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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Identity Questions....What....Who....

This is a video that asks some very poignant identity questions.

Honestly though, "what is my identity in Christ"?  This is the question we need to ask and answer.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Readings for August 3, 2014 at Emmanuel Lutheran Church

Here is the link for the readings for August 3, 2014 at Emmanuel Lutheran Church.

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Can you guess...

Can you guess who wrote the poem in this picture???

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

07272014 Sixth 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.

If there is one thing Pastors do not have a problem doing, it is sharing opinion, sometimes to often and other times not enough.  Humanity in general as well does not have a problem sharing our opinion.  Whether it is the politics of our country, the latest entertainment news of who has done something outrageous or what was on Facebook.  Or even how we farm the land, make decisions about which combine to buy or whether we strip till or plow.  Everybody has opinions and we are not afraid to share.

Here in the church we are not any different.  From the color of the paint, to how we feel when put down, our opinions shine through like the noon day sun and scorch any skin.  We react and like our skin burn within ourselves or the polar opposite, we blow up.

But Paul in Romans 6 poses a question we all need to seriously consider and answer.  “What shall we say then?”  Paul is seeking to frame the conversation by asking a question, not for negativity but with a direction in mind.  Paul’s direction isn’t legalistic as he had been known before he personally encountered Jesus Christ.  Paul has one clear focus in mind looking directly at what Jesus Christ did on the Cross of Calvary.  Paul says, “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?  May it never be!”  We are called through our baptism to live a life of grace, not the law.  For Grace is exactly what we find and receive each and every day from Jesus Christ.  Paul continues, “do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?  Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the Glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”  We are raised with Him and no longer should live in fear, but live in faith as Children of the Light.

Last week we concluded church with the sending song, “I want to walk as a Child of the Light”.  This is exactly what the Christian life is to be, the desire to walk in the light of Christ.  For with Christ we see no darkness, we feel no fear, we are the redeemed children of God set free by the blood of the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.  This is the gift of grace Paul alludes to and we are empowered and called to embrace and share with one another.

We here today are united with Jesus Christ in the most intimate way, not like husband and wife, but more intimate in that God knows our inner most thoughts and feelings, fears and failings that we share with no one else, and Jesus Christ responds to our unspoken and personal struggles by not putting us down, but lifting us up.  Jesus Christ with our baptism shields us from the arrows of the devil and even those who point at and to the blemishes we live and bear as burdens in our daily lives.  Recently, not only have some of our own farmers felt the sting of the devil and what we experience with the loss of both winter wheat and summer corn due to the hail, but even our church building has experienced the hail and had damage.  But as Dr. Henry Cloud says, we should be courageous in the face of these attacks.  We fear, which is natural, but what we do with the fear is another opportunity for us.  Dr. Cloud states, “Courage does not mean that you don't feel fear.  Courage means that you do what is needed even when it scares you.”  This is our opportunity to be courageous and be showered with and by God’s Grace.

Because of what Jesus Christ has done we now can lay claim to a life not living in fear, but faith.  For Paul says, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him”.  We live with Christ and Christ has set us free.  Now it is a mind-set shift that we need.  It is the opportunity for us to change how we act and react.  Paul was a good example of this, prior to His encounter with Jesus Christ, he hunted down Christians and put them in jail and ultimately saw them killed, because they went against the Jewish faith as taught in the synagogue.  But after his personal encounter with Jesus Christ, Paul became the best known writer of the New Testament and was instrumental in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Paul’s mind and view point was changed to a life of faith and not fear, a life of grace and not the law.

We are no different today, hearing God’s Word, believing that it is for each and every one of us and living a life of faith, not fear, we can follow Paul’s new life after his encounter with Jesus Christ as well as his last statement.  He concludes, “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”  We are alive and free from that which binds us and now can in putting on the full armor of God believe we are new creatures because of our baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection.

Recently on Facebook there have been pictures of three little girls.  They are shown as a group, not the typical kind of kids who post ‘selfies’.  These three girls are shown not touting any location or something they are trying to sell or ‘look funny’.  In the picture they simply portray themselves as three survivors of cancer.  From a young age they have known and experienced the valleys of doubt and pain associated with the disease known as cancer.  They all lost their hair, endured multiple trips and long stays in the hospital, but in this one moment, they have their picture taken, not in failure, but in triumph.  You see, all three of these young ladies have been healed of their individual cancer.  For each of them the picture taken is not mourning the loss of nearly half of their young lives, but of their triumph of beating the disease that nearly took them from the loving arms of their families.

