Sermon: St. Luke 5:1-11 – Trinity 5 2020

St. Luke 5:1-11 – Trinity 5 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Bossier City, LA
July 12, 2020

INI. Amen. καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς Σίμων εἶπεν· Ἐπιστάτα, διʼ ὅλης νυκτὸς κοπιάσαντες οὐδὲν ἐλάβομεν·  ἐπὶ δὲ τῷ ῥήματί σου χαλάσω τὰ δίκτυα. (St. Luke 5:5). St. Peter had it out all figured out. He had his Jesus life — church, Bible Study, and potlucks. What Lutheran doesn’t like a good Potluck? Peter too! Jesus always gives the best Fish Poboys!

Peter also had his work life. Fishing not for a hobby like but for a career. Fished these waters his whole life. He knew how to catch fish— his life depended upon it.

Traveling preacher Jesus comes with a large crowd in tow. They push Him, press Him against the shore demanding of Him some words. That’s the way of faith! Faith clings to the Lord’s Words and promises as if our lives depended upon it. Because they do!

So, Jesus hopped into St. Peter’s boat and asked him to put out a little from the shore. And He taught the crowd right there from the boat! But the Lord didn’t stop there, after teaching, He asked Peter, Ἐπανάγαγε εἰς τὸ βάθος καὶ χαλάσατε τὰ δίκτυα ὑμῶν εἰς ἄγραν. (Luke 5:4)

Peter knew fishing. He lived it. He breathed it. And here was the Lord telling to cast his net into a water that he knew had been utterly fish-less all night long. So when Pete says ἐπὶ δὲ τῷ ῥήματί σου χαλάσω τὰ δίκτυα (Luke 5:5), you can bet it was not in faith, but with a sigh and an eye roll just to prove Jesus wrong.

You see — it’s easy for a while to juggle all the compartments of your life: work, faith, family, politics, and even how we fight this virus — all neatly compartmentalized so you can get along with the world, your family, your work, and still have your church.

But when your faith conflicts with those other compartments of your life, that’s when the problems begins. When the world pushes your faith, when it contradicts it, when it challenges it, when the world says you are gonna get this virus and die, what moves? Do you trust Jesus or do you trust what you know, think, feel? Do you know nothing other than Jesus Christ and Him crucified or is that just one contradictory truth amongst many in your mind? 

The Miracle: Fish and more fish. So many fish that the net was breaking. Call the other boat there’s so many fish. Two boats so filled with fishies that they are gonna go under!

That’s the way of faith — always more. More forgiveness, more mercy, more love — from God to you and then enlivening your love, mercy, and forgiveness to others. Won on the Cross where Jesus suffered and died for your sins and the sins of the whole world and then delivered to you in the waters of your Baptism.

Baptism— that’s where fishes are caught in His net. You, me, all of us were caught up by Jesus’ men in the net of His words. Fishermen like Kunz, Koch, Johnson, Fenker, and the fisherman you are slumming with now delivering the words that the world thinks are foolish but that you know to be the power of God.

 Ἔξελθε ἀπʼ ἐμοῦ, ὅτι ἀνὴρ ἁμαρτωλός εἰμι, κύριε. (St. Luke 5:8)  Peter drops to his knees in fear. All that He had known about his life was trumped by Jesus and He simply had refused to believe it. He had believe Jesus was God but not the God that is two-boats-filled-with-fish good. The Lord was the only compartment—the only truth in His life—that was certain and true.

The Lord is calling you to repent today. He will not suffer Himself to be just a part of your life, He would be in all of your life —- in your work, your family, your friendships, your politics, even in how you protect yourself from this virus. 

And I’m not telling you to force your faith down the throats of your neighbor or to walk around as if you are virus proof. That’s not what Jesus did for St. Peter and not how He rolls with you. I’m telling you to cast your net on the side of the boat of your life and get ready for a catch of fish. Live your Christianity in your vocations — in your school, work, family, your politics. Put your mask on and obey the governor with the certainty that all these measures won’t protect you. No, your Lord has made you death proof and He will save you even if the virus gets you.

The world and your faith are going to collide more and more in the months to come. They are incompatible. One is going to have to give. I’m telling you now to comfort you so that when you fear being cancelled, that you will lose friendships, that you are going to die every time someone coughs, that you will lose your livelihood, then you will remember that before anything else your are a fish that has been caught by Jesus. The most that anything in this world can do is kill you. You already died in your Baptism. As surely as He lives, you will live also! That Gospel truth isn’t just a part of your life, it permeates every other thing you do, say, how you fight this virus, and is the center of all your relationships. 

And when you realize that like St. Peter, you know you have failed, don’t fret. Confess your sins. Be forgiven in the boat. 

For the worst thing that could happen to you — death— happened to Jesus first. You have been caught by Jesus in the waters of Holy Baptism. He has you in His net. He won’t let you go. He raised from the dead. You will too. 

For Christ is your salvation. He your life — your whole life. He has saved you —all of you. From the world that hates you, from what you think, from being cancelled, from being abandoned, even from this crazy virus.  You are a fish. You are saved in Jesus. INI. Amen.

Sermon: St. Luke 6:36–42 – Trinity 4 2020

St. Luke 6:36–42 – Trinity 4 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Bossier City, LA
July 5, 2020

INI. Amen. Remember Joseph? The coat-of-many-colors-dreamer who told his brothers that they would all bowed down to him. They wanted him dead. Judah saved Joseph by convincing them to leave him for dead in a well. He was found by the Egyptians, made a slave, falsely #metoo-ed by Potiphar’s wife, then thrown into a prison. But God saved him in prison, giving him the chance to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams about a famine. He was so helpful to Pharaoh that he became the chief administrator in Egypt! Now the famine also brings his brothers to Egypt to kneel before the Hand of the King needing food. Oh yes, Karma! But instead of repaying them the same evil that they visited on him, Joseph forgave them. 

