I get asked sometimes about why I think Christianity is different. Why Jesus is different than all of the other religious figures? What makes Jesus so profound that I would make him my world view, and it keeps coming back to the reality of Grace and the reality of Karma.

Last week I was driving my Freshman son to school and we came up to what is known to be a Looooonnnng stoplight. While he insisted that we would be late, I decided that, instead of waiting for 3 minutes to go straight, I would safely and legally turn right, turn left and turn right again and save my son 2.5 minutes and keep him on time for class. He was quite frustrated with me at first and I asked him point blank "Do you TRUST me?". And from the back seat of the car, his blunt answer was - NO!

Do you know what a "doppelganger" is? The dictionary gives the entry of "a ghostly double or counterpart of a living person". I had never heard the word before an artist that I have a lot of respect for somehow managed to put it into a song that somehow made a lot of sense. You see, I've been coming to a realization about myself and about us as human beings. There is a part of me that I really... Really... REALLY want you to know. And there is a part of me that I really... Really... REALLY hate. I would hate for you to see that version of me, and I really want you to see my best version. I think all of us can relate.

I just wanted to share with you some of the changes coming up and to ask for your prayers.

I have been the Director of Operations for Innovative Weather at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee for the past 12 1/2 years, where I mentor college students in the field of meteorology. I oversee all partner relationships, develop the internship program and do life with my staff. It has been an amazing run and on October 31st I will work my last formal shift as the leader of that intern program. Before that, I was an on-air meteorologist for Weather Eye Inc. for 8 years and before that a severe weather assistant for NBC Channel 4 in Milwaukee for 4 years. That's roughly 25 years as a meteorologist!! While I will remain on with IW in a guidance role, this is a major shift in my life.

There are probably 3 Bible passages that find voice in the songs of this album. For the Christian, they are very familiar passages of hope in troubled times, and I hope they are treasures to you. Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11. But during a season of intense challenge and fear, it was this diamond of truth in Lamentations that God sang over me and my family. While that fear gripped us for a time, God’s patient, steady healing had begun much earlier by planting so many stories of his faithfulness in our lives before we even started this journey. One where we grappled with the challenges of mental health and the need to be vulnerable enough to let people into our pain. The journey to wait patiently to hear God’s voice in our waiting. And the maturity that would eventually come, only after God had put his “yoke” on us, on me, for a time that would bring growth that could only come through a challenging season.

Spring is my favorite time of year. I enjoy Summer's heat, the colors of Autumn, snowstorms and Christmas lights in Winter. But I LOVE seeing the earth explode with color and life (and no I don't have allergies). God reminds us of his Gospel Grace "See I make all things new!" and I just revel in the longer days, warmer nights and the way things come to life. So what about this year? In the western US, they never really got a spring. It just jumped from a wet winter to summer. But for me, my precious spring - never came. And I've been wrestling with the reality of "Disappointment".

In my 7th grade confirmation class, my students have had a hard time getting their heads around what the "Gospel" is. Most of the time they'll say "It's the happy part of the Bible" or "It's found mainly in the New Testament". They're not wrong, they just aren't right.


"I thought I could handle it. I knew it would be a little dangerous and that someone might recognize me, but I had to do something Luke! So I followed John who was able to get us into the courtyard as we waited to figure out what was going to happen to Jesus. I thought, maybe there was a rescue, but you know I did tell him that I would die for him. I tried to do it with my little short sword in the Garden, but the Master wasn't pleased with that effort. So while I was in the courtyard some people started to ask me questions. I tried to shake it off and get them to move on. I evaded... OK, I denied I knew Jesus quietly the first time, but they were persistent. Finally I had had enough and I started calling down curses in my denial. I heard a sound behind me and it triggered a memory of something Jesus said. 'Before the rooster crows you will deny me three times'. As I recognized the sound of the rooster and the words of denial coming out of my mouth, Jesus was being led through the courtyard.

Luke... He looked right at me".

