Sermon for June 18, 2017: “The Issue Is….”

June 18, 2017 Text: Romans 5:6-11

Dear Friends in Christ,

I read an interview from a young couple as to why they left one Missouri Synod congregation for another. Here’s a brief portion:
Q: Why did you leave your old LCMS church? A: We got tired of the clowns in the chancel. Q: What did the clowns do? A: They danced around, led the people in singing and gave morality talks…The hymns were folk songs. Q: What was the Pastor doing while the clowns were leading worship? A: He would sit with the congregation until they finished clowning around. His sermons didn’t have Law and Gospel. They were basically feel good sermons…
Fluff and puff. And I hear the words of Jeremiah: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.” (Jer. 23:16)
We are a throw-away society, you know? We’ve compromised so much in a world of “make-me happy.” Today a refresher. Not a refresher on what you think or I think – but based on God’s Word. God Bless our understanding of . . .
“THE ISSUE IS . . .”
Sin. I don’t know if we still have dirty words the way people speak in public, on TV and in the movies but if we do then sin seems to be one. We have completely lost what sin is all about. Dr. Lowell D. Streiker notes, “Somewhere along the way, the word ‘sin’ fell out of favor…it became as unfashionable as the celluloid collar and the whale-bone bustle. We gained something with its passing – relief, release, freedom, enhanced self-image, and self-confidence. But we lost something too.” You bet we have and we live with the consequences daily, dirty words and all.
Chuck Colson wrote an article almost 25 years ago that is still relevant. It was entitled, “Can We Be Good Without God?” He states:
“If we cannot be good without God, how do we sustain public virtue in society? We cannot do it through the instrument of politics. Alasdair MacIntyre, moral philosopher at Notre Dame, says that ‘Politics has become civil war carried on by other means.’ Without moral authority to call upon, our elected leaders are reduced to saying, ‘We can’t say this is right and that’s wrong. We simply prefer that you wouldn’t murder.’”
Sin. That is the issue. It separates us from God. That’s what causes problems in life. Most of us are living with the consequences of our actions. Sometimes for many years. There is a price to pay in this life, and without intervention from God – there is a price to pay in eternity.
Now our text. The issue is God’s means of salvation. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person though perhaps for a good person one would dare to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (v. 6-8)
Aren’t those some of the most blessed thoughts? “Christ died for the ungodly – Christ died for us.” Many of you may recognize verse 8 as the theme verse on some of our church material. These are the issues that lift us up to the love of God. These are the issues we want to take with us when we face the unknowns of each day. We don’t need to keep asking, “Why is everything going wrong?” A society that is convinced that sin and God’s wrath are passé is lost in their delusion. We thank God that the love of Christ forgives our wrongs, our sin, and promises us a perfect world to come. All glory be to Jesus!
Now if we know all this and believe all this, the issue is as follows: What are we going to do? Our goal is not to fit into the world, but to prepare for the world to come and as the Holy Spirit blesses to take as many with us as possible.
A woman had become quite wealthy and had gained a certain social prominence. This went to her head and she wanted a book on her genealogy. She hired a well-known author to write and research the book. In the course of his research the author found that this lady’s grandfather was a murderer who was electrocuted in Sing Sing. When he told the woman she wanted him to say it in a way that would hide the truth.
The incident appears in the book as follows: “One of her grandfathers occupied the chair of applied electricity in one of America’s best-known institutions. He was very much attached to his position and literally died in the harness.”
Isn’t that a good illustration on deception? But how many live their lives like that every day? Always putting their hopes and dreams in this decaying and decadent society? Always sure something better is to come from this world. Always thinking that because they’ve been good enough they’re in with God!
Sure, we could be more positive, but that’s not reality. God will judge those who pervert His Word and live in unrepentant sin. The positive issue for the Christian who believes is this: The love of Christ forgives and claims us even though we are still sinful. The love of Christ that says we uniquely and eternally belong to God. Always! You see. . . that’s the issue!
Amen.

Bulletin Announcements

June 18, 2017

NEED A RIDE? If you are unable to drive to church, we have an option that is available.  Please speak with Pastor who has the details.  Thank you.

THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  Romans 5:8:  “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  God did not wait for mankind to make the first move.  He did not wait for Adam and Even to come looking for Him – but He went and found them.  And while we were still sinners, still enemies of God, still set against Him, He sent His Son Jesus to suffer, die, and rise for us.  God was moved by His own love and generosity and kindness.  We now seek to grow up into His image as loving, generous, and kind sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father.

OUR SUNDAY SCHOOL meets at 9:15 a.m. in the Choir Room which is located on the 2nd level (the west side).

