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The Journey of This Pilgrim - Part 1

I have often liked the word "sojourn" as a reflective way of describing my journey through life, here on earth, as a child of God...now 69 years old.  Over the course of a few times, I want to write some reflections on my journey as a Pilgrim...if not for anyone else, my hope is that it will help my Grandchildren know a bit about at least one member of their family's past.

My journey began in Sept. of 1949.  I was born a twin with my brother Ed.  We were #'s 5 & 6...there was one more to go.  I was raised in Fox Lake, Wisconsin...a small city of about 1200+ souls at that time.  My parents attended a Wisconsin Synod Lutheran church and therefore by birth and their choice I was raised Lutheran.  I didn't mind it and didn't know there was a difference.  My best friend for years was Catholic.  Larry would tell me about being an altar boy and the mere description of assisting the Priest, standing by to hand him this or that, etc...made me envious.  Still, trut…
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The Christian and the Politics

As I write this week I'm aware that a national debate is taking place concerning the appointment of Judge Kavanaugh to be a Supreme Court Justice.  I am genuinely grieved by the character of that debate, and for a number reasons.
Last week I taught from Philippians 1:27, where Paul says: "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ..."
Conduct is an interesting word.  Paul uses a particular Greek word, politeuma, which as you can see contains two of our English words:  Polite and Politics.  Together it seems oxymoronic doesn't it?  Who has ever heard of polite politics?  The Greeks used the word to describe conduct that was civil, discourse that was listening as much as speaking;  a desire to reach a consensus through understanding.  
One could only wish couldn't we?  
Conduct...worthy of the Gospel.   The Gospel is a message of salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus, our Savior.   The Gospel is a reminder that we are all unredeemed…

Completing a good work

Here's some thoughts from Philippians 1, where the Apostle Paul writes the words:

"in all my prayers for you, I always pray with Joy...because your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now...and I'm confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

I live in a rural area where life is slower...not much changes over time.  There are no tall buildings, no large construction booms building apartments and shopping centers, with endless road construction as life in Madison, Wi. once was.  

The land means everything...life comes from the work on the land.  The people look at life rather simply....but don't think for a moment they are simple.  These are people who with high school educations (often) are running multi-million dollar businesses.  They are smart, hard-working, and no nonsense.  They value family, honesty, goodness and kindness and hate duplicity and stupidity.  Common sense - n…

Joy For the Journey

I've come back to writing today after a vacation time, and another week off because of surgery.  I am beginning a new series of teaching from the book of Philippians.  Philippians is a Joyful book.  It is filled with Paul's effusive love for this church he founded in Acts 16.  As he writes to them the word Joy appears over and over... which begs the question, "What do we mean by Joy?"

For a lot of people Joy is related directly to their circumstances especially in terms of their happiness.  Yet Biblically speaking Joy is not necessarily conditioned by "happenings" that "happen" to bring "happiness".   Now, I'm not saying that Joy cannot accompany happiness.  
Nehemiah spoke telling the people in the renewal of the temple and the restoration of the walls of Jerusalem to "enjoy food, drinks...this day is sacred...for the Joy of the Lord is your strength." (8:10).
The angel Gabriel came in Luke 1 to Zechariah, the aged priest, wh…

Pleasing God, Pleasing Others

I have been thinking, musing if you will, about how to live in the balance of what it means to "Please God" and how it intersects, or doesn't intersect, with pleasing others.  As a Christian I want my life to be ordered around doing things that will please God.  After all, it's scripture itself that reminds us of the necessity of ordering our private and public worlds to be lived in such a way that God is pleased with our lives.

For example, Paul in writing to the Corinthians sums up the goal of our lives in a simple sentence.

2 Corinthians 5:9
 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 

Later as he writes to the Galatians, he reminds them that there is no other Gospel other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is by grace through faith.  In defense of that Gospel, he writes:

Galatians 1:10
 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of …

My Son-in-law explains Why he teaches Children the Gospel

I have two great son-in-laws.  My daughters married excellent men and I'm grateful for both of them. My son-in-law Greg (married to Kelly) is doing his Post-Doctoral work at UW Madison Hospital.  He's not a doctor, but a researcher with a Doctorate in his area of expertise.  He also is a mentor, teacher and youth leader in his church.  He wrote this article to explain to his own church family why he teaches the kids who come to his youth group.  Greg is not a theologian or a Pastor, but he has a pastor's heart and a mind that thinks, and that is a good starting point in serving God wherever he calls us.  Here it is:


Why I teach children the gospel, (Greg Barton)
It is sufficient to say that everyone here would agree that we want all of the children in the church to reach their potential in life. To reach one’s potential, it will require answering the question; “What is the reason for life?” Christian doctrine tells us the entire reason for life is to be “In Christ”. Jesus sa…

He Cleanses Completely

He Cleanses Completely by C.H. Spurgeon (from Truth for Life Daily)
The blood of Jesus his son cleanses us from all sin.
1 John 1:7



"Cleanses," says the text—not "shall cleanse." There are multitudes who think that as a dying hope they may look forward to pardon. Oh, how infinitely better to have cleansing now than to depend on the bare possibility of forgiveness when I come to die.
Some imagine that a sense of pardon is an attainment only obtainable after many years of Christian experience. But forgiveness of sin is a present reality—a privilege for this day, a joy for this very hour. The moment a sinner trusts Jesus he is fully forgiven. 
The text, being written in the present tense, also indicates continuance; it was "cleanses" yesterday, it is "cleanses" today, it will be "cleanses" tomorrow.  This is the way it will always be with you, Christian, until you cross the river; every hour you may come to this fountain, for it cleanses s…