Travel, adventure or any other story I want to share with the world


Travel, adventure or any other story I want to share with the world — 13 Comments

  1. Ted Nugent and Issues, Etc.

    This post could be titled “A Not So Typical Day in the Life of a Pastor.” This is a good light-hearted story for the 4th of July holiday.

    The day started fairly normally yesterday. I spent the first hour or so of the day doing maintenance on the website and then went up to the pastor’s study up at church (let’s stop calling it an “office”) to catch up on phone calls, emails and to start Bible class for Sunday. I also got to spend an hour on the phone doing pastoral care (let’s stop calling it “pastoral counseling”) with a woman who is dear to me. I have been pointing her to the cross of Christ for 15 years now, once or twice a month to help her with her emotional problems. After lunch, (a couple of protein bars – I pretend like I am still on Atkins) I went up to the hospital to make calls. Then things went beyond typical.

    I spent the remainder of the afternoon at home listening to the show while stuffing new member packets for our newest BJS brothers. The Pastor Wilken and Jeff Scwharz kibitzing hour was once again very enjoyable and the “wardog,” Dr. John Warwick Montgomery was comprehensive as always. He is sometimes referred to as the “wardog” because of his take-no-prisoners approach to Christian apologetics. (His colleague at the apologetics institute in Strasbourg, Craig Parton, is a BJS advisory board member.)

    For diner we had ribs and rock ‘n roll. Tom, my favorite Roman Catholic and spouse of BJS editor/writer Elaine Gavin, is an audiophile and every once in while invites us to a concert. The home of BJS, Naperville, Illinois has a 4th of July festival every year called Ribfest where they attract about 50,000 people a day. Each night of the festival they have top name entertainment and on this particular night it was the Motor City Madman himself, Ted Nugent. We accepted the invitation and boy what a day that made for. How about this for an odd combination, Ted Nugent, Pastor Wilken and John “Wardog” Montgomery all within a few hours?

    Actually, maybe it wasn’t such an odd combination, The Motor City Madman and the Wardog. I am not sure which could outlast the other in an energy burn. It would probably be a draw. Ted Nugent, as many of you know is an ardent supporter of the NRA and a flag-waver. He opened the show with a guitar rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and it brought the house down. He spent much of the time between songs editorializing about vegetarians, Barack Obama, freedom, and the importance of speaking one’s mind. His support for outspokenness reminds me of our favorite radio host.

    The concert was outstanding. I certainly do not endorse Ted Nugent’s occasional foul choice of words, but apart from that it was an enjoyable evening filled with an energetic and appropriate use of the electric guitar, i.e. at a secular concert rather than in the Lord’s sanctuary. It was a full two hour concert which was not bad for the $10 admission price. In addition to his typical head-banging rock, he included a three song blues set which was appropriate for this crowd gathered in a suburb of Chicago, the so-called House of Blues. The concert ended with an encore in which “Uncle Ted,” an avid hunter, shot a flaming arrow across the stage in honor of the American Indian and in memory of the millions of buffalo slaughtered on the American frontier. I’m not looking for Pastor Wilken or the Wardog to do the same on any future shows, but I am confident that their energy levels will continue to rival the Motor City Madman.

  2. Sounds like it was a great show. Nothing beats a live concert done by a true musician instead of the prerecorded “music” that most of today’s pop stars perform to. For that matter, I’d also like to get back to Naperville, IL. someday. I did my student teaching at Bethany back in the mid-90’s, and I have fond memories of that school/congregation. Makes me a bit jealous. 😉

  3. I’m not sure whether I am to respond to something posted or to post some “anti-pietist” event(s)in my life, but I will assume the latter. Almost every Friday for the last five plus years a group of men, with an occasional son or daughter of one of the attendees, meet at restaurant/bar and enjoy the company of one another for about an hour and a half. We always begin the meal with a joint table prayer (“Come, Lord Jesus, etc.”). Folk can’t help glancing at five or more men praying out loud. Then throughout the time together we make a little racket talking about this and that and especially religious issues making some of the good folk who don’t know us to glance at us. For a time we had breakfast at the absolutely best restaurant in town which the rest of the day was a fairly active singles bar. The waiter who got to know us said more than once that he wished he could sit down with us and enjoy life the way we did. I count it a victory that he knows we are pious (not pietistic) Lutherans and can have fun.

