I apologize for not writing regularly recently. In recent years there have been put pressures on me in my local area that I have not ever previously experienced. As time passed these pressures increased in intensity. Where they were coming from I was not sure although these pressures were certainly no accident. They have undoubtedly affected my work, family and even my peace of mind and freedom to write here. Unfortunately, there have been great losses to me in both my personal and professional life in the last year and a half. On the other hand, I am also concerned about greater issues affecting the holy ministry and congregations. There are obvious forces at work undermining any positive efforts on both fronts. Thoughts have arisen about freedom of religion in our country as well as freedom of religion now even with the sphere of Christianity. I say this because the greatest forces at work seem to want the pastor not to have a focus on or be about the work he is called to do but to focus on everything else, especially defending himself. So I might say the greatest loss I have experienced in the last few years, and especially the last couple of years is being close to Christ and His gifts, the Word and Sacraments, in the blessing of the Holy Trinity. In my personal opinion, I attribute this to a "theology" of functionalism (which is an oxymoron), and an attempt to work out the things that belong to God through legal means. Very man-focused and centered means. There is not much more to say except that using sin as an explanation, in some cases, is really only an excuse to do what one was intending to do all along. This type of sin is quite intentional.
These troubles will pass as do all things good and bad.
On a different note, the number "50" is quite popular today for other reasons. However, the number should be known at this time. In the traditional church year this past Sunday was "50" (Quinquagesima) and tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, begins the "40" days of Lent.