Sunday, July 27, 2008

Matt.13.44-52, Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, July 27, 2008

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44 ESV)

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Well, there it is in black and white… well in some bibles it’s red and white, because it is Jesus words… Jesus tells us that if we want the treasure of the kingdom of heaven we should be willing to sell everything we have. Get out your check book and write the big one. You know the check that leaves the big goose egg in your account. Don’t worry you’re going to put some more in there anyway because you’ve still got your house to sell… that new car in the parking lot… the new computer you got last month with the ‘free money’ the government gave you to stimulate the economy. And you farmers get your deeds in order that farmland has to go too… all of it. Ladies your mothers good china that dad brought back from Korea. Your knick-knacks; your quilts; Guys your tools; trucks; tractors; lawnmowers; etc. It’s all gotta go. Don’t forget your personal jewelry, wedding rings, rings you inherited from your father, and the clothes; yep, all those extra shoes in your closet; the pants that fit; and even the ones that don’t. Am I forgetting anything? Well if I am that’s gotta go also. And then write out another check and close up the account. ‘Cause that’s what Jesus says. Isn’t it? Well, that’s what the parable says:

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44 ESV)

When you read this parable you read that the kingdom of heaven is like treasure in a field. The Kingdom of Heaven, isn’t that our salvation. Isn’t that all that Jesus came to bring to us? So be like the guy in the parable and sell everything you have and buy it. That’s what this guy does, isn’t it? He finds that valuable treasure in the field and he sells everything?

Well before we get out our garage sale signs maybe we should back up and talk just a minute about this short parable so we understand it right. So we understand it like the folks Jesus was talking to. How would they have understood it? Well, those days were not like these days in a lot of ways. First, be clear and understand that this guy in the parable isn’t doing anything illegal or underhanded. Back then when you owned a plot of land you didn’t own everything in it. Not like today with mineral rights and all that. You didn’t own anything in the field that you didn’t know about. So the treasure doesn’t ‘belong’ to the guy who owns the field just because it’s in his field. He doesn’t own the treasure because he doesn’t know about it. And there’s another very small detail to take notice of. The story doesn’t say that the guy picked up the treasure. It says he found it and covered it up again. That’s because, if he’s a hired hand, working in the field, everything he does he does on behalf of the guy he’s working for. So if he picks up the treasure it belongs to his boss. So he covers it up instead. Then he goes and sells everything he has to get possession of the field, and since he knows about the treasure, it’s his. Jesus listeners would have thought this man very wise, very smart. No one would have accused him of doing anything underhanded. It’s the way anyone there would have operated. This guy in the parable is the “good guy.”

Ok, so now back to our reading of the parable. Jesus says (doesn’t he?) that if you find the kingdom of heaven, you should be willing to sell all you have to get it. You should be as shrewd as this guy, as smart as this guy. You should be willing to sell all you have and buy treasure. Now if the treasure is God’s Kingdom, Jesus Christ and all that He has done for you, you know exactly where to find it. You know where to find Jesus. He’s here. Right here in his Word and Sacraments. The treasure isn’t even hidden in a field. So get crackin’; get sellin’; get moving the merchandise. Right?

Well, let’s ask a simple but important question. What if you sell everything and you don’t have enough to buy the land? What if you’ve disposed of all your wealth, all your possessions, all your worldly goods but the cloths on you back and you still don’t have enough to get the treasure? Well, that’s a real problem isn’t it? And in fact, that is our problem. The Bible tells us that we can’t earn our salvation or purchase it in any way. Our good works aren’t good enough and our money is worthless. So maybe Jesus doesn’t mean exactly what He’s saying here. Maybe the parable isn’t really about ‘getting’ the treasure but just about ‘wanting’ the treasure. Maybe he’s saying that we should be willing to sell all that we have to get the kingdom, or to get Jesus. Yea, that must be it. “I’ve Decided to Follow Jesus” as one hymn says. “I’d give up anything for Jesus.”

Hey, there’s a story about that in the bible isn’t there? Yea, it’s in Matthew 19.

