Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Sermon May 25-26, 2019

Title: Christ has overcome so that you too overcome!
Text: John 16:23-33

In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

The narrative from our gospel reading from last week continues today. Jesus is speaking to his disciples of his death and resurrection, sorrow at his death that turns to joy at his resurrection. Jesus also promised the comforter, the Holy Spirit that would speak not on his own authority but in unity with the Father and the Son would speak and remind them all that Jesus had said.

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. John 16:14-15

In the world you will have tribulation is one of the many promises of God and certainly one promise none of us wish to claim or experience. But none the less it is what we face in this life.

What do we do and where do we look when the storms of life come?

The loss of a job, death of a loved one, financial hardship or the breakup of a marriage are all part of the the trials of life. You and I know this all too well.

The disciples too, as we learned from last week’s gospel reading, would face sorrow and joy in Jesus’ death and resurrection but that joy would also face the trials of life.

Our Bible Study in the book of Acts that we’ve spent this year studying began with the sending of the Holy Spirit and Jesus’ ascension to the Father.

5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:5

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. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Jesus’ departure was seen and his return promised … but what about the disciples? What about their struggles? Soon, the Holy Spirit would come to be their comforter, pointing them to all Jesus said and did for them and leading them into all truth.

Maybe the words of Christ now too come to their remembrance?

23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

How? Where? When and Why? In what way should we ask, the disciples might have thought? Their minds might have returned to the Lord’s teaching on prayer.

9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth – right here - as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

No more need for prophets no need for Jesus to pray to the Father on our behalf. That which had been broken in the fall is now restored in Christ. “It is finished!” Christ exclaimed. We have peace with God!

In the time of my own mother’s suffering with cancer and my tribulation in this life, this prayer motivated by God’s Spirit brought me peace.

27 for the Father himself loves you, [Jesus says] because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

This plainness of speech perked up the disciples ears! “Ah, now you are speaking plainly!” they exclaim … but the trials of life will still come.

St. Luke continued to show these trials through the book of Acts:

Stephen is martyred, Peter imprisoned, and Paul goes to Jerusalem knowing that he will be bound there and taken to Rome to finish the race ; in the world you will have tribulation.

Acts 21 from our Bible Study this week:

22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by[d] the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.

25 And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again.

29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.

... in the world you will have tribulation.


My nephew Spencer a pilot in the Navy is in the Persian Gulf right now with the Abraham Lincoln strike force and U.S. build up in the conflict with Iran. I think to the time in January of 1991 when my brother, Tom also a Navy pilot and Spencer’s dad, was in the first wave of air strikes off the USS Ranger into Iraq. I thank the Lord for my brother’s safe return home from battle and pray for Spencer’s safety as he serves our nation but the thought of war touches us all, especially when we think of those who have not returned serving our nation and making the ultimate sacrifice as we remember them this Memorial Day.

The word of the gospel continues:

30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.”
31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?

You and I and everyone who follows Christ will see the tribulation promised.

32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.
The disciples deserted Jesus. The trial and tribulation forced them away in hiding.

There has been a time of falling away in the church, when things seem to be well and people experienced a time of prosperity, when they think little about Jesus and his word, but more about the joys of life, a time like now. That is when Satan will sift you like wheat, as he did with St. Peter and the other disciples in Luke 22:31, when St. Peter denied the Lord three times … even saying that “he didn’t even know the man.”

It is a time of falling away, a time of unbelief, a time of trusting the world and the flesh, and a time of doubt now. And like Peter today you may think “Not me Lord!” being ready to go to prison and even death for your faith in Christ. We pray that by the Holy Spirit we may stand firm.

33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” 

Christ has overcome so that you and I overcome!

That is where we find peace and comfort. Not in the things we do but in the things he has done.
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.


Monday, May 20, 2019

Sermon May 18-19, 2019

Title: The Spirit illumines your hidden savior!
Text: John 16:12-22

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.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.

