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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

God became a human being. Unique among the world religions.

God also died to save all human beings. Also unique among the world religions.

I focus on these two things - that God became a human being and that God died to save humanity (and me) - during this time of year.

Everything else is not worth worrying, whining, or wishing about.

I wish you a very blessed Christmas and pray that God will touch your heart in a special way this Christmas.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Classical Stream Kickstarter Campaign

The Classical Stream was an internet radio show that I produced and hosted via BostonPete.com. But due to the high cost of music licensing broadcast fees, BostonPete was forced to closed down. The Classical Stream is currently without a home.
I'm trying to bring back the show but I need to upgrade my equipment, stock my music library with new recordings, and find an established "big name" server home (like Live365).
The Classical Stream is a different concept in classical music radio. Once considered "long hair" music (before that meant hippies in the 1960's) or only for high-brow, high-falootin' people, classical music is now accessible and established as music for the masses!
My intention is to provide a warm and personal classical music show - not just "play music" but talk about the music and how much it means to the world.
I'll introduce quality orchestras and performers to a world-wide audience and bring outstanding music to the planet!
Of course, I'll only be able to do this with your help. 
Please donate today! We are just over two weeks till the end of our campaign!
You can go here to make your pledge. You will not be charged unless we meet our goal.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Thanksgiving Tradition

An Introduction to Traditions
Charlie Brown is as traditional to Thanksgiving as turkey, pumpkin pie and football.

Speaking of football, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving begins with Lucy convincing Charlie Brown that place-kicking a football on Thanksgiving is a great honor. It usually is a great honor to be part of anything that is steeped in tradition.
But of course Charlie Brown will never kick that football; at least not as long as Lucy is the holder!
This scene serves to remind us that traditions sometimes do fade away. 

One of the most long-standing traditions in the world is that of Passover. It has been a part of the Jewish faith for nearly 3500 years. But it was not something that was traditionally celebrated at first – not like it is now. In fact, the Bible makes a big deal about the first couple of times that the Children of Israel actually celebrated Passover (or the Feast of Unleavened Bread) because they did NOT traditionally celebrate every year.

Traditions are important. Every family has its own traditions.

What are some of your family Thanksgiving traditions?

Another Holiday to Worry About
Holidays – for adults at least – can be very stressful times. Not so much for kids, although Charlie Brown is an exception. He even says clearly that Thanksgiving is “another holiday to worry about.” Charlie Brown’s worries about this particular Thanksgiving are that he has three, somewhat uninvited, guests coming for the holiday dinner. While his sister Sally offers an explanation for why this has happened – because Charlie Brown is so “wishy-washy” – there is probably a better reason. The worry that accompanies many holiday traditions comes from a need to please.

Traditions – The Need to Please
Charlie Brown has a need to please other people. This is something that is, to a certain degree, in every person. We want people to like us. We want to make other people happy. And when people have company coming over, people usually have a desire to feed them well. Charlie Brown’s dilemma is that not only does he have three guests coming for Thanksgiving dinner, his culinary prowess is limited to “cold cereal and maybe toast.”

But for all of Charlie Brown’s wishy-washiness, he is not without friends who will help him in his desperate hour. Linus, Snoopy and Woodstock will all help

Snoopy learns the lesson that with every traditional holiday there are sometimes battles to be fought. Deadlines to meet, menus to fill, gifts to be bought, cleaning, setting the table, etc. Snoopy’s battles happen to be with ping-pong tables and chaise lounges.

But soon, Snoopy orchestrates a new traditional meal.

What are your traditional meals for Thanksgiving?

Charlie Brown’s New Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner is:
Two slices of buttered toast,
Some pretzel sticks,
A handful of popcorn, and
A few jelly beans.

The Real Thanksgiving – More than Meal
Of course, Peppermint Patty is not happy with this new tradition. Oh, and by the way, Peppermint Patty is a girl. There seems to be some confusion as to that recently. She’s what used to be called a “tom-boy,” a girl who tends to do things that are more traditional for boys to do: play baseball, wear comfortable clothes, stuff like that.

Patty takes out her anger on her host, breaking his heart. Patty then is reminded what Thanksgiving is really all about. It isn’t about a meal – it is about being thankful for what you have.

You and I have plenty to be thankful for – Jesus Christ being at the top of the list. His salvation given to us as a free gift is the reason we should be thankful, especially at this time of year. Because our sins are forgiven, we can get together and get along with our family and friends. Even at what can be a stressful time of year!

But Let’s Not Forget the Meal!

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving closes with a reminder that while the real Thanksgiving is more than a meal, we should not forget the meal!

It doesn't have to be turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. It can be salmon steaks with oyster sauce. It can be PB&J’s with cold milk.

But each meal is important, so much so that the Bible refers to heaven as a banquet, a feast to come.