  4. Elnathan,

    Glad to hear you chiming in on this segment!

    Great story! That is what the whole “No Pietists Allowed” thing is all about.

    May God grant many more wonderful meals to this group.

    Pastor Rossow

  5. What a great idea to share stories of just how enjoyable life is when you’re living wholly in the grace of God with no false sense of obligation to keep some code of conduct to earn salvation. And it’s fun to think of all the opportunities God provides for us to enjoy ourselves. I’m hoping my contribution doesn’t run too long but the past nine months have been amazing. If it is too long I wouldn’t be offended if you didn’t post it.

    It started in December with a trip to Peru where I enjoyed time in the Amazon jungle working with a ministry that has built a 100’ boat that travels upriver to bring the Gospel to native villages. On the way the three of us on the trip had some time in Lima where we sampled the local adult beverage – Pisco sour. It’s a little drink that packs a bit of a punch and one I highly recommend when you get to Peru.

    In January I had the chance to make a quick run to Mexico. And I mean quick, as a teammate and I flew to San Diego where we met the man who coined the term Voluntourism. He took us into Tijuana for a delightful and genuine Mexican dinner. The next day we dropped in on some community development projects that are really making a difference. Then it was back to the border and flight back home to Colorado.

    February had me and a teammate in Ecuador where we stood at the equator and watched water spin in different directions on either side of the line. Pisco sours are also popular in Ecuador so I made sure to enjoy a couple of those, too. We rode horseback up above 12,000 feet in the Andes Mountains one morning and that afternoon hiked into the jungle and rode five ziplines back out. It’s a real rush to be suspended 130’ above a river strapped into a harness flying along on a steel cable. The cables ranged from 700’ – 1400’ and it was truly exhilarating. We also got to meet a man who has built a church and school in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Quito that’s bringing help and hope to hundreds of people.

    On the same trip we headed to Guatemala. Now, Guatemala City is quite interesting and a bit dangerous. We had a great guide who’s a former police officer turned missionary. He and his wife run a feeding center and after school program in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. After visiting with Albert and seeing the great work he’s doing we hopped a flight to Tikal to visit the ancient Mayan ruins that have been reclaimed from the jungle. There’s nothing close to the safety precautions in Guatemala that we enjoy here in the United States. But that didn’t stop me from climbing the 170’ high staircase (almost like a glorified ladder) to the top of a Mayan temple. It’s the location where George Lucas shot scenes of the forest moon of Endor for the Star Wars films. Looking out over the forest canopy I could picture the x-wing fighters taking off. Very cool. I wrapped up the trip with dinner at a famous Guatemalan restaurant…Applebee’s.

    It was March when we headed to Costa Rica. Now that’s someplace I’d recommend for everyone. After visiting an orphanage that’s been helping children for over 75 years we checked out the tourist hotspots. And I mean hot! Arenal volcano in the heart of Costa Rica heats a river that runs down its side. That river is diverted into amazing pools and grottoes at the Tabicon Spa. I donned my swim suit and enjoyed the warmth at the base of the volcano. Sitting in the pool at the bar enjoying a pina colada is a delightful memory I’ll cherish forever. I have pictures.

    From Costa Rica it was on to Jamaica. That’s a place I really wouldn’t recommend. The resorts are great but the abject poverty just outside the gates of the resorts is quite depressing. We stayed at a wonderful hotel in Kingston and met some of the island’s most important church leaders. I got the chance to hang out by the pool and got a bit of a sunburn. We checked out several resorts the most impressive of which was Half Moon Bay. Only days after our visit Prince Charles and Camilla arrived for a visit and stayed at Half Moon.

