Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Hungry Hoosier

St. James the Hoosier (having nothing to do in the week before classes start at Sem) was a little hungry this week, and got into a bit of trouble. Read about it here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Become a Minister Online!

This story ran on my local TV news station tonight.
You can also watch the video here.
I pasted it here so as to add my own commentary.
It's a little sarcastic at times, but I think you will get the point.

Perform a wedding... bury the dead... or exorcise evil spirits -- legally. With the click of your computer mouse you can become ordained - even if you're a convicted felon.

[You need legal clearance to do exorcisms? Uh-oh.]

Religious freedom advocates applaud online ordinations.

[No, people who disrespect organized religions applaud]

Local ministers are appalled. [Yes we are.]

As far as the state of Wisconsin is concerned, you can be ordained online or at the Vatican. Both ordinations are treated the same way. [Isn't this just another case of the law not being able to keep up with technology?]

Richard Antolovich and his girlfriend Sage Skye say they are called to serve. They both went on line and with a few mouse clicks became ordained ministers. No ministerial school. No training.
[Oh, but they heard the little voice! I think I feel called to be... I don't know.... a brain surgeon. SCALPEL, NURSE!]

But now they are able to perform weddings, council the mentally ill... Do all the things traditional ministers do. [Being outraged by various outrageous things? And it's spelled counsel, not council. Those are the monthly church meetings. Now they can do those too, I guess.]

"Back when God was around [WHAT?] when he chose his apostles they didn't go to school either. [No, they just learned from the GREATEST TEACHER WHO EVER LIVED FOR THREE YEARS.] They had the calling and they took it. That's how I feel," ordained minister Richard Antolovich says. [Well we're so glad you FEEL IT]

Sage agrees. "This I saw as a way to extend my spirituality to others and branch out and learn and grow on my own."

Richard explained he feels a calling. "I'm now able to have some credentials [False ones]. When people hear you're a minister they don't immediately ask, 'well what school did you go to?' They just know that you're a minister." [Maybe now they will have to start asking]

That's exactly what worries ministers like David Dragseth, who spent four years studying to become a Lutheran minister. [Um, that would be four years of seminary, after his four years of undergraduate. This guy is a local ELCA pastor. Of course don't expect the news to ever say what kind of Lutheran]

"It's appalling. It's degrading to those of us who devoted our lives to the deep seriousness of these callings and the deep professional training that it takes," he says. [Yeah. Make these people suffer through Greek and Hebrew. And pay the tuition too.]

And it could be more than degrading, he says. It could be dangerous. "Let's say for example that your child was suicidal and you were to go to a counselor thinking full well that the counselor is trained to deal with someone who's suicidal and then all of a sudden you discover that that person simply received that authorization by just clicking a button on the internet?" Dragseth adds. [Good point.]

Richard and Sage are ministers in the Universal Life Church. They both went online and were ordained almost immediately.

They have official credentials. And the ULC Web site sells parking placards and the right to call yourself everything from bishop to a doctor of immortality. [This farce of a "church" is the same outfit that ordained Mr. Newdow, who sued to get the phrase "under God" taken out of the Pledge of Allegiance.]

"Should you have more training than what you receive from clicking a button on line and being able to do all these things?" we asked.

Richard agrees some research is needed. "I believe you should do some research. You should do some reading... buy some books... whatever you can do to understand the mission of the church. You shouldn't go into this blindly." [Yes. First you should Google "Sham Christianity" and read this Wikipedia article.]

He's even performed a wedding. "Just because I didn't go to ministerial school for 2 or 3 or 4 years doesn't make me any less spiritual than say... the pope," Richard believes. [There's that fun word, "spiritual". On my top-ten list of words I plan to eliminate from the English language when I get elected king of the world. Wait... maybe instead of getting elected, I can just go online for that....]

Pastor Dragseth thinks it's all outrageous. "My daughter hope is 10-months-old and could be ordained instantly. Right now... five minutes from now, she could get the little ministry in the box and have her little clergy parking pass so that we could park in handicapped parking spaces all over the city. It really angers me." [What angers me is that I don't have one of those passes! Do they really get to do that in Milwaukee???]

