A myHT Fortress

Monday, April 28, 2008

Wishes and Dreams (and Jealousy)

One of our church families, (parents and a five year old daughter) flew to Walt Disney World yesterday afternoon. Elizabeth was telling us all about her plans as we shook hands after the Divine Service. It is her first trip to WDW! Such excitement!

I never went as a child. Perhaps that is my issue. I'm making up for lost time -- that's why I like to go as often as we can save up for it!

A dream is a wish your heart makes...

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Today I noticed a widget on This Side of the Pulpit, called Goodreads. Goodreads is a site that is all about books. You make lists of books you have read, are reading, or want to read. You can review them, or read reviews by others. You can see what your friends are reading, if they join as well.

I have had a little fun looking the site over. Many of you would too! If you go check it out, be sure to list me as a "friend" too.

I don't read nearly enough. I often wish I could be more like Pastor Weedon. He puts me to shame with all he gets read, in addition to many pastoral duties, and family time. (Yet another reason why he is on my "Top Ten Pastors I Admire" list.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Chance Meeting with Pope Benedict XVI

While doing some reading and studying, I tripped across this quip. Literally, I was laughing out loud! This is from a blog called "The American Papist."

Little did Timmy know, but his most memorable night of working
at the McDonald's drive-through window was about to begin!

[photo: REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo (Italy)]

To see it in its original context, follow the link:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Catching up

Today Kristi and I discovered yet another blog by friends, the Fred Poets Society. Julie Frank Blackwell from RF days, and Maria Carson Arndt contribute. The name comes from (of course) the film Dead Poets Society, tweaked in honor of our friend Fred Durbin (RF '88), English instructor at the University of Niigata in Japan.

I also found out that she has subscribed to Kristi's and my blogs! Wow. More friends are lurking here than I realized. Thanks, guys!

If you don't mind, though, I'd like you to come out of the wood work. :-) I'd like a bit of what some bloggers refer to as a "roll call." Please leave a comment telling me who you are, and if you too have a blog.

Serving the Great Physician

Surgeries are a significant part of the pastor's ministry. And it seems that they always come in spurts. After a "dry spell," we had a senior citizen woman have gall bladder out at Harrison County Hospital a little over a week ago.

Then, a parishioner who is also a good friend (a year younger than me) had a growth the size of a lemon removed from his pituitary gland. They actually went through the nasal cavity and got it microscopically! (This was all amazing that it even was there. You would NEVER have known by seeing him that something --let alone that large--was ailing him.) This procedure took about four hours at Norton's Hospital in Louisville on Thursday. Sunday afternoon he went home!

Today, one of our school mom's had a partial mastectomy at University of Louisville Hospital. It took much longer than expected. Her husband was about to go nuts, as the doctors had not sent word about how things were going!

At such stressful times, people are most receptive to the comfort of the Gospel. Guards are let down, and you really get to know them. And it does the pastor good to know that the Lord is really using him to make a difference.

Thank the Lord -- even for such hard times. As Pastor George Borghardt always reminds us, even the terrible trials and hardships are gifts from God, drawing us closer to the Crucified! So we praise the Lord for the people in our lives, the hard times, and the joy of sharing the Gospel.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Earth Shook on Friday!

The earth shook! But it was not the first time. It trembled as in the day of Elijah. And he said, “And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.” 1 Kings 19:11-12 ESV

Earthquakes are strong – forces to be reckoned with. It was easy even for Elijah to think that this was how the Lord was going to work and appear and speak to him. Yet this was not what the Lord God chose to do.

This morning, across much of the Midwest, people were awakened to sounds and vibrations that shook them out of their sleep. Some experienced awe or amazement, others were troubled or unnerved. At the most recent reports, no serious injuries were encountered, and for that we thank God. Still, the power, strength, and patterns of the Lord’s earth amaze (and sometimes frighten) us.

The Lord was not in Elijah’s earthquake, but He was the One who could stop it, protecting and preserving the prophet. This morning, no one can blame the Lord for sending this earthquake in pointless wrath. It was not divine punishment. Nor was it man’s fault for not living a “green” life. It was simply part of the regular patterns that have existed since our world fell into sin. And it was still the Lord who stopped it from being worse, and protected and preserved people everywhere. Through it all, it is the Lord God pointing us to the saving events of another Friday.

You see, it was another Friday that had an amazing earthquake. On the first Good Friday, when our Savior died, Saint Matthew records that a great earthquake took place. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!" Matthew 27:51-54 ESV

At that moment, the very earth grieved for her Creator as He died to make all things new. God allowed these miracles, including the Good Friday earthquake, so they would witness to the ultimate sacrifice of Christ.

