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Sunday, February 28, 2016

02272016 Daniel Jacob Dorn Sr Funeral

Let us pray!  Gracious Heavenly Father, this afternoon we gather to mourn, but also celebrate Your gathering into Your Holy Arms Your redeemed child Daniel Jacob Dorn, Sr..  As we gather, we ask You to comfort us and give us a special measure of Your Holy Spirit in order that Your Gospel message he heard and believed may be the salve for our hearts.  For Your Gospel of salvation offered him in the font of Holy Baptism is the same faith he used to pray the prayer that Your Son taught us.  Enable us to lay claim to the promises offered, and remember how You offered him forgiveness, life and salvation, not by his merit, but because of Your love shown through Your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

The passages we have heard today from Holy Scripture not only make promises to us, but remind us that with Solomon, David, Jude and Mark, God not only inspired them, but used them and their words to minister unto the needs of the people of God for centuries.  These passages speak of time, a shepherd, a promise of mercy and not knowing the day nor the hour of Jesus return, but their message is rooted in the bed rock of a faith that not only points to Jesus Christ, but clearly and emphatically finds its roots in the offer of grace from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  So clear and profound is this connection it hits pay dirt not in dirt but in water.

We know here on the high plains, whether in Colorado where Dan first lived as a married man with his betrothed Laura or in Western Kansas, without the water we pump from the ground we would not have a crop or feed our cattle.  But water in and of itself can give life to plants.  Yet when water is connected to God’s Word in Holy Baptism, the promise of eternity and eternal life is made.  And this is the promise that we lay claim to today.  A promise of mercy, a promise of eternal life, a promise that is laid claim to in a prayer taught to Jesus disciples that I prayed with Dan every time I would visit Dan at Good Samaritan.

Yes it is the Lord’s Prayer.  That simple prayer that Jesus taught His disciples speaks volumes to us today of the faith of Dan.  But it wasn’t that Dan was perfect, because we know different.  He felt trapped with his condition.  Dan wasn’t able to do what he thought he should be able to for many years.  He could be heard down the hall at Good Sam with his booming voice, his television blaring or what was just a man trapped by circumstance and inability to move or do what he wanted.  But the resolve he felt that was clear was he was here for his kids to take care of them.  Daily he would go visit Danny and sit with him.  Sometimes talking, sometimes watching television, but ever vigilant of being there.  A ministry of presence that spoke volumes.  This same presence he beamed of as he proudly showed the pictures in his room of the apple of his eye, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Yet, no matter what happened, through it all, including the loss of his wife and daughter one thing remained true.  Dan believed in the power of God and that God loved him unconditionally and this is why he wanted to pray with me the Lord’s Prayer with every visit.  The Lord’s Prayer was a salve and a personal confession of his heart.

For the Lord’s Prayer that I would pray with every visit with Dan, is a prayer of love, trust and seeking for God’s Will to be done.  It is a prayer of thanks and praise for God’s gifts.  It is a prayer asking for those who pray it to be forgiven and to forgive others.  For us to not be led into temptation, but to be delivered from evil.  And today Dan is being delivered from the physical bondage that has held him for so many years.  Today God in fulfillment of God’s promise in Holy Baptism sets free Dan and fulfills the promise of eternal life made to him in his Holy Baptism.  It is this promise that we hold onto, lay claim to and believe with a faith given to us by our Lord and Savior in simple water connected with God’s Word.

You see the Lord’s Prayer looked to the fulfillment that we find today as we gather.  Yes, we gather with our hearts broken with loss.  But today we gather, some would believe in a valley with the shadow of death looming over us.  But we are not in a shadow, because death no longer has dominion.  Death has been overcome.  Death was overcome by Dan’s Savior, His Lord, His God, none other than Jesus Christ.

You see the same Man Who taught His disciples the Lord’s Prayer is the same Lord Who in, with, through and by the Water of Holy Baptism washed Dan clean and spotless in the font.  Jesus Christ promised Dan on that faithful day he would be with Him in paradise and today that day has come.  Our grief that the devil wants us to hold onto should be joy, for the devil has not won.  The victory is God’s because on the Cross of Calvary, Jesus Christ bled and died in order that Dan would be set free and have eternal life.  Jesus Christ offered Himself, took on the sins of the entire world including Dan and each and every one of us and fulfills in our hearing and sight God’s promise of grace and mercy for Dan today.

