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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, 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

When Jesus Appears… In the Water!

Reading time: two minutes. Yes, yes, I know: God is hidden.  He's chosen not to appear in  theophanies before us and shout, "I am the Lord God!", but He's not that hidden.  I saw Him this morning. In this season of Epiphany we remember the work of God the Holy Spirit making Jesus known in word and in power.  God is indeed hidden from the view of our senses, but He is constantly making Himself known to those who have receive the gift of faith by the Spirit. Have you seen Jesus this morning?  Would you like to see Jesus today?  Do you NEED to see Jesus?  Take a look in the water.  He's looking right back at you. Read More

A Prayer for Financial Wellbeing

Praying time: less than three minutes. This will be the last in our series of prayers around the Lutheran Wellness Wheel.  God is so good.  Join me in thanks for His every blessing! The earth is Yours, O Lord.  I rejoice that You have awakened me to a new day and a new opportunity to walk through Your creation, knowing that I am a child of the Owner of all wealth, and an heir of treasure that will never perish, spoil or fade. "Providence" is such a beautiful word.  You, the Owner are also my Provider, and how generous You have been toward me and my family.  Just as wise parents know best the needs of their children, You also know best just what I need.  My wants often obscure richness of Your provision, so give me faith today to confess that my Father in heaven does indeed daily and richly bless me with all I need to support this body and life. Read More

A Prayer for Emotional Wellbeing

Praying time, less than three minutes. When our emotions get the best of us, we suffer for it.  The healing love of Christ is for the restoration of our bodies, our souls and our spirits.  I'm praying that you know that healing love this week! Loving Father of all mercy, how glad I am that You want only the very best for me. No matter how I wander, You invite me back.  No matter how I act in ways that hurt myself and those I love, You bring restoration and healing grace. You make everything new again.  I need a new beginning. Read More

A Prayer for Baptismal Wellbeing

Praying time: less than three minutes. Baptismal renewal is a privilege for us moment by moment throughout the course of every day.  I pray for you every day.  I hope this prayer might be your own! Holy, blessed, eternal God, You shine with the light of glory.  The flaming seraphs who are always before Your throne  fade and diminish in comparison to You, their Creator.  My brothers Peter, James and John glimpsed a reflection of Your glory in the face of my Savior, Jesus, and they fell face down, terrified.  Holy, Holy, Holy is Your name, O Lord. Read More