So this Thanksgiving, as you gather around a meal with your family and friends, remember to give God thanks for all His gifts to you, number one of which is Jesus Christ! Don’t let the holiday stress you out, enjoy it and help others to enjoy it and give thanks.

The Classical Stream

Good radio is hard to find.

Personal radio is rarer still, what with all the "bots" and "canned" radio hosts in today's mainstream broadcasts.

I have a passion for good radio, and I had excellent mentors during my time in St. Louis.
Ed Blonski at KFUO, St. Louis
Ed Blonski at KFUO, St. Louis
In fact, those mentors would guide the station I cut my teeth on to the Marconi Award for Classical Music Station of the Year in 1999.

In 2002, I was given the opportunity to host my very own internet radio show and The Classical Stream was born. For nearly 10 years I produced and hosted a show featuring the best music in the world.
Recording at Lutheran Hour Ministries in St. Louis
Recording at Lutheran Hour Ministries in St. Louis
The Classical Stream's home was at BostonPete.com. But in January of 2012, BostonPete was closed down its music shows due to licensing fees.

Since then, I've been looking for ways to bring The Classical Stream back to the world.
Classical music is some of the finest music in world and is the most enduring music on the planet. Classical music deserves the best venues possible and is performed in some of the most beautiful places in the world.

The driving passion of The Classical Stream is to bring the best music in the world to the widest audience possible in the best way that is possible with the latest technology.
I’m asking you to help! Your support will provide music to the planet that is desperate for peaceful, comforting, and inspiring compositions.

Thank you for your support of The Classical Stream.


Monday, November 17, 2014

In the Dark

Life begins in darkness. For about 9 months, each human being is “in the dark.” Coming into the light must be a frightening thing – strangers with masks on, bright lights shining directly on you, lots of noise. But then the warmth of a mother’s arms, soft words of love and comfort, life in the light is very different than how it began in the dark.

This holds true throughout our lives. Many Christians talk about a “dark night of the soul” and life can be like that sometimes. Going through periods of darkness – depression, terror, the loss of a job, the death of a loved one, and so on.

This seems to be the natural way of things. God even tells us, in His Word, that, “weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5 ESV).

I was reading a book by Frank Viola called “Revise Us Again” and in it, I learned a truth that I had overlooked all these years. The truth that God begins our lives, begins all our blessings, in the dark and not in the light!

In the first chapter of Genesis, it is made very clear that each day begins in the evening – at sundown and not in the morning at sunrise.

Jesus Christ was born at night. He died when darkness covered the land. He rose from the dead early on the first day of the week while it was still dark.

“It is in the hidden hours of the night that God does His deepest work of transformation. The night, the evening, and the darkness are all promises of a new day.
If you can hold this in your heart, it will change your life” (Revise Us Again, p 115).

If you are going through a “dark night of the soul” then keep this in mind!

If it feels like your life is ending, think about this: “What we call the end, God calls the beginning. God takes away to establish, and what He establishes is always better. As high as God is going to elevate you is as deep as He digs to lay the foundation” (p 115).


Help bring back "The Classical Stream" - produced and hosted by Ed Blonski 
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1567453082/the-classical-stream-internet-radio

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thank a Vet

Note: This is a traditional "repost" from a couple of years ago. An update, Daniel Brown died last month. I was humbled and honored to preach at his funeral. 

Stephen Ambrose, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks have done a great service to my generation and those younger in that they remind us why we are free to blog, make movies, vote, travel, and live as we do.
Their books, movies, and TV series bring to life the men and women who fought, bled, and some who died, to keep us free. Band of Brothers, the Pacific, Citizen Soldiers, etc. all tell a story - a true story - that needs to be told to us and our children.
But I also thank another author by the name of Marcus Brotherton. He has brought to the forefront some of the men that didn't make it to the forefront of those other men's stories. Brotherton tells the stories of Shifty PowersEd Pepping, Earl "One Lung" McLung, Forest Guth and others. They were just as much heroes as Richard WintersBill Guarnere, and Buck Compton - and Winters, Guarnere and Compton would be the first to tell you that.
Recently I met another hero of World War II - my word, not his. In fact, he seems to think his service to be no big deal. I'm sure no one would ever write a book or make a movie about his war exploits. But what he did was no less important than anyone else's contribution to the war effort.
His name is Daniel Brown. As far as I know he never fired a rifle in combat, never even saw a battle. Brown served in the Army Air Force as a mechanic - specifically responsible for B-29's. When not serving in the States, he was stationed in Panama. No battles were fought there. But of course, the Panama Canal was of vital strategic importance.
Dan Brown left his wife Betty and all his family to serve in the Army Air Force. He knew that going into battle was a distinct possibility. But go he did because our country needed defending. He put aside his own comforts and dreams - for a time - to do the job that needed doing. That is what a leader does. Dan Brown continues to lead today and is teaching me what it means to be a leader and a true man.
"Doc" Brown and all those who served -whether in battle, in support, or in the states - deserve our recognition and thanks. I love spending an hour or two with him and his wife, Betty, as they tell stories of the war years and after. "Doc" Brown came home to his wife, started a family, lived his life in the freedom that he served to protect.  He went on to become a cop and later a chiropractor. Betty was a dancer and musician. Both were - and are, today - active in their church and share the love of Jesus Christ with everyone they meet.
Just two of the wonderful people we should all thank on this Veterans Day.
So stop a vet today, tell him or her thanks. After all, you owe them a lot!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Happy Birthday, United States Marines!

Note: I wrote this a few years ago and traditionally repost it each November 10.
Edward Schiffmann Wear joined the United States Marines during World War II and was sent to the Pacific Theater. He was the brother of Irene Wear – my grandmother. He died during the Battle of Iwo Jima. The story is told in my family that as he died, he was praying the Lord’s Prayer with a chaplain.
Achieving the rank of Corporal in the 9th Marines Regiment, my great uncle answered the call of his country to defend her freedom against an aggressor nation.
He was one of the 6,812 Americans killed or missing on Iwo Jima.
A man I never met who died long ago and far away continues to have a tremendous impact on my life. My mother still talks about him to this day. She has been sharing stories of her memories of him with me the last couple of days. Yet, I still hardly know anything about him. I don’t know what his favorite food was. I don’t know what he thought of being the youngest to three sisters. I don’t know how he felt about living in the city of Chicago but spending his summers on Long Lake.
In spite of this I still feel tremendously proud, and humbled at the same time, that I am part of his family.
The Battle of Iwo Jima was one of the most important battles in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. It has become iconic of the sacrifice, determination and leadership that United States Marines personify in today’s world.
Called by some the “Greatest Generation,” most of the men and women who answered their country’s call to fight in World War II did so not for glory or fame, but to do a job that needed to be done. They came from all walks of life. Some, like my great uncle, from humble beginnings. Many, again like my great uncle, went to war never to return to the United States alive.
But as far as I am concerned, they did not die in vain. They died, in part, for me. They died for you and for all Americans as well as for all peace- and freedom-loving people around the world. They made the ultimate sacrifice so that I could be free to worship, work, play, and live as I choose.
In this way, they are a lot like Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ laid down His life so that others – the world, in fact – could be free from sin, death, and the power of the devil. Jesus Christ personifies the United States Marines motto – Semper Fidelis – “Always Faithful.”
United States Marines have been protecting these freedoms longer than there has been a United States. Formed on November 10, 1775 in Philadelphia, men and women who served as U.S. Marines have been making sure that the United States is protected from those who would take our freedom away.
Happy Birthday, United States Marines. May God always bless and protect you as you are always faithful to corps and country.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Here I Am

About 10 years ago, I attended a theological symposium at my alma mater Concordia Seminary in St. Louis.

I remember feeling that as I walked among the buildings that held so much promise for me when I was student in the early 1990’s, that there was so much more ahead of me. As I walked among the buildings with fallen leaves crunching under my feet, I reminisced about the past. At first I felt a sense of loss. Ten years after graduation, was I really where I thought I would be?

This was not the first time I had walked among those buildings with a sense of loss. Two years after arriving on the campus, fresh out of college, I didn’t have much hope for the future. Classes weren’t going well and I was distracted from my studies. I was thinking of giving up becoming a pastor. I felt that I missed something along the way. My life wasn’t turning out the way I had thought it would. But my life soon changed dramatically!

Ten years later, as I walked among the buildings again, I realized my life turned out better than I had hoped it would. It is vastly different from what I thought it would be, but it is so much better that I spend very little time now thinking about how my life could have been had this happened or that not happened.

This morning, as I walked over to the church office from the parsonage, the leaves crunching beneath my feet as they did so long ago on my walk across the campus of Concordia Seminary, I found myself dreaming again. It has been 27 years since I first arrived at seminary. During the seven years I lived and studied among those buildings, I had dreams live and die. At the end of my time there, God gave me a new dream – one I would share with my new wife.

It has been a dream of what God could actually do with my (our) life. But it had taken almost 10 years for that dream to come into focus.

And as soon as that dream came into focus God revealed to me a new dream.

What do I want to do with my life? What is it that I want to do in God’s kingdom? I’ve been a pastor for 19 years. I’ve preached nearly 1000 sermons, led over 1500 Bible classes. I’ve taught Luther’s Small Catechism to 19 classes of children. God has used me to touch so many lives. I know I’ve messed up a lot along the way, but I have faith in God that He is the Almighty who can work through my messes.