And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:16-24, ESV)

Well, there’s a guy who just doesn’t get does he. He had the chance to do exactly what the parable says, and he tanked it. Jesus showed him the “treasure in heaven” he’s asking the right question isn’t he? What must I do to have eternal life? But in the end he walks away simply because he’s unwilling to sell everything he has to get it. Well, that’s rich folks for you; all they think about is their money. He could have easily spread the love a bit and made all those folks around Jesus happy, you know like the movies where the money from the stingy rich guy gets thrown in the air and everyone around gets a handful. But no, he thinks more of his money than the Kingdom of God.

Ah, but wait a second. Look at what the disciples say when Jesus says, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” They don’t say, “those silly rich people. They think too much of their money.” They say, “Who than can be saved?”

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:24-26 ESV)

You see, the disciples see something; hear something that we don’t see at first. When Jesus talks about a camel going through the eye of a needle he’s talking about something that doable, he’s talking about something that’s impossible. You can tell by the disciples’ reaction. All of the sudden the disciples are afraid for their own salvation. And Jesus tells them they otta be. “With man this is impossible.” Jesus says. “You can’t do it, guys.” You can’t sell enough stuff to buy it. You can’t do enough good stuff to earn it. “For you it’s impossible,” Jesus says.

And now guess what? Jesus words reach right out of the pages of the book and grab you by the throat too. You can’t do it either, dear Christians, fellow members of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Howard, SD. No matter how much you sell, you can’t sell enough to buy the field the treasure is in. You can’t do enough good stuff to make God like you and save you. You are a poor miserable sinner, deserving of God’s wrath and punishment. No matter how hard you try you can’t do enough to earn the treasure. And I’m not just talking about money either. You can write checks till you’re blue in the face. You can come to church every Sunday. You can sing in the choir (if we had one). You can teach Sunday school for years. You can be better, cleaner, less arrogant than the whole town of Howard, SD, but none of that will get you one lick closer to the treasure. You can want the treasure more than anything else but you can’t have purchase it, because you don’t have enough, and you aren’t good enough. Because for you Jesus says, “this is impossible.” It’s because the price of the field is too high. The cost of getting the treasure is too much.

If the treasure is salvation, the Kingdom of God, then the only way you could earn it is to be perfect. Jesus tells us that, too. “Be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect.” Look how he pushes that rich young man to the brink of despair. Jesus keeps upping the ante until what he’s looking to get by his works is out of reach. Jesus does that in other places too. He tells people if they call people stupid, or even think it they deserve hell because it’s just the same as killing them. He says that if you look at a woman with lust in your heart it’s the same as sleeping with her, and you deserve hell. You see. To buy the field you’d have to do more than you can do. You’d have to sell more than you have to sell. And just wanting to do it, just having the desire to have the treasure won’t get you the treasure either. So… what are we to think? What are we to do? What is Jesus trying to do to us here? What kind of a parable is this anyway?

You know, it occurs to me that we might just be reading this thing all wrong. Well, at least I hope we are reading it all wrong. What is it I always say about reading the bible? Jesus is at the heart and center of it all. If you want to understand what the bible is talking about you’ve got to put Jesus Christ crucified for you at the center of your thinking. You know what, when I read the parable with me as the guy who finds the treasure that puts me at the center. How would I read it so Jesus is there instead? How about this? Jesus is the guy who finds the treasure. Jesus is the guy who sells everything he has and buys the field and then rejoices in the treasure. Then what is the treasure?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17 ESV)

Now remember that “for God so loved” in this passage isn’t talking about the amount of God’s love but rather the way that he showed his love. God loved the world in this way… Jesus Christ humbles himself to be a living breathing man. He leaves God the Father’s side, the glory of heaven to suffer the same things that all people suffer. He cried. He had sore feet from walking and he was hungry. He was tired and weary needing rest. He lost loved ones to death, and was hated by enemies, and betrayed by friends. And this is where Jesus is different from you and me. In all of this he didn’t sin. He didn’t give up his relationship to God, the Father. He constantly obeyed God’s will for his life. He loved people selflessly always. In fact, Jesus human life, was perfect in every single way. That’s where you and I fall short. We aren’t perfect. We can’t be. We can’t sell enough to buy the field. But Jesus can. And he does. On a cross, a perfectly horrible means of punishment, created by Satan himself, Jesus bore the sin of the whole world, giving his perfect life in the place of imperfect people. He suffered punishment for all sinful, imperfect people everywhere. He bought the field. He purchased it with his holy and perfect, sinless, priceless death on the cross. He bought the field with his holy and precious blood and his innocent suffering and death. St. Paul told it to our Christian brothers and sisters in Philippi like this:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8 ESV)

Why in the world would Jesus do that? Well, to get the treasure, of course. So what’s the treasure? What is so valuable to Jesus that he would is willing leave heaven and walk the earth as poor, humble man? What has so much worth to Jesus that he suffers a criminal’s death, a sinner’s death, the punishment of hell for all human sin? What does Jesus love so, that he makes sure the story of what he did is told over and over again? What is Jesus’ treasure, the thing that he joyfully sold all he had in order to have it for himself? You. Amen.