THE ADULT BIBLE CLASS meets in the basement at 9:15 a.m.  In conjunction with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we are studying about that time period with “The Word Endures: Lessons From the Lives of Powerful Politicians”.

CAN YOU HELP?  We have a sign-up on the table in the narthex for Summer Sunday School.  The dates and lessons are listed.  We would like to have someone covering and to give Sarah Lange a break for the summer.  Once you sign-up, please speak with Sarah who will have the lesson for you.  Thank you for helping in this way.

TODAY is the deadline for items to be submitted for the JULY NEWSLETTER.  Mandy Kluender is our Editor for the church newsletter and any announcements you want to be published in the Newsletter should be submitted to her at mgkluender@hotmail.com or you may call her at (309) 838-9868.

NEW CHURCH SIGN:  In celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation and with inspiration from Martin Luther, Good Shepherd will be “posting” a new church sign on the south side near the lower parking lot.  Parts will be interchangeable and can be used for Outreach to our community.  Congregation involvement will include creative ideas for the signage and gifts toward the purchase.  The first collection of monies will be next Sunday, June 25th.  We will then collect on the last Sunday of each month through September with a final collection scheduled for some time in October.  If you do not have a jar and want to participate you may pick one up in the narthex.

PASTOR’S SCHEDULE:  Because of Pastor’s absence on Sunday, July 9th, we will celebrate Holy Communion in both worship services on Sunday, July 2nd.

THE JUNE FRIDAY MOVIE NIGHT will be held on June 30th at 6:30 p.m.  The feature movie that will be shown is “WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL”.  This movie was inspired by a true story.  “When The Game Stands Tall” tells the remarkable journey of legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur, who took the De LaSalle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151 – game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport.  When then the streak is broken, and tragedy strikes the team, “Coach Lad” must teach his players – and the entire town – that it’s not about how you fall, but how you get back up.  Join us for another great movie, delicious food and wonderful fellowship.  There is plenty of room in the church.

PORTALS OF PRAYER:  The July-September 2017 Portals of Prayer are available on the book rack in the narthex.  Pick up your free copy today!

FELLOWSHIP HOSTS:  The sign-up for help with coffee/doughnuts is posted on the wall by the north stairwell.  We need an individual/family to sign-up each week to pick up the donuts and make the coffee.  If no one is signed up by Friday of each week, the order will be cancelled.  We thank everybody who continues to help with this part of our church fellowship.

THE LUTHERAN HOUR:  “What God Says” is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from Isaiah 43:1-3.  Are you listening to what “they” say – or what God says?  Reverend Dr. Ken Klaus is the speaker.  Hear this Sunday’s message on the Lutheran Hour on WGN (720) at 6:00 a.m.; WJWR (104.7 FM) and WJWR (90.3 FM) both on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.  Also, if you can receive Lincoln, IL radio station WLLM (1370 AM) the program is broadcast two times on Sunday at 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.  Tune in!  You can also listen to The Lutheran Hour on your personal computer at RealAudio, www.lhm.org.

PRAYER CHAIN:  If you have a prayer request please submit them by email to Mary Anne Kirchner at makirchner@yahoo.com or you may phone a Prayer Request to Mary Anne; her cell phone# is (309) 532-2582.  The Prayer Request box is on the table in the narthex for any written requests.

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Sermon June 11, 2017: “Is Our Trinitarian Christian Faith Convenient?”

