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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Great Podcasts from Thom Rainer

I just found this list of great podcasts from Thom Rainer.  Here is the link (

Having just listened to one of them, I think they are very wise even for Lutherans.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Derwin Gray Book "Limitless Life"

This is the link for a new book by Derwin Gray entitled, "Limitless Life".  If you are unable to get to the link here is the entire link (

Looks to be an exciting book for Christians everywhere!

Monday, August 26, 2013

New Podcast on Leadership

UnSeminary Podcast on iTunes

Are you looking for practical ministry help to drive your ministry further ... faster? Have a sinking feeling that your ministry training didn't prepare you for the real world? Hey ... you're not alone! Join thousands of others in pursuit of stuff they wish they taught in seminary. Published every Thursday the goal of the unSeminary podcast is to be an encouragement to Pastors and Church Leaders with practical help you can apply to your ministry right away.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

08252013 13th Sunday After Trinity

Gospel Reading Sermon MP3

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 parable of the Good Samaritan was meant to reveal us for who we are, but also to inspire us to become more like You.  Peel the layer of our discontent with ourselves to reveal how You can change us today through not only our hearing Your Word, but fulfilling Your promise of salvation for all mankind, including all of us saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

It is not uncommon for anyone who drives to enter the on ramp for the interstate and encounter a hitchhiker.  Years ago the practice was common to stop and offer a ride and take the person at least to the next interchange or town.  Today this practice has been replaced by fear of who it is on the side of the road, if they are a convicted felon, a deranged individual or someone that is running from the law.  Ironically even here in Goodland, KS at the parsonage and church we have individuals who knock on our door asking for money, help and even a ticket to get to a faraway place like Washington State, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Massachusetts or Arizona.  Some of the individuals and families desperately need our help, others are going from town to town, working the system.  What is ironic, but different is in our Gospel this morning Jesus tells a parable about a wounded man that needs help and how three strangers respond.

I won’t retell the parable but want to ask and answer one question that the lawyer asked.  “Who is my neighbor?”  This question is the whole reason for the parable.  It is to make us realize that according to Jesus Christ our neighbor is not just the person who lives next door, sits in the next pew or that we encounter walking down the aisle at Wal-Mart.  Our neighbor is everyone that we meet daily without exception.

Jesus is clarifying for us who we need to be concerned with, not only with our actions, but even our inactions.  The parable has three main action characters, the priest, the Levite and the Good Samaritan.  They show what they believe and do by their action.  The priest and Levite move to the other side of the road.  They choose to not be troubled to help a man who has been beaten to within an inch of his life.  The Good Samaritan, who by nature and in the culture of that day is not known for doing something for others gets off of his donkey, binds up the mans wounds, places him on his beast of burden and takes him to the local inn and cares for him, pays for his care and promises to pay whatever is required when he returns.

Jesus is speaking to us today that we need to care for one another and step out in faith and be involved in peoples lives.  We need to enter into relationship with even the people we are not comfortable with and those that we necessarily do not agree with whether in politics, religion, lifestyle or beliefs and enter into meaningful and lasting relationship with them.  Jesus words, ‘Go and do the same’ call us to action like the Good Samaritan, not apathy like the priest and Levite.  We are called to be involved because Jesus is involved with each of us today.

Jesus involvement with each of us today is not only the promise of salvation that He offers to us today in His Word.  Jesus came down from heaven, lived among us and taught the hard parables like the Good Samaritan, not to beat us up or for us to feel like it is aimed directly at us.  Jesus teaches these parables in order for us to be His hands and His Good Samaritan for others today.  This is not directed at us to bind our conscience at the preacher or proclaimer, but to hear what God is calling us to do and offering us the opportunity to do today in order to glorify Him.

For in our glorifying God, we not only become more like Jesus Christ, we enter into a deeper relationship with Him, but also with those that we serve and minister to and with.  When we break our bonds of small groups, clicks and our own little social groups, God enters into our relationships and reforms and reshapes us to be His instrument of change, not of apathy or passive aggressive anger or resentment.  We no longer work or live as the Levite or the priest, but are transformed by Jesus Christ into the Good Samaritan willing to cross the road, street, tracks, enter into an uncomfortable place or relationship without fear, because of trusting God where we will spend eternity.

When we become eternity focused and not earthly focused, our reality is radically changed and we can and will make a difference in ourselves as well as with the people that we encounter.  Then we follow Jesus imperative of “Go and do the same” not because we have to, but because of the grace that He offers us through His death on the Cross for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning. 

