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Friday, July 26, 2013

A Video we ALL need..,.....

A Video about LOVE!!!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

07212013 8th 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.

Let us pray!  “Lord, Lord”, though I say it does not make me nor anyone here a Christian, nor gain us entrance into the Kingdom of God.  For clearly, Lord Jesus Christ only by our bearing ‘good fruit’ will we gain heaven, but it is not because of the works themselves, but because of You working through us to accomplish Your will.  For Your will is simple for Your Glory to be revealed in our telling the truth of Your death on Calvary for all mankind, including all of us sinners who have become saints because of our baptism into Your life, death and resurrection.  May we truly understand You accomplish this once and for all mankind including all of us gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

One of the great Christian Orators of the 20th Century is Charles Stanley.  He is best known on radio, television and now the internet and not only has enabled the Christian church to grow, but helped launch other churches, including his own sons church which has as their motto, “Creating Church the Unchurched Love to Attend”.  One of the gifts that Charles Stanley gave to the church-at-large and still uses to this day is the “30 Life Principles”.  They are personal applications for individuals that range from intimacy with God, obeying God as well as listening to and serving God.  For us this morning his 12th Principle seems to apply perfectly, “Peace with God is the fruit of oneness with God.”

In the turmoil of our lives where we during the summer months are beaten down by the blast furnace heat of the wind and hot temperatures that stop the growth of the corn.  To our mourning the lack of a wheat harvest which is usually a standard of our collective culture here in Northwestern Kansas in early July.  As well as the decrease in attendance and giving here at church, because everyone goes on vacation whether at the lake, the mountains, the Springs or just to stay home and relax during the heat of the summer.  Charles Stanley’s principle is the thorn that sticks in our collective side from our Gospel this morning.

Jesus Christ in the Gospel confronts all of us with the reality that even though we may make personal claim that we are ‘Christians’ with our calling out “Lord, Lord” this does not guarantee our entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.  As Charles Stanley said, “Peace with God is the fruit of oneness with God.”  This oneness is not law driven, but is a direct result of the Gospel in our lives and being lived out for one another, not because we have to do it, but because we want to do it.

Our individual nature sometimes is to run with and remember the mantra, “I’ve done my time.”  When my kids were young, I was active and now it is someone else’s time to teach Sunday School, help with Vacation Bible School or do the work of the church.  But notice the intent that Jesus has with the Gospel, we may call out “Lord, Lord”, but it does not guarantee us entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.

This is a very difficult reality for anyone to clearly understand and even respond to because we believe we deserve entrance into heaven.  But the reality is, if we sit in the pew, don’t continue to do the work of the kingdom of God, and expect our activity of 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 40 or even 50 years ago to be enough fruit for our entrance into the Kingdom of God, then we clearly do not understand Jesus call to ministry, mission and meaningful relationship with Him and all of our Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

Living in an agricultural community the reality is clear, there are times where we purposefully allow land to go fallow.  But it is only for a season, for a short time, one growing season in order for the land to regain some vigor.  So to our own faith lives need some rest, but the expectation still remains that it is not for more than a season.  God constantly and clearly calls us to bear fruit in the Kingdom of God.

Fruit is not like we buy in the grocery store or what we harvest in a combine, whether wheat or corn.  Fruit in the Kingdom of God is relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Fruit is the fullness of Jesus Christ living out in our lives whether with our family, friends or even here in the church.  This last week in a pre-marriage counseling, I asked the question, when having fun and relaxing, did the couple only ‘relax’ with family or with friends.  From my own experience, I see my brothers relaxing more with friends, because they were able to choose them.  So to all of us ‘choose’ who we let our hair down in front of or trust with who we really are as individuals.  But the reality is that we do this more with family and friends and not with fellow members of the Body of Christ.  Because if we were to ‘be who we really are’ the church members may judge us.

