Showing posts from 2016

How Can I Sing Joy to the World?

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

"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…

"God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" A sermon on Luke 18:9-14

Below is a rough transcript of the sermon I preached on October 23rd.  Unfortunately we had technical difficulties that day and were unable to get a recording of the sermon, but I've had several people ask about getting a copy of the sermon.  I write my sermons to be spoken, therefore I sometimes write things in such a way that I know how I'll say it, even though that's not how it is written, so this transcript might be a bit choppy. 
Grace and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Jesus also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt.
In my first call, as a missionary pastor to three small congregations in southeast Missouri, I was serving in an area where Lutherans were sparse.  In fact, on occasion the question would be raised, “Lutheran? I’ve never heard of it. Is that some sort of cult?”
Of course, there were a lot of churches around.  And the focus of most of those…

The Mission of the Church, mercy, and a Radical Life vs. a Plodding Life

This morning I posted on Facebook an article written by Reformed Pastor Kevin DeYoung. It's not perfect, but it is a very good article that pushes back on some of the trends we see in Christianity these days. A friend (and member of the church I served in Illinois) replied to the post; "Ok so this article popped up below the one you shared. I read both and now I'm confused. What do you think of this guy's opinion?"

This is a great question and I started to answer on Facebook, but it started to get WAY TOO LONG for a Facebook response, so I figured I'd address it in a more in depth way here. I highly encourage you to read the articles (linked above) before you read my blog post.

There's a lot to cover here, so I'll take it point by point.
1. The author of the second article clearly has a dislike of the writer of the first article (Kevin DeYoung). That's clear in his opening. It seems to me that McDurmon (the author of the second article) has a bone t…

Reformation Day is All About...

As a baseball fan, when I think of October, I think of the World Series.
As a Lutheran, when I think of October, I think of Reformation Day.  
October 31st means a lot more than trick or treating, because was on that day in 1517 that Martin Luther nailed the 95 Thesis (95 points proposed for theological debate) to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany; thus he started the great Reformation.
But what is it that we celebrate on Reformation Day? Is it just a day to say in true Pharisaical style, “Thank God I’m not a Roman Catholic?”  Is it a day to beat our chests as Lutherans and declare how proud we are to be Lutherans?  Is it a day that is all about the past and a reminder that the best days of Lutheranism are behind us?
Sadly, I’ve seen all of those attitudes in connection to Reformation Day.  But that’s not at all what Reformation Day is about.
Reformation Day is about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is about right teaching, not for the sake of being right and proving others…

Evangelism, Apologetics, and Assimilation Resources

I thought it might be useful to put my things concerning evangelism and assimilation in one post for easy access.  Just click on a post below and off you go.
EvangelismEvangelism in the Rural Setting: Part I, Obstacles

Evangelism in the Rural Setting: Part II, Advantages

Evangelism in the Rural Setting: Part III, Getting Started

ApologeticsMocking Christians
Prepared: Ready to Witness in Rural and Small Town Areas (webinar)

AssimilationAssimilation in Rural and Small Town Congregations (webinar)
Something I forgot to mention that I should have, is simply doing a time and talent survey that involves everyone in the congregation (especially new members) and then following up by making use of the information.

A Welcoming Congregation (a Bible Study I put together for my congregation).

A book I found particularly helpful in thinking about assimilation is "Inviting Community" which is edited by Kolb and Hopkins.  Each chapter was written by a seminary professor. I cannot overstate ho…

The Football Video Games of My Youth

In my last post I covered some of the classic baseball games I loved to play when I was a kid.  Here's a follow up on some of my favorite football games.

1. Realsports Football  The Atari was not a great system for sports games, but this game was my introduction to playing a football video game.  My older brother Seth and I played this quite a bit.  It was primitive, but it was the best game going at the time.

2. John Elway's Quarterback This was far from the most sophisticated game, but it stands out to me for two reasons.  First, growing up in western Colorado, John Elway was the man. Colorado is Broncos crazy, so it was cool that the Broncos QB had a game.  Second, if you used "reverse play" or "normal play" and throw a bomb to a receiver, the receiver would become crazy fast and you could literally run around the field and use up the entire quarter, scoring with no time left on the clock.

Not a great game, but it was fun.

3. Tecmo Super BowlThis is the b…

The Baseball Video Games of My Youth

I rarely blog about things not related to my call as pastor.  Usually I write for Christians about things that are of eternal importance.

This post is not at all like that.  This is just me reminiscing.

Recently I've been introducing my kids to some of the video games I grew up playing. I played a lot of different types of video games, but sports have always been my favorite genre.  So, without any further introduction, here is my list of top baseball video games from my childhood.

1. Atari Baseball This was a terrible game.  Truly awful.  But it was the first baseball video game I ever played and for that reason it deserves to be mentioned.

2.  RBI BaseballThis was the first game I remember using real baseball players.  It was a blast to play, but it had a major weakness in that the starting pitchers would fatigue quickly and there were only 4 pitchers per team. You reasonably needed to use all 4 pitchers to get through a game, but if you played a season, your starting pitchers w…