Monday, September 1, 2014

Mobile Bacteria and Fungi - They Use Creatures for Taxi Service.
Earthworms and Tiny Nematodes



The book is Teaming with Microbes, The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis. Timber Press, Portland. 206pp. $17.

http://www.amazon.com/Teaming-Microbes-Organic-Gardeners-Revised/dp/1604691131The next book is Teaming with Nutrients.

Fungi are the primary decomposers in soil, far more than bacteria, which rely on what was already started by the fungus enzymes (Teaming with Microbes, p. 65).

Fungi transport useful chemicals to plant roots in a strange swapping mechnism. The plant gives up food for the fungi and receives those elements it needs. Usually some change must take plant for the roots to take it up, and the fungus does this (p. 66).

Protozoa prey upon bacteria and together mineralize nutrients for plants, providing 80% of the nitrogen needed in the root zone (p. 84).

Mr. Inorganic Gardener thinks he is giving nitrogen to his plants by pouring fertilizer on them. The Creation Gardening is more efficient and cost-effective  by providing organics for the creatures. He will mulch the grass into the lawn and so the nutrients are locked up in the root layer, circulating through various creatures and concentrated by the earthworm.

Nematodes are another surprise for me in gardening. I knew they existed. Bad nematodes eat living plant roots. But there are many good nematodes. They taxi bacteria and fungi around because nematodes (the size of a human hair) are much larger and more mobile than their passengers. Since one problem is concentration of useful creatures, the movement of nematodes and earthworms puts the useful root-zone creatures in new places.




It is comparable to mixing a powder into a liquid. The fine particles clump if they are put in the bottom of a container and liquid is poured over them. However, if the powder is added on top of the liquid, it is easily dispersed by stirring, especially when the liquid is already moving around in a whirlpool.  I always thought of earthworm movement, but never the movement of the smaller creatures offering taxi rides to the smallest ones


Raining on Our Bacteria and Fungi - Good News for the Creation Garden



I am studying a fascinating book about the components of good soil and how to use them for better and easier gardening. The rainstorm is helping build up the bacterial and fungi right now, and compost is...composting.

The book is Teaming with Microbes, The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis. Timber Press, Portland. 206pp. $17.

http://www.amazon.com/Teaming-Microbes-Organic-Gardeners-Revised/dp/1604691131

The next book is Teaming with Nutrients.

Soil research has provided many new insights about all the chemical components  and creatures working together. The relationships are far more complex than most of us realized, even if we read about each part of the puzzle before.

Old view - which I shared - bacterial are good because they break down organic matter as one part of decomposition.

New view - *Bacteria and plant roots have an essential relationship with each other, the roots exuding food for the little ones and the bacteria giving food back to the roots. About 80% of all the nitrogen used by plants is created in the immediate root zone.

Old view - which most books still advocate - *Mix inorganic chemicals (NPK) into the soil to boost the plant's growth and health.

New view - which I held long ago, using manure and compost - *Organic matter, which once lived, will break down and stay in the root zone to feed the plants. NPK fertilizer passes through the zone and enters the aquifer, potentially polluting the water supply.

Old view - which I rejected - *Fungi are found in soil. So what? Many organic gardeners and poet Walt Whitman thought this was a significant role for soil.

New view - *Fungi are not only essential in killing disease organisms in the soil, but also in moving nutrition to plants in a complex relationship.

Old view - *When in doubt - rototill. Break up the lawn with a 12 horsepower rototiller. Weed with a little rototiller. When the garden is done in the fall, osterize the garden until it looks like coffee grounds.

New view - which I adopted gradually - *Soil structure is essential to the health of all the creatures below the surface, Blending the soil kills many of the creatures and ends their complex relationships until they rebuild them on their own. Organic material on the top of the soil will be pulled down by the earthworms. Lawns can be converted to compost-on-the-spot by covering areas with newspapers and mulch.

Old view - which I rejected as too limited - *Earthworms (one per shovel of soil) are a sign of good soil.

New view - which is adding to what I learned from Rodale Press and experience - *Red wiggler earthworms should be introduced to the lawn, garden, and compost, because they are most active in the top 12 inches of soil. However, they should be viewed in light of the complex relationship between bacteria and earthworms, not to mention all the other living components of soil. In short, earthworms should be maximized in the soil. The ancient Egyptians were right - killing an earthworm should be a capital offense.

