Devotionals

Emotional Vitality for the Long Haul!

Reading time: two minutes. There's an atmosphere at your church.  I pray all the time that your church would have that light-hearted, joyous atmosphere that reflects the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. I know that all too often, bad weather creeps in to congregational life.  A church with a tumultuous atmosphere hinders the mission and ministry of God's people.  Attendance drifts downward.  Decisions become burdensome.  Outreach is stifled. And church leaders, especially professional church workers, suffer. A good atmosphere in our places of ministry helps to ensure longevity of service both in the places where we are currently called, and in long, joyful, healthy careers in ministry.  So how do we keep a Spirit-filled, joyous atmosphere in the church?  Read More

Baptismal Vitality for the Long Haul!

Reading time: two minutes. "As for all the other events of Asa's reign, all his achievements, all he did and the cities he built, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?  In his old age, however, his feet became diseased" (1 Kings 15:23).  He had a nice long career, but maybe he should have taken care of his feet. One of the objectives of our preventive wellness ministry is longevity in ministry.  Often we look at the Wellness Wheel as a diagnostic tool for the immediate crises of life:  "How am I doing when it comes to baptismal, spiritual, relational, intellectual, emotional, vocational, physical and financial health?  What needs to change right now?" For the next eight weeks however, as we move closer to the busy fall season, I want to take a longer view.  What daily and weekly habits and disciplines will help to ensure decades of longevity in ministry?  How can I finish this long, arduous journey and still have strong feet?  Read More

A Summer Financial Refresher!

Reading time: two minutes. Maybe you had a first career as a Certified Public Accountant.  If so, see you next week! If you're like most of us, (especially if you're like me) your summer refresher is to set an appointment with a financial advisor and have a thorough review of your financial plans. The first time I knew I was an idiot (mathematically and financially) was when the math prof at Concordia Portland (who had my high school senior little brother in his college Calculus III class) asked me if I was going to ask Alan help me get through Introduction to Algebra after I flunked the mid-term.  Naturally, I refused. It gets worse.  Read More

A Summer Emotional Refresher!

Reading time: two minutes. I've watched a lot of cowboy movies.  Most of the riding around the range and roping cattle looked like fun.  The barbed wire jobs didn't look that enjoyable. There was usually a grizzled, sun-beaten old veteran like the Jack Palance character "Curly" in City Slickers mending the fence.  You'd see thick leather gloves, callouses, and a little bit of blood and sweat.  Maybe tears, too. Mending fences is really hard. Emotional wellbeing is tending to the mood of our relationships.  Some of my summer refresher suggestions have been on the fun side.  This one is tough, but worth the effort.  Read More

A Summer Baptismal Refresher!

Reading time: two minutes. Happy Memorial Day!  It's summertime!  For the next eight weeks, we'll work our way around the Lutheran Wellness Wheel and suggest some summertime refreshments.  Today: Baptismal Wellbeing. Baptismal wellness is all about our Identity in Christ Jesus.  It's the day by day battle to remember that I'm not defined by how well the circumstances in my life are going these days.  I'm defined by the perfect, redeeming love of Almighty God who claimed me, cleansed me and said, "You're Mine!" I think a great baptismal refresher would be a mini-retreat, a short get-away to be renewed in the wonder of God's ever-present, undeserved, forgiving love and grace.  Here's what it might look like...  Read More

Financial JOY in the OT!

Reading time: two minutes. We watched the movie "Ghost" a while back.  Nice movie.  Lousy theology. But I love the scene where Whoopi Goldberg's character, Oda Mae Brown, gives the embezzled check for $4 million to the Sisters of Charity raising funds for the homeless.  With a big, fake grin and teeth gritted tighter than a vise, she offers the check, but can't let go!  Watching the nun and the reluctant donor wrestle over the check for a few brief seconds was hilarious!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsGZAN0ol3U Psalm 51, where David repents of his sins of adultery and murder, ends in a very interesting fashion that I had not noticed before.  The bottom line of repentance and grace?  For David, it was the offering basket! Read More

Emotional JOY in the OT!

Reading time: two minutes. If you charted the emotional history timeline of your family, what kind of a roller coaster would it depict?  Would you see the normal ups and downs of family life, the joys of blessings and the sadness of loss?  Or would you see more sudden and dramatic sharp declines of painful hurt and abuse? Jacob's family experienced the more dramatic and dizzying roller coaster ride that comes from more significant sinful behavior toward one another.  The story of Joseph and his brothers is an example of the kinds of physical, verbal and emotional abuse that destroys families and the family's individual members. It's pretty similar to a heartbreaking story of a baseball player I've been reading about lately.   Read More

Baptismal JOY in the OT!

Reading time: two minutes. Okay, technically it's not baptismal joy.  Maybe covenant joy would be more correct, but the point is the same. When we forget who we are, the beloved and redeemed children of the heavenly Father, we lose the joy.  When we remember who we are by the grace of God, we rejoice! I'll be walking through the Wellness Wheel again over the next eight weeks and as we celebrate the continuing joy of Easter, I thought I'd focus in on stories from scripture of God's children rejoicing over His joy-producing gifts. I was surprised that the first stories I thought of were all from the Old Testament.  Let's start with the joy of renewal in the life of King David.   Read More

Humility and Emotional Wellness!

Reading time: two minutes. Easter is joy.  Lent is our time of reflection on all that would steal the joy from us.  It's a powerful and important reflection.  The joy of Easter glows brighter because of the contrast with the sadness of Lent.  Lutherans take a lot of ribbing about the serious way we engage in the Lenten journey, some of it humorously self-inflicted.  We laugh at sayings like, "For Lutherans, every day is like... Lent!" We can laugh because we are people of joy.  We're Easter people.  It's how we endure the sadness over sin and the impending threat of death.  That sounds pretty emotionally healthy to me.   Read More

Humility and Financial Wellness!

Reading time: two minutes. Jesus "did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage" (Philippians 2:6, NIV).  In his commentary on Hebrews 4 from CPH, John Kleinig says, "He goes so low so that he can raise them so high." One part of our Lord's humiliation that leads to our exaltation is his willingness to live a life of humble poverty, never grasping or claiming any financial wealth as his own.  He had the clothes on his back, the sandals on his feet, and not much else.  He claimed no home address, no bank account, no storage unit for the overflow of stuff. As we remember our Lord's passion in Lent, it's an ideal time to consider our own attachment to the material things of this earth, and how humility teaches us to cling to them lightly.   Read More

Humility and Baptismal Wellness!

Reading time: two minutes. The holy season of Lent is now just a week away.  I know you've been in preparation for this time for many, many weeks, even before Christmas.  Shepherds of God's flock are also members of that flock, little lambs dressed up in shepherd's clothing. It's so important that as we are leading God's people on their Lenten journey to the cross, we also make the journey.  Lent is to be a time not just of extra effort, more sermons and services to prepare; it's also a time for our own meditation on the cross of Jesus. Read More

Your Pre-Lenten Wellness Retreat!

Reading time: two minutes. Ash Wednesday is just two weeks away.  This is a good time to "get your own oxygen mask on before you take care of others." We're heading into one of the busiest seasons of the church year, a time of extra hours, extra responsibilities and extra anxiety.  It's a season we love, because of the extra opportunities to share the message of the Savior's perfect love, His sacrificial death and resurrection. Which is a good reason for us to be at our best.  This week and next I'll focus on some of the preventive wellness practices that can help you to survive and thrive in this upcoming holy season! Read More