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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! 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

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