This second Sunday in Advent. Listen to a familiar story about Beauty and the Beast. There is a connection here with real-life in this world between the evil of sin and the Light which we welcome at Christmas time. Listen in.
We begin the Advent season, the four weeks prior to December 24th (Christmas Eve). This year we focus on "Light" and the coming of Christ 2000 years ago when God's light entered the world. We look forward to the return of Christ in the End Times as God returning to this world in victory, to take us home to dwell with Him. Along our life's path in this world, however, we experience darkness, depression, anxiety, and all things which are "not" light. Christ entered into the world to BE light for us; to show us the path to the Father. He came to overcome the darkness and evil that exists in the world today. Celebrate with us and listen to Isaiah's prophetic message as he announces the coming Messiah some 600 years before JEsus' birth.
Well, you know - THANKSGIVING. THINGS to be thankful for? More than THINGS. Deuteronomy gives a different perspective on Thanksgiving than the usual Gospel text of the one-out-of-ten Leper who returned to Jesus to give thanks. Listen in on this Thanksgiving Eve sermon.
In God's Mission we, His saints, those belonging to the body of Christ, are called for salvation through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. There is no doubt that we are His children because He called us and made it possible, through His own work, to be that! We are - not what we are but - what Christ made us: a new creation. We have a new relationship with God through Christ, forgiven, to live eternally with Him. Talk about motivation to GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES. Yet, a good number of people fell that they don't know what to say and have no special gifts to offer. Today we talk about stereotypical attitudes towards witnessing and evangelism and explore what the Apostles, their example of doing God's Mission, have taught us for the last few weeks of this sermon series on Re-discovering God's Mission individually, and as a congregation. Hint: We are faithful to our calling only because He is faithful in His. Tune in....
Equipping the Saints for ministry is the call of every pastor if they are continuing the line of the Apostles. Regardless of denomination, the call of the pastor as one of the Priesthood of All Believers (1 Peter 2) is to prepare the community for ministry. There are, however, two major setbacks in this which are leftovers from before the Reformation. These are misconceptions regarding the Pastor in the congregation AND the misconception of being a member of a church. Listen in and see where you fit in.
In rediscovering God's Mission for His Church we have arrived at the Reformation. For 1200 years (32AD - 1517AD), the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) ruled politically, spiritually, economically and powerfully over the powers of Europe. since the time it was legal (32AD), as the official religion of the Roman Empire, it took on characteristics of the Emperor Caesar himself. ti centralized all religious power in Rome, the Bishop of Rome - once an appointed office by the apostles to care for the congregations that were going through persecution in the area as they carried out the mandate to GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES - became corrupt in politics and secular activities. It became a business, selling indulgences, the forgiveness of sins, and invented offices of power in a hierarchical political structure for a price. In other words, it strayed entirely from what the body of Christ ought to look like in this world. Luther learned through the Scriptures that salvation was through faith in Christ, not through the church and obedience to the pope. Listen to how this man rediscovered the purpose of all believers in the body of Christ, and liberated the church into a potential powerhouse of Christian brothers and sisters like in the days of the apostles.
We continue our sermon series discovering our purpose in the overall mission of the church. Today, as we gather, our focus is on how the Church developed from the time it became legal (325AD) until the time of the Reformation. What became the focus of the Apostle’s ‘mission statement’? With the legalization of Christianity by the emperor Constantine in 320AD, the Church that was victorious over persecution through faith in Christ did not "Keep its eye on the ball;" it lost focus of the centrality of the mandate to GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES with the proclamation of Christ. Instead, when the church emerged as a legal entity, a structure of leaders, servants and teachers of the Gospel became political and tempted by personal ambition, power and wealth. the church was no longer the all the faithful that were called out of the world through faith, but just a select few: the bishops and all who had received the successive laying on of hands through the apostles. For the next 1200 years, (300AD - 1517AD), the Church saved; not Christ. The mission proclamation that was centered in the preaching of God's Word as the central power and authority, now became centered in the Bishop of Rome (the Pope). It was his political authority that overrode the Gospel in a desire for power and wealth. The Church became the Savior through obedience and membership; not through faith in Christ. How did this happen during 300 years after Christ? What does it say for us today? Listen in...
