Posts Tagged ‘Lutheran’

Christ Followers are changed through the Eternal Gospel

October 23, 2013

angel_eternal_gospelThen I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:6-8 ESV)

There are those who speak of a turning point in their lives, a turn back to God. It may come  after hitting rock bottom, loss of a job, death in the family, a marriage on the rocks, or some other tragedy in life. Still there are other times when we believe we have been walking in God’s path only to be confronted with God’s Word through a sermon, scripture reading, hymn/song, or witness that proves otherwise. It is during that time we turn repent of our sins and turn back to God.

In the teaching, preaching, and witness inside and outside of the church, we should all know that the Word of God does miraculous things to those that hear it. Throughout the Old and New Testament there are recorded accounts of God’s Word preserving, convicting, and delivering His people. Jonah knew the power of God’s Word could change a city’s heart. He knew it to the point that he didn’t want to go to those people to share God’s Word with them. We will be the first to say that we have troubles sharing God’s Word with others. We assume it is because it is simply hard to talk about our faith, but have you ever wondered if the reason is that you can’t fathom God changing their lives or is it we don’t want God to change their lives?

Can you remember the last time God’s Word changed you? Hopefully, it is every time you are confronted with God’s Word. In reading Revelation 14:6-8, this is the proclamation of the first of three angels. The proclamation is to everyone nation, tribe, language, and people on earth. Sounds like what Jesus directs us to do in the Great Commission. In order to make disciples of all nations, there must be a proclamation of the Gospel to every nation, tribe, language, and people who dwell on earth. There is something beautiful about angel leading the charge with the gospel. This isn’t just some worldly gospel that passes like the fades of this world. No, this is a eternal gospel.” A gospel that reminds us to: “Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come.”

Just as each of us are confronted with God’s Word, we realize that the hour of His judgment has come. Since Christ’s ascension to the right hand of the Father, we have been moving closer to that very Judgment Day. This is the very reason why when the Word of God gets us it is beautiful in all aspects. Whether it be the surgical knife that cuts us to reveal the cancerous sin within us or the healing Gospel that restores us in God’s eyes. The Word of God is eternal and it leads to our eternal life. What is our response to the Word of God and the angel’s proclamation? We humbly “worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” May your days be blessed by God’s Word that both convicts and restores.

Heavenly Father who gives us Your Word and who bestowed upon us the Word made Flesh, grant us your forgiveness for every sin we have committed in thought, word, and deed. We thank you humbling for sending Your Son who stood in our place taking on Your full wrath so that we might live eternally. Gracious Lord, we thank you and implore You for the work of Your Spirit that convicts us through the Word and restores us by showing us the Grace you have bestowed upon us. Lord continue to lead by the proclamation of the eternal gospel for the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Christ Followers Lift up the Cup of Salvation…

October 22, 2013

cup_of_salvationWhat shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord, I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. O Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds. I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the Lord, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord! (Psalm 116:12-19 ESV)

God save me a poor miserable sinner! Isn’t that we love the Lord so much? We sinners have committed some terrible transgressions against God starting in the Garden of Eden. We were all promised a delivered who would crush the serpent’s head. God fulfilled that promised to His creation in sending His Son. This brings up an interesting question, “What is our response to the salvation God has bestowed upon us?”

A casual look around us and we can see how average person responds to God’s salvation. Adults and children alike who were raised in the church, no longer attend church, but instead they look to the world for their salvation. Things like drugs, sex, alcohol, and and other material items are the usual destinations until reality sets in.

It is during those time when the world’s salvation has failed us that God is waiting in His steadfast love to provide the salvation that can only be given as gift thanks to the sacrifice of His beloved Son. It is a salvation that transcends race, ethnic background, social status, sex, or location. The Psalmists says, “O Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.” This is a salvation that loosens the bonds of sin so that you are released from the condemnation that is rightly deserved for those sins of the past, present, and future. It is a salvation that comes with the belief in that very Son that secured it for you in His sacrifice for you.

Psalm 116 brings us a starting point to what our response to this salvation looks like in the body of Christ. We are thankful for the salvation He has given us free through His wonderful Means in the Word, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper (“Lift up the cup of salvation”). We pray to God the Father for thanks, petitions, forgiveness, and strength because we know He is God and we are not (“call on the name of the Lord”). We are His living witnesses of the Great Mercy and Love He has for His fallen people serving as beacons of His wonderful Light (“We pay our vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.”). In short, we live as Christ imitators, we follow the teachings of Christ because we are His Disciples. We follow Christ today and everyday because He said,  “Follow Me” and we know that He is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

Merciful Father you have overlooked our waywardness in following the world and disregarding your teachings. Forgiving Lord, forgives us for those times. God of Grace we thank you for the wonderful sacrifice of Yourself, but also Your Son. Thank You for the giving of Your Only Begotten Son for wiping away of our Sins. Lord continue your steadfast love for us. Send Your Holy Spirit to work in, with, and through us so that we may with confidence, lift up the cup of salvation, calling upon your name, and pay our vows before all the people in this world. Amen.

Christ Followers looked to God for strength to Witness in their Hometowns

October 21, 2013

and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom not-without-honorand these mighty works? Is not this qthe carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.  (Matthew 13:54-58 ESV)

Can you imagine this scenario? Jesus grew up around these people from his hometown. Jesus was like every other kid, the lack of information about his youth is apparent. However, since Jesus was fully human it is fair for us to assume He was just like us in the fact that He played with other kids. He did kid type things minus committing any sins. Yet, if you have grown up in a town and aspired to greatness or have been alleviated to a position of leadership… those that knew you when you were younger see you different.

“I used to change your diaper.” “I used to babysit you.” One of the hardest things anyone can do is to return back to lead those whom you grew up around. If you have ever tried to witness to a family member or friend who has seen you in a different stage in life.  Yet, this is exactly what Jesus was doing. He was bearing witness to what our Heavenly Father had in store for us.

There He was teaching in the synagogue about God’s plan for our salvation.  Picture this; you attend church and hear God’s Word proclaimed to you. It works on you to the point where you just have to share it with someone else. Since we are shy about engaging strangers, we approach the safe people around us, family and friends. Often times instead of hearing what we have to share they will call us out on things we have done in the past, but that is exactly the key. We did those things in the past and God has revealed to us a new life as His children and we no longer do the things we once did.

Jesus says, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” Stand fast, while we are seen with honor amongst those we grew up. We have honor and glory in God. Through Baptism, we have been set apart, we are His holy people. It is through this life in the body of Christ that we don’t worry how others see us from the past, but how they see us, the change God has made in our lives. We alse need not worry about finding the right words, we simply need to be faithful to planting seeds.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV)

Gracious Father, thank you for the many blessings you have bestowed upon us. Lord forgive us for faltering when witnessing to family and friends. Forgive us for our past sinners. Lord, for the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, help your lost people us in our new lives in the body of Christ. Send Your Spirit to provide us resolve, courage, and strength so that we may be the witnesses and missionaries for You in this broken world. Amen

Christ Followers desire God to humble themselves and others

September 20, 2013

To the choirmaster. Of David, for the memorial offering. Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O Lord, make haste to help me! Let them be put to shame and confusion who seek my life! Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt! Let them turn back because of their shame who say, “Aha, Aha!” May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!” But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay! (Psalm 70 ESV)

We made it to Friday again, the end of the work week. What a blessing that is for us. For some it means a reprieve from the persecution from co-workers. For others it means the weekly escape from the plagues and restraints of life. Still, for others it means the time has come to get ready for weekly worship service. Nevertheless, we all can understand the words of the Psalmist; “Let them be put to shame and confusion whoe seek m life! Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt! Let them turn back because of their shame who say, “Aha, Aha!”

Yes, in the midst of our struggles with this broken world it is easy to say, “Lord remove those who would do me harm.” However, we make the jump that the Psalmist desires for God to punish them so that our anatagonist is removed. Yet, what happens when we look at Psalm 70 in light of Christ’s sacrificial work for us. Yes, we desire they be shamed, confused, turned back, and dishonored. Now ask yourself, what is the end goal of this being done to those that mean harm against us?

With shame, confusion, and dishonor comes a humbling of character. It is a means so that they may see the error of their ways and in the end turn from their sinful ways to the ways that are in accordance to God’s Will.

Psalm70Psalmist goes on to say something we all need to hear. We are “poor and needy.” We can’t possibly bring about this change of attitude in ourselves or others, but we pray for God to come to us and others quickly because He only is our “help and deliverer.” Now ask yourself, who did Christ come to save? The poor in spirit, those needing God’s Grace, Mercy, and Love. Christ came to save sinners who are hopelessly lost in their sin, those who realize that they cannot do it on their own, and those who have been revealed that Jesus is the only Way, the only Truth, and the only Life.

For Christ Followers, Disciples of Christ this psalm resonates with us on a personal level from start to finish. Since we are following Christ, we realized that God desires all to be saved as such we pray that God’s Word be proclaimed to all and that when the Word is proclaimed that it lead this people to humble repentance and the new life in Christ. Together we pray together to God that He not delay in this powerful work in the world and also His 2nd Coming.

Heavenly Father, this like most weeks has been hard for us. Many have tried and successfully led us away from Your Comfort and Teaching. Lord be with us as we attempt withstand those who would do us harm. Forgive us when we wish harm to those people. Remind us of Your Will that all be saved. Soothe our angry hearts through the example of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Continue to send the Holy Spirit so that the Your Word is proclaimed to all without delay. Amen.

 

Christ Followers aware of God’s Presence and Providence in their lives.

September 19, 2013

And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against the Lord. For what are we, that you grumble against us?” And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the Lord has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.” Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.’ ” And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. And the Lord said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’ ” In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. (Exodus 16:2-15 ESV)

Deep down, most people wish the kingdom of God were, already in this life, like some kind of cross between Disney’s Magic Kingdom and a New Year’s Eve party. We wish for a world with clean streets, no crime, and no suffering. Unfortunately, the world is not that way. The Israelites are no different from what you or I desire the world to be…Somewhere along the line they forgot that God provide a leader for Israelites to lead them from their captivity in Egypt. They forgot God provided safe passage through the Red Sea for His people. God makes the bitter water sweet for His people. Here in spite of their short memory, God provides bread to His people satisfying their needs.

you-are-not-aloneLet’s face it we have all been in situations like this before. Groups grumbling about something has quickly become a part of the American way. We grumble at work, school, home, and at church. Just like the Israelites we even grumble at times with God. We especially grumble when we think everything is going contrary to our preferences. We remember things being better in the days of old. Exodus 16 is about one of faith’s unhappier surprises; namely being saved does not necessarily mean that all difficulty evaporates. The funny thing is as we look back, we soon realize that our rationale of why we are so afflict to cause our grumbling turns out to be irrational.

Here we are today unhappy about our employment, schooling, family, and our churches. Have we forgotten that God provides us with the lives we live, the jobs, education, family, and churches to be beacons of His Gospel light? The good news about all of this is that presence of suffering or getting our desired ways does not nullify the presence of God. Even though things are going as we think they should, the true challenge of faith is to resist the temptation to turn back to the life of sin that leads to death and eternal damnation and to push forward, looking for God’s glory. We have been reassured and promised to see that glory of God through prophecy fulfilled in Christ and His work on the Cross of Calvary. For the Israelites, they saw the presence of God through the quail and manna. For us today, we see the Presence of God in His Word and the Sacraments. We see His Presence in those strive to Disciples of Christ. We see His presence front and center in Christ Followers who are depending on God for their every need and are living in such a way that others see that dependance as well.

Heavenly Father in our time of need You are there. You are there even when we looked elsewhere to provide for ourselves. In Your steadfast love for us, You remained patient with our adulterous ways and went as far as to give up Your own beloved Son, Jesu Christ. Gracious Lord, continue to provide for our daily needs. Provide us with all of our daily needs of mind, body, and spirit. Send Your Spirit to preserve us to that time when You send Your Son back for His Second Coming. Amen.

