Devotionals

Best Advice from You! Emotional Wellbeing

Reading time: two minutes. "Hmmm.  That's very interesting."  Those are four words I've heard from many of you over the years as we've discussed handling our emotions in high stress moments of anxiety. When someone shares an opinion that is clearly loaded with emotion, and when the impulse that surges up inside is to respond with a similarly emotional outburst, sometimes (usually!) the best response is a pause for quiet reflection, triggered by those four little words, "Hmmm.  That's very interesting." Churches are like families: they are very emotional places.  How we handle all of the passion and the emotional outbursts will go a long way to determine the atmosphere of our homes and churches. Read More

Best Advice from You! Baptismal Wellness

Reading time: two minutes. I'm learning so much from the wisdom that you have shared with me in recent months that I'm dedicating the next eight weeks of blogs to you and the conversations we've shared. When I ask you, "What do you do to remember your baptism," I hear all kinds of things about how raindrops and rainbows and water fountains and showers and a cross in the pocket can serve of reminders of baptismal grace. One idea I heard has really stuck with me.  A pastor told me that now when he makes the sign of the cross, he remembers the words spoken at his own baptism, "Receive the sign of the holy cross both upon your forehead and upon your heart to mark you as one redeemed by Christ the crucified" as he makes two small crosses once again on his forehead and on his heart.  I like it! Read More

Simple Financial Wellness: Four Words!

Reading time: two minutes. I'm enjoying this "four words" series.  I hope you've found it helpful.  Every aspect of the Lutheran Wellness Wheel is incredibly complex.  Finding the healing touch of Christ in every area of our lives is a wonder of God's kingdom, and to Him belongs all the glory. But it's also important to keep this as simple as possible.  I hope these four word handles on wellness have been encouraging to you as we all seek the Lord's healing grace to help us live as stewards of self. Week eight of the series brings us to financial wellness.  Here are my four words of encouragement: "Let's have a talk." Read More

Simple Emotional Wellness: Four Words!

Reading time: two minutes.  I don't want the topic of self-care to become burdensome or overly complex.  I like the Lutheran Wellness Wheel because it gives us a simple handle on eight aspects of wellness.  I've gotten good feedback on this "four words" series.  Which four words are at the heart of emotional wellbeing, at it's most basic and simple?  I think I'd sum up emotional wellbeing with these four: "My problem is me."  Diagnosis is always the first step in treatment.  I'd love to be able to blame my sour moods on the weather, the government, the latest Cardinals loss or the bad service at the credit union, but those minor irritations can't drain me of the Spirit's gift of joy. Read More

Simple Baptismal Wellness: 4 Words!

Reading time: two minutes.  We could make this really complex and very complicated, but we don't need to.  I could write volumes and volumes on what it means to live in the joy of the gospel, but I'd rather offer a simple handle for you.  I'd truly like to spend five days (another five days for our alumni!) on a retreat to seriously and intentionally reflect on what the grace of Jesus means to me right in this moment, but that's not likely to happen.  So let me give it to you in a short, simple catch phrase that you can use any time and every day of you life to remember the abiding, strengthening, uplifting grace of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.  Four words.  I like them even better than my favorite three: "Jesus loves me." Read More

Concordia Means "Harmony"!

Reading time: two minutes. I'm posting one last blog on my experience at the convention.  Five weeks is enough!  I can't wrap this up, however, without talking about emotional wellbeing.  The greatest portion of our emotional upset, I'm convinced, comes from broken relationships.  My friends in counseling tell me that most of what they do is coach people through relational hurt: conflict, misunderstanding, and bitterness that leads to anger. I think most of us in the LCMS are concerned about the emotional state of our church. Read More

Baptismal Wellness at the LCMS Convention!

Reading time: two minutes. I had a great time at the convention last week, so great, in fact, that I plan to write about it for the next eight weeks as we wend our way around the Lutheran Wellness Wheel once again! "Please identify yourself," we heard time and again from the Chair of the convention.  Sometimes when the speaker walked to the microphone we knew right away if they were a lay delegate or clergy.  Their attire or gender made the identification easy. Credentials are important at conventions.  Some credentials needed no name badge.  As an impassioned observer sitting in the advisory section, I found great joy celebrating the identity every speaker held in common, an identity that needed no introduction: "Child of God, Baptized in His Grace." Read More

Risen and Brand New… Financial Wellbeing!

Reading time: two minutes. The last of the Post-Easter reflections on the Lutheran Wellness Wheel.  I've enjoyed this so much because Easter changes the way we think and the way we look at everything in our lives, including money.  For a guy who didn't have any, Jesus sure talked a lot about money and possessions.  They say it's the number one subject of the parables, but we all know that the primary subject of the parables is human hearts.  I guess that's why Jesus talked about it so much.  He knows where our hearts are. Read More

Risen and Brand New… Emotional Wellbeing!

Reading time: two minutes.  Easter people expect the risen Christ to show up in the most unexpected places and at just the time when we need Him.  The Incarnate Jesus did that beginning at Bethlehem and continuing all the way to the Emmaus Road and His visit with Saul on the way to Damascus. Churches are emotional places; too often emotions of the unhealthy variety.  Paul listed them as "bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice" (Ephesians 4:31).  That's just the time we need Jesus to show up, and you know what?  He does! Read More

Risen and Brand New: Baptismal Health!

Reading time: two minutes. At my house, tulips are a sure thing.  Forget the roses and violets.  Carol loves the tulips.  I thought about planting some last fall, but those bulbs are so nasty, dry and lumpy that I didn't.  No vision, I guess.  It's hard to see something beautiful coming from something so ugly. I'm glad Jesus has better vision than I do. Easter is new life, and baptismal wellbeing is the fountain of new life God has given to each of us.  It's a daily planting of the nasty and ugly, and then, without waiting through a long winter or even through forty days of Lent, new life!  Beauty!  Beginning!  Fresh!  Spring! How's your Easter today? Read More

When Jesus Appears… In Generosity!

Reading time: two minutes The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25 can get tricky.  Are our good works ("... you fed me, ...you visited me" etc.) the cause of our salvation?  Certainly not.  We often say, "Works are just evidence of saving faith."  Well, yes, but does that do justice to the text?   "Come..., for I was hungry and you fed me" If, as Jeff Gibbs suggests, the parable is connected to the sending of the disciples in Matthew 10, (no extra clothes, no extra money, no extra shoes, facing sickness and persecution) then those who provide support for the bearers of the good news are offering care to the Lord Jesus. I can't speak for my fellow pastors or for educators, but it's pretty humbling to think that those who in faith give generously to pay my salary are credited with saving faith in the gospel I share. When people support me by their gifts, "You did it unto me," Jesus said. Read More

When Jesus Appears… In Harmony!

Reading time: two minutes. I don't know what kind of presence the devil has at your house, but I do know he would love to set up camp there.  He would really enjoy an invitation to be a permanent resident, stirring up trouble in your home, in your family.  Maybe the presence of Satan in your home is like that of the annoying mosquito in the summertime, that tiny little buzzing sound that is nothing dramatic, but just a steady, droning, agonizing buzz that disrupts what is an otherwise peaceful quiet.  Maybe his presence is an earthquake that threatens to tumble every last brick from it's place and topple your house.  What I do know is that "one little word can fell him."  Should we send the devil on his way today? Read More