"White Washed Tombs". That's what Jesus called a group of religious elites in his day. Jesus, the Son of God, who was sent to bring life to the dead, healing to the sick and to bind up the brokenhearted had had enough. The Pharisees had pushed, prodded and "prouded" themselves throughout Jesus ministry and God was done. Jesus, God in human flesh, calls out these religious elites with seven woes, each one more damning than the previous one. And then he gets to the 6th time and he calls them a grave that has been painted over to look pretty on the outside while a dead heart lurks within.

January is known for a lot of things. If I were to ask you what the month of January meant to you, what would you say? For us, the wedding anniversary of my wife and I (22 years this year!). It's the birthday month of two of our three kids It's Awake and Alive month! And it's the month when seasonal depression can really kick in.

Christmas has a lot of meaning in our world, and it means different things for different people. There is the fun of the Christmas "spirit" with the giving and receiving of gifts, the childlike imagination of Santa Claus, the quiet and dark of the season where the stars shine so brightly on a cold night. And of course for the Christian, it is the celebration of promise fulfilled in the babe in Bethlehem, Jesus Christ.

Can you feel it? I bet most of you have. The pre-Black Friday emails have been coming for the past week. The warnings of holiday travel times have been rolling through the media. Santa is at the mall, and for some reason, December decided to skip its place in the seasonal line and jump in and take over November's weather.

Yep, it's the season for "GOTTA GET IT DONE AND MAKE IT PERFECT" anxiety.

"But how can I trust you?” Says the parent to the teenager that had the car out past curfew with no call and no answer? "But how can I trust you now?” Says one spouse to another in the midst of a lie discovered? "But how can I trust you now?” Says a friend to a former when the gossip reaches their ears? “But how can I trust you?” Says the Christian to God when circumstances go beyond the sight of faith.

I was making a forecast earlier this week and felt pretty good about how things were turning out. Most of the big storms were in Minnesota and Iowa and I knew there was a small chance for a few weak ones along a cold front dropping through northern WI as it headed south. When I got home from the office, my email started to let me know that the office was putting out alerts for storms near Green Bay - I had underestimated the impact of the cold front and the storms were bigger than I thought they were. In hindsight - I wish I had looked harder at the cold front - I knew better. "Can I have a do-over?”

This!... That's how it actually finishes. "In days to come, you will understand this". This phrase just blew me away in my reading of the book of Jeremiah, and I honestly haven't really been able to move past it. After all, how many times do we ask God - WHY??

A few weeks ago I was reading in a Christian magazine called "Forward in Christ", a brief article about the word "Amen". Ask someone what it means and you get the general definition of "agreement". Ask a Christian and it is often translated something like "So shall it be". Or if you were Jean Luk Picard from Star Trek the Next Generation "Make it so!". It might even be translated "la la la la, la la la la", perhaps silly, but when put at the end of the statement "We are found in you! And this makes all the difference. This changes everything - Making our whole existence - Worth something so we sing"... AMEN!!!

On May 15th, a fire broke out in downtown Milwaukee on the roof of the historic Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMS) and one of downtown Milwaukee's oldest church landmarks. Many of us in SE Wisconsin have seen the devastation from that fire and felt a loss and a perhaps a bit of wonder at how God allows something like this to happen.

Whenever we go to events in downtown Milwaukee, we frequently park in the lot behind the church so this fire had something of a personal effect for me and my family. A couple weeks ago, after a chilly Tuesday evening softball game, I took my youngest son, Thomas, down to see the remnants of the church. From the parking lot you could get something of an idea of the impact, but not until you walked to the side did you see the full impact of the fire. As we talked about the work of the firefighters,

If you haven't heard by now, I've been given the honor to pray over some specific next steps in the life of my family and ministry. It has been percolating for the past few years where I have been a part time ministry worker with my home church at St. Paul's WI where I lead worship 3 weekends/month, help with scheduling and mentoring as well as participate in our Ministry Growth Team. As God has started to shuffle the ministry staff "deck" in many churches around the country, he has seen fit to extend a Divine Call to me through our friends at Crosswalk Lutheran in Phoenix, AZ.

