Monday, October 17, 2016

Sermon October 15-16, 2016

Title: Truth is Truth!
Text: 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Two men had an argument. To settle the matter, they went to a judge for arbitration. The plaintiff made his case. He was very eloquent and persuasive in his reasoning. When he finished, the judge nodded in approval and said, "That's right, that's right."

On hearing this, the defendant jumped up and said, "Wait a second, judge, you haven't even heard my side of the case yet." So the judge told the defendant to state his case. And he, too, was very persuasive and eloquent. When he finished, the judge said, "That's right, that's right."

When the clerk of court heard this, he jumped up and said, "Judge, they both can't be right." The judge looked at the clerk of court and said, "That's right, that's right."

Roger von Oech, Ph.D., A Whack on the Side of the Head, Warner Books, 1983, p. 23.

Truth is Truth! "That's right, that's right."

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

It is interesting here how the apostle Paul writes Timothy – his son in the faith - to urge him to continue to believe the scriptures (the OT teaching) that he learned from his youth through his mother (Eunice) and grandmother (Lois) and from St. Paul himself.

How familiar that sounds especially for you mothers and grandmothers that I hear often urging their own children and grandchildren to continue in the truth of the faith and how you also share your sadness and grief when they seemingly fall away from that faith, turn a deaf ear to it, or act contrary to it.

There are many people in fact that believe and maintain that they are Christians - though they rarely if ever come to church or read the Bible - or even know much of what is believed, taught and confessed by Christians. We also see many children of Christians living together out of wedlock, not seeing or even understanding the sin they are committing. They assume that Love is Love or Sex is Love as it is presented by our civil society, not recognizing that there are desires and ways of life that are in conflict and opposed to the truth of God’s word.

As was presented in our Catechism Connection today and as God’s word tells us in the 6th Commandment about committing adultery – or leading a sexually pure and decent life – covering God’s definition of marriage with husband and wife … loving and honoring each other.


In a recent poll, light is shed on the paradox of religiosity vs. decreased morality, or God’s truth vs. our actions and how we live. 

According to sociologist Robert Bellah, 81% of the American people say they agree that "an individual should arrive at his or her own religious belief independent of any church or synagogue." (That truth is determined apart from God’s word and teaching in our case.) 

This interesting thought is key to the paradox that that those who claim to be Christians are arriving at faith on their own terms -- terms that make no demands … on behavior … or Christian values.
A woman named Sheila, interviewed for Bellah's poll, embodies this attitude. She says, "I believe in God. I can't remember the last time I went to church though, but my faith has carried me a long way. It's 'Sheila-ism.' Just my own little voice." 

Charles Colson, Against the Night, p. 98.

The apostle Paul tells Timothy and us:

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Truth - when it is God’s word - is Truth!

At times life and society tell us what truth is to be believed – whether marriage is between a man and a woman or whether we can celebrate this gift from God in any way we choose. Whether even,

27… God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply Gen. 1:27-28a

Today even gender is no longer a physical determination of male and female but a psychological determination as many see fit - and society in its many forms - in many ways has bought into that truth. How someone sees themselves, or feels about themselves, becomes the determining truth or reality.


An interesting video that I saw on line has a white man of about 30 years of age and around 5’-8” in height on a college campus asking students what they would say if he told them that he is 6’-4” tall.
Most smile a bit and say: “Well who am I to disagree with your truth. If you see yourself as 6’-4” than I guess you are 6’-4”."

When he pushed it further and asked how they might react to him being 6’-4” and Chinese they smiled and said: “If that is your reality then who am I to argue against you?”

Finally, when he claimed to be a 6”-4” Chine woman, one student said: “Oh come on!” 

You see, if you don’t believe and trust God’s word: Then truth is determined by the reality of the individual. If we believe that the child in the womb is just a bunch of cells then removing it is no different than removing a tumor that is benign or cancerous. 

If you don’t believe and trust God’s word: Then there are many paths to the Father as some claim, and Jesus is not the savior and only way that he claimed to be.

If you don’t believe and trust God’s word: Then you might be a pretty good person from your perspective and not dead in trespass and sin as Paul writes the truth of our condition in Ephesians 2.
If you don’t believe and trust God’s word: Then everlasting life is given to all apart from faith in Christ and the death of Jesus Christ was unnecessary and accomplished nothing.

If you don’t believe and trust God’s word: Then the rich man from our lesson a few weeks ago was not in torment in hell and he could have easily gone from death to life just by changing his reality.
If you don’t believe and trust God’s word: Then Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead and you are dead in trespass and sin.

But truth is truth … when it is God’s word …

That is what Paul keeps telling young Pastor Timothy: Preach the Word.