Oswald Chambers once said, “Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the one who is leading”.  Today we celebrate Dan’s being led home and his entrance into eternity where he was led by none other than our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  For the Great Shepherd visits us today not only to lead Dan home, but welcome him into His Kingdom.  The Great Shepherd comes to pray with us as He taught us in the Lord’s Prayer, but also enable us to lay claim to the grace and mercy we find in the Water and Word of God that promised Dan eternal life.  Today, we gather to join together as a family of God and partake of Jesus gift of His precious Body and Blood, given and shed for us for the forgiveness of sin, life and salvation.  Today we bridge the gap with eternity through Holy Communion with Dan, Laura and Diana and all the Saints who have gone before us.  Today we lay claim to the promises of God not only in the Lord’s Prayer, but especially in the gift of God’s grace and mercy offered to Dan with his baptism into Jesus Christ life, death, but especially His resurrection on the third day.

May this promise of grace and every blessing not only enable us to embrace God’s gift of Grace and mercy, but may we know that today Dan has been reunited with his wife Laura, daughter Diana and entered into eternity to be with His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  For this reunion is a celebration, a fulfillment of what Dan was certainly waiting for, but a clear reminder that when we prayed the Lord’s Prayer the ending was the exclamation point.  “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.”  And Jesus makes this true for Dan today and one day for each of us.  AMEN.

Now may the peace of God that surpasses all human understanding guard, protect and comfort our hearts, minds and spirits as we celebrate Dan’s entrance into eternity because of the love of God through His Son, and Dan’s and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

02242016 Wednesday of Lent 2 Emmanuel Lutheran Church Goodland KS

February 24, 2016
Change of Habit

Jeremiah the great prophet of the Old Testament asked a question that clearly speaks about the challenge of Change of Habit.  Jeremiah wrote, (Jeremiah 13:23) “Can the Ethiopian change his skin Or the leopard his spots?”  Basically Jeremiah is asking can one change who they are, their very nature, their very habits that they have developed over their lifetime in an instant?
All of us have probably heard the saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  We know this to mean that once we are stuck doing the same thing it becomes not only part of who we are, but also a clear habit that cannot be easily broken.

Though Change and Habit are neither four letter words, the idea I would like to suggest is that we in and of ourselves cannot change.  We are unable to change our habit.  We cannot make a radical change in our lives, our family, our ministry as a church in and of ourselves.  The reason we are unable to change is because we are unwilling to go against the grain or habit we have either been born into, created with our friends and family or take the necessary steps to make the change, because change requires the loss of something.

If you were to ask any famous athlete, whether they play football, basketball, baseball, soccer, wrestling or any sport.  If they are well known, they know that their natural skill is only part of the equation.  To be a top athlete it takes dedication, willingness to learn and listen to a coach who can help them change in them what has become a habit.  Like a golf swing, swinging a bat or the follow through of a pitch, where the ball will go can radically change with minute changes in spin, angle or speed.

This is true for us in the Christian walk and life as well.  In our first reading, we heard about Joshua who became the leader of the Israelite people.  Joshua had to have a change of habit.  Previously, he probably didn’t know nor understand the trust that would be placed upon him when he would be made the leader of the Israelite people.  But God said clearly, “I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.”  God made a clear promise that He would not fail Joshua, but Joshua would have to trust God with everything he had been given.  And the trust that Joshua needed was a change from his former subservient position to a position that required he be “strong and courageous”.  But God saw potential in Joshua, but also warned him, “Be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left”.  Though very clear boundaries from the law of Moses, Joshua knew he needed to change.  And the change that Joshua made also came with a promise.

The promise made from God is “so that you may have success where ever you go.”  God was telling Joshua when you make this change, I will insure that you will succeed.  God was promising not only His presence, but a clear and manifest guidance throughout his life.  But it would first require the change of Joshua.  A change not just of nature, but of habit.

We who gather here this evening are called to change our habit as well.  As difficult as that is for each and every one of us, God is calling us to change our habit.  And just like Joshua, God makes a promise to us as well.

You see the promise God makes to us begins not only in the Word of God we hear, but finds fulfillment in the font where we have been baptized.  The promise of God to help us in our change of habit finds completion first with Jesus innocent death on Calvary, but ultimate completion with simple Water connected to God’s Word as it is poured over our heads and hearts.  In Holy Baptism, God enables us to not only change with the seasons as we heard last week, but change our very habits and who we are.  No longer are we stuck in the muck of life or of our sin, we are set free to be the people of God.

For just as Paul said to the Galatians about the ability of the Spirit of God, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”  We can through God’s offer of forgiveness change our habits we have created for ourselves and be the children of God with great potential that God sees in each of us, that He has made us into with our baptism.

This is the reason Jesus told the parable of the house for the people of God.  Our foundation as Christians in our baptism is not built on sand, but on the bedrock of the Word of God that finds root in the truth of Jesus Christ.  For the truth is that Jesus Christ offers us in our baptism the tools and abilities to change our legacy and our impact.