This Friday’s earthquake had no purpose as grand as the earth giving an “Amen!” to Christ’s “It is finished.” Yet we acknowledge our Lord permitting it, even as the earth groans in longing for her risen and ascended Lord to return.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Working Together for Good

Yesterday brought one of those moments that the world sees as a "bummer," but the pastor feels most needed, and can do the most good for someone.

One of our families has been absent for a while. We have missed them. But they have been inactive.

The grandmother was a UMC member, and received her crown of life this past Saturday. I found out just in time to go to the funeral home last evening, visiting them and "paying my respects."

It was a good visit with Mom, Dad, and the kids. It was very good to see them again, and let them know (again) that we miss them.

As I left, Dad said, "I'll be there Sunday." :-) I pray that they are, and we can rejoice in our Risen, Good Shepherd together!

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to
His purpose." Romans 8:28 NKJV

Sunday, April 6, 2008

He Opens Your Eyes: A Homily for Easter 3

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The potty-mouthed chef, Gordon Ramsay, could not be recognized. He had applied a prosthetic nose and other disguising make-up, put on a wig and some off-the-wall clothes, and acted like one of the other contestants being picked up at the airport to compete on Hell’s Kitchen. The others spoke about the tough chef, ranging from bragging comments like “I’m a four-star general in the kitchen!” to impersonations of the chef’s yelling tirades. And then came the revealing moment, when they realized that he had been there all along!

The two disciples on the road to Emmaus went through a similar experience, although Jesus is infinitely far from being a harsh, foul-mouthed mentor. Nevertheless, they soon came to realize that Jesus had been there all along!

Tradition says that these men were two of the Seventy that Jesus sent out, and that Cleopas may have been Jesus’ uncle, and the other disciple here may well have been Saint Luke himself. But no matter who they are, even these men – these close associates of Jesus – do not realize who is travelling with them. They do not recognize Jesus, or where they can find Him.

Why do they not recognize Jesus? Saint Augustine tells us: “Here we are with two others, walking along the road and talking to each other about the things that had been happening in Jerusalem – about … the death of Christ. They were walking along, talking the matter over, grieving for Him as if He were dead, not knowing He had risen again. He appeared and joined them as a third traveler, and entered into friendly conversation with them. Their eyes were held from recognizing Him; their hearts, you see, needed more thorough instruction.”

They needed catechesis! They needed the instruction and formation in the faith that Christ alone can bring. Only when the Word of God has its way with us, can we recognize Jesus in faith. Without faith, one will never truly recognize Christ. And without the Word of God, one will never have faith!

These two – Cleopas and his companion, along with the apostles, had been scandalized by the cross – just like everyone else! It was too much to take in. It was so horrifying that they forgot what Jesus Himself said. Again, Saint Augustine preaches: “Jesus appeared. They saw Him with their eyes and did not recognize Him. The Master is walking with them along the way, and He Himself was the way. But they weren’t yet walking along the way. He found, you see, that they had wandered off the way. After all, when he had been with them before the passion, He had foretold everything: that He was going to suffer, to die and to rise again on the third day. He had foretold it all, but His death had erased it from their memories. They were so shattered when they saw Him hanging on the tree that they forgot about His teaching. They did not expect Him to rise, nor did they hold on to what He had promised.”

We too fail to hold on to what He has promised. When we panic from the reports of Chicken Little’s in the media, and respond with fear to their cries of “recession,” we doubt God’s providence. We become like the Israelites who purposefully gathered too much manna, not trusting the Lord to send what they needed. And He sent worms to devour their faithless hoarding.

We fail to hold on to what He has promised when we shy away from defending innocent life. A number of our school children recently did hold to the Lord’s promises, as they created posters, or wrote essays defending God’s gift of life. Jesus declares that [He has] come that [we] may have life and have it abundantly! When we fall for Satan’s lies that such a basic issue to the Gospel is merely political, and keep our mouths shut for fear of some radicals, we have a first commandment issue, fearing them more than God!

We fail to hold on to what He has promised when we pretend that our loved ones are not hurting themselves when they skip the Divine Service. We turn the other way as some enter a sort of spiritual anorexia, denying themselves the true Food that gives true Life. Jesus has promised to forgive, renew, and prepare us, body and soul, to live with Him forever. Those who cut themselves off from that Gift, are straying further and further from our Lord, and thus, from a blessed eternity. And those of us who stand by silent, are helping them along that dangerous path.

