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Healthy Churches Clear the Air!

Reading time: three minutes. I have a natural aroma, a scent all my own.  It's not that pleasant, but I'm learning to deal with it pretty well.  I'm not talking about body odor.  For that aroma, a daily shower with some de-odorant soap and a quick smear of de-odorant stick and I'm set to face the public. The natural scent that follows me around that is much more deeply a part of me than my body odor is the smell of filthy rags.  It's the fragrance of the underside of a sheep.  It's the aroma of my natural tendency to say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, think the wrong thing and usually at just the wrong time. Fortunately, we have a Good Shepherd who is familiar with the smell of sheep, and willing to wrap them around His shoulders and carry them home. Read More

Church Health: Who Are We?

Reading time, three minutes. In 1974 I was 6'3" and 160 pounds so I bought a pair of platform shoes with three inch heels.  Not only did they look stupid, they didn't feel very good either.  I looked like a stork with a limp (the plaid bell bottoms didn't help much), and every bone in my ankles and feet screamed at me, "What are you DOING!?!" I wanted so badly to look cool like some guys I knew who really did make those shoes work for them, that I ended up miserable.  Churches can do that too. Read More

Financial Generosity Is the Power of WE!

Reading time: less than three minutes. Eustolio Gomez, CPS Here's a perfect example of "The Power of WE."  In our sixteen years of ministry, we've sponsored nearly 280 Grace Place Wellness Retreats for almost 8,000 church workers and spouses of The LCMS. Eustolio Gomez of Concordia Plans Services has attended about 270 of those retreats and led a Financial Planning Workshop for church work couples that consistently is mentioned as one of the most impactful parts of the week.  Thanks for your partnership, Eustolio!  You're an important part of our WE at Grace Place Wellness. I've only been at about twenty of those workshops.  I gain something new every time.  But here's the most amazing part of the feedback we get. Couples tell us, "This morning was the best, most productive conversation we've had about our family financial situation in twenty or thirty years." Read More

Emotional Harmony Is the Power of WE!

Reading time: less than 3 minutes I don't claim to be an exorcist, but I know how to stop the devil in his tracks.  Three little words: trust, respect and love.  He hates that. Conflict is tearing apart way too many of our congregations.  When we talk about emotional wellbeing here at Grace Place Wellness, we focus on clearing the air, refreshing the atmosphere that's been clouded by anger, resentment, hostility, gossip; basically the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:20-21).  It's in our broken relationships that the devil gets his foothold (Ephesians 4:27). Harmonious relationships that exhibit a high degree of emotional wellbeing are Satan's bane. He hates when that happens, and runs from love like crazy. Read More

Baptismal Wellbeing Is the Power of WE!

Reading time: less than 3 minutes. I once was asked on a theology test: "Explain the Trinity.  Use the words essence and substance."  Fortunately the professor only left room for about 50 words on the test paper.  I'm sure my answer was pathetic. I wish I'd known about "perichoresis."  Not to impress the instructor, of course.  Well, maybe just a little.  Perichoresis is a term the ancient Greek Fathers used to describe the relationship of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  It literally can mean "dance around" (get it... "Peri" like perimeter + "Choresis" as in choreography).   Some say the Greek dance involving at least three dancers, weaving in and out of one another inspired the Fathers to say, "That's what the Trinity is like!" What a wonder that in the grace of baptism, you and I have been invited to join in the dance! Read More

JOY Is… Emotional Harmony!

Reading time... less than 3 minutes It's storm season here in the Midwest.  It's amazing how quickly the weather can change. Relationships have an "atmosphere" also, don't they?  Bad weather can hang around for a long, long time.  Jesus changes things in an instant. When I met Bob for the first time, his family was a mess.  He had been divorced for years, only a couple of his five grown children were speaking to him, and few of them were speaking to each other. I would never have imagined how powerfully God would transform Bob's family. Read More

JOY Is Baptismal Renewal!

Reading time: 3 minutes What does JOY look like?  I've got a pretty good idea of what joy looks like.  I've seen it a few times. Have you ever been at a ball game where the announcer says over the loudspeaker, "Today we honor the families of our military personnel serving overseas..." and out marches some children of soldiers?  Then suddenly, sneaking up on the children from behind, comes daddy or mommy, returned home from service unannounced and sooner than expected. Read More

Financial Wellbeing Is… Generosity!

Reading time: 3 minutes Did you watch the Oscars?  Did you see the glamour and glitz of the Red Carpet and the Hollywood icons? I didn't watch much either.  A little bit goes a long way.  Now, you've got to keep up with Hollywood to keep your finger on the pulse of where society is going (that's another topic for another day!), but I have a hard time watching the excesses of wealth.  "Who are you wearing?"  For real? In the kingdom of God, success and personal worth is never measured by material wealth. Read More

Baptismal Wellbeing Is… RENEWAL

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes. Did you ever feel like starting all over again? Wait, what I’m really asking is, Did you ever not feel like starting all over again? I’m sorry. That’s not right. Please let me try it again. Have you ever known deep in your heart that your only hope is for a brand new beginning? (There, that’s better!) The Gospel is always about beginning all over again New beginnings. That’s the hope and the joy of the gospel of Jesus Christ, isn’t it? That’s why we’re open every Sunday, for new beginnings, fresh starts in the wondrous gift of Christ’s love and forgiveness. But isn’t Sunday too long to wait? If you’re like me, you’re ready for new beginnings all through the week! Read More

Net worth can’t buy fiscal happiness

If you have a family, you likely have financial worries — especially this time of year as the kids get ready to head back to school, whether they’re starting kindergarten or college.  But your total net worth can’t buy your fiscal well-being, according to a Gallup study. Instead, research shows that our financial wellness is more closely tied to our perception that we have enough money to adequately care for ourselves and our family without the burden and stress of debt. Read More

What's your key to happiness?

While most of us equate well-being with being happy, a book from the famed Gallup organization, Well Being, The Five Essential Elements (Gallup Press), sheds incredibly helpful and even surprising insights. Well-being goes far beyond happiness. Gallup surveyed the people of more than 200 nations and populations representing about 98 percent of the world. Researchers discovered five key areas of “being” that reflect humans’ health and wellness: career, social, physical, financial and community well-being. Read More

Word-saturated meditative prayer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his concise text, Meditating On The Word,* begins his preface with the following paragraph: [su_quote]Word and sacrament are at the heart of our worship and our life together as Christians, yet it is my experience in the church that we keep ourselves close to the sacrament but at some distance from the Word. This is commonly seen in the small attention paid top-reaching, the trivial nature of so many sermons we hear, the absence of Bible study in many congregations, and (one imagines) the infrequency of personal reading of the Bible. I believe this is an imbalance that needs correcting, although I think I understand at least some of the reasons why it exists.[/su_quote] As we look at the spiritual elements of our lives as church workers and laity alike, could it be that we are Word-impoverished? Read More