Now on that same day two (disciples) were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were
going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went into stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scripture to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem. (Luke 24:13-16, 28-33)
One of my favorite spiritual writers is Henry Nouwen. In Compassion: A Reflection On The Christian Life, he writes: “To follow Christ means to relate to each other as Christ did to us – in servanthood and humility. Discipleship is walking together on the same path. While still living wholly in this world, we have discovered each other as fellow travelers on the same path and have formed a new community. We have become a new people with a new mind, a new way of seeing and hearing, and a new hope because of our common fellowship with Christ.
Compassion, then, can never be separated from community. Compassion always reveals itself in community, in a new way of being together.”
In Here and Now: Living In The Spirit, he writes:
“We often wonder what we can do for others. It is not a sign of powerlessness when we say: “We must pray for one another.” To pray for one another is, first of all, to acknowledge, in the presence of God, that we belong to each other as children of the same God. Without this acknowledgement of human solidarity, what we do for one another does not flow from who we truly are. To pray, that is, to listen to the voice of One who calls us his ‘Beloved,’ is to learn that that voice excludes no one. Where I dwell, God dwells with me and where God dwells with me, I find all my sisters and brothers.”
We hear or are told of a tragedy or death or of someone dying and we do not know how to respond or what to say. Sometimes it is better to not say anything and just listen. But all of the time it is important to pray. We must have compassion for one another as we would hope someone has compassion for us. Praying for one another is a sign of compassion and reveals that we care. In our society today more and more it is about me and not about us. As followers of Christ we are called to be in fellowship and community and lifting one another up. In this Easter season, let us pray for one another. When we do, do not be surprised to feel a warm burning in your heart. God bless.
We sure could use a little good news today! The weather has been creating havoc, shootings have occurred in New Zealand and the Netherlands, violence is reported regularly on TV news coverage, newspaper articles detail people attacking and criticizing each other instead of working things out, a baby is found dead along the roadside in Minnesota… how about a little good news?
Back in 1983 the topic was also raised about “A Little Good News”, a song recorded by Canadian country music artist Anne Murray. In the United States, it was a #1 hit single, staying a total of 20 weeks on the country charts overall. In the song, Anne Murray expresses despair over all of the violence and suffering she reads about in newspapers and witnesses on TV news coverage, and notes how wonderful it would be if, for just one day, the newspapers and television news anchors had nothing to report, because they had “nothing bad to say”.
The lyrics are: I rolled out this morning…. kids had the morning news show on
Bryant Gumbel was talking about the fighting in Lebanon
Some senator was squawking about the bad economy
It’s gonna get worse you see we need a change in policy
There’s a local paper rolled up in a rubber band
One more sad story’s one more than I can stand
Just once, how I’d like to see the headline say
Not much to print today can’t find nothing bad to say
Because… Nobody robbed a liquor store on the lower part of town
Nobody OD’d, nobody burned a single building down
Nobody fired a shot in anger…nobody had to die in vain
We sure could use a little good news today
I’ll come home this evening…I’ll bet that the news will be the same
Somebody takes a hostage…somebody steals a plane
How I wanna hear the anchor man talk about a county fair
And how we cleaned up the air…how everybody learned to care
Whoa, tell me… Nobody was assassinated in the whole Third World today
And in the streets of Ireland all the children had to do was play
And everybody loves everybody in the good old USA
We sure could use a little good news today
Again, this was written in 1983 and yet we seem to be in a worse situation today. People are mean to each other, will not have dialog together and many have to have it their way. Where does the change start? It starts with you and me!
Old fisherman wisdom says when you are faced with a rapid current, slow down. Take careful steps. Set your foot down firmly, slowly, or you may be swept away. We need to slow down and take time for each other, to treat each other with respect and to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. We sure could use a little Good News today!
1. How old am I?
39 in May. I was going to give a long complex answer but I decided to stay with the short and simple
2. Am I married or have I been married?
No, I haven’t been. My luck just isn’t there when it comes to this love stuff but I’m working on it.
3. How did I find myself in the ministry?
I’ve always been part of the church since birth. When I was a teenager I thought about joining the ministry but went to a public school instead. After school, I returned home to work which only reinforced the position that I should become a pastor since many of my co-workers said I was really “pastor-like” or pious like a pastor. After working for 4 years I finally signed up for the ministry class and found myself at Garrett Evangelical by Chicago. My first appoint was a Peace UMC in Green Bay in 2013.
