Special Events

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Today’s article could be titled something like: “Reformation, Halloween, All Saints, Mission of Christ Network, Mid-term National Elections, Zion Lutheran Church Walburg Wurstbraten, Legacy Deo Board of Directors, and Legacy Deo Sunday.” There are undoubtedly other special events this week but this list will suffice. I’ll simply call all those listed above “Special Events.”

Much could be said about each of these events and activities. They mean many things to many people. Some are related to Christian mission and ministry organizational operations. Others are fund raisers for charitable causes. Still others are related to civic or governmental entities and offices. Terry and/or I are involved in all of them. I imagine you have your own list as well.

At times I’m inclined to think that if I were to decide not to participate in any or all of these and the numerous other events and activities on my calendar, no one would miss my presence or involvement. Then I realize that if everyone felt that way, no one would show up or participate. Then the worthy causes would not be supported and their objectives would not be accomplished.

Would that be eternally consequential? Perhaps not on the surface. But digging a little deeper produces a reminder that all charitable or governmental causes should be designed to benefit the lives of people. The people who participate feel a sense of fulfillment at having done something meaningful for someone else. The people who benefit from the events in question are blessed in numerous ways, including physically, spiritually, emotionally, and eternally.

So during these days of significant festivals and endeavors, I hope you join me in thanking God for the opportunity to be involved in special events and worthy causes. And join me also in thanking God that those who benefit from these organizations and endeavors will be blessed by such special events and the people whose time and effort make them happen.

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Genuine Refugees or Illegal Immigrants?

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News reports the past several days have shown an estimated 7,000 people, mostly from the Central American countries of Honduras and Guatemala, traveling through Mexico on their way to the United States. Are they to be considered genuine refugees or illegal immigrants?

Internet stories abound, replete with photos of men, women, and children carrying small bags of clothing or other personal possessions. Their facial expressions range from tearful fright to aggressive anger. Many are young men, seemingly traveling with buddies but no identifiable family. Some are young children with mothers or fathers or grandparents or aunts or uncles.

Most are walking. Some are riding on flat bed trailers or in the back of pickup trucks. Some are floating on makeshift rafts or inner tubes on the Suchiate River, the border between Guatemala and Mexico, trying to bypass border officials. Others have torn down barricades at the border between Guatemala and Mexico. Still others wait in line at the border to enter Mexico legally.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. the debate rages on, fueled by approaching mid-term elections and the broad chasm between those who would welcome anyone to our country and those who take a more restrictive approach. Again, are those who seek entry genuine refugees or illegal immigrants? Either way, they are human beings, children of our heavenly Father. There’s no simple solution.

In the mid-19th century my forefathers and foremothers, and very likely yours as well, left their home country and came to America. They traveled on ships, enduring dire conditions throughout the three month voyage. Upon arrival in New York or New Orleans or Galveston, they made their way to what became their new home and eked out a living from the land.

There was little if any public assistance available to our ancestors. They made their own way and became law abiding, tax paying citizens of this country. They pledged their allegiance to the flag and to the values of the United States of America. That was then. This is now. Some in the current immigration caravan surely seek to do the same. What about the others?

What should be our proper response to this humanitarian dilemma? We have laws that govern immigration to our shores. Those laws need to be followed or amended. Not all the immigrants in question are evil people, just folks who seek safety and opportunity to provide basic needs for themselves and their families. We need to do what we can to help them reestablish their lives in our country. That assistance must be provided responsibly.

The Bible is full of encouragement, even commands, for people of God to welcome strangers. It’s much easier to do so when those strangers are genuine refugees, not illegal immigrants.

Driving Hope

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Credit: Wikipedia

In my life I’ve known many people suffering from cancer. It took my father’s life 35 years ago. This debilitating disease affects both patient and family.

One of the greatest challenges faced by cancer patients and their loved ones is the necessity of traveling from home to a major medical center for treatment. Often such facilities are hundreds of miles away in major metropolitan areas with dangerous traffic volume and congestion.

