“An Idolatry of Works and Wealth, and the One Thing Lacking” (Mark 10:17-22)

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost
October 14, 2018

“An Idolatry of Works and Wealth, and the One Thing Lacking” (Mark 10:17-22)

In today’s Gospel we meet a man who ran up to Jesus with great eagerness. At the end, though, he went away with great sadness. What happened in between? Our text today is the story of what this man had and what he didn’t have. What he had was an idol. Actually, it was a twofold idolatry. And what he didn’t have was one essential thing. So now let’s find out what his idolatry was and what the one thing he lacked was. And as we do, we may just recognize ourselves in this story and, by God’s grace, go away today not sorrowful but joyful. And so our theme this morning: “An Idolatry of Works and Wealth, and the One Thing Lacking.”

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Published in: on October 13, 2018 at 8:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“A Citizenship Even Bigger than Texas” (Hebrews 11:13-16; John 14:1-6; Philippians 3:20-21)

Funeral Service
Saturday, October 13, 2018

“A Citizenship Even Bigger than Texas” (Hebrews 11:13-16; John 14:1-6; Philippians 3:20-21)

His name was “Emerick,” but everybody called him “Tex.” That was our brother Emerick “Tex” Labus. He went by “Tex” for as long as I’ve known him, and that’s been over ten years. Even though he lived here in Missouri for I don’t know how long, people still called him Tex. I guess you can take the boy out of Texas, but you can’t take the Texas out of the boy.

I’ve observed over the years that people from Texas are very proud of being from Texas. And they’ll let you know it. Maybe you’ve noticed that too. They’ll talk about how Texas once was its own country, before it joined the United States. They’ll tell you about how Texas is #1 in this or #1 in that. About how everything is bigger in Texas.

And, well, maybe Texas does have a lot to be proud of, I don’t know. But we do know that for our brother Emerick, he was happy to be called “Tex.” He was always a Texan, even while he lived here in Missouri.

But today I want to tell you about another identity Tex had. Another citizenship. Another homeland. One far greater and better than even being from Texas. And now after Missouri, this will be his next stop. His eternal homeland. Because Tex had “A Citizenship Even Bigger than Texas.”

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Published in: on October 13, 2018 at 8:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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“The Word Is Very Near You” (Deuteronomy 30:11-30; Genesis 2:18-25; Mark 10:2-16)

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
October 7, 2018

“The Word Is Very Near You” (Deuteronomy 30:11-30; Genesis 2:18-25; Mark 10:2-16)

In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses is having a review session with the people of Israel. They’re about to enter the promised land of Canaan, and Moses has some things he wants to go over with them. That’s the Book of Deuteronomy in a nutshell. Moses reviews all that the Lord has done to bring them to this point. How he had brought them out of Egypt, out of their bondage there. How he had provided for them during their wilderness journey, in spite of their grumbling and unfaithfulness. And Moses especially goes over how the Lord had made a covenant with them at Sinai, giving them the Torah, the Law, a way of life that would mark them out as being God’s holy people. The Lord gave them his law as a blessing. It truly is the best way for his people to live. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your might.” “Love your neighbor as yourself.” That pretty much sums it up.

The Lord gave Israel his law in the form of the Ten Commandments. Moses got them straight from the Lord on Mount Sinai and brought them down to the people. He had gone over these things with Israel time and again. And he told them to pass these words on to their children, to talk about them when they get up in morning and walk along the road and go to bed at night.

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Published in: on October 6, 2018 at 9:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Grumbling on the Way to the Promised Land” (Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29)

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 30, 2018

“Grumbling on the Way to the Promised Land” (Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29)

Our text this morning is the Old Testament Reading from Numbers 11. At the start of this text we hear the Israelites grumbling against God and against his servant Moses. It says: “Now the rabble that was among [the children of Israel] had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, ‘Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.’”

This text, my friends, is a picture of us. For we too grumble and complain–against God, and sometimes against his servants also. How we grumble and complain! Even though, like the Israelites, the Lord has brought us out of bondage. Even though the Lord is leading us to the land he has promised. Even though he is providing for us along the way. And so our theme this morning: “Grumbling on the Way to the Promised Land.”

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Published in: on September 29, 2018 at 11:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“From Selfish Ambition to Humble Service” (James 3:13 – 4:10; Mark 9:30-37)

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 23, 2018

“From Selfish Ambition to Humble Service” (James 3:13 – 4:10; Mark 9:30-37)

In this long green season of the church year, the non-festival half of the year, the Epistle reading is not chosen to go along with the theme of the Holy Gospel, as it is in the festival half of the year. Instead, it’s just a straight reading-through of a particular epistle. Thus any correlation between the Epistle and Gospel is merely a coincidence. Well, we have such a coincidence today. The Epistle reading from James and the Gospel reading from Mark do have a common theme. It’s the theme of Christians, disciples of Jesus, being called to move “From Selfish Ambition to Humble Service.”

