Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sermon June 24-25, 2017

Title: Fear not for God knows you, loves you and is with you!
Text: Matthew 10:5, 21-33

32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

The Bohemian reformer John Hus, who lived about a 100 years before Martin Luther, was a man who believed the Scriptures to be the infallible and supreme authority in all matters of faith. He died, burned at the stake, for that belief in Constance, Germany, on his forty-second birthday. As he refused a final plea to renounce his faith, Hus's last words were, "What I taught with my lips, I seal with my blood."

Source Unknown.

Fear not for God knows you, loves you and is with you!

10 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

These are the twelve that Jesus sent out, instructing them. But the bulk of our text today points to what await those who profess faith in Christ.

21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

The work of those who were sent would not be fun or easy. Persecution would be part of the lot of those sent. Not only would the world hate them but so too their family, brother, father children and so on. Christ says,

Have no fear of them … proclaim the truth! 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

This past week was to be my vacation … and it was … to an extent.

The Monday before my vacation began I got a call at church. It was from Carol Cutcher daughter of Glenn Blackerby one of my shut-ins.

Pastor: “Hi Carol, How are you and how is your dad?”
Carol: “Hi Pastor, I’m doing well and my dad has never been better. He went to be with Jesus today.”

Well, I was sad to hear of Glenn’s passing and Carol was going to meet with the people at Coats Funeral Home so I said, “I want to do your dad’s service so let me know when it is and I’ll be available.”

Glenn Blackerby was a dear man. Married to Dorothy for 63 years he was changed after her passing about 8 months ago. Not that he lost faith … but that he lost patience. He wanted to go and be with Jesus and with Dorothy whom he missed greatly.

I was blessed to do Dorothy’s service about 8 months ago and knew Glenn would get there soon enough. As we visited at his home he would say, pastor I want to go be with Jesus and Dorothy … I’m ready. I would say, “I know you are Glenn and Jesus will call you to be with him in his time and way but not just yet. It may be because I just need someone to visit.

Glenn and Dorothy … were a lovely couple and demonstrated a faith lived out in love and service to others. I remember so fondly Dorothy exiting the service and shaking hands with a pleasant thought and Glenn, grabbing my hand and saying:

A mother goes into her son’s room to wake him for church Sunday morning. When she told him it was time to get up he said, “I’m not going!” Why not his mother asked? “I’ll give you two good reasons,” he said. “One they don’t like me and two I don’t like them” “Well,” … his mother replied. “I’ll give you two good reasons why you’re going.” One, you’re 47 years old and two, you’re the pastor!”

Life and faith and … jokes we’re the lifeblood of Glenn Blackerby and his life’s joy left him when Dorothy passed on to heaven.

That is part of our lot as well. To endure sin, death and the devil and we wait for that call that will come for each one of us to go and be with the Lord. At times in this life evil invades our life as that police officer at Flint Bishop international airport found when he was attacked with a knife. Other times death comes and wakes us all to that reality that death is real.

I’ve done 8 funerals this year and only Glenn’s was for a regular attending member. All others were either for those who requested a Lutheran Pastor because there had been a Lutheran background or lapsed attendance. I always am willing to serve as it is an opportunity to bring the word’s of Christ to those who need to hear … and at a time that they will listen.

I spoke with pastor Merrell as there was a call to do a funeral in Ortonville this coming Monday and though I really could use a break I called and offered to do the service for a lady who had a Lutheran background. Thankfully another pastor called earlier so I don’t have one this Monday but I remarked to Pastor Merrell, “I know how we can grow the church! Get people to need a Lutheran pastor … before they die.”

As Glenn Blackerby was known to say:

Life is like a roll of toilet paper …
… you never know when the end will come.

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Christ has promised that he has a room prepared and where He is you too will be also. And He gives you and me the work to do with this promise:

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, John 14:12a

The work of God is this, to believe on him whom he has sent.

God calls some to proclaim that truth publicly but he calls us all to speak these truths to those who need to hear, in good time and bad and at time of joy and at time of sorrow.

As our epistle reading for this day reminds us:

23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 6:23

“To them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name” (John 1: 12).

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

Funeral Sermon for Glenn C. Blackerby June 20, 2017

Title: At home with Jesus forever!
Text: John 14:3 (English Standard Version)

3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Dear friends, family and loved ones of our beloved Glenn.

I’m Pastor Russ Tkac of Peace Lutheran Church of Waterford and I have had the blessing of being Glenn’s pastor for the last 4-1/2 years though I’ve know him for many more years.

Glenn and Dorothy … were a lovely couple and demonstrated a faith lived out in love and service to others. I remember so fondly Dorothy exiting the service and shaking hands with a pleasant thought and Glenn, grabbing my hand and saying:

A mother goes into her son’s room to wake him for church Sunday morning. When she told him it was time to get up he said, “I’m not going!” Why not his mother asked? “I’ll give you two good reasons,” he said. “One they don’t like me and two I don’t like them” “Well,” … his mother replied. “I’ll give you two good reasons why you’re going.” One, you’re 47 years old and two, you’re the pastor!”

That was Glenn Blackerby! A man who loved life, Jesus, his wife Dorothy and jokes.

As the reading from Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us:

3 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;

For Glenn that time to be born was January 14, 1930 and his time to depart this life for his eternal home was 87 years later on Monday June 12th.

Though we all hope to hold our dear loved ones close and save them from this fate … it is appointed for each one of us … and it is a goal we all will achieve.

But in the Gospel text for today Jesus says:

1 "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:1-3)

So though we grieve and are sad at Glenn’s passing we can also have comfort as well. Jesus tells us that He has a place for us, and that included Glenn Blackerby, and it has been prepared for him and he has now taken possession of it.

Glenn knew Jesus and trusted Christ, and seeing Glenn and Dorothy in church over the years I got to know him and his faith in Christ. Of course I also got to hear his jokes – some tame, and some a bit rough, and some a bit long – especially when members of the church were trying to exit and he was holding up the line - but always jokes that if nothing else … made Glenn laugh.

I had a joyful time visiting with Glenn his home and over the last few years and in the hospital and bringing communion to him as it was difficult for Carol to get him to church on a regular basis. Carol would always tell me how they would stay up too late watching the old westerns on TV and sleep through the service time in the morning. I half expected one of his songs today to be the theme from Bonanza or Gun Smoke! But Glenn always really enjoyed receiving the Lord’s Supper at his home to strengthen his faith even though attending church was hard.

I visited Glenn and Carol monthly and we always had a nice visit. He would be sitting in his chair but was able to talk and communicate as he always did though a bit quieter and slower … Glenn confided to me that he missed Dorothy terribly, as we all do. He told me that he told the Lord that he was ready to go and be with him and Dorothy again. He so looked forward to going home and being with Dorothy and a heaven prepared for him.

We can all see the effects of time on our faces as we look into the mirror each morning and in my case an old man looks back where a young man once stood. It is the effect of sin and a broken world and as much as we might all hope to have the blessings of a long life like Glenn’s, the reality of death is real and sooner or later we will all answer the door when death knocks. But too, like Glenn, 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 Glenn 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.

The Psalms can bring comfort at times like these.

Psalm 4:8 (ESV)
8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 27:1 (ESV)
27 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 31:5 (ESV)
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

Psalm 73:26 (ESV)
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Comfort and peace, is what Glenn knew. That Christ had come to rescue him 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 Glenn 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 Glenn, to depart in peace where all who trust in Christ will be with him forever!

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 Glenn 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)

Glenn was prepared, he was forgiven, and he will be … at home with Jesus forever because Christ has promised:

3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

May the Lord comfort you with this blessed good news now and forever!


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sermon June 10-11, 2017

Martin: The man! Video series 1st Installment
Title: Luther’s world, God’s wrath and Peace Eternal!
Text: Phil 3:7-9

7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—

Those words of Paul to the Philippians could have been written from the pen of Martin Luther – but not yet – as we will see and learn in the video series Martin the Man.

Martin’s upbringing was hard, the time that he lived was hard, his parents were hard, and school – being caned 15 times for not preparing his Latin lesson correctly… was hard. This is not the world we live in today or that many of us grew up in.

My own discipline at home and school, like many of yours, was harder then today but for me the blood did not flow for stealing a nut. The threat of punishment for me was real. My own dad would come home from work and ask my mom to “Line them up and tell me which one I need to hit!” Though interestingly, I don’t remember ever getting hit.
Luther was not so lucky. While my own dad could whip his belt off and have it ready to use like a gunslinger from the old west … the punishment was:

“Go to your room, bend over, and wait for me.”