I remember talking with a friend of mine about 10 years ago and he said that he felt that there was a momentous change coming in his life. He felt that God was going to be doing something in his life very soon. He didn’t know what it was. He didn’t know if it would involve a move away from where he was at the time or not (it did and not very long after that conversation). He only knew that God was going to do something dramatic in his life very soon.

That’s sort of like how I feel now. God has been preparing me for something. He’s brought me to this place in His kingdom. He has used me as His instrument of change. I feel that God is going to do it again – possibly soon but I’m not sure. I can see things working in my life, preparing me for something. Something that God will use to bring transformation to this world. Maybe not the whole world, but maybe the parts of the world that I come into contact with.

In the Bible, these kinds of moments often included God calling a person by name.

“Abraham….”
“Samuel….”
“Ananias….”

And when any of these people were called by God, they all initially responded in the same way.

“Here I am.”

Never, “Who are you?” “Here I am,” takes faith. And that same faith is given to each of us through God’s means of Grace – the Holy Scripture, Holy Baptism – and strengthened through Holy Scripture and Holy Communion.

I believe God has called each one of us to be in this place “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

He’s calling you and  I by name.


Through the power of the Holy Spirit, let us answer, “Here I am.”

Friday, September 19, 2014

Smell

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – Ephesians 5:1-2

Do you smell it? It is the smell of bacon frying. It is the smell of coffee percolating. It is Sunday morning. Worship starts in 3 hours. I amble through the kitchen toward these smells to start my day of worship. Somehow, it just wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t smell these things.

It is the smell of crunching leaves that have changed color and fallen. Of pumpkin pie spices and burning leaves. These are the smells of autumn (at least for me).

The smell of peanuts and stale beer. These are the smells of baseball, of a big-league ballpark.

The smell of pine and apple-cinnamon and mint. These are the smells of Christmas.

The smell of wine and freshly cut flowers. These are the smells of worship. This is what I smell as I stand at the altar preparing it for Holy Communion.

Smells are very powerful. They invoke feelings of seasons and events. The invoke memories (a whole episode of M*A*S*H was dedicated to this).

Smells are also part of our relationship with God. Starting in Exodus 25, God instructs his people to build a place of worship. There are specific items that are dedicated to smells. The Altar of Incense and various forms of incense would be used. Partly, I think, to have a distinctive smell associated with the worship of God. Partly to cover up the smell of all the sacrifices that would be made. But there is one more reason.

Our sin must raise a stink in God’s nose. The filth of our evil deeds. Our thoughts, our actions, must raise an awful stench to him.

How do we clean ourselves of this smell? I’m afraid it just isn’t possible for us to do this. No soap is strong enough to clean us of our sin. Oh, we certainly try. We apologize to those we wrong. Sometimes, if we’re guilty enough we will give money to the church or some charity to try to ease our conscience. But the smell lingers like smoke on your clothes after sitting around a campfire.

How can we get rid of the smell of sin in our lives? Sin has to be removed. It would be the love of Jesus Christ who “gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2)


As we head into the autumn and holiday season with all its distinctive smells, remember that we smell pretty good to God because of Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection for us. The next time you walk into a kitchen to smell the good smells there, thank God that Jesus takes away your stinking sin and makes you smell good with his righteousness.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Growing Up

I have spoken with many former church members and not-a-few former Christians.

Many of them have told me that they left the Church or left the Christian faith when they were younger – teenagers or early 20’s. When I ask them what it was that caused them to decide to leave, the same kind of story is told.

They had a question about God, they asked the pastor, and didn’t get the answer they were expecting (or wanted).

Steve Jobs was one such person. I never met or talked with Steve Jobs, but this story is documented in Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography.

The soon-to-be founder of Apple computers rejected Christianity because of one incident he had with a Lutheran pastor. Walter Isaacson tells the story:

“Even though they were not fervent about their [own] faith, Steve Job’s parents wanted him to have a religious upbringing, so they took him to the Lutheran church most Sundays. That came to an end when he was thirteen. In July 1968 Life magazine published a shocking cover showing a pair of starving children in Biafra. Jobs took it to Sunday school and confronted the church’s pastor. ‘If I raise my finger, will God know which one I’m going to raise even before I do it?’

The pastor answered, ‘Yes, God knows everything.’

Jobs then pulled out the Life cover and asked, ‘Well, does God know about this and what’s going to happen to those children?’

‘Steve, I know you don’t understand, but yes, God knows about that.’

Jobs announced that he didn’t want to have anything to do with worshipping such a God, and he never went back to church.” [Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs, pp 14-15, Simon & Schuster, 2011]

There are many supposedly enlightened people whose rejection of religion rests on just such a flimsy foundation. They are still living as adults on the basis of a rejection of a kindergarten version of the Christian Faith which they probably misunderstood in the first place.

When I was 13, I had some specific ideas about the world, my place in this world, and how I should live my life.
As I am now 36 years removed from those ideas, I certainly don’t live by many – if any – of them.