4 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

As Christians we have the truth and we know this by God’s gift of faith alone.

Jesus prays for his disciples in his high priestly prayer of John 17 when he prays to the Father:

14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, [dear friends we’re here for the duration] but that you keep them from the evil one [from sin, death and the power of the devil]. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them [or keep them holy and separate from the world] in the truth; your word is truth.

We are kept in the truth, as we gather together to hear the truth of God’s word, as we receive the gift of forgiveness of sins in our Lord’s word and sacraments and then we go forth joyfully with that same word of comfort and peace to seek those who remain dead in trespass and sin.

For St. Timothy and for you and me all the road remains the same as Paul reminds him:

3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths [or lies of the evil one as the time now shows]. 5 As for you, as it was for Timothy, always be sober-minded, [clear headed and knowing that the truth is truth] endure suffering, [that is the reality for all who believe] do the work of an evangelist, [preach the word and comfort those in need the truth you have been comforted with] fulfill your ministry.
We have been blessed by faith with God truth may you all by that same faith be steadfast in receiving God word as truth for and always.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.


Sermon October 8-9, 2016

Title: Healed and thankful, in Christ!
Text: Luke 17:11-19 (Readings for Praise Band and Kim below)

17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Senator, Mark Hatfield tells of touring Calcutta with Mother Teresa and visiting the so-called "House of Dying," where sick children are cared for in their last days, and the dispensary, where the poor line up by the hundreds to receive medical attention. Watching Mother Teresa minister to these people, feeding and nursing those left by others to die, Hatfield was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the suffering she and her co-workers face daily. "How can you bear the load without being crushed by it?" he asked. Mother Teresa replied, "My dear Senator, I am not called to be successful, I am called to be faithful."

Beyond Hunger, Beals

In our gospel for today there is what is called the saddest text of the Bible. This is where Jesus says, “Where are the nine?” in Luke 17:17 and today we will examine that very text.

The story is told of Jesus traveling through the country side between Samaria and Galilee. And as we’ve discussed over the last number of weeks, Jesus, was on His way to Jerusalem and he was not taking a very direct rout. He was traveling between Galilee on the north and Samaria on the south heading south toward Jerusalem. The text tells us that as he entered a village he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance.

Leprosy is a disease that in Jesus’ time had no cure. Today the disease, which is also known as Hansen’s disease and is caused by a bacterial infection of the nervous system and upper respiratory tract, has over the last 20 years, through God’s blessing of modern medicine, seen over 15,000,000 people cured of this dreaded disease.

But for the 10 lepers in our story today there was little to no hope. They were to spend the rest of their lives in a colony with other Lepers, unable to share the joys of life with their families, confined to a living hell as it were until the time of their death. We all can only imagine how this might have been.

Now Jesus’ travel might have preceded him. The word of his coming having reached these in this dreadful condition, bringing them to faith by the Holy Spirit’s working and though they keep a distance as was mandated by the law, they all called out with a loud voice together. “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” In some way this concerted call to Jesus, the Lord of life, to please have mercy on our dismal condition was an act of faith that this Jesus could in fact do something to cure this leprous condition they all faced together.

Either way, you see a call to Christ by faith from those who had no hope. This hopeless condition of the ten is a call of hope by faith in Him, Jesus our Lord, who is the only hope of life to a dying world.


During the Thirty Years' War in the 17th century, German pastor Paul Gerhardt and his family were forced to flee from their home. One night as they stayed in a small village inn, homeless and afraid, his wife broke down and cried openly in despair. To comfort her, Gerhardt reminded her of Scripture promises about God's provision and keeping. Then, going out to the garden to be alone, he too broke down and wept. He felt he had come to his darkest hour.

Soon afterward, Gerhardt felt the burden lifted and sensed anew the Lord's presence. Taking his pen, he wrote a hymn that has brought comfort to many. "Give to the winds thy fears; hope, and be undismayed; God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears; God shall lift up thy head. Through waves and clouds and storms He gently clears the way. Wait thou His time, so shall the night soon end in joyous day."

It is often in our darkest times that God makes His presence known most clearly. He uses our sufferings and troubles to show us that He is our only source of strength. And when we see this truth, like Pastor Gerhardt, we receive new hope. Are you facing a great trial? Take heart. Put yourself in God's hands. Wait for His timing:

Our Daily Bread, May 7, 1992.

Healed and thankful, in Christ!

What about your trials? What about your faith? Do you feel beat down at times in this life? I think we all could answer yes to that question. Is it a sickness or a death in your family, a broken marriage or a loss of a job? I think we can all attest to things in this life that have burdened both you and me. Is it a child that has fallen away.

