Friday, August 29, 2008

CG vs Contemporary WELS Worship

I have started a chart to highlight the differences between CG and WELS contemporary worship. I'm sure I will edit it as I see fit. For the moment I have had to link it up as an image so that it was readable. I welcome your input.

Link to image of chart stored on Flickr

Thursday, August 28, 2008

An Analogy Without An Application

I'm trying to find an analogy for my BMW and ?????. It seems so ripe for the taking. Maybe a Pastor could use it for a sermon.

My 16 year old 525i gets quirkier every day. It has 250,000 miles on it and it has never needed an engine servicing other than oil changes. Score another great thing out of Germany. Everyday it starts and gets me to my destinations yet the ride is filled with adventure more and more. Here is the list of items requiring attention.
  • The wiper motor turns on randomly
  • The windshield washer squirts randomly until it is drained or feels like stopping
  • The wiper blades are not connected to the wiper motor anymore
  • There is a new vibration in the stick shift
  • The wheels shimmy between 62 and 70
  • The radio is gone
  • The blowers blow furiously yet only a trickle of air comes out.
  • you only get heat if it is over 32 degrees outside
  • the light in the trunk doesn't go off so it drains the battery by morning if I actually kept a bulb in it.
  • The power steering is leaking at the rate of one quart a week.
  • The relay for the power windows and sunroof needs replacing because the windows don't open
  • No more AC

I was thinking maybe its time to have the BMW just become an organ donor and move on.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Credo Quia Absurdum

This is a phrase I saw in an email today. I believe it because it is absurd. This was used to describe why liberals love Obama. However I think I'm going to borrow it for a description of the Confessional Crusaders when they come up with all their crazy examples of apostacy.

There probably are lots of examples where we actually live by this.

"Credo Quia Absurdum"

Confessional Crusaders...update

I have decided that the Confessional Crusaders (my name for the Bailing Water blog folk) are just a little nutty. I was at first interested in their positions as perhaps an indicator of a larger pervasive movement within the WELS. Maybe I had missed something? Maybe we should address these concerns?

No, thats not it. They are just nutty and localized. Most hold views that are just plain not scriptural. They take practice and make it doctrine. They are taking church tradition and the confessions and raising them to a level higher than Scripture. I read a comment about how contemporary worshippers only rely on scripture and don't rely on church tradition....and this was a bad thing. It sheds light on where they come from though.

Its pretty clear that their personal style, taste and sensibilities have been mortally offended by the change in worship style of some churches. The Liturgy has trancended from being a Christ-centered worship guide to becoming the only acceptable form of worship. They latch onto about the same 5-10 specific examples of contemporary worship that might be "reviewable" and claim that the WELS is diseased and infested with "Church Growth".

One example oft repeated is one where a WELS pastor used a pre-written sermon by a Baptist minister one Sunday. It is possible that using a sermon first produced by a baptist minister and delivering it might be construed as poor practice. However without seeing the sermon who knows, it might have been a pretty good one. Is every sermon written by a Baptist minister a bad one? If a sermon conveys a perfectly good Biblical message does it matter who wrote it? Does its origin automatically make it false doctrine? Hardly. These kinds of things are not considered by the crusaders. They just want to find ways to link contemporary to false doctrine. I'm sure they would have been rather confounded if the same sermon was delivered at a traditional congregation. What now...

Well anyways I am still observing these folk as a novelty. I'm quite convinced a few of them probably also believe stories of Area 51 and have many theories on the moon landing and the grassy knoll.


I met an interesting fellow at church on Sunday. He has visited our church before I believe. He is from St. Jacobi's and has 4 kids. From what I picked up on overheard conversation he is an airline pilot or something similar to that.

I mostly noted that he was very well read, had lots of integrity, and was interesting to talk to. I noted that Ike was from the Philippines and he was able to teach Ike some basic Tagalog. Well of course he knew Tagalog. We also had a good discussion about "White fright, White Flight." I gave him a ride to the new Target store by church which is close to his house as his family had seen to taking off from church and hadn't returned yet.

It sounds as if he is often flying on Sundays, but I hope he returns to Victory. I'm pretty sure I'd like to get to know him better.

I also talked to another gentleman at church. He came to visit our church after getting an invitation in the mail. He had happened to visit a friend close to the Lion's Legend Park and the friend said he should come down to the park and hear the music and eat some food. We followed up with the man with an invitation and he actually came to a service. I was impressed. I think that must be hard to do. Especially alone like that.