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Published in: on September 22, 2018 at 7:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Ears Opened, Tongue Loosed: Now What?” (James 3:1-12; Isaiah 50:4-10)

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 16, 2018

“Ears Opened, Tongue Loosed: Now What?” (James 3:1-12; Isaiah 50:4-10)

In today’s Gospel, Jesus heals a boy who was deaf and mute. In last week’s Gospel, Jesus healed a man who was deaf and mute. The man’s ears were opened and his tongue was loosed. And the crowd said about Jesus, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Now not one of us here is either deaf or mute. Some of us may be a little hard of hearing, but at least we can hear. And none of us is mute. We all can speak. Our ears and our tongue are working. But the question is: What are we doing with them? What are we using our ears and our tongue for? How are we using them?

And besides having functional ears and tongues physically, we also have had our ears and our tongue opened spiritually. In our baptism, God has given us ears to hear his word and tongues to praise his name. How are we using these ears and this tongue? To God’s glory? For our neighbor’s good? Or for different purposes? And so our theme this morning: “Ears Opened, Tongue Loosed: Now What?”

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Published in: on September 15, 2018 at 11:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Jesus’ Sign Language” (Mark 7:31-37)

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 9, 2018

“Jesus’ Sign Language” (Mark 7:31-37)

How do you speak to a deaf man? With sign language, of course. You make the appropriate gestures and actions to communicate the message you want to convey. And that is what Jesus does to communicate with a deaf man who is brought to him. He uses sign language, of sorts, to get his message across. But in so doing, and then in actually healing the man, Jesus is also using sign language to send a message to us. And so now let’s read “Jesus’ Sign Language.”

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Published in: on September 8, 2018 at 2:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Life in the Combat Zone” (Ephesians 6:10-20)

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 2, 2018

“Life in the Combat Zone” (Ephesians 6:10-20)

Have you ever been in a combat zone? I mean, a real, live, active combat zone. A place where bullets are whizzing past your head and explosive devices are ready to take your leg off. That’s a combat zone, and it’s a very dangerous place to be. You could be killed or wounded at any moment. Making it out of there alive is a very precarious proposition.

Well, guess what? You are in a combat zone, whether you realize it or not. Every Christian is. It comes with the territory. The battle is real, and the battle is on! The battle is raging, and there are no deferments, no going AWOL. You are in this battle, automatically, and it is a fight to the finish, a life-or-death conflict. So what to do? Be prepared for this battle. Because it’s going to come. There’s no avoiding it. Are you ready? Are you prepared? And so our theme this morning: “Life in the Combat Zone.”

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Published in: on September 1, 2018 at 7:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Most Hated Verse in the Bible” (Ephesians 5:22-33)

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
August 26, 2018

“The Most Hated Verse in the Bible” (Ephesians 5:22-33)

A couple of weeks ago I ran across an article on my news feed with the headline: “North Carolina GOP Candidate Preached Extensively on. . . .” Now I’ll tell you in a moment what he preached extensively on, but first let me give you an idea why this was even a story. You see, there’s a candidate in North Carolina running for Congress, and he used to be the pastor of a church. And of course his opponent and those who are backing him are looking for any dirt they can find on the guy. Well, apparently they went through his old sermons. And what did they discover? That he had preached, more than once, on something they found particularly distasteful, very incriminating–shocking, really. “Ah, here is what we’re looking for! Surely this will sink the man and doom his candidacy!” And of course this is why the news media all across the country ran with the story. So what was it that they found? What was so awful, so terrible, so outrageous? OK, now I’ll read you the full headline: “North Carolina GOP Candidate Preached Extensively on . . . Wives Submitting to Husbands.”

“Wives Submitting to Husbands”: Whoa! There it is! This evil man, this misogynist, this sexist bigot, had the gall, the audacity, to actually preach that wives should submit to their husbands! Where’s the rope?

Now it should come as no surprise these days that a Christian minister preaching on what used to be a traditional, commonly held belief–that this now is regarded as inflammatory hate speech, that it’s anathema, beyond the pale. The tolerant Left can’t tolerate such a thing!

But it’s not just the liberals and secularists who are aghast that anyone still thinks that wives should submit to their husbands. There are even Christians, church-going Christians, who don’t understand and even reject this biblical teaching. Perhaps even you have had some questions about this topic. And that’s why we’re going to take a look at it this morning.

The idea that wives should submit to their husbands is indeed taught in the Bible, in a number of places, most famously–or should I say, infamously–in today’s Epistle reading. The words come straight out of the first verse of that text, where it says, “Wives submit to your husbands.” And now you can see why I call Ephesians 5:22 “The Most Hated Verse in the Bible.”

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Published in: on August 25, 2018 at 5:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“From Darkness to Light” (Ephesians 5:6-21)

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
August 19, 2018

“From Darkness to Light” (Ephesians 5:6-21)

Have you ever come out of a really dark room into a bright, sunlit area? It takes a few moments to get used to, doesn’t it? Your eyes have to adjust to the new reality. But once they do, you have so much a better view of what’s around you and in front of you. No longer are you stumbling around in the dark, bumping into things. Now you can see clearly where to walk, what’s the right way to go. Well, that’s kind of how it is for us as Christians. We have come out of the darkness and into the light. It is the light of Christ we’re walking in now. And that makes all the difference. And so our theme this morning: “From Darkness to Light.”

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Published in: on August 18, 2018 at 7:47 pm  Comments (1)  
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