Jeremiah 23:1-6

Psalm 23

Ephesians 2:13-22

Mark 6:30-34

“Who is your Shepherd?”

 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.

 

In today’s time there are many distractors. Family can serve as a distraction. Media can serve as a distraction. Education can serve as a distraction. Jobs. Even science can distract. The love of money, love of alcohol, love of drugs, love of crime, love of corrupted power, etc. All these can serve as  distractors, but distractors of what?

 

Each and every one of us has a void in our hearts, a sense of lacking that comes from sin. For sin does not add to us, but subtracts from us our humanity. It forms cracks within us and bores a hole within our hearts. Thus to fill this hole we look out into the world. The things we look for becomes “gods” for us. I say this because our empty hearts, this bore of a hole, is liken to an empty throne that sits in the center. Who sits on that throne? Who or what occupies the position of “god” within your hearts? Who or what has the ability to lead you by the nose in such a way that all they have to do is say a command  and you are so compelled to willingly obey? Is it your wife? Is it your daughter? Is it your boyfriend? Is it alcoholic drinks? Is it various pleasures? Is it pride or power? Or is it God Himself? Only one person can sit on that throne. So who is it? Who is your god? Who is your king? Who is your shepherd?

 

The thing about a shepherd is that they are charged with guiding a flock of sheep. And because sheep are not very intelligent animals they will gladly listen and follow their shepherd. In the past I talked about the difference between a shepherd and a hired hand. Today I will talk about the difference between a bad shepherd and The Good Shepherd. So back to sheep… Sheep are dumb animals, and are incredibly reliant upon their shepherds. They know their shepherd and their shepherd knows them. So if a shepherd calls, the sheep will follow. This includes bad shepherds. The sad thing about bad shepherds is that even though the shepherd will inevitably lead the flock to destruction and scatter the flock and not dare find their lost sheep, regardless, the sheep will, as best they could, follow the bad shepherd to their ruin.

 

Over time, throughout the course of history there have been many bad shepherds, and God calls them out, though not individually. Outside of the usual bad shepherds which includes dumb idols or false gods, you have evil humans who taught the flock that which goes against God. These shepherds mentioned in say Jeremiah, our first reading, are unrighteous people who not only taught against God but acted in malicious ways that force the scattering of the sheep. Their teachings lead the flock astray. In today’s time that would be any teaching that encourages sinful action and encourages people to believe evil notions that run counter to God. Such teachings will always cause the flock to become lost and disconnected from God. Scattered, for they have been lead down a path where they worship a false God and walk away from the true Triune God.

 

The most obvious example of this are the evil “pastors” who’s teaching cause people to hate God because God calls homosexuality and transgenderism and abortion sinful. God says this, not mankind. So out of hatred of religious dictates given by God, and a desire for spiritual freedom from the Law, many have run away from God and have been scattered by these evil shepherds who promote that which violates God’s Word. The sheep were scattered not because they were running away from the bad shepherd, they were scattered because they followed the bad shepherd.

 

But these bad shepherds do not have to be pastors, quite simply all they have to be is that which serves as distractors from the true Triune God, who leads you away from the Law and the Gospel of the Lord. Thus why I ask: who is your shepherd, who is your king, who is your god, who sits on that throne in your heart?

 

But let me flip the script, say a pastor did preach against homosexuality and transgenderism and abortion, as he should, but never ever preached God’s grace, isn’t that pastor also a bad shepherd? We need both the Law and the Gospel. It is meaningless if I went to a person, pointed out their sins, and say that they will go to Hell because of said sin and nothing can be done about it. If I hit people offside the head by bombarding them with their own sins, but never extend to them the gift of Salvation which comes through faith in the grace of God, do you know what will happen? Said person will either come to hate God or fall into depression.

 

It is true that we should speak out against evil, for as Christians we should desire to do that which is holy and good in the eyes of God. For if we do not speak out against evil but rather speak in favor of evil, then all we will accomplish is promote evil. Now while we are speaking out against evil, it is also proper to proclaim the source of Salvation, the source of Hope, the source of Life, the source of all that is Good; for there is only one true Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

 

Before His death, many came to him like a sheep without a shepherd. So out of compassion, he became their shepherd. He taught, he healed, and he did miracles. Yet that was not the reason why He came in the first place. We are a scattered lot, and the world will always lead us astray. In it there is nothing but bad shepherds, and all that sits on the throne in our heart will naturally guide our eyes away from God. This is why Jesus came, so that He might be the one who sits on that throne. For only Jesus can be our Good Shepherd, for where all others have failed, He has already succeeded.

