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Monday, December 9, 2013

Noah's Ark Article

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Out of Order Posts

Well, the posts for the last two Sundays are out of order here.  So if you are interested in the sermon for Reformation Sunday, you will need to browse down a little bit.

It was a slip of the click on the mouse.

Pastor Darian L. Hybl

10202013 21st Sunday After Trinity

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

A few weeks ago in our series on the Ten Commandments, I did something that some Pastor’s would have loved to have done.  It wasn’t stripping in front of the congregation.  It wasn’t breaking something in the sanctuary with the whole congregation watching, but it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to
‘stick my tongue out’ during a sermon.  My personal intent was to illustrate how we sometimes ‘murder’ our neighbor or their good name using our tongue.  Whether it is in what we say, do or act upon, we do ‘murder’ our neighbor, whether their character, their image or even how others view what they do or have done.  So today as a polar opposite to ‘murder’ we encounter the Eighth Commandment which speaks directly to what we ‘should’ do for our neighbor.

Let’s pull out our bulletin insert and read together in unison the “What does this mean?” section as a congregation.  “The Eighth Commandment, You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.  What does this mean?  We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.”  As we begin applying what this means, let’s go to God in prayer and seek God’s blessing upon us as we explore how to ‘explain everything in the kindest way.’

Let us pray!  Wonderful counselor, Your Word is clear that we are to ‘explain our neighbor’s actions in the kindest way’, but this is hard when we have a problem with our neighbor, our friends and even our Pastor.  We feel it easier to say what will harm and hurt even if it is only to our friends and ruin their reputation, rather than walk a mile in their shoes and explain their actions in the kindest way.  Enable us to not only think before we speak, but more importantly understand that Jesus came to save us and explain our sins to His Father by defending us through His death on Calvary for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.
We continue this morning dealing with a Commandment that is horizontal or about the relationship between mankind and not between God and man on the vertical.  We tend to forget that 70% of the Commandments deal with the horizontal or the relationship between mankind, and tend not to understand how vital our relationship with our fellow Brothers and Sisters in Christ is to our faith life even here in the church and our expression of it in community as God’s ambassadors to our community and world.

If I were to take the sledge hammer sitting before us and walk over to the organ, the stain glass windows, the altar or even the pews and begin to break them apart, either everyone in the church would jump to their feet and stop me before I did to much damage, or some of you would sit back and in astonishment say, I had lost my mind.  Clearly if I would begin to destroy items that we collectively hold onto so dearly and tightly, everyone would not wait for my resignation, but begin to throw every book I own, every keep sake I hold dear in my office out into the trash dumpster without a second thought, because I have destroyed something held very dearly by our congregation and which has been paid for by many members of this congregation and our forefathers.

How is someone’s reputation any different than an organ, a stain glass window or a pew?  It isn’t.  When we talk about people, whether in their presence or behind their back with only our closest friends, we clearly break the Eighth Commandment.  And this occurs in our world, our society, our family and even here in the church.  It has even occurred most recently in the last two weeks here in the church.  What we may be saying may be truth from our perspective, and it may be factual and our firm conviction or how we live our own lives, or even what our expectations are of others and even our personal pet peeves, but God in the Eighth Commandment calls us to ‘put the best construction on all things’.

The Eighth Commandment is the hardest Commandment for anyone to fulfill, because the strongest muscle in the human body, which is the tongue, can more quickly tear down a friend and betray a confidence rather than ‘explaining our neighbor’s actions in the kindest way.’  But this is exactly what Jesus did and does daily and we lay claim to daily in the forgiveness of sins.  Jesus Christ knows the depth of our sin, but even in the depth of our sin He steps in front of and took the entirety of the wrath of God the Father for the sins of the World, for our own sins, even to death in order to set us free.  This is pure and simple grace offered by Jesus Christ for all of us gathered here this morning.  Jesus Christ chose to suffer in order to model what the Eighth Commandment is all about by putting the best construction on our actions and suffering what each of us deserves.  Was it easy?  By no means, but this is exactly what Jesus Christ did in His perfect obedience of His Father in heaven and in fulfillment of the Eighth Commandment.

But how can we do that today?  Recently, a member of our own congregation asked me about Evolution.  They said, the schools are teaching it, society believes in it, how can we as a church and a people of faith fight against it and clearly speak against Evolution?  Using the Eighth Commandment I began by saying, I personally do not believe in Evolution, however, I have learned about it, can talk about it and explain it clearly to anyone.  Notice, I was following the Eighth Commandment model, I continued, by saying as a man of faith and a Pastor, I believe it is important to understand and be able to articulate the Evolution teaching.

Personally if asked, I do not agree with Evolution, nor is my faith wavered by what is espoused, but in following the Eighth Commandment, I can explain why some people are so adamant about this theory and not speak evil of them nor the theory of Evolution.  We to as Christians when we encounter others who may not have the same faith or depth of faith that we do see a person do something, however it makes us feel or even if it goes against our beliefs or values have Jesus Christ as our model to not use a sledge hammer and break the persons character, reputation or good name.  We are called as Christians and heirs of the Blood of the Lamb of God found in Jesus Christ to defend our neighbor, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.  For in fulfilling and following God’s perfect model in His Son Jesus Christ, we are freed from our own sins and set free to be the people of God made in His image that includes all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

10272013 22nd Sunday After Trinity

Sermon Audio

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Today is Reformation Sunday!  October 31, 1517 we as a congregation and as Lutherans celebrate because Martin Luther, pounded the 95 Thesis on the door at Wittenberg.  On that day, Martin Luther stood up to the Roman Catholic Church and said, in essence, we have a problem, we need a solution and we need to talk about it.  The faith that Martin Luther had learned about as a young boy, studied in the monastery, been challenged by his own thoughts, his contemporaries and even the people he held dear had led him to this juncture in his life.  Plagued by questions of scripture, doctrine and simple faith and its application to life, Martin Luther stood before the authorities of the church and stated the immortal words, ‘here I stand, I can do no other.’  It was upon the Word of God that Martin Luther took his stand.  The main issue of contention was about indulgences and whether one could earn salvation.  This came as a result of Luther watching the sale of indulgences by the church in order to build a cathedral, instead teaching people the scriptural truth of relying upon the grace of God found in Jesus Christ.  In essence, Martin Luther placed his faith on the one thing that would not change, would not pass away, that moth, fire and fear could not rob anybody of, the truth found in the Word of God manifest in Jesus Christ and His death on Calvary.  And Luther standing on this truth found in scripture began the Protestant Reformation that we celebrate today.

