Posts

Showing posts from March, 2011

People of the Passion: Peter, the Born Leader

Image
Luke 22:31 "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."

Luke 22:61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times." 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.
John 21:17 The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep.


Perhaps no two people of the passion had more in common than the two disciples Simon Peter and Judas Iscariot. You could make a case that they were made of the same “stuff,” but they ended up in radically different ways. As we observe Peter today, we see that he was a born leader with…

Lutheran Satire Episode 1

I love answering Bible questions, so if you have any, bring them on. I may not know the answer, but I'll definitely take the time to study the subject and find out for you.


Bible knowledge is good, but it is not the end.

Reading the Bible like a newspaper can mean we note with interest what God did in the lives of Abraham, Job, or Mary, or we nod in agreement that Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. Facts fill our heads as much as “two plus two equals four” is a piece of data stored in some file folder in our brain.

The 1st century Christians “raised their voices together in prayer to God, ‘Sovereign Lord …Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus … Now, Lord … enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness” (Acts 4:23ff).

Bible knowledge is good, but it is not the end of listening to God’s Word.
These 1st century believers not only knew the Script…

Here’s mud in your eyes

Image
John 9:1-7,13-17,34-39 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" 3 "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world." 6 Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. 7 "Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. … 13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man's eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. "He put mud on my eyes,…

WELS relief efforts in Japan underway

Image
Rev. Brad Wordell, WELS' missionary based in Tokyo, and members of the Lutheran Evangelical Christian Church, WELS' sister synod in Japan, have begun gathering relief supplies for delivery to residents devastated by the earthquake and tsunami that struck March 11.

Wordell says that on Monday he and Rev. Takeshi Nidaira, national pastor, will drive a two-ton truck full of essential items such as clothes, bottled water, and batteries to Kesennuma—just north of Sendai, the city virtually wiped out by the tsunami. About one-third of Kesennuma was destroyed. This city of about 75,000 is home to a member of the Japanese church who at first was feared missing in the disaster. It turns out she and her husband were able to flee ahead of the tsunami and their home was spared. This member is now serving as the church's key contact in the region.

Wordell says that as the supplies are delivered, he and Nidaira will look for opportunities to talk with residents and offer comfort. "…

People of the Passion: One of the Mob, the Follower

Image
Matthew 27:20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. 21 "Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" asked the governor. "Barabbas," they answered. 22 "What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked. They all answered, "Crucify him!" 23 "Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!" 24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!" 25 All the people answered, "Let his blood be on us and on our children!" 26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. 27 Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathe…

People of the Passion: Pontius Pilate, the Thinker

Image
John 19:12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, "If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar."


We do not regularly recite a list of the people of the passion. But we do regularly speak the name of one of the villains. Every time we say the Apostles’ Creed, we point out that Jesus “suffered under Pontius Pilate.”

So, Pontius Pilate, ironically, lives in infamy. I say ironically because Pilates’ goal was to achieve political greatness in the Roman Empire. He wanted nothing to do with Jesus of Nazareth.

When Pontius Pilate first took his position as governor of Judea, his political star was on the rise. The governorship was to be but one step toward a place in the Roman Senate or better for this brilliant, young Roman nobleman. But the shifting political winds changed all of that, and today we know him primarily as the man who ordered Christ’s crucifixion.

Pilate’s road to success in th…

Concern for Japan

Image
Last week Japan was jolted by the largest earthquake ever recorded in that country. Within minutes, one catastrophe was followed by a second, as a devastating tsunami crashed into coastal areas, literally erasing everything in its path. To make matters worse, in the days since the quake, there are new dangers from damaged nuclear reactors and the radiation that they could potentially release. Thousands are feared dead. Hundreds of thousands are homeless or displaced. An entire nation is traumatized.


Our thoughts naturally turn toward our brothers and sisters in faith in Japan. Our missionary Brad Wordell was out of the country when the quake hit, and his wife and five children living in metropolitan Tokyo are safe. The three national pastors in our sister church in Japan are also safe. We are aware of one member among the 400 served by the church’s six congregations and three preaching stations who is not accounted for. She lives in a city devastated by the tsunami, and prayers are re…

Living water in the noonday sun

Image
John 4:5-26 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." 11 "Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and …

St. Patrick

Image
Yesterday was St. Patrick's Day. Here is a devotion from Time of Grace and a history of St. Patrick from Cyberbrethren.

In American popular culture, the middle of the month of March becomes a silly season. Stores, schools, and bars are festooned with green in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Leprechauns, pots o’ gold, and shamrocks abound. The day means little more than an excuse to drink beer and build up some real or pretend Irish pride.
The real Patrick was known for something else entirely. He was British, not Irish, living in the A.D. 400s. Kidnapped as a teenager by Irish marauders, he was taken to Ireland. There he was forced to work as a slave-shepherd among the wild Celts. He managed to escape and eventually made his way back to Britain.

But Patrick chose to go back to Ireland and devote the rest of his life to bringing the Christian gospel to the Irish people. Imagine that—the freed slave went back to his enslavers. It’s the same thing St. Paul did with a runaway slave nam…

Obituary for my grandfather

Image
My grandfather was called home to heaven on Friday morning after battling diabetes, pneumonia and a whole host of other serious ailments. I'm very proud of my grandfather and the service he gave to our country as a commander in the U.S. Army in WWII.

Growing up, my family went to to our grandparents' home almost every other Sunday after church. There my two sisters and I would hang out with all my aunts and uncles and the 18 grandchildren. (My grandparents had 8 children!) We would play 500 in the front yard or basketball in the driveway. The grandkids would often make up some kind of game in the basement to play.

Some of the greatest times were playing Pit. We would get so loud that Grandma banished us back to the basement. I knew I had "arrived" when I was able to play Sheepshead with my grandpa, dad and uncles. Although my card playing skills are pale in comparison to my grandfather's.

The greatest thing I remember about my grandfather was his discipline. Be…

Giving

When I was a young boy, I remember asking my dairy farmer neighbor how much milk one of his cows gave. He replied, “If you’re asking how much milk a cow gives willingly, the answer is ‘she don’t give a drop.’

“But if you’re asking how much milk she gives when I corner her in a stall, and lock her head in so she can’t move, and then take it from her, well, the answer is ‘about 10 quarts.’”

Over the years I’ve known some people who are less giving than even my neighbor’s cow. If someone asks how much they willingly give, the answer has to be “nothing.” And if you wonder how much they give when they’re cornered and can’t move … the answer still remains “nothing.”

You are different from those people. You have stopped to consider the tremendous blessings God has given you in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ, your Savior. You appreciate the grace, mercy and peace that is yours now through Christ’s life, suffering, death and resurrection. You are grateful for the forgiveness and salvation…

The message of the Lord

Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. 2 Thessalonians 3:1

Paul had a wonderful enthusiasm to bring people the saving message of the Gospel. He sought to spread the Word of life whenever and wherever he could. He recognized the urgency of telling people about Jesus and how the Savior rescued them from sin and hell. He asked, “How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10:15)


The Kimyal People Receive the New Testament from UFM Worldwide on Vimeo.


Watch this video of the Kimval people of Papua, Indonesia, receiving the complete New Testament in their own language for the very first time. I pray that a number of things will strike you, as they did me. First, you will probably, like me, recognize the apathy and slothfulness of our own efforts to study and meditate upon God’s Word. Confess your sin of lackluster attention to God’s Word. Then, rejoice that the Light of Christ has come…

People of the Passion: Judas, the Opportunist

Image
Luke 22:1 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, 2 and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. 3 Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. 4 And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. 5 They were delighted and agreed to give him money. 6 He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.

John 12:4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages." 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

Nurse Edith Shain passed away last June at the age of 91. Perhaps you don’t …

Ash Wednesday Meditation

Image
A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:1-5)


In the Old Testament it was common practice for individuals to show sorrow over sin by wearing sackcloth and sitting in ashes. It was an attempt to show on the outside the misery that was going on inside.
The writer of Psalm 51, King David, had reason to be sorrowful over his sin. 2 Samuel 11,12 paint an ugly picture of David the sinner. He slept with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, and she b…