Richard says he can still be a good minister. "I may not have had the same schooling. I may not be as smart. But one thing you can really be sure of; I care. I genuinely care." [And that's all that matters.]

Online ordinations are recognized in Wisconsin. And some online ministers have actually started their own congregations. [Kyrie Eleison and Come Quickly, Lord Jesus!]

Monday, August 28, 2006

Alcoholics Anonymous?

While studying this week's scripture readings, a theme occurred:

Proverbs 9:1-6 includes "Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed"

Ephesians 5:15-20 has, "Do not get drunk on wine... be filled with teh Spirit"

and John 6:51-58 has, "For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink"
(and yes I am one of those that connects John 6 to the Sacrament of Holy Communion).


I ran across the new blog, "Alcoholics Anonymous...spiritual compromise" (Whose URL says "AA is a cult"). Some rather long posts here, but they are very interesting (and very persuasive) in their criticism of AA from a Christian perspective.

Now, I know several people - Christians - who have found help in their struggles with alcohol through AA. And so I suppose, for some, it works to some degree. What I have seen, though, is that those Christians around here have become less involved with AA and more involved with their church (and I think that is a good thing).

But I must say I have always been suspicious of the organization. In fact, there was a time I told some AA representatives they couldn't come and speak to our congregation (like at a Bible Class or something) because I was wary of their teachings. AA does seem to be, in some way, almost a religion of its own.

For example, the lowest-common-denominator approach to God as a "Higher Power" has always rubbed me the wrong way. And in my experience with AA enthusiasts, I have often seen an unquestioning (almost mindless) loyalty to the program which really does smack of involvment in a cult. It was quite interesting for me to find confirmation of this in the new blog.

What is your experience with AA? Good, Bad, or a mixed bag?

Monday, August 21, 2006

More on Confusion of 2 Kingdoms

An interesting FoxNews story about a Baptist minister (also a local alderman) and how his teachings in the right hand kingdom are affecting his role in the left.

I would echo the comments of Uwe Siemon-Netto in the recent Issues, Etc. Journal, in which he makes the case that we Lutherans need to point all Christians to the doctrine of the two kingdoms...

Gay ELCA Pastor "Under Fire"

No, this is not a post from Hornswoggled, but it could very well be. Kudos to the Bishop for enforcing church policy (uh, gee, and being faithful to Scripture).

Un-kudos to the gay pastor for his selfish and arrogant refusal to resign, "I feel called".

Thursday, August 17, 2006

St. Charles on Infant Baptism

One of the most concise and thorough answers to the question of infant baptism I have seen in a while. Check out former fundie and future pastor (hopefully) St. Charles' recent post here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

New Blog

Or, at least, new to me.... Check out:

This Side of the Pulpit
Written by a one-time seminary classmate of mine, Rev. Christopher Hall, now of Oklahoma.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

ELCA Conference - Internet Info

An interesting article by a speaker at a recent ELCA conference on communication. The author is a VP at Feedburner.

While I don't necessarily endorse everything here, and in the linked pages, it was fascinating to poke around a little and see what's being said about the importance of blogging, MySpace, YouTube and other such internet animals - and what it has to do with the church.

I personally have a MySpace page, and do participate in some of the groups there. Still, it is mostly just to point people to this blog. I am unsure about whether and how to utilize MySpace for "official church business". But this ELCA pastor seems to have his own ideas:

Monday, August 14, 2006

Preaching on the Radio

You probably don't remember me posting this sermon, which I recorded for the "Lutheran Radio Service" some time ago. It will be aired this Sunday on Milwaukee's AM station 620, WTMJ at 6:00 A.M. (Much too early for me to get up and listen!)

If you miss it, you can come to Grace Lutheran Church in Racine this week and here it live, instead.

Lutheran Carnival

Lutheran Carnival XXX is up at the main site.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

My Higher Things Fantasy Football Team

We had our draft online yesterday, and I must say I am pleased with my team. Of course having the 2 spot helps. I am also impressed with the team of Dan @ Necessary Roughness. Anyway, here is my team:

QB J. Delhomme
WR R. Moss
WR D. Driver
WR L. Coles
RB L. Tomlinson
RB R. Bush
TE A. Gates
K D. Akers
DEF Arizona

WR M. Jones
WR E. Kennison
RB C. Taylor
RB L. Maroney
TE Da. Clark

Friday, August 11, 2006

Why Your Church Should Have a Website

I have been thinking about this for some time. Every congregation should have a website.