Recently I read an article that convicted me of my ‘blind spots’ where I have not wanted to ‘cross the road’ or enter deeper into relationship.  Alex Early penned an article entitled, “A Pastor Walked into a Gay Bar And…”  At first I avoided the article because I thought this article was more a joke than anything, but upon reading the article it epitomized the Good Samaritan story.  While in school expecting to get a job in a few years as a college professor, Alex took a job in a local bar sweeping floor, stocking the beer and generally doing what one has to do to survive with a wife and family.  Prior to taking the position he prayed about this occupation and what God could do through him.  Through his own and his wifes discernment they felt this was where God was calling him to work.

The bar he began to work in wasn’t a classy joint in town.  It was known as a ‘gay bar’.  Alex didn’t take the job to ‘convert’ everyone he met, God had given him a different mission.  It was to be a ‘a friend of drunkards and sinners’.  This realization only came through his reading, studying and believing the scriptures of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Ultimately Alex’s interactions with the patrons opened up many opportunities to share the gospel in the most unconventional way.  It wasn’t to ‘beat them over the head with the Gospel’ or to judge them for their lifestyle, attitudes or how they led their lives.  Alex knew who the real judge was, God the Father, Alex’s role also was not to portray himself as the ‘perfect follower’, but as someone who was approachable and willing to walk broken, but also call them his friends.  This non-judgmental and open approach allowed the true Gospel of Jesus Christ to not only be shared, but lived out in a gay bar that shared the true message of salvation for all mankind.  It showed how he could cross the road and minister to a complete stranger like the Good Samaritan and bind up wounds of bitterness and hatred that had previously been levied at Christians and now bring new meaning and understanding to what true relationship could be when following Jesus Christ Gospel call in his life.

We to have been called to this opportunity and now just as the Good Samaritan and Alex, live the Gospel and be God’s ministers and friends even to the broken and down trodden around us.  For this is what God sent His Son into the world to not only live and portray, but offer grace freely as an example for all of mankind, but especially for all of us saints that are gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Monday, August 19, 2013

08182013 12th 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, outside of Decapolis You removed the impediment of a deaf and mute man.  From that moment he spoke plainly not only to be understood, but accepted by society and his family.  May our mouths have the impediment of sin removed from our lips so we speak and hear the Gospel of Your salvation for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

In a moment life as we know it can change.  Whether at the hands of a driver who falls asleep at the wheel, a surgeon who accidently nicks a blood vessel during surgery, or an accident with a piece of machinery that we make our livelihood from or a plane that crashes whether into a remote field or into a skyscraper in New York City.  In the blink of an eye our lives can and do change.  All of us have experienced this kind and type of change whether directly with our own family or indirectly in our country or with our relatives, friends or members of the Body of Christ we know as the church.  Events that radically change our lives have the potential to make us very mad with God, or as in our Gospel tells us this morning with the man it can make us astonished at what God can and did do through His Son Jesus Christ.

For the people outside of Decapolis, they were astonished when Jesus put His fingers in the mans ears, touched his tongue with His Holy saliva and prayed, the man’s reality radically changed.  Previously, this deaf mute was only known probably as the village idiot.  Someone who wasn’t seen as having any influence, didn’t have many friends and probably pitied more than anything else by everyone in town.  Then with Jesus touch and prayer, the man’s life radically changed.

There are times where we want our lives to radically change as well.  Whether from a drought to plenty of rain, from no crop to an abundance of a crop, for a relationship to change from one of anger and deceit to care and concern.  Our desire whether at work, school, church or especially in the home is to have peace.  But we live in a world that knows no peace.  All because of sin in our world that entered when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit.  In that one moment the perfection created by God in the world and manifest in the Garden of Eden forever changed.  Sin entered into the world and became manifest in Adam and Eve knowing they were naked, for the man outside of Decapolis who was deaf and mute and we today here at Emmanuel realizing that we are sinful creatures.

But thanks be to God for Adam and Eve, the man in Decapolis and for all of mankind including you and me for what Jesus Christ has done and continues to do for us today.  In that moment when Jesus put His fingers in the mans ears and touched His tongue He changed the trajectory of the deaf and mute mans life.  No longer would the man be deaf, but because of Jesus Christ he would now be known as the man healed by Jesus Christ.  But the healing was not just the physical or what was seen.  Jesus offered Him and each of us the greatest gift of eternal life.

