Fwd: The Lutheran Hour: June 22, 2014

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From: Lutheran Hour Ministries
Date:06/21/2014 9:15 PM (GMT-06:00)
To: revklaus@hotmail.com
Subject: The Lutheran Hour: June 22, 2014

The Lutheran Hour with Rev.Gregory Seltz
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Sermon Text for June 22, 2014

"Dream Giver for Dream Receivers" #81-42

Presented on The Lutheran Hour on June 22, 2014
By Rev. Gregory Seltz, Lutheran Hour Speaker
(Do We Have to Work to Share the Gospel?)
Copyright 2014 Lutheran Hour Ministries

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Text: Romans 6:12-23

Christ is risen, He is risen indeed, and in Him we have eternal dreams to dream, eternal life to live, now and forever! Amen.

In 1998, Larry Page and Sergey Brin picked the number one followed by 100 zeroes while they were still graduate students at Stanford University. That number in mathematical terms is called a googol, and that became the name of their new enterprise. Today, Google operates the largest search engine in the world with Internet users performing hundreds of millions of searches a day. 

Jim Reese, chief operations engineer of Google, says this about Brin and Page: "It takes a lot of confidence and courage to go ahead and do that [i.e., to dream big, to be that big]. It's rare to find people who think on such a grand scale and are able to create a product at the same time." 

There are all kinds of books out there about "Dreaming Big Dreams!" If you hear people talk, they'll say, "Go to the right schools, get an education, believe in yourself, and dream big, get to work!" 

There's something wonderful about having a dream, isn't there? It gets you out of bed in the morning. It gives you a spring in your step. It gives you strength to deal with problems. It gives you hope for the moment and confidence to face the future. Things just seem better when you are chasing a dream, don't they?

There's a greeting card company that thinks so. In fact, their lead characters, "Hoops and YoYo," in many of their speaking cards and collectibles, seem to fill each and everyone with that kind of enthusiasm for the day. I just got one of their collectibles for my daughter and when you push the button, it shouts... "Dream BiiiGGGG!" You can hear their energetic way of talking, their infectious laughter, you almost can't help but start dreaming about what the day will bring.

Now, about dreaming big dreams, the Bible understands that, Jesus understands that. In fact, He created you for freedom, for love, for laughter, for joy, for life. He even wants you to dream about what God can do with your life, now and forever. God is in the "Dream Big Business."

But there's a problem. We're the ones who take God's eternal dreams for our life and salvation and turn it into nightmares. Paul says it this way, "The wages of sin is death!" It's not that God squelches dreams, that's our business. In fact, the universal trait for humanity is that our sin always gets in the way. No matter the effort, no matter the tenacity, no matter how much capacity we bring to the table all our biggest dreams last merely for a moment because our sin cuts us off from God who is the only Source for real life! 

Nightmares, not dreams, struggle and pain, not hope for life; it was like that for 19-year old, Daniel. Let's call him Daniel (since we shouldn't use his real name for reasons that will soon become clear.) One day, when he was speaking to the music director at the Lutheran mission in his neighborhood, he said from the heart, with frustration in his eyes, with no dreams for tomorrow, let alone today; he said "This is who I am. I was born this way and it's never going to change." 

He had plenty of reasons to justify the gang life that he'd been living. His family had been members of the Sureño gang in LA's Southside for generations. "My mom was a Sureña. My dad was a Sureño. My grandpa was a Sureño, my grandma was a Sureña..." Daniel, covered with the scars and gang-symbol tattoos which he had accumulated over the years. He served that lifestyle; he said, "I can't change who I am. I feel bad about what I've done in my life, but I can't change it. It's all I've ever known from the day I was born." 

Like so many young men and women trapped in lifestyles passed to them from their parents and neighbors, Daniel struggled to think that his life could ever be any different. Until now, he hadn't thought about his life as being, basically owned by the gangs; but ever since he had nearly died of a drug overdose, he was afraid. If there was an out, he wanted out. If he stayed where he was in life, it was just a matter of time he would die from drugs or be killed. He knew that if there was a hell, he deserved to go there because of who he was and all the things he had done. For a lot of years, he was okay with that, but something had changed. He wanted, he longed for something better. Dream big? That's crazy, right?

