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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.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Harvest America 2013

Harvest America 2013

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.

09082013 15th 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.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  All of us remember this saying that we were taught by our parents when kids would say those words that ‘hurt’ either our pride, our ego or even our self-image.  Whether it was ‘four eyes’, skinny, fatty, ‘slow poke’, pudgy, or about the clothes that we wore, because they were hand me downs, they weren’t clean and pressed or not the latest fashion trend of Ocean Pacific, Alligator, Hollister or Old Navy.  Other things we might have heard included about what we said, ‘that is stupid’, ‘you are dumb’ or ‘you are weird’.  But the fact still remains we return to the phrase, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.’  Is the phrase true or did the words of our friends, classmates and even our family have more power than we give them credit for?  This morning we continue in our series of the Ten Commandments with the Second Commandment and hear how God’s name is to be used and understood.  Let us pray for God to speak to us through His Word.

Heavenly Father, the words that we use sometimes do more harm than sticks and stones.  Enable us to understand it is not only with our friends and neighbors, but also our brothers and sisters in Christ here in the church and with You that we need to see and use our Words, not as weapons that destroy, but means of building us up in Your image.  For that perfect image was of Jesus Christ made Flesh Who dwelt among us and came in order that we might be saved through Him and His death on Calvary for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

So this morning we follow up the beginning of our series of the Commandments where we talked about towers in our lives, with the Second Commandment.  I began with the phrase, sticks and stones, so to remind us, see what we have gathered here in the chancel, sticks and stones.  Let’s follow along as I read from the insert the Second Commandment and its meaning, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord Your God.  What does this mean?  We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.”

There are a lot of imperatives, or things said here of what we should not do with God’s name.  All of us are known by names or nicknames, some repeatable in church, others best left used by friends outside of church.  We also sometimes use slogans just as well as names that are ‘badges of honor’, like “Black and Gold”, “Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk”, “Purple Pride”, “IN-COM-PLETE!” or “Tulo” that all have an image that is evoked in our minds of something we have experienced or been a part of at some point in our lives or introduced to by someone we trust.  For some it is pride, some derision or distaste and some even take it personally if we do not ‘like the same team, the same college or our players’ that we follow more closely than sometimes even our relatives.

Pride in and of itself is not a bad thing, but when our pride separates us from reality and we use it as a means of escape or excuses, this is where the problem in lies.  Take for example the people of Israel while Moses was up on the mountain getting the 10 Commandments, they made an image of a cow to ‘replace God’.  Their pride in knowing they ‘knew better’, caused the first set of stones with the commandments from God to be dropped and broken.  The pride they exhibited separated them from the promise that was fully theirs and changed the trajectory of their lives and their ancestors for years to come.  Yet the reality is this was a part of their sinful human nature that was not only inherent in their nature, but a part of even our nature, it is our sinful nature that we have been conceived in and which still surrounds us today.  Hence, we easily use words that are destructive of not only a persons self-worth, but also their inherent ability to see themselves as special.  Hence we have before us today ‘sticks and stones’ to remind us of our destructive behavior towards each other even here in the church.

Yet, the reality is, these sticks and stones are just objects that can be used for destruction, but can also be used with power for instruction and creation.  Consider if you will, in Genesis when God created the heavens and the earth they were formed at the command of God, by His Word.  In a moment there was a difference between darkenss and light, between water and dry land, between heaven and the earth.  By God’s divine Word the World was created.  This power still exists today, but it is with the proper use of God’s name.  This is why the Second Commandment is to remind us of the power of God’s name and how we are to keep it holy.

Now all of us, easily say, well I don’t cuss, I don’t misuse God’s name, I simply don’t swear.  But it is not just the ‘swearing’, it is any useless or careless using of God’s name.  God’s name is Holy.  Matter of fact in Hebrew which the Old Testament is written, some scholars refuse to say the name of God  אֱלֹהִים  ‘elohim’ as it is written, instead they substitute another name אֲדֹנָי ‘adonai’ and even for the יַהְוֶה  ‘Yahweh’ which is another name for God they use adonai.  This is how special God’s name is and how we today misuse it and carelessly break the second commandment.

But of what consequence is this for us today.  God is calling us to a clearer and more profound relationship with Him.  In the movie “Fireproof”, it is clear from the beginning that the relationship between Caleb and Catherine as husband and wife was at its breaking point.  They were ready for divorce.  From yelling and cursing each other for not ‘giving’ what they both so desperately wanted, desired and felt they deserved.  But it was not until each of their hearts had been broken and their desires and wants were no longer important or the driving force in their relationship, did they realize that their relationship with God first would work its way into their relationship with each other and truly unite them as husband and wife.  Not until they made God and the relationship with God a priority would or could they begin to transform their relationship with each other into a God pleasing, but also a blessing from God to and for them and their marriage.