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Corinthians 13:11 ESV).

It is sad if a person continues to think about the Church, God, and life in general, based on something that happened when they were younger.

The Good News is that God still loves each one of us with an unconditional love. He is ready and willing to welcome us back to Himself.

God’s love for us is the same today as it was when we were children. Jesus Christ still forgives all our sins, the Holy Spirit still prompts repentance, and the Father is ready to welcome us into His strong and loving arms.

Come back to church. God loves you and has an amazing plan for your life. Join a Bible study.

And pray for those who, at one time, decided to leave. Pray that the Holy Spirit can use you to help them see that God still loves them and wants them to be a part of a fellowship of believers.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

From Ground Zero to Holy Ground - A 9/11 Remembrance (repost)


For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. (Jeremiah 29:11-14)

How can the tragic attacks of September 11 be used for good? How could God allow this to happen? On the other hand, does September 11 really mean anything different for us? Have we really be effected by it? Has life really changed all that much? My question is, “How do we get from ground zero to holy ground?”

In the movie It’s A Wonderful Life one scene refers to the end of World War II. The narration says that people wept and prayed on VE Day and VJ Day and you see scenes of people flocking to a church. When I talked with my clergy friends about 911 we thought that something like this would happen again. With such devastating attacks, we all made our churches available for people to come and pray. At my church at the time we had a prayer service. And at first, it did look like people would flock back to church to find answers to questions. But looking back now, it seems that America was more interested in getting back to the regular season of football and baseball. That was important. To “get back to normal living.” The jury is still out whether we can “get back to normal” post-911.
What affect has 911 had on America? So much pain and destruction has to have some affect on us. It has been said that “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” (C.S. Lewis) I believe God is shouting to us, calling us from ground zero to His Holy Ground.

Like just about everything else man makes, we thought the Twin Towers would stand forever. And all indications were that they would. But in the span of a couple of hours, they were reduced to smoking rubble, burying over 2800 people. That site will forever be known as “Ground Zero.” The pictures from there are a part of who we are as a nation today. Smoking ruins, firefighters searching for people. The one that stands out in my mind is the one of the President of the United States with a bullhorn. It is that picture that gave me the words “From Ground Zero to Holy Ground.” Someone in the crowd yelled “We can’t hear you” as he was making a speech. He called back “But I can hear you!”

Can we hear God? God is calling us. He’s shouting at us. He calls us away from our own self-centeredness and things we make for ourselves to something that will last forever. He is calling us from ground zero and its uncertain stability to His Holy Ground that does not move and will stand forever.

When you hear the stories of 911, what do you think? The eye-witness accounts to show that 911 affected all of us, ordinary people and heads of state. But those stories are not the end. Each story can be followed up by God’s story. For God does have something to say about all this.

God tells us about His peace. It is not peace like the world strives for. So often the world’s peace comes after devastation and the loss of countless lives. But God’s peace came only after one suffered and died, not thousands. God’s peace comes to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even in the midst of tragedy, among the smoking ruins in New York or Washington DC, the peace of Jesus Christ, the Son of God comes through.
Sometimes the Prince of this world – Satan – rears his head in a very public way and motivates people to carry out acts of terror and death. But Jesus Christ overcame Satan when He died on the cross. Satan is a defeated enemy. All these tragic events are but the last gasps of a vanquished foe. In the end they cannot harm us. In fact, they have backfired on Satan. He carries them out to try to defeat us, but the result is that many turn back to God and look for ways to make their relationship stronger with Him!

God also tells us to be ready. When those thousands of people showed up for work on September 11, 2001, or boarded those airplanes, they may not have given any thought that this was to be their last day on earth. But God repeatedly warns us that we do not know when our last day on earth will be. It could be today. In the mean time, God calls to us, shouts to us from ground zero, to be rich toward Him, to begin or strengthen the relationship with Him through Word and Sacrament and Worship. We are rich toward God because Jesus’ death and resurrection gave us the glorious riches of God’s eternal grace. No amount of smoking ruin can take that away from us who have been brought into the Kingdom of God.

A reading from Colossians seems to have been written with 911 in mind. “Since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you....” That has been true for many, many people. Since that day we have prayed, each time we gather for worship, for those in the midst of this tragedy, for our President, for our military personnel, prayed that the peace and comfort of Jesus Christ may be theirs.

Patience and endurance.” This is what we have been praying for. God calls us to be faithful to Him and to seek Him at all times, but especially in times of tragedy. It is so hard to be patient when we’re facing such tragedy. We want to know now about a loved one. We want an answer now. We are tempted to give up in the face of such horrible circumstances. But God’s call to us has been to be patient and endure. For a better time is coming. Ground Zero is temporary. Holy Ground is forever!

