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On Judges, Pastors, and Robes

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Recently, the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch got started. Senator Ben Sasse (from Nebraska), in his opening remarks for the hearing, said some interesting things that are actually helpful and good reminders for us in the church. Here’s part of what he said.
I want to focus my opening remarks around a simple image: a judge’s black robe. It’s a strange thing that judges wear robes. But instead of looking past this strange convention, let’s look right at it. For it isn’t just some relic from the past. It isn’t just something people wore long ago in a forgotten era of formality, like a powdered wig.

So why do the robes – often unfashionable and unflattering – persist? The reasons were summed up better than I could put it by one sitting judge. He said:
“[D]onning a robe doesn’t make me any smarter. But the robe does mean something – and not just that I can hide coffee stains on my shirt. It serves as a reminder of what’s expected of us – what Burke called the …

What are the Benefits of Receiving the Lord's Supper?

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In my Bible Class we've been going through 1 Corinthians, but recently we've stalled for several weeks in chapter 11, because it has given us a great opportunity to take a closer look at the Lord's Supper.

As we've been going through what the Bible teaches us about the Lord's Supper, a lot of questions have come up, so I wanted to try to address many of those questions in a series of posts.

What are the benefits of receiving the Lord's Supper? 
Forgiveness of Sins
The chief benefit of receiving the Lord's Supper is receiving the forgiveness of sins, as Jesus said "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:28).

But didn't we already receive forgiveness in baptism?  And in the service itself, don't we receive forgiveness through the absolution?  So, why do we need to receive forgiveness again?

The very life of a Christian is one of repentance.  One reason God has given these three ways…

Study a Book of the Bible in Depth (no commentary required)

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As we enter a new year, many Christians make a New Year's resolution to get back into the habit of reading their Bible.  Often, people make it a goal of reading through the entire Bible in a year, which is a wonderful goal and can be a real blessing to those who are able to keep the daily commitment.

Another option Christians sometimes take with the new year is to have a word for that year...or a verse of Scripture.

Let me propose another option.  How about picking one book of the Bible and really getting to know it in depth?

Many Christians say that they long for an in depth study of God's Word, but they aren't sure how to go about it or where to start.

One option is to buy a commentary and use that along side your study.  Commentaries can be helpful resources, but they are also expensive and often times people rely more on the commentary than simply reading what the Bible says.

So let me give you a simple (cheap) way to do an in depth study of a book of the Bible that …

The Boy with a Name: A New Year's Eve Sermon

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This is the sermon I preached on New Year's Eve. We didn't get a recording of it and I thought it might be of benefit to others to hear/read, so I've decided to print it here. God bless you in 2017!
Grace and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,The gospel reading appointed for New Year’s Day in our lectionary stands out for one reason.  It’s only one verse long.  Tonight, I wanted to have the Gospel reading for New Year’s Eve read in the service, but I wanted to preach on that shortest of readings in our lectionary.  From Luke 2:21l;  And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.  That’s it.  That’s the whole reading.And the verse doesn’t contain a whole lot of action or information either.  And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.Accordin…

How Can I Sing Joy to the World?

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The Christmas season often brings out myriad emotions, including joy, peace, love, excitement, and warm and fuzzy feelings of nostalgia.
But the season can also be very difficult for those who have lost a loved one and are facing a Christmas season without that person, for those who have experienced life changing events (health issues, divorce, job loss, etc.). 
One thing that can make the Christmas season especially difficult is when someone has sinned against you in an especially painful way.  That deep hurt and joy and laughter all around seem incongruous.  How can you sing "Joy to the World" while feeling hurt and angry inside?
We know that others will sin against us, but it seems unfair that things like that should happen during Christmas season.  The very time of year might make it harder to deal with.
So how do we forgive those who have sinned against us and hurt us deeply? Jesus addresses that very question in a parable He told, which is recorded in Matthew 18:21-35.…

Teaching the Faith to Children

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"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.  (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

The most important job parents have is passing on the Christian faith to their children. Christian parents know this of course, but often aren't sure where to start or how to go about this.  I thought I'd pass along some ideas and resources that might be helpful to parents as they go about this most important task. 
Put on Christian music at home, as you drive to school, when shuttling kids around to their …

Invocation for the Ohio House of Representatives

Today I had the honor of opening the Ohio House of Representatives in prayer, thanks to one of my college students who is working there part time putting my name in for consideration.  Below are the words of the prayer.  You'll notice that it isn't a sermon, as that isn't what I was invited to do, but an earnest prayer to the Triune God who has promised to hear and answer the prayers of His people. We are commanded to pray for our leaders and today I had the chance to do so publicly, in their presence. If you'd like, you can watch the video of the prayer here. (it's the 11-16-2016)

Lord God, we give you thanks for this day that you have made. Your mercies are new every morning and You have seen fit to grant us another day and all that we need to support our bodies and lives this day. Indeed, this is the day that You have made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Today we pray for all who are in authority, but especially these men and women who have been elected to s…