Showing posts from September, 2010

Here there might be dragons

September 29 is the minor church festival of St. Michael and All Angels. Here is one of my favorite sermons that I've preached on the subject.

Grace and peace to you from him who is, who was and who is to come, and from Jesus Christ, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth. Amen.

Revelation 12:7-12 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down-- that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. 11 They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb a…

Do you agree with Augustine on Baptism?

In our Wednesday evening Bible studies, we are studying the Augsburg Confession. I'm also personally reading the Apology (Defense) of the Augsburg Confession in order to give more background to the attendees of the class. In Article II of the Apology on Original Sin, one of the early church fathers, Augustine, is quoted: "Sin is forgiven in Baptism, not in such a way that it no longer exists, but so that it is not charged."

Every year I have new people in my Bible Inquirer's Class, an adult confirmation class to learn the basics of the Bible. In almost every class people have questions about Baptism. A thought came to mind while reading Augustine's quote. People want to compare what we teach from the Bible with what their pastor and former church taught about Baptism. Now I have three questions for them based on Augustine's quote.

Go to your home church and ask the pastor what his church teaches on Baptism compared with the early church fathers like Augustin…

Luther on Mammon

Popular preachers of today attract huge followings by preaching a message of worldly prosperity. Compare what Martin Luther had to say about the god of Mammon that so many false prophets want Christians to chase after.

The world cannot conceal its unbelief in its coarse, outward sins, for I see it loves a dollar more than Christ; more than all the Apostles, even if they themselves were present and preached to it. I can hear the Gospel daily, but it does not profit me every day; it may indeed happen, if I have heard it a whole year, the Holy Spirit may have been given to me only one hour. Now when I enjoyed this hour I obtained not only five hundred dollars, but also the riches of the whole world; for what have I not, when I have the Gospel? I received God, who made the silver and the gold, and all that is upon the earth; for I acquired the Spirit by which I know that I will be kept by him forever; that is much more than if I had the church full of money. Examine now and see, if our h…

God’s Proper Perspective on Possessions

Luke 16:1 Jesus told his disciples: "There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 So he called him in and asked him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.' 3 "The manager said to himself, 'What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I'm not strong enough to dig, and I'm ashamed to beg-- 4 I know what I'll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.' 5 "So he called in each one of his master's debtors. He asked the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' 6 "'Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,' he replied. "The manager told him, 'Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.' 7 "Then he asked the second, 'And how much do you owe?' "'A thousand bushels of wheat,' he replied. "He told him, 'Take your bill and mak…

Parents & children in God's Word - TOGETHER!

Parents are an integral part of faith life at Epiphany. The growing and strengthening of faith can only occur through life-long worship and Bible study. The Scripture tells us:

“Fathers … bring up your children in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) “Train up a child in the way he should go and even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

Statistics clearly demonstrate the need for parental involvement. A study has shown that:

• If BOTH mother and father attend church regularly – 72% of their children remain faithful in attendance.

• If ONLY dad attends regularly -- 55% remain faithful.

• If ONLY mom attends regularly – 15% remain faithful.

• If NEITHER mom nor dad attends regularly – only 6% remain faithful.

Another study has shown that an alarmingly low 8% of Christian parents ever talk about God at home. Yes, these are just statistics. But these are statistics that deal with our children’s eternal lives!

Consider the following:

• Both th…

Putting on the Jersey

Just three little words, but in the arena of college athletics they speak volumes: Notre Dame Football.

For generations the Fighting Irish have stockpiled more national championships, more Heisman Trophies, and more all-Americans than any other school in America. It's the Fort Knox of athletics; the Who's Who of intercollegiate sports.

The school's legendary past is a story Hollywood loves to tell. Only at Notre Dame could Knute Rockne qualify for sainthood by coaxing his team to "win one for the Gipper." And, for whatever reason, success came to the Golden Dome. But with all that success came high expectations, too.

To indelibly reinforce those expectations, each spring the Notre Dame Coaches gather the team together for The Ceremony of the Jersey. It's an annual event where each new recruit is presented with the football jersey he'll be wearing in the upcoming season. At any other school this may have little meaning but at Notre Dame it's like a…

Looking for the Lost

Luke 15:1-10 Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. 8 "Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors togethe…


16th Sunday after Pentecost at Epiphany on September 12, 2010

Philippians 3:13b-14 But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Finally the moment has arrived! Can you envision it? Heaven! We’re about to enter God’s presence. Standing on holy ground. Surrounded by white-robed saints. Encompassed by the army of angels.

We don’t deserve it. We haven’t earned it. We may even surprise the angels that we’re there. The saints and angels are making glorious music. As great as the music is today, this celestial music is like none we’ve ever heard. The sounds fill all of heaven. The echoes reverberate in the Lord’s temple. Then suddenly … silence.

Now light – blinding light – as the Maestro steps into view. He is the Good Shepherd. He is the sacrificial Lamb. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

This is the moment we’ve been waiting for – for soon we wi…

Many Rooms

Funeral for Pauline Wicke

September 10, 2010

(Jesus said) "In My Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?" John 14:2

Here's a question for you. What has 90,000 square feet, 23 bathrooms, 13 bedrooms, 10 kitchens, a 20-car garage, three pools, a bowling alley, an indoor roller rink, a two-story movie theater, a video arcade, a fitness center, a baseball field, and two tennis courts?

Give up? I thought so. The answer is Versailles. No, not the palace of French kings; this is Versailles the mansion of tycoon David Siegel. Siegel started building the mansion when his business in timeshares was booming. He stopped building the mansion when the timeshare market got clobbered by the recession.

Right now the mansion is for sale. For those of you who are curious, the cost of the joint is a mere $75 million. If you wish, you can buy the place in a completed state for a paltry $25 million more.

Now, although I…

Read the Book of Concord

On Wednesday evening we once again get into reading the Lutheran Confessions from the Book of Concord.

The young Jedi YouTuber, Pastor Fisk, has a nice done explaining what makes the Book of Concord such a wonderful book. Check out his, as always, entertaining and unique take on it:

The Lord’s 300

14th Sunday after Pentecost at Epiphany on August 29, 2010

Judges 7:1 Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. 2 The LORD said to Gideon, "You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, 3 announce now to the people, 'Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.'" So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained. 4 But the LORD said to Gideon, "There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there. If I say, 'This one shall go with you,' he shall go; but if I say, 'This one shall not go with you,' he shall not go." 5 So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, "Separate those who lap the water with their tongues …

The Heavenly Seating Chart

15th Sunday after Pentecost at Epiphany on September 5, 2010

Luke 14:1 One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. 7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 "When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this man your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." 12 Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not inv…

Lutheran Worship is Reverent

Two quotes regarding Lutheran worship:

"The Lutheran Church has a rich legacy to offer in its worship. Here is reality, not symbolism. Here we have real contact with God; not as we come to Him, but as He comes to us. He meets us in the proclamation of the Word. Here the Son of God distributes His actual body and blood for the assurance of the forgiveness of sins. Here the people of God gather to offer their thanks, their praise, and their prayers. This is the real thing!

"...People are longing for God. Where will they find Him? In the shifting sands of the inner life or on the solid rock of the Word of His Gospel? How are they to offer Him their thanks and praise? With trivial methods borrowed from the entertainment industry or in worship forms which focus on the praise of God's gracious glory? This is the kind of worship that lifts the heart while it exalts Christ! And this is what Lutheran worship does." (Harold Senkbeil, Sanctification, NPH)

"In a changing …

God's Mighty Warrior

The Israelites had been under Midianite rule for 7 years. Each crop season, the Midian people and their allies would attack Israel destroying all the crops and taking all their animals. Judges 6:6 reports, “Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.” I think this is a very telling verse about the spiritual approach of the Israelite people throughout the Old Testament: worship idols > crisis > cry out to God > God performs miracles and saves the Israelites > worship God momentarily > back to worshipping idols > cycle repeats. Sounds pathetic. But really, how much different is our spiritual approach in our lives?

But God is going to spare His wayward people. The angel of the Lord appears while Gideon is threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress (in an effort to hide the wheat from the Midianites, a chore typically done out in the wind to separate the chaff). The angel of the Lord assured Gideon, “Midian may have hundreds of thous…

The Reformation in Luther’s Own Words

It was on October 31, 1517, that a little-known German monk named Martin Luther posted his “95 Theses” on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. (The church door served as the town bulletin board.) The theses had this heading: “Out of love and zeal for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following theses will be publicly discussed at Wittenberg under the chairmanship of the reverend father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology and regularly appointed Lecturer on these subjects at that place. He requests that those who cannot be present to debate orally with us will do so by letter.”

Dr. Luther was still a loyal son of the Catholic Church when he penned his theses, but he was disturbed by the sale of indulgences. “(In) 1517, a preaching friar by the name of John Tetzel, a loudmouthed fellow, happened to appear on the scene…This same Tetzel, then, carried indulgences about and sold grace for money, as expensively or cheaply as he could by the ex…