Being a Christian

As a Christian there are three important implications of claiming Jesus as your Lord and Savior. These are implications that I am thinking about for the sermon tomorrow. If you want to hear more then you still have time to travel to Puyallup, WA to hear more or you can just listen to the sermon on the church’s website after the fact at:

www.livingwordlutheranchurch.com

In the mean time, here’s a little teaser for you…

(1) We are to identify with sinners; as the sinners we are. We need to identify with the hopeless, the lost, the hungry, the wayward, the misguided, idolaters, etc. It is only through this identification that we can proclaim the Gospel to them without judgment.

(2) Creating disciples should be our primary focus. Not only does Jesus give us this command at the end of the Gospel of Matthew, but it should be a no-brainer. If you have been transformed by the power of the proclaimed Word then why not also proclaim that same proclaimed Word in Jesus Christ. And when you create a disciple, don’t just let them go like a wind-up toy. Follow up with them and encourage them, lest they go astray.

(3) Be Gospel people. Live the life of a follower of Jesus in deed AND word knowing that people WILL be offended; for the Gospel indeed offends. And when it offends someone (and it will) remember that the Gospel kills (and people generally hate that) but it also raise to New Life. So be persistent. They need you.

There you go. Pretty easy, right? No, but by the grace of God will people come to know God our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord. Be a Christian, not just act like one.

The Pastor -|—

Reveal

Father God,
I remember at Christmas how
the shepherds hurried from the manger
glorifying and praising You;
revealing Jesus birth to the world.
The wise men revealed Jesus
through their gifts of three.
During this season of Epiphany
may you reveal yourself to me,
through Jesus,
each and everyday
and beyond.
May I see Christ in others.
May I see you in all of creation.
May your light shine through my life.
And as I read your holy Word,
may your promises fly off the page
and into my heart;
revealing over and over again
the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Oh God,
I need constant remembers of your
love.
Continue to reveal Jesus to me.
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen!

The Pastor -|—

Come Far and Near

Wise men came from the East;
magicians
astrologers
worshipers of the stars,
seeking a Messiah;
a King.
They knew the prophesies
They heard the stories
but most of all
they saw a STAR;
a STAR created and sent by God.
Don’t try to scientifically explain it;
just give glory to God!

So without delay they left on their journey,
long,
difficult,
dangerous,
and for what; for who?
A BABY.
They sought out the king and the leaders of the land,
but knowledge of the birth
they had none.
Prophesies were told
and the location was known.
So Herod sent them on their way
for he, too, wanted to “worship” this child.

(Don’t believe him, he is lying)

Upon finding this child,
they fell to the floor in worship of the
KING.
They worship the KING through their gifts of
Gold
Frankincense
Myrrh
They worship the KING through their joy.

(Praise be to God!)

But these wise men must leave.
They must return to tell Herod
so he, too, can come and “worship” this
KING
But warning comes;
a warning comes via a dream

Don’t believe Herod. Don’t go back to him”

So they wise men return by a different Way.
They returned changed.
They returned glorifying and praising God.

Have YOU seen Jesus?
Have you seen the KING?
If so, why are you walking along YOUR way?
Confess your sins and be forgiven;
for Jesus is the WAY and the TRUTH and the LIFE.

Come far and near and see Jesus.

The Pastor -|—

It’s All about Jesus

I attended a worship service while on vacation, recently, that left me scratching my head (and not because it inflamed my dandruff). What left me scratching was the sermon. The topic?

Ebeneezer Scrooge

I kid you not. This was part of a larger Advent theme titled, “The Redemption of Scrooge“. Now, I am not criticizing the Advent title because there is much you can do with it that is inline with the Gospel. What bothered me was the sermon content. Four times the name “Jesus” was referenced but never as the topic. I can’t tell you what the scripture text was because that was never referenced. Some other random scriptures were thrown in but I struggled to find the connection.I waited and waited. I waited for Jesus and was denied. And that in lies the problem.

If the sermon is not about Jesus, then it is not worth preaching.

I went to worship my awesome God through Jesus Christ and to hear the Gospel proclaimed to me but I left with a message about a Christmas character that is not even found in the Bible. Did that sermon really need to be preached for the advancement of the Kingdom?

No!

Don’t get me wrong, I am not here to criticize the above, unnamed church I attended but rather bring to light something I have heard many times before (or not heard). Too many times I have listened to a “sermon” that had nothing to do with Jesus but people left thinking so because the name “Jesus” was mentioned or the pastor was holding a Bible or because they were in a “Christian” church. I wonder, sometimes, if people are really listening to the sermon. Knowing the congregation I currently serve, if I ever preached a sermon about Ebeneezer Scrooge, I would have to answer to the leadership about my sermon content.

