Pastor's Blog

September 2017

Peace Received

So what is peace?

It's a good question because it's one of those words that's a bit hard to define, but you can certainly describe peace. We know intuitively when we're at peace and when we're not. When I've got deadlines looming and reports to write and children to cart from one thing to the next - things don't seem so peaceful.

Or are we looking at it all wrong? "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

The peace we seek isn't inside ourselves. It is not found in our actions. It is not found in our accomplishments. It is not discovered when "everything is finally going my way." Peace is something that has to be given.

It was peace that God gave to us from the cross of Jesus Christ. It was peace that came to us from his empty tomb. It was peace with God, peace from guilt, peace from our fear of death, peace to know we have eternal life.

Christ has given you that peace and he wants to leave it with you. So take it. It's yours.

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Are You Listening?

Have you been keeping track of all the weather lately? Let's see, how many hurricanes are we up to this season? Three? Four? How many people in the Caribbean, Florida, Texas, and elsewhere have been killed because of this? Now we hear about a huge earthquake in Mexico on the anniversary of a even bigger earthquake some years earlier! And this, on the heels of another earthquake in Mexico about a month ago. What's going on? Is the earth angry with us?

Of course science has all the answers. Tectonic plates bump into each other. Warm ocean currents and strange weather patterns have combined to form an unusually high number of hurricanes this season. Or might there be a different reason? 

Job 38:1-3 "Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: 'Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.'" God can use the weather to get our attention. The same God who parted the waters of the Red Sea, who calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee, is the same God who controls earthquakes, forest fires, hurricanes, tornadoes and tsunamis. God is getting our attention! He wants us to pay attention to him, to his word and to his message. He does not want us to darken his counsel with our human wisdom, but to receive--with joy--the counsel that comes from his love.

If you weren't listening before, I hope you are now!

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Sealed for Your Perfection

            So do you ever catch yourself looking over the hill, across the fence of that other church? The one whose parking lot is so full on Sunday? The one who just seems to have everything neatly buttoned up and going along so smoothly? Do you ever look at their greener grass and wonder what it would be like to be a perfect church like they are?

            Of course, there’s no such thing as a perfect church. The church across town has its own difficulties and its own unique blessings just like any other. But it’s so easy to wonder why my church isn’t as good as someone else’s. It’s so easy to think of how unsuccessful we may be and forget that God says there really is such a thing as a perfect church. The perfect church is the one that has been sealed by God.

            God has marked every believer with the mark of his love found in his Word. It was his love that washed away every immoral sin, every selfish deed, every worldly thought. It was his love that sent Jesus Christ to live on this world as the perfect Christian that you couldn’t be. And that perfection of Christ has been granted to you because Christ died in your place and paid the price for your sin. It is God’s seal that makes you holy. It is that seal that is blazed on your forehead in the gilded words of the gospel in Word and sacrament. That is the Word which proclaims you sinner no more.

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More Than Crumbs

            “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” These are the last desperate words of a desperate woman. We read them in Matthew 15. She was looking for help for her daughter. And she knew in every fiber of her being that this man, the Son of David, could help her. Her faith clung to the only hope, the hope that the Messiah, the Son of David, Jesus Christ would save her. And she didn’t care what she got from him because she knew whatever he gave would be better than what she had right now. She knew she was a Canaanite. She knew she was unclean to the Jews. She knew her sins made her worthless. “So yes, I’m a dog. But even the dogs eat the crumbs off the floor. And that’s all I’m asking for, Jesus, just the crumbs.”

            This woman understood reality. She understood her standing before God. She understood what it meant that she was unclean. That all her good acts, that all her kind words, that her entire life earned her nothing before God. How about you? When Christ tests your faith, when he causes some difficulty to occur in your life, how do you respond? Do you accuse Christ of being unfair—why me?   The truth is, like this woman, you are a dog, and so am I; we deserve nothing but punishment for our sins. So why should Christ give you or me anything if this is how we are? The answer is in the mercy of Christ.

            When this woman first met Jesus she cried out to him, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!” This is one of the believer’s oldest prayers and we sing it almost every Sunday at the beginning of church, “Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.” When we beg for mercy, we’re asking the Lord to withhold the punishment we deserve. So we say, “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner. Christ, have mercy on me—I deserve nothing. Lord, have mercy because you made a promise to rescue me from my sins.” Three times we call out to the Lord. Three times we beg for mercy. Three times he hears us. Just like this desperate woman who realized she was helpless without the Lord and cried out to him for mercy, we cry too. We use his name, calling on him to remember his promise, calling on him to save us. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Just the crumbs, Lord, just the crumbs.

            Crumbs. All we need are the crumbs of the Lord’s mercy. The crumbs are what are left over from the meal. Do you see the picture? Even if we don’t get the main meal, the crumbs are enough for us. This is a picture of humility, a picture of a sinner who knows he’s sinful, who knows that he’s a dog, and knows he needs help. We don’t deserve anything good from God, but if he would just give us some crumbs, that would be enough. The truth is, he gives us a lot more than just crumbs. He gives us his son. He gives us Jesus, the Son of David, the Messiah, our rescuer, who shed his blood to pay for our sins. He gives us Jesus, the friend of sinners, who lived a perfect life in our place. He prepares for us a feast of forgiveness and invites us to the table.

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Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. ~ LUKE 12:32