4. What does an associate pastor do the whole day?
This is a good question. Some Associate Pastors are also youth or young adult pastors. Some others focus on music or entertainment. In my case, my role is to support Pastor Bud and the leaders of Youth Impact as well as Sunday School. I also preach every Sunday either at Stitzer or Fennimore Church (or sometimes both) every Sunday. I also do the jobs that Pastor Bud cannot do due to time or distance difficulties. I also teach sermons at Orchard Manor, involve myself in other church and community events, and visit shut-ins whenever possible. I’m also at the church from 9-12 AM Tuesday through Thursday every week though I will be at Stitzer from 9-12 AM every Wednesday. I’m sure there are still many jobs and duties I have yet to discover as time goes on.
5. What do you like to do outside of church? What do you do in your free time?
I like to walk especially during the warmer months of the year. Fishing is also a sport I enjoy and look forward to every spring. I also enjoy motorsports especially Indy Car and Sports Car racing. Watching movies and traveling are also two of my favorite things to do as well. If we meet and you have a question for me please do ask! As long as the question is appropriate I will probably answer it.
God is good. I would never have predicted that this is where I would be at this point in my life. It has been a great journey (most of the time) and it is amazing how God has blessed us. This is an introduction for Stitzer and a reintroduction for Fennimore.
It seems like yesterday it was January 1st and now we are entering March. Wow, and in between, we have had a Polar Vortex and A LOT of snow. We have also had Stitzer and Fennimore growing through Jesus together. It is an exciting time as we get to know each other and engage in spreading the Good News in our communities and beyond. As we move forward in ministry, please be patient as this is a work in progress and this realignment is new to all of us.
God has led me through quite a journey, so here is some basic information. I was born in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin; lived in Vesper, Wisconsin; and then moved to Thorp, Wisconsin where I grew up and graduated from Thorp High School (the mighty Cardinals). My mom lives in Thorp (my Dad who raised me passed away in 1995) and my biological father and step-mom live in Wisconsin Rapids. I have one brother and four sisters (they will tell you I am the wisest and best looking).
I received my Bachelor of Arts Degree from UW-Eau Claire, my North Carolina teaching certificate from North Carolina Central University and my Master of Divinity Degree from Duke University. I was ordained in the United Methodist Church in 2000. Before I became a pastor, I was a high school history, English and drama teacher and football and softball coach. I love hunting (especially bow hunting for turkey), fishing, the outdoors in general, gardening, and reading (especially history and J.R.R. Toilken (and am a Hobbit at heart), C.S. Lewis and Louis L’Amour). I also have a large Hobbit and Lord of the Rings collection and a bobblehead collection. I love cheering for Wisconsin, Duke, Milwaukee Brewers, Washington Nationals, St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals, Nashville Predators, and THEE Minnesota Vikings! Probably the coolest thing I have ever done (other than accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior) was visiting Easter Island. An incredible experience.
My wife, Lori, works in the IT department for Revlon. She is originally from Appleton, Wisconsin.
We have two daughters, Angela (Eric) Robertson and Brianne Budzinski. Angela and Eric live in Bethesda, Maryland and work in Washington, DC. Angela is a Communications Specialist for the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center, Smithsonian. Eric works with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Brianne is a Junior/Senior at Western
Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina and is majoring in Hospitality and Tourism.
I have served at Plank Chapel UMC in Kittrell, NC for 6 years; Salem UMC in Bushy Fork, NC for 8 years; Faith UMC in Burlington, NC for 5 years; and then after 25 years in North Carolina, God called us back to Wisconsin where I have served Fennimore UMC for 3 ½ years and now pastor Fennimore and Stitzer UMC. I look forward to serving both churches, the communities, and beyond. God is good and I am thankful that y’all are part of this next journey. God bless.
One of the reasons I became a history teacher was because of my fascination with history and especially what we can learn from history. What will history have to say about our world, about you and me? Will we just be a picture in a scrapbook or digital file somewhere or will we be remembered not for what we were but for who we were?
Have you ever wondered what people centuries from now will think about our culture? It, of course, is anybody’s guess. In her book A Fistful of Fig Newtons, novelist Jean Shepherd depicts a group of archaeologists in the distant future who are excavating the remains of New York City. Burrowing under Madison Avenue, the heart of the world of modern advertising, they
discover tin canisters holding reels of videotape containing hours and hours of television
commercials from our time.
The archaeologists determine these reels must have something to say about what was important to us. They finally find a way to view these tapes. They grow excited with
anticipation. One of the videotapes contains a scene in which three women move into the foreground. They are pushing carts of some kind. The three of them stop and reverently pick up some mysterious white circular rolls. Their eyes glaze in ecstasy as they handle the rolls.