As a pastor, I preach the Gospel from the pulpit. The Gospel is about Jesus, period. So therefore, any sermon that is not about Jesus fails to do it’s job, period. That is why I am opposed to preaching politics in the pulpit. I will preach about biblical topics that are political but Jesus is always at the center. If I ever preach a sermon that is not about Jesus, I hope my congregation will slap me up across the head.

It’s all about Jesus.

I write this in hopes that pastors will be very aware of what they are preaching. Is it about Jesus? I also write this in hopes that the people in the pews will be aware of what they are hearing. Was that about Jesus? And if you ever hear a sermon that is not about Jesus, I hope you will feel free to talk to your pastor about it. As pastors, we need to be held accountable. We are human after all and are susceptible to being lead away.

All of life is about Jesus so make sure that Jesus is the topic and not just a passing mention. Preach Jesus, and not just pastors but everyone and give glory to our awesome God.

It’s all about Jesus.

The Pastor -|—

 

Christ is King

Christ is King
he is the ruler on high.
Christ is King
he is the ruler coming from the sky.

Christ is King
he has defeated death and sin.
Christ is King
we win when our faith is in him.

Christ is King
my life he has saved.
Christ is King
his precepts I will always crave.

Christ is King
for I know not what I do.
Christ is King
his forgiveness is for me too.

Christ is King
I will praise you everyday.
Christ is King
please help me walk in your ways.

Christ is King
to you I long to go.
Christ is King
it is you I long to know.

The Pastor -|—

THE “Warning Siren”

That was an ominous sound.

I was standing outside my home, here NW Washington earlier today, listening to the lahar siren test. It’s something that happens here on the first Monday of the month. It was very reminiscent of living in Minnesota where we had monthly tornado siren drills (during tornado season).

But this was different, because it was a powerful reminder of where I live.

You see, I live in the Orting Valley (just outside of Puyallup, WA) about 50 miles from Mount Rainier. It’s a beautiful mountain, or shall I say, an active volcano. I have read that it’s been classified as the most dangerous volcano in the continental 48 states but yet I rarely think about it as I admire it’s beauty; ominously towering over Orting. With a Minnesota tornado you can at least take cover in you home and hope for the best.

But not so with a volcano eruption here.

If and when Mount Rainier erupts, we can’t just take cover in our home, we will need to head out of town as fast as we can and get to high ground. I’ve been told we would have about 50 minutes to get to high ground from Orting. Sounds like plenty of time, but not when you consider that everyone and their dog will be trying to get out. Scary when one thinks about it, but even scarier, it won’t be long until the sound of that lahar siren recedes out of my mind and with it the warning as I go back to admiring a beautiful mountain.

But you, Christian, do you remember that there is a more powerful “warning” being sounded. I say “warning” but it is actually Gospel for those who believe. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:44 (ESV) Jesus is coming and this “warning siren” is not a test. It’s sounding now, we just don’t know when Jesus will arrive.

But this doesn’t have to be scary. Mount Rainier can be scary, but Jesus is life. His return means the establishment of his kingdom here on this earth. Jesus’ return means the end of sin and death and the power of Satan. Jesus’ return means peace and joy forever more. The warning siren being sounded is the Gospel so do not fear. But, the warning siren also means that Christians cannot be complacent. If I hear the lahar siren sounding and my neighbor does not, I am going to make sure they know about it.

But what about THE “warning”?

You have heard the siren; it’s sounding, but are you telling people the Good News? Don’t let people get hit by an unexpected blast of destruction because you have “better things to do”. Get out there and proclaim the Gospel; that people may live with anxious anticipation of the return of their Lord. Don’t get so caught up in the beauty of the Lord that you miss what his return means for those who are not ready. Don’t let the sound of the Gospel recede into the white noise of your life. Hear the Gospel as a “warning”/reminder for you to be ready but also for YOU to say something to somebody. Besides, if Jesus is Good News (and he is) then why stay silent?

Jesus is coming. You may have more than 50 minutes or you my have less that 5 seconds. We just don’t know, so sound the alarm and help your neighbors get to know Jesus.

May God be glorified forever and ever. Amen

The Pastor -|—

Faith

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. Hebrews 11:1-2 (ESV)

Faith doesn’t make sense, but if it did make sense, it wouldn’t be faith. If faith made sense we wouldn’t need God. Faith is mysterious so that the only thing left to do is to trust God. It’s like being blind, and being OK with it, because you’re being lead rightly and loved abundantly. Faith is being blind and not fearing the darkness because you know the one with you, who sees everything, is for you. Faith is knowing with certainty, in the absence of physical and logical proof, that something is true because the one who says it’s true is infinitely trustworthy.

Faith doesn’t make sense, but that is OK with me because my faith is in Jesus Christ my Lord; my sure foundation, and thus there is nothing to fear. Jesus the Light of the world, has scattered the darkness, and thus Satan’s claim on me is null and void. Jesus the Good Shepherd, will never lead me astray. Jesus the resurrection, rose for me.

Proof?
I don’t need any.
All I need is Jesus.

The Pastor -|—