Now, our OT lesson takes place after their father, Jacob, had died. The brothers are afraid. Will their little bro Joe go all Godfather 2 now that Dad is dead and Fredo them? With Dad dead, will he kill them? He would be justified. Afterall, they were the cause of all the evil in his life— the slavery, all the pain, the abandonment, and being separated from his parents. They had it coming!

וַיֹּ֧אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֛ם יוֹסֵ֖ף אַל־תִּירָ֑אוּ כִּ֛י הֲתַ֥חַת אֱלֹהִ֖ים אָֽנִי׃ וְאַתֶּ֕ם חֲשַׁבְתֶּ֥ם עָלַ֖י רָעָ֑ה אֱלֹהִים֙ חֲשָׁבָ֣הּ לְטֹבָ֔ה

Joseph had been forgiven, how could he not forgive? God had shown him mercy, how could he not show others the same? How could he cancel others when God never cancelled him? Was he God to condemn his brothers? See where I’m going, yet?

There’s a lot of things to be judging today: Those wearing masks judging those who don’t. Those judging people by the color of their skin and those judging others for not being angry enough about the injustices of the thing. People being judged for speaking out and judged for not. Red vs Blue. What a judge-y-hot mess!

And that isn’t even the day to day judging we do of each other! We know other people’s motives, feelings, thoughts, and intentions. They did it deliberately! We judge their parenting, their relationships, their work, their lives. They never measure up to us. In fact, they are evidence to our sinful minds that we are going to be okay because at least we aren’t as bad as they are. 

If your eye doctor came out wearing glasses like she was blind, would you let her perform your surgery? But that’s what we do! We are hypocrites trying to tweezer out our neighbor’s eye speck with logs in our own. We are the blind performing eye surgery on the blind thinking they can see! But all we are is in darkness.

Γίνεσθε οἰκτίρμονες καθὼς [καὶ] ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν οἰκτίρμων ἐστίν (St. Luke 6:36). The Lord is compassionate. He doesn’t retain His anger forever. Instead, He wants to show mercy.

God won’t judge you in Christ. He won’t condemn you. He won’t send you to hell in Jesus. He won’t abandon you to the darkness you’ve made for yourself. Not after He judged His Son guilty in your place, condemned Him to the Cross and hell in your place.

The world can surround and condemn you. You can fail, trip and fall in the darkness of your guilty conscience feeling alone and abandoned. The devil’s accusations against you can even be true.

But, Christ is your light and your salvation, whom shall you fear? The Lord is the stronghold of you life of whom shall you be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1-2). For all that you could be judged for, condemned for, and punished for was put upon your Lord Jesus first. He endured it all. He who knew no sin became your sin so that you might be the very righteousness of God. And in His death and resurrection, God has fathered you and called you His child and made you a member of His family. And that makes everything a gift from the Lord’s hand — both good and bad!

For faith trusts, faith believes that whatever is thrown at you from above or from below is all going to work it out for good to save. How could it not? After all, you are baptized child of God— His sons and daughters bought by the precious blood of Christ. God has showed you — even you — compassion. You are forgiven. You have been shown mercy. He has had compassion on you.

Take His compassion and give it to others. Forgive, mercy, love those around you with the forgiveness, mercy, and love given to you in the suffering and death of Jesus. Start with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, your family, and then your neighbor!

Whatever they did to you, whatever you feel they need to be judged for happened to Jesus first. He’s died for you to save you from whatever evil they we did deliberately to you. He works good from evil, happy from sad, goodness from pain, and life from death. He’s even using the evil around you to draw you closer to Him so that He show you more of His compassion in Jesus.

For the way of karma isn’t the way of Jesus. You don’t get what you deserve in Christ. Free others from getting what they deserve for what they’ve done to you.

It worked out for Joseph and His brothers. God used the evil they did to him to bring his whole family safely through a famine. It’ll work out for you and your neighbor too—maybe even despite you. Through the virus, the hate and madness around you, the failures of others and the things you are tempted to judge but are going to forgive—God is working through all of it to save you and your family. It’s sure as His Word from Joseph to his brothers:

 וְאַתֶּ֕ם חֲשַׁבְתֶּ֥ם עָלַ֖י רָעָ֑ה אֱלֹהִים֙ חֲשָׁבָ֣הּ לְטֹבָ֔ה (Gen. 50:20a) INI. Amen.

Sermon: St. Luke 15:1-10 – Trinity 3 2020

St. Luke 15:1-10 – Trinity 3 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Bossier City, LA
June 28, 2020
Watch here

INI. Amen. Dear forgiven sheep, the Lord wants you to hear this message today! Repeat it to TV, internet, and your neighbor.

First, from the OT:לֹא־הֶחֱזִ֤יק לָעַד֙ אַפֹּ֔ו כִּֽי־חָפֵ֥ץ חֶ֖סֶד הֽוּא (Micah 7:18). 

Then the Epistle, repeat: Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς ἦλθεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἁμαρτωλοὺς σῶσαι, ὧν πρῶτός εἰμι ἐγώ.  (1 Tim. 1:15b). And the Gospel has this good news grumbled in the mouthes of the Pharisees who complain about Jesus, repeat: Οὗτος ἁμαρτωλοὺς προσδέχεται καὶ συνεσθίει αὐτοῖς. (St. Luke 15:2)

All three readings repeat so clearly the Scriptural truth that not even your LSU graduate pastor can miss: God saves sinners in Jesus. He wants to show mercy in the suffering and death of His Son. He desires to forgive those who don’t deserve forgiveness and to save those who don’t deserve saving in the Cross of Christ.

The other gods of the world aren’t like this. You’ve heard their message screamed at you. Their priests cancel your childhood heroes in the unforgiving anger and rage against injustices of past. 

Their parables sound like this: A man had one hundred sheep. One of them got himself lost in something hateful. The shepherd doesn’t get Him because he deserves exactly he got. No mercy.

