11/22/2020 Service video for Nov 22


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11/15/2020 Service video for Nov 15


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11/8/2020 Service video for Nov 8


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11/1/2020 Service video for Nov 1


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10/25/2020 Service video for Oct 25


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10/18/2020 Service video for Oct 18


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10/11/2020 Service video for Oct 11


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10/4/2020 Service video for Oct 4


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9/27/2020 Service video for Sept. 27


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9/20/2020 Service video for Sept 20


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9/13/2020 Service video for Sept 13


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9/6/2020 Service and Sermon text for Sept 6


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Children of God

Text:‌ ‌Matthew‌ ‌18:1-4‌

September 5/6 2020 ‌

 ‌

Do‌ ‌you‌ ‌ever‌ ‌forget?‌ ‌Many‌ ‌of‌ ‌us‌ ‌get‌ ‌distracted‌ ‌and‌ ‌forget‌ ‌why‌ ‌we‌ ‌walked‌ ‌into‌ ‌a‌ ‌room‌ ‌or‌ ‌even‌ ‌why‌ ‌we even‌ ‌went‌ into‌ ‌a‌ ‌store.‌ ‌Even‌ ‌more‌ ‌so,‌ ‌we‌ ‌forget‌ ‌what‌ ‌we‌ ‌are‌ ‌told. Some time back a nephew of mine was at a family gathering. He was like 4 years old at the time and he wanted to take a plate of food downstairs. Aunt Shelly said to him, Okay, you can take the food downstairs and eat it down there, but you have to finish it and bring your plate back up. Okay Aj, now what did I tell you? The little boy confessed, I don’t remember what you said Aunt Shelly, can you tell me again?

 Experts‌ ‌tell us‌ ‌that‌ ‌the average‌ ‌person‌ ‌forgets‌ ‌50%‌ ‌of‌ ‌what‌ ‌they‌ ‌are‌ ‌told‌ ‌after‌ ‌a‌ ‌half-hour,‌ ‌which‌ ‌doesn’t‌ ‌bode‌ ‌well‌ ‌for sermons.‌ ‌We‌ ‌forget‌ ‌and‌ ‌this‌ ‌is‌ ‌true‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌disciples in our text today.‌ Jesus predicts to them how He will suffer and die, but three days later be raised from the dead. Yet within that hour or as our text says, “At that time” the disciples had already forgotten what Jesus had said. They moved on, and were discussing the topic of ‌‘Who‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌greatest‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌kingdom‌ ‌of‌ ‌heaven?’ 

Can’t ‌you see‌ ‌Jesus‌ ‌shaking ‌His‌ ‌head‌ ‌and‌ ‌look‌ ‌up‌ ‌to‌ ‌heaven‌ ‌and‌ ‌saying‌ ‌Really?‌ ‌The‌ ‌disciples‌ ‌had‌ ‌missed‌ ‌what Jesus‌ ‌had‌ ‌told‌ ‌them‌ , an important message, and all they‌ ‌want‌ ‌to‌ ‌know is‌ ‌who‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌greatest.‌ ‌ 

‌Thankfully Jesus doesn’t give up on them, and He doesn’t ever give up on us too. Instead of being deject Jesus as‌ ‌the‌ ‌master‌ ‌teacher‌ knows ‌what‌ ‌to‌ ‌do.‌ ‌He‌ ‌calls‌ ‌for‌ ‌an object lesson. He has a‌ ‌child come to Him‌ ‌and‌ ‌places‌ ‌the‌ ‌child‌ ‌in‌ ‌front‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌disciples.‌ ‌And‌ ‌then,‌ ‌Jesus‌ ‌says‌ ‌something‌ ‌that gets their attention:‌ ‌

 

“Truly,‌ ‌I‌ ‌say‌ ‌to‌ ‌you,‌ ‌unless‌ ‌you‌ ‌turn‌ ‌and‌ ‌become‌ ‌like‌ ‌children,‌ ‌you‌ ‌will‌ ‌never‌ ‌enter‌ ‌the‌ ‌kingdom‌ ‌of‌ ‌heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”‌ ‌What‌? We need to be like children to go to heaven? What ‌does‌ ‌this‌ ‌mean?‌ ‌You and I see children as precious. They are mostly wonderful and full of potential. (Parents don’t shake your heads, it’s true, you might have to squint your eyes for some of the kids to see it, but potential is there.) And in ‌Jesus’‌ ‌day the adults really had to squint. Children were seen differently. They were to be seen and not heard from. They were‌ ‌looked upon‌ ‌as‌ ‌an ‌unformed‌ ‌person‌, and‌ ‌useless.‌ The only people who mattered were‌ ‌adults‌ ‌-and‌ ‌at‌ ‌this‌ ‌time‌ ‌only the men‌ ‌mattered!‌ ‌ ‌

 ‌

Yet Jesus says these are the greatest and He tells the disciples‌ ‌what‌ ‌they‌ ‌had‌ ‌forgotten—that they were ‌children—humble child ‌before their‌ ‌Father in heaven.‌ ‌ ‌