The gift of eternal life is offered through our belief in the Cross of Christ and His death for all of mankind, including the man outside of Decapolis as well as Adam and Eve and for all of us gathered here at Emmanuel today.  Jesus came and did heal the man from being mute and deaf, but in Jesus death on Calvary offered the greatest sacrifice.  His sacrifice not only was manifest of His great love for us, but was so that our lives could be radically changed for all eternity.

Our lives are radically changed for all eternity because of and through our baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection.  We through baptism have been washed clean by the blood of the lamb and our lives are forever changed.  When Water and Word are poured over us we are new creatures in God’s eyes.  Though we still sin, when we come confess our sins, hear God’s forgiveness and receive His precious Body and Blood as we do today, we are again made new creatures created in God’s image and for His Glory.  And our lives are radically changed where we are not only renewed by the Blood of the Lamb of God, but enabled to forgive one another and work for and with God in His Kingdom.

This radical change and ability to work in His Kingdom is what God is calling us to do today.  For the man who was healed, the people were amazed, but I bet his life was never the same.  He left Jesus presence and no longer was he seen as ‘the village idiot’, but he was rebranded as the person the Jesus Christ had impacted the most with giving him a new lease on life.  This is the same opportunity we have this morning.  We with our receipt of Jesus Christ precious Body and Blood are changed and renewed in Jesus Christ image and can forever for our community, church, family and each other show how Jesus Christ has changed us, renewed us and returned us to being His disciples made in His image through our baptism into His life death and resurrection.  This is the promise fulfilled for all of mankind, but for all of us saints today as we gather around the table of the Lord here at Emmanuel as brothers and sisters in Christ, radically changed and renewed by our partaking of Jesus meal for each and every one of us.  Come and eat His Body and Blood for the forgiveness of sins, life, salvation and our lives being radically changed by God for all of us saints gathered this morning here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

08112013 11th 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 God, when we come to Your temple we enter as sinners and leave as saints.  This only occurs because of Your action, not ours.  Break our proud and prideful hearts and humble us to see and be embraced by You and Your Cross for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

If you have ever come to the church office between Sundays during the summer I usually do not wear a clerical collar.  For one of my professors that would have been a sacrilege, he said he even would do yard work wearing his collar.  I personally try to be comfortable and try to be approachable by anyone to the point that I even wear sandals reminiscent of Jesus day and time in order to beat the heat and be comfortable.  My attire though appearing to be ‘unprofessional’ makes me very approachable by complete strangers and also has a certain whimsy that is quite Lutheran.  You see most of the shirts I wear either have Christian sayings from scripture, the Complete Small Catechism by Martin Luther or something that allows everyone who pays attention to it to consider our faith in an interesting manner.

While preaching for a small congregation in Delaware before coming to Kansas, I would always bring a t-shirt with some Christian or Lutheran saying that would in one sense give permission for the church to not only show off Lutheranism, but also introduce matters of faith in an unusual way.  One such shirt I acquired has a phrase on the front that speaks directly to and for us today from our Gospel.  “I’m proud to be a humble Lutheran!”

In our Gospel this morning, Jesus tells a parable about two men who come to the temple to pray.  These men are complete opposites not only in jobs, one is a Pharisee, the other a tax collector.  Their demeanor is clearly different, one goes to the front of the temple, the other hides behind the pillars not wanting to be seen.  And what is said in prayers by both is plainly polar opposites, the Pharisee is prideful and the tax collector is repentant.

This same polar oppositeness is seen in the shirt, “I’m proud to be a humble Lutheran!”  I wear the shirt not only to illicit a chuckle, because then I know the person who read it gets the irony, but also to help us understand we Lutherans and Christians are no different than the men who Jesus tells the story about.  The key difference is not only in our words, but in our understanding and what cannot and can be seen in how we live out our faith with the people of God that we meet on a daily basis.

Jesus parable reveals for us today that we are no different than the Pharisee or tax collector.  Sometimes we naturally and purposefully gravitate towards pride or repentance, but the reality is as Jesus clearly says, the tax collector is justified more so than the Pharisee.  The tax collector who humbled himself instead of exalting himself will be justified.