    The March trip ended with a stop in Puerto Rico to meet with our local coordinator who prepares the community service projects we do on the island every summer. This is where the most bizarre thing happened. Our coordinator, Walter, works with underprivileged kids and he had tickets for a circus in San Juan. Though we were tired from our flight, we graciously accepted his invitation. We arrived at the circus (think a Puerto Rican version of Cirque de Soleil) in a huge tent staked out in a parking lot outside a sports stadium. Because Walter is friends with the owners of the circus we had sweet box seats right in front of the stage. About halfway through the show Walter’s wife Marsha pointed out a man sitting right in front of us and indicated that it was Siegfried. Yes, that Siegfried. Turns out he and Roy did a year in Puerto Rico before moving to Vegas in the ‘70’s and they have lots of friends there, including the owners of the circus. So we stayed after and hung out for drinks and visiting with Siegfried. True story! I have pictures.

    In April my best friend, Dale, who lives in Winfield, IL treated me to a trip to the Master’s Tournament in Augusta, GA. There were six of us there including a Presbyterian Pastor from Oak Park who came as a guest of Dale’s business associate. We had such a blast! We stayed in a private home (one of those people rent to you for the week) in Aiken, SC just a few miles from Augusta. Every night we hit the Aiken hotel for some great scotch and mixing with a bunch of crazy Australians. Turns out they’re all about the golf. One night there was karaoke. We did a late night beer run another night and had a blast running around the grocery store like a bunch of teenagers. Did I mention that Augusta National is one of the most beautiful places on earth? I mean it. I have pictures.

    In July I flew to Chicago where Dale had reserved a 24’ RV and a driver. We started with 18 holes at Prairie Landing in West Chicago, IL. Then we climbed aboard the party bus with satellite television, plenty of good beer, a bottle of 18 year old Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch and a wicked game of Texas Hold ‘em as we headed to TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois for our second round of the day. A night in a hotel and it was off to Harvester Golf Club in Iowa, one of the most exquisite courses I’ve ever seen. The second round that day was played at Tournament Club of Iowa in Polk City. A great steak dinner with my daughter who goes to college in Des Moines and we headed for our next hotel. Our fifth course of the trip was the links style beauty Wild Horse located in Gothenburg, Nebraska. Finally we drove on to Colorado and played our final round at Pelican Lakes in Windsor. The other three headed to the airport in Denver, Dave, our driver, returned with the RV to Chicago and I was already home. Six stunning golf courses in four days…it was glorious.

    Just last Monday I returned from 17 days in Africa. I had so many amazing experiences there that it would be too hard to recap. In short I had the chance to walk through the Kibera slum in Nairobi, one of the largest slums in the world, and meet people who are doing ministry right in the midst of that place. I snorkeled in the Indian Ocean off Mombasa and ventured into the Kenyan countryside on motorcycles and mutatus (funky Kenyan buses). I was invited to speak to over 700 people at a Ugandan church on a Sunday morning with the privilege of sharing from Paul’s first letter to Timothy. I met a Tanzanian Lutheran Pastor and 300 children that his congregation provides school for. On my 50th birthday I woke up in Uganda to catch an early flight to Kenya. There a friend picked me up and transferred me to a regional airport where I caught a small plane to Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. By the grace of God I had the chance to be in three different East African countries to celebrate my half-century. I capped the day off with the discovery of a new beer, Serengeti, and a traditional Tanzanian meal. Throughout the trip I enjoyed some great beer, including Nile Special which is brewed right at the headwaters of the Nile River in Jinja, Uganda (I drove by the brewery), Tusker which is brewed in Kenya but owned by SABMiller, the aforementioned Serengeti brewed in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Kilimanjaro also brewed in Tanzania. I’d recommend any one of these if you ever get to that part of Africa. I saw crazy animals that are a testimony to God’s creativity. My last night in Africa I sat on the veranda of a beautiful resort in the Tarangire National Park of Tanzania and shared 12 year old Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch with some new friends as we looked out over the African countryside and up at the stars of the Southern Hemisphere. I just couldn’t help marveling at what an awesome and wonderful Father God we have and the freedom I have in His grace to enjoy all the world has to offer…literally. I have pictures!

  6. Tim K.,

    Thanks for checking in again and thanks for the great travelogue. That is exactly what the space is for.

    BTW – I too have enjoyed both Prairie Landing and the Harvester. I have not been to Gothensburg. That’s not the Ben Crenshaw design way out west in Nebraska is it?


  7. I’m pretty sure it’s not the Ben Crenshaw design. It’s a public course but ranked on someone’s top 20 list. Way out in the boonies but quite challenging and fun to play. Under $50 for a round with a cart! Just got invited yesterday to go to the 2009 British Open. I look forward to adding that trip here next year.