We fail to hold on to what He has promised when we act like there are things more important than the Divine Service – even if we are there in the Service! Whether we slip out needlessly to the bathroom or narthex, or we quietly slip out our cell phone to check email or text someone, or simply stand there with our mouths shut, defiantly refusing to respond in prayer or praise. At those moments, we endanger ourselves, and the little ones around us whom we are teaching in word and deed to find Christ’s Holy Liturgy boring and pointless.

Yet our dear, Risen Lord rids us of these failures. He cleansed us in the waters of Holy Baptism, through which He washed us into forgiveness, rescue, and salvation. He purifies us from all stains and blemishes that erode our trust in His promises, and gives us His great promise of resurrection through this baptismal connection. He has baptized you into His death and burial – the very thing that scandalizes the world, saves you! And now, He leads you to hold on to His promises.

And how does He do that? He leads you to hold on to His promises as He catechizes you! He teaches you and forms you in the faith as the very Word of God encounters you. The Word made flesh convicts you of your sin, and then forgives you! And having been changed by that Word, we desire Him more.

Dear friends in Christ, your desire is fulfilled! You have many opportunities to be encountered by Jesus, to recognize Him as He comes to you in His teaching of His Word and in the Breaking of the Bread – the mystical communion of His Holy Body and Precious Blood. In the Divine Service, our Risen Lord comes through words and bread and wine, simple and common like the stranger on the road. The two disciples did not see through the hidden-ness at first. Sometimes, we fail to see through it too. If we treat His Word like anyone else’s, we are still blind to Him. When we think that His Flesh and Blood are still common bread and wine, we are looking away from Jesus.

But the amazing thing is: it is through these means that He forgives and renews us from that looking away! As sure as I am standing here, talking to you, our Risen Savior is “making you right” before God, and opening your eyes. And as sure and certain as you come to His altar, and Jesus places Himself in your mouth, your eyes will be opened, and you will recognize Him in the breaking of the bread.

Today you have the joy of having your eyes opened, and receiving Jesus in Word and Sacrament. Today you are welcomed by our Lord in Table Fellowship in which God welcomes you to be united with Him, and to be the absolute closest with Him that you can be, this side of heaven.

Today, as Jesus enters your ears and mouths, you behold Him with your eyes, and respond with glad “Alleluias.” And as you leave this Holy House, you carry a joyous “We have seen the Lord!” on your lips, inviting others to have their eyes opened as well.

Come, dear friends in Christ. The Lord bids you to come to His altar that the Risen Christ may open your eyes! Amen!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Weedon at 200,000

Pastor Will Weedon at Weedon's Blog (one of my mentors in ministry, an internet friend, and and inspiration to blog) has just crossed the 200,000 visitor mark.

Pastor Weedon is an excellent source of encouragement for prayer life, being thoroughly Lutheran, and fun tidbits about his kids, dogs, salt water pool and Atkins Diet. Check it out if you don't already!

Friday, April 4, 2008

I Forgot to "Tag!"


I forgot to "Tag" anyone.

First, Kristi, you need to take the test. :-)

I know Brian already tried this, but does not blog. So Brian, you and Emma need to leave it in the comments. :-)

Pastor and Erin, and Rick and Maria, you can leave it on a comment too.

Jon, my right hand from Higher Things, Glenda from "I Shouldn't Be Doin' This," and Jessica from "I Love You Most" I'm tagging you as well. You can choose to post it at your own blog, or comment here. :-)

C'mon, gang. Places, everyone! The show starts in 5 minutes! LOL

Thursday, April 3, 2008

You Are Scooter

You Are Scooter

Brainy and knowledgable, you are the perfect sidekick.

You're always willing to lend a helping hand.

In any big event or party, you're the one who keeps things going.

"15 seconds to showtime!"

Singing the Faith

Singing the Faith: Living the Lutheran Musical Heritage is now available for ordering from CPH. This beautiful DVD with study guide introduces and beautifully builds us up in knowledge and appreciation of God's second-greatest gift: music.

Check it out at:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Don't Make the Church into a Prostitute!

There are few sentiments that upset me as much as "The Church is a business." OK, so the first runner up is treating a parochial school like a secular private school. In either case, there is a complete opposition to Jesus' command: "Be in the world, not of the world."

When the local congregation fancies itself as a business and worries about money more than ministry, it offends Christ and flirts with sin. Likewise, when a parochial school lusts after the programs and finances of upper crust private schools, and treats collecting tuition like a bunch of credit collections thugs, we slander our Lord and drag His reputation through the mud. In short, we turn the Bride of Christ into a prostitute.

May God have mercy on us all, and bring true repentance to all who molest our dear Lord's Bride in such a manner. Kyrie eleison!