Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Wages of Sin and the Cost of Kings

And to Adam [God] said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you,  ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Genesis 3:17-19


Today's Fox News headline read: "Fast-food workers strike nationwide in protest against wages."
[Read more:]

Personally I appreciate and respect fast food workers and have encouraged my kids at one time and for one reason or another to consider such work with full knowledge it is not a career per se. That said, it used to be taken at face value and considered to be a respectable means to an end and an incentive to move up the career ladder. After all, if such entry level jobs paid like more skilled positions there would be no such thing as a "dollar menu" and "$6" burgers would be $10.

As I understood growing up and taught my own kids, job is not a civil right or an entitlement and businesses do not exist solely or even primarily for the sake of giving anyone an income. A job is a vocation by which one provides some sort of service for others and is paid commensurate with what the consumer is willing and able to pay. And a business has to make some kind of profit to be a) viable, and b) worth the time, effort, and capital investment of the owner(s) and their management.

Once upon a time, our nation recognized this and became prosperous, powerful, and even relatively peaceful and safe by allowing folks the freedom to run their businesses as they deemed best and to encourage and afford the worker the opportunity by the freedom to seek whatever work they chose and advance through their hard work and dedication.

Was/is that system perfect? Of course not. Why? As Christians, and particularly as Lutherans, we understand it is because of sin and that you cannot legislate fairness and equality where folks put themselves and their personal interests and desires above those of their neighbors.

There is not, never was, and never will be a utopia this side of Eden on one end and the Resurrection on the other where every will receive the perfectly just reward for their labors. [See Genesis 3 above.] Some will receive way more and some much less than they truly deserve.

If you want someone, like government, to try to even that all out by legislation backed by the power of fines, imprisonment, and ultimately the sword, be prepared to pay the greater price of slavery to that government as to a god who controls not only your employer, but you and your children as well.

So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” 1 Samuel 8:10-18

Sunday, August 25, 2013


We are, each of us, like the priest and the Levite who pass by the man dying on the road. It is not until we have our own wounds of guilt for our sin bound up by the forgiveness of Christ and soothed by the oil of the Holy Spirit that we are truly able to be a Good Samaritan to our neighbor.

11] Christ was given for this purpose, that forgiveness of sins might be bestowed on us for His sake. He was also given so that the Holy Spirit might bring forth in us new and eternal life and eternal righteousness. Therefore, the Law cannot be truly kept unless the Holy Spirit is received through faith. So Paul says that the Law is established by faith, and not made useless, because the Law can only be kept when the Holy Spirit is given. 12] Paul teaches, The veil that covered the face of Moses cannot be removed except by faith in Christ, by which the Holy Spirit is received. (See 2 Corinthians 3:14-18.) For he says, “Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:15-17). 13] Paul understands by the “veil” the human opinion about the entire Law, the Ten Commandments and the ceremonies. In other words hypocrites think that outward and civil works satisfy God’s Law, and that sacrifices and observances justify a person before God by the outward act (ex opera operato). 14] But then this veil is removed from us, (i.e., we are freed from this error) when God shows to our hearts our uncleanness and the hatefulness of sin. Then, for the first time, we see that we are far from fulfilling the Law. We learn to know how flesh is self-secure and doesn’t care. It does not fear God and is not completely certain that we are cared for by God. It imagines that people are born and die by chance. Then we experience that we do not believe that God forgives and hears us. But when we hear about the Gospel and the forgiveness of sins, we are consoled through faith, we receive the Holy Spirit so that now we are able to think correctly about God, to fear and believe God, and so on. From these facts it is clear that the Law cannot be kept without Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Condensed quotations from the Lutheran Confessions from Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, copyright 2005, 2006 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Lord grant you faith in His grace alone
for your salvation unto eternal life. Amen
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"Which of These Are We?"

Have you ever heard the adage, “He is so heavenly minded that he is of no earthly good”? That could be the moral of today’s Gospel—if the Gospel was about morals.

To hear and/or read the entire sermon preached for the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity, "Which of These Are We?", click on this link.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

"Our Hands-On God"

The Lord formed you in your mother’s womb even as He formed Adam in the beginnin...g. And even as sin deformed Adam and Eve to the point of death and getting tossed out of the paradise of the Garden, the seed of your sinful father corrupted the clay of your flesh being formed by God so that it would surely die, and the womb in which you were being formed was wobbling to the point of tossing you out into this world as a deformed and useless vessel. As such you were unfit for the kingdom of God.

But God did not toss you onto the scrapheap. No, out of His great love for you--by Baptism and the remission of your sins, by Holy Communion with Christ in His own flesh and blood for the forgiveness of sins--He is taking the fallen, sinful, dying clay that is your flesh and reforming you like a potter reclaiming a work of art that has collapsed and been flung off his wheel.

To hear and/or read the entire sermon preached for the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity, "Our Hands-On God," click on this link.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

"The One Who Humbles Himself Will Be Exalted"

...there is no glorifying of God by us humble sinners apart from praising Him as the one who is lifted up on Calvary--as the one who dies for our sins. Any worship that is not centered in that, that does not bring us back to that and delive...r that to us is not true worship, but idolatry.

Whenever we hear the word exalted/lifted up in Scripture, we are meant to see Christ crucified—then risen and ascended to be sure. But always Christ crucified.

To hear and/or read the entire sermon preached for the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity, "The One Who Humbles Himself Will Be Exalted," click on this link.
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Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Time of Your Visitation

Jesus is the ultimate Temple of God—the fulfillment of the Old Testament in human flesh....

... we must be torn down, made fit for God’s visitation, and rebuilt into His temple that is the body of Christ. It’s a painful and even traumatic thing to get torn down. But it is just what we need. Our own money changer attitude and desires, as well as Pharisee in us must be humbled—brought to nothing, destroyed—because God ‘desires mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13

To hear and/or read the entire sermon preached for the Tenth Sunday after Trinity, click on this link.