The gift of faith and being connected to the faith and life everlasting is the hope for parents and for our church. Many in our church have fallen away from the faith. At times there are broken relationships in families as well, and you may experience bitterness towards others – even someone that you love and hold dear – they may have wronged you and are now living in sin and outside the faith.

Martin Luther had this to say about our text today:

“Christ heals ten lepers and he knew that only one would be grateful (Luke 17:1 1-19). This will also be our lot, and we should not on this account give up our eagerness to confer benefits on others.”

LW Vol. 3 Pg.183 CPH

Loving others is the call that every Christian is given in this life, to love thy neighbor as thyself, even though at times it’s really hard to love those who have wronged you. It’s hard to love those who have not been thankful for what you’ve done for them. But you can all be truly thankful that God is a God of mercy and that He gave up His life for the sins of the whole world … even though many in our world refuse that gift or remain unthankful for all that He has done. Jesus still went to the cross for the sins of those who will never repent or have fallen back into sin. Their sins have been paid for but the benefit and Good News of salvation in Christ they continue to reject, so they stay condemned in their sin and covered in their own righteousness. It is our hope and blessing to continue to share the Gospel and the love of Christ with those who reject Jesus, so that by God’s Holy Spirit working through his word of pardon and in His time, they may repent of their sin and turn to Christ in faith, receiving the forgiveness of sins won for them at the cross.

Remember dear friends that faith is a gift and that you are:

Healed and thankful, in Christ!

14 When Jesus saw the lepers and heard their cries he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” No on the spot healing … but by faith they went as was required by the law. It is suggested that had the priests known that Jesus was behind the healing that they might have refused to recognize the healing and release the lepers as cleansed so Jesus sent them on their way and as they went they were cleansed. Also note that this act of going was also an act of faith - in Christ - and his healing words trusting that as they showed themselves to the priests they would be healed.

15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks.

Christ has washed these lepers clean by His word and He has washed you clean as well through the washing of regeneration by His word in baptism.

5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:5-7)

Christ Jesus has heard your cries too. He hears and His desire is to heal the biggest problem that you have and that is eternal separation from Him.

17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? The one who returned to offer thanks was a Samaritan, a foreigner just as you and I are foreigners graphed in to the vine so that we might bear good fruit. This good fruit is possible only because you have been given mercy.
You have been given mercy and this is nothing you deserve. Whether you return thanks or not Christ’s mercy is still yours because you can never thank Him enough. Your sins have been taken away and you, like the ten, have been cleansed. Your cleansing does not depend on your thanks but on God’s mercy and thankfulness is a fruit of your cleansing and the joy that lives in you by God’s Holy Spirit.

Healed and thankful, in Christ!

By faith, you can be faithful. All you do for the benefit of others is gifted you by our loving God who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 2:2)

Your faith in Him has made you well!

May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and abide with you now and forever.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.

Sermon October 1-2, 2016

Title: Repentance and forgiveness are yours in Christ!
Text: Luke 17:1-20 LWML Weekend

3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

One of the most tragic events during the Reagan Presidency was the Sunday morning terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, in which hundreds of Americans were killed or wounded as they slept. Many of us can still recall the terrible scenes as the dazed survivors worked to dig out their trapped brothers from beneath the rubble.

A few days after the tragedy, [there was an] an extraordinary story. Marine Corps Commandant Paul Kelly, visited some of the wounded survivors then in a Frankfurt, Germany, hospital. Among them was Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, severely wounded in the incident. Nashton had so many tubes running in and out of his body that a witness said he looked more like a machine than a man; yet he survived.

As Kelly neared him, Nashton, struggling to move and racked with pain, motioned for a piece of paper and a pen. He wrote a brief note and passed it back to the Commandant. On the slip of paper was but two words -- “Semper Fi” the Latin motto of the Marines meaning "forever faithful." With those two simple words Nashton spoke for the millions of Americans who have sacrificed body and limb and their lives for their country -- those who have remained faithful.

J. Dobson & Gary Bauer, Children at Risk, Word, 1990, pp. 187-188.

Being faithful as followers of Christ and his Gospel also has obstacles and enemies. As Jesus says:

“Temptations to sin are sure to come,”

We all fall short in thought, word and deed - even at times allowing the things, and those that we love, to become a stumbling block – separation us from the love of God and getting in the way of the gift that is Christ Jesus our Lord.

Even the little ones, those who are new to the faith, child, teen, and adult alike can have those who lead them away through their own apathy for Christ and love for the world. Jesus gives a word picture of a millstone and sea as to what awaits those who lead away from him, becoming a stumbling block where unbelief results.

We too find temptations to sin and fall away all around. The needs of the body and the loves of life can draw us to inactivity. I just don’t have the time to get to worship. The kids have a game or are so busy. They’ve been confirmed … I’ve done my job.

