March newsletter article

Mark 10:29-30 “Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.’”


Mark 10:29-30 is a parallel passage to Luke 18:29-30, which we discussed a few weeks ago. Some use this passage specifically to say, “See! God wants me to prosper materially! I will get houses, and lands! I will have a large family! God promised!” Unfortunately, that misses the point entirely.


When we become Christians, we are adopted into God’s family. We all become children of God. Romans 8:16 says, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” We are now family! As family, we care for and help each other. Galatians 6:10 reminds us, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”


The passage in Mark, as well as the parallels, all help us to realize that when we become Christians we have a large and loving family that is willing to care for us. We have adopted brothers! We have adopted sisters! We have adopted children! We have adopted fathers! We have adopted mothers! And this becomes even more important because our physical family may not be around for one reason or another, or because our own relatives have not been very good examples or helpful to us.


So, what about houses and lands? Well, if you have family who cares for you, you have access to them. We talked about how difficult that can be in a more prosperous society. If all you have are four walls and a roof you may be more likely to have anyone come in and stay with you. What is yours is theirs! If you have more than that, you may be nervous about having someone in, or you may also be worried about the safety of your children or your spouse. So what can we do? I believe that the example of the early church can help point the way: “And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:44-45).


“Pastor, are you suggesting that I sell everything?” No, we covered that a few weeks ago too! What I am suggesting is that when we are generous we can care for people. One way that we do that locally is through the benevolence fund of our church. By pooling our resources we have provided food, gas, appliances, temporary housing, utilities, car repairs, school supplies and countless other items to those who are in need. We have even been able to help those in need find employment from time to time! True, we keep a lot of this private, but I want you to know that First Baptist is doing its best to fulfill the spirit of Jesus’s teaching regarding the family of God when it comes to financial needs. But we also need to realize that it’s up to each of us individually to make sure that we are doing what He says when it comes to our relationships. We need to be parents, grandparents, siblings, and children to each other. For that is when we are truly rich!

December Newsletter Article

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).

The last nine months have been very difficult, but God has given me some special gifts this Christmas. The first gift is obvious: Valerie is still with me, and the prognosis is good ! In fact, she wrote a special post for Facebook that many liked, and they requested that it be included in this church newsletter. The second gift is special: our grandson will be moving to Sister Bay this January (Andrew and Bethany will be living here while he pursues his Master of Divinity). The third gift is you! You have helped us through this with your gifts of time, talent, and resources, all without missing a beat when it comes to the churches ministry. Today shoeboxes are being packed for Operation Christmas Child. Next week 73 meals will be prepared for Thanksgiving. Next month Bridges will receive a $10,000 donation thanks to your generosity during our August fundraiser. But the fourth gift is the most important: Jesus Christ. When we believe in Jesus He takes away the debt we owe because of our sin and we are adopted into God’s family! But, just because the eternal consequences of our debt have been taken away, that doesn’t mean we still don’t struggle with sin. And here is where Valerie can provide some unique insights…

Nobody willingly signs up for cancer.

I have been diagnosed with Leiomyosarcoma (LMS). A fancy word for a rare, chronic disease. A mutation of “normal” cells within soft tissues in my body. There is no cure for LMS – only solutions. The one gold standard permanent solution is to surgically remove it before it has a chance to spread. And even after that, there is no way to tell if it spread without the passage of time. There are “treatments” to perhaps add time, quality of life or a better outcome to surgery. But unseen, the cells multiply, rapidly as my kind of LMS is a “high grade” disease. All I can do is vigilantly examine myself, isolate any bumps, have scans quarterly and see if anything grows. Watch and wait. Then see the surgeon.

But as many of you ladies know, in our Bible studies, I have always compared sin with cancer. You either have it or you don’t. There are not levels of contamination. It is or isn’t. We as humans have sin. We know that it is a fact if we are in the lease bit self-aware or believe the Bible to be true. We are born with it. Ironically, my life has sort of become a living picture of dealing with “sin”. Please indulge me for a few moments with this imperfect, but perhaps useful analogy.