As I wrote before in my review of Teaming with Microbes, scientists may see all this as the result of evolution, but I defy anyone to show how protozoa have figured out they should not eat all the bacteria (in the book) or how plants devised a way to get bacterial and fungi to deliver usable chemicals in exchange for food they need.

Unintentional humor in the book - we should be concerned about bacterial producing methane (global warming!). How are we going to stop that? and where is the proof of global warming? - already proven to be a hoax.



Special Rules for Relatives in WELS

Assignment day at Mequon - $100,000 a year salary -
so Glende destroyed the congregation and left.

Polluted WELS is hosting some debates about pastoral calls in WELS, including Assignment Day, when the new graduates are assigned to congregations. Later they become free agents.

The District Presidents control the calls, aided by various relatives in the system. The assignments are normally the ones without enough money to call free agents. However, Tim Glende, vicar to  Mark-and-Avoid Jeske, nephew of John Brug, received $100,000 a year - right out of Mequon.

The next time everyone is asked to cough up for Holy Mother WELS, consider the millions wasted on synodical pets and their absurd projects, like moving away from a campus location to rent worship space - just to build a debt-loaded building that would ultimately close the parish for good.

Parlow, Jeske, Kelm, and Patterson are all in
the Church and Change kick-line.
Join them or experience the Left Foot of Fellowship.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Rural-Living Robert Fleischmann Tosses Water on the ALS Boycott


Lutherans for High Lifestyle CEO spins gold at his non-profit organization.
Mark Jeske has his Time of Grace tentacles in everything, because he is the man behind Church and Change, the big cahoona on the Thrivent board.

Supposedly WELS Lutherans for Life was started to keep the pure away from the taint of the Missouri Synod. But now it is generic Christian Life Resources, using WELS as a base to make money from all denominations - preferring 50's and 100's, of course. 

When I was leaving the LCA, I pointed out that the entire organization was budgeted and programmed for failure. One of the pastors turned to a district staffmember and asked, "Is that true?" The staffer, who was in business all his life, said, "Yes, that is true." 

WELS is in the exact same position. While the Church and Changers are looting the congregations to feather their nests, the whole apparatus is burning down. Considering the extraordinary level of abuse in the synod, that is good. More than one pastor will say so, too - but not in print. 

Meanwhile, many will suffer from the incompetent doctrinal and moral leadership of the synod. 

The Frog in the Kettle book argues
that congregations and synods can be changed slowly -
boil the frog before he notices the difference.
WELS-LCMS-ELS members are cooked
instead of being boiling mad.

KJV 1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 
KJV 1 Timothy 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

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rlschultz has left a new comment on your post "Burning Down the Sect": 

A friend of mine who has retired from OHSA once told me about the Interlocking Directorates Handbook.
A good description of it is here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interlocking_directorate

Since WELS is such a tiny sect, and the other players are small in number and tightly knit, postings here on Ichabod are usually sufficient to expose this network.

In the Austrian School of Economics, this can also be called the "Rothbardian Analysis", so named after Murray Rothbard. Old Murray had a way of finding out how unsavory characters were connected to each other and exposed it in his writings.

I would affectionately call the vetting process here on this blog the "Ichabodian Analysis".

---

http://www.robertfleischmann.com/archives/140
I encourage caution to avoid quick judgment on those who boycott and those who do not. It was Jesus who sat down with the tax collectors and prostitutes of His time not to endorse sin but to build a relationship of genuine concern for the soul and then provide correction and direction.  Something to think about!

About Bob Fleischmann.

Born in Pleasanton, CA on October 5, 1956 and raised primarily in Lake Geneva, WI. I am the oldest of four sons to my parents, Bob and Helen Fleischmann who presently live next door to me in rural Wisconsin. I am an ordained Lutheran minister and I serve as the national director of Christian Life Resources.

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GJ - I was getting mighty tired of the ice-water challenge when pro-life people began pointing out the unsavory nature of some ALS groups. That boils down to some ALS charities advocating use of fetal stem cell research.

Medical research has no qualms about mining the resources of aborted babies. The facts are probably far more horrible than anything we can imagine.

Fleischmann's blog states that boycotting will do no good and stem cell research keeps expanding.

I simply will not support any group that has a position condoning abortion on demand. That is reason enough to abandon ELCA, WELS, LCMS, and the Little Sect on the Prairie. Sure - Thrivent has been funding Planned Parent, but nobody cares if they send big and little checks here and there all over Lutherdom.

One way to test the credibility of a source is to examine trivial details unrelated to the issue. His blog solemnly declares -

"I am the oldest of four sons to my parents, Bob and Helen Fleischmann who presently live next door to me in rural Wisconsin."


These are the two rural homes of Robert Fleischmann and his parents.
Where are the cows, the sheep, and the outhouses? 
I looked over the tax returns of Christian Life Resources. They show a 50% decrease of income in the last few years (latest in 2012).

Norm Teigen on Christian Life Resources, Oct 14th, 2007:

http://ichabodthegloryhasdeparted.blogspot.com/2007/10/norm-teigen-on-christian-life-resources.html

I see the Christian Life Resources as a self-perpetuating organization without any control from a responsible church body. Christian Life Resources endorses an organization called Church and Change. 

A pastor in my synod was accused of false doctrine for his stated intention of attending the Church and Change conference. The objectee also, apparently, said that the Wisconsin Synod has a false doctrine in its synod in Church and Change.

My suggestion is for the ELS to put Christian Life Resources and Church and Change under the microscope and advise the membership of its results.

The Eleventh Sunday after Trinity. Luke 18:9-14.
The Pharisee and the Publican



The Eleventh Sunday after Trinity, 2014


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 200     I Know that My Redeemer Lives   1.80   
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed             p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 384            How Great Is Thy Compassion            1.6

The Faith of the Publican


The Communion Hymn #236            Creator Spirit                         1.9 
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 514     God Moves in a Mysterious Way    1.81



KJV 1 Corinthians 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

KJV Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Eleventh Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father, we beseech Thee so to guide and direct us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not forget our sins and be filled with pride, but continue in daily repentance and renewal, seeking our comfort only in the blessed knowledge that Thou wilt be merciful unto us, forgive us our sins, and grant us eternal life; through Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

The Faith of the Publican

KJV Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:


Luther:
1. Luke the evangelist explains to us this parable in his introduction, when he says: “And he spake also this parable unto certain who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and set all others at nought.”
2. In the Pharisees you see an example of those who have no faith, and yet because of their works they esteem themselves the most holy.

3. The Publican is justified without any merit on his part, alone through faith, by which he appropriates righteousness from God alone, and doubts not the goodness of our loving, gracious Father.

4. Therefore this parable shows that we are justified through faith alone without any work and merit whatever on our part.

Luke 18:9 is one of those remarkable introductions in the Bible where so much is said in a few words. In this case, one verse described those who trusted in their own works to make them holy while despising others. Thus we have works righteousness summarized (trusted in themselves) and the result (they despised others).

So we can assume that those who despise others really trust in their own righteousness and not in the righteousness of Christ - and they are unbelievers. The bad tree can only bear corrupt fruit.

The summary is so good - why do we need a parable? Centuries before Christ, Aristotle discovered and described that good literature edifies and delights. The edification is the content, which we have in one verse. Delight comes from stories and illustrations, because we love and remember both - the story and the graphic.

I learned through blogging that an illustrated lesson had much great impacted than words alone, though bloggers seem content with words alone. This also applies to picture words - metaphors, similes, and analogies. If someone can connect something tangible to the thought, the concept is easier to remember and recall. That is why I called the Peace rose the Secretariat of roses, since movie goers recall that racehorse as the standard for all horses since, the last winner of the Triple Crown, and the father of many champions afterwards (but none equal to him).

Ancient man did more than leave inscriptions. Emperors left stone monuments to their glory, with inscriptions about their conquests. Medieval churches told the story of the Bible in pictures, and that tradition was followed until recently, when movie theater churches made stained glass windows unlikely.

Christ is not following Aristotle, of course, but teaching in a way that He knew would be lasting. The Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican is well established in our culture, our artwork, and in general knowledge. A Pharisee makes himself holy through the Law but does not realize how inadequate self-justification is.

Instinctively, we react against someone trying to make himself holy by telling us how great he is, how horrible the criminal charges are against him. But - if he repents in public and seems to mean it, we are likely to forgive him or at least give him a chance to show the fruits of contrition.

