Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I love my job!

Trinity serves hundreds of children every week, through our Childcare, Preschool,Elementary Academy, Children's and Youth Ministries. I'm so grateful for the opportunities I get to very regularly share the love and grace of Jesus Christ with children and youth. This morning I enjoyed the precious time of leading little ones to discover the truth about the manger and the Savior who came to give us all a new life and eternal joy with God. They were amazed to think that Cattle really ate from Baby Jesus' bed of all places! I told them that the sweetest place for Jesus was a place in their heart. Receiving and trusting in Christ for his work of salvation is the greatest way to celebrate CHRISTmas. Our hearts were made to receive Him, not to push Him away. The prophet Isaiah said that this child was born "to us"... a "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." It grieves me that countless people would forfiet such a gift at CHRISTmas time, or any other time. I hope that you will join me in this holy season to share with people the truth of Christ and His gift of salvation. An old CHRISTmas carol includes this precious prayer...

"O dearest Jesus, Holy Child,
Make Thee a bed soft, undefiled
Within my heart that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee."
My little friends and I all agreed that we would like Jesus to find a quiet sweet place in our hearts this year. It seemed so easy to convince them to love the Baby from heaven. They have "child-like faith". For adults, though it usually means that we must become humble, realizing that our sinful rebellion has made us in desperate need of God grace. We thankfully welcome the Savior and trust that He has come to save us. That's the "Merry" in "Merry Christmas!" It's a heart that is free in Christ. It has made me the "NEU Mann" I was meant to be. It is God's desire to make us all new in His Son.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Christmas Tell Overture

I'd like to introduce you to Cheri Buelow. She is our Family Ministry Director and Praise Team Worship Leader. This is a video of what she wrote and sang at out last Christmas Eve service. It's a message to parents about the Christmas season. We are fortunate to enjoy her many talents. (PLEASE NOTE!!! She is NOT available to book at your congregation this Christmas Eve.)

Christmas Tell Overture
Cheri Buelow
Christmas 2007

Get a tree, get a tree, get a Christmas tree
Cut it down, drag it out on your hands and knees
Put it up, put it up, get it straighter, please
How about a plastic tree?

Get the lights, get a star, get the ornaments
Get the cat out of here, I am feeling tense
Hang 'em high and low, I need balance
And no, don't give me your two cents

Onto the house, the decorating...everything must look festive
Boughs and bows and holly and the mistletoe - it's poisonous!
Gotta keep up with the guru, Martha Stewart, she's the queen of home
But I bet is she did try, she could not write a better poem

My house is all ready, my tree is still standing tall
It's time to go shopping, with VISA, I'll have a ball
Buy a gift, buy a gift, it's getting late
My list is long, one thing I hate
Is to stand in line and wait and wait
It wrecks my mental state

Oh, look here it comes, it starts to snow
If I don't slow down my car will go in the ditch and then I'll really know
I'm in deep...trouble!

Why do we rush about at Christmastime
Bake cookies, see Santa, attend the Nutcracker Ballet
Why don't we take the time to slow it down and ponder and wonder
What Christmas really means

And there were shepherds abiding in their fields
When suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared
Fear not, I bring you good news
For tonight in the city of David, a Savior has been born
And a host of heavenly angels began to sing
Wisemen followed a star and traveled to the East to see the babe
And they found Him in a manger
With His mother, Mary, and His father, Joseph
God has sent His only Son
The Christ Child had come

This is the meaning of this time of year - a story - it happened a very long, long time ago
I need you all to understand the power and glory that really did unfold
So forget all about the shoveling, the Christmas cards, the light parade
There's nothing else that matters more than saving those who've strayed
Our children need to grow up hearing everything about God's Word
Our job is to make sure that every person has heard

God loves you...His Son came to save us from all our sin
Accept Him...and heaven is the gift that you will win

Light a candle, it's an Advent thing
A nativity will help to bring clarity
Be sure to sing songs about the newborn King
Joy to the World and Silent Night
Sings songs about the star so bright
Peace on the earth that holy night
Let's not lose sight of all the people in the world who do not know
About the Lord who came to show us how to live and love and He, He has a plan for you and me - a plan to prosper and be free
From all the hustle and the bustle and the stress and strain

God has, He has a purpose for your life
It doesn't mean there won't be strife
But without Him the world is lost - that cannot be!
It's up to's up to me
We need to raise a generation that will follow Jesus Christ
And so I plead
Raise 'em up, raise 'em up, get your Bible out
Raise 'em up, raise 'em up...don't you pout, take this route, there's no doubt

Jesus is the great I AM
The Prince of Peace, Redeemer, God
He's worthy, worthy, worthy, worthy
Hallelujah, hallelujah!
And now my song is done, I give all glory to the Son! Hurray!
And so this is the end, the end, Amen!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What do you think?