Who can dream when the dream of any kind of life seems so far away, so impossible? Paul, in this text, says it clearly, "the wages of sin is death." Sinful people, even when dreaming big dreams, wake up to its temporal reality at some point in time; death and its shadows of guilt, and sin, temptation, hopelessness, and pain. We can feel its reality, its shadows are everywhere. Sin does that! It saps us of our strength. It whispers hopeless thoughts in the midst of our efforts. It overwhelms us with guilt and the feeling of loss and loneliness. It exacts a price!

Life without God eventually comes to nothing. Do you need more proof?

Be honest, are you really in control of your life? If there is one thing that all people share, that's the reality that life is bigger than us, beyond our sinful grasp. Just when we thought we had it all under control something hits, something overwhelms.

It could just be the daily grind. After all, there's always something else clamoring for our attention, responsibilities piling one on top of another. "Life is so busy! When will the constant go, go, go, do, do do, come to an end?" If someone is in control of this mess of a life, it certainly doesn't seem to be me! How about you? So, for those of you who feel the weight of the wages of sin in your life, who know what happens when "1 followed by 100 zeros" is not the googol size of your dreams but the googol size of your debts, the size of our remorse, the size of our regret? What happens when you've got all that a googol size dream in this world can give you, and it's not enough? What then?

God's word of promise in Romans today is a promise for us all. To the Daniels in the world, to the overwhelmed in the world, to the crushed in the world, to the harried and harassed in the world, to you, to me, to all of us today, Paul proclaims that Jesus breaks the tyranny of our sinful life's fears, hopelessness, and life's grind with the assurance that He is in control of our destiny right now. Earthly, temporal success may be won for a time through cunning, obedience, and effort in this dog-eat-dog world, but real, abundant, eternal life is bigger than that, and it is a gift that only God Himself can provide.

So hear me clearly today my friend, to anyone listening, to those who have been weighed down by temptation, sin, rebellion, ineptitude, or grief, the daily grind of life that doesn't seem to get any better; God has the ultimate say in your life, believe it. Incredibly, even to those who can't make life happen, Paul makes us all an offer, in Christ, here's life! In fact, real life is looking for you, looking to bless you, looking to give you hope and a future. That's why Paul is pleading with us. Don't let sin reign in your body, don't let sin steal your hope and future, receive the life that God has for you, one He earned, one He delivers all the way to where you are right now! 

God's in the big dream creating business. He's in the big dream delivery business too. He does something incredible about our situation! And it's big. You know that "1 plus 100 zeros behind it" thing? Well, that's not really a big deal to Him. In John, chapter 1, it says that Jesus Himself was the Creator of the world! Wow! That's a Googol-sized statement to the 100-millionth degree. But, even more incredibly, the Bible says that He came from His heavenly throne to live under the law perfectly in our place, to take upon Himself the punishment for our sin, and to give us His life as a gift. And that's not wishful thinking or spiritual daydreaming; it's a God-sized fact in history. Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, all for you, so that you can begin to dream again of what life can be in God's grace! God sent His Son into the world, not to overpower it, not to demonstrate His genius, but to serve, to suffer it, to save it, to give us a life we could never dream of!

Listen again to this: "You are not under law," says Paul, "but under grace...for the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

What an incredible offer. But, even here as Paul proclaims the essence and the power of that grace life, there was some people who thought, "Well, if it's all about grace, then we can sin as much as we want, right?" What a question. If the wages of sin is death, if death is the great squasher of all humanities' dreams, why would anyone willingly wish to bring that debt back into their lives when real life has been offered to them in Christ Jesus alone? But people do.

So Paul simply says it so that we can all understand. God deals with us straight, sin's wage is death, but there is life for all on God's terms. So, in the world of "you can't do it, you won't make it, your life doesn't matter," He overcame hopelessness through the cross and delivered resurrection life so that you and I could dream big dreams in Him alone and that new view of life comes by faith alone to all who trust in Jesus. 

That's how it happened for Daniel! Daniel started hanging around the Lutheran church in his neighborhood, at first just to avoid the police that were occasionally parked near his house. But, the people, even though Daniel kind of stood out in the crowd, the people at the church hadn't chased him away. In fact, they invited him in to their Bible studies and worship services. Daniel, he pretended to be uninterested, but he secretly wondered if these old, weak Christian people had something he needed. Nobody knew it, he hid it well in those days, but he was looking for an escape from the only life he had ever known. He didn't want to escape into death, which some people consider when they're running from their fears, but he was seeking escape from death. The people at the church told him they weren't afraid of death because Jesus had taken away death's teeth and right now, while they lived, and someday even when they die, they belonged to Jesus.

