Food before or after the annual meeting?

January is annual meeting month for many Lutheran congregations.  I was nervous last year as my first annual meeting at Custer Lutheran Fellowship rolled around because I had been told that CLF broke the primary rule of church annual meetings — never feed Lutherans before the meeting.  The purpose behind the rule is that a full-bellied Lutheran is much more talkative than a hungry one.  If a person  is in a hurry to get home to the NFL games, one best keep them hungry.

I’m glad we ate first last Sunday.  We had a helpful and interesting meeting as we celebrated the mission and fellowship activities of 2010 and looked ahead to 2011.  You will notice a new tab on the top of this page entitled “2011 Mission Plan.”  I invite you to click on the tab to see a video presentation of CLF’s 2010 celebrations and to take a closer look at the plans for 2011.  You also can click here to be directed to the page.


Jesus can’t be “Kilz”ed

We’ve been painting some Sunday School rooms and came to the tough decision whether or not to paint over the murals some third graders painted on the wall many years ago.  After much debate the current generation of painters decided the time  had come for a nice, clean, yellow wall.   Out came the Kilz brand primer which guaranteed to cover even the brightest colors.  However, Jesus evidently didn’t want to be painted over again as he was with  DaVinci’s Last Supper.

Two coats of primer and one coat of yellow paint later, Jesus has yet to be “kilzed.”  Hmm.  What do you think?  Do we put out an offering plate and turn the room into a shrine, go the paint-by-number route and fill him in again, or do we keep layering on the coats until he is gone?

Joy Exploded

For a number of months Pastor Kent and I have been linking you to the Exploding Joy blog through this site.  Nina Joy worked on staff at Custer Lutheran Fellowship before leaving to work on an advanced degree at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.  While at Luther Seminary, Nina was awarded the Preus Student Leadership Award which allowed her to spend three months in South Africa working in churches and social ministries a continent away from her comfort zone.

She came back to the United States with a powerful story to share, as well as a Dutch Reformed fiance named Wynand Hansen.  Wynand is a church musician in South Africa, working primarily in Dutch Reformed congregations there.

For the past two weeks Nina and Wynand have been in Custer telling their story in word and song.  I am struck by how the intersection of cultures challenges me, poses questions, and makes me stretch my faith.  I am grateful to Nina and Wynand for their ministry in this place.  Here is a short video of their presentation at Wednesday Night Life last night.  The sound quality of the video is my fault, not theirs.

Wynand led us in a number of songs, including a few in Afrikaans.  Nina gave a brief history of South Africa and told her own story.  Check out Nina’s blog to read details about her experience.  If you have ever considered a short term mission trip in another country, Nina’s experience will give you a glimpse of what it can be like.

Ice Skating & The Baptism of Jesus

What do ice skating and “The Baptism of Our Lord” have in common?  It might seem like a strange combination to some, but about 25 folks of all ages from Custer Lutheran Fellowship spent yesterday afternoon (“The Baptism of Our Lord” on the church calendar) celebrating Jesus’ dippin’ in the Jordan, the heavens being ripped open, and God’s voice proclaiming, “This is my son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased…” by strapping blades on their feet and gliding across water (mostly) in its frozen state.  Pictured above are most of those who made the journey (minus a family or two that happened to be occupied when we took the group picture).

Last year we celebrated “Baptism of Our Lord” by going to Evan’s Plunge in Hot Springs – water in its liquid state.  This year we celebrated with water in its frozen state.  Next year we plan to celebrate with water in its third state (we’ll stay away from water in “plasma” state)… Pastor Tom is working to figure out how to turn the sanctuary into one giant steam room.

May you find ways to celebrate the joy and forgiveness that God calls you to live your life through your baptism this week and this year.  Even if it might seem “strange” to some.

Play listed

At Christmas this year my wife’s music collection was downsized – literally.  Under the Christmas tree she found a small present about the size of an expensive ring box.  However, instead of opening a gift from Zales or Riddles she unwrapped her own small piece of Apple Incorporated, maker of the MacIntosh computer and the Ipad/Iphone/Ieverything else.  Gail now has her own personalized music downsizing machine.  Her new Ipod nano can hold about 1000 songs in a case the size of a match book.  That’s a lot of music.

We are still are learning our way around the digital music neighborhood.   Our twelve year old is serving as tour guide to the realm of itunes, podcasts, and playlists. I’m most impressed with the idea of a playlist.  A person can become their very own Casey Casem or Rick Dees or whoever programmed the Weekly Top 40 radio show when you were growing up.  A playlist is simply a list of several songs that a listener can bunch together to create his or her own personalized listening experience.

Like I said, we are still new to this technology and don’t quite understand how to make a playlist.  The way Gail’s Ipod is now set up is to play alphabetically by title the several hundred songs that are downloaded on the contraption.  Sorting music this way is a bit disconcerting.  Riding in the car today we were listening to a lilting Calypso tune from the 1950s.  Just as the gentle steel drum pinging ended our speakers filled with the very loud guitars of a 1980s rock band.  Next came the complicated harmonies of several South African women singing in Zulu.

To say the least neither of us is going to be hired as the program director of a radio station any time soon.  I hadn’t realized how much work it is to put together of list of songs that sound good together.

I suppose that effective sorting is a conundrum whenever a person tries to put anything in order.  Whether a person is trying to set a lovely holiday table, arrange the perfect table assignments at a wedding reception, or make sure all the grandchildren get an equal shake in the will, getting things “just so” is a pretty hefty task.

Though most of us rarely think of God as the master playlister, I think the image fits.  If you think about it, God has an awful lot of information to sort through.  I once saw a movie where a human being takes over the job of God for a few days and is absolutely bombarded by the prayers of the faithful.   The premise of the movie made good comedy fodder as the main character promptly messed up the orbit of the moon and several other rather serious matters.  The film made the obvious point that God’s work is beyond us.

Thank goodness that God is constantly at work organizing the ins and outs of our days through a framework of grace and mercy, working with us to create a playlist that sounds right.  And I thought an Ipod was complicated.

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 4,900 times in 2010. That’s about 12 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 69 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 196 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 213mb. That’s about 4 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was February 25th with 165 views. The most popular post that day was Sermons.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for custer lutheran fellowship,, 5th quarter, custer lutheran fellowship blog, and custer lutheran.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Sermons February 2010


2010 Colombia April 2010


About February 2010


2010 Bike and Hike March 2010


Monthly Newsletter March 2010