The levels of anxiety, worry, and fear escalate in situations like this. The family member doing the driving is gravely concerned about and fearful for the wellbeing and life of the patient. Add to that the tension brought on by the trip and the result is a predictably high level of stress.

Last year Michael Hohle, truck-driving brother of my longtime friend Dr. Philip Hohle, came up with the excellent idea of what is now called Driving Hope of Texas. The plan is to secure at least one customized van that would be used to transport patients to treatment centers.

The comfortable van will include reclining seats, entertainment system, and on-board restroom. An atmosphere of Christian support, prayer, meditation, and encouragement will bless the ride.

The Mission of Driving Hope is to provide safe, timely, comfortable, affordable, long distance transportation to cancer patients (and their caregiver) by making a round trip from rural communities in Texas to distant treatment centers. Initial service will include the counties of Brown, Mills, Bell, Milam, Comanche, Hamilton, and Coryell, with more routes to be added.

Driving Hope provides neither medical nor counseling services. It is essentially a taxi service, set apart from other transportation options by the difference it will make for clients. The environment of care, comfort, and hope will make the trip as bearable as possible.

Because this is a startup organization, initial funding is needed. To assist in this endeavor, make plans now to attend the Friday, Nov 23 Glimmer of Hope BBQ, Dance, and Auction at Dale’s Essenhaus in Walburg. BBQ plates with sides are $15 and are also available to go.

The evening will include Country and Western music. Wear your boots! Shoppers will be able to pick up Christmas gifts at the live and silent auctions, which will feature many unique items. Few Black Friday deals are as satisfying as simply helping another human being in need.

Normally I do not advertise ministries or organizations in my Perspectives articles. Today I’m making an exception and encourage you to join Terry and me in supporting this worthy cause. Go to https://www.drivinghopetexas.org/ for tickets, online giving, and additional information.

Estate Planning Stories

 

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Here’s a non-serious and perhaps non-factual story about creative estate planning:

Joe was a single guy. He lived at home with his widowed father and worked in the family business. After he found out he was going to inherit a fortune when his sickly father died, he decided he needed a wife with whom to share his fortune.

One evening at an investment meeting he spotted the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her natural beauty took his breath away. “I may look like just an ordinary man,” he said to her. “But in only a few years my father will die and I’ll inherit 20 million dollars.”

Impressed, the woman obtained his business card. Three days later she became his stepmother.

Women are so much better at estate planning than men.

Now here’s a true story on the serious side. Over 30 years ago during my first term of duty with what was then known as Lutheran Foundation of Texas, I assisted a married couple with their estate plan. For a number of reasons they asked LFOT, now Legacy Deo, to serve as executor of their respective estates. He died several years ago. She passed away earlier this year.

In accord with directives in their last will and testament, the Executive Director of LFOT, now known as the Chief Executive Officer of Legacy Deo, is serving as executor. That’s me.

This couple’s estate included a double crypt at a funeral home in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Recently in that state for another reason, I was able to look at this very valuable estate asset. Because the family chose to be buried in Texas, they no longer need the crypt, now for sale.

The funeral home is the most beautiful I have ever seen. The main building is surrounded by well-manicured grounds and acres of bronze grave markers. The interior includes pristine, dignified crypt halls with burial spaces on each side, from floor to ceiling. I was impressed!

It’s my duty to liquidate all assets of this estate, which will then be distributed to the Lutheran congregation of which these two dear folks were members. If you’re interested in more information about crypt location and price, let me know. I’ll be happy to provide the details.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already done so, I strongly encourage you to do what these fine folks did. Take care of the very important matter of estate planning, which is not accomplished simply by marrying a wealthy senior citizen. Planning your estate is a critically significant responsibility that, when accomplished, will bring peace of mind to you and to your family. Legacy Deo can help.

