Showing posts from 2011

Operation Jesus Cares - The Christmas Project

Today was a day I'll never forget. It was a day our church family stepped up and got to reflect the generous heart of God in a real world kind of way. I am so proud of our suburban church for having the desire and willingness to serve and show the love of Jesus in an urban setting. We partnered with the students from Christ-St. Peter school on the south side of Milwaukee to help them make a difference in their community. We supplied the contents for 233 care packages which the kids packaged throughout the day and delivered to their neighbors. It was a tremendous day! Many people's lives were touched and transformed by the love of Christ. Thank you, everyone! Check out the video I made from today. Merry Christmas and God bless you all!

Still a Go at Showtime

This past week Showtime Cinema here in Franklin was recently acquired by Marcus Theatres. A lot you have been wondering, "What does this mean for Votl?"

Well the good news is that it sounds like nothing major's going to change for us. I got to meet with the new general manager today this week. He knew our church met there and is happy to have our church continue to meet there. He seems like a great guy. Marcus Theatres have a history of being welcoming to churches. I was given a new key to get in the building. I took that as a good sign!

So...I know some of you were praying about the situation and I want to thank you for that. Some of you asked, "Are we going to have church on Sunday?" And the answer of course is Yes!

God has taught me personally a lot over the past five years of starting a church from scratch and I can honestly say I wasn't really sweating this one. As always Jesus is at the right hand of the Father working out all things for …

I'm Staying!

Thank you for all your prayers, texts, phone calls, and conversations over the last couple weeks as I deliberated my call to serve as the pastor of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Madison. I can only describe the last couple weeks as a time of intense wrestling with God. Their vision to reach their rapidly changing and diverse urban neighborhood is compelling and urgent.

However, after prayerful wrestling, deep soul searching, and many long conversations...yesterday I announced my decision to stay at Victory of the Lamb and continue to share Christ's victory here in Franklin with you. I am so thankful to God for all that’s he’s done through us here and I look forward to seeing what more we can accomplish by his power and grace.

I do believe this whole call process has been healthy for all of us to go through. I believe through this call process that God has given me many insights not only about myself but about our mission here in Southeastern Wisconsin. Undoubtedly this is one r…

Come Learn About Grace

You know someone who struggles to comprehend grace or doesn't think it could possibly apply to them? You'll want to invite them to come with you to church this Sunday at Victory of the Lamb. Don't miss out on the message that I'll be preaching based on Jesus' parable of the workers in the vineyard.

Worship is at 9:30. Come earlier at 8:30 for Bible study. I'd love to have you come even earlier at 7:30 to help set up and learn how to help take everything down after church.

I look forward to sharing God's Word with you on Sunday. I hope to see you there.

Against the Flow

How is it that messed up people with histories can have a place in the church while others, maybe those outside the church, look inside and think how bad those people are? That's what Jesus is going to help us find out as we begin our new Fall series this Sunday: Parables That Go Against the Flow. Hope we have a big crowd. Invite a friend!

See the a hero

Sin ambushes people sometimes—even people who are our brothers or sisters in Christ, our friends, our partners in ministry. It traps them under enemy fire so to speak and who’s going to help them get out to a place of spiritual safety if not you? Come to VotL tomorrow as I wrap up our series A Time For Heroes. Now is the time. Heroes help their friends get out.

Don't Forget 9/11

Where were you when…? That’s usually a question people ask when you’ve lived through a shared national experience you couldn’t possibly ever forget. And some things you don’t want to forget. A moon landing. A wall coming down in Berlin. Even a super bowl victory. Some things though we might wish we could forget. Pearl Harbor. A presidential assassination. 9/11.

For my generation there has been no event like 9/11, a day that changed our country’s very way of life and how we see the world. It’s a day so seared into our national memory that we need only those three numbers, 9-1-1, to bring it to mind—even though in many ways it’s a day we’d like to forget.

Yet it’s a day we must not forget. We must remember the victims. We must remember the heroes. To remember them is to honor and value them.

Yet we must also remember the terrorists who took down the Twin Towers in the name of their god. They believed those of us who disagreed with them are infidels. They believed by killing themselves a…

"Power-Packed" Starts Sunday

The big idea: We end the summer by taking a close look at four of the shortest books of the Bible. But don’t let their length fool you. These ancient postcards are packed with timeless truths. Besides revealing some fascinating details about the first century church’s character, they also reinforce the nature of God’s heart. The ink on the postcards is as fresh as if they had just been sent yesterday. Their applications are as personal as if each one was addressed to you.