As a pastor, I often wonder what people think about these kind of things. I'd like to use my blog to generate some discussion on this topic, NOT to make enemies or push any agenda. I'm just curious. Please read this article and either comment or vote in my opinion pole or both. (By the way... I don't have a political speech ready to go for my next sermon. I love talking about Jesus Christ and His wonderful love for humanity. My other blog discusses my vision of mission and ministry.)

IRS Takes a "Wait-and-See" Approach to Pulpit Freedom Sunday
In 1954, the U.S. Congress amended (without debate or analysis) Internal Revenue Code §501(c) (3) to restrict the speech of non-profit tax exempt entities, including churches. Before the amendment was passed, there were no restrictions on what churches could or couldn’t do with regard to speech about government and voting, excepting only a 1934 law preventing non-profits from using a substantial part of their resources to lobby for legislation.
The 1954 amendment, offered by then-Senator Lyndon Johnson, stated that non-profit tax exempt entities could not “participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.” Since the amendment passed, the IRS has steadfastly maintained that any speech by churches about candidates for government office, including sermons from the pulpit, can result in loss of tax exemption.
Historically, churches had frequently and fervently spoken for and against candidates for government office. Such sermons date from the founding of America, including sermons against Thomas Jefferson for being a deist; sermons opposing William Howard Taft as a Unitarian; and sermons opposing Al Smith in the 1928 presidential election. Churches have also been at the forefront of most of the significant societal and governmental changes in our history including ending segregation and child labor and advancing civil rights.
After the amendment, churches faced a choice of speaking Scriptural truth about candidates and risking their tax exemption, or remaining silent and protecting their tax exemption. Unfortunately, many churches have allowed the 1954 Johnson amendment to effectively silence their speech, even from the pulpit. Ironically, fifty years after the amendment passed, and despite the strict IRS interpretation of it, to date, there is no reported situation where a church has lost its tax exempt status or been directly punished for sermons light of Scripture. Nonetheless, the IRS maintains that pulpit sermons comparing candidates’ positions with Scriptural truth violate the Internal Revenue Code. Thus, many churches accept the IRS interpretation of the Code and become silent, avoiding these topics altogether.
ADF believes that the Johnson amendment is unconstitutional in restricting the expression of sermons delivered from the pulpits of churches. This initiative is designed to return freedom to the pulpit by allowing pastors to speak out on the profound and important issues of the day.
There are many reasons why the 1954 Johnson amendment violates the Constitution according to ADF. Here are some of the key reasons why ADF believes the amendment is unconstitutional:
The amendment violates the Establishment Clause by requiring the government to excessively and pervasively monitor the speech of churches to ensure they are not transgressing the restriction in the amendment. The amendment allows the government to determine when truly religious speech becomes impermissibly “political.” The government has no business making such decisions.
The amendment violates the Free Speech Clause because it requires the government to discriminate against speech based solely on the content of the speech. In other words, some speech is allowed, but other speech is not. The Supreme Court has invalidated this type of speech discrimination for decades.
The amendment also violates the Free Speech Clause by conditioning the receipt of a tax exemption on refraining from certain speech. Put simply, if a church wants the tax exemption, they cannot speak Scriptural truth when it comes to candidates for governmental office. This is an unconstitutional condition on free speech.
The amendment violates the Free Exercise Clause because it substantially burdens a church’s exercise of religion. The government does not have a compelling reason to burden religion in this way.
The IRS has taken a “wait-and-see” approach to the Pulpit Freedom Sunday. ADF senior counsel Erik Stanley told Tax Analysts that 32 churches participated in the event on September 28 and that it was a great success and was well received by the congregations.” Senator Charles Grassley commented: “A minister ought to be able to speak politically just like anybody else can. The only thing that I would say, a pastor can’t use the resources of a church or a nonprofit organization for political purposes.
Marcus Owens, an attorney with Caplin & Drysdale and a former director of the IRS Exempt Organization Division said, according to Tax Analysts, that the individual churches participating in Pulpit Freedom Sunday will likely face an audit and a letter asking them not to do it again.
Milt Cerny, formerly with the IRS and Caplin & Drysdale said he thinks it would have been more responsible for ADF to seek a meeting with the IRS to formulate guidelines for churches and religious organizations that would protect the right of free speech while upholding the congressionally-imposed restriction on political activity, according to the EO Tax Journal.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fall Family Hike (Interstate Park MN/WI border)