A stern male figure arrives, clad in a white uniform. He resembles a guard, or perhaps an officer of some kind–definitely a figure invested with authority. “Ladies,” he says, “please don’t squeeze the Charmin!” The three women continue to squeeze the rolls, with even more
intensity. The guard, overcome by emotion, himself begins to squeeze a roll. One woman squeals: “I just can’t help it, Mr. Whipple.” Nervously the guard squeezes even harder. “See, Mr. Whipple, Charmin’s so squeezably soft!”
Amazed at the apparent significance of this archaeological find, the leader of the
excavation says, “If we can find out what was on those Charmins, or what they were used for, I believe we would know what their civilization was all about, what they believed in.”
Some of you may remember those Charmin commercials. I do hope our culture is about more than bathroom tissue. It does make you laugh… and make you think…
However, it is not just our culture, but do you ever think about how you will be
remembered? When the day comes, what will be said at your funeral? What was your life like?
I like what Welch poet David Whyte once wrote: “I don’t want to have written on my
tombstone, when finally people struggle through the weeds, pull back the moss, and read the inscription there: ‘He made his car payments.’” Do you want to be remembered for more than that?
There is an ancient Egyptian myth which says that, after death, every individual is
confronted with two questions that have to be answered honestly. First, did you find joy? And second, did you bring joy? The first step to joy is letting Jesus into your heart!
It was a beautiful, warm May afternoon in North Carolina. The sun was shining and there was a nice breeze as I headed out to do a little turkey hunting with my bow. I set up on a ridge with my back to a large oak tree, settled in, waited a little while, and started calling. Nothing happened for a while, but I just kept calling sporadically. The warm day and the nice breeze caused me to snooze a couple of times. But then I thought I heard a gobble in the distance. I called, but no response. Then I heard it again– a definite gobble and it was getting closer. I am watching and I see movement ahead of me about 60 yards, coming down a game path. I get my bow ready and hear another gobble, definitely getting closer. Ready, I see a shape and it is getting closer. Whoa, not a tom but a hen. She kept coming and eventually passed within 5 yards of me. The tom was still coming, the gobbling sounding closer and closer. Finally, I saw him at about 50 yards, pacing back and forth, not getting closer now but gobbling expecting the hen or me to come closer to him. The other hen had stopped making noise and now I had the tom’s full attention. Then, after about 20 minutes, the tom starts coming toward me and I am ready. My bow is in position, the tom is closing in and I patiently wait.
About 20 yards from me, there is a small tree down and when the tom gets there (hopefully), I will have a shot. As he draws closer, I am ready and then he stops. He jumps a little bit and is agitated. He gobbles and quickly heads off away from me, and I have absolutely no shot. I am perplexed. I had not moved and I believe there is no way he could have seen me. How did I spook him?
Curiosity got the best of me, so I got up and went over where the tom last stood, stepping over the downed tree. I looked back toward where I was and there was no way that tom could have seen me. I was perplexed. I felt something brush against my boot, thinking it was a branch I had kicked with my foot. It snapped back again and I pushed it away with my bow and kept looking around. The third time it hit me hard and I looked down and jumped. I had stepped into a hole of young copperheads and they had been striking at my boot. I got out of there and was glad I was wearing my snake boots and that I hadn’t been bitten.
I was a little rattled but no worse for the wear. However, the next morning brought me to reflecting about the previous afternoon. I woke up and my shin and ankle were sore and upon further examination, quite bruised. I went to the doctor and discovered the snakes had struck me so hard they had caused bruises, but no bites. Wow, thank goodness for snake boots.
I should have known better than to step over that downed tree without looking. I was very fortunate that I was not bitten, and I learned a few lessons from it.
What were those lessons? We need to think things through before we make decisions. Rash decisions very rarely make good decisions. Before we make decisions, we should pray for God’s guidance. The Lords says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8) I knew better than to step over that tree without looking.
In addition, life is going to give you bumps and bruises and try to knock you down. That is life. But when those things happen, God gives us strength to get through. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?” (Psalm 27:1)
Finally, always wear snake boots! No, always read your Bible because its wisdom gives us strength and guidance! May you have a blessed and prosperous 2019!
But in the end it’s only a passing thing, this shadow; even darkness must pass.
Do you remember the Brady Bunch singing “Time To Change”? (Ok, for some of you it may be before your time.) Some of the lyrics from the song go like this:
“Autumn turns to winter, And winter turns to spring.
It doesn’t go just for seasons you know, it goes for everything.
When it’s time to change, you’ve got to rearrange,
Who you are and what you’re gonna be.