I had the same problem. Work demanded much of my time … even working nights and weekends. As God drew me closer to him and as I read more of his word I saw that I needed to be the spiritual head of my family. 

“No way!” that’s hard. I have enough to do. I work long hours, care for the house and yard and besides Monica would be better at it than me!” She’s nicer.

But Jesus calls … through the word. “Russ … you need to do it.” Not, that Monica can’t teach and lead and support, but YOU are the one who needs to be the spiritual head of the family and mom’s need to encourage their husbands to that duty. “Semper Fi, Forever faithful to Jesus and his words!”

5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

Even the apostle’s faith was struggling. They’re confused and until after the resurrection won’t really understand what Jesus is saying.

6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

Duty can be summed up with these letters: LWML

This weekend we celebrate the work of the ladies of the LWML, better known as the Lutheran Woman’s Missionary League. You might think of them as the group with the little boxes or mites that are collected where pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters are put into mission work in our area and around the world.

You might think as well, “That little bit of money I give won’t even be noticed.” But the giving of mites and the small donations grow by the blessing of the Lord. So, your paper money is appreciated too!

Some of you may or may not know that I have been serving as the LWML pastor for the zone we are part of. I was involved also at the fall rally October 1st at St. Stephens yesterday. It is an honor to serve in a small way those who serve the Lord and his flock in so many and varied ways.

For instance the LWML is involved in a clean water and evangelism ministry, disaster response, cancer care packages, healthy families initiative, training teachers and leaders for service, helping hands initiative, Deaconess training, Lutheran Youth Corps, Hope for Detroit and so much more to the tune of over $1,400,000. Even St. Paul Pontiac, our own missions outreach, received a sizeable grant for continued mission work.

Duty is their middle name as these members of the body of Christ work for the benefit of our Lord’s kingdom.

Your heavenly Father knows your needs and also the needs throughout the world. These needs are met by God through means and one of those means that we contribute to is the LWML mites program and that money multiplied by God brings relief and service to a hurting world … not only for the needs of the body to be fulfilled but also for the needs of a world hopeless without Jesus.

Our local LWML and their mite collections are just a small snapshot of God’s greater work throughout the world. He lets us help much like a child with a plastic saw and hammer sees himself helping dad build the deck or finish the basement. We go through the motions and God does the real work.

10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”

Our duty is to believe on Jesus whom he has sent. Through faith as a gift we believe and serve our neighbors as his servants. May that be your comfort now and always.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sermon September 24-25, 2016

Title: The true gift of the kingdom is not in this life!
Text: Luke 16:19-31

29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

James Packer writes in his book Your Father Loves You:

The New Testament always conceives of eternal punishment as consisting of an agonizing knowledge of one's own ill desert, of God's displeasure, of the good that one has lost, and of the irrevocable fixed state in which one now finds oneself. The doctrine of eternal punishment was taught in the synagogue even before our Lord took it up and enforced it in the Gospels. All the language that strikes terror into our hearts -- weeping and gnashing of teeth, outer darkness, the worm, the fire, gehenna, the great gulf fixed -- is all directly taken from our Lord's teaching. It is from Jesus Christ that we learn the doctrine of eternal punishment.

James Packer, Your Father Loves You, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986.

19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.

The story that Jesus begins to tell picks up on the theme from last week that you can’t serve both God and money – where you will love the one and hate the other or be devoted to the one and despise the other - and also the week before where we learned that Jesus is the Good Shepherd that seeks the lost sheep leaving the 99 and that joy in heaven that is found when one sinner repents.

We see here a rich man, or one who has the blessings of this life and lives in an opulent manner and to the point that Jesus says that this he does every day.  Contrasted with this we find:

20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table.

Not a good life here.

Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.

The contrast of wealth and opulence and the poor and lowly of the world is not lost on the Pharisees, Scribes and teachers of the Law as Jesus said:

15 … “are those who justify yourselves before men, [the rich man] but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

The true gift of the kingdom is not in this life!
It is not in this life – wealth, riches and temporal gifts but it is given in this life. Christ made known by the power of the Holy Spirit in the word of the Gospel and connected to the waters of Holy Baptism where God washes away our sin marking us his child.

Jesus continues the story abruptly,

22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment,

Both dead but two very different results; one carried to Abraham’s side the other in torment and a gulf (chasm) fixed between them.


A story is told of:

A pig who ate his fill of acorns under an oak tree and then started to root around the tree. A crow remarked, "You shouldn’t do this. If you lay bare the roots, the tree will wither and die." "Let it die," said the pig. "Who cares as long as [I have] acorns?"

Bits & Pieces, February, 1990, p. 24.

It is interesting that Lazarus is called by name and that God knows him personally but a certain man neither knows God, nor is known by him, as a loving father knows a child. We at times can’t see the tree and the blessings of God that the acorns are, given as a gift. Just as the wealth and riches of this life are given and received from God, the true giver of life who gives all in Christ, in service to our neighbor and the needs of the body.

The call goes forth.

‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’

The result of trusting in Christ versus trusting in riches is made clear. The temporal blessings of this age are for … but a time … but God’s eternal blessings given as a gift are forever. But also, the result of falling away into trusting those “idols” that draw us away from Christ.

A few weeks ago Jesus said:

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

That even family can and does draw us away from the savior.

Two weeks ago it was:

’7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Repentant and forgiveness are God’s work through the Holy Spirit working through the word.

Last week it was Jesus speaking to the Pharisees who were lovers of money:

14 … “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
Today it is the consequence of a life apart from God.

1. Eternal torment as opposed to eternal life: both are real and both are forever.

2. Good and bad: The good can at times draw us away from Christ trusting in the things of this world where keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus can get us through the trials of this life with the focus of the blessings and riches in heaven.

3. A chasm [gulf] fixed: In some way the torment of hell is the knowledge of a life wasted not in service to God and neighbor but only to self. There is even the knowledge of those by name – Lazarus - who we could have helped but didn’t. Who is the Lazarus in your life?

4. The reality of those left behind: The desire of the rich man here is to awaken his brothers to the reality and importance of repentance and faith in Christ given for the forgiveness of sins and time still for a turning to God.

5. Moses and the Prophets: The means to faith is given and revealed in God’s means of word and sacraments. Moses and the Prophets, Law and Gospel, heard and received by the Holy Spirit or connected to the waters of Holy Baptism by the power of the holy Spirit. [Little Rose Pietrzak]

6. Sending Lazarus back from the dead:

8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Romans 5:8-10

The good news is that Christ Jesus died for you! Moses and the prophets testify to this so you and I are without excuse. We heed the working of the Holy Spirit who calls us to repentance or we continue to live as if it doesn’t matter. There will be no excuses or second chances in the life to come, but there will be weeping, and gnashing of teeth as the reality of a life rejecting faith in Christ tears at the very fabric of those in eternal torment ... for eternity.

9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9

For you dear friends Christ calls, comforts and brings to faith by his Spirit. Just as in baptism you were made his. May this be your joy now and forever.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.

Monday, Sept 19, 2016 Funeral Sermon for Dorothy Mae Blackerby

Monday, Sept 19, 2016
Funeral Sermon for Dorothy Mae Blackerby
Text: Luke 2:22-32

29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”

Dear friends, family and loved ones of our beloved Dorothy. As we together morn and grieve her passing and our loss, let us comfort and sustain one another with the blessed hope, that in Christ death is a parting for a time but there awaits a joyful reunion for all who believe.

I’m Pastor Russ Tkac and I’ve had the pleasure of being Dorothy’s pastor over these last few years. While it had been difficult for Dorothy to deal with her Illness she was comforted by her loving family, their help and her trust in Jesus. In this she had true peace.

Peace can take on the many different looks, both young and old, from the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger … to the man Christ Jesus hanging on a cross crying out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) But there is both joy and peace in Christ’s life and in his purifying death that it allows all who depart, trusting in Christ Jesus as both savior and Lord to receive that peace!

Our beloved Dorothy knew and received that Peace!

St. Luke writes in his gospel about Mary and Joseph bringing Jesus to the temple of the Lord to make a sacrifice as the Law required. And while there a man named Simeon, who as we are told was righteous and devout and waiting for the consolation of Israel, or the comfort and peace of God, and that the Holy Spirit was upon him.

27 … and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,

according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation

31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and for glory to your people Israel.”

The joy of seeing this child, this Jesus brought to fulfillment for Simeon what the Lord by the Holy Spirit had promised, that he would not die until he had seen the Christ.

Dorothy knew that Christ’s death would allow her to depart in peace!

I had a joyful time visiting with Dorothy and Glenn at their home and in the hospital and bringing communion to them as it was difficult getting them to church on a regular basis. She would always tell me how much she enjoyed being in worship with us but thankful as well when she could attend and really enjoyed receiving the Lord’s Supper at her home with Glenn which helped to strengthened both of their faith.

I visited Dorothy in the afternoon of September 12th and we had a great visit. She was in bed but was able to talk fully of her salvation in Christ and receive the sacrament with Glenn as she loved to do … holding his hand. She so looked forward to going home and with Dorothy you knew that meant the Lord’s home and a heaven prepared for her.

