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Lebanon, Missouri
I am Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church (LC-MS) in Lebanon, MO for 12 years. I'm married to Cheryl and have been blessed with 5 children.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Testing the Tongue (click here)

No this isn't about the Rolling Stones, but about testing our tongues. Our words have the power to edify or destroy, to lie or speak the truth, to express love or hate. What are our words doing?

Luther's explanation of the 8th commandment notes that we should not tell lies about our neighbor, slander him, hurt his reputation, but speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.

James the brother of Jesus has some pointed words about how we use our tongues as well when he writes, "If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless" (James 1:26 NASB).

It behooves us to test our tongues in light of what Luther and James write. What should be our guiding principles? Consider these 5 tests:

1. Would I say it publicly? Luther puts it this way when someone states, "'Why shouldn't I speak if it is the truth?' I reply, 'Why don't you bring it before the regular courts?' 'Oh, I cannot prove it publicly; I might be called a liar and sent away in disgrace.'

Ah, now do you smell the roast? If you do not trust yourself to make your charges before the proper authorities, then hold your tongue...when you repeat a story that you cannot prove, even if it is true, you appear as a liar" (Luther on the 8th Commandment, Large Catechism).

2. Does it accord with the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"?

3. Would you write down your accusations and sign your name?

4. If something is troubling you, did you speak directly to the person who offended you? If it isn't worth talking to the offender about then it isn't worth talking about it to others (gossip). See Matthew 18:15.

James writes that, "No one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison" (James 3:8 NASB). That means that all humanity, and every Christian, has failed to use the tongue as it should be used.

Sometimes we may avoid speaking hard truths for the sake of an easy life. Other times we speak harsh words that are of the flesh not of the Spirit. We fail in the proper use of words. But God gives into our mouths and on our tongues the cleansing body and blood of Jesus in with and under the bread and the wine. Jesus touches our mouths and in faith we are forgiven. Tongues set on fire by Hell receive the most holy and heavenly of gifts and we are cleansed.

Dear God, thank you for your wonderful, beautiful, merciful, words of forgiveness. You have taught us that the tongue can be set on fire by Hell or used to edify the body of Christ. We confess that we have not used our tongues as we aught. Have mercy on us Lord, and give us the grace to pour forth speech filled with truth and love. Amen.


New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995 (Jas 1:26). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.




Monday, September 19, 2011

Sermon on Luke 10:23-27, MP3 (click here)


What is love? What is the power of love? Paul and Jesus seem to be at odds with one another as to its power. Jesus tells a lawayer that he should indeed love God and neighbor to inherit eternal life. Paul tells us that the Law cannot save anyone (Galatians 3:21-22). Even the law to love God and neighbor cannot save.

Click the title above to listen to the sermon on Luke 10:23-37. Discover the power of love and the harmony between Jesus and Paul.

(Picture is from spurgeon.org)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sermon on Luke 18:9-14, MP3 (click here)

Luke 18 presents us with the Pharisee and the tax collector praying in the Temple. The icon above pictures the parable well. The two men above, in the Temple, take much different postures.

The Pharisee (in red) boastfully looks up to heaven. The tax collector in true repentance won't even look up to heaven. The scene is much different when they leave the Temple. The tax collector now looks up to heaven and the Pharisee walks away downcast.

The tax collector goes home justified before God. This was so not because of the tax collector's goodness. He wasn't good before God and he knew it. He was justified by God out of His great mercy.

The tax collector's humble repentance was willing to receive grace from God. The pride of the Pharisee could not receive it.

Bridezilla video (click here)

Church organist meets "bridezilla" -- I found this video hilarious!

There are people who want to use the church building as the stage for their wedding rather than receive the ministry of the church via the religious ceremony.

A wedding couple may want the service to conform to their expectations and fantasies. This is a problem. The wedding ceremony is not owned by the wedding couple. It is a service the church offers in accord with its rite and under the Word of God.

Weddings ceremonies are holy affairs where the church is doing her holy work for a couple. The service is to honor God. In the ceremony the couple calls upon Him for blessing, is instructed in the Word of the Lord, and makes a lifelong commitment to each other before Him.

Bridezilla does not have the mindset to receive from God through the church's ministry. She is not God-centered but focused on self. This is a poor way to begin a married life together. How blessed a couple is, however, when they approach the altar with hearts filled with love, faith, and humility.






Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Cult of "I Think"

Often people run their theology by "I think" or "I feel." What an awful foundation for religion! In this case truth is totally subjectivized. This means there is no Truth at all but mere opinion.

It would be more honest if such a person skip church and look into the bathroom mirror and worship him/herself.

Religion based on "I think" or "I feel" is nothing but idolatry. Martin Luther taught whatever a person "fears, loves, and trusts" above all things is his god.

People love and trust their own opinion, and they fear being wrong. They become their own god whose kingdom is limited to one member.

The choice is clear. Do we make ourselves god or do we receive Jesus as LORD? The former is not only idolatry but also crass arrogance. The latter is not only truth but eternal life. After all, our Lord did say, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."

(The picture is one of many at http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/posters.htm)