Thursday, July 30, 2015

Victory News - They're Out of Their Minds!




“They’ve got to be out of their minds to work that hard without getting paid!” 

I had to smile when I heard this comment the other day as I talked about the volunteers who are working so hard in the heat of summer to build our ministry center.

I smiled because, in a certain sense, it’s a completely accurate comment! They are out of their minds…at least, in the same way that the Apostle Paul once said, If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God” (2 Corinthians 5:13)!

This morning I was reminded of this again as our project coordinator, Mark Pamperin, encouraged all our volunteers after the morning devotion at 7:30 am to remember. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23).

So why would anyone want to “work for the Lord”? Well, hang around the Builders For Christ volunteers even for a little bit, spend one day volunteering on site with them, or simply ask them why they’re doing this… and you’ll hear over and over again about the joy of serving. 


They’ll speak of a joy that comes from understanding the victory that our dear Lord Jesus won for us. They’ll speak of a joy that comes from wanting to share that good news with others—knowing that God’s going to use every hour of your time and effort to help that happen as part of a bigger picture in his kingdom. They’ll speak of a joy in working alongside other likeminded Christians who love and respect one another no matter your skill level, experience, or expertise. And as one of the builders put it to me just this past week, “You get far more than you give. I’m the one who’s being blessed.” 

In a way this all reminds me of one of my favorite Bible passages that you’ll actually get a chance to hear Prof. Frosty Bivens preach about in its biblical context this coming Sunday if you join us at Victory of the Lamb. It’s from Nehemiah chapter 8. Here it is, something to think about today as you go about whatever tasks God has given you to do: “For the joy of the LORD is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10b). 

Help Build Our Church – If you have a couple days this summer, there are still opportunities to discover the joy of serving while helping the Builders For Christ. Simply fill out this form on the Kingdom Workers’ website and you’ll be contacted with more info to get you started. 



Nehemiah Series – If you’ve missed the last couple weeks, remember that you can always catch up with our sermon series online via our website sermon series page. Simply scroll down to watch the week(s) you missed or download a printed pdf of just the sermon. 

Helping the Builders – Food Donations Needed. There are still opportunities especially now as we enter August to donate meals, snacks, and supplies. Go directly to the page via this link or contact Lori Stankiewicz.


Enjoy Some Golf and Help Our Neighboring Community – St. Paul’s Muskego and Victory of the Lamb are partnering in a Golf Outing on Saturday, August 22, starting at 1 pm. Proceeds will benefit the Muskego K9 program that is vital to help our community combat the growing heroin problem. Open to male or female, junior high to senior citizens, members and friends. Click here for more information or to register. There are still hole sponsorship opportunities available as well. Please contact Dr. Joel Nelson for more info.

Bible Study Every Sunday morning at 8:09 we have Bible study either in theater #6 or #5 (depending on movie times) before worship. Come right in and learn with us!

Service Length Over the last three months we’ve been tracking the length of every service including all the service elements with the goal of carefully thinking through where we can best focus our precious time together. For example since May, the average service length on non-communion Sundays has been 81 minutes from the start of the first song to the end of the announcements. Communion services have been 87 minutes. The average sermon length (which includes the reading of the sermon text) has been about 30 minutes. However, both service lengths and sermon lengths haven’t been very consistent from week to week.

My goal in mentioning this isn’t to make you all of a sudden super aware of how long you’re sitting there or to have you comparing one service to another instead of worshiping! I think it’s only fair though to let you know that my goal is to bring the average service length down to a consistent 70-75 minutes, with an average sermon length around 25 minutes. We’ll be working towards this goal especially heading into the Fall as we look ahead to moving into our ministry center where we plan to have two services on Sunday mornings. More info about that soon. I just wanted to share this service length information with you now in case you’ve been wondering what our goal is or noticed that our services have gotten a little bit longer than they used to.

I will say though that something I appreciate so much is that I’ve heard absolutely no sarcasm or complaints about either about service length or sermon length, which is pretty amazing to me. I can’t even begin to tell you how much that means to me—that we’re a church that encourages each other rather than complains or criticizes. That refreshes and excites me to be the pastor of a church where God’s people love to hear His word and want to sing His praises while building each other up because I need that too. So I praise God for that and for you! 

And I just wanted you to know in light of that I respect even more your time and I want to try and be consistent in setting and meeting service length expectations. I think this is especially important also for the sake of those who might be coming to church for the first time which is really where our unique focus as a church is. We want to love people enough to meet them where they are at, which I think includes establishing consistent service expectations for the unchurched who might be attending for the first time when you invite them.

Last Sunday’s Sermon you can find archived right here on our website.  

Sharing Christ’s Victory,

Pastor Ben
 


Monday, July 20, 2015

Victory News - A Special Thank You


First of all, my family and I want to extend our heartfelt thanks for your joyful, surprise adoption celebration at church this past Sunday! Thank you for your many thoughtful cards and other expressions of love. In addition, thank you for all your prayers and support in our journey of fostering over the last two years that led up to God gifting us with the opportunity to make little Haylee a permanent part of our family this past week.

