Thursday, October 11, 2018

Update from Good Shepherd (October 11, 2018)

NOTE: This is usually sent as an email blast to members and friends of Good Shepherd.  Recently, this email blast has refused to send, so it has been relegated to my blog.


Greetings!

REGULAR SCHEDULE
Our Divine Services are on Sundays at 10:00 AM. Thursday services at 3:30 PM are also offered, but call or text to confirm you are coming (248-719-5218).  If no one calls to confirm their attendance, he may not be at the church.  NOTE: There is no Thursday service today (Oct 11).

SUNDAY SCHOOL & ADULT BIBLE CLASS
Our Sunday School & Adult Bible Class meet at 8:45 AM.

JESUS CARES MINISTRIES
IT IS A “GO!”  Good Shepherd will be offering worship services and a Sunday School class for people with developmental disabilities.  It is designed to serve people with the Gospel who are mostly neglected in our area.  We also have an official date and time.  This service will be offered on the 2nd Tuesday of the month at 6:30 PM.  Our start date will be Tuesday, December 11 at 6:30 PM.  Subsequent dates will be January 8 and February 12.
In order to assure that we are prepare for our first Jesus Cares Ministries service, we will have a organizational/dry-run meeting on Tuesday, November 13 at 6:30 PM.  If you are interested or simply would like more information, please join us.  If you are interested but will be unavailable for the meeting, please speak to Pastor Schroeder
Finally, in order for this ministry to truly be of service to those who need it, we need to publicize this.  If you know of anyone with developmental disabilities (e.g., Down Syndrome, Autism, et al.), please inform them of our Jesus Cares Ministries efforts.  Word of mouth is usually best received, but you can help us get the word out in other ways, too.  Once again—we begin on Tuesday, December 11 at 6:30 PM.
You can find out more about Jesus Cares Ministries at: http://www.tlha.org/jesus-cares-ministries .

SUNDAY NIGHT BIBLE SERIES
        A new series for our Sunday Night Bible Series will begin THIS SUNDAY, October 14.  The next series is entitled, “Eating God's Sacrifice.”  “Eating God's Sacrifice” explores the Lord's Supper portrayal in the Old Testament sacrifices.  While the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper flows from the Passover, its roots and forgiveness come from all the Old Testament sacrifices.  After viewing each DVD segment, Pastor Purdue and Pastor Schroeder will lead a discussion about the material which is in the DVD.  All sessions will begin at 6:00 PM.  These are intended to be interactive discussions as well as informational.  Desserts and snacks will be served.  All are welcome.

COLLEGIATE CARE PACKAGES
        Good Shepherd has a number of members who are attending college, many of whom live away from home.  We want to assure them that they are still an important part of this congregation and that we have not forgotten them while they are away.  In order to show our support, we are putting together Collegiate Care Packages which will be delivered to all our college students.
        If you are able to give a few moments of your time after church this Sunday (October 14), Georgene Kinsman will direct you with the preparation for these packages which will be delivered shortly thereafter.

TRUNK OR TREAT
On Saturday, October 20, Good Shepherd will be hosting a community event—Trunk or Treat—from 10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon.  We will welcome our community to join us to visit our decorated cars for candy and treats.  In addition, we will be serving cider and donuts and have lawn games for people to play.  (Pray for good weather.) 
In order to make this even worth while for our community to come to, we will need at least ten cars which will be decorated and hosted by our members.  We will also need to coordinate to assure there is variety in the decoration themes.  (We probably don't need eight Detroit Tigers themed cars.)
While this is an effort to make ourselves more acquainted with our community, and vice versa, it will also be a good time for our own members to join together for an enjoyable Fall morning. 

LITURGY SUNDAY  – OCTOBER 21
Why do Lutherans worship the way they do?  What does each part of the liturgy mean?  Where did those songs come from?  And what's with all the standing and sitting?
While we all may be accustomed to the Lutheran liturgy, we may not appreciate or even be aware of the rationale behind each part of it.  In order to foster a greater appreciation for the Lutheran liturgy, we will observe a Liturgy Sunday on October 21.  An elder will introduce each portion of the service and explain its background, followed by the pastor and congregation conducting each respective portion of the service.
If you have ever wondered about this, or if you have a friend who might be curious about why we worship the way we do, join us for Liturgy Sunday on October 21.  The pastor is always available to explain further any questions you have about or Divine Service as well.


CHORAL FEST AT HVL
On the weekend of November 9-11, Huron Valley Lutheran High School will be hosting Choral Fest.  It is a gathering of choirs from area Lutheran high schools around the country resulting in a choir of perhaps 200 voices, joining to unite their voices in praise to God.  There will be two concerts given by these choirs.  On Friday, November 9 at 7:00 PM, each high school's swing choir will perform for a Pops Concert.  On Sunday, November 11, there will be a mass choir presenting a sacred concert at 2:00 PM.

CHORAL FEST HOST FAMILIES NEEDED
In order to accommodate all the choirs who will be coming to HVL, associate congregations will need families to host the teens from these choirs.  Families who are willing will be asked to host at least two choir members (you can request more if you have the room) from Thursday night (November 8) through Sunday morning (November 11).  They will mainly need lodging and transportation to and from HVL.  (Some car-pooling to and from Good Shepherd may be arranged.)  Good Shepherd will be hosting Manitowoc Lutheran High School who is coming with 24 people.
As a “thank you” for hosting, it is customary for the choir whom Good Shepherd hosts to sing for our service on the Sunday morning of Choral Fest.
If you are willing to host some choir members or have questions, you may speak to Dan & Mary LeFevre.


PICTORIAL DIRECTORY
If you were not able to get your photograph included for our upcoming pictorial directory, please speak with Dan Rauchholz about how your photo can still be included.  But please note: Time is running short to be included!

DO YOU LIKE US?
Look for Good Shepherd on Facebook.  Then “LIKE” us for updates and other postings.

God bless you.