Ron Olson, penned a book entitled, “The Legacy Builder”.  One particular quote speaks volumes about the opportunity we Christians have.  Ron writes, “The only people who don’t [change] are the ones who stop trying, stop achieving.”  If we stop achieving or changing, we then relegate ourselves to only watching as the world goes by.  We can reorient ourselves and as Ron alludes to, ‘choose to try’, choose to change and choose to be empowered by God’s Spirit for His Glory.

For this is what Lent is meant to be a time, 40 days, where we can not only see the seasons change, but change our habit.  A change that will enable us as God’s children to be empowered like Joshua to accomplish the God given vision for our congregation, our community, but especially our Creator of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Let’s come to the font and allow God to change us into His holy creation.  AMEN.

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02202016 Jarvis Eugene Young Funeral

Let us pray!  Gracious Heavenly Father, this afternoon we gather to mourn the passing of one of your redeemed Children, Jarvis Eugene Young.  We ask that as we gather to remember the stories, the journeys, his love of working with his hands that our mourning be turned into joy.  For this final journey we take today down the tracks of life for Jarvis has as his final destination heaven.  Thank You for allowing us to hear his wisdom as told in stories and to know and to love him and for the legacy that he has left for each of us, whether in memories, houses or even and especially his love of trains.  Enable us to understand that the grace you offered him is the same offer You make to each of us of Your Son and Jarvis Savior, Jesus Christ.  May Your Gospel be a salve for our hearts and enable us to truly forgive and comfort one another as we celebrate Jarvis Going home.  AMEN.

If you were to try and distill and encapsulate the life of Jarvis Young in two words, they would be “Going Home!”  As a conductor on the Rock Island, Jarvis love of trains was clear and unmistakable.  Whether spinning the true to life yarns as a conductor on the train tracks of life that connected towns, cities and especially lives in a special and profound way.  Or Jarvis clear pride for having worked on the Rock Island when it was not only a family, but where he trusted his children to be taken care of when traveling to see the grandparents.  So much did Jarvis love trains that there are pictures of him in front of one of his favorite trains the Union Pacific 844 in the back.  If you stop and look at the monitors in the narthex on the West and the sun deck on the East, there are pictures of the 844.  Jarvis loved trains, not just the nostalgia, but the pride and power found in their being powered by steam.

Sleek and majestic, full of vigor for the route that the Rock Island or Union Pacific ran, these ‘steamies’ were not only a unique breed of trains, but encapsulated the nostalgia of travelling by train that made our country great.  No matter if it was short trips between Phillipsburg and Limon or even longer routes that connected the East Coast to the West Coast.  Travel by train, especially steam engines was a part of Americana.  Yet, no matter the train, one aspect of travel by train that every crew and especially the conductor looked forward to was the end of the journey when the crew would be going home.

Today we gather for Jarvis last run.  We gather for Jarvis ‘Going Home’, his last ride to the station on the railroad into his heavenly home, where he goes to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ for all eternity.  We heard read earlier, the 14th Chapter of John that reminds us that Jesus goes to prepare a place for us.  Jesus goes to make sure that we are welcomed into our heavenly home so we can feel the comfort of home that only He can give.  Though our earthly home may be nice and neat, entrance into paradise comes because of God’s promise of grace made to each and every one of us with a simple connection of something that Steam engines require in large quantities.  You would be right to say coal back in the day or diesel today, but more importantly for ‘steamies’, without water, a steam engine would not move.

So to for Christians, without Water intimately connected to the Word of God, poured over Jarvis head in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the eternal destination of heaven would not be fulfilled.  But Jarvis in, through and by his baptism with Water and Word in a font similar to this one, was promised eternal life by His Father in heaven.  You see Jarvis heard the call of God in and on his life and today we gather to not only mourn, but celebrate how God called and made Jarvis His own through the Cross of Calvary.

For in Jarvis baptism, he was clothed with the garments of salvation pointing to the Cross of Jesus Christ.  We remember that with the pall and today we lay claim to and hold onto the promise of eternal life offered to and for him by Jesus Christ.  For when the water, the clear, pure and healing waters of Holy Baptism were connected with the Word of God, Jarvis was promised that one day he would enter into His Lord and Savior’s Kingdom.  No longer would sin have dominion over his earthly life, no longer should he fear his earthly death.  For in, through and by the Water of Baptism connected with God’s Word, the promise of eternal life was made to Jarvis.  No longer would satan have the power to snatch Jarvis from God’s Holy Hands.  For in, with, through and by Jarvis washing in Holy Baptism, God would not only lay claim to Jarvis, but fulfill for Jarvis the promise of eternal life.