The reality is, we should not judge each other.  We are all part of the same Body of Christ and continuously manifest sinners in need of a savior.  Jesus Christ did not come to save only certain people, but came to save ALL of mankind, without any prejudice for anyone, whether sinner or saint, whether murderer, child molester, pastor or even farmer or housewife.  Jesus Christ came to save all of us from our sins and enable us to be the Kingdom of God where we live, breath and make our livelihood.

And today we enter again into a great opportunity to bear fruit in and with our community of faith.  This afternoon, our congregation will welcome Counselors from Sky Ranch.  These young adults are coming here to partner, let me say that again, partner with all of us that sit in the pews every week to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This is where we connect with ‘bearing fruit’ for the Kingdom of God.  The counselors come with the message of salvation that we hear clearly of Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection.  The emphasis this year is a “Year of Jubilee” where we celebrate the 50th Year of Sky Ranch.  As they arrive, as they teach as they minister to us and to the children not only of our church but also the children of our community we plant the seeds that will bear fruit.  We cannot make them grow, but God will in His time.  We are just action figures for God’s Glory to be revealed and made manifest for the world, but especially for Goodland through our support of the ministry of our congregation.
In a recent article by Greg Braezeale, he poised one question that for me as your pastor, I believe is appropriate for us today.  He asked, ‘Who is the Hero of Your Sermon?’  Clearly, Jesus Christ should be the right and correct answer.  But in the article there is also another hero that is important and impactful for us today.  That hero is you that sit in the pew.  You are my hero, because it is with your hands, your feet, your mouth, your lives that I see Jesus Christ active here in the Kingdom of God we call Goodland, KS.  Through our ministry that we undertake this evening and this week, we have the opportunity to bear great fruit with and for the Kingdom of God.  So when we call out, ‘Lord, Lord’, we are not denied entrance into the Kingdom of God, but welcomed as God’s Children who have continuously served to minister to the counselors needs, the childrens needs, but also and more importantly as the fruit of God’s ministry in and among us during our Vacation Bible School with Sky Ranch.

May we join together this week as a community of faith, support with our hands, heads and hearts the counselors who come to partner with us, spread the Gospel message of Jubilee that we celebrate and bear the fruit of God through our lives that only God can make grow.  For all of this only occurs because of the fruit manifest in each of our lives of our being baptized into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for all of us saints that are gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Funny Video

Sunday, July 14, 2013

07142013 7th 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.

Let us pray!  Lord Jesus Christ, the vision that the disciples saw of the all the people was overwhelming them to the point of seeing not people, but problems.  Enable us to see our world not of the problems or circumstances we daily face, but of the opportunity to trust in You more fully and understand You are here to provide for our needs.  For You foresaw the need of a Savior and came in order to free us from the bonds of sin, death and the devil through Your crucifixion on the Cross of Calvary for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

As the settlers ventured across the flat plains of Indiana and Illinois in the 1800’s the Gateway to the West became St. Louis.  Now built up and gleaming with the arch along the river front the visions seen by the settlers were not of perils, but possibilities.  What lay to the West was free land that only needed tamed and the vision of the first settlers fueled the dreams of countless individuals, but also paralyzed others who would return East after being overcome by the heartache and hindrances of the vast plains.

In our Gospel this morning we encounter the disciples like the people who turned back East after putting their blood, sweat and tears into the land West of the Mississippi who had failed and doubted the possibilities and lost the vision of the potential.  In the Gospel, the disciples see a large group of people that are hungry, in need of dinner and sustenance, but without an apparent way of making this a reality out on the middle of nowhere with their master, Jesus Christ.  The disciples vision is simply clouded by the problem that they face right in front of them of the hungry people who had stayed and listened and learned from Jesus Christ teaching.

Jesus Christ on the other hand looked with the clarity of sight that only a perfect person could have at the people and had compassion.  Just as Bethany Hamilton from the Films of Faith this past week in Soul Surfer felt compassion for the people of Thailand who had lost everything with the wave of the Tsunami, Jesus as well felt compassion for the people and the perilous reality they had of not having enough food after having been there hearing His teaching.