The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Amen.


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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bike for Life

image Family and followers of the Savior of Jesus Christ.

On Saturday September 13th @ 7:00 a.m. Pastor Nour along with other riders will begin the 11th Bike-For-Life to raise funds to stop and end abortion in SD.

Any person who is willing and desires to ride with Pastor Nour and friends, please contact him information below. Also, we would love to have your prayers and financial support. You can sponsor rider by the mile or a one time gift.



Please make check out and send it to:
Lutherans For Life
C/O Rev. Nabil S. Nour
P. O. Box 158
Armour, SD 57313-0158

For more information visit


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Codex Sinaiticus online.

One of the most important historical texts is now online for study.  Introduced today.

From the website:

imageCodex Sinaiticus, a manuscript of the Christian Bible written in the middle of the fourth century, contains the earliest complete copy of the Christian New Testament. The hand-written text is in Greek. The New Testament appears in the original vernacular language (koine) and the Old Testament in the version, known as the Septuagint, that was adopted by early Greek-speaking Christians. In the Codex, the text of both the Septuagint and the New Testament has been heavily annotated by a series of early correctors.

You can view the document along with transliteration and translations in various languages. 

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Coffee... the Devil's Drink?! Say It Ain't So!

imageIn Italy it was the priests who appealed to Pope Clement VIII to have the use of coffee  forbidden among Christians.  Satan, they said, had forbidden his followers, the infidel Moslems, the use of wine because it was used in the Holy Communion, and given them instead his “hellish black brew.”  It seems the Pope liked the drink, for his reply was: “Why, this Satan’s drink is so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it.  We shall cheat Satan by baptizing it.”  Thus coffee was declared a truly Christian beverage by a farsighted Pope (p. 14).

Whew! That was a close call!  Thank Clement!


From Claudia Roden’s Coffee: A Connoisseur’s Companion, via Gene Vieth, and John Barach

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again!

imageWow! I really missed preaching these last three Sundays.  One of the hardest things for a preacher to do is sit in his own congregation and listen to someone else preach!  I had great substitutes but...  It is my pulpit, my call, and it is great to be back.

This Sunday I preached on the Epistle lesson Romans 8:18-27, Click here to read or listen to the sermon.

Romans 8:18-27, July 20, 2008, Tenth Sunday after The Pentecost

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:18-27 ESV)

Grace and peace to you from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Listen, can you hear it? I think if you listen very closely you will. It’s all around us. It’s groaning. No it’s not just the groaning you’ve heard from the guy in the parsonage whose recovering from knee surgery. No it’s not just the groaning of the balcony staircase as the folks who come to church sneak up stairs hoping not to be noticed. And no it’s not just the groaning you’ll hear if you think the sermon is too long or I’ve picked a hymn you don’t know. Oh all of that groaning is included, but it’s much more than that. There’s the groaning of nature, where animals live by the blood of their neighbors. Life brings life only through death. The weak feed the strong. Survival of the fittest, as Darwin coined the phrase. There’s the groaning in cities that have been wiped flat from tornados. The groaning of children who starve to death because their governments won’t distribute food. The groaning of mother’s whose children don’t return from the battle field. There’s the groaning you hear in your own joints as age creeps in and makes work and play harder and harder. “Growing old isn’t for sissies,” one old man told me in the hospital once. There’s the groaning you still hear inside yourself from your child, mother, spouse, daughter, brother, sister’s death. There’s the groaning that comes when the corn price is low and the yield is high, or worse yet, then the price is high and the yield is low. There’s the groaning of the empty house that used to be filled with little footsteps that have grown and moved out… out of town, out of the county, out of the state. The groaning waiting for them to call. There’s the groaning from declining population. The groaning of the gas pump. The groaning of credit card debt. The groaning of lost friends. The groaning… well I think you get the picture. It’s the picture St. Paul paints for us today in this reading.

