Seed Sowing in Satan’s Face

In reading the Parable of the Sower in Mark 4:1-20, I am quickly reminded that the call and the joy of the Christian is to sow the Word of God. The joy comes from the fact we are sinners but that God offers forgiveness of our sins by His grace through Jesus Christ. And through this forgiveness, we have the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life.

This is the Gospel.
This is the Good News.
This is AMAZING news!

And yet, we often see evangelism as a chore or as something to do later if we have time or something reserved for a certain committee or (and this is my favorite) it is something reserved strictly for the pastor.

Maybe this inattention to evangelism comes from the fact that, more times than not, you get beaten up when you try to seed sow. Maybe someone strongly rejects your Gospel presentation. Maybe someone tells you to keep your faith to yourself. Maybe someone argues with you to the point of exhaustion. Maybe you have been shot down too many times to count and you’re just plain tired of getting hurt or embarrassed. Whatever the case, it serves as a reminder that Satan is hard at work. Whenever you are sharing your faith or trying to present the Gospel or stand up for what you believe, Satan is right there to make life difficult. And he should because the Gospel threatens Satan.

But we must keep seed sowing.
We must keep spreading the Gospel.
We must keep telling people that there is hope.
We must keep showing people Jesus.

For when we stop, Satan wins and thus he laughs.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, seed sowing is hard but look at the bright side. If seed sowing is difficult and it feels like you are being resisted every step of the way, then maybe you’re doing something right. In that case, keep on going in the strength of the Lord and mock Satan knowing that Jesus stands with you and that Satan can not possibly win.

And that is cause to laugh in Satan’s face and praise be to God always and forever!

The Pastor -|—

Now

Yesterday is gone.
Today is now.
Tomorrow is guaranteed to no one.

Act now and make a difference.
Speak now and bring healing.
Do now and do not wait.

For someone desperately needs to hear about Jesus.

The Pastor -|—

An Active Church

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. [Matthew 28:19-20, ESV]

Notice the four underlined words in the text above:
Go
Make
Baptizing
Teaching

They are all active. There is no where in the Bible (that I remember) where it says,
“Stay and wait”,
“Build it and they will come”,
“Create an attractive program and the nonbelievers will flock to you”.
No where does it say anything like that. Rather we are to,
Go and Make
Baptize and Teach
Serve and Love
Proclaim and Share

We are to be active and do something, not be passive and lazy. Yet that is what many churches do. Why? Because it is easier to just sit around and use our brains and wait for people to respond. The problem is that nonbelievers are not looking for Jesus. They are busy serving their own self-made gods. And if they are serving their own self-made gods, the only way to show them Jesus is by going to where they are and show them Jesus. But that takes work. That takes energy. That takes faith in God through Jesus Christ. It takes a passion for souls and a love for people. Sitting back and being passive is not loving. Love is active and therefore Jesus says “Go”, “make”, “baptize” and “teach”. Jesus calls us to be active because those who do not believe are active in not believing. Passivity can not compete with activity.

And so the Great Commission sends people out.

Imagine if those disciples stayed locked up in that upper room. Imagine if they set up camp in Jerusalem and counted on word of mouth to bring people to them. Imagine if Jesus did that. But the fact of the matter is this: Jesus was active. The post-resurrection disciples/apostles were active. Just read the book of Acts and see how Paul risked his life to bring the Gospel to people. The Church, by definition is an active and living being. I say that because the Church is not a building or programs. The Church is people with Jesus as the head. That is active.

So,

Go, Make, Baptize and Teach.

Go, Love, Serve and Proclaim.

Go, get off your butt and bring the Gospel to your neighbors, and all to the glory of God.

And one more thing: Jesus will be with you, always and forever 🙂

The Pastor -|—

Speak that we may Speak ~ A Prayer

Creator God,
in the beginning You spoke life into existence.
To remain silent, then,
would have meant our non-existence
and
it would have meant no one to glorify Your holy name.
And so we exist;
to worship You, to praise You, to glorify You.
And to do this we must speak and abhor silence.

Holy God,
stir in Your people a burning desire
to speak the Truth of Your love and grace through Jesus Christ.
May the fear the world proclaims
be silenced through our faith in the one who overcame the world,
Jesus.
May the flaming arrows of the evil one
lose all its potency through Your holy Word.
May the shield of faith
embolden us to speak the name of Jesus no matter the situation.

