Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sermon for 10/26/14--Festival of the Reformation

Audio:




Text:
   
Freed Slaves

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


It doesn’t matter to God how bad you are. Jesus died to pay the price for your sins. Even if you are the worst sinner, the most wretched sinner ever, it doesn’t matter. Nothing you have thought, said, or done is beyond the redemption of the blood of Christ. No matter what you’ve done, no matter how sinful you really are, Jesus died for you. It doesn’t matter to God how good you are either. Even if you say the right words, you don’t earn your way to heaven by being good. Your Old Adam still believes God will like you better if you’re good. Your sinful flesh believes that if you’re well-behaved, God won’t let bad things happen to you. My brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus forgives all your sins. He even forgives you for thinking your good works make you a good person.

So the real question is, are you in Christ? Outside of and apart from Jesus, there is nothing in you but sin, death, and the wrath and judgment of God. In Christ, where His Word has declared you forgiven, there is nothing in you but righteousness, innocence and blessedness. This is what the Jews who believed in Jesus didn’t get. And you have trouble with this too. The Jews refused to believe they were slaves of sin. If you sin, you’re a slave of sin. Jesus sets you free. But sin isn’t just doing bad things. It’s also thinking your good things make you a good person. You tend to think of sin in terms of doing bad and evil and wicked things. But your real show of unbelief is thinking that any good things you do balance out the bad. Unbelief is thinking you don’t deserve eternal death and judgment. But Jesus says plainly: “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” And that’s exactly what He does by His death for you. Jesus was sinless, perfectly obedient. But He was also the worst sinner ever. All the sins of the world are His, carried to Calvary. He bled and died to pay their price. The death and resurrection of Jesus sets you free…once and for all and forever.

So how do you know whether you are in Christ? Your sins would have you believe that you cannot be in Christ. After all, someone who is truly in Christ wouldn’t sin, right? On the other hand, you cannot believe your good works either. Those might persuade you that you don’t really need Jesus that much. So how do you know you are free? How do you know the Son has made you one of the family? You know because He keeps His promises. Jesus made you part of Himself at the font by water and the Spirit. He keeps you part of Himself when forgives your sins through the mouth of His called pastors. He keeps you part of Himself when He gives you His body and blood to eat and drink. These gifts—water, word, body and blood—these gifts tell you what God has to say. Your goodness or badness doesn’t matter. What matters is Jesus: what He did and what He gives.

It doesn’t matter to God how bad or good you are. But it still matters. It matters to your neighbor. Loving or not loving your parents or spouse or the people around you doesn’t save you. But it matters to your parents or spouse or the people around you! So today’s final bit of good news is that Jesus lives in and through your works. The Holy Spirit dwells in you. God works through you to love and care for others. You could pause and wonder how you love and care for others. But then you would either say, “I don’t do a very good job,” or “Yeah, I’m pretty good at that.” Jesus loves others perfectly in you. And you, through the Christ within you, love others perfectly. In Christ who perfectly obeys the will of the Father, you keep the commandments. This really is what Jesus means when He says He sets you free. He has set you free from worrying, calculating and measuring. You no longer have to ask, “Have I done enough?” You are free from sin. Jesus has set you free. And when the Son sets you free, you are free indeed. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.               


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

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sermon for 10/19/14--Trinity XVIII

Audio:




Text:

True Love

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


The Pharisees asked what the greatest commandment is. But Jesus gave them two. By teaching them to love God and to love their neighbor, Jesus is teaching them that there is no love of God apart from love of neighbor. This was a hard lesson for the Pharisees to learn. They knew doctrine, but they did little to care for others. Last week we saw their concern that Jesus might actually heal a man on the Sabbath! My brothers and sisters in Christ, if you come here to church, and you sing and pray and say all the words so that people can drive by and see your car here, but then you go back into the world with only your own welfare on your mind, then you have not let the Word of God dwell within you. If you are proud of being a Christian and a Lutheran, and you are glad you are a churchgoer, but you walk out the door and back to your grudges against others and playing favorites and ignoring others, then repent of your sinfulness! There is no loving God apart from loving our neighbor.

The only answer to this sin is Jesus, the Son of David and David’s Lord. The Commandments and the Law are wrapped up and hang upon Jesus. Jesus is teaching about his divine and human natures. Let’s be clear: What Jesus teaches, what the Pharisees don't get, is that Jesus is the Christ, true God and true man. He is David's Son because He takes on flesh and is born into David's line. But He is David's Lord because He is the eternally begotten Son who is true God. Here is the miracle of the Incarnation: the divine nature of the Son of God takes upon Himself a human nature, together as one Person: Jesus.