 

When Jesus Christ came he didn’t come to merely teach and to heal, he came so that he might die. We are not righteous, nor can we make ourselves righteous. Whereas the Law does exist for our own good, because we cannot obey the Law the Law is a curse to us. This is why people do not like hearing that homosexuality and transgenderism and all abortion are evil and wicked abominations, because the Law to lawless people, and we are lawless people, is but a curse. Thus because of the curse of the Law, we are doomed to fail, and can’t help but hate God. And the result of all this is Hell. Yet out of compassion, a desire to save His people, God sent His only Son, who is also God Himself, to shed His blood, suffer one of the most painful forms of death the Romans had devised, to take on all our sins, and not only die but go to Hell. He went to Hell so that we won’t. This is why Jesus came, and this is why He is the only Good Shepherd.

 

Nothing in this world can save us and all that sits on that throne in our hearts are empty. Except for Jesus, all other “gods” will leave us wanting. There is no satisfaction, only lies. There is no fulfillment, only hunger. There is no peace, only wondering. Yet through Jesus we are satisfied, we are fulfilled, we are at peace. For though we cannot make ourselves righteous, the Lord is our righteousness. He died so that through Him we may become righteous; again not on account of our own righteousness for we are not righteous, but wholly on account of His righteousness, thus the reason why Jesus is our righteousness. Nothing else could do this, not us, not worldly things, nor philosophical schemes.

 

A bad shepherd would convince you that you are not hungry and leave you empty. A good shepherd would point out that you are indeed hungry and feed you. A bad shepherd would tell you that you are not a sinner or that several sins are not sins and to ignore them. A good shepherd would tell you that you are a sinner, list out what actions are considered sinful, but also provide the means of atonement. A bad shepherd would tell you to ignore the Law and live in ignorant bliss. The Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ provided, alongside the Father and the Spirit, for us the Law, and then died on the cross in order to provide for us the means of Grace.

 

So I ask one more time, who is your shepherd? Is it one of these bad shepherds? Or is it the one and only truly Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ?

 

Let us pray,

 

Dear Heavenly Father, in this world full of devilish schemes and twisted sophistry, we pray that you guard us away from the tempting distractions that leave us thirsting but instead help us to always see the Good Shepherd who satisfies, sanctifies, and fills us. In your most holy name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Amos 7:10-15 

Psalm 85:8-13 

Ephesians 1:3-14 

Mark 6:7-13 

“Go! And Serve” 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen. 

For all Lutheran Seminarians one of the requirements for  Ordination is CPE, Clinical Pastoral Education. CPE is a class  provided typically at hospitals and hospice for those who wish to  be clinical chaplains. It is required that all clinical chaplains go  through multiple of these classes before certification, but as for  Lutheran Pastors, who may not be clinical chaplains, it is required  that we only go through one course. The reasoning is that you  can only learn so much in a classroom, and eventually you will  need hands on experience especially when it comes to death,  psychological issues, and various traumatic situations. What  better way to develop the necessary skills of approaching those  stuck in a hospital or close to death than in CPE is the reasoning  of the Lutheran Church. So alongside three to four years of  education, all Seminarians of the NALC must also conduct one  year of mentored ministry while at school, one year of internship,  and one semester class of CPE. 

Now what exactly is CPE? Basically, it is a course where you  conduct so many hours a week of practical chaplaincy in a clinical  setting as a part-time volunteer, while also attending two classes  per week. During these classes you convey the events that have  happened during the practical, assess each other, and then learn 

psychotherapeutic skills. To tell the truth, whereas I am glad that I  acquired the experience in CPE before I came out here, I am no  fan of CPE and abhor the current practices that are instructed. At  its core, CPE functions on the basis that, “No one has ever died  because of CPE.” The premise is that no one can screw up so  much that this would lead to someone’s death, and that this is  merely a learning opportunity where it is acknowledged that you  will screw up but that is ok; we can conduct damage control and  teach you what you did wrong. It is a trial by fire course. 

I bet some of you can see the issue with such a course. Whereas I understand the premise, if you are going into a lake  you need to eventually get your feet wet. This is not getting your  feet wet, but more similar to a group of frat boys running up to the  newbie unbeknownst, hoisting him, and chucking him sideways  into the lake. On top of that, Lutherans, alongside many other  denominations, believes that whereas you are merely alive and  then you merely die upon death, you are truly dead without Christ  and you because truly alive through faith in Him. So when they  said, “No one has ever died because of CPE,” I begged to differ,  in that I could fail so epically that the faith of the one I served  could be shattered and thus cause them to truly die on account of  me. 