The disciples in seeing with the eyes of this world, lacked the vision of Jesus Christ.  The disciples saw this problem of the lack of food with a clear lack of potential and possibility that existed because not only of the sin in their lives, but their lack of seeing the vision that was clearly right in front of them.  The vision of Jesus Christ and what He could do that had been a part of their reality not days and weeks before as recorded in Mark.

Jesus had just prior to this passage, healed demon possessed women, walked on the water, fed 5000 people and stilled the storm.  All of this was a result of Jesus not only being Who He was, the Son of God, incarnate in Human form, but clearly demonstrating for the people of Israel and His disciples a small part of the potential that He could fulfill while here on earth.  This was the vision that the Old Testament Prophets saw and knew would be fulfilled through Jesus Christ.

Yet, the clear vision for the disciples would only become a reality through Jesus Christ.  The Word made flesh that dwelt among us.  This is what Jesus Christ clearly was born for, destined to do and became for all of mankind.  From our Gospel Jesus could see the doubt and desperation in the disciples eyes.  Jesus could see clearly the cloudy vision of the disciples caused by sin in their lives, but manifest by the people in front of them who were hungry and would not make it to town to be fed.  The disciples could not clearly see the vision of the reality that Jesus Christ was offering them.

The reality that Jesus Christ was offering them was of Jesus performing a miracle of creating something from literally nothing.  Jesus Christ was prepared to feed the disciples, the people and we today the food of eternal life if only they and we would see with the eyes of faith and clearly see Jesus Christ not only as a person Who could teach, but the Lord of the Universe Who could and would satisfy their and our immediate need of being fed.  Jesus Christ took the seven loaves and the few fish and in divine fashion fed the people a meal that the disciples could not clearly understand or believe could occur.  The disciples frame of reference yet again needed adjusted to the reality that Jesus Christ could and would provide for their need.

This same adjustment we need today as well.  When we go to get our eyes checked and we leave with a new pair of glasses or contacts, our previous perception of reality may have been foggy.  But with our looking through the lens of Jesus Christ, our reality is brought into focus and made crystal clear of what Jesus can and does do in our lives.  This is the reality we find when we understand fully Jesus Christ death on the Cross of Calvary and see these miracles not as a proof, but as a reality that we share with each other and our community of faith through the story shared with us through Holy Scriptures.  We wonder if God could perform this kind of miracle today, whether it is rain for our crops, healing of relationships between husband and wife, parents and children, father-in-law or mother-in-law, brothers and sisters or even between fellow members of the Body of Christ.  But the reality is that when we look with the eyes of Christ, or with the frame of reference of the Cross of Christ, we no longer see with the log in our brothers eyes, but we now see with Jesus Christ as our lens and the forgiveness offered through Him for all of mankind on the Cross of Calvary.

This is the lens that Jesus Christ offers us clearly today and which we can share with one another.  May we put on the glasses of the Cross offered to and for us by Jesus Christ and begin to see with Jesus sight the possibilities of relationship with one another and fulfillment found in perfect relationship with our spouse or child and with each and every one of our brothers and sisters in Christ that sit in the pew with us or behind us, across the aisle or even standing here in the pulpit.  May we look with God’s vision of who He sees and not with our sinful vision that does not trust God to provide for us, whether wheat, corn, money in the collection plate, service for Sky Ranch or even for each other when we need the love of Christ in our lives.  For all of this only occurs because of and through Jesus death for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel, broken creatures that we are redeemed by His death on Calvary for each and every one of us gathered here this morning.  AMEN.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

07072013 6th 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.