Sha na na na na na na na na, Sha na na na na…
Day by day you’re facing the changes you’ve been through,
A little bit of living, a little bit of growing all adds up to you.
And if you want to reach your destiny,
Then here’s what you can do.
It is the Advent season, a time of change, a time of preparation, a time of transformation, a time of hope. When God comes to us in any meaningful sense, things happen. The world we know and our image of ourselves – all of this must be transformed. God intervenes not to help us with our lives but to remake them.
This is what happened to our world when God sent Jesus to be among us. However, the beginning of the gospel is not the birth of Jesus but of John the Baptist, who called Israel to prepare for their longed-for deliverance by repenting and seeking God’s forgiveness. In the power of the Holy Spirit, Christian believers continue to prepare for the Lord’s coming by striving to be “pure and blameless in the Day of Christ” (Philippians 1:10). To know God is to
repent, to have our minds hearts and lives changed.
John the Baptist tells us that we must repent and change our lives. We cannot remain the same but must seek to grow and be transformed and become closer to God through a stronger faith. If we want to reach our destiny, this is what we need to do.
You see, it turns out that God has a job for us to do. We must become the people God created us to be. God not only commands our repentance, but God also came among us to bring it about.
God has also been present among us in other ways. Change is not always easy but many times through change we can grow. January 1 there will be some changes for Fennimore UMC. The Wisconsin Conference of the United Methodist Church is realigning our churches based upon location and school districts, thus Fennimore and Stitzer will become a two-point charge. I will be serving both churches and we will also have an Associate Pastor appointed by the Conference who will begin serving also January 1.
This is a work in progress and the leaders of both churches have been meeting and will continue to meet as we work toward how we can be in ministry together. It is an exciting time and there is no doubt that God is at work. What can you do? Pray for God’s guidance and pray for the Good News to continue to transform us and our communities.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is Matthew 8:23-27 which Adam Hamilton shares in his book, “Unafraid.”
I love the story of the lake crossing in Matthew 8. Jesus is sleeping in the back of the boat as his disciples are rowing away. A fierce squall sweeps in. As the winds rise and waves threaten to swamp the boat, the disciples become increasingly afraid. Yet Jesus sleeps on. Finally, they rouse him, shouting, “Lord, save us!”
Here’s what the text says happened next: “He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you of little faith?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?’”
What just happened here? Jesus’ friends were awestruck – first by their fear of the storm, then by their awe of the One who commanded the wind and waves to be still.
I remember a woman in my congregation telling me that during her battle with cancer, when things seemed most frightening, she would think about this story in scripture, and she would pray, “Lord, I trust that you are in this boat with me. I belong to you. Please help me remember that you are here, and since you are here, somehow, this is going to be okay.” Releasing our fears to God requires that we trust that God is always by our side, big enough to care for us, and stronger than any storm we might face.
Do you see how awe, wonder, and trust in God’s power lead us not to be afraid? Isaiah said it this way” “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation” (12:2). It is why the psalmist could write, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger because you are with me” (Psalm 23:4). It is why the disciples, after Christ calmed the winds and the waves, would no longer be afraid as long as Jesus was in the boat with them.
This is what Paul was talking about when, from his prison cell in Rome, he wrote, “Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
You and I will experience fear, but we don’t have to be oppressed, defeated, or controlled by it. We can face our fears with faith, examine our assumptions in light of facts, attack our anxieties with action, and release our cares to God. And in doing this we will discover the “peace of God that exceeds all understanding.” This peace allows us to live unafraid with courage and hope.
“Would this be any good?” asked Bilbo…. “I found it on the ground where the trolls had their fight.” He held a largish key. – The Hobbit, Chapter 2
After coming down from the mountains, the three trolls – William, Bert, and Tom – had pillaged villages near Rivendell. They finally settled in the woods not far from the road, and from there they waylaid travelers.
The trolls chose this spot for a reason: They can’t bear sunlight, which turns them into stone. Staying awake all night – on the graveyard shift, so to speak – they hide during the day in a cave or hole. Bur right here William, Bert, and Tom had discovered a cave with a stone door. It was the perfect hidey-hole.
The cave, as it turned out, was an ancient treasure trove, complete with a key to unlock the door. (Now, what are the odds of that?) William, as leader, kept the key in his pocket. But after catching
Bilbo, he and Bert began fighting like dogs, rolling on the ground, kicking and pounding each other. And the key tumbled out of his pocket.
Now, with the trolls turned to stone, Thorin and company were safe. But the dwarves and Bilbo still had no food. So Gandalf reminded them that the trolls must have a cave nearby.
