Thursday, September 25, 2014

Victory News - Imitating Christ

“He’s so stuck on himself.”

“She so stuck up.”

At least when I was in high school, when people said things like this about someone, it wasn’t usually a compliment.

I think we all understand that sometimes being stuck can be a form of self-centeredness. When we dwell on ourselves too much we end up comparing ourselves to others in an unhealthy way. So to help all of us get unstuck the Apostle Paul redirects our attention to Christ’s humiliation which alone can produce in us true humility.

Humility isn’t necessarily thinking less about ourselves, but thinking about ourselves less so that we put the interests and needs of others ahead of our own, just like Christ Jesus did for us. Here's what Philippians 2:5-8 says,

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Church Planting Presentation – This Sunday we have invited Pastor Keith Free, the Administrator for the Board for Home Missions of WELS, to give a special presentation on mission churches at the end of our service. So we’ll have a much shortened service to allow for a 10-15 presentation on church planting / starting new churches.

Pastor Free will also be presenting in place of our regular Bible study time from 8:09 am – 8:45 in theater #6. He will be giving a longer more in depth presentation during that time on the blessings God has been pouring out on our mission work together as a synod. We’ll have a projector set up in theater #6 for his presentation in there before church. You all are invited to join us in theater #6 at 8:09. Grab a cup of coffee and some breakfast goodies and join us in hearing about what God is doing all across the country!

Groups are in full swing this Fall. Check out the menu of opportunities on our website to get connected!

Symposium on Preaching – This week Monday and Tuesday I got to be at our Seminary in Mequon for the annual Symposium. Hundreds of pastors from all over came together to listen to papers, to worship, and to have conversations about how we can be better preachers and communicators of God’s Word in our changing world. I especially enjoyed getting to be together with some of my classmates that I haven’t had a chance to see in over 8 years! And if you’ve ever wondered what it sounds like when several hundred pastors and seminarians are all singing together accompanied by the organ and trumpets (one trumpet being played by our student assistant Nathan Loersch by the way) here’s a video someone took from our Tuesday morning worship service.

WFX Conference – This coming week I’ll be spending a couple days in Dallas at a conference that offers education and provides practical hands-on training for all kinds of things related to churches such as  audio-visual technology, lighting, building design and maintenance, volunteer management, building music teams, and more. I’m excited too because there are four of us from VotL going together to maximize what we can take home and apply in our context here in Franklin as we move forward with our building plans for the future.

Fall Festival – Just a quick note that there will be no Fall Festival this coming Saturday. We all need some time to take a deep breath with all that’s going on. Next year we hope to start planning sooner and we’d love to find someone to assume the role of event planner for our Fall Festival. We’ve got it pretty well laid out in terms of all that we’ve done in the past. There are a lot of support people willing to help. We just need someone to rise up and coordinate details next year a couple months before October. Is that you??? Please let me know if you’re interested in doing this next year. I’d be happy to talk about it with you.

Invite Cards – are available from now on at the usher’s table outside theater #1 for you to grab a couple to keep in your wallet. They’re just little business sized cards with our church info on it and an invitation. Use them to invite people you meet during the week to join us on Sundays at VotL. I’m hoping that the Invite Cards will be a convenient way for you to naturally invite people that you meet during the week.

Junior High Confirmation Class – Class got off to a great start this past Sunday. Meets next on Sunday, October 5th in the birthday party room just beyond the Victory café area in the lobby. Please contact Nathan Loersch or Jon Brown-Schmidt if you need more info.

My sermon from our Stuck? series last Sunday can be found here on our website.

Sharing Christ’s Victory,

Pastor Ben

Friday, September 19, 2014

Victory News - Advancing

Last night the Atlanta Falcons defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 56-14. It was pretty clear who won and how the game went even though I didn’t watch it. The score says it all. But to add insult to injury one headline I read proclaims: Falcons humiliate hapless Bucs. Yikes. It’s no fun to lose much less be humiliated. I know, because I’ve been there.