Let us pray!  Gracious Father, in true servant fashion You clearly wanted to teach all of us the importance of Your coming into the World, not only to save us, but to enable us to understand our role.  Enable us to be learners of Your will and way and be able to teach it clearly so Your Glory may be revealed.  For only through Your life, death and resurrection may we enter into Your kingdom prepared for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

As we that is Sarah, Michele and I drove across half of the continent this past week returning from Virginia and North Carolina, every town and state that we travelled through had its own distinctiveness.  From the mountains of West Virginia, the hills of Kentucky, the flatland of Indiana and Illinois to the bogs of Missouri, but when we reached Kansas there was an individual distinctiveness and uniqueness.  Each state whether from the trees to the landscape to the rivers all taught the first settlers what would and would not work from what crops and vegetables would grow, to the farming techniques, each area continuously taught the settlers what would thrive and survive.

From the Gospel this morning we have heard even Jesus trying to ‘teach the disciples’ and we the ‘hearers’ of the Word of God an important lesson summarized with one question, ‘Are you a teacher or a doer?’  When I look out into the pews in front of me I see both ‘teachers and doers’.  Everybody has a distinctive bent, when there is work to be done, the ‘doers’ appear and things happen, whether it is the siding on the parsonage garage, putting in windows in the educational wing, fixing the chimes in time for a funeral, we have a bunch of doers in the congregation.  When we need teachers, they ‘come to the forefront’ and what is needed done is completed, whether teaching in Sunday School, how to acolyte, usher, greet or even be a good hostess for coffee hour.  Yet, Jesus is attempting to get something greater and more appropriate across in His lesson for the disciples and us this morning.
Hear His words again, 17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Notice Jesus own words, I that is Jesus didn’t come to ‘abolish’, but ‘to fulfill’.  It was Jesus entrance into the World and His living, dying on the Cross and being raised from the dead on the third day in order to fulfill the plan of salvation for all of mankind that He entered into humanity and walked this earth.  Jesus came in order that we might live.  Jesus came to set all of mankind free from the bonds of sin, death and the devil.  Yet, notice what Jesus joins to this, ‘whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.’  This is the promise, command and imperative that is made to all Christians of every time and every place including all of us here today.  The ‘them’ are the people that enter our lives, darken our door or even whom we encounter on a daily basis whether in the community on the street or even at Wal-Mart.  When our forefathers came and established Emmanuel Lutheran Church here in Goodland, KS, they came to teach others what they had learned and been taught by others before them who had heard this same exact imperative.  They came to proclaim the Gospel of Salvation of Jesus Christ.  They came together as a community of faith begun in a sod church out in the middle of farmland to insure the message of salvation would not die upon the vine, but would be preached, proclaimed and purposefully passed on for future generations, meaning you and me who gather here this morning here at Emmanuel.

This is why we as a church moved from the country to the city, why we at one time had two services, because we were overflowing in our worship of God, not of ourselves.  This is why we had the addition to the church built, called the Education Wing for all the children of the congregation.  This is why we partnered with other churches in the area to create Sky Ranch.  This is why we send our kids to Sky Ranch and we have Sky Ranch Day Camp come here.  These are the options and opportunities that we have for growth, vitality, but more appropriately and importantly the teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

God is calling us to fulfill His imperative that He made through Jesus Christ to teach about the plan of salvation.  Hence I return to our question, “Are you a teacher or doer?”  Once you have identified for yourself and know what you are good at, God through His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is calling and inspiring us to use the gifts He has given us and work in His Kingdom.

Rick Warren in an article entitled, “Always Preach for a Specific Response” maintains that Pastors should preach with a ‘goal’ in mind.  In essence, enable the hearer to answer the question “What do I want them to do?”  My intention this morning is not only to help each of you identify which you are, hearer or doer, but to inspire you to work with me in the Kingdom of God.  There is a pervasive mentality in our culture and even here in our own church that, we have a Pastor, now we don’t have to do anything, or I have done my time.  This mentality is not only destructive of the Body of Christ which we are a part of but is actually against the Gospel that Jesus came to fulfill with His death on the Cross.  It is also against the patriotic themes we hold so dear for our country that we join together in song this morning.  Jesus is calling us to partner with Him and with each other for the furtherance of the ministry of the Gospel of Salvation.  Jesus is calling us to teach His Word, live as His disciples, put aside our self-centeredness and bitterness for others that may sit across the aisle or in the very next pew and be inspired to further the message of salvation of Jesus Christ.  This is why Jesus Christ came into the World to seek and save the lost and we are His partners, His hands, His feet, His mouthpiece, by our lives, our actions and how we treat one another.