But what does Martin Luther have to do with a ‘fire safe’ and how does that relate to our series on the Ten Commandments, specifically the Ninth Commandment?  Let’s pull out our bulletin insert and join together as descendants of Luther’s and read together in unison the “What does this mean?” section as a congregation.  “The Ninth Commandment, You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. What does this mean?  We should fear and love God so that we do not scheme to get our neighbor’s inheritance or house, or get it in a way which only appears right, but help and be of service to him in keeping it.”  Let’s ask God in prayer to bless our time together and enable us to answer the question, ‘what do we hold dear?’

Let us pray, Lord God heavenly Father, just as You inspired Martin Luther to take a stand for honoring You and Your sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary for all of mankind, enable us look at the gift of Your Son You offer freely unto us as the grace intended.  Help us to not covet what our neighbors have, but hold safe and dear this free gift of grace offered by You of our salvation offered by Your life, death and resurrection.  For this only occurs because of Jesus Christ innocent death on Calvary for all mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning in celebration of Reformation Sunday.  AMEN.

The question, ‘what do we hold dear’ is very personal for each and every one of us.  For some, it is items that will fit into a box like the fire safe before us.  Others of us hold very dear items like books, memento’s, heirlooms or even the farm ground that our ancestors worked or our houses that we were raised in, that clearly will not fit into a fire safe box.  For some it may be what we hide in our pillows, mattresses or in the mason jars buried in the back yard, or even in the secret compartment in our bed room, house or shop where we hide our family’s jewels or in our cell phones or on our computer where the dirty little secret is kept or hidden from plain view that no one knows about.  All of us have certain items that we hold very dear.  There is nothing wrong with this, but there is something we need to understand, these items, whether jewels, books or heirlooms, pictures or magazines will pass away, no matter if we keep them in a fire safe for safe keeping or hide them away in our phone, in a jar, mattress or secret compartment.

What we need reminded of is that the human condition of sin that we live in and with daily clearly draws us away from God and the free grace He offers us through Jesus Christ.  We are drawn away not only because of the things that separate us from God, but also those things that are a burden or mill stone around our necks.  All of these items whether large, small, that will fit in a fire safe, Sim card on our phone or computer or that encompass acres of ground or barns of machinery or items that bring us pleasure like guns, books and even our televisions and DVD players are not in and of themselves bad or evil, but what these items draw us away from is a grace filled gift from God brought to us by His Son Jesus Christ.

This fire safe can protect paper, jewels, documents and many items from the most intense fire.  It is certified by an organization that tests boxes like this for a living, but the one thing this box nor any other box like it whether for guns, or fire suppression in the shop or the fire detectors in our houses can protect us from is our seeing our neighbor and wanting what they have.

It is not only our looking at their possessions, of car, truck, tractor, home, farm ground, recreational vehicle, grades, relationships, spouse or children, but our not only thinking about it but acting upon it.  Martin Luther in this explanation of the commandment implores us to not scheme, nor try and get anything of our neighbors in any dishonest way.  And most of us would immediately chime right back at me and say, well Pastor, I haven’t made a pass at my friends wife or his kids nor tried to swindle my neighbor out of the best cows, the best ground or the best crop.  And my response would be, good, but have you thought about it?

That is the sticky point of this commandment.  We sin, not only in deed and word, but also in our thoughts.  And this is where we are truly guilty of breaking the Ninth Commandment.  Ladies if you wish your husband spent more time with you than hunting or fishing, or on the tractor or at the farm, even outside of harvest and then you spend more money that you don’t have and cause them to have to earn more money, instead of telling them what you need and desire in your relationship, you have broken the Ninth Commandment.  Men, if you make your farm your idol and believe that you are the only one who can make the farm work or produce a crop and solely carry the burden of success, you break the Ninth Commandment.  Young people if you look for fulfillment of your self-worth in what others say about you and you feel compelled by your friends to do something that you know in your heart is wrong, you have broken the Ninth Commandment.  All of mankind is guilty of breaking the Ninth Commandment, the proof is staring us in the face from society.  What hope do we Christians have then?  Of ourselves, there is no hope, but we can find hope in Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ came and not only fulfilled the commandments, but serves as our role model when we encounter evil and are drawn away from God whether in thought, word or deed to break the Commandments, including the Ninth Commandment.  Jesus Christ through His innocent death on Calvary came to live a perfect life and set us free from the bondage to sin, death and the devil.  By and through Jesus Christ, we are set free from lives of sin to lives of freedom found in and through our baptism into His life, death and resurrection.  Jesus Christ offers all of us daily not only the opportunity, but the ultimate fire safe that not only protects us, but insures we will be with Him in His Kingdom for all eternity.  But the fire box Jesus offers isn’t about stuff or possessions nor is it about earthly things or matters.  Jesus Christ offers us the gift of grace that fire, rust, moth nor any other destructive agent can take away from us.  Jesus Christ offers us the identity as His children made in His image and freed through our baptism to be children of God.

Martin Luther on October 31, 1517 not only was reminding us of this gift, he was begging the church to pick back up the truth found in scripture of the grace freely offered by Jesus Christ without merit, nor without price that could not be paid in coins or indulgences.  The treasure that Martin Luther points to and that we recall today that is protected, is the truth of Holy Scripture and our remembering the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Today as we gather around the table of our Lord, the offer of free grace offered to and for us is not only a reminder, but a practice and faith passed down to us today.  It began from the creation of mankind, through the prophets looking for Jesus coming, to His death on Calvary for all mankind, through Martin Luther nailing the 95 Thesis to us today as we partake of His Body and Blood for all of mankind.  This sacrifice and grace is offered for all the world, but especially for and including all of us gathered here at Emmanuel this morning celebrating Reformation Sunday.  AMEN.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

10132013 20th Sunday After Trinity

Sermon Audio

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

When my younger brother Dale started college back in 1990, he didn’t choose a typical school.  It wasn’t UVa, Duke, UNC or Longwood, which were all ‘well-known’ schools.  Dale, chose to attend a college with not only a history, but a heritage that spanned back over 150 years and predated the Civil War.  Now living here in Kansas it is more interesting because the school, Virginia Military Institute better known as VMI was founded in 1839.  In opposition the territory of Kansas was not formed until 1854 and the State of Kansas did not join the Union until 1861.

But Dale, as a student at an all-male military institute was instilled with many important virtues that have served him well during his nearly 20 year military career.  One of the most profound and interesting for me when I first visited him was that all around campus there was a ton of loose change that was just lying on the ground.  I thought I had found the mother load of spare change.  Since VMI was founded to train young men to be gentleman and serve in the states militia, it was believed that the change ‘dropped’ or ‘lost’ by people was not theirs even if they found it on the ground in the middle of a field.  It was considered stealing if they picked up the change, so that is why the campus was strewn with lots of loose change.