Send now Your Holy Spirit
to bring power to the words of Truth
that we will hear this morning,
for through them You create faith and thus life.
Send us forth, then, in Your power
to the glory of Your awesome name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Speaking ~ good; silence ~ bad

I am finishing the sermon for tomorrow and wanted to share this little tid bit with you before I posting the prayer I wrote for the closing of the sermon:

In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 14, Jesus is on trial before the high priest. During the trial, (false) witnesses came forward with testimony against Jesus, but with one glaring problem: Their testimony did not agree. More witnesses came forward but still could not agree. And when asked by the high priest to answer these charges, Jesus remained silent. At this point, there was nothing to convict Jesus and thus remaining silent could have meant his freedom because after all, the truth was on his side but also THE Truth was on his side, and thus silence is not an option.

So the high priest eventually chimes in to ask if Jesus was the Son of God, and Jesus breaks his silence to speak the Truth; signing his own death certificate. All Jesus had to do, to save his life, was remain silent, but he spoke the Truth to set you free.

And what about you, do you remain silent about the Truth of God; about the Gospel. Sure, it may be easier to remain silent in this world that is hell bent on discrediting Christians, but what does that silence achieve? To remain silent may secure your comfort but it may mean eternal death for someone else if they don’t hear about Jesus. Silence may be easy for you but it may come with a high cost for someone else.

But really, if you truly know the Truth of God through Jesus Christ, how does one keep silent. Speak, for the truth has already set you free. Let’s pray…

All honor, glory and worship be unto You,
oh God,
for the awesome gift of life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
All thanksgiving be to You
for giving us Your Holy Spirit to sustain us.
All praise be to You,
Holy God,
for receiving redeemed sinners into Your presence through Jesus.
May we be so bold to speak and abhor silence when it comes to the Good News of Jesus.
May proclaiming Your grace and love be as natural to us as breathing,
as we look forward to that day when we begin worshiping You
forever and ever
in Your glorious kingdom.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, I pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Off your butt

In a few moments I will be leaving this closet I call an office and heading out into the community to do something I thoroughly enjoy…

Visit people.

My first stop will be The Pines (the assisted living facility here in Jackson).  On the first Tuesday of every month I meet with the Salem members living there to bring them communion and to visit.  Next, I will go to what many people call my second office: Coffee Choices (I think the title of the place is self-explanatory).  In addition to getting my afternoon coffee I hope to run into people to visit with; if not customers then the staff.

And after my coffee stop I will see where the wind blows me.

To some, this may look like I am being lazy and not working, but on the contrary, this is extremely important work.  To be a minister of the Gospel; whether a called pastor or a lay person, you need to go out to where people are at.  You need to engage people in their context.  You need to listen to people and relate to what they are going through.  And to do this ministry you need to get out there.

You can’t just sit and wait for people to find you; you need to find them. You need to take the initiative.  You need to take advantage of opportunities that God gives you. I am not saying that as a Christian that you need to have a sermon ready to preach to everyone you meet.  What I am saying is that you need to be ready to show love to everyone and to do that you need to get off your butt.

It’s really simply ministry when you think about it; you get some exercise and maybe a cup of coffee or two.

So here I go.  My butt is leaving this chair. Will I see you out there?

The pastor -|—

Meeting us on the road

I love the fact that Jesus meets us where we are at.

Luke 24:13-35 was the Bible study text for the SW MN Synod Assembly this past weekend (June 12-14).  It is also a text that I use for my personal ministry mission statement (see the above page tab for more details).  I believe there is a lot for us to learn from this.  I mean…how often do we try to get people to come to us.  I am as guilty as anyone.
–We create programs to try to “lure” people into the church building.
–We encourage people to go out and invite people into the building for worship.
–We spends lot of time (and money) making our buildings look nice so people will be attached to our building.

But that is not how Jesus did ministry.

–Jesus did not sit stationary and wait for people to find him.
–Jesus did not set up a home office and advertise classes, speeches and seminars.
–Jesus did not build a fancy building with the thinking “If I build it they will come”.

Jesus went and met people on “the road” and that should be our ministry example as well.  I guess that is why I have a ministry mission statement based on Luke 24…to remind me that I need to get “out there” and meet people where they are…literally and figuratively.

But as we do this we need to remember who is in charge.  We don’t what we do as a church in order to beef up the offering plate, make our numbers look good or to acquire popularity in the community.  As a church we go out and meet people on the road to proclaim the saving love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  That should be our ONLY motivation…because after all…that was Jesus’ ONLY motivation as he went to the cross all FOR YOU and FOR ME.

-edh-