1) It is very inexpensive.
Depending on HOW you do it, a basic website can be had for free. If you use a blog format, there is even minimal (or no) advertisement to contend with. Even getting your own "domain name" (website address) is possible for less than $10 a year. Quite reasonable.

2) It is not difficult.
Most people who have some time on thier hands and use the internet somewhat frequently could probably "figure out" how to make a basic church website for free. Most pastors who have learned Greek and Hebrew will find that this task is nowhere near as challenging.

Consider getting a young person from the congregation involved, as they often know the technology better than the older folks. Train the church secretary to make updates. You could even use a team of people with different responsibilities vis-a-vis the website.

One caveat: While it is important to involve volunteers in these sorts of activities, the appropriate officers (and the pastor) should monitor and approve the website content. Remember, this is one way your congregation shows its face to the world! As I am our church's webmaster, I always notify our Board of Elders, for example, of changes and updates - just for accountability.

3) The time commitment:
For the investment (stewardship) of time and money required, the benefits of are well worth it. While a frequently-updated site may not be worth the time if your congregation won't use it enough, most websites don't require great time committments. Once set up, you can usually leave it alone for quite a while.

However, don't let your website sit there "out of date". If your last update was the November 2002 newsletter, and it's 2006 - not good. If regular updates are too hard, post more "timeless" and unchanging information there.

With a tech-saavy membership, more frequent updates will pay greater dividends.

4) Flexibility
A website a can be many different things. You should have clear reasons for having a website, in terms of what you want to accomplish. That said, church websites can offer many different functions:
-Basic information such as phone numbers, email address, worship times are a must.
-Information about what your church teaches and believes - doctrinal matters, vision and mission statements, answers to various questions (F.A.Q.'s - Frequently Asked Questions)
-Keeping the visitor or perspective member in mind:
Directions, Meet the Staff, Church History....
-LINKS to other useful and important websites always come in handy.
-Check out other church websites for many more ideas...

5) It gets more important every year.
The internet is the primary source of information for a growing number of people.
- Your own congregation members will more and more use the internet, and will be using your website for various reasons.
- As the older generation gives way to even younger people, this effect will be exponential.

6) NOT having a website is like...
...Not having your church listed in the phone book (where you also have many options for your listing)
...Not having a sign on your building or in the yard that tells people who you are (again, there are many kinds of signs, but what church doesn't have one?)
...Not answering the phone when someone calls your church, and not having an answering machine message with pertinent information.

7) Long Distance Connections
Having a website lets people from other locations (even overseas) learn about your church. For instance, if I am visiting San Diego for vacation, I may wish to "shop around" for a church to visit while there. How better to do this than on the web?

While a church website certainly has its limitations, and is not intended to replace the church itself, it is a powerful tool that every church should be using in the "information age". And while you should keep your expectations low (you won't have droves of new members just because you have a website), I simply can't think of a reason a church should NOT have a web presence.

You can check out our own church website here:

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Monday, August 07, 2006

Sermon - Pentecost 9 - Ephesians 2:13-22

Pentecost 9 – (August 6th 2006)
Ephesians 2:13-22
“Fighting, Foreigners, Foundation”

Leave it to St. Paul to keep the preacher busy. Today’s reading from Ephesians uses three main word-pictures to describe what Jesus does for us, his people. Each one is something we can relate to. Each one shows a little more how those who were near and those who were far have been brought to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 3 Pictures of Christ our Savior, and his great work for us.

The first word-picture is one frequently used in scripture. It is a contrast between hostility and peace.

We live in a world that knows hostility, but seldom sees lasting peace. Just as Jesus promised, it seems wars and rumors of wars are always somewhere. We read the paper, see the news. “The War on Terror”. “The War in Iraq”. Hezbollah attacks Israel, Israel bombs Hezbollah. Another roadside explosion in Iraq kills soldiers and civilians alike. North Korea and Iran, Kosovo and Rwanda… and this just in recent years. Even at home we are often bitterly divided over the how and why of our own country’s policies and our own president’s actions. We know hostility. It’s a part of life in a sinful world.