 ‌

There‌ ‌was‌ ‌once‌ ‌a‌ ‌young‌ ‌minister‌ ‌who‌ ‌had‌ ‌just‌ ‌graduated‌ ‌from‌ ‌seminary.‌ ‌He‌ ‌had‌ ‌received‌ ‌his diploma, but he had also gotten a “big‌ ‌head.”‌ He thought he knew it all because of the‌ ‌education‌ ‌he‌ ‌had just‌ ‌received.‌ ‌His‌ ‌mother encountered this and‌ ‌was‌ ‌frustrated‌ ‌by‌ ‌this,‌ ‌so‌ ‌when‌ ‌this son of hers came to‌ ‌her‌ ‌house‌ ‌she‌ ‌brought him to‌ ‌the‌ ‌hallway‌ ‌closet‌ ‌and‌ ‌pulled‌ ‌out‌ ‌a‌ ‌pair‌ ‌of‌ ‌knickers‌ ‌that he wore long ago ‌and‌ ‌held‌ ‌them‌ ‌up‌ ‌in‌ ‌front‌ ‌of‌ ‌him‌ ‌and‌ ‌said,‌ ‌“Don’t‌ ‌forget‌ ‌where‌ ‌you‌ ‌came from!”‌ ‌In‌ ‌essence‌‌ ‌this‌ ‌is‌ ‌what‌ ‌Jesus‌ ‌was‌ ‌doing here. He was saying, Don’t forget where you came from disciples!‌ Don’t forget that you once were humble children,‌ and in order to enter into heaven ‌that’s what you must‌ ‌be‌ to have eternal peace‌.

‌ ‌ ‌

This is‌ ‌impossible.‌ How can they become young again? Many of us would love to turn back years, but how? ‌This‌ ‌seems‌ ‌reminiscent‌ ‌of‌ ‌what‌ ‌Jesus‌ ‌told‌ ‌a certain‌ ‌Pharisee by the‌ ‌name of‌ ‌Nicodemus once:‌ ‌“you‌ ‌must‌ ‌be‌ ‌born‌ ‌again.”‌ ‌And‌ ‌just‌ ‌as‌ ‌Nicodemus‌ ‌took‌ ‌this‌ to‌ ‌mean‌ ‌that‌ ‌he‌ ‌must‌ ‌enter‌ ‌his‌ ‌mother’s‌ ‌womb‌ ‌a‌ ‌second‌ ‌time,‌ ‌the‌ ‌disciples‌ ‌were‌ ‌probably‌ ‌just‌ ‌as‌ ‌confused.‌ ‌“How‌ ‌do‌ ‌we‌ ‌go‌ ‌backwards?”How‌ ‌do we become a child again?‌‌ The secret is that it’s not how do we do this, but how does He God get this done.

‌ ‌

Listen‌ ‌to‌ ‌what‌ ‌Jesus‌ ‌told‌ ‌Nicodemus‌ ‌in‌ ‌his‌ ‌state‌ ‌of‌ ‌confusion:‌ ‌“Truly,‌ ‌truly,‌ ‌I‌ ‌say‌ ‌to‌ ‌you,‌ ‌unless‌ ‌one‌ ‌is‌ ‌born‌ ‌of‌ ‌water‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌Spirit,‌ ‌you ‌cannot‌ ‌enter‌ ‌the‌ ‌kingdom‌ ‌of‌ ‌God”‌ ‌(John‌ ‌3:5).‌ ‌It is through God’s Holy Spirit that makes this possible. It is through the Spirit that causes us to be born again, that causes us to become His children. 

 

This reality couldn’t come from us. You‌ ‌see‌ we are‌ ‌just‌ ‌like‌ ‌the‌ ‌disciples.‌ Yearning‌ ‌to‌ ‌be‌ ‌the‌ ‌greatest.‌ ‌Wanting‌ ‌to‌ ‌have‌ ‌the‌ ‌highest‌ ‌honor‌. We want ‌to‌ be‌ ‌seen by others ‌as‌ ‌the‌ ‌best.‌ As we act this way we act not like the children of God but instead like children of the fallen world. We‌ ‌compare‌ ‌what‌ they‌ ‌have‌ to others. We point out ‌what‌ we got or what we can do instead of what God has richly given and has already done for us. When we look only to ourselves‌ ‌does‌ ‌it‌ ‌make us‌ ‌great?‌ ‌No. ‌Jesus‌ turns to us today and‌ ‌ shows us where greatness can be found.‌ It is found in a humble child who turns and trusts in Him. 