Continuing our series on Re-Discovering God's Mission, we meet the first challenge that the Apostle's encountered. A challenge between tradition (or personal preference as it is today) and Biblical Truth (God's Word and command). When Jesus told the disciples to Go and Make Disciples, there was no game plan. eh did not provide them with a manual. And there was a good reason for it. Whereas a game-plan may have provided a "how to do it..." as a fool-proof method, our Lord is not a God of coercion and forcefulness. He want a relationship with his creation. A coercion would demand that people meet God where HE is at...as something that they must to in order to be saved. God, however, created us beautifully IN HIS IMAGE; meaning, to have a relationship, to fellowship, to commune. And think with the diversity of language, culture, and art, how the world groups and communes in fellowships with other in that group. God want to be a part of that group with His message of Christ. Humans are made for fellowship and ultimately, fellowship with God. Christ, therefore, must speak to and be a part of culture in order to bring hope, salvation, love and compassion, to a specific people because that's how people operate; not effectively but affectively. In order to do this, the Apostle's needed to discern between what was personal preference or a cultural tradition and the biblical truth of GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES. Would their traditions stand in the way of someone who is not from their tradition? Would their language, customs, religious traditions? What were they to do so that Christ became real for those who were not Jewish? Find out....
Re-disovering god's mission is to rediscover your place, and your congregation's place, in that mission. While churches are thriving, growing, have large numbers, many times, the impetus of size is what drives a congregation into ministry. Many people + telling many people = more people. And, more often than not, a diversity of activities and events allow people personal preferences. However, when churches decline in membership or attendance, most start to ask, "what happened?" This question starts a process of analysis that can lead to discovering God's Mission. It can be quite illuminating as we rediscover that "getting more people in the pews" is NOT God's primary mission objective. there are many reasons why churches want to get more people "in the pew" and it usually is for sustaining and maintaining what has always been done in the past, in order to continue in the future. No. God's primary mission objective is GO AND TELL....regardless if people come to your congregation and fill the pews. A nice outcome would be that they "join" your fellowship, but God's primary mandate to us is to GO AND TELL! Today we look at the organization of the early, early Christian church and how, from it's humble beginnings, people were added (convinced of the Gospel message) to belong to the fellowship of other Christians like them. Was it programs? Was it entertainment? No. Find out. (Acts 14:21-28; Romans 16:1-16; Acts 6:1-7 form the basis for the messsage)
Last week we heard where the 12 Apostles journeyed to throughout the world. From Spain to India. From Ethiopia to Armenia. Today, we look at what is commonly known among Christians as the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:16-20 where Jesus tells the eleven to "Go and make disciples of all nations...." This was the beginning of the Christian movement. Perhaps it was not as simple as it seems. We know this movement NOW, as the Christian Church, and cannot conceive of it as it first started out. Even as the disciples went to the appointed mountain to meet with Jesus, the text says that that "some doubted." What did they doubt? Their ability? the truth? Jesus? the reality of it all? But then, some exciting things happened to them. And, when they went out, they could not "go and make disciples" if it were not for two important things. 1. The prayers of the believers and 2. their offerings, both money and material needs, for the needy. We look at how prayer and offerings is mentioned by St. Paul, almost inseparably, in these early beginnings of the Church. How do you support the proclamation of Jesus Christ as Savior as part of your congregation? How do you pray for your pastor and congregation to remain as living witnesses of the Gospel today? Listen to the details!
Rediscovering God's Mission for our congregation - week 2: We look at the Apostles. As Jesus sent them out with "power and authority" even Judas was included. Matthew names the 12 apostles. Where did they go after Pentecost? We mostly hear about Peter, John and a little about James. then, Paul comes on the scene and sort of steals the show. Most of what we know doctrinally comes form his pen. Today we look at where the Apostles went and the martyrdom that they faced. If it were not for them, we would not be here today. in fact, none of the church would be here today. How does this impact our mission and our witness as we pass the baton of Christ from generation to generation.
Today's Gospel talks about wayward, lost sheep. I don't know about sheep, but we had a beagle once. Perhaps beagle is much more relatable to an urban society than a sheep. Beagles act like sheep, which makes the point as Isaiah prophecies about the coming Messiah saying, "All we like "beagles" have gone astray. Everyone has turned to his own way. And, the Lord placed on Him the iniquity of us all." What is it about a beagle or a shepherd who abandons a whole flock to look for one sheep, or even about the woman who turned her house upside down to find a lost coin have to do with God's love for us. Find out how we all howl like beagles.
In this weeks episode, enjoy the whole service. The sermon, however, begins at minute 25:15 for those interested only in the message.
