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Showing posts from May, 2010

Freedom, Godliness and Saving Faith

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On Monday we observe Memorial Day. It isn’t just the beginning of summer, a day off from work and school. It is a holiday set aside to honor the memory of departed loved ones, especially those who died in the service of our country.

Freedom isn't free. Our liberty has been bought and preserved at a great cost to those whose memory we honor again on Memorial Day.

Freedom and liberty are such precious gifts that we should never take them for granted. We should hold them with a solemn sense of gratitude and responsibility, for liberty without responsibility quickly becomes license to do evil.

Words like freedom and liberty are used to justify the right to promiscuity, pornography, suicide, abortion, and every kind of perversion, the right to say anything without considering its effect on others, and the right to stand toe-to-toe with anyone and say "In your face."

But that's not really freedom. That's slavery, slavery to our old Adam. How sad to think that in a fre…

Come to Jesus through Matthew

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Amazingly, not a single word that Matthew spoke is recorded in his Gospel or any other book of the Bible, but the words that he wrote comprise one of the greatest, most powerful, most widely read books ever written.

Beginning Sunday, May 30 and throughout the summer, we will be studying the Gospel of Matthew. Experience The Visual Bible’s Matthew, which is a powerful and entertaining film taken word for word from the NIV. It is a multimillion dollar production that appeals to all ages, and offers educational and spiritual value in an entertaining fashion. Filmed on location in Tunisia, Morocco and South Africa, Matthew features a cast of thousands with historically accurate costuming and award-winning directing.

Come spend the summer with us at Epiphany studying Matthew’s Gospel – and make this extraordinary, precious gift from God your very own.

Sunday School and Bible Class through the summer at 9:25-10:10 am.

Summer is Here!

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SUMMER is here – at least the weather. With the temps in the 80s and air conditioning moving from a “luxury” to a “necessity”, we’re reminded how our Father in heaven takes such good care of us – beyond what we need or deserve. Praise His name every day for that and thank Him with our songs of praise and our lives of purposeful Christian living! With school ending in the grade schools, high schools, and colleges, we take time to give thanks to God for faithful teachers, student mentors, and institutions of learning who help us better understand this great world that God has given us. Start making a list of what God has given you (instead of focusing on what we don’t have) and you will soon see how great, gracious, and kind our God is! And this Memorial Day, thank God for our service men and women who serve (and some who fought and died) to give us our freedoms in America.

You are likely making fun plans for summer activities like vacations, outings, kids’ activities, and barbeques. D…

Co-exist?

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“To claim that all religions are basically the same, therefore, is not to deny the differences between a Buddhist who believes in no god, a Jew who believes in one God, and a Hindu who believes in many gods. It is to deny that those differences matter, however. From this perspective, whether God has a body (yes, say Mormons; no, say Muslims) or whether human beings have souls (yes, say Hindus; no, say Buddhists) is of no account because, as Hindu teacher Swami Sivananda writes, ‘The fundamentals or essentials of all religions are the same. There is difference only in the nonessentials.’ This is a lovely sentiment but it is untrue, disrespectful, and dangerous.”

So says Stephen Prothero, a religion professor at Boston University, who wrote this in a Boston Globe newspaper article recently. The article is adapted from his new book, God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World—and Why Their Differences Matter.

Above is a picture that is pretty similar to many bumper stic…

The Power Source

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I like to listen to my iPod when I am mowing the lawn or exercising or riding my bike. Maybe you have an iPod, CD player, MP3 player, radio or even your phone that you use to listen to music. Whatever you use, you need a power source. I have to plug my iPod and Blackberry into a charger. I charge my MP3 player by plugging it into my computer. If you use something else to listen to music, you’ll need batteries or to be plugged into an outlet.

It needs a power source.

Before Jesus returned to heaven to be with his Father, he told his disciples that they would do even greater things than he had done when he was on earth. Now Jesus did some pretty great things, didn't he? He healed the sick. He turned water into wine. He made the blind to see and the lame to walk. Where were the disciples going to get the power to do such great things? Jesus promised them that he would ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit would give them the power to do great and mighty things…

Take back Sunday

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As the Scottish runner Eric Liddell prepared to run the 400m race in the 1924 Olympics, an American masseur slipped a piece of paper with this quotation in his hands, “Those who honor me, I will honor.” (1 Samuel 2:30). And Liddell ran the race holding that paper in his hand, winning the gold medal and breaking the existing world record.

“Those who honor me, I will honor,” says the Lord.

The amazing part of this story, that some of you may remember from the movie “Chariots of Fire,” is that the 400m race wasn’t Liddell’s best race. He was the fastest man in the world in the 100m, yet he refused to run the 100m in the 1924 Olympics because the race was scheduled for Sunday morning. He also gave up a chance to win a medal in the 4x100 m and the 4x400 m because they also were on a Sunday. He would have been the first person from Scotland to win an Olympic medal, but he refused to run his best race. Imagine an athlete of today, like Michael Phelps, refusing to swim a race in the Olympics…

The Sabbath Day

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I was asked the other day in Bible Class about the Seventh Day Adventist Church. One of the main tenents of the Seventh Day Adventists is that they believe that worship of God must be on the seventh day, the Sabbath, Saturday.

I found an answer to the question about the Sabbath Day while looking on the WELS Q&A section of their website. I am sharing the answer with you for your own knowledge of why most Christian denominations have chosen Sunday, the first day of the week, to be our Sabbath Day of rest and worship. Also, the next blog will be about taking back Sunday as our day of rest and worship.

The Sabbath Day

Question: Why and where was the seventh day for rest and worship changed to the first day?

Answer: In his sermon, “How Christians Should Regard Moses,” Luther states a principle of biblical interpretation: “It is not enough simply to look and see whether this is God’s Word ... rather we must ... see to whom it has been spoken.” Even though the Third Commandment explicitl…

There's an app for that

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Google Maps, Pandora, Skype, GPS, Sudoku. They say a cell phone gets better with every App. What if there was a suite of Apps for an upgraded version of YOU?

Applications like love, joy, peace and self-control. Come download God’s Apps for a Better You. At Epiphany Lutheran the content is always fresh and tuned-in to life.

(It will be even better than a new version of Super Monkey Ball.)

Sunday Worship ………......................... 8:00 & 10:30 am

Sunday School & Bible Class ……………. 9:15 am

Wednesday Worship ……. 6:30 pm

Call into the public ministry

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Here is the photo of my graduating class from Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in 1996. How young I looked back then. Now I'm just trying to keep from falling apart. You can also go here for a close-up. Seminary 1996 Graduating Class

Yesterday I took two Wisconsin Lutheran School 6th grade young men with me to Call Day at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. Jack Petrick and Chris Jones were excited to go. Partly because they got out of school for most of the day and partly because they are interested in being pastors some day.

Jack and Chris were impressed with a Seminary that is devoted to only preaching the salvation through Jesus Christ that comes through the clear, strong, true message of God’s Word. How could they not be impressed as we joined with about 500 Christian men and women as we sang “Come, Holy Ghost, Creator Blest” – a hymn that has been sung at the ordaining and commissioning of pastors for over 800 years.

I explained to Jack and Chris that though they are very different peo…

View the Signs and Be Prepared

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Here are some more great signs from our trip to Utah.

We want to know when Jesus will return and the world will end. We will never know the exact time, but God did give us signs that point to His return.

There have always been skeptics about the signs of the end. Peter heard such doubt in his own day. “You must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this “coming” he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’” (2 Peter 3:3,4)

Jesus also said that when He returns, most people will be as unheeding of the signs as they were before the Flood. They will be “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” (Matthew 24:38), as though life must always go on as it has.

Yet let’s remember Jesus’ warning signs are there to prepare us not only for the time when He will come to us, but also for the time when we will be called to Him. We may meet …

Obey the Signs

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While on vacation in Utah last summer I had a fascination with signs I saw. Here are some of the more interesting and intriguing ones.

Signs may tells us the height of s particular peak we are climbing. Signs may warn us about dangerous rattlesnakes or falling rocks. Signs may direct traffic or keep people away from vegetation. Finding and obeying signs can save your life.

Jesus gave us plenty of signs about His coming. No one knows the exact time of Jesus’ return. However, Jesus, out of love and concern for His people, put clear and accurate signs along the path of life. He wants believers to be prepared at all times to greet Him at His return.

Scripture offers three different signs to remind us that Jesus’ return will be “soon” (Revelation 22:7,12,20). These signs offer both warning and comfort to believers.

Sign #1—The gospel will be preached in the whole world

In Matthew 24 Jesus offers a whole list of signs to mark the beginning of the end. In this list is a remarkable statem…

Blessings or Plagues

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Revelation 22:12 "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 14 "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. 16 "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star." 17 The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the pl…

An Eternal Inheritance

1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-- kept in heaven for you.

We do not hope for a blessing or an inheritance that is far off. But we live in the hope of an inheritance that is just at hand, and that is imperishable as well as undefiled and unfading. This blessing is ours henceforth and forever, although we do not now behold it. These are powerful and excellent words; whosesoever mind they enter into, he will, I imagine, not be greatly anxious about worldly goods and pleasure. How can it be possible that one who assuredly believes this, should yet cling to perishable possessions and desires? If worldly goods are presented in contrast with this, it is seen at once how these things all pass away and endure but for a time; but this inheritance alone lasts forever and will ne…

Ascension in the Large Catechism

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God withholds nothing from us, but gives all that we need for our life on earth. Even more, He gives us all that we need for eternal life with Him in heaven. Martin Luther focuses on the one phrase he believes is the very essence of this article: “in Jesus Christ, … our Lord.”

Providing a sweeping description of Creation and the fall, Luther notes that the word we includes every single person in the horrible drama of the Garden of Eden. In that sin we all fell away from God and were doomed to everlasting damnation. Yet Christ, our Lord, came and snatched us from the jaws of hell. This description of Christ’s victory over Satan would have been very familiar to the people who first read the Large Catechism. Many paintings from that era depict hell with horrifying detail, showing men and women being led into the gaping mouth of a dragonlike creature.

Luther uses the biblical motif of Christ as Victor to describe His work of salvation for us. Jesus offered His own precious blood as sat…

Christ's Ascension

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Psalm 47:1 Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. 2 How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth! 3 He subdued nations under us, peoples under our feet. 4 He chose our inheritance for us, the pride of Jacob, whom he loved. 5 God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets. 6 Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.

This psalm reminds us of the glorious and joyful ascension of the Lord. Forty days after His resurrection, Jesus took His disciples to the Mount of Olives outside Jerusalem. (Forty days after Easter would be today.)

When He finished speaking His final words of instruction and comfort, the Lord spread His hands over them in a blessing. Then He began slowly and majestically to rise heavenward from the earth, higher and higher. Finally a cloud removed Him from the disciples’ sight.

In the ancient world, a king would often make his defeated enemies lie down before …

You Brought Pavement?

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Revelation 21:10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17 He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits thick, by man…

Everything New

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He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new.” Revelation 21:5

Consider the following lyrics: “Long ago – but not so very long ago – the world was different. Oh yes, it was.” Those words are the opening lines to the song “Our Town,” sung by James Taylor from the Disney Pixar movie Cars. It was a song about a small town.

“Long ago – but not so very long ago – the world was different. Oh yes, it was.” Part of the song’s power is that it hits home for all of us who have lived long enough to see things decline with time. Perhaps we’ve seen the home we grew up in fall into disrepair. Perhaps we’ve seen people and jobs leave the once bustling city of Racine. Perhaps we’ve witnessed the toxic waste that is passed off as entertainment on TV. Perhaps we’ve lived long enough to see the decline in our own health.

I’ve seen this decline in my own health. Here are a few examples. I was talking with a friend about playing sports again after my knee surgery. My “sweet” seven-y…

Happy Mother's Day

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My wife, Shelley, and our second daughter, Miriam, at her school play.

The late Professor William James, Harvard’s famous psychologist, would frequently illuminate a misty subject with a homespun anecdote. Discussing motherhood once, Professor James said: “A teacher asked a boy this question dealing with fractions: ‘Suppose that your mother baked an apple pie, and there were seven of you – your parents and five children. What part of the pie would you get?’ “A sixth, ma’am,’ the boy answered. “But there are seven of you,’ said the teacher. ‘Don’t you know anything about fractions?’ ‘Yes, teacher,’ replied the boy, ‘I know all about fractions, but I know all about Mother, too. Mother would say she did not want any pie.’”

A Mother’s Day prayer:
Heavenly Father, sometimes the role of mother goes unappreciated and noticed, yet, thank you God, for showing us how valuable these women are in society, and in your precious sight. Thank you, God, for Your continued guidance so that we may teac…

A National Day of Prayer

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On April 16, 2010, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled in favor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Madison-based group of atheists and agnostics. She found that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional.

Thursday, May 6, 2010, America still recognized a National Day of Prayer.

Whether President Obama and his administration support a National Day of Prayer or the Supreme Court finds it to be unconstitutional, it doesn’t really matter. We are still going to pray in our churches. We are still going to be on our own.

Even when you pray along, you are never alone.

Jesus often spent time praying alone. After feeding the five thousand, Jesus went up on a mountain to pray alone. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus left the disciples and went a little way by himself to pray. Throughout the Scriptures we find accounts of men and women who went up on a mountain or off by themselves to meditate upon God’s Word and pray. There is a great benefit in sitting back, removing yourself …

Ready to suffer all even death

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Every year I ask the confirmands, “Why are you willing to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from your confirmation faith.” Hopefully we can be encouraged by the responses of these six young ladies who confirmed their baptismal faith at Epiphany on May 2, 2010.

Mercedez Lynn Christopolis — “I am willing to be faithful even to the point of death because I know that I will get the crown of life. I know in heaven there is no pain or suffering and people shouldn’t be afraid of death because it isn’t the end, just a new beginning. To be honest, I can’t wait to die because it would just be a new beginning with no pain or suffering.”

Mercedez' confirmation verse: Revelation 2:10 Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Ashley Marie Dreckmann — "I am ready to face all, even death, rather than fall away from my faith in God because He is the true God and the Creator of the world and everything in it. He has given His only Son Jesus Ch…

Study Your Catechism

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Sunday was confirmation at Epiphany. The six confirmands did very well in the examination between services. They really studied their Bibles and catechisms throughout the two years of confirmation classes so they were prepared for their big day.

But what about the rest of us? Do we still have our catechisms? Do we still read them? Or have we put them up on a shelf since we “graduated” from confirmation class and now we are done with them?

Here are some wonderful quotes from Martin Luther, the author of the Small and Large Catechisms. He speaks of the importance for all of us, youth, adults, parents, pastors, etc., all making regular and constant of use of not only the Scriptures, but also the Catechism which explains the Scriptures.

The author of the Catechism amazingly wrote: “I must remain a child and pupil of the catechism, and am glad to remain so.”

“Catechism study is a most effective help against the devil, the world, the flesh, and all evil thoughts. It helps to be occupied w…

Pitching His Tent

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In the Old Testament God made His dwelling among His people. He literally “pitched His tent/tabernacle” among them as a pillar of cloud and fire hovering over the tabernacle, their tent of worship.

In the New Testament, Jesus made His dwelling among us (John 1:14). He pitched His tent as God in human flesh. These were temporary stays of God among His people.

Because of our sin our outlook on God is imperfect and because of our tears of sorrow our concept of God is cloudy. “Now we see a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see [God] face to face.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

It may often seem like God has abandoned us to our enemies. But in heaven this unclarity will be gone. We will no longer walk by faith but by sight. We shall see Him as He is. (1 John 3:2)

In heaven, God will no longer dwell with us temporarily for 40 years as a pillar of cloud and fire. Nor will He dwell with us temporarily for 33 years as God in human flesh. When we are in the presence of God in heaven, it …