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The Incarnation: A Financial Wellbeing Difference Maker!

Reading time: two minutes. Born at Christmas, made manifest at Jordan's waters, the life of Jesus shows us what God is like, but also, in many ways, what it means to be human.  Many of the things Jesus did, only He could ever do.  I don't think everything Jesus said or did is an example for us. But His Incarnation into this flesh and blood life does show us an ideal picture of what it means to live as a child of the heavenly Father.  And I do think there is a financial component to that example.   Read More

The Incarnation: An Emotional Difference Maker!

Reading time: two minutes. This might be an ideal topic for the beginning of a new year. I could look back over my many years and mark the best years and the worst years.  My rating scale wouldn't be according to how much money I made.  My income has been pretty steady.  I've traveled to some wonderful places, but fun adventures only constitute a small portion of a year.  Same thing with Cardinal World Series years.  Fun, but it doesn't make or break a whole twelve months. It's easy to identify the most difficult years from my past based on the state of relationships that were just not right.  One measure of emotional wellbeing is the level of the love and care, or the lack of it, in a person's life.  It can upset your emotional life for months on end. The Incarnation of Jesus is the key to good, healthy, loving, caring, grace-filled relationships. Read More

The Incarnation: A Baptismal Difference Maker!

Reading time: two minutes. When we pray, "Lord, have mercy," do you think the Lord can really relate?  I mean, we cry out in our weakness, "Help, Lord.  Save me!" but what does He know about stress and anxiety?  That's the great thing about Christmas and the Incarnation of Jesus.  He became flesh for us, and He really does understand.  For the next few weeks, during Advent and into Epiphany, we'll explore very briefly how the Incarnation of Jesus into this human life of ours makes a difference, spiritually, physically, emotionally, all the way around The Lutheran Wellness Wheel. Read More

More Lessons from a Distance Runner!

Reading time: two minutes. If you hike the length of the Appalachian Trail in record time, you learn some lessons about taking care of yourself.  Karl Meltzer shared some thoughts about his 46 day journey, and I thought they were pretty helpful.  I'll cover three more today, and include our list so far at the end of the post.  We start today with Choose to be positive.  Fortunately for us children of the Lord, this is so much more than happy thoughts! It's the difference between Elijah and Silas. Read More

Favorite Wellness Scriptures: Aaron’s Blessing!

Reading time: two minutes. Pastors sometimes feel, "I bless everybody, but I could sure use a blessing myself!" Part of fending off the dangers of compassion fatigue is finding a place to get blessed once in a while.  Now that I'm out of regular parish ministry, I find myself treasuring the absolutions and benedictions I'm receiving.  When I was dishing them out, I didn't always recognized how much I needed them myself. I love, "The Lord... be gracious to you" in Numbers 6, especially in this week of Sola Gratia, but there's so much to cherish in the blessing God instructed Aaron to place on the people of Israel. Read on for a couple more quick thoughts on Numbers 6:22-27! Read More

"You Might Be in Trouble If…" Financial Edition!

Reading time: two minutes. The warning signs that you might be in financial trouble are pretty obvious, but as we wrap up this series on "You Might Be in Trouble If..." I'll mention three that plagued me for a long time. You might be in financial trouble if worries about your financial condition interrupt your thoughts during the course of your regular, everyday activities.  You also might be in financial trouble if you find yourself making an unusual number of mistakes with your finances, such as overdrafts or getting caught in a bind by not preparing for regular expenses. And you might be in trouble if you look down the road and realize you have not yet established a long-range financial plan. Fortunately, the solution for all three is the same. Read More

"You Might Be in Trouble If…" Emotional Edition!

Reading time: two minutes. How about a quick scan of the emotional state of our relationships? We're so thankful for the meteorologists who, by assessing the state of the atmosphere, helped many, many people avoid an even worse disaster in Texas and in Florida.  Relationships have an atmosphere too. Have you ever walked into a home and within a few minutes noticed, "Something is wrong here"?  It's hard to hide tension and conflict between people. Three warning signs of conflict in a relationship could include 1) a change of mood when someone you don't really want to see walks in the room, 2) thinking about a bad relationship the last thing at night and the first thing in the morning, and 3) a desire to see someone else suffer.  Let's take a look. Read More

Hurricane Recovery Edition: Self-Care Isn’t Self-ish!

Reading time: two minutes. Our hearts and our prayers are with all in the Hurricane Harvey recovery zone.  They are far too busy to be reading this, but it's an opportunity for all in the caring professions to reflect upon the need for self care in times of trauma. Pastors and congregations in disaster areas are called upon to serve every kind of human need: spiritual, emotional and physical.  When the needs are so great, it's easy to become exhausted ourselves and thereby become unable to serve as we'd like. The Lutheran Wellness Wheel considers all of these needs.  Let's review the basics of self-care in times of crisis. Read More

"You Might Be In Trouble If…" Baptismal Edition

Reading time: two minutes. Let's look at the Lutheran Wellness Wheel in eight weeks through the lens of potential warning signs of an imbalanced life. Our brief definition of Baptismal Wellness reads, "As I grow in God’s grace of Baptismal LOVE, I am finding joy in my IDENTITY as His new creation in Christ." Our three warning signs this week center around the words "stuck," "worried," and "criticized." That sounds awful, but unfortunately, all too familiar.  Let's take a look! Read More

Financial Wellbeing for Churches in One Word: Share!

Reading time: two minutes. We've been looking at one key word from Ephesians 4 each week as we reflect on the Wellness Wheel.  Today it's verse 28: "He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need." Mom gets it.  One of the first lessons she taught us was to share.  It's the way of God.  It's the nature of the kingdom that all who have received would share. It's the way the creation works, and when we're at our best, sharing is what we do just because it comes so naturally and so joyfully. Look around you!  God's world is a sharing place! Read More

Emotional Wellbeing for Churches in One Word: Rid!

Reading time: two minutes. What a great little word: Rid!  "Disencumber" is maybe more poetic, but I like the forcefulness of rid.  If it's got to go, it's got to go, so get rid of it. I'm referring of course to Paul's admonition to the Ephesians to "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice" (4:31). None of that can help a church.  Emotional wellbeing is about a clear, fresh, welcoming, joyful atmosphere among the people of God. How well are we doing at rid? Read More

Baptismal Wellness for Churches in One Word: "New"!

Reading time, two minutes. God's Word is so powerful that even one little word of Scripture can change everything.  Ephesians 4 is an unending source of wisdom for our life together in the body of Christ.  As I review the Lutheran Wellness Wheel once again over the next eight weeks, I'm going to focus on just one word from Ephesians per topic. This week's word shows up twice: "...to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self" (Eph. 4:23-24). One difference between the old self and the new is joy.  The old nature grieves over hurt and loss.  The new nature rejoices in the life that springs from death.  Churches are continually in need of reasons to rejoice.  Here's how I believe baptismally healthy congregations live by joy! Read More