"Sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace" (Romans 6:14). Nearly 2000 years ago, Paul wrote that to Christians, to people he included with himself when he said, "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life" (Romans 6:4-5).
I had always thought of the Garden of Gethsemane as some hidden away place. My mind's eye had pictured the Palm Sunday donkey ride as rather long and stretched out. My picture of the Jordan River was more like the Mississippi River. It's not that I didn't understand what the Bible was saying. I had just attached the words of scripture to the pictures my mind developed for them over the years. But then I saw it. And the images that play in my head as I read God's Word all look a little different now.
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"Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?"
"But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord for he has been good to me."
Have you ever thought about how silly worship seems? And I could go through so many of the goofy seeming things that we do in the ritual of worship, but I just want to cut to the chase. Think about how crazy it seems that we give offerings. We go out of our way to get to church and then just give up significant proportions of our income...for free. Why? Why on earth would we go to church and take our time and give our money?
When you think of college spring break, is volunteering for church work the first thing on your mind? For Ruth Wendland, Alison Wine, Lauren Maertz and Annette Scharf, apparently, it is. Skipping the more traditional spring break locations, these four college students from Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minn., are making their way to Covington looking to be put to work. Their goal: sharing the good news about Jesus. They were sponsored by a group called Kingdom Workers and by Abiding Grace Lutheran Church.
Yesterday was Valentine's Day. Did you remember? Did you do something big?
Today is a big day. It might not seem like anything special, but let me let you in on a secret. Today, God is working. Our text is the story of one of Jesus' first sermons, in his hometown of Nazareth. Imagine the scene Luke 4 paints: The people were excited having heard rumors that he had made a pretty big splash on the rabbi scene in Jerusalem, and now he was back home to teach. He is given the honor of reading the Scripture in synagogue. He takes the seat of the teacher and opens his mouth.
They say knowledge is power. That's true, isn't it? Knowledge is a powerful thing. It can prevent all sorts of problems and can provide all sorts of solutions, saving time, money...even your life. For instance, when you know not to use water on a grease fire, you avert disaster.
When I look around me at church, I'm often struck by one thing about the people I see. They are different. I know that might not sound like that much of a compliment - but I see it as an amazing gift from God. Truly. The faces in our congregation range from young to old, the voices from weak to strong, the billfolds from thick to thin, the vigor from faint to healthy, the skin tone from black to white and everything in between. We are different.
Well, we're three weeks in to 2013. Have you kept your resolutions so far? Or are you realizing again this year that the New Year's resolutions were tougher than they sounded on Jan. 1?
"When were you saved?" Have you ever been asked that question? When were you saved? Maybe it's just because of my line of work, but I get that question all the time.
They say you find God in the strangest places. Well, the story of Christmas proves it. Read Luke 2. Even though the text starts in the Emperor's palace of the most powerful nation on earth, when "Caesar Augustus issued a decree," and it passes through every place of power and beauty you can imagine from the Governor's mansion of Quirinius to every corner of the known world - we find it settling down in Nazareth, a nothing town. We see the spotlight rest on a poor engaged couple with not enough resources to even secure a decent bed. That ...
Wives, do you wish your husbands were better communicators? Guys, do you wish your wives didn't read things into what you say that were never there? You know what I'm talking about.
You can tell a lot by a gift's reaction, can't you? - about the gift, the giver, the receiver, their relationship. So, since reactions to gifts are so important - think about your reaction to the greatest gift of Christmas -Jesus.
It's getting closer. The end of the Mayan calendar has caused so many to talk about the end of the world. They say it will be next Friday, Dec. 21. Of course, God said we wouldn't know when - but we do know he's coming. So it is important to ask if you're ready. Are you?
T minus 14 days and counting. Are you ready? According to the Internet (and you know if it's on the Internet it has to be true, right?) ...according to the internet on Dec. 21st, 2012, at exactly 11:11 a.m. there will be a conjunction of the Winter Solstice with the crossing point of the Galactic Equator and the Ecliptic path of the sun. The Mayans predicted it 2500 years ago and ended their calendar on that day. Nostradamus called it the "Galactic alignment of 2012" way back in 1555. And it is now just 11 days away ...