Everything

I’ve been reflecting on Nike’s new ad campaign that features embattled (former) NFL quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, who infamously started the “kneeing for the national anthem” movement. The campaign features a black and white close-up of his face with the words…

Believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything

A couple thoughts come to mind:
(1) Kaepernick has NOT sacrificed “everything”. He still sits on a nice little nest egg and is receiving national attention. The only thing he has sacrificed is playing in the NFL, and if that is “everything” then he truly has nothing.
(2) Jesus sacrificed EVERYTHING that we could have ETERNAL LIFE, which is everything we need.
(3) When you only believe in “something” you have nothing. When you believe in someone, namely Jesus, then you have everything.
(4) When you truly sacrifice “everything” for Jesus, you have lost nothing.
(5) Our brave men and women serving in the armed forces have sacrificed far more than Kaepernick will ever know.

With that being said…

I am in no way attacking what Colin Kaepernick is claiming he is protesting. I am in no way advocating some boycott of Nike like some are doing. But this believe in something/sacrificing everything crap that Nike is dishing out has rubbed me the wrong way. It has also saddened me and stirred something up in me. If people don’t get that Jesus sacrificed everything that, through faith in him, you can have eternal life, then I need to step things up more.

So here you go…

PEOPLE: You are SINNERS. You are under God’s WRATH. But wait, there is hope…JESUS. He died FOR YOU and rose from the grave FOR YOU, that you could have ETERNAL LIFE. Believe not in something, but believe in someone…JESUS.

There you go…

To God be the glory!

The Pastor -|—

Jesus Lives, AMEN

Death is the great equalizer,
for no one is immune,
and death is the great divider,
for some are not attuned.
For Jesus conquered this enemy
and shattered its mighty power,
therefore some will be on his right,
and others will be left to cower.

Death still runs wild,
threatening to devour.
Death still strikes blows,
trying to exert it’s power.
But Jesus lives and reigns,
thus I will live too.
So take your best shot, Death,
for you will be left the fool.

So when Death comes a knocking,
to claim another life,
just shrug him off with a smirk,
knowing that he is not right.
For my Lord has won the victory,
thus I will live again.
Death can have its moment now,
but Jesus lives, AMEN!

The Pastor -|—

Post-Easter Thankfulness

The Pastor is on vacation.

I am currently resting with family and friends; relaxing and reflecting on another Lenten and Easter season and the verdict is in:

It was good.

Notice that I did NOT say (with a sense of relief):

It is finished.

The jokes are out there, you see, that pastors are so shot after Easter that they feel like crawling into and curling up in Jesus’ empty tomb for a while.

“Don’t talk to me for a few days.”

I don’t feel that way. I feel energized and content and happy and filled. No, I didn’t take a 46 day vacation between Ash Wednesday and Easter. It’s just that the congregation I serve with, served together and thus I don’t feel drained but filled. I gave it my all but was never disconnected from the True Vine. I am not bragging but just thankful. I led worship and preached twice a week, but also worshiped and listened to what I was saying. Lent was refreshing, not life-draining.

And this is the way it should be. Looking back at a season that focuses on our mortality and sinfulness; worshiping while reflecting on Jesus’ last moments and death on a cross and then seeing an empty tomb and then hearing that proclamation: HE HAS RISEN! How can one not feel energized and thankful and joyful.

It is (indeed) finished and I am (indeed) thankful; thankful that Jesus finished what he came to do. Thankful that I have the hope of the resurrection. Thankful that I have been refreshed and ready for another season.

God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.

Holy God,
You have refreshed me
through this Lenten and Easter season.
You have reminded me
who we are and whose I am.
You have shown me the extent of Your love.
May I cling to this Truth.
May I dwell in Your love.
May I proclaim this Good News.
May I continue to know Jesus better.
Oh God,
You are an awesome God.
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen.

The (thankful) Pastor -|—

 

Sermon teaser for Palm Sunday

Here is the opening paragraph for this Sunday’s sermon. May God be glorified…

The holy bookends of Palm Sunday and Easter, encapsulate a holy drama that ends in a sure and certain hope through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus rides into Jerusalem as the king of peace, is later mocked as the King of the Jews and then bursts through as the victorious King; one who obliterates sin, death and the power of Satan. We enter this morning in jubilation but leave somber and reflective as we contemplate the events of Holy Week. We enter worship this morning shouting, “Hosanna” which means “save us now” and leave hearing how Jesus does just that. The scope of this day is a microcosm of the holiest week of the year but may we not be satisfied with only this, rather, may we encounter the Passion of Jesus Christ anew as we listen to our salvation unfold and the power of death crumble into oblivion.

May God bless you as you journey through Holy Week; coming through the darkness and emerging into the Light of Easter morning.

The Pastor -|—

Death is No More

Death is the stark reality that we must face every single day, and therefore this is the motivation behind Jesus’ ministry. He was on a death-destroying mission. So when Jesus comes face to face with death, while at Lazarus’ tomb, he is moved to deep and powerful emotion that gives us a glimpse into what kept him focused on the cross. Jesus is so angry at sin that he is obedient to the Father’s will and stays on the cross even though he had the power to call down a legion of angels to protect him. Jesus remains on the cross because the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23) Jesus defeats death and thus we have hope. Now, our weeping is not over death’s victory. We weep because we will miss our loved ones but also, through faith in Jesus, we can weep tears of joy over what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.

For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

Cling to the hope of the resurrection, oh weary soul.

The Pastor -|—

Sermon teaser for John 11:17-44

This week I get the privilege of preaching on John 11:17-44, twice; this Sunday and then again on Tuesday during our last midweek Lenten worship service. The following is the opening paragraph for Sunday. For more, keep an eye on my congregation’s website:
http://www.livingwordlutheranchurch.com

The raising of Lazarus gives us a sneak peek into the death-destroying, Satan-stomping, sin-eradicating power of God through Jesus Christ. The disciples knew Jesus as someone who could do amazing miracles, but really had no idea the length and depth of his power. Martha had an idea as she says to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Martha dared to believe that if Jesus asked God for the life of Lazarus, that God would grant his request. That is a bold faith, but even Martha had no idea the lengths that Jesus would truly go to destroy death’s grip. In this story, Jesus overcame death’s hold on Lazarus, but through his own resurrection, Jesus would proclaim his victory over death and death’s hold over all those who believe in him.

The Pastor -|—

 

Gripping the Cross

image

The hand that grips this cross
is sinful and stained,
but thankfully the one who died upon the cross
is holy and perfect.

The hand that grips this cross
is in need of help and rescue,
but thankfully the one who died upon the cross
has won the victory through his resurrection.

The hand that grips this cross
falls short of God’s glory continually,
but thankfully the one who died upon the cross
extends grace and mercy endlessly.

The hand that grips this cross
will one day give way to death and decay,
but thankfully the one who died upon the cross
has risen that the possessor of this hand may live eternally.

The hand that grips this cross
doesn’t always treat people as they ought to be treated,
but thankfully the one who died upon the cross
doesn’t treat the person of this hand as they ought to be treated.

and therefore,

The hand that grips this cross
will always cling to the promises secured therein;
thankful for Jesus, the one who died upon the cross
FOR YOU and FOR ME.

The Pastor -|—