know that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

How can you help the people of Haiti? Certainly the most expedient thing you can do is pray. After that, since we can’t all get down there physically, you can contribute to relief efforts for Haiti through LCMS World Relief and Human Care by making a donation here. Material donations may be made by clicking here.

For the latest reports on LCMS efforts in Haiti, click here. Pastor Matt Harrison’s latest video can be found here, and Dr. Al Collver’s blog post, which offers a behind-the-scenes look at LCMS World Relief and Human Care endeavors, can be found here.

“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.” Psalms 139:7-12 ESV

Friday, January 15, 2010

How Does He Do It?

I finished up a blurb for the Board of Elders that we were sending to the voter’s recommending that Pastor Matt Harrison be nominated for Synod President. I included a short biography, listing some of Matt’s recent books, including Women Pastors, At Home in the House of My Fathers, and the soon to be released A Little Book on Joy, (which is illustrated by my friend Pastor Kurt Onken). After I’d emailed it, I realized I’d forgotten another of Matt’s most recent books, Christ Have Mercy. Oops. I’m sure they’ll get the idea. (That doesn’t complete the entire list either!)

How does one person have time to do all of that? Translating, writing, being a dad, hobbies such as woodworking and banjo playing, plus managing to stay married. Oh, and then there’s the small matter of his day job, traveling the world as Executive Director of LCMS World Relief and Human Care. There’s no way one person could do all of that. And then it hit me.

He’s got a clone!

I know! That’s what I thought too, but it’s the only way he could get it all done. I’m pretty sure I remember a couple of years back when I noticed that Pastor Harrison was scheduled to appear at the same time in two different states. I figured it was a typo, but now I see what’s going on. Think of the possibilities. I guess I could write a little more often too if I had a clone. I could be out on a run while my clone washed the car. O.K. I’m drifting. An appropriate reminder here: Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Clone. I suppose we’re not all cut out to have clones anyway. It is a big responsibility. You definitely have to have a certain skill set to train your clone and manage the additional scheduling. On the remote chance that it turns out that he really doesn’t have a clone, then I’m really impressed. We need to find this guy a job with a few more duties, one like Synod President for instance.

[Background information: The statue, with the original heads attached, is located in Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska. It depicts a boy carrying his brother. The caption on the accompanying pedestal reads “He ain’t heavy, Father… he’s my brother.” As for the Matt Harrison likenesses affixed atop the statue, I had a couple of spare heads lying around the house. The background photo is one I took at Pt. Reyes, to the north of San Francisco, which looks a bit like Pastor Harrison’s native Iowa.]

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Everything Depends on These Words

...the chief and foremost thing in the sacrament is the word of Christ, when he says: "Take and eat, this is my body which is given for you." Likewise also, when he took the cup, he said: "Take and drink of it, all of you, this is the cup of the new testament in my blood which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. As often as you do this, do it in remembrance of me. " Everything depends on these words. Every Christian should and must know them and hold them fast. He must never let anyone take them away from him by any other kind of teaching, even though it were an angel of heaven (Gal. 1:8).
Quoted from Armand J. Boehme’s article “The Smokescreen Vocabulary,” who was in turn quoting Luther (LW 36:277). This article was published in the Concordia Theological Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 2, April, 1977. HT: Johannes

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Quotable Blog Quotes #11

Quotable Quotes From Around the Blogosphere

Pastoral Meanderings
Pastor Larry Peters

…Where His name is, there is He. This is not some mere formulaic "We are here in the name of..." but our acknowledgement of where He has placed His name and for what purpose He has placed His name. Where He has placed His name is not in feelings but in water, bread, and wine. So when Jesus says "Where two or three are gathered in My name..." Jesus is Himself referring to the gathered guests around the Word and Table of the Lord. We call this worship or the Divine Service or the Liturgy or the Mass. This is where He is, where His name is, and where He has made Himself accessible to us. This is where the fruits of His righteous life, life-giving death, and tomb rending resurrection are made available to us.

Stand Firm
Comment by Dennis Peskey

At one time, the LC-MS had a clear flight plan: Get the message straight; Get the message out. Since our abandoned first getting the message out, getting the message straight is failing as well.

Its Time for a new pilot - Its Time to roll out the Welcome-Matt!

Weedon’s Blog
Pastor Wil Weedon

I was recently asked if I could recommend any books for elder training. I thought about it for a few days and my mind really didn't change. There are two:

Concordia: A Reader's Edition of the Book of Concord
Treasury of Daily Prayer

Let every elder read, study, and know his church's Confession. Let every elder be a man of prayer and daily in the Word of God. THAT'S the best training there is.