I start with that story, because today we continue in our Catechism series with the Seventh Commandment.  Let’s pull our bulletin insert out and respond to God’s Seventh command beginning with “We should”.  “The Seventh Commandment, You shall not steal.  What does this mean?  We should fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or possessions, or get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his possessions and income.”  Isn’t it a neat connection with this commandment the value and virtue instilled in students at VMI that comes directly from the Seventh Commandment.  Ironically VMI is a public institution, state funded and has values like this at its core.  Before we continue, let’s pray asking God’s blessing and wisdom upon our time as we learn a new understanding and application of the Seventh Commandment.

Let us pray!  Gracious Father, even the thief on the cross who hung next to Your Son Jesus Christ was rightly convicted for his breaking the law, but the reality is that we are just as guilty of stealing as he was.  It may not be items or valuables, but the reality is that we steal from each other, from the church and from You daily, whether in what we do or do not do.  Even though we deserve to hang on the cross, Your Son Jesus Christ came, lived among us and died in order to pay for all of our sins, even when we steal from You.  Continually remind us of His sacrifice that was for all mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

If it were only a matter of loose change, or a piece of candy that had fallen to the floor in the store, we easily could rationalize our not being guilty of breaking the Seventh Commandment.  But the reality is that it is not about the item, but it is about the concept of stealing that the Seventh Commandment brings to mind.  Everyone of us is guilty in some way of stealing from not only the government with the loop holes of taxes either personally or professionally.  From our community by our own self-interest in only our homes and farms or what will benefit our own family or small group, whether it is sports, the arts, our bridge club or even our pet projects or groups like Kiwanis, Elks or the VFW.  Or our stealing even here in the church where we are only consumers and not wanting to take our ‘valuable time’ and usher, greet, be a communion assistant, Sunday School teacher or lector, either because we have done our time in years past, or we expect the ‘younger generation’ to pick up the slack and serve.  The reality becomes that we are guilty of breaking the Seventh Commandment even here in the church.

Hence this morning, we have a clock and a model church to remind us that the Seventh Commandment is not only about stealing items, it is about our stealing time and stealing from God’s church what God has entrusted to us.  I am not here to make us feel guilty or shame anyone into doing something they do not feel led or called by God to do.  Nor am I here to put down any group like the Kiwanis, Elks, VFW, Boy Scouts or any recreational organization.  Hear clearly, all God wants us as His children to do is not only understand that stealing is wrong, which is very clear, but more specifically for us to build the body of the Church for God’s Glory and His Honor.

When we have the understanding and perspective that Jesus Christ came to save us from our sins, even of our time and wasting it without eternal gain, we begin to change our perspective on time and our relationship not only with the church, but also with God.  Remember the Seventh Commandment deals specifically with the relationship on the horizontal level, or between our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Though Jesus came and died for all of our sins, His offer of life and salvation was not so we can sin even more, it was so we can be transformed into His image of perfect sacrifice and obedience to use our time as precious as it is in His Glory here in the church and in our community.  We will never be perfect, but by our striving to serve in God’s service, we change the landscape of our reality, not our being saved, but our being continuously transformed, continuously reminded of our salvation and continuously serving God when the opportunity arises in the community, the church, and especially for the eternal gains for God’s Kingdom.

God is simply calling us to not steal, not just the physical, but also the eternal blessings that He has in store for us.  This is why we can and should be transformed by His Word and empowered by His blessings He wants to bestow upon us.  When we continuously remind ourselves of His sacrifice by telling, living and embodying the Gospel story, we change not only our perception of this commandment, but also our action not only as a fulfillment of His offer of salvation for us, but also as our opportunity to devote our time for His Glory and not our own.  May we hear His calling clearly and be empowered to use our time, not in stealing it away for our benefit, but in service to Him in the church and for His Glory for all of us saints who bask in the free grace offered by His death on Calvary for all of mankind including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

10112013 Funeral for Lee Rivers Highland

Sermon Audio

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer!!  AMEN!!

Let us pray!  Gracious Lord, as we gather here to celebrate the life of Lee who has been washed by the Blood of the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world, remind us that Lee found peace in receiving the sacrament of Holy Baptism.  No longer will the pains of memory of this life bind him, for it is in, through and by his baptism into Your life, death and resurrection that Lee now rests in Your loving arms.  May Your Gospel message of salvation given to us and which we share around the altar today remind us not only of Your love for us, but how the veil of death that separates us today from Lee cannot separate us from the love You have for us that is manifest in the meal of Your precious Body and Blood that we share with him around the altar this morning.  May we be comforted by this thought and truth and allow the salve of Your Gospel message to embrace us in Your loving arms offered by Your Son Jesus Christ innocent death on Calvary for all of Your saints, especially including all of the saints of Lee’s family gathered here at Emmanuel to say goodbye.  AMEN.

The 23rd Psalm reads in part, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” we certainly can relate to this biblical image today.  We are here today in this valley mourning the loss of Lee.  But is this a valley or are we on a mountain top?  Consider if you will the 23rd Psalm is meant to be a Psalm of comfort, but also to point directly to a promise from God for each of us today.  It is the promise of the message of salvation and the comfort that God offers to each of us today that we lay claim to as we gather together remembering the stories of Lee’s life and how we came to know him and how we share today the message of the victory over sin, death and the devil on the mountaintop, not in a valley.  This message I as Pastor bring to you today, but remember that Lee was a message bearer as well.

If I were to begin, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…[anybody know what this is from?  Or how it ends?  It continues]…stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”  Yes, this is the unofficial mantra or motto that many of us heard about mail carriers like Lee.  Ironically it is originally from an ancient Greek work by Herodotus that describes the Persian system of mounted postal carriers from approximately 500 years before Christ.  It was made famous because of its inscription on the James Farley Post Office in New York City and has found its way into song and legend about our United States Postal Service of which Lee was a member for many years as a Postmaster and rural mail carrier.

I tell this anecdote because mail carriers like Lee not only were responsible for the delivery of mail, but carried packages and even mail order poultry, mail order clothes and carriers even today deliver items that were only a dream in the minds of innovators not ten years ago, but more importantly mail carriers carried messages.  For some people today mail and the messages they convey are outdated due to the internet and instant messaging, texting or even cell phones or Face time chatting and for mail today the messages are only important to the sender and receiver.  But for all of us gathered here today, the message we have heard today of the Gospel of Salvation has been heard not only in the lessons read, but the liturgy and especially in what we will receive later in Holy Communion.  The message carried and proclaimed to us today is important for all Christians of all time and all space, especially Lee and all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel, whether sitting in the pews or as we gather around the Table of our Lord with all the Saints of All time and All place on the other side of the altar in eternity.