LMS – causes death (90-95% of the time patients eventually succumb)
SIN – causes spiritual and physical death (100% of the time)

LMS – often misdiagnosed, mistreated, ignored – and then causes death more quickly.
SIN – often excused, rationalized, ignored – causes moral breakdown, pain and death.

LMS – best cure is to remove surgically, treatments only offer short term solutions.
SIN – best cure is to remove with the blood of Jesus, other solutions are only short term solutions at best.

LMS – patients often fall into depression and feel hopeless about their situation.
SIN – people are powerless and hopeless about their own situation.

LMS – patients don’t “feel” sick or look sick until the disease has spread.
SIN – people don’t “feel” sinful or that they have a problem until it is often too big to handle.

LMS – patients can ignore the advice of the doctors and surgeons who are trying to help, even to the point of believing that the medical community is “against” them or trying to harm them.
SIN – people have become very distrustful of the Bible, pastors, teachers who dare tell them they have a problem and are just trying to keep them from having “fun” or just being “normal”.

LMS – the patient should have frequent examinations/scans to check for progression or reoccurrence of disease.
SIN – people need to be vigilant and ask God to frequently check us and see if there be any wicked way or thought in us.

LMS – patients have to learn to enjoy the moments – small, good, precious moments of health and remember them when times are difficult fighting the disease.
SIN – people need to learn to remember all the victories, all the small whispers, all the positive moments with God. It encourages us when we are struggling with sin.

LMS – other people are filled with platitudes and advice for the patient. All has to be sifted against the truth of the disease
SIN – the world around us has all kinds of self-help, pseudo religious advice, excuses. All has to be sifted against the truth of the Bible.

LMS – life is about more than just staying alive. It is about living.
SIN – life is about more than just surviving. It is about abundant life here and in heaven with Him.

I battle LMS, but we all battle SIN. Relentless, invasive, fast growing sin.

Only the Great Surgeon can cure us by removing it Himself. I have lost my hair, gained many scars, hope to see little James graduate from high school and feel much more “mature” (read old) than I should at this age of my life. But these things are small compared to what sin has done to our homes, communities, nation and world as it continues its relentless march. Anger, despair, determination, hate or any other human reaction cannot cure the world of its disease. Only God can. And one day, He will take those of us who rely on Him, and not ourselves, to His home, heaven.

Revelation 21:3-4 “And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them and be their God; and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, or crying, nor pain, any more; the first things are passed away.”

November newsletter article

ὑποκριτής , hypocrite, one who pretends to be other than what he/she is

Hypocrisy means that your heart and your actions are out of sync. You are doing things for the wrong reasons. Jesus points out the hypocrites and tells us not to be like them. He points to our prayers and says that they should be heartfelt, and not done to be heard and seen. He points to our giving and says that it should be done in secret, and not broadcast to the rest of the world. Hypocrisy in the Christian life is generally a very bad thing.

But there are also times that you play a part simply because you feel that you have to, and you feel like a hypocrite even though you have the best of intentions. I felt that way this past Sunday. Valerie was finally coming back to church after a seven month hiatus due to her cancer treatments. She had been declared cancer free. Life was finally getting back to normal. And then, Saturday night, right before church, we discovered a lump on her foot. What do we do? We smile and carry on, while on the inside we are struggling.

Why do I share this with you now? Because we are entering into a time of year that can be very difficult for people. Many of us have happy memories from around the holidays. Some of us remember sad or difficult times. Most of us probably have a mixture of both. It is not uncommon for people to hide what they are feeling because they think that it is inappropriate, discouraging, or just too difficult to share. Scripture gives us two pieces of advice to guide us during these times. The first is a good general principle for everyone, but is especially poignant for those who are struggling: “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22). The second is a reminder that God has given us a community to help us survive and thrive: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

Valerie and I never intended to keep what was going on a secret for long. We just hoped to have an answer one way or another before we talked about it. After an x-ray the general consensus seems to be that it’s something to watch, but not something to be concerned about right now. So we watch and wait, and are thankful for each day God brings us. And we are thankful for the community of faith, which helps us to bear our burdens.