Dan at Necessary Roughness

It has been implied by someone in the current administration that focusing on keeping doctrine pure leaves people out of church. This is not true. Keeping doctrine as pure we can does not exclude people from the church; in fact, it adds them, by keeping us informed of what God has revealed in His Word. To allow people to engage in false doctrine is akin to letting children play in traffic. Would you not try to inform the parent who’s putting his or her children at risk? The only way focusing on doctrine leaves people out of the church is if the doctrine itself is not scriptural.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Word Revealed

Here's a quote from Pastor Mark Schlamann's excellent Epiphany sermon titled “At Home in the House of Our Lord.” You can read the whole sermon on Pastor Schlamann's blog on The Wittenberg Trail:
The chief priests and scribes remembered for King Herod the Great the words of the prophet Micah, as we heard in our text. Thus we hear the Word being revealed to the king. What we behold this day is that, for the Word to be revealed, it must be preached, and you are the blessed recipients of this Word this day, as it is preached in your hearing. How best to do this is to be here in the house of the Lord to receive Him who comes to you this day in His Word and in His body and blood. That is the simple task of the Christian: to receive His gifts with thanksgiving and praise. We receive, for we are His guests. Christ, the divine Liturgist, is our Host, for we are in His house, and He invites us to gladly receive His forgiveness, His eternal life, and His salvation. He invites us to be at home in the house of our Lord.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Attention Liturgical Dancers

The front page of the December 30 Anchorage Daily News featured an article extolling the virtues of the hula hoop. Written by Debra McKinney, the article quotes hooper Megan Turner, “I feel like I finally have a tool and an art form I can use to fully express and challenge myself. It’s my meditation, my exercise and my play.” For those of you into liturgical dance, and those of you who can’t discern between Luther’s Meditatio and Eastern forms of “prayer,” this hoop’s for you. Imagine the possibilities. Nothing says “Gospel” like a well planned and expressive hoop move.

Turner uses her hula hoop “to do a little hooping and get herself centered” according to McKinney. Who knows? This might add to the expressive nature of the processional as liturgical dancers leap and hoopsters gyrate – all the while proudly demonstrating their freedom in Christ. Or, we could stick to our previous agreement:

…The Mass is held among us and celebrated with the highest reverence. Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved, except that the parts sung in Latin are interspersed here and there with German hymns. These have been added to teach the people. For ceremonies are needed for this reason alone, that the uneducated be taught ‹what they need to know about Christ›. AC XXIV, 1-3

Some ceremonies and Church practices are neither commanded nor forbidden in God’s Word, but are introduced into the Church with good intention, for the sake of good order and proper custom, or otherwise to maintain Christian discipline. FC SD, X, 1

Likewise, when there are useless, foolish displays that are not profitable for good order, Christian discipline, or evangelical practice in the Church, these also are not genuine adiaphora, or matters of indifference. FC SD, X, 7

photo credit: Daquella manera

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Theological Pluralism in the LCMS

In 1996, Dr. Laurence White, the Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Houston, presented a paper to the Lutheran Concerns Association titled “The Transformation of Missouri.” His paper is as timely today, perhaps more so, than it was when it was written back then. It’s well worth reviewing in light of our upcoming 2010 Convention in the LCMS. Perhaps it may cast all of the proposed structural changes in a different light. Here are a few of Dr. White’s thoughts. The first two paragraphs are quotes from the conclusion, followed by quotes from other areas of the paper.

Some would suggest that we've just gotten too big to operate without strong central control and a complicated multi-layered governing structures. District officials are heard to lament that the greatest single obstacle to the efficient operation of their districts is Missouri's stubborn attachment to the autonomy of the congregation. Others would insist that times have changed and as we prepare to move forward into the 21st century we too must change. The simple arrangements of 150 years ago, they tell us, are not adequate for the 1990's.

I am convinced that all of these suggestions miss the point. The transformation of Missouri has little to do with numbers or dates. It has everything to do with our confidence in the power of God's holy Word. The challenge which now confronts us as confessional Lutherans within the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is to restore that confidence in the power of the Word of God before it is too late.

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is slipping into a what might be called a "Post Confessional Era." While many of our pastors and most of our laity remain comfortably ensconced in a state of complacent indifference, the character of our church is undergoing a radical transformation. To be sure, we continue to pay lip service to the importance of doctrine - this is the Missouri Synod after all and appearances must be maintained. But all the rhetoric of orthodoxy notwithstanding, doctrine is not longer the decisive factor in the life of the New Missouri nor has it been for some time.

The New Missouri has demonstrated a curious inability to resolve theological problems in a Biblical manner. Throughout recent decades, political expedience and the realities of institutional power have consistently taken precedence over theological integrity for both moderates and conservatives. Forthright doctrinal discussion has virtually disappeared among us replaced by diplomatic double talk and discreet evasion as both sides vie for strategic advantage in the ongoing struggle for political control of the denomination.

In a church where the focus is on the organization, doctrinal discussion is perceived to be a threat to unity rather than a means to unity. In such a church, doctrinal disagreements are to be minimized and ignored least they jeopardize the reassuring illusion of institutional solidarity. In such a church those who are so indiscreet as to raise doctrinal concerns are to be consigned to irrelevance, scorned as "troublers of Israel."

Whether they are based on the banks of the Mississippi or the Tiber, church organizations have always found it very difficult to admit that they've ever been wrong. CTCR opinions routinely receive convention acceptance by simple majority vote - the fact that 30% or 40% or 49% of the delegates at a convention are voting against that doctrinal statement seems to concern no one. In recent years the commission has been unable to achieve God pleasing unanimity even within its own membership on a number of crucial theological questions. Theological pluralism is simply a fact in the New Missouri and our practice reflects that sad state of affairs.

