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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

04292015 Funeral Sermon for Denelda "Nell" Tyrrell

Sermon Audio

Funeral Sermon

Denelda "Nell" Tyrrell
April 29, 2015

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, today we gather to remember and mourn the death of Your child in Holy Baptism Denelda.  The Words spoken at her Baptism wove Denelda into the fabric of salvation as only a perfect Craftsman could.  For in her being washed with Water and Word, the promise of life and salvation not only was offered by God, but the garment of salvation was prepared for her.  Today in our sight Denelda wears the garment of salvation You prepared for her.  We humbly ask You heavenly Father to comfort us as we mourn, surround us with Your love and compassion and enable us to hear Your Word and Your Name as the salve of the Gospel for each and every one of us.  For with Denelda’s putting on the garment of salvation in her entrance into the church triumphant You have fulfilled Your promise to her on the day of her baptism and we ask You to comfort all of us who gather with Your Love that You offer to all of mankind, but today especially to and for Denelda’s family and friends gathered here to say goodbye.  AMEN.

Have you ever taken a look at people’s hands?  Farmers hands are worn, calloused and cracked from the hard work of being a mechanic, a grain scooper, a sprinkler repairman or a chemical applicator.  But a seamstress hands are usually sleek, nimble and only have callouses on the finger tips from where the needles have poked through the fabric.  Yet, a seamstress’s hands have to know and have a feel for fabric and the correct choice, color coordination and placement, how to choose the right stitch and even how to make sure the stitch doesn’t unravel even after lots of stretching and use.

Denelda had these skills as a seamstress and shared and taught them to her daughter and made special mementoes for more people here in Goodland and Salina than could be counted.  Not only did she sew she knitted, crocheted and even made prayer shawls and baby hats as a ministry of love.  Woven into each piece, whether garment, shawl, blanket or hat for newborns was not only the dedication she showed and shared, but the love she had for the one who would receive the gift.  It wasn’t just a chore, it was a love that Denelda had learned and was willing to share even to her last days.  But she must have learned how to love from someone.

Yes, when first married, Denelda and Charles the love of her earthly life were inseparable.  If you saw Denelda, Charles a barber here in town, wasn’t far behind or was close by.  They clearly were two peas in a pod, made for each other and united in Holy Matrimony on May 4, 1947.  Their union was a result of God’s definitive action in their lives and they shared their love for one another and of nature in trips to the mountains to see the Aspen’s and even playing games and sharing in and building family memories with their immediate and extended family.  Denelda was unlike most who played games, she didn’t care if she won or lost, it was the joy of togetherness and bonding with one another around the table throwing the dice, laying down the cards or even coloring.  Denelda could even give and receive a good ribbing and sometimes even the laughter shared would resonate through the house at night.  Yet all of this came as a gift from her first love, not Charles, nor her daughter Carolyn or her parents whom she joyfully shared her love of and with, but Denelda learned about love from someone closer and more special, her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Denelda was baptized in the font of Holy Baptism on February 24, 1928 and took responsibility for her faith on March 29, 1942.  On those faithful days Denelda not only received the gift of eternal life, but was woven into the fabric of salvation by her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and shown the love Jesus Christ had for her and for all of us from the Garden of Eden.  Denelda was baptized and confirmed into the plan of salvation and was offered eternal life and took this responsibility clearly, unmistakably and without reservation.  For in Denelda’s baptism, she was promised that in response to Paul’s question “Who will separate us from the love of Christ?”, her response would be given by her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ with Paul’s words.  Paul said, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is the faith Denelda clung to her entire life and wove into the making of each piece she stitched, knitted or crocheted as the meticulous craftsman she was.  But Denelda not only shared her faith, she shared the love of Jesus Christ with others.  Denelda clearly made everyone feel important and was willing even to take ‘new names’ because it made more sense, even and especially to her grandchildren.  The reason I say this is because her siblings, Wilmer, Loren and Opal, knew her best as “Nell”, but her grandchildren knew her as none other than “Grandma Missy”.  Yes there is a story, simply it is this, when her grandchildren were little, they knew she had a dog named Missy and once when trying to distinguish between Grandparents, as kids sometimes have trouble doing, the grandchildren heard both Grandma and Missy and married the two names and in true loving fashion Denelda became lovingly known as “Grandma Missy” from that day forward.

Grandma Missy loved to laugh and believed and lived by the simple motto, “Simple things were always fun”.  Whether it was being taught how to use the ‘new fangled’ texting phones or having her nails done in a fancy way or even teaching how to latch hook or seeing her children and grandchildren learn how to make bows for on top of gifts, Denelda was always discovering and sharing her knowledge and innovation with anyone who would sit and visit with her, whether here in Goodland or in later years in Salina.  Denelda could even make smores on top of an electric range, all because having fun was part of her DNA.