In the personal relationship with God where Caleb and Catherine called upon God to change them they found the deepest love that could possibly be given.  But it was only found in the sacrifice that Jesus Christ offered them and each of us on the Cross of Calvary.  It is only through God’s Son, Jesus Christ at whose Name every knee will bow that we understand God and the importance of His name in our lives.  This is what is offered to all of mankind through the Cross of Calvary, not sticks and stones to break us, but to build us up in the most holy faith found in His Name, Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN.  May God’s Name be Holy as we sing in honor and praise of God and the Second Commandment “At the Name of Jesus”.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

PULL Conference

The Conference that will Explode your Church with Growth
I'm always on the look out for quality events where I can grow and train my staff at the same time. I want to put this event on your radar: My friend Bob Franquiz is hosting The Pull Conference on September 18th at 1PM EST.
Bob's new book Pull: Making Your Church Magnetic is releasing on September 15th and to celebrate the book's release, Bob is hosting a free conference to help churches grow this Fall.
Check out who is speaking at the event...
This event is focusing on what you need to do to see explosive growth in your church this Fall.
Here are the topics they'll be drilling down on at the conference:
#1 - Mobilizing your Congregation
#2 - Preaching with the Unchurched in Mind
#3 - Creating an Evangelistic Culture in your Church
#4 - Launching your Fall series like you're Re-launching your church
#5 - Using Strategic Outreach to Reach Unchurched People
Plus, Bob is leading a Live pre-conference call where I'm going to be sharing our Fall launch strategy step-by-step.
The Pull Conference is happening on Wednesday, September 18th at 1PM EST.
The pre-conference event is happening on September 12th at 3PM EST.
Here’s the link to register:

Great On-line Free Conference All Week

Church Leaders Seminar Link


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

09012013 14th 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, You reveal Yourself unto us today, not only in, through and by Your Word and meal we will partake of, but clearly manifest in the creation around us and our personal experience of You.  Enable us to not only encounter our World but come to a realization that You sent Your Son Jesus Christ, the Word Who became flesh, to live among us and die for each of us in order that we might live for all eternity with You and all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel to hear Your Word for each of us today.  AMEN.

There is a tower that stands outside of our church.  It has a sole purpose.  What is the tower to do?  Hold the bell tower and the speakers for the chimes?  Look ascetically pleasing as our pinnacle reaching to God?  Or is it to hold highest what is most important to us?  This morning we begin a series where we will be hearing about God’s gift to mankind that was given to us on stone, but it all started with a tower.  In the coming weeks we will be learning about the 10 Commandments.  For some of us, it will be a reminder of what we learned in Catechism Class, for others it will be a new exploration of what God gave to His people on two tablets.  These ten imperatives, written on stone, originally broken on their initial journey down the mountain and rewritten because of being broken in anger by Moses contain for Jews as well as us today the most important laws from God for the people of Israel and for each and every one of us gathered here today at Emmanuel.

For our culture today here in Western Kansas as well as across Western Civilization we have laws that are based upon these original laws of the 10 Commandments written in statutes and other imperatives by our society.  Whether speed limit signs, stop signs or lights or even at the bank or ball park.  When we ‘break’ one of the commands of society and are caught, we usually go to court, make our plea before a judge, have a verdict of our actions and sometimes pay a fine and sometimes even spend time in jail.  But the original intent of the 10 Commandments was clear, for as the explanation says, in order for all of us to “fear, love and trust” God.

As a reminder, hear again, the Commandment and its explanation as written by Martin Luther.  Follow along as I read from the insert “You shall have no other gods.  What does this mean?  We should fear, love and trust in God above all things.”

It is abundantly clear that this first commandment is to keep us from making gods out of our possessions, people or our passions.  There are numerous stories that illustrate this extremely well from our society and even our contemporary culture, whether our farms given by God that we make more important than our faith, computers that we feel we need in order to do our jobs better, toys like fishing rods and reels, bicycles or shotguns for recreation or our sporting events, but the Old Testament contains the perfect story about the First Commandment.  God’s people in Genesis 11 were ‘building a tower’ in order to ‘reach God.’  When the people came together they were not only ingenious, but nothing would be impossible for them.  With one language and nothing preventing them from accomplishing anything, God deemed it better to not only confuse their language, but also scatter them around the world.  The reality is these people could accomplish anything and God knew it.  Since the fall of man where sin entered into the world, God’s plan of salvation was in motion and with the people building a tower and being able to accomplish anything this could have potentially accomplished a goal with and by mans abilities and not by God’s grace.

Therefore, God not only destroyed the tower, He scattered the people and even scrambled their language.  What would have been accomplished if they had completed the tower was what is called ‘works righteousness’, or where man accomplished by his or her own ability the plan of salvation.  If this would have occurred then there would have been no need of a Savior and therefore no need for us to solely rely upon God and not ourselves.

Our ego says, that is the way it should be, but the reality is that the tower revealed to God not only what man could do, but the importance of what God needed to accomplish in and for us.  It was God’s plan for His Son Jesus Christ to come into this world and walk among us, eat with us, heal the sick and downtrodden and ultimately teach the people what God wanted to accomplish through Him.  This is why Jesus Christ coming and dying on the Cross of Calvary for all of mankind is ultimately so important.

But of what consequence is that for us today?  I return to the tower outside of our church.  What is on top of the tower of our church?  For those of you who may not have looked up for a long time, it is a Celtic Cross.  We here at Emmanuel lift high the Cross of Christ today not only to honor Jesus Christ for His sacrifice for all of us, but as a reminder for all of us of the First Commandment and the towers that we build in our own individual lives. 

Just as the people in Genesis could not build a tower to reach God, we cannot by our own self-righteousness reach God and work out our own salvation.  We are unable to build a bridge between man and God.  We build towers today whether as radio, television, buildings or even bell towers for churches or even steeples.  But our building a church or a tower is only for what is under heaven, it cannot reach to heaven.

If we build on Christ as our foundation and lift Him up and put Him at the top of our tower in our lives, in our interaction with one another in our response to what God has done for each of us then we follow the First Commandment and show that we have no other God than Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  God the Father Who created us, God the Son Who redeems us and God the Holy Spirit Who sanctifies and keeps us in the one true faith.  This is our reality and why our tower will never get to God, but by lifting God in His Son Jesus Christ up not only as a reminder but as our witness of the salvation offered through Jesus Christ for all of mankind, including all of us saints in Goodland and that are gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.
//trial script