The message we have and need to hear today and share is that Jesus Christ came and personally lived and delivered the message of salvation for all of mankind, including Lee and each and every one of us here today.  Nothing, not even World War or Satan could keep this message from getting through.  It is a message that impacts both God the sender and we the receiver today.  The message of salvation that Lee heard later in life and acted upon in being baptized not only tells a story, it fulfills a promise made by God from the formation of the world to our very existence today.  Clearly Jesus Christ sacrifice on Calvary was for all of mankind and this is a message that we have the opportunity to retell and proclaim, but we also can remember that this is a message the Old Testament prophets foretold, whether by Isaiah or the Psalmist David that we have heard from today. 

This is also a message we lay claim to today as we remember Lee and his baptism into Jesus story of salvation.  Just as Lee was a surgical nurse during some of the worst battles on the Pacific Theater during World War II, endured the hardships of losing friends and comrades as well as men and women who laid on the operating tables due to their injuries, the message and meaning of loss hit home for him as well as many other heroes that served our country and insured our opportunity to worship and gather here this morning to say goodbye.

Yet, the message that we need to share today and proclaim from the mountain top we are on today is not the completion of Lee’s appointed rounds, nor the finality of death or being in the valley of the shadow of death, but how Lee now has eternal life with His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ because of the message first given to him of the Gospel of salvation.  We here today celebrate the gift of eternal life offered for all of mankind through Jesus Christ and the message of salvation.  Just as Jesus modelled humility for mankind and sacrificed Himself on the Cross of Calvary, we celebrate how Lee modelled this for his children and for our nation as a soldier who lived in harms way, even ready to storm the beaches of Japan to insure our freedom. 

The model Lee lived for his family, community and world was first modelled perfectly by Jesus Christ and how He offered Himself as the sacrifice for Lee and for all of mankind.  This is the message that we remember as we come and celebrate the Lord’s Supper around the altar of the Lord today.  This meal not only contains the message of salvation, but is a perfect reminder of God’s sacrifice for all of mankind.  This is the message of eternal life and salvation that Jesus Christ promises us as we gather here this morning and remember, not only the carrier of the mail, but more importantly the carrier of the message of salvation found in Jesus Christ for Lee, for all of mankind, but especially for all of the saints of Lee’s family that gather here to say goodbye.  AMEN.

Now may the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard our hearts and minds and comfort us today, because of what Jesus Christ did for Lee and each one of us!  AMEN! 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

10062013 19th Sunday After Trinity

Sermon Audio

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

What do a computer, a swimming suit and a phone have in common?  Each of them functions differently.  Two need electricity in order to work, one, has only a utilitarian function.  But each of them are connected with the Commandments that we have been hearing about in our Series on the Catechism.

Ironically you can find each of these items at Wal-Mart or on-line and can pay either lots of money for function or looks, whether of the bathing suit by the lack of cloth in it and the more money for it or even of computers and all the cool features of cameras, memory and keyboards and the phone with either a touch screen, blue tooth, wireless capability, fancy apps or even the case and cover for it.  Yet ironically the phone, the computer and bathing suits each are impacted by and have an effect upon our understanding of the Sixth Commandment we will consider this morning.  Let’s pull out the insert from your bulletin and hear the Sixth Commandment and read together the meaning or explanation beginning with “We should”.  “You shall not commit adultery.  What does this mean?  We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other.”  Clearly this commandment deals with the relationship between husband and wife, but what does it have to do with a cell phone, a computer and a bathing suit and how are they connected and relate to us today?  Before we continue lets go to God in prayer and ask Him to open our hearts to hear His Word concerning the Sixth Commandment.

Let us pray, Gracious Lord, when You came down to the earth and took on human form, society was less technology and electricity driven than we are today.  Not only was technology less, modesty was not as much an issue, because of the understanding of relationship not only between husband and wife, but also between man and God.  Enable and empower us to see our relationship between husband and wife, not as distant, and by Your Holy Spirit to bridge the gap of our relationship with our spouse, but also and especially with Your Son Jesus Christ, for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

This past week I was up with the Seniors at Wheat Ridge Acres where we shared with one another not only the Word of God from last week’s Gospel, but also the meal that we will be sharing here in a few minutes.  In our conversations and discussion we were reviewing the 10 Commandments that are the basis for our sermon series.  Interestingly everyone was able to not only put the commandments in order, but they even remembered each commandment.  After we went through each Commandment I pointed out how each Commandment deals with relationship, whether the First Table or the first three commandments that deal with relationship with God on the Vertical or the Second Table of the Law the last seven commandments that deal with relationship on the horizontal, between mankind. 

Today we encounter the Sixth Commandment which as one of the Second Table of the law concerns the relationship between mankind, specifically, husband and wife, but also between all of us, male, female, young and old.  At the Technical College where I teach during the week the students claim if they are not married, that the issue between husband and wife does not apply, so therefore the Sixth Commandment has no impact or bearing upon them or their lives, but for them and for us here today that is farthest from the truth.  Farmers or ranchers might say, I spend my time on a tractor, seeder or combine or shoveling muck from the pasture or a barn or caring and tending for the cattle on the ranch, the Sixth Commandment doesn’t apply to me.  Young adults would claim, since I am not married and am not in a serious relationship, I don’t have to worry about breaking the Sixth Commandment, it does not apply to me.  Our older members might venture, well my spouse has entered the church triumphant, it no longer applies to me.  As Pastor, I could say, I am responsible to be a model to society, for the members of the church and even for my family, I surely cannot nor should not break the Sixth Commandment.  But the reality is all of us break the Sixth Commandment and commit sin whether in thought word or deed.

Yet, before us this morning are items that deal directly with the Sixth Commandment.  Easily we can connect the bathing suits, self-image, sex and sexual desire or drive.  Whether on television, print media, with our friends or even at major sporting events or on the big screen, our society always has sex on the mind and how to exploit it in a very unhealthy way.  Hear me clearly, I am not saying bathing suits are bad, nor am I saying we are or can be immune to the draw they have to the way God made us.  But bathing suits do tempt our eyes and our minds to sin, may be not in deed, but certainly thought.  This is even no different from sexy dresses that models and actresses wear, our jealousy of the abs of famous actors in movies like Thor, Captain America, Star Trek or any movie that shows a midrift.  Our society plants images in our minds of what we should look like and the clothes that we wear lead us and others to break the Sixth Commandment.

But what about the phone and the computer, certainly they aren’t used to break the Sixth Commandment?  In the movie Fireproof, the main character played by Kirk Cameron, had an addiction to pornography.  Instead of loving his wife and fulfilling the Sixth Commandment he found satisfaction in looking at images on a screen that brought him sexual satisfaction instead of his wife that he had married.  It was not until he had destroyed the computer and the monitor and cut the cord that he freed himself from the leash of sin in his life.

