Thursday, December 28, 2017

On the Fourth Day of Christmas Our Dear LORD Gave to Us

December 29: The Holy Innocents, Martyrs

Matthew 2: 16-23
Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:
18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Martin Luther writes:
We resist evil with the ministry of the Word [in Christ’s kingdom of the Church] and sword [in Christ’s kingdom of the world], and yet, the evils which cannot be averted we bear to our great advantage but to their detriment and destruction.
In regard to this line of thought there is also a celebrated dictum of Gregory: “The ungodly do good to us by doing evil.” And Augustine says of the infants slain by Herod that an enemy with his whole strength and all the resources of his kingdom could not have benefited the children more than by killing them.
Accordingly, God humbles those who are His to exalt them: He kills them to make them alive; He confounds them to glorify them; He makes them subject to raise them up.

Still the question persists, “How can a loving God allow such horrible things to happen?” For some, the question is an excuse for atheism. For others, a cry of pain in the midst of trying times, or even a prayer for faltering faith.

For the Baptized, the answer as touched upon by Luther, Gregory, and Augustine above, is to be found in the Word of God and Him made flesh to dwell among us even now in our suffering. As always, God has the bigger, global, intergenerational, eternal picture in mind.

·          Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. Genesis 50:19-20
·          As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 9:1-3
·          Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
     “For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

        we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:35-37
·          So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. . . . For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7, 10
·          Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. . . .  God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? . . . He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. Hebrews 10:3, 7, 10

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The DIDACHE: Catechism of the Apostolic Church

The Didache
The Lord's Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations.

I. The Two Ways and the First Commandment.
1. There are two Ways, one of Life and one of Death, and there is a great difference between the two Ways.
2. The way of life is this:" First, you shalt love the God who made thee, secondly, thy neighbor as thyself; and whatsoever thou wouldst not have done to thyself, do not thou to another."
3. Now, the teaching of these words is this: "Bless those that curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast for those that persecute you. For what credit is it to you if you love those that love you? Do not even the heathen do the same?" But, for your part, "love those that hate you," and you will have no enemy.
4. "Abstain from carnal" and bodily "lusts." "If any man smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other cheek also," and thou wilt be perfect. "If any man impress thee to go with him one mile, go with him two. If any man take thy coat, give him thy shirt also. If any man will take from thee what is thine, refuse it not," not even if thou canst.
5. Give to everyone that asks thee, and do not refuse, for the Father's will is that we give to all from the gifts we have received. Blessed is he that gives according to the mandate; for he is innocent; but he who receives it without need shall be tried as to why he took and for what, and being in prison he shall be examined as to his deeds, and "he shall not come out thence until he pay the last farthing."
6. But concerning this it was also said, "Let thine alms sweat into thine hands until thou knowest to whom thou art giving."

II. The Second Commandment: Grave Sin Forbidden.
1. But the second commandment of the teaching is this:
2. "Thou shalt do no murder; thou shalt not commit adultery"; thou shalt not commit sodomy; thou shalt not commit fornication; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not use magic; thou shalt not use philtres; thou shalt not procure abortion, nor commit infanticide; "thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods";
3. Thou shalt not commit perjury, "thou shall not bear false witness"; thou shalt not speak evil; thou shalt not bear malice.
4. Thou shalt not be double-minded nor double-tongued, for to be double-tongued is the snare of death.
5. Thy speech shall not be false nor vain, but completed in action.
6. Thou shalt not be covetous nor extortionate, nor a hypocrite, nor malignant, nor proud, thou shalt make no evil plan against thy neighbor.
7. Thou shalt hate no man; but some thou shalt reprove, and for some shalt thou pray, and some thou shalt love more then thine own life.

III. Other Sins Forbidden.
1. My child, flee from every evil man and from all like him.
2. Be not proud, for pride leads to murder, nor jealous, nor contentious, nor passionate, for from all these murders are engendered.
3. My child, be not lustful, for lust leads to fornication, nor a speaker of base words, nor a lifter up of the eyes, for from all these is adultery engendered.
4. My child, regard not omens, for this leads to idolatry; neither be an enchanter, nor an astrologer, nor a magician, neither wish to see these things, for from them all is idolatry engendered.
5. My child, be not a liar, for lying leads to theft, nor a lover of money, nor vain-glorious, for from all these things are thefts engendered.
6. My child, be not a grumbler, for this leads to blasphemy, nor stubborn, nor a thinker of evil, for from all these are blasphemies engendered.
7. But be thou "meek, for the meek shall inherit the earth;"
8. Be thou long-suffering, and merciful and guileless, and quiet, and good, and ever fearing the words which thou hast heard.
9. Thou shalt not exalt thyself, nor let thy soul be presumptuous. Thy soul shall not consort with the lofty, but thou shalt walk with righteous and humble men.
10. Receive the accidents that befall to thee as good, knowing that nothing happens without God.

