Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sermon May 23- 24, 2015

Title: God’s Spirit leads you into all truth!
Text: John 15: 26-27; 16:4b-15

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

T.H. Huxley, a biologist and strong adherent to Darwin’s theory of evolution and who was also a well-known agnostic, was with a group of men at a weekend house party. On Sunday morning, while most of them were preparing to go to church, he approached a man known for his Christian character and said, "Suppose you stay at home and tell my why you are a Christian." The man, knowing he couldn't match wits with Huxley, hesitated. But the agnostic said gently, "I don't want to argue with you. I just want you to tell me simply what this Christ means to you." The man did, and when he finished, there were tears in Huxley's eyes as he said, "I would give my right hand if only I could believe that!"

Our Daily Bread, January 24, 1993.

God’s Spirit leads you into all truth!

Today we celebrate the sending of the Spirit which in the Book of Acts speaks of the Spirit coming as a mighty rushing wind and as tongues of fire, resting on the disciples and giving them utterance. This powerful speaking in other tongues gives the disciples the ability to be heard as Luke writes in the book of Acts:

“Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?” (Acts 2:7b-8)

And the diversity of those that hear is large.

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.” (Acts 2:9-11)

The Spirit can certainly do marvelous things to reach all people! And that is what Jesus tells the disciples in the Gospel reading for today.

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

The Spirit of truth will tell you about Jesus.

God’s Spirit leads you into all truth!


Christ met unbelievers where they were. He realized what many Christians today still don't seem to understand. Cultivators have to get out in the field. According to one count, the gospels record 132 contacts that Jesus had with people. Six were in the Temple, four in the synagogues and 122 were out with the people in the mainstream of life.

J.K. Johnston, Why Christians Sin, Discovery House, 1992, p. 142.

God can use us all. God will use us all.

My friend Rob makes his living teaching guitar and banjo. He is very talented and those he teaches learn well. But his mission is to tell the world about Christ and through his gift of music he gets an opportunity to tell the world about Jesus and Christ himself says that it is to your advantage that he goes away:

But if I go, I will send him [the Spirit] to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

Satan has been judged at the cross. He has been defeated and it is now through the working of the Spirit that Christ’s work is made known to the world so that sin might be repented of and people come to faith in Christ.

We know that we ourselves need repentance and forgiveness, so also those who will come to faith by the Spirit’s work through the word. God’s means of word and sacrament are found here in God’s house but the word is active and goes with each one of us as we in our vocations take Christ with us in our daily lives as father’s mothers, brothers, sisters, workers and solders too. Celebrating Memorial Day we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice and also those who served the freedoms we all enjoy.

As those who have gone to war zones around the world, the Spirit of truth has gone with each believer to remind them what Christ has done for them and through them - also the word of truth has been shared with those who needed to hear. The work of Chaplains has been an important means that God has used to reach those who need the comfort of the Spirit’s work.


[A] New Testament [not much different than the one I hold here] was given to US Army nurse 2nd Lt. Edith Corns by Army Chaplain Perry O. Wilcox on 16 April 1942, while both were stationed on Corregidor. Shortly thereafter, the island was surrendered. Corns spent the remainder of the war in the Santo Tomas prison camp until it was liberated by an intrepid raid in February 1945 during the Battle of Manila. She was able to hold onto the New Testament for comfort throughout her imprisonment. [The Spirit of truth, brings comfort and peace through the word]


My mother-n-law Jeanne Comins was also a 2nd  Lt stationed in the Philippians during WWII and could have been one like Edith Corns  to spend time in a prison camp. It is through God's words and the blessings of Chaplains that God's word brings comfort to those who serve and to many who dies in service to of country and freedoms we all enjoy.

God’s Spirit leads you into all truth!

Today we remember those who served, and who serve, for our freedoms, and the work of God’s service to us by his Spirit through word and sacrament.

As Jesus says:

13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
God’s Spirit leads you into all truth!

Christ and his work is who the Helper, the Holy Spirit points to and it defines what is His work and what He works to accomplish.

Jesus sends the Helper and by His work you are His!

We have peace to with God too because of the Holy Spirit. He brings us to life from our spiritual death and give us the faith that points and holds to Christ.

And as was confessed today in the Nicene Creed:

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The Lord and giver of life,
Who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified,
Who spoke through the prophets …

The Holy Spirit is God the sanctifier or the one who makes us Holy…

Jesus sends the Helper the Holy Spirit and by His work you are His!

To be comforted at times is good,

To be helped at times is also good,

but to be forgiven and given the gift of faith in Christ and His work is the work of the Holy Spirit who was sent to draw people not to himself but to Christ.

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


Monday, May 18, 2015

Sermon May 16-17, 2015

Title: God’s Spirit points you to Jesus!
Text: John 17: 11b-19

11b [Jesus said:] Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

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, but that you keep them from the evil one.

17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

Charles Spurgeon once wrote:

"To remain divided is sinful! Did not our Lord pray that they may be one, even as we are one"? (John 17:22). A chorus of ecumenical voices keep harping the unity tune. What they are saying is, "Christians of all doctrinal shades and beliefs must come together in one visible organization, regardless... Unite, unite!"  Such teaching is false, reckless and dangerous. Truth alone must determine our alignments. Truth comes before unity.  Unity without truth is hazardous. Our Lord's prayer in John 17 must be read in its full context. Look at verse 17: "Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth." Only those sanctified through the Word can be one in Christ. To teach otherwise is to betray the Gospel.

Charles H. Spurgeon, The Essence of Separation, quoted in The Berean Call, July, 1992, p. 4.

God’s Spirit points you to Jesus!

11b Holy Father, keep them in your name … that they may be one, even as we are one.

Jesus too desired unity around the truth. Jesus’ will was in accord with the will of his Father.

Jesus says: I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost.

Jesus’ desire is to keep and protect those whom he will leave soon as he returns to the Father. His desire is that they (his disciples) may be one in unity with each other just as Jesus and the Father are one in unity … though distinct in person. Christ says that he has guarded them and that not one has been lost except for Judas - the one who went the way of destruction – so that the scriptures may be filled.

And as Christ prepares to leave them, he prays for them that the Father would keep them, in your name, in the name of the one true God, so that they would be guarded and not lost. As Christ prepares to leave the world he knows that his own will remain in the world just as you and I also remain and though in the world are not of the world. We remain but also we represent the work of God in us to abide in Jesus to remain in him, to be his and to show forth his will against the power of the evil one who looks only to steal, kill and destroy.

God’s Spirit points you to Jesus!

Having just returned from Germany, I couldn’t help thinking while there as we were driving to the airport in Berlin how much has changed in the 70 years since the Nazis and Hitler were defeated.


During World War II, Hitler commanded all religious groups to unite so that he could control them. Among the Brethren assemblies, half complied and half refused. Those who went along with the order had a much easier time. Those who did not, faced harsh persecution. In almost every family of those who resisted, someone died in a concentration camp.

When the war was over, feelings of bitterness ran deep between the groups and there was much tension. Finally they decided that the situation had to be healed. Leaders from each group met at a quiet retreat. For several days, each person spent time in prayer, examining his own heart in the light of Christ's commands. Then they came together.  Francis Schaeffer, who told of the incident, asked a friend who was there, "What did you do then?" "We were just one," he replied. As they confessed their hostility and bitterness to God and yielded to His control, the Holy Spirit created a spirit of unity among them. Love filled their hearts and dissolved their hatred.

When love prevails among believers, especially in times of strong disagreement, it presents to the world an indisputable mark of a true follower of Jesus Christ.

Our Daily Bread, October 4, 1992.

All of us have differences. We all have conflicts. We have families and this too can pull us apart as we wrestle with the changes in society and civic life. As marriage gets redefined the true goal is not tolerance but a breakdown of the family as has been based on Biblical principles and God’s word.
Jesus says: 17 Sanctify them [or make them holy which also is to be set apart] in the truth; [he then tells us that] your word is truth.

Apart from God’s word we live in a world where God is re-made in man’s image and that is how the devil wants it. To turn what God has said upside down into that first deceptive question: “Did God really say?” It gives us all, like Adam and Eve, a high view of self and a low view of sin … which is simply, missing the mark and coming up short, on what God expects and so what do we do? We lower the bar rather than honor God’s commands.

Jesus’ desire for you and me … in the world … is that they also may be sanctified in truth.

God’s Spirit does that by pointing you to Jesus!

As Jesus returns to the Father he leaves his disciples with a promise.

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.

Acts 1:8-9

Our first reading follows this as the disciples return to Jerusalem and the upper room where they were staying … where Jesus had appeared to them.

14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

Unity around truth, that Jesus Christ is the son of God.

How do we know this? How can we know this?

… your word is truth. God’s word … Jesus … is truth.

At Baptism we are marked as God’s own child, as one redeemed by Christ, as one who was crucified for you and me. This Jesus upon his ascension gave the promise that we would not be left alone and that the comforter, who would come at Pentecost, would be with us a point us to the unity found in Jesus the word of God made flesh.

God’s Spirit points you to Jesus!

Dr. Scott Murray in his wonderful Memorial moment devotion reminds us that:

When the Word is lost everything is lost. Over the past twenty years, churches have begun to jettison the confession of faith in the Creeds of the church. They are no longer recited as part of church services. When this trend began the clergy, who were so eager to get rid of the public confession of the faith by the faithful, were quick to reassure the skeptical that even though they no longer said the words that they certainly still affirmed the content of the Creeds. More recently the clergy who jettisoned the recitation of the Creed are now quite aggressively rejecting the content of the Creed, including its Christological [focus on Christ] content. Once we stop saying the words, it isn't very long until we stop believing the content of them.

Dr. Scott Murray: Unloving Love Wednesday of Easter 6 13 May 2015

The truth comes to us in the word of God and is made know through the work of the Spirit who points us to the truth of Christ’s work.