But there’s more. Jesus is God and man, and that means Jesus is the focus and substance of the Law. Love God and love your neighbor? Jesus is both at the same time. He perfectly loves God and His neighbor at the same time. Jesus, true God and true Man, hangs upon the tree of the cross. Where we have failed to obey God and failed to love our neighbor, that has been hung upon Christ. Where we have falsely served God and abandoned our neighbor, that has been hung upon Christ. Jesus keeps the commandments and is killed by our breaking them. He makes that death ours in the waters of Holy Baptism, and He raises us to life again in His own resurrection.

Now in Christ we have everything settled. How do you love and glorify God? Love God by receiving what He has for you: forgiveness, life and salvation. Hear and learn His holy word. Live daily in the washing given to you in Baptism. Confess your sins and be absolved. Be filled with the body and blood of Jesus by which He lives in you to do good works for others. Receive what the Lord has for you in His church, and not merely for your own sake. In receiving these gifts of God, you are made into a gift for your neighbor. Baptism, Absolution, the body and blood of Jesus: these are all given to you that you would have in you the One who kept the Law, so that you would love and serve your neighbor. You are forgiven of what you have failed to do and taught by the Spirit what good works you are to do.

But your salvation does not hang upon your good works. Your salvation does not hang upon the Law. Thanks be to God for that, for the Law will only accuse you, and your works will only fail you. Jesus, true God and true Man, loves the Lord your God with all His heart, with all His soul, and with all His mind; and Jesus, true God and true Man, loves your neighbor as He loves Himself. This is what matters most, because your salvation hangs upon His perfect love. Your salvation is this: Jesus Christ has died bearing your sins, and He has risen to raise you up with Him. That is true love: love of God and true love of you, His neighbor. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.     



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

Sunday, October 19, 2014

PARODY: All About That Cross

A little Lutheran levity for your Sunday morning...


All About That Cross
(A Smash Hit Praise Parody of
"All About That Bass" by Meghan Trainor)


Because you know I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross.

Yeah, it's pretty clear
I'm not with FiveTwo.
I like to preach it-preach it
Like I'm supposed to do,
Cause I do that chant-chant,
A smile on my face,
With all the right notes
In all the right places.

I see them marketing.
They're selling Jesus out.
They say that doctrine's junk—
"That's not what He's about.
If you are lovey-dovey,
That's quite enough,
'Cause we know sinning doesn't matter.
Love and smiling is the stuff."

Yeah, my pastor, he said,
"Sacramental entrepreneurs,
Well, they shovel their garbage.
It stinks worse than cow manure.
You know, they call themselves 'Luth'rans,'
But Luther would call them wrong.
So if that's what you're into,
Then go ahead and move along."

Because you know I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross.

I'm bringing doctrine back!
Go ahead and tell those sad apostates that.
No, I ain't playing. They think they're all that,
But let me tell you
Every bit of that is rotten
From the bottom to the top.

Yeah, my pastor, he said,
"Sacramental entrepreneurs,
Well, they shovel their garbage.
It stinks more than cow manure.
You know, they call themselves 'Luth'rans,'
But Luther would call them wrong.
So if that's what you're into,
Then go ahead and move along."

Because you know I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross.

Because you know I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross.

Because you know I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross,
No devil.
I'm all about that cross,
'Bout that cross.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sermon for 10/12/14--Trinity XVII

Audio:




Text:

At the Table

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


The Pharisees believed the most important thing was where you sat, whether you were at the head of the table or the other end. But Jesus says that the most important thing is that you’re at the table. The rest of it sort of worked itself out. This is a picture of faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, which is what’s going on in our text. Jesus is going to eat bread at a Pharisee’s house, and a man with a horrible disease stands before the Lord. The man doesn’t say anything. He just stands there. It is obvious what this man wants and needs. He needs Jesus to heal him.

The Pharisees kept close watch to see what Jesus would do. Would He break the law of the Sabbath and heal the man? The answer, of course, is yes. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, to heal the broken and to forgive the sins of the penitent. He healed the man and sent him home. The Pharisees were aghast! Jesus did work on the Sabbath, and this was a great insult to them. The Sabbath hearkens back to creation, when we hear in Genesis that God ended His work of creation, and He rested on the seventh day. God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His creative work. It was the Day when He blessed His creation.

And then He blessed it again with Jesus. God set apart the Sabbath Day because that is the day Jesus rested in the tomb. He died on Good Friday, rested in death on Saturday, and rose from the dead on Easter Sunday. When Jesus healed on the Sabbath, He was saying that He is the Lord of the Sabbath, and that He can bless His creation on the Sabbath day just as He did when He created the world.