IV. Various Precepts.
1. My child, thou shalt remember, day and night, him who speaks the word of God to thee, and thou shalt honor him as the Lord, for where the Lord's nature is spoken of, there is he present.
2. And thou shalt seek daily the presence of the saints, that thou mayest find rest in their words.
3. Thou shalt not desire a schism, but shalt reconcile those that strive. Thou shalt give righteous judgement; thou shalt favor no mans person in reproving transgression.
4. Thou shalt not be of two minds whether it shall be or not.
5. Be not one who stretches out his hands to receive, but shuts them when it comes to giving.
6. Of whatsoever thou hast gained by thy hands thou shalt give a ransom for thy sins.
7. Thou shalt not hesitate to give, nor shalt thou grumble when thou givest, for thou shalt know who is the good Paymaster of the reward.
8. Thou shalt not turn away the needy, but shalt share everything with thy brother, and shalt not say it is thine own, for if you are sharers in the imperishable, how much more in the things which perish?
9. Thou shalt not withhold thine hand from thy son or from thy daughter, but thou shalt teach them the fear of God from their youth up.
10. Thou shalt not command in thy bitterness thy slave or thine handmaid, who hope in the same God, lest they cease to fear the God who is over you both; for he comes not to call men with respect of persons, but those whom the Spirit has prepared.
11. But do you who are slaves be subject to your master, as to God's representative, in reverence and fear.
12. Thou shalt hate all hypocrisy, and everything that is not pleasing to the Lord.
13. Thou shalt not forsake the commandments of the Lord, but thou shalt keep what thou didst receive, "Adding nothing to it and taking nothing away."
14. In the congregation thou shalt confess thy transgressions, and thou shalt not betake thyself to prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life.

V. The Way of Death.
1. But the Way of Death is this: First of all, it is wicked and full of cursing, murders, adulteries, lusts, fornications, thefts, idolatries, witchcrafts, charms, robberies, false witness, hypocrisies, a double heart, fraud, pride, malice, stubbornness, covetousness, foul speech, jealousy, impudence, haughtiness, boastfulness.
2. Persecutors of the good, haters of truth, lovers of lies, knowing not the reward of righteousness, not cleaving to the good nor to righteous judgment, spending wakeful nights not for good but for wickedness, from whom meekness and patience is far, lovers of vanity, following after reward, unmerciful to the poor, not working for him who is oppressed with toil, without knowledge of him who made them, murderers of children, corrupters of God's creatures, turning away the needy, oppressing the distressed, advocates of the rich, unjust judges of the poor, altogether sinful; may ye be delivered, my children, from all these.

VI. Against False Teachers, and Food Offered to Idols.
1. See "that no one make thee to err" from this Way of the teaching, for he teaches thee without God.
2. For if thou canst bear the whole yoke of the Lord, thou wilt be perfect, but if thou canst not, do what thou canst.
3. And concerning food, bear what thou canst, but keep strictly from that which is offered to idols, for it is the worship of dead gods.

VII. Concerning Baptism.
1. Concerning baptism, baptise thus: Having first rehearsed all these things, "baptise, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost," in running water;
2. But if thou hast no running water, baptise in other water, and if thou canst not in cold, then in warm.
3. But if thou hast neither, pour water three times on the head "in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost."
4. And before the baptism let the baptiser and him who is to be baptised fast, and any others who are able. And thou shalt bid him who is to be baptised to fast one or two days before.

VIII. Fasting and Prayer (the Lord's Prayer).
1. Let not your fasts be with the hypocrites, for they fast on Mondays and Thursdays, but do you fast on Wednesdays and Fridays.
2. And do not pray as the hypocrites, but as the Lord commanded in his Gospel, pray thus: "Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, as in Heaven so also upon earth; give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debt as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into trial, but deliver us from the Evil One, for thine is the power and the glory for ever."
3. Pray thus three times a day.

