Friday, June 13, 2014

Tri - Une - Fuggetabootit -


Forget it. You won't understand it. Your not suppose to. 

Yup, it is frustrating especially when you are trying to think that we can "understand" God. We don't understand Him. We believe him.

He gives. We receive. He tells us who He is. We say, "ok." We can't even begin to understand that He (singular) is Three persons (plural). We say, "ok," we believe You.

Tri - three persons; une - one God. Geesh, it'll drive you crazy if you try to understand how Jesus died for you, but not the Father, nor the Spirit. It makes no sense, especially since there is One God. Whenever we try to explain it, rather than accept it, we end up thinking there are three gods, or we end up thinking there is one god who puts on three different outfits. Both are wrong and don't reflect what scripture teaches.

It is no different than believing your sins are forgiven. Jesus did the work a couple of thousand years ago, but at that point in time, he endured all the eternity of the punishment of God for everyone's sins. We say, "ok." We believe You, even though I wasn't alive when Jesus died for our sins.

Thankfully, God gives faith and strengthens it. He paid for your sins and the faith He gave receives the forgiveness Jesus earned. Then, the Holy Spirit is the person of the Trinity who strengthens and preserves you and the whole Christian Church in heaven and on earth.

"Ok, it doesn't make sense, but, "I believe... Thank you Lord."

Blessings in Christ,

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Holy Spirit - Don't Brag about Having Gas

The Holy Spirit. The person of the Holy Trinity who is completely misunderstood. Let's simplify it.

Word + Water = Holy Spirit
Word + Bread and Wine = Holy Spirit
Going to Church = Holy Spirit
God's Word in study = Holy Spirit
There is nothing more to it.

The Spirit's Work is the Trinity's Work

Why is He so terribly misunderstood? 

Because we try to separate Him from the work of the Trinity. There is so much bad information out there. The new age movement took advantage of the Holy Spirit as if the Spirit's work isn't the work of the Holy Trinity. 

Two examples of this are Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyers. These two popular television preachers reject the work of Christ in Baptism and the Lord's Supper, exactly where the work of the Spirit takes place. They try to build their followers around the Holy Spirit instead of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. They believe the Spirit works outside of God's means of grace. It is why Joyce is a former member of OSL. She simply doesn't believe Jesus' words, Given and shed for you, nor baptism for the forgiveness of sins - the two things you can't do on television within the community of saints.

The Spirit Gives You Gas, But You Don't Brag about Having Gas

When the Spirit becomes the focus of the work of the Trinity, then Satan has done his job. The work of the Spirit is completely behind the scenes. He is the gas that powers the engine of condemning sin and forgiving it. The focus of the work of the Spirit is Jesus' life, death, and resurrection in exchange for ours. In other words, His work is like the gas engine of your car. If you smell gas, there is something wrong. The engine is God's Word, not the Holy Spirit.
On the other hand, we confess the work of the Spirit as the gasoline that drives the power of the Word of God. Lutherans never judge the work the Spirit is doing because we don't pretend to know when and where He does His work outside of the bible and the sacramental life. True, the Spirit gives you gas, but you don't brag about having gas. 

He empowers you and drives you to the humility of a penitent heart. He brings the very forgiveness
you need in the Word. The Spirit powers the engine that runs the church. That is what the Spirit does when He "moves you." He moves you to be one with Christ in the Lord's Supper to receive forgiveness. He moves you to get to the place where the body of Christ dwells - only in church, because that is where the sacraments of Jesu dwell. 

99.9% of the Spirit's Work is Unknown

The Spirit powers your life to follow God's will and do the right thing as God revealed it in His law. Of course, this means that 99.9% of your life and the work of the Spirit is unknown - except that we know 100% that the Spirit is at work in the word of God alone and any other place is none of our businesss. (1 Corinthians 12:28)

Blessings in Christ,

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Hey you! See Our Savior Christian Acadamy on TV

Channel 5 news showed up on Wednesday to film Our Savior's students for the “5 is 1” salute that they broadcast on their station. What a blessing it is to have a church that is so focused on children and their families.

We have a great group of parents that are working so hard to get the word out about our wonderful school. Thanks so much to them.

Last night (Wednesday April 2) featured our  kindergarteners Channel 5 News and it is so cute. Here is the video that was on last night. If the video below doesn't work for you, click here.

The 4th and 5th graders will be shown on Channel 5 tonight (Thursday April 3).

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Really Seeing Other People - Empathy

This video is a powerful insight to the lives of people sitting around you in the pews at church, walking by in the mall, and your neighbor across the street. It is Christ who can empathize with our pain, our suffering, our hurts and our sin.

Although the video is for Cleveland Clinic, it is something that most people learn about only too soon. Sitting next to you or walking by you is the cancer survivor, the lonely widow, the broken-hearted, the single mother, the depressed... the answer is in the mercy of God. Christ knows it all, suffered it all. He knows your individual story of sorrow and pain. It all begins in His suffering, pain, and forgiveness.

He gives you strength. The strength He gives you, you give to others in the same forgiveness and strength He gave you.

God's Comforting Words
God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Cor. 1:9)
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  (Romans 5:1-4)
A Prayer
This bread is our Lord Jesus Christ who feeds and comforts the soul [John 6:51]. Therefore, O heavenly Father, grant grace that the life, words, deeds, and suffering of Christ be preached, made known, and preserved for us and all the world. Help that we may find in his words and deeds an effective example and mirror of all virtues for every phase of life. Help that we may be strengthened and comforted in suffering and adversity in and through his suffering and cross. Help us through his death to overcome our own death with a firm faith and thus boldly follow our beloved Guide into the life beyond this one. (Luther's Works, v. 43, p. 34-35)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Luther Quote - Comfort in Word and Spirit

“The Lord is on my side; that is, my cry has been heard. Although troubles still continue, I now have a
mighty, strong, powerful Defender, who is with me and supports me.

This makes it pleasant and easy to bear my yoke (Matt. 11:30). Who is this? It is the Lord Himself upon whom I called. In my sore distress He came to me through His eternal Word and Spirit. I scarcely know that I have been troubled.” We must not, as the sectarians do, imagine that God comforts us immediately, without His Word. Comfort does not come to us without the Word, which the Holy Spirit effectively calls to mind and enkindles in our hearts, even though it has not been heard for ten years. (LW 14, p. 62)

Monday, February 24, 2014

What is the Transfiguration Really All About?

Ephrem the Syrian (born 306),  a Syrian writer of commentaries and devotional hymns which are sometimes regarded as the greatest specimens of Christian poetry prior to Dante, wrote this stanza about the Transfiguration:

The Lord who is beyond measure
measures out nourishment to all,
adapting to our eyes the sight of himself,
to our hearing his voice,
His blessing to our appetite,

His wisdom to our tongue.     Hymns on Paradise 9.27.
There was only one brilliant moment in the life of Jesus, and that was on the Mount of Transfiguration; then He emptied Himself the second time of His glory, and came down into the demon-possessed valley. For thirty-three years Jesus laid out His life to do the will of His Father, and, John says, “we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” It is contrary to human nature to do it.
The comment above is from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. It is interesting that this is the only time that Christ was revealed in His eternal glory during His life prior to crucifixion.

Why is Transfiguration so important in the Christian Church that it has its own day on the Church calendar?

Somewhat reminiscent of Elijah's departure into heaven (2 Kings 2:1-12), Christ appears with Moses and Elijah in a heavenly "state" fulfilling Moses' request of Ex. 33:18.

From the Concordia Self Study Bible: 
Moses is the representative of the old covenant and the promise of salvation, which was soon to be fulfilled in the death of Jesus. Elijah is the appointed restorer of all things (Mal 4:5–6; Mk 9:11–13). The disciples here witness the confirmation of Jesus’ claim (5:17) that he fulfills the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah). Lk 9:31 says that they talked about Christ’s death.
The Transfiguration of Jesus is the sight of Jesus in His divinity. Everything else in His earthly life is witnessed through His humanity until His resurrection. It becomes a message of how Jesus, the true God can encompass the past, the present, and the future in a moment, in a flash, because He is God. The Transfiguration reveals His glory, wherein the remainder of His life reveals His humiliation and the cross of suffering.

The comfort of the Transfiguration is His return to the cross of His human life in this sinful world. He followed through with His word and promises to redeem us from sin, to suffer hell, and then proclaim His victory. The Transfiguration is not His victory, rather it was a revelation of the unity of all of history, the Old and the New Testament, the Apostles and Prophets before God, upon whom the Church stands.

Our Transfiguration began in our baptism and continues in the miracle of the resurrected victory feast at the church's altar. Our hope is in the forgiveness He earned in the total sacrifice of His entire life for our sin and not in the moment of glory in the Transfiguration. His presence in the sacramental life is better than the one time experience of the Transfiguration.

As those in the Transfiguration pictures teach us, while we are on this sinful earth, we can only humble ourselves in reverence to His presence. This is why we kneel at the Lord's Supper when possible.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Luther Quote - Jesus the Strongman

From Luther's Works vol. 51

Such works are nothing whatever and must be completely destroyed. Mark these words: none of our works have any power whatsoever. For God has chosen a man, the Lord Christ Jesus, to crush death, destroy sin, and shatter hell, since there was no one before he came who did not inevitably belong to the devil. The devil therefore thought he would get a hold upon the Lord when he hung
between two thieves and was suffering the most contemptible and disgraceful of deaths, which was cursed both by God and by men [cf. Deut. 21:23; Gal. 3:13]. But the Godhead was so strong that death, sin, and even hell were destroyed.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Pr. Sell on the Radio - KFUO 850am

850 AM
The Lord blessed the The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod with a dynamic radio station. It is KFUO 850 AM.

Recently, their program manager, Craig Donofrio, asked me to participate in a couple of radio shows. The first was last Saturday at 11 a.m and the second one was today (Presidents Day) a 11 a.m.

Rev. Craig Donofrio, KFUO

If you are interested, listen to them by clicking on the links below.

   with host Andy Bates

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

AHA! Eureka! In the Presence of God, An Epiphany

Archimedes'Eureka!” moment when he

realized the principle of buoyancy

while bathing.


We are wrapping up Epiphany at OSL and Lent is on the horizon. Epiphany is all about the revelation that Jesus is God.

Epiphany means to be in the presence of a revelation or a manifestation; suddenly to realize the truth about something. In the church, it is confessing the truth that the Babe of Bethlehem is the Son of God.

Eureka! That moment when it all comes together - the light goes on - the slap on the forehead - duh! Our Epiphany season is the eureka moment that reveals that the little boy in Mary's womb was God.

However, eureka moments are the result of long thought provoking discussions, or the protracted study of a difficult topic, or for the Christian Church, it is the long awaited proclamation that the Law and Prophets were right. Their prophecies came true. The eureka moment is the revelation that Mary's infant was the Messiah, but it was a long time coming.

It is a fallacy that great discoveries in science suddenly are revealed; or that a great athlete is naturally destined to become a champion free-throw shooter; or that suddenly God's Word makes sense. Instead, the life of a Christian, just like the Epiphany season is a life that plods on, struggling with daily troubles, and desiring forgiveness from those around us. It is a life of epiphanies over and over again.

Sometimes it is an epiphany to people that the church on earth still struggles with sin and corruption and that forgiveness is the only way forward.

Sometimes it's an epiphany to grasp the miracle of baptism that God saves through water and His Word.

Sometimes it's an epiphany to realize that even OSL is Christ's church and that forgiveness and mercy will sustain us, not money or how many people are in the pews.

These are epiphanies that we go through over and over again as Christ's Church on earth. We are holy and perfect by the work of Christ, not because we work so hard.

The point of Epiphany is to show and proclaim from God's Holy Word that what the prophets proclaimed over thousands of years is true. God provided a Savior to deliver the world from sin. The Law of Moses was fulfilled and lived out perfectly by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That God provided both the priest who became the sacrifice in Jesus Christ as well as the victor over sin, death and the devil. The Holy Christian Church at 1500 San Simeon way will march on because the victory is in Christ.

It's an Epiphany!