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Sermon for Lent 1

February 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Sermon for Lent 1

13 Sermon for Lent 1 – MP3 audio

Luke 4:1-13

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Jesus went out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  It’s a familiar passage of Scripture.  I want to make 3 points about it this morning: first, that Jesus actively went out into the wilderness to be tempted; second, that by being faithful when tempted, he shows us his perfect faithfulness to God, and third, that He confirmed this is the way of the church described in the book of revelation, and because of all the material here I’m really just going to focus on the second temptation.

So, first things first, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted.  Jesus actively and purposely went into the wilderness seeking to engage the devil and his wiles and ways.  Just prior to this event, Jesus is baptized in the Jordan, into a ministry of carrying the sins of the world to cross.  Jesus was not just out wandering around one day and found himself stumbling about in the wilderness for 40 days, in the wrong place at the wrong time.  No, the Holy Spirit who had just descended on him in the form of a dove began to lead him through the wilderness during this 40-day battle with the devil.  Jesus was in the right place and the right time, out in the wilderness actively fulfilling the Law of God.  The Israelites were tempted in the wilderness and gave in, rebelling against God and his Law and his provision for them in the wilderness.  Every place Israel failed, Jesus did not, being the perfect Son of the covenant of the Lord.

But there is one more layer of meaning here.  Jesus isn’t just the new Israel, he doesn’t just correct Israel’s sins in the wilderness; he goes all the way back to Adam and is the new faithful Adam.  Where Adam was unfaithful and rebellious to God in the garden and was cast into the wilderness, Jesus, the new Adam, goes into the wilderness and was faithful and true to God’s Word.  If there is any doubt about this, it’s not a coincidence that immediately before our reading this morning is the genealogy of Jesus all the way back to, Adam–the Son of God.”  What is the devil’s taunt to Jesus?  “If you are the Son of God… ?”  By the way, sometimes people ask, why are all those boring genealogies in the Bible?  Well, that’s why this one’s here.  Jesus is the new Adam.  Where Adam gave into temptation and ate, Jesus was faithful to God’s Word and did not.  And understand this, Jesus is not some superman version of a human being.  He needs bread to eat just like you and me.  He is in every way a human being, and like Adam, a Son of God, but by not eating, he remains “Son of God.”  So this temptation is not just for Jesus to eat but to remain faithful to God to provide.

So the second temptation is all about authority.  The devil promises Jesus that all authority and glory will be his if Jesus will worship him.  Now, on the face of it, this must really ring hollow in Jesus’ ears shouldn’t it?  All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him.  He is the very “Glory of the Lord.”  How can the great Liar tempt Jesus this way?  Did the Devil think there was some ambition in the Second person of the Trinity to outshine the First?  That’s how he got Adam and Eve.  “Eat this and you’ll be like God.”  No.  The Liar is tempting Jesus to gain the world for himself by a way other than the way of obedience and suffering.  This is where Paul in Philippians 2 helps.

Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus reverses Israel’s sin of worshipping the golden calf and more importantly Adam’s sin, by refusing the devil’s offer of power by remaining radically faithful to God alone.  Jesus authority and glory come through his obedient suffering and death, his ultimate service to the world.  We even call the service in German, Gottesdienst, because everything we do is centered on Jesus’ service to us.  As a quick aside here, I want to point out that all the Scripture Jesus quotes is from Deuteronomy, the book of Israel’s true worship of God.  True worship of God is based on God’s grace.  God redeems Israel from slavery in Egypt; that’s why they should worship Him, out of a loving response to His rescue and love for them.  Israel then goes forth into the land of the Canaanites and periodically falls away from the Lord worshipping the false gods of the Canaanites and when she does her God-given authority and glory are lost.  Where Israel and Adam proved faithless, Jesus proves faithful.