EAT YOUR PEAS is something probably most of us heard from our parents. When commanded we begin to whine and negotiate with our parents about what we should do, compared with what we want to do. We negotiate with God daily about what constitutes "following Him." For instance, in today's Gospel, Jesus says nobody is worthy to follow Him if they cannot hate father, mother, sister, brother and even deny themselves. What a change from "love your neighbor as yourself..." Is this the same God? Does He make such demands to frustrate us? Our immediate response is to negotiate our limits as to what we are able and unable to do in following Him. We want him to accept us as we are...by lowering His expectations of us. "He'll understand..." we sometimes say. Listen in as we discuss that God DOES demand complete obedience.....no negotiating...and why we can't.
When you think about the resurrection, do you always think in the future? Most people think of the resurrection as something that occurs on the Last Day, when our Lord returns to create a new heavens and earth for his redeemed. Why is it that we don't htink of the resurrection as something that has happened NOW; in the wake of Christ's own resurrection. The question is, then, does Christ's message prepare you for the day you die? or does it prepare you for the resurrected life. Listen and find out...
What? Last week, we talked about peace, and Jesus said, “Do not be anxious; do not let your heart be troubled.” Today, Jesus tells us I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. Make up your mind. What can we make of this apparent turn about. Does Jesus bring peace or not? Does he bring comfort or a sword? In our Gospel text, Jesus offers us an object lesson about a sword, a cross and a life. They seem like separate things, but they are all related.
Our text is the Holy Gospel for today, from Matthew chapter 10. Jesus has been instructing his disciples in this chapter, preparing them for what they’re getting themselves in for. And it’s not going to be a bed of roses because some of these roses are going to have thorns. He is asking his disciples, “Are you ready for this?”
In today's Gospel, Jesus says, "Fear not, little flock..." How easy it is to say these words, but how difficult it is to "feel" at peace. Jesus words seem unrealistic, fantastical, un-real. What with the mass shootings in Gilory, California; Dayton, Ohio; El Paso, Texas, it's enough to make you paranoid in any public situation. Yet, in the midst of anxiety, Jesus invites us to have peace, and true peace; one that passes any peace that can be bought or made in our society. Find out more about the evil that is in the world, and the peace which only Christ offers us. Listen in.
Today we are celebrating the baptism of Ryan Alan Weaver. He wants to be sealed with the Holy Spirit and receive the blessed assurance that God the Father is his true Father, and that God the Son, Jesus Christ, is indeed the brother that has redeemed him from sin, death and the power of Satan. Water and the Word, Christ's words, "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.." Ryan is baptized in the name of the Triune God, as Scripture teaches. Baptized into that name, Ryan receives the inheritance of sonship given to all who have gone before him and all who will come after him believing in Jesus Christ as His savior. A little more than 5 years ago, however, Carrie Underwood wrote a song called "Something in the Water" - I wonder why 'something' was used? Did she not know what was in the water? Did she think it was a magical water only? We dig deep into Scriptural teaching on Baptism today.
"Won't you be my neighbor?" Was a question (and song) made famous by Mr. Rogers at the beginning of his children's program, Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. This phrase has become popular in parodies, mocking, and making fun of its childlike innocence. In the Bible, when the Jewish lawyer says to be saved you must "love you neighbor as yourself," he quickly adds the question for Jesus: "Who is my neighbor..." Jesus' story of the good Samaritan follows and seems to answer that question. But is that the question Jesus answers? There is something more here than simply the encouragement that we should "love our neighbors..." Listen and find out.
In his letter to the Galatians, St. Paul talks about freedom. Being free, living free is what happens in freedom. You don't HAVE freedom; you live in freedom, just like one lives in a king-dom, or feels like a star in star-dom. Freedom means that you have have been freed FROM something that held you captive or enslaved you. There is a consequence to freedom, however. The consequence is that you are freed FOR another life - a life of different values than the one you formerly knew as a slave from which you were freed. Paul goes one step further to teach us that we, all humans, are enslaved to things of the "flesh": selfish desires, immorality, self-serving, self-loving by our actions. But, we are also enslaved by how the world defines us: ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, patriotic, etc. Our society defines us with all these labels by worldly (or fleshly) values - according to their standards or, as Paul puts it, "according to the flesh."
Those who believe and place their trust in Christ, follow Him, desire to be His disciple, however, we have been freed FROM these things by and through the death and resurrection of Christ. (And, this freedom is freely available to all, because Christ died for all.) We are freed FROM these labels and fleshly, sinful self, and set free FOR Christ - to live and love as Christ has lived and loved us. Freedom FROM sin and death, means freedom FOR love and Christ.