But clearly today as we gather, death and separation does not feel like fun, for, Denelda, the woman we know and love is not here to enjoy the teasing of Dale or the potential of a police officer giving her a ticket for sitting in the floor of the van, instead of a seat and wearing a seat belt.  Yet, her memory and love she had for others still lives on in each of us and in all of our memories and even continued to her last hours.  You see the pride Denelda took in her work was clear and the final stitch on the canvas of her life here on earth connects not only with we who gather here today, but with a great great granddaughter yet to make her earthly appearance.

On the day Denelda entered into the church triumphant, where God fulfilled the promise made to her in her baptism of eternal life, Denelda bequeathed a blanket made with the same love, devotion and compassion she shared with all of us gathered here.   At nearly the same time the blanket was unwrapped at the baby shower, God received Denelda into His Holy arms where she now has been enfolded for eternity into the folds of God’s arms and rests from her labors.  I share this not in defeat or loss, but in the strength of God and the clear fulfillment of God’s promises to her and one day to and for each and every one of us.  For God’s promise to Denelda in her baptism was that one day she would wear for eternity the garment of salvation prepared for her when she entered her heavenly home with her Lord and Savior.  And that day has finally come.  The canvas of Denelda’s life is now complete.  For God the perfect craftsman, not only wove Denelda into the fabric of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ, but perfectly connected each of us with her and her fun loving, ‘politically incorrect’, but loveable spirit that we knew and loved.

And today as we say goodbye, we see, not just a seamstress, but the full canvas of life of God’s child Denelda wearing the garment of salvation prepared for her by her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ many years ago.  May we be comforted by this knowledge and feel not just the love of Jesus Christ, but how like her Savior Who formed, shaped and redeemed her with His own hands and sacrifice on Calvary, now holds her and Charles together for all eternity.  Waiting for each of us to laugh and have fun with them in heaven and be together again with them in God’s Kingdom for all eternity because of the free offer of grace by God’s Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ when we will be woven in God’s eternal garment of salvation in heaven for all eternity.  AMEN.

Now may the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and minds and may we find comfort and peace because of what Jesus Christ did for Denelda and each and every one of us knitted into the garment of salvation by our baptism into His life, death and especially His resurrection!  AMEN!

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Monday, April 27, 2015

God Wins!!! A Powerful Reminder that God is in Control


This came across my email and I feel led to share it.  Austin Stone Church tells stories in a very profound way.

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

04262015 Third Sunday After Easter - The Big Reveal

Sermon Audio

April 26, 2015
The Big Reveal
Last weekend we hosted the wedding of Andrea and Garrett here at Emmanuel.  Saturday morning, before the wedding on the ramp to the front door they had the ‘Big Reveal’.  Simply it was where Andrea and Garrett would see one another for the first time on their wedding day.  These “Big Reveal’s” for the couples are always special and a memory they will treasure for their entire marriage.

Another reveal for families is when a newborn is shared with family and friends for the first time after birth.  Recently a couple shared their reveal with the world in a video that went viral.  What caused the video to go viral was not the parents, nor showing the newborn, but their friend’s reaction to what they saw for the first time.  The couple told their friends they were pregnant, but only shared that one piece of information, not the sex of the baby nor anything else.  Throughout the video people are shown behind a curtain and when it is pulled back the reaction of individuals is priceless.  Some come from behind the curtain and are excited and then what they see their reaction turns into instant disbelief.  It isn’t because what they see is bad, it is because they are expecting one baby.  Unknown to all their friends the couple was having twins and the reaction by most reveals how only after being confronted with the tangible of twins did their friends truly understand what occurred for the family.

So to this morning, we hear from Jesus in the Gospel lesson.  Behind the emblematic curtain before Jesus crucifixion, Jesus is telling the disciples w
hat will occur in the future.  In one sense the disciples are ‘blinded’ to the truth, just like the friends of the couple who were having the baby.  The disciples probably didn’t understand what would be required of their teacher and friend Jesus Christ.  Jesus was telling the disciples about the events on the horizon because He knew the future that was in store for Him and Jesus disciples wouldn’t fully comprehend those events until after Jesus resurrection.

Jesus knew what He was telling them sailed quickly over their heads.  But Jesus also knew the disciples grief would be turned into joy.  From the vantage point of the disciples it was a mystery what Jesus was telling them about the future.  But on the other hand for we gathered here today 2000 years later, we are looking back with the full picture in mind.  It is like looking through a peep hole that has a painting on the other side.  When looking through a peep hole, one only sees a very limited view of the full canvas, whether a picture of a person, landscape or even something each of us may know very well, whether the header on a combine, a seed box for planting wheat or corn or even the head of a sprinkler.  In looking through the peep hole we hone in on the detail, whether of a painting or a part.  For the disciples who are listening to Jesus, they cannot fully understand the future events that Jesus is telling them because they are blinded to the truth, the rest of the canvas of plan of salvation, Jesus death on Calvary.