I think this is a lesson for us too.  We are besieged all around us by those who worship the gods of the Canaanites.  No, they don’t call themselves that but they are the same things.  According to Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Canaanite fertility cults emphasized the fertility rather than the cult, if you catch my meaning.  Their gods were lewd and immoral.  El was the hero of sordid escapades and crimes.  He dethroned his own father and murdered his favorite son.  Baal, the son of El, was the god of thunder and rain.  The three goddesses were Anath, Astarte and Ashera who were, all three, patron gods of sex and war and were the sacred prostitutes of the pantheon.  The Canaanites also give us Molech, the god of fire, to whom even Israelites were tricked into offering their children as sacrifices.  A culture steeped in a religion of sex and war and child sacrifice.  No, that doesn’t sound anything like today at all.  And so this is the temptation for us.  Hear God’s Word and acknowledge His authority, realize that God has a say today or give into temptation like the Israelites, like Adam and Eve.  No the temptation isn’t the loud pronouncement, “You will be like God!”  But the once whispered and now widely accepted, “Sex is a natural.”  “You don’t want to tie yourself down too early in life.”  Even, “Sow your wild oats.”  “Find out who you are before you get married.” “I’m just not ready to have the responsibility of a child.” “It just wouldn’t be right to bring a child into the world you can’t care for.”  “It just wouldn’t be right to bring a child into the world who wouldn’t be loved.”  And these things sound almost right to our ears.  The ancient fertility cults and the cult of Molech are alive and well, and even among us in the Church relying on the same old temptation.  God is not the authority–you are.

And John tells us in the Book of Revelation that the Devil is going to continue assaulting the Church with “proud words and blasphemies” (13:5) and that he will deceive people into worshipping what is false (13:14).  John tells us that this calls for wisdom, the ability to discern truth from what is false.  In the midst of such temptation it is good that we remember what Jesus said to Satan, “The Lord your God you will worship and him alone you will serve.”  Don’t serve the modern Canaanite gods, the religion of the self and selfishness.  Talk to young people today and affirm them, yes, male and female, who God created us to be, all those physical functions we have are good and God pleasing but we are to use our bodies in ways that honor God.  God has a say in this!  All those reasons to abort a baby are true up to a point, but then they fall flat when we realize we are doing nothing different than casting another baby on the fire heap for Molech when we leave our child to be burned up in an incinerator as medical waste.

This is the world that Jesus came to rescue—all of us who would participate in these modern forms of Canaanite religions and all of us who stand idly by while those we know and love would do it.  Jesus has rescued us from it.  He has rescued us to his perfect obedience.  Right now, no matter what we have done or believed or agreed with in the past, right now, we know that in Christ’s perfect obedience, we are perfect in the Father’s eyes.  That is how we continue to live in this wilderness culture, as the saints of God, redeemed in our perfect Christ, and called to live in his perfect obedience as his people.  We have stumbled and sinned.  We may yet stumble and sin, but Jesus is perfect and obedient and prays for us to our Father and carries us forward that day when the devil will tempt us no more.  This is why he came into the world.  This is why he was tempted and did not sin—for us and for our salvation.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

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Why Johnny Can’t Preach

February 18, 2010 Leave a comment

From a review of the book Why Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers”

Gordon says it’s not mainly from laziness on the part of the preacher (though that can be part of it). It’s not the fault of our seminaries either. The two reasons Johnny can’t preach are because Johnny can’t read and Johnny can’t write.

Read the whole review here:  http://thegospelcoalition.org/resources/a/why_johnny_cant_preach

For those who won’t made the jump just yet consider the reviewer’s comments here:

After wrestling with the nature of preaching for 25 years, Gordon has concluded that the content of Christian preaching should be the person, character, and work of Christ. Kind of makes sense. Of course, preaching will included moral exhortation, but it is never appropriate, says Gordon, “for one word of moral counsel ever to proceed from a Christian pulpit that is not clearly, in its context, redemptive. That is, even when the faithful exposition of particular texts require some explanation of aspects of our behavior, it is always to be done in a manner that the hearer perceives such commended behavior to be itself a matter of being rescued from the power of sin through the grace of Christ” (70-71).

I have been blessed over many years, many of them recently before returning to parish ministry, to have sat in a pew and heard good, solid preaching, none of the drivel Gordon laments in his book.  From my growing up years, I don’t remember any whole sermons, but I remember those parts of sermons that sorted things out for me, where the Holy Spirit used that man to be His megaphone to me.  It is a humbling thing to say, “Thus saith the Lord.”  Perhaps that is why many would be preachers shy away from the holiness of the task and slide over to something a little more comfortable.  And of course, I’m reading this review and writing this blog post the day after I badly botched the early attempt at the sermon yesterday, Ash Wednesday, of all days, due to a number of factors including health, but nevertheless, botched.