Luther’s view of God the Father was somewhat molded by his own view of his own dad and those who had authority over him. If his own father brought blood flowing punishment for stealing a nut … what possibly could he expect to receive from a Holy God whom he had sinned against in thought, word and dead daily?

Contrast Luther to my own experience:

I was sent to my room for something. It might have been for teasing my sister or brothers who all were younger and smaller than me. I waited a pretty good amount of time, as my dad would say, “Go think about what you had done!” Then the time arrived, my dad came into my room, as I bent over the bed and heard the belt snap to the ready position. But instead of pain and punishment … I felt a gently breeze. As I looked around my dad had a rubber band plane in his hand and the propeller was spinning blowing a breeze in my hair. My dad sat down and explained what I had done and why it was wrong but also … I was forgiven and received grace.

My view of God from my own dad and Luther’s were quite different.

Luther’s dad wanted Martin to be a Lawyer. His dream was more money, security and power.

My dad told me “Russ, whatever you do for a living you’re going to do it a long time so do something you like … and … if possible it would be nice to have heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer.”

As a Roman Catholic Luther knew what penance was. Doing something to make up for what you had done wrong. You go to the Priest and confess you sins and have some satisfaction and prayers … so many Our Father’s and Hail Mary’s for Luther to say and as a young Roman Catholic for me as well.

“Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been six months since my last confession. These are my sins.” I teased my sister. I didn’t listen to my parents. I ran in the hall at school. I smoked a cigarette at the neighbor’s house.”

My penance: 5 Our Father’s and 5 Hail Mary’s.

As a young boy you learn to say them really fast: Our Father …. Hail Mary …. Done! I’m good to go for the next six months. No though of sin no thought of death. I just did 5 Our Father’s and 5 Hail Mary’s God and me are good.

While Luther feared God’s punishment I was blissfully naive to think that I was good with God because of what I had done … my own penance.

Luther thought:

Does, God condemn sin? Am I a sinner? Does God condemn me? And he had to answer yes to all of these questions.

At home Luther received punishment and when he did penance he wondered … “Have I done enough?”

In the movie, Martin Luther Heretic that I show the confirmation students there is s scene with Martin and his father superior Johann Staupitz talking.

Staupitz: “Martin, I’m told that you were in the confessional yesterday evening for six hours?”

Luther: “Yes Father Staupitz. If I commit a sin father I must confess it.”

Staupitz: “Six hours … so Martin are you now free from sin?”

Luther: “No father Staupitz. Father if I’m wrong, I’m ready to be corrected. Father can any man ever be free from sin? Then, how am I to escape?

Staupitz: “Escape! Martin you’re not in prison.”

Luther: “Not in prison. You don’t think so. There are walls all around me father. Can I be free from sin? No. Is there a day of judgment? Yes. Is God indifferent to sin? No. Must I be damned? Yes. …You see there are four walls father and there is no way out.

Staupitz: “Let Israel hope in the Lord with God there is mercy.”

Luther: Father is God merciful? If God’s merciful … let there be no judgment. Let there be no damnation and no hell. Let’s all go to Heaven and live with the angels.

Staupitz: “Martin you feel abandoned; you feel powerless; you’re filled with anger; you hate God. You think you’re the first man who ever doubted the goodness of God?

Luther: “Tell me what to do father!”

Staupitz brings some practical wisdom to Luther’s life.

Staupitz: “Eat more food, get more sleep … learn more about God.

Martin Luther Heretic: DVD quoted

By God’s Spirit Luther was brought to the proper understanding of God’s mercy and forgiveness … but it would take some time.

Many people and burdens would come in his life as we will see throughout this series. But through the word of truth and by the Spirit’s work God would open Luther’s eyes to hear and see the goodness of God.

For you and me … we have received that same Spirit of God to know his mercy, his love and his forgiveness … and even like a gentle blowing breeze, through the propeller of a small toy plane from a loving father, brought forgiveness, we can all know that God’s mercy and grace is real and God’s forgiveness through Christ work is truly ours.

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

Sermon June 3-4, 2017 Pentecost

Title: The Spirit of truth has been poured into your hearts!
Text: Acts 2:1-21

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;

The Day of Pentecost begins the work of the church. In a dramatic way the Spirit comes.