You can read Dr. White’s entire paper here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Are You Coming to the Fort?

The Lutheran Concerns Association Annual Conference is on January 18, and the 2010 Symposia Series at Concordia Theological Seminary is January 19-22, both at Fort Wayne. I’m planning on attending each of them, so if you’ll be there as well, I hope you’ll track me down, or send me an email ahead of time (click on the button over in the right side bar to email me). I’m looking forward to the fellowship as well as the excellent teaching.

The LCA Conference will include discussions on the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance recommendations, synodical finances, my friend Joe Strieter speaking on the Transforming Churches Network, a panel discussion on the need to retain the seminaries (my friend Pastor Tim Rossow is in on this one), and more. The Symposium at CTS includes for its exegetical portion the topic of "The Sacraments in the Scriptures," and for its Confessions portion the topic of "God: Past, Present, and Future."

I hope I'll see you there.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Blogosphere Is One Blog Larger

Dr. Albert Collver, in what can only be described as an act of vecordious judgment, has entered the blogosphere. The maiden voyage of his blog The ABC3s of Miscellany took place on January 2, christening the New Year with his much-heralded blog.

Dr. Collver is the Executive Pastoral Assistant for LCMS World Relief and Human Care, Issues, Etc. guest, and all-around good guy. Describing his absence from the blogging world until now, he points out:

Somehow the blogging stuff passed me by (or I passed it by)... or rather life happened -- graduating, kids, moving, job, etc. During this time, we helped others create websites and blogs, but no blog for us to lay our head. So inspired some by Schott's Original Miscellany and the movie Julia & Julia, we have a blog containing miscellaneous information on a variety of topics.

Soon enough we’ll see Dr. Collver walking around with a distracted look on his face in elevators and during meals as he ponders his next blog post. I hope you’ll drop by The ABC3s of Miscellany and wish him luck.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Battle Fatigued?

Is your mousing finger a little fatigued, a little callused, from all those clicks, searching through endless websites for information related to the upcoming 2010 LCMS Regular Convention? If you’re yearning for a site that offers a centralized location for convention info and encourages cross-focused leadership in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, there’s a new website that's just what you’re looking for. It’s called Cross-Focused Leadership for Missouri, and its tagline is “Taking a Scriptural and Churchly Approach to LCMS Issues."

This new site is being developed by a broad-based group of laity and pastors who want to see the LCMS united behind positive, cross-focused, leadership. The site offers the opportunity for you to connect at your comfort level - you can just check in and read about their efforts, or you can register your support, write comments, and, if you wish, get involved by helping them as an organization. They hope to provide opportunities for people to get the word out about cross-focused leaders in the Synod, and want to see Missouri Synod Lutherans come back together again as a church family.

The site offers analyses of the Blue Ribbon Task Force proposals and links to other helpful information. Delegates to the 2010 LCMS Convention can sign up for periodical emails on the convention. There are areas for laymen to address their questions, and what I really like, a spot where you can as Pastor Martin Noland questions about the Blue Ribbon proposals.

This site seems like a great opportunity for us to grow and possibly even help out as the 2010 Convention approaches. I hope you’ll check it out.

photo credit: lucias_clay

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Joy of Blogging

Zach is out with his buddies, and Paige is in Hong Kong heading to China with Dr. Feiertag and eleven of her Concordia University – Wisconsin classmates, so Cheryl and I spent a romantic New Year’s Eve together. We had a great crab leg dinner, went out for dessert, and fittingly, watched the movie Julie & Julia.

The movie tells the parallel stories of Julia Child and the genesis of her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and author Julie Powell, who sets out to blog about her goal of cooking all of Julia’s 524 recipes in one year. It’s an entertaining flick, well worth watching, and reminds me of my own life due to my wife’s great cooking and my unfortunate habit of blogging. All that food makes me hungry, which is the advantage of renting movies – the fridge is just a room away. No champagne tonight though, although I did have a Diet Coke. (How could I be hungry after crab legs and dessert anyway?)

At one point in the movie, while they discuss Julie’s blog over dinner, one of Julie’s friends points out to her that “You have fans. Your readers love you.” At that point I chime in, sarcastically telling my wife that I have fans too. Hmm.… How am I going to back up this bit of braggadocio? Ah yes, Jeff Schwarz did tell me that he got depressed when I quit blogging for a few weeks last summer. Of course, I didn’t have the heart to tell him he was my only reader. There’s a true friend.

A little later in the film Julie’s husband gets mad at her for her self-absorbed blogging practices. I glanced at Cheryl out of the corner of my eye, wondering if she was going to bite on that one. Whew! She didn’t even flinch.

We paused the movie at midnight to observe the arrival of the new year, tuning in for the live fireworks display off the top of the Space Needle. Our airedale Hallie hid under the lamp table as somebody was, at the same time, shooting off fireworks in our neighborhood. The movie ended shortly thereafter, as did our romantic evening.

I hope you had as wonderful a New Year’s Eve as did we. Thanks for reading Jeff.

photo credit: Chris Blakeley