Now Daniel knew the power of sin in his life, he knew its debilitating capacity, but more importantly, he came to know what life is like when you know that you are God's child in Jesus Christ; dreams become possible again!

God made a way through for Him. God had an eternal life for Him to live no matter what the struggles of the day-to-day issues of life. The great warrior-Savior Jesus who died for him, now gave him the strength to start living again in Him.

Will you, like Daniel, receive the dream of the redeemed today; the gift of eternal life that only comes as a gift from God the Dream Giver in Jesus Christ? Will you, by faith, let it transform your life starting today?

Today's the day for you in Christ, my friend. You can join in the dream in Christ. By faith in Him, you can be a part of the forgiven band of forgiven sinners who now live life for their Savior and for their neighbor. It has been called the fellowship of the unashamed. It's a community of grace, of people who can say Romans 1 boldly with the Apostle Paul that "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for everyone who believes." 

But that unashamed faith impacts all your life. I like the way an African preacher puts it. See if you can say it this way with him and with me. You ready? "In Jesus, I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The dye has been cast. The choice has been made, Jesus has claimed me...I am His, a disciple of Jesus Christ. So, I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. 

"I must go till He comes, give till I drop, proclaim till everyone knows, work till He stops me, and when He comes for His own, He will have no trouble recognizing me because my banner will have been clear." 

That's the spirit of this text today; because of Christ, because of the life He has given to you by grace through faith, the dream of the redeemed is yours, so dream on. 

As Paul says, "Don't let sin therefore reign in your mortal body. Don't present your members as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God...and your members to God as instruments for His righteousness...since you are not under law but under grace."

Let Christ's gift of life begin to change your focus, now that your destiny is sure in Him. That's, again, what God did for Daniel, that's what He can do for you. Today, Daniel is working hard in life. The new life is not always easy, but there is joy now, peace now, hope now! He no longer works for the gangs, though he still gets taunted by friends who watch him struggle to find honest employment. They watch him hold advertisement signs up for businesses at street corners for minimum wage, they drive past him honking and shouting. They remind him of his former life and the options for quick, easy money, but Daniel is quick to tell them, "That's not who I am any more. My daily work might be hard, even a little embarrassing at times, but, even here I belong to something much better now." 

So, my friend, dream big; dream big dreams, not in your power alone. That's ultimately a futile exercise. Today, God wants you not just to understand, but to see your life from His perspective, from His directive, from His work on your behalf and then, by faith, exercise your life of grace in Him for others! In Him, for Him, by Him dream big dreams! Don't be overcome with your temporary failures and struggles. Remember the One who called you to faith, He has already made all things possible! The wages of sin may be death, but Jesus overcame death to grant us His everlasting life as a gift. That's hope, that's forgiveness, that's life, a dream today God wants to come true for you.


LUTHERAN HOUR MAILBOX (Questions & Answers) for June 22, 2014
Topic: Do We Have to Work to Share the Gospel?

ANNOUNCER: Now, Pastor Gregory Seltz responds to questions from listeners. I'm Mark Eischer. Today a listener asks, "Once you said about witnessing that we should first work to 'earn the right' to share the Gospel with someone. By that, do you mean we should never just outright share the Gospel with a stranger? Do we have to always have some preparatory work first? Can't God work the other way?"

SELTZ: Mark, that's one of those questions that arises not from something I've said, but something I didn't say.

ANNOUNCER: Explain please. 

SELTZ: Our listener is right. I have said and written that as Christians we should work hard at building bridges with our friends and neighbors earning the right to share the Good News of Jesus in a personal, authentic way. Like Peter says in 1 Peter 3, we strive to witness with "gentleness and respect."

ANNOUNCER: Gentleness and respect sometimes take some effort on our part, don't they?

SELTZ: They sure do. And I think that when we work at showing gentleness and respect towards others, when we are neighborly, it helps our witness. But having said that, the effort of friendship, neighborliness, even lived out perfectly, that isn't the power of our witness. Such things can help lower an unbeliever's defenses a bit so they might give the Gospel a fair hearing or they can even help us get out of the way of the power of the Word working through our lives to others.

ANNOUNCER: In order to effectively share Christ, you're saying that it's always about the power that's in the Word of God itself, that's what affects the person it's not ultimately our ability or our methods. 