There have been so many questions in the past 13 years. The biggest one, it seems to me, has been “How could God allow this to happen.” The answer is not easy. God does love us. So much so that He doesn’t want us to take anything for granted. But with prosperity and financial success like we’ve enjoyed in this country, we are tempted to take many things for granted. Young people live life like they will live forever, that nothing can hurt them. But the world isn’t a peaceful place. It is a dangerous place. Nothing should be taken for granted. Least of all God. He is here. He does love us. He allows tragedy to get our attention and call us back to Him.

The call from Ground Zero is a call back to Holy Ground. The stable, rock-solid ground established for us by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. On Holy Ground there is no sin, there is no death. There have been many “ground zeros” and I suspect there will be many more. But there is only one Holy Ground. There is only one way to get there. God is calling us. Through the smoke and death and devastation God shouts to us, getting our attention. Now that the smoke and rubble have been cleared, we’re tempted to say that God’s call is gone, too. But God still calls. He is calling you and me. He is calling us away from ground zero and the death that will forever surround it. He is calling us to Holy Ground where there is life and peace in His Son Jesus Christ.

God is calling you. Will you answer? I pray that you will turn from ground zero to God’s Holy Ground, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Flying Old Glory (update & repost)

Today is Flag Day in the United States.

Some may think it is a day set aside to worship the flag. But that’s not the reason for Flag Day (which can be found here) and it isn’t the reason I observe Flag Day (continue reading to find out).

The United States Flag is a symbol of what the country stands for. It gives us our history – 13 red and white bars signifying the 13 original colonies that became the first 13 states of the Union. It also signifies our current status – 50 white stars signifying the current 50 states.

But for me, the United States Flag reminds me that the freedom I enjoy – the freedom to worship as I wish, to work where I want, to travel anywhere in this country anytime I want without asking permission of the government, and even the freedom to write this blog post – the Flag reminds me that these and all the freedoms U.S. citizen’s enjoy are NOT free.

In the past we've had a U.S. Flag hanging outside our home – we usually put it up Memorial Day weekend and take it down again Labor Day weekend (so it doesn’t get weather-beaten in the winter months) We are currently in the process of procuring a flag pole for our new home.

In my office is another U.S. Flag, an older Flag. It doesn’t have 50 stars because there were only 48 stars in the Union when this Flag performed its final duty – to drape the coffin of Lance Corporal Edward Sciffmann Wear, USMC. I’ve written about my Great Uncle here.

It is also the Flag under which my Grandfather Edward Blonski served in Europe in the U.S. Army  in 1944 and 1945. I’ve written about that here.

These – and all U.S. Flags – remind me to give thanks to God for the men and women who lead us in the country. They remind me to give thanks for the men and women who led us. They remind me to give thanks to God for those who fought, bled, and died to keep us free.

That’s what U.S. Flag day means to me.

Happy Birthday - United States Army (update & repost)

The United States Army marks as it's inception date June 14, 1775 - before there was even a Unites States. That was date that the the Continental Congress established a unified army for the states to fight Great Britain. They also appointed George Washington as its commander.

The mission of the Army is to serve as the land-based branch of the U.S. military. §3062 of Title 10 US Code defines the purpose of the army as:
  • preserving the peace and security and providing for the defense of the United States, the Commonwealths and possessions and any areas occupied by the United States
  • supporting the national policies
  • implementing the national objectives
  • overcoming any nations responsible for aggressive acts that imperil the peace and security of the United States.
For 239 years, the men and women of the United States Army have done just that.
And I thank God for all of them! I especially thank:

My father, Ed Blonski, for his service in the Unite States Army in the early 1960's,aradcompatch serving in the Army Air Defense Command.

1stinfantry1My grandfather, Ed Blonski who served in World War II, and my good friend Mitch, who served in Vietnam, both part of the 1st Infantry Division.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

He's Leaving

A few years ago I led a parenting enrichment study at my church. In it, Dr. Kevin Leman taught that toddlers respond to a parent differently that we might expect. For example, if you want a toddler to come to you, you should move away from him. He’ll follow you if you move away. If you moved toward him, he’ll run away.

Of course, it’s one thing to hear someone say that – even if that someone is a parenting expert like Dr. Leman. I did have to try it out before I would really believe it.

And it turned out to be pretty much true!

Now, I’m a long way from being a father to a toddler. Still, I was thinking about this the other day as I was sitting in the gym of my son’s soon-to-be former high school. He was graduating and my wife and I were very proud of him!

This is the view we had of him, though.


We were sitting behind him and the only view of him was this one until he actually received his diploma.

It was fitting that we were sitting behind him, looking at the back of his head. He was literally moving away from us. He just turned 18 years old. He’s heading off to college in August. He’s becoming a man. He’ll always be our son, but he’s also becoming his own man now. My wife and I did the best we could in raising him. But those days are pretty much over now. The choices he makes as he moves away from us are his to make and his to live with.