We’re also so grateful to God for bringing us all into His family by adopting us through holy baptism and bestowing on us His saving name and the glorious inheritance of eternal life with Him one day in heaven. What grace!

We are so blessed to be at Victory of the Lamb right now. Lately while praying on Saturday evenings out on our church construction site when all is quiet and the shadows are long, I’ve pondered how good God has been to me these nine years of my ministry here as a pastor. I’ve also marveled on many occasions recently how God has grown both my family and our church family while at the same time bringing us now to the point where together we get to see our ministry center being built. Truly all the glory, credit, honor and praise belongs to our gracious God! I won’t say much of it, but many prayers have been spoken already within those ministry center walls asking for God’s continued blessings upon the members of our church family and the ministry opportunities that God has in store for us there. Let me just add too that Sarah and I have remarked frequently to each other over the last couple days how full and rich our lives are. We are truly blessed here.

That’s not to say the last couple years have been easy. Far from it. We have faced a lot of ups and downs plus our fair share of uncertainties and challenges. But God’s track record of faithfulness and your support have never wavered and I can’t tell you what that means to us.

By the way, if you think God might be putting on your heart a desire to help meet the huge need out there in our Milwaukee County community for safe, loving foster homes, but you’re not sure where to start or who to talk to…please know that you’re welcome to contact me to talk about it. Just putting that out there!

Help Build Our Church - If you have a couple days or maybe even a week or two this summer through Labor Day, you’re invited to join the Builders For Christ team building our ministry center. Simply fill out this form on the Kingdom Workers’ website and you’ll be contacted with more info to get you started. Not only is your help valuable, but it will give you a sense of accomplishment to be able to say, “I helped built that!”

Nehemiah Series – If you’ve been on vacation or missed the last couple weeks, remember that you can always catch up with our sermon series online via our website sermon series page. Simply scroll down to watch the week(s) you missed or download a printed pdf of just the sermon. I’ve appreciated hearing from a number of you also as you’ve expressed thanks for the livestreaming of our services that you’ve enjoyed while on vacation. And don’t forget to use our media to share helpful content with people who you think might benefit from it. Spread the Word!

Helping the Builders – Food Donations Needed. There are still opportunities as the summer advances to donate meals, snacks, and supplies. Go directly to the page via this link.

Love for Kady – Kady is a little girl in our church, 7 years old. She needs another expensive eye surgery to help correct her vision. I encouraged her hard working parents to set up a GoFundMe page and told them I’d be happy to tell people about it. This would be a great way to show and share Christ’s love through generosity to a family in our church. You can find more on Kady’s story by visiting the “Love for Kady” donation page at this link.

Enjoy Some Golf and Help Our Neighboring Community – St. Paul’s Muskego and Victory of the Lamb are partnering in a Golf Outing on Saturday, August 22, starting at 1 pm. Proceeds will benefit the Muskego K9 program that is vital to help our community combat the growing heroin problem. Open to male or female, junior high to senior citizens, members and friends. Click here for more information or to register. There are still hole sponsorship opportunities available as well. Please contact Dr. Joel Nelson for more info.

Host Team – Interested in getting involved? We need more people to help create great first impressions for our guests. Lots of different roles to fill. Introverts welcome too! Please contact Christie Mike to get plugged in where you think you fit best.

Bible Study – Every Sunday morning at 8:09 we have Bible study in theater #6 before worship. Come right in and learn with us.

Tuition Assistance Deadline Friday, July 24th - The Tuition Assistance Program is open, by application, to students and families that are current members of Victory of the Lamb who are either enrolled in, or intend to enroll in an area WELS grade school, high school, Martin Luther College, or the Seminary. This program is not funded through our church budget but through the generous gifts of individuals who value Christian education and seek to encourage young people to ultimately consider full-time preaching or teaching ministry one day. Applications and program guidelines can be picked up on the info table in the lobby or by visiting this link on our webpage. If you would like to donate to our Tuition Assistance fund, you can do so through our Online Giving page on our website.

A Special Spot in “the Wall.” In my sermon based on Nehemiah 4 yesterday, I asked the question, “Where’s your spot in the wall where you can join in and say, ‘Now that’s something I can do!”? Well here I’m going to suggest a very particular spot for some of you. Perhaps you saw it or read something online last week about the undercover video with a Planned Parenthood executive. In that video, horrific things were discussed like how best to kill an unborn baby and how some clinics aren’t as good at it as they could be. It also revealed that abortion is truly a money driven industry where money is transferred, body parts are sold, and the bottom line is certain organizations profit.

