Showing posts from January, 2010


I am leaving Jerusalem in the morning and going down to Egypt. This is the trip the Holy Family made in their flight to Egypt to escape murderous King Herod. It will be a long 12 hour bus trip. Can you imagine what it must have been like for Joseph and Mary traveling with their young child - traveling by donkey and by foot?

The connection between Egypt and Israel was made with Moses and the Israelits and their great Exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land. Here is "Pharaoh, Pharaoh," interspersed with movie clips from "The Ten Commandments." Enjoy. I did.

Day 5 in Israel

Day 5 – Jerusalem

We stood upon the Temple Mound. This is a very holy site. For Muslims, this is where Mohammed supposedly received his vision and started the Islamic religion (although there is no historical evidence or anything in the Koran that says this). For Jews, this is where the temple was. For Christians, this is where Jesus would have come to be circumcised 8 days after his birth, taught on the steps leading up to the Temple, where Jesus offered up his sacrifices and cleaned out the money changers, and where Peter would have taught on Pentecost and baptized 3,000 people. This is the holy site for the three monotheistic religions.

Now upon this site where the temple had been is the Muslim Dome of the Rock. It is the third most holy site for Muslims. The golden plates on top of the dome are real gold. King Hussein replaced the original lead plates with real gold. I received a totally different feeling at this place than anywhere else we have been this week. When I see this Mu…

Day 4 in Israel

Day 4 – Jerusalem, Garden of Gethsemane, Caiaphas’ House, Garden Tomb

I began the first day in Jerusalem with a 30 minute run/walk up and down the hilly streets of Jerusalem. Israel is not a flat country. And Israel is all hills. You can truly understand why the Gospels always say that Jesus went “up to” Jerusalem. We walked down the traditional Palm Sunday road. Then we went to the Mt. of Olives.

We entered the Garden of Gethsemane. I gave the devotion. It was very moving to share God’s Word with 20 pastors and lead them in contemplating Jesus’ agony and prayer from that holy Thursday evening. We sang “Go to Dark Gethsemane,” even though it was bright and sunny at 9:00 o’clock in the morning. Then many of us went up to an olive tree to pray as Jesus prayed that the Lord’s will be done. Obviously this is an unforgettable trip, but giving that devotion was certainly a highlight and something I will never forget! I don’t get nervous too much anymore about preaching, but I had trouble s…

Devotion in Gethsemane

This is the devotion that I shared with the 20 pastors on our WELS clergy familiarization tour of Israel. The setting was the Garden of Gethsemane.

Matthew 26:26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." 27 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom." 30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Then Jesus told them, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: "'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' 32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee." 33 Pete…

Day 3 in Israel

Day 3 – Tel Dan, Caesarea Philippi, Gideon's Spring, Beth Shan

We were up in the northern most area of the Promised Land where the tribe of Dan lived. The walls in the remnant of this city are 3,000 years old. The Dan Spring is one of the three sources that feed the Jordan River. The name of the Jordan River comes from the Hebrew (Yar Dan which means “descends from the Dan – Jordan). At the highest point is the temple that King Jeroboam built when the kingdoms split after King Solomon’s death. Jeroboam leads the people in pagan worship by adopting the pagan religions of the people living nearby. He places a golden calf inside the temple next to the huge altar that was built for sacrifices to the true God. After our devotion we sang, “Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness.”

Then we came to something totally unexpected. Just a few years ago an archeologist found a Canaanite city gate that predates Abraham by 300-400 years. The city gate was at least 4,000 years old! After Lot was cap…

Day 2 in Israel

Day 2 – Sea of Galilee, Mt. of Beatitudes, Capernaum, Bethsaida, Gadarenes, Jordan River

Jesus’ entire ministry was around the Sea of Galilee. Israel is a small country. Everything is within walking distance. It is only 43 miles around the Sea of Galilee. We visited the Catholic Church that is built over the place where Jesus would have cooked fish for the disciples after his resurrection. Close by is where Jesus reinstated Peter and asked him three times to “feed my sheep.” Also nearby is the place where Jesus fed the 5,000 with the fish and bread. All of the area around the Sea of Galilee was Jesus’ classroom. After our devotion we sang, “Hark! The Voice of Jesus Crying.”

We sailed on the Sea of Galilee in what is called a “Jesus’ boat.” The water was very calm, but storms can come up very quickly and on the Sea and be violently tempestuous. After our devotion on the boat, we sang “Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me.”