A woman has ten coins and she loses one. Instead or looking for it, she examines the other coins and decides which ones she’s going to throw out because of the unforgivable sins of the people engraved on them.

To the world’s religion, if you are in you then you are in and if you aren’t, consider yourself cancelled or all time. Sure you can try to do penance, you can pay alms, and kneel before their altars. 

But, you can’t undo what you’ve done, can’t make it better. One sin — big or small — and you are out for all time.

And all of this is framed under under some really good virtues: everyone being treated equally, equal justice under the Law for all, loving everyone, and caring for those who are in need. We want those things, right? But the world’s love only goes to those who agree to hate what the world hates, despise what they despise, and cancel who they cancel. In the end the world’s love and open mindedness extends to only those who are agree with them. Failure to comply means you too will be canceled.

And let’s be clear: There’s no room in Christianity for not loving anyone because of the color or for slavery. Remember, we, God’s people, were slaves in Egypt and to our sins. God has freed us from the chains of death itself. And when Paul sends a runaway slave Onesiumus back to Philemon, his master, he is encouraged to free him because God sent His Son into our flesh to save us.

To save you—that’s what God is really about! He sends His Son to grab lost-sheep-you and throw you over His shoulder to rescue you from your lost-ness. He sweeps and cleans houses to find the lost pennies, lost you and me, in order to bring us back to the God.

For God wants to save sinners. He wants to save those who can’t fix what they have done. The more sins, the bigger the savior. And that’s not a challenge for you to sin more because how could you possibly sin more than you already do — with all your thoughts, words, and deeds. He took on your flesh to be die for you — even for those like you and me who deserved to be cancelled by Him.

And in Him, in His forgiveness, in the waters of your Baptism, in His Body and Blood, you are enlivened to repent and leave not only the trying to sin more to get more forgiveness but also any desire to cancel anyone, to not forgive them, to hold anything against them, to judge and hate them, or let them be dead to you. 

For be warned those who live by the sword, who join this cancel culture and cancel others for their past sins, who refuse to show mercy and forgiveness to others, will find on from God the same treatment as they dealt out to others. With the measure you measure, you will be measured with on the Last Day.

For God is not about throwing you into a penalty box that you can’t get out yourself out of.  God puts His own Son into a penalty box of hell and abandonment in order that you will never ever be abandoned by Him. The only thing cancelled in this world is the sin of the world — for it died with Jesus. How on earth could you ever hold anyone’s sins — past, present, or future, against them.

And that’s the only answer to the religion of this world. It’s to step out of it and say, “I don’t need your approval, world. I’m going with Jesus on this one. I deserve to be cancelled for my sins. But, God cancelled His Son for me. I’m not going to hold sins against people. I was a lost sheep, lost coin, and I’ve been found by Jesus. I’m going forgive because the Lord saves sinners — you, me, and and all.”

Dear forgiven sheep, the Lord wants you to hear this message today! You need to hear it and repeat it so that your neighbor hears it. From the OT: לֹא־הֶחֱזִ֤יק לָעַד֙ אַפֹּ֔ו כִּֽי־חָפֵ֥ץ חֶ֖סֶד הֽוּא (Micah 7:18).

The Epistle, repeat: Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς ἦλθεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἁμαρτωλοὺς σῶσαι, ὧν πρῶτός εἰμι ἐγώ.  (1 Tim. 1:15b)

And the good news grumbled at Jesus: Οὗτος ἁμαρτωλοὺς προσδέχεται καὶ συνεσθίει αὐτοῖς. (St. Luke 15:2). 

Jesus eats receives sinners and eats with them— like today with you and me. Take eat, take drink, His Body and Blood. Your sins are forgiven you. Your neighbor’s past is cancelled too in Jesus. INI. Amen.

Sermon: St. Luke 14:15–24 – Trinity 2 2020

St. Luke 14:15–24 – Trinity 2 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Bossier City, LA
June 20, 2020

INI. Amen. Dear “cancelled” Christians, here you are again! The unwanted, the broken, the absolute failures of this world all gathered together in this 340-person-capacity building. And that’s just at 50% capacity!

Now the children of Israel— also known as “His people”— had been invited to be His church. They ate right, washed their hands properly, if asked to they’d have worn their masks in public— they had it all together! They worked to keep the Law like they had to in order to be saved — because they thought they did have to! But when He invited them, all the invitations got RSVPed in the resoundingly negative. “I have bought a field. Bought some turbo charged oxen! I have married a girl. Please excuse me!”

And what did God replace them with? Good people who have bad secrets. The Hurt, abused, molested, and the abusers who violated them. Couples whose marriages have failed, parents who have failed their kids and the kids who hate them for it. Religious losers or those crabby with God because of what is going on in their life. Academic dropouts, the furloughed, and unemployed. Hateful racists and those who are discriminated against.People who struggle with their identity, gender, and same sex attraction. A basket of deplorable, grumpy old trolls who live under bridges that neither Hilary nor Dora the Explorer want them around. Ex-Cons and people with coughs that no one wants around. Witches who look at horoscopes and think that they go crazy on full moons and when Mercury is in retrograde. Bad people who are trying to be good people and the people who are forced to live with them. Gossip, porn and secret drug addicts. Those who try to fight sin and fail and those who have thrown in the towel. Did I miss anyone?

You see God had His people, actually good people, but they had better things to do. So, He sent His Son to invite the people in the back of His Rolodex. For you young whippersnappers with your smart phones, that’s the people who all the cool kids have already blocked on social media. And if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m talking about the people the likes of you and me.

νυνὶ δὲ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ὑμεῖς οἵ ποτε ὄντες μακρὰν ἐγενήθητε ἐγγὺς ἐν τῷ αἵματι τοῦ Χριστοῦ. (Eph. 2:13). For Jesus Himself is your peace and has broken down all the barriers between you and the God who made you by His death on the Cross.

