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Showing posts from August, 2015

Your Lying, Cheating, Cold Dead Beating, Two-timing, Double Dealing, Mean Mistreating, Unloving Heart (2)

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Just when you think our culture has sunk as low as it can get, another headline hits the news: “Racial Tensions Heat Up on One-Year Anniversary of Fatal Shooting in Ferguson, MO.” “The Supreme Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage,” “Planned Parenthood Sells Tissue from Aborted Babies.” Some would lay the blame for our declining morals on the doorsteps of filmmakers and TV producers. But the media aren’t to blame any more than bathroom mirrors cause our pimples and wrinkles. The entertainment industry simply reflects the moral climate of our age. No, the source of the problem is elsewhere. In the immortal words of the cartoon character Pogo: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Too often we look to the world around us as the source of our moral problems. If we could just stamp out pornography, we think, we could get rid of sexual abuse. If we could clean up the lyrics to rock music we…

The Love of God in Christ Jesus

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! I must admit up front: I don’t know much about Steve. The first time that I saw him was in the hospital room last week. I never had the chance to get to know the man who was your son, your brother, your friend. I never got to know the man who enjoyed hunting, fishing, spending time with his dogs, or hanging out at the lake. I don’t know much about Steve as a person, except what I’ve been told: “Steve was the type of friend who would give you the shirt off his back.” While I’m sorry that I never had that opportunity, in some ways I consider it an advantage as I speak to you today. I consider it an advantage, because although it’s helpful to be able to personalize the message, a funeral sermon (as all sermons) should be focused on Christ and not the Christian. It should tell us what Jesus has done to seek and to save lost sinners like Steve and you and me. And so that is what I am goi…

The One Who Comes Before God as a Beggar Goes Home Justified

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“But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:13-14). Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! A couple of years ago, a friend of mine was on the news. Perhaps you saw the story. It was about the man in Rapid City who wanted to get his smile back. A succession of financial setbacks had prevented him from fixing his teeth. Finally, he decided to set up an account on the internet to ask people to help. “The hardest thing I've ever had to do is to do this, you know, to swallow my pride and ask for help," he said on Keloland News. In a short period of time, he raised about $3,000. That’s not to say everyone was happy with his efforts. …

Jesus: True Food, True Drink,True Life

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! “Pastor, I need to talk with you,” she said. “I don’t think I should come to communion anymore.” “Why is that?” I asked, knowing that there are many reasons people choose not to come to communion, but hardly any of them good. This was someone who took her faith seriously. She asked some of the most thoughtful questions in Bible study, offered insightful comments in our Lutheran Confessions reading group. But she also came from a Christian tradition that does not teach the real presence of Christ’s body and blood in the Lord’s Supper. And this left her confused. “I shouldn’t come to communion, Pastor, because I don’t believe the same thing about the Lord’s Supper as you teach.” Now, I could have seen this as unbelief, as a challenge to my teaching, but I took it as a good sign. It showed me that she took the Lord’s Supper seriously. Fortunately she also took God’s Word seriously. So we…

Put Off Depravity; Put On the Likeness of God

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“Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24). Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! The details are a bit fuzzy after all this time. Let’s just say, a certain Moeller boy had carelessly broken one of his mom’s “pretties,” and then had hidden the evidence under his bed. (In hindsight, it was not exactly the brightest strategy, considering it was his Mom who cleaned his room; but you can’t expect a three-year-old to come up with brilliant plans, no matter how precocious he may be.) Anyway, I do remember his Mom finding something broken that should not have been, and asking him if he knew anything about it. From the look on his face, his Mom knew he did. She also was pretty sure she knew who it was …

Ask a Stupid Question... Get a Perfect Answer 2.0

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“Then they said to Him, ‘What must we do, to be doing the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent’” (John 6:28-29).   Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! I’m sure you’ve heard this before: “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.” It’s my experience that this is the kind of thing said at a question and answer session when nobody is asking questions. It’s meant to encourage more interaction between the speaker and listeners. And it’s been said so often that it’s become a truism—an “accepted fact of life.” But is it true? Some people ask questions just to gain attention. Others like to “play devil’s advocate” or “stir up the pot a bit.” A few already know the answer but want to test the speaker or to prove their own expertise. And some people just plain don’t think before they speak. So, yes, there are stupid questions—at least questions that have less me…