IX. The Eucharist.
1. And concerning the Eucharist, hold Eucharist thus:
2. First concerning the Cup, "We give thanks to thee, our Father, for the Holy Vine of David thy child, which, thou didst make known to us through Jesus thy Child; to thee be glory for ever."
3. And concerning the broken Bread: "We give thee thanks, our Father, for the life and knowledge which thou didst make known to us through Jesus thy Child. To thee be glory for ever.
4. As this broken bread was scattered upon the mountains, but was brought together and became one, so let thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into thy kingdom, for thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever."
5. But let none eat or drink of your Eucharist except those who have been baptised in the Lord's Name. For concerning this also did the Lord say, "Give not that which is holy to the dogs."

X. Prayer after Communion.
1. But after you are satisfied with food, thus give thanks:
2. "We give thanks to thee, O Holy Father, for thy Holy Name which thou didst make to tabernacle in out hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality which thou didst make known to us through Jesus thy Child. To thee be glory for ever.
3. Thou, Lord Almighty, didst create all things for thy Name's sake, and didst give food and drink to men for their enjoyment, that they might give thanks to thee, but us hast thou blessed with spiritual food and drink and eternal light through thy Child.
4. Above all we give thanks to thee for that thou art mighty. To thee be glory for ever.
5. Remember, Lord, thy Church, to deliver it from all evil and to make it perfect in thy love, and gather it together in its holiness from the four winds to thy kingdom which thou hast prepared for it. For thine is the power and the glory for ever.
6. Let grace come and let this world pass away. Hosannah to the God of David. If any man be holy, let him come! if any man be not, let him repent: Maranatha ("Our Lord! Come!"), Amen."
7. But suffer the prophets to hold Eucharist as they will.

XI. Concerning Teachers, Apostles, and Prophets.
1. Whosoever then comes and teaches you all these things aforesaid, receive him.
2. But if the teacher himself be perverted and teach another doctrine to destroy these things, do not listen to him, but if his teaching be for the increase of righteousness and knowledge of the Lord, receive him as the Lord.
3. And concerning the Apostles and Prophets, act thus according to the ordinance of the Gospel.
4. Let every Apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord,
5. But let him not stay more than one day, or if need be a second as well; but if he stay three days, he is a false prophet.
6. And when an Apostle goes forth let him accept nothing but bread till he reach his night's lodging; but if he ask for money, he is a false prophet.
7. Do not test or examine any prophet who is speaking in a spirit, "for every sin shall be forgiven, but this sin shall not be forgiven."
8. But not everyone who speaks in a spirit is a prophet, except he have the behaviour of the Lord. From his behaviour, then, the false prophet and the true prophet shall be known.
9. And no prophet who orders a meal in a spirit shall eat of it: otherwise he is a false prophet.
10. And every prophet who teaches truth, if he do not what he teaches, is a false prophet.
11. But no prophet who has been tried and is genuine, though he enact a worldly mystery of the Church, if he teach not others to do what he does himself, shall be judged by you: for he has his judgment with God, for so also did the prophets of old.
12. But whosoever shall say in a spirit "Give me money, or something else," you shall not listen to him; but if he tell you to give on behalf of others in want, let none judge him.

XII. Reception of Christians.
1. Let everyone who "comes in the Name of the Lord" be received; but when you have tested him you shall know him, for you shall have understanding of true and false.
2. If he who comes is a traveller, help him as much as you can, but he shall not remain with you more than two days, or, if need be, three.
3. And if he wishes to settle among you and has a craft, let him work for his bread.
4. But if he has no craft provide for him according to your understanding, so that no man shall live among you in idleness because he is a Christian.
5. But if he will not do so, he is making traffic of Christ; beware of such.

XIII. Support of Prophets.
1. But every true prophet who wishes to settle among you is "worthy of his food."
2. Likewise a true teacher is himself worthy, like the workman, of his food.
3. Therefore thou shalt take the firstfruit of the produce of the winepress and of the threshingfloor and of oxen and sheep, and shalt give them as the firstfruits to the prophets, for they are your high priests.
4. But if you have not a prophet, give to the poor.
5. If thou makest bread, take the firstfruits, and give it according to the commandment.
6. Likewise when thou openest a jar of wine or oil, give the firstfruits to the prophets.
7. Of money also and clothes, and of all your possessions, take the firstfruits, as it seem best to you, and give according to the commandment.

XIV. Christian Assembly on the Lord's Day.
1. On the Lord's Day of the Lord come together, break bread and hold Eucharist, after confessing your transgressions that your offering may be pure;
2. But let none who has a quarrel with his fellow join in your meeting until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice be not defiled.
3. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord, "In every place and time offer me a pure sacrifice, for I am a great king," saith the Lord, "and my name is wonderful among the heathen."