Many in my CPE class couldn’t wrap their minds around my  words, but that was mostly because half of them weren’t even  Christians. In fact one such participant was a “chaplain” for  Planned Parenthood. Oh boy, that was interesting, let me tell you;  I have never met and come to know someone as evil as her. I  came with odd notions such as: the most loving thing you can do 

for a patient is provide the Word and Sacrament; there is a  difference between true and mere death; we are already  condemned but through Christ are saved; without the help of God  all our actions and thoughts are sinful in nature; we are but  instruments; do not confuse empathy with slothfully allowing evil  and a vacuum for hope; I believe in exorcism; one cannot be a  good psychologist and a pastor at the same time, you can only  pick one; etc. 

So I guess you can tell I did not like CPE, and for a myriad of  reasons. But there is a reason why I mentioned CPE. When it  comes to ministry, one of these days a student needs to acquire  experience, and for many this is a trial by fire. It’s not just me and  all my fellow Lutheran pastoral friends who have gone through  this, but also the disciples. 

In today’s Gospel, right before Jesus feeds the five  thousand, He sends his twelve disciples. “Go! And Serve,” he  basically tells them. This was way before Jesus suffered on the  cross, died, rose from the grave, met His disciples again,  ascended into heaven, and then blessed His disciples with  tongues of fire on Pentecost which opened their minds to the  truth. Way before all of this, while his disciples were still students  of Jesus, a Rabbi, teacher, He sends them out two by two. So at  least they were not alone, but had a partner with them, which is  always desirable. This way they always had a companion during  their journeys whom they could confide in and rely on. But Jesus  didn’t just merely send them out. He instructed his students to go  and cast out demons, heal the sick, and proclaim the need for  repentance.

Well that is a heavy thing to ask mere students. Sure Jesus  gave them the authority over unclean spirits, but he did not lift  them out of their disciple-rabbi relationship. The disciples were  still his students. Yet, regardless, He gave them this heavy charge  and they went out and did as he told them to do. They most  definitely had a trial by fire experience. 

Now as He sent them, He instructed them to have no money  or food or bags, just clothes and a staff. Why that? This way the  disciples would be forced to interact and become reliant upon the  hospitality of the people whom they serve. You preach to them  and heal them and hopefully they will provide for you. And if they  don’t listen to you because they have scratchy ears and would  rather only listen to what they want to hear and not what they  need to hear then as you leave treat their house as if it is dirty  than the outside. Even if you are to leave a house and enter into a  pigsty, treat the pigsty as if it was cleaner than the house that will  only listen to what they want to listen and thus did not receive  you. But because the disciples had no food or money they had to  quickly find a new home to serve. 

It should be noted that as they served, they did not proclaim  their own message, nor did they cast out demons and healed in  their own names. They themselves had no authority, rather, the  authority they did have was given to them by Christ who alone, as  God, has the authority to cast out demons and heal and perform  miracles. So when they did cast out demons and healed they  always did so in the name of He who gave them the authority to  do such. It’s kind of like the Constitution in that governing officers 

do not have authority in of themselves and thus are incapable of  their own power under the Constitution to order the people  around, but through the Constitution governing officers have  received authority and are capable of governing in the name of  the Constitution, so long as they what they do is constitutional.  God is the source of the disciple’s authority. These disciples are  but men, they have no authority over unclean spirits, but through  the aid of God, with and in Him, the disciples were capable of  casting out demons and healing the sick and injured. 

Yes it is a scary thing to be sent out, most especially if you  believe yourself ill-prepared. It will always be initially scary for  students as they are thrust into the fire and put to practice what  they have been taught, thus developing much needed  experiences and honing skills. The disciples are no different. For  as a student who is going through such trials is not truly alone, a  good instructor will always be supervising, even secretly, the  disciples were never truly abandoned by their Lord. The mere fact  that they did miracles in the name of the Lord is proof that the  Lord was with them. You’ve heard the saying, “where two or more  are gathered in My Name, there I am also.” Well Jesus sent them  two by two, and they are preaching in His Name, therefore He is  present. So the trial by fire for them is not so bad. 

And the same can be applied to all of you, especially those  who are new to the faith. For all Christians, old and young, new  and seasoned, have received the Great Commission: Preach,  Baptize, and then Teach. And if you do go out and serve the Lord  know this, if you allow Him, it is the Lord that guides your words,  and moves your hands, and heals the sick, and provides faith to 

those who willingly listens to you. Thus know this, even if you are  new to the faith, even if you believe yourself ill-equipped, even if  you are uncomfortable with spreading the Good News, if you do  Spread the Good News and do so in the name of the Lord, then  the Lord is not only with you but also equips you with the Holy  Spirit. 

Let us pray, 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, through your Son you have given us  the Great Commission to go into the world serving you as we  proclaim in your name the Good News. Fill us with your Holy  Spirit, providing us with guidance and assurance so that as we  follow your commands we do not become conflicted or scared but  rather know that you are indeed with us. In your most holy name  we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Lamentations 3:22-33

Psalm 30

2 Corinthians 8:1-9, 13-14

Mark 5:21-24a, 35-43

 

 

“God Protect The Flag””

 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.

 

        Most of you know that the Star Spangled Banner was written by Francis Scott Keys, many of you may be familiar with why he wrote it down, but how many of you are familiar the background, the events that led up to its creation and the emotions that were felt by those who witnessed these events unfold? This lack of understanding and appreciation has led many towards detesting the flag and the ideals of the country for which it stands. In the last several years many out of either hatred, misguided notions, or selfishness have kneeled against the flag, turned their backs from it, or burned it to ashes. We have heard accounts across our nation that classes are being taught in our own schools to hate America, to make scapegoats out of Europeans and Christians the same way the Nazis made scapegoats out of Jews, to destroy our relationship and faith in Christ Jesus, and to rewrite history in the lens of the 1619 project, white fragility, and Marxism. Whereas I am unaware if this pervasive hydra has infiltrated our schools here in Port Clinton and Danbury and such, I fear the day rapidly approaching that such will be implemented. We need to fight this, not only for the sake of preserving the flag, but to also preserve our American history and ideals which are founded on Religious Liberty and Judeo-Christian values. One such thing that we must defend, and we pray to God that he most definitely protects, is the National Anthem.

 

        Before Keys was on the scene, the war of 1812 was already raging. The Revolution did not completely severe our ties with Great Britain, for they still desired to reclaim the now states, thus eventually a second war broke out in defense of our independence. But Great Britain was distracted for they were already fighting a war against Napoleon. During this period, while Britain was distracted many Forts were preparing for potential attacks. One such fort, Fort McHenry of Baltimore, a strategically placed fort that the American forces knew would eventually be attacked, was being fortified in anticipation. Now Major Armistead, the Fort’s command officer, expressed a strong desire to fly a large flag, a huge flag, the biggest flag the British has ever seen, over the fort, stating, “a flag so large that the British would have no difficulty seeing it from a distance.” The General and Commodore approved and by 1813 a 30 by 42 feet with fifteen stars, for there currently was fifteen states, was made and flew over Fort McHenry. Now in case of storm or battle they also procured a smaller and sturdier storm flag.

 

        Eventually Napoleon was defeated and the British forces placed all their focus on America. By 1814, they just burned the Capital and destroyed the White house, now their eyes have turned to McHenry, saying to themselves let us focus all our attention on this Fort, burn it to the ground, destroy that flag, and demoralize America. This Battle was the turning point for the War of 1812, the most important battle. They tried to invade by land but failed. So they tried by sea, and this is when Keys enters the scene.

        You see Keys was near Baltimore to organize a prison exchange. The prisoners were held captive on one of the enemy vessels, so Keys organized a meeting via ship. Lucky him, on September 13th, he successfully persuaded the ship’s commander to exchange his prisoners, there was only one problem, because the battle of McHenry by sea was to be that night, they would have to wait. So Keys and his ship was temporarily held captive as he witnessed the British naval forces attack Fort McHenry.

 

        Due to the cannons that protected the fort, the ships that aimed their newly developed rockets and explosive cannonballs, thus legitimate bombs, had to keep their distance. Throughout the

night they fired their ammunition which lit up the blackened sky for all to see through the haze and smoke and kicked up debris. In an effort to demoralize the American forces they aimed particularly at that huge flag that huge high over the ramparts. With each volley Keys watched in amazement as massive explosion after massive explosion bombarded the fort, yet with the night sky so visible, not once did the flag fell. He and all the Americans prayed, God do not allow that flag to go down. A volley thrown, flag is still up, God do not allow that flag to go down. Another bombardment, flag is still up, God do not allow that flag to go down. And still another, flag is still up, dear God keep on protecting that flag.

 

        Though the British intended to take down that flag that mocked them, all they did is expose the flag still gallantly streaming. Such a perilous fight should have destroyed the flag, let alone the pole it was on, but instead with each volley the Americans grew in courage and hope and faith in God while it was the British forces that grew more demoralized as they saw with obvious proof, that God has sided with America and was protecting the Land of the Free. I do not believe in coincidences and neither did the Early Americans and their enemy. There is no way that flag should have remained standing, and yet it did. This was an act of God. The next morning, on September 14th, 1814, the storm flag was lowered, and the much bigger American Flag was raised triumphantly for all the British Soldiers to see. God is on our side, God has blessed America, He is protecting us. After that battle the British forced slowly accepted defeat and has since never attacked us, but has rather decided to be a friend.