October Newsletter Article

Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

We all have a worldview. A worldview is a particular philosophy of life or conception of the world. Christians are encouraged to have a Biblical worldview, seeking to live our lives in accordance with God’s Word and His will. One of the best ways to do that is to study the Bible, but how do we interpret the Bible? And, better yet, how do we use it to interpret the culture around us? Here is where we can find some help, and I want to direct you to some resources that I find useful in formulating a conservative Christian worldview.

1) Listen to good preaching/teaching. Alistair Begg and John MacArthur top my list, and their sermons/teachings are easily found. Whatever else we do, we need a good Biblical foundation.

2) Listen to Al Mohler’s podcast “The Briefing” from Monday through Friday. It is also available online at Dr. Mohler looks at the issues of the day that have some bearing on a Christian worldview.
3) Subscribe to or frequent the website of World magazine ( They seek to report “the news from a Christian worldview—interpreting world events under the reality of the Christian faith.” It is also helpful to sign up for their email updates. I prefer them to Christianity Today.

4) There is a new website that wants to have daily news of importance for Christians: Their motto is “Brief, smart, faithful.” This is a legitimate news service being offered by the creators of and the I’m looking forward to seeing how well this works.

As the world gets wackier and wackier, resources like these will help us to understand the culture that we live in and how to respond in a Biblical manner. In the immortal words of Red Green, “I’m pulling for you. We’re all in this together.”

September Newsletter Article

Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

As you read this Valerie and I will be in the third and final installment of our drama. She has her 1st surgery on August 29th, and her second on September 5th. The first is to remove the cancer, and the second will be to fix her leg from the removal! I have taken September 1st off so that I can be with her, but we have some help coming for the second surgery so I should be with you again on September 8th. Here are two things that I have learned through this process…

Valerie astounds me. When we go into the hospital or the clinic, for treatments or for appointments, the doctors and nurses comment on her demeanor and her kindness. I notice it too. There are so many that come for treatment that look and act absolutely miserable. Why shouldn’t they? If the disease doesn’t kill you the treatment can. But Valerie’s faith has shown through and been noticeable. We have both been tired and afraid. But she has faced this with a courage and conviction that I find amazing.

I have also been reminded that there are blessings to be found in everything. Everyone goes through the “why me?” stage. Valerie went pretty quickly to the “why not me?” stage. We all face troubles in this life, but they don’t have to define us. During the semi-annual business meeting I shared some of the blessings that we were “counting,” and I’d like to update that list for you.

We are blessed because the doctor’s referrals got us to exactly the right place.

We are blessed that her medical team has numerous Christians on it.

We are blessed that there is a Facebook group for her cancer that supports each other.

We are blessed not to have regular insurance, because some have to fight for treatment.

We are blessed that Froedert was comfortable allowing Bellin to do the treatments.

We are blessed that both the chemo and the radiation drastically shrunk the tumor.

We are blessed that it is in the leg, which makes it easier to treat.

We are blessed that it is NOT in the lungs, and the last scan (8/20) confirmed that!

We are blessed by a wonderful church, friends, and family that have been helping us.

Seriously, you have been incredible. I can’t even begin to express how understanding you have been. We realize that it’s a little strange not having Val around, but, short of me putting her in a protective bubble, we felt like this was the best way to get her through the process! Val is especially thankful for those who have taken on her responsibilities at church. And I want to thank you for being understanding about my time. The wonderful thing about this day and age is that with a cell phone and a computer I can work from just about anywhere, and the elders have allowed me to do that! I also want to say a special thank you to Winnie. She has taken on extra while I have been out more, and I appreciate it very much.

So, what is next? I would ask that you pray for clean margins when they take out the cancer, and that the second surgery and recovery go well. This is also a pretty aggressive cancer, so they will be proactive in checking for it. It begins with scans every three months for two years, and two years is a milestone. Anything after two years will mean that we have beaten the odds. There are many reasons medically to think that may happen in this case, but it is all up to God, and we trust the future to His hands.

August Newsletter Article

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

We sometimes hear that God will not give us more than we can bear. The idea comes from 1 Corinthians 10:13. However, that verse deals with the issue of temptation. Paul says that when we are tempted (which I believe is the correct understanding based on the context), God will provide a way for us to escape! In other words, when we make a bad choice we can’t really blame God, because He has given us everything we need to bear up under temptation and to choose Him over sin. That is wonderful and scary all at the same time! But what about all the other things that happen to us as a result of living in a sinful and fallen world? Doesn’t God help us then?