Finish this for me "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but..." One of the great lies of Satan. It is amazing the power that words have over our emotions, our futures and at the core of it all, our identity. I was talking to one of the young adults that I have an opportunity to walk with in life, and as we talked about the struggles that come from being ignored, we stepped back in time...

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33


The passage above has long been a favorite of mine, especially in times where life has seemed to swallow up the hopes that I had been holding onto. In a challenging time in our family a few years ago, this was one of the passages that kept us close to the Savior...

I came across a definition to the word "INSPIRE" that I haven't been able to stop by thinking about. As we talked in a ministry team meeting about encouraging people I felt that the word "encourage" was a little flat and not capturing what our group was really wanting for people and that I saw the alternate definition for inspire which is to "BREATHE IN" and thought, That's IT! We don't want to just make you feel a little better about your situation, but we are hoping to breathe life into the places where you are out of breath.

I personally believe that the idea of inspiring...

My youngest son is 12, just about to turn 13. I can remember this season of Christmas presents when I was his age. You know the one where the kid is growing so fast you can't keep them in shoes, shirts or pants because they outgrow them every 3 months. Their entertainment is shifting from affordable toys to the start of more expensive entertainment endeavors. They are impossible to buy for on a budget. NOW... as a kid (perhaps us adults too) the Christmas moment that we're all hoping for is that moment when we open the gift. With passionate and enthusiastic energy we tear open the wrappings, rip open the box, hold up the treasure inside and exclaim...

Last month, I shared that one of the reasons we invite people to church, one of the core ideas for why we encourage people to be present in public worship is because of the intentionality within worship of "Communion" with God. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ was to give us life to the full and the only way that happens is when we are in a Common Union with God through Jesus. Worship is a place where we act on our need for ...

If you've grown up around church, this is the one thing that we are encouraged to "invite" people to. Worship is what we encourage people to commit to. We teach "going to church" to our young kids, we drag our older tired teenagers, we sometimes bribe our friends to come with us and for many it really is something we look forward to, but... WHY?

I have started to see more deeply that God's greatest desire is intimate relationship with us as individuals so that we would function fully human (God's definition - made in the image of God) with the people around us. Intimacy requires that...

We speak plainly, openly, passionately, emotionally, because God is our Father, he's shown his face to us and it is not the of wrath that we know we deserve. THAT face... he showed that face to his son Jesus who took our place and paid the debt we owe to have relationship. Instead, by grace through faith, we take off the mask of "self", and we assume the face of who we REALLY ARE! A child, speaking to and answered by our loving heavenly Father...

It hit me that this is the beauty and point of Awake and Alive and what I pray God does in my music and ministry. A 75 year old gentleman has a story of God's faithfulness to tell. A 43 year old guy has a heart to make known these stories. And a couple 24 year old guys put their budding skills to use to help make this project a reality. The generations get together to tell a story of God's faithfulness. And what a story...

Tiger Woods was in the news again, more back problems and a new DUI.  President Trump just can't seem to find where he put his humility... if he ever had any to begin with.  The tabloids continue to point out all the flaws of the idol people we worship in our culture, and every time I try and point my finger at popular people who have fallen, there are three fingers pointing back at me.  I hate to admit this, but these stories often make me afraid

"Dad Pastor your families!"  That was the message at the Simply Youth Conference in 2011 that I heard loudest and most clearly.  I had gone with the hope of understanding college and high school ministry better and while it was a great learning session, the most impactful words of that 3 day conference was when the speaker paused for a moment, looked up and into the faces of the dad's who had come to Chicago and said "Dad, Pastor your family".  I sat back in my seat having just been leveled by that statement because for the previous 10 years I had sort of been running from that idea.  Not until my oldest was about 10 did I start feeling that I was misunderstanding the deeper reality of my role as a Father.  For most of life being dad meant...

... I realized that my heart was motivated by a sense of working to pay God back.  (btw "should" is a striving word and it is often a confession of guilt.)  