The reason for Jesus telling His disciples that their grief will be turned into joy is that Jesus sees the other side of the mountain.  The disciples are blinded, because Jesus is looking in the future to Calvary, where He will sacrifice Himself.  Jesus is also looking to the day where the disciples will gather in fear, and Jesus will appear in the upper room and turn their fear and grief into joy.  Jesus is looking to the time we are in today in the church of After Easter.  Jesus is looking not only at the disciples who will run, but beyond His disciples in front of him who will have great grief to us today who gather here at Emmanuel in joy.  Jesus is looking to and at all of us gathered here at Emmanuel today because of two young adults.  Jesus is talking to we the church who baptized Austin and Peri and today in great joy will celebrate their confirmation. 

When we gathered on June 2, 2002 to baptize Peri and May 3, 2009 to baptize Austin we as a congregation celebrated and took responsibility with their parents and sponsors for their spiritual lives.  Today like the disciples joy being fully realized on the other side of Calvary with Jesus in the upper room, we celebrate and have great joy with Austin and Peri.  In our sight in a few minutes, they will shoulder the burden of responsibility as Confirmed members of Emmanuel Lutheran Church. 

But how does this relate to the joy found in the Gospel for us today?  The connection is simple, today we confirm Austin and Peri not with grief, but joy.  For today God Who created Austin and Peri, baptized them with Water and Word in this very font, now kneeling at the altar rail, God confirms them here in our sight.  Today Austin and Peri and all of us look not from the side of the disciples in grief or doubt that this day will ever come.  Today we look in faith with all of us gathered here today in celebration of the victory of Jesus, looking from this side of Calvary at God’s redeemed children Austin and Peri who are taking responsibility for their faith life.

Today we celebrate with Austin and Peri their confirmation of the faith they have been baptized into.  Today Austin and Peri take responsibility upon their own shoulders in joy.  Like countless generations that we celebrate with pictures downstairs of previous confirmation classes, Austin and Peri today step forward and in great joy shoulder their faith.  We celebrate because like Jesus says, “no one will take your joy away from you.”  We celebrate today with great joy because God fulfills His promise we laid claim to on Austin and Peri’s baptism and now we gather to for the confirmation of those promises on their shoulders.

For God’s promises made to Austin and Peri and each of us in our baptism were clear of Jesus Christ love for us and His offer for each of us of eternal life.  Jesus Christ went to the Cross of Calvary freely and offers us life and salvation freely out of His great love for us.  And this is a free gift from God for all of mankind, but especially all of us saints gathered here who celebrate today with Austin and Peri the promise of eternal life for all of us on this their confirmation day.  AMEN.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

500th Post - The Cross of Christ - David Platt

In honor of the 500th Post on the Blog, this video came across my email and I felt led to share it with you.  David Platt knocks it out of the park!

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

04192015 2nd Sunday After Easter - "Are you ashamed of the Gospel?"

Gospel Audio
Sermon Audio

April 19, 2015
Are you ashamed of the Gospel?
One of the traditions that Michele and I, as parents have had as a family with Sarah is to read to her.  All parents do this in some form or fashion, whether the board books that are short, reading signs along the interstate as one travels or even the menu when eating out like Gambino’s or McDonald’s.  What is special for Sarah is what we read every night.  We have called it “Story and Song”.

As a Pastor, you probably surmise I take down the Holy Bible, the King James Version and read long passages and use this time to ‘preach to Sarah’ at a minimum of 20 minutes up to an hour, to insure she learns the stories from the Bible.  Honestly, in seminary that idea would have been interesting to entertain, but since Sarah has come along, I have become a realist.  I know the attention span of a now six year old is short to say the least.  Getting her to talk on the phone or even Skype with her for even a minute is a challenge and has been for her entire life.  But this week during our “Story and Song” time, we read from one of the children’s Bible Story books that we have a chapter from the Bible I have heard many times.  Matter of fact what we read is something I was taught and was etched into my mind by my Father many years ago growing up in Virginia.  It is the story told in Psalm 23, which ironically is our Psalm for today.  Yes, this is the most famous Psalm of the Bible written by King David.  Psalm 23 is the best loved Psalm because everyone not only loves the imagery, but especially how God is our great Shepherd.

When I read the text to Sarah, I stumbled, yes, believe it or not, I ‘the Pastor of Emmanuel’ stumbled on a Bible text.  Not because the story is unfamiliar, but because it wasn’t what I learned sitting on my Father’s knee, the good King James Version, with the “thee’s” and “thou’s”.  What really hit home for me as I read to Sarah was the weakness shown by the person David writes about in that short Psalm.  It wasn’t a weakness of character, but how David the Psalmist clearly shows the need of the individual to fully rely upon God and how God will take care of the person in the Psalm, but also how that promise is made to and for each and every one of us gathered here today on this Second Sunday After Easter.