After a careful search, they did find a stone door in the side of the hill – but no matter what they did, they couldn’t open it. Soon the dwarves were exhausted and cross.
That’s when Bilbo held up the key and asked, “Would this be any good?” Gandalf snatched the key, inserted it in the keyhole, and opened the door. Inside, the travelers found not only food to eat, but pots of gold coins and several swords. The food filled their bellies and the coins provided wealth. Two of the swords, in particular, proved to be extremely valuable.
A key is such a small thing. And the Bible asks, “Who has despised the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10)
The answer, unfortunately, is that most of us have at one time or another despised small things. Yet those things are often the key to solving the larger problems that beset us. Sometimes we literally need a key – we’ve probably all locked ourselves out of our house or car at some time. And if you’ve ever forgotten the password to your email account or couldn’t remember the PIN for your bank card, you know the frustration of being unable to get the information or money you desperately need.
We can’t be held responsible if our keys get lost while trolls battle – but as we all know, that’s usually not how things are misplaced. Important items go missing because we’re in a hurry, or we don’t pay enough attention to put them in their proper place.
Some people are so meticulous and methodical that they almost never have this problem. Good for them. But even the best-organized people can misplace things. Then even they get down on the floor to search, look through dresser drawers, and turn pockets inside-out trying to figure out just where “it” is.
But perhaps the worst thing is to look and look for a lost item, only to realize later that it was in front of us the whole time.
That can happen with the “keys” of scripture: Sometimes we wonder what to do in a new or perplexing
situation, only to kick ourselves later – after we’ve mishandled things – when we learn that the Bible speaks clearly on that very subject and situation. Yet many of us, because of a lack of knowledge if even the most basic scriptures, fail to do the right thing at the right time. Even if we’re vaguely aware that a certain verse says something along the lines of such-and-such, we don’t remember exactly what it says – and often have no clue where in the Bible it can be found.
Jesus promised, “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit longs to remind us what God’s Word says – but we need to read the Bible in the first place to learn what Jesus said.
As we read Scripture, we may wonder, How does this apply today? That’s fine – if we turn that question into a prayer, God can provide answers for everyday living, even for the most complex
Don’t despise the “day of small things.” Small things are often the keys to vast treasures.
– A Hobbit Devotional by Ed Strauss
Max Lucado writes: “Possibly your future, your faith, your family, or finances? It’s a shaky world out there. Could you use some unshakable hope?”
“If so, you are not alone. Hope is hard to come by these days. Many people believe this world is as good as it gets, and let’s face it, it’s not that good. Though we’ve never been more educated, entertained, and connected, the suicide rate in America has increased 24 percent in 1999 – 24 percent. How can this be? One of the reasons must be this: people are dying from lack of hope. But what if we filtered our lives and our challenges through the promises of God? God’s promises are pine trees in the Rocky Mountains of Scripture: abundant, unbending, and perennial.”
Our world is in need of hope. I believe the world is longing to have hope in their lives. The greatest source of hope is found in the Bible, where we find that true hope can be found in Jesus Christ alone. When we think about hope, we need to look at the promises of the Bible. Max Lucado does this in his new book, Unshakable Hope.
This is what is being said about Unshakable Hope:
“A conversation with a supervisor. The decision of a spouse or a child. An earthquake or a car accident. Almost every day, an unexpected event or unforeseen circumstance arises to remind us how shaky the world is. With the recent and tragic rise of suicide rates, it’s clear that more than ever, people are desperate for an unshakable place to build their lives.” – Louie Giglio
“Bangor, Maine, is a small town with only a few flights in and out per day yet it boasts an enormous international airport with a two-mile-long runway that can accommodate the largest planes in the world. The reason is strategic. Bangor is the first piece of American soil Atlantic flights hit after twenty-five hundred miles of water. If they are in distress they don’t have to ditch in the ocean if they can just make it to Bangor. Unshakable Hope offers for your soul what Bangor does for airplanes running on fumes: a safe place to land. Max
Lucado points the way to the miles-long runway of God’s unshakable hope that can handle the weight of your hurt.” – Levi Lusko
“In a world where despair and anxiety are at epidemic levels, Max reminds us that our sure and certain hope is found in the unchanging promises of God.” – Sheila Walsh
The promises of the Bible work. “They can secure you in the midst of horrific storms. They can buoy you in the day-to-day difficulties. When the winds and waves of life rage, God’s promises are like lights on the shoreline, guiding us home. And since his word is unbreakable, our hope is
Please join us for this new Sermon Series, beginning Sunday, September 9. God bless …