Friday, April 29, 2011

Our Easter Photo

This is us down at the beach after sunrise service on Easter Sunday.


We had a joyous Easter celebration last weekend. We gathered down at the beach at sunrise and heard about God's great work in raising Jesus from the dead. We celebrated the promise of new life, forgiveness and love through drama, song and message.

Our service concluded down at the edge of the beach as I waded into the lagoon to baptize eight people. Being a Lutheran I have never baptized anyone by full immersion. We aren't against it, we just don't seem to build anything but a small bowl into our sanctuaries. It was a wonderful experience to baptize in the lagoon, it felt like being immersed in the biblical story since Jesus was baptized in a natural body of water. Also the biblical imagery of baptism seems to come more alive as someone is fully immersed, the old self is drowned, while the new self emerges cleansed, freed and Spirit led. It all fit so well with the way Eugene Peterson translates Romans 6 in The Message.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

mission blessing

As many of you know we live and work on an Army base. My function on the base is related to providing religious support to the people who live and work here. Most of the time that ministry looks like any other civilian pastor's ministry. Occasionally I get the opportunity to do things that aren't in the scope of most civilian pastor's ministry.

A few weeks ago was one of those functions. We had a mission here, which is a big deal for us and the last few missions they haven't had a "mission blessing". This mission they decided that they wanted to have a mission blessing. I was asked by one of our church members who is one of the mission leaders if I would go to one of the other islands where a key part of the mission was taking place and bless the mission.

I joked with a few people that I was pretty sure that mission blessings aren't in a Lutheran pastor's Occasional Services book. I was honored to be asked and I accepted the offer and was able to bless the mission and the people there.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maundy Thursday

The chapel pulsed with the activity of people entering. Those who know each other sat close and spoke in hushed tones as the pianist played some background music. The crowd wasn't large but it was a week night with lots of other things to draw people. The new style of service kept people a little unsure as they waited to see what would happen after the pianist stopped.

She stopped and a man came out from the sound room with his acoustic guitar. He plugged in and stepped up to the mic with a sense of humility and desire. He started playing a song by David Crowder, "How He Loves Us". The talking stopped, the unease faded away as people simply received the offering.

Not too long into the song it was clear that people weren't just hearing a song or listening to a musician. They were experiencing love. Not just any love but God's great love for them. The words spoke into their hearts and set them aflame with the love that only Christ can give, it was a time of ministry and care. The musician seemed to be receiving as much as he was giving, if not significantly more. Some were trying to keep their eyes dry since crying in church isn't done.

Thus the night was set, God loves us.....

Later we heard about this love, how he took off his outer cloak, wrapped a towel around himself and began to wash the feet of those who had followed him as teacher for the last three years. One protested but relented and those who were there learned that greatness in the kingdom is service. The greatest in the kingdom of God are servants since the Lord, whose heart beat only for love served.

Those who bear the name of their Lord, Christian serve each other and love their neighbor and are therefore a witness to the love we received in opening of our worship last night.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Underwater Easter Eggs

Over the weekend I participated in the annual Kwajalein Scuba Club's underwater Easter Egg hunt. My buddy and I found our fair share and won some prizes. It was fun to participate in the event. I thought where else but on Kwaj. During the hunt I also saw a manta ray which was really cool and we saw a little larger one yesterday.

Friday, April 15, 2011


The national leadership of the denomination I am a part of met recently and when I reviewed their report I noticed something interesting to me. I noticed how it lacked balance. Here is the cliff notes of what they talked about:

Social Statement on Genetics
Social Statement on Criminal Justice
Social Statement on Justice for Women
Message on Persons Living with Disabilities
Message on Mental Health Issues
Malaria Campaign
Budget Restructuring
Joint Mission Statement with the AME Zion Church

Outside of the necessary governance issues notice how the rest of the issues are social justice related. There is nothing wrong with social justice, it is a necessary component to Christian discipleship. However it is only a component.

The Renovare movement lifts up six historic movements of the Christian Church and they suggest we live a balanced life. There is a movement from the UK called lyfe that takes up these six areas and calls them six challenge zones.

The six challenge zones are

1. Withdrawing and praying (Still lyfe)
2. Living a holy life (Real lyfe)
3. Empowered and filled with the Spirit (Spirit lyfe)
4. Memorizing, quoting and teaching Scripture (Word lyfe)
5. Working for justice, peace and wholeness (Just lyfe)
6. Integrating faith and everyday life (Whole lyfe)

I think that individuals and congregations need to think about living a balanced Christian life and when we do that there is a sense of harmony that develops. When we practice the six zones we begin to discover that the zones are connected and interrelated. This then gives a dynamic quality to our discipleship and living.