 

And so,‌ ‌Jesus‌ ‌places‌ ‌a‌ ‌child‌ ‌in‌ ‌our‌ ‌midst.‌ ‌‌A‌ ‌little‌ ‌one who is‌ ‌‌still‌ ‌in‌ ‌diapers.‌ Who‌ ‌doesn’t‌ ‌know‌ ‌their‌ ‌ABC’s‌ ‌or‌ ‌123s,‌ ‌but‌ ‌they‌ ‌hear‌ ‌God’s‌ ‌voice‌ ‌calling‌ ‌and‌ ‌they‌ ‌come‌ ‌to‌ ‌Him.‌ ‌Jesus‌ ‌says‌ ‌these‌ ‌little‌ ‌ones‌ ‌are‌ ‌the‌ ‌greatest,‌ ‌because‌ ‌they have‌ ‌a‌ ‌simple‌ ‌faith‌ ‌that‌ ‌comes‌ ‌and‌ ‌receives what Jesus brings.‌ ‌

 

Jesus‌ ‌still‌ ‌speaks‌ ‌these‌ ‌same‌ ‌words‌ ‌to‌ ‌us‌ ‌today because we need to ‌become like‌ ‌children. We need to repent of our worldly ways.‌ ‌And‌ ‌just like‌ ‌the‌ ‌disciples‌ this‌ ‌is‌ ‌impossible‌ ‌for‌ ‌us to do.‌ ‌But‌ ‌take‌ ‌heart!‌ ‌We‌ ‌are‌ ‌not‌ ‌left‌ ‌to‌ ‌our‌ ‌own‌ ‌devices‌ ‌to‌ ‌accomplish‌ ‌this.‌ ‌No,‌ God comes to us and He blesses us with His gifts. He makes us‌ ‌“born again through the‌ ‌water‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌Spirit”‌ in Baptism.‌ He washes us clean so that He may deem us as fit to be‌ ‌children‌ ‌of‌ ‌God.‌ ‌ ‌

‌ ‌ ‌

His Spirit turns us to follow Jesus who long‌ ‌ago‌ ‌became like one of us,‌ ‌a‌ ‌child‌.‌ Jesus‌ ‌humbled‌ ‌Himself‌ and left behind‌ ‌the‌ ‌comforts‌ ‌of‌ ‌heaven to ‌dwell‌ ‌among‌ ‌us as He ‌took‌ ‌on‌ ‌our‌ ‌flesh. Jesus‌ ‌suffered‌ for our sins,‌ ‌and‌ ‌when‌ ‌it‌ ‌was‌ ‌time,‌ He died upon the cross for our‌ ‌to save us. It was a tall order, a tremendous sacrifice, but Jesus, God’s one and only Son -- His child-- followed all the way through. It turns out the‌ ‌greatest was amongst those disciples. It was Jesus; the humble‌ ‌servant who honored His Father‌ in heaven ‌so that you and I could‌ ‌become sons and daughters of God.

‌ ‌

Today the Spirit led you here to receive His word.

The Spirit led you here to turn to God and pray our Father who art in heaven.

The Spirit leads you here to lift up your hands to receive His precious gift: Christ’ body & blood. 

When we receive it we know we didn’t earn it, we know we didn’t deserve it, but we as children of God trust our Father in heaven because we believe He knows what we need. ‌

 

Today God knows that we need to be reminded again of who we are to Him: a child of God; brought in by His grace. No doubt we will forget many things in this world that are said to us, but may we never forget what God has declared- that you are a children of God. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.


9/1/2020 Letter From Pastor Boxman Sept 1

Trinity Lutheran Church

702 South Ninth Street 785-823-7151

Salina, KS 67401 www.trinitysalina.org

 

Pastor Mark Boxman  markdboxman@gmail.com

        620-441-8342



September 1, 2020

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).

Coronavirus concerns may lead us to take precautions, but will not take away our zeal for the gathering of God’s people and for sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with our community.

With thanksgiving to the LORD, we report that weekly worship attendance continues to increase.  With a prayer for good health, we rejoice that education activities are returning in September. 

Looks like COVID-19 protocols may be with us for a while. We kindly ask for your patience and grace as we update you on a few areas of our life together.

 

What’s the same.  

  • We continue to offer four in-person worship options each weekend. Saturday, 5:00 pm, Sunday, 8:30 am, 9:45 am, and 11:00 am.  Holy Communion will be offered the first, third, and fifth Sundays and the corresponding Saturday.
  • The 9:45 service is all social distance seating.  The other three services continue to be half social distanced seating and half open seating.
  • We kindly ask those who desire a social distance seat to make reservations so that we can guarantee you a seat.  
  • The Salina City Commission continues to have in place a mask mandate for public gatherings.  We encourage facial coverings inside our building especially when coming and going and in other settings in which social distancing cannot be maintained.
  • We continue to minimize the number of volunteers assisting with worship to lessen areas that need sanitizing and to facilitate careful adherence to our safety protocols.  

 

What’s different.  