During this Easter season, we have heard the celebratory nature of the victory that Jesus Christ proclaimed with His resurrection to the disciples.  Jesus Christ was coming back as He had promised and telling and fulfilling in the disciples sight what He had previously prophesied about, His own death, but also and more so His victory over both death and the grave.  What is applicable here for us today is that Jesus Christ is taking care of His disciples, He is being the Great shepherd for those whom God had entrusted to Him.  Jesus in between Easter and His ascension is not only comforting them, but repeating the stories and lessons He had told them and revealing Himself as the fulfillment of the Psalm as the Good Shepherd.

Jesus is not only the Good Shepherd, He is the Great Shepherd Who gathers His sheep into His protective fold.  Jesus is making this offer for and to all of mankind out of His great love for us.  Yet, Jesus is also seeking helpers.  Jesus time on earth after His resurrection is short, remember only 40 days.  So Jesus has the mission to call His disciples to seek out the lost.  And today in our hearing, Jesus is seeking our help to bring others into His fold, to hear the Gospel of Salvation and especially to feel His presence in our lives.  Granted there are times where we do feel alone, like no one cares and even doubting we have gifts that God can use.  But Jesus Christ see’s each of us differently and wants to use our individual gifts that He has given each of us for His glory and the spread of the Gospel message.

Daniel Lancaster wrote a book entitled, “Making Radical Disciples”.  In his book, he states that “Jesus’ strategy to reach the nations involved five steps: grow strong in the Lord, share the Gospel, make disciples, start groups that lead to churches, and develop leaders.” (Location 204)  Jesus strategy was perfect and He could see the outcome even before He started. 

We who gather here today on the other hand don’t know how we will be received if we speak about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We doubt we will have any affect upon anybody we talk to, even those who either have never heard the Gospel or even our friends that we have coffee with, sit at ballgames with or even have invited into our homes to have dinner.  So before we even have left our lazy boy recliner, the seat in the combine or the truck when we are checking wells, we stop ourselves because we don’t want to embarrass ourselves in front of our friends that we have to see every day.  We then fall victim to not making any difference in anybody’s life because fear has overcome us and paralyzed us.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” and Jesus is trying to inspire our action and overcome the fear that prevents us from even living in freedom and not fear.

For those of us that love Psalm 23, God says, we should not fear, for God is with us.  God will use us for His Glory to be revealed.  All we need to do is be a good farmer, plant the seed of the Gospel and let God water it and make it grow.  For God is the one Who will see and harvest when the time is right.  We have only to step out in faith and not fear that we won’t have the right words or that we will embarrass ourselves.  For God will use each and every one of us to spread His message of the Gospel.

Derwin Gray, former NFL football player and Pastor of a church outside Charlotte, NC posits a question for us to consider in light of our understanding ourselves as a farmer of the Gospel.  Derwin asked of his congregation “Are you ashamed of the Gospel?”  He asked this question of his congregation in Charlotte because of the spiritual bankruptcy he sees with individual members of his congregation and society in general.  I ask it today as well, not because Emmanuel is like Derwin’s church, we are definitely not like his suburban flock.  Nor do I ask this question because we are bad people, we aren’t.  I ask the question, “Are you ashamed of the Gospel?” because we should not act in fear, but in faith like the farmers who will be planting the Spring Corn here in the next few weeks. 

God is clearly calling each of us to plant the Gospel, in our daily lives, where we work, when we play, but especially in our homes, our families, and our relationships with our spouse and children.  We have the responsibility and opportunity to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The question we need to face head on is, “Are you ashamed of the Gospel?”  Our answer clearly should be, “We shouldn’t be”, for “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.”  And we who gather here today at Emmanuel are God’s called, equipped and redeemed children through the blood of Jesus Christ our Good Shepherd.  We are loved by God and called and equipped through the promise He made to us in our baptism that we are baptized into and reminded of today with the last verse of Psalm 23.  “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  AMEN.

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

04182015 Wedding of Garrett Tacha and Andrea Roeder

Sermon Audio

April 18, 2015
Changing the order of God, family, baseball

Al Gallagher, retired professional baseball player and coach once said, “There are three things in my life which I really love:  God, my family and baseball.”  If Al would have stopped with that maybe people would quote him more often, but he continued.  “Once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit.”

Today we change the order of things around a little bit as well.  Both Garrett and Andrea, love God and they both love baseball.  We won’t mention the 2007 World Series between the Rockies and Red Sox will we?  But today we create a ‘family’ here in the sight of God.  Granted we are not at Home Plate of Fenway Park or Coors Field, but today we gather to hear what God says about marriage.  God through Moses said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?”  Perplexing as this statement is, Jesus continues, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.

The intent Jesus has in mind is that today Garrett and Andrea are declaring publically their love for one another.  Unlike our love for television shows, truck brands or baseball teams, the love God has planted in both Garrett and Andrea God does not want their love for each other to separate or grow apart.  But then life happens.

Like a controversial call by the umpire of a pitch that is just on the corner of the strike zone, that ends the inning or game, there will be opinions held by many who surround you of what and how you should live life as husband and wife.  Yet God is clear, your devotion to each other should be unwavering and never doubt each other.  For when doubt enters, it will spread and attempt to break you apart and this is not of God.

By your standing before God and your families today declaring your love for each other, you are cementing the bond of love that God has created between the two of you.  We talked as we met about how God is the third strand that binds both of you together.  For God not only binds you Garrett and you Andrea together He protects you.  God’s protection will not prevent trouble and doubt from assailing you, but God’s divine protection will be there and surround you both to help you two stay as ‘one flesh’, bound by His Holy Spirit in your marriage and enable both of you to connect in the ‘sweet spot’ like a batter does who hits a home run.

So even when your teams potentially face off in the World Series again and you sit on opposite sides of the couch because Tulo and Oritz have squared off over a pitch.  May you remember God’s inspiration, call and desire for both of you on your life journey around the bases of life of His promise to you to help you connect with each other and with Him as God binds you in this estate of holy matrimony.  For Jesus said it himself, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”  AMEN.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Taking Time for your Child - Dr. James Dobson

Dr. James Dobson in a post entitled, ""Take 10" for Your Son" gives a quick glimpse into the impact Father's can have upon their Son's.

By the same token, I believe this is true for Mother's as well and even is not gender specific.

In today's culture, our children, both male and female, our daughters and sons NEED, desire and WANT their parents to care for them.  Our children are watching!  Are you giving them a role model to follow or just what you saw as a child?

Please take care of the children God has entrusted to you!

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Sunday, April 12, 2015

04122015 1st Sunday After Easter - "Proof in the pudding!"

Sermon Audio

April 12, 2015
We need proof!
Have you ever heard the saying, “Proof is in the pudding!”  This saying dates back to the 14th Century, but for we who gather here this morning in the 21st Century the First Sunday After Easter we daily search for proof.  For some of us we search for proof that God still loves us, for others proof that God still cares about us, but today just like the disciples from our Gospel, we desperately search for and need proof that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.  For without proof of the resurrection, why are we even here?

In our Gospel this morning Jesus Christ offers the greatest proof for His disciples that He rose from the dead.  Just as our society and world watches lots of television shows and movies on the ‘paranormal’, in the time of the disciples, they believed in spirits and the supernatural.  Remember when Jesus was walking on the water on the Sea of Galilee, they thought they saw a spirit, and it was Jesus.  So the disciples after the events of the crucifixion clearly needed proof that this person Who had walked through a locked door, Whom they could see and hear wasn’t a figment of their imagination.  The disciples needed proof.

What is the first thing, Jesus said, “Peace be with you.”  Not only is this a greeting, but Jesus was offering them full forgiveness for falling away or in their case, running away in the Garden.  Jesus is also trying to dispel their collective fears that He was not a ghost or a figment of their imagination.  Most ghosts or spirits don’t want you to touch or make any contact, because they are not ‘physically there’.  But Jesus was different.  Jesus then “showed them both His Hands and His Side”.  Why show Hands with holes and His pierced Side?  It was to dispel their doubt, fears and human nature of doubt.  Can you imagine, Jesus motioning them to come over and touch Him.  Jesus was first and foremost teaching the disciples a lesson.

Jesus was teaching the disciples the lesson that Adam and Eve had missed in the Garden of Eden.  “Don’t doubt God”.  It’s alright to question God, but again, “the proof is in the pudding”.  Jesus standing in their midst with Hands that they would have seen many times before now with Holes where the nails had been.  And His side, where the spear had pierced Him was the proof that He Who stood before them was He Whom had walked with them, talked with them and fed them with His Word and Wisdom.  Jesus was showing the proof that the disciples needed that He was not dead and was alive.  Jesus was giving proof that He was risen from the grave and had overcome death.

For most, the proof of bodily presence is enough, but we who gather here today like the disciples need not only the ‘proof’, but we have doubts because we weren’t there.  We didn’t experience those three days and we are not able like the disciples to ‘touch Jesus’ and hear His comforting Words.  Enter Thomas the most famous disciple because of His doubt.  Thomas words are clear, “Unless I see His Hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His Side, I will not believe.” 

We desperately want and need this proof as well.  Every time the weather comes on the television and the rain is North, South, East or West of our fields that so desperately need the moisture.  When the wheat crop fails because of frost or hail, the corn or wheat price plummets because of the market forces that are beyond our control.  The price of chemicals rises and we are expected to live when we daily wonder if we need to sell land or liquidate in order to get the bank off of our backs or stop them from calling us every day.  Or personally our relationship with our spouse, kids or family has hit a rough patch because either we aren’t as close as we were years ago or they gossiped about what we were doing or what we said.  We immediately doubt whether God is among us or walking with us and whether He is there for us now.  We search for God’s presence in our lives and ‘give God an ultimatum’!  Either show up, or I’m gone, from the relationship with our spouse or family, were gone from worship because of who is sitting in the next pew, we refuse to witness, teach or contribute to the church, because we’ve done our time and we even doubt the willingness to believe that God loves me.