And then it hit me - Rest.  My first response in seeing Jesus willingness and knowing my status as his son because I am forgiven in Christ - is to rest in that.  There is only one Good Shepherd and it's not me.  He was willing.  Jesus loves the Father and His obedience to his Father's will that we should be redeemed, showed love by laying down his life for helpless people like you and me.  And as soon as he picked up his life again JESUS  became our green pastures, our sanctuary, our rock, our fortress and our shield.

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." - 1 Corinthians 13:13

As I sat listening to the bible reading for a wedding I played for recently, I was reminded of the passage above and the thought struck me.  “How much different would it be if 1 Corinthians 13:13 ended with, “the greatest of these is pity”?  Lately, I’ve been wrestling with a deep seeded thought that has been with me for as long as I can remember.  Somehow in my time as a child the phrases about my relationship to God that I remember most about me were the pretty harsh ones.  God’s love seemed a lot more like pity than love and that’s where it stopped for me, I just didn't realize it.  Perhaps I haven’t lived long enough to put it into words correctly, but considering relationship with...

Matt Redman is a Christian songwriter on many favorite songs that are sung today, probably best known for "10,000 Reasons" and "Blessed Be".  One of the phrases that he says frequently is that "Worship is about seeing.  Before you can worship God you must first see God"  I've been thinking about that quote along with how I have been raised to see worship and liturgy in the Lutheran church with that idea that in Christian worship "God comes to us (Word and Sacrament) and his people respond (Praise, Proclamation and Exhortation)"  I love that picture that worship always begins with seeing, which is part of the reason why worshiping the God of scripture is sometimes a challenging thing.

I've been thinking a lot about some familiar saying that I've heard as a Christian growing up around the church and I've been wrestling with why they often seem hollow to me.  Martin Luther is quoted as making this statement "We are all mere beggars showing other beggars where to find bread.”  We hear in our words and in our church culture that "I am sinner saved by grace".  And I'm reminded many times that by Grace through faith I have been saved from death, sin and Satan.  All of these are true and I don't argue with them, but all of these statements hide the full truth and I'm concerned about what that does to our Christian witness and the healthy worship life of the church.

On our own, apart from a grace fueled relationship with Jesus, we are simply sinners without eternal hope and life; we have no relationship with God.  We are beggers hoping to find something that will fill our appetites.  Death, Hell and Satan stalk its prey and we need a savior FROM these things.  But my concern is that we continue to see our identity as a sinner, a begger and someone who only need be saved from horrible things.  As I lived out my identity this way, much like Luther I tried to feel more "sorry" for my sins.  Church worship was not a place of celebration on a regular basis, only on Easter Sunday and Christmas did my heart leap for joy.  Church was supposed to feel more like Lent and Good Friday because that's how beggers and sinners who need to be saved from death should behave, speak, sing and look.  And my heart hurt... until...

Honestly, it's been a month of being stretched over the past 4 weeks as we've been helping my wife recover from surgery.  She is doing well, but we've both been surprised at just how much work has to be done in recovery.  It's just a much slower go than we were thinking and it's actually pretty crazy just how busy things are in this house.  As I prepared for the talk last weekend I had 5 encouragements that I wanted to give to the guys when it comes to serving our wives, but one that has been helpful to me in other relationships in my life.  John Maxwell is a leadership speaker and he shares that one of the key values of a leader is...  keep reading

34 Blessed are those who listen to me,
watching daily at my doors,
waiting at my doorway.

35 For those who find me find life
and receive favor from the Lord.  -  Proverbs 8

I've been thinking a lot about what fear does to people, but thinking more on what it actually is. Fear is really a confession of a need for help. A circumstance happens and in that moment we often react to the fact that we don't have enough information about what is happening in the moment and we have exceptional anxiety about negative impacts in the future.

And then we ...

“The righteous detest the dishonest; the wicked detest the upright.”  And here in is the reality, the question will always come down to perspective.  One believes in the protection of human freedoms to do whatever they want, the freedom to remain the god of their lives and Biblical Christianity is a serious threat to that way of living.  Christians believe sin causes death and they believe with the wisdom of verse 2 that “When the righteous Thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.”  Sin is a serious threat to the stability of a people, a family and a nation and even more importantly people’s eternities...

