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Showing posts from April, 2016

What's in a Name?

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“Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He will give it to you” (John 16:23). Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” So says Juliet Capulet to Romeo Montague in William Shakespeare’s lyrical tale of star-crossed lovers. Juliet tells Romeo that a name is an artificial and meaningless convention, and that she loves the person who is called “Montague,” not the Montague name nor the Montague family. Romeo, out of his passion for Juliet, renounces his family name and vows, as Juliet asks, to “deny [his] father” and instead be “new baptized” as Juliet’s lover. But that begs the question: Is a name simply an artificial and meaningless convention? Certainly, if you started calling roses “skunk blossoms,” they would be no less beautiful and smell just as fragrant. But when you start talking about personal names, th…

No More Tears

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“[God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! The victorious climax of the movie, The Passion of the Christ, is signified by a giant “tear” falling from heaven at the moment Jesus gives up His Spirit and dies. While that touch may be a bit too theatrical for some, its imagery is effective, especially as it begins a storm that roars fully into life. “All hell” breaks loose as sin, death, and the devil are defeated. That’s why we hear the anguished howl of Satan in the pit of hell. And at the same time, above ground, an earthquake rocks the temple, splitting the curtain and opening the Holy of Holies, all of which is now replaced by the sacrificed Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The chain reaction set in motion by on…

The Good Shepherd's Voice

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Click here to listen to this sermon. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27-28). Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! The days between the Old and New Testaments were dark and ever-changing in the land of Judea. The Babylonians who had destroyed Jerusalem had, in turn, been conquered by the Persians; and under the Persians, the Jews had been allowed back to rebuild Jerusalem. The Persian Empire had fallen to Alexander the Great. Alexander didn’t change a whole lot around Judea, but when he died, his kingdom was divided, and the Seleucids took over the area that included Judea. One of Seleucid kings was Antiochus IV. Taking on the name Epiphanes, “the Enlightened,” Antiochus sought to “enlighten” the Jews. He looked at their religion of one God, of keeping His commands, and of waiting for the Messiah to come and decided it was…

Listening to the Shepherd's Voice

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“I am the good shepherd. I know My own and My own know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:14–16). Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Are you good at recognizing voices? My first boss, Ralph Korn, was exceptionally good at it. Someone he hadn’t seen for twenty years or so could call him and he’d know immediately who it was. God certainly knew what he was doing when he gave Ralph that gift. Even as Ralph’s eyesight was failing as a result of multiple sclerosis, he would still recognize most everyone when they came into the feed store as soon as they said, “Hello.” Since that time, I’ve discovered that recognizing voices is a skill that can be learned and practiced. The trick is to really focus on that voi…

Goin' Fish'n

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“Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing” (John 21:3, ESV). Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, serving a congregation in the land of 10,000 lakes: there are a lot of men, women, and children in this congregation who love to fish. From Elaine Rieck and Clarence Graphenteen down to Lucas Brockberg and Abbott Moeller, and a whole lot more of you in between, we have (pardon the pun) a boatload of avid fishermen and women. And each of them has stories to tell of successful fishing trips and “the big one that got away.” Elaine tells me about going down to the creek fishing for bullheads after milking cows. Lucas is proud to show off the walleye he caught ice fishing, and will tell you that you won’t catch anything with baby shad. Fishermen do what comes naturally. Fish…