But the truth is God doesn’t work that way.  And here is the proof.  Even after Thomas one of Jesus own chosen disciples gave the ‘ultimatum’ about proof and needing to put his finger in the holes and his hand in Jesus side, Jesus Christ waited eight days to ‘show up’.  Is the number of days important?  I don’t believe so, what is important is that Jesus Christ proof for Thomas had a more divine and profound application.

God’s application was for all of us gathered here today.  After Thomas had seen Jesus and touched His Hands and Side, Jesus tells Thomas the greatest reason for the Proof in the pudding.  Jesus says, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed?  Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.

Jesus is talking to all of us gathered here April 12, 2015.  We who gather and believe are not just the spiritual descendants of Thomas, but with our belief, we are the proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is living in and through each and every one of us gathered here this morning.  We live in not only the fulfillment of the hope of the resurrection, but the sure proof shown to the disciples, including Thomas and one day each and every one of us.

We need to ask ourselves, do we show up here for worship to ‘check a box’?  Or do we show up to learn how to live the proof of the resurrection in our daily lives?  God is calling each of us to live the proof of the resurrection and be enabled to share the proof we believe with others.

Last week we gave the Salvation Bracelets not only as a gift, but a tool.  Some took the bracelet to be nice, others took one out of curiosity.  And still others took one to wear it and use it as the opportunity that God has given us to give the ‘proof of the resurrection’ as a witness for others.  For the salvation bracelet is a tool for each of us to use to declare the ‘proof’ of the resurrection.  For we did not see like the disciples or Thomas, but we are the spiritual descendants that Jesus speaks of who can believe.

Ed Setzer wrote an article entitled, “Don’t Waste Your Spike: Easter Attendance, Effective Follow Up, and Your Church”.  It makes some very poignant and valid points.  Specifically, the attendance of Easter will increase, just as ours did last week of 186.  But no matter how many people were here, coming, whether only on Easter or Christmas, doesn’t make one a Christian.  The proof of our being a Christian is our trusting in the mission and message of Jesus Christ and following up with those who came.  For God’s mission is clear, Jesus Christ came and died so we might live and have eternal life.  And this is what God offers all of mankind through Jesus Christ, life, death and resurrection and the proof isn’t by our putting our fingers in Jesus Christ Side or Hands, but by believing.  For the proof is in God’s Word that we have heard today and believe of His love for all of mankind found in our resurrected Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

04052015 Easter Sunday - Gold Bead - Jesus Christ gives us eternal life!

Sermon Audio
April 5, 2015
God gives us eternal life!
Seated on a park bench in early Spring next to a nurse was a young man.  He stated the following, “My momma always said, “Life was like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re gonna get.””  With this simple phrase, the world was introduced to the profound wisdom of “Forest Gump”.  In this gem of wisdom Forest pin pointed life and the experience most people have of “never knowing what you’re gonna get”.

Unlike Forest Gump, two thousand years ago, God in His Son Jesus Christ told His disciples that He would rise from the dead after His crucifixion.  And in rising from the dead, Jesus Christ would offer all of mankind an eternal gift.  This morning we gather celebrating Jesus Christ resurrection with the phrase “He is risen, He is risen indeed Alleluia!” echoing in our ears.  And we also gather to hear about the gift given to us that is symbolized by the final bead and installment of the Salvation Bracelet Series.  The final bead is Gold and humbly signifies what Jesus Christ is offering all of mankind.  The Gold Bead specifically represents the gift that God gives us…eternal life!

For God clearly offers all of us gathered here the gift of eternal life with His Son’s innocent death on Calvary.  When the disciples and women found the tomb empty, unlike the box of chocolates and not knowing what one would get, the disciples had heard exactly what Jesus would be giving them.  And today we gather here because of this gift given to the disciples and to each of us.  For symbolized in the Gold Bead that completes the story of salvation as told by the Salvation Bracelet is the gem of the knowledge that God gives us eternal life!

There are two questions, we can ask this morning.  The first our society and Satan wants to ask, if Jesus was resurrected, “So What?”  Our society and Satan want us to doubt God and doubt what the disciples found, an empty tomb.  Society wants us to doubt the resurrection and any gift offered by Jesus Christ.  Our society doesn’t understand the significance of the gift God is offering us.  Our society is looking for ways to question God, doubt God and even discredit God.  All because the gift of eternal life God is giving to each of us has eternal value.  Satan and our society clearly do not want us to believe without any doubt in our mind and heart that, “God gives us eternal life!

The value of the gift God gives us with ‘eternal life’ is so substantial.  Compared to the worth of a vehicle we drive, the home we live in, the vacations we take or even the education we receive whether in high school, college or even in the military, the gift God gives is priceless.  All of us have seen the Master Card commercials, but what is different with the truth found of an empty tomb is that this gift that “God gives us… eternal life!” had a heaven and earth-shattering price tag.  The price tag was Jesus Christ death on Calvary.  But Jesus Christ offers us His life, because of His love for each and every one of us who believe in Him and believe that “God gives us eternal life!