Saying "I'm sorry" sticks in our throats but we like to hear it from others. In fact, we are likely to say it back if we hear it first. Publican humility is contagious, just as Pharisaical self-righteousness.

Luther:
Here again we have a picture and an example of the divine judgment on saints and good people. Two extraordinary persons are presented to us in this Gospel; one thoroughly good and truly pious; and one hypocritically pious. But before we take up the example and consider the terrible sentence, we must first notice that Luke here makes the impression as though righteousness came by works. For Luke is most accustomed to do this, as when we at present preach that faith alone saves, he observes that people are led to desire only to believe, and to neglect the power and fruit of faith. This John also does in his Epistle and James, where they show that faith cannot exist without works.

10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

It is easy to see why this short parable is remembered so well.There are two figures. One is a good example. One is a bad example. One reminds us of the inner Pharisee in us. The other teaches us to be like Christ in humility. That means  to receive in faith His righteousness rather than raking together a pile of our good deeds to stand on and crow about.

We cannot grasp the power of this parable until we see the Pharisee as he was in his time, with many examples in our time. He was revered as a holy, pious, man of God - a living saint, the kind everyone admires. Today we use the term only in negative terms, but that was not so when Jesus taught this parable. So we have to translate this into figures known and revered in the church today. The Pharisee of the parable is like one of those leaders.

The publican has a good figure to represent him today, since the tax collectors have worked hard to make themselves loathed for partisanship. Criminal cases are still in the works for the things done in the name of politics, and many have suffered terribly from it. 

11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 

We can see the hypocrisy of the image here, because thanking God for being so good is the reverse of Scriptural teaching. David wrote Psalms about his sinfulness. When others despised him, he admitted that he deserved it. Criminal clergy defend themselves by boasting about their works and denouncing their victims in various ways - and people listen with awe, agreeing.

In his thankfulness, he steps over the line and despises the person with faith, because that person is not one of the elite - as the Pharisee is. This happens so often that it is either a comedy or a tragedy. Healthy people despise the disabled. Rich despise the poor. The upperworld despises the underworld, although they depend on the underworld to provide the fruits of vice and even to settle some scores. I saw a famous author neglected at a book display because no one knew who he was. No one talked to him at all - until they saw him on stage as a celebrity author. Afterwards he was mobbed.

The Pharisee uses "I" five times and refers to himself even more. His speech would be called a model of narcissism today. The new celebrity churches preach to those people today. Is this not the Age of Apostasy?

13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

Luther:
5. He speaks of the publican as though he must have previously heard a word from God that touched his heart so that he believed it and thus became pious, as St. Paul says, Romans 10:17: “So faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” When the Word falls into the heart, then man becomes pure and good. But the Evangelist does not indicate that he now first heard the Gospel here, but that he heard it somewhere, it matters not where. For he says: “God be merciful to me a sinner.” This knowledge is above the powers of reason. And yet it must previously have been known to him that God is merciful, gracious and friendly to all those who confess their sins, who call upon him and long for grace. As he heard that God is gracious by virtue of his very nature, to all those who humble themselves and seek comfort in him. But to preach thus is always the pure Gospel.

One example is a perfect parallel for this parable. When Peter heard Jesus preach from the boat, he worshiped as the Son of God and said "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man." Faith in Jesus made Peter aware of his sinful nature, to such an extent that he did not feel worthy to be near the Savior.

The Bible gives us many examples like this. Men brought their friend on a litter to be healed. They even let the litter down through the roof. They did not say, "We believe!" Their actions showed they believed in Christ.

14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Which is better to possess - the righteousness of man, built upon the esteem of other fallible men, or the righteousness of Christ, won by Christ and honored by God the Father. Does God want us to be loved by men or to love His beloved Son?

The comparison is so obvious for believers. For unbelievers, it remains a mystery. That is why the Bible teaches us that the Spirit witnesses to our faith. We know these things to be true because they comfort and challenge us. They comfort us with the knowledge of justification by faith, and they challenge us not to follow the example of the Pharisee.

Luther often emphasizes that faith makes us good. That is, in faith we receive forgiveness of sin and we bear good fruit from that faith which God planted in us, creating a graft in the Old Adam so that the New Creation might grow and be dominant. The sinful nature remains, it is true, but the Gospel energizes us to care for our neighbor and to be patient with one another.