In Christ,
Pastor Schroeder


==============================

DIVINE SERVICES
     Sundays at 10:00 AM

SUNDAY SCHOOL
     Sundays at 8:45 AM

ADULT BIBLE CLASS
     Sundays at 8:45 AM

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE
www.GoodShepherdNovi.org

PASTOR SCHROEDER’S BLOG
www.LutheranSubject.blogspot.com


Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church
41415 W. Nine Mile Road
Novi, Michigan  48375-4306
+   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +
Divine Services -- Sundays at 10:00 AM
www.GoodShepherdNovi.org

Monday, October 8, 2018

Sermon -- Chapel at Huron Valley Lutheran High School (October 8, 2018)

This sermon was preached for the chapel service at Huron Valley Lutheran High School in Westland, Michigan.

JOHN 5:28-29

FIX OUR EYES ON JESUS:
We See Jesus As Our Judge.

In the name + of Jesus.

     One of the three ecumenical creeds of the Christian Church is the Athanasian Creed.  It is not well-known, and if your church does confess it in a Divine Service, it is likely only once a year on Trinity Sunday.  What bothers most Lutherans about the Athanasian Creed is probably not its length, but these two lines: “At his coming all people will rise with their own bodies to answer for their personal deeds.  Those who have done good will enter eternal life, but those who have done evil will go into eternal fire.”   
     The Athanasian Creed does not confess some strange teaching that made it in there by accident.  It confesses exactly what Jesus said in our reading from John's gospel: Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:28-29)  
     Now, you have been taught the Gospel, and so your confession and your confidence is that you will rise on the Last Day to receive eternal life.  But both the Athanasian Creed and Jesus' words throw all of that into doubt.  Our doubts arise because we take the words of our Lord seriously.  Those who rise to receive eternal life have done what is good.  And those who rise from the dead to receive a judgment of damnation will be damned because they have done evil.  This is what the Scriptures plainly teach. 
     But where do we find ourselves in those verses?  We would like to think that we are good people who have done what is right.  But then we also confess Sunday after Sunday: “I have done what is evil and failed to do what is good.”  And I hope you recognize that such a confession is true.  Because if you say the words but believe in your heart, “No, that's not true.  I am good.  I cannot be faulted for evil,” then the absolution has no value for you at all.  You can't be forgiven if there is nothing to forgive.
     Of course, we all want to go to heaven rather than hell, so it is not hard to figure out why we want to be included among those who have done what is good.  This is one of the reasons people want to have eulogies proclaimed at their funerals.  Eulogy literally means, “Good word,” and people want good words said about themselves both while they are alive and especially after they've died.  They want to believe they are good.  They like the idea of friends telling them how good they are and what good they've done and how much they mean to other people.
     Now, this should not come as a shock to you: Your friends like you.  Your family likes you.  They think you are a good person, and they like to tell you so.  And that is good.  Friends and family should think fondly of you.  However, your judgment is not based on the opinion you have of yourself.  Nor is your judgment based on the opinion that others may have of you.  Your friends' fondness for you cannot save you, but then also your enemies' hatred of you cannot damn you.
     The only judgment that matters is the Judge who actually issues the sentence upon us.  Therefore, we fix our eyes on Jesus whom we see as our judge.  He will come again to judge the living and the dead.  And “an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:28-29) 
     So, where do you stand?  You stand where the judge puts you.  No opinion of man matters—whether good or bad.  Not even your opinion of yourself matters—whether you think you are pretty good, or whether you feel worthless or useless.  None of that matters.  These do not define you, so do not trust in them.  The only word that matters is the word of Jesus Christ; for he is your judge. 
     Fix your eyes on Jesus, whom you see as your judge.  Good news!  Your judge is on your side.  Better than that, your judge has already rendered your verdict to you.  Listen, this is what the Lord says: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)  Those who have done evil will be damned.  But God made Jesus to be sin for us.  Every evil you have done, every word that carelessly flew out of your mouth, every jealous or unkind though which has harbored in your heart—all of this was put upon Jesus who was damned in your place.  Your condemnation has already been received.  The judgment is in: Jesus has suffered and died for you.
     Fix your eyes on Jesus, whom you see as your judge.  Good news!  Your judge is on your side.  Better than that, your judge has already rendered your verdict to you.  Listen, this is what the Lord says: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)  Only those who have done what is good will rise to have eternal life.  And in Christ, you have become the righteousness of God.  You, who are baptized into Christ, are clothed with Christ.  The perfect obedience of Jesus is wrapped around you; therefore, all the good that needs to be done has been done for and has been credited to you.  There is no other eulogy which matters.  Jesus, who is your judge, proclaims this good word to you and puts that good word upon you.
     Fix your eyes on Jesus, whom you see as your judge.  Good news!  Your judge is on your side.  Better than that, your judge has already rendered your verdict to you.  You are justified in Christ.  You are not guilty of sin.  You are redeemed and righteous; for you are washed, cleansed, and purified in the blood of Christ.  He who has conquered death for you will raise you up for the judgment.  And his verdict is as good as his word.  You are the beloved of God.  You are children of the resurrection.  And you are heirs of eternal life.  We do marvel at this, just as we are saved and comforted by it.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Sermon -- 20th Sunday after Pentecost (October 7, 2018)

MARK 10:2-16

BLESSING COMES ONLY THROUGH HEEDING GOD'S WORD.

In the name + of Jesus.