This picture was taken after my wife was able to make her way to the front of the gym. She had to move in front of him, at least a little bit, to take it and it is a metaphor of our life now. We will have to move, to make strides, to go out of our way to get in front of him now. But we will do what it takes to let him know that he’s never alone. As much as in us lies, we’ll be there for him.



We spent the last 18 years telling our son about Jesus. We took him to church. Studied the Bible and Small Catechism with him. We modeled the best Christian life that we could – a life not lived perfectly but lived in the forgiveness and mercy of God.

Even though he’s going off on his own, only to return to do laundry, get something to eat, or tell us about a life-changing event, he will always be our little boy that we took home from the hospital so long ago. We were more than a little scared then, just as we are now. But my wife and I are also filled with just as much love, more so even, we had then.


For me, what could be a better Father’s day present?

Friday, June 6, 2014

D-Day +25,567

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world. Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely. But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory! I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory! Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking. -- Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower
70 years ago, on June 6, 1944, 156,000 Allied soldiers – the bulk of which were made up of American and British forces – made amphibious and air landings on Normandy, France. Their task was to drive German forces away from the shore in order to obtain a foothold in Europe from which to win back Europe from Nazi, Germany. Movies such as “The Longest day” and “Saving Private Ryan,” and TV shows such as “Band of Brothers” have brought the stories of D-Day to my generation. But movies and such can only convey so much truth. There are very, very few people today who were actually there to tell their story of D-Day. 

The number grows smaller every day. In this regard we can be thankful for the movies, TV shows and books in order to keep the story alive so that we can never forget. And we should not forget. Not because so many heroic things were done during the war. And certainly not because war is glamorous or a glorious adventure. No, we should never forget for at least two reasons. One, men and women sacrificed themselves for a cause greater than themselves. Men like my grandfather who would survive D-Day and men like my great uncle who died on Iwo Jima. Whether we agree or not with why they fought in war, we should not forget their honor, their integrity, nor their sacrifice. The second reason we should not forget is so that we understand what war is all about. It is not something to be entered into lightly or inadvisdedly. It has been said that war is hell. But is that true? 

Here’s a quote from the M*A*S*H TV series (written by Burt Prelutsky):
Hawkeye: War isn’t hell. War is war and hell is hell, and of the two war is a lot worse.
Father Mulcahy: How do you figure that, Hawkeye?
Hawkeye: Simple, Father. Tell me, who goes to hell?
Mulcahy: Sinners, I believe.
Hawkeye: Exactly. There are no innocent bystanders in hell. But war is chock full of them. Little kids, cripples, old ladies, in fact, except for a few of the brass almost everybody involved is an innocent bystander.
War is ugly. War is dirty. It is not an adventure to be sought out, but rather sometimes a necessary fight to overcome evil. I believe it is to be avoided if at all possible. But I also believe that sometimes it cannot be avoided. No, war is not hell. But as bad as it is, war is not as bad as hell, because all wars come to an end eventually. Hell goes on for eternity. But like Hawkeye says, there are no innocents in hell. In fact, there doesn’t have to be any human in hell. It can be avoided. There is a way out. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was born, lived, died, rose again and ascended to save every human being from sin, death (hell), and the power of the devil (for whom hell was created in the first place). As we remember the men and women who sacrificed 70 years ago on what was called “D-Day” – let us also remember that Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself for us on the cross to save us from our sins.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Water and Fire

It is early autumn. The weather is perfect – sunny days in the upper 70’s and clear nights in the upper 50’s. The hills surrounding Jerusalem are dotted with sukkots or make-shift tents with green, leafy roofs. The air is fragrant with citrus. It is the Feast of Booths or the Feast of Tabernacles, and the city of Jerusalem is filled with pilgrims from all around the known world.

Jesus had initially told His family he would not be in Jerusalem for the Feast. Things are getting tense for Jesus. The “Jews” are plotting to kill him – and will succeed in about seven months.

Soon after, Jesus changes His mind. He and his disciples quietly make their way to Jerusalem and slip mostly unnoticed into the city to celebrate the Feast.

During the week of the Feast, Jesus makes His way to the Temple and teaches. The focus of His teaching is that He is from God and teaches the Truth of God.

The Feast of Tabernacles is a remembrance of the 40 years of wilderness wanderings that the Children of Israel experienced after the Exodus. It is also a celebration of the provision of God – taking place at the time of the corn and grape harvest.  King Solomon dedicated the Temple he built to the Glory of God during the Feast of Tabernacles. The celebration includes reading of the Word of God, family meals, and the ceremonial bringing of water to the Temple from the Pool of Siloam.

It was during the bringing of water, on the “Great Day” of the Feast (when the people would walk around the temple seven times and recite Psalm 118:25 - Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.) that
Jesus stood and cried, saying, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” – John 7:37-38

Jesus was speaking of the coming of the Holy Spirit in about 7 months.

