Sunday, December 30, 2007

Updated Family Photo

I've updated our family photo. The previous phot on this blog was taken almost three years ago. Wow! The children grow so quickly. in this Christmas photo Lydia is 21, Hannah is 19, Elijah is almost 15, Abram is 13, Noah is 10, Isaac is 8, and Faith is almost 6.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Double Fence

Church unity is fine as an idea, but it is another thing entirely when we deal with application. I read this story recently, and it illustrates my point well:
“Between two farms near Valleyview, Alberta, you can find two parallel fences, only two feet apart, running one-half mile. Two farmers, Paul and Oscar, had a disagreement that erupted into a feud. Paul wanted to build a fence and split the cost, but Oscar refused. Since he wanted to keep cattle on his land, Paul built the fence anyway.
“After the fence was completed, Oscar said to Paul, ‘I see we have a fence.’ ‘What do you mean, ‘We?’ Paul asked. ‘I had the property surveyed and built the fence two feet into my land,’ Paul continued. ‘Some of my land is outside the fence, and if I see your cows trespassing, I’ll shoot them.’ Oscar knew Paul was serious, so when he eventually chose to use his land next to Paul’s for pasture, he was forced to build a fence two feet away.”
Unity in practice is time-consuming, costly, distracting and difficult at best to attain. It means sacrificing our preferences and desires. So why bother? Before Jesus was arrested, he prayed, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:22-23 NIV).
Unity in practice is sometimes painful, and it does mean we must sometimes give up our preferences, tastes and traditions. So why bother? “…to reach out daily with a growing heart to heaven, home, and humanity near and far.” Unity at Trinity is of utmost importance. Several factors present both the challenge and the blessing of striving together for unity in our congregation. We have the blessing and the challenge of two ministry sites. We have the blessing and the challenge of ministries that take our efforts in different directions on a daily basis. We have the blessing and challenge of combining resources of people, facilities, finances, and energy with people who are come at life from different perspectives.
The last thing we need is a double fence built in any of our ministries. I am always encouraged when I see the wonderful cooperative working of God’s people at Trinity. I look forward to a new year of building unity and working together to share God’s love with our community.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


I'm posting this blog entry from a Caribou coffee shop, while enjoying a wonderful cup of coffee. Thanksgiving was just a couple of days ago. It's honestly one of my favorite holidays. I like it because it hasn't become as "secularized" as so many other Christian holidays. Though not everyone is asking the question, it's not out of place to ask people, "What are you thankful for?" I did so at acouple of places. I asked the receptionists at my physical therapy appointment, I asked a gas station attendant, I asked a waitress. The response from each of these people was a thankfulness for "family." People really seem to value the relationships around them. I can well understand that sentiment. I too, am so very grateful for the lovely family that God gave me. I feel so blessed when I think about my precious bride, Diana, and each one of my children. Life with them is a special joy and blessing. In addition to the family I live with, I am grateful for the family that I worship with on a regular basis. My church family is precious to me. Both my family at home and my church family are gifts from God and a special testimony of His wonderful grace in my life. I've got to trace those blessings right back to the one who gives every good and perfect gift, the Father in heaven. When I think aout the things I am thankful for, the chief blessing and the source of all good in my life is the Lord. He has made me and given me all my blessings. What a joy to offer Him my worship and praise! The gift of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ is by far the biggest blessing I have to be thankful for each and every Thanksgiving, but also every day. The death and resurrection of my Savior Jesus has given me life through the forgiveness of all my sin. There is nothing I could be more thankful for. Now we turn our sights to the next big holiday, "CHRISTmas". I'm looking forward to sharing the joy of Christmas with everyone I can. I'm thankful for such a joyous message in a world where we need it so desperately.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fun, Fun, Fun,...

What a welcome for my family and me!

Watch this video of the song the praise team wrote and performed at the installation service. (The guy shaking his head just to the right of the center of the screen is my dad... a fairly traditional Lutheran, himself, but a very good sport!)