Today we are witnesses of God’s fulfilling His promise.  Today we witness the celebration of Jarvis entrance into his heavenly home.  Today we lay claim to God’s promise made in the last millennia and today, we thank God for His fulfillment of the promise of eternal life and Jarvis entrance into heaven.

But it is not just a fulfillment of eternal life, we gather today to celebrate the home God made in heaven with many rooms that Dago “Daygo” enters into for all eternity.  You all know Jarvis liked to work with his hands, whether building or remodeling, deconstructing or reconstructing homes, when he wasn’t working on the railroad.  But the home God has made in heaven that we celebrate Jarvis entrance into and that he goes home to today is beyond compare.

For Jesus says, “I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”  You see, Jesus has already walked this path.  Jesus you could say already has ridden the rails and entered into His Kingdom.  For Jesus has not only prepared a perfecty place.  Jesus came last week and received Jarvis unto Himself.  And Jesus fulfills His promise to Jarvis from his baptism and comforts us today with the promise not only of eternal life, but the sure promise, “that where Jesus is, there Jarvis will be also.”  May we be comforted by God’s promise and look forward to our going home one day as well.  For we celebrate this today because of God’s love for all of mankind through His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  This is the promise God fulfills today.  May we take comfort in this truth and celebrate God’s victory over death through Jarvis Savior, Jesus Christ.  For today, Jarvis comes to the end of his earthly line.  Today we celebrate Jarvis “Going Home” to be with his Father, his Lord, his Savior in Jesus Kingdom prepared for him and one day for each of us.  AMEN.

Now may the peace of God that surpasses all human understanding guard and comfort our hearts, minds and spirits as we celebrate Jarvis ‘going home’ as God’s child in God’s home prepared for him.  AMEN

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Sunday, February 21, 2016

02212016 Second Sunday in Lent - "I Will" Come and Worhsip

February 21, 2016
"I Will" Come and Worship

Luke, physician and author of the Gospel of Luke writes the following in his sequel, the Book of Acts:

Acts 2:41-47 “41 So then, those who had received his word [that is the Word of God] were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

This passage from the second chapter of Acts records for us the impact of what the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was capable of in the days, weeks, months and years after Jesus resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven.  So powerful and profound was the message of the Gospel, it was as if the message had never been heard by anyone.  Truly it had not been heard from the bold eyewitnesses of the Apostles and the Evangelists who had seen Jesus, been impacted by His message and their lives radically changed.  But for those who heard the Gospel, “Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.”

So powerful and profound was the awe felt, the fellowship shared and the worship and witness that was experienced, the church grew exponentially.  Luke pulls back the curtain of this growth when he records “that day there were added about three thousand souls”.  Consider that is three-quarters the population of Goodland who were baptized in one day.  But it was not an experience of peer pressure, which is more common today.  The deep impact felt by all who heard was from the mouths of the individuals who witnessed the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The awe was because the Spirit of God moved through the work of the Apostles and moved the people in a clear and profound way and radically changed the people and their individual and collective understanding of the teachings of Jesus Christ.

But of what consequence is this for we who gather here today?  Why should this story inspire us as we gather here today at Emmanuel for fellowship?  For what reason should we as well be in ‘awe’?  I’d like to say it is the preaching, the bold witness from the pulpit.  But I would very wrong.  That would be my ego talking and clearly discounting God.  As Paul said, “May it never be.”

The real reason we should be in ‘awe’ today is because of the promises of God fulfilled for us in two clear and unmistakable ways for us who gather here today.  First, we have heard clearly the Word of God read unto each of us today.  Whether from the lectern, the songs we sing, the liturgy we speak and respond to or even the Gospel message from Matthew of the demon possessed little girl.  Today God’s Word has been spoken in our collective hearing.  God is telling us of His love for us and how from the beginning of time, He has made himself manifest for us and came to set us free.  This is the Gospel message, it is God’s love demonstrated for each and every one of us who gather today, but also for all of mankind.

The second reason we should be in awe today is what we receive from the altar.  We receive the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, given and shed for us for the forgiveness of sins, eternal life and salvation.  When we partake of this meal, God reaches down into our lives and offers us the clearest and most profound blessing we can receive that imparts grace to each and every one of us and the promise of eternal life.  For it is God’s grace that God offers from the altar.  We receive from God the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, for in, with and under the Bread and Wine is Jesus True Body and Blood.

It might seem strange to hear, but God clearly and profoundly wants us to share what we have received this morning, both Word and Sacrament with others.  God wants us to share our worship experience with others.  In the book, “I Will”, Thom Rainer, clearly states the following: “True worship flows from the heart in recognition and response to the magnificence of Christ, and because of an understanding of the grace found solely in the gospel…true biblical worship manifests itself in experience with other believers as well.”  Today as a congregation we have encountered Jesus Christ and His Gospel and Jesus Christ wants us to share our encounter with others.