The President claimed that it was his prerogative to determine whether to provide military and diplomatic information to Congress. When Congress sought military information, he ultimately provided it because he determined that doing so was in the public interest. When Congress demanded information about a treaty, he provided it to the Senate but not the House because only the Senate had treaty approval authority. [George Washington]

The President also claimed that he had the power to choose whether or not to comply with a subpoena. When the Chief Justice issued him a subpoena for testimony and documents [in the criminal trial of Aaron Burr,] he ultimately provided some information but refused to testify. [Thomas Jefferson]

And the President repeatedly asserted executive privilege in the face of demands for members of his administration to testify in connection with the [McCarthy] hearings, depriving the Senate committee of substantial information. [Dwight Eisenhower]- edited


No, these are not the current battles with President Trump, Congress, or the Supreme Court. These were past battles for authority by President’s George Washington – in refusing to provide some information to congress, Thomas Jefferson – in refusing to testify in the trial of Aaron Burr, and Dwight D. Eisenhower – in asserting executive privilege and refusing to testify at the McCarthy hearings.

In our constitutional republic we have three equal branches of Government with different powers all wrestling for authority?

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.

God’s economy of Father, Son and Holy Spirit unlike our three branches of government always work together in unity and perfect harmony. There are no checks and balances, no conflict in the Godhead and though they are distinct persons, they work together in unity of purpose for all that God desires.

15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

In the Godhead there is no conflict! Trinity in unity and unity in Trinity!

What had the disciples heard from Jesus?

16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.”
Jesus is talking about his death and resurrection.

The focus of not seeing a loved one comes to mind. 

When I was a little boy and I was leaving my grandparent’s home in Pennsylvania to return home to Michigan. There was sorrow. I loved them and didn’t want to leave them or have them leave me and wondered when I would see them again.

But for the disciples … they didn’t understand what Jesus was saying.

“What is this that he says to us?”
“What does he mean by ‘a little while’?
“We don’t know what he is talking about.”

We too, when it comes to the word of truth at times find ourselves in conflict. As those who have been brought to faith in Christ, we wrestle in tension … in thought, word, and deed with the word of God and at times not understanding.

Jesus knew the disciple’s problem and ours.

He says to them:

20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. John 16:20a

For the disciples, Jesus was pointing to his death on the cross. The Lord of life would be killed and they, his followers, would morn. The world though, those who were in authority, the Jewish leaders, the Roman government, the soldiers and the people – the world then and now – would rejoice.
Sorrow and Joy in tension

But by the working of the Holy Spirit this tension is made new.

You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. John 16:20b

They will be sorrowful at Jesus’ death but rejoice at his resurrection.

Jesus gives an illustration of sorrow, joy and truth to his disciples. 

21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 

The world today has confused and flipped the narrative. They joy in death and deny the gift of life.
When a woman is pregnant, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has aborted the pregnancy, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that an unwanted pregnancy has been terminated in the world. 

Birth, baby, human being and born – all words used by Jesus have been changed to pregnant, aborted, unwanted pregnancy and terminated.

Joy here in the word of man is found not in life but in death. 

Jesus is the author of life and we know this by his Holy Spirit. When we hear the word of the Lord it is by that same Spirit that we know truth. When we deny the truth we deny him and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:10

The Spirit declares the unified authority he shares with the Father and the Son. He glorifies Christ and declares that truth to you and me. The word of God is truth and not falsehood.

The world hates Jesus. 

It hates truth.
It rejoiced in his death.
It denied his resurrection and it still does.
Its authority is temporal and condemned.

The Spirit illumines your hidden savior! For apart from his work you cannot know Jesus nor have faith in him!

But by the Holy Spirit you love Jesus.
By his death he showed his love for you in taking your sins to the cross.
By his bodily resurrection he shows that you too will rise.
His authority is eternal, and all will see his coming.
We who believe will be raised to eternal glory.
Those who reject Christ are condemned to eternal punishment.

22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Life and death, sorrow and joy, by the Spirit’s work, Jesus is made known to you dear friends and that truth is yours just as you are his.

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


Monday, May 13, 2019

Sermon May 11-12, 2019

Title: In Christ, the voice of the good shepherd is heard!
Text: John 10:22-30

27 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.

Last weekend at Confirmation we talked about discerning the voice of the Lord. Also, hearing, listening and obeying that same voice. At times, God’s voice is clear, direct and powerful and it is easy to discern what he means and what he expects of you and of me.

You shall have no other Gods
You shall not steal
You shall not bear false witness
You shall not covet

Other times, God’s word causes us to wrestle with the truth of his word and how best to understand it as we deal in this life with sin, death and the devil.

Honor your father and Mother

Well, what if a mother or father has been or is an abuser of their children?