  8. I forgot to mention, I also got to go to the Masters. Two years ago a pastor frind of mine from central North Carolina called on Monday and left me a mesage saying “I have two tickets to the Masters on Saturday and if you can get here, one is yours.”

    Well, twist my arm and I’ll find a way. I flew Southwest to Raleigh-Durham, drove to Pinehurst and played a nice public course, drove to his place and played two rounds at a course where they have a Srs. tournament every year and then drove the next day down to Augusta and parked our chairs near the 16th where we could also see the second shots coming into 15 (and the greeen) and had a great day. As you know, it is even more beautiful than it looks like
    on television.


    P.S. It’s rather pricey but Whistling Straits in Wisconsin remains my greatest golf experience.

    Hope to make it the Open one of these years, or at least a Scottish golf trip.

  9. “How about this for an odd combination, Ted Nugent, Pastor Wilken and John ‘Wardog’ Montgomery all within a few hours?”

    I remember one spring a few years ago when both Ted Nugent and Issues, Etc. were in Dearborn, Michigan on the same day, and this provided great material for an April 1st post to the old Beggars All blog. I announced that the Nuge would make a special appearance on Issues, Etc. to talk about his book “God, Guns, and Rock ‘ n’ Roll.” Jeff had even requested that he play Stranglehold.

    I had Jon Townsend hook, line, and sinker. I had him and quite a few others. 🙂 I almost felt a little guilty…


  10. My many trips to Italy would not have been quite so exhilarating if I had continued in my former evangelical pietism because I would have missed out on some of the most wonderful wines in the world. In my former life I would have had to sit around with my lips pursed in disgust as others enjoyed the fruits of the earth. I was able to maintain my witness to others by enjoying what was given, not overdoing it or becoming an obnoxious boor. Hard to get over pietism when you have lived it your whole life, but once you realize the freedom you have the less you are likely to engage in license. God gives it all and we are free to partake of what we like. And sometimes you need a little courage when the only churches you can find are dedicated to Mary with Jesus playing second fiddle. 🙂

  11. When I was visiting Westminster Abby in 1996, a docent approached me to start up some small talk. When she found out I was a Lutheran pastor from the United States (she had no clue where Milwaukee, Wisconsin was – makes you feel pretty small), she asked me (imagine an English accent), “Say, do you have ‘confirmation’ for children in their early teens in your church?” “Yes,” I said in my harsh Midwestern accent. (Sub story: If you need to ask for directions and want to get to where you’re going in London, you’d better find out how to pronounce “Tottenham” correctly.) She said, “Do you find that after they’re confirmed, they don’t attend services after that?” I said, “Yes. It happens to us Lutherans in America, too.” It’s a small world as they say.

