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“Are We Following God’s Plan?”

In her book, It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way, Lysa Terkeurst writes: Genesis tells us that the human heart was created in the perfection of the garden of Eden. Can you imagine what the world looked like when God first created it? When He said it was all good. Very good. And it was all perfect. Perfection’s symphony filled the atmosphere. Everything ebbed and flowed in complete harmony. It sang with the richest tones. And danced with ridiculous precision. There was nothing that didn’t look right or feel right. It was beautiful and peaceful and fulfilling. There was perfect peace in relationships. Adam and Eve were so beautifully connected to each other, and they lived in the perfect presence of God. It was paradise where God would interact in direct relationship with Adam and Eve. There was perfect provision and perfect fulfillment of their purpose. There was no sadness or confusion or injustice. There was no disease or divorce or depression or death. There were no misaligned motives, no manipulations, no malicious intentions. It was everything you could ever dream up and then so much more than that. So ... Read More »

“Stop… and Look Around!”

     Traveling is one of my passions.  I have always liked to travel.  I remember traveling with my parents and grandparents– vacations and camping and traveling all over Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois.  It was and is always exciting to see and experience new places.       Since then I have been blessed with seeing many places:  some while on vacation and some through ministry.  I have seen beauty, I have seen destruction, I have seen smiles, I have seen tears.  I have been on mission teams, ministry teams and Disaster Response teams and on vacation.  I have been to Costa Rica, Haiti, Nicaragua, Panama, Chile and most of the continental United States.  I have helped with Disaster Response in North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Wisconsin.       Someone once asked me my favorite and least favorite places I have been.  The least favorite place (although I would go back again) would be Haiti.  I still have the images in my mind of all the poverty and struggles and tears (also, civil war broke out while I was there).  My favorite place without a doubt ... Read More »

“Why Me, Lord?”

     “Why Me, Lord?” is one of the first questions we often ask ourselves when tragedy strikes.   Maybe it is the loss of a job, troubles in a relationship, or health issues such as being told one has cancer.  For some of us, the same question comes up when we get a cold or the flu, or have a flat tire, or hit a deer, or break a nail or drop your phone or get caught in the rain without an umbrella.      Somewhere along the way, we have become convinced that life should go our way, all the time.  As a Christian, you may believe God will protect us from every tragedy, large or small.  God is good and because we are Christians, life thus should be fair.  However, life is not fair.  We learn that lesson early in life and about the time we forget, we are reminded with another painful lesson that hurts again.  So again, we ask, “Why Me, Lord?”      Maybe you feel like the path you are on is just unbearable, that it has gotten too steep or rocky?  Maybe it just seems ... Read More »

“We Must Pray for One Another”

Now on that same day two (disciples) were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went into stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scripture to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem. (Luke 24:13-16, 28-33) One of my favorite spiritual writers is Henry Nouwen. In Compassion: A ... Read More »

“A Little Good News”

We sure could use a little good news today!  The weather has been creating havoc, shootings have occurred in New Zealand and the Netherlands, violence is reported regularly on TV news coverage, newspaper articles detail people attacking and criticizing each other instead of working things out, a baby is found dead along  the roadside in Minnesota…  how about a little good news? Back in 1983 the topic was also raised about “A Little Good News”, a song recorded by Canadian country music artist Anne Murray.  In the United States, it was a #1 hit single, staying a total of 20 weeks on the country charts overall.  In the song, Anne Murray expresses despair over all of the violence and suffering she reads about in newspapers and witnesses on TV news coverage, and notes how wonderful it would be if, for just one day, the newspapers and television news anchors had nothing to report, because they had “nothing bad to say”. The lyrics are:  I rolled out this morning…. kids had the morning news show on                       Bryant Gumbel was talking about the fighting in Lebanon                       Some senator was squawking ... Read More »

Questions and Answers With “The Associate”