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (Romans 8:22 ESV)

Groaning together… he says. We groan because things aren’t the way they should be. The world doesn’t work the way we know it should work. Nature doesn’t live together the way we know it should live together. Our bodies don’t last the way we know they should last. We die. So we say the lie we know is untrue, that death is a natural part of life. But there is the desire to live forever. That desire comes from a knowledge that it all should be permanent. That lie is in the face of the groaning we all know. The whole creation groans together… we groan together… because we live in a world that is difficult and broken and cursed to death and suffering.

But there is worse news yet. The creation out there groans because it was subjected to a curse. But it was curse not from its own fault but from ours. When God created the world he created it for human beings to live in. It was all perfect and good. When our first parents choose to disobey God, when they wanted to be god for themselves they destroyed their perfect relationship to God. Corrupt and sinful humans couldn’t live in a perfect world so it was “subject to futility.” You see, every time things don’t work in the world, every time a tsunami destroys a city, every time an animal dies to feed another, every time a child starves, every time a bone breaks, every time age creeps into our joints, it’s our fault. It’s your fault. It’s my fault.

I know that seems harsh. But that is what the groaning is all about. Adam’s sin brought it all about.

And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17-19 ESV)

Now here’s the thing. You might want to blame Adam for this mess, but if you were him, you’d have done the same thing. You don’t keep God’s law either. We’ve talked a lot about our broken relationship with God and our broken relationship with other people. That’s all a part of that groaning. Simply stepping through the commandments and realizing that they are not only talking about doing or not doing but they are talking about the heart, our desires and thoughts. All this shows us very clearly that we are sinful. We are sinful. We see its effects in the broken relationships. We see the effects in our lack of desire to help others. We see it in our lack of care and concern for the world that God has given us. Sin is the cause of all that groaning out there. That’s what St. Paul is confessing to us today.

But notice that St. Paul doesn’t end with the groaning… Listen again to the verse where he talks about it.

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:20-21 ESV)

The creation was subjected to this groaning in hope… even in our groaning we groan in hope… That’s the whole point of what St. Paul is saying.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18 ESV)

He’s saying that what we are headed for, the glory, is so much greater than the suffering we are undergoing now. He puts that in terms you can understand too.

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (Romans 8:22 ESV)

Any woman will tell you about the pain of childbirth. God didn’t give this curse to men because he knew that we couldn’t handle it. Women suffer that pain. But it evaporates as soon as the child is in their arms. They understand the idea of no pain no gain. Many women even do it more than once. So great is the joy the pain is forgotten. That’s what Paul wants us to see. The groaning it temporary, the groaning is part of the process, the groaning will be over and the joy will come and the groaning will be forgotten.

That childbirth, that groaning inwardly, attests to the good news that is here. We groan because we look forward to the redemption of our bodies. That too is what the groaning of Jesus was all about. He came not only to win our way to heaven, but to restore the world to its pre-groaning state. He came not just to redeem you and me, not only to rescue you and me from hell, but to rescue us to, and for a perfect world. The creation groans in eager expectation because it has been released from the curse of human sin placed on it. Jesus groaned on the tree, like that Good Friday hymn says:

Tell me ye who hear him groaning, Was there ever grief like His? (LSB 451.2)

Jesus’ pain and suffering on the cross is to release you and me, and the whole creation from the bondage to sin. Jesus knows about your groaning, he groans too. He comes to fix it. He comes to end it. He comes to restore a perfect world for you and I to live in, in perfect bodies for all eternity. It is all finished. The new world, our new bodies are on the way. That’s Jesus promise through not only His death but through His resurrection from death. That’s His promise that you will be raised from death, too.

In the mean time, what about all that groaning? Well, it’s not really going to stop. Right now things don’t work the way we want them to. Right now there’s trouble and pain and sorrow. Right now we sin and or sin affects our relationships. Right now death stalks us. Right now nature seems to be out to get us. So we groan wanting it all to come to an end. And Jesus knows what that groaning is like. He lived it too. He walked on sore feet. He was hungry when it was time to eat. He wept when His friends died. There’s nothing that happens to you that Jesus doesn’t understand. He is a human being. He groaned upon the earth. He knows what you need to overcome your troubles. And He delivers. He can because He is not just a human being, but God, too.