Luther:
11. This is why St. Luke and St. James have so much to say about works, so that one says: Yes, I will now believe, and then he goes and fabricates for himself a fictitious delusion, which hovers only on the lips as the foam on the water. No, no; faith is a living and an essential thing, which makes a new creature of man, changes his spirit and wholly and completely converts him. It goes to the foundation and there accomplishes a renewal of the entire man; so, if I have previously seen a sinner, I now see in his changed conduct, manner and life, that he believes. So high and great a thing is faith.

For this reason the Holy Spirit urges works, that they may be witnesses of faith. In those therefore in whom we cannot realize good works, we can immediately say and conclude: they heard of faith, but it did not sink into good soil. For if you continue in pride and lewdness, in greed and anger, and yet talk much of faith, St. Paul will come and say, 1 Corinthians 4:20, look here my dear sir, “the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.” It requires life and action, and is not brought about by mere talk.

12. Thus we err on both sides in saying, a person must only believe, then he will neglect to do good works and bring forth good fruits. Again, if you preach works, the people immediately comfort themselves and trust in works. Therefore we must walk upon the common path. Faith alone must make us good and save us. But to know whether faith is right and true, you must show it by your works. God cannot endure your dissembling, for this reason he has appointed you a sermon which praises works, which are only witnesses that you believe, and must be performed not thereby to merit anything, but they should be done freely and gratuitously toward our neighbor.

13. This must be practiced until it becomes a second nature with us. For thus God has also introduced works, as though he would say: if you believe, then you have the kingdom of heaven; and yet, in order that you may not deceive yourselves, do the works. To this the Lord refers in John 15:17, when he says to his disciples: “These things I command you, that ye may love one another.” And previous to this at the supper he said, John 13:34-35: “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another: even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.


Quotations
"Now, that faith signifies, not only a knowledge of the history, but such faith as assents to the promise, Paul plainly testifies when says, Romans 4:16: 'Therefore it is of faith, to the end the promise might be sure.'  For he judges that the promise cannot be received unless by faith.  Wherefore he puts them together as things that belong to one another, and connects promise and faith."
            Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV, Justification, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis:  Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 135. Tappert, p. 114. Romans 4:16.                

"Also they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ's sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins.  This faith God imputes for righteousness is His sight.  Romans 3 and 4."
            Augsburg Confession, Article IV, Justification, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis:  Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 45. Tappert, p. 30. Romans 3 and 4.        

"Identisch mit der papistischen Lehre, dass der Glaube nicht als Mittel und nicht allein rechtfertige, ist die andere papistische Lehre, dass die Werke rechtfertigen." "Identical with the papistic teaching, that faith alone is not a means and does not alone make righteous, is the other papistic teaching, that works make one righteous."]
            Adolf Hoenecke, Evangelisch‑Lutherische Dogmatik, 4 vols., ed., Walter and Otto Hoenecke, Milwaukee:  Northwestern Publishing House, 1912, III,  p. 386.  

"The article of justification is the master and prince, the lord, the ruler, and the judge over all kinds of doctrines; it preserves and governs all church doctrine and raises up our conscience before God.  Without this article the world is utter death and darkness.  No error is so mean, so clumsy, and so outworn as not to be supremely pleasing to human reason and to seduce us if we are without the knowledge and the contemplation of this article."    
            What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis:  Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 703. June 1, 1537.    

  

WELS Has Another Plagiarized Experiment in Green Bay - And This One Is Real!
But The CORE Is Real, Relational, and Relevant

They need  some middle-aged men suffering from Peter Pan syndrome - to lead them.


Facebook Page

THE CHEAT

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So, in case the anticipation to find out what our cheat is hasn’t paralyzed you with…anticipation, here it is.  (This post will make much more sense if you read this postfirst).  The key to making yours and every student ministry absolutely rock.
Okay, not so much.  Really, this is something that we think is a pretty good idea in our particular niche of God’s earth, and we think it holds a lot of potential–for us.

We call it “the ave.”