Fun, Fun, Fun...

Well the call committee met
And decided we should find
a new man now
Packer – Viker didn’t matter
But he had to be a Jesus fan now
And with the congregation saying their prayers
Just as fast as they can now
We will have fun, fun, fun
‘Cause we got the Texas preacher to stay

Well we knew all along
That our preacher was kind of unique, yeah
Seven children – Faith, Elijah,
Isaac, Noah, Abram, Lydia, Hannah
And the saint of the family
Is the mother and wife, Diana
Praise Father Son, Son, Son
For the blessing of this
great family

Well, we got the pastor
Who speaks and leads
like an ace now
We’ll be moving just
as fast as we can
Keeping up with his pace now
He’s got enthusiasm
written all over
That baby face now
And he will run, run, run
Doing ministry at Trinity, yeah
And he will run, run, run
Doing ministry at Trinity, yeah
And he will run, run, run
Doing ministry at Trinity, yeah!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A wonderful dance...

This awesome liturgical dance was sent to me by a friend. I had to post it for the rest of you. It's a great celebration of freedom in Christ.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I've had several requests for the video I shared with the church called EE-Taow. Here it is... with even more footage!

Here's a link for ordering the DVD which now includes a sequel to this amazing story...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Nutshell Verses

I enjoyed preaching a message today called "Getting It... Nutshell Verses". My vision for the message was that there are several key things that God really wants us to get. They can be stated in simple verses from the Bible. It's possible to glance over these verses without getting it. They are so important that I wanted to be sure that they were examined today and clearly understood. Here are the "nutshell verses" I shared today...

Truth in a nutshell
John 17:17 (ESV)
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

Consequence in a nutshell
Ezekiel 18:4 (ESV)
Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.

Law in a nutshell
Luke 13:5 (ESV)
…but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Gospel in a nutshell (of course)
John 3:16 (ESV)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Salvation in a nutshell
Acts 16:31 (ESV)
"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Power in a nutshell
Romans 1:16 (ESV)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Obedience in a nutshell
Matthew 22:37 - 40 (ESV)
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Responsibility in a nutshell
Matthew 28:19 - 20 (ESV)
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Worship in a nutshell
Revelation 5:12 - 13 (ESV)
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” …“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

Here are the results of my last poll...

What do you think about "Video Sermons"?

68% I get just as much out of them.
26% They're OK ocassionally, but I really don't like them.
47% They are a good tool for multi-site churches.
5% They are less effective and their use should be discouraged.
0% They do not belong in today's church.

The percentages do not add up to 100 because more than one response could be registered