Our society lives on pride, whether it is in our vehicles, our farms, our yield of crops or our being seen in a good light by our relatives.  We also take pride in our hometown schools like the Goodland Cowboys and the sports and the position our children play, how our team or children are doing in sports, our jobs or farms and the yield we have of corn or wheat or what we have done here in the church.  We want recognition and accolades and to be noticed in the community and among our friends, family and by the church, just like the Pharisee in the temple.  However, Jesus words sting us, “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted”.

For the humbleness we should aspire to as modeled by our Savior Jesus Christ was manifest by His choice to humble himself on the Cross.  Don’t hear that as you should go build a cross and hang from it.  Jesus chose His destiny of humiliation in order to give us eternal life.  In Jesus being humble, obedient and choosing death, He was exalted and now sits at the Right Hand of God the Father.  With Jesus true obedience and dying for you and for me, He offers all of us the opportunity to be exalted with our being humble and obedient to Him.  And our being exalted is because of Him and Him alone, not what we do, but what He has done for all of us.  For this gift is given to all of us, not because of our pride or arrogance, but because of Jesus humbleness for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

08042013 10th 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!  Heavenly Father, Your will and Your way are sometimes mysterious to us, whether it is our receiving rain, or trying to find the message You have for us.  May we hear Your Word with the goal being our not only fearing You, but understanding Your love for us is unconditional for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

“‘And My House shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a Robbers’ Den.”  These words uttered by Jesus after His weeping tears of anguish and sadness over the state of Jerusalem as He looked upon it, stung the people in the temple, just like these words still do for me as Pastor today when I hear me personally as His target audience.  Jesus Words did not have Gospel, hear that again, Jesus Words did not have Gospel, they were the view point of God the Son, Jesus Christ standing in the temple having experienced the place where His Father dwelt being perverted into nothing better than a bank, social gathering place or robbers den instead of a place of worship.

Jesus Christ didn’t apologize for His harshness, because no longer do I nor did the people in the temple understand nor remember the lessons learned by their ancestors that had been driven out into the desert and wandered for forty years.  No longer did they remember clearly the slavery in Egypt, the death of their family members and the destruction of their pride that occurred with their fore-fathers departure from the ‘easy life’ in Egypt.  No longer did the people remember that the same God Who had appeared in a burning bush and called the ground surrounding it Sacred, came and dwelt in the Holy of Holies and Jesus was now taking back the temple, reclaiming it as a ‘house of prayer’, cleansing it and setting back in its proper place God as the focal point and making the temple a place of worship and ceremonially cleansing it as Holy Ground once again.  Jesus Christ didn’t apologize then for reclaiming not only His Father’s Glory and rightful use of the temple, but re-instilling in the people the fear that the people of Israel had lost from their ancestors.

The fear was not in or of a man, but in a God Who had redeemed and loved them.  Let me say that again, the fear was not in or of a man, but in a God Who had redeemed and loved them profusely to safely bring them out of the tyranny of Egypt, walked with them into a land flowing with milk and honey and brought them to a place in time where they now had a temple for God’s Glory to dwell and it would be Holy Ground.  Jesus drove the money changers and self-centered people out to re-instill the fear in the people that their ancestors had.  Whether it was of God’s control of the plagues that were a pestilence to Egypt and finally broke Pharaoh’s will and arm of control with the Angel of Death that took the first born if there was not blood on the doorpost, to the pillar of fire that led the people by night and the cloud by day, to the beginning where the people were led through the waters of the sea parted by a man who had faith and feared a God Who would be with them to the land flowing with milk and honey.  This was not an unhealthy fear, but a fear that was not born of wrath, destruction or death, but a fear that influenced their lives and their decisions in order for God’s Glory to be revealed for them and for us today.

Fear is something that our society has perverted.  Whether it is marriage and the fear to speak the truth of needs of both husband and wife, whether of intimacy or maturity, because we do not want to ‘hurt’ our spouse.  To society where we are afraid to hold our leaders, coaches, teachers, even pastors or parishoners accountable for how they lead or treat one another when it is unchristian or even mean and does not have love as its driving force.  In our Gospel lesson, Jesus had no fear, because He was doing His Father’s bidding.  Jesus had a direction He was headed and it ended at the Cross on Golgotha.  Jesus did not fear the outcome, because He knew the future and what He offers us today around the altar of His precious Body and Blood.