This is the awe that the first century church shared when three thousand were baptized.  This the awe that occurred when the apostles inspired the people of God to action.  This the awe that God empowers us to share with our friends our family and our fellow sojourners here at Emmanuel.  God is calling us as members of the Body of Christ to resolve not only to hear the Word of God, partake of the Sacrament of Jesus Christ Body and Blood, but also to resolve to love others and move us not just from “I could” to “I might”, but for each of us in awe to resolve to move to from “I could” through “I might” to “I Will” and come and worship our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  God is calling us to say boldly with the apostles, early church and all our brothers and sisters in Christ, today “I Will” share the Gospel with everyone and Come and Worship our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

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02172016 Wednesday of Lent 1 - God Enables us to be His Agents of Change

February 17, 2016
Change of Season: God enables us to be His agents of Change

In 1829, the Governor of New York wrote a letter that clearly feared change.  This was a time when this land that Goodland inhabits today was still controlled by Indians and the Buffalo roamed with wild abandon.  But the Governor wrote of the need to keep the Erie Canal that connected Western New York with Eastern New York open and operational.  For the canal was the life blood of the state and region.  It not only transported goods, but had an entire infrastructure of people that relied upon it for their daily work and well-being.  The letter stated that the canal could and would prevent the British if they invaded again from being able to cut off the flow of goods and services in the region.  The Governor went so far as to say, even the railroads would not be able to provide the needed support that only the Erie Canal could provide.

Nearly 180 years later, the canal written about is only a tourist destination.  The railroad spoken of in fear by the Governor, ironically in that century, connected the West Coast to the East Coast, but now is a shadow of its former self.  And today our superhighways made of concrete and asphalt like I-70 or Highway 83 connect cities and countries and allow each of us to travel at speeds that for the Governor, were reckless and dangerous.

What the Governor was fearful of and every generation from the beginning of time has been fearful of is change.  Whether the speed of travel to the control of our world, all of us fear change.  From the fear of change of jobs, the fear of the change of relationships, to the fear of the unknown that could change our reality.  Change is something that all of us fear and resist with every fiber of our being.
But as Christians we should not fear change.  Because change whether of seasons, positions, passions or potential is a necessary part of life.  When we live in fear, Satan uses our fear against us and wants us to fear, because Satan wants to control us and our eternal destination.  But God like a laser beam cuts through the fear of Satan and sets us free from the shackles of fear and the fear of change.

For from beneath the Cross of Jesus, that we began our worship singing, Jesus is calling us to take a stand.  And our stand is to change the paradigm of our world.  To be willing unlike the Governor of New York, to change.  Unlike the seasons, we have no control over, whether the heat of summer, the cold of winter, the rain for the crops or the wind that dries the ground, we do have the opportunity to change.

Will change come easily?  Not at all, but when we look at our lives and how and what God has done for all of mankind on the Cross of Calvary, we can resolve to change.  For God is calling us to change.  In God’s loving way, He is calling us to change.  God wants us to change and adapt in order that His message of the Gospel will continue to spread here in Goodland.

What does this mean?  Simply, God is calling us to change like the seasons and aid in the spread of His message of salvation for all of mankind, including you and me.  God’s message is timeless, just as Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, each of us are here for this time, we have a purpose and each and every one of us are a part of God’s purpose.  We can change with the times, with the seasons and with the goal of eternity in mind.

There was once a riddle that was told, “What walks on all fours, then on two, then on three?”  Yes, the answer is “man”.  But the idea behind the riddle is that man does not stay the same, man changes over time.  We are constantly changing, from babies, to toddlers, youth to adults, then to just older youth.  Our lives change, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the offer of salvation made to and for each and every one of us, never changes.  What the Gospel can do is change us. 

Jarod Wilson said it so well, “Our job is to love people, not change them.”  Let’s love our world, our community and each of the members of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, not because we have to, but because God first loved us.  For it is God’s love that can change us and we can share that love with one another today and every day we share God’s love with each other.  AMEN.

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Monday, February 15, 2016

02142016 First Sunday in Lent - Accepting God's Change

February 14, 2016
“I Will” Move and Accept God’s Change
David, a simple and humble shepherd boy who had been brought from tending the family herd, after being anointed with the horn of oil by Samuel, received a special gift from God.  It wasn’t a tangible gift, but a gift from God that changed the trajectory of his entire life.  We know David wasn’t perfect during his life as evidenced from Holy Scripture.  But God saw something in David that endured him to his Lord.  When the oil was poured over his head, God bestowed upon David a special measure of His Spirit.  So great and profound was God’s Spirit upon David that David would move and accept God’s change and trust God in everything, even his very life and health.