  • Call (785-823-7151) or email the church office (trinitysalina@gmail.com) to make reservations for social distance seating Monday-Thursday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, or Friday, 8:00 am to noon.  Saturday phone reservations will come to an end after September 5.  Please do not leave voice mail reservations over the weekend. 
  • DVD deliveries are now being made only to the homebound.  Anyone else desiring a DVD may contact the church office.
  • Our weekly mailing of printed sermons will soon be phased out.  
  • Many education classes resume in September with safety protocols in place.  We kindly ask those who feel ill or who have been asked to quarantine to stay home. Hospitality items such as coffee and snacks will, Lord willing, be reintroduced soon.

 

Thank you for your continued respect and generosity toward one another as we adapt to managing our life together.  Rejoice that we have the freedom to worship and serve our God! 

 

Serving the Lord with Zeal,

 

Pastor Mark Boxman


8/30/2020 Service and Sermon text for Aug 30


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Matthew 16:21-28, Must

Pentecost 13, Proper 17, August 29/30, 2020

Pastor Mark Boxman, Trinity Lutheran Church, Salina, Kansas

Meteorologists predict what the weather will be tomorrow.  Their educated guess may turn out to be correct, or it may be way off.  

In Matthew chapter 16, Jesus does not predict what is going to happen; He foretells it.  This is the way it is going to be:  Jesus is “going to Jerusalem to suffer, to be killed, and on the third day rise from the dead” (verse 21).  

Not only will it happen this way, it must happen this way.  This is the only way in which Satan can be dethroned, the way to rescue people from the demonic domain of sin, death and hell, and bring them into the kingdom of God.  Jesus must pay the debt of your sin.  He’s the only one that can pay it. He must rise from the dead.  He is the only one who can defeat death for you.  It all had to happen so that you may live and die in peace, in hope, and in joy.   

Jesus can’t go straight to glory.  Suffering and death must come first. There must be a cross and then there can be victory over death. 

This pattern also holds for you.  You must endure suffering before glory, death must come before resurrection, a cross before heaven.  Followers of Jesus do not go to heaven the moment they come to faith.  They fight against their sinful nature and do battle with the charms of this sinful world.  They die in this sin-cursed world. Then, when the Lord sees fit, they arise from the tomb to eternal glory.

That’s what Jesus is teaching us in verse 24.   "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  It’s not just Jesus who has a cross to bear. So do you.

Why?  Why must it be this way for Jesus and this way for the followers of Jesus? 

We could explain it in several ways.  But for today, let us simply trust Jesus. He says it must be this way.  

It’s a really bad idea to suggest an alternative plan.  Peter thought he was doing the loving thing by declaring that he would never allow Jesus to suffer and die.  But He did not understand what God’s love for a sinful world looks like.  Peter’s “I think I know better than Jesus” thoughts came not from God but from the devil.  “Get behind me Satan.”   Thinking there could be glory without the cross, life without Jesus’ death, was a demonic and damnable idea.  If Jesus followed Peter’s advice, the whole world would be doomed to hell.  True religion must built on Jesus’ suffering, crucifixion and resurrection.  True love must be a godly kind of love, not sinful man’s version.  

Brutally murdering Jesus was no way for the world to love Jesus, but it is God’s way to love you.  Because Jesus was rejected, you will never be rejected.  Because Jesus endured a damnable death, you will never be damned.  Because Jesus rose from the dead, you too shall arise.  Because Jesus lives, you too will live.

The glory will come.  But not yet.  You can’t go straight to the glory.  Your life must follow the same pattern as His.  It’s the way things go in this cancel God culture, is this sin-infested world of rebellion, resistance and rejection of God.

So let’s take a closer look at verse 24 and what the earthly life of the Christian must look like.

  1. If you want what Jesus offers, you must follow Him.  You cannot lead Christ.  You cannot follow someone else.  Those who want to be saved must follow Christ, listen to Him, and trust Him, and follow the path He has marked out for you.  

You may wish you could be a Christian without listening to sermons or studying the Bible. But it does not work that way.  Christians hear His voice, believe His promises and put His words into practice. They follow Him.  

You may wish you could choose your own path and pick the smooth and easy route.  But that is not the way it works. 

The Psalmist says that the Good Shepherd has built a path for us so that we may dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  Goodness and mercy will follow us along the way. Our cups will overflow, and we will gather at the table to receive His good gifts.  But this journey is through the valley of the shadow of death, a road filled with tears, sorrows, and sins.

  1. If you want what Jesus offers, you must deny yourself.  You must say “no” to sinful ideas and sinful urges. You must give up the ways of this cancel-God world.  You must give up your selfish plans, your worldly values, your self-righteous pride.   We do this when we confess our sins, ask for God’s mercy, and pray for God’s help to  do better.  We do this when we take God’s Word, study it carefully, and meditate on it and put it into practice. 

My nephew used to go sky diving. After getting married and having a baby, he gave up sky diving.  It was too dangerous now that he had new relationships.

Christians are the bride of Christ.  They give up everything that endangers that relationship. 

What benefit would there be to gaining every kind of worldly possession and pleasure, if in the end, a person ends up suffering in hell for eternity.  What good would it do to engage in every sinful vice, to gratify the desires of our sinful nature, if that leads a person into damnation.