The truth is that God does allow some things to happen to us that seem overwhelming at the time. Consider these words from Paul: “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself” (2 Cor 1:8). We all face struggles, disease, pain, and sorrow in this life. Paul experience more than most. He details more of the difficulties he faced later in that same letter: “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure” (11:24-27). How could he make it through? He gives us his secret a little later. He had another problem. We don’t know what it was. But he brought it to the Lord. Three times. And the answer he got may seem unexpected to us if we’ve been listening to all the bad preaching out there. God didn’t take it away. God didn’t get rid of the problem. God didn’t remove the pain. Instead, God said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And Paul was content with that, realizing that “when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Here is the lesson for us today. When we face difficulty, trouble, pain and despair, they drive us to God. God doesn’t always take those things away, because they are the very things that drove us to Him in the first place! Instead, he give us comfort, courage, faith, and joy in the midst of our circumstances. He assures us that He is with us, even though he doesn’t remove all the pain from our lives. And it is because of that we are thankful.

July newsletter article

Isaiah 38:4-5 “Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: ‘Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.’”

Sometimes things happen in our lives and they give us a better appreciation/understanding of Scripture. An event can bring a passage to mind and it literally leaps off the page at us. What joy Hezekiah must have experienced when he heard Isaiah’s prophecy! I can honestly say that, even with all of the difficulties and traumatic times that Valerie and I have faced in our lives, I understand that joy better now.

We started this process with a lump and a word: leiomyosarcoma. The doctors were very serious. They were concerned that the cancer may be in the lungs. After long consultations we decided to hit it hard. A nasty form of chemo first, with one they call “the red devil.” Then, hopefully, radiation on the lump and surgery to follow. Chemo was hard, with an infection in the middle of it. The doctors, who initially seemed very somber, started to show signs of encouragement. Amazement that the lump on the leg was going down. A high five. Many “you shouldn’t look this good” comments. And through it all Val’s reminder to them that the saints were praying.

Next up: the scan. The hope: no change in the lungs, indicating that the nodules most likely weren’t cancer to begin with. The news: no change! No additional areas of concern in the scans of the abdomen and pelvis. Relief and joy, even on the doctor’s faces! The plan: radiation and surgery to get the cancer out of Val’s body, with a much higher chance of extended life.

Now, the way forward will not be easy. The surgery will take what the doctor described as a “shark bite” out of Val’s leg. Plastic surgery may be necessary. Scans every three month for the first three years, finally morphing into a chest x-ray every year after five years. Life has changed, but perhaps it will be even sweeter and more filled with purpose as a result.

We also understand certain realities. We realize that none of us is guaranteed tomorrow. In fact, we haven’t a clue! “O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am” (Psalm 39:4). God is sovereign, and we are not. We accept that. We also believe that there is something better waiting for us. We agree with Paul that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). We can’t even begin to imagine the peace, joy, and wonder of heaven! But today I side with Hezekiah. It looks like my wife, my partner, my companion, my bride has been given grace, and I rejoice.

May Newsletter Article

Galatians 6:10 “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith”.

First of all, I want to thank you. You are walking through a journey with us (Valerie and I) that none of us expected. The concern and support has been amazing. We continue to covet your help and support.

We have just finished the first round of chemo. It was brutal, and Val was in the hospital for two days more than we thought she would be, but she seems to be regaining some equilibrium. The next doctor’s visit is this Friday (April 26th). We’ll know more then. Her blood count is supposed to keep dropping until about the mid-point between treatments, and then go up until the next dose (which is done inpatient). She currently has three treatments scheduled.

Each chemo treatment is an event, but the next really big event is the CT scan of her lungs that will come after all of this. Valerie’s cancer is rare, aggressive, travels, and could be in her lungs. The good news is that the lump itself is operable, not attached to the bone, and may not be in the lungs. The places are just too small to biopsy. We’re praying that not only will Valerie be able to get through the next two treatments, but that there will be no increase in the nodules in her lungs. Then we should be able to proceed with the radiation and the surgery. For those wondering, the CT scan is used because the PET scan displays both false positives and negatives with this type of cancer.

