Tag Archives: trust

Wrath for Trust


Biblical Text: John 11:1-46
Full Sermon Draft

The text contains a couple of staple funeral texts. They are more than that, but it is that connection that is part of this meditation. The greatest of the “I AM” statements is the first text – “I am the Resurrection and the Life”. The shortest verse in the bible, “Jesus wept”, is the second. Both of these are part of the larger story of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. And the repeated line is theirs. “If you had been here, our brother would not have died.”

This sermon is a personal reflection on those words. I hope that it carries the gospel.

Worship Note: Two points. First, we got our new organ this week. I believe you might he a much clearer sound. Second, today was a good day to sing some of the great Lenten hymns. The one I left in the recording is LSB 435, Come to Calvary’s Holy Mountain. I believe it carries the themes of resurrection and the life, a God who keeps his promises.

Faith over Fear

091315wordle

Biblical Text: Mark 9:14-29
Full Sermon Draft

Fear is just not a permanent facet of the Christian life. It is not that we don’t feel it. It is not that we are spared the type of experiences that bring it forward. But the big difference is our belief in the end. The Christian both believes in an author of history, a providential God, and he believes that this providential God loves us and does all things for our benefit. We may fear for a night, but the steadfast love of the Lord is forever. This sermon examines fear, the response of faith with overcomes fear, and how the Christian lives out of that faith instead of fear. As we started Sunday School today, special emphasis is given to that roll of teacher.

God Passes By

072615wordle

Biblical Text: Mark 6:45-56
Full Sermon Draft

(Recording note: Sorry I forgot to start the system, so I didn’t start recording until the gospel text. The OT and Epistle lesson of the day which I usually include are missing.)

The text might or might not be the familiar episode of Jesus walking on water. In the Gospel according to Mark the story is a little shorter and has a little different purpose than Matthew. Matthew has Peter getting out of the boat. Mark is about Jesus “passing by” and deciding to get into the boat. The two main points from both are: 1) this Jesus is God and 2) trust him, but with different context. The trust in Matthew is more a focus on Peter and hence our ability to trust Jesus in or out of the boat. When we get out, Jesus will put us back in, more like the lost sheep parables. In Mark we have Jesus deciding to get in the boat and those inside deciding how to react to God being with them.

What this sermon does is examine two common reaction to God passing by and the third that he text desires you to do – trust Jesus in calm and in storm. This is looked at in the context of how we pass through life. We have a tendency to sand of the edges and use euphemisms to avoid dealing with the really bad stuff. What Jesus does is not bid us to euphemize ourselves, but to “be not afraid”. The Christian calls a thing what it is. They life in trust that Jesus has this.

The Proper Work of Mercy

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Biblical Text: Matthew 18:21-35
Full Sermon Draft

The word cloud are completely random outside of reflecting the usage in the sermon, but I like the one above for two reasons. I went with the black and white because that is how Jesus present having mercy. It is a black and white issue. Not being merciful to your fellow christian is the same thing as cutting yourself off from Christ. The second reason is the order the big words got spit out in. The Mercy flows down from the Lord God to fellows slaves. Fellow slaves become the conduits, the extra nos or outside of us paths of the mercy of God. It is through our fellow Christians that we hear the good news and the absolution of Christ. This sermon reflect on that through the parable of the unmerciful servant in the gospel text for the day.

The Gut-Check of Discipleship

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Bibical Text: Matt 10:21-33
Full Sermon Draft

The text is part of what is called the missionary discourse. Jesus is sending the twelve out to proclaim the kingdom. As part of that sending are some stern warning about persecution. Right next to those stern warnings are some of the most treasured expressions of believers about the love of God. What this sermon attempts to do is demonstrate how this functions as the gut-check of discipleship. Luther explains the first commandment as “we should fear, love and trust God above all things.” The gospel is proclaimed as what the disciple is encouraged and expected to believe about Jesus: about the place of a healthy fear of God, but the primacy of trusting God and his demonstrated love for us in Jesus.

The recording begins with one of my favorite hymns in Lutheran Service Book (LSB #933 – My Soul Rejoices). It is a versification of The Magnificat or song of Mary. We used this as our Hymn of Praise this morning.

The Art of Asking

Somebody once asked how you judged sermons. Okay, many people did. The funny thing is judging a sermon depends upon the congregation. For example there are three congregations on our corner: Lutheran, Northern Baptist and African American. Not that you couldn’t deliver roughly the same sermon in words before each, but the reaction would be different in each. Part of that is because the sermon is a shared experience. There are a thousand ways that a sermon goes bad and you can diagnose those. But a good sermon is just The Word. How do you know? At the end, you just say “Word”. I just heard truth, more like Truth.

Although not in a Christian context, not even explicitly spiritual, this is The Word. There is something deeply true about this presentation.

The Future of Schooling

This is Scot McKnight pondering the future of Seminary. Here are some fellow LCMS’ers bemoaning something very similar.

From Scot…

At MOOC (massive open online course) Divinity School (Mooc-Div), the seminary of the online future, students will work with degree granting organizations (DGOs) to fashion a seminary education without ever stepping foot on a seminary’s campus, if a campus exists, or meeting any of their professors.

Given the write up, Scot is not too enthused. The CSPP are not happy either. Let’s just say I’m a little different. There are some sad things about the passing of one form of education, but we have to deal with the world as it is. And dealing with that means dealing with two things as far as I can see: 1) the cost of education for something that most of the church considers at best “nice” and 2) what I think is the big opportunity to really tackle the complete breakdown of trust.