By God’s grace Christians gladly give up anything and everything that endangers our relationship with Jesus Christ.  They would rather give up what the world treasures in order to obtain lasting treasures.  That’s the way it is.

  1.   If you want what Jesus offers, you must take up your cross, that is, accept the suffering that comes because you are a Christian. 

We may complain about the crosses we bear in an increasingly secular society, but our crosses are light compared to what our brothers and sisters in Christ encounter under the brutal rule of Muslims in Iran and Saudi Arabia or in Marxist/Communist countries like North Korea, China or Cuba.  

A pastor in China was recently asked to recite the Ten Commandments to his interrogator.  When he said, “Honor your father and mother” the interrogator stopped him, brought in his bruised and bloodied elderly mother, and demanded, “Honor your mother by denying Christ and your mother will be spared her beatings.”  

The frail mother spoke up, “Son, I taught you to believe in Jesus.  Honor me by keeping the faith.”  

Then the pastor looked at the guard, “I will honor my mother.  I believe in Jesus Christ, my Savior and Lord.”  I will spare you the brutal details of what happened next.  

The cruel and ungodly world that executed Jesus is still a cruel and ungodly world.  Following Jesus will at times make your life harder, sometimes a lot harder.  We may not be able to anticipate what those crosses will be, but they come and we accept them and carry them with faith in Jesus. 

This is the way it is, the way it must be.  

We may wish that verse 24 were not in the Bible.  We may, like Peter, think we have a better idea—how about a life without any crosses, how about glory without any suffering.  That’s why some people go church shopping. They want to find a pastor who says they can keep their favorite sins, do not need to repent, and can have a life without bearing any crosses.  

Do not be lured by this satanic lie.  Do not try to create your own version of what the Christian life looks like, even if you think your idea is the most loving. Trust Jesus.  Accept the pattern for life that Jesus followed as your very own.  

Athletes say, “No pain; no gain.”  That kind of the way it is. Without Jesus enduring the pain of the cross, there would be no victory over sin, death and the devil.  Without the pain that goes along with following Jesus, we could never keep the faith and win the prize.  It must be this way.  Amen


8/23/2020 Service and Sermon text for August 23


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Matthew 16:13-20,  “One Question”

August 22-23, 2020.  Youth Confirmation Sunday

Pastor Mark Boxman, Trinity Lutheran Church, Salina, Kansas

The Confirmation Rite is not commanded in the Bible, but its roots are the Caesarea Philippi event recorded in Matthew 16.  Jesus carefully instructed the 12 apostles for three years, and then gave them the opportunity to confirm that what they had been taught they firmly believed. 

Then and now, all Christian teaching (page through a Bible) comes down to one key question, “What do you think of Jesus?”

Peter nailed it:  “Jesus, You are the Christ.  You are the Son of the living God” (verse 16).

Our loving God wants everyone to know this, to believe it and to confess it, because, “If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that He died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins and has been raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

What do you think of Jesus?

I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, the eternal Son of God, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is MY LORD.  

I believe that, because God is merciful and gracious, Jesus has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from the grip, guilt and condemnation of my sins, from the grip of death, and from the tyranny [life-destroying lies] of the devil, not with gold or silver, not with anything accessible to us on this earth, but with His holy, precious blood, and with His innocent suffering and death on Calvary’s bloody cross.

Why? So that I may be His own, live under Him in righteousness, and serve Him now on this earth and for all eternity in heaven.  And just as He has been raised from the dead, live with Him for all eternity.

I believe this is most certainly true.

May that be your confession, what you daily confirm in your heart, speak with your lips, and show forth in your life.

Those who believe in Jesus are sinners. But they are repentant sinners. They are sorry for their sin and want to do better.  

Many people say that in our nation we need to do a lot better.  We need good policing and that will help to curb violence. But what we need most of all is for people to experience the redeeming power of God’s grace in Jesus.  We need a revival, a spiritual renewal.  But that will not come about with riots or bullying.  Rather spiritual renewal happens when people come to know Jesus, God’s gift to a world, God’s way of rescuing the world from sin and it’s destructive consequences.

When few people believe in Jesus, sin creates a culture of hatred, vandalism, assault, murder, contempt for authority, and the intolerance for Christians and Christian beliefs and practices. 

Without Jesus, people cannot distinguish between truth and lies.  Without Jesus they are tricked into accepting the irrational and ungodly idea of evolution. Blinded by sin, they are confused over gender, distort marriage and devalue human life. 

Sin causes misery:  broken homes, abused and neglected children, life-destroying addiction, neighborhoods in rubble, and foolish solutions that only make things worse.

God has every right to let the sinful world go the way it has chosen.  He could justly say, “You have chosen to live without me.  So I will let you have what you want.  Go to hell where I will leave you alone, just as you have asked.”

Instead, God chose to send Jesus, not to condemn the world but to save it, to redeem it, and to restore it.  