Jesus Christ love for us and His willingness to sacrifice Himself in order that we might have eternal life is a game changer.  Jesus Christ wants us to believe in the resurrection and the gift of grace “God gives us…eternal life!”  Jesus Christ wants us to believe, because in our belief, we therefore trust God fully, unconditionally and without question, not only in the forgiveness of sins offered out of His love for us, but eternal life and salvation.  When we exercise the muscle of faith given to us in our baptism, the truth that “God gives us…eternal life!” becomes a certainty we point to and believe in and it strengthens our trust in Jesus Christ and His love for each and every one of us.  For this is the point of the resurrection, the reason we gather here today and especially the clear message of the Gospel we proclaim of Jesus Christ sacrifice for all of mankind.

On June 22, 1997, parachute instructor Michael Costello, age forty-two began his work day like any other.  Teaching skydiving, was something that Michael enjoyed not only doing, but sharing with others.  Gareth Griffith, age twenty one was a novice and was being taught how to skydive safely by Michael.  Jumping in tandem, connected to his instructor, Gareth would learn first-hand how to properly execute every maneuver required before performing his first solo jump.

Everything was normal when they jumped out of the airplane at 12,000 feet.  As planned the two flew through the air in preparation for Gareth’s pulling the rip cord to open the canopy of the parachute.  At the proper time, Gareth pulled the rip cord and the parachute malfunctioned.  With only seconds remaining before gravity completed their descent to earth, the instructor who was above the student plummeting to the ground did something extraordinary and unexpected.  Michael the instructor right before impact rolled over and insured he would hit the ground first and the novice, Gareth, would land on top of him.  Michael was killed instantly, Gareth survived the fall with a fractured spine, but was not paralyzed.

Our society would ask, “So what?”  Today, as we celebrate the resurrection and Easter, we who gather here this morning have landed on top of not our instructor, but our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ, God incarnate gives us eternal life.  “God gives us eternal life!” out of His love for each of us and His sacrifice of Himself for us, so we can share it with one another. 

Consequently the second question we need to ask each other this morning is, “What’s next?”  The Salvation Bracelet we receive this morning is the answer to the second question.  For the Salvation Bracelet is a tool we can use to point to the Savior, Jesus Christ.  With this bracelet and its colored beads and two knots, we have the apparel that each of us can wear and use to tell the salvation story and what Jesus Christ did on Calvary for all of mankind.  We who gather here today can use this bracelet unlike the uncertainty of a box of chocolate and what one will receive, and firmly and faithfully point to Jesus Christ and the Gold Bead and tell others that Jesus died for each and every one of us and in, through and by Jesus death on Calvary, “God gives us eternal life!

For the gift of eternal life is an offer for all of mankind, but especially for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning who are willing to wear, share and firmly believe in Jesus Christ and the gift of salvation as can be told by the Salvation Bracelet.  For no truer statement can be said that in the empty tomb we find, not nothing, but the truth found in a little gold bead on our salvation bracelet that symbolizes God’s grace given unto each and every one of us that believe “God gives us eternal life!”  AMEN.

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Friday, April 3, 2015

04032015 Good Friday - "Father, into Your Hands I commend my Spirit!" - Jesus Christ Perfect Trust!!

Sermon Audio

April 3, 2015
Jesus Christ Perfect Trust!
Merciful Savior, Jesus Christ, You clearly trust Your Father.  Enable each of us to gain our trust in You.  For Your gift of grace displayed for us that we celebrate today was not without cost.  But because of Your Love for us, You were willing to die in order to set us free.  Thank You for this gift of grace and display of Your love for us.  AMEN.

When my family would go on vacation during the summer to Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks we would always camp.  In most campgrounds the sites that were not far from the ocean and the sandy beaches were surrounded by the low scrub bushes and tree’s that had weathered the hurricanes.  Needless to say the short trees had low branches and us kids always could be found climbing and having fun when we had time before dinner.  One time my Father, Chuck, whom a lot of you have met said to me when I was up on the branch about 5 feet off of the ground.  “Darian, turn around and fall backwards”.  At first, when he said it I refused, because I was afraid of falling and getting hurt.  But finally, I relented and learned a lesson that Jesus teaches us tonight.

We conclude our series tonight of the Words from the Cross of Jesus, with the most touching statement of Jesus trust of His Father.  Jesus said, “Father, into Your Hands I commend My Spirit!”  Encapsulated in these eight words is Jesus Christ Perfect Trust!

Jesus Christ hanging from the Cross of Calvary shows we who gather here tonight on Good Friday Jesus Christ Perfect Trust of His Father in Heaven.  Jesus willingness to go to the Cross of Calvary was a clear demonstration not only of His love for all of mankind, but especially Jesus Christ Perfect Trust that He displayed for all to see.  From the soldiers that had only hours before scourged Him, to the women who wailed and journeyed with Him from the heart of Jerusalem to Golgotha to His own mother who looked on in helplessness at her Son, Whom she had nursed and cuddled.  Jesus Christ as He hung there in this statement “Father, into Your Hands I commend My Spirit” demonstrates a truth so profound.  Jesus Christ Perfect Trust in His Father in heaven.