You spend your life working and striving and trying to get ahead. Like the Pharisees in our text, we are all obsessed with the pecking order of things. We want to be at the head of the table; we want our place at the top. But you can’t do it. No matter how hard you try, you will fail. Like the man with dropsy, your failure before God is obvious to everyone, especially to the One who knows all and sees all. And the more you strive and work and struggle, the more obvious it is that you can’t make it on your own. You are trapped. Just like this man with the dropsy, just like the young man of Nain from last week, you’re trapped. All of your striving and working and struggling to be more spiritual or more Christian will never get you anywhere in the Christian faith. The only one who can get you to the Table and give you a place of honor is the Lord of the Banquet, Jesus Himself.

And He does invite you to the table. His great gift to you today is that He invites you to the heavenly wedding banquet. It doesn’t matter whether you’re at the head or the foot of the table. It doesn’t matter how dirty you are or how ill equipped for being at the banquet. That’s not your call to make. The Lord of the Banquet has called you to His eternal Table. He’s the host. It’s His decision, not yours.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, this is very good news. It doesn’t matter where you sit at the Table. The important thing is that you are at the Table. The Father has invited you to the banquet, where Jesus feeds you with His own body and blood for the forgiveness of your sins. So come to the eternal Table of the Lord. The Table is set. The meal is ready. Come and feast on salvation for all eternity. In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Sermon for 10/5/14--Trinity XVI

Audio:




Text:
 
God Visits His People

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


One of the most frequent things a pastor does outside of his normal routine is to bring the comfort of the Word of God to the bereaved at the death of a loved one. Funeral home visitations and funerals are times of great affliction and sadness for everyone involved. Obviously the family of the deceased is suffering grief at the death of their loved one. The friends of the family feel the burden of the grief their friend is going through, and no one is quite sure what to say. Now, imagine if the pastor were to walk in without a care in the world, and he said to you, to your family and friends, “Don’t cry.” There’s a pretty good chance the pastor would be walking out holding his broken jaw. Of course death is a time to mourn. Someone you love is gone from your life, and you will not see them again until you yourself have died.

But Jesus doesn’t work the way you think He will work. He came upon a funeral procession for a young man who has died. He walked up to the casket and told the mother of the deceased, “Don’t cry.” And then He told the dead man, “Get up. Arise” And the young man got up! This is what makes the Christian faith the Christian faith. You don’t need Jesus to preach morality—He has written the Law on your heart. You don’t need the Jesus to make an effort to improve your life. But Jesus does the one thing no other god or religion can actually do. He defeats death.

The witnesses said, “God has visited His people.” God shows up, and people are brought to life. This is why Jesus came. Adam and Eve brought sin. Sin brings death. Jesus came to overcome sin so that death would also be undone. Sin and death are overcome with the forgiveness of sins. Death is overthrown. Jesus walks up and raises that boy to show each of us what our future is. You will fall asleep. And then Jesus will wake you up. We don’t call it death anymore. Now that Jesus has removed its sting, it’s just sleep. It’s nothing to fear. Death has been smacked down. It has been robbed of its power. Your sin means your death. But now, in Jesus, because your sins are forgiven, you only sleep. You rise on the Last Day, and there is no more death forever and ever and ever. The resurrection of Jesus means you can’t die any more. You’ve already died. You’ve been drowned at the font in Holy Baptism. You’ve been crucified with Christ. And if you died there, you can’t die again. You will only sleep, and only for a little while.

We think death has more power than it does. We think it’s the worst thing ever. When it happens, we join the world in making all kinds of clich├ęd statements about it. The world seeks comfort in memories and coping mechanisms instead of the promise that Christ has defeated death. When we fall asleep, we will wake up. Maybe it’s your own death that terrifies you. Maybe it’s the death of someone else that hurts so bitterly. But the baptized child of God has a defiant answer to shout at death:

Death, you cannot end my gladness:
I am baptized into Christ!
When I die, I leave all sadness
to inherit paradise!
Though I lie in dust and ashes,
faith’s assurance brightly flashes:
Baptism has the strength divine
to make life immortal mine.

Jesus has conquered sin and death with it, and so we despise death. We mock it. We can no longer fear its power. Where Christ is present, there death must yield. Where the Father’s baptized children are, there death must let go. And where our Lord’s people stand, filled with His body and blood, death must run away in fear. God in Christ has come calling, bringing life with Him. Death no longer has any power, for God has visited His people. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.


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

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

CRM and the Battle

I wrote a book about a problem. Yeah, it really hasn't seemed like it made a lot of difference. Nothing has changed. In fact, the task force that was formed to address the problem of pastors without congregations seems to be recommending a fix for the problem that resembles the current methodology which exascerbated the initial problem.

