Posted by: augsburgland | April 15, 2014

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Have you ever driven through a long, dark tunnel? Some years ago, while traveling across Europe, I remember driving through the fjords and mountains of Norway. My friend Ken and I drove through countless tunnels that had been cut through the middle of mountains and hills. Some were shorter. Others extended for miles.

What an uncomfortable feeling it was in those lengthier tunnels. When you’re not used to it, it’s eerie, as you leave the bright sunlight behind and enter a dimly lit burrow. How exhilarating when you see the light at the end of the tunnel! Even better is the moment when the warm sunshine finally hits your face again.

The Lenten season is somewhat like that tunnel experience. For over six weeks now, in the church, we’ve traveled through the tunnel of Lent. The hours spent traveling with Jesus have been rather somber and serious ones, as we note how he suffers because of us. You see, the season also shines a spotlight on our rebellious nature and sinfulness. This ‘tunnel time’ of the year reminds us of the fact that God is angry over sin.

Thankfully, though, all is not dark. The Bible tells us about the plan God put into place to wash away the filth of my sin, because I couldn’t scrub it out. Jesus Christ, both true God and true man, died on the cross Good Friday to suffer for the guilt of my sin. He came back to life from the dead on the third day – Easter – to prove that a ‘mission impossible’ was now a mission accomplished.

Someday each of us will enter another tunnel, the dark tunnel of death, as Jesus did. What comfort to know that at the end of that dark tunnel stands the risen Jesus, the One who truly is the Light of the world. What a day that will be when we can join with all those who trusted in Jesus alone for salvation. All who are there will be singing the praises of God’s wondrous love — in heaven.

This Easter, drive out of the Lenten tunnel and into the full sunshine. Bask in the forgiveness of sins won by Jesus Christ for you.

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

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Posted by: augsburgland | March 30, 2010

No Easter? No Chance!

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep…1 Corinthians 15:20.

Many years ago it snowed on Easter Sunday in Atlantic City, New Jersey, rare in that part of the country for Easter. The result was that they could not hold the traditional Easter parade on the boardwalk. Because they didn’t have the “traditional Easter” that year, the local community suffered financial loss.

Have you ever stopped to consider what it would be like if we Christians didn’t have our traditional Easter? It certainly wouldn’t be a financial disaster– not from a Christian standpoint. But it would be a great tragedy. For Christians, Easter is more than a holiday, more than a special Sunday, it is really the high point of the year.

That’s really what Paul is saying in this 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins, Paul wrote. Then he added, But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead.

Because Jesus Christ did indeed physically rise from the dead as he said he would, we know his words are truth. As a result we can trust when he tells us he has the answers to life’s problems, that he comforts in time of trouble, that he answers our prayers. Most importantly, we are assured that our sins are forgiven and that things are right between us and God. Because of that, we who believe in Him will also rise to eternal life in heaven and live with the Lord forever.

Since Easter is such an important celebration, we invite you to join in on one of our special Easter worship services on April 4th. Rejoice in the promise of eternal life given you by the victorious Jesus Christ, and invite someone to come with you. Share the promise with a friend or relative because Jesus lives!

Posted by: augsburgland | September 19, 2009

Be a Duck

We have a duck at our house. It is a female mallard, named Billy Jean, that we bought from a hatchery in May.  We have been endlessly entertained with her waddling on by, short flights around the yard and endless chatter. We also enjoy watching her swim around in the former turtle sandbox, now converted into a micro duck pond. Billy Jean eats, paddles around and washes in that “duck puddle.”
When you have a duck as a pet, I think you can better relate to the statement, “like water off a duck’s back.”  No matter how many times that mallard dives under the water (and it is many) and comes up, the water runs right off those oily feathers.
Christians sometimes get doused with criticism for what they believe about their Lord and the Bible and for trying to live in line with these. The dig is sometimes hard to just ignore.
Learn a lesson from the duck. Be a duck. Allow that criticism to run off. Sure, we want to examine closely again what we believe and how we live to see if what a critic says has some merit to it.
Just don’t give up. Shrug off the unjustified criticism and get on with life. For the Christian that means a life of daily repentance. Trust in Jesus Christ as Savior from sin. Asking the Holy Spirit to build them up in the faith as they serve God and others.
That will be all the oil you need for the unjust criticism to run “like water off a duck’s back.”
Let me know what you think.

