To Be a Witness

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
[Luke 24:45-49]

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
[Acts 1:8]

Holy God,
through Jesus Christ
You have called me to be Your witness
to the ends of the earth.
And why not, for…
I have seen your glory,
I have heard the truth,
I have tasted that You are good,
my sins have been forgiven,
I have been given hope,
I have been redeemed.

This is joyous news, so…

May the Good News of Jesus,
that has transformed me, now,
always be upon my lips.
Reveal to me opportunities to witness to the resurrection
that those who see and hear
may be drawn to You.
May I never hold back.
May I never seek self-glorification.
May I never twist the truth.
May I never judge.
For I am called to be a witness,
to all the world;
to all people.
All worship, praise, honor and glory
be unto You,
o
h God,
through Christ Jesus my Lord,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Sermon teaser ~ The world’s “Psalm 23”

The following is a work in progress as I talk about those that enter the sheepfold by anyway other than the Door (Jesus). This is “Psalm 23” as told by those who would deceive the sheep; stealing them away and thus leading them to be killed and destroyed.

A lord will be your shepherd
you shall not want because you will have lots of stuff.
He makes you lie down in luscious homes
with big fences so you will be at peace.
He will cause you to be happy.
He leads you in paths of success
for your name’s sake and for your heirs.
Even though you will walk among those who would oppose you,
you will fear no one,
for your many friends will give you meaning;
and thus you will live in comfort.
Your enemies will be defeated
for you will be among the privileged
and therefore your cup will overflow with fortune.
Surely success and money and fame
will follow you all the days of your life
and you will dwell in the biggest house in your neighborhood
(until you die).

Scary how true this is for many.

The Pastor -|—

Sermon teaser for John 9:24-41 with Psalm 23

The following are the closing two paragraphs from this Sunday’s sermon (March 26). For more, please keep an eye on the church’s website at: http://www.livingwordlutheranchurch.com for the complete audio version of this message. May God be praised.

If your eyes are wide open; seeing Jesus, and acknowledging him as Lord, then these two verses are incredibly awesome to your hearing: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff comfort me.”  And then, You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  The darkest valley is not dark to Jesus and living among those who would want to destroy us is of no concern for Jesus, for he has our lives in his mighty hands.

And therefore, when your eyes are open; seeing the light of salvation that is in Jesus, you can confidently say, Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  Ponder that verse; for how can one not turn over everything they are to this Good Shepherd. Open your eyes and keep them open that you may full describe and proclaim the glory of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. The world NEEDS your wide-open eyes. Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Sermon teaser ~ John 4:5-42

I am imagining a blogging series that will contain sermon teasers. I have been posting a sermon teaser, now and then, on my Facebook site, but I thought I would offer this to a wider audience. If you are intrigued by what you read and want to hear more, then I invite you to visit my congregation’s website at http://www.livingwordlutheranchurch.com and go to “sermons” near the bottom of the left side menu bar. There we post the audio of the sermon.

So to start things out I have the opening paragraph of tomorrow’s sermon (3/19). May God be praised:

In order to find and minister to those who are ‘thirsty’, you must be present at their well at their time. The classic evangelism blunder that many churches make is that they sit at the wrong well; their own; hoping the thirsty will just show up. What we often forget is that people are going to go where they know they will be refreshed, but yet, too many churches think that if they advertise well enough about how great their water is people will come to their well. That evangelism strategy rarely works; thus we need to be identifying the popular wells that people go to and then go there in order to reap the harvest that God has planted. The harvest is ready. Are you?

That’s it, that’s all you get…for now 🙂

The Pastor -|—

What Gospel are you Preaching?

Hey there Church…

We are not to ignore the world but neither are we to conform to it. (Romans 12:1-2)
We are to pray for our leaders. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
We are not forbidden from serving in public office but rather we are to serve Chirst in the vocation to which we are called.
We are to submit to our government authorities. (Romans 13:1-7)
Our government does not bear the sword in vain. (Romans 13:4)

…but I am concerned about something. What Gospel are you preaching? I am seeing way too many Christians on social media too focused on politics and politicians. Don’t get me wrong, though, I am not trying to pass judgment but rather wondering.
~ Is this really our call as Christians?
~ Is political rhetoric going to save souls?
~ Is complaining about politicians going to give people hope?
~ Is bashing our government going to encourage people?

I am not throwing my support behind any political party here but rather I want the Church to focus. There are greater issues in the world than who’s boycotting what political party or who is in office. Don’t ignore politics but also don’t make politics the Gospel you preach. The Gospel is that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, that we may have the hope of everlasting life. That should be our core message and that is what people should be hearing from the Church. I know I need to hear that on a daily basis.

Let’s keep our eye on the ball and remember what our mission is. Jesus saves not politics.

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 -|—

 

Fear and Hope

Holy God,

there is much to fear in this world.
Satan is running around
trying to lead us astray through false worship.
He is trying to drag us down into hopelessness.
At times Satan succeeds
and thus paralyzes us with fear,
so much so,
that the Gospel is not proclaimed.

But we ask that You may send Your Holy Spirit
to teach us
and remind us
of the victory we have through faith in Jesus Christ.

Show us the cross.
Show us the empty tomb.
Show us Jesus.

May we see the life we have in You
and know that death has been defeated.
May we rejoice in You
and thus share this Joy with others.
And in the end,
may You and You alone be glorified.

Now may the words of my mouth
and the meditations of our hearts
be acceptable to You,
oh God,
through Christ Jesus our Lord,

Amen.

The Pastor -|—