Campfires and Connections

I love campfires!  Sitting outside around a firepit and watching the flames, it can be mesmerizing.  There is a very basic truth about fire, if you take one of the logs out of the fire and place it alone off to the side, it quickly burns out and grows cold.   When I think about lifeGroup, I think about how important it is to stay connected to others to stay on fire in my faith. To sustain the life giving habits of following Jesus we need each other.  


In John 10:10 Jesus says: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”


Satan is the thief and part of how he comes to steal and kill and destroy is in keeping us isolated and alone.  Thinking we can be just fine on our own. Convincing us that it is just easier to not get involved with other people. Those are lies. And Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). He works overtime convincing you to not make the effort of a weekly lifeGroup gathering.  


The truth is we are better together than we are alone. We were reminded recently in the sermon about lifeGroup that it is a beautiful mess.  No one has said that it is an easy commitment to make. No one says that every time you gather it will be amazing.  We have however said that it is of great value. Risking knowing people at a deeper level than just hello on Sunday mornings allows for relationships you can depend on in time of need, people you can genuinely celebrate with, and brothers and sisters who really care.

If you are currently experiencing the beautiful mess of living life together with others, who could you invite to join you in lifeGroup?  Who do you know either in the Church or in your neighborhood that would benefit from growing closer to Jesus as they would grow closer to others?  If you are not currently in a lifeGroup, contact me and let’s see if we can connect you to a lifeGroup.  Or check out the leaders on our website and contact one of them.

Boldness and Doubt

I am such a mixture of boldness and doubt; courage and timidity.

Jesus is so patient, so gracious.

In Matthew 14 Jesus invites Peter to walk on the water. It’s a simple invitation: “Come!” Peter gets out of the boat. No hesitation. He set his sites on Jesus, out on the water, and takes the risky step forward. Such boldness. “But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and, beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” (vs. 30) Oh, Peter, such a mixture of boldness and doubt.

Standing in front of the Annual Meeting on December 13th and introducing our God-sized initiative for 2016 was a bold move. The initiative has two major benchmarks:

  • 200 people making 16 invitations to friends, neighbors, family to join them where they are enthusiastically involved in the Church’s strategy.
  • Raise our annual revenue by 16%

So, being the mixture of boldness and doubt that I am, almost immediately after that meeting in December, I began to ask: “Will our people invite? Will they step up and give?”

My courage was tested when the first monthly financial report came in a few days ago. Where was the boldness? Where was the confidence that led us to set the bar high for 2016? Staring at the email which contained the January financials, I was confronted with my own doubt. I was timid. Hoping for the best, yet pessimistic, I opened te email.

$51 more in revenue than we had budgeted.

Come on, really? Really.

And, Jesus reaches out His hand takes hold of mine and says to me, “You of little faith, why do you doubt?” (vs. 31) Exactly, Lord! Why do I?  Please pray for me as I make this Psalm my affirmation for the day:  When I am afraid, I will put my trust in YOU. Psalm 56:3

And, may our gracious, patient and all-powerful Lord continue to multiply His gifts in us and through us to the glory of His name, and the success of our shared mission to connect people to life in Jesus!

P.S.  As of the writing of this article we have counted (that we are aware of ) 55 different people who have made a total of 160 invitations.  Wow! Yay, God!  Lord, I believe. Help me with my unbelief!



Small Shift, Big Blessing

Let me share a story with you and a lesson I recently learned. I was looking on Facebook and noticing all sorts of pictures of beautiful sunsets that people were capturing from one particular evening. I had noticed the pretty sky that evening as well, but from my living room window my view only has a small slice of the western sky. I found myself being a little envious of those people who have a wide open view of the sun setting each night from their home. Instead of complaining, or coming up with excuses the next evening I checked what time the sun was going to set and I intentionally got myself to a place for a perfect view of God’s amazing artwork. I was not disappointed as I sat on the grass at the top of a hill and watched the sun set.  

It didn’t take much for me to move from my living room to a place where I could see the sun set better. It was a small shift in location, and I was intentional about following through on my idea.

Is there a shift that you need to make to take part in the blessing of living life together with others in lifeGroup?

Perhaps there is a shift in your calendar of activities that needs to be made. Is there one night a week that you can set aside as a family to put lifeGroup as a priority? What do you need to be intentional about following through on? Has someone invited you to lifeGroup but you have come up with all sorts of reasons why you can’t go? Maybe you could be intentional about saying yes, or contacting them and asking if you could come check it out. If you are in a lifeGroup, who could you invite to join you?

I have been blessed over and over again by gathering weekly with other Jesus followers. There is encouragement and challenge and laughter and prayer support. There is depth of relationships that goes far beyond “Hi, how’s it going?” on a Sunday morning. They are people that I care about and they genuinely care about me. They remind me of God’s promises and his faithfulness. Living life together with others and connecting in lifeGroup is a gift. Being able to multiply those groups so more and more people can take part in them is a privilege and a joy.


What If You Die Without a Will?

Do you know what happens at death if you have no will? Generally state law dictates what happens to your remaining wealth – your investments, house, vacation property, etc. If you live in Wisconsin then Wisconsin law dictates what happens, but if you own a second residence out-of-state, then that state’s laws may be relevant as well. An exception exists where you have already dictated where certain assets go – for example, the beneficiary of an IRA or an insurance product.