Freedom in and for Christ is the only alternative because if you consider freedom as something which permits you to do whatever you want, whenever and to whomever, you have once again enslaved yourself to the standards of this world. If you are not freed FROM the flesh and sinful world, including death, then you are not freed FOR love and Christ. Listen to how this impacts your life specifically.
the great prophet Elijah is hiding in a cave. He is hiding from King Ahab who wants to cut off his head for defeating his 450 prophets of Baal and then killing them. King Ahab and Queen Jezebel want Elijah's head and all the prophets of the true God. Hiding in the cave, Elijah tell God "I want out. No longer be a prophet." He has met constantly with spiritual batle against Baal and is tired. He wants the Lord to retire him.
There are times we pastor, missionaries and Christians alike find it tiring and want out. In our spiritual battle against forces that would have us reject God and follow pernicious roads to destruction, we find it hard to tell others that the battle is won in Jesus Christ. That although there is evil, horrific evil, in the world there is but one God and creator of us all who sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to reclaim all creation from the hands of Baal (Satan).
Instead of a WAY OUT, God provides a WAY THROUGH. Find out how and ignite the Spirit's fire in you!
Jesus is revealing who He is, who sent Him, what His mission is, that He must die and rise from the dead. The Pharisees challenge Him and cry blasphemy. But, there were some Judean (Jews) who believed in Him. Jesus addresses them, and as He continues teaching, a big argument ensues, and they repudiate Him. But....how did they once believe in Him. They wanted to choose what to believe about Jesus - fit Him into their belief system, instead of listening to the truth. A similar problem occurs in our society today. People are quick to jump on the Jesus bandwagon and believe about Him what they will - and still call themselves Christian. Many people today, want to fit Jesus into their own construct of who He is and call themselves Christian.... What can we say about what WE believe and confess about Jesus.
We celebrate the gift and work of the Holy Spirit. After Jesus' ascension into heaven, the promised Holy Spirit was gifted to the disciples. It is through God's Holy Spirit is twofold; (1) we recognize that we are broken and in need of a savior for we are not perfect, nor can we hope to live up to God's righteous standards because of sin in our very being and (2) it is the Holy Spirit who then opens Scripture teaching us about the Savior of all, by whose death and resurrection we are no longer judged unrighteous and guilty before God because of Christ's sacrifice. In fact, we can sum up the work of the Holy Spirit in this way: Earth, Water, Wind Fire. We, made from the earth and to return to the earth, were washed with the water of salvation (Baptism), in which God' Spirit brings us life and salvation. This is not merely a one-time job for He is constantly with us in the "winds of war" against sin and temptation in this world. He is on the battlefield with us, when we cry out for forgiveness, when we seek strength and fortitude against violence, selfishness. In this way, the Spirit is like fire. Struggling with our sinfulness in this world, desiring to live God-pleasing lives and free to do so, our faith is tested and purified and tested as gold ("fire" and "pure" share a common Latin root). His work is not complete until we are finally with our Lord in Heaven.
Before Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus prayed for his disciples. As a part of that prayer, Jesus prays for us as well. He prays for all those who will come to believe in Him as their Lord and Savior through the witness of the Apostles. He prays specifically for three things for us: (1) that we live in unity, as the Father and the Son live in unity with each other his desire is that we, too, be kept in that unity. For to be apart from Christ is to be apart fro life and forgiveness. (2) Jesus prays for that unity, so that this unity of love which holds Father, Son and us together will give witness to the death and resurrection of Christ, as the Son of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Namely, that we share forgiveness in the name of Christ. (3) Jesus prays for us to be assured of our eternal glory which we share with Him at the end of all time. Hear how He prays and comforts you specifically.....
"Come in and know me better, man" is a line taken from A Christmas Carol. It is the invitation of the Spirit of Christmas to Scrooge on his journey through the night examining the past, the present and his inevitable future. While Charles Dickens describes Scrooge as a skinflint and humbug in relation to those around him, the story is told to inspire those who despair of their lives in the present, to consider their past and amend their lives for the future. St. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians prays that God the Father sends the SPIRIT of wisdom and revelation for the followers in order to "Come in and know Jesus better...." This life transformation, nevertheless, does not happen through our attempt to amend our past lives, nor by promising a better "me" in this life. Listen to how the Holy Spirit is sent to transform your present life, by what was done in the past, in order to live a fulfilling life in the future.