It is a consolidation and unification of WELS student ministry in and around Appleton, WI.
Depending on your perception of Appleton, WI, (if you have one), this might seem like an excellent idea or a terrible one.  We’re hoping for the excellent one.  Appleton is dense with Packers, churches, and opinions.  I grew up in a district of the WELS where the nearest WELS church was a 30 minute drive from my house. Now, there are 13 WELS churches within 10 miles from my church.  And for the most part, the student ministries that happen in these 13 WELS churches aren’t much different from mine.  There’s certainly reason for frustration with this picture.  At the same time, this prospect shows incredible potential.
13 + congregations who aIl want to do more youth ministry better cooperating for a common cause is a powerful engine.  We’ve identified what we want to be, and we’re making it happen.  None of us have a hundred students in our student ministry?  Together we do.  Together we have more.  We don’t have the resources to hire a full-time youth minister our church?  We can pool our resources.
Since the end of Fall 2013, WELS youth pastors have been scheming what it would look like if we did student ministry in Appleton as a collaboration.  It looks like the ave.
On May 7th, we’re going to premier the ave. as a student ministry serving all high school age teens in Appleton, WI.  It doesn’t matter what church you go to.  It doesn’t matter if you go to church.  The ave. is a place for any high school aged student to come and ask questions, meet friends, hang out, have fun, and most importantly, have their worldview challenged by a perspective that suggests there is more to life than our immediate context.

REALLY, ANOTHER CHURCH SERVICE?

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After reading about Unplugged, a friend commented, “It sounds like another church service,” and then asked “why would I want to go to church again in a week?”
Psh. Whatever. It’s not another church service.
Here’s what prompted her question: “On the first Wednesday of the month, we come together for Unplugged. We’ll spend time in prayer, praise, and the Word as a speaker brings it to us.” This comes from aprevious blog post. There’s language on the ave.’s website that’s pretty similar.
I’ve read that sentence near a hundred times. But when I reread that paragraph after her question, it was like I was reading it for the first time. This time, without the pastor specs.
Prayer, praise, and a speaker giving a message from the Bible. Yup. Sounds like church.
And honestly, if Unplugged is just a repeat of church, I’d be asking that question right with her: “Why would I want to go to church again?”  Or if you normally don’t go to church, “why would I want to go to church at all?”
I’ll even go a step further. If Unplugged is a repeat of your Sunday morning (or other set aside church time), and I arbitrarily decide you should come to it, I’d be guilty of the most selfish and intrusive sin: redundancy. There are few things I tolerate less than giving time to something I’ve done/heard/endured already. If Unplugged is just a repeat of church, you shouldn’t come.
IF that’s the case. Which it isn’t.
Unplugged is a community/event/gathering unique from the normal church experience. It’s defining characteristic is: real. This isn’t to say that the church you might attend isn’t real, but Unplugged is different in that it’s for no one but you. We are incredibly specific in our target audience: 9-12 grade students in the Fox Valley. At the same time, our target audience is absolutely open.
Because at Unplugged, the staff, speaker, and leaders have no preconceptions about who you are. We can’t fine tune Unplugged until we know you. We want to be a ministry real for you, so we want to meet you. And the you we want to meet is you–not the person you think we want to meet.
We place a priority on being real with each other, because this authenticity is a catalyst for change. When there are no norms and expectations, there is no status quo. When we remove the status quo, what remains is a canvass for growth. So when you come to Unplugged, you’ll hear speakers who intentionally reach you at your heart. We want to speak to real issues and questions that you have in a way that is transparent and real.
And the cool thing is, we don’t have to be afraid of this transparency. Because it’s God’s Word that’s behind us. The more we see through each other, the more its God Word that we see. So we end up with this unique confidence that no matter where God’s Word takes us and no matter how vulnerable and broken we find ourselves, the movement is always forward. The movement is always upward.

Really, Unplugged is pretty simple then. It’s us being real with God’s Word and real with you. When you bring an honest heart to this equation, this is a powerful reaction.

The praise we sing at Unplugged comes from the real change that God’s Word works on our hearts. It’s honest, raw, and unadorned, whether we’ve got one guy, a guitar, and his voice leading us or a full band. Our praise is the product of God’s Spirit working on our hearts in his Word.
So the big question: why should you come? I’m not going to tell you to. I only want to see you at Unplugged if you want to be at Unplugged. But here’s the deal: if you see your life as something that can have a purpose more than just maintaining status quo, I think you’re going to get a lot out of Unplugged, and I think you’ll be able to give a lot to the other students at Unplugged. We’re starting September 3rd, and we’d love to have you join us.