Alive in Christ!

November 13, 2018

**This funeral message was given after one of our church family took her own life. This is shared in hope that it might help others struggling with suicide or the suicide of a family member. The names have been removed for family privacy, (so there are a few gaps in the audio). We, along with many others urge those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts to reach out to someone and ask for help--a pastor, teacher, mentor, friend, counselor. There IS HOPE, though depression can often cloud us from seeing it. Do not be ashamed to ask for help. The Lord be with you!**

Key passages used in our pastoral counseling were Isaiah 42:3 and Romans 6:11. 


Tested and Hopeful

February 26, 2018

Sermon on Romans 5:1-5, for the 2nd Sunday in Lent 2018 (1 Yr Lectionary), about the way that a Christian endures suffering in life. What is the "chain reaction" described in this reading? Who is a good example of growing through suffering? What three responses to suffering can we have, and which is God's intent? What is the difference between an "earthly hope" and the "biblical hope" described here? How do we know God's plans are always good? 


To God Alone Be Glory

October 30, 2017

Sermon on Romans 3:19-28, for Reformation Day. Soli Deo Gloria--To God Alone Be Glory! A celebration of the blessings of God's blessings to Emmanuel Lutheran Church at our 50th anniversary, and 500 years of the worldwide ringing out of the joyful Gospel of freedom in Christ Jesus. Why does the Gospel leave us no grounds for boasting? What does some of the theological language of Romans 3 mean, and why was "justification by faith" the issue that Martin Luther said the church stands or falls on? What is the difference in the place that good works have, in Luther's reading of Scripture, and in what was being taught by the church? 

  • The book of Romans as a whole, and Romans 3:19-28 in particular, was crucial to Martin Luther’s rediscovery of the Bible, as He immersed Himself in study of the Bible. This passage gives such a clear description of salvation by faith in Christ Jesus, apart from the works of the Law. Nevertheless, it has some theological terms that may not be familiar to us, and some weaknesses of the English language prevent us from seeing the relationship of all the ideas. Here is a quick  vocabulary list to help clarify:
  • “the Law and the Prophets”—expression for the Old Testament (v. 21)
  • “works of the Law”—obedience (or lack thereof) to God’s commandments (v. 20, 27, 28). This is excluded from our justification
  • “justified”—in Greek it’s part of one word family, together with “righteous” or “righteousness” (below), and means “to declare righteous/innocent”. “Justified” can be thought of as God’s legal verdict of innocence—not by “works of the law”, but only by faith in Jesus (v.20, 24, 26, 28)
  • “righteous/righteousness/just”—in Greek, all part of the same word family, meaning upright and innocent. Note there are two kinds of righteousness—by the law (we are actually all unrighteous by this measure) and the righteousness “apart from the law” (v. 21), which is the “righteousness of God through faith in Jesus” (v. 22) (a free gift!)
  • “believe/belief/faith”—again, all one word family in Greek, but split in English into the verb “believe” and noun “faith”. Means our trust in God, or “honesty about dependence” on Him.
  • “propitiation”—a putting away of God’s wrath against sin. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was the satisfying of the just demand of the Law that sin and evil be punished. (v. 25)
  • “redemption”—to buy back, from sins and death (v. 24)

The God of Endurance, Encouragement, and Hope

December 5, 2016

Sermon on Romans 15:4-13, (esp. vs. 4-5, 13) for the 2nd Sunday in Advent, about God's qualities of Endurance, Encouragement, and Hope, and how these are characteristics of Scripture, that God conveys to us. Consider the contrast--God is NOT a God of quitting/failure, DIScouragement, or despair. For a great hymn to go along with this, see Lutheran Service Book hymn 664 "Fight the Good Fight" about endurance--or LSB 337 "The Night Will Soon be Ending" for a contrast of how the world brings madness increasing, but God's Word brings hope increasing.


Baptized into Christ

January 12, 2015

Sermon on Romans 6:1-11, for the Baptism of our Lord, about how we die and rise with Christ in our Baptism, and how we face our life together with Jesus.


