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Written by

Ethan Luhman

Ethan Luhman is a pastor in New York, husband of Sherry, and father of three crazy and wonderful boys.

Recent Posts by Ethan Luhman

Repenting: Getting Past the Guilt, Blame, and Shame

Jesus began his public ministry in the Gospel of Matthew by saying, "Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand!" Repenting is clearly important to Jesus. What he was asking people to do back thenand us todayis turn away from the worldly kingdom. Jesus is asking us to turn from the things that are ruling and governing our lives, to take a step outside the walls of our self-built fortresses and begin to look for a new kind of King in a new kind of Kingdom.

So You Missed an Opportunity to Share Your Faith . . .

I'll just come out and say it: I missed an opportunity to share my faith. We had a superhero birthday party for our oldest son, complete with capes, decorated cardboard-box buildings, a Spiderman hanging from the ceiling, and—at my son's request—a butterfly piñata. My wife had invited an acquaintance of hers with a child around our son's age. This woman came with her two kids and her husband, whom I had never met. But we got talking, and he asked me, "So, what do you do?" And I told him, "I'm a pastor." So he followed up, "You don't hear that very often. What got you into that?"

Her Church Is the Mall

She woke up this morning, excited, because she was going to church. She didn't go to church all that often, just a couple times a month, but she loved going. In this day and age where you can connect online and do your "church" through your phone, she still appreciated being among people. There was something about the camaraderie or community of it, everyone together for a similar purpose.

Running on Empty: Four Ways to Avoid Burnout

Last week, the gas light came on in my car. It was time to fill up. That morning, I had left a bit late and had a meeting, so I was slightly annoyed when the gas was pumping slower than normal. I got about four gallons in and thought to myself, "That will get me far enough." So I took off. I had a couple of places to drive that day and had confirmation class that night as well. As I was driving home from confirmation, ding: the gas-light came on again. Running on empty, after having stopped for gas up that morning.

Making Hymns Ours

Before I went to Concordia University Wisconsin to study to be a pastor, I had a narrow view of what "singing hymns" meant. My rural church, nestled among rolling hills, cornfields, and cows, sang the same thirty or so hymns. Over and over. And over. This was partially due to our organist's capabilities, and partially due to the congregation's love for those songs. When I got to college, my perspective of an organ was blown away. That piece of equipment can do some amazing things! Getting hundreds of great singers and a talented organist together creates an unforgettable experience. Honestly, though, singing "Just as I Am, without One Plea" with my small congregation was no less of an experience. And that is because the real power of the experience is not primarily in the organ's capabilities or the singers; the powerful experience is when we make music our own.

Our Godly Mothers

One of the blessings of being a husband and father is that I have the opportunity to watch my wife be a mother. She is a dedicated, loving, selfless mom, and I am thankful for her. Not only does she daily provide for our three sons, she has helped me to see God's love in new ways through her mothering. What's more, I have come to understand my own mother's and grandmothers' love more deeply, and I appreciate more consciously everything my mom and grandmothers have done for me. Mothers make known the very heart of God, and we take one day out of a year specifically to recognize them, (kind of like calling a newborn baby a day old—what happened to those nine months of weight gain, hair loss, fatigue, and sacrifice, if that baby is a mere one day old?), and mothers take it in stride, thankful to receive even one note of thanks along the way.

Get out of the Sheep Pen

If your church follows the lectionary, last Sunday was "Good Shepherd Sunday", when we read Psalm 23 and sing some songs about us being God's little lambs (lutherancalendar.org is a great resource if you're looking for more on the lectionary). It is striking that the Gospel reading for this day from John 10:11-18 misses the beginning of the chapter, where Jesus says, "The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him" (John 10:3-4). This is an important part of the picture of Jesus as Shepherd and us as his sheep: we need to get out of the sheep pen.

A New Way to Emmaus

We know God has a great sense of humor, and I appreciate the Bible stories that make us laugh about how God works. The disciples on the road to Emmaus, in Luke 24, is one of those stories. After the resurrection on Easter morning, Jesus sneaks up on two disciples on their way to Emmaus. "What are you guys talking about?" Jesus asks, nosing his way into their conversation. They don't recognize him and proceed to tell Jesus all about himself. Then Jesus calls them silly fools. Every time I read that story, I can't help but laugh at God's humor and how oblivious I, and all people, can be.

Holy Week Discipleship

Holy Week is over, and your church had 18 different worship opportunities. Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, prayer vigils, on and on, and then finally, Easter. You made it to the Easter service. You had planned to go to more, but stuff came up, life got busy. Next year. There is always next year. And you got to Easter, which is the most important day of the year; it's the celebration of the resurrection! The church smells of hyacinth, and Easter lilies decorate the sanctuary. The youth do their annual Easter breakfast, and the aroma of coffee and bacon are almost irresistible. But now, Easter has passed, and church is back to normal. No expectations of multiple services, only the ring of "Christ is risen!" and a mildly enthusiastic "He is risen indeed!" response.