XV. Bishops and Deacons; Christian Reproof.
1. Appoint therefore for yourselves bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, meek men, and not lovers of money, and truthful and approved, for they also minister to you the ministry of the prophets and teachers.
2. Therefore do not despise them, for they are your honourable men together with the prophets and teachers.
3. And reprove one another not in wrath but in peace as you find in the Gospel, and let none speak with any who has done wrong to his neighbour, nor let him hear a word from you until he repents.
4. But your prayers and alms and all your acts perform as ye find in the Gospel of our Lord.

XVI. Watchfulness; the Coming of the Lord.
1. "Watch" over your life "let your lamps" be not quenched "and your loins" be not ungirded, but be "ready," for ye know not "the hour in which our Lord cometh."
2. But be frequently gathered together seeking the things which are profitable for your souls, for the whole time of your faith shall not profit you except ye be found perfect at the last time;
3. For in the last days the false prophets and the corruptors shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall change to hate;
4. For as lawlessness increaseth they shall hate one another and persecute and betray, and then shall appear the deceiver of the world as a Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders and the earth shall be given over into his hands and he shall commit iniquities which have never been since the world began.
5. Then shall the creation of mankind come to the fiery trial and "many shall be offended" and be lost, but "they who endure" in their faith "shall be saved" by the curse itself.
6. And "then shall appear the signs" of the truth. First the sign spread out in Heaven, then the sign of the sound of the trumpet, and thirdly the resurrection of the dead:
7. But not of all the dead, but as it was said, "The Lord shall come and all his saints with him."
8. Then shall the world "see the Lord coming on the clouds of Heaven."

Sunday, July 26, 2015

God's Rainbow Promise--It's Not What the GLBTs Say It Is

In today’s OT lesson God tells Noah--and all mankind who would born of him and his family to repopulate the earth to what it is today: "I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth… When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” [Genesis 9:13, 16]
IOW, He will withhold his wrath from destroying the whole earth in this fashion again. And to this day He has. Not only has He withheld His wrath from using a flood to destroy the earth and all that is in it, He unleashed the total fury of His wrath on His only begotten Son—you know, the One who miraculously fed the 5000; the One who walked on water and saved the disciples from the winds on the sea; the One who sanctified all water for Baptism with the forgiveness of sins into the kingdom of God.

Yes, that's what the rainbow stands for—not the adulterous lust of men for men and women for women, but the love of God for sinners and even for those who have taken His rainbow and rebelliously use it to stand for their sin. Don’t let an adulterous world redefine God’s love. And don’t let your fears stand in the way of God’s redemption.

To hear and/or read the entire sermon preached to the saints at Christ Lutheran-Elkhart, KS and Faith Lutheran-Hugoton, KS for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, "Take Heart; It Is I," click on this link.

Have a great week knowing the world's worst storms and your worst fears have their end in Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The High Cost of Free Mammograms

This is simply barbaric.

At the 3 minute mark of this video recorded by the non-profit organization, Center for Medical Progress, Planned Parenthood Federation Senior Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, is shown feeding her face and slurping wine while she speaks of a lot of people wanting the livers and lower extremity muscle tissue of the in utero babies she slaughters for the harvest.

"Nucatola is seen in the video having lunch with actors posing as buyers who are interested in purchasing the body parts of babies who have been aborted. The Planned Parenthood senior staffer notes how abortion procedures are modified to ensure that requested body parts can be collected."

Not that there's anything wrong with that as long as you are giving free mammograms. Free, meaning somebody whose complaint can't be heard is paying for it. Which in turn means even if they did perform a free mammogram here and there without charge, which they don't, there are hundreds of thousands of babies who paid the ultimate price.

With that, I commend this request from the Center for Medical Progress to the reader:
Hold Planned Parenthood Accountable for Their Illegal Sale of Baby Parts