We have, of course, been praying for healing, good news, easy treatments, etc. during this entire time. There is nothing wrong with that, and we appreciate those prayers being lifted up on our behalf. Healing can come miraculously, or through medical means. It can come quickly, or at the end of a long and hard journey. Here is the hard one: it doesn’t always come. Life is a testament to Hebrews 9:27: “It is appointed for man to die once.” In the midst of this we’re trying to have the attitude of Jesus: “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.’” Through all of this we are trying to be faithful. And though there are many times in life that the words of Scripture reverberate in our souls, 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 has special meaning right now: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” May our journey provide some support and encouragement to you in whatever you may be going through in your own life now, or in the days ahead.

April Newsletter Article

There was a day when telling someone you were thinking of them and praying for them was met with thanks and appreciation. While it is still possible and even likely to get that response today, a distinct and loud minority would have us do away with the phrase, the sentiment, and the action. They see such words as useless platitudes used by people who are not willing to do what is necessary. Are they right?

Although the phrase itself seems weighted toward the idea of prayer, I would like to digress for just a moment to look at the idea of reason and thought in society today. Unfortunately, we see the exaltation of feelings over intellect and actions over thought in our day and age. While feelings and actions can be good, without thought to back them up they lead to simplistic and often wrong responses. Certain branches of philosophy have long taught that thinking is important, with thinkers like Socrates proclaiming, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” and Descartes theorizing, “I think therefore I am.” Although philosophy can be good, we have to remember that God’s Word remains our standard. We would do well to remember God’s declaration in Isaiah 1:18, “Come let us reason together.” Proverbs 1:7 reminds us that “fools despise wisdom and instruction.” We continually find Paul reasoning in synagogues (Acts 17:2. 17; 18:4). And Luke 14:28 records Jesus saying, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” We are taught in the Bible that thinking is a good and necessary part of life!

We are also taught that thinking about and praying for others is good and necessary as well. 1 Timothy 2:1 reminds us that intercessory prayer is an important part of our Christian life: “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.” When we pray for others we should always recognize the sovereignty of God as we pray (“Not as I will, but as you will” – Matthew 26:39), but we should also remember that prayer can change things. “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit” (James 5:17-18). God’s graciousness in commanding prayer is also for our benefit. Philippians 4:6-7 teaches us that we should “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

And perhaps that is the greatest danger that comes from “thoughts and prayers.” Some people just cannot believe that we are not in control. That there is a God. That He can help. That He is all powerful and all knowing. That there is a way to take away the hate and hurt that resides in our souls. That there is a way to be at peace. Pray for them.

March Newsletter Article

For those of you following the Bible reading plan in the bulletin or the reading app, or simply trying to read through the Bible on your own during the year, the first few months may be the hardest.  Leviticus and Numbers are difficult at times, and we often don’t see the need.  Why study the Old Testament at all?  Isn’t the New enough?  Let me share some principles that I came across that can help us to understand why we need the Old Testament.

  1. The Old Testament reveals Jesus Christ. It continually reveals something about Him on every page. From the sacrifice of Isaac to the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, Jesus is constantly revealed.
  2. The Old Testament helps us to understand the New. Where does the idea of “substitutionary atonement” come from? Or God’s sovereignty?  God’s holiness?  God’s mercy?  It all starts in the Old.
  3. The Old Testament is a manual for Christian living. We struggle sometimes trying to understand what laws are still applicable, but 9 of the 10 commandments are repeated in the New Testament.  The Old shows us how God expected His people to live out His commands.  Which leads us to…
  4. The Old Testament presents doctrine in story form. See Hebrews 11 for insight!
  5. The Old Testament comforts and encourages us. Where would we be without the 23rd Psalm? Or the story of Joseph with his wonderful insight?  “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).
  6. The Old Testament saves souls. 2 Timothy 3:15 says “from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” These sacred writings are the Old Testament. Is this sentiment only for the Jewish people?  No, because Paul goes on to remind us that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

I hope that these thoughts encourage you in your Bible reading, and that you stick with it!