Luther reminds us:

"In the issue of salvation, on the other hand, when fanatics teach lies and errors under the guise of truth and make an impression on many, there love must not be exercised and error must not be approved. For what is lost here is not merely a good deed done for someone who is ungrateful, but the Word, faith, Christ, and eternal life, etc. are lost. Therefore, if you deny God in one article of faith, you have denied Him in all; for God is not divided into many articles, but He is everything in each article and He is one in all the articles of the faith."

Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, 5.9

17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

Christ has made you his own and will keep you by his Spirit connected to him and his truth. This is his promiss.

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


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Picking in Wittenberg!

With the May 3 opening of the International Lutheran Center at the Old Latin School in Wittenberg, many families,...

Posted by The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod on Thursday, May 14, 2015

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Monday, May 11, 2015

Wittenberg, Germany

 Inside St. Mary's church where Luther preached
  Philip Melanchthon's house.
  Luther's house.
The Old Latin School and the new Lutheran world outreach center.
   Dedication of the Old Latin School. Old Latin School Dedication

 Church door where Luther nailed his 95 Theses.
Ross Holmes and Rob Bourassa two of the best  musicians I know!
                                                                  Wittenberg street.


                           "Old School" playing some bluegrass for an outreach event

                          Old School Outreach Concert

Sermon May 9-10, 2015 – Confirmation and Mother’s Day

Title: Jesus has given you joy!
Text: John 15:9-11

9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

The complexities of Mother's Day:

To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you

To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you

To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be

To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths

To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you

To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you

Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.


On this Mothers day it is certainly a day where we remember and thank our Mother’s for all that they do and have done for us, but it is also a day where we thank the Lord - those who stand in their place - and care for us with their love.

Jesus has given you joy!

As we celebrate the continued blessings on this day! Mother’s Day, Confirmation Day, the Lord’s Day … it doesn’t get much better than this.

But it does! Jesus says:

9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

To abide in Christ is to be connected to him, and to be connected to him is to receive Christ’s love – which is the same love that the Father has for Jesus Christ.

So how are we to remain, or abide in Christ?

10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.

All of this is connected to verses 1-8 that precede our text for today where Christ says:

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Apart from Christ we can’t keep the commandments, but in Christ, we abide in him and, the commandments are already kept perfectly for us by Jesus himself … and as a result we merit what Christ has earned for us … the love of the Father.

Jesus has given you joy!


I had the joy of Christ this past week as I traveled to Wittenberg, Germany –the heart of the Reformation - where Martin Luther preached, taught and wrote. The Old Latin School building that was dedicated this past weekend is only 25 steeps as you walk from the door of the Old Latin School to the entrance door of Luther’s church, St Mary’s where he preached.

As I was there it was hard not to think of the history of this place and the connection to our church and what we teach to these Confirmation students and all that they studied and learned to be prepared to be confirmed today/ tomorrow. Luther’s catechism and the teachings of the Bible it contains, is still relevant today at keeping these students and us all connected and abiding in Christ and bearing good fruit.

President Matthew Harrison of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod took us on a tour of historic Wittenberg and as we went he brought to life many parts of Lutheran history and the Reformation and people involved in Wittenberg. The place where Luther nailed his 95 theses, where he burned the papal bull of excommunication and the place he went to following his time in the Wartburg castle translating the Bible. But regarding the Small Catechism, Luther considered this to be one of his most important works, because it teaches the faith to children and by faith that is what we all are. As Luther neared death, and who was very ill, said to his wife Katy … “Remember your Catechism and read it daily.”

These students know this very well.  They all did great on their exams after being prepared and will now be confirmed as communicate members of this church - abiding in Christ through word and sacrament and receiving Christ’s joy  that it may dwell in them.

Jesus has given you joy!

We all were once God’s enemies having inherited the fall into sin from our first parents Adam and Eve. By this we too, who were born in sin, had no hope, and death was our reward.


Cable television mogul Ted Turner [once] criticized fundamentalist Christianity and said Jesus probably would "be sick at his stomach" over the way his ideas have been "twisted," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Turner made his remarks at a banquet in Orlando, Fla., where he was given an award by the American Humanist Association for his work on behalf of the environment and world peace. Turner said he had a strict Christian upbringing and at one time considered becoming a missionary. "I was saved seven or eight times," the newspaper quoted him as saying. But he said he became disenchanted with Christianity after his sister died, despite his prayers. Turner said the more he strayed from his faith, "the better I felt."

Spokesman-Review, May 1, 1990.

It is what we all face and what these students too face. The devil has no interest in those who stray from the faith as they are already on the road that leads to destruction, but for those who name the name of Christ, he is gearing up to attack them where he can and where it can do the most damage … in the family. So, it is important now more than ever as we see the attack on the family and the Christian faith throughout the world grow, to abide in Christ and his word and gifts to us and love one another as he has loved us.

John sums it all up in his epistle for today when he says:

4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith [the pure gift of God]. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Dear Christian and fellow confirmed we are God’s children by grace through faith and this is not a work we do but it is a gift of God so that there is no boasting on our part. Christ is the one in whom we boast because it is his work on our behalf that brings us the salvation we receive.

Jesus has given you joy!

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