The Mission

Holy God,
what a relief it is that my
strength,
abilities,
knowledge,
credentials,
and the like
are not what you are looking for
to advance the kingdom of heaven.
As Luther said in his sacristy prayer,
“if it were left up to me I would surely bring it all to ruin”.
That is so true.
Rather,
you call the unqualified to proclaim Your Good News;
qualifying us through the Holy Spirit.
May we keep our eyes on You
and not turn inward; thinking either
“I am not qualified” and thus turn away from the mission,
or think,
“I am pretty good” and thus focus on our abilities; derailing the mission.
Holy God,
through Jesus Christ You redeemed us and empowered us.
May we not abandon the mission
but rather proclaim from the mountain top,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.
All praise, honor, glory and worship be unto You,
oh God,
through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Amen!

The Pastor -|—

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 -|—

Send Me

You have sent me out
to make disciples

of ALL nations.

You have sent me out
to lead people to You.

ALL people.

You have sent me out
to proclaim forgiveness

of ALL sins.

You have sent me out.

But I am judgmental
I am sinful
I am weak
I don’t know it all

Why, oh God, why,
have you sent me?
Certainly there are others more qualified.
Certainly there are others more faithful.
Certainly there are others who are smarter.
Certainly there has to be someone else.

But yet You have sent me.

Oh God,
lead me,
forgive me,
empower me,
gift me.

 For you sent me unqualified,
but,
only You can qualify me.
So in the name of Jesus
send me qualified in Your eyes,
so the eyes of others can see you.

Who shall You send?

Send me!

The Pastor -|—

To Silence Satan’s Laugh

And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.[John 17:11]

I listened to a sermon recently where the pastor talked about oneness as the Father and the Son are one; using the above text. But something he said really caught my attention. He said that when we, as a church, get caught up in disputes or controversies or anything that takes our eyes off of Christ, Satan laughs.

He laughs.

Why?

Satan laughs because he won as he managed to get the church to take their eyes off of Christ. And ultimately that is what Satan is trying to do with all people. For you see, sin is a turning inward to see yourself as god; trusting oneself over God almighty. And when we look inward, we see only our agenda and our will. And let me tell you, our agenda and our will is not God’s.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. [Isaiah 55:8-9]

And Satan knows this and thus tries get us to focus on ourselves. For if Satan can divert our attention away from Jesus, then the church is not going to be the church as God wants. In scripture, the relationship of Jesus and the Church is like that of a husband and a wife, but only better. But if a wife (the Church) is not focused on her husband (Jesus); or worse yet, looking for another, the marriage is in trouble. And therefore, as the Church, we need to be one with Christ. For it is only by looking to Christ that we see his purpose and will for our lives. And that purpose? Is to be one as the Father and the Son are one. And when we are in one accord with the Father, the Kingdom of God is advanced. We are called to glorify God through the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ whereby letting the Holy Spirit add to “the numbers”.

But that won’t happen if the church is turned in upon itself. The Church MUST be Christ focused. The Church MUST humble itself before the throne of God. The Church MUST lay it’s burdens down and trust God to care for it’s needs. The Church MUST remain focused. The Church MUST be one as the Father and the Son (and the Holy Spirit) are one.

And so my prayer for the Church; the congregations I am leaving and the one I am heading to shortly, is that we are one; one in purpose. May our eyes remain fixed on Jesus, so much so, that we give no occasion for Satan to laugh.

All praise, honor, glory and worship be unto God our Father through Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Pastor -|—

P.S. If you want to listen to the sermon I referenced at the beginning, follow the below link.

Sermon by Pastor Gary Jepsen, May 1

We get to

I heard a statement yesterday that I hate to hear ~ but I also love it hear it:
“Eric has to preach tomorrow.”

“Has to”?  Really?

My response was immediate:
“I get to preach tomorrow.”

I hate to hear that phrase because it makes what I do sound laborious and tedious and that I really don’t enjoy it; that I would rather be doing something else.  But I love to hear that phrase because it gives me the opportunity to share my faith and the excitement I have in preaching and leading worship.

“Have to”?  Not even close.

Of course people smile and nudge me as soon as I correct them as if to say: “That is what I meant.” But part of me doesn’t believe them.  Even so…I had an opportunity yesterday and I am happy to say that I took it.

Don’t get me wrong though.  I am not trying to say that my job is any better than yours.  I am not trying to imply that my job is more honorable than yours.  I am certainly not saying that your job doesn’t matter as much as mine.  Sure…I get to stand in front of people and proclaim the Gospel in what I hope to be no uncertain terms.  But then again…so do you.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
[1 Peter 2:9-10]

We are ALL called to be ministers.
We are ALL called to proclaim Christ’s saving love.
We are ALL called to witness to the resurrection.

It’s just that my “job description” is a little different from yours.  We ALL have holy and important callings.  For God has placed each one of us in the vocation we are in for a particular purpose…so make the most of it.  Instead of saying (or thinking) “I have to go to work”, say instead “I get to go to work and share my faith with others.”  That is a holy and important work. Imagine the impact we could have on the world if we looked at our “jobs” as mission outposts for the sake of the Gospel.

God, please help me see myself as an instrument for your glory.  Help me to see my place in life as having a specific purpose.  May you be praise through my “work”. Amen.

edh -|—

Showing the love of Christ

On August 22, 2011 I wrote a post about a “mission activity” that the council of Salem Lutheran Church did on the first day of school last year.  The post is called Doughnut holes. Click on the link to read about what we did.

Anyway…

The Lutheran magazine did a little story about this mission activity in their “Two Month out” section in the June issue.  Very exciting.  When we planned this mission activity we never thought it would get so much attention.

PRAISE BE TO GOD!

All we wanted to do was welcome kids and parents back to school by showing the love of Christ in a very practical way.

We weren’t trying to recruit.
We weren’t standing on boxes preaching “Repent!”.
We were doing nothing but welcoming people with a smile while serving doughnut holes, juice and coffee (and tissues for parents).

The idea was simple and practical…and a lot of fun.  It was something anyone could do.  We saw many smiles that morning and made our day.  Will we do this again?  Absolutely!  Will we continue to show the love of Christ in a practical way?  I sincerely hope so.

How is God calling you to show His love in a practical way?

edh -|—