2 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The work of the church begins with the Spirit; the rushing wind, the fire, speaking in foreign tongues, hearing in one’s own language, quite a dramatic scene. The Festival of Weeks – grain harvest – those Jews gathered together in Jerusalem – and the Spirit comes just as Jesus had said 50 days after Easter and 10 days after he ascended.
There were quite a variety of people too:

9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”

The church has a language too. For some it’s German, others English or Spanish, for some Hebrew or Arabic, Japanese or Indonesian. But also the language of the church has one important element and that is it … begins with and is understood through the Spirit.

28 “And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions. Joel 2:28

The Spirit has now been revealed as the one sent to glorify Christ. We have a greater measure of His manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s work in our day than the believers of the Old Testament had.

"At the time when Jesus preached, He promised the Holy Spirit, and therefore the Holy Spirit was not yet there - not that He was not in existence in His person, but that He was not fully manifested – or made known - in His revelation and in His work.

For that is the special work of the Holy Spirit - that He reveal and glorify Christ, that He preach and give testimony concerning Him. That this office of the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ the Lord in the preaching of the forgiveness of sins, and how one may be delivered from the power of sin, death, and the devil, and have comfort and joy in Christ.

All this was at the time of Christ, unheard of and not mentioned; that deliverance, salvation, righteousness, joy, and life should be given us through that man, Christ, whom people did not yet know."

Popular Commentary of the Bible P.E. Kretzmann NT Vol. 1 Pg 452

I made a home visit after Memorial Day on Tuesday and the lady had a page from her Portals of Prayer marked with a fold. For some reason she didn’t like it or understand it and wanted my help.

The text was John 21:17

17[Jesus] said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” … “Feed my sheep.
The basic devotion began by asking the question, why do we love our church? It then went on to list some reason. Maybe we belong to a small group, or have strong friendships; maybe its youth activities or things for the kids; It might be a friendly church or a nice pastor or maybe we’ve been there for years and can’t imagine going anywhere else.

It continues that often there are social reasons that we come – personal relationships, friends, social activities or things we do … that in our mind no one else could do or at least do as well as we can.

But it continued that why we come is for the reasons that Jesus sent the Spirit. So that we might be taught, and fed on God’s word, which brings to our ears forgiveness when we repent and points out our sin when we are blissfully ignorant and happy to just keep on sinning.

The pastor, whether we like him and his personality, or think the church would be better served with someone else - is whom God has placed through the call of the church to be the under shepherd here, to proclaim God words through the working of God’s Holy Spirit. – to bind up we who are brokenhearted.

Portals of Prayer May 7, 2017 Dcs. Rachael D. Thompson (summarized)


My old neighbor Don had an interesting story. I must have been talking to him about changing churches from Heart of the Hills in Rochester to St. John Lutheran.

So Don said, “I’ve changed churches too … but I’m in the same building!”

I didn’t quite understand what he was saying so he explained that his church which was Baptist had grown too big for the building and moved. When the building was sold to another church a Methodist one Don stayed there and started worshiping with them. Later the Methodist church grew too big for the building and moved and it was a Pentecostal that moved in … and Don stayed. But for Pentecostal’s they don’t see the manifestation of the Spirit and his work in the same way as we do. They see the Spirit’s activity as the important work and rather than pointing to the work of Christ on our behalf, desire to see the Spirit work in a miraculous way like on the Day of Pentecost. The speaking in tongues for the Pentecostal is a normal working of God through the Spirit and unless you demonstrate that gift and speak in tongues – which to them are heavenly and indiscernible languages … at times, interpreted by others … who might also speak in indiscernible languages. So - after awhile … as Don said – “of the mumbo jumbo” – he left.

In a sense Don had it right and wrong. Wrong, because the building is not the church. It may be the place for a time where the church gathers and meets, and even other members of the body of Christ might meet and gather in that same place. But the true church is where the word of God, both Law and Gospel, is rightly preached and the sacraments are rightly administered and by the working of the Holy Spirit Christ is made known.

Even those Christians who wrongly understand the work of the Holy Spirit and expect the miraculous working of God as on the Day of Pentecost as a normative sign of the Spirit’s work and faith in our day still have the word of God and God can and does work and teach through that word too.

Maybe that is why Don finally left.

Pentecost has come … and before the Lord returns to judge the world he tells us through the words of Peter’s sermon:

19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.

But we are all left with this great comfort because the Spirit of truth has been poured into your hearts!

21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

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