We have a duck at our house. It is a female mallard, named Billy Jean, that we bought from a hatchery in May.  We have been endlessly entertained with her waddling on by, short flights around the yard and endless chatter. We also enjoy watching her swim around in the former turtle sandbox, now converted into a micro duck pond. Billy Jean eats, paddles around and washes in that “duck puddle.”

When you have a duck as a pet, I think you can better relate to the statement, “like water off a duck’s back.”  No matter how many times that mallard dives under the water (and it is many) and comes up, the water runs right off those oily feathers.

Christians sometimes get doused with criticism for what they believe about their Lord and the Bible and for trying to live in line with these. The dig is sometimes hard to just ignore.

Learn a lesson from the duck. Be a duck. Allow that criticism to run off. Sure, we want to examine closely again what we believe and how we live to see if what a critic says has some merit to it.

Just don’t give up. Shrug off the unjustified criticism and get on with life. For the Christian that means a life of daily repentance. Trust in Jesus Christ as Savior from sin. Ask the Holy Spirit to for a stronger faith while serving God and others.

That will be all the oil you need for the unjust criticism to run “like water off a duck’s back.”

Posted by: augsburgland | July 30, 2009

Christ’s Love, Our Calling

The 60th Biennial Convention of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod convened this week, beginning on Monday  (July 27) at Michigan Lutheran Seminary in Saginaw, MI. There’s a whole host of resources, documents, presentations, and videos including live streaming video during the sessions available athttp://www.wels.net/convention.

The convention began with the address of WELS President Mark Schroeder.

How refreshing to hear Pres. Schroeder stress the importance of the theology of the cross as opposed to the theology of the glory in the life of the church, of realizing and being who we are–confessional Lutherans–as individuals, as congregations, and as a synod, and of not forgetting the lessons learned from the history not only of our synod, but of the Christian church over the centuries. At the same time, he takes a realistic view of our synod’s present situation, while providing a Christ-centered focus that brings a true optimism founded on God’s promises in Holy Scripture. I give thanks that God has provided such a faithful shepherd to lead our synod and I pray the Lord not only be with him, but with our beloved synod during these difficult times.

Watch the video of President Schroeder’s Presentation to the Synod in Convention.

Posted by: augsburgland | April 3, 2009

Breakfast Tomorrow?

A small group of us get together at the Eagle Inn Restaurant on Water Street at 7:00 a.m. (or thereabouts) twice a month. It’s a men’s Bible study group where we enjoy each other’s company. We study the Word of God. We discuss and apply. We pray. We eat good food.  We tell stories and laugh. When the hour is up, having had spiritual and physical nourishment, we head out.  

It struck me, as I thought about it, how different we are, even in this small group–and yet so similar. We are different ages. We come from different backgrounds and grew up in different places. We have different jobs, etc. Yet we are similar, most importantly, in that we share an appreciation for the unfailing and always faithful Word of God. We rejoice that we have a relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We strive to be faithful witnesses of our Lord through what we say and by the way we live our lives, by the Holy Spirit’s power.  

This common (holy) ground we share makes it possible for us to communicate and understand each other. This fellowship provides us with encouragement when we head back out into the sometimes cold, cruel world.

I thank the Lord for the privilege of being part of this group.

Posted by: augsburgland | March 11, 2009

Creation vs. Evolution

A columnist, Carolyn Kennedy, wrote an article in the Eagle recently about her view of creation and evolution. I think it showed how far some people are willing to go to twist Scripture. It also demonstrated how people like Carolyn Kennedy (a United Church of Christ pastor) are embarrassed by the simple and clear teachings of Scripture.

I know. I know. Parts of the article, I’m sure, were meant to push people’s buttons. I am sure it succeeded in that regard. Beyond that, it really didn’t do much for anyone. The evolution teachers and creation teachers who read the article had to feel that their positions were equally misrepresented and left incomplete.