     The Pharisees came to Jesus, hoping to ensnare him with this question: “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” (Mark 10:2)  If Jesus said, “yes,” they would have condemned him for failing to uphold the 6th Commandment.  But if Jesus had said, “no,” they would have quoted Moses to him, charging him with rejecting the word of God.  Knowing that they were not genuine in their questioning, Jesus threw it right back at them.  “What did Moses command you?”  They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” (Mark 10:3-4)  
     They were not wrong, but they were not right, either.  Moses' instructions about a certificate of divorce had to do with an orderly way for society to recognize when a divorce had officially been finalized.  It did not mean that God encouraged the divorce, or even that he was pleased with it.  God had also directed Israel how to deal with murderers, but that did not mean God tolerated murder.  The Pharisees were looking for an out from their marriages.  God had honored and blessed their marriage vows.  To renounce those vows was also to cast off God's blessing.  But the Pharisees wanted to justify their divorces.  Therefore, they were more interested in what they wanted God's word to be instead of what God actually said.  Blessing comes only through heeding God's word, not from finding ways to circumvent it.  It has not changed.
     Marriage has taken quite a beating in American society.  People love weddings; marriage is not held in high regard.  Marriage has been redefined.  If you ask someone what marriage is, it may simply be defined as two people who love each other.  It isn't necessarily wrong, but it isn't necessarily right, either.  Teenagers will say how they love each other, but we would not say they are ready for marriage.  Couples who live together will say they love each other, but they will cringe at the idea of getting married.  By doing so, they acknowledge that they are not committed to each other.  People who do insist that they are committed to one another find that their commitment is not so binding when life gets hard.  Some people dismiss marriage as nothing but a piece of paper, which insults everyone who has been faithfully married.  Money is just a piece of paper too, but people crave it and work hard to get more and more of it.  If only marriage saw that much effort and commitment!
     When the Pharisees brought up marriage, they alluded to Moses, but they quoted the wrong verses.  Jesus did not speak about good reasons for divorce; he spoke of the blessing of marriage.  Jesus replied: “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.  But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’  ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:5-9)
     Jesus turned their attention to what God actually said about marriage and what God intends marriage to be.  Blessing comes only through heeding God's word.  God had said so, and so it is true.  God declares that a man leaves the home of his parents to establish a new home.  He takes to himself a wife, and he gives himself completely to her.  He gives her his name, his possessions, his provision, his protection, and whatever else is good for her.  He devotes himself to her for her good.  She is joined to him for his good.  Together they are one flesh, one household, and one body.  This is not merely a contract between adults that can be rendered null and void when better offers come along.  It is a union established and blessed by God.  Blessing comes only through heeding God's word.  To renounce the union is to renounce the blessing. 
     Though marriage is a blessing, it is not without struggles.  Both husband and wife are sinners.  Each will sin against the other, and each act of selfishness, laziness, or coveting for something better both wounds the marriage and harms one's spouse.  No one has kept himself pure in regard to the 6th Commandment—whether single, married, or divorced.  Sins against this Commandment have left people damaged, disillusioned, and disappointed; and they have resulted in broken hearts and broken homes.  But if we, like the Pharisees, try to find excuses for our sins, it will not take away the pain or the guilt.  Excuses are not obedience.  Excuses do not love or serve our God or our neighbor.  Excuses are a rejection of God's word, as if to say, “Just because God said so does not make it so for me.”  Repent.  There are no blessings given through excuses.  Blessing comes only through heeding God's word. 
     When God gives his blessing, it is not mere words.  His words are backed up by actions.  The Lord Jesus loves sinners.  He does not concern himself with whose sins caused the most damage, whose lives are the most messed up, or whether you are married, single, or divorced.  Jesus has come to serve all sinners by making himself the atoning sacrifice for all.  He did not stray from the path of the cross when it got hard, but he faithfully endured all things, even the wrath of God, to the end.  God had sent him to receive the curse for sinners, and so he did.  He made no excuses while he suffered for ours.  Rather than try to get out of this punishment, Jesus gave himself into it.  His innocence atones for our guilt.  Therefore, you are pardoned for all your transgressions.  It is not true because you believe it should be true.  It is so because God said so.  And God attached his “I said so” to the waters of baptism which have marked you as children of God, and to the holy meal by which Jesus gives you the body and blood which have atoned for your sins and have overcome death.  This is where you are assured of forgiveness—because God said so.  He put his word on it, and blessing comes only through heeding God's word.
     God established marriage to be a blessing for people.  And it is through the married couple that God intends to bring children into the world.  It is no accident that St. Mark records children being brought to Jesus right after he had discussed God's institution of marriage.  The husband and wife who are united to serve each other and bless each other also serve together to care for the children God gives.  This design of God is best for all.  And though it is true that single mothers are common in our day and age, all you have to do is hear a single mother tell you about the burdens she bears to recognize that a godly father will not look for an out, but for the best way to serve his family.  For this is what God has given him to do in giving him a wife and children.  Heeding that word is a blessing for his family and for himself.
     When the children were brought to Jesus, he was pleased.  For, he has come to be their Savior, too.  And the only way children will learn of Jesus as their Savior is if they are brought to him and his Church.  Parents serve their children best by doing this.  And if parents want to see their children in heaven, they will make sure they do this.  This is what our Lord desires so that he can bless and save them.  This comes only by heeding God's word.  Therefore, he declares to us all, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Mark 10:15)  
     When parents are raising children, they lay down rules in their house and teach their children what is good and bad.  They will enforce these rules by saying, “Because I said so.”  Even if the child does not like the rule, he will accept that his parents have authority over him and that their word stands.  This is how we receive God's word, too.  The Pharisees sought a way around it.  But we simply hear it, believe it, and order our lives according to it.  Through obedience to these Commandments, God blesses us and spares us of many griefs.  God gave us his Commandments to show us what a good and godly life is to be.  If God's word shows us that we have not been good, then we admit it, confess it, and repent of it.  For, there are no blessings to be found in excuses, only in heeding God's word.
     Our Lord has given us his word for our good.  They show us what a good life is supposed to be.  More importantly, they show us that God is good, and that his goodness is revealed in Jesus who has saved us.  Jesus supplies us with his good and has swept away all our bad.  He assures you that you are children in God's kingdom.  He has said so.  And by heeding that word of promise, you are blessed forevermore.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Update from Good Shepherd (October 4, 2018)

NOTE: This is usually sent as an email blast to members and friends of Good Shepherd.  Recently, this email blast has refused to send, so it has been relegated to my blog.

Greetings!

REGULAR SCHEDULE
Our Divine Services are on Sundays at 10:00 AM.
Thursday services at 3:30 PM are also offered, but call or text to confirm you are coming (248-719-5218).  If no one calls to confirm their attendance, he may not be at the church.

SUNDAY SCHOOL & ADULT BIBLE CLASS
Our Sunday School & Adult Bible Class meet at 8:45 AM.