Friday, July 20, 2007

Learning Curve

As I begin work at Trinity, I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about the ministry that lies before us. In the fastest growing county of Wisconsin, planted in two locations, with a strong historic tie to the Hudson community, we are poised to have a powerful effect on the St. Croix River Valley, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Together, we have so much to give our Lord, in faithful service. Right now, I’m climbing a great big “learning curve” which is O.K. with me since I do enjoy the process of learning new things. The “learning curve” refers to a relationship between the duration of learning or experience and the resulting progress. Initially introduced in the discipline of cognitive psychology, over time the term acquired a broader interpretation, and the expressions "experience curve", improvement curve", "cost improvement curve", "progress curve"/"progress function", "startup curve", "efficiency curve" etc., may be used interchangeably, depending on the context. Some of these terms may also have other meanings. Another specific context of the term "learning curve" is acquiring a new skill, e.g., an experience in usage of new tools.
The learning curve has been described with other words too. When we hear of a “steep” learning curve, it implies the need for a strong effort to climb quickly to the place of high efficiency. A “short” learning curve implies one that will not last long or is relatively easy. The implication of a “flat” learning curve is that there is nothing new to learn to be more effective.
How would I describe my current learning curve? I guess I could say that it looks enormous, sometimes. It is at the same time energizing and exhausting. I am eager to learn it quickly yet see that it will never cease to be a challenge for a pastor in today’s culture. I’m happy to say that I can’t describe it as “lonely” because the staff and members of Trinity are walking with me through the newness of this ministry in my first couple of weeks.
What do you need to know? Since I am learning, (and may be doing so for quite a while,) please understand that it will take a while to learn names and faces. Just today, I met five members out and about in the community. They knew who I was but this was the first time I met them. Please feel free to introduce yourself to me for the next couple of years, even if you think I know your name and face. I will do my best to learn quickly. I’m also learning the “system”, how things work around here and what I need to know about all sorts of processes. I’m learning about the ministry teams (and there are many of them), finances, leaders, movers, and shakers. I’ve had the delight of meeting and praying with area pastors and getting to know how we will work together in the Hudson community.
Scripture tells us that we are all learning together. That’s right, you’re on a learning curve too! The Bible reminds us that we are each given to one another, with important gifts and abilities to share. “…to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12-13) You see, we’re on the learning curve together so that we can be a unified body of Christ-followers. It’s a big, challenging curve that takes a life-time of learning and growth. But, I’m excited to be sharing this experience with all of you. Let’s each share our knowledge and experience as Christian people to build his kingdom at Trinity and everywhere we are able.

Monday, June 18, 2007

A New Call!

Thanks to our many dear friends for the prayers and support as I deliberated with prayer and godly counsel over the call to serve as Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church. As a church body we believe that God has His hand in the movement of ministry personnel when and where it pleases Him. So we pray that God fills the need of the churches as he sees fit. That’s why we call it a “divine call” when it is issued. I want to thank you for your prayers that God would direct Trinity to her next pastor.

I have been waiting for God to move with decisive clarity to reveal His will for my future ministry. My own prayers and ponderings have left me hoping that I would soon be serving again, in full time ministry. I am now very convinced and filled with deep peace that God Himself, moving with His Holy Spirit, The Counselor, has given me a clear and compelling call to serve Trinity. I joyfully accept that call and look forward to building our lives under the Word of God to extend his kingdom near and far. I look forward to the vision we will see together as He enables us to follow His call as an entire body of faith-filled travelers on the journey of life.

When I return from the Philippines, I anticipate very exciting days through the month of July as we make the necessary transitions and settle into the community as a family. Diana and all the children join me in this excitement as we eagerly embrace a new day together. They, like me, are happy about the new ministries they will come to serve as members of the body.

Friday, June 15, 2007

New Testament Postcards

A new summer sermon series!

"New Testament Postcards" are the quick little notes that were sent to the people of the early church. They are not as theologically packed as the "Letters" or Epistles, like Romans or 1st & 2nd Corinthians. But they have great things to say to us today. I'm looking forward to sharing these messages in the summer time because each message can stand alone on its own. During the summer, the church has some guests who are just passing through while they are away from home. Likewise, some of the local church members are out of town, at the cabin, or on vacation during the summer and often miss one or more of the series' messages. Stop by, and let me share a postcard with you. Titus, Philemon, 1st and 2nd Peter, 1st, 2nd, & 3rd John, and Jude have much to say about our walk with Christ.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

It's a Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

New Sermon Series for June...

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood!

Summer is right around the corner. The neighborhoods are coming to life once again. People are out walking, working in their yards, grilling on their patios. It’s the perfect time to reflect on our life as God’s neighbor. He has a neighborly calling on each of our lives and wants us to make an impact for Him in the world around us. Your neighborhood is a beautiful place to let your faith show. God has always wanted to have a neighbor just like you. He’s always wanted to live in the neighborhood with you. I'm really looking forward to sharing these messages at Trinity Family Center in Hudson, Wisconsin. We're going to get into the Bible with a twist on some themes from one of my all-time heroes, Fred Rogers.

June 3rd “I Like You Just The Way You Are” – 1 Cor 1:26-31
June 10th “Let’s Make The Most Of This Beautiful Day” – Col 4:2-6
June 17th “Would You Be Mine, Could You Be Mine?” – John 17


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

What To Do With A New Life: Practical Christianity

A New Post-Easter Sermon Series!

New life! When the grace of God comes to us we are offered a totally new life, one that the Bible describes as life "in Him." The constant presence of God is the most practical part of your life and ministry. Unfortunately, we often assign God to a limited place in our lives. Then we call on Him whenever we need help. That is the exact opposite of what we find in the Word of God. He is the One who is working in our world. He invites you to relate to Him, so He can accomplish His work through you. His whole plan for the advance of His kingdom depends on His working in real and practical ways through His relationship to His people.

Knowing and experiencing God through a real and personal relationship was practical in the Scriptures. In this new sermon series, I want to cover a lot of ground. I believe you will find the new life to be a walk with God that is exceedingly "practical." God can make a practical difference in your relationships in your family, in your church, and with many others in the world.

Wipe Out!

Talk about wipe outs, I had a bad one on Wednesday, March 21, 2007. I was enjoying my "secon-to-last" run of the day. Hoping to get to the chair lift before they closed it and wanting to sail righ up to the line without have to push myself with the poles, I tucked like a professional and tried to grab all the speed I could muster. I was going way too fast. When my left ski hit a patch of ice, my wonderful "tucked position turned into a flurry of flying ski equipment and very suprised skier taking to the air and comming down in a crumble. My right ski did not come off and so my right achilles tendon was torn. I had surgery a week later to repair it and I'm now doing a lot of sitting. I'm not used to sitting so long and in one place. I asked several friends and family to pray for me. I was worried about the post-operative pain (It was worse than my kidney stone incident) but I'm over it now and looking forward to getting my surgical dressing removed on Tuesday, April 10th. The doctor tells me that I'll be in an "achilles boot" which is like a legbrace where my foot will rest on wedges to prop up my heel. Gradually we will reduce the number of wedges so that my tendon will be stretched to its normal condition. He says the process will take about 8 weeks. Would you join me in praying for patience and quick healing. My hope is to be completely restored before my scheduled departure for the Philippines mission trip in June. I want to thank all the prayer warriors who have joined me thus far in this journey. God is answering those prayers and I feel great.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Pastors Are Thankful For Your Prayers!

This past week I had the wonderful privilige of going to King of Kings Lutheran Church in Omaha, Nebraska. It has to be one of my very favorite churches. They have a powerful prayer ministry that I admire so much. While I was there with my collegues from the Pastoral Leadership Institute, their prayer warriors did much to minister to us. Each of us was treated to a significant amount of personal prayer. Much grace was flowing from God's throne. We were made acutely aware of the warfare around us as pastors. I sensed a tremendous love from God through these brothers and sisters in the Lord. The healing was fantastic! At one point, during the Sunday service we were called to the front and surrounded by prayer team they were directed by their pastor to remember the unique challenges and struggles that pastors face. Then they started praying... All at once, out loud, and with great passion. These people knew how to lift up their pastors. The petitions were "real" and dealt with life and ministry in an honest way. Thanks to all those wonderful prayer partners for such a blessing. I know that there are others who remember me in daily prayer. You have no idea what a lifeline you are. I thank God for each of you and pray that His blessings fall abundantly in your life and ministry too!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Missions Made Possible: Eye On Our Goal