    So true: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” – Samuel Johnson

  12. Sailing I loved sailing for many years and indeed miss it.In reflection I remember Jesus and the calming of the storm today we find ourselves again in a storm not on the sea.Yet that is not the story.The story is I read in the Lutheran Witness back in 95-96 about a storm being parted in the Gulf War when a Pastor was praying for his troops.That in mind we went out one July day a Friday heading for Coburg Ontario from Niagara on the Lake.My boat was a C and C 30 .We knew the weather report had said a large storm was coming the next day but thought it’s coming would hasten our journey.Much to our dismay it did not.We found ourselves becalmed motoring slapping flies so to speak.We kept our sails up through the night.Hoping for wind.Monitoring the vhf we heard of the storm as it passed from Georgian Bay coming across the Mid lands between the lakes striking and killing people along the way.Yes a women was killed at Chemong Lake as a twister from the storm destroyed her home and destroying many boats and a Marina.So we monitored the radio and proceeded down the lake and waited.It was foreboding.Yet we where committed being a long way out into the lake.The tether for my dingy some how came undone or chaffed through we noticed turning around looking for it.It was lost we surrendered it.The waves where large yet the winds where light.We gave up on the dingy and turned back to the tract to our destination.The VHF continued it’s reports in the usual mechanical tones with reports coming in on the destruction and for mariners to take shelter.We had no shelter to take we where committed.So on we tracked.We where following another friend in his boat.He got quite a way ahead of us when we turned back and we continued to try to close this gap.Little did I know his vhf was not working no wonder he was not answering our calls.He had no warning.I could not close the gap to warn him.The air and atmosphere continued to get angry and a low rumble could be heard with a sense of static electricity building up as the storm made it’s way toward us.What could we do but pray being in the middle of Lake Ontario.Onward we proceeded waiting for the storm foreboding abounding.So we did as prudent sailors do we decreased our wind profile lowering sails taking down the Bimini and tying everything down for a blow.As the storm got closer we put on our survival suits.People hurt huge damage in Toronto storm heading exactly at us.God be with Us.On we tracked Coburg compass heading on we go.Darkness clear skies some hazing a full moon electricity static reports low rumbles approaching with audible intensity.On we go God be with Us.Suddenly a whoosh of air a sudden drop in temperature a cloud with substance the sense of stuff in the air.A sudden whirling motion and the realization we are in a tornado it hitting us like a hammers as rain came and the wind increased blowing higher than the wind speed indicator can measure.It hitting us from the left back quarter almost always does that.The boat God Bless the designer did as it was designed to do.It rounded up into the wind on it’s own axis.Thank God for good engineers. We found ourselves tracking to the center of the wind into the waves huge now like houses.The only way to go.Our friend was not so lucky he had been sleeping his girlfriend at the helm screaming as the wind rain found them on their beam taking on water every where through open hatches.His lady screaming he awakened out of a moon filled dream into a night mare sails flogging and she screaming.Their dingy flipped over dragging stopping them from rounding up into the wind sails flogging a terrible situation and a terrible racket. It was not over in fact it was increasing in intensity.The rain so strong it was hurting your face as it felt we where in a wind tunnel the drops indenting our faces.The seas increased the waves now monsters wishing to beat us down into the depths.Suddenly thunder and lightning strikes on the water all about us so close they where the size of tree trunks striking right beside the boat.We huddled in the cockpit all wash boards in down the hatches battened down so to speak.We decided touch nothing metal I proceed to helm with a rope lashed around the stainless steel wheel.Not wanting to touch it.The little voice the memory to ask God to intervene,To split this storm like the Pastor prayed for in Iraq .We confessed our sins asked God if he wanted us to do anymore work or had more work for us please split this storm, or we would surely die.We confessed our sins said the creed gave thanks to God for all we had done in our lives thus asking for his forgiveness for our transgressions.I a Lutheran my friend a 7th Day Adventist.The lighting struck again and again Our friends struggling now very close to us for their very survival.We continued to Pray for the storm to split.Suddenly over our heads rip the storm splits directly over us and continued to open up over our heads breaking in two as it approached us on the new horizon.We could see the storm raging lightning strikes and thunder on each side of us not a mile away on each side.It sped by the wind still high the waves huge.We seeing a full moon and a beautiful star lit sky above us.We continued to the light of this new way for quite some time .As the morning sun approached we where able to continue our course for Coburg.Thankful to God for his deliverance from the storm.Millions of dollars in damage where reported in Rochestor and Millions of dollars in the Kingston area with power lost for weeks due to poles being snapped off into New York State.We found ourselves in Coburg mid morning on the lawn at the yacht club restitching our friends damaged sails telling our story and buying our friend a new VHF.God is with Us .We boldly told everyone. Amen .Tales of adventure by a Lutheran used to be a Sailor. 🙂

  13. I love speed…hitting 50 mph on my bicycle roaring down mountain passes. My adventure is riding 6000 miles a year. Up. Down. On the flats. Racing. Goofing off. I get an amazing amount of praying done on the bike, too. My bicycle is an absolute wonder of carbon and titanium, and though my pietist friends may think that the money is better spent on a mission trip, I can say with absolute certainty that God gave me a good gift. Isn’t the whole point that the gift doesn’t become a golden calf? Heck, I even made it to the cover of a CHP glossy publication: a spandex clad LCMS pastor. I also like a post-ride espresso, and if its late in the day, a frosty pint of IPA. There’s not a day I don’t give thanks that God recreates me through word and sacrament, and gives the gift of adventure on top of it all.

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