As an attempt at chiming in with Gordon’s thesis here, I was reading from AC XX concerning Good Works a couple of weeks ago at our Morning Prayer service in the place of the Catechism reading.  Starting at para 13 it reads:

13 In many volumes Augustine defends grace and the righteousness of faith against the merits of works. 14 Ambrose teaches similarly in De vocatione gentium and elsewhere, for in his De vocatione gentium he says: “Redemption by the blood of Christ would become of little value and the preeminence of human works would not be superseded by the mercy of God if justification, which is accomplished by grace, were due to antecedent merits, for then it would be a reward for works rather than a free gift.”9

15 Although this teaching is despised by inexperienced men, God-fearing and anxious consciences find by experience that it offers the greatest consolation because the consciences of men cannot be pacified by any work but only by faith when they are sure that for Christ’s sake they have a gracious God. 16 It is as Paul teaches in Rom. 5:1, “Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God.” 17 This whole teaching is to be referred to that conflict of the terrified conscience, nor can it be understood apart from that conflict. 18 Accordingly inexperienced and profane men, who dream that Christian righteousness is nothing else than civil or philosophical righteousness, have bad judgment concerning this teaching.  (Tappert, 43)

For the preacher, it must be about the terrors of the conscience.  We must preach out of this experience of our own terrified conscience.  Otherwise, we won’t preach the necessity of the person and work of Christ for our salvation and instead will fall onto the well-worn path of something else, something that won’t do.

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Sermon for the Transfiguration of Our Lord

February 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Transfiguration 2010

Augustana

Sermon for Transfiguration – MP3 Audio

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

When I arrived at my vicarage congregation, just west of Denver, Colorado, my vicarage supervisor told me that to pass vicarage, I would have to climb a mountain.  I’ve climbed some mountains.  I climbed the highest peak in Georgia, Fort Mountain, but that’s only 2,840 ft.  I even climbed the highest peak in Texas, Guadalupe Mountain, at 8,749 ft.  We have mountains here in Western North Carolina.  I was pretty impressed driving up Grandfather Mountain for the first time but Grandfather Mountain is only 5,920 ft.  Pettingell Peak, the mountain I climbed on vicarage, was 13,465 ft.  I made it.  When we got to the top, we could see so clearly and so far.  When you’re on the top you have the ability to see things clearly and to get much needed perspective.  I still remember what I saw that day on the mountain.  Jesus is showing us something important on this mountain today.  We need to remember what we see today on this mountain because on the Transfiguration Mount, Jesus clearly shows us who he is, and what he came to do for us.

Immediately before our reading this morning, is the very well-known account of Peter’s confession.  Jesus has asked the disciples “Who do the crowds say that I am?”  And after some other answers like John the Baptist and Elijah, Jesus asked them “But who do you say that I am?”  And Peter replied, “You are the Christ of God.”  Then Jesus predicts his death.  Forbidding them to tell no one who he really is, he says, “The Son of Man must ​suffer many things and ​be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”  And then, 8 days later, Jesus goes up the mountain with Peter, James and John for the reading we have today as if to seal the prophecy of his death by revealing his glory on the mountain.

Jesus talks with Moses and Elijah about his exodus.  Sure, Jesus and his clothes were shining like the sun.  Jesus revealed himself as God.  This is important; we have to remember this.  If there is any doubt, the cloud shows up and the great voice from the cloud says, “this is my beloved Son!  The Chosen.  Listen to Him.”   Those are truly amazing things but the thing that happens that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves is Jesus’ conversation with Moses and Elijah.  Jesus meets with Moses and Elijah on the mountain while he was praying.  They are talking together about about Jesus’ departure.  This is one of those times when I wish the ESV would have just let the Greek shine through.  The word here is “exodus.”   Jesus was planning to complete and exodus in Jerusalem.  This is a good word, exodus.  But what about Jesus going to Jerusalem is an exodus?

The Exodus that Moses led we know fairly well.  Elijah’s exodus is much less familiar to us and likewise the close parallels of Elijah’s ministry to Moses’.  Peter Leithart, in an article some time ago, points these important similarities.  Elijah first appeared bearing a message of covenant curse for Ahab: a drought would aflict the land (1 Ki 17:1). When he flees into the wilderness, the Lord provides him bread and water through the widow at Zarapeth.  Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel is certainly parallel to the episode of the Golden calf.  Carmel is a mountain like Sinai. The whole event at Carmel takes the form of a renewal of the covenant. After the Lord’s display of power, the people acknowledged Him as the sole God, renewing their pledge of exclusive allegiance to the Lord that had been sealed at Sinai.  After Israel’s fall into idolatry, Moses asked the Lord to remove his name from the book of life (Ex 32:31-32). After Carmel, Elijah fled again into the wilderness, and asked that the Lord take his life (1 Ki 19:4).  Refreshed with food from an angel, Elijah travelled for 40 days and nights to Horeb, where he stayed in “the cave” (1 Ki 19:8-9). There, the Lord’s glory appeared to Him (vv. 11-14). Moses and Elijah saw the Lord’s glory int he same place (Ex 33:17-34:9). Both Elijah and Moses were outside the land to the east when their lives ended. No one knew where Moses was buried (Dt 34:6), and we know Elijah went up into heaven in a fiery chariot.  (Leithart, Elijah and Moses, BHN, No. 51, July 1993)

It is now no surprise to us that on this mountain Moses and Elijah appear to Jesus as if to connect all these things together.  Moses’ and Elijah’s exoduses foreshadowed Jesus.  Jesus comes bearing a message that the kingdom of God is at hand.  This is not good news to the ruling parties in Jerusalem.  Jesus’ entire ministry parallels and fulfills the ministry of Moses and Elijah.  By his death and resurrection, he will lead millions out of bondage to the Law and death, to forgiveness and eternal life with God; this is his exodus.

All of this tells us that our God is a God who keeps his promises.  He made promises to his people in bondage in Egypt and he brought them out by his servant Moses.  He made promises to his people Israel, who were ruled by wicked kings like Ahab and he led them to repentance and restoration through his prophet Elijah all to foreshadow his ultimate redemption in Jesus Christ our Lord.  Who though fully divine, was born into human flesh to bear the weight of the Law on the cross for your sins and the sins of all people.  Through his resurrection, Jesus is leading you to the promised land of eternal life with God forever.  We have to remember what we see today on this mountain because we are headed back down into the valley soon.  And what’s in the valley?  You know all too well.  The heat of life and work, the stifling air of sickness and hardship and struggle and unemployment, the loss of perspective from pain and sorrow over loss and all around us.

Remember what you see today up on this mountain.  Jesus stands on the Transfiguration Mount today sure of His exodus for us.  He stands here today to lead us through the valleys of life and bring us again to eternal life.  Amen.

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Sermon for Epiphany 5

February 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Sermon for Epiphany 5 – Luke 5:1-11

Sermon for Epiphany 5 – MP3 Audio

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

As many of you know, I just got back yesterday from from a synodical meeting in Atlanta Friday and Saturday.  We met to discuss the latest attempt to restructure the synod.  The overall mood of the meeting was positive.  I think we have quite a bit to do before the convention in Houston this summer but it will be very interesting.  Now sermons are not times for me to report out from synodical meetings so all of this has something to do with the Gospel reading this morning.  If I heard it once this weekend I heard it probably 50 times.  We should be hauling in those fish.  Jesus tells Simon Peter to follow him and that from now on he will be catching men.  It’s terrible that we’re not hauling them in by the thousands.  When are you going to tweak your net so that you haul in more fish?  That was the gist from my meeting this weekend.  The greatest problem in our congregations and in the broader church today is that we are just not very good net letter downers with the implied meaning that it wouldn’t hurt if we used new fangled electric nets etc. etc. I could take the metaphor to the point of exhaustion, really.  The point being that we all stand convicted by our Lord, of not doing as he says to do, not fishing well enough.  There is some truth to this and we need to pay careful attention to the work we do, to the work we have been given to do.

However, and this is a big however, I think that this passage, as well as a number of other passages in the Scriptures that encourage the church to proclaim the message of salvation are heard today not in their original context but only in the context of Billy Graham and James Kennedy style evangelism.  Knock, knock.  Hello, I’m Pastor Smith from Augustana Lutheran Church.  Can I ask you a question.  If you were to die tonight, are you sure you’d go to heaven?  I’m not sure how they do it at the seminaries today, but when I went to seminary, we loaded up in cars two by two and helped a congregation in Florissant, a suburb of St. Louis, do a neighborhood evangelism canvas.  I’m embarrassed to confess it but I hated it, every minute of it.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve done quite a bit of evangelism on ships, in the desert, in neighborhoods, but always on the terms of the people I’m sharing the Gospel with and not with these canned programmatic formulas.  And so I usually wait until I’ve built up a report with them before I try to kill people off in a hypothetical scenario.

