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Lenten Self Care: Baptismal Identity!

Reading time: two minutes (Maybe less.  It's Lent!). Tomorrow we begin the busiest season of the church year, but pastors already know that because the preparations began months ago.  As the paraments change to purple, as the bulletin printer goes into overtime, as the weekly cycle of sermon preparation kicks into double time, it's more important than ever to care of yourself. Strap on your own oxygen mask, Pastor, before you try to take care of everyone else!  My weekly Lenten reflections will offer a real short and simple thought for self-care in the busy season of Lent.  Today's topic: Don't let your jammed full calendar define you! Read More

Baptized Arguments!

Happy Valentine's Day! Reading time: two minutes. I hope you and your beloved have a good argument today.  I mean a really good argument.  Or maybe I should italicize that differently: a really good argument. I suppose it's possible that on a day like Valentine's Day a couple in love could go the whole day without any argument at all.  It's possible.  One of you might be out of town or something. The reality is that most every day we'll do something to irritate one another, just enough to elicit a snippy, biting or sarcastic remark that changes the atmosphere of the home.  That's normal.  That's who we are.  The bigger issue is how we move from there through the disagreements and arguments and back to a peaceful and loving "WE" oriented relationship. That takes a good argument.  Let me explain. Read More

Best Advice from You! Financial Wellbeing

Reading time: two minutes. I'm always pleasantly surprised when our retreat evaluations indicate that for many couples, the financial workshop offered by our friend Eustolio Gomez from Concordia Plan Services was the most significant part of the retreat! I'm not surprised that Eustolio does such a good job, I'm just glad to hear that the message of financial wellness is addressed in a way that it helps professional church work families who are experiencing stress and anxiety in their financial lives. As I listen to table conversations where couples offer counsel to one another, I often hear that couples had their breakthrough in financial health when they finally said to each other, "Let's get some advice."  Maybe that's a good place to wrap up my thoughts on the best advice I've heard from you through the years. Read More

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