A Different Spirit

It’s pretty hard not to have noticed in recent years, particularly recent months, the depth of division that exists in our country. From vitriolic attacks in social media to public protests on city streets to flag burning incidents outside congressional offices, people are expressing disagreement with one another, with our country, and with its leaders.

It’s not just happening in the political arena. Differences abound in the ecclesiastical realm as well. That’s not new. Disagreements have existed among God’s people since the days of the disciples and apostles.

Shortly after Jesus instituted what we now know as the Lord’s Supper, a dispute arose among his own disciples as to which of them would be considered the greatest (Luke 22:24). After working together as a team Paul and Barnabas separated from each other because they disagreed on whether to include John Mark on a mission journey (Acts 15:36-40).

Fast forward to the 16th century’s embryonic stages of Lutheranism. Disagreements about faith, forgiveness, penance, papacy, and purgatory were prolific and perpetual. Since that time there has been and still is nearly constant contention about what constitutes pure biblical doctrine, particularly regarding practical application of the Christian faith in daily life and church practice.

So today, like many national religious organizations and our nation itself, Lutheran Christians share with one another many quite similar beliefs but some significantly different perspectives on matters of faith and life. Here are examples from two sources, constituents of which are of one mind about many aspects of faith and life but not of one accord on a number of matters:

  • The Lutheran Clarion: “Building faithfulness to true Confessional Lutheranism and a clear voice of Christian concerns against actions and causes which mitigate against faithfulness to the One True Faith.”  Website: http://lutheranclarion.org/
  • Congregations Matter©: “A movement of churches, laypeople and pastors committed to the restoration of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod to its historic roles of strengthening and supporting congregations.”  Website: http://congregationsmatter.org/

Notwithstanding such differences, an overwhelming majority of Lutherans agree on major points of Christian doctrine. Yet freedom from disagreement escapes us. Why is that?

Martin Luther put his finger on a significant causative factor when he said to one of his opponents 500 years ago: “You have a different spirit than we.” I believe he was right. More about that next week. Stay tuned. God bless your day!

Kiss me. I’m Wendish!

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Credit: Jim Nix

Today’s edition marks the beginning of the tenth year of Perspectives. For the past 468 Thursdays at 5:00 a.m. an article has been posted. Each year I ask myself how long I’ll continue meeting this self-imposed weekly deadline, grinding out an article of interest and value to you, my readers.

Last year I expressed that wonderment and received in the mail a beautiful sport shirt with the stars and stripes of our U.S. flag and an unsigned note encouraging me to keep writing. Thank you to the yet unknown anonymous donor. I’m still writing. At least for now. So stay tuned. Here we go.

For years I’ve seen a lapel button that reads: Kiss me. I’m Wendish! To those of Wendish descent, those words are meaningful. For those who have never heard of Wends, they mean absolutely nothing.

Here’s a portion of a brief introduction to Wendish history, written by Ron Lammert and published January 1, 2010 (http://texaswendish.org/): “Who Are the Wends?”

In December of 1854, an English sailing vessel, the Ben Nevis, docked in Galveston harbor loaded with some 500 immigrants from Lusatia, an area in Germany comprising parts of Saxony and Prussia. These immigrants were not the typical lot of Germans, Swedes, Czechs, and Poles who flocked to Texas in the 1850’s seeking cheap land and economic opportunity. This group was different.

It brought a strange new language to the frontier state — the Wendish language. And even more striking, these Slavic pioneers who were to settle in Lee County made the journey from their homeland, not in search of prosperity, but rather in search of religious liberty and the right to speak their Wendish tongue. 

The Wends were descended from a group of Slavic tribes that had developed a common language, and, in the tenth century, occupied much of central Europe. By the 19th century, the Wends had been decimated by conquest and assimilation with other cultures until only a small area along the River Spree was inhabited by true Wends.