JESUS CARES MINISTRIES
       Good Shepherd is hoping to offer worship services and a Sunday School class for those who are mentally disabled.  It is designed to serve a group of people who are mostly neglected in our area with the Gospel.  If  we decide to go forward and offer this service to our community, our target start up would be either November or December. 
       In order to be prepared for these services, we will have a Jesus Cares Ministries follow up meeting on Wednesday, October 10 at 7:00 PM.  If you are interested but will be unavailable for the meeting, please speak to Pastor Schroeder.  At this follow up meeting, we will focus on two things:
1) We need to determine the date and time we will be available for the Jesus Cares services.  We need our members to be present for this once a month service in order to sit with, befriend, and assist any people who attend.  Of course, we have no idea right now how many that would be. 
2)  Pastor Gaertner will offer training for volunteers who will attend and assist at these services.
       Finally, in order for this ministry to truly be of service to those who need it, we need to publicize this.  If you know of anyone with mental disabilities (e.g., Down Syndrome, Autism, et al.), please inform them of our Jesus Cares Ministries efforts.  Word of mouth is usually best received, but you can help us get the word out in other ways, too.  We will publicize the date and time of these monthly services as soon as we are able. 
       You can find out more about Jesus Cares Ministries at: http://www.tlha.org/jesus-cares-ministries .

SUNDAY NIGHT BIBLE SERIES
        A new series for our Sunday Night Bible Series will begin on Sunday, October 14.  The next series is entitled, “Eating God's Sacrifice.”  “Eating God's Sacrifice” explores the Lord's Supper portrayal in the Old Testament sacrifices.  While the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper flows from the Passover, its roots and forgiveness come from all the Old Testament sacrifices.  After viewing each DVD segment, Pastor Purdue and Pastor Schroeder will lead a discussion about the material which is in the DVD.  All sessions will begin at 6:00 PM.  These are intended to be interactive discussions as well as informational.  Desserts and snacks will be served.  All are welcome.

CHORAL FEST AT HVL
On the weekend of November 9-11, Huron Valley Lutheran High School will be hosting Choral Fest.  It is a gathering of choirs from area Lutheran high schools around the country resulting in a choir of perhaps 200 voices, joining to unite their voices in praise to God.  There will be two concerts given by these choirs.  On Friday, November 9 at 7:00 PM, each high school's swing choir will perform for a Pops Concert.  On Sunday, November 11, there will be a mass choir presenting a sacred concert at 2:00 PM.

CHORAL FEST HOST FAMILIES NEEDED
In order to accommodate all the choirs who will be coming to HVL, associate congregations will need families to host the teens from these choirs.  Families who are willing will be asked to host at least two choir members (you can request more if you have the room) from Thursday night (October 8) through Sunday morning (October 11).  They will mainly need lodging and transportation to and from HVL.  (Some car-pooling to and from Good Shepherd may be arranged.)  Good Shepherd will be hosting Manitowoc Lutheran High School who is coming with 24 people.
As a “thank you” for hosting, it is customary for the choir whom Good Shepherd hosts to sing for our service on the Sunday morning of Choral Fest.
If you are willing to host some choir members or have questions, you may speak to Dan & Mary LeFevre.


TRUNK OR TREAT
On Saturday, October 20, Good Shepherd will be hosting a community event—Trunk or Treat—from 10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon.  We will welcome our community to join us to visit our decorated cars for candy and treats.  In addition, we will be serving cider and donuts and have lawn games for people to play.  (Pray for good weather.) 
In order to make this even worth while for our community to come to, we will need at least ten cars which will be decorated and hosted by our members.  We will also need to coordinate to assure there is variety in the decoration themes.  (We probably don't need eight Detroit Tigers themed cars.)
While this is an effort to make ourselves more acquainted with our community, and vice versa, it will also be a good time for our own members to join together for an enjoyable Fall morning.  To prep for Trunk or Treat, we will meet after church today, about 11:25 AM.  For more info, speak to Laura Schroeder.

LITURGY SUNDAY  – OCTOBER 21
Why do Lutherans worship the way they do?  What does each part of the liturgy mean?  Where did those songs come from?  And what's with all the standing and sitting?
While we all may be accustomed to the Lutheran liturgy, we may not appreciate or even be aware of the rationale behind each part of it.  In order to foster a greater appreciation for the Lutheran liturgy, we will observe a Liturgy Sunday on October 21.  An elder will introduce each portion of the service and explain its background, followed by the pastor and congregation conducting each respective portion of the service.
If you have ever wondered about this, or if you have a friend who might be curious about why we worship the way we do, join us for Liturgy Sunday on October 21.  The pastor is always available to explain further any questions you have about or Divine Service as well.

DO YOU LIKE US?
Look for Good Shepherd on Facebook.  Then “LIKE” us for updates and other postings.

God bless you.

In Christ,
Pastor Schroeder

==============================

DIVINE SERVICES
     Sundays at 10:00 AM

SUNDAY SCHOOL
     Sundays at 8:45 AM

ADULT BIBLE CLASS
     Sundays at 8:45 AM

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE
www.GoodShepherdNovi.org

PASTOR SCHROEDER’S BLOG
www.LutheranSubject.blogspot.com


Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church
41415 W. Nine Mile Road
Novi, Michigan  48375-4306
+   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +
Divine Services -- Sundays at 10:00 AM
www.GoodShepherdNovi.org

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Trunk or Treat

A big shout out to Mary Buccilli who has produced so many fantastic sandwich board signs!  

She has produced another great sign for our Trunk or Treat to be held on Saturday, October 20, 10:00 am - 12:00 Noon.

All are welcome.  More details to come later.  But another great sign is on display now.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Pastors' Conference at Emanuel-Redeemer Lutheran Church, Yale, MI

This is a little late, but I am trying to note all the congregations which host our Pastors' Conferences.

On Monday and Tuesday, September 24-25. the pastors of the Southeast Conference of the Michigan District met for a conference.  This time, it was hosted by Emanuel-Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church of Yale, Michigan.  (Full disclosure: I was only there on Monday.)

Here are some photos of Emanuel-Redeemer (presumably named for two congregations which merged):



Monday, October 1, 2018

A Pastoral Concern -- Holding firm to the Gospel and to love

I recently ran across an article about how the Chinese government is cracking down on Christian churches, Christian pastors, and Christians in general throughout China.  While there are official state-sanctioned Christian churches that the government does not harangue as much, they are often not faithful to God's word.  This leaves faithful Christian pastors with the conundrum of either having to put up with false teachings within the relative safety of a government sanctioned church, or having to risk government suppression while serving faithfully in an unrecognized, often secretive, church.  Many faithful Christian pastors have opted for the second choice in order to remain faithful to God's word.

However, persecution has now ramped up.  Churches have been closed or destroyed.  Christians have been arrested or fined or threatened or even jailed.

In response to this, 344 Christian pastors have signed a document at great personal risk.  The document, "A Declaration for the Sake of the Christian Faith,” makes a bold stand for the Gospel, as well as the desire of these Christians to be faithful, even to the point of death.  Among the comments: “For the sake of the Gospel, we are prepared to bear all losses—even the loss of our freedom and our lives.”

Perhaps the phrase that struck me as much as any other was summed up in the article I had read.  It states:

"Christian churches are ready to suffer, just as their ancestors did – The writers insist that when the church refuses to obey “evil laws,” it is not out of resentment, hostility or a political agenda, rather from “the demands of the gospel and from a love for Chinese society.”"

You can read the fuller article here: https://churchleaders.com/news/334122-chinese-church-300-underground-pastors-risk-livelihood-by-signing-statement.html

While calling the laws which forbid the preaching of the Gospel "evil," the Christians do not suggest any kind of counter attack against the government nor even any animosity.  They are Chinese people who love their country and its people.  They are perfectly willing to be obedient to their government, except for honoring a law which forbids them from preaching the Gospel.  That law, they will defy.  Not with violence or promoting violence, but remaining committed to loving God above all things and loving their fellow man as themselves.  Their standing firm in the faith is matched by their standing firm to love their fellow man.

Perhaps this struck me because Americans would most likely respond with much more venom to their government if a similar law were enforced.  We are very good at demanding our rights, organizing protests, and so forth.  We would insist upon our constitutional right to freedom of religion.  I wonder if we would be equally committed to declaring our love for our fellow man -- even if we would have to suffer loss for doing so.

I pray that we will never have to find this out by experience, but the history of the Christian Church suggests that things can change fairly quickly.  If the Lord chooses that we need to honor him by serving him as a persecuted church, I pray that our voice would not be one of simply demanding rights.  I pray that we would be as bold as these Chinese Christians to profess our unconditional allegiance to Jesus and his gospel, as well as our love for our enemies and our prayers for those who persecute us.

Meanwhile, pray for the Christians in China.  They need it.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Update from Good Shepherd (September 28, 2018)

NOTE: This is usually sent as an email blast to members and friends of Good Shepherd.  Recently, this email blast has refused to send, so it has been relegated to my blog.

Greetings!

REGULAR SCHEDULE
        Our Divine Services are on Sundays at 10:00 AM.  
        Thursday services at 3:30 PM are also offered, but call or text to confirm you are coming (248-719-5218).  If no one calls to confirm their attendance, he may not be at the church.   

SUNDAY SCHOOL & ADULT BIBLE CLASS
        Our Sunday School & Adult Bible Class meet at 8:45 AM. 

LADIES OF GOOD SHEPHERD MEET TOMORROW
Please plan to join us for Brunch, at Good Shepherd TOMORROW! (Saturday September 29) at 10 AM.  Meet new friends and re-acquaint yourselves with other Ladies; enjoy edible “thank you’s” for volunteer efforts; learn about opportunities at Church; enjoy one another’s company.    Those attending are encouraged to bring new or gently-used clothing to contribute to the Redford Pregnancy Care Center.  Needed are 2T – 4T sizes; larger size diapers (above size 3); baby lotion/wash/formula and baby food/cereal.

MISSION FESTIVAL--THIS SUNDAY!
THIS SUNDAY (September 30), Good Shepherd will be hosting a Mission Festival.  Often we think of missions to far off, exotic places.  However, we have mission fields right here in our own community!  Part of our community which we hope to serve with the Gospel are the developmentally handicapped people.  We hope to begin serving them with a once a month service, known as Jesus Cares Ministries.  When Good Shepherd begins this program (presumably in November or December, date and time still to be determined), we want our own members present to assist with each worshiper.
In order to know what would be involved in Jesus Cares Ministries, Pastor Joel Gaertner, who oversees this program, will demonstrate this service at our mission festival.  If you know of anyone with mental disabilities, please inform them of this mission festival and of Jesus Cares Ministries.  You can find out more about Jesus Cares Ministries at: http://www.tlha.org/jesus-cares-ministries .
Also, a potluck meal will be served after the service so that we can speak more with Pastor Gaertner and enjoy fellowship with one another.  You can RSVP and indicate what you will bring to our pot luck at this Sign Up Genius link: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/8050A4FA8AA2EA64-mission1

JESUS CARES FOLLOW UP MEETING
        Good Shepherd is entertaining the idea of offering worship services and a Sunday School class for those who are mentally disabled.  It is designed to serve a group of people who are mostly neglected in our area with the Gospel.  If  we decide to go forward and offer this service to our community, our target start up would be either November or December.  Specific time and date would need to be determined by our own members.
We would need our members to be present for this once a month service in order to set with, befriend, and assist any people who attend.  Of course, we have no idea how many that would be right now.  But in order to have our own people here, we need to know 1) who would be willing and able to come to this monthly service and 2) when you would be available to do so.
To determine these things, we will have a Jesus Cares Ministries follow up meeting on Sunday, October 7 after church (about 11:20 AM).  If you are interested or simply would like more information, please join us.  If you are interested but will be unavailable for the meeting, please speak to Pastor Schroeder

SUNDAY NIGHT BIBLE SERIES
A new series for our Sunday Night Bible Series will begin on Sunday, October 14.  The next series is entitled, “Eating God's Sacrifice.”  “Eating God's Sacrifice” explores the Lord's Supper portrayal in the Old Testament sacrifices.  While the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper flows from the Passover, its roots and forgiveness come from all the Old Testament sacrifices.  After viewing each DVD segment, Pastor Purdue and Pastor Schroeder will lead a discussion about the material which is in the DVD.  All sessions will begin at 6:00 PM.  These are intended to be interactive discussions as well as informational.  Desserts and snacks will be served.  All are welcome. 