 

Christ Followers Pray, Confess, and Forgive

September 18, 2013

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:13-16 ESV)

ConfessionPrayerForgivenessJames delivers a simple message to us for life. When things are bad, he tells us to pray. When things are good, he tells us to praise. Christ Followers naturally gravitate towards God in every situation in life. It is part of our new life in Christ, a life completely dependent on God. James clearly lays out how we should pray and the type of person, Christ Followers, that should expect prayer to be answered. Wonderful words that remind us that people who truly know the our Savior Jesus Christ still sin. We have this simultaneous existence of sinner and saint (simul instus et peccator). We will not be completely freed from it until we leave this world and enter into eternal glory. Let’s face it head-on, we sin against each other and God like it is greatest thing since sliced bread. The real question before us is what are we to do in these situations? James confronts this very situation by telling us to confess our sins and pray for one another.

Confession should always be as wide as the sin. When we sin against God, we should confess those sins to God. When we sin against someone else, we should confess it God and to the person whom we have wronged. When we have sinned publicly, we should confess it to God and in public. If a fellow Disciple of Christ comes to us to confess that he or she has sinned against us, we MUST always be willing to grant forgiveness. It is only in this way that we can be healed and reconciled.

What great news, the coming of Jesus brought. His message was the proclamation of Repentance and Reconcilation. We should be continually praying that this becomes an intergral part of our daily lives. Praying for all of our daily needs. Confess our sins to God our Father with Christ as our intercessor. Confess our sins to each other and God when we have wronged others. Not only confess our sins to God and each other, but stand ready to accept others confession and forgive them.

Gracious and Heavenly Father in whom the whole world finds its truth and its destiny. We have forgotten to honor everything you have done in the past, We have neglected what you are doing for us presently. We have lost sight of the future you have promised for us thanks to the sacrificial work of Your Son. Merciful Father, we pray that You continually bless us with Your Spirit to work within us to pray for each other, confess our sins to each other, and forgive each other as it demonostrates the Gospel shining in our lives.  AMEN

My way or God’s Way

September 17, 2013

And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” (Numbers 20:12 ESV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 ESV)

A man says, I’ve got a plan on how to grow the church. Another boasts he has found the way to heaven. Yet another says, I have figured out the true meaning of life. Any of this sound familiar? In reading through Numbers yesterday, the chapter 20:12 stood out by itself.

OneWayGod knows what He is doing.He knows He alone is our salvation. Time and time again He has proved this to us and for some reason we turn away trying to do it ourselves. We turn away from God and when we are battered with the reality of we messed up, we cry out to the Lord for help. Thanks to His ability to relent from His anger, to remain steadfast in His love for us, and His boundless mercy He delivers us.

He delivered us once and for all when He sent His Son, Jesus Christ for us. What was our response? He isn’t what we were expecting. We wanted a man made army. He was not made in our image of earthly ruler so we rejected Him, beat Him, bore false witness against Him, crucified Him, and finally killed Him. Yet before all that happen Jesus spoke these words to His disciples which mimic the words spoken to Moses and Aaron, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Sure the words aren’t exactly the same and the context is definitely different. Moses and Aaron thought they were destined for the Promised Land. The disciples always had doubts about their place in the kingdom of God. God clarified for Moses and Aaron that the only way to enter the Promise Land is to believe, trust, and keep God in His proper place in our lives. Jesus had a similar message for the disciples; There is only one way, there is only one truth, and there is only one life and all of those are wrapped into one person in Christ. Odd, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses delivers the same message as the Messiah. Oh, that’s right they are one and the same. The same message spoken in the Old Testament needed to be clarified over and over again into the New Testament and continues today.

If you think you have some new fangle way or alternate method of making it to the Promise Land aka Heaven then you are sadly mistaken. Quick, who ever told you about this new way or alternate method- Stop talking to them. They are leading you away from God and putting your soul in jeopardy. Seriously, run away and quickly seek out the Bible. It will tell you there is One God, One Truth, One Way, and One Life.