I wrote a book about the problem. I made the book about the problem available for free, and I also offered an option which would allow me to raise some funds to address the problem. I sent e-mails and letters and press releases about the book about the problem. I did a radio interview about the book about the problem. No, I haven't been a one-man explosion of CRM awareness to light up the whole of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod. I have not received any hate mail or threatening phone calls. Perhaps that means I haven't been aggressive enough. 

Or perhaps that means I haven't been persistent enough. And I'm going to behave as if that's the case. I'm going to keep addressing the problem. I wrote a book. I sent letters and e-mails and press releases. I even sent the book itself in some cases. And I'm going to keep writing. I'm going to keep sending letters and e-mails and press releases. I'll even send some more books. I'll make presentations. I may not be a major affliction, but I will continue to be a persistent irritant. And I'm not the only one fighting the battle. Maybe we'll all find a way to make a difference in our own ways. 

I'm not a Marine. But I am a survivor, and that's something.



To purchase a Kindle copy of this book for $2.99 (and each copy purchased will bring in $1 for charity), click this link: KINDLE EDITION OF LUTHERAN PURGATORY! Amazon Prime members can also borrow this document for free, and Amazon will give me a small royalty which will go directly to charity.

To purchase a print edition of this book for $4.99 through Amazon (and each copy purchased will bring in $0.84 for charity), click this link: PRINT EDITION OF LUTHERAN PURGATORY!

To purchase a print edition of this book for $4.99 through CreateSpace (and each copy purchased will bring in $1.84 for charity), click this link: PRINT EDITION OF LUTHERAN PURGATORY!

To download a FREE .pdf file of this book, which I offer so that money isn't a deterrent in the spread of this important information, click this link: DOWNLOAD FREE PDF OF LUTHERAN PURGATORY!

And to read reviews that don't appear on Amazon.com, CLICK THIS LINK.


Thank you for your time and attention.

Sermon for 9/28/14--Trinity XV

Audio:




Text:

Doves and Dandelions

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


God has given you all that you need, both for this life, and for eternal life. The sins that once stood against you have been cast aside by Holy Absolution. The Body and Blood of Jesus are your regular feast. The Good News of the death of the Son of God for your sins shows that the Lord Himself loves you and cares for you. That is true riches! So why do you get all worried about things? Why do husbands and wives have to fight about who spends what and how much? Why do kids hate their parents when they don't buy them what they want?

To be fair, your idolatry is not that you have stuff. After all, God in Christ is the giver of every good gift, and that includes material things. Your idolatry is that you don't believe that the Father has given you every good gift in Jesus Christ. You are baptized and have the Holy Supper and the preaching of the Gospel. But does that put food on the table? Does that mail a check to the credit card company? My brothers and sisters in Christ, repent of that thinking, as if every good gift in Christ is somehow not enough.

To rescue you from the despair that mammon brings, Jesus lifts your eyes to look at the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. Think about this. Every time you see the mess that a bird left on your windshield, you know that your Father in heaven is still feeding the birds. Every time you see the dandelions growing in your yard, you can be certain that your Father in heaven is making the flowers look beautiful. He will certainly provide your nourishment and clothing. You are the crown of creation. You are more valuable than doves and dandelions.

You are valuable because you are God's own child through Jesus. You are priceless because the Son of God took on your flesh, taking on your sins and bearing them to the cross. The value you have is that you have been redeemed, bought back from sin and death by the death and resurrection of Jesus. Do you think He's just going to throw you to the wolves? Do you think He will let you starve? Do you think He will keep you out of heaven? Of course not. You are His. Do you suffer? Jesus has suffered even more. He came into this world to take every bit of your pain, your suffering, your worry, and all your sins upon Himself, to take them away. When you are tempted to worry, to get all worked up over the stuff of this life, then stop a minute and behold the cross. In the cross you can be certain that your heavenly Father is looking out for you.

So what about your clothing? You have been dressed in the robe of Christ's righteousness, given you at your Baptism. By water and the Word, the Lord has claimed you and marked you as His own. What about nourishment? He gives you a never ending feast: the body and blood of Jesus for you to eat and drink for the forgiveness of your sins. Everything is yours in Jesus! It won't run out. You can never run out of Jesus. He always has more to give.

It's easy to worry about mammon, but Jesus teaches you that such worry is an attempt to serve mammon. You cannot have two masters. So Jesus comes and He has one Master, His Father, to whom He is obedient by dying to pay the debt owed by sinners. He gives His life into death for your sins. He rises again to show that He has conquered sin and death and your worry about mammon. He has washed you at the font, making you His own, clothing you in robes more beautiful than lilies. He feeds you with His own body and blood, a feast far better than the birds get. Your Father has given you all you need to support this body and life. More importantly, in Christ, you have been given everything you need for eternal life. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.


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