Our story fast-forwards through those seven months to the spring of the year. Jesus has celebrated Passover with His disciples, and then was betrayed, suffered, and was crucified for the sins of the world. Three days later He rises from the dead – giving us the promise that we, too, will rise from the grave one day!

For 40 days, Jesus goes in and out among His disciples, giving final teaching and preparing them for the coming of the Holy Spirit and their new mission on earth – to proclaim the Gospel and make disciples.

The Feast of Pentecost arrives – a celebration 50 days after Passover. It is a remembrance and celebration of the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai. Jerusalem is again filled with pilgrims from all around the known world.

The Holy Spirit arrives just as Jesus promised. Now the minds and hearts of the disciples are opened by the Spirit to understand the Scriptures. They now understand how Jesus fulfilled the Law given on Mt. Sinai and why Jesus came and what He did to save the world.

And now the disciples have the power to proclaim this Good News. The air of Jerusalem is filled with the fragrance of the barley and grain harvest. With the coming of the Holy Spirit as a loud, rushing wind and what look like tongues of fire on the disciples’ heads, they proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

And the world is turned upside down!

The Feast of Tabernacles includes water and wine. The Feast of Pentecost includes bread and fire.
Jesus Christ uses water, wine, bread and fire to make us new people – His people – who will share the Good News with all that we meet. As Jesus has promised – you have streams of living water flowing from you as you proclaim the Gospel.


Almighty and ever-living God, You fulfilled Your promise by sending the gift of the Holy Spirit to unite disciples of all nations in the cross and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ. By the preaching of the Gospel spread this gift to the ends of the earth; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

I Love My Church - Part 10

This is based on an article from Hal Seed (accessed here on February 13, 2014).
Hal Seed writes, “A quick read of the book of Acts or the letters in Revelation proves that Jesus loves his church. He died for it, prays for it, lives for it and is going to return for it.
[But] let’s be honest: It’s not easy to love the church. It’s easy to love Jesus. Loving His bride is another story. Churches are filled with frail and fault-riddled people. Every church has a unique personality. All are loved by Jesus, but not all are loved in equal measure by each of His people.”
I agree, loving Jesus is so much easier than loving His bride, the Church. But just like the love of a spouse in marriage, love of the church is more a choice than a feeling.
Based on Hall Seed’s ten reasons that he loves his church, I have ten reasons that I choose to love Jesus’ bride, the Church. They are in no particular order – this is not a ranked list. This week, reason number ten:
10. Full of Marines.
The United States Marines is the smallest branch of the U.S. military. It exists to project military power from the sea (working closely with the U.S. Navy).
U.S. Marines are usually the first armed forces to confront the enemy, doing so in small, compact forces. They may be small in number, but they are powerful! They are dedicated! They are loyal!
That’s the way the Church is, as well. Because let’s face it, we are a small force of powerful, dedicated, and loyal (to God) people who are at war against Satan and his minions.
I think that God intends the Church to be that way – small. If we were a huge army we might get it in our heads that our victories are our own doing. (See the story of Gideon for an example of this idea).
Like a U.S. Marine, we need to be thoroughly trained. The Church has historically done this through what is called “catechetical” studies. Church members are to be in God’s Word daily. Studying the Word, reading it, alone and in groups.
Like a U.S. Marine, we also need to be a part of a “group.” Here, I mean a congregation. There is no such thing as a solitary Christian. In fact, that’s Satan’s most favorite tactic – to get Christians to disengage from their “groups” (congregations) so he can pick them off one by one.
And finally, Like a U.S. Marine, we will never face true defeat. As Christians, as congregations, as a Church, we have already won this war because Christ defeated Satan through His death and resurrection.
There is an added bonus for me personally. The U.S. Marines have the best dress uniforms (in my opinion). And the Church has the best clothes of all – the Robe of Christ’s Righteousness:
“These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:14
It is dangerous work being a U.S. Marine (my uncle gave his life as a Marine in World War II – I wrote about that here). It is also dangerous – in a sense – to be a member of the Christian Church.
Jesus said,
“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. (Luke 10:2-3)
Did you catch that? Jesus is sending us out as “lambs in the midst of wolves.” Think about it. What are the chances that a lamb will survive being in the midst of wolves? Next to nil!
But survival isn’t the point of being a member of the Church. Proclaiming the Good News of Jesus is the point! Our survival is assured, not that we’ll live on this earth, but that we’ll live in Paradise forever with Jesus, with no pain, sorrow, tears or death!
Hal Seed echoes my thoughts about why I love my church with these final words:
“I’ll admit again, my church isn’t perfect. We have lots of warts to work on. But Jesus is working on them daily—which may be the most important reason I love my church!” (read his whole article here).
Why do you love your church? I’d love to hear from you!
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