SELTZ: That's right, and it's not just me saying that, that's what the Bible says. The Bible is clear in Romans 10, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." So, in all of our witnessing, it is the power of God's Word, by the work of the Holy Spirit that people come to faith in Jesus.

ANNOUNCER: So effective sharing of the Gospel can happen as we take that time to cultivate a friendship or be a good neighbor to someone. 

SELTZ: Or, it could be a one-time event where we share God's Word with someone in need and they come to faith. So, it's not an either/or proposition, but a both/and one.

ANNOUNCER: All right. How do you know when to be bold and when to take the slow approach?

SELTZ: There is an art to this, I think. Let's just say it this way, "If you've got an opportunity to grow a friendship so that when you do share the good news of Christ for your friends, they also know that you love and you really care for them, do it. Embodying God's Word for others is a way for non-believers to not only hear the Word of God, but to see it lived out in someone's life. That's the power of the word of God at work in and through your life. So, give it all you've got! Enjoy your friendships!

ANNOUNCER: Right. How about the other times?

SELTZ: Well, we used to pass out tracts about the message of the Bible at certain places around our communities, at special times of year like Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving; or, our churches often did community service events around the neighborhood. If people asked us why we're doing it and we had an opportunity to share the Gospel of grace in Christ, we did it. 

ANNOUNCER: And, there are also times when people are brought into your life through, perhaps, some tragedy, even, and you have an opportunity, then, to speak about faith in God.

SELTZ: And so you do it; prayerfully, joyfully, with a gentle heart. You do it, right?

ANNOUNCER: I think so.

SELTZ: So do I. God has given us sanctified common sense about these things and He's opened up our hearts to love others as He loves us. With that in mind, don't be afraid of taking time to be a friend or taking the opportunity to share the Gospel when the time presents itself.

ANNOUNCER: Remembering that it's the Holy Spirit at work to bring that person to faith in Christ.

SELTZ: Right, so it should relieve us from the guilt of when we've done things wrongly or missed opportunities in the past, or it should motivate us with joyful hearts to give it our best with new opportunities to testify about Jesus, the things He's making happen today! Those can be part of our long term friendships or one time opportunities to share God's grace to someone who needs it. Both/and. Give it your best!

ANNOUNCER: And, once again, it's God's Spirit at work through the Word, and God even provides the opportunities to share that Word with others. As we approach it that way each day, it sounds like a very purposeful way of living your life in order to share that miracle of faith with others.

SELTZ: It sure is.

ANNOUNCER: Thank you, Pastor Seltz, and we thank our listener for that question. This has been a presentation of Lutheran Hour Ministries.

Music Selections for this program:

"A Mighty Fortress" arranged by Chris Bergmann. Used by permission.

"Lord of Our Life and God of Our Salvation" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)

"Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)

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Update on Wendell Roehrs

-------- Original message --------
From: Sandy and Steve Robine
Date:06/21/2014 3:18 PM (GMT-06:00)
To: "Rev. Jeremy Klaustermeier"
Cc: Karin Klaustermeier
Subject: Update on Wendell Roehrs

His surgery went well, according to the doctor.  85% of the tumor was removed and the remainder was left to preserve his facial nerves.  He is still in ICU and seems good physically.  Linda said that he seems to be pretty agitated and confused.  They did a CT scan this morning and it looked to be normal. So, the next step is to adjust his medications.  They will have to wait and see if that helps.

Update on Wendell Roehrs

-----Original Message-----

From: "Sandy and Steve Robine" <snsrobine@centurytel.net>
Sent: June 21, 2014 3:18 PM
To: "Rev. Jeremy Klaustermeier" <revklaus@hotmail.com>
Cc: "Karin Klaustermeier" <karin.klaustermeier@hotmail.com>
Subject: Update on Wendell Roehrs

Pastor K,
Please forward this on to your email newsletter list.
Received a text today from Wendell & Mary's daughter, Linda, updating us on Wendell's post-op progress.
She said to please share with their Warrenton friends and to please keep him on the prayer list.
His surgery went well, according to the doctor.  85% of the tumor was removed and the remainder was left to preserve his facial nerves.  He is still in ICU and seems good physically.  Linda said that he seems to be pretty agitated and confused.  They did a CT scan this morning and it looked to be normal. So, the next step is to adjust his medications.  They will have to wait and see if that helps.
Whenever I receive the next update, I will certainly share with you.
Thank you.