You didn’t earn the Lord’s salvation. You don’t deserve His love. You were only invited because His people rejected Him. Consider that! Rejoice in it! Revel in it! No one showed up to God’s party and so He invited you. Jesus bought you to His dance, clothed you with His clothes, forgave your sins by His death on the Cross, and proclaimed to you that everything in your failed life is forgiven because of His Cross. And the best part? Jesus acts like you did Him a solid and refuses to be convinced otherwise!

And before you write a four page-single-spaced letter about how your pastor preaches as if God saves actual hard-core sinners, let me save you the time: God does save actual hard-core sinners in Jesus! He says He does! He glories in it and you should too because that means that He’s going to save you in Christ Jesus.

Remember, you aren’t made of better stuff than others. You weren’t even originally invited to His livestream. You are here because the actual good people were busy. And some of us still need to be coerced or paid to come to here. How many fathers today said, “No lunch unless you actually go to church!”

Jesus has brought together you and God. He makes peace with you. For God has reconciled us to Himself by fulling the Law and it’s ordinances in the death of His Son. 

He has reconciled with those who don’t deserve reconciliation and made peace with people who bring nothing to the peace. He did it in Jesus. He invited even me who doesn’t deserve mercy and been given the inheritance of the children of God. You too!

That means that today my relationships are #forgiven. My parenting has been #absolved. My failed friendship are #reconciled. My past is #diedfor. My life is #madebetterbyJesus. Yours is too.

“ἄρα οὖν οὐκέτι ἐστὲ ξένοι καὶ πάροικοι ἀλλὰ ἐστὲ συμπολῖται τῶν ἁγίων καὶ οἰκεῖοι τοῦ θεοῦ,”(Eph. 2:19). That’s you, Immanuel, even when your lights flicker. You’ve been cancelled by the world, despised, rejected, broken by failure, wearied by the quarantine, wrecked by the economy, and abandoned by the world around you. 

But, don’t fret! All those things and more were done to Him first to save you. And when your life is such a hot-stinking-mess that you feel like the church building will implode if you come into this place again, don’t worry because His church, this place, isn’t built on your faithfulness to Him, but on the Apostles and prophets with Christ Himself as the Cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 

For you’re here again being built up together in Him into a holy temple. Whether you walk through those doors or were dragged with promise of Father’s Day food, you got the invite that was dropped by holier people.

The Lord has saved you in His Cross—even you with all your failures, mess ups, and catastrophic life fumbles. And one day soon, He will again bust into this world where you are trying to do better and failing and He will snatch you out of this veil of tears and take you to a place where He shows you how wonderful you are in His Cross. He’ll even say that you are doing Him a favor being there. INI. Amen.

Sermon: John 3:1-17 – Holy Trinity 2020

John 3:1-17 – Holy Trinity 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Bossier City, LA
June 7, 2020

Blessed be the Holy Trinity and the Undivided Unity! INI. Amen. 

Boy, do we need some good news! In a world gone completely bonkers — viruses, lock downs, injustices, and protestors! That’s just last week! And there’s been no break — COVID19, quarantine, unemployment, then riots?! And you look up to heaven and be like, “Really? What’s next? Murder Hornets. No, nevermind, God, it’s okay!” Then comes a Tropical Storm!

And in the midst of it all, the Holy Trinity can seem so academic and abstract. Algebra, Trigonometry, and the Holy Trinity. You know 1+1+1=3. No, that’s not it. It’s 1x1x1! That’s Trinitarian! Three in one. Yet, how does that Math matter when the world has gone completely cuckoo for Coco Puffs?

Well, let’s see if a word from today’s Gospel can rescue us from the same old Trinity stuff: καὶ καθὼς Μωϋσῆς ὕψωσεν τὸν ὄφιν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ, οὕτως ὑψωθῆναι δεῖ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων ἐν αὐτῷ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον. (St. John 3:14-15)

Moses, of burning bush fame in Egypt. God said, “Let my people go.” Red Sea. Crossed on dry ground. Yes, that Moses.

God had saved the Israelites from bondage to Pharaoh with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. And even with the nations trembling ahead of them and the Egyptians plundered behind them, they still grumbled against Him. He was to blame for all their problems — from the lack of variety in their meals to the perceived unfairness of their punishment in the wilderness.

God wasn’t unfair to them. He chose them. He picked them out. They were His. He heard their cries and saved them out of slavery in Egypt. He their God; They His people. 

And what did they do? They built a Golden Calf and said, “This cow-god saved us from Egypt!” In the wilderness they despaired, rejected God and His servant, Moses. No good! Think about before you wanna string up your pastor because the Lord Jesus wants you to do something new like have one service on Sunday.

God sent fiery serpents through the camp that bit many Israelites. They suffered. They died. They cried out to God again and what He did was just something that no man could make up on his own:

He didn’t remove the serpents. No, He told Moses to make a bronze snake on a pole. And whoever looked on that snake-on-a-stick was healed. So, snakes still there, still biting the grumblers, but whoever would look on the bronze serpent would saved.

That’s the way of things with God! He doesn’t have to remove the pandemic or give you break in between the endless drama. No, He can toss in there someone you love getting sick, supply chain problems leaving no Diet Mt Dew in BC, and while you deal with a world gone mental.

Is God neutral to this stuff? Does He just not care? Why is this happening? Can’t He just make it stop? Have you asked that? I have! And when I did I couldn’t have been more wronger!

You see, God lifted that bronze serpent to show you that He would lift up His Son that whoever believes in lifted-up-on-the-Cross-Jesus would be saved. For THIS is how God shows His love: He sends His Son not judge the world but to save it.

You’d miss this good news, if the doctrine of the Trinity wasn’t revealed to you by the Holy Spirit from Scripture. The Father, fully God, hates nothing that He created and sends His Son. Jesus, true God and true Man, is lifted like the serpent on the Cross. The Holy Spirit, true God proceeding from the Father and the Son, delivers to you the Father’s love for you in His Son. 