The creation-evolution debate is really an either-or proposition. Either you take by faith what God says concerning His world’s perfect beginning or you take by faith the evolutionist’s theory that all things develop by chance, where random mutation and natural selection mean that survival of the fittest wins. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t mash the two sides together and imagine you’ll have a great tasting hotdish. This concoction tastes bitter to both sides.

Christians believe that all the Bible is God’s Word and that it is God’s inspired truth from beginning to end. Christians believe God brought all things into existence by the power of his Word during six normal days.

Interestingly, I gave this newspaper article to my 7th and 8th graders in catechism class for their critique. They didn’t think it made much sense either. Let me know your thoughts.

Posted by: augsburgland | February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday Ashes

The season of Lent begins today with Ash Wednesday. We have a worship service tonight at 7:00 p.m. (Join us if you’re in the neighborhood.).  Here is an article on ashes and other customs associated with Ash Wednesday worship. The article follows below. Some of what you’ll read here (especially the first three paragraphs) has been adapted from other WELS sources. Thank you, Pastor Strey, for the summary.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the Christian’s 40-day journey (excluding Sundays) to Jesus’ cross and his tomb to await the proclamation of Easter. Ash Wednesday begins the Christian’s Lenten journey with a reminder of our mortality and a call to repentance. The ancient practice of imposing ashes on the foreheads of Christians gives Ash Wednesday its name. The church father Tertullian (c. 160-215 AD) writes of the practice as a public expression of repentance and of our human frailty that stands in need of Christ. The imposition of ashes has never been an exclusively Roman Catholic practice, but today is observed widely by Christians of many traditions.

Today, midweek evening services for Lent have become the norm in Lutheran congregations, and the repentance theme of Ash Wednesday is often replaced by a focus on the Savior’s Passion, a focus at one time reserved for Holy Week alone. In popular practice, Ash Wednesday has become the first in a series of six services that include the reading of the Passion history and a review of one or another aspect of the Savior’s suffering and death. Most of our Lenten sermon series as well as most of the worship resources produced in our circles have placed Ash Wednesday into the regular set of midweek Lenten services.

In recent years there has been renewed interest to return to a confession and absolution focus for Ash Wednesday worship.  Christian Worship suggests black, the color of sorrow and death, rather than purple as the preferred liturgical color for the day. The Ash Wednesday Holy Communion service reflects the serious tone of the day in its restrained use of music and the omission of festive parts of the service (for example: the Song of Praise, the Creed, and all uses of “Alleluia”). Several congregations in our Synod have also reinstituted the use of ashes.

The traditional custom for the imposition of ashes is that the minister places the ashes on each person’s forehead in the shape of a cross. As the ashes are imposed, the minister says, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return” (see Genesis 3:19). 

The goal of a custom like the imposition of ashes is to proclaim God’s law in several ways (in the confession of sins, in hymns, in the sermon, and with the use of ashes), just as we proclaim the gospel in several ways (in absolution, in hymns, in the Creed, in the sermon, in the Lord’s Supper, through visual art such as banners, and in various worship ceremonies). Many worship scholars, both within and outside of Lutheranism, have observed that we have entered a more visual and tactile generation. That observation has led many Christians and churches to seek visual, tactile ways to proclaim law and gospel in worship. The Ash Wednesday imposition of ashes is one example of a tangible way to proclaim God’s Word in our worship. May its message impress our hearts and minds with our need for Christ’s salvation!

Posted by: augsburgland | February 24, 2009

First Post Jitters

As you can see from the page, I just started to set it up today. I’ve emailed aplenty over the years but have never had a blog, nor even blogged before this. It will be a bit of a learning curve, so bear with me. If there are some things you would like to see linked on here that are unashamedly and unabashadly confessionally Lutheran in nature, drop me a line.

I will try and post at least once a week or so. Some posts will be mainly informational for the members of St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church. Other posts will have a more general appeal and application.

I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

 

 

 

   

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