Saturday, July 4, 2015

When Church Mirrors Culture

Asked by a complimentary follower to write an "America Is Still Great" piece on his blog, nationally known columnist Matt Walsh responded:
"I’m sorry but I can’t give you exactly what you want, unless you want something better and truer than the sort of fraudulent ‘hopefulness’ and ‘optimism’ most people seek these days. . . . They want it like funnel cake: sweet, empty and quickly digested. I could give you that, but I won’t. I could write patronizing, pandering nonsense telling you everything is fine, this country is awesome, and the future will be bright and filled with lollipops and puppy dog farts.
"But what good would it do, besides win me some PR points? If you want hope, it needs to be planted firmly in truth, or else it’s like administering morphine while you die of kidney failure. It’ll make you feel better for a time, but it won’t save you."
What Mr. Walsh says about the American electorate also applies to the pop-Christianity out there, and could easily be spoken by any faithful Lutheran pastor and echoed in the congregations that maintain and "contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints," as per Jude v. 3.
Our Lutheran churches and pastors don't tell you to, "Be happy, it's all good"--or, for that matter, to "Be good and it's all going to be happy." One look around, one newscast, tells you otherwise. And if that's not enough, the truth of Eden lost and fallen man cannot be overcome by any amount of happy thoughts or the power of optimism. That truth is that "the wages of sin is still death (Romans 6:23) , just as it has been since the man and woman God first created perfect to live forever, decided they needed something better and truer than everything God had created for them.
The message of Scripture, the Good News the Church has been given to proclaim to the world and by which the baptized believer is saved, is much better and truer and more substantial than anything those charismatic politicians and pop-Christian motivators have to offer.
We have something far better, a hope for which we eagerly, yet patiently wait in faith along with the litany of the faithful saints of which Scripture speaks:
"And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect." Hebrews 11:39-40
Our Lutheran churches and pastors exist for the sole purpose of delivering that which sinful men need most, that without which they cannot be saved, and that from which the other ancillary gifts of the Spirit proceed-- the grace of God in Christ Jesus that forgives sins and gives eternal life to all who believe it.

 "1] So that we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. 2] Through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Spirit is given (John 20:22). He works faith, when and where it pleases God (John 3:8), in those who hear 3] the good news that God justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ's sake. This happens not through our own merits, but for Christ's sake.
4] Our churches condemn [all churches and teachers] who think that through their own preparations and works the Holy Spirit comes to them without the external Word." [Augsburg Confession Article V: of The Ministry]
If you want hope, firmly planted in truth, that doesn’t just get you through the day but lasts forever, find a Lutheran Church and pastor that deliver the goods week after week, Sunday after Sunday, in the Word and Sacrament of the Divine Service.
We leave the funnel cakes and puppy dog farts to others--or at least save them for our picnics and bazaars.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

It's Not a Black and White Thing

The following “Note to Readers” was posted by the Baltimore Sun earlier this month in response to an email scam that falsely attributes a race baiting article entitled, "The Black Dilemma," to them and their columnist, Ian Duncan. It first started circulating online in September 2014, when the American Rennaissance blogazine first posted the article written by Anthony Bryan on the 23rd of that month.

June 11, 2015
An essay posted on the Internet titled "The Black Dilemma" includes incorrect attribution suggesting it came from The Baltimore Sun. The Sun did not write, publish or have any other association with it.
Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun*  
In addition to the false attribution of this article to the Baltimore Sun and its columnist, please note that the original source of “The Black Dilemma” article, American Rennaissance, is devoted to the philosophy of racism and unique cultures based upon race that pits said races against one another as incompatible at best.    

I certainly appreciate and share the concern about the civil unrest that is being stirred up by the folks in Washington and elsewhere who want us to believe that all men were not created equal, as per our Declaration of Independence; in the image of God, as per Genesis 1:26-27; and have taken it upon themselves to fan the flames of racism for political gain and earthly wealth—all in the name of altruism and pursuit of a perfect society.

But, dear reader, please don’t buy into the idolatry that has created this golden calf of racism. Two wrongs do not make anything right, they only exacerbate each other and carry us deeper into falsehood and further separate us from the God who not only created us but has redeemed us in Christ Jesus, His only Son, our Lord.
There is only one race, born of Adam, created by God in His image. Though we have lost that image in Adam’s fall, still (according to Paul, the apostle of our Lord) God desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).”  

Neither you nor I are any different than any other person on earth—past, present, or future—in regard to virtue, morality, or godliness no matter the color of skin, nation or continent of origin, or culture of upbringing in the eyes and heart of the One True God, as Paul again tells us in Romans 3:22b-25a.