We can all see the effects of time on our faces as we look into the mirror each morning. As much as we might all hope to have the blessings of a long life like Dorothy’s, the reality of death is real and sooner or later we will all answer the door when death knocks. But too, like Dorothy, we can have comfort and peace because:

Death’s sting has been swallowed up in victory by Jesus Christ and we can all have comfort in His blessed work and this blessed Good News. As we together grieve the loss of our beloved Dorothy and think about this frail existence we all inhabit here in this world, we can still have peace.

I rest beneath the Almighty's shade,
My griefs expire, my troubles cease;
Thou, Lord, on whom my soul is stayed,
Will keep me still in perfect peace.

Charles Wesley.

Comfort and peace, is what Dorothy knew. That Christ had come to rescue her and you can know that as well. Comfort and peace, knows the joy of Christ Jesus in your life by God grace and mercy.

Comfort and peace, is being called to follow Christ by God’s Holy Spirit who indwells all believers and is called the comforter even by Jesus himself.

For Jesus Himself says that:

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Dear friends, you too have access to the father as Dorothy did through Christ Jesus our Lord who came to live, suffer, die and rise again for you and who will give to all true peace found only in His saving arms that were outstretched upon the cross as He gave up His life for you.

Because of Christ’s purifying death he allows you too, like Dorothy to depart in peace!

So when the trials of life burden you and the storms of life rage and when even death is near, rest in the peace of Christ no matter the storms of life, but rests in the loving hands of Jesus the savior who reminds us in John’s gospel the wonderful comfort that Dorothy knew:

7 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.


Sermon Sept. 17-18, 2016

Title: The Lord gives true riches through faith in Him!
Text: Luke 16:1-15

13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.


There are two ways in which a Christian may view his money--"How much of my money shall I use for God?" or "How much of God's money shall I use for myself?"
W. Graham Scroggie.

"Money often comes between men and God. Someone has said that if you take two small coins, and placed in the right position, you can shut out the view of a beautiful landscape.

The truth is, it doesn't take large quantities of money to come between you and God; just a little, placed in the wrong position, will effectively obscure the view.

Cedric Gowler.

But we must remember that money too has its limitations.

Money will buy a bed but not sleep; it will buy books but not brains; food but not an appetite; the finer things in life but not beauty, medicines but not health, luxury but not culture, amusement but not happiness … a crucifix … but not a Savior, and even a place of worship but not Heaven.
(Ps. 49. 6-8; Eccles. 5. 12)

In our lesson today, Jesus brings to the ears of the disciples, and all his followers, a parable or story which illustrates serving God and money.

The previous parables, from the weeks leading up to this, had been directed to the Pharisees, teachers of the law and the scribes, and now the disciples too.

How do you deal with a bad manager? Especially one, who has not been looking out for the owner’s best interest?

2 And [the owner] called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’

It is not an uncommon situation for many who serve in positions of responsibility. As Pastor’s we call called stewards of the mysteries of God. We are called to faithfully divide the word of truth, and to administer God’s sacraments rightly.

As managers, in companies, you manage someone else’s money and possessions and you have a responsibility to deal in a favorable way with it … or as the parable says … be replaced.

Or, as my brother-n-law Mark has said in speaking of a co-worker:

“He would make a great manager, if under constant supervision.”

So in the Gospel lesson much conniving and cooking of the books ensue.

Managers at time try to figure out a solution.

4 I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may [still think well of me] receive me into their houses.’

For managers and for us all, self preservation is a strong motivator.

5 …, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 … ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ … sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7 … ‘And how much do you owe?’ …, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’

The object for the manager was to do damage control. With this scheme the shortage would disappear, or the income would look to be much smaller than the owner thought. And if he is found out, the customers would still think well of him.

It has even been suggested that the manager had falsified the amounts in the original billings and pocketed the surplus.

Certainly this is not out of the realm of possibilities.

Popular Commentary on the Bible P.E. Kretzmann Pg. 354


At a meeting many years ago it was made known that a co-worker had defrauded the company. He had sold instruments for the company but sold the trade-ins for his own profit. The company was unaware of the trades as the manager’s paperwork showed only a cash transaction with no trade in information.

The manager personally picked the trade in instruments and sold them out of his garage – to other customers - so the company lost the profit on the trades and future company business.

Interestingly, my boss’ son who mediated the affair and meeting had compassion on the worker and allowed him to remain with the company though under supervision of another as he had a wife and two small children.

Faced with a crisis many are clever though dishonest in solving problems.

Even the master in our lesson, when he received information concerning this latest trick of the manager, could not withhold a certain amount of praise. He praised him, not on account of his unfaithfulness and his fraud, but on account of the cleverness in handling the situation and getting himself out of a very unpleasant predicament.