And yet, there are not three Gods or three Lords, but one Lord God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-committed to saving you. 

You see, God is not neutral in what’s going on around you. He’s not punishing you either. Repent of that thinking for the Truth is quite the opposite! God in Christ is working all of this out for your good. He’s turning evil into good. Moving the universe to make things eternally better for you. He is even turning death into life.

Have doubts? Well, don’t start by looking at the virus, the tropical storm, the economy, your health, how many funerals we have this week, and especially not the bee murdering hornets. No, those things will only make you grumble against God and His servant. Repent of that too!

Instead, look at the Blessed Trinity undivided in Unity to save you. The Father loves you in the lifting up of His Son on the Cross. The Spirit makes it known you the Father’s loving you in the Calvary and Eastering of His Son in the Word, the water, and the bread and wine. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for you. Not three “for-you’s” but one “for-you” in Jesus.

God can’t be neutral about you or clueless about the cray-cray in your world. Like He acted to save the children of Israel, He sent His Son to die and rise again for you and then made that life yours in the external Word. He’s going to carry you through this and out the other side! 

Then, when it’s over and He’s all done working out your salvation with fear and trembling in your life, you’ll see on the Last Day how even the fiery serpents or the Murder Hornets in your life didn’t happen apart from Him for your good. He’s got you. He will have you on the Last Day. He has you now by faith in Jesus. It’s as sure as the Name put on you on Holy Baptism: the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirt.  Blessed be the Holy Trinity and the Undivided Unity. INI. Amen.

Sermon: St. John 16:32 – Rogate 2020

St. John 16:32 – Rogate 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Bossier City, LA
May 30-31, 2020

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen from the dead! He is risen indeed! Alleuia! In the name of Jesus. Amen. Ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν, ἵνα ἐν ἐμοὶ εἰρήνην ἔχητε. Ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ θλίψιν ἔχετε· ἀλλὰ θαρσεῖτε, ἐγὼ νενίκηκα τὸν κόσμον.

Can you beat that? So very calm, matter of fact, and simple. We’ve been separated from each other, pulled apart, and in a sort of Babylonian captivity. And here comes Jesus with a simple Word: “Take heart, I’ve overcome the world.”

The Greek word is νικάω. Origin for the company “Nike.” You know the “swoosh.” Simple meaning: “to conquer, to overcome, to win.”

Jesus uses νικάω in the perfect tense. You remember English class? The perfect is similar in Greek — an action completed in the past. Jesus proclaims to you today: I did it—I niked the world. 

κόσμος. That’s better. That’s the Greek word too. I have overcome the cosmos. Everything there is, the universe of things that could get you, I got it, I niked it, schwoosh done deal. You win in me.

“I say these things to you,” says your Lord, “because in the cosmos, you’ll have tribulation.” You’ll have disease, viruses, pain, suffering, and separation. In the world, you and your faith will be non-essential. 

You’ll try against your sins and fail. You’ll be overcome by doubt, fear, and death. You’ll be scared — deathly scared of what you have done and how you have leaved. You’ll worry about how much you have, your job, and tomorrow. That’s what goes on in the cosmos — tribulation. 

“But I have spoken — another perfect tense — these things to you that in me you have peace.” The Lord doesn’t give His Word only to make you feel bad about what you have and done. He doesn’t just speak condemning Words. No, He wants to give you forgiveness, comfort, and grace.

“In me you have peace,” says your Lord. Present tense. Right now. Where you are, even in all this strange fear and dread, and in a cosmos turned upside down. In Jesus, in His Word, in His Baptism, in His Body and Blood, you have the peace won and achieved on the Cross with His holy life and bitter sufferings and death. 

Not peace only tomorrow. Not peace when things get better and everything opens up. Not peace if you don’t get the ‘rona or don’t give someone else the ‘rona. Peace —right here and right now. Present tense. Peace in the Word, water, and Body and Blood of Jesus.

And this peace isn’t something you figure out, some Zen moment that you find in a world gone mad, or a mantra that you repeat to yourself over and over again like “I’m going to be okay. I’m going to be okay. I don’t have this virus. I’m gonna be okay” after you cough or sneeze or wake up a little warm.

Peace — true peace that nikes the devil, the world, and your sinful flesh. Not because you are so strong or believe so hard, but solely because of what Jesus did for you on the Cross. He has spoken so that in Him you would have peace. Out there tribulation. In Him, peace that the world, a virus, not even death itself can take away.

And if your doubts should creep up, if your fears should flair up, or the devil whisper to you, “You are going to get what you deserve. God can’t give peace to someone who has lived as you have lived. You must go to hell.”

Luther says for you to that evil serpent and the world, “No, that is not the will of God. Begone, devil, you and the evil world; for my Lord Christ says no to you, He tells me that the Father is not angry with me but will give me the Comforter… [God-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] concur in this, that they do not want me to be frightened and sad, much less rejected and condemned, but comforted and happy,” (AE 24, 114-115). “Run along, devil, and peddle your [stuff] elsewhere.” (AE 24 133)

For clinging to God’s Word, “all God’s anger and all hell are totally extinguished,” (AE 24, 112) God has only peace for you. Out there — tribulation. But you are not of the world, you are in the Faith of Jesus. He has spoken to you so that you would take heart, He has schwooshed the cosmos for you.

Can you beat that? So very calm, matter of fact, and simple. We’ve been separated from each other, pulled apart, and in a sort of Babylonian captivity. And here comes Jesus with a simple Word: Take heart, I’ve niked the cosmos. Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen from the dead! He is risen indeed! Alleuia! In the name of Jesus. Amen

Sermon: St. John 14:23–31 — Pentecost 2020

St. John 14:23–31 — Pentecost 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Bossier City, LA
May 30-31, 2020

INI. Amen. Pentecost. The Spirit is here! Birthday of the Church. And what’s the Spirit do? He points us to the Lord’s Word. 