Below is the link to the lyfe sessions. They are an easy way to get some understanding of the challenge zones and they have good tools for group study.


Monday, April 11, 2011


Our visiting Catholic priest shared this quote from Herbert McCabe and I thought I would pass it along.

"God never changes his mind about you. He is simply in love with you. What he does again and again is change your mind about him."

Odds and Ends

Just thought I would post a few odds and ends about what we are up to....

Gavin starts soccer tomorrow. They practice once a week for about 45 minutes and they focus exclusively on skill building and fun which is great for the 3-4 year olds. The guy who coaches is in his 20s and the kids love him so we are excited for him to begin soccer. He is also in preschool three days a week in the afternoon and he seems to really like it. We are happy he is engaged and also this week Kim is looking forward to some time alone at the house.

Sophie finished Spring break this week and we had a good week. She had lots of time with her friends and time at the beach and just resting from school. She isn't playing soccer this time but we have been playing a little tennis and I am hoping to get her on the court once a week. She seems to really like it and she is at a great age to learn.

Kim really enjoys the hobby shop here on island. This is a place where people work with wood or clay. They have classes and complete projects. She has taken Sophie for the kids classes and she just completed her first project a few weeks ago. She made a really cool bowl that is wonderful blue tone with great designs. There is a class coming up in a few weeks on clay pouring she will take.

I was able to make 3 boat dives over the weekend, two on the ocean side and one on a wreck in the lagoon. It is a phenomenal experience. While in the lagoon we saw a shark and a sea turtle in addition to checking out the wreck of a large ship. The reef on the ocean side is spectacular in it's beauty and abundance of marine life. Seems like there are countless fish of so many varieties. I can see why people enjoy diving so much and why so many of them get into underwater photography. In this case pictures are worth a thousand words.

Overall I think we are well, we miss our family, friends and some of the simple things like going to Starbucks but we are learning to simply be in this place while we are here.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Yesterday I became an certified open water scuba diver! This is something I have wanted to do since I was a boy and this is a great place to learn to dive. One of the members of my congregation is a NAUI instructor and so I took his class and had a great time. He is a very good instructor and very thorough which is great. I feel like I have been given great fundamentals to build on.

The dives we did were great and it was amazing to see the beauty of the ocean and God's creation in a totally new way. I am told that there are some amazing opportunities to dive here and many people on the island dive and have tons of experience. It was a pretty special day for me yesterday. My instructor took some photos and I will try to post one when he gets it to me.

Friday, April 1, 2011

More on Gratitude

I wanted to highlight a comment on the last post because it shows how gratitude can transform our daily living. Here is the comment

I was feeling slighted about a situation that happened at work yesterday, and still feeling angry about it this morning. Your comments on gratitude were just what I needed to hear; as I read it and began to feel gratitude for the many, many blessings of God in my life, I could literally feel the anger falling away and being deposited at the foot of the cross. God reminded me how important it was to have the right attitude about the situation, which first acknowledged and trusted Him to ultimately bring good out of it. It's funny how so many "important" slights can literally fade away in the light of God's love!

Practicing gratitude helps so much with being judgemental. We are prone to judge and Jesus clearly commands us not to judge (Matthew 7:1-5). One of the way in which we can learn not to judge is to think about one or two things we are thankful for in the person we are tempted to judge. As we think of the things we are thankful for in the person we find that we are getting a fuller picture of the person and not just focusing on the bad parts of the person.

The next step in learning not to judge is to pray for the person. We become mindful of the thing(s) we are thankful for and then move into asking God to bless the person. We don't ask God to make them like we want them to be. Instead we simply intercede before the Lord on their behalf. The combination of gratitude and prayer is very powerful in transforming our human relationships.

From this point we are in a place to asses the persons behavior and how it impacts our life. Now we are no longer working from anger or malice, instead we are grounded in prayer and thankfulness. From this place we are now free to act in love and make appropriate choices. I would also bring in a mature friend who can discern with us the next steps.

Gratitude melts our anger, gives us clearer vision, allows us to make prayerful choices that are based in love and not hate. Again we start simply where we are and thank the Lord for what is now.