Certainly the phone cannot be used to break the Sixth Commandment?  Sadly it does not have the same draw as a computer or bathing suits, but when we make an item like the phone or an inheritance or even our jobs more important than our relationship with our spouse or even our God, we have broken the Sixth Commandment.

We probably ask, what hope is there for us?  Clearly there is no hope with anything we have or that we can do, whether it be clothes, phone, computer, cars, trucks, tractors, combines, planters, houses, land, farms, jobs or anything else that we make more important than our relationship with our spouse and with God.  Having been here for nearly three years I have heard and even personally used the concept that ‘job’ and ‘calling’ is more important than family.  I have sacrificed my family on the altar of ministry.  Our rationale is that without our job, our farm, our income, we lose ourselves as well as our being.  Yet the reality is God calls us to be willing to give up all of that in order to serve Him.

Yes, the Sixth Commandment deals specifically with the relationship between husband and wife.  But the reality is that God sent His Son Jesus Christ into this world to repair our relationship on the horizontal plane, between husband and wife.  Jesus Christ came into the world and modelled perfectly what relationship was in through and by His relationship with the church.  Jesus Christ loved the church and loves us so much that He came to show us, but also perfectly fulfill the Sixth Commandment.  And these items here before us this morning are just reminders for us today of what Jesus Christ came to redeem.  Jesus Christ came to redeem all of us that are gathered here this morning.  Whether we wear bathing suits, use computers and carry phones, Jesus Christ cam to set us free to be Children of God.  God is calling us to honor the relationship we have with our spouse and live out the model He gave for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Monday, October 7, 2013

LCMC Convention Live Feed

This is the live feed for the LCMC Convention in Dearborn, MI.

Here is the full link (

Below is the Agenda.

Sunday, October 6th

  • 4:00 P.M. - Registration Opens (Main Lobby)
  • 5:30 P.M. - Dinner (Grand Ballroom)
  • 7:00 P.M. - Opening Worship Service with Holy Communion: Rev. Derek Johnson  (Great Lakes Center)
  • 8:30 P.M. - Dessert & Fellowship (Grand Ballroom)

Monday, October 7th

  • Breakfast at Hotels   
  • 8:00 A.M. - Registration Opens (Main Lobby)
  • 8:30 A.M. - Bible Study: Rev. Sue Gunderson (Great Lakes Center)
  • 9:00 A.M. - Opening and Welcome (Great Lakes Center)
  • 9:15 A.M. - Introduction of Board and Staff (Great Lakes Center)
  • 9:30 A.M. - Keynote Speaker: Rev. Kyle Idleman (Great Lakes Center)
  • 10:30 A.M. - Break   
  • 11:00 A.M. - Keynote Speaker: Rev. Kyle Idleman (Great Lakes Center)
  • 12:00 P.M. - Lunch (Grand Ballroom)
  • 1:15 P.M. - Report of the Pastoral Certification Coordinator: Rev. Dr. Paul Spaulding (Great Lakes Center) 
  • 1:30 P.M. - Introduction of District Leaders, Certifiers, New Congregations, Pastors, Seminarians, Military Chaplains (Great Lakes Center)
  • 2:00 P.M. - Report of the Service Coordinator: Rev. Mark Vander Tuig (Great Lakes Center)
  • 3:00 P.M. - Opening Business Session (Great Lakes Center)
  • 4:00 P.M. - Introduction to Breakouts (Great Lakes Center)
  • 4:15 P.M. - Break   
  • 4:30 P.M. - Breakout Session 1* (Assigned Rooms)
  • 5:30 P.M. - Area Caucuses (Assigned Rooms)
  • 6:00 P.M. - District Dinner Night (optional)** (Grand Ballroom)

Tuesday, October 8th

  • Breakfast at Hotels   
  • 8:30 A.M. - Bible Study: Rev. John Lewis (Great Lakes Center)
  • 9:00 A.M. - Keynote Speaker: Mr. Chuck Bentley (Great Lakes Center)
  • 10:00 A.M. - Break   
  • 10:30 A.M. - Keynote Speaker: Mr. Chuck Bentley (Great Lakes Center)
  • 11:30 A.M. - International Focus: Revs. Tom LoVan & Samuel Chim (Great Lakes Center)
  • 12:00 P.M. - Lunch (Grand Ballroom)
  • 1:15 P.M. - Report of the Coordinator for New Ministry Development: Rev. Dan Clites (Great Lakes Center)
  • 1:30 P.M. - Business Session (Great Lakes Center)
  • 2:30 P.M. - Breakout Session 2* (Assigned Rooms)
  • 3:30 P.M. - Break   
  • 4:00 P.M. - Breakout Session 3* (Assigned Rooms)
  • 5:00 P.M. - Back into Session (Great Lakes Center)
  • 5:30 P.M. - Area Caucuses & Election of Board Members (Great Lakes Center)
  • 6:00 P.M. - Dinner in the Henry Ford Museum (optional)** (Henry Ford Museum)


Wednesday, October 9th

  • Breakfast at Hotels   
  • 8:30 A.M. - Bible Study: Rev. David Gran (Great Lakes Center)
  • 9:00 A.M. - Keynote Speaker: Rev. Enrique Estrada (Great Lakes Center)
  • 10:00 A.M. - Break   
  • 11:00 A.M. - Closing Worship Service with Holy Communion: Rev. Greg Wallace (Great Lakes Center)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What the Mission of Jesus Christ is all about!!!

Rocket Company

This Video is the first in a series from The Rocket Company about Volunteers and Volunteer Ministry.

It is a great opportunity to engage in the dialogue of our Volunteer Ministry.

Here is the full link ( you have a problem.

Monday, September 30, 2013

09292013 18th Sunday After Trinity

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Our church today is impacted by our culture and our society.  Our society has successfully pulled us away from the church and the message of salvation offered by Jesus Christ and His death on Calvary for all mankind.  In one sense we have allowed our culture and society to break one of the commandments, not as it is classically understood, but still in a way where our souls and our eternal resting place are affected.  Society has impacted us to the extent that we complain about a sermon that goes longer than 10 minutes and a worship service that goes longer than an hour, but we gladly sit and watch a football or baseball game even into extra innings or overtime, in the cold or heat and even if it means driving three hours or even six hours to get to the stadium.