We know that a magician is someone who entertains people through deception; presenting to them something that defies logic or the natural. A card that floats from one hand to the other or a person sawn in half and then comes out of the box whole. He might even accompany some magic words that serve as a clue as to what is about to happen, like, “here is a normal pitcher…” uh, yeah, right….a normal pitcher. Or, “here is a normal deck of cards….” Or, the magician might use the more familiar, “Now you see it…..now you don’t.” But when we see a magic act, we ask, “How does he or she do that?” And we marvel at how the magician kept us from seeing what was done. And, isn’t that the point? Seeing? Trying to understand? Trying to see behind the curtain? When we know that there is a magician, we watch very closely to see what is going to happen and try to catch him in the act. But Jesus' words are no, "now you see me; now you don'." He is not attempting to manipulate or deceive. His purpose is to prepare his disciples for the resurrection, which they will never understand and could never imagine. Listen to how He prepares them and us in the face of death!
The Road to Emmaus is a familiar story where Jesus encounters Cleopas and another disciple walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. The resurrection had happened that morning and they were walking - perhaps back home. for them, everything was over. Comparing the story of the women looking for Jesus in the tomb but could not find him, here we have two men walking on the road, not even looking for Jesus, and He finds THEM. The question lurking behind these stories is: Where do we find Jesus? And, where does He promise to be for us today. Listen!
I believe that for everyone, there are times in which we wish that someone would come and search for us; that someone would seek us out where we are at. Perhaps our pain and suffering, conscience, loneliness, depression has become such a torment that we would wish someone would show the love and concern that we desperately need. You know, that someone would just take us into their arms and calm our fears, or whatever may be bothering us. The parable entitled the Prodigal Son is well known to many people....but at times it is so well known that we sort of gloss over the story just to get to the part where the wayward son returns home and is forgiven by the father. In the text, however, there are many things going on which are a slap in the face to Pharisees and teachers of the law who are bothering Jesus. there are some hidden treasures in this story that could carry home the weary and distressed. Listen in....
Christ is Risen! He is risen, indeed! This is the appropriate response form the congregation on Easter Sunday morning. Christ's resurrection is the only reason Christianity is what it is. Christians are all those who confess Christ as their Savior. those who confess Christ as their Savior accept the testimony of eye-witnesses who, for thousands of years, have handed down writings and testimonies so that all creation would believe and confess the truth about Christ, and once again return to fellowship with God. There are those, however, who would rather do away with Christians and especially the organizational church. An example, has been the comments whether or not to reconstruct the Notre Dame cathedral that burned last week. Christians say yes; others say that the fire was an "act of liberation" (especially for Europe) from being oppressed with guilt throughout the history of the Roman Empire and the Church. What does this statement, however, actually say about our world today, and their salvation? Listen in...
Palm Sunday marks the end of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week. It begins with the ride of Jesus on a donkey, from the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem. There were other revolutionary leaders who were hailed as Messiahs, who also rode from the Mount into Jerusalem. In their revolts, however, they died, and their band of guerrillas disbanded. Who was going to oust the Roman from Jerusalem? this was the expected role of the Messiah. But while Jesus preached of a coming kingdom, he preached about it with love and forgiveness; not necessarily the kind of warrior we think about. And, although he preached a message of peace, his followers expected an overthrow. It was not until after Jesus' death and resurrection, that they came to know, through faith, about the kingdom that belonged to Christ. While we might say it was "spiritual" we seem to think of a kingdom that is not visible. This is far from true. Christ's kingdom is visible; He established it in real time and real history through His death and resurrection. All believers are members of this kingdom of grace and forgiveness and away His return, when for all time, He alone will rule unchallenged by Satan and his armies. Today we interview Simon, the Zealot, a guerrilla who was apart of Jesus' disciples.
Today we reach the las Sunday in Lent by interviewing John, the beloved disciple of Jesus. HE was in the Garden of Gethsemane the night Jesus was betrayed. He and Peter and James fell asleep while Jesus was praying. He encourages us to meet crossroads in our life by abiding in Jesus' love and forgiveness. Listen to his story.
Peter, a disciple of Jesus, denied knowing Jesus three times during the night before Jesus' crucifixion. Although a leader among the disciples, and a person who confessed Jesus as the Messiah, he is remembered by most for this denial. We interview him today as part of our ongoing Lent interviews leading up to Easter. Peter can't seem to shake the fact that he "failed" Jesus, and did not remain firm until the end as he promised. Sound familiar? We too fail. Even though we may know that Jesus forgives our sins, sometimes, our past can haunt us. What can we do? Listen to find out.