Gracious Heavenly Father, continue to shine your light of Christ onto all the treachery of this broken world. Reprimand us when we become to big for our britches as we think we have found a new way to Your Kingdom. Forgive us for our adulterous behavior. We thank you for continuing to set us straight by speaking the Words that clarify what and who You are to us. Thank you for sacrificing your beloved Son who also lights the path for us back to Your Heavenly Presence. Bestow us the power of the Holy Spirit to continually mature in Your Word so that we remain dependent on You alone. Lord be with us as seek to do things Your Way, to abide by Your Truth, and to live Your Life. Amen.

Christ Followers don’t boast in themselves, but in Christ Alone

September 16, 2013

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:6-11 ESV)

pridePeter says to “humble yourselves.” We like to say we are humble, but this isn’t the American way is it? We like to call attention to ourselves. We like to point out what we have done, what we have built, how we have toiled, how great we are at a certain task, and how much better we are at things then someone one else. This is how we have been taught to succeed in life, we have to be the best at something in order to succeed. So, then ask yourself, “What happens when Christ returns for the 2nd time, will He be able to exalt us?” Will we be able to cast “all our anxieties on him” or will be to right up in our own accolades. Will we be so caught up in ourselves in our daily actions that we miss the Devil as he “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour?”

There is no doubt about it as we focus more on ourselves than on God and others, we leave ourselves vulnerable for Devil’s attacks. When we focus on ourselves, we aren’t properly equipped to fight off the Devil. We aren’t as the Apostle Paul says putting on the full armor of God. Peter says, we are to “humble ourselves.” He calls us, who realize God does it all. Even the things we worked hard to accomplished or toiled for the kingdom, it is still God’s doing… we are simply the vessels He uses to complete His ministry. Those who realize this are able to resist the Devil, remain “firm in our faith” and know “that the same kinds of sufferings are being expected by our brotherhood throughout the world.”

The wonderful message Peter gives to us today is that after we “have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” What does that mean for us now? How long is a little while? God restores us through His Word and Sacrament weekly at our worship services. He confirms, strengthens, and establishes as our sins are forgiven, we hear the Word proclaimed, and partake in the foretaste of the marriage feast to come. Yes, this all happens on a weekly basis to maintain us throughout the week. However, there will also come a time not far off when God will call you home to “His eternal glory in Christ” and this could be when we fall asleep in the Lord or at Christ’s 2nd Coming. Either way, it will be at the time that He will again just like He always has be doing all the work; “restoring, confirming, strengthen, and establishing.”

There is only a few times in the Bible will God tells us what He has done, what He will do, and what He has accomplished. Odd that we would decide to wallow in our sin ways, thinking we accomplished anything on our own.

Merciful Father, we come to you as humble vessels ready to serve You in Your ministry. We have fallen into the trap of the Evil One and this broken world thinking we actually accomplish something apart from You. We have sinful boldly in our boasting of ourselves. Forgive us for this treacheous behavior Lord. Humble us with Your mighty hand so that at the proper time Your Son, Jesus Christ might exalt us before you. Send the Holy Spirit so that we may be restored, confirmed strengthened, and established as the Devil prowls around. When the time is right Lord, call us home to Your Eternal Glory in Jesus Christ. Amen

Christ Followers don’t engage in Name Calling

September 9, 2013

No Name Calling“You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matthew 5:21-22 ESV)

Read the Bible a few times in different formats and orders and it is amazing what will stick out to you. Last week while using YouVersion’s Bible app on my phone, the Sermon on the Mount was read. We’ve heard about the Beatitudes, Salt, Light, and Christ coming to Fulfill the Law. How many of miss verses 21-22? Upon hearing these two verses read, pause was immediately pressed. Just reading them now, probably has caused you to stop what you are doing in horror.

Are you thinking back to the last time you said something terse to a family member, a friend, or a co-worker? Idiot! Dummy! Stupid! Useless! All things that come out of our mouth in fustration and we say them with reckless regard for the damage inflicted on others. Here we thought, only sticks and stones broke bones, but surely words would never hurt. Numerous research studies have proved otherwise since that old rhyme was learned by children over the years.