Popular Commentary on the Bible P.E. Kretzmann Pg. 354

All of life has consequences, some that are good and some that are bad but again:

The Lord has given true riches through faith in Him!

There was a saying that my boss told me many years ago. It was said about those who had paper wealth by speculating in internet stocks.

“Money easily gotten is money easily lost.”


Some years ago there was a book on the market called Rich Dad, Poor Dad and it was written by a man, Robert Kiyosaki, who had learned the secrets of making money in real estate from his friend’s dad, verses the things he learned from his own dad who went to work and lived a very common and boring middle class existence.

Fast forward to August of 2012 and Rich Global LLC is bankrupt owing 24 million to one investor, though Kiyosaki remains quite wealthy through some shrewd and questionable practices.

10 “One who is faithful in little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in little is also dishonest in much.

Now, the world makes provision for the future, that is, they look to put themselves and their families beyond care, as soon as possible, it is the focus of their life and they make use of every possible advantage through: retirement investments, pensions, savings, homes and 401Ks to name a few.

God’s children, on the other hand, often are anything but energetic and diligent in the things that pertain to God and His kingdom.

They forget that death is real and the end is coming - Sometimes much sooner than we’ve planned and all will have to give an account to the Lord in regard to their business transactions for Him – in this life.

Jesus here admonishes them that they should so conduct their lives, and the money entrusted to them and as Christians should use their money in the interest of the kingdom of God, in establishing and extending the Church of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

So that in this way the poor and those outside the Christian faith, receive the benefit of such investments, from God through his children.


12 [But] if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

For the Christian ethics is important.


As a manager myself in business I had the owner’s trust. Having keys for three stores I would leave my home in Waterford, stop at his store on Dixie Hwy. and pick up the bank deposit and then go to the Bloomfield Hills store dropping off the money and paperwork for Waterford, and the Plymouth Store that I managed. Each day I handled the business and cash for at least two stores.

One day I helped my co-worker Alan sell a guitar. At times the drivers delivering and picking up pianos picked up the paper work and cash as well returning it to the office. When it came time for commissions to be paid, Alan didn’t have the guitar sale I helped him with on his paperwork. I looked everywhere and called all the stores and my boss. It was nowhere to be found. The guitar was listed in inventory and there was no sale. It was like it vanished.

I felt terrible. I for one had responsibility for my worker at Plymouth – to see that he got paid for what he sold and to my owner to see that he received the money he had coming. It was nowhere to be found.

After much searching though and talks we all decided to move on my boss told me “Russ it is not that I don’t value the guitar sale but we have to get back to doing business.” It was baffling … but we had business to do.

Over a year later, I had some dead time at the store and decided to clean my desk. Also my briefcase was full of old and outdated paperwork and contracts. As I got rid of that I noticed what looked to be a dollar at the bottom back of the briefcase. As I reached for it I was surprised to pull out six one hundred dollar bills and the contract for one guitar sale for Alan.

I called my boss, “Ben, do you remember that deal on the lost guitar over a year ago?” “Yes”, he said. Well, it was in my briefcase and it will be in the bank today! He said thanks and hung up. He didn’t sound real happy while I was ecstatic.

I talked to his son Jim later that day. “Did you hear about the lost guitar?” I asked. “Yes I did great news!” he said, “Your dad didn’t seem too excited.” “Well, he was mad … said you need to be more careful in dealing with these things and not so careless with the companies money.” I told him, “Dad … be thankful, you have an honest employee. That is worth so much more than $600.”

It might explain why when Jim bought the company from his dad some years later why he asked me to be a signer on the checkbook and to pay the bills in his absence.

Money in this life is needed but a wise old pastor once said:

“The only money that truly matters to God is money that is used in service to Him and His Kingdom.”

And the true blessing and gift that God gives you and me is faith in His son.

He has given us life through the death of His son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who came to live suffer and die and rise again for you and for me. This bears fruit in service to our neighbor, not by works of righteousness that we do, but by true joy in Jesus Christ our Lord.

We can joy in the faith we are given as children of God knowing that all falls under His control and that he uses you and me as his hands and feet in the world to reach the lost with the comfort of the Gospel message.

You are rich and truly bless because God has given you riches in Him and they will surpass and far exceed those promised by the world.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.

Sermon September 10-11, 2016

Title: Rejoice! You have been found!
Text: Luke 15:1-10 (Readings for Praise Band and Kim below)

6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Jesus came for sinners. That is good news that He has found you!

15 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

The charge against Jesus has always been harsh. “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” How might that reflect on you and me and those with whom we associate? Are you accused of being like those with whom you associate?

Interesting, is it not? Jesus came for sinners and that very fact has the Pharisees and scribes grumbling.