We all grow up from childhood. We grow emotionally, physically, mentally and socially without trying and without thinking about it. Nothing can stop this from happening. It is a natural process that happens in all creatures. it is a part of our creaturliness; a part of our flesh and blood-ness. There is no person that does not outgrow clothes or toys. We all feared girl or boy cooties when young but then moved on to love these cooties in our teen years. We all grow and change naturally. We are also spiritual. Every creature is spiritual and has a spiritual need to have rely on something as their God - whatever gives them meaning or purpose in life. The need to know the true God is natural, part of the creature. But because this world is broken, along with our relationship with God, we do not naturally grow spiritual, otherwise it is outgrown....like the toys you once played with. If it is not fed, it will not grow. You may have left your faith in Sunday School and it may have never matured. Listen and find out if you have outgrown your faith and what to do about it.
Throughout Epiphany Jesus has been revealing who He is to those around Him. Through power and authority, He has been healing, casting out demons, and forgiving sins ... miraculously. Not that the miracles are his point, nor are they proof of his Messiahship; they are merely an outpouring of the Father's love making right a creation gone awry. He turns the world upside down vanquishing sin and reversing nature out of love and compassion. Now, He turns the disciples world upside down with His teaching on what it means to be a disciple. Find out His revolutionary view of the world.
My faith is running empty. So should yours! in his letter to the Corinthians, Paul takes issue with a problem Christians were having about the tension between what was preached and the proof of that word. this tension exists for us too. For example, to say, "I love you" is empty and meaningless unless it is backed up by "proof". So what is the value of words. Is the resurrection a fairy-tale story made up of words only? Listen on...
Luke's story of a miraculous catch that Jesus did brought a new calling to Peter and the disciples. But the question is...what exactly was the miracle? If not the two boatloads of fish, then what? Listen to why Jesus did this and why Luke includes it in his Gospel.
Paul says that these three remain "faith, hope and love" but that the greatest of these is "love." Why is that, do faith and hope fail at times? Is he referring to God's love, or to human love? This 1 Corinthians passages is a well known passage to Christians and non-Christians alike turning 'love' into something of a cure all. But our love is not powerful nor authoritative....how then, is love the greatest of the three? listen for more.
In Luke's Gospel, there is an elephant in the room. You know, when everybody in a room knows there is an issue but nobody wants to talk about it? Our two texts (Nehemiah and Luke) help to understand what is going on in this synagogue where Jesus was invited to speak and why He chooses to confront the elephant head on. Find out what (or who) that elephant is!
Sometimes, fairy-tales help us understand imagery that is brought out in the Bible. One theory is that Biblical stories were so powerful in the history of storytelling, that they also influenced cultural fairy-tales. "Mirror, mirror on the wall..." shows us who we are, in the light of what we think or imagine that we are. The truth is, "You are not the fairest in the land." Painful as it is, the mirror shows we are the princesses, or princes, that we think we are. But it points us in another direction....find out here.
the church calendar of readings marks today as the Baptism of Jesus Sunday. In the season of Epiphany, Jesus' Baptism marks the beginning of His ministry which ultimately takes Him to the cross. But, His Baptism was not just a "showpiece" for everyone to see. Neither is our Baptism a simple initiation rite, or our declaration of faithfulness to God. God does marvelous and unimaginable through Baptism which results in our forgiveness of sins and eternal life through the death of Christ. find out what your Baptism is all about. (contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
Today is Epiphany Sunday. Epiphany means "light." We celebrate the arrival of the Magi to the manger of Christ who is the light of the world. Stars have always been a part of magic, ancient mythology, worshiped millennia ago, and worshiped by some today. Stars are displayed a lot at Christmas time; in fact, they replace the manger scenes of Christ in most public displays of Christmas. And although the Christmas Star has been adopted and adapted to the pagan celebration of Christianity symbolizing luck, joy, happiness, and peace, the star is NOT the main object. Find out what the purpose of this star; what it meant to the Magi and what it means for you and me.
In total darkness it is difficult to see where you are going. Darkness usually frightens people. they can't see where they are going; they might not know what lurks in the shadows. There is also spiritual darkness: doubt, losing joy or the experience of closeness to God. St. John of the Cross called this spiritual loneliness the "dark night of the soul." There is only one way out of the darkness. Like miners in a cave who kept candles lit to light their way, you need spiritual light to light your way. find out how.
"From the stump of Jesse" Isaiah prophecies. King David, descendant of Jesse, was given the promise by God, that the Messiah would be born in the lineage of David. But, David, and his ancestors committed all sorts of grave sins.... Yet, God was faithful to his promised and from David's seed, a new shoot, unlike any other, came from David's seed in fulfillment of God's promise given through the prophets of the Old Testament. No more being cut off; no more pruning, this branch lives eternally to save. Find out how this is possible that a shoot should come forth from a sinful heritage.
In this second Sunday of Advent we celebrate another name of Jesus: The Shepherd. Shepherds were common int he Middle East as sheep were very important to commerce and life itself. Jesus calls himself the Shepherd which makes us...the sheep. discover some of the relationships that have commonly been brought out in sermons about the sheep/shepherd relationship....but then, go deeper with me into a cultural - spiritual connection with Middle Eastern culture which brings out a deeper and richer meaning to our text for today.
Advent is the beginning of the Church years. It is a time when we focus on the historical coming of Christ as a child, but also a time of repentance and preparation for His return at the end of all time to establish His kingdom with a new earth and new heavens. This Sunday we focus on God, the potter, who has created all things for a purpose in this world. You have been created by God; he has molded you and shaped you from before you were born. You have a purpose. Find out more about this potter.
What Scripture says about the end of the time, and the heaven that is waiting for those who believe shows that the idea of heaven by the general public is way off base. We explore just how Scripture teaches us the beauty of a new world and a new heaven so much different than the imagined heaven in popular society. Two videos used during this sermon can be found on YouTube: (titles: The Real Heaven; it's not what you think, AND, He's My King)
In our society today, we glory on having an abundance of "things." Many times, people believe that the amount of what they have is the blessing, instead of simply having what they do have. People today easily say, "I am so thankful for..." but they leave off something very important: "TO WHOM are you thankful." Someone has to be thanked; there has to be a reason for thanks. True gratefulness to God can be expressed by even thanking God for what we don't have; giving thanks even when we don't have. Being thankful is a question of faith, knowing that God will provide all you need even when you don't "have." Find out how He does this?.
This is a hot topic in today's society. Amazon and You Tube have tons of videos and books written on "experiences" of near death, or coming back from death. How should we interpret these? While you can't deny a personal experience, you can call into question whether or not they are Christian. Scripture teaches us what to expect in death for those who believe and follow Christ as their Savior. As 1 John 4 says, "Test the Spirits" to see if they are from God....if the experience does NOT preach Christ crucified and risen from the dead, who is the Son of God then it is not a true experience. Scripture teaching is the only PROOF of what heaven is. This week and next week we look at death, and what Christians can expect, and some testimonials from Scripture what a glorious event this is, dispelling some misconceived notions of what happens.
Most people know that they there is no truth to the statement, "something for nothing" even though we wish that is how it were. In reality, we get what we pay for; we get what we deserve for the effort made. But, when we pray, do we expect our investment in "prayer" and "faith" will bring us results? What if we pray but it seems we get no help from God. Then our faith in God is challenged and we normally blame God...because He didn't give us what we want even though we believed in Him. Give God a try does not always work in our favor...BUT...whatever god does IS ALWAYS in our favor. Listen in to see how this works in real life....
Today is Reformation Sunday. On this day, in 1517, Martin Luther challenged the Roman Catholic Pope to a debate on the abuse by the Roman church on the forgiveness of sins. Our text in Romans talks about being free through Christ; something which is unattainable even we try our hardest because we are born and exist under the law...that is flesh and blood. As humans, we can only exist under the law, not freedom, because we are subject to the world around us. Like Free Willy...we cannot let ourselves out of the cage. Listen to how God rescues us from death and the Law and let's us enjoy freedom.
In the world of digital and social media is a new type of restlessness and anxiety that occurs in young people. But it does not only affect young people. The restlessness is caused by boredom and the drive to be on social media is because of boredom. But at the root of boredom is loneliness. Here more about why we fear to be alone and constantly need to be liked by others to the point of inventing images that will cause others to like us.
The Rich Young Ruler who came to ask Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life was dumb-founded by Jesus' answer. In fact, he sadly walked away form Jesus. He had kept the commandments that Jesus listed off, but failed to realize he was his own biggest enemy. Listen to find out.
“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Hebrews 2:1). These words from today’s Epistle are spot-on. In a culture that is quickly drifting away from the values we once held sacred, it’s imperative for us, as the people of God, to hold firmly to the Word we have heard. Today as we gather to listen to God’s Word and receive His gifts of grace, we are drawn close to the Redeemer, who has given His life in exchange for ours. Only in our relationship with Christ will we ever be made complete—members of His eternal kingdom, sons and daughters of our King. Once we see how our true identity is found in Jesus, we can better understand our unique roles in the relationships with one another that He has given to us.
A description guide for themes on the Gospel given by our church organization makes the distinction between preachers and parishioners by calling parishioners 'ordinary' Christians. I take issue with that because Jesus does not make that distinction anywhere in the Gospel lesson for today. Ordination is not the power of the Gospel, it is the Name of Christ.
the Apostle John uses imagery such as DARK and LIGHT to talk about identifying who is the true Christian and who teaches the truth about God. But rather than remain vague with these terms, he goes deeper into a confession of faith that is based solely on God's revelation in Christ.
Monty Python had a skit called the Spanish Inquisition in which people were forced to "confess..." and then subsequently tortured with comfy cushions and feathers. The word "confess" and "confession" have make us feel uneasy and is misunderstood. But Scripture invites us to confess for the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ. It is a gift from God.
Jesus commands, "Go make disciples baptizing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teaching to obey all I have commanded you." Carrying out the commissioning, the Apostles did exactly that. Paul teaches that Baptism is a washing through God's Word, which cleanses us and makes us God's own children. God has "signed, sealed and delivered" our salvation through word and water.
The Lord's Supper, also known as the Sacrament of the Altar, or Communion, is where our Lord meets us one on one in his outpost int he Kingdom. Everything that goes on inside a Christian congregation is where his power and glory and promises are made. Here he promises, through His Word, "take eat this is my body; take drink this is my blood." to be present for the believer with the forgiveness of sins. But, St. Paul warns, if you do not believe His words, you take this meal to your judgement for not knowing and discerning Christ's body and blood in the bread and wine. Our meditation centers on faith in the words of Christ.
This closing to the Lord's Prayer blesses and glorifies God. It shows who is in control in this world, and who leads the Christian in spiritual warfare. In the prayer we ask for all we need to live our lives in the world, and reminds us in this closing that within the four walls of worship, we are an outpost of the kingdom of God.
The true mark of Christians is their confession of faith. We confess that there is only one God, who has created us, who has redeemed us from our failure to live as he created us, who sanctifies us in the true faith. This confession is our mark that gives us place, purpose and promise in this world. To walk in this faith, is to bear up under the assaults that Satan would throw at us. This, however, we do not bear for our Savior has born it for us. He not only has taken all our sins upon himself; he has delivered us from the Evil One and given us the authority through his Word to victory.
Temptation is a daily struggle for all human beings. Christians, however, are more aware of struggling between what it is to live as God's children, and to be tempted to follow something else. In this sermon, we look at why the petition is so necessary for those who are following Christ, and a call to those who do not believe, to place their trust in Him for all things.
"And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." This is a difficult petition to pry. We err when we think that God only forgives us when we forgive others. to do so, would mean that we control God's free forgiveness for those who believe in Him. What, then, are we asking for in this petition whenever we pray the Lord's Prayer?
A special detour from the Lord's Prayer sermon series because SOYL (School Of Young Leadership) students were with us at Grace studying Law and Gospel.
Scripture can be divided into Law and Gospel. Understanding how the law and the Gospel function in the hearts of all humans is the key to understanding sin and repentance, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the Gospel, which is God's life-giving grace of forgiveness.
"On your marks, get set, go..." The second sermon in the series on the Lord's Prayer. Being on our marks, means that our firm foundation is the true God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our Savior, who forgives and grants eternal life. As in a race, we are called by our Lord to "GO" and make disciples, and live our Christian faith in the real world. What we need is to "get set" - be ready to run the race. Our Lord provides all we need to live as His children on this earth, not merely to give testimony to his name -- but to LIVE NEW LIFE as His children as an example of the power of Christ in our lives, so others will glorify God.
This petition in the Lord's Prayer is typically misunderstood by Christians and non-Christians alike. what is the Will of God? How can we know it? The prayer, however, asks us to "live" it - not just know it. How do we confuse God's will thinking it is like ours.
In his letter to Christians, St. John writes that the only true Christian is the one who confesses Jesus Christ come in the flesh, to suffer, to die and to rise from the dead for the salvation of mankind. Confessing Christ is the confession of the only true God who, himself, offered his son in sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins and the restoration of mankind unto Himself. These are the marks of the true Christian and of the only true God.
This sermon focuses on three things given in the second commandment: 1. what was God's intention in the creation of the world
2. why was the commandment necessary and what does it say about us.
3. what are God's promises to all mankind in this commandment as aprt of his work in the world.