When I stood on the branch of the scrub trees and turned and fell backwards, my Father caught me in his protective and loving arms.  My earthly Father demonstrated His love for me by catching me and not letting me get hurt.  In a more perfect demonstration, God our Heavenly Father is entrusted by His Son Jesus Christ with His Spirit.  And in loving fashion, the relationship between Father and Son clearly demonstrates for we who gather here tonight, not only their connection, but the love and Jesus Christ Perfect Trust of His Father in heaven.

For when Jesus Christ uttered the Words, “Father, into Your Hands I commend My Spirit” Jesus Christ demonstrates the trust we should have for our Father in Heaven as well.  Not only when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, but in our daily lives we should commend ourselves to His Holy Hands and Holy Care.  For God our Father will not let us fall.  And no clearer demonstration of this comes than Jesus Christ Perfect Trust in His Father from the Cross with the words, “Father, into Your Hands I commend My Spirit”.  May we trust as Jesus Trust and feel the love God had for His Son Jesus Christ as we look to the Cross on Calvary, where Jesus demonstrated His love for all of mankind, including each of us who see and believe in Jesus Christ Perfect Trust.  AMEN.

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

04022015 Maundy Thursday - Knot - Jesus Christ is our connection!

Sermon Audio

April 2, 2015
Jesus Christ is our connection!
Truly humble Lord, You stooped at the feet of the disciples and washed them.  Your demonstration was not about what they could do, but a clear demonstration of Your willingness to seek, serve and save all of mankind.  When we hold our Salvation Bracelet, may we be reminded of Your willingness to insure we are never separated from You, when we hold the last knot of the bracelet.  For Your sacrifice was for all of mankind, including each of us gathered here this Maundy Thursday evening.  AMEN.

As a parent, one of the hardest things for me to undo that Sarah has done is a knot.  Whether in her shoes, her hair or especially her head phones she uses with her Leap Pad or even her Kindle.  Like most kids she has a clear talent to make the knot tight and not easy to separate apart.

Tonight, on this Holy of Nights that we celebrate Jesus Christ institution of the Lord’s Supper, we contemplate the second of two knots on our Salvation Bracelet.  The first knot, was a reminder that we are planned by God and He has a purpose for each of our lives.  And that purpose is for His Glory to be fulfilled by and through our lives.  The second knot in one sense completes the set and the thought.  We through our understanding of the Salvation Bracelet have no separation from God.  Consider Jesus words promised to each of us His children, “I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”  Concisely in this passage Jesus Christ promises that we will not be separated from Him.  In essence Christ is our connection!

Let me unpack “Jesus Christ is our connection!”  If you think about rings and even about the Salvation Bracelet that tells the Story of Salvation, a ring and the bracelet form a circle.  Just as God’s Love has no beginning nor end, we through God’s love of each of us are forever connected to Jesus Christ.  For Jesus Christ in His sacrifice is connected to each of us through our baptism into His life, death and resurrection.  We are forever not just connected, but intertwined into the fabric of salvation history.  The knot we have tonight binds not only the Salvation Bracelet together, but connects each of us in such a specific way for all of us to be brought closer to Jesus Christ.

For the Salvation Bracelet not only tells the story of salvation, but specifically what Jesus Christ came to earth to accomplish on Calvary for all of mankind of His death on the Cross.  And these knots tied for these bracelets are special.  They have the ability to make the bracelet fit for both men and women with small or large wrists.  So to the offer Jesus Christ makes is a one size fits all in our connection with Him.  Jesus Christ is our connection not only with the sacrament we share this evening that He instituted, but also with and for all of mankind for all of time.  Jesus Christ is our connection offered to each of us of life and salvation by His death on the Cross of Calvary.  For the amount nor the depravity of the sin matters for what Jesus Christ offers each of us.  Jesus Christ is our connection and His offer covers all of our sin.

Jesus Christ is our connection and offers us the greatest gifts of grace without cost, without equal and all tied up by the last knot of our salvation bracelet.  For Jesus Christ is freely offering us the greatest gift and show of His love for all of mankind.  This last knot of the salvation bracelet not only ties the bracelet together, but connects and shows the length Jesus Christ is willing to go to offer us salvation.  And this final knot isn’t just tying up a loose end, but it is a poignant reminder of Jesus offer of salvation that brings the conclusion of salvation history.  For Jesus Christ is our connection that binds us and connects us with the events of all of salvation history which point to and find ultimate resolution on the Cross of Calvary for all of mankind.  Including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel tonight that believe we are bound with this last knot of the salvation bracelet that believe “Jesus Christ is our connection!”  AMEN.

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