Both of these comments assume that this type of thing actually alienates and causes even more hyper-individualism. As far as I’m concerned, in the era of facebook, those are the starting facts. The other item is that I think this might put the focus back on where it should be, the local congregation. The time out of the local congregation would be reduced. And if they were smart the local congregations would use things like this as outreach vehicles. Instead of the prestige and “action” as it were being in going away and being taken out of the congregational context, the congregation becomes the learning community. If I look at history, I think that has been the paradigm in most places. Even at the dawn of the seminary system it was a congregation that “sent their best and brightest” for training expecting them to come back. This would rebuild that trust because the learning is taking place under the congregations nose.

Three Interesting Items

1) From the Economic Files, Tyler Cowen injecting a heavy word into the discussion. I think he (maybe Academic Economists in general?) might be stumbling back to a more fundamental understanding of the economy. I remember studying all these models and even building some in prior work and they all worked pretty well, until they didn’t. That didn’t work phase was usually because something big had changed, but if you are focusing on your model and that quarter or even worse that month, you didn’t empirically know what the big things was. You knew it in your gut, but everyone would say, “no, stick with the model for now.”

Trust was broken, most of all in the financial system, but like a wet spill this has soaked into many parts of the economy and polity…In one very real sense, the economy is well below potential output (though less than many people think, due to the great stagnation). In another very real sense, that gap cannot be exploited in the short run by reflationary policy. Once again, it requires a reestablishment of trust. Trust is more easily broken than repaired.

[If you want to see a prime example of the moral blindness, or the unwillingness to consider more fundamental things such as trust, take a look at the comments which take Dr. Cowen to task for using a morally laden word, trust.]

2) An emotionally tough family reflection about the results of the way we live now. This is the story that would go along with last Sunday’s sermon. This is also part of the call of the church to bind the wounds. This generation’s wounds are deep and possibly fatal.

What strikes me most powerfully about the defenders of the sexual revolution is their immovable abstraction. Always the matter is couched in terms of rights, or individual desires—what I want, what I may pursue. That this sexual laissez-faire destroys the common good, by undermining families and rotting whole neighborhoods from within, seems not to matter. Honest sociologists can give us the numbers, of children growing up without fathers or mothers, of the incidence of venereal diseases, of births out of wedlock, of delinquency and crime. I think instead of the people I have known.

3) An editor at Real Clear Religion (part of the burgeoning empire of Real Clear X sites) is thinking along the same lines as I was on the Pew Survey finding more “nones”. The biggest difference is that they don’t think that compounding effect across generations has happened, where I ended in saying that is exactly what we are seeing right now. The statistical numbers are just catching up with the reality. He ends with this.

Fischer’s take was that the Pew survey is basically reinforcing the poll results that they’d worked with a decade ago. And he offers this thought:

“One open question is when this becomes self reinforcing — when the ‘nones’ raise no-religion children, when the cultural climate changes.”

To me, the latest Pew survey brings to mind the chorus of an old union organizing song: “Which side are you on boys? Which side are you on?”

Political and religious pressure from the right is pushing folks who once would have been happy to sit in the middle to pick a side. And increasingly, the side they pick is away from religion.

What he doesn’t address is if that is a good or a bad thing. Is that a call for further gap straddling? Or is that a recognition of Jesus saying things like “I’ve not come to bring peace but a sword.” (Matt 10:34). The nature of gospel is to cause a division.

Bible Study Fragment…

Our Thursday morning bible study is a great group. For an idea of the maturity they have, when I said I was doing a small catechism class for new members, they said “why don’t we do that as well”. Paraphrasing Luther, always returning to the basics or the seeds of faith, is fruitful, because we have not mastered even such trifles.

We are on the 10 commandments. We spent the last couple of classes on some basic theology – law & gospel, revelation, scripture (and those tougher words authority and inspiration). The point is to make clear how we read the bible and how we make the claims that we do based upon it. But today we got to the commandments themselves. And Luther’s explanation to the first commandment is a tiny treasure. “We should fear, love and trust God above all things.”

All sins are ultimately a trespass of the first, but Luther in the Larger Catechism expands on his explanation. In that expansion he writes, “the heathen really make their self-invented notions and dreams of God an idol…so it is with all idolatry. For it happens not merely by erecting an image and worshiping it, but rather it happens in the heart. For the heart stands gaping at something else…” We all worship something. We all have something, maybe multiple things, which we fear, love and trust above other things. Even the atheist. The atheist fears the idea of God more than God himself. Our age, as the older song says, “has fallen in love with love” without hearing the next line “is playing the fool.” The list of idols of the heart is endless. Cranmer gets at the same thing when he writes, “what the heart wants, the will chooses and the mind justifies.”

God’s Word succinctly captured in Luther’s simple catechism, is a great tool to knock down those idols. Examine yourself (2 Cor 3:15). What do we fear, love and trust above God? Then look to the cross. Look at Jesus there. Is there anything more precious? The judgement and love and trust of God rolled into one man. Judgement of sin brought our release. Love willing took that judgement while we wandered. Jesus trusted his Father that injustice would not stand, and he was raised first to new life and now to the right hand of God. Fear, Love and trust God above all things.

VBS Finale

Some last Day photos, and the link to the zip file of the Spotlight Photo Finale skits (Warning, very big file, ~60 MB)


Zip File of Photo Story Finales