When you confess Jesus as Your Lord and Savior, you have a Rock, something solid, a firm foundation for life as life is meant to be lived.  

Jesus calls those who confess Christ the Church. What is the church?  A community of people who have a very distinct culture, a way of life, a way of thinking that is very different than the culture of the sinful world.  The church is people transformed, changed, from godless to godly, from rebels working against God to believers who live holy, productive, beneficial, god-pleasing lives.

The church is a community of people whose minds have been  renewed through the true and holy Word of God.  They are followers of Jesus who practice forgiveness, generosity, patience, and service.  Instead of anger, they are filled with joy.  Instead of hatred, they are filled with love and compassion.  They can discern what is wise and true.  They have the sanctifying power of God’s Holy Spirit that makes them good husbands and fathers, faithful wives and mothers, honest workers, law-abiding citizens, wise rulers, valuable teachers, and lights in a world of darkness.

Because Jesus is such a big deal in this life and for eternity, the church is devoted to teaching young people about Jesus. We make a big deal out of Confirmation Sunday.  What you believe about Jesus is everything. It’s the difference maker.  Christ makes sinners into saints.  He rescues from death and brings to life.  He saves from hell and takes to heaven.  He transforms lives so that people can be happy, at peace, and useful.

The Confirmation Service is enveloped in praise and thanksgiving.  God has blessed our Confirmands with godly parents who love their children in the best way children can be loved, by teaching them about Jesus, the one thing most needed.  God has given these young people a gift very few young people have—the privilege of carefully studying God’s Word and having a rock solid foundation for your life in the fellowship of the church.

The Confirmation Service is enveloped in prayer, for all who have been around a few years can tell the sad story that far too many who have spoken their confirmation of faith have drifted away from Christ and from the Church.  Every day the devil tries His best to weaken our faith.  Like a powerful vacuum cleaner, the sinful world will attempt to pull you away from Jesus and His Church.  

A little girl was lost.  A police officer found her and tried to figure out where she lived.  But the girl did not know her address.  When asked about her mom and dad’s names, all she would say is Mom and Dad.  

The officer asked, “Can you tell me what your house looks like?” No help there.  “What is by your house?  A McDonalds, a school?” Still no luck. Then the girl’s eyes brightened.  “The Church!  Show me the church with the cross on top and I’ll know my way home!”

Never lose sight of the cross of Jesus Christ and you will never lose your way.  Gather at the foot of the cross each week and contemplate that Jesus is the cross the Son of the Living God and what that means for you.  

The Confirmation Rite includes the phrase, “to remain true to God even to death.”  That line does not simply mean keep the faith until you die, but “keep the faith even if you are threatened with death.”

A growing number of Americans hate Jesus and want to get rid of anyone or anything associated with Jesus.  I am not making this up. I am speaking the truth.

Patrisse Khan-Cullors,  an organizer of the riots destroying American cities, states:   “We actually do have an ideological frame. Myself and Alicia [Garza] in particular are trained organizers.  We are trained Marxists” (The Washington Times, June 25, 2020).   That means her end game is to  eliminate all followers of Jesus.  Everywhere Marxists have the power to do so, they imprison, exile, torture and executed Christians.

America’s cancel culture is not yet putting people to death.  But they are putting Christian bakers, florists and photographers out of business.  Out-spoken Christians are being banned from social media, excluded from jobs in journalism and university education, and are targets of ridicule. 

Confessing Christ in America is becoming increasingly dangerous.  

Ten of the twelve men who confessed Jesus as Lord and Christ at Caesarea Philippi died martyrs deaths. They were put to death because they believed in Jesus. 

Do not be intimidated. Do not be afraid.  Jesus promises that the forces of Hades, the demonic powers of this world, the lies of the devil, not even the threat of death, can nullify God’s gifts to you in Jesus. Remain faithful, even in the face of death, and you will receive eternal life.  

What do you think of Jesus? Your answer matters not just today but will matter every day you live on this earth.  Each week, join God’s people in speaking the Creed with boldness.  Do not yawn through those valuable words.  Rather sincerely reconfirm your faith in Jesus the Christ.    

Amen.


8/16/2020 Service and Sermon text for Aug 16


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Outsiders Welcomed

Have you ever been an outsider? Living in Nebraska for three years, as a student at Concordia--Seward, was an experience. It doesn’t take long to realize that the state is fanatical about one thing: Cornhuskers football. Perhaps that’s why the coach up there was clamoring to let them play? On Saturdays in the fall they would be gathered together in the lounges wearing their red shirts and watching the game. Anyone who wasn’t part of their group was not welcomed. So, I, being a K-State fan, was ostracized. To them I was their enemy. I remember walking into a lounge once and was confronted by a Cornhusker fan who just witnessed the Kansas Jayhawks beat their team in football. He was belly aching about how bad the refs were and how both of the Kansas teams were cheaters. He saw me and got animated. He thought I needed to know a list of certain plays that were not called. These calls, he wanted me to believe, lost the Cornhuskers the entire game and it was supposedly my fault. So, for three years it was clear that I was an outsider. 