Enter a giant named Goliath.  Goliath was a part of the Philistine Army and was their champion.  King Saul and his army, who were battling the Philistine army was daily being taunted by this giant.  Everyone feared him because of his size and his daily taunts.  And no one would step up and challenge him.

Who should arrive, but a shepherd boy named David, full of the Spirit of the Lord.  David changed “I could” to “I will”, because David trusted God and entrusted himself to God’s hands and will to fulfill his calling and destiny with a simple sling and a single stone picked from the river bottom.  We know the story, we know the outcome.  But the reality is, David was willing to move and accept God’s change from “I could” to “I will” without question or doubt.

How many of us are willing to do this today?  Potentially very few of us.  But the same Spirit of the Lord that came upon David when he was anointed to be the next king of Israel is the same Spirit we have been anointed with in our baptism.  God places upon our heads and into our hearts the same spirit and entrusts us with the same gift of His Holy Spirit given to David when the horn of oil was poured over his head.

In our baptism into Jesus Christ, life, death and resurrection, we have been entrusted with the power of God to stand up and move with Christ in our daily lives.  Jesus Christ given to each and every one of us empowers us to change our answer from “I could” to “I will”.  God is calling us to step up in our lives and change our trajectory and accept God’s divine hand upon our head, heart and very lives.  God is calling each and every one of us to love one another with an unmistakable love, care, compassion and concern that will radically change our lives and impact not only the people of Emmanuel, but all of Goodland.

Paul, in Ephesians (4:1-3) said it so well, “4 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  We have been called to this bond of peace through our baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection.  One cannot separate these events from our lives, because without them our baptism would be empty and meaningless, and God’s will and way are never meaningless nor empty.

A young child once asked his parents, what makes a kite fly, the string, the body of the kite or the tail?  The grandfather of the child watched as his son and daughter in law struggled to give a response to the inquisitive child.  The parents debated each of the component pieces of the kite, the pros and the cons of each, the aerodynamics, the materials used, the function.  Finally the child perplexed by the parents detailed conversation and response lost interest and ran off to play with a friend outside.

All of us know that a kite cannot fly without each part of the kite.  So to in our lives and relationship with one another and with Jesus Christ, we cannot change and move and accept God’s change without God’s hand and Spirit upon each and every one our lives.  And in our baptism and accepting God’s free grace from His Son on the Cross of Calvary, God enables us to move with Christ, our Lord and Savior, and accept God’s change of each of us into His children through our baptism and move us today like God did David, from “I could” to “I will”. 

May God remind us of His hand and especially His Spirit upon our lives and enable each of us to be diligent and walk in a manner worthy of the calling we have been called.  For our calling like David’s comes from God Who gives each of us His Holy Spirit and empowers each of us to change our answer from “I could” to “I will”.  AMEN.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

02102016 Ash Wednesday - God's Plans Change and Challenge Us!

February 10, 2016
God’s Plans Change and Challenge Us
What does a piece of chalk and a closet have in common?  For some, it is the beginning of a parents worst nightmare of their child marking a place that will require them to re-paint if they move.  For those who saw the War Room movie, it could denote a place where one goes in solitude to engage and battle in prayer over life as a prayer warrior.  Yet, what a piece of chalk and a closet actually have in common are they are the tools that can be used for challenge and change.

In a famous book in evangelical circles entitled, “The Circle Maker”, Mark Batterson tells the story of Honi, a famous prophet who’s life intersects Israel’s at an important juncture.  Israel is in a drought and Honi is the only hope for rain.  Unlike most, Honi does nothing extraordinary but simply goes out into the desert and prays.  Honi’s prayer is not like Jesus, but simply a prayer with a purpose.  You see Honi simply drew a circle around himself and entered into a simple dialogue with God.  For it was not that God needed changing, it was Honi and the people of Israel needed to change.  Tonight we who gather here are no different, God is calling us to change.  We need to draw a circle around ourselves and change.

Tonight we enter into one of the most sacred seasons of the church year.  We enter a penitential season and time of lent.  We gather tonight, receiving the forgiveness of sins and the sign of the Cross of Christ with ash on our foreheads reminding us we are dust and to dust we shall return.  God through the simple action of an ashen cross on our collective foreheads calls for us to action.  For God’s Plans Change and Challenge Us in order for us to be more receptive to God’s leading and not our own.

