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Showing posts from September, 2007

Not a Tame God

In C.S. Lewis’ Christian allegory, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, a scene occurs where four children who are exploring the magical land of Narnia have a conversation with some talking beavers. These beavers are explaining to the children about the lion Aslan, who represents God and Jesus Christ. In asking about what Aslan is like, the children ask, “Is he dangerous, or is he safe?” Surprised at the question, the beavers answer that “He’s not a Tame Lion!” and something to the effect that a lion isn’t safe, but he is good. I think that is a good insight into how we think about God.

The way that many people seem to approach God, is that we are trying to tame God. Or really, we are trying to create an image or understanding of God that fits with what we want God to be. Something manageable yet benevolent, sort of like the kindly old grandfather who winks at your faults. Or an absentee landlord who only checks in on us on rare occasions. A God that would never send anyo…

Sermon on Luke 15:1-10, "For Sinners Only"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. The sermon text is the Gospel reading, Luke 15:1-10. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

All of today’s lessons are about sinners. You’d be correct to say that it’s a frequent topic in the Bible. We all might wonder why the Bible, and the church for that matter, is so intently focused on the topic of sin? Every worship service we gather for, we make a full admission of our sinfulness. We began our service with a confession of our disobedience to God and neglect of His commandments and word. At worst, this is downright offensive to some, at best it might seem a little odd. But maybe a better question to ask ourselves is why are we so bothered about being identified as sinners?

Two thousand years ago, in Jesus’ time, the Pharisees were a group of people unmatched for their moral behavior. They would be the citizens or employees of the month, if there had…

A Sermon on Proverbs 9:8-12 and Luke 14:25-33, "The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. The sermon is on both the Old Testament reading, Proverbs 9, which I will reread for you, and the Gospel reading Luke 14. Though they are not directly related, both share the theme of godly wisdom. My aim today is that you would gain godly wisdom, by the fear of the Lord. The passage from Proverbs 9:8-12,
8 Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you.
9 Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.
10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
11 For through me your days will be many, and years will be added to your life.
12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.”

Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

In Proverbs chapter 9 we have a contrast between the wa…

Sermon on Hebrews 12:1-13, “The Lord Disciplines Those Whom He Loves”

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. The sermon text is Hebrews 12, the Epistle reading. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Discipline. It’s a word that no longer strikes fear in the hearts of many children. It’s really an area where parents must admit that they have often failed their children. Perhaps it’s a word that more often strikes fear in the hearts of parents and those in authority! Discipline is such an unpopular idea, after all. As little as we enjoy receiving discipline, often we enjoy giving it even less. In my own stumbling way I am learning this lesson myself as a teacher. My own reluctance or hesitation to give out discipline at times, has opened the door for misbehaviors to persist. Under pressure from society and from our own changing attitudes about what it means to really “love” our children, discipline has become less practiced and seemingly less effecti…

Wedding Sermon on 1 Corinthians 13, "Marriage is the Embodiment of Love"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. The basis for the message on this joyful wedding day is the great chapter of love, 1 Corinthians 13.

Some might say that this chapter is too beautiful to describe real life. That it’s too idealistic. Well God is no mere idealist. God does not speak of love in abstractions or ideals or impossibilities. He does not speak of a love that does not or cannot exist, but God Himself gives love its concrete reality, its embodiment. God’s love took on flesh and human form. God gave love its embodiment in the person of Jesus Christ, coming down to earth to show God’s love embodied in His death on the cross for our sins, and His resurrection. In Christ’s life, death and resurrection, He showed that the love described here in 1 Corinthians is not abstract or idealistic. He lived it out, He embodied it to the fullest. And it is only through Him that you, Josh and Kristi, are now able to embody this same love toward …

Private Confession and Absolution: An Outdated “Roman Catholic” Practice, or an Exercise in the Gospel?

Most Lutherans, and most Protestants in general probably think that the practice of private confession and absolution was done away with during the Reformation, as a burdensome and outdated practice. The idea of a minimum yearly required visit to the confessional booth, to enumerate all your sins to a priest strikes many as a bit legalistic, or at the very least somewhat odd.

Turn your thoughts for a moment to the world around us. Television is filled afternoon talk shows where guests eager for 15 minutes of fame spill the private details of their life for public consumption and entertainment. As family members and lovers squabble and audiences laugh and gasp, we wonder what moves people to reveal their “dirty laundry.” I’ve heard callers on the radio, bragging about their wildest and most adventurous behaviors. Internet websites are cropping up where you can “confess your sins online”…essentially post your secret sins on a public forum to receive the therapeutic benefit of “letting it…