In today’s gospel we see an outsider.  She wasn’t a Cornhusker or a Jayhawk or a Wildcat fan, but a Canaanite. Who were the Canaanites? They were enemies of the Jews. They were a part of a people who were antagonistic towards God’s children. They would fight each other for the same territory because they lived near one another. Some of the Jews would stray away and intermarry with the enemy, the Canaanites.  This would lead many of them to fall away from God and to follow Canaanite gods instead. Of course God wasn’t too pleased with this. He would get angry at His people for setting up Canaanite altars and placing sacrifices there to these false gods made of wood and stone. The Jews repeatedly did this and God would eventually banish them out of the land. When God allowed His people to return, the Jews kept all of this in mind, and would not trust a Canaanite again. So when this Canaanite woman showed up you can understand why they treated her in the way that they did, as an outsider.

Even though the Canaanite woman was an outsider she knew her situation needed Jesus’ help. That’s why we see her being so bold in our text. In those days news spread through word of mouth. Someone spread the news that Jesus was coming. This Canaanite woman probably heard that Jesus was in the region and through her faith she was led to go to Him for mercy.

Her daughter was in trouble. She was severely oppressed by a demon and so this outsider goes to Jesus. She cries out to Him for help, but the amazing thing is that Jesus answers her with silence. Check this out in verse 23 of the text. Matthew says Jesus “did not answer her a word.” At this critical moment for this Canaanite woman Jesus decides to ignore her. It’s as if He’s saying she’s not worthy of my attention. Yet this outsider keeps on calling out to Jesus. She calls out to Jesus not once, not twice but multiple times and it’s getting on the nerves of the disciples. The disciples have had enough, and they ask Jesus for relief from this woman.

They tell Jesus “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” In other words, Jesus, tell this outsider to go home. Jesus again astonishes us by agreeing with them and says: “I was only sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” What’s going on here? Why is Jesus acting heartless towards this woman? He certainly isn’t filled with compassion. Instead it seems Jesus wants her gone. Did you expect that from Jesus? Did you expect Jesus to act this way? I don’t. I don’t remember any Sunday school lesson about Jesus NOT loving his neighbor.

Yet this lady continues. She intensifies the situation by going to Jesus on her knees to beg to Jesus saying, “Lord, help me.” And at this point Jesus lays down the final blow. He says, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” Ouch! Did our ears hear that correctly? Jesus called this Canaanite woman a dog. Now we might think of our own dogs here. The family pet that we love and cherish and give squeaky toys to. The member of the family that we name Pookie and include in the family Christmas pictures. But at this time dogs weren’t pets. They were animals that wander in the streets unwanted. Angry citizens slam their doors in their face. They yell at them to Scram! Beat it! Get out of here! This lady who was persistent with her requests would hear these harsh words from Jesus and she should have moved on. Many would because the message was loud and clear: You’re not welcome here. You’re not one of us.

It’s hard for us to imagine Jesus saying these things, yet when we think about who we are, sinners, that’s how each of us should be treated when we come to Him. We’re like this lady here, an outsider, like I was with the Cornhusker group. Not wanted, a foe. When it comes to the kingdom of God because of our sinful nature we don’t fit in. Righteous blood doesn’t course through our veins. God rightfully can ignore us and kick us out like He did with Adam and Eve in the garden long ago. 

Yet we know who God is, a God who is merciful. He desires all to be saved. Jesus came into this world not to condemn it but to save it by His own righteous blood poured out for us. God pours out His generous hand and He shares forgiveness and peace. He makes room in His family for us as He declares us as His own and dies on the cross taking away all of our sins.

 

This encounter with the Canaanite woman points this out. She is not part of the ‘in’ crowd. She grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. Yet she knows who Jesus is. She calls Jesus the Son of David. Three times she calls Jesus her Lord. How is that possible? There’s no way that she could know who Jesus is unless someone came to her and shared God’s gifts with her. Unless someone baptized her with the Holy Spirit. Last week you heard Paul tell how it is possible for people to call upon the name of Jesus who have not believed; People who have never heard of Jesus to know who He is. It happens when someone with beautiful feet opens the door and lets them in to hear God’s good news about Jesus.

 

That’s what happened to this lady, this outsider. Someone told her about Jesus and she believed. Then when her daughter was in trouble the Spirit moved her to go to Jesus. That Spirit kept her in the true faith even while she faced opposition to all her requests. Then it drove her to boldly confess her faith and say, “Yes I am a dog! Yes, I am unworthy of your attention, unworthy of the gifts that come off of Your table. Yet I know who you are, the Son of God and I believe that You even feed the dogs too. Crumbs still come off of your table for me!” That’s faith! That’s the Spirit inside her sharing with Jesus her Lord what is in her heart. What it is that she believes.