Years ago in the distant eons of the 1970s I was playing at a club and a young Priest came with a friend of mine to hear us play. As we talked during a break he remarked, “I wonder what my church would think of me hanging out in a bar and listening to a rock band.”

And then he said, “It is probably the place I should be and the place I could do the most good.”

When you think about it … where did Jesus spend most of his time? And who did he spend that time with? For sure He was among the people, but here and in many other places in scripture He was with the Pharisees, rulers, scribes and the Jewish leaders teaching … and rebuking … and calling.

What does that say about sinners? They’re everywhere; in the church and out of the church. Those who are piously leading religious lives … or so the impression seems and those who are far away from God … at a bar … hanging out … or so the impression seems.

For Jesus and in His day the perceptions were the same. Some who seemed religious were not, and those who were seen as sinners, as in the stories of tax collectors and adulterers, were those God called to faith and used as witnesses to the working of God, through the word, in their lives by His Spirit.

The joy is that there was a purpose for Christ’s coming and that is that:

Jesus came for sinners. Rejoice! You have been found!
3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?


In the operating room of a large hospital, a young nurse was completing her first full day of responsibilities.

"You've only removed 11 sponges, doctor," she said to the surgeon. "We used 12."

"I removed them all," the doctor declared. "We'll close the incision now."

"No," the nurse objected. "We used 12 sponges."

"I'll take full responsibility," the surgeon said grimly.


"You can't do that!" blazed the nurse. "Think of the patient."

The surgeon smiled, lifted his foot, and showed the nurse the 12th sponge. "You'll do," he said.

Today in the Word, April 7, 1992.

You were lost and have been found. Jesus came for you, the one lost sheep, just as each one of us are lost at birth, born dead in trespass and sin. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save those that were lost.” (Luke 19:10) What the sinners need is Jesus Christ and His Word and Spirit in their lives; all else is hopeless.


In Acts we read:

36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Acts 15:36-39

Here Martin Luther writes:

"Here it appears either Paul or Barnabas went too far. It must have been a violent disagreement to separate two associates who were so closely united. Indeed, the text indicates as much.

"Such examples are written for our consolation: for it is a great comfort to us to hear that great saints, who have the Spirit of God, also struggle. Those who say that saints do not sin would deprive us of this comfort.

"Samson, David, and many other celebrated men full of the Holy Spirit fell into grievous sins. Job and Jeremiah cursed the day of their birth; Elijah and Jonah were weary of life and desired death.

"No one has ever fallen so grievously that he may not rise again. Conversely, no one stands so firmly that he may not fall. If Peter (and Paul and Barnabas) fell, I too may fall. If they rose again, I too may rise again."

Martin Luther.

Rejoice! You as lost sheep have been found!

5 And when [the shepherd] has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

The place of strength … the high Priest’s shoulders is where the sheep is carried. In the Old Testament there is example of the making of the Ephod, which was an article of clothing worn by the High Priest of Israel:

6 “And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and of fine twined linen, skillfully worked. 7 It shall have two shoulder pieces attached to its two edges, so that it may be joined together …

9 You shall take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, 10 six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the remaining six on the other stone, in the order of their birth …

12 And you shall set the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, as stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel. And Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD on his two shoulders for remembrance. (Ex. 28:6-7, 9-10,12)

Jesus carries the lost sheep that have been found upon his shoulders we find as the parable continues.

6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

The joy of the Good Shepherd is … you!

The joy for sinners is that you are not so lost that Jesus can’t find you. As He says in the parable of the lost coin:

8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, Greek - ten drachmas; a drachma was a Greek coin approximately equal in value to a Roman denarius, worth about a day's wage for a laborer if she loses one coin, the lost sheep or you does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? Jesus Christ by the working of His Holt Spirit will continue to seek you. 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’

It is a joy to find what was important that was lost because as has been said:

Objects are lost because people look where they are not instead of where they are.

Or … as might be said:

People are lost because we preach the gospel where they are not instead of where they are. 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Rejoice! You have been found!

So just as our lesson began today:

5 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

Joy in the good news that Jesus is willing and able to meet sinners – you and me - where we are. He comes to you through the word preached and through the sacraments rightly administered and that is exceedingly good and blessed news. But He also is with you when the gospel of promise is used by you to reach those friends or strangers as a comforting balm for the hurting and sinfulness of this life … that breaks us and others … saying that the only way out is death and despair. The comfort of the gospel is there too because Jesus is the Gospel. He is the Good News. He is the comfort, and He is the Peace.

He will find the lost because He will never stop seeking you and those who need to hear this blessed joy that:

Christ came for sinners, and you dear friends … are found!

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.