Our intentional choice to begin action tonight is an opportunity to see God’s plans for our lives and change the landscape that we live on and in.  Not the topography or location, but our perspective of our landscape.  God has great plans for us here at Emmanuel and wants us to change our trajectory.  God wants our destination to be an eternal one, not an earthly one that looks only out for ourselves.  God wants to change and challenge us in order that He will be first in our lives.

If we were on the wrestling team, basketball team or even on any sports team, the coach always wants to improve the level of the players.  So to God wants us to step up our faith game and challenges us to move and grow.  Use our faith muscles and intentionally engage God in daily life.  God challenges our thoughts, motivations, being and challenges us to action.  Action with the destination of His Kingdom.

The promise we hear of God’s plans are meant to change our collective trajectory.  God wants our destination to be an eternity with Him, this is why God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to challenge, change and come to satisfy the payment for each and every one of us.  Jesus came to give us this gift of eternal life and fulfill the plan foretold throughout scripture.  God’s Plans Change and Challenge Us to grow in our Christian faith walk and allow the muscles of faith we have been given to be exercised.

Honi, understood the landscape shift in the concept of change.  This is why he drew a circle around himself.  Honi, drew a circle around himself to change himself.  This is why Honi got in the circle and prayed for change to occur, a change to trust God for His plan to be fulfilled of providing rain to the barren land.  Providing the necessary moisture for the crops to grow and the people to fully rely upon God. 

Tonight, may we with our foreheads marked with the sign of the cross also draw a circle around ourselves and resolve to change.  May this season of Lent be an opportunity to challenge us to change, with the understanding that our change is meant in order for God’s Glory to be revealed in our lives through the gift of grace and love offered for us by God’s Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

02072016 Quinquagesima Emmanuel Lutheran Church Goodland KS

February 7, 2016
We work and sow in faith of the promises!
We all know the stories of “Chicken Little” that always said, “The Sky Is Falling”.  In a movie adaptation, everybody doubted Chicken Little until the sky did start falling.  His reality was not seen until, the people he lived with, understood what he was seeing.  As neat as a fable as it is, the truth is, if one would have only looked with Chicken Little’s perspective, the truth would be revealed.

Today we gather only days before the church begins a penitential time of year, known as the season of Lent.  Yet, the truth is, we should not mourn this time of year or season, but look with a different perspective at what is about to begin and view it as a preparation.  Two weeks ago we heard that we are laborers in the vineyard, no matter when we began the work.  All of us are equal.  Last week, Jesus implored us to SOW the seed of the Gospel.  And today we hear Jesus telling His disciples He is headed to Jerusalem in order to die, rise again and fulfill the plan of salvation.

That may seem strange to read 2000 years later, but the reality for us today is that God isn’t calling us to just listen, God is calling us to something greater.  You see, we who gather here today, “We work and sow in faith of the promises!”  Today we are called to this task as God’s laborers and His children.

God is calling us to work in His Kingdom for His Glory.  We won’t agree with each other 100% of the time.  Each of our methods in our families, farms and futures will be different.  But when we enter into God’s house, are baptized in the Water connected with the Word of God, we are called to pull in the same direction.  We are called to Work and sow in faith of the promises that God makes of eternal life.

God’s promise of eternal life is very clear.  It is meant for us to understand our reality differently.  For God’s Work He has in store for us is to sow the seed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Some of us have said, I don’t have the gifts, I don’t feel comfortable, I’ve done my time.  But have we said, if I can’t speak, maybe God can speak through me.  Have we said, I may not be comfortable being up front, but I will volunteer to support from behind and not wait until I’m asked?  Personally I said “I wasn’t called to ministry” when I graduated college.  I decided I knew better and went off to graduate school.  I thought I knew better than God.  Two years later, in August of 1993, I was headed to seminary.  God wanted me to sow His Gospel and I had to have the chip on my shoulder knocked off. 

So I walked in faith and went to seminary.  I should have been done in 4 years, and been ordained.  But God still had work to do on me.  As you know it was not until I laid prostrate on this floor, hearing and heeding your call of Emmanuel that I was ordained to Word and Sacrament ministry.  But during those 17 years, I learned to walk in faith of the promises of God.  I had to be humbled and honestly that was a really tough pill to swallow.  But once I swallowed it, God has used me in ways I could not have imagined and impacted lives I never would have thought possible.

I tell you this true story, not as some believe, to say “I’m better” than anyone sitting in the pews of Emmanuel.  I tell you my story because God had a plan for me and He definitely has a plan for each and every one of you.  What is holding us back from following God’s plan?  It isn’t faith, because we are here today.  It isn’t because we feel better or more superior to everyone else.  It isn’t that we don’t have the money.  We simply do not follow God’s plan, because it would mean we would have to put our relationship with Jesus Christ first in our lives.