Sin and Grace in the Reformation

October 27, 2014

Sermon on Romans 3:19-28, for Reformation Day, about the meaning sin and grace, and how they show our human need and predicament before God, and His merciful response to our situation. What can the analogy of viruses  help us to understand about the disease of sin, and God's cure in Christ Jesus?


Righteousness and the Reformation

October 6, 2014

Sermon on Philippians 3:4b-14, for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost, about what Paul taught in Philippians and Romans about righteousness; and how that informs our Lutheran understanding of our relationship to God.


Living in Light of Christ’s Eternal Rule, Part 13

September 15, 2014

The 13th and final sermon in a series on Romans 6-14, entitled, "God's Greater Story." A sermon on Romans 13:11-14:12, for the 14th Sunday after Pentecost. A sermon about how Christians are tempted to quarrel over opinions or "indifferent things"--things that don't matter for our salvation. Paul shows how we must not judge or despise our brothers, because we live in the light of Christ's Eternal rule and the coming judgment to which we are all accountable. r


Dual Citizenship and Debts of Love, Part 12

September 8, 2014

Part 12 of a 13 part series on the Book of Romans, entitled, "God's Greater Story."

This sermon on Romans 13:1-10, for the 13th Sunday after Pentecost, is about the role of a Christian living in the dual citizenship of the nations we belong to on earth, as well as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. How do we live out our Christian life at the intersection of these two authorities of church and state, that are both under God's authority and power? 

Living in Love, Part 11

September 3, 2014

Sermon on Romans 12:9-21, for the 12th Sunday after Pentecost, about the shape and dimensions of the Christian life, as Christ will lead us to as we follow Him and He lives in us. How do we respond to the hatred of enemies? How does love overcome evil?


Transformed for Service, Part 10

August 25, 2014

Sermon on Romans 11:33-12:8, for the 11th Sunday after Pentecost. Part 10 of the Romans' series, "God's Greater Story." The message is about the mysterious ways of God and how His mercies in Christ form the basis of our Christian life and the "living sacrifice" we offer. 


People of Faith and Mercy, Part 9

August 18, 2014

Sermon on Romans 11:1-2a, 13-32, for the 10th Sunday after Pentecost, part 9 of a 13 part series in Romans, "God's Greater Story." This sermon addresses the meaning of the "grafting" metaphor of the olive tree and branches, and how it Jew and Gentile relate in the church of Christ. 


People with a Purpose, Part 8

August 11, 2014

Sermon on Romans 10:5-17, for the 9th Sunday after Pentecost. A sermon about faith and the Word of God as the Holy Spirit's tool for creating faith. Part 8 of the series on Romans, "God's Greater Story."


People of Promise, Part 7

August 4, 2014

Sermon on Romans 9:1-13, for the 8th Sunday after Pentecost, on having a passion for the lost, and how God makes us into the people of God who live by His promise and for His greater purposes.

Note: The following sermon is part 7 of  a 13 part series on Romans 6-14, adapted from the Series "God's Greater Story" by Rev. David Schmitt of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. I did not preach sermons 4-7 in the series, if you are following along on the blog. In the beginning of the sermon I allude the difficulty of Romans ch. 9, referring to the passages about election and specifically vs. 13. In this sermon I did not tackle that large and complex issue, which would require a whole sermon in itself. However, for the interested reader, I can commend no better summary of the issue of election and predestination than the summary found here or here  These are, respectively the Epitome (short version) and Solid Declaration (long version) of the Formula of Concord, from the Lutheran Confessions found in the Book of Concord. While not resolving all difficulties and potential questions, it faithfully lays out the Biblical teaching and shows that it is a doctrine of comfort and not fear. I encourage you to read it.


Christ our Deliverer, Part 3

July 7, 2014
Sermon on Romans 7:14-25, for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost, about the struggle we endure as simultaneously saint and sinner, and how we find victory in Christ Jesus. 

Note: The following sermon is part 3 of  a 13 part series on Romans 6-14, adapted from the Series "God's Greater Story" by Rev. David Schmitt of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis