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Showing posts from 2013

A Week to Celebrate!

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What a week! Tuesday evening the Common Council gave us a tremendous Christmas present when they voted in approval of our Loomis Rd plans. I’ve been overflowing with thanksgiving all week long, but I haven’t run out of thanks yet. So just in case you haven’t heard it from me… I want to thank all of you who attended, spoke, prayed about, or voted for such a favorable outcome!

What this means is that we have a bright future here in Franklin for many years to come. We’ll soon be closing on the Loomis Rd property and continuing the process of working towards our permanent church home. I’m excited to move forward with our next steps and our ongoing discussions with Kayla’s Krew. We’ll have 15 beautiful acres of land (about 7 of which are buildable). If it works out best for them we’re happy to freely provide a portion of it for the community to come and build a playground where all families and kids are welcome regardless of ability or background.

In the spirit of making a d…

Victory News - God With Us

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What is it like to feel alone? I can only imagine that it feels a lot like being in a sunken ship at the bottom of the ocean. Incredibly, that’s where one man found himself a week ago. Did you hear his story? It’s amazing. The boat Harrison Okene was in sank. For 60 hours he lay inside at the bottom of the ocean. There was just a small pocket of air for him to breathe. It was cold. It was dark. He was alone.

Except that he wasn’t.

God was with him. And he knew it. Psalms that he had memorized ran through his mind (I’ll bet he was thankful for whoever told him it was worth the effort to commit Scripture to memory!). Prayers raced over his tongue. He cried out to God. He prayed for God’s will to be done. And then, amazingly, he was rescued. Here’s what he had to say about the whole ordeal yesterday in an interview. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should really watch it. He talks about how his hope, his trust, his confidence were in God even when he felt alone.

Now there are…

Victory News - Moving Forward!

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So many of the songs we hear on the radio contain stories of unfaithfulness and brokenness—the stories that are so common to us all. But Christmas sings of a God of faithfulness who kept the most precious promise of all. In our new series starting this Sunday, called My Christmas Playlist, get ready to be inspired by the sacred songs and promises of a God who is determined to win us over with his faithful love.

Live From Bethlehem! This Sunday is our Bible Quest Kids’ Christmas pageant. This is a special opportunity for everyone to hear the Christmas story told in a fun, creative way by our Bible Quest kids. This Sunday therefore we will have a special Sunday morning schedule. The Bible Quest kids will join us in theater #1 for their 35 minute pageant which will start promptly at 9:30. Then I’ll be preaching a sermon to kick off our My Christmas Playlist series. So basically Sunday will look like this: pageant, sermon, offering, blessing, song, and then “So long, everyone!”

Relax, the Right Way

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Make sure you relax.

That’s good advice heading into Thanksgiving.

That’s perhaps not such good advice heading into the end of the world.

After four weeks, this Sunday I’ll be wrapping up our series How To Survive the End of the World. For some reason I thought I’d try and see if there’s anywhere in the Bible where you can find the word “relax”. I thought it’s got to be in there somewhere. But it’s actually kind of hard to find. In fact you have to diligently search a variety of English translations to find the word “relax” anywhere in the Bible.

One place I found it was in the ESV translation of Luke 12:19 where Jesus tells a story about a man often referred to as “the rich fool.” In Jesus’ story this man hatches a plan to tear down his barns so that he can build bigger ones to hold all his stuff. He’s pretty satisfied with himself over all that he’s accomplished, all that he’s accumulated, and all that he has planned. So he says to himself, “Soul, you have ample goods l…

Encourage One Another With These Words

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150 years ago this week President Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg address. People didn’t regard it very highly at the time. Yet it’s endured over time as one of the finest, most frequently quoted speeches in American history. Set against the dark landscape of the Civil War, Lincoln’s words gave people something to hold onto. A vision of freedom. Words of hope to outlive the deaths of all the soldiers who died.

Interestingly it’s only about 270 words long. Takes about 2 minutes to read out loud. That makes it only a little longer than the words of the sermon text from the Bible that I’ll be preaching on Sunday!  (I’m also aware today that Lincoln’s speech is significantly shorter yet infinitely more memorable than any of my blog posts.)

Yet the words that God has to share with us this coming Sunday will outlive President Lincoln’s speech. In fact they will outlive our nation’s government of the people, by the people, and for the people. They will outlive every blogge…

Victory News - Replenish

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It was healthy to be able to get away and enjoy some time with family and good friends but it’ll be so good to be back with you this Sunday. Thankfully I hear that church at Victory of the Lamb last Sunday went just fine without me, in fact much better than the Packers’ game that Sarah and I went to!

Before the game though we had the opportunity to worship at St. Mark in De Pere. We got to hear a great sermon on love as part one of a series they were starting called Relationships: Handle with Care. It was neat also to be in their newer church building designed more for modern communication and ministry. (I’m taking notes everywhere I go.)

If you were at Victory of the Lamb or you watched online, Ben Reichel, our student assistant, kicked off our new sew series How to Survive the End of the World. What a heady title that is, huh!?