Our society caters to the advertising on television, radio, internet and bulk mail, even interrupting our dinner by calling either our home phone and now our cell phones advertising the opportunity to ‘get away’ from our homes, jobs and church family whether by vacations on a cruise ship or along a beach somewhere.  While driving on I-70 we see more motor homes and people headed to the lakes and mountains to relax in the here and now, rather than preparing and feeding our hearts and souls for eternity.  When we do come to church, we feel the burdens of what needs done, rather than the joy of the Savior and feeling empowered by the Holy Spirit to be the kingdom of God.  Our hearts, souls and spirits are in one sense dying a slow death because we seek societies wealth, instead of God’s unending wealth.

Societies and nations, even God’s chosen the people of Israel have for centuries waged wars in order to gain the wealth or land that is found here on earth whether of their own or their neighbors.  Our society has used swords like the one on display this morning to kill people all in the belief that our wants, needs and desires to have more and die with more will change our trajectory or the outcome.  But the reality is clear, no matter how many toys we have, no matter how much wealth we amass here on earth, whether land, possessions or acres of irrigated or dry land, we still die.  No matter if we are killed by the sword in body, by the tongue in our dialogue or by the way in which we live, the reality still remains, we will spend eternity, either with heavenly destitution bought by the sword or heavenly bliss bought by our using the sword for God’s Glory and in His service.

But what does this sword have to do with the Fifth Commandment?  Interestingly this is another place where our Fifth Commandment has some application.  Let’s pull out our inserts and let me read the Fifth Commandment and let us the members of the Body of Christ also known as the Church read out loud the explanation beginning with “We should”.  “You shall not murder.  What does this mean?  We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support them in every bodily need.”  Let us pray asking God to speak to us today about how we can be instruments not to destroy, body, soul or spirit, but build up and amass riches that will not pass away in His Kingdom.

Gracious King and Lord, we know our society has lured us away from Your divine purpose and honoring You.  We as a society and individuals have used the sword, whether of metal or of our tongues for our individual and collective gain, but with the ultimate loss of others self-esteem, self-worth and needs.  Enable us to tame the sword in our hands as well as our mouths and not kill others that You have placed in our path.  For we are Your handiwork and are in desperate need of Your divine help to point to Christ and His sacrifice for all mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

As we walked through Wal-Mart a few weeks ago, Michele, Sarah and I came across some of the decorations for Halloween.  At the bottom of the shelf were these items, a cleaver and a sickle.  Not unusual for decorations or part of a costume for the season for the grim reaper, these items have one purpose, to be used as decor to decorate for Halloween, but I couldn’t help but think of the Fifth Commandment.  These items just as much as the sword displayed are weapons of war or carnage.  They are used and have the connotations of death, which the Fifth Commandment clearly speaks against.  Yet, we as a society and church relegate the use of items such as these to mere toys and forget that we humans do have a sword that even Jesus warned us about.  That sword is this [stick out tongue] our tongue.  Jesus says clearly, if we are angry with our brother we have just as easily ‘committed murder’.  So these toys we mock and even use as decorations are poignant examples and reminders for us of the weight that not only our physical strength have when used with a sickle cutting down wheat, but also a sword or ax when cutting wood and even our words that we use with our neighbor, our friends and even here in the church.

Our words whether intentionally or unintentionally can and do clearly cut even deeper than any metal object.  Sometimes our words have venom in and with them aimed directly at individuals and cause more harm than good.  The harm they cause is not only in relationship with one another whether Mother and Daughter, Father and Son, Brother and Sister, but also here in the church.  In countless movies characters have dialogue that is mean and destructive, wielded and used by many to be destructive of our individual self-worth and we feel the blows that belittle and cause us to wonder if we are important and destroy relationship.  Not only does this occur in society, it even occurs here in the church, even among the leaders of the church, without few if anyone speaking to the person nor against this breaking of the Fifth Commandment.  We are afraid to speak to the person, because we do not want to ‘ruffle their feathers’, we do not want to endanger the relationship we currently have with them, because of the history of the past years or ‘good times we have had.’  We sacrifice doing what is right, for the easy path, that doesn’t require anything of and for us.  The reality becomes that we live in a church that rests on the side of grace and ignores the responsibility and accountability we have been called to fulfill in this the Fifth Commandment.

But of what consequence is that to us today, why should we be worried?  We have been saved by the Grace of God, freed from the bondage of sin, death and the devil by Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary.  For what purpose should we be concerned about this commandment that calls us to not kill whether physically or emotionally in our relationship with each other, even our spouse, children and our brothers and sisters in Christ.  The reality is that yes, Jesus Christ died for our sins, but as Paul says, should we continue to sin so that grace may abound, by no means.  We as baptized Children of God are called to watch not only our physical actions of using swords or destructive tools like guns or anything that can kill the body, but also we have been called to watch what we say with our tongues, because it kills our souls.  God is calling us to speak with love in our heart, not with malice, hatred or envy, for those are means of destruction not building.

Jesus Christ Who died for each of us even modeled this for all of us when He rose from the dead.  Easily Jesus could have come to the disciples in the Upper Room and verbally chastised them for running away at His betrayal when on the third day He appeared in the Upper Room.  But, Jesus began with forgiveness and peace.  This is the same offer Jesus comes to offer all of mankind.  In, through and by His death on Calvary, Jesus Christ offers the forgiveness of sins for all of mankind.

Though we daily break the Fifth Commandment, not in the classical way of ‘murder’, but with our tongues, Jesus Christ offers us the forgiveness of sins and modelled this for each and every one of us.  The most poignant story of forgiveness told from the 20th Century tells of a woman whose family had been shipped off to Ravensbruck which was a Nazi prisoner of war camp for those who helped shield and protect the Jews during World War II.  Corrie ten Boom and her family were imprisoned there and she was the only member of her family who survived that horrific experience.  She endured the demoralization, the death and the destruction not only of their bodies, but especially of their souls, not only by the leaders but especially the prison guards.  Two years after being liberated from the torture while bringing the message of forgiveness to the people of Holland, Corrie after giving a talk about what true forgiveness was encounters what would have been her greatest nightmare two short years earlier.

After her talk, in front of her stands one of the guards who had brutally and without remorse harassed and exposed her very nakedness.  Now he stood before her with hand extended having heard her talk about forgiveness.  Time stopped and the full impact of the message of forgiveness Corrie had just proclaimed came crashing down upon her.  The former guard did not recognize her, but his image flooded her and nearly drove her to her knees.  The message she had just finished giving of the forgiveness of sins, in an instant took on new meaning and new resolve.

The man standing before her told of his conversion to Christianity, his belief in the forgiveness of sins by Jesus Christ and now asked Corrie the one question that radically changed her understanding of what Jesus Christ did on the Cross of Calvary.  He asked, “will you forgive me?”  For what seemed like hours, but was only a few brief seconds, the faith just proclaimed rested in the balance, either to deny God’s grace, or embrace the forgiveness given by Jesus Christ and proclaim it to the monster who had exposed her nakedness, insulted her humanity and robbed her of her family.  The choice was clear and unmistakable for Corrie, her response was, “Yes, I forgive you.”

This is the forgiveness God offers to each of us today not only for our breaking the Fifth Commandment, but also what we can offer to one another when we kill with the sword, our words, our actions, our inactions and even our attitude.  May we daily offer this forgiveness to one another for our breaking the Fifth Commandment and embrace one another not as enemies, but as true brothers and sisters in Christ redeemed by the Blood of Jesus Christ for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Monday, September 23, 2013

09222013 17th Sunday After Trinity

Sermon Audio

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

On April 18, 1942 a group of 80 men were poised on the carrier USS Hornet in the Pacific Ocean about to make history.  Not 5 months earlier the United States territory of Hawaii had been brutally attacked at Pearl Harbor, and now this group of men who volunteered for this mission were risking their lives in what some government officials felt was a suicide bombing mission on mainland Japan.  Led by Lt. Colonel James Doolittle 16 B-25 bombers were fueled and loaded with bombs and munitions that would eventually fall upon both Tokyo and Nagoya, Japan as a means to bolster the morale of the United States after the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war on two fronts.  As history records out of 80 men who volunteered for this mission, three when caught by the Japanese were executed the others that survived the crash of their plane were held captive until rescue by American troops in 1945 and 69 escaped capture or death on mainland China and the Soviet Union.

This story of heroism we remember this morning because it is a poignant lesson of duty and honor.  It epitomizes the sacrifice that was made by individuals in all military branches and that we honor for the duty epitomized in our heroes from here at Emmanuel.  But why is their service and are they important for us this morning as we begin the second table of the Law of the Ten Commandments?  For what reason does their sacrifice or the sacrifice for any of the heroes here at Emmanuel have for us today?  In order to more fully understand and hear the importance of our heroes, both men and women who have served in the line of duty, follow along as I read the Fourth Commandment and its explanation from our bulletin insert.  “Honor your father and mother.  What does this mean?  We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.”  Let us pray for God to speak to each of us about the Fourth Commandment.

Gracious Lord, it is clear that we are under authority whether in the world, school, job, church or even the home, but each of the authorities in our lives were placed over us by You to help us understand our need for accountability.  For You held Your Son, Jesus Christ accountable for our sins and this has set us free, not to act in any manner we would like, but to understand our lives are redeemed by Your Son’s innocent Blood.  Enable us to honor You and His sacrifice for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Before us today sit, not just uniforms, but ribbons and meritorious service commendations that were earned by some of our military veterans of Emmanuel.  We also have the list of veterans who served in all of the branches of the military that were members here at Emmanuel.  These are just a small indication of the honors afforded them for their service to our country in order to give us the opportunity to gather here at Emmanuel and freely worship.  In and of themselves the uniforms as well as the ribbons to some are just clothing or decorations, but for those who earned them and remembering those who did not come home that sacrificed themselves for their buddies and who died in the line of duty or were left behind as killed in action or missing in action, changes our perspective as the true meaning of duty and honor.

The Fourth Commandment we know speaks plainly about our individual relationship with Father and Mother and how we are to ‘honor’ them.  There are times that as children and adults we do not honor God nor our parents.  We do not honor them because of our pride, arrogance and our sinful nature.  We do not treat our parents with the honor they deserve and that God demands of us in the Fourth Commandment.  Not only are we guilty of dishonoring our parents, we also even dishonor other authorities that God has placed over us.  Whether it is teachers in the classroom, our boss at work and even our own government when we speed down the interstate or do not come to a full and complete stop at a stop sign or light.  We are all guilty of this in some form or fashion.  We dishonor God and those that have been put in authority over us.  We clearly break the Fourth Commandment.

To make this even clearer and have a deeper impact it would be tantamount of my taking all of these medals, honors, commendations and uniforms and even the Flag and burning them.  This would bring instant outrage and dislike directed right at me, and rightfully so.  We have experienced that here at Emmanuel when the Flag was ‘removed from the church’.  It caused clear discontent and hatred not only at the person who did that, but did not honor nor reflect the clear sense of honor and values collectively felt by everyone here at the church, of our history and even our collective belief in respecting not only the flag, but what it stood for and what our men and women were willing to fight to defend for each of us today.  But how is that any different than talking behind people’s backs, our unwillingness to tell how we actually feel, or spreading rumors and innuendo?  It is no different it is breaking the Fourth Commandment by dishonoring those who are living their lives with us daily as we journey with each other through our lives here in Goodland and even here in the church at Emmanuel.

Yet, even Jesus Who was God incarnate had to follow the Fourth Commandment.  Having human parents even Jesus had to not only listen and obey His parents, but also the leaders of the church that were His authority here on earth.  Let me say clearly, Jesus Christ did not break the Fourth Commandment, but fulfilled it and all of the commandments in perfect obedience of His Father in heaven.  With His every breath, Jesus Christ lived a life that not only honored His Father and others in authority, He even lived a life that was worthy of honoring by you and me and all of mankind.

Jesus Christ in His humble and willing obedience endured the shame, ridicule, the scourging, the insults, the worst abuse any man could endure and carried the Cross He would be nailed to on Golgotha through the streets of Jerusalem in order to set us free from sin, death and the devil.  Jesus Christ endured all of this in order to set all of us free.  This is the sacrifice that Jesus Christ was willing to make for us.  But why and how does that relate not only to the 4th Commandment, but to each of us today?

Simply, because of Jesus Christ perfect obedience, we are set free from the sins that bind us.  Does this mean we no longer sin?  By no means, but it does mean that with this realization sin no longer has the same control over us.  We are freed to be God’s children, honor our parents, honor those who sacrificed for each of us and celebrate their sacrifice, like we are today.  You see the sacrifice that Jesus Christ offers us today is the perfect model for us and how His sacrifice was the perfect sacrifice for all time.  It was this offer for each and every one of us that reminds us and enables us to understand true humility and obedience and enables us to honor not only God for His offer of the forgiveness of sins for all mankind, but also enables us to honor those who are in authority over us as the Fourth Commandment directs us.  And this is not limited to our parents, but all those who are an authority over us, whether teachers, church council, policeman, pastors, aunts, uncles and even our government.

