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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Perspectives by Dr. Jerry Kieschnick

Volume VIII Number 10—September 29, 2016
Declining Churches
Both articles identify a common pattern among churches in decline: an inward focus, to the exclusion of an outward focus. No surprise there! Here are some highlights from Rainer's article:
"Ministries in declining churches are only for the members. Budgeted funds are used almost exclusively to meet the needs of the members. Times of worship and worship styles are geared primarily for the members. Conflict takes place when members don’t get things their way."
"Other symptoms include very few attempts to minister to people in the church's community. Church business meetings become arguments over preferences and desires. Members in the congregation are openly critical of the pastor, church staff, and lay leaders in the church."
"In declining churches, any change necessary to become a Great Commission church is met with anger and resistance. The past becomes the hero. Culture is seen as the enemy instead of an opportunity for believers to become salt and light. Pastors and other leaders in the church become discouraged and withdraw from effective leadership."
Danielson adds: "Our churches are not here to make us (the believers) happy, meet our needs, satisfy our desires, or affirm our opinions. Our churches are here to reach people who are desperately far from God. Our churches do not exist for us. Our churches exist for the lost."
He continues: "We need to ask ourselves some tough questions. What do I not like about my church? What if the very thing I don’t like is the thing that will reach people for Jesus? What do I love most about my church? What if the very thing I like most is the thing that is a barrier to reaching people for Christ? Am I willing to support changes I don’t like? Am I willing to lay down my preferences and opinions for the sake of people who are lost?"
"While our own desires don't automatically contradict our mission, we must be diligent never to allow our desires to supersede the mission. What should we want more than seeing people come to faith in Christ? Nothing. Absolutely nothing."
Sound familiar? This syndrome is not uncommon in congregations of the national church body of which I am a member. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is no stranger to decline.
Rainer helps with words of hope: "For those of us in Christ, however, there is always hope—His hope. Times are tough in many churches. Congregations are dying every day. Many church leaders are discouraged. But we serve the God of hope. Decline does not have to be a reality."
My additional comments are these: There are lots of moving parts in the process of transforming a declining church to a church of health and vitality, many more than can be satisfactorily covered in Perspectives articles. But do not despair. Hope comes in various ways.
If your church is declining, begin now to pray. Respectfully express to your pastor and other church leaders your concern and offer to assist. Consider encouraging him or them to take the step of reaching out to someone who might be able to help. For ideas of where to find such help, contact leaders of a healthy church. If all else fails, let me know.
It's important to remember what Jesus said about himself: "The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." (Luke 19:10)
Dr. Gerald B. (Jerry) Kieschnick
President Emeritus | The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod |
Inheritance Legacy Consultant | Lutheran Foundation of Texas |
"Helping Christians use God's gifts to create a legacy for family and faith!"
P.S. Don't forget about "In the Footsteps of Martin Luther and the Reformation 2017 Tour" with the Wendish Territory Pre-Tour. For more information and registration, go to
Note: Opinions in this issue of Perspectives are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lutheran Foundation of Texas or The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
For previous issues of Perspectives go to
To view a video with information regarding Lutheran Foundation of Texas go to 

Mooney Falls

From Bureau of Reclamation:

Mooney Falls, the final and highest waterfall formed by Havasu Creek, is situated within the Havasupai Indian Reservation, Supai, AZ. It is more than 200 feet high and its roar can be heard two miles down the canyon below. Mooney is named after an early miner who lost his life trying to scale this sheer wall by rope. #throwbackthursday #TBT

#scenic #Arizona

Romans 1:16

From Christian Life of Faith:

#Jesus #JesusChrist #Gospel #Christ #Christian #BibleQuote

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Olympic National Park in Washington

From U.S. Department of the Interior:

A view worth waiting for: Deep violets and pinks overtake the sky at Olympic National Park in Washington. Of this moment, photographer Grant Longenbaugh says, “The sea stacks were beautifully accentuated by the moist air, and while the actual sunset was quick and relatively colorless, about 30 minutes after, the sky lit up.” Soak in the scenery of the park's more than 70 miles of wild coastline by hiking, backpacking, exploring tidepools and more. Photo courtesy of Grant Longenbaugh.


Table Rocks Area of Critical Environmental Concern in Oregon

From U.S. Department of the Interior:

Scenic panoramas of the Rogue Valley and surrounding mountains await you at the Table Rocks Area of Critical Environmental Concern in Oregon. This 3,172-acre area is cooperatively managed by the Bureau of Land Management and The Nature Conservancy to provide educational opportunities and protect special biologic, geologic, and scenic values. Steep hiking trails lead to the top of Upper and Lower Table Rocks, while a half-mile accessible trail at Lower Table Rock provides visitors with a less strenuous option. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management - Oregon.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Living in a Desert Basin

From NASA Earth:

Living in a Desert Basin

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station looked west from more than 700 kilometers (400 miles) away and focused an 800 mm lens on the shorelines of Utah Lake and other water bodies in Utah. Shorelines are easy to see from space and often indicate interesting centers of human activity.

Utah Lake is so shallow that surface waves stir up light-toned muds from the bottom, giving the lake a light green-blue hue. Across the middle of the image, gray tones show the Provo-Orem metropolitan area that fringes the length of the lake, which is 33 kilometers (20 miles) long. The lake’s only outlet is the Jordan River (right), which leads water to the Great Salt Lake (at times when Utah Lake stands high).

The Veterans Memorial Highway is a straight white line running through the metropolitan area from Provo to Lehi. Most of the green tones fringing the cities are farms that stretch right down to the water’s edge. The lower part of the image shows the thickly wooded Wasatch Range, which rises so high above the city that it captures rain. Provo Peak and Mount Timpanogos are two well-known local peaks.

Finding water for a population of 527,000 people and for local farming has always been problematic in Utah. Luckily snow and rainfall on the Wasatch Range nearby provide enough water—when there is careful conservation and reuse of water. The main water supply points are Utah Like and rivers like the Provo, which cuts through the main Wasatch Range in a dramatic canyon. The Provo River connects to Deer Creek Reservoir on the east side of the mountains.

Moonrise on the International Space Station

From International Space Station:

Fall Colors

From U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mountain-Prairie Region:

Fall colors on Little Mountain in southwest Wyoming. Photo: Tom Koerner/USFWS

Hidden Wonders

From NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration:

Hidden Wonders: Looking towards the brilliant disk of Saturn, surrounded by icy lanes of its rings, as seen by our Cassini spacecraft:

Sunrise at Fantasy Canyon

From U.S. Department of the Interior:

As if Fantasy Canyon isn’t already a great name, this remote wonderland in Utah has also been called “The Devil’s Playground” and “Hades Pit.” Off the beaten path of more famous Southwestern sites, Fantasy Canyon is protected by the Bureau of Land Management and boasts some of the most amazing erosional features you will ever see. Sunrise photo courtesy of Brock Slinger. — at Bureau of Land Management - Utah.

Tectonically Active Mercury

From NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration:

It’s small, hot & shrinking. Mercury joins Earth as a tectonically active planet and it's contracting:

Possible water plumes erupting on Jupiter's moon Europa

From NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration:

We've spotted possible water plumes erupting on Jupiter's moon Europa using the Hubble Space Telescope:

Psalm 46:10

From Our Daily Bread:

Kansas City Weather | September 26, 2016

From US National Weather Service Kansas City Missouri:

Well, if you like typical end-of-September weather for the KC area...welcome to this forecast! Average high temperatures for the end of September at KC is 73-75 and the average low temperature is 51-53. We will be very close to those numbers all week with no rain in sight. Enjoy, and have a great week!

Kansas City Weather

From US National Weather Service Kansas City Missouri:

We told you fall would get here eventually, and we don't see the temperature climbing out of the 70s for at least the next 7 days. Enjoy!

Natural Bridge site in Rockbridge County, Virginia

From National Park Service:

U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewel has designated the geologically and historically significant Natural Bridge site in Rockbridge County, Virginia as an NPS Affiliated Area! The site, recently designated as a state park, will be managed by Virginia State Parks

Learn more here:


Sea Ice Forming and Retreating

From NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration:

Each winter, sea ice forms in both the Arctic and the Antarctic, then it retreats with each summer, but does not completely disappear. Explore all about sea ice with Earth Observatory:

Words To Live By

Original source unknown.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Trail Ridge Road and Old Fall River Road have re-opened

From Rocky Mountain National Park:

Trail Ridge Road and Old Fall River Road have re-opened after yesterday’s high country snow storm closed the roads temporarily. Trail Ridge Road usually closes for the season mid-October to late October and can be temporarily closed due to weather before it closes for the winter season. To find out the current status of park roads call 970-586-1222. For current web cam views of the park:

(NPS Alpine Visitor Center Webcam)sl

Long and Winding Road

From U.S. Department of the Interior:

“There's just something about a winding road that ignites wanderlust,” says photographer Kathryn Dyer, and we couldn’t agree more! At an impromptu stop in California’s Yosemite National Park, Kathryn captured this incredible shot of Half Dome shining golden from a beautiful alpenglow and framed by trees. When you visit public lands, you never know what amazing vistas you’ll find! Photo courtesy of Kathryn Dyer. — at Yosemite National Park.


Kansas City Weather Forecast

From US National Weather Service Kansas City Missouri:

Cachuma Lake, CA

From Bureau of Reclamation:

Blue skies and clouds hide the sun at Cachuma Lake, CA. Photo by Reclamation Mid-Pacific Region. #sunriseandsunsets


Noah Webster ~ "Principles of genuine liberty, and of wise laws and administrations, are to be drawn from the Bible..."

From Bible Answer Man:

Psalm 30:4-5 ...Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning....

From Bible Answer Man:

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Kansas City Weather

From US National Weather Service Kansas City Missouri:

Happy National Public Lands Day!

From the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

Happy National Public Lands Day! Showing love to the lands that give wildlife a home & get us outdoors. #NPLD Find a wildlife refuge to visit using this locator map:

Wichita Mountains #WildlifeRefuge in Oklahoma by Larry Smith, Creative Commons.


James 1:17 "Every good and perfect gift..."

From the Bible Answer Man:

People Couldn't Stop Him

From The Grain of Mustard Seed:

ATLANTIC OCEAN - Tropical Storms Karl and Lisa and a New Low Pressure Area

From NASA's Hurricane Web Page:

ATLANTIC OCEAN - Tropical Storms Karl and Lisa and a New Low Pressure Area
There are three tropical low pressure areas in the Atlantic. Karl in the Central Atlantic and Lisa and a new low in the eastern Atlantic. All are shown here on this NOAA GOES-East image.
1) Tropical Storm Karl Moving away from Bermuda and Strengthening. The Bermuda Weather Service has discontinued the Tropical Storm Warning for Bermuda.
At 11 a.m.EDT (1500 UTC), the center of Tropical Storm Karl was
located near latitude 32.8 North, longitude 62.7 West. Karl is
moving toward the northeast near 18 mph (30 km/h). A northeastward motion at a much faster forward speed is expected during the next 36 hours. On the forecast track, Karl will continue moving quickly away from Bermuda today.
Maximum sustained winds are near 65 mph (100 km/h) with higher
gusts. Some strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours,
and Karl is expected to reach hurricane intensity on Sunday
2) Tropical Storm Lisa Weakening - At 11 a.m. EDT (1500 UTC), the center of Tropical Storm Lisa was located near latitude 24.7 North, longitude 38.8 West. Lisa is moving toward the northwest near 10 mph (17 km/h). A west-northwestward to northwestward motion is forecast during the next day or so. A turn toward the north is expected by late Sunday. Maximum sustained winds are near 40 mph (65 km/h) with higher gusts. Gradual weakening is forecast, and Lisa is expected to become a post-tropical cyclone by tonight.
3) The Developing Low - . A tropical wave, accompanied by a broad area of low pressure, is located south of the Cabo Verde Islands. This disturbance is expected to move rapidly westward across the tropical Atlantic Ocean at 20 to 25 mph for the next several days. Environmental conditions are expected to become conducive for gradual development, and a tropical depression could form while the system approaches the Lesser Antilles and moves into the Caribbean Sea by the middle of next week. This system has a low chance to develop in 2 days and a medium chance out to 5 days.