August 14: Philemon—Restoring the Fallen

In this heartfelt intercession on behalf of a runaway slave Paul helps us see that Christianity does not help a man escape his past by running away from it, but enables him to face it through forgiveness.

August 21: 2 John—Treasuring the Truth

There is a great need in the life of a Christian to balance truth and love. Our challenge is finding and keeping this balance.

August 28: 3 John—Walking Together

“How good and pleasant it is,” the psalmist says, “when brothers live together…

Hallepalooza! Devotion 2011

This is the message I shared at Lions Legend Park here in Franklin this past Saturday, July 23rd:

Hello everyone. What a week! It sure has been a hot outside, hasn’t it? Thankfully a cold front moved in yesterday and we’ve enjoyed a brisk 85 degrees out here today ;) But what do people always say you should do when it’s hot outside? “Make sure you drink lots of...water. Stay hydrated.”

Because what happens when you don’t get enough water? Two weeks ago, runners in Summerfest’s 1st annual Rock ‘N Sole run found out the hard way. 20 runners were taken to the hospital and 50 received emergency medical attention because they didn’t have enough water. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said: "The half-marathon and 10K race turned into a full-fledged emergency when early hydration stations ran out of water and cups. Runners started collapsing in the humid 85-degree heat, and some were unable to get immediate help because of a lack of medical aid stations. No medical aid was available on th…


Hello Friends,
First of all I wanted to give a great big THANK YOU to all the people who participated in the 4th of July parade on Monday...especially to our worship band for hauling all their equipment and playing, the Kiesows for providing our decorated chariot, and to all the incredible volunteers who walked along with the float handing out flyers and candy in the hot sun. Thanks also to everyone who donated candy or supplies for our float. I think I can safely speak for everyone who helped in saying that by the time I got home at 2, I was completely exhausted and it sure felt good to put my feet up!
But it was well worth it. In fact this year we got to be the “Grand Finale” to the parade and that was pretty cool. It's really a lot of fun to be out in the community, interacting with people, and inviting them to our summer events. It's important for us not just to go to church, but to be the church out in the world sharing Christ's victory.
Just a reminder to all of you o…


In my sermon today, I made mention of the fact that I’m not a bumper sticker guy…but I did just recently put a bumper sticker on my ’96 Chrysler for the very first time. I think it’s a very cool twist off of the “coexist” bumper stickers that you see all the time.

One of the neat things about worshiping in a movie theater is that I can use the screen to show imagery and symbolism that teaches the truths of the Bible. In case you missed it this morning (or you haven’t seen my rusty red car driving around Franklin), it looks like this:

I got it from this website. And on this site there’s an informative description of what each of the symbols mean as they tell the story about what makes Jesus Christ unique among all the founders of any religion, philosophy or worldview.

C – The Open Tomb: The first symbol portrays the foundational fact of Christianity: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate proof of Jesus’ divinity and work. Such a tremendous event c…

New Sermon Series

Hello Friends,

Everybody’s got "faith," right? In other words everybody puts their trust in someone or something. Maybe it’s a doctor. Maybe it’s a politician. Maybe it’s a savings account. Maybe it’s their own street smarts. Maybe it’s the words of a particular motivational speaker or a preacher on TV. But let’s be real. When people say, “You just gotta have faith,” what are they saying? Because not all kinds of faith are the same, are they?

Tomorrow at Victory of the Lamb we're starting a sermon series called Radical Faith where we’re going to be talking about faith from a radically different perspective than how a lot of people look at it. We're going to talk about faith with a firm foundation. Faith you can build your future on. We’re going to talk about a solid faith that you can sink your spiritual teeth into. This series is going to search some great stories from the Old Testament so that we can learn that self-confidence is no substitute for Christ-confidence…

What's the Point?

In Spirit and In Truth

Many of you have mentioned to me that you can tell I really enjoy preaching. I do. I get to study a Bible text in the original languages of Greek and Hebrew to prayerfully grasp its meaning. I get to read what others have said about that text throughout the years. I get to ponder how that text relates to life today. I get to take God’s timeless truth and write (actually, it’s type) a message that applies it in timely ways to people where they’re at today—not only to lifelong believers but to brand new ones, seekers, and skeptics too. And then I try my best to memorize that message and deliver it with all the excitement and conviction that the Spirit has worked in me!

Inevitably though one of the things that happens every week is that in studying a text, I uncover many things that don’t make it into that particular Sunday’s sermon. There’s just not enough time to say it all. There never is. So I try and stick to the content that’s most relevant to the theme that I’ve come up with for t…

Freak Out...or Have Faith?

