Tag Archives: Kansas

Walking around blind

UntitledThis past month I had the opportunity to drive 11 hours west to speak at a church in Western Kansas.  They have been friends and supporters of ours for many years and are truly a blessing to our ministry.  We have known each other now through two pastors, we have done outreaches together, and we even took a congregational field trip to The Creation Museum with them several years ago.  I never dreamed that I would be willing to drive through Kansas for anyone, but for them, it’s a privilege.

Actually, though, there was a time when Kansas was a state I just had to close my eyes (metaphorically), grit my teeth (actually) and just get through.  I’m from Colorado, right in the foothills of the mighty Rocky Mountains, and for reasons I can only guess (namely, meeting my wife), I attended an old family school “back east” in Ohio.  So many times I found myself driving through Kansas, eyes closed and teeth gritted.  Flat, featureless and really, really long!  And it doesn’t help that once, while still in high school, my mother, grandmother and I drove to that same college to attend a building ground breaking, and on the way, broke down.  We were in a 1970 Toyota Corona with two Israeli flags emblazoned across the back window, when we broke down in Mankato, Kansas. (My mother would never take the highway.) The fellow at the station said, “Well, I’m gonna have to go all the way to Salina to get parts for this” (you fill in the accent).  A week later, we were finally on our way, and somehow still made the ground breaking.  But my disdain for Kansas was born that week!

Since then, I have become a believer in Jesus, and have learned to see beauty in all of God’s creation.  And since my friendship with Redeemer Lutheran Church in Atwood, have gotten to drive through Kansas many more times.  I’ve driven through the Flint Hills in blizzards, through rain and drought, and even with blazing fires all around me!  Every time I marvel at the beauty of the region, along with the high plain and the beautiful prairie.  This last time was in the season of that “New Spring Growth Green,” and it was just as beautiful as always.  How could I have taken this for granted?

I wonder how many times we’ve gone through our lives busy, disdainful, taking the things around us for granted.  This isn’t just about beauty in nature, but beauty in people too.  It is so easy today to look around and see nothing but rotten, no good people.  But we have to remember that in every one of those people all around us, there is the breath of God.  Psalm 33 reminds us that “The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.”  This is the same God that “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).  Please don’t take them for granted.  And God sends us to give them the truth, He who is “the way, and the truth, and the life,” Jesus!  Don’t close your eyes and grit your teeth.  Just look around.  Otherwise, you may miss something beautiful.

http://www.BurningBushLCMS.org http://www.ChaivShalom.com https://www.facebook.com/ChaivShalom/


Symphony in the Flint Hills

shapeimage_2One of the things I really enjoy doing is to help other congregations with outreach ideas and training. This last month, I had the opportunity to help a group of churches in Eastern Kansas with an outreach they wanted to do during the “Symphony in the Flint Hills.”

It seems that every year, the Kansas City Symphony has a concert somewhere in rural Kansas. This year they played in the Flint Hills region of Eastern Kansas, with a concert that they titled “Music on the Prairie in harmony with Nature.”

Thousands of people come to these concerts, so it’s a good opportunity for rural churches to get the message out to the visitors, as well as to those local people who attend. One of my former students is a pastor in McFarland, KS, and he, along with four other churches, put together an outreach initiative that they accompanied with an opportunity to spread the gospel with an event they called, “Preaching on the Prairie.” They invited Rev. Wallace Schultz to preach, and invited me to write a couple of gospel tracts and to send a team to help them with the weekend.

So I wrote a tract for the “Preaching…” event, and one for the “Symphony…” event. (Both can be seen on our website if you are interested.) I had already been scheduled somewhere else for that weekend, but I sent Rev. Brad Aldrich and a team of volunteers to Eastern Kansas to help. (It is so nice to have other staff to rely on when I am not available!) Brad is an evangelist called to Lutherans in Jewish Evangelism, and helps coordinate outreach events here in St. Louis with our congregation. He and his team handed out about 2000 tracts during the weekend, and Brad engaged in “street preaching” during a festival in Alta Vista, KS that weekend.

All in all, it was a good opportunity to show how ministries can work together to accomplish outreach goals. Brad is continuing to work in Eastern Kansas, partnering with campus ministries there to reach out to students, and I will be going back next spring to lead a regional Seder there. If you have any interest in doing something similar for events in your area, give me a call, and let’s talk about how we might work together for the sake of sharing the Gospel in your community. Be blessed and stay cool!

http://www.ChaivShalom.com http://www.BurningBushLCMS.org

The Sunflower State et. al.,

shapeimage_2I think I have been “short-sighted” about a few things during the course of my ministry. I’m sure there are many other things I am short-sighted about, but one that glares at me recently is the desire for our ministry in many places around the country. Let me explain…

Our ministry has a long-term goal of a branch of our ministry in every city in the U.S. with a Jewish population of over 20,000. I know that this is an artificial number and that all Jewish people everywhere are in need of the gospel, but we had to start somewhere. What this left us to “start” with is 39 cities in the United States. Currently, we have four branches in four of those cities. Obviously, we have a long way to go.

But, what I have been short sighted about is the desire for learning and outreach in other than those 39 major cities. As an example, we have a partner church in Western Kansas that wants to start a branch of our ministry. Trust me, Western Kansas is not on the list. But in their own words, “hey, we go to Denver for shopping, dining and football games, why not evangelism?” Denver is definitely on the list! And since I have had a tough time getting ministry going in Denver, why not from Western Kansas?

I was reminded again by a church in Waterloo, Iowa last weekend. Iowa doesn’t even show up on the radar of most demographic studies where Jewish people are concerned, yet I met several people who know Jewish people and want to learn how to share the gospel with them. One such lady shared with me that a member of her family had converted to Judaism and asked me to pray with her about this family member.

What this all tells me is that while I need to focus on the larger areas of the country, I can’t forget those wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ who want to start work too! In Iowa, we’re starting a “Messianic Friendship group” (basically a small-group bible study) where they will start learning about Jewish people and better ways to share. I’m excited! Would you like to start one too?