You shall not kill

How might this apply to warfare and accidents or unintended death? What about capital punishment?

Go, and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit … Matt. 28:19

Is Baptism God’s work or mans?

Take eat, this is my body which is given for you … Take drink, this cup is the new covenant in my blood. Luke 22: 19-20

Is Christ’s true body and blood in with and under the bread and wine or, as some denomination maintain, that it is simply a remembrance? These and other questions must be answered by God’s word in an honest and truthful way and though divisions exist we pray that by his word our lord would guide and direct.

Our gospel for today begins:

22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. [Today this feast is known as Hanukkah or the festival of lights] It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon.

The Feast of Dedication commemorated the reconsecration of the temple in Jerusalem after it had been desecrated. So here in the temple is Jesus, the true temple, who had said in John chapter 2: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again." speaking of his own death, burial and resurrection that we celebrated during Holy Week and Easter. This was in answer to the Jews who had demanded a miraculous sign of him.

Now, the Jews again ask, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

They ask to hear the voice of the lord but their ears are closed to his voice and they have no intention of hearing or obeying.

To this Jesus tells them - I told you and you don’t believe – and that the works that he does in his Father’s name bear witness about him. His death, burial and resurrection bear witness, His word of promise to make disciples by baptizing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit bear witness, His gift of body and blood, in and with the bread and wine for the forgiveness of sins, bear witness.

To deny Jesus is to deny the witness and works he has done in his Father’s name.

The Jews did not believe so Jesus tells them: 26 …” you do not believe because you are not part of my flock.”

It is unbelief that damns us and separates us from Christ.


Over the last few years we welcomed some dear Christian friends into membership here at Peace. It is always a great joy to celebrate with these new members their fellowship here at Peace. Some have been members of God’s flock at other places - for a good long time I dare say, but all are relatively new here to Peace. They all have been called to faith by the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ to believe and by the working of the Holy Spirit they remain steadfast in the faith, hearing the Good Shepherd’s voice, even through the weak vessels of Christ’s under shepherds. They have been received into this sheep fold that is Peace Lutheran church here because it is God’s church and he desires they be here with us and so we rejoice with them that they hear Christ’s voice here … and come.

But Christ also comforts with this promise … [“That] 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.”

Christ’s promise is secure!

My friend Pastor Paul Monson who preached at my ordination gave me godly wisdom when I began my service here about the work of a pastor:

“It's about feeding sheep, caring for sheep, and running after stray sheep.”

But I would add one thing … that it’s also about joyfully welcoming the sheep from other sheepfolds that God has seen fit to send her - maybe only as visitors - to be fed and cared for at this time.


C.S. Lewis once said:

You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death.  - Edited

C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed.

In the midst of sickness, test results, or impending surgery the Lord comes to mind to us all, doesn’t he? We see a great amount of souls added to the prayer list. But following the healing, good test results, or successful surgery we see some forget again the Lord Jesus and his gifts.

[Thoughts on Virginia Blasius Memorial and the word’s of Christ.]

It is certainly not what we do that keeps us in the faith. It is both God’s work that justifies or saves us, as well as, sanctifies or sustains us in that same faith … making us holy - even when we change churches.

We need to hear, listen and obey Christ’s voice.

When I first joined the Lutheran Church through adult confirmation in 1999 [coming from the Roman Catholic church through a nondenominational church] I picked out my own confirmation verse. Then I found out from Pastor Moritz that adults who come into membership don’t get to pick a confirmation verse.

Well being disappointed but not dissuaded I picked one anyway.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Over the last few years the Lord has worked to direct and guide us in aspects of mission and ministry here at Peace, many times bringing the things needed right to our door.

When Katherine gave us notice of taking a job at another church I made a call to Tammy Miller, she came on board as did Tim Prueter, Chris Kitzman Elizabeth and Amy Tkac to get us through the transition and even a guitar hymn as well.

When things needed to change because of budget issues God put things in place and Amy and Elizabeth stepped up along with the CD to keep are services in place.

It showed me once again that we just need to follow God’s leading and directing, trusting that he knows what is best for us … and listening to his word.

It is God who has worked in each of us faith and has brought us here. By his Spirit we hear and follow the good Shepherd call and by that same Spirit he will point, direct and keep us all in that same one faith.

27 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.

May the peace of the Lord be with you always.