 

        Now Keys was writing his song during the Battle, it is four verses long. Did you know that every sentence in the first verse is a question? He is asking will the flag still stand. By the last verse, he got his answer, yes it will! And He proclaims such:

 

“O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand

Between their lov'd home and the war's desolation!

Blest with vict'ry and peace may the heav'n rescued land

Praise the power that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto - "In God is our trust,"

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

 

        When Jesus died for us, He did so in order to free us from the tyranny of Satan. Under Original Sin, we were held captive by Lucifer, born as slaves of his domain, thus incapable of doing anything void of sin. We were already damned. But through Jesus, our liberator, He died so that he could take on our chains thus freeing us from the clutches of Satan. Free to do what? Free to do good works. Freed and adopted as children of freedom capable of entering into heaven. Free to still sin, but now of and only of our own volition, for Christ didn’t put us into new chains forcing us to commit only Good works and into believing Him, but freeing us from Satan who forced us to only sin and to only hate God.

 

        It was this Judeo-Christian reality with regards to the sacrifice that God constantly makes for our sake that spurred the founding of our nation rooted in Religious Liberty. For just as Christ died to make men holy, our Founding Fathers and Militia were willing to give up their lives to establish religious freedom and to protect, not provide, our already God-given rights. And it is this that the flag represents: a republic, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

 

        We ask God to still protect the flag and what it truly represents, for since our founding our Founding Fathers has always known that if we wish to remain free then we must also remain to be a religious and moral country. Without God and His protection, we will fail and give into tyranny once again. But be it far from me to speak on behalf of these individuals, so I will conclude with them speaking for themselves.

 

Thomas Paine

·        “Spiritual freedom is the root of political liberty… As the union between spiritual freedom and political liberty seems nearly inseparable, it is our duty to defend both.”

 

Benjamin Franklin

·        “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious they have more need of masters.”

 

Daniel Webster

·        “To preserve the government we must also preserve morals. Morality rests on religion, if you destroy the foundation, the superstructure must fall. When the public mind becomes vitiated and corrupt, laws are a nullity and constitutions are but waste paper.”

 

George Washington

·        “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are the indispensable supports… In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens… And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion… reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

 

Benjamin Rush

·        “The only foundation for… a republic is to be laid in Religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.”

 

John Adams

·         “Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand.”

·        “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

 

These are but a small handful of the many quotes available to us by our founding fathers. They knew the importance of religion and relying on God when it comes to liberty. So I ask you this, as you gaze upon our flag and remember that if it wasn’t for God we would not be a free nation, pray to God to continue blessing this nation, to preserve the faith of the people, and to continue to protect our flag.

 

Let us pray,

 

        Dear Heavenly Father, just like how you proved to the world during the battle of McHenry that you have blessed America, we ask that you continue to bless our nation and shield it from all the evils that assail it, keeping it a holy nation. In your most glorious name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Ezekiel 2:1-5 

Psalm 143:1-2; 5-8 

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 

Mark 6:1-6 

“Tough Crowd”” 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen. 

Many of you will understand this perception I am about to  impart, first hand or at least second hand. It is the perception that  one feels with regards to watching the young grow up, particularly  a younger sibling. I am the oldest of four kids. I have one brother  close to me in age followed by one sister and then finally a wee  little brother. There is a nine year gap between me and the  youngest of my siblings, and growing up I have always viewed  him as the baby of the family. Before I went to college, Jacob, my  youngest brother had yet to go through a growth spurt, so the  image of Jacob cemented in my mind is still the little snot nose  brat who whined about everything in order to manipulate our  parents into doing things for him. He was a great actor, even went  into paid acting at an early age, and as the youngest child he got  away with a lot. Now it’s not that he wasn’t a child who  misbehaves, for he has always been polite, a joy to be around,  and has a good sense of right and wrong. It just that he was also  the crybaby of the family and a great manipulator. He was a kid. 

Now this was the perception I had of him as I left home and  went to college. Once a month during college I would come back  home to say high and during most of the summers I would be  home. After I left college, Jacob was in middle, so by the time I 

started officially living on my own year round was the time that  Jacob started to truly grow up into the adult he is now. The only  problem is that my observation of him during then all the way to  now has been severely lacking, and behold, in a matter of weeks,  he is about to be married. 