This month we have an amazing opportunity to fulfill our calling from God for His people that is made to and for each of us in our baptism.  We have Sky Ranch Day Camp coming.  This ministry is not a success or failure because of or in spite of one person.  This is the ministry of our whole congregation.  It is not something that any one group or individual can put on as the responsibility of the individual, but it is our responsibility as a community.  If we have 100 kids, 50 kids, 25 kids or even 10 kids, the success will be as a result of our coming together as a congregation and providing for the leaders the resources they need, whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner meals for the counselors, a place for them to spend the night in air conditioning which all of us take for granted or just the opportunity to take the time to be a help with snacks, crafts, games or even the pot-luck.  This is our God given opportunity to ‘do’ as Rick Warren indicated and which Jesus Christ calls us to do and be as fellow heirs of the Kingdom of God.

This is our baptismal calling which each of us have been baptized into with Water and Word that through the work of the Holy Spirit inspires us to commit to being not only a hearer, but also a doer of the Word of God.  Hence the choice is ours, we know Jesus died for all of us saints on the cross of Calvary, but how are you going to live out your calling as God’s children today here at Emmanuel Lutheran Church?  AMEN.

Are Your Church Relationships Missing Something?

From Evernote:

Are Your Church Relationships Missing Something?

Clipped from:
Most churchgoers say they have significant relationships with people at church, but less than half are helping one another grow spiritually.

Are Your Church Relationships Missing Something?

By Toni Ridgaway

Almost three out of every four churchgoers say they have significant relationships with people at church, but less than half are intentionally helping other believers grow in their faith, according to a study by LifeWay Research.

The survey of Protestant churchgoers identifies "Building Relationships" as one of eight attributes of discipleship that consistently show up in the lives of maturing Christians. The survey is part of a larger study identifying traits of transformational discipleship.

Results of the "Building Relationships" questions reveal a seeming disconnect between churchgoers actually pressing into new relationships or participating in discipling other Christians.

While 74 percent agree they have developed significant relationships with people at their church, response to the statement "I intentionally try to get to know new people I meet at church" garnered 53 percent agreement, including only one in six churchgoers who strongly agree.

Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research, pointed out that, "Advertisers know it takes multiple introductions to get someone's attention. Unfortunately, a visitor to church may have to meet six people before someone cares enough to get to know them."

The research reveals that the characteristic that best predicts better "Building Relationship" at church is attendance of small classes or groups of adults.

According to the survey, 33 percent of churchgoers attend classes or groups for adults (such as Sunday school, Bible study, small groups or Adult Bible Fellowships) four or more times in a typical month. Fourteen percent attend two or three times a month.

The highest percentage — 41 percent — indicate they do not attend such groups at all in a typical month, while 12 percent attend once a month.

While four out of 10 churchgoers say they do not attend church groups, a similar number (42 percent) intentionally spend time with other believers in order to help them grow in their faith. Twenty-eight percent say they do not help others grow.

"The Bible frames relationships among believers as a proactive investment in other Christians," McConnell said. "In fact, Hebrews 10:24 refers to the need to exhibit concern for other Christians in ways that encourage love and good works."

Other actions that predict more spiritual maturity in building relationships include praying in a group with other Christians more often, praying for one's church and church leaders, and having regular responsibilities at church.

"Most attendees have friends at church, but only a minority invest time to help other believers develop their faith," McConnell said. "It is as if churchgoers arrive to sit together as spectators for a game rather than arriving as player-coaches who work together and develop each other's game."

//trial script