That’s what the Spirit does! He delivers the Lord’s Word to you. He fills your ears with Jesus’ peace. Comfort for troubled hearts and consciences. Jesus Christ and Him crucified—That’s what the Spirit delivers.

And His peace isn’t the way the world gives peace. It’s not God and you agreeing to disagree about what you have and haven’t done. It’s not peace and comfort from not being as bad as someone else — like we all watched the Tiger King and thanked God that we weren’t Joe Exotic. 

That’s not peace. That’s delusion and denial. Not true comfort that takes away the night terrors or help us sleep without sleep aides at night. It doesn’t silence the devil’s whispers that you deserve hell for what you’ve done and who you have hurt.

The real peace, the peace Jesus leaves you isn’t like the world’s peace. The world’s peace depends upon you and is doomed to failure.

The Spirit’s—the Lord’s peace —flows from, lives from, the Lord’s words and promises. It creates faith where and when the Spirit wills. It points you away from what you’ve earned and deserved to what Jesus earned and deserved for you.

Today’s Spirit gift of comfort is in this sentence: ἀλλʼ ἵνα γνῷ ὁ κόσμος ὅτι ἀγαπῶ τὸν πατέρα, καὶ καθὼς ἐνετείλατό μοι ὁ πατήρ, οὕτως ποιῶ. Ἐγείρεσθε, ἄγωμεν ἐντεῦθεν. (John 14:31)

See, the world’s peace is transactional — you make a commitment to God, you sacrifice for him, you make a big show of your commitment, and then God acts. The world’s peace is “God’s helps those who helps themselves.”

That is NOT what your Lord says. He says He saves you, He suffers and dies, so that the world would know that He loves His Dad and because He’s obedient to His Dad. That’s what He says!

I know that is going to shock you. But drink from the firehouse of the Gospel a little bit. God doesn’t look down and see something lovable in you. He doesn’t wait for you to get your stuff together. He doesn’t wait for you to be worthy of salvation. 

No, He sends His Son to save you. His Son looks at His Dad and says, “You are the greatest, Dad.” Then, because He wants the world out there to know that He loves His Dad and because He does whatever His Dad tells Him to do, He takes upon your flesh, lives as you should live, and dies the death you deserve.

What comfort! What peace! Salvation, faith, eternal life, and heaven is all out of your hands. You can’t mess it up. You can’t botch it or drop the touchdown pass in the end zone. No, faith and salvation are in the nailed scared love that Jesus has for His Dad. 

ἀλλʼ ἵνα γνῷ ὁ κόσμος ὅτι ἀγαπῶ τὸν πατέρα, καὶ καθὼς ἐνετείλατό μοι ὁ πατήρ, οὕτως ποιῶ. Ἐγείρεσθε, ἄγωμεν ἐντεῦθεν. (John 14:31). Get up, let’s go. Go where? To the Cross. He’s talking about the Cross which He goes to so that the world will know He loves His Dad and does what His Dad commands.

I know the world tells you otherwise. I know that some Christians speak about the decisions they make and the choices they make for God. I know that some good people think that God sees something in them and then acts. That’s good for them. Nice people.

But that’s not what the Spirit delivers into your ears today. No, Jesus from His own blessed mouth lays out why you are saved. He saves you, He dies for you, so that the world would know that He loves His Dad and because He does whatever His Dad commands. That’s why the Cross. Jesus’ love for His Dad is why you are saved.

Which means when you stand before the pearly gates on the Last Day, you don’t have to pontificate about how you handled the COVID19 stuff or how much faith you had. Oh no. That won’t work. You don’t have to get a running start and see if you can pole vault over the angel that has blocked the way to Eden since Adam and Eve first messed up in the Garden.

No, you stand before the Throne and say, “I’m saved because Jesus loves you, God. I’m saved because He did what you commanded Him to do and died on the Cross for me. You are my God and Father because Jesus did what you said for Him to do and saved me. If you got issues with that, you guys work it out amongst yourselves on Trinity Sunday. This stuff seems above my pay grade. You guys have this all covered. I’m going in to eternal life.”

Glorious! The Son believes His Dad to be the greatest and does His will and saves you on the Cross. We couldn’t make up this faith! It’s too glorious! For this means you are saved even with all your sins and failures. It means — shudder the thought — that if Joe Exotic believes the Gospel He is saved too. This means that believing in Jesus that I’m even saved.

For if the Son of God saves you because He wants to show the cosmos that He loves His Dad, if He’s at peace with you in His Cross, that means He saved those around for the same reason!

Christ died for you. Christ died for them. He even took upon the sins of Joe Exotic. No looking down on others, no judging others by the color of their skin or the way they talk. Repent of that!

ἀλλʼ ἵνα γνῷ ὁ κόσμος ὅτι ἀγαπῶ τὸν πατέρα, καὶ καθὼς ἐνετείλατό μοι ὁ πατήρ, οὕτως ποιῶ. Ἐγείρεσθε, ἄγωμεν ἐντεῦθεν. (John 14:31)

That’s why He gives you peace — so that the world would know He loves His Dad. You are died for because Jesus does what His Dad commands. What good news the Spirit is delivering to you today! For in this Gospel, even you and me are saved!

And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Pentecost. The Spirit is here! Birthday of the Church. And what’s the Spirit do? He points us to the Lord’s Word. INI. Amen.

Bump on the Log Turns 17!!!

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeupToday is my little “bump-on-a-log’s” seventeenth birthday. That’s seventeen more than we were told she’d have….