We to who gather here today can answer Paul’s original question, “What shall we say then?” with the boldness epitomized in the picture of these three young ladies.  We can respond as Paul concluded, we are “alive to God in Christ Jesus.”  And we through Jesus Christ innocent death on Calvary have overcome sin, death and the devil.  For this is the gift offered to and for all of mankind including each of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Eagle Scout Invocation and Benediction Update

When I first posted the Invocation and Benediction for Eagle Scout Seth Lee Stramel I didn't realize how many people would read the post.  It has astounded me that it has received nearly 25% of visitors to this blog for all time.

Since that was the case, I have decided to create for those who want a 'fill-in-the-name' copy of the invocation and benediction copy for anyone who wants it.  I have created the document in PDF.  All I ask in return is for you to fill out a simple form.

Thank you for filling out the form.  When you submit the form it will send you to the download page where you will receive the document ABSOLUTELY FREE.  Here is the form:
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Monday, July 21, 2014

Wanted: Help from the Pew!!!

The following article that I have linked here is what ALL Pastors need!!

It is a masterful article that clearly articulates the struggles of Pastors!

Here is the full link: (

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

07202014 Fifth 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.

Forty five years ago today, our nation was captured.  Not by an invading army, nor by an evil dictator, but captured by the bold fulfillment of a dream and promise made by a man who was only a memory from six years earlier.  On the Sea of Tranquility, the bold realization and desired destiny of the dreams of many young men was being lived out by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.  These two men were boldly going where no man had gone before and stepping into history as not only explorers, but fulfillers of the dreams of a nation and its now slain leader.

The reverence shown for the place, time and experience was clearly manifest by Buzz Aldrin who wanted to perform a simple act of faith on this the first mission that would set foot on the moon.  While in the Lunar Module, Aldrin as an elder in the church, received Holy Communion.  In that one moment he was connected, not only to the people who would celebrate Holy Communion 230,000 miles away, but with all people of all time and place, even us here today forty five years later.  What may seem insignificant to some is how profound the meal we celebrate today around our altar connects us with men like Aldrin and others who share the faith in a loving and forgiving God.

But today isn’t just about a milestone for mankind, but more importantly how we are connected across time and space because of our reverence not only of God, but of and with each other gathered here today.  Our connection is clear because Peter in his epistle, reminds us that we are to be a blessing to each other.

In his epistle lesson this morning, Peter is attempting to insure that the people of God will be “harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit”.  God is calling us to this and Peter is pointing us in this direction.  Peter wants us to work together as the people of God pointed in the direction of faith and love for God’s Glory to be revealed for Peter as well as all of us gathered here today.

Peter is writing to the churches of Asia Minor, because they are suffering.  Not only from the government and the tyranny of a ‘non-Jewish’ and unaccepted religion at that time, but also from each other, meaning the people were persecuting each other.  The desire that Peter wants the people to understand is that they are to be a blessing.  He says, do “not return(ing) evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.”

It is for this reason that we have been called as Christians to be a blessing, for the entire world and especially for each other.  We who gather here today can offer and show this blessing not only in our sharing the meal that we receive from the altar that we gather around, but also by our sharing our burdens.  We have the opportunity to share and bear one another’s burdens and as Peter says, live ‘harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted’ lives that glorify God and look for the blessings God will impart to us.

How can we do this?  We can be the spark that God has made us to be in our baptism and share with one another in our daily lives.  Instead of thinking the worst of someone or their circumstance, whether family, farm or our own feelings, we can follow Luther and put the best construction on what is said or done.

Personally this has been very close to me recently.  I love technology.  It can be not only a means of outreach, but also a means to spread the Gospel message.  This is why I use Facebook.  I share my life and my experiences on this media in order for God’s Glory to be revealed.  But some use Facebook as a platform for politics and bashing, fishing for meaning that isn’t there or a means to put people down instead of building them up.

I recently read about a young woman who was made fun of, had graffiti painted about her and a part of her body.  The graffiti wasn’t done in a private place or a private message on the computer, but in the most public of places for everyone to see.  Never have the culprits who broke the law been disciplined, but this girl was ridiculed from every person and angle, because they knew it was directed at her and people persisted in the mob mentality and put her down even further.  She was the victim.

But unlike most in our society who are victims, this young woman, Carleigh O’Connell, turned the other cheek and posed right in front of the graffiti showing exactly what the bullies were making fun of her about.  Carleigh, like Peter tells us, did “not fear the intimidation”. Instead of being or acting like the victim, Carleigh rose above the ridicule and nameless putdowns by people and stood up to those who bullied her and made a statement that not only bullying was wrong, but also that if her standing up makes the difference in one girl or boys life, the picture and the graffiti the strength they find from her taking a stand is well worth this experience.