No, we know words do more damage than we ever thought. Words have led to murder, beatings, and suicide. Even as they led to these things, we assured ourselves that the consequences of using hurtful words like this didn’t apply to us. However, Jesus clear says the way of thinking is wrong.

Jesus says, “whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says. ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Notice there isn’t any “if’s”, “and’s”, or “but’s” in Jesus’ words. So, that means when the person cuts you off while driving, when your kids make some astronomically bad decision, or when your friends and family rub you the wrong way… there is literally no excuse for name calling.

By now as those of you, who desire to be Christ Followers, Disciples of Christ, have realized reading your Bible is a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because you are revealed God’s Will for us. The curse is you are revealed God’s Will for us and that means you must turn away from the sinful things you used to participate in and turn back to God. Today, that means we need to lean on the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5, namely patience, self-control, love, and gentleness. We are called as body of Christ to not live and acts the broken world does, but to realize we are set aside, holy, for the purpose of giving glory to God and spreading His Gospel message.

Jesus is the best example we will ever have in that he always approach people in love and rarely called anyone names, EVEN when the deserved it. Your challenge today Christ Followers is to change your speech. Speak in love and not hate. Seek heaven by not playing the name calling game which only leads to the hell of fire.

Merciful Father, we come to you as a people who have fallen in love with breaking others down with name calling. We have forgotten the words of our Savior, whom you sent for our sake. We realize that we have wrong our friends and family through name callling. We realize that we have misrepresented You and the new life that You have blessed us with to live to Your Glory. Gracious Father send Your Holy Spirit to work on us, in us, and through us. May Your Spirit bring you to the forefront of our minds, hearts, and especially to our tongues to You Alone be All the Glory. Amen

The Body of Christ never says GoodBye

September 6, 2013

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored,all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:12-27 ESV)

As Concordia Seminary gets ready to embark on its 175th academic school year, a reminder came that I hadn’t written my follow up to saying goodbye and what it meant for this fourth year. Let’s face it 4th year was a major struggle for me. I was walking down two paths; one to the parish and one towards further graduate study. As the year went on discernment was necessary to make a decision on which path to walk. In the end, God selected the path for me and this has led me into the parish. (Where I am extremely happy, I might add)

goodbyeOne of the hardest things to do in life is to say goodbye and when it comes to the seminary community that task becomes even harder. For 4 years you are linked into a formation path with 60-70 men and women leading into church work. You grow with these individuals. Their experiences and background shape you and your experiences and background shape them. Both share in each other’s joys and pains. It is an experience like none other in life. Add in the friendships cultivated with families, staff and faculty… and I for one was sad to leave the seminary community.

The text above provided me comfort for many reasons. 1. God is at work no matter where I am and the path He leads me down. 2. Thanks to Christ, I am part of the body. 3. No matter where I am, I am a necessary part of the body. This guides my thinking about communities, friends, and family. Since we are all part of the body of Christ, this means we are always together, unified. We may be in different locations, but are always fulfilling our function in the body according to God’s Will.

Another thought that comes to mind is once a part of a community, always a part of a community. We should always be concerned, show love, and care for the communities we have been a part of. As I look back, I have been a part of numerous communities; church, family, grade school, high school, college (twice), neighborhoods, cities, seminary, and the parish. In each case, just because we move away, we don’t cease to care about those still existing physically in that community. The same can be said about the body of Christ. God calls home His children and even though they have fallen asleep in the Lord, they’re still part of the body of Christ and thus still part of our community.

bodyofchristThe original blog post was called, “the Art of saying Goodbye.” I’ve since learned we aren’t to say goodbye. We are only to say, “until we meet again” or “until our paths cross again” or “cya when Christ returns.” Regardless of status in life or location, we are still part of the body of Christ and because of this there is never any need to say goodbye.

To my brothers and sisters at Concordia Seminary, blessings on the upcoming school year. Please know that you are always in my prayers. May God richly bless your studies and formation, may His Will for you be revealed, and may He protect you from the Evil One all of your days.

Your Brother in Christ,

Rev. Eric Ekong

Concordia Seminary Alumnus – Class of 2013


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