June 11, 2017 – Trinity Sunday Text: Matthew 28:16-20

Dear Friends in Christ,

There was a man fishing in a tub of water in his back yard. His neighbor saw him and said, “There are no fish in that tub. Why are you wasting your time like that?” “Yeah,” came the reply, “I know there are no fish in here, but it’s just so convenient.”
We’ve been trying to make life like that for generations: convenient. That is also what we do with our Christian faith. Make it convenient and acceptable and easy on the mind. We’ve reduced Christianity to a text message, a twitter, a tweet, and a toot. For an ever-increasing number of humans Christianity is nothing at all.
Today is Trinity Sunday. It’s what we believe as Christians. So we ask . . .
“IS OUR TRINITARIAN CHRISTIAN FAITH CONVENIENT?”
One thing becomes clear about our Trinitarian faith – Jesus is God’s Son and only Savior from sin. “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshipped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’” (v. 16-18)
Even after the resurrection and Jesus appearing to so many, there were still doubts. We have a belief in God – that’s convenient. But to believe in His Son as someone who died for me?
Man has always had these problems. Look at our Old Testament lesson where Moses writes, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5) Doesn’t that rattle our convenient thoughts that man is basically good? Moses adds, “And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” (Gen. 6:6) You would think he was writing about 2017!
But then look at this. After the Flood we are told, “The Lord said in his heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” (Gen. 8:21) Man was in trouble. Man is still in trouble. Man in his arrogance hates God, rejects God, or else re-creates God to make man feel good – a convenient God.
Jesus said that, “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” He is either God or a sandwich short of a picnic.
Jesus did not come here to be our heavenly therapist. Wouldn’t that be convenient? He came to die an inconvenient death in our place. Man could not save himself, so the 2nd person of the Trinity obediently fulfilled the Father’s plan.
In our Epistle Peter declares, “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.” (Acts 2:32-33)
Some years ago, a Pastor by the name of Timothy Smith wrote of a life experience that happened to a man by the name of Kenneth Gibble. He wrote:
“Kenneth Gibble spent his after school hours as a child in the feed mill where his dad worked. He loved playing games of pretend with the feed bags becoming in his imagination hills and valleys, boulders and dark caves to hide inside.
“Sometimes one of the workers would come into the warehouse where Kenneth was playing. He could spy on the worker without being seen. He was the sheriff waiting to spring out and arrest the outlaw.
“As Kenneth got older he began to realize that his pretend game of hiding in the feed mill represented his understanding of God. God is the one who stays hidden, spying on little children, watching them from a distance. ‘You had to be at least a little afraid of this God,’ Kenneth says, ‘because you could never get away from such a One. God could look inside your head and read every thought.’”
Pastor Smith then made this wise observation: “Many parents through the years have used similar tactics on their children. ‘God is watching you. He sees when you do something wrong.’”
Of course, we know differently. The only “distance” God put in our lives was that regarding hell. He removed it through Christ’s suffering and death at Calvary. He is not just watching us, He is interacting with us. He reveals His love and guidance through Scripture. He comes in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper to embrace us as His own. This is the Trinitarian Direction: Not an aloof God who is conveniently in our life at times and at other times is not. But – the Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit ever present and leading us to our eternal home.
That comes through in these words of assurance, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (v. 20) And He is as we seek to fulfill the Great
Commission. And it won’t always be convenient in a world of self-worship and the questioning of moral absolutes. But the Lord is there, just like He was for Noah and his family after the flood. The Trinity – Father, Son, Holy Spirit love you and lead you to make a difference for the Lord’s Kingdom. Amen.

Bulletin Announcements

June 11, 2017

THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  Matthew 28:19-20:  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”  Behold the threefold Name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  This is the Name we are baptized into.  We have been made a part of God’s family.  And so we are now called to live lives that are in harmony with our new family: we are to be godly, to live in God’s image.  As God is loving, and kind, and generous – so are we called to be.

NEED A RIDE? If you are unable to drive to church, we have an option that is available.  Please speak with Pastor who has the details.  Thank you.

OUR SUNDAY SCHOOL meets at 9:15 a.m. in the Choir Room which is located on the 2nd level (the west side).

THE ADULT BIBLE CLASS meets in the basement at 9:15 a.m.  In conjunction with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we are studying about that time period with “The Word Endures: Lessons From the Lives of Powerful Politicians”.

CAN YOU HELP?  We have a sign-up on the table in the narthex for Summer Sunday School.  The dates and lessons are listed.  We would like to have someone covering and to give Sarah Lange a break for the summer.  Once you sign-up, please speak with Sarah who will have the lesson for you.  Thank you for helping in this way.

NEXT SUNDAY is the deadline for items to be submitted for the JULY NEWSLETTER.  Mandy Kluender is our Editor for the church newsletter and any announcements you want to be published in the Newsletter should be submitted to her at mgkluender@hotmail.com or you may call her at (309) 838-9868.

NEW CHURCH SIGN:  In celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation and with inspiration from Martin Luther, Good Shepherd will be “posting” a new church sign on the south side near the lower parking lot.  Parts will be interchangeable and be used for Outreach to our community.  Congregation involvement will include creative ideas for the signage and gifts toward the purchase.  Today you have an opportunity to take home a jar and fill it with coinage and bills.  The end of our collection will be Reformation Sunday, October 29, 2017.  We were already blessed with a sizeable gift so we are looking for $5,000.00 to complete the project.  May God bless!

THE JUNE FRIDAY MOVIE NIGHT will be held on June 30th at 6:30 p.m.  The feature movie that will be shown is “WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL”.  This movie was inspired by a true story.  “When The Game Stands Tall” tells the remarkable journey of legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur, who took the De LaSalle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151 – game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport.  When then the streak is broken, and tragedy strikes the team, “Coach Lad” must teach his players – and the entire town – that it’s not about how you fall, but how you get back up.  Join us for another great movie, delicious food and wonderful fellowship.  There is plenty of room in the church.