And look how the passage ends.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27 ESV)

So when your troubles leave you groaning and you don’t know where to turn. The Holy Spirit God’s gift to you in Holy Baptism is right there in the middle of your groaning, changing it into a prayer. And not just any prayer, but a prayer for just what you need. Amen.

The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What I'm Reading Now...

Is God Listening: Making Prayer A Part Of Your Life

Is God Listening: Making Prayer A Part Of Your Life

by Andrew E. Steinmann

I purchased this book quite a while ago and finally found some time to read it.  However, reading while recovering from surgery is a hit and miss proposition.

So far the book is good.  It talks about prayer from the prospective of the psalms. 

find it at CPH

God is in His Temple... A Communion Hymn... If I've Ever Heard One.

Habakkuk 2:20, "The LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him."

Pr. B Ball was speaking about silence... but, in the midst of his sanctified silence when he was hearing the words of Habakkuk I had a flashback of this hymn from my youth.  I remember sitting in the pew singing this hymn and waiting for my parents to return with that smell of alcohol on their breath.  I also remember silence as we sat through the space/time between hymns and verses.  The hymns had many more verses and we'd sing 3-4 then pause in silence.  The old organist always seemed to pause in that silence for a very long time.  I can clearly hear the words of the pastor.


Take, eat; this is the true body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, given into death for your sins. May this strengthen and preserve you in the true faith unto life everlasting!

Take, drink; this is the true blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, shed for the remission of our sins. May this strengthen and preserve you the the true faith unto life everlasting!

Depart in Peace.   (The Lutheran Hymnal, The Order of Holy Communion, p. 28)


And all that there is to be "silent" about is here in this hymn.

  • "God Himself is present"
  • "All within keep silent"
  • "Humbly kneel before Him"
  • "Holy, Holy, Holy"
  • "Fount of every blessing, purify my spirit"
  • "Trusting only in Your merit"

There's a sermon in this hymn. 



"God Himself Is Present"

by Gerhard Tersteegen, 1697-1769
Translated by Frederick W. Foster, 1760-1835
Lutheran Service Book, 907 (Text and Tune: Public Domain)

God Himself is present:
Let us now adore Him
And with awe appear before Him.
God is in His temple--
All within keep silence,
Humbly kneel with deepest reverence.
He alone On His throne
Is our God and Savior;
Praise His name forever.

God Himself is present:
Hear the harps resounding;
See the hosts the throne surrounding!
"Holy, holy, holy"--
Hear the hymn ascending,
Songs of saints and angels blending.
Bow Your ear To us here:
Hear, O Christ, the praises
That Thy Church now raises.

Fount of every blessing,
Purify my spirit,
Trusting only in Your merit.
Like the holy angels,
Worshipping before You,
May I ceaselessly adore you
Let Your will Ever still
Rule Your church terrestrial
As the host celestial.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Progress After My Knee Replacement Surgery

imageMany have asked me how the recovery is going.  Here's a place you can see some progressive pictures.  I've been adding a couple a week showing the progress.

Luther's Small Catechism - The Lord's Prayer - Word Cloud

A word cloud is a text picture.  Word clouds equate the size of the "word" or "topic" with the number of times a given word is used and therefor its importance in the given text.

It is an interesting way to look at a text.  So I ran the six chief parts of the catechism through a word cloud generator.

The catechism texts I used are found at


The Lord's Prayer

I like very much how this could puts "Father" at the center.  Other important words: "kingdom" "heaven", "forgive."

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:14-17 ESV)


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Another Good Lutheran Radio / Podcast Program


Pastor Craig Donofrio, Santa Ana, CA and Pastor Bill Cwirla, Hacienda Heights, CA

You say you have a God problem?  God isn’t the problem. The problem is people wanting to be God.  We reintroduce God; we retrain people. We are - The God Whisperers.

Cwirla and Donofrio approach the topic (God) with humor and interest.

The web page for the pod cast is

Listen there or on Pirate Christian Radio.

Here's a list of their programs:

Friday, July 11, 2008

Culture Wars at McDonalds

Read the article:

Most notable is the opening two paragraphs:

Those who oppose homosexuality for religious reasons are participating in "hate," according to an official for McDonald's, the worldwide purveyor of Big Macs and Happy Meals.