CHORALFEST AT HVL
On the weekend of November 9-11, Huron Valley Lutheran High School will be hosting Choralfest.  It is a gathering of choirs from area Lutheran high schools around the country resulting in a choir of perhaps 200 voices, joining to unite their voices in praise to God.  There will be two concerts given by these choirs.  On Friday, November 9 at 7:00 PM, each high school's swing choir will perform for a Pops Concert.  On Sunday, November 11, there will be a mass choir presenting a sacred concert at 2:00 PM.

CHORALFEST HOST FAMILIES NEEDED
In order to accommodate all the choirs who will be coming to HVL, associate congregations will need families to host the teens from these choirs.  Families who are willing to host will be asked to host at least two choir members (you can request more if you have the room).  They will mainly need lodging and transportation to and from HVL.  (Some car-pooling from Good Shepherd may be arranged.)  Good Shepherd has been asked to host Manitowoc Lutheran High School's choir, which will be coming with a group of 24.
As a “thank you” for hosting, it is customary for the choir whom Good Shepherd hosts to sing for our service on the Sunday morning of Choralfest.
If you are willing to host some choir members or have questions, you may speak to Dan or Mary LeFevre.

TRUNK OR TREAT
On Saturday, October 20, Good Shepherd will be hosting a community event—Trunk or Treat—from 10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon.  We will welcome our community to join us to visit our decorated cars for candy and treats.  In addition, we will be serving cider and donuts and have lawn games for people to play.  (Pray for good weather.)  
In order to make this even worth while for our community to come to, we will need at least ten cars which will be decorated and hosted by our members.  We will also need to coordinate to assure there is variety in the decoration themes.  (We probably don't need eight Detroit Tigers themed cars.)
While this is an effort to make ourselves more acquainted with our community, and vice versa, it will also be a good time for our own members to join together for an enjoyable Fall morning.  For more information and to announce your intention to include your car for Trunk or Treat, speak to Laura Schroeder.

LITURGY SUNDAY  – OCTOBER 21
Why do Lutherans worship the way they do?  What does each part of the liturgy mean?  Where did those songs come from?  And what's with all the standing and sitting?
While we all may be accustomed to the Lutheran liturgy, we may not appreciate or even be aware of the rationale behind each part of it.  In order to foster a greater appreciation for the Lutheran liturgy, we will observe a Liturgy Sunday on October 21.  An elder will introduce each portion of the service and explain its background, followed by the pastor and congregation conducting each respective portion of the service.
If you have ever wondered about this, or if you have a friend who might be curious about why we worship the way we do, join us for Liturgy Sunday on October 21.  The pastor is always available to explain further any questions you have about or Divine Service as well.
 
DO YOU LIKE US?
Look for Good Shepherd on Facebook.  Then “LIKE” us for updates and other postings.
 
God bless you.
 
In Christ,
Pastor Schroeder

==============================
 
DIVINE SERVICES
     Sundays at 10:00 AM

SUNDAY SCHOOL
     Sundays at 8:45 AM

ADULT BIBLE CLASS
     Sundays at 8:45 AM

GOOD SHEPHERD’S WEBSITE
 
PASTOR SCHROEDER’S BLOG


Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church
41415 W. Nine Mile Road
Novi, Michigan  48375-4306
+   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +   +
Divine Services -- Sundays at 10:00 AM

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

For Your Amusement -- Jim Gaffigan on Fall

This is for those who are enamored with everything Fall -- though he failed to cash in on the rich amount of material he could have included with pumpkin spice.

Anyway, here's Jim Gaffigan.  Enjoy.


Mission Festival at Good Shepherd

On Sunday, September 30, Good Shepherd will be hosting a Mission Festival.  Often we think of missions to far off, exotic places.  However, we have mission fields right here in our own community!  Part of our community which we hope to serve with the Gospel are the developmentally handicapped people.  We hope to begin serving them with a once a month service, known as Jesus Cares Ministries.  When Good Shepherd begins this program (presumably in November or December, date and time still to be determined), we want our own members present to assist with each worshiper in a one-on-one relationship.  Sadly, we don't know right now how many that will be.  We may be blessed with many or with few.

        Pastor Joel Gaertner, who oversees this program, will be here at the Bible Class hour (8:45 AM) to present a few things about the Jesus Cares Ministries program, and will model the actual service in the first part of our Divine Service (10:00 AM).  If you know of anyone with mental disabilities, please inform them of this mission festival and of Jesus Cares Ministries.  You can find out more about Jesus Cares Ministries at: http://www.tlha.org/jesus-cares-ministries .

Also, a potluck meal will be served after the service so that we can speak more with Pastor Gaertner and enjoy fellowship with one another.  You can RSVP and indicate what you will bring to our pot luck at this Sign Up Genius link: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/8050A4FA8AA2EA64-mission1

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Sermon -- 18th Sunday after Pentecost (September 23, 2018)

MARK 9:30-37

GREATNESS DOES NOT SEEK PRAISE, BUT TO SERVE.

In the name + of Jesus.

     Jesus' disciples were arguing with one another about who was the greatest.  No doubt they each trotted out their resumes, boasting about what they had remembered from Jesus' teachings, what they had done in Jesus' name, and what accolades they had garnered from the people.  There may have been a practical side to this debate.  Jesus had just told them that he was going to be put to death, so they may also have been considering which of them was the front runner to be the replacement Rabbi over his fellow disciples.  They all made their case, each passionately stating why he should deserve the top spot and should have authority over the others.
     And they came to Capernaum.  And when (Jesus) was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?”  But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. (Mark 9:33-34)  Although the disciples were boastful about their importance amongst themselves, they were too ashamed to admit it when Jesus asked them about it.  I doubt that any of them actually stopped believing he was greater than his fellow disciples.  But it is like we are.  We harbor thoughts that we would hope no one ever learns about.  It is too shameful to say them out loud.  But even if we manage to keep such things to ourselves, it doesn't mean they don't count against us.  We can hide a lot from other people, but our hearts are open before the Lord.  The Lord knows everything lurks in our hearts and minds.  No one's shame has ever gone away by pretending it isn't there.  The solution is not to hide our sin and shame, but to confess and repent of them.  And as we do, we hold God to his promise: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)  
     Like the disciples, we all long for recognition for what we do.  We want to be praised for a job well done.  We appreciate awards, because they are an acknowledgment that we have excelled and other people know it too.  We measure ourselves against others to figure out if we are better.  And sometimes, like the disciples, we will argue about who does more, whose work really matters, and who is the greatest.  This is not just true in the school, on the athletic field, or at the workplace.  It is even true in our homes.  A husband or a wife will often convince themselves that each is doing more than his or her fair share around the house.  Sometimes they will even argue about it, each insisting that he or she is carrying the load in marriage.  But we usually exaggerate our efforts and dismiss what others do for one simple reason: We all want to believe that we are the greatest, that we do the most, and we do it better than others.  Repent.
     Jesus pokes a hole into our inflated egos and bursts our pride.  Greatness does not seek praise.  God does not measure greatness the way we do—by how impressive our works are or by how well known we are for them.  In fact, it is just the opposite.  Jesus said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”  And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” (Mark 9:35-37)  
     The reason Jesus illustrated his point by putting a child in front of his disciples is not because children are cute.  They are, but that's not the reason.  The point is that children, especially the younger they are, cannot do anything for themselves.  With infants and toddlers, everything must be done for them.  You have to prepare their meals for them and feed them.  You have to choose their clothing for them and dress them.  You have to clean them up when they fill their pants and change them.  And the children can do nothing in return for you.  I can't imagine a scene where a toddler would say, “Thanks for doing all this for me.  Now, let me do the dishes.  You go and relax.”  The parent does the work for the child without a paycheck, without fanfare, without gratitude, without recognition, and quite often without any sympathy. 
     And while this work is as close as we get to what Jesus says is great in the kingdom of God, we do it with reluctance or resignation.  Ask any exhausted parent how he or she feels when he or she is finally getting a break, only to hear an appeal from the other room: “I'm thirsty!”  It is not merely passing along information.  It isn't even a request.  It is a demand.  And when you hear it, you pull yourself up from your quiet chair and deliver a glass of water to the child.  It is rarely done with cheer.  We get bitter because it is all done without us getting any praise for it.  But greatness does not seek praise.
     We are not good at being the servant of all.  But thanks be to God—Jesus is!  Jesus' words about being the least of all and servant of all were not mere words.  Jesus did what he spoke of.  Greatness does not seek praise, but to serve.  Jesus had taught his disciples that the reason he came to earth was to be rejected by men, but then to suffer and die for them.  Jesus has come for you—not because you are cute or worthy, but because you are a sinner who needs God's mercy and forgiveness.  Whether you think you should be praised because you are so good or damned because you are so bad, Jesus came to save you from all sin and guilt.  He comes for sinners whose sins are well known and for sinners who try to hide their shameful thoughts and deeds.  Jesus did everything for you to save you because greatness does not seek praise, but to serve.  And he serves you.
     Jesus has taken from you all sin and shame, not because you are worthy, but because you need it.  He suffered the slander of hateful men, the injustice of a corrupt trial, the blows of crass soldiers, and the scoffing of priests and teachers.  He served you by hanging naked in shame from a cross, condemned by men who could not find him guilty and condemned by God for our guilt upon him.  He made himself least of all because he bore the sins of all.  And he did it all for you.  By Jesus' innocent death, you are pardoned for works you have done begrudgingly, for works which you regretted because you thought they deserved more praise, and for works you refused to do because you did not think it was worth it.  Jesus has cleansed you of all of it through his innocent blood.
     Greatness does not seek praise, but to serve.  And Jesus still serves you.  Even when you come back to confess that you did not serve your fellow man or when you acknowledge that your service depended upon the reward or recognition you should have gotten for it, Jesus serves you with his mercy and forgiveness.  It is still not because you are cute or worthy, but because he loves you, and because you need it.  Jesus serves you tirelessly, constantly, and willingly.  He does not regret going to the cross for people who will not repent, because his desire is always that all people would be saved by faith in him.  If they will not believe, Jesus will not make them go to heaven; but he will not let his lack of mercy be the reason.
     Greatness does not seek praise, but to serve.  And now he calls you his disciples—people who follow his word and follow in his steps.  He calls us to conform our lives to his, which includes serving our fellow man.  We devote our good works to our family, our friends, our coworkers, our acquaintances, and even to strangers and enemies.  We don't do good works looking for recognition or reward; for we are not in this for ourselves.  We seek the honor of our God, and we honor him by loving the people he puts in our lives.  We love and serve them because we can and because they need it.
     While we find joy in serving others, our great joy remains that our Lord Jesus is so eager to serve us.  He bestows blessing, mercy, forgiveness, encouragement, consolation, and peace.  He has done for us what we are helpless to do—win a place in God's kingdom and deliver us from sin, death, and the devil.  He is pleased to make us his own and he continues to serve us in order to preserve us as his own.  And while the Lord does not need our praise to make him glorious, we freely give him praise.  For, he is worthy, and it is good and right that we should at all times give him thanks and praise for his goodness to us.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Things that make me go HMMMMMMM,

The tracking mechanism which reports who comes to look at my blog--more specifically how many hits it gets and where they are from--lists the countries of the people who are checking in.  It is the top ten which get listed.  Recently, the top ten countries has included  "Unknown Region."

My theory is that the aliens have found me.  Or the FBI.

Either way -- GREETINGS!  I hope you find my entries worth while, wherever you are.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

For Your Amusement -- Cheeseburger

Apparently, today is National Cheeseburger Day.  Since there will sadly be no parade with the Cheeseburger princesses tossing cheeseburgers to an enthusiastic crowd, I will submit this song from Veggie Tales for your to celebrate the day.

Enjoy!


Sunday, September 16, 2018

Sermon -- 17th Sunday after Pentecost (September 16, 2018)

o wn is the Greek for, "He who is."
o xristos is the Greek for "The Christ."
MARK 8:27-35

THE ONLY GOOD CONFESSION SPEAKS THE THINGS OF GOD.

In the name + of Jesus.

     It has become quite popular among Christians in America to say that one church is the same as the next, which is to say that one confession is as good as another.  Now, this sounds open-minded and big-hearted, but it is based on a lie.  The lie is that confessions don't matter, or that doctrine doesn't matter. 
     If you ask people what they believe, you may get confessions such as, “I believe the Bible.”  It sounds right.  After all, the Bible is the word of God and the source of our faith and teaching.  Nevertheless, Christians do not all agree on what the Bible teaches.  That Christians can be so conflicted in doctrine gets quite confusing and frustrating for many people.  Rather than devote yourself to doing the work of studying the Bible and seeking what is truth and what distorts truth, it is easier just to brush it all off and say, “Eh, they're all the same.”  Which is to say, doctrine does not matter.
     Briefly consider this.  We Lutherans believe, teach, and confess that “baptism works the forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this.” (Luther's Small Catechism.  Holy Baptism, Part 2)  Most Protestant churches teach that baptism only symbolizes these things, but does not actually give them.  Can you really say that this is all the same?  The difference is being confident that you have God's promise of salvation given to you in baptism versus having to look somewhere else to find God's salvation applied to you.  If forgiveness of sins, the resurrection, and confidence of salvation matter to you, then this doctrine matters.  The only good confession speaks the things of God.
     Even a confession which sounds true may miss the mark.  Case in point: Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”  And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” (Mark 8:27-28)  The confession of the people was complimentary; but it was not close enough.  It was wrong.  Then Jesus directed his question to his disciples.  He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” (Mark 8:29)  Peter's answer was correct.  He had rightly identified and confessed that Jesus is the Lord's anointed.
     Once the disciples had made this confession, Jesus began to teach them what that meant.  Too many people expected that the Christ would be a king who would restore power, prominence, and prosperity to the nation of Israel.  If the people believed that Jesus was the Christ, they may well have started up a revolution against the Romans, expecting that Jesus would lead the charge and win the victory.  Even the disciples were influenced by this belief.  Therefore, Jesus had to teach them what it really meant that he is the Christ.  So, he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.  And he said this plainly.  And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan!  For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Mark 8:31-33)
     In one breath, Peter made a good confession: “You are the Christ.”  In the next breath, Peter showed that his confession was horribly wrong.  Peter rebuked Jesus because Jesus' teaching did not match Peter's expectations.  Peter's ideas of who the Christ is and what he does were a far cry from what God had said in his word.  If Jesus were to be rejected, suffer, and be killed, what would his kingdom be?  And if they did this to Jesus, his disciples would be next, wouldn't they?  Peter saw no glory to be gained and no benefit to be had in Jesus' suffering and death.  Even though Peter had used the right words, “You are the Christ,” his confession was wrong.  Peter sought the things of men—worldly popularity and glory.  The only good confession, however, speaks the things of God.
     Jesus, of course, had his mind firmly set on the things of God.  That meant he would suffer and die.  Jesus did not present the cross as optional.  He stated plainly, “It is necessary (Greek: dei) that the Son of Man endure these things.”  If Jesus wanted to win the approval of mankind and establish earthly glory, he could have done it.  He was already being praised for miraculous healing.  But the things of men are temporary at best.  Worldly glory and popularity do not last.  It has to be earned constantly.  If Jesus had in mind the things of men, we would not have a Savior and would die in our sins.    The things of God, however, bring eternal blessing.
     Therefore, Jesus demonstrated God's faithful love by redeeming sinners.  To bestow on you God's mercy, Jesus did not hide his face from disgrace and spitting.  To win you God's blessing, Jesus set his face like flint to go to the cross to bear your curse.  To give you deliverance from death, Jesus went to his grave.  To open heaven to you, Jesus rose from the dead.  He lives to tell you that your sins are forgiven.  Your eternal benefits come from Jesus' sufferings, death, and resurrection.  Jesus was anointed for this very purpose.  This is what it means that he is the Christ.  This alone is what takes away sins, delivers from death, and opens heaven to you.  Salvation comes only through the cross.  Life comes only through the blood of Christ.  These are the things of God, and the only good confession speaks the things of God. 
     Jesus not only had to teach the disciples what it means that he is the Christ, he also teaches what it means that we belong to Christ.  And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)  Peter had visions of glory for himself going through his head.  Jesus told him that he needed to deny himself what seemed to him to be so good.  It is the same for us.
     We are always convinced that we know what is best for us.  But our desires are always influenced by our sinful nature.  Peter's idea of what the Christ would be was the popular opinion, but it was wrong.  Peter sought worldly popularity and glory.  It seemed so obvious to him that these are good things.  It seems that way to us, too.  How do you know it is best for you?  Simple, because you like it.  That same kind of thinking leads us to sin.  Why do people get intoxicated?  Why do people gossip about others?  Because we like it.  We actually believe it is good to do these things because we believe we benefit from doing them.  And why do people twist God's word so that the world finds it more agreeable, more satisfying, and more open-minded?  Because we want the world to like us.  We change our confession to accommodate the world.  But when we change our confession, we speak with the devil's accent.  The Lord does not ask us to negotiate with the world; he calls us to confess his word and to deny our lust for worldly popularity and acceptance.
     The only good confession speaks the things of God.  To do this, we must deny ourselves.  We do not get to choose what we think is right.  We do not get to suggest that every confession is close enough or sweep them away by saying, “It's all the same thing.”  And we have no permission to dabble in sinful practices.  We are to deny ourselves these things because we know that they invoke God's wrath and bring deadly consequences. 
     We don't like to do these things because it is hard.  It is hard to deny our desires and our pleasures.  It is hard not to give our sinful flesh what it wants, because it makes us feel happy—at least for the moment.  This is the cross we have to bear—that we put our sinful desires to death, that we subject our will to God's will, and that we do the hard work of learning from the Scriptures what God says so that we will not be deceived by what sounds close enough or what sounds good to us.  For not every confession is the same, and only one confession leads to heaven—and that is through the cross.
     By keeping his mind focused on the things of God, Jesus has gained glory for you.  We confess these things to be true not because we want them to be, but because God has declared them to be so.  The only good confession speaks the things of God.  Therefore, we follow Jesus and commit all things to him.  It is his word that guides us in godly living.  It is his word that drives away doubts.  It is his word which is true.  And it is his word which guarantees that our sins are pardoned and Paradise is secure.  These are the things of God.  By faith in Jesus, they are now also yours.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.