The Wendish migration to Texas was impelled, in part, by the Prussian insistence that the Wends  speak and use the German language, even to the extent of Germanizing their names. The oppression of the Wendish minority extended to working conditions, with Wends being denied the right to do the skilled labor for which they were trained.

But most intolerable was the requirement that the Lutheran Wends join the Evangelical Reform[ed] churches in one state-regulated Protestant body. The Wends believed this action would dilute their pure Lutheran faith and, rather than accept this decree, they made plans to immigrate to the New World.

Since those days nearly 164 years ago, Lutheran Christians, including Wends, Germans, and people of other nationalities, have strived to maintain religious freedom and pure biblical doctrine while also endeavoring to proclaim the Christian faith to all who would listen. More about that next week.

Much has been written, especially during last year’s observance of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, about the impact of Martin Luther on the church that bears his name. Last year another important publication made a significant contribution to that body of information.

The book is titled Five Centuries: the Wends and the Reformation. Its 99 pages are beautifully illustrated and very nicely bound. It was published by Concordia University Press in Austin and The Wendish Press in Serbin, Texas. This first Wendish coffee table book, the winner of the Concordia Historical Institute Honorable Mention Award, is available for $26 from the Texas Wendish Heritage Society Museum Bookstore, 1011 County Road 212, Giddings, Texas 78942-5940.

Take a look. I think you’ll like it. And you’ll have the added benefit of a glimpse into the faith of the people of my family’s ancestry. Kiss me. I’m Wendish!

Ministries and Resources

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Before getting into today’s topic I simply must take this opportunity to extend special greetings to Terry’s and my favorite (and only) grandson, Kolby Ryan Keith. This handsome, intelligent, hard-working young man is 24 years of age today. Happy Birthday, dear Kolby! Mimi and I love you more than you’ll ever know. We thank God for bringing you into our lives.

In today’s article I bring to your attention a number of significant ministries and resources:

  • Legacy Deo – Formerly known as Lutheran Foundation of Texas, Legacy Deo’s mission is to inspire giving that impacts life forever. Assistance for individuals, congregations, and organizations with endowments, trusts, gift annuities, donor advised funds, estate planning, and other special giving ideas and insights for faith and family. Website: legacydeo.org
  • Texas District Lutheran Women’s Missionary League – The 40th Biennial Texas District LWML Convention begins today in Waco. For 75 years the national expression of this LCMS auxiliary has provided prayer and financial support for mission activities in the U.S. and around the world. It’s a wonderful organization, worthy of support! Website: lwmltxdist.org
  • Mission of Christ Network – Works with individuals, congregations, entities, and groups to train, send, and support lay workers “To boldly, intentionally and faithfully make known the light, love and peace of Jesus Christ, by word and deed, to those around the world who live in spiritual disbelief, darkness and despair.” Website: missionofchrist.org
  • Pastor 360 – Intensive spiritual, practical, financial, personal leadership coaching for pastors provided by veteran LCMS church leaders named Kieschnick, Knippa, Tucker, Tyburski, Wagner. Helping pastors deal with stress that causes anguish, worry, bewilderment, anger, depression, fear, and alienation. “Making Life and Ministry Better” Website: pastor360.com
  • MinistryFocus – Founded in 2013 to eliminate systemic barriers to ministry, including often burdensome educational debt of pastors and other called workers. When personal debt distracts called workers from their work, congregations suffer. MinistryFocus can help by providing educational loan repayment assistance. Website: ministryfocus.org
  • Ministry Sabbatical Resources – Created to assist in the planning and promotion of Ministry Sabbaticals, a period of time, usually three months, when ministry leaders and congregations set aside the leader’s normal responsibilities for the purpose of rest and renewal toward sustained excellence in ministry. Website: ministrysabbaticalresources.com

These ministries and resources are brought to your attention as a public service. I am personally connected to and supportive of each and hope you find them interesting and helpful. Your support and involvement are encouraged, as the Lord leads, guides, and directs.

God bless your day!