But maybe all that fighting seems “over there” to you. Maybe it doesn’t concern you. No matter, for hostility hits close to home when we find ourselves in conflict with others. Even in the family, even with our own parents, children, and spouse – hostility is always lurking. We may not be in the military fighting the latest national war, but we all fight our own little wars on the homefront. We shoot those other kinds of rockets at each other. And it’s just as much because of sin.

Paul speaks of the hostility between Jew and Gentile that is put away in Christ. But we could also speak of the hostility between man and God. For as much as sin puts us at odds with other people, we are more so at odds with our God. Scripture says that in sin we are enemies of God. In other words, we are at war with him. Born into hostility, fighting with our Creator. Challenging his will, opposing his purposes.

Only Christ brings peace. In him the warfare is over. He appeases God’s righteous anger, bearing it at the cross. He turns enemies into friends, sinners into saints. He makes peace between these warring factions a reality.

And peace with God leads to peace with our neighbor. While sin still means war in the world at large, the Christian who carries God’s peace with him, brings that peace into his personal relationships. So that we, who know our sin before God, confess our sins against fellow man. So that we, who have been forgiven, now offer that same forgiveness to each other. So that we, who were once enemies of a God who loved us in Christ, now answer his call and love even our enemies. Whether Jew or Greek, male or female, rich or poor – all that divides sinful humans into enemy factions – is made peaceful in Christ.

The first picture was one of fighting, the second is one of foreigners. Aliens. People from far away. People who maybe were not born here, but are here now somehow.

Again, the Bible’s imagery is not too far from the front page news. Our nation has been debating what to do about the alien and foreigner, especially the illegal immigrant, for some time now. And while everyone seems to admit there is a problem, even faithful Christians are divided about the proper solution. Does the Bible give any guidance on the matter?

It is clear from Scripture that we humans are to obey the laws of the land. Earthly government is given as an agent of God to prevent evil and keep order in our world. Romans 13 makes this very point. So it should concern Christians when laws are being broken. This is not God’s will.

But as I said last week, sermons shouldn’t make us feel smug and righteous, and there is plenty of law-breaking to go around, so that we should also examine ourselves. When have we dishonored, disrespected, or disobeyed the government God has placed over us? An attitude of humility and repentance is needed here for the Christian, even as we address the sins of others.

Again, Paul’s first concern is that in Christ, Gentiles are now incorporated into God’s chosen people Israel. In Christ Jesus, we who did not belong, now do. We who were outside the kingdom are in. We are “in” by our baptism, and his promises given there. We are “in” because his blood was shed for us, we have been paid for. Call it “amnesty” if you will.

Though we don’t have the flawless lineage, though we haven’t earned it either, the gift of citizenship in God’s eternal kingdom is ours in Christ. Though we are not always good citizens on earth, we have been made citizens of heaven, and are now part of his household.

And it is a house he builds. To live together with God and each other, first he stops the fighting. Then he makes foreigners into citizens, even family. Then, he builds the house where we will live together. His holy temple – the church.

I don’t know how many of you remember the building of this church. If you don’t know, or it was before your time, Grace Lutheran Church used to be known as “Grace Chapel”, and the congregation here worshipped in a small white building – a chapel- from 1919 when it was founded, until 1941 when this new building was dedicated.

And maybe it was your grandparents or parents, or maybe some of you still here who helped to build this new building. Many faithful members donated to build these walls, to pay for the decorative windows, and the new organ installed in 1976. I know that some congregation members even built the pulpit and other chancel furniture.

But all along, God has been building his church in this place. Any of the good work to support Grace Lutheran Church has been work God has done through his people, moving them, moving us by His Spirit to Christian service and stewardship. God has been building his church in less conventional ways too – but even more common – as he gathers his people around His word, and sinners have been forgiven here, every Sunday and more, since 1919. God builds his church even today each time a little one is baptized, each time the pastor announces forgiveness, each time we receive Christ in the bread and wine. God builds his church.

This third word-picture, of a household built on Christ, shows us what God’s church is all about. Not the building where we gather, but the . faithful people of God from all times and places., who are the temple of God. What does Paul say about this household of faith?

1) As we’ve already said, we don’t build the house, God does.

2) We have a foundation in the law and prophets. The Old Testament people of God who looked forward in faith to the coming savior – they are part of the household with us. And we who look back and also forward to Christ find our foundation in those men and women of old.

3) Christ is the chief cornerstone. Without him, the whole building comes down like a house of cards. The Church of Christ must always be about Christ, must always rest on him and what he has done – we must never build our own foundation, as if we could.

4) It’s not only Christians that live here in this household, but God himself. That was the great blessing of the Old Testament temple – that God was truly present – dwelling there and accessible to his people. But now that the temple of stone has been destroyed, and now that the temple of Christ’s own body has been torn down and built again – we the church, the body of Christ – become the new temple and dwelling of God. So God lives in and among us. Here, in the church, he is truly present. By his word. In his sacrament. God is here, in the house.

Our Lord Jesus Christ has done, and continues to do marvelous things for us. Paul shows how in Christ the fighting is over, the foreigner is welcomed, and the foundation is laid for our life together with God and each other. Jesus brings peace, makes citizens, and builds his church – and God dwells with us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Calling Out "The Lutheran"

I think as the owner/webmaster of the Lutheran Blog Directory, I have been more than gracious and fair by including Lutheran Blogs from whatever denomination/designation people claim. Though it happens that there are many more LCMS blogs out there, I don't discriminate against ELCA blogs.

This month, "The Lutheran", a publication of the ELCA, ran an article on Lutheran Blogs. You can read it here. I have several criticisms of this article, quite apart from the fact that the Lutheran Blog Directory was not mentioned. Here is the short article:

The buzz about Lutheran blogs

An estimated 32 million Americans read blogs, semi-anonymous online journals.

Enter bloggers who write about life in the ELCA. There’s a Wisconsin pastor, a lectionary-loving laywoman in Michigan, and a missionary in the United Kingdom.

Sociologist Lorne Dawson of the University of Waterloo (Ontario) said blogs also represent a haven for dissent within denominations. A blog by “Shrimp” represents “one pastor’s attempt to fight antinomianism” (the belief that faith alone is necessary to salvation) and aims to “call the ELCA back to Sola Scriptura (God’s word alone).”

“The critics, the ex-members … are thriving online because this is giving them a voice so much more powerful than they would have ever had before,” Dawson said.

The blogosphere is also home to Lutheran institutions. The Lutheran has one. An ELCA delegation to India, which included The Lutheran staffer Andrea Pohlmann, kept a blog travelogue. And Andrew Genszler of the ELCA Washington Office kept a blog when he toured areas affected by last year’s hurricanes.


1. Anti-nomianism is not adequately defined as "the belief that faith alone is necessary to salvation". If that were true, all Lutherans would be anti-nomians. A better definition is, "An anti-nomian is someone who is against the teaching of God's law." That wasn't so hard, was it?

2. "The critics, the ex-members are thriving online". No kidding? Could it be because those who blog have plenty to say?

3. It seems ironic that the ELCA which is so concerned about ecumenism is unwilling to admit to the thriving LUTHERAN blog community - most of which is NOT ELCA!

Ok. Rant done.


Not the Seattle Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck, but his sister-in-law, Elisabeth Hasselbeck. As co-host of ABC's "The View", she found herself out surrounded and outnumbered in a recent on-air debate about the "Plan B" abortion pill. Kudos to a rare media personality standing up for the unborn.

Foxnews story here:,2933,206873,00.html


OK, I found a link to the video here:

Barbara Walters and her pedantic "oh, we just have to learn how to discuss". I thought Elisabeth handled herself very well, and showed passion yet restraint. And while I do think that human life should not be trumped because it began with rape or incest, I still commend her for her stand.

Racetrack Petition

Dear Blog Readers,

I received a phone call and email some time ago from a Rev. Dave Krueckeberg, an LCMS pastor in the Chicago area. Rev. Krueckeberg has been serving a unique community as part of his congregation, namely the horse "caretakers" at two Chicago area thoroughbred racetracks.

