Thursday, June 27, 2013

Guess What Time It Is? It's ... Budget Days at OSL

My new favorite commercial is Geico's "It's Hump Day." I love how obnoxious the camel is in the commercial. He reminds me of me.

Well it's budget time at OSL and I feel like I'm being the camel in the commercial driving Mike Z crazy, among others, namely our leadership. Mike is so laid back and I'm Mr. hyper camel. "Mike, Mike, Mike, you know... Blair, Blair, Blair, you know... George, George, George, you know... Marty, Marty, Marty, you know..."

Whoo! Whoo! It's budget days...

Budget planning is always hard. It feels personal for those on staff. It's pressure-filled going into "thee voters meeting." It's a huge commitment in time by our leadership. It's a major financial commitment on the part of the congregation to try and fund the budget.

BACK TO JESUS - Such comfort. Such hope. Such peace.

But let's get back to why we go through this. Jesus and the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins. 

As we gather in church around Christ's Word and Sacraments, He gathers us as His Bride whom He purchased with His blood. He holds us up as cleansed, spotless, and holy. He brings the saints in heaven and on earth who trust in His work together. Such comfort. Such hope. Such peace.

We have agreed that we want this message available to the families in our community, so our Church has a full blown school. The parents can count on us to help raise their children in the truth of God's Word and bring His mercy to bear in the gifts of creation (education).

God calls each member of our congregation to support her ministries with time, talent, and funding. Together, we confess that all of the gifts of creation are from God. He calls upon us to use them wisely and to give from our blessings to support the blessings of the Church.

Some of the hardest decisions and meetings took place over the last 5 years. Thank God for all of you who have been so faithful and have worked so hard. Thank you!


Pragmatically speaking, "no budget, no mission" explains how we go about serving the community with God's Word. OSL has been through a lot in the last five years. She has great leadership all the way around. Everyone only wants what's best for the Kingdom of God manifested on San Simeon Way in Fenton. We have the stability to look forward and plan things with a purpose and vision to serve our members and our community.

I've always looked at budgets as they are really our work programs so that we can serve the Lord by loving our neighbors with what we do. That's why we sacrifice and put forward our "first fruits" in time, talent, and treasure, so that we can get to work sowing the seeds that God grows into His kingdom.


So here we go. It's my first round of budget planning. That's always dangerous. :) When a new pastor steps into the congregation to whom God has called him, everything is a "fresh start." As the senior pastor, it is my role to give guidance and shepherd the Lord's church in all of her ministries, using the administrative gifts that I've learned over the years - all the while repenting and drawing strength from His forgiveness. I pray for wisdom and try to administer according to the accepted practices of church administration. Well, that applies to budget planning as well.

Sure it's hard and some meetings are emotional, but they are worth every moment of discussion and number crunching.

The satisfaction and blessings of this hard work come in,
  • the families that are strengthened and provided stability in God's Word;
  • the joy of baptizing the children; 
  • the answers that I get during the children's message; 
  • the comfort of salvation to the grieving family planning a funeral; 
  • the singing of the children in chapel; 
  • the graduation ceremonies and the fun of confirmation classes; 
  • how people come together in a time of crisis;
  • singing with the congregation and the school children, words that reflect God's Words;
  • and so on.

Every indication from our leadership is that we are all ready to move forward with our "fresh start." We are ready to see beyond the past and move forward with the church and school and develop her programs into the future.

As I've indicated in the last couple of months, we need to plan for our future We need to move away from the band-aid approach to our budget and staffing issues and see the amazing gifts the Lord has given us and how we can move forward with a purpose. We will have quite a few staffing changes in the next several years and we need to plan for that. We need to talk about strengthening our ministry support in the church and school and wisely set a direction to continue to improve what the Lord has given to us.


OSL has a great school. The foundation and quality of education is spectacular. The church members have renewed their excitement over and over again in both the church and school.

The demographic reality is that we are poised to move forward and build both the church and school up and welcome new families and members into both. We have unified our budget in the last several years and we have a clear picture of what the beginning of our "fresh start" looks like.

There will be a couple of new things that we are bringing forward, things that we have planned for from major gifts. The one plan is to use the funds set aside for new ministry. We are thinking about a musician/teacher to strengthen the music programs in both the church and school.

The other one is a renewed look at our infrastructure and support for our ministries. This will be the easy one because we have used them in the past. This is important because over the next several years we will need to make adjustments with the demographic reality of our faculty. In other words, ONLY by pure numbers, it appears that we are facing a turn over due to general retirement practices. We need to be prepared for this so that we are not re-inventing the wheel with every new "hire" or call process.

Please keep us all in your prayers and let's talk it all through, make wise decisions, repent of our sins and rejoice in God's mercy and the constant showering of blessings he gives.

Whoo! Whoo! It's budget days!

Finally, in case you were wondering, my former favorite was the Geico rhetorical question commercials. The link is a video that strings them together. What a hoot!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Invite Your Friends! Become a Member of OSL.

Do you know anyone who wants to learn about the mercy of God? Have any friends looking for a church to join? Any new school families interested in joining our church?

New Class for Membership begins July 7th.

Now is the time to get the word out. Invite your friends, relatives, anyone, to become a member of OSL. On July 7th at 9:15 a.m.  Pastor Sell will teach a class about God's Word to become a member of OSL.  The class will be every Sunday through August 25th.

Pastor will explain
how God is present in your life.
why forgiveness is free.
and show you from the bible, how your children and grandchildren receive forgiveness, at any age.
the power of God's miracles in your life.
where heaven is on earth in worship.
These things and so much more to strengthen your life in Christ.