FELLOWSHIP HOSTS:  The sign-up for help with coffee/doughnuts is posted on the wall by the north stairwell.  We need an individual/family to sign-up each week to pick up the donuts and make the coffee.  If no one is signed up by Friday of each week, the order will be cancelled.  We thank everybody who continues to help with this part of our church fellowship.

THE LUTHERAN HOUR:  “Look Back, See What God Has Done” is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from Exodus 19:2-8.  God not only kept His side of the bargain – He kept our side of the bargain, too.  Reverend Dr. Gregory Seltz is the speaker.  Hear this Sunday’s message on the Lutheran Hour on WGN (720) at 6:00 a.m.; WJWR (104.7 FM) and WJWR (90.3 FM) both on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.  Also, if you can receive Lincoln, IL radio station WLLM (1370 AM) the program is broadcast two times on Sunday at 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.  Tune in!  You can also listen to The Lutheran Hour on your personal computer at RealAudio, www.lhm.org.

PRAYER CHAIN:  If you have a prayer request please submit them by email to Mary Anne Kirchner at makirchner@yahoo.com or you may phone a Prayer Request to Mary Anne; her cell phone# is (309) 532-2582.  The Prayer Request box is on the table in the narthex for any written requests.

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Bulletin Announcements

June 4, 2017

NEED A RIDE? If you are unable to drive to church, we have an option that is available.  Please speak with Pastor who has the details.  Thank you.

OUR SUNDAY SCHOOL meets at 9:15 a.m. in the Choir Room which is located on the 2nd level (the west side).

THE ADULT BIBLE CLASS meets in the basement at 9:15 a.m.  In conjunction with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation we are studying about that time period with “The Word Endures: Lessons From the Lives of Powerful Politicians”.

THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  Acts 2:1:  “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.” Pentecost is the Old Testament harvest festival – it happens around the time when the wheat and oats are ready to be brought in.  Of course, this was a picture and foreshadowing of the great harvest of humankind that God means to bring in through the preaching of His Word.  God gives the seed, and God brings about the harvest.   From first to last, in things temporal and things eternal, we stand only by His grace.

PRAYER TIME:  We will meet for “Prayer Time” this coming Friday, June 9th from 7-8:00

NEW CHURCH SIGN:  In celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation and with inspiration from Martin Luther, Good Shepherd will be “posting” a new church sign on the south side near the lower parking lot.  Parts will be interchangeable and be used for Outreach to our community.  Congregation involvement will include creative ideas for the signage and gifts toward the purchase.  Today you have an opportunity to take home a jar and fill it with coinage and bills.  The end of our collection will be Reformation Sunday, October 29, 2017.  We were already blessed with a sizeable gift so we are looking for $5,000.00 to complete the project.  May God bless!

“MARTIN LUTHER – THE IDEA THAT CHANGED THE WORLD”:  We met our quota on tickets and the movie is going to be shown at the Wehrenberg Cinema this coming  Wednesday, June 7th, beginning at 6:30 p.m.  We still have the link on our website: goodshepherdblm@frontier.com if you want to order tickets.  The ticket website is available up until four hours before the movie is shown.  Once all the tickets are sold; no more will be available.  We will have prayers and a brief Q and A after the movie.

FELLOWSHIP HOSTS:  The sign-up for help with coffee/doughnuts is posted on the wall by the north stairwell.  We need an individual/family to sign-up each week to pick up the donuts and make the coffee.  If no one is signed up by Friday of each week, the order will be cancelled.  We thank everybody who continues to help with this part of our church fellowship.

THE LUTHERAN HOUR:  “Never Alone” is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from Matthew 28:16-20.  You can be certain about the place to meet God, His plan of salvation, and His presence  Reverend Dr. Gregory Seltz is the speaker.  Hear this Sunday’s message on the Lutheran Hour on WGN (720) at 6:00 a.m.; WJWR (104.7 FM) and WJWR (90.3 FM) both on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.  Also, if you can receive Lincoln, IL radio station WLLM (1370 AM) the program is broadcast two times on Sunday at 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.  Tune in!  You can also listen to The Lutheran Hour on your personal computer at RealAudio, www.lhm.org.

PRAYER CHAIN:  If you have a prayer request please submit them by email to Mary Anne Kirchner at makirchner@yahoo.com or you may phone a Prayer Request to Mary Anne; her cell phone# is (309) 532-2582.  The Prayer Request box is on the table in the narthex for any written requests.

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