We had a devotion on the top of where Jesus gave his sermon on the mount (or th…

Day 1 in Israel

Day 1 – Caesarea Maratima, Mt. Carmel, Megiddo, Nazareth

King Herod the Great had two hobbies – killing people and building. Herod builds a coastal town from scratch to have a cove and harbor. Herod builds a harbor, jetty, his palace and a hippodrome for chariot races. This place is historically significant for Christians because the Apostle Paul was kept in prison here for two years when Governor Felix had taken over the palace. This account is found in Acts 23:23-35. We were walking in Paul’s steps.

We went up to Mt. Carmel where Elijah put the 450 prophets of Baal to the sword. You can usually see everything from Mt. Carmel, unfortunately a cloud had settled over this high point in Israel and we could not see anything. God had said that everything would be dry and wither with a famine. It is amazing to see how green and lush everything is now. After our devotion we sang, “God of the Prophets.” “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!” One of my favorite Old Testament Bible stories …

A Day of Mourning – A Day of Rejoicing

I know there are many at Epiphany who are still in mourning today because of the Packers loss on Sunday. Yet Sunday was truly a day of great rejoicing!

Taylor, Haley and Tiffany Tucker were all baptized into God’s family on Sunday morning in our second service. Then Eric Anderson (who is the boyfriend of one of our members), Veronica Groth (who is the wife of one of our members), Kristina Salas (who is the niece of one of our members and I baptized Kristina as an adult about 4 years ago), and Andrew and Tiffany Tucker (who are new to Wisconsin Lutheran School this year and learned about WLS from Andrew’s brother who refills the Pepsi machine at the Middle School) all were received into membership through adult confirmation. They had completed the 15 lessons of our Bible Inquirer’s Class and the Holy Spirit had led them to make Epiphany their church home.

Even during this of great sadness across Packer Nation, we still have reason to rejoice at God’s great blessings in bringing these new…


DAY 01 – JAN 19, TUE:

Tour members meet in Chicago for our British Airlines flight to London. Flight leaves at 9:45 p.m. After a brief touchdown and change of planes, we depart London—Heathrow for a very quick stop in Istanbul, Turkey. We are scheduled to arrive at 2:00 a.m. Jan 19 we will do some sightseeing, but also catch up on some sleep.
We arrive in Tel Aviv where we are met by our agent who assists us through customs and security. We are then transferred to our motorcoach for our drive to the Gali-lee. Welcome dinner and overnight in Galilee, Tiberias area.

There is nothing quite like watching a sunrise in the Gali-lee from our hotel. We begin our sightseeing with our first stop at the Mt. of Beatitudes (Matt. 5-7), with time for reflection and worship. From here we make our way…

Water into blood and water into wine

Here are some thoughts that didn’t make it into Sunday’s sermon.

The Old Testament lesson for the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany is the account of Moses turning the water of the Nile River into blood. The first of the ten plagues God used to get the Israelites out of Egypt.

Exodus 7:14-24 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Pharaoh's heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go. 15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he goes out to the water. Wait on the bank of the Nile to meet him, and take in your hand the staff that was changed into a snake. 16 Then say to him, 'The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the desert. But until now you have not listened. 17 This is what the LORD says: By this you will know that I am the LORD: With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. 18 The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not b…

The Baptism of Our Lord

The Holy Gospel for the celebration of the Baptism of Our Lord for the first Sunday after Epiphany: The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. 16 John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." 21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." (Luke 3:15-17, 21, 22)

When Jesus was baptized, the heavens were opened. They were opened not to let the Holy Spirit out to descend in th…

"I am baptized!"

On Wednesday, I brought Cameron, who is a first grader here at Wisconsin Lutheran School, up to the baptismal font to speak to him about his upcoming baptism. I explained that I would make the sign of the cross on his head and heart to mark him as a child of God. Then I would pour water on his head and baptize him. I asked him if he had any questions. He asked, “So do I get a tattoo on my forehead?”

What a great way to remember your baptism! When the pastor made the sign of the cross over your head and heart so many years ago, you were tattooed. God can see your tattoo of the cross. It marks you as a redeemed, blood-bought, washed and sainted, child of God. No one can take that away from you. Now you live like a redeemed, blood-bought, washed, sainted and tattooed child of God.

But others should be able to see your tattoo as well. When they hear the words that come from your mouth, when they listen to the music on your I-pod, when they read what you email and text and twitter, when th…