"Hatred has no place in our culture," corporate spokesman Bill Whitman told the Washington Post in response to a campaign by the American Family Association for a boycott of the burger-and-fries outlets because of the corporation's advocacy for the homosexual lifestyle.

The boycott of MickeyD's is not about hiring or serving homosexuals... it's about McDonalds as a corporation putting its full force and favor behind the homosexual agenda.

"Mr. Whitman has intentionally avoided addressing the reason for the boycott. This boycott is not about hiring gays or how gay employees are treated. It is about McDonald's choosing to put the full weight of their corporation behind promoting their agenda," the AFA alert said.

Things are heating up in this area.  Keep a watch on the homosexual marriage amendment in California.  I believe it will be a watershed.  If it passes we won't be long for a "hate" speech crime for a pastor saying that homosexual behavior/marriage/lifestyle is sinful from the pulpit.

Note also this story:

Here a man is suing publishers for "changing" bible translations to make them anti-homosexual.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Value of the Liturgy: A Convert's View

From Rev. Paul McCain's Blog: Cyberbrethren

Here is a well written summary of how the Lutheran liturgy is a blessing to those coming in to our congregations from churches that either are non-liturgical or who have moved away from it. This is written by Mr. James Blasius. He is happy to grant permission to reproduce this for anyone who finds it helpful.

I grew up in a fine Presbyterian church - a good church, excepting for the Sunday school unit on higher criticism that traumatized me. But one thing of which the Presbyterians never had much, and now have less is the liturgy. And liturgy is something I desperately wanted. I didn’t know it’s what I wanted, but I loved the few times we’d do responsive readings from the Psalms, the doxologies, and so on.

As a nouveau Lutheran (vs. an Old Lutheran, who would have the catechism memorized, would know the colors of the church year, and would know the difference between Matins and, um, not-Matins), I may yet have some insights on the liturgy that those who have lived with it don’t: A poor man might have a greater appreciation for the marvel that is clean tap water than a rich man.

  1. The liturgy is memorable. I love confession and absolution, and miss it terribly when the service doesn’t have it. Because I can remember so much of the liturgy, the confession rolls off my lips any time I am reminded of my sinfulness (although I don’t typically absolve myself). The words are concise, essential, complete, scriptural. And there are the songs, praise, thanksgiving, doctrine. These appear on the tip of my tongue at appropriate or inappropriate moments. It gives me a wider repertoire than I had as a child, where our regular service component was limited to a doxology and a benediction.
  2. It’s scripture. The Lutheran Service Book has nice scriptural references next to each part of the liturgy, and Christians love to hear the words of scripture. They dig it. Scripture makes ‘em want to dance in their underwear (well, an ephod) as the ark did for David. In a world where a standard church reading is one verse, being surrounded by scripture throughout the service is A Good Thing.
  3. It’s participatory. Try going to a service where your only participation is to sing a hymn, or worse, just sit there and listen to a person with a microphone on a stage. It’s better to be able to have a role and speak the words of scripture as part of the body of Christ. Our society is oriented towards the individual, but the church is a body with each part doing working together. Somehow liturgy makes that real.
  4. It unites us with Christians of all times and places. Liturgy unifies us only with the Christians next to us, but with the larger church in “all times and places.” The liturgy is similar to what was done 1000 years ago and 1900 years ago, and the singing of psalms goes back to David’s day. Another way to look at it: In New Testament days, there were no pastors driving up the aisles on Harleys and there were no swaying dancers in church, but there was most certainly the singing of the scriptures, there were doxologies and Scripturally meaningful songs of praise.
  5. It’s filled with song. Music means something to us that’s different from prose. The Psalms have been sung since they were first written: David, in addition to dancing before the ark, was singing and making music with Israel when the ark was being brought to Jerusalem, and Paul writes in Ephesians 5 about “addressing one another in  psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.” And music is beautiful. There is value in it, and liturgical services are brimming with it.
  6. It's a wonderful vehicle for the Sacraments. I think of it like wrapping on a gift. It beautifies the Lord's gifts coming to us through Word and Sacraments and underscores and highlights what we believe, teach and confess about the means of grace: God acting among us and for us. Reverent, holy, sacred, a place and  time set-apart—that's why the liturgy is a great delivery-system for the Sacraments.