Caleb Breakey wrote a book entitled, “Called to Stay”.  He stated, that in order to grow and help other believers, “Christ must be their (the believers) first relationship, first purpose, and only true source of wealth” (p. 28).  That is a crushing statement in our materialistic society.  Yet, Caleb is right on the mark.

You see if we want Emmanuel to succeed, we need to work tirelessly for God’s Glory.  We need to sow the Word of God in our daily lives and the lives of everyone we meet and we need to have faith in the promises of God of eternal life.  Can we do this on our own?  No way, no how, will never happen.  But God can and does reach down into our lives and offer us the grace we need to be a blessing for each of us.

The meal we are about to receive is proof of God’s reaching down into our lives.  Just as a rancher reaches down into a pit to pull out a calf that has fallen into the deep mud.  God daily reaches down into our lives to wash each of us off and offer us the grace He so freely gives.  When we come and receive Jesus Christ precious Body and Blood, we receive life and salvation, freely offered for us on the cross of Calvary, remembered in the Upper Room and personally prepared for us by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ for us today at our altar.  We receive God’s gift given to us, because of His great love for us.  This is the promise that was sowed in the Garden of Eden, spoken of by the prophets for generations before Jesus birth and fulfilled in the faith we have as we gather here today.

May we today join Jesus and put our individual and personal relationship with Him first in our lives, work in His kingdom for Kingdom results, sow the seed of His offer of grace for all of mankind and trust in His promise that we will have eternal life.  For when we do this, God will take our humble efforts and grant us the greatest blessing, entrance into His Kingdom that He not only prepared for us, but promised us when He uttered these words, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”  AMEN.

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Monday, February 1, 2016

01312016 Sexigesima Sunday Emmanuel Lutheran Church

January 31, 2016
We are to sow the seed!
How many of us like simple?  We have heard the “KISS” principle, “Keep It Simple Stupid”.  But we do make things more difficult than they should be.  Whether relationships with family, involvement in the community whether VFW, Elks, school or even here in the church.  Even in our faith, we sometimes put ourselves over a barrel, because we get over extended, with too much going on and don’t get accomplished what we need to in a given day.  What happens?  We get sick, run down and even worn out.  Unlike our society, God wants us to do one thing and do it well.

Our Gospel this morning is a parable of this sheer simplicity.  Our Gospel’s simple message is Sow.  Not S-E-W with needle and thread, but S-O-W.  We as God’s children are called to SOW the word of God.

Last week we heard how we are the laborers in God’s vineyard, simply God’s hands and feet to do His bidding in our daily lives.  This week, Jesus tells his disciples and the people who came to hear Him preach, simply, SOW what you have been given.  Don’t just put a single seed out there and call it done, but scatter, cast and cover the ground with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Most farmers clearly would balk if I, pastor of Emmanuel came to your farm and tried to tell you how to plant your corn, sow your wheat or even fertilize your crops.  Justifiably so, because I don’t have the experience you have here in Northwest Kansas.  I don’t have the experience necessary to be helpful or fully understand your process, your machinery, nor your method for farming.  Yet, by the same token, if I did have a farm, I’d be tempted to ask you what you did to be successful.

Yet, Jesus didn’t do this with the people to whom He was preaching.  Jesus knew what would be success for the Gospel message and Jesus had one end goal in mind.  Simply SOW the seed and let God, His Father in heaven water it and make it grow.

Our job is simple for each of us gathered here today.  We to have been called to SOW the seed of the Gospel.  We are enabled to share the love of God, and God wants us to simply spread the message of what His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ did on Calvary for all of mankind.

Clearly this is why in 1886, Southeast of here, families came together to worship and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The original sod church of our predecessors was built, a cemetery was dedicated for the final resting place of the Lutherans of this area and pastors from Cheyenne County and other areas of Nebraska came and proclaimed the Word of God, sowing the seed of God here on the prairies of Northwest Kansas.  God knew that we would be here this morning, installing our Church Officers, hearing and supporting the mission of the Gideon’s to SOW the Word of God, but most importantly gathering as a community of believers ready to SOW the Word of God.

We who gather here today are the first settlers descendants and legacy.  We have been called to this task of sowing the seed of God as well.  Let us hear Jesus admonition clearly and be the good soil.  For Jesus speaks to us today, “the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.”  Let us be the good soil, sow the seed of the Gospel wherever we go.  And be enabled through the Word of God to not only hear the Word of God, but share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with all we meet.  For then, by our sowing, God will make the Gospel grow and bear the fruit that only God is able to make grow in preparation for the harvest.  So that in the end the one thing that is glorified is God and His Gospel message sowed for all of mankind, including each and every one of us. AMEN.

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