I thought Vicar Ben did a great job introducing us to this series by taking us into a book of the Bible called Matthew where Jesus was talking. Ther…

How To Survive the End of the World

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“The Book of Eli,” “The Darkest Hour,” “Contagion,” “The Day After Tomorrow.” The list of doomsday movies that Hollywood produces is incredible. Yet they keep coming. There’s something about these end of the world stories that fascinates us, frightens us, and keeps us coming back for more. The theme that inspires is survival. Against all odds, when all hope is lost, humanity grabs hold of courage, defies the enemy, and turns the tide.

What Hollywood won’t show is the real end of the world story or how the victory is won. The end is coming. For some it will be a day of judgment and destruction, grief and pain like nothing even seen or imagined before. The Bible calls this “eternal death.” But for others the end of the world will mark the beginning of a new life where pain and trouble will cease forever. The Bible calls this “eternal life.”

When the last day comes… on which side of the fence are you going to be on? How will you survive the end of the world?

The good news is t…

Victory News - God Is Our Refuge

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Wednesday morning I awoke early—around 4 am. No, it wasn’t because our foster daughter was crying. It was because I was. At least...I was in my dream. Suddenly wide awake however I felt sick to my stomach. The quickly fading memory of the dream, and the feelings that went along with it, were still fresh.

We were in an urban area—my family and I. But we got separated. There was an earthquake. Buildings collapsed all around us. Kaboom! One of my daughters was gone. I couldn’t find her. She was buried alive. It was sorrow overwhelming. I was weeping. All of a sudden the world around me starting spinning out of control like it was being sucked into a black hole.

Then I woke up. Heart pounding. Sick to my stomach. Sweating.

Until I went to one of my “go-to” verses which says, fittingly, God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea” (Psalm 46:1-2). God us…

Victory News - Life to the Full

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Ah, the good life. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Isn’t that why we invest so much time and energy into the relationships that we think will make us feel fulfilled? Isn’t that why we try and surround ourselves with the things that we think will make us feel happy? Isn’t that why we get up and go to work—so that we can experience and enjoy the good life? And if not now, then later, right? Because God wants us to be happy, doesn’t he? Eventually…maybe…hopefully?

Ah, the good life. It’s downright elusive even though it seems everyone’s trying to find it. Fortunately God knows just how to fill our empty hearts and lives with a gift that’s far better. Not necessarily the good life the way we might be inclined to think of it, but a full life.

Life to the full.

That’s what I’ll be talking about this Sunday as we continue our series Bridging the Gap and plumb the depths of what Jesus meant when he said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may …

Victory News - Bridging the Gap

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Is there a reality beyond what we can see? If there is, can we really know what it is?

So many people want to find and understand the “supernatural.” But to know if anything exists - and what - beyond the reality we live in, we need to hear from someone who has bridged the gap between that natural and supernatural.

Enter Jesus.

He came to bridge the gap between our yearning for God and truly knowing who God is.

In our new series starting this Sunday we will listen to the words of Jesus who came into our world as the Word.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

New Bible 101 Starting Soon. Bible 101 is the starting point for anyone who wants to investigate what Christianity is all about, anyone who wants to explore what the Bible says, anyone who has spiritual questions, or anyone who is interested in taking the first steps to becoming a member of…

Victory News - Living By Faith

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Who can show us any good?

Don’t you feel that way sometimes as you scan the headlines, listen to the news, or participate in a workplace discussion of current events? Who can show us any good?

That question is certainly a contemporary one, but it has also been around a looooong time. People at the time of David around 1,000 B.C. were asking it (cf. Psalm 4:6). People at the time of Habakkuk around 600 B.C. were asking it (cf. Habakkuk 1:2-4). I’m sure people long before then speaking different languages in different places were asking it too, just like people today.

Fortunately, God has an answer for us. When bad things happen in this world, when we feel surrounded by danger and evil, we know that we have God’s promises to protect us as we live by faith. That’ll be the focus tomorrow as we wrap up our series “Me without You.”

A big thank you to everyone who helped make our Fall Festival last Saturday a success despite the flash flood warnings that were texted to us! I was gen…

Victory News - God's Perfect Love Drives Out Paranoid Fears

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Taking others’ words and actions in the worst possible way coupled with a failure to trust God and his promises, sets the scene for irrational fear and suspicion in our lives. What burdens could be lifted if we simply put our trust in God and his promises!

This Sunday we’ll see how we can absolutely do that. We’ll learn about our status before God so that we can be secure in our relationship with him and then also with others.  His perfect love for us drives out fear.

“Hello, my name is child of the one true King…and his name sure isn’t Saul!”

Tomorrow’s our Fall Family Festival from 2-5pm at Lions Legend Park here in Franklin. It’s the park just east of City Hall, just southeast of the Franklin library. I hope you all can make it! It looks right now like there’s a good chance of rain. But that’s ok. Bring an umbrella, join us under the pavilion, and then have fun taking a tour of Franklin’s historical village right next door. The Franklin Historical Society will be giving…

Victory News

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Dear Friends,

The last two weeks for me have been joyfully busy. I’m as excited right now for the future of our church as I’ve ever been! I’m also happy therefore in the midst of the busyness to welcome back to VotL this Sunday our friend Caleb Schultz. Caleb is one of the Fide band members who helped out at our soccer camp this August and preached for me. As a second year student at the Seminary, Caleb needs to have an Old Testament sermon video recorded for reviewing with his homiletics professor. We just happen to have a series that I could work him into for that. So this Sunday Caleb’s going to continue our series “Me Without You” with a message based on the prophet Amos. It’s a message from an ancient prophet that I think you’re actually going to find very relevant to our world and your lives today.
Tonight I finished up with another Bible 301 group. Congratulations to Rick, Sue, Jordan and Kristina for completing my whole Bible 101-301 course! What this means then t…

Victory News - LIVESTRONG in the LORD

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Superman. Iron Man. Samson.

All…vulnerable.

Kryptonite. A weak heart. Philistine women.

What about you?

This Sunday as we continue our series “Me Without You” we’ll learn an important lesson from the story of Samson in the Bible (Judges 13-16) regarding the nature of true strength. We’ll see a man who was given the gift of superhuman strength become incredibly weak when he failed to acknowledge and glorify God as the Giver. We’ll learn that you can only live (and die) strong in the Lord Jesus Christ. As I used to sing as a child, “We are weak, but He is strong!” (from the children’s song “Jesus Loves Me This I Know”)

Don’t think you need to hear this message? You think you’re good enough, tough enough, strong enough, (dare I say it for some of you) man enough to hold it together on your own without God? Well then I challenge you with these words: “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12)

Come this Sunday and learn how you …

Week Two of Me Without You

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Come to Victory of the Lamb this Sunday and you will learn how to sin and get away with it.

Well, at least that’s what Aaron and Israelites sort of thought that they could do in Exodus chapter 32—for a while anyway.

But come on, be honest. Isn’t it crazy how deep down there’s something inside of you that would love for my first sentence up above to be true? (That something is what the Bible calls the sinful nature. I know because I’ve got one too.)

After all as human beings we like to have good reasons for everything we do, don’t we? Usually we can manufacture some sort of good sounding reasons. I’ve been under a lot of stress lately. Everybody else is doing it.  It’s not like it’s hurting anybody else. 
If we didn’t have good reasons, we wouldn’t do it, right? And so over time we become quite accomplished at coming up with clever ways of covering up, rationalizing, or simply explaining our choices in ways that make sense to us.

Yet when we start coming up with “good reasons” …

Me Without You

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There’s a song that some of you may have heard if you listen to Christian contemporary music. It’s called “Me Without You” by the hip hop-rock-pop musician Toby Mac. The song attempts to answer the question about God, “Where would I be without You?”

In our series starting this Sunday, we’re going to answer that very question too by digging into some Old Testament scriptures. Our back-to-school series brings us face to face with the spiritual weaknesses that plagued the Bible’s heroes and villains of old.


What’s amazing is how incredibly contemporary their stories are. As their stories speak to our own individual life stories, our comfort is Jesus, who alone can rescue us from both the guilt and the tyranny of our sinful nature.

That’s why the New Testament encourages us that everything that was written in the past was written for our benefit, “so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

Come find …

Victory News - Peace Through Jesus

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Last Sunday was a full day. In the morning we got to worship together as a church family and we had so many first time guests with us at church. In fact I got to reply to ten new connection cards this week and have already set up a couple follow-up meetings with people where I’ll get to talk more with them. It doesn’t get much better than that. God be praised! For a lot of reasons I am as excited about the future of our church as I’ve ever been.

Sunday evening also gave us another reason to praise God. After bravely battling brain cancer over the course of a year or so, Sarah’s Mom finally received the eternal victory won for her by Jesus our Savior. Our daughter Lydia pretty well summed it up when she said she felt, “A little happy. A little sad.” We will miss Mom so very much. I cannot in so few words say just how much she meant to all of us and what an inspirational example she was to so many.

But what joy it gives us to know that she is now forever free and at peace i…

Victory News - Everyone Needs Compassion

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One of my favorite lines from the soccer camp video that I made was when Coach Caleb is talking about compassion and he says, “Compassion is like loving somebody when they need love a lot.” (It’s true!)

Again this Sunday we’re going to get a chance to see just how much compassion Jesus has because he is the friend of sinners. Go ahead and read Luke 7:36-50 ahead of time. Think about the courage and the conviction that it took for the sinful woman to enter the Pharisees' house.

When we understand the true depth of our own sinfulness, then we can’t help but marvel at the magnitude of Jesus’ compassion and love for us too. It’s really this kind of deep appreciation for Jesus’ love that makes us want to be a church that welcomes sinners and shows them compassion too just like Jesus did.
This week I met with Ben Reichel. Ben’s going to be our new Student Assistant, or Senior Vicar, this school year. I’m excited to introduce him to you this Sunday. Ben just got back from ser…