Because this pastor pressured the owners of the racetracks to provide better working/living conditions for their employees, he has been banned from the sites. Since then, he has started a petition drive to regain access to the stables, where the people he serves not only work but also live. Rev. Krueckeberg has the support of many prominent LCMS leaders in his struggle, including:

The Rev. William Ameiss, President, Northern Illinois District, LCMS
The Rev. Matthew Harrison, LCMS World Relief & Human Care
The Rev. Daniel May, President, Indiana District, LCMS
The Rev. Robert Kuhn, Chairman, LCMS Board of Directors
The Rev. Gerald Kieschnick, President, LCMS

If you are interested in reading more, I submit the following documents, which will explain more of the situation and how you can help.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Superhero Quiz

Your results:
You are Green Lantern

Green Lantern
Iron Man
The Flash
Wonder Woman
Hot-headed. You have strong
will power and a good imagination.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

HT: Bloghardt's Reflector (AKA Superman!)

Neat Story About the Church Where I Grew Up

St. James in Overlea, Maryland, is where I went to Pre-K and Elementary School, as well as where I was confirmed. Though it wasn't the only church I attended while living in Baltimore, I still consider it the church where I grew up. It is also where I prefer to worship when I visit the area.

Anyway, my mom forwarded me this heartening story about a nice thing the church has done:


Giving a blessing of books

Overlea church ships library to Louisiana
sun reporter
July 31, 2006

He preached yesterday about God's harvest and the faithful journeys for which people must prepare. This morning, the Rev. J. Thomas Foelber of St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church in Overlea will live that message when he begins a 1,100-mile journey to New Orleans - taking with him a bountiful harvest of books for a Lutheran school that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

He blessed the gift of books from the church's former school, which closed in 2000, as members of the congregation gathered around the pulpit at yesterday morning's worship service and joined him in prayer: "Oh God ... bless this library. Grant that in its sending it may reflect our love for you ... and bring joy to the students and teachers of St. John Lutheran School."

Bethany Gonski, the principal at St. John Lutheran School in New Orleans, said that the books will not only bring joy but will ensure that the school maintains state approval when it reopens Aug. 18.

The Louisiana school's 3,000-volume library was destroyed by floodwater, Gonski said in a telephone interview yesterday. Shelves buckled, sending books into 3 feet of water, and mold grew on tables, chairs and walls.

Everything was thrown out.

Electricity was restored six weeks ago, and the school has been cleaned, renovated and made ready for the first day of classes.

"We are pleased and appreciative," Gonski said of the gift of books. "We would have had to start off with a small, sparse-looking library and build it back up, but that would have taken quite a while."

The New Orleans school, which was founded in 1854, had about 150 pupils in prekindergarten through eighth grade before Katrina, but for now it will go up to the first grade. Gonski said the school will expand in the next year and grow into the new library.

It took church volunteers in Overlea about a week to pack up the 5,000 volumes of picture, reference, nonfiction and fiction books that made up St. James' school library.

This morning they are to load the books in a truck and Foelber and his wife, Debbie, will begin the drive to New Orleans.

They are expected to arrive Wednesday afternoon. Gonski said she and volunteers will greet them with a New Orleans gift basket packed with Louisiana hot sauce, Creole mustard and beignet mixes.

Thomas Foelber said he had been looking for a way to support Lutheran congregations in New Orleans and that donating the library was a "wonderful opportunity to share what God has blessed us with."

"There's sadness about the closing and joy about sharing our resources," he said. "It may inspire others to do similar things."

At its peak, the Overlea school, which opened as a kindergarten in 1956, had about 150 students.

Emily Kursch, now 14, was a third-grader when the school closed.

While she couldn't quite recall what lessons Merry "Miss Merry" Schminke taught during weekly library sessions, she said she is happy that the library will be put to good use.

"It's a good thing to help people down there," said Emily, now a rising ninth-grader at Parkville High School. "We'll miss it and it has some sentimental value, but ... it can help people down there."

Susan Pullen, who was principal of the school from 1989 to 1992, added: "I feel a great sense of peace. We want these books to be a blessing."

Link to the article:,0,7296424.story?coll=bal-local-headlines