We were sitting in the doctor’s office in Houston when some young pup Physician’s Assistant comes in and tells us, “Well you might want to consider having her committed. She’s going to be… well… She’s going to be pretty much nothing but a ‘bump on a log.’ She’ll be nothing more than a vegetable. I mean, if she lives very long at all”

Today, Sophia turns seventeen years old – not bad for a “bump-on-a-log.” Not bad at all! She will never talk, but she communicates. She looks like five. She weighs like thirty-five pounds. She’s beyond seriously delayed but there’s stuff going on inside her bump-on-a-log brain.

She walks. That was never supposed to happen! She jumps for joy! They said that wouldn’t happen either. She’s the happiest Lutheran you’ll ever meet. She claps all through out the service! Someone should tell her that she’s not supposed to be that happy while singing all those hymns in minor keys by old dead guys!

She is an avid iPhone user. She will open your phone and look at your pictures–looking for people she knows. She will play your music. She likes dance music. “Gimme a beat!” And she loves to FaceTime! If the person on the other end is someone she knows, then let the smiles and laughs begin! How can they not? She’s a child of God. All things are hers–including your phone!

Sophia fav pic

The world used to stop for Dora the Explorer and Blues Clues. But seventeen year old “Bump-on-a-Log” loves “Friends.”  Is it Joey? Chandler? 90’s music? I don’t know! She’s not a fan of the commercials! She will point and issue you a direct order if you don’t fast forward through them!  Who has time to sit and watch those anyway?!

She loves her friends. You are her friend — even if you don’t want to be! She’s got friends everywhere! Auntie Linda and Susan in Conroe. Her good friend Heidi in McHenry! She’s made some new friends at Immanuel too. Monica is teaching her to sing and play the bells. She stands at the door and watches for Tammy to show up. She’s got tons of God Parents too who she’s picked up along the way— the Jones’ and the Seydel’s. They make sure her big beautiful ears are always on Jesus! Mom’s always going to be her BFF. Then, the boys. Then Mikey the Dog. She and Thor are “Frienemies.” Personally, I’d like to think Dad’s moving up.

Image may contain: one or more people, dog and indoorShe’s confirmed too. Thank you, Pastor Buetow. She answered all the questions put to her with touchdown signs! Do you believe in God the Father Almighty? Touchdown! Do you believe in Jesus? Touchdown! The Holy Spirit even scored a touchdown too! Then, off to communion! “Take eat the Body and take drink the Blood of Jesus, Sophia.” She pauses, smiles, and then an “Amen” comes from her Ipad. Gift received! That’s faith!

She is Miss Sophia Marie Borghardt. That’s the name He gave her a Baptism. She knows she’s baptized. She even makes her own sign of the cross. Who she is isn’t determined by her, but by the Lord. He’s marked her with His Name. She wears His name all the time. She knows without doubt that Jesus went through suffering, hell, and death for her. He did anyway.

He has never abandoned her. Can’t – not after He put His name on her. He’s with her through bump-on-the-log time, when she’s sick in the hospital, during her seizures, during all those surgeries, during her pain so great that she can’t even get up, and even while she’s peeking to see if you are folding your hands to pray.

“How can you rejoice in sufferings? You’re faking it.” Some of my friends think that the way I see the world  is too good to be true – as if I am delusional.  They think that I am somehow out of touch with reality, living in a dreamland, or thinking that the dung pile really doesn’t stink.

No, I am quite aware that the dung pile does stink.  I’ve smelled Sophia’s diapers. I know it does. But Jesus has taken on all of our poop (our sins) and redeemed us – especially those those of my bump-on-a-log.

It’s not a dream world that we live in nor is it fake. We don’t wake up and convince ourselves that the world is better than it is. Nope, it’s a rough world out there. There are genetic disorders, seizures, children who die, and those who are nothing but bumps-on-a-log.

Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting, child and babyBut, what if Jesus does actually make all things new? What if He actually does take the light of His Gospel and shine through our darkness? What if…all that He said about us is true? What if our lives right now are hidden with Christ in God? What if Sophia’s life is hidden right now with God?

And if that is true then, it is true now. Right now… she is a child of God. Right now she is an heir to all things. Heaven and earth are hers in Christ. And no one – not even an angel from heaven – can take who she is in Christ away from her.

And that… might even cause you to smile even in the face of death. How could you not? For you have already died – having been crucified with Christ. You no longer live, but Christ lives in you. The life you got going on now, you live by faith in the Son of God who loved you and gave Himself for you.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, child and closeup
Some say that when I say that Sophia – sicknesses and all – is a gift from God that I am blaming God for evil. Nah, I am saying that in her Baptism all things are hers and all things are new. Yes, she has a Father who did that for her in the giving up of His Son. A Father who glorifies Himself in her life every day – even the life of a bump-on-a-log.

It is not a law to rejoice in your sufferings. You are free to suffer patiently. But, Sophia rejoices in her sufferings. You are free to rejoice with her.  How could you not?  Jesus makes all things new – on the Last Day and right now.

Today is bump-on-the-log’s birthday. That’s seventeen more than we were told she’d have.  Come to think of it, no one ever told any of us how many birthdays our children would have.  I guess all of us parents just have to take each day and see what the Lord gives.

And if she should be granted another day, that’ll be just fine. Another year? Even better!

But what if she should not wake up today? Well, that day has already happened to her on July 9, 2002 when a little three pound bump-on-a-log was drowned and died with three squirts from a syringe and the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

“Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’ (Rev 21:5) In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Sermon: St. John 8:31-36 – “Here I Stand”

St. John 8:31-36 – “Here I Stand”
2017 Higher Things Conference
June 27, 2017
Divine Service

In the name of Jesus. Amen. “So if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.”  Free. Set free. Acquitted. Absolved. Forgiven. Baptized. Worded. Bodied and Blooded. Saved. Freed by the Son of God.

Liberated. No more chains of the Law — ceremonial, moral, or otherwise. The Law can’t condemn you — not in Jesus. Jesus is the end of the Law unto righteousness for everyone who believes.