Happy National Public Lands Day!

From U.S. Department of the Interior:

Happy National Public Lands Day! America’s public lands give us so much, like this epic view at Great Smoky Mountains National Park that’ll leave you breathless. Check out more of our favorite things about public lands: Photo courtesy of Bob Carr. #NPLD — at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Only One Who Can Save Us

From Fox News:

Following police shootings of black men in Tulsa and Charlotte, Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson said that America can only move forward with a nationwide change of heart, and there's only one way to achieve that. 

Full interview via The Kelly File:

Last Hurrah

From NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration:

Showing the colorful "last hurrah" of a star, the Hubble Space Telescope captured a star casting off its outer layers of gas:

Kansas City Weather | Sep 23, 2016

From US National Weather Service Kansas City Missouri:

The average high for September 23 is 76 degrees and today is going to be around 85, perhaps pushing 90. Some relief is on the way with some strong thunderstorms possible for Saturday evening, with gusty winds and isolated flooding possible.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

One more from John Quincy Adams on the anniversary of his assuming the role of Secretary of State

From The Founders, Religion and Government:

One more from John Quincy Adams on the anniversary of his assuming the role of Secretary of State, just one of many positions he held in his very long service to his country.

"Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon the earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity, and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfilment of the prophecies, announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Savior and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets six hundred years before?"
~ John Quincy Adams, Independence Day Speech (July 4, 1837)

Today marks the anniversary of John Quincy Adams, the oldest son of Founder John Adams, becoming Secretary of State to President James Monroe.

From The Founders, Religion and Government:

Today marks the anniversary of John Quincy Adams, the oldest son of Founder John Adams, becoming Secretary of State to President James Monroe.

"To a man of liberal education, the study of history is not only useful, and important, but altogether indispensable, and with regard to the history contained in the Bible, the observation which Cicero makes respecting that of his own country is much more emphatically applicable, that 'it is not so much praiseworthy to be acquainted with as it is shameful to be ignorant of it.'"
~ John Quincy Adams, Letter to his son


From USFWS National Wildlife Refuge System:

Autumn! Why do you love this season? Beaches are better empty. Campsites are cool. Colors are more intense. Find your fall at a national wildlife refuge.
Photo by Robert Dunn at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico:

Happy first day of Fall!

From U.S. Department of the Interior:

Happy first day of Fall! Are you ready for the smell of campfires and the glorious transition of leaves to orange, red and yellow? We hope the change of season will take you to public lands across the country to experience gorgeous colors like these atBig South Fork National River & Recreation Area. The park buffers the Cumberland River as it runs across the Kentucky-Tennessee border, boasting miles of scenic views and lovely wooded trails. Photo by National Park Service. — at Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

An Inside Look: Anatomy of a Team Up Workshop

From the #USDA:

If you haven’t heard the buzz, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s expansion of the Team Up for School Nutrition Success  initiative is in full swing, with 20 completed trainings and 14 more scheduled for 2016. Team Up offers a unique learning experience that enhances schools’ food service operations through training and peer-to-peer mentorship to school nutrition professionals looking to maintain a healthy environment and encourage strong student meal program participation.
What exactly happens at a Team Up training? Ever had an “a-ha” or a “why didn’t I think of that” moment when a friend shares a really great idea? Team Up is where “a-ha” moments are shared among school nutrition professionals and turned into action back via their school meals programs. Let’s break down a Team Up workshop to see how these “a-ha” moments transpire.
A peer mentor shares her best practices for menu planning during the Wisconsin Team Up training.
A peer mentor shares her best practices for menu planning during the Wisconsin Team Up training.
Best Practice Panel Presentations
 Great ideas are meant for sharing. Team Up workshops kick off with panels where participants hear school nutrition peer mentors share their best practices and strategies for issues like increasing school meal program participation, menu planning and financial management.
At the Georgia Team Up training, participants share ideas and questions for menu planning and increasing program participation.
At the Georgia Team Up training, participants share ideas and questions for menu planning and increasing program participation.
Breakout Sessions 
This is where the magic happens! After listening to best practice presentations, participants break out into small groups for a round of brainstorming and problem-solving around each specific topic, all with best practice ideas in mind. Using the Egan Skilled Helper Model, which uses an opportunity-development approach, school nutrition peer mentors guide and facilitate discussions as participants identify their program challenges and develop solutions with their peers.  During the breakout sessions, participants examine:
  • What is going on in my school nutrition program?
  • What does a better outcome look like?
  • How do I get to the better outcome?
  • How do I make it all happen?
 The Action Plan 
Participants examined their challenges and solutions and excitement is building around progress and potential opportunities identified during the breakout sessions. What do participants do with all of these great ideas? Peer mentors help participants put their specific strategies and solutions into an action plan using SMART goals, which are defined as goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time‐bound. Participants take their action plan home as a guide to implement their Team Up strategies and solutions in their school nutrition programs. 
Operating a school meals program can be challenging, but school nutrition directors don’t have to do it alone. Team Up workshops invite allied organizations to share their free school nutrition resources that support school food service operations and help create a healthy school environment. Participants can use these resources as they move forward with implementing their action plan in their school nutrition programs. 
Networking is another valuable resource Team Up workshops provide, giving school nutrition directors opportunities to develop working relationships with their peer mentors and other school nutrition directors in their state. Many directors who have attended a Team Up training have expressed that they’re not alone and can turn to their fellow director. “I can now see what areas I need to work and improve on in my program. I see that I am not alone in my journey. I have many helpful people that I can rely on for help and guidance. The Team Up training was valuable to me because I am more comfortable talking to my peers. I see I am not alone and I can ask for help.” – Rebecca Lusk, Manager/Supervisor, Towns County Schools, Hiawassee, Ga. 
After the Workshop 
The Team Up workshop may be complete, but the Team Up spirit lives on. After returning home, participants roll up their sleeves, take a deep breath, and take the first steps outlined in their Team Up action plan – and then real life happens. Barriers pop up as action plans are implemented, but there’s no reason to get discouraged. Team Up peer mentors and state agencies are still available should participants have questions or get stuck with their action plan. In addition, USDA together with the Institute of Child Nutrition hosts monthly webinars for school nutrition professionals to expand their knowledge and tools on a wide variety of topics; webinars recordings are made available online for later viewing. 
And this is why Team Up workshops are so effective – Team Up encourages school nutrition professionals to continue to network with their peers and problem-solve school nutrition program barriers long after the workshop is completed. No one is an island, and we must team up to make school meals accessible, nutritious and delicious! 
For more information about the Team Up for School Nutrition Success initiative, check out the Team Up Web site and these guest blogs authored by former participants in the Team Up workshops.  For more information on other training and resources available to school nutrition professionals, visit ourHealthier School Day web site.

Mt. Carmel Highway

From U.S. Department of the Interior:

As you enter Zion National Park from the east, Mt. Carmel Highway offers spectacular views and ever changing landscapes as you zig-zag your way down into the park’s canyon. Ian Barin captured this pic from above the winding road at sunset this past June. Photo courtesy of Ian Barin. — at Zion National Park.


September Sunrise

From Great River and Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuges:

A beautiful September sunrise at Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge! 


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Puzzling Appearance of an Ice Cloud

From NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration:

The puzzling appearance of an ice cloud has prompted scientists to suggest that different processes than previously thought — possibly similar to one seen over Earth’s poles — could be forming clouds on Saturn’s moon Titan. Find out more: