Showing posts from June, 2014

Funeral sermon for Scott Ruud

Losing our way, but being found 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…

Psalm for the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost

Psalm 119, selected verses M:​ Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. C:​ Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. M:​ I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. C:​ I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. M: ​I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. C:​ I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. M: How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
C:​ I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.

Chief of Sinners

At craft time in grade school, our art teacher wouldn’t just show us the project we were making. She’d demonstrate it for us. She’d take the clay or tissue paper or pipe cleaners and walk us through the project from beginning to end. When she did that, it helped us understand how the project came together. But there was another benefit, too: As you saw the transformation from raw “stuff” into the completed project, it helped give a little patience as you worked on yours, too! Do you want to see how God puts a Christian together? Do you get frustrated with your own life and expect a wonderful, completed “project” but see a mess instead? Look at St. Paul. He’s the example God gives us. He’s what to expect as God works in our lives. There are some important points we need to remember: God pours out his grace abundantly on sinners. We can’t minimize who we are or what’s in our past – but it doesn’t define us anymore. Paul said, I was once… That’s what we say, too. Were you once an adulter…

Worship Helps for Pentecost 3

Artwork: The Calling of Matthew Artist: Giovanni Paolo Panini
Worship Theme: The Holy Ministry is filled with people who God called out of his boundless mercy. Nothing else could explain the choices for ministers that God made! He calls such sinful and weak men to fill this office. Only mercy can explain the men he chose in this Sunday’s lessons: a despised tax collector, an exiled killer, a persecutor of Christians. How poignant these lessons are, when we remember that each lesson was penned by the unworthy minister called into service by God’s boundless mercy!
Old Testament:Exodus 3:1-15 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight-- why the bush d…

Identifying False Teachers

One of the most popular Christian preachers in America sat in front of the one of the most-listened to interviewers. The interviewer asked him, “I don’t believe in Jesus. Do you believe I’m going to hell?” Joel Osteen answered Larry King that God wants us to lead lives of integrity. Pressed harder, he said, “I don’t know.” (June 20, 2005) It would be easy to say that Osteen was scared of media backlash, “tarnishing his brand”, or driving away some of the tens of thousands who attend his church or lose some of the millions of dollars he earns from his best-selling books. I can’t help but think there’s another possibility: Telling someone the truth about God’s judgment is hard. It makes it all the harder when the world is filled with voices willing to say something that sounds so much better, so much more loving. Is there a text in the Pentecost season that’s more out of sync with our time than the Old Testament lesson for this Sunday – 1 Kings 22:10-28? The gall of Micaiah! The lovelessn…

Watch out for false prophets

Matthew 7:15 "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' 24 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into p…

Names in Matthew's Gospel

At the end of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells His disciples to place the Triune God’s name on people in baptism. Matthew’s Gospel begins with names, also. Matthew’s Gospel begins with sixteen verses of genealogy. Fourteen generations of names, many of whom we know next to nothing about. We could understand if someone would look at that list of names and say, “So what? What does this really have to do with my faith or my life?” But spend some time with those names and their meaning begins to come through a bit more. Whom do you meet? Not just generations of fathers and sons. You meet Abraham, a man who twice (!) lied about his wife and put her in danger to save his own neck. A prostitute who wasn’t even part of the Jewish nation. A king who has hand-picked by God from tending the sheep to tend his own people, yet risked everything – even the line of the Savior – time and again as he chased after women and glory. You meet a family of believers, a collection of sinners, those who strove nobl…

Worship Helps for Pentecost 2

Worship Theme: The Holy Ministry stands on the rock-solid truth of God’s Word. Not all who call themselves ministers do that, so watch out for false teachers!Many will come with wise sounding words and pious promises, but they are not what they seem.The Church’s only defense is to stand firmly on the rock-solid truth of God’s Word. The Season of Pentecost explicates the teachings of Christ and the application of faith in the life of the Christian.How fitting that this initial Sunday lays the foundation for that teaching and life: the inspired Word of God.
Old Testament:1 Kings 22:10 Dressed in their royal robes, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting on their thrones at the threshing floor by the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets prophesying before them. 11 Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns and he declared, "This is what the LORD says: 'With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.'" 12 All t…

The name of the Triune God

Matthew 28:16-20 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Corinthians 13:14) A few weeks ago, I visited with the Kexel family to discuss baptism for their three children – Michael, Matthew, and Katelynn. I sat in their living room teaching what God has to say about the blessings of baptism. I read Matthew 28:19 “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son an…