One can have a good church without a good liturgy, but good liturgy is an excellent tool for worship and the Christian life. I’d put it as second in importance only to sound doctrine, in my opinion, for it supports and enhances the teaching of God's Word.


Pirate Christian Radio

Heartland Lutheran High School sets World Record.

My nephew and nieces went to this Lutheran High School in Grand Island.

 Heartland Lutheran High School

My brother is also on the board.

They recently completed their goal in breaking the world record for the longest basketball game.  77 Hours, 7 min, 7 sec. 

They used it as a fundraiser for the school.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Lutheran Talk Radio:


LUTHERAN TALK RADIO. You can listen to Issues, Etc. on-demand at Issues, Etc. is hosted by LCMS Pastor Todd Wilken and produced by Lutheran Public Radio. This week’s topics include: Islam, The Gospel, Religion & the 2008 Election, Evangelical Style, Lutheran Substance, the Purpose Driven Movement and more. Listen to what you want when you want at!


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Sermon by by Pastor Sturzenbecher.

Listen to this very fine sermon by Pastor Sturzenbecher. He gives this description:
The freedom we celebrate in the United States came at a very high price. Many lives have been lost in the war for our freedom. There is a war being fought every time you make a choice to do the right thing or the wrong thing.

Saturday, July 05, 2008


"A god who is everywhere is as useless as a god who is nowhere. What we need is a God who is SOMEWHERE." Norman Nagel

HT:Ibanez Eric and Will Weedon (Nagelisms Group, Wittenburg Trail)

No Sermon this Week (7-6-8)

Pastor Watt is still recovering form knee surgery, so there will be no sermon this week.  Pastor Warren Uecker is preaching at St. John's and no recording will be made.

May I suggest the following web site for sermons to read / listen. - Pastor Nabil S. Nour - Pastor Randy Sturzenbecher

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I Am Not a Rat

Rat For those of you who think I really am a rat I have proof today that I'm actually not.  My doctor (Dr. Kalo) says I'm resistant to rat poison.  In other words I have high levels of Vit-K in my system.  He upped my Coumadin and it actually had opposite desired effect.  Coumadin is used to prevent clots and heart attacks.  Apparently my blood is naturally thin.  You should see the bruising on my leg!  All this points to my very un-rat like body.  You see, coumadin along with its medical uses is also used as a rat poison.

Dilbert Animation...


"You must be the new coffee machine!!"

She does exist!?!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Luther's Small Catechism - "The Creed" - Word Cloud

A word cloud is a text picture.  Word clouds equate the size of the "word" or "topic" with the number of times a given word is used and therefor its importance in the given text.

It is an interesting way to look at a text.  So I ran the six chief parts of the catechism through a word cloud generator.

The catechism texts I used are found at

The Creed

I like this cloud for the Apostles' Creed.  Christ appears at the very top, nearly the largest word.  He is indeed the substance of the creed as the creed is a summary of what scriptures have to day.  Next is "true" and "believe" balancing each other in green.  This is "true".  This is what we "believe". 

but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31 ESV)


As I Was Saying....


Pastor Todd Wilken and company at Issues Etc. came back to the air waves yesterday.  I can't think of much that categorizes the return  better than Todd's first words...

"As I was saying... before I was so rudely interrupted..." Rev. Todd Wilken

The first hour back on the air was low key and better than could be expected.  The host and Mr. Schwarz reminisced about their unexpected "spring break."  I appreciated especially how they didn't focus on those who kicked them off the air but rather on their own journeys.  There could have been much accusation, "they did us wrong", "they are evil", there was none of that.  Just a focus on what the program is about.

"The Word of God has the power to change lives... and we were privileged to be that conduit..."

The second hour was unremarkable.  I mean this in the most complementary manner.  Todd's interview skills are top shelf.  He discussed to relevant issues in the manner that we have become accustomed to.  As I listened, doing the things I normally do during the day, things felt back in balance.  The center of our faith came through clearly and strongly, Jesus Christ crucified for Sinners.  It's the reason I tuned into Issues and the reason I will continue to do so.

Welcome back Todd and Jeff and Co...

My only complaint... only 2 hours!

You can listen online at Pirate Christian Radio