November 11, 2018. "Rich Taking from the Poor." Mark 12:38-44.

What are some topics people do not like to hear preached about at church?  Stewardship is one of those topics.  Though Jesus talked more about money more than most other topics, many want pastors to avoid the subject.  Mark 12:41-44 is a popular preaching text on stewardship.  But today's reading starts at verse 38.  The widows are poor because the rich are abusing them.  Yet instead of addressing the injustice and changing the system, the scribes want to be seen praying.  They want to substitute words for action toward justice.  Stewardship is about economic justice.  Stewardship is about faith.  God shows a preferential option for the poor.  We offer what God has given to us.  We offer it for the sake of Christ.  We offer it with joy and thanksgiving.

October 28, 2018. "Freeing Truth." John 8: 31-36.

Where is freedom being challenged today?  Where is truth being challenged today?  The descendants of Abraham thought they were free.  American Lutherans think they are free.  Are you free to praise God?  Are you free to talk with others about God?  Are you free to live a Christian lifestyle?  Are you free to serve the oppressed?  In truth, American Christians are not free.  American Lutherans are slaves to sin.  The death and resurrection of Jesus is the truth that frees us.  Truth is under attack today.  We need to focus on freeing truth.  We are no longer in the trap of having to free ourselves.  We are now able to serve others.

October 21, 2018. "Different Destinies." Mark 10:35-45

Who are the powerful people in your life?  The United States is and wants to be a powerful nation.  Many Americans have or want power.  Many American churches have or want power.  Many American Christians have or want power.  In Mark, James and John want power.  Mark's readers understood Roman imperial power.  But in the kingdom of Jesus, power is different.  Instead of an all-powerful Christ, we have a suffering Christ.  Instead of having power over people, Christians are to have relational power with others.  Instead of being called to a life of comfort, Christians are called to a baptism of suffering.  Instead of being necessarily successful, Christians are called to be faithful.  Christians are called to serve others.  James and John had different destinies.  Our common destiny is to Live the Gospel and Change the World.

September 23, 2018. "Overcoming Conflict." James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a.

What are some of the conflicts we face in our lives?  Conflict is everywhere.  Throughout the Bible, we learn the source of conflict is within ourselves.  In James, we are presented with a choice between false wisdom and true wisdom.  False wisdom tempts us at every turn with power, prestige, and possessions.  James calls Christians to go the way of peace.  James addresses peace on three levels: intra-personal, inter-personal, and inter-national.  Ultimately, the real issue is our relationship to God.  God calls Christians to be peacemakers.

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