“For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” 

Furthermore, as Baptized children of God and members of His body the Church, we and “as many of [us] as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave] nor free, there is no male and female, [neither Black nor White], for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” [Galatians 3:27-28] 

The dilemma the United States of America faces today is not that it has mixed a bad culture with a good culture, or black with white, but that its people as a whole and across cultures have become godless with everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes.“ [Deuteronomy 12:8. See also Judges 17:6, 21:25; Proverbs 21:22, et al.] Or more to the point, once again in Paul’s inspired words: “they [have] exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” [Romans 1:25] As a result, God has given “us (as a nation) up to dishonorable passions.” And as you can see from the rest of this portion of Paul’s letter to the Christians at Rome, while it is a black and white matter of right and wrong, truth v. lies, it is most definitely not a black and white matter of race. While the depth and breadth and severity of the matter might well differ from culture to culture, Paul’s list of depravity and debasement is hardly limited to one skin color or another. He writes in Romans 1:26-32:    

“For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” 

Need I mention this week's Charlotte massacre suspect, Timothy McVeigh, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, Peter Singer, Margaret Sanger, Brigham Young, etc.? Or on the other side of the coin, Herman Cain, Lt. Col. Allan West, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Condoleeza Rice, Clarence Thomas, the Tuskegee Airmen, George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington, e.g.?

But all historical and anecdotal evidence aside, as I preached to the saints here in the southwest corner of Kansas two weeks ago Sunday, each of us has enough of our sin that we best not become like the Pharisee of Jesus’ parable thanking God we are “not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like [that Bruce Jenner guy/gal, or those inner city rioters and looters].” There is no sin but our own than can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus—and that only if we do not acknowledge and confess it as our own most miserable fault and condition.

So, my dear reader, as I also preached on that Sunday:

“Let’s not forget those words of this crazy savior of ours who really is the Son of God that tells us all:
‘For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.’” [John 3:17]

“The world includes Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, and all those around us [again, no matter the color of skin, nation or continent of origin, or culture of upbringing] whose vanity we [like Adam and the Pharisee of Jesus’ parable] often use to hide from God, and thus keep God hidden from us. God has not only called us on our sin and called us out from it to know and believe in Him, He has called us out to go and reveal Him, His love, and His salvation to those we know who are still in hiding and therefore are hidden from the love that God has for them in Christ Jesus; the love that forgives the sins that it has uncovered, the love that calls sinners out of hiding to deliver them out of that sin and leave it behind, the love that gives eternal life to you, the love that desires to give that forgiveness and life not just to you, but to every sinner so that they with you might no longer be lost and hidden in the crazy blasphemy and vanity of sin. 

“Dear Baptized of Christ & Faith, go therefore back into the vanity and craziness of the world in which we all live as God ‘s forgiven children, not hiding any longer, but to forgive others as we have been forgiven to deliver us from the vanity and craziness of sin and into the sanity and blessed peace of eternal life—in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.” 

Please don’t let the hatred of this depraved and fallen world drag you back out of your Baptism and into its pit of competitive cultures and mistaken identities. You are God’s beloved child. You are being born again--along with all those Baptized into the body of Christ that is His holy Christian Church on earth--to live in His love now and forever. As a member of the body of Christ here on earth, you are also sent back into your world to extend that love of God in Christ Jesus to those who have yet to hear and know of His love and His deliverance from the depravity of this world and its various cultures, all of which lead inevitably to death.

Yes indeed, dear Baptized, as a child of our Father in heaven, Christ lives in you and fills you with His Holy Spirit in order to continue to bring you with all His elect out of the blackness of our (that is, every man’s) sin and into the marvelous light of His truth that brings salvation from the culture of death and deliverance into His kingdom of eternal life.


Graphic: "Adam and Christ," a composite by the author of two paintings by Hans Bauldung Grien (Austrian painter, 1484/85-1545), "Adam" (1520-23, left),  Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest (Szepmuveseti Muzeum); and "Crucifixion" (1512, right), Linden panel, 152 x 104 cm, Staatliche Museen, Berlin.  

Monday, April 27, 2015

My Own Know Me—for There Is No Other

The One who was the Perfect Sacrificial Lamb is now the Good Shepherd—leading us so we can follow where He has gone and come back out on the other side.

And it is a good thing, too. For it is not only that rich young man that had too many possessions to want to follow Jesus. We are all simply too rich to follow where He has gone. By our own thinking, by our own feeling we just have too much to lose.
To follow Jesus means to suffer, die, and be buried. Who wants that?

So Jesus--having gone there, done that and, more than having the souvenir t-shirt but even wearing and bearing the scars in His hands, feet, and side--has risen to be our Good Shepherd leading us by His voice where we fear to go.

To hear and/or read this sermon preached at Christ Lutheran-Elkhart, KS and Faith Lutheran-Hugoton, KS for The Fourth Sunday of Easter, "My Own Know Me—for There Is No Other," click on this link.

Graphic: German Cathedral art, details unknown.