So what? If you consider yoursel pro-life but have been wondering what to do besides get upset, consider getting involved with WELS Lutherans For Life. We’re a local non-profit that operates Pregnancy Help Centers (PHCs) in the Milwaukee area. I happen to be on the board of directors. This is the front lines of making a difference not only in the lives of the unborn but their mothers and fathers too. It’s truly a pro-life organization in that it’s not just anti-abortion but about helping the whole family grow and thrive within a culture of life where the Gospel of Jesus is shared and healing happens.

There are lots of different opportunities to get involved and volunteer—whether being a monthly donor, a receptionist, a lay counselor, a help-liner or text-liner, helping with events or mailings, babysitting during parenting classes, and bunches more. Check out the website for more info about the organization. But I want to make this offer available to you also. If you’d like to learn more, I would welcome the opportunity to meet you at the main site in West Allis for a tour. Just let me know. I can introduce you to some of the people who work there and help you figure out where your “spot in the wall” might be. You don’t have to jump in all at once. You can take your time and learn what might fit you best. At the very least, check out and “like” the Facebook page for regular updates and opportunities in the effort to rebuild a culture of life!

Sharing Christ’s Victory,

Pastor Ben

Friday, July 10, 2015

Victory News - Great Volunteers, Great Progress!



Getting a roof over my head
So many days of great weather have been a blessing for our builders—thank you God! I got to help a little bit this afternoon install boards up on the roof above our kids’ classrooms and offices. It’s absolutely amazing to see the progress made day by day and very rewarding to hear everyone pleased with a day’s work well done!

All the Builders For Christ volunteers deserve major thanks. They’re out there every day Tuesday-Saturday working incredibly hard and doing a GREAT job. And they’re doing it because they love Jesus, they find joy in serving, and they want to help us share His victory with more people. That’s evident the moment you join them for devotion and get your yellow shirt to star working. And if that wasn’t enough, they’re kind and patient enough to put up with people like me on the job site!


Thanks too, all of you from our church who’ve stepped up to serve—with donations, food, snacks, pictures, and physically helping out and being there too. Again we’ve had people take vacation days from work to volunteer and serve. That both humbles me and gives me great joy to be your pastor as I see Christ’s love reflected in your lives.

First-timers welcome! If you have a couple days or maybe even a week or two this summer through Labor Day, you’re invited to join the Builders For Christ team building our ministry center. The Builders For Christ are yet looking for on-site volunteers. Simply fill out this form on the Kingdom Workers’ website and you’ll be contacted with more info to get you started.

Nehemiah series continues Sunday – For the rest of the summer as we’re building our ministry center, we’ll be studying Nehemiah. It’s an insightful book of the Bible about an actual building project. But not surprisingly it’s about more than just a physical building project—rebuilding the broken down walls of Jerusalem. On a deeper lever it’s about a spiritual rebuilding project—repairing the broken down hearts and souls of a nation. This coming Sunday we’ll begin by studying Nehemiah chapter 2 as I ask the question, “What has God put on your heart to do with His help?

The 4th of July Parade was again a great time this year and a neat opportunity to be involved in our community. Thank you, everyone, who helped out handing out candy, playing music, taking pictures, getting the float ready or driving it down the road! Check out the great pics that were taken on our church Facebook page.


Helping the Builders – Food Donations Needed. Lots of opportunities yet as the summer progresses into July and August to donate meals, snacks, and supplies. Go directly to the page via this link.

Bible Study this Sunday – Don’t forget every Sunday morning at 8:09 we have Bible study in theater #6 before worship. Right now we’re studying the wild, crazy, wonderful book of Zechariah.

Bible Quest Back On! Have no fear, our regular kids ministry will be back in action this Sunday. If you felt its absence the last two weeks for a volunteer vacation, please remember to say thank you to someone in a yellow shirt this Sunday!

Love for Kady – Kady is a little girl in our church, 7 years old. She needs another expensive eye surgery to help correct her vision. I encouraged her hard working parents to set up a GoFundMe page and told them I’d be happy to tell people about it. This would be a great way to show and share Christ’s love through generosity to a family in our church. You can find more on Kady’s story by visiting the “Love for Kady” donation page at this link.

Enjoy Some Golf and Help Our Neighboring Community – St. Paul’s Muskego and Victory of the Lamb are partnering in a Golf Outing on Saturday, August 22, starting at 1 pm. Proceeds will benefit the Muskego K9 program that is vital to help our community combat the growing heroin problem. Open to male or female, junior high to senior citizens, members and friends. Click here for more information or to register.

Host Team: Interested in getting involved? We need more people to help create great first impressions for our guests. Please contact Christie Mike to get plugged in.

Missions Thank-You’s – I’ll read a snippet or two one of these Sundays, but I just wanted to let you know we received really nice thank-you letters from the missions that we’re supporting with a portion of our More Than Bricks campaign. Each one joyfully received our first contributions to help them further down the path of sharing the Gospel in St. Lucia, N. Dakota, and Nepal.

Last Sunday’s sermon on Nehemiah chapter 1 can be found here on our website. Key question, “What breaks your heart?”

Sharing Christ’s Victory,

Pastor Ben