Without a will several unintended results can occur:

  • There may be no direction as to who will raise minor children and who will manage the remaining assets on their behalf.
  • Final distribution of estate assets is greatly delayed when handled by the courts.
  • Sizeable wealth may be left to young adults who are unable to responsibly manage the wealth.
  • Legal costs of administering the estate are higher.
  • There is no legacy – nothing goes to your church or to other charitable causes that may be dear to your heart.

So with all these negative consequences why do people die without a will? Younger people think they’re too young to worry about such matters. Others don’t want to incur the legal costs, while others simply don’t want to think about this unpleasant event. Many don’t realize the amount of wealth they have accumulated. Yet we all know death can occur at any time and we need to be prepared. Others are relying on us.

1impact Community Endowment Fund is a permanent fund established to provide financial assistance to others in our community and church body in purposeful and enriching ways.  This fund is separate from the operating fund used to run daily and normal operations of the Church.  The purpose of the 1impact Community Endowment Fund is to receive gifts and bequests for the further growth of our church and the mission and ministry of the Church – to connect people to life in Jesus!

An Endowment fund is designed to preserve the principal and use the earnings to fulfill our mission.  The Fund provides a permanent source of support. Please consider including our endowment fund in your will.

Part of making a charitable bequest is demonstrating your values and beliefs to your family, reinforcing what you have done during life and setting an example of kindness to people you may never know, but wish to assist. You become an immortal philanthropist.

Interested in hearing more? Contact anyone on the 1impact Endowment Fund committee: Rich Frohmader, Peter or Candi Huebner, Cindy Simon, Jim Haas, Brian Wilmot, or Pastor Jeff. Your conversations and decisions always are kept in confidence. We can refer you to attorneys in the area or help your existing attorney add the endowment fund to your will. We also have a gift planner on retainer who provides free advice. Please feel free to call any of us.

            The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart.  Luke 6:45

Rich Frohmader, Partner with Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP, has been with the firm since 1989. He is a Manufacturing/Distribution Services Group Tax Partner and a member of the Baker Tilly Renewable Team. Rich previously served as the Firm’s Tax Director. He has over 30 years of public accounting experience, including over ten years with an international firm.


The Church Leadership Board - Meet the Nominees


On Sunday, December 13th, from 12pm-1pm, our church will have its Annual Voters Meeting. A few key points of the agenda include learning about the ministry plan for the church and electing board members. This year we are electing two board members for full three year terms and welcoming another new board member to complete a one year term.

I find the Annual Voters Meeting is the perfect chance to become more informed about some of the servant leaders of the Church as well as the specific ministry plan of the church. And in preparation for electing new board members, here is just a little information about each person. You can also meet the rest of the Leadership Board here.

Laura Potter - Board Nominee

Laura lives in Oregon with her husband Jim and attends the Church in Fitchburg.. She loves gardening and she has several animals including 15 chickens! Laura & Jim have six grown daughters and seven grandchildren.

When Laura was searching for a church home in 1991, she was drawn to the Church because of the friendly people. Over the years, she has served in many ways including Sunday school and altar guild.

Laura attends lifeGroup with the Huebners and also is intentional about living life together with the people in her neighborhood. As a board member, she is most looking forward to serving and using her gifts in a different way than she has in the past.

Eldon McLaury - Board Nominee

Eldon and his wife Ginny live in Fitchburg and attend the Church in Fitchburg. Eldon grew up on a farm in Iowa, served in the Army, and after college went on to a career in waterfall management.  He and Ginny have lived on several National Wildlife Refuges.  They have three married sons and nine grandchildren.

When Eldon moved to Madison in 1981, he looked for a Missouri Synod church and found CMLC.  Once he attended, he became friends with Fred and Carol Tiemann, who introduced him to Dick Lee (wife Judy) who later built their house for them!

Eldon’s lifeGroup has been assisting at Oakwood church service once a month for several years. They are building relationships with residents and that's been a pleasure.  Eldon looks forward  to serving on the board and representing the congregation.

Donna Meyer - Board appointed to complete a one year term

Donna describes herself as a single lady working full time at CUNA Mutual Group as a Project Specialist.  Music is a welcome pastime - she is a member of the worship team here and of the Unkalung Choir with the Adult Christian Education Foundation.  

Although Donna grew up in the Church in Fitchburg, she left in her early 20’s and then came back when she was a caregiver for her parents. She knows it is through God’s work through his people at the Church and His Word that she is here.

Currently, Donna is not part of a formal lifeGroup but is intentional about meeting regularly with a fellow church member in order to share life’s challenges and to learn and grow together in their relationship with Jesus. As a board member, Donna is looking forward to seeing what God will do in and through His people here at the Church in the next year as we live life together in Jesus, worship Him, and share His love with those in our neighborhoods and around the world.

I look forward to seeing you on Sunday, December 13th, for the Annual Voters Meeting. And don’t forget that the Packers play the Cowboys at 3:25 pm that day, so we won’t miss it!

Do you have other questions or comments for the Leadership Board? Sign in and leave your questions or comments in the comment section below.