UPDATED TOTAL $4250.00 3/9/2007

We're making some decent progress on our mission goal! As you know from our earlier blog, I am going on two special missions this Spring/Summer. On the first mission, planned for June, my daughter Lydia, a nursing student, and I will travel to the Philippines two serve three orphanages in the country. She will be able to assist the team doctor with health assessments for the children. I will have the joy of teaching the children about Baptism and have been asked to baptize 65 children! Then, in July/August, my wife, Diana, and I will travel with a group of pastors and their wives to Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland China. We will assist LCMS missionaries in some of their summer ministries and get a taste of the Asian mission operation so that we are better communicators for the work they are doing. If you would like to know more about these mission trips or if you would be so kind as to support them. Please see the earlier blog "Missions Made Possible" Our total cost is $8,000 (Airfare is very costly) Each $2,000 raised essentially pays the way for one Neumann on each trip. So far we've received support that exceeds the first $2,000 benchmark. We've assured our nursing student that her way is completely paid for!!!! Praise God!!!!!!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Life You’ve Always Wanted

I grew up in the Detroit, Michigan auto economy. When times were tough for car makers, things seemed tough for everyone. Though we never went hungry, there was no question that times were often pretty tough. Even as a child I could see the evidence of this hard reality. In highschool I was exposed to kids that were better off than we were. My parents made great sacrifices to send me to private Christian schools from start to finish. They couldn’t really afford it to be honest, and that meant that I was going to school with some kids whose parents really could afford the cost. Sadly, I started seeing the bits and pieces of the life I wanted. I know there were bunches of kids in my boat, but I felt like I was the only one who didn’t have his own car, wore jeans without the right label, and couldn’t get around to all the right places at all the right times. I made my way by being popular and influential even without all the “stuff.” But even popularity was pretty empty to me. It seemed I was never satisfied and always wanted more of what the other guy had. Many of us have grown up and still live our lives today looking at the stuff that we think will give us the life we’ve always wanted. We wish we had the right house, the right car, the right job, the right spouse, the right kids, to make us feel happy and fulfilled. We want power and influence. We want, want, want. How will we ever have the life we’ve always wanted?
To be honest, we are usually dissatisfied with all the “stuff” we surround ourselves with. We are sometimes surprised to find that the life we’ve always wanted is really more about the quality of our lives on the inside. It’s the heart and soul, the unseen self that is really only satisfied when it is filled with the grace and goodness of God at work in our lives. One of the very best moments in my whole life was when I heard my wife say, “I’ve finally got the marriage I’ve always wanted.” I knew it wasn’t about the wealth I had brought into our home. It wasn’t a gift that I bought or any special sweetness shown. I wasn’t even me that she was satisfied with. Our marriage had changed because we began spending weekly time with two other couples for the purpose of building our marriage on the foundation of God’s Word. We held eachother accountable for the kind of marriage God wanted us to have. We found out that it was the kind of marriage that we wanted too. God’s Word sheds light on the life we’ve always wanted in our homes, in our churches, in our world. He shows us how the impact of His love and grace makes life the best it can possibly be.
I’m very excited to be preaching during the season of Lent about spiritual disciplines for ordinary people that promote and help us realize the life we’ve always wanted. The message series will be based on the book by John Ortberg by the same title. We will explore the following topics… Meditation on God’s Word, slowing the pace of life and celebrating, prayer and confession, servanthood, a well-ordered heart, and spiritual endurance. As we go to God’s Word for the direction He wants to give us in these areas, we will find ourselves challenged and blessed with an awesome life, to praise and glory of God!

Missions Made Possible

I want to tell you about some exciting opportunities that our God has laid before us. As many of you know, I am on a sabbatical between now and September, as I await a call to serve a congregation. I am substitute preaching, and using this time to heal, to learn and to be physically and spiritually refreshed. God continues to put in our path opportunities to serve in His kingdom as well. One of which is the culminating event of our 4 years in Pastoral Leadership Institute “PLI”- a mission trip to Hong Kong and Macao, for Diana and me. This trip is for 2 weeks in July and August and is for the purpose of awareness and priority of world missions in us and in congregations we will serve. We will be working with LCMS missionaries, the men will do some teaching and we will have opportunity to work with the local people.

Our daughter, Lydia, is planning to go on a mission trip to the Philippines in June and will have learned in nursing school how to do complete physical assessments. Among many opportunities to serve, she will be able to help the team’s physician with the long lines of children from 3 orphanages in need of medical care. Diseases of the skin, ear and eye infections are common and go untreated. Lydia has a calling to become a nurse because of her desire to care for people.

Very recently I was asked to go with this mission team to the Philippines. This trip is sponsored by the newly formed nonprofit ministry, Missions Made Possible, which exists to further God’s kingdom through helping individuals go on short term mission trips. This team asked me to accompany them in June because the children at Shepherd of the Hills Orphanage would like a pastor to teach them about Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. There are 64 that are planning to be baptized after this instruction! You can imagine the joyous event. Shepherd of the Hills is run by a vibrant spirit -filled couple whom we were privileged to meet several months ago ( We were able to see video of these children singing and dancing out their obvious love for the Lord. The 120 children in this orphanage are home schooled in groups of 12 using Alpha/Omega Christian materials. Because so much of what the children need is attention, we believe this might be an ideal mission for parent child teams or even families to go on in the future. The Philippine teams will be doing outreach in the villages, handing out food and clothing and also ministering to handicapped orphans and nursing home residents.

We are asking for your prayer support for the weeks of June 13-28 as Mark and Lydia serve in the Philippines and July 27- August 8th as Mark and Diana serve in China. Especially for good health, safe travel, and hearts receptive to the gospel, and that we could encourage the believers that we meet there.
We also need financial support:
--$2,000 each for Mark and Diana’s PLI mission to China (Normally pastors get support for this from their congregation but we don’t have one right now).
--$2,000 each for Mark and Lydia’s mission to the Philippines Deadline!! These funds are due in March.

Other needs at the orphanage:
--$2,000 orphanage playground equipment
--$3,000 Girls bathrooms- to replace their outhouses
--$250 Chickens
--$1,000 For a stone fence to replace the wood fence that is being torn apart by neighbors using it for fuel!
You can contribute online at (see also the link on this blog site)for either the Philippines trip, the Hong Kong trip or the orphanage projects -just specify who and what you are contributing to.
If you send us your email address we will be sure to send pictures and testimonies of God’s work in Hong Kong and the Philippines!!!!
We believe that where God leads, God supplies. We do not want to take away from your financial commitments to your local church. However we would be so thankful if the Lord enables you to help make these missions possible.
We are grateful for your partnership!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Teaching People How to Use the Bible

This weekend, I'm excited to share be with the fine people in Hudson, Wisconsin once again. In my sermon message, I will be teaching the people the basics of using a study Bible. I want them to see how they can reference the Word of God almost as easily as using a dictionary. God's Word is meant to be part of our daily life and it is so applicable to our needs on this earth. I'm encouraging parents to bring their young people. If they know how to use referencing skills in school, with dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other material, isn't it time we train them in the practical referencing skills with God's Word? We're going to see how the concordance, cross references, and study notes all help today's disciple learn what they need from the Bible.

If there's a blog visitor reading this post who doesn't know how to use these tools, I would recomend that you ask your pastor, youth leader, or other Christian friends for a little help. I know they would be glad to make the Bible more accessible to you.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I'm preaching again!

God has been very good to me. I'm getting the opportunity to preach at a wonderful church in Hudson, Wisconsin. (Just a short 1 hour drive from home) While I am on a long sabbatical, between calls, I am so grateful for the people of Trinity who have provided this place to keep me preaching the Word of God. You can visit the web site of this congregation and learn about its ministries online. I've provided links at the side of this page. I'm preaching at Trinity's Family Center, a contemporary worship venue with an amazing amount of musical talent. In addition to the music, the heart of these people really touches me. I love to hear about their excitement for the future. It won't be long before the corn fields surrounding the Family Center grows a bustling, busy, community to serve rather than a crop of corn. I pray that God continues His awesome work in and among them.