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Category Archives: Sermons

Love ALL Your Neighbors

Our passage this morning is perhaps among the most infamous scriptures of all-time, for Christians and non-Christians alike know it. There are churches, schools, social organizations, charities, and hospitals named after The Good Samaritan.

And yet, this teaching of Jesus did not begin with him.
It is echoed throughout the Torah (teaching or law), the prophets of old, Jesus’ life and ministry, and within the letters of the Apostle Paul.

And yet, after all these centuries, we continue to talk the talk but we do not often walk the walk.

Within these past weeks, I have encountered numerous quotes on Facebook, in text messages, and otherwise that communicate this teaching well. But day by day, it seems that our world is becoming more and more divided. We live within a charged environment, where everything is used as a means to divide ourselves.

For example, a friend posted a song with one of its lines on Facebook, neither the line nor the song had political undertones. And yet, Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2019 in Sermons

 

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Discipleship: Rejection and Wrath

I know Jesus’ words last week were harsh and hard to hear or listen to, but I do need to do a short recap for the connection to our texts today. These scriptures demonstrate the difference between the intention of Christianity and what it has become.

Christianity is the only world religion where we can be identified as a ‘believer’ without necessarily being an ‘adherent’ or ‘practitioner’.

Christians are identified as such by our profession alone that Jesus is our Christ, Messiah, and Savior. Denominational Christians are identified by the additional teachings they profess. These do not require specific rituals, spiritual practices, or moral code by which a person lives their life as such with non-Christian adherents/practitioners.

But, this profession of Christian faith with or without denominational affiliation should not be enough. We are called deeper into discipleship and to be ‘practitioners’.

Our texts from these Sundays, teach us about discipleship, or walking in Jesus’ steps.

Last Sunday, we were reminded that God’s grace is a free gift we cannot earn or lose by our own efforts. Paul reminded us, however, to not become intoxicated on said grace and its freedom. Elijah and Jesus reminded us that the proper response to said grace is sacrificial and costly, calling us deeper into our baptismal agreement: Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2019 in Sermons

 

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But, Why the Pigs

Earlier this week, I had a text message conversation with my mama.

Me: I have your favorite Bible story this Sunday.
Mama: Yea?
Me: When Jesus casts the demons into the pigs and then they jump off the cliff.
Mama: No!!! Bad!!! Possessing and killing pigs is bad!!!

My mama can intimately relate to the pig farmers in our passage, who are displeased by the actions of Jesus resulting in the loss of their hogs and lively-hood. My mama was and is proud to have been an Indiana pig farmer, who also unfortunately lost the entire herd in one night when lightening struck the metal silo where the pigs were cuddled together.

So, my mama always asks: Why the pigs? What did they ever do to deserve it?

And so, I decided to explore ‘why the pigs’ more deeply this week and I learned there are multiple, significant levels of symbolism.

So, why did Jesus allow these demons to enter into living things instead of an one-way ticket back to the fires of hell? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2019 in Sermons

 

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The Holy Spirit (a sermon)

We hold to many mysteries within our Christian faith which we do not understand, cannot fully comprehend, and cannot fully explain or describe to another.

Next Sunday, we will explore a HUGE mystery of faith attempting to more fully understand the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit as a whole. But, this morning we will focus on one piece of the Trinity, which is a piece we do not tend to focus upon.

One day in seminary, we were discussing the Holy Trinity and our Christian claim that it should be ‘balanced’, meaning that the three “persons” (due to a lack of appropriate term) should be balanced and equaled, thus no one “person” of the Trinity should be given more attention or precedent.

One classmate stated “well, you know those Pentecostals have an unbalanced Trinity”.

I responded, “I suppose you are arguing the idea that Pentecostals focus heavily on the Holy Spirit compared to God the Father and God the Son (Jesus Christ)”.

After he confirmed it, I continued “if we want to hold that criticism of the Pentecostals, we need to accept the same criticism of ourselves and the Lutheran tradition as practiced”.

It was an unpopular opinion. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2019 in Sermons

 

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What is Truth?

We often hear about Scripture as black-and-white and clear cut, but is it?

Jesus tells the disciples that he will send them (and us) the Holy Spirit to remind us of Jesus’ teachings of truth and arguably lead us on the right pathways.
But, what is truth?

Scripture might be black and red ink, depending on the Bible, printed on white paper, but that does not make it black-and-white.

We all come to Scripture with an understanding or particularly tinted lens, which colors Scripture in a particular light for better and for worse.

We can “justify” nearly any stance or ideology we desire, even if it is only a verse or two from the whole and often irresponsibly out-of-context.

For example, I had a Social Studies – English joint course in High School with an assignment to argue for or against a controversial topic. It was prepared in conversation with a classmate, who shared the topic but was your opposition. It was intended to build skills in logic, reason, and debate.

My controversial topic was capital punishment. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2019 in Sermons

 

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Diversity and Love

This morning we encounter two of my favorite passages paired together.

In fact, it was this pairing three years ago that the message continued to burn within me after the service and I recorded a Facebook video, which led to recording sermon summaries and now full sermons.

These complement the previous two weeks and simplifies an over-arching theme in Scripture, but I will attempt to avoid this becoming a long-winded rant.

This weekend I have been at A World A’Fair in Dayton, which is an annual festival of histories, dance, items, and foods from 30+ different nations. It was a rich sampling of the beautiful, unique, and diverse experiment that is the United States. Yet, this richness in races, ethnicities, and cultures have an unfortunate and continued history of tension and conflict due to said diversity.

This is not unlike the experiment that is Christianity. Christianity is practiced in virtually every nation, by individuals of every race, ethnicity, nationality, and culture as well as every socio-economic status, gender identity, sexuality, political affiliation, etc.

Christianity is beautiful, unique, and diverse with billions of Christian practitioners, in millions of congregations, and in thousands of differing denominations. Christianity had, has, and unfortunately will continue to experience tensions and conflicts due to said diversity.

Yet, Christianity was almost not so rich. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2019 in Sermons

 

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Sheep and Shepherds

Did you notice the common theme in ALL of our Scriptures? (Shepherd)

It is the Shepherd. This fourth Sunday in Easter is informally known as “Good Shepherd” Sunday, which always reminds me of the relationship between the sheep and the shepherd.

Although it sounds odds, it also always reminds me of our understanding and use of language. There is a reason.

My internship was served at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, which included working with the senior high youth. I created a Facebook page for our youth group featuring a picture I took in Ireland of sheep resting in a field. It was a beautiful and peaceful image, but the communications director was in my office 30 minutes later informing me that it needed to be changed because ‘we’re NOT sheep’.

In our time, place, and culture a person called a ‘sheep’ is often one that has seemingly turned off their logical minds, closed their eyes, and are being blindly led… perhaps led stray.

BUT, have you been around or worked with sheep?
Do sheep turn off their minds and do as they are told?
(They don’t do anything you tell them to do.) Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2019 in Sermons

 

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