We as Christians should be no different today.  We as Christians stand on and up to what may seem like unsurmountable obstacles daily, from bullies that egg our vehicles, to people who make fun of us like Carleigh O’Connell, to those who believe they can do no wrong and throw stones at our glass houses we build, live in and hold up to others.  But the reality is that the only answer to any of this is Jesus Christ.  The Christ Who was crucified is also the Christ Who can, does and will set us free from that which binds us on this planet we call earth.  Jesus Christ is the only person Who walked this earth perfectly and the only person Who empowers us through our receipt of His precious Body and Blood this morning to stand up against those who put us down.  I as a Pastor fail miserably daily, my family, my faith and even my God, but God forgives me, picks me up, brushes me off and says, try this again.  This is the loving God I not only work for, but am thankful for each and every day.

This is the same opportunity God offers us this morning as we come and partake of His precious Body and Blood.  We are empowered not to be apathetic or turn the other way when we see people bullying and being bullied, even here in church, but we are empowered to stand in the gap, like Carleigh and be a model for our broken world.  Forty five years ago today man stood on the moon in triumph of a decades work, not only looking back by remembering the people whose shoulders they stood upon, but looking to the future of a better world.  Can we as Christians do no less today and stand up as the people of God empowered by the Sacrament God offered on the Cross of Calvary of Jesus precious Body and Blood, shared with each other today and with all of mankind of all time and place, even on the moon?  For it is clear, God’s Son came in order that we might be set free to be the people of God, stand in the gap and be empowered as God’s witness for our fallen world.  For this is not for a select few, but including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

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What is your work?

I received this video link in my email and as I listened and watched, it spoke to me about my work.

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Worry..don't let it empty your strength for today!!

Quote by Corrie Ten Boom 

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it empties today of its strength.

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07132014 Fourth 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.

The epistle lesson this morning speaks clearly about adoption and our being adopted by God.  This past January we as a congregation co-sponsored “October Baby” as our Film of Faith.  It is a story about partial birth abortion, but also the adoption of the young lady that nearly lost her life to a rare genetic anomaly.  But her reality is that she is trying to find our who her birth mother really was.
Unlike the movie, our reality this morning is that we the people of Emmanuel know our God and that we were adopted by God for a specific purpose.  The purpose is to Glorify God.  We are the mirrors for the glory and love of God that are shined out in the darkness here in Goodland.  Not only do we shine the light and love of God with our Films of Faith, but we also do this with the Vacation Bible School.  I am proud of our church for stepping out in faith and being beacons in the darkness.
God is using each of us here this morning to be a beacon in the darkness that Satan is trying to use to purge the world into everlasting darkness.  And as those who have been adopted into the Body of Christ, we are empowered to be the mirror of God’s love for all of mankind.
But it takes not only our nod of ascent here at church on Sunday morning, it takes our stepping up in faith to be the children of God that He has made us to be in our baptism.  We as coheirs with Christ of the glory of God and the gifts of God are empowered to be the light for our corner of the world here in Western Kansas.
It does not mean that we will not encounter tragedy.  Paul says it so well, “18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”  We will encounter tragedy, set back and serious wondering whether we are on the right path.  But like most farmers, who though they may have had their wheat crop decimated by hail, still plant in the fall with the eyes looking forward to the Spring and the hope.
This same hope we have just as the disciples had when Jesus Christ was crucified.  Not until Easter Sunday morning and evening did they realize Jesus had told them what would occur and when their eyes were opened they became on fire with not only the surety of the love of God, but the fulfillment of the promise of life and salvation in Jesus Christ and His death on Calvary for them and for us.
We to this morning have been set on fire with Pentecost.  We to this morning look to the future of our church and community.  We to this morning take grasp of the promises of God for us this morning.  For this morning, we like Paul says, are “waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

We have been adopted, we have been set free, we now are present in and to the greatest opportunity for Emmanuel.  Thus, this morning, I challenge each of you to shine up your mirrors, reflect the light of Christ in your life, lay claim to your adoption as the children of God and be empowered to embrace the great things that God has in store for each of us, but especially for the people of God here in Goodland, but especially for all of us saints here at Emmanuel.  May God empower us to be the people of God and embrace our destiny as adopted coheirs with Jesus Christ for all of mankind, but especially including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

07062104 Third 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.

Driving between Goodland and Sharon Springs or St. Francis or Colby or Burlington, there are plenty of places where you can see out in the fields that surround the highway.  Currently a lot of farmers and wanna-be farmers are looking at wheat crops, how the corn is looking or what they have to do next to prepare for the rest of summer.  When not looking at crops, there are places for animals to hide, not just in draws, but even some places where in by gone days, the animals could pounce upon unsuspecting prey that would happen by.  When this would happen, the animal being hunted was not only surprised, but easy prey.  Here on the Great Plains when the buffalo ranged as far as the eye could see, the Native American people would start a stampede in order to get buffalo to go certain directions.  Because, the Buffalo were the main source of meat and it was easier to push them into a deep ravine that bottlenecked in order to get a lot of meat at one time with very little effort and it was an easy way to get their meat supply for the winter.