The reason I told the story about the Doolittle Raiders is that earlier this year, three of the four remaining raiders gathered for one last public ceremony to honor and toast the other members who have entered the church triumphant.  In complete honor for their sacrifice, these men and the public gathered to not only pay respect and tribute, but remember and honor the true sacrifice they and their comrades made as they flew off the deck of the USS Hornet.  So to this morning we gather here at Emmanuel to remember and honor the sacrifice not only of our military members represented by these ribbons, uniforms and plaques, but also all those who fought to insure our freedoms and carry wounds that cannot be seen for men and women that gave the ultimate sacrifice in humble obedience to the Fourth Commandment. 

We also gather especially to be reminded that Jesus sacrifice was not only for a select few, but for all of humanity.  Jesus Christ fulfilling the Fourth Commandment was not only a model for us, but a reminder for each of us of His perfect obedience and how we can honor Him and all authorities.  By, through and in our gathering this morning honoring not only the Doolittle Raiders, but also those who served in the military, public offices of government and even our parents, teachers and local rulers even here in the church, we can attempt to fulfill the Fourth Commandment.  But it is only through Jesus life, death and resurrection for all of mankind including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel that we truly will experience the grace freely offered for each and every one of us from Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

A Message the Church Needs Today!!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

09152013 16th Sunday After Trinity

Sermon Audio

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Imagine if you will being on a beach somewhere.  The sand in your toes, the wind in your hair, the sun not to bright, but just a beautiful day.  Reclining, yes, reclining in a chair like this on the beach.  For some of us this could also be sitting on a deck overlooking the mountain vistas of the Rockies or the fields that we have just tilled in preparation for planting.  We have not a care in the world, our kids, grandkids and others are playing while we are taking in the sites and our senses are just bursting with every wafting of the breeze and the sounds that are not assaulting us, but relaxing our nerves from the daily grind.  They include the warm breeze, the birds in the distance, the smell of salt or pine needles or freshly turned dirt, the relaxing calm of not having a care in the world.

Left behind are the stresses of work, the strains of relationships, whether of family, friends, business, church or even our favorite sports teams that may make it to the playoffs.  We don’t need sun screen because the sun is not to bright and won’t burn us, we have a cool refreshing drink and nobody and nothing is going to pull us away from our well-deserved ‘rest’.

Then we hear an unmistakable voice that not only elicits a smile, but also a warm feeling deep from within our soul.  It is not the screech of our kids, the nagging of our boss or co-workers, nor is it a sound that would instantly make our nerves come on edge.  It is the sound of not only a friend, but someone that we trust implicitly.  It is not only the tenor of the voice, it is the soothing sensation heard and felt that slows our pulse, eases our stress and helps us to put everything that stresses us out of our mind and release it to Him.

This is the experience that God wants us to have when we come and worship.  In our series we have come to the last of the ‘First Table’ of Commandments that deal exclusively with God.  Let’s follow along as I read from the insert in your bulletin, the Third Commandment, “Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.  What does this mean?  We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.”  Let us pray asking God to speak to each of us saints gathered here this morning.

Gracious Father, enable us to remember the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  We are called by God to put Him first, but there are times where we let the world, our circumstances or our sinful desires encroach upon our lives even here in the church.  Continue to reach to each of us individually and help us to rest in You and make our Sabbath about You and Your Glory of what Your Son Jesus Christ did on the Cross of Calvary for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here this morning.  AMEN.

When we sit in a chair like this with either our toes in the sand, on the deck of our porch, on the edge of our fields, our backyard or around a camp fire, we seem to have nothing to worry about.  God uses this time to not only rejuvenate us and recharge our batteries, but let our collective hair down in front of our friends and sometimes even our family.  But the reality is we do not do this here in the church.  Whether it is because of the stigma of having something ‘cold’ to drink with an umbrella, or the age old stigma of ‘Christians don’t drink’, or Christians can’t cuss or God will strike us dead if we are caught doing anything like that is not a reality for us today.  God wants us to understand correctly that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

We need the vacations, we need the weekend away from the house, farm, even church and the stresses of our lives and no one, not even God or even me the Pastor begrudges anybody this inherent need that we should take care of ourselves.  Some would ask the question, “Ok Pastor, what is the other shoe that is going to drop?”  What are you going to follow up with that will make me feel like I have to be in church, have to serve in some capacity in ministry of the congregation or have to do in order to earn my salvation?

The reality is we cannot earn our salvation.  No matter what we do, we do not, cannot and will never earn our salvation.  The salvation that Jesus Christ offers us on the cross of Calvary cannot be bought or sold or earned by anything we do, it is God’s gift to us through Jesus Christ.  This is why the Third Commandment is so important, it is the final commandment that deals with relationship between God and man.  It is the final command and response that we hear from God in the Ten Commandments that deals specifically with our relationship with God.  The first dealt with our personal relationship with God, the second with His Name and now how we are to take Sabbath and rest in Him.

Our collective reality is that this chair and drink is not meant to get our collective tongues wagging about what Pastor did on Sunday, nor how I dressed, but for us to see past the images and understand the relationship that God is calling us to have with Him.  God in the Commandments and through His Son Jesus Christ is offering us a relationship for all eternity where the stresses of our lives will not have us up in arms.  The relationships that we have through the church will not cause us to be angry with one another, the responsibility we feel we have as a church about money, janitors, helping the poor and in one sense dividing us will not drive us to the edge.  We are to take our Sabbath and rest in God, because of what Jesus Christ did on Calvary.  It is through our embracing this Sabbath that God will use us as His emissaries and His hands and feet to collectively reach not only our community, but minister within the Church.

This Sunday is known as “Back to Church Sunday”.  Across the nation there are churches that are making the priority of people returning to church.  This concept of Sabbath has become taboo in the church and it is ironic that it falls this of all Sundays.  We need to remind people of what true Sabbath is in Jesus Christ.  When we find true Sabbath in Jesus Christ like we will in a few minutes with our receipt of His precious Body and Blood this will truly and radically change our perspective not only of our lives outside of the church, but also our ministry that occurs within our church for those who are both inside and outside of our church.  We as the Body of Christ, Jesus Christ representatives within the walls of the church and outside in the community of the church can radically change the trajectory not only of the community, but also our own hearts when we find not only our rest in Jesus Christ and the salvation offered by Him but also our strength to mission and ministry in Him.  This is a part of Sabbath, because it is not work.  It is fully, totally and truthfully resting in God’s promise of Sabbath in Him.  Thus, I challenge each of you today, take your rest in the salvation offered by Jesus Christ on this Back to Church Sunday, but let it be a means of changing not only your attitude, your personal direction in your faith life, but also and more importantly your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Let this image of Sabbath not only enter your lives, but also challenge your current relationship and role here in the church and the world, but not in order to earn your salvation, but to understand how free this gift is for you today.  For God sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  Our Sabbath made for man is so our relationship with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit may be truly understood and experienced in for, by and through Sabbath for all the saints, including all of us gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.
//trial script