Now maybe you’ve never lost big on the athletic field. But I’m guessing you’ve been there in other ways. Losing. Or at least where you’ve felt like you were losing. At work. At school. At home. Maybe even at life. Ouch. Certainly the apostle Paul when he wrote Philippians which we’re studying in our Stuck? series could very well have said, “That’s me. Losing. I’m stuck like this, a loser.” After all he was stuck in prison for preaching about Jesus and some people on the outside we trying to make his life even more miserable. 

But God gave Paul a way to be unstuck and to win. He changed Paul’s definition of winning. It wasn’t about Paul getting ahead, but about Jesus Christ and the gospel getting ahead. In this way God changed Paul from the inside, giving him joy, as Jesus Christ became larger than his life.
What would it mean if Jesus became larger than yours? I think you might be joyfully surprised. Find out this Sunday as we continue our journey through Philippians together and God helps us get unstuck in life!

Invite Cards – will be available from now on at the usher’s table outside theater #1 for you to grab a couple to keep in your wallet. They’re just little business sized cards with our church info on it and an invitation. Use them to invite people you meet during the week to join us on Sunday at VotL. I’m hoping that the Invite Cards will be a convenient way for you to naturally invite people that you meet during the week. 

Groups have begun for this Fall. Check out the menu of opportunities on our website to get connected! Just a quick note…we had a lot of fun at Whitnall park this past Monday playing flag football! 4 dads + 10 kids. Still plenty of room for more! Just show up this Monday at 6 pm at Whitnall park by the big playground. I’ll bring some Boss sub sandwiches from Pick-N-Save again and some chips. Just bring something for you and your kids to drink. 

Junior High Confirmation Class - Starting This Sunday, September 21st Class will meet in the birthday party room just beyond the Victory café area in the lobby. Please contact Nathan Loersch or Jon Brown-Schmidt if you need more info. 

Teen Bible 101 Class Still trying to settle on a day / time to get started. It’s pretty tricky juggling all the different schedules and teens. Details coming soon. Parents, if you haven’t yet, please give us your input on what days and times would work best for your kids who will be participating.

Things Moving and Shaking Our design task force has been putting in a lot of time honing the inside of the building design, meeting with the architects, and communicating input received from all the various ministry groups in the church for the worship space, the kids area, the lobby, the welcome room, and the Victory cafe. Details are coming together really well. I’m very happy with where we’re at right now. Meetings with the DOT have recently taken place as well as with the Leadership Team and with the architects, our tech team, and an a/v consultant. So far everything’s moving forward smoothly and we’re meeting our timetable with the aim of having a shovel in the ground come next Spring, God willing! I’m excited to have some new renderings to show you all soon.

My first sermon from our Stuck? Series last Sunday can be found here on our website. If you missed last week’s practical message, be sure and check it out! 

Sharing Christ’s Victory,

Pastor Ben

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Get Unstuck

Do you ever feel stuck? 

You’re in a rut. You just can’t seem to move forward. 

We’ve all experienced this! Sometimes it’s our career or a relationship. It can happen as we struggle to master a new technique or put into practice a plan to lose weight. Unfortunately, we can also find ourselves in a spiritual rut—unable and unsure how to gain momentum and move forward in our faith. 

That’s why I’m inviting you to a message series we’re starting this Sunday. It’s called Stuck? Throughout this Fall series we’ll be learning together how God wants to help us get unstuck and experience more of his joy, his peace, and his presence in our lives.

So please know, you’re invited! Get unstuck with God’s help! We’re just a bunch of people from all different backgrounds learning more about our gracious God and finding helpful guidance for our lives.

Join us any Sunday at Showtime Cinema here in Franklin. The service starts at 9:09 am but you’re welcome to come early and grab some free coffee and food at the Victory Café in the Showtime lobby. 

Wondering what to expect when you visit? Check out our website for more info. 

If you can’t make it in person or you would just feel more comfortable checking out our church from a distance, feel free to watch our service streamed lived starting at 9:09 am on Sunday on our Livestream page.

Have kids? You might be interested in our Bible Quest program. Simply put, Bible Quest is our fun and safe Sunday morning kids’ ministry where kids get to explore the Bible in a unique, hands-on exciting way. Bible Quest is open to all kids ages 18 months-5th grade, no previous knowledge required. Just bring your kids a little early to register them and check them in before the service. 

God bless the rest of your week!

Pastor Ben

Monday, September 8, 2014

"Jimmy V" Verses ("Don't give up...don't ever give up!)

I still remember it. I was almost a teenager sitting in the basement as I watched Coach Jim Valvano on live TV give his now famous speech at the ESPY Awards. To this day it remains one of the most inspirational speeches I've ever heard. Here was a man dying of cancer who inspired me as a boy who loved basketball to think about how I wanted to live life to the fullest. And with his body racked with tumors he encouraged us all, "Don't give up...don't ever give up!"

God has similar encouragement for us too. And if I could add anything to Jimmy V's inspirational speech in 1993 where he said that there are three things in life that we should do everyday to have a good day--laugh, think, and be moved to tears with joy--I would add that we should also meditate upon God's precious promises.

And so I'm calling this last category of my Chew on This! challenge "Jimmy V verses" because each of these verses from the Bible offers us inspirational encouragement from our God himself who says, "Don't give up...don't ever give up!" So take Coach Valvano's advice and spend some time in thought today. But do it on one of these verses. Consider the great promises attached to this divine encouragement.

Hebrews 10:25   25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Philippians 3:13-14  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15:56-58 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 
Galatians 6:9   9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Revelation 2:10b  Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Add Your Own…

Friday, September 5, 2014

Victory News - Are You Saturated Yet?

Over the past couple weeks we’ve been learning how to practically apply a couple essential spiritual habits that God wants every Christian to form. So far we’ve talked about Oratio which is prayer. We’ve talked about Meditatio which is meditation or Bible study. This Sunday we’re wrapping up our Saturate series with perhaps the most difficult yet most important topic to understand--Tentatio.

Tentatio is the third thing God uses to grow us spiritually and draw us closer to him. Tentatio is basically the testing that we face when God and his Word intersect with us and our world. God uses Tentatio to drive us away from self and to his promises alone.

Don’t miss this Sunday as our student assistant Nathan Loersch helps us to see what a blessing Tentatio is when used in the hands of our gracious God!

How’s your Chew on This! Challenge going? If I had to gauge by the level of activity I’ve seen on social media and personal conversations I’ve had, I’m guessing that a lot of you never got off the ground with it. If so you’re missing out. But, if that’s the case…there is yet grace for you too! And that means you still have the opportunity to start fresh.

This whole week I’ve been blogging about each of the different categories of Bible verses that we all need to have in our back pocket memorized to meditate on. Helmet verses, Eraser verses, Ticket verses, Outlet verses, Lemonade verses, and…Jimmy V verses (coming soon)!
Simply visit my blog going to back to Monday this week. Each day pick out your favorite verse from each category (just one a day), memorize it, and then meditate it on while sucking on a piece of candy or chewing a piece of gum. To help you meditate, ask yourself some important questions like…

1. Where do I see my sin?
2. Where do I see my Savior?
3. What will I do differently in response to my encounter with God’s Word?

Groups aka Sheep Squads are beginning the week of September 14th. These Groups are your opportunity to make friends, have fun, and grow in your faith during the week. There are going to be a couple new, fun groups on the menu of opportunities including a group where I’m inviting dads to bring your kids and play some relaxed flag football with me at Whitnall Park. Be sure and check out the Groups page in our worship folder this Sunday or the Groups page on our website. If you have any questions or you’re wondering which group might be the best fit for you, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

VotL Brewers Game Outing next Sunday, Sept. 14th - 1:10 pm. Join us for a Brewers game as the Crew takes on the Cincinnati Reds. It is a Robin Yount bobblehead all-fan giveaway day and a Blue Bunny ice cream day (first 2,000 fans under 12), so you don't want to miss it! Because it is a Sunday afternoon game, you are encouraged to carpool and/or tailgate with other members who are attending the game.

Tickets are in left field Loge Bleachers and are $15 each (over 2 years old). You can email Sammi Goodger or talk to her at church to reserve your tickets. Checks should be made out to Victory of the Lamb. We hope you can join us for some fun, fellowship and baseball!

And in a new twist, the Victory Café team has informed me that next Sunday they will be offering tailgate food to encourage us as we head out to cheer the Brewers. Thanks café team!

6th-8th Grade / Junior High Confirmation Class - Starting Sunday, September 21st - After Bible Quest, we encourage all children 6-8th grade to participate in our Confirmation Class. This class is designed to help kids learn the foundational truths of the Bible in a way that applies to their lives especially heading into high school. It’s also preparation for them to partake of the sacrament of Holy Communion and a life of continued spiritual growth. At the end of Confirmation Class, students are invited but not obligated to be confirmed in the faith at Victory of the Lamb.

Classes take place roughly twice a month during the Sunday morning worship time and run from Fall-Spring.

Parents, you will be receiving additional information soon including a schedule. We’ve got a list of names and contact info but we also don’t want to miss anyone. So to register your kids for this year’s class starting on Sunday, September 21st, please contact me, our student assistant Nathan Loersch, or the other class teacher Jon Brown-Schmidt so we can include you on the info we’ll be sending out soon.

Teen Bible 101 Class – This class is for high school age students who didn’t go through our jr high confirmation class. Will meet about twice a month from September-May. The class will cover the same material as the adult Bible 101-301 curriculum except that it’s designed to engage teens at their level and life experience. Teens who complete this class from Fall-Spring can expect to be confirmed in the faith at our church in May if they so desire. Please let me know if you have people amongst your family or friends who'd benefit from participating in this group. Days and times TBA so please give us your input!

Bible 201 – Begins Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings at CESI. “Mix and Match” format will continue.

Sunday Morning Bible Study – Every Sunday at 8:09 in theater #6. Bibles provided. Just show up!

An Evening For Life is the annual fundraising banquet for WELS Lutherans for Life. It will be held on Friday, October 10th at the Country Springs Hotel and Conference Center in Waukesha. The Evening for Life helps fund the vital programs and services for women and men dealing with unplanned pregnancies and the effects of past abortions. Our counseling centers provide real help and support to women and men along with education. Most importantly we offer the lasting hope of God’s love! For more info / registration please visit the event website.

My Meditatio sermon from last Sunday can be found here on our website. If you missed last week’s practical message, be sure and check it out!

Sharing Christ’s Victory,

Pastor Ben

Lemonade Verses (God refreshes me)

When I was a kid playing outside and running around during the summer, I so looked forward to going into the kitchen to enjoy a refreshing glass of cold lemonade. My mom always had lemonade in the fridge.

As an adult, I still find myself needing to be refreshed. But I've learned that it's not just my body after playing basketball or going for a run. My soul needs to refreshed too. Life's a lot like running around. You get tired. Worn out. Stressed out. You run into some sad stuff. Some really sad stuff.
Where can we find a refreshing glass of lemonade for our soul? The answer is in God's Word of course. Take a look at some of my favorite "lemonade verses". Pick one and make it your own today. Let God's Spirit speak to you through it and refresh your sad and weary soul. 

John 16:33
  “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – Jesus
Zephaniah 3:17   17 The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."
Lamentations 3:22-23   22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Jeremiah 29:11   11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Philippians 4:12-13   I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. – The Apostle Paul
Add Your Own….

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Outlet Verses (God recharges my faith)

My laptop computer is a couple years old now. The battery never really lasted all that long in the first place. Fully charged, I could get two, maybe three hours out of it. A couple years later though I'm lucky to get one and a half, two hours tops.

So when I take my computer to a coffee shop to work, what do I do? I look for a place where I can plug into an outlet. There's nothing more frustrating than starting a sermon or something important only to run out of juice. A couple weeks ago I lost about two hours of work when I thought I was plugged into an outlet but really wasn't. Talk about futility!

Our faith is kind of like that though too. We need to stay plugged into God's Word. God's Word is the outlet that recharges our faith batteries and keeps us connected to Christ. So Meditatio means taking time each day to stay connected to Christ as we plug into his Word throughout the day, mulling it over in our minds, letting the Spirit work it deep down into our hearts. 

The following are my "outlet verses" that remind me of the importance of staying connected to God throughout the day by plugging into his Word. What's your favorite?

2 Peter 3:18  Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever!
Romans 10:17  17 Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Colossians 3:16   16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.
Psalm 119:105   105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
2 Timothy 3:14-15   14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ticket Verses (God Saves Me)

One of the best reasons to love God is because he loves you. In fact he loves you so much he wants you to be confident that you will be with him one day in a perfect place called heaven. The reason you can have this confidence is because of Jesus. True God and true man, Jesus has done everything necessary to win heaven for us. Where you and I have fallen short, Jesus lived a perfect life under God's law without sin. As our sin-free substitute, Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world. Jesus then rose from the dead to prove his victory over sin and death. So now God gives the perfect righteousness of Jesus to each and every one of us who trust in him. And so biblical Christianity is unique because Jesus Christ is unique. 

How many religions are there? Basically there are two. There's everything that says, "Here's what you must do to make God happy with you so that one day maybe you can make it to that happier place." In other words, there's everything that says, "DO." 

But then there's Christianity that says, "Here's what Jesus Christ, God's Son, has DONE for you. God is happy with you. Heaven is yours as free gift of God's grace. Believe it!" This is why the message of Jesus is the called the Gospel. Every other message is Law. "You, DO." But the Gospel is Good News. "Jesus has DONE it all for you." That's why faith in Jesus Christ is your ticket to heaven.

What's your go-to"ticket verse"?

John 3:16-17   16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  - Jesus
Acts 4:12   12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
Ephesians 2:8-9   8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--  9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
Romans 6:23   23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Titus 3:4-7   4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,  5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,  6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,  7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Add Your Own….

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Eraser Verses (God Forgives Me)

An eraser verse. We all need at least one of these in our back pocket. That's because we all have a great need for a Savior. We all screw up in life. We all make mistakes. We all sin. The good news is that today's verses as part of my Meditatio - Chew on This! challenge are powerful reminders that God has forgiven our sins completely because of the perfect work of Jesus. Believe this and have the peace and assurance that God wants you to have today and always! 

Ephesians 1:7-8   7 In him [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace  8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
1 John 2:2   2 He [Jesus] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
Micah 7:19   19 You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
Psalm 103:11-12   11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;  12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Isaiah 43:25   25 "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” – God

Monday, September 1, 2014

Helmet Verses (God Protects Me)

We all need to have a Helmet passage that we have memorized. A go-to passage that reminds us that God protects us. That he is strong for us. So pick one and memorize it. Write it out, read it out loud, say it out loud. Facebook it, tweet it, whatever helps you remember it. And then meditate on it all Monday long. And that’s where a piece of candy comes in. Remember that God’s Word is sweeter than honey. So get out a piece of candy, suck on it or chew it, and as long as you have that candy in your mouth...think about what that verse means for you. Don’t give up on that verse till your candy is gone. Chew on it, ask God to help you understand it. How does it show you your sins? How does it show you your Savior? Ask the Holy Spirit to let it saturate your soul and change your heart and mind.

Psalm 46:1-2   1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.

Psalm 27:1  The LORD is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid?

Exodus 14:14   14 "The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."

Romans 8:38 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

2 Timothy 4:18   18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.

Add Your Own….