Unlike the buffalo stampedes of the Indians our epistle this morning speaks clearly of the need of we Christians to “be on the alert.”  We like the days of the Cold War always needed to be on alert and as Christians we need to watch.  For our “adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  And that someone is us.  The devil is very near to us waiting for us to question God and doubt and deny what God has done, is doing and will continue to do.  The devil wants us to like the buffalo run into the deep ravine and be easily captured and killed and become the treat of the victor.

For the devil, our capture isn’t like in ‘capture the flag’, because the reality is in life we are dealing with an eternal consequence.  The devil is trying to get us to fall victim to him and be devoured by him for eternity.  For the consequence of an eternity without God is what the devil is trying to gain.  The reality is that God from the beginning of time through His great love for each of us has been trying to prevent the devil from overcoming us.  This is why Peter clearly says, “be on alert…resist him, [be] firm in your faith”.

When we are firm in our faith, given to us by God in our baptism, we change the landscape of the battle that is daily being waged in our hearts, souls and minds.  No longer are we enslaved to sin for eternity, but through our claiming God’s mark on us in our baptism, we are freed to be the children of God He has made us to be.  We like the children in the Pre-School program learned can be a ‘FROG’ or “Fully Rely On God”.  We can trust God to not only care for us but empower us to be the children of God He has endowed and made us to be.

But what about the suffering we encounter in the here and now.  From our wheat crop being wiped out.  Tragedy that strikes our schools, businesses or even our families.  And even church members lashing out at each other in the name of the church.  God makes it very clear through Peter, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”  God will shower His grace upon us and His love will be manifest in and for each and every one of us and His glory will be revealed as He perfects us and establishes us as no other.  This is when we will enter His kingdom and receive the gifts of God for the people of God.

This week I had someone in my office asking me why God was allowing the dysfunction in life, the hurt feelings, the pain of broken relationships and the loss on a mental and emotional level that was happening in their life.  It was not just the issues in her family, but also in her church that she was brought to and raised in as a child.  Why were people not standing up for what was right?  And why was God not sending a sign to tell or show the people what they were doing was wrong or how they were treating others was wrong.  The story that came to mind was the Rich Man and Lazarus.  We recently heard this story in our lessons.  Only after the rich man was in hell and thirsty and could not change did he understand the need to change.  He pleaded, send Lazarus to warn my brothers.  Evidently his brothers were just as derelict in not acting or doing what they needed.  But the response Jesus told is very telling in this story.  They, the rich man’s brothers have the prophets, meaning the writings of the Old Testament, but even if someone were to rise from the dead they would not listen to him.

Ironically this is exactly what happened with Lazarus the brother of Mary and Martha.  Even though he was raised from the dead, and Jesus Christ would be raised from the dead, the leaders of the synagogue and some of the people would not listen to Lazarus nor Jesus Christ.  Today our society is no different, people would rather gossip, make false accusations, not put the best construction on all things and hide behind platitudes and places of ‘authority’ and seek to pounce from hiding rather than be held accountable or even have a conversation one on one in true humility.  Where is God in this?  God is right here in Emmanuel with us as we experience this, in you the people of God and you can stand up and by the power of God through the Holy Spirit be the people of God that do what is right, necessary and called for in your vow you made to be the Body of Christ.

Recently, I saw how God can and is active very clearly here at Emmanuel.  I am proud of our Emmanuel Family.  Our Vacation Bible School was a great success because people came together to not only love the kids and serve the Lord, but be the church.  During our Preschool VBS the kids inspired me by not being afraid to pray, but relishing it and being prayer warriors.  We had multiple kids not afraid to offer a short prayer to God.  This is how we as a community of faith, not only shared our faith, but also and more importantly empowered the children to lay claim to their faith.  They are not only the future of our church, but they are the church now.

It is in their hands that not only do we entrust the teaching of what God has done and continues to do in our lives, but by our showering our love for each other and upon the kids and showing it to and for each other as we the congregation of Emmanuel learn not only about God’s unending love, but our love for them as well.  I am extremely proud of our church for our efforts, not only in years gone by, but this year for the commitment to a God sized vision and clear expression of the love of God that has overcome the devil who awaits to pounce on us.  Thank you for being the church and ministering to the saints in the kids that have been here for our vacation bible school this summer!  Thank you for being the church and thank you for supporting Emmanuel as the saints God came to save, including all of us gathered here this morning and those unable to be here.  AMEN.

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//trial script