So, if letting down our nets is not a Billy Graham altar call, then the question is just what is it?  What does Jesus expect us to do?  I try to imagine Christians in the early church, in the first days after Pentecost when thousands were being added to their numbers each day, Luke tells us.  Come one people, let down your nets.  We should be catching thousands every day.  Come on, get to it.  That is the message we so often here isn’t it?  I’ve been told that by synodical evangelism executives my entire Christian life.  Let me ask you a question.  Why did Simon Peter and John and James, why did they have so many fish to haul in?  I should say it this way, who was causing such a great haul of fish?  That’s right!  Jesus.  Jesus used this miraculous catch of fish to illustrate what it was he was doing by teaching in the boat.  He was catching people by preaching the word of God.  God was working mightily through Him.  The church doesn’t save anyone. Individual Christians don’t save anyone.  Pastors don’t save people.  I’m sorry, but as much as the Rev. Dr. Billy Graham and his ministry did to advance the kingdom of God, he or they did not save anyone.  Jesus saves.  Jesus alone saves.

So, I refuse anymore, to buy into the idea that we are not working hard enough to save people.  We have CBN and TBN and EWTN on the television.  We have countless Christian radio stations around the world.  We have churches of all different types and styles in our community.  We have 4 Missouri synod congregations in Hickory alone and what 16? in the greater area.  Hundreds of millions of dollars and hundreds of millions of personnel hours each year go into letting down the nets.  By that measure we should expect that would be hauling them in by the millions.  Our problem is not that we are not fishing, our problem is that our culture and our society is no longer a place where we can haul them up by the thousands.  Oh, there are places where it is still happening.  In places throughout Africa and India, in the Sudan, in Indonesia.  The largest and fastest growing Lutheran church today is in Madagascar, that’s that large island off the southeast coast of the continent of Africa.  It’s so exciting.  The fishing there is great because the fish still live in large groups where people are tied to family, clan and tribe.  But it should be plainly obvious to everyone that the fish here in the North America and Western Europe, the most individualistic cultures in human history, are caught one by one and making it harder, the scent of the bait we use, the Word of God, a gospel of repentance and forgiveness is often masked by the abundance of material goods and the confusion in our entertainment culture of happiness and blessedness.  The iPod is not a just a catchy name.  Like the Walkman before it, it highlights the supreme “I-ness” of our culture.

Well then, we’re off the hook.  We don’t have to worry about all this evangelism then.  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  In fact, precisely the opposite.  In fact, I believe that we have been given those great resources of treasure and people to keep on doing this work of catching the people both by the thousands in foreign lands and in the individualistic culture of single line, one-on-one, fishing.  Our task is to keep fishing even though the work is hard.  Yes, we can often be frustrated just like the disciples and realize in our weariness how sinful we really are.  Yes, we get tempted to stop fishing and often do.  However, our Savior is ready to forgive us and return us to kingdom work of fishing for people.  We need to hear the voice of our Master and do it and we need not hear that word as a harsh command.  I don’t know about you but I grew up fishing.  My grandfather and my dad took me fishing when I was young and I loved it.  I did a little fishing last summer too and I remembered how fun it is to go fishing.  It’s fun to go fishing and never even catch a fish.  It’s not the fish, it’s the fishing.  And I think there’s a lesson in that experience that applies here.  I urge you not feel guilty that we’re not pulling them in by the thousands.  But I’m also urging us to keep working hard to pull them in one by one.  Let’s do what it is we’ve been called to do and let’s have a good time doing it.  After all the fishing we do is simply rejoicing that we have already been caught.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

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A more bloggish post on the Great Catch of Fish and Evangelism

February 7, 2010 1 comment

To try to provide some context for this comment, please keep in mind that I am a voting delegate to the 2010 LCMS convention in Houston and I just returned from a pre-convention meeting where we were presented with 21 recommendations for restructuring as well as some other ideas that have apparently been in the hopper for some time.  More thoughts on that perhaps in the future.  But the over-arching rationale for all of these changes, they say, is that they make the church more “missional.”  It is as if the only reason why people in my community are not flocking into my church on any given day is my national church body’s constitution is not quite as “missional” as it could be.  Sorry, but I don’t buy it and for a number of reasons.

In my sermon for today, which I will post here later this week, I reflected on the Gospel lesson for today, Luke 5:1-11, Jesus and the miraculous catch of fish.  There seems to be this idea endemic to all mission executives and church leaders today that somehow the congregation, or in the case of the LCMS, not enough of the congregations, is/are not letting down their nets effectively enough.  If we were, we would be swamped with people coming into our churches.  I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it, not in North America and not in Western Europe, not in the most individualistic culture history has ever known.  The iPod is not just a catchy name; it’s all about me and what I want.

