You Have the Holy Spirit, Now Go and Make Disciples! (Acts 2:1-21)

Sermon for Pentecost 6/8/14

Text: Acts 2:1-21

Theme: You Have the Holy Spirit, Now God and Make Disciples!

              Have you ever volunteered for something and later came to regret it?

It happens all the time, doesn’t it? You volunteers for some task and it ends up sucking up way more of your time than you originally thought it would. Or you volunteer for one little obligation and soon have a much larger obligation thrown on your lap.

I have to imagine that there was many a night in William Carey’s life when he felt the exact same thing. I have to imagine that at times he regretted that he had ever opened his mouth to volunteer.

You see, William Carey was a Christian pastor in England in the late 1700’s. In 1793 he looked over at the people of India and his heart broke. He saw in India millions of people on the path to hell because they knew nothing about the Bible – they knew nothing about Jesus. So William Carey spoke up, and as often happens, the one who points out a good idea is asked to pursue that good idea. And so, William Carey left the life he knew in England to tell the people of India about Jesus.

I have to imagine that as William’s boat docked in India his stomach was in knots. I have to imagine that right then, when he stepped onto that dock surrounded by people whose skin was darker than his, dressed in clothes very different from his, babbling in languages he didn’t understand, with customs he knew nothing about, there had to have been a least a little regret. What had he gotten himself into?…

Regardless of what he may have been feeling when he stepped off that boat, William Carey was resolute. He knew what he had come here for – he had volunteered for it. He knew that there were millions of people here that needed to know about Jesus. So he set about learning the languages and customs of India, and most importantly he started telling the people of India about Jesus.

But things didn’t go the way, I’m sure, William had hoped they would. I have to imagine that William often regretted his decision to travel to India when after 6 full years of preaching about Jesus not one single Indian had come to faith. Six years of preaching… and not one convert to Christianity!

I have to imagine that there were many nights during those six years when William Carey felt like he had failed – failed as a missionary, failed as a pastor, failed to share the good news of Jesus.

Have you ever felt that way?

God has called each of us to be missionaries, right? When Jesus said to his disciples before he ascended into heaven that they were to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you,” we know that that command was for us too. We are Jesus disciples and we have been called to make disciples.

And I know you try, but does it ever feel like an exercise of frustration to you? Continue reading

Article 9 of the Augsburg Confession

???????????????????????Article 9: Concerning Baptism, our churches teach that Baptism is necessary for salvation* and that God’s grace is offered through Baptism. They teach that children are to be baptized. Being offered to God through Baptism, they are received into God’s grace.

Our churches condemn the Anabaptists, who reject the Baptism of children, and say that children are saved without Baptism.

* We believe it is necessary but not absolutely. The thief on the cross did not have a chance to be baptized but he was saved. The Bible teaches that salvation is possible without this means of grace because there are other means of grace (Lord’s Supper and the Word).

If you had to pick one day in your life that you would label as the biggest, the most important, the most influential, which would it be?

For me it is a no-brainer, I have a plaque commemorating it hanging in my office. May 31, 1987 is by far the biggest, most important, and most influential day in my life. That is far and away the best day in my life because that was the day the waters of baptism washed over me and made me something I was not.

On May 31, 1987 I became a part of the family of God. Continue reading

First the Cross, Then the Glory! (2 Corinthians 4:13-18)

Sermon for the 7th Sunday in Easter (6/1/14)

Text: 2 Corinthians 4:13-18

Theme: First the Cross, Then the Glory!

            Have any of you ever read the book Unbroken? I highly recommend it. It’s the fascinating life story of Louis Zamperini. Louis Zamperini was an Olympic runner and a WWII bomber pilot. The book is called Unbroken because it’s a story of how Louis lived through incredible suffering – suffering to a degree that none of us have even come close to experiencing.

Here’s a quick rap-sheet of his ordeals during WWII:

It all started when his plane crashed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean followed by three harrowing months floating on an inflatable raft with two other survivors in the middle of the ocean with no food or water. These three months were anything but uneventful. They were strafed by a Japanese bomber. They had to fight off multiple shark attacks. They caught birds and fish just to stay alive.

After three months of hell they finally saw land only to be captured by the Japanese. During those three months he lost half of his body weight and was completely emaciated and malnourished, but his troubles were only starting. After being captured by the Japanese he was transferred from one Japanese prison to another, not knowing what a full stomach felt like for three straight years. Add on top of all of this dealing with every malnutrition based disease in the book with a healthy dose of; being brutally threatened, beaten, mocked, ridiculed, and demeaned on a daily basis for three whole years by his Japanese captors.

Louis’ unbelievable life is just one extreme example of a sobering fact: this life can get ugly. Sometimes it can be unbearably dreadful. If you haven’t experienced many hardships in this world, I can confidently say that at some point you will because this world is full of sin and consequently this world is full of death, trouble and stress. This life has a way of heaping trouble on top of hardship on top of disaster on top of problems and adding a healthy dose of stress like a sadistic cherry on top…

How would you react if your life played out like Louis’?… As Christians we all know the correct answer: show hope in the face of trouble. But what if trouble just kept on coming? I can’t imagine what it would be like to live for three full years with not even a glimmer of hope on the horizon, can you? Continue reading