How do you react to change in your life? Do you avoid it? Or do you look for it? Do you resist it? Or do you embrace it? I have one neighbor who has repeatedly told me, “I don’t like change.” It’s definitely true that God has wired all of us with different personalities. Some personality types like to move slowly. Their motto is “Let’s not rock the boat!” or “We’ve never done it that way before so let’s proceed cautiously!”

Other personality types find new possibilities exciting. Their motto is, “Let’s consider the opportunities!” or “Let’s get on with it already!” I think in all these differences you can see God’s wisdom in wiring us all differently. In fact, not only does God give us different personalities, but we also all have different gifts and opportunities that God gives us to evaluate and use in our lives of service to Him.

I think there are 2 basic reactions we can have as God’s people to change. We can freak out...or we can have faith. The truth is that God is always work…

Series Wrap-Up

Yesterday we wrapped up our series “The Me I Want to Be.” I want to encourage you to take the time and listen to the sermon podcast if you missed any of the sermons in this February series that I got to preach over the last couple weeks. They definitely build on each other and I think we’d all benefit to even go back and just listen to them in sequence, maybe by downloading them and listening to them on your way to work, or while running on the treadmill, or while you’re folding laundry in the living room. Remember that you can do this a couple different ways—either by going to our website or by searching for our podcast on iTunes.

In the book of James, he says that we should be “doers of the Word” and not just “hearers of the Word.” Sometimes I think it takes a second time through the content to really get it and then start to apply it. Otherwise James says that we’ll become like a person “who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, imme…

Keep It Real...Repentant

I’m constantly dreaming about how our church can impact our community with the good news of Christ. How can we be a church that engages people who are far from God so that they can see the love of God in us and hopefully even hear about the love of God from us?

Well a lot people would say that churches today need to be more relevant—especially to reach unchurched young adults. But how do you or I become “relevant”? How do you make a church “relevant”? Is trying to be “relevant” even a good idea?

Some people think that in order to become relevant you need to give Christianity an image makeover by altering the Bible’s message so that it’s more popular or provocative. Others think that in order to become relevant you need to make Christianity more cutting edge and technologically cool. As the thinking goes…if you want to reach unchurched people, especially the growing numbers of young people under the age of 30 who are unchurched, you need to be “relevant.”

But what really makes church…

White As Snow

Today is a “weather holiday.” At least so says the Mayor of Milwaukee. And I don’t know about you but so far I’ve been spending my “weather holiday” staring out the window at the snow drifting up to a couple feet all around our house. I’m about to get bundled up to go fire up the snow blower. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this much snow! One friend’s status update said, “Went out with 4 children helping with shoveling duty. Came back with only 3.”

Now I know not everyone likes snow. I’m not the biggest fan personally. But there’s something cool about it when it’s a pristine, white blanket that covers everything. Actually the Bible uses that as a picture for the grace of God who forgives our sins for Jesus’ sake. Just like a blanket of white snow covers the landscape so that it looks pure and white and fresh, so God’s grace covers over all our sins—no matter how dirty or shameful they might be. God once said it like this: "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as…

Mute Musings

As I’m typing this, I can’t talk above a whisper. Literally. I have laryngitis. Since last Sunday night my voice has been missing in action, which, as a a little disconcerting!

I was amazed to hear though that it happens frequently to almost a lot of pastors. At Pastors’ Conference on Monday we joked about how it’s God’s way of making you a better listener. But it reminded me of something. When you were a kid did you ever play a silly game where you asked a question like, “If you had to choose, which ability would you rather lose…seeing, hearing, smelling, talking...those sort of things?” It’s kind of the opposite of the question, “If you could have any super power what would it be?”

As I sit muted this week, I've found myself musing about these types of things and it got me to thinking, “Would other people be happy if I couldn’t talk to them again?” Now I know you’re thinking that’s a ridiculous question. You’re here to listen to me talk every week so you must have a…

Everybody Invites Somebody

This week I’m wrapping up our Ministry Plan for 2011—June 2012. Part of working through a Ministry Plan is reviewing what God has accomplished through us during the previous year. You’ll get to hear about that and see how God has blessed us. One of the things that blew me away was how for the 2nd consecutive year since we’ve moved to Showtime Cinema, our congregation grew by another 33%! Why is that? I’m sure different people can point to various reasons. Let me just give you 2 quick ones that come to my mind:

1) The power of the Holy Spirit working through the gospel message--the good news that Jesus won for us the victory over sin and death. I mean, this is the best news of all time!
2) We are a congregation of inviters!

We invite people because we're excited about our church's mission and our message. We say, “Come and see!” But I think we can do it more. I think I can do it more. I think everybody can invite somebody. I think we haven’t even begun to see what God can do th…