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.