You are Free. Uncontainable. Win-or-lose free. Broke-or-rich free. Liberated from guilt, from pain, from condemnation. Completely unrestrainedly free. Take-they-our-lives, goods-fame-child-and-wife, though-these-all-be-gone, the-victory-has-been-won, the-kingdom-ours-remaitheth-FREE! Crucify you? You’ll just rise again! Free!

Because you can’t lose your salvation in the Gospel. No one can ever snatch you from the Father’s hand.  You’d have to leave Jesus to lose your salvation.  You are the baptized.  Why would you leave the One who saves you?

For in the Gospel — in the faith, in Jesus —the Law cannot condemn you anymore. You are freed from the Law. You are freed from hell. You are as free…as Jesus.

You don’t need to worry about, “If I stay in the Faith…” Or, “If I’m good enough, pure enough, whatever enough…” Ick!  There’s no “making it to heaven” in the Gospel!

Is Jesus in heaven? He is, then you will and are too. He’s sitting at the right hand of God. Then that’s your seat, too! For where Jesus is, there you must be also.  Believing in Jesus, you must be saved.

“You just can’t say that, Pastor Borghardt! You can’t tell youth that they are free in Jesus. They’ll just sin! They’ll fornicate. Text bad words. Gossip. Or fall into awful things like homosexuality.”

Yes, I can. Yes, I just did. And yes, I must. If we are gonna talk about the Reformation this week, you MUST be taught to “Here I Stand” on the Gospel. I must tell you that the Law and works can’t save you. In fact, if I don’t tell you this Gospel, your pastors and youth leaders will tar and feather me in the courtyard.

And don’t fall for this common idea among Christians — Lutherans even — that “faith alone saves you, but not only faith saves you.” Like faith saves you but you need something else besides faith — like some works or some decision or behavior change — that’s gross and wrong too. That’s not Luther’s doctrine! That’s John Calvin’s! Different conference.

Here’s what you can stand on for sure on the Last Day: Only Jesus, only Jesus, only Jesus saves you! That right there is the Gospel.

And you being free by Jesus isn’t EVER the cause of your sin. You’re the one responsible for your sin. You sin because you are a slave to sin. You were conceived in it. Chained to its death. Captive in its seduction. You slip into it. You run toward it. You are all dead rotting corpses who only know how to live dead lives in dead sin.

You are like criminals who, when released from prison don’t know anything other than the prison of sin and death, so you go and sin more because being in prison to the Law is easier than freedom. You are sin-addicts – born dead and doomed to be the living dead until sin takes its final toll on you and you die.

You need to repent of your sins…or else.  Stop judging, tearing up, finding fault, gossiping, hating, rejoicing at evil things. Stop living like you wanna live — constantly doing unchaste and indecent things.

The hate, the refusing to forgive others, the coveting, the disobeying your parents, the despising of God’s word and the misuse of His name. Stop that stuff right now. Stop it like your life depends upon it — because it does!

 

You can’t live in your sins and think you can somehow manipulate God with some lame idea that He has to save you no matter what sinful things you do. Living in your sins is simply incompatible with the Christian faith, for it sets you outside of the Jesus Who died and rose to save you from those sins. And it will end with you getting tossed into hell.

That’s the Law, dear Saints of God. A law we love to talk about how much we love as we inflict it on others. And those who wish to put themselves under the Law – any law, whether ceremonial or moral or commandment – will be judged and condemned by that very same law. For by the Law – any law or any use of the Law, shall no flesh be justified before God.

“But now,” says Jesus, “the Gospel.” Apart from the Law is the Gospel. “If the Son sets you free, then you are truly free indeed.” You have been liberated from the Law and its demands and condemnations. Freed by the Son from your slavery to sin, from death, even from hell. Released from the need to live in your sins any more.

The Law by itself can’t free you from sin. All it can do is add is more accusation and punishment on you. But in the Gospel, in Jesus, you are free.  You have been set free from your sins. That means you don’t have to sin any more!

Your slavery to having to sin is over in the three magical words — “I forgive you.” The chains of sin break in the water, “I baptized you in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” The death and hell that you have coming for what you deserve has a remedy — “Take eat, take drink, the Body and Blood of Christ.”

And that means you are not only really free from the guilt of your sins.   You are free from ever having to do those sins again.  Living in your sins is the very thing the Lord Jesus has set you free from.

You are Forgiven free. Freed by the Son. Familied by God the Father. Son-ed by the Son of God who loved you and gave up His life for you.

You will now live for others. Be chaste and descent. Free to live differently than how you feel you were born.  Liberated to put others first in the particular place He placed you.  You are enlivened to walk steadfast in His faithfulness through life like you own this entire place because God is your Father and He has nothing but smiles and sunshine for you — even when the sun darkens in the middle of the day.

Because the sun darkened on the Son of God as He hung on the cross, answering for your sins. Jesus lived the perfect life under the Law, fulfilling it for you and in your place. He took the slavery of the Law upon Himself. Then His death took the eternal punishment for your slavery to sin.

You are Free. Set free. Acquitted. Absolved. Forgiven. Baptized. Worded. Bodied and Blooded. Saved. Freed by the Son of God.

In Jesus, you must rise with Jesus.  In Jesus, you are free.  In Jesus, you are forgiven.

For if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

St. Matthew 15:21-28 – Reminiscere 2017

St. Matthew 15:21-28 – Reminiscere 2017
Zion Ev. Lutheran Church, McHenry, IL
Sunday, March 11, 2017
Watch Here

canaanite womanIn the Name of Jesus. Amen. “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”

The woman was a Canaanite.  That’s all she was when she came to Jesus.  She was outside the faith, outside the family.  She had no stake or claim on God.  She was nothing but a Canaanite.

She had picked up some religious catch phrases to stake a claim on Jesus — you know the ones.  Like children who have just done something naughty can look like angels, we all think we know the right religious catch phrases to con God into giving us what we want. Continue reading