 

Jesus turns to her and says what we have on our bulletin cover,                  “ O woman, great is your faith!” That’s huge. Remember who the Canaanites were: enemies of God’s people. Jesus just declared that faith can be found even among them. Faith can be found in unexpected places like the heavily populated Muslim countries in the world like Pakistan, around 4 million Christians live there. Or  like Iran, where 600 Christian churches have been planted there. Faith can be found among those we have deemed as outsiders. God blesses them with faith in their heart that welcomes them all into His family as a child of God.

As we read about this encounter with the Lord, as we unpack what took place here, doesn’t this Canaanite woman sound a little like one of us? Like she could be worshiping here at Trinity, sitting in one of our pews? She turns to God looking for mercy, knowing that Jesus is where it is to be found. Just like we do coming to this place looking for mercy and seeking it in the only one who gives it, Jesus. The woman confesses how unworthy she is, recognizing her position at His table, far from mercy because of her past just like us. We recognize our sins in confession, beat our breast and say have mercy on me a sinner. But then who lifts us up? The Lord Jesus. He hears our cry and turns and answers our call with His gifts of grace. 

Does Jesus give us grace in the form of crumbs? No. He blesses us with more. He says come to my table. I have spot here just for you. Then He serves us with the bread that comes down from heaven, as He says: Take and eat; Take and drink. This is my body, this is my blood given to you for the forgiveness of your sins. Jesus has made you worthy. Jesus has made you an heir because He paid the price and brought you in as a child of God.


In this life you will find at times that you are treated as an outsider. Perhaps certain sporting fans or other groups may never welcome you in, but here in Christ God has brought us all together in His family. Here in Christ you are no longer an outsider, instead you are home. All because of Jesus’ gift of faith placed in your heart. Amen.


8/9/2020 Service and Sermon text for Aug 9


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Matthew 14:22-33, Stepping Out in Faith

Proper 14a, August 8and 9, 2020

Pastor Mark Boxman, Trinity Lutheran Church, Salina, Kansas

Every sermon has the same goal—that everyone who listens will walk out the door with their faith firmly placed in Jesus Christ.  This pulpit is dedicated to one purpose, that through the preaching of God’s Word, through your devout attention to the Scripture readings, you may step into this next week, into all your daily responsibilities, and when the time comes, into eternity with joy and with genuine peace and confidence. 

Today we study Matthew 14 to see what faith in Jesus Christ looks like in real life, how it works.  

  1. Our first observation is this: Faith obeys Jesus’ commands, even when His Word leads us into difficult and dangerous circumstances. Faith trusts that Jesus knows best.  We read:  Immediately Jesus made [or compelled] the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side [of the Sea of Galilee], while he dismissed the crowd.  After Jesus had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.  When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them.  

We do not know why Jesus sent the disciples across the Sea of Galilee.  But our text implies that they were reluctant to go.  Jesus had to make them go.  Apparently, these experienced sailors knew how hard and dangerous it would be to battle the waves and to row against the wind.  In addition, the sun was setting and it would soon be dark.  Crossing to the other side of the lake did not seem like a good idea.  They may have even been thinking, “Jesus, you’re good at what you do, teaching us about the things of God.  But we understand how things work on this lake.  Maybe you’d better defer to us on this one.”

Has God ever asked you to do anything you did not want to do?    Do you say, “Jesus, you know best.”  Or do you say, “I am not going to do it.  I do not trust Jesus. I think I know better.”  

The faith Jesus wants us to have is to acknowledge that He is the expert in all things, in every area of life.  We know very little.  God knows everything.  Our perspective is very limited. God sees the big picture and all the details with precision.  Trust Him in all things. He knows all about the sea and the wind.  He made it all. He knows all about marriage and family.  He created people and established these relationships.  He is the expert on work, citizenship, finances, education, and all matters of life and death.   

The disciples did what Jesus said to do even though they did not think it was a good idea.  That’s faith.  These men trusted that Jesus knew best and so they do as he directs.  

If we set aside the clear commands of Jesus and trust ourselves more than we trust Jesus, that is called sin.  Faith in Jesus involves humbling ourselves and trusting that Jesus knows best in everything.  

 

 

Doing what Jesus calls us to do is never easy.   The two hour trip across the lake had became an all night affair.  The wind was strong.  The waves were big.  The journey was exhausting and scary. 

Living by faith in Jesus Christ is not based on what is easiest or most enjoyable or least dangerous.   When we do what God wants us to do, we will face resistance from the devil, from the sinful world, and from our own sinful flesh.  Forgiving is hard work.  Loving our neighbor is very difficult.  Doing the right thing is often met with resistance.  

Faith trusts that our labor in the Lord is not in vain even when we do not seem to be making any headway. 

  1. Faith clings to Jesus promise:  I am with you always.  In the fourth watch of the night, Jesus came to the disciples, walking on the sea.  When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it’s me.  Do not be afraid.”

Last week we learned that Jesus is not bound by