But over and again, that’s what we are told.  And it’s not fair and it’s not accurate.  Christians in North America spend hundreds of millions of dollars and millions of personnel hours praying for the letting down of the nets.  There are several Christian television networks and dozens of programs, as well as hundreds of Christian radio stations.  The Gideons spend hundreds of thousands of dollars every year putting Bibles in hotel rooms.  Now, while I don’t agree with the doctrinal emphases of the vast majority of these efforts, I can’t deny these fellow Christian witnesses are telling the world about the love of God in Jesus and the need to repent of sin.  Again, maybe not in the way that I would do it, but they are doing it.  By this measure alone, the fish should be swamping us.  So why aren’t they?

Again, I think it has to do with the culture around us.  People don’t move in swarms, or tribes or clans or even families anymore in North America and most of Europe.  Couple that with the noise in our culture that drowns out any voice much less the voice of truth, it is no wonder we get folks only by patient line fishing, one at a time.

Now I say all this not to excuse the congregations that don’t tell people about Jesus, and, by the way, I think those are far fewer than they think.  Rather, I say all this to those of us who are trying hard to make a bold confession of the hope that is within us, don’t be discouraged.  Let down your net, even if you’ve been working all night.  After all, it’s not the fish, it’s the fishing.  For our Lord, it’s the fish and it is his job to call, gather, and enlighten.  It is our job to let down the net.  It is our great joy to rejoice in that we have already been caught.

So, dear mission executive, rest assured that I pray daily for the salvation of those souls Jesus is drawing near.  I work hard to do the work I have been given to do.  Believe me when I say that I am grieved to the point of personal distress and frustration in ministry not just because people around me are happily going to hell but because you so often beat me up and accuse me of not caring about them.  In the 80’s, you told me I had to go door to door with the Kennedy evangelism questions.  In the 90’s, you told me I had to set up a screen in my church and sing pop music.  Now you tell me that all that was wrong and I have to be relational and set up a coffee house.  What will it be next decade?

I think what I will do is continue to live out the life I have been given in as positive a Christian witness that a fallen man and pastor as myself can muster.  I think I’m going to be myself and tell people what Jesus has done for me over the years–try to share with them the hope I have in a God who condescends to speak to me in my language, who took on flesh to die for my sin and who rose again from the grave that I might live forever on account of his great love for me to suffer all things for me and for all those who by faith confess these things.  Like my namesake, Andrew, I’m going to continue to say to people, “Come, I have found the Christ.”  I think I’m going to keeping listening to the gentle words of Jesus who honors me with his call to work in his kingdom.  And quite frankly, I’m going to stop listening to you.

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So church was cancelled this past Sunday

February 3, 2010 Leave a comment

On account of the terrible weather this past Sunday we had to cancel the Divine Service.  I don’t like doing that at all.  It felt wrong all day not to be in the Lord’s house.  Honestly, I don’t know what people who don’t go to church do on Sunday mornings.

At any rate, this is not then a post of the sermon from Sunday because there wasn’t one, but I offer this bloggish kind of post.  The folks over at Lutheran Hour Ministries produce what for many, is the most famous and longest-running religious radio broadcast out there.  We quiet, aw shucks, Lutherans were in religious broadcasting almost since the beginning of radio.  See the history of KFUO AM in St. Louis, MO.  All that set up for the blurb in the latest epistle from the Men’s Network from LHM concerning the power of words.

Typography — a Poem from Ronnie Bruce
Words have power. Words have authority. Words have conviction. However, in today’s culture, it appears as if words are used only to speak timidly. Ronnie Bruce has put together words of wisdom and some sound advice in his poem, “Typography.” You can hear it at here.

A small correction is in order.  The poem was written and performed by Taylor Mali and typographically animated by Ronnie Bruce.  But that takes nothing away from Mali’s work here.

Christians need to pay attention to words.  We believe that words have power to kill and make alive.  “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names” may set me up for a lifetime of self-doubt and failure.  We must believe that a rose by any other name would NOT smell as sweet, sorry, William.  We believe that it was with words that the universe came to be.  God spoke, “Let there be…”  and it was.  And it was good.  And good is good, good is not evil seen from a different perspective.  No, we must hold that words have meaning even as their meanings change because God so loved the world he sent the Word enfleshed to re-write history and call all of us who were cursed, beloved.

The Gospel is proclaimed, preached, announced, declared.   There must be no doubt in it’s proclamation because that word literally quickens us.

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