In a few weeks I will be returning to Murphy, NC to do a benefit concert to support an addiction treatment center as part of a thank you to something that God did in my life in one of the most unassuming places I could have imagined.  In town to do a concert with a radio friend of mine, I was blown away at what the final outcome was and what it has meant for me in ministry and in life.  Sometimes the biggest disappointments are the most fertile ground for God to plant the best desires.  This is part of my story.  - Mike

Worry nagging at your confidence and playing on your fears?  Do you feel like running forward to "make something happen"?  Do you feel like running away because of what HAS happened?....   The empty tomb of Jesus is historical fact and it ensures that what God says he will do, he will do.  Grace is freely given.  Forgiveness bought and paid for by Jesus so that for every repentant "leaner", for every one who has been lured away to addictive crutches and habitual falling, could stand once again in the foundation of the God who made them, loved them, restores them...

The Gospel story is incomplete if we don’t carry the heart of healing into the world. This is not a "law" statement at its heart. I believe we miss out on the deepest joy and most complete realizatio...

The Gospel is more than good news.  It's personal, it demands attention and it requires action.  The Gospel is the best good message we could hope for, because the sender of that message wants you and I know where life comes from, what it is and how it lasts forever.


I am part of the worship leadership team and in the ministry team setting we do spend a decent amount of time discussing the sermon topic of the week as well as the worship service elements and songs so that we can help tell the story and give people a chance to respond to it as well.  Worship in a Lutheran setting has regularly been translated to mean this: "God comes to us (word and sacrament) and his people respond (to Him and to one another about Him).  We are in a bible series called "Stuck?" looking at encouragements

What is it that makes waking up and getting out of bed so difficult?  The alarm clock goes off, we reach for that 10 minute snooze.  Perhaps you're like me and you intentionally set your clock ahead 5 minutes to afford you that opportunity to smack the snooze bar.  Or perhaps...

Over the years, I have helped lead in many worship settings from traditional/classical, to contemporary/modern worship settings in our WELS churches and I believe that God has given me something to share that I hope will be an encouragement in the end.  I am working at trying to articulate some of what I have learned as an artist that has been able to travel to different parts of the country and worked with a myriad of different church cultures over the past 10 years.  The end result is a presentation that

 Recently as part of our "Gathering" Series of speakers for our campus ministry in Milwaukee, we had well known author/speaker on the topic of Creation and Evolution named Jay Seegert.  Jay opened his talk just readily admitting that he is a Christian and as such, believes in God and that the Bible is His Word.  Shortly thereafter, I found myself in a bit of a back and forth between differing views on the topic and found it interesting to wrestle with what I know, what I don't know and the essence of faith and what I believe.  As it so often does on the internet, the conversation boiled down to people on two sides that ultimately started talking past each other.  This was my response to it and thought it might help others who are stuck in the middle of these "debates/arguments".  I don't have it all together, but Jesus is what I have and that is more than enough.  I hope somehow it's an encouragement.

"I'm tired of worrying about how we're going to pay for this!!"

"I'm worried about when my kids will come home... it makes me tired!"

"All this anxiety and worry about the government burns me out!"


Have you ever felt like this?  If you're a human being with any level of responsibility the chances are really good that you would say yes.  The Great Recession has cast us with mounting debt and too few resources to pay for things.  We have put off repair work, upgrades and regular maintenance.  We've down sized, budget battled and gone without.  In some cases we've given up on dreams or at least postponed them until... well I'm not sure when, but some other time that has to do with "not now".

I was recently asked about how I view what happened in Oklahoma City, if I get excited to see weather of that magnitude or if the seriousness of the situation trumps my excitement. To be honest, the reason I loved the weather was because of a huge storm in Michigan when I was about 7 years old. A funnel cloud went over our sub division and touched down about a mile from our house. The damage wasn’t like OKC, but to a 7 year old what we saw was nothing short of amazing. I remember having to walk through corn fields to find some of our outdoor stuff including a hoppity horse that was 10 rows into the corn. For me, that’s where my amazement with the weather took off and I still am awed by it every day.

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