1. How old am I? 39 in May. I was going to give a long complex answer but I decided to stay with the short and simple 2. Am I married or have I been married? No, I haven’t been. My luck just isn’t there when it comes to this love stuff but I’m working on it. 3. How did I find myself in the ministry? I’ve always been part of the church since birth. When I was a teenager I thought about joining the ministry but went to a public school instead. After school, I returned home to work which only reinforced the position that I should become a pastor since many of my co-workers said I was really “pastor-like” or pious like a pastor. After working for 4 years I finally signed up for the ministry class and found myself at Garrett Evangelical by Chicago. My first appoint was a Peace UMC in Green Bay in 2013. 4. What does an associate pastor do the whole day? This is a good question. Some Associate Pastors are also youth or young adult pastors. Some others focus on music or ... Read More »

“Who Am I?”

God is good. I would never have predicted that this is where I would be at this point in my life. It has been a great journey (most of the time) and it is amazing how God has blessed us. This is an introduction for Stitzer and a reintroduction for Fennimore. It seems like yesterday it was January 1st and now we are entering March. Wow, and in between, we have had a Polar Vortex and A LOT of snow. We have also had Stitzer and Fennimore growing through Jesus together. It is an exciting time as we get to know each other and engage in spreading the Good News in our communities and beyond. As we move forward in ministry, please be patient as this is a work in progress and this realignment is new to all of us. God has led me through quite a journey, so here is some basic information. I was born in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin; lived in Vesper, Wisconsin; and then moved to Thorp, Wisconsin where I grew up and graduated from Thorp High School (the mighty Cardinals). My mom lives in Thorp (my ... Read More »

“Did You Bring Joy?”

One of the reasons I became a history teacher was because of my fascination with history and especially what we can learn from history.  What will history have to say about our world, about you and me?  Will we just be a picture in a scrapbook or digital file somewhere or will we be remembered not for what we were but for who we were? Have you ever wondered what people centuries from now will think about our culture? It, of course, is anybody’s guess. In her book A Fistful of Fig Newtons, novelist Jean Shepherd depicts a group of archaeologists in the distant future who are excavating the remains of New York City. Burrowing under Madison Avenue, the heart of the world of modern advertising, they discover tin canisters holding reels of videotape containing hours and hours of television commercials from our time. The archaeologists determine these reels must have something to say about what was important to us. They finally find a way to view these tapes. They grow excited with anticipation. One of the videotapes contains a scene in which three women move into the foreground. They ... Read More »

“Always Wear Snake Boots!”

It was a beautiful, warm May afternoon in North Carolina.   The sun was shining and there was a nice breeze as I headed out to do a little turkey hunting with my bow.  I set up on a ridge with my back to a large oak tree, settled in, waited a little while, and started calling.  Nothing happened for a while, but I just kept calling sporadically.  The warm day and the nice breeze caused me to snooze a couple of times. But then I thought I heard a gobble in the distance.  I called, but no response.  Then I heard it again– a definite gobble and it was getting closer.  I am watching and I see movement ahead of me about 60 yards, coming down a game path.  I get my bow ready and hear another gobble, definitely getting closer.  Ready, I see a shape and it is getting closer.  Whoa, not a tom but a hen.  She kept coming and eventually passed within 5 yards of me.  The tom was still coming, the gobbling sounding closer and closer.  Finally, I saw him at about 50 yards, pacing back ... Read More »

“What Can I Do?”

Do you remember the Brady Bunch singing “Time To Change”?   (Ok, for some of you it may be before your time.)  Some of the lyrics from the song go like this: “Autumn turns to winter, And winter turns to spring. It doesn’t go just for seasons you know, it goes for everything. When it’s time to change, you’ve got to rearrange,  Who you are and what you’re gonna be. Sha na na na na na na na na, Sha na na na na… Day by day you’re facing the changes you’ve been through, A little bit of living, a little bit of growing all adds up to you. And if you want to reach your destiny, Then here’s what you can do. It is the Advent season, a time of change, a time of preparation, a time of transformation, a time of hope.  When God comes to us in any meaningful sense, things happen.    The world we know and our image of ourselves – all of this must be transformed.  God intervenes not to help us with our lives but to remake them.  This is what happened to our world ... Read More »

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