Back to School

Ike on Day 5

So Ike started school at St. Marcus the 20th and Katie started school at Wisco as a Junior today. I can tell you that I'm already feeling like St. Marcus was definately a good move. The accelerated academics, no excuses and heavy accountability have been excellent. I think Ike is enjoying his classmates as well.

Here are pictures of the kids this morning. Remember there is a photo slideshow at the bottom of the blog page.

Katie on Day 1

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Find the list of all things listed below that are now different because I turned 40 today!!

So there you have it!!


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Semper Fi

So what is Zach doing? In 3 weeks he ships out for Marine Corps Boot Camp in San Diego, CA. Here is a link to the recruit training depot where he will be. They have some links on the training schedule and such.

Marine Corps Recruit Depot

Here is a document that summarizes Boot Camp from that site

Recruit Training Document

Here is a general site that has TONS of information on the military. If you want to find how today's military "isn't your father's military" this is the place to check it all out.

If your a Marine relative you'll find this site very useful. It has links to lots of specific information about the marines

Marine Parents

This site is the official Marines pages.

Marines Official Site

If after all that you still have questions...I'm not sure how we can help ya.

Friday, August 15, 2008

This Never Happens

We never seem to have a family picture. Probably the last one we had was for a church directory 4 years ago. I think we are picture averse. However in creating a pictorial review of our family to send to Katie's new friends in Chile I made everyone sit for a picture. So here it is..

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mission Trips

My daughter just returned from a mission trip to Chile this summer. She and 5 classmates from Wisconsin Lutheran taught VBS at a number of ELS mission churches there as well as canvassed neighborhoods and also did some cleanup and painting of the churches and classrooms.

I just want to say this has been one of the greatest experiences of her life and I believe she has changed. She has a much greater appreciation for not only the prosperity of America comparatively but also for the importance of mission work. She was very sad to leave Chile and already is making plans to return next summer for an extended stay. We'll see if that holds through out the school year. However her love of Spanish and appreciation for mission work will definately be stregthened regardless.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Victory of the Lamb

I wanted to talk about my church. I am a member of Victory of the Lamb Lutheran Church in Franklin, WI. This church was started 2 years ago as an idea from St. Paul's, Muskego to start a daughter congregation in one of the most rapidly growing suburbs of Milwaukee that had a unique mission. Its mission was to reach out to the unchurched of Franklin and it would do it as a completely contemporary church. The original core group was 6 people and on a shoestring budget provided by St. Paul's, they called a seminary graduate to be the first pastor. The day Pastor Ben preached his first sermon at St. Pauls as a method of introduction to the congregation that was paying his salary, I became interested in the cause.

I offered him my services for doing the website and for helping with the multimedia and sound for the worship services. Victory hadn't had a worship service yet and had many tasks to complete such as finding a place to worship, getting sound equipment, canvassing, advertising. On December 6th, 2006 we held our first worship service with 140 in attendance. Most of them were folks from surrounding WELS churches coming to wish us well and see how things were like. Although I had started out with Victory to lend some help until they got started, I have not returned to St. Paul's for even one service since that day. Some other members of St. Paul's also got hooked that day too and with the addition of our two families the core group grew to 17ish and another 13 or so people who were helping out.

On April 1st, 2007 we had our Grand Launch service on Palm Sunday. 180 people came and this time there were numerous guests from the community after a massive advertising campaign. We followed that service the next weekend with an Easter Breakfast for the community in which 60 people came for my omelettes to order and a huge amount of food. 140 came for Easter service. It was a good start but still a little disappointing when within two weeks our average attendance was 35. However it was at this time that our full compliment of band members arrived at the congregation and the Victory worship band got started.

However we planned an aggressive summer of community activities to get our name out there, to canvass and to proclaim the gospel to the community. Our first event was the 4th of July float where we handed out 1000 pieces of literature and our band played on the float. We got a great reaction from the crowd. Two weeks later we had a Summer Music festival in the City park called Hallepalooza. The Victory band played music while there was kids games and adult activities and a devotion at the end. A new member who owns a fancy restaurant in downtown Milwaukee donated free food for anyone who came by. about 150 attended . Two weeks after that we ran our 1st annual soccer bible camp. 29 kids got to improve their soccer skills and hear the Word of God. Later in October we had about 60 people come to our Family fest/Chili Supper. All of these events attracted at least one family or indivdual to our church. About 50 were in weekly attendance by October of last year. In December of last year we hosted a "Christmas for kids" activity where 55 kids came and heard the story of Christ's birth at the City Library for 4 hours on a day where there was 7 inches of snow falling. More people who ended up hearing the word and coming to church and Bible instruction. By January 1st we had about 60 in weekly attendance.

