Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The words "ethics" and "deal" should never appear together, particularly in a headline!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Spats

Do you fight verbally? If so, read this article. Some points particularly relevant, from my experience:
  • Talk about the (perceived) problem, yes, but wait an hour or two, up to a day.
  • Actually listen. This entails the deliberate avoidance of assumptions, pre-judging, and a lack of eye contact. Positively, it means restating the other person's position, then sitting silent and attentive for clarification.
  • Try to be the bird looking down from above. See the other side and, no matter how hard it may be, don't mind losing.
  • Think before speaking. We teach children that "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" and, come adulthood......forget all about it. Words, once out, are out.
  • Choose setting. Don't argue in a speeding car, for this will cause even more speeding. Do *discuss* while not in an antagonistic mood - face each other diagonally, hold hands (couples), model good behavior regardless of whether there are children present.
Any more to add, my more mature readers?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pentecost 9 (Feast of St. James)

Today's readings: Acts 11:27-12:5, Romans 8:28-39, and Mark 10:35-45.

Since today is the Feast of St. James the Elder, a martyr for Christ, we focus on four deaths.
  1. Death of Jesus Christ. As He told the disciples, the Son of Man came "to give His life as a ransom for many." God is for us! God gave His own Son for us - so of course He is also the giver of all good things.
  2. Death to self. James, our example, wanted a place at Christ's right hand - so he had to die to himself. A new James boldly preached at Pentecost; Jesus had transformed him! Thus we also die to ourselves, living now to Christ and our neighbor.
  3. Earthly death. James, the brother of John, was killed by the sword for the sake of Jesus Christ. Since He went before, we get to see immediately the benefits of His victory! There is no fear of dying for those who love Christ...for death itself has died!
  4. Herod's death. He aspired to deity, so God killed him, with worms, no less. (Josephus is more graphic, but my approaching class with cadavers perhaps biases me.) Lesson: don't play God. Ever. Instead, serve Him in your vocation.
Soli Deo gloria.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pentecost 8 (Proper 11)

Today's readings: Genesis 18:1-10a, Psalm 27, Colossians 1:21-29, and Luke 10:38-42 (sermon text).

Martha's confession in John 11 is second only to Peter's, in the same book. But here in Luke she has something to learn. After a good welcome for Christ and twelve guests, things become more iffy. Mary sits with the Lord to listen to Him, but Martha wants kitchen help (understandably so!). She appeals to Christ, not to Mary - she even blames and gives orders to Him! Let Jesus be Jesus.

He corrects her: one thing is necessary. And Mary's got it. The correction is comparatively mild, as to a younger child. "Don't be troubled! I am the Host; you are the guest." The good thing is the word of the Lord; it gives life, salvation, and forgiveness of sins. We are saved by this Word, not by works according to the Law. Works of the saved are good, but the good thing is the Word.

This story is not about church work. It's about attending to the Word, the one thing that justifies you before God. So be like Mary - sit down and listen to Him.

Soli Deo gloria.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pentecost 7 (Proper 10)

We had a guest pastor today, as one of our home pastors is at the LCMS Convention, and the other is recovering from Higher Things. The readings were Leviticus 19:9-18, Psalm 41, Colossians 1:1-14, and Luke 10:25-37 (sermon text).

The story of the Good Samaritan reads like a parable, but there is no indication that it couldn't be historical. With that in mind, let us treat it as something Christ fulfills in each of us. Do you see yourself in the characters? You should, for we indeed are each, though this be uncomfortable to think about.

The lawyer excluded certain people from his definition of "neighbor." Who is yours? Are you self-righteous, like he was? All people should be your neighbor, as described by the Leviticus text - it is moral (versus ceremonial) law, i.e. how to treat those around us.

"Love your neighbor." We need someone to love us. Like the man foolishly walking through a dangerous area, we cannot take care of ourselves spiritually and morally in today's culture; we need help and helpers.

We DO have such a Neighbor! He has given of Himself to rescue the half-dead, us unworthy sinners! The innkeepers are pastors, stewards of His gifts. Christ is here, among us, to pay for, heal, and give of Himself to us! Therefore we are forgiven of sins, and given Christ. Fulfill the parable by loving your neighbor as you have been loved.

Soli Deo gloria.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Pentecost 6 (Proper 9)

Happy Independence Day! In lieu of spitting out another of the assorted patriotic posts, here's one showing where our true affiliation should lie. Today's readings were Isaiah 66:10-14; Galatians 6:1-10, 14-18 (sermon text); and Luke 10:1-20. Sorry for formatting typo, below.

Our country is known as the bastion of freedom; this includes free exercise of religion. Appropriately, Galatians - declaring Christian freedom - is our text. We are free not to sin, but to serve Christ. Fruits flow from our freedom - we produce fruits of the Spirit, forbidden nowhere. Now for the text.

Four points may be gleaned from Galatians.
  1. Admonish sinning brethren in love (not self-interest, as is too often the case in my and other families) and gentleness. They are called "brethren" because Christ has adopted the other person as well as you, by His blood. Sins separate us from Christ. You don't want your brother to go to hell! - so you go to great lengths to gently rescue and restore, not falling into sin yourself.
  2. Christ's law tells us to bear each other's burdens - not sins, but things like loss of a job or having a child with special needs. Also test your own work so that you do not boast in superiority. Turn first to Christ, then to your neighbor.
  3. Concerning pastors, stewardship means giving back to God, caring for church workers. Sow in the Spirit, reaping eternal life.
  4. Concerning personal conduct...live and walk in the Spirit! Do not grow weary of doing good, for your strength comes from God, who gives you rest. Do good to all, not expecting a reward. Boast only in the cross.

Soli Deo gloria.