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


Monday, May 6, 2019

Sermon May 4-5, 2019 - Confirmation

Title: The net of the Kingdom has been cast!
Text: John 21:1-14

5 Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.

Our gospel reading today begins ...

21 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, - You may know this by its more common name the Sea of Galilee.

It is not a real sea - it is called a sea because of tradition.

The lake is also known on modern maps as Lake Galilee or Lake Tiberias, in the region of Galilee. In modern Hebrew, it is known as Yam Kinneret.

The Sea of Galilee is Israel's largest freshwater lake, about 33 miles) around, about 13 miles long, and 8 miles wide; At 209 meters below sea level, it is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth,


The gospel from last week recounts the two previous appearances of Jesus following the resurrection. The disciples had gathered in the upper room with the doors locked for fear of the Jews and Jesus came and stood among them on the evening of the first day.

“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Today we celebrate the confirmation of five of our congregation’s children who have been instructed and examined and are ready to confirm what God did for them in their baptisms – having not seen yet have believed.

The account in our gospel in John today is the third appearance of Jesus to his disciples.

3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing”. They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Here Jesus comes and says:

5b“Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.”

I found it interesting that Jesus calls them children. He used the Greek word παιδιον (padion) – which means a little child or an infant or a half grown boy or girl or by extension - an immature Christian. Some call them Lads.

6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.

Today we look at our children who will make their confirmation. No they are not little children or infants though we might call them “student” Christians to some degree. They have been taught and they understand the teachings of the Christian faith and they will confirm that faith today and we pray stay connected to Christ and grow in that faith.

What is Confirmation? There are many who will answer various ways and some of their answers will be wrong.

… is not a sacrament;
… it does not complete your baptism;
… you don’t have to be 13 or in eighth grade to be confirmed;
In Luther’s day there was no rite of confirmation as we know it.
There was much though in Luther’s day about teaching the faith.
So what is it and what has it become?

Students confirm what God has done for them in their baptism having been marked as one redeemed by Christ. They confess with their mouth, believe in their heart, and speak what they couldn’t say when they were baptized. They have been instructed in the faith and they will now confirm it publicly – nothing more and nothing less.

A few years ago the board of Elders and I addressed this as we noted the lack of confirmands continuing in worship concluding something was wrong.

The problem began in Germany with the State church with the Rite of Confirmation that coincided with end on the school year and the beginning of the spring planting season. Confirmation took on a look of a graduation ceremony and many confirmands and families took it as such. This carried over with those who immigrated to the United States. In our day some families would stay active in church just long enough to have their children confirmed or would come back to church just in time to enroll their child in confirmation class but after they completing their confirmation stop attending or return to non attendance again.

The problem continues to be widespread in the church and a reason for the decline in our congregation and many congregations in our own Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

For those who like tradition and remember the past fondly … change is at times hard to accept.

Even Luther when he wrote his Small Catechism began with these words:

“As the head of the family should teach them in a simple way to his household.”

Luther’s desire was that fathers most probably, but mothers as well, depending on the family situation, should teach their children the truths of the Christian faith. They would teach them about Jesus and all he did for them. They would bring them to church and hopefully connect them to the family of faith at their local church gathered together to receive God’s gifts of word and sacrament. To do so not only grounds the children but also the parents as well.

Two years ago I asked the Elders to consider earlier communion and confirmation. We discussed what the Lord’s Supper is and if we truly believe that it forgives sins and strengthens faith … why in the world would we not want children who can be taught and understand to receive this blessed gift?

The only answer we could come up with is … “Well, we’ve never done it that way.” So we began with Breanna Squanda and Olivia Fisher teaching them in 6th grade the blessing of this gift and they made their first Holy Communion.

Last year they were confirmed and these 5 confirmation students here today received their first Holy Communion. Today, they will be confirmed. The hope is to let God do what he has promised in this gift – to forgive sins and to strengthen faith. My hope is if they receive these gifts earlier just maybe that will stay connected longer.

The catch of fish in the gospel caught the disciple’s attention.

7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.

10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”

Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.

Maybe they remembered his first call as told in Matthew chapter 4:

Matthew 4:18-20 English Standard Version (ESV)

18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

God has called these children to faith in Holy Baptism. They are marked as his. Today they confirm it publicly and continue their walk with Jesus as his disciples and redeemed children marked and sealed for an eternity with him here in this life and the life to come.

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