My wee little brother, this snot-nosed brat is about to  become a husband, I can almost not believe it. Time flew by  quickly and I missed quite a bit. Who is this man who stands in  front of me? I almost cannot recognize him, for the Jacob I knew  was a short child. Now I see a tall skinny dude with a beard  adorning his face. Is this my brother? Again I marvel at my  unbelief, caught up in years past, back in the days when I lived in  Dayton, for that is the Jacob I remember, and not this man who is  about to give his wedding vows and in the presence of God and  his family join as one with his soon to be wife. 

So many of you may understand this sentiment, where you  observe a person growing up and then you marvel at your own  disbelief as you see the adult in front of you but can’t help but  think of them as the child they once were. Jacob will always be  the baby of the family to me; always my wee little brother. But he  is not a baby no longer, for he is just that in my mind. 

It is a variation of this sentiment that Jesus faces in His  home town. Jesus, a well renowned rabbi, a prophet, from the  perspective of many who listen and follow him, has come back  home to preach the good news and to teach the Scriptures, just  like he had in other regions. He has been away for a while, and  now He comes back a rabbi with a following. Sure He was a kid 

who was wise beyond His years, but He was the son of a  carpenter of all people! What is he doing acting like a prophet?  When Jesus came back home His own people were conflicted for  they were astonished by the power and wisdom that came out of  Jesus’ mouth, but then they remembered who He was and were  He came from. 

They began with astonishment, “Where did this man get  these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such  mighty works done by his hands?” Jesus was preaching in the  synagogues and like everywhere else was performing miracles,  healing many who came to Him. Thus the amazement the crowds  had was genuine, but that amazement quickly faded, “Is not this  the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses  and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” The  crowd quickly took offense at him. They became blinded by their  own perception of Jesus before He left them to fulfill His purpose  on earth. Why is this snot-nose brat, this carpenter of all people,  acting like some noble priest, teaching to us such lofty things?  Why does he not instead just grab a nail like usual and help fix  own of our leaky roofs? Why does he not instead get a knife and  craft a sturdy chair? Why does he not use those good calloused  hands of his to move wood and help raise new buildings? 

Though they at first saw a preacher and was amazed by His  words, they quickly saw a child and was offended that such a  person had the audacity to tell them Scripture. This was the  trouble Jesus faced in His own home town and amongst His own  family, thus leading to Him say, “A prophet is not without honor,  except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own 

household.” After which, because no one had faith in Him and  turned their backs from Him he had little chance to speak words  of wisdom and do mighty works such as healing the sick. He  marveled at their unbelief, turned around, and sought a new place  to preach. 

At least Jerusalem, the place that murdered Him, received  Him. At least Jerusalem had many who listened to Him and  reached out to him for help. Yes, His hometown did not seek to  kill Jesus; he was one of their own, and only wicked people will  seek to harm a brother. But they did not receive Him, but rather  gave Him, as a community, the cold shoulder. This is why Jesus  was unable to do mighty works. 

Jesus came to the world to save us from our own sins, but  he does not force his salvation on others. Jesus wants to save us  and through His death He has saved all who believe in him, but  that is the key, faith in him. For it is through faith alone that you  are saved, and not through any amount of merit nor reason.  Because Jesus is not like some evil totalitarian tyrant who forces  his dictates on others, we have the ability to turn away from his.  And it is this that His own people whom he grew up did. They  turned away from Him, which completely baffled Him, and I would  wager greatly saddened Him. 

He came with great wisdom, and because the crowds were  amazed by Jesus’ wisdom it must go to show that Jesus was  saying things that they never thought about. Jesus was opening  their hearts and minds to the truth. But the mere fact that Jesus  was doing this disturbed them, for that would mean this child 

whom they raised was claiming to be better than them, so out of  their own misguided pride they became offended because they  could not see the prophet their own brother Jesus had become. 

A brief example of this, and I’m sure most pastors has faced  a similar situation. After I was trained in seminary and still to this  day I will get in a tussle with my mother, of whom I am very close  to and who is the daughter of a Lutheran Pastor, but she is not a  pastor, nor was she ever trained to be a pastor. But I am her child, and out of genuine motherhood she tells me things, strongly  instructing me on certain things, that I disagree with and will show  her through Scripture why she is false. Such is the relationship  between parent and their pastoral child. For whereas I respect  her, I cannot allow her to dictate to me things that I cannot agree  with on the basis of conscience guided by Scripture. So  respectfully, I show her why I disagree. Some pastor’s may have  it worse of then me in that their family may try to force them away  from Scripture and adopt that which goes against God. This is not  out of hatred or any ill will, but is usually due to the relationship  that was nurtured over the years prior to said person receiving  their pastoral duties. 

So Jesus’ statement also applies to pastors, “A prophet is  not without honor, except in his hometown and among his  relatives and in his own household.” 

Despite all of this, it should always be noted that Jesus  never truly gave up on them, just like how He never gave up on  Israel, a rebellious people. He kept on fighting for them, fighting  against sin in of itself. And died not only for those who accept 

Him, but for all people. He died for friend and enemy, near and  far, family and outcast, Jew and gentile, for the eternal lives of all  people equally mattered to him, and not just some select few.  Again this does not mean He will force his salvation onto them,  but regardless, He died for them. He died for you and me. And he  even died for the one who hates him, hoping that one day that  person, whomever he may be, turns to accept the gift that Jesus  is so desperately wishing to give. In the end Jesus is not so easily  discouraged by tough crowds, but he will always be at the ready. 

Let us pray, 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, though you marvel at our rebellious  nature and our unwillingness to faithfully follow you, regardless  you continue to look out for us and provide for us just like a parent  who lovingly raises an unruly child. Though we may struggle  against you, your hand of mercy and grace is always readily  open, ever so waiting for us to grasp it. So we ask that as we  struggle against you, that you never turn your face from us and  withhold your hand, but rather help guide our hearts towards you.  We ask this in your most holy name Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Job 38:1-11 

Psalm 107:1-3; 23-32 

2 Corinthians 5:14-21 

Mark 4:35-41 

“Wrestling the NE Wind” 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen. 

Many of you who live up here your whole life, or at least of it,  are aware of the storms and floods that may come with the NE  Wind. I myself am just a newbie up here and though I have  witnessed several NE Winds and its terrible storms, I wager that I  have only witnessed a small portion, a taste of the might that the  winds could bring to Catawba and Marblehead and Port Clinton.  What happened on the week leading up to Memorial Day and the  Walleye Festival is about the worse storm I have yet to witness up  here. The grounds flooded, merchandise all over the place, tents  toppled, dead fish in people’s yards. Again, you may have  witnessed worse, but that was the worse I have witnessed here. 

Now before you accuse me of being sheltered, I have  witnessed many floods. Down in Dayton and over in the valleys of  Pittsburg, with the Great Miami River and Ohio River, the people  are well acquainted with water related property damage and  massive floods. With Dayton in particular there are roads I grew  up crossing regularly which had a very high frequency of floods.  In fact many times I have witnessed the very drive I live on,  flooded over; we had a nearby creek. Now the drive was itself a 

hill, but the closer you got to the creek at the foot of the drive the  higher the flooding was. 

So I grew up with my own fair share of floods, but what I  didn’t grow up with, due to the fact that I grew up in a valley, was  the massive and harsh winds that Catawba gets. Many of you are  prepared for such winds, just as how many in Dayton are  prepared for floods. And just like how many in Dayton have come  to an understanding of floods and such, all the risks and the risk  managements, and a healthy dose of respect towards our  relationship with the river, so too does Catawba with regards to  the lake and her winds. Many of you know the risks associated  with living up here, many of you have risk management, and  many of you have a healthy level of respect towards the terrifying  might of the Lake. 

Do any of you honestly believe that you, by your own might,  can stand up against the NE Wind? When a NE wind comes do  any of you can get on a bout and wrestle against the storm? And I  ask you this, if a friend decided to do just that, intentionally get in  a bout to wrestle with the Wind, what would your response be:  laugh at their stupidity, angrily chide them, worry over them? Such  a person is either incredibly foolish or very brave. 

A healthy level of respect would tell you that there are  somethings that you do not have the power to control, and thus  instead of fighting the storm you ride it out and wait for it to blow  

over. But there are many of us who pay no attention to the  warning signs or do pay attention but pay it no mind. Why? Well,  because there is another pressing issue at stake, something that 

can’t just wait. For Jesus it was his mission. He had a duty to  complete, so He and his disciples got on a boat to cross the lake. 

Now I can imagine the fishermen of Jesus’ crew, Peter,  Andrew, James, and John, reading the skies and being all  concerned over the coming storm. But Jesus said go, and so they  did. By the time the harsh winds caught up the reactions we  witness to the storm between Jesus and his Disciples are quite  different. The Disciples are all terrified, they respect and know the  winds, and they knew that death was just around the corner. Had  it been up to them they would have waited until after the storm  before they set out on a boat. Jesus on the other hand, has no  respect towards the wind, but ignores it and sleeps soundly in the  boat. Of course the Disciples are going to chide Jesus for  sleeping as they concern for their lives, “Teacher, do you not care  that we are perishing?” That is when Jesus rebukes the wind, and the wind stopped. 