We enjoyed a wonderful family hike at Interstate Park. This is the St Croix River by our new house. We live about 35 miles downstream from this lovely spot.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I Love Autumn!!!!

Here are some reasons that I'm glad to live on the Minnesota/Wisconsin border! All I can say is "WOW Lord! Great job this year!!!!!!!"

Summac is my favorite
for fall color!


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Understanding the Revelation

In light of my most recent sermon on the end times, I wanted to recomend a wonderful book on the interpretation of Revelation. As I mentioned in my sermon, interpreting the Revelation in a linear fashion is what has created the massive ammount of confusion concerning the end. We can easily understand the Revelation as it was intended to be interpreted. John simply tells the story of the end seven times. John was privileged to see the end with images and numbers and events that could make a person's head swim with confusion. But it clears up and remains consistent with the rest of the scriptures when it is studied with the proper interpretive methods.
Maybe you've asked the question, "Will I ever understand Revelation?" Here is a Bible study which covers all of this amazing book. Written by Rev. James Knotek. It is in laymen's language and yet is an excellent tool for ministers. Discussion questions at the end of each chapter. Excellent for Bible classes or individual study. Reflects a sound, Biblical method of interpretation, allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture. (167 pages) Available at the following Web address...

Friday, July 04, 2008

Dependence Day

Every year it rolls around, that wonderful summer holiday we, Americans, call “Independence Day”. It’s the holiday that celebrates freedom and Americans love freedom. We’ve fought for it over the generations. We defend the cause of freedom around the world today. It was on the 4th of July in the year 1776 that our young nation was formed by a Declaration of Independence from the British Crown. America was born!
Independence is in our blood. The every person grows from formative, dependent, childhood to the independent youth that is reaching toward adulthood. There comes a time when we desire to be free and “on our own”. I often think of this as I watch the annual season of high school and college graduation. I remember my own venture from home to college and my taste of independence. We feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when we’ve done something on our own, from the first batch of cookies I made “by myself” to the water pump I replaced on my Plymouth Horizon in only 4 days. (Can I help it if the whole engine sank four inches when I removed the wrong bolt?)
Yes, America was born on Independence Day, by breaking ties of loyalty to the King. But it’s different for you and me as Christians because we are reborn by ties of grace and faith that are given to us by the King of kings. Americans enjoy “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” We Christians know that life, that is real life, is not a right to claim but a gift to receive. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the fullest.” (John10:10) Indeed, the Bible was written for that very purpose. “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31) God’s people also celebrate liberty as they believe and trust God’s amazing grace and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Freedom throughout our history has always come at the high cost of bloodshed. Our liberty from sin and death is far costlier because God’s Son had to lay down His life as a ransom for our sins. Our life and our liberty are eternal and complete. Our life and our liberty put us in the pursuit of something far greater than earthly happiness. We pursue love, a greater love for God and a greater love for others. The pursuit of love causes us to hunger for a greater knowledge of God. It moves us to worship and prayer. The pursuit of love causes us to reach out to others with the awesome news that Jesus died to save them. God turns us around from the empty pursuit of worldly living and death. It happens on “Dependence Day”, that time when the human soul is placed in the dependent state of God’s grace.
Dependence Day is when Baptism ushers in a new citizenship, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Even the helpless little child may belong to His kingdom. Jesus said it “belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18:16-17) Our problem often comes from the human tendency to “do it by myself”. It won’t work! You can’t be righteous enough. You can’t know enough. You can’t serve enough. You can’t pay a high enough price on your own. We depend on Christ!
Dependence Day was clearly marked on the calendar of the ages when Jesus went to the cross. Every time we cling to God’s grace through Christ, every time we go to the cross, or call out to Him for mercy and strength to help us in our time of need we make a bold “Declaration of Dependence” I can’t do it on my own! A year has now come and gone since I answered the call to be pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hudson, Wisconsin. I am more aware of the truth that our church can’t have the, “I’ll do it myself” attitude. That will stand in the way of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of love.” We're joinning together to declare today a Dependence Day.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

God's Story: Cover to Cover

I'm pretty excited about the Summer message series that we've planned for both Trinity site this summer. Pastor Tim and I are preaching through the Bible to give people an overview/sketch of the flow of God's story. Of course we won't be able to cover every chapter and verse. We will be summarizing the message of major events and themes. This past week I preached on the Patriarchs (Genesis 12-50). We covered a lot of ground but I think that the hearers got an idea of this important time in Bible history and why God used these men to reveal His story and pass it to the generations that followed. You can listen to any of the sermons in this series by clicking the links on the right side of this blog.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Unity in the Cross

But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”
John 12:32
It takes power beyond the best of human effort to unite that which is divided. We all know that people can sit side by side, pews full of them, and sing the same songs, pray the same prayers, and read the same Scriptures and still be void of unifying power. Just as men may spend years together in the same prison cell and never become brothers, church folk can be locked into the same church routine for a lifetime and never experience the power of unity in Christ.
We often point to the Bible as the basis of unity, but even the Bible makes no such claim for itself. No book has the power to bring distant hearts into oneness, not even a book that comes from God. God did not give a collection of documents to heal broken hearts, but a Person. It is the wonderful Person of the Bible that makes wholeness possible, not the Bible itself, however much agreement there may be in the study of it. If a book could have reconciled people to God and to each other, then the God of heaven could have looked to the printing press rather than the Cross. If we could have been saved, and made sisters and brothers, by the law or by a book, then Christ died for nothing.
If unity is a matter of seeing the teachings of the Bible eye¬ to¬ eye, then believers will never be united, for they never have and never will see the Bible alike. And if believers ever have been united, it was not because of doctrinal agreement upon the Bible but because of their common devotion to Jesus Christ.
If you have the joy of the Lord in your heart and I have it in my heart, we are going to be one, in spite of our differences. The Apostle Paul names the basis of unity, even when referring to other Christians with whom he had serious differences: Philippians 1:18 says, “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice…” Christ is preached! Any other basis of unity falls short, for only the Cross has the power to unite that which is divided.
It takes nothing from the importance of the Bible to acknowledge that it never has been and never can be the basis of Christian unity. The Bible as the word of God strengthens and enriches the unity and fellowship that is found only in Christ. It is enough to allow the Bible itself to describe its function: 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Devotion and loyalty to Jesus Christ is the basis and source of our oneness in the faith, while the Scriptures are given to "build us up" as the family of God on earth (Acts 20:32).
Together At The Cross
When you are drawn to that Cross and I am drawn to that Cross, we are together, in spite of all our faults and warts and diversities. However much people may be separated, they can find unifying power in the Cross. Each step we take toward the Cross puts us one step closer to each other. Once we stand at the Cross together with empty cups to be filled by His grace, our differences will not be as important to us as when we stand at shouting distance from each other.
Paul addressed a church riddled with factions, not in terms of doctrinal conformity, but in terms of the power of the Cross. He wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:2 “I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” In the same context Paul refers to "the message of the Cross" as the power of God (1:18), which is the power to unite as well as the power to save. If we would just be like Paul by making the Cross our message, we would discover the power to overcome any of our sad divisions.
We are a people who have always been concerned, and perhaps rightly so, as to where to draw the line in terms of unity and fellowship. There is obviously a place to draw the line since everyone is not a Christian, but we are reluctant to draw the line except where Christ drew it, at the Cross. He accepts all who come to the Cross. Should we require more?
We look to the Cross for our healing. When people do that, we should meet them there in loving acceptance, for they have yielded themselves in humble obedience to Christ. That is unity and fellowship. If they are deficient in some ways (and who isn’t?) there will be time enough, in an atmosphere of loving patience, to show them the way of the Lord more perfectly. They in turn will help us live the way of the Lord more fully.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Recent Sermons at Trinity

Check out the new side bar item on my blog page. It links you to a web site called sermon cloud where a few guys from Trinity started posting recordings of sermons preached at the Trinity Family Center. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>