I think the mission of Victory started to really click with people by this last Easter. Members and even people who were in bible instruction were bringing their friends and inviting people to come. The "Easter for Kids" event had 75 kids from the community show up and many of their parents came to Easter church. From there our attendance has been growing and we are averaging about 95 people a week. The last two weeks we had 102 people and 135. This years parade we handed out 3000 pieces of literature, this years Hallepalooza had 200 or more people come, this years Bible soccer camp had 67 kids register. Since our congregation has very few children in the age range of the soccer camp the kids were mostly from unchurched or other churched families.

We are now outgrowing our space at the Polonia Soccer Club and are trying to secure a new location within a warehouse of a local businessman. There are a few details to work out but if it does it could be a nice church home for the forseeable future until we can find or build a permanent church home.

Being a part of this mission even though my role is small has been a great experience. It has challenged my faith to grow and to live my faith as a person charged to proclaim the Gospel to the people in my sphere of influence. It is such a new experience. The unchurched come from a very different world. Everything is new. Faith is growing in babysteps. It has helped me to not take my education and background for granted and realize that the true mission of the church is to reach out to the unchurched and it demands that I move out of my comfort zone to do it.

So I continue to work on the website and produce the sound. New members have created a multimedia team that is doing a fantastic job. We have so many dedicated members who are taking various parts of the ministry and running with it and God truly is working faith and guiding hearts in this church. I invite you all to come and see....and better yet get involved.

Confessional Crusaders

Recently I stumbled across a group of people in the WELS that are intriging and amusing. I credit them with luring me into the blogosphere in the first place. I call them the "Confessional Crusaders". I'm quite certain I can't describe them in a succinct way. I have been trying to observe them and see what makes them tick and why they believe what they believe but it has been difficult. As I mentioned in my "Who Am I" post I like to get the details about why people believe what they believe and this is a hard group to figure out. I have tried baiting them, dropped in buzz words I knew would stir them up, played some devil's advocate and see what answers I would get, but where their fundemental motivation for such fervent opposition comes from is still unknown. They are a very upset group of people that I never knew existed until a few weeks ago.

Here are the traits I've noticed so far

1.) The Confessional Crusaders are a group who seem to adamantly oppose anything not specified in the Lutheran Confessions. I mean if it didn't exist in the 1500's its no good.

2.) They tend to oppose anything outside the original Liturgy. They oppose anything contemporary or even remotely different in worship. There are varying extremes to this behavior but I have seen the arguments get down to the use of pronouns in a creed or using the NIV compared to KJV. Worshipping only has one acceptable form before God and anything else is despised by God is probably the feeling you would walk away with.

3.)They have an interesting view about Kingdom work. Everything done outside the original 1500's Lutheran church is pretty much lumped together and called "Church Growth" or CG. Anything a non-denominational, evangelical or reformed church does is called Church Growth. Anything labeled as contemporary is Church Growth. There is no regard for looking at each thing one of these churches does as valid or not valid or possibly valid if the doctrine was cleaned up. This goes for a WELS church that tries something of a similar nature using pure doctrine.

4.) I think their sensibilities are easily offended. I believe they think if you stray in any way from Luther's original design whether it was worship style, music, outreach, evangelism, etc. you will lose the core of Luther's reformation. I think to them the important part of the reformation was not the return of the truth of scripture to the world but the actual Lutheran identity as established by the Lutheran Confessions and Luther himself. Its not Luther worship but its a belief that all there is to say about scripture derived from Luther and died with Luther.

5.) They are very legalistic. Crusaders seem to take it to the next level and use the confessions and Luther as a legalistic rule book where its almost as if they have found themselves a new canon law. Everything you ever needed for the Lutheran Church was written in the 1500's so why try harder? For this group it is more important to read your confessions than scripture. As if Scripture had nothing more to offer than what the Cofessions say about them.

6.) They themselves feel as if they are reformers. They are a voice of one calling in the desert to repent. If you are outside the bounds of their rule book you are involved in heresy and apostacy. They often do not speak in love. Maybe we'll call it a mini Christ complex and they feel they are clearing the temple of sin.

7.) Christian Freedom does not exist for a crusader.

Anyways thats the basics of the group I am studying at the moment. Definately more interesting than the political races but contains nearly as much pre-packaged, over-generalized, taken out of context material and hearsay. A fascinating diversion.

Who am I..

To start this off I felt I should explain the type of person I am. It will make a lot more sense to those who read what I write.

I am 40 years old with 3 teenage children and have been married to my wonderful wife Karen for nearly 20 years. My oldest son is in the Marine Corps. My middle daughter is at Wisconsin Lutheran High School and my youngest son is at St. Marcus Lutheran School. We live in Milwaukee, WI. My family has had a habit of moving a lot. We have lived in 11 homes in 19 years not counting two short term relocation apartments upon some big moves across the country. I think we are settled for a little while at least until the last two kids are out of the house. We have lived in the Madison, WI area, the Dallas, TX area, the Boston area, and now back to Milwaukee.

I am a computer geek at an insurance company by day. I enjoy working on technology for WELS organizations at night in my basement. My interests are in road biking, snowboarding, music, technology, and multimedia.

I am a very sarcastic individual. Probably too sarcastic. My children have fallen in my footsteps and probably get themselves in trouble because of it. I don't take much of anything personally. Probably another negative as sometimes people want me to take things more seriously. It doesn't help if I snicker at people who are full of themselves. It takes a lot to get me upset. I have a good sense of humor. When I worry about something it is short-lived and I either absent-mindedly forget about it or just move on because I just can't find too much in life to get all worked up about anymore.

I am verbose. I tend to think out loud even when I write until I can say something just the way I meant it with the right emphasis and intentions. So I tend to say the same thing over again or 3 times until I feel I've said it the right way.

In one way I operate on the high level. I care more about someone's intentions more than the action. For instance I don't care that my daughter stomps out of the room when she doesn't get her way, I'm more interested in what makes a person flee conflict in a dramatic way and what was the triggering event that caused the specific reaction.

I like people from diverse points of view not so much for their points of view but more from the perspective of what is the background of this person that makes them person they are today. I tend not to care what you believe but that you can defend what you believe. I love debate and consider it a grand sport. My wife or daughter say "we're in a fight" I say we are engaged in a debate. I never fight. A debate is never personal. Fights are personal and a disagreement on a point of view is not a personal thing..its just that the the other person's viewpoint is wrong ;-) Actually I rather like it when someone can prove me wrong on a point. I respect someone who goes to the work of defending themselves with facts and reason. I tend not to respect those who basically can only support their beliefs with a "just because!" or say "..I just can't find the words to explain it..."

So in my verbosity I then also like the details and background of everything because it explains where people are coming from. I like to research things for myself and rarely take the word of others. Your credentials mean little to me. I write long emails, i leave long voice mails and I even text long messages on my phone. I don't like frequent iterative conversations. I try to give you everything up front and hopefully it will be enough information that you do not need to ask me any further questions. This drives a lot of people nuts. My children will delete my long voice mails before it is complete and find that the very information they were looking for was at the end of the message they deleted. I do however get a perverse pleasure when answering a question when i can say..."did you read/listen to the message I sent you?"

If I have a theme its on personal responsibility, independence and self confidence. These are how I try to raise my children and my basic expectations out of others. I will take the blame when I fail. Sometimes I'll take the blame even when I didn't fail because taking blame is easy and usually allows all involved to move past something and work on fixing things. I push my kids on independence just as my parents pushed me. I think this fosters a good self-esteem as one's independence grows. It is a risky approach and I am surrounded by many risk averse people. Yet I would cry if I trapped my children in the shell of over-protected parenting, the stereotypical suburban point of view where one wraps their children in the shell of safety protecting them from every physical, emotional, and mental harm that might exist in the world. I see some of these kids and am saddened to see them when the true crap of the world hits them eventually and they have no way to deal with it because they were never exposed to it. I've actually seen the phenomenon proven out so many times its scary and sad. It is why I spend my time on helping my kids learn to make the right decisions while exposed to the crap of the world at early ages. It does tend to mean that there are more "learning situations" when a wrong decision is made but the learning from the mistakes is the most valuable learning tool there is.

Well that will have to do for now. I'm pretty sure I'll break out a few of those topics into seperate blogs soon.

The First Post

So I have dabbled in the world of blogging for a few weeks and decided that I would try it for myself. Perhaps by rambling online to probably no one in particular will spare my family long diatribes about topics they could care less about. I'm pretty sure that having a personal blog makes just about anyone cooler.

I at least have a feeling that I can try to actually summarize my rather verbose thoughts into a more concise version of what I think about the things of life.