We respect the storms because we have no control over it,  instead we recognize its full potential, measure all the risks, and  act in a way that is most appropriate and most prepared to  accomplish are goals while mitigating any damage that might  accrued do to the coming storm. The fear the disciples had was  because they understood the storms and knew they were not  prepared but rather doomed. Yet they forgot something important. 

Instead of chiding Jesus, did they ever consider why Jesus  was so relaxed? Out of fear of the storm did they forget who was  sleeping in their own bout; who Jesus truly is? Here is God! God  doesn’t respect the storms, the storms respect God! What does 

Jesus have to worry about some little storm? And yes I said little  storm. Here is an image. In those days and many centuries prior,  the respect and healthy fear toward the seas was elevated to  godhood for many pagans. If the storms were a brewing then the  gods were angry. Humans cannot fight against such power and  thus they turned to appeasing these gods. To find favor with them  so as to calm their anger and thus be able to cross the seas. To  the Romans, Neptune was one of the most feared gods. The  open seas terrified them. Now imagine the storms are whipping  up and the terrified Romans are cowering before their scary god  and here comes the one and only true God who looks down at  this puny god and says, “Stop that. Now go to your room, stop  your whining, and think about what you have done.” The winds  serve God, so what has he to fear of such insignificant storms? 

The whirlwinds might be mighty, but God is mightier. So you  think wrestling the winds foolish, what about wrestling with God  Almighty? And here we come to the story of Job. Job is in a  terrible state, for because of his faith he is probably the most  unfortunate and pain stricken person who was walking the earth.  He was so miserable that he started complaining to God about his  suffering, getting angry at God, and wished he was never born.  He demanded that God answered him explain why he, Job, the  most faithful follower of God currently on earth, was suffering so  much. He demanded answers. Oh, so you’re going to wrestle with  God, I hope you know what you are getting into because here he  comes. God Almighty, whom even hurricanes and earthquakes  and tsunamis and volcanoes bow to, has arrived like a tornado,  “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?  Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and make it known 

to me.” Dress for action like a man. In other translations it says,  “brace yourself like a man,” and still others, “gird up your loins like  a man.” Basically, “Let’s get ready to rumble!” It was time to  wrestle and if you truly wish to wrestle with God then don’t cower  but act like a man, and yes, God did tell Job to act like a man.  You asked me to come down, so here I am, do not be surprised  when I bring all my might with me, so be a man and own up to  your challenge as I pummel you with words, as I talk down to you  about my might. What you see here in our first lesson is but a  short snippet of God’s speech, which is 4 chapters long or 124  verses. 

You who fear the storms who are you to demand answers  from me whom the storms fear and obey without question? Now  because Job is an incredibly faithful man and is quick to  repentance whenever he actually does do something wrong, after  God severely chastised Job, he did own up like a man and  instead of giving in to anger he bowed down to God and  apologized, saying, “I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear,  but now my eyes sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent  in dust and ashes.” It should be noted that just earlier, Job said to  his friends in 28:28, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,  and to turn away from evil is understanding.” After Job’s apology,  God did bless him and protected him. 

So I ask you this, which would you rather have, God for or  against you? Would you rather wrestle against God or have Him  wrestle on your behalf? Do you not fear the storms? Does not the  storms fear God?

Here is the thing. When Jesus came, he came to save us all  from our sins, he died for our sake. But he will not force his grace  upon you. He is not some evil tyrant, aka totalitarian, who forces  His will on you, for you can choose to walk away from Him and be  against Him, but if you are against Him, you won’t receive his  blessing, mercy, or grace. Yes, He is still trying to give it to you,  but you are the one deciding not to receive. On the other hand, if  you are willing, Christ will act as your shield, He wants to ask as  your shield, fight against the Devil on your behalf, guarantee  Salvation, and even provide the occasional miracle, for Jesus is  not subject to the storm, he is not lesser than the storm, he is not  afraid of the storm, but rather the storm is subject to Christ. 

Let us pray, 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, woe is we for we who are worthless  worms, incapable of commanding the winds to blow the way we  wish it, dare to command you who controls the winds. We ask for  protection against the storm while also fabricating false images of  you to our liking. Give us the wisdom to have more fear in you  than in any storm that comes our way, to respect you for who you  truly are and for not what we wish you to be, and to love you and  your self-sacrificing defense against all that assails us. In your  most holy name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Bible Verse of the Day

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