God is calling you in His Word to learn about Him (Mt. 28: 20).

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Free to be Faithful - Fourth of July and the Christian

Many have already been on vacation and enjoying the slow pace of summer. I've taken the opportunity to work on a whole host of administration duties, organizing, writing and implementing forms for the office writing the confirmation handbook, etc. The summer pace brings on the celebration of Independence Day - The Fourth of July.

What a blessing it is to live in the U.S.A. After traveling to third world countries, I will never forget the relief I felt when the pilot would announce that "We've entered U.S. airspace." Flying from Africa, through Amsterdam, and then home, the plane would erupt with applause. Whew! It hits you how blessed we are to have the freedoms our country guarantees her citizens.

Is Trouble Brewing?

Trouble is brewing. The First Amendment guarantees our freedom to practice our religion. This time, the attack on our religious freedoms is coming from something that is a hot political topic. It is in the form of medical care. It began with a Health and Human Service policy that is a full frontal attack on religious freedom. It is couched in a move toward public health care.

Lutherans in the Public Square

Lutherans have a wonderful understanding of how the Christian citizen is involved in the community and politics (Two Kingdom Theology). As a church, we don't promote any political candidate or push ourselves into policy debates. EXCEPT when the politics and policy try to move to our altar and force us to live against God's Word.

HHS and the LCMS

Here is the problem and the not so subtle attack. HHS has implemented a policy that requires religious institutions to provide "medicine" and "health care" for abortion. Behind the policy is the view that only the altar and pulpit are "true" religious institutions. In other words, all 501c3's - the tax code that provides nonprofit status to religious institutions - are threatened with health care policy that forces them to provide and pay for a practice that is against our religious beliefs. This means that such policy from HHS will force Concordia Plans, schools, universities, hospitals, etc. to provide abortifacients. This is a very dangerous precedent.

Will the Federal Intrusion into the Church Stop There?

I wonder...

Well, my brain is hurting from trying to think of an instance where and when the power and authority of the federal government has been stopped and reversed. I'll let you answer this question for yourself. However, we know that homosexual marriage is formally pushed by our government, that the LGBT movement is now publicly considered a legally protected minority. Hmm. What does this mean for our schools?

Pray for our church and the bold confession of Christ's Word.

Here is a video from President Harrison, the president of the LCMS. This year, we will be doing a bible study about the church and society.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Feeling Lost? Forlorn? Kinda Down? Jesus and Your Depression.

British artist William Dyce’s depiction of Ecclesiastes’ refrain that everything is meaningless
William Dyce (1806-1864) titled
“Omnia Vanitas” - “Everything is vanity” 
God is chiefly characterized by love and mercy that leads Him to forgive our sins. 

We do praise our Lord when He calls us together into His merciful presence. We praise Him, not only for His presence but also that He makes us holy by forgiving our sins through faith in Jesus Christ. 

Life is filled with countless emotional swings, from joy and excitement to sorrow and depression, yes even death. Often, depression looks like laziness, irresponsibility, and even rudeness.

Sometimes we wonder if it is all worth it (Ecclesiastes 2:17-23). Most likely, you know someone - who is in emotional pain; who is depressed; who struggles emotionally; someone who needs help. How does a Christian deal with emotional problems and depression?

Depression and the Christian

I dare not try to deal with this topic as if there is a quick fix. There isn't. However, I can, only in the big picture of Christianity, say that sin - (not sins) - the state of a sinful world - is what brings our misery and depression. The hope and help is in Christ's cross of suffering, where He paid for sin (condition) and all of our actual sins. He knows the pain and suffering that we go through. His mercy and love is the gift that comes to you by faith in His work. Each day is a resurrection in our baptisms. Each day is a merciful new beginning. Each day is a victory the Christ earned for you. 

Depression as a Calling - Feels Like a Crisis of Faith

Dealing with depression, like all vocations, is a call from God to make use of the gifts He gives you in scripture and creation. Gifts of creation are friendship, doctors, medicine, church, counselors; hospitals, and family. He is present through creation, using all of these resources because He is their creator. 

It may feel like a crisis of faith, but rather it is the strength of your faith. Your faith is God's work, not yours. 

He is present for mercy and forgiveness through Our Savior in Word and Sacraments. He calls you in your worse times of anxiety, fear, and loathing to rejoice in His presence and be fed with His body and blood. It is the presence of God that feeds you with the Eternal Feast of Victory. This victory is yours by faith, and still, emotionally, humanly, you will still struggle. But faith has conquered it because Christ conquered it. It doesn't mean it will go away. It means He now walks through it with you and gives you strength to work through it.

God will use your emotional problems and even depression to strengthen you. Then in the same comfort you received from God, you will serve others so that they might know of His mercy and hope; His comfort and victory; His peace and forgiveness (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).

Resource and Blog - A Free Download

I Trust When Dark My Road is a free 100 page booklet from LCMS World Relief and Human Care that talks about a Lutheran view of depression. It is written by Pastor Todd Pepperkorn, who is a pastor in California. You can download the booklet here.

Pastor Peperkorn's blog is a realistic walk through life for those who suffer from depression. As you can imagine, it is sometimes dark, sometimes a trigger for so many emotions, however, there are so many insights to life with depression and you will learn a lot. You can also learn about other resources and how the struggle continues.

Grant peace, we pray, In mercy, Lord;

Peace in our time, oh send us.

For there is none on earth but You, None other to defend us.

You only, Lord, can fight for us. Amen. (LSB 778)