Yet, if we only look for and understand His comments in the temple without the Gospel or the Sacrament not only in mind, but also in healthy fear, we forget God’s gift and the grace He offers to us clearly seen on the Cross of Calvary.  The lens of the Gospel that we need to look through today here from this Gospel is to inspire us to fulfill God’s calling that each of us have heard in the Commandments.  Martin Luther reminds us in his catechism  “We should, fear, love and trust in God.”  For in our fearing God, loving God and trusting God, we will be the recipients of the greatest blessing, eternal life with Him in His Kingdom, where neither rust, nor hunger will exist.  We in His Kingdom will not only be with Him, but live for all eternity basking in the Glory of God sharing in the greatest feast ever prepared.

This is the promise that will be fulfilled for all of us when Jesus Christ comes again.  Jesus weeping, lament and driving the robbers out of His House will be a memory that is replaced by what we receive this morning, His precious Body and Blood given and shed for us for the forgiveness of sins.  Jesus gift given around the altar will not only transform our thinking, but will transform our understanding of God and reform, reshape and remind us of our need to fear God for His Glory to be revealed.  A Glory that is given and shed for all of mankind, including all of us saints who enter His Temple, gather around His table, eat His Body and Blood that prepares and enables us to fear Him because of His love for each of us as shown on the Cross of Calvary for all mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

07282013 Ninth 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!  Jesus Christ, thank You for Your choosing to serve and sacrifice Yourself on the Cross of Golgotha for all of mankind.  Without You, we would not be able to spend eternity with You and all the saints of Emmanuel in heaven.  AMEN.

When a soldier is taken captive and imprisoned, the United States military in basic training instructs them that they are to only give their name, rank and serial number.  This identifier along with their uniform is individual and clearly marks them as an individual who serves as a soldier in our military.  The soldier and individual has chosen whom they serve with and for and even to what degree or how much sacrifice they would be willing to endure, even to the point of giving of their life in order to insure the freedoms they are willing to fight for each of us to have here in the United States.

Are we as Christians any different?  Whom do we serve?  Do we serve God or man?  From our Gospel this morning, Jesus Christ tells the parable of the manager in order for His hearers and each of us today to clearly understand the importance of asking the question, “Whom do you serve?”

Jesus makes it very plain, “No servant can serve two masters”.  We cannot serve two masters because as Jesus said, “either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other.”  This truth cuts us very clearly and closely especially this summer.  We are in a drought and our wheat production was slim to none, unlike other years.  We look forward to the corn harvest and pray we get some rain and the pumps keep up with the corn growth so we can at a minimum break even with a crop of corn.  We as a collective community mourn, but also as individual farmers and owners of property know that even though we planted the wheat and it died without yielding a crop and now the corn in some instances is in the same condition we mourn and are angry about not having a harvest.

“Whom do you serve?”  I return to this question not to minimize the loss we feel, but to reframe for all of us the reality that we serve a God that created this planet, world, solar system and our very existence out of nothing.  Jesus fed the 4 and 5 thousand from a few loaves and fish, Jesus hushed the storm when the waves were tossing and flooding the boat the disciples were on, Jesus raised Lazarus a dead man.  But even Jesus knew that what He did was not a parlor trick, it was not a show, Jesus knew Whom He served, His Father in Heaven.  Jesus knew by His life, His death on the Cross of Calvary and His resurrection we would receive eternal life and live with Him in His Kingdom.

“Whom do you serve?”  Do you serve a farm, job or land that lacks moisture?  Or do you serve a God that gives moisture and eternal life?  Do you serve in a church that looks at relationship as something to be manipulated or treating others in an unchristian manner because of what they have said or done?  Or do you serve a God Who understands relationship even to giving His life?  Do you serve with attitude and sacrifice others on the altar of gossip?  Or do you serve a God Who builds You up with service and joy and wonder by spreading His message of salvation for all mankind?  We have a choice to make Who and Whom we serve.

This week our congregation has served the community of Goodland, KS.  In partnership with Sky Ranch Day Camp we have reached people that initially may have not wanted to hear the Gospel of Salvation.  This week the Story of Jubilee has unfolded for the kids and this morning we have seen some of the fun songs, experienced the activities and seen how God has made a lasting impact upon the lives of and for the people that brought their kids and we proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ for this entire week.  This week we chose Whom we served, Jesus Christ and spreading His mission and ministry for all of mankind.  Thank you for Your service and choice.  As Jeff said Thursday night, thank you for your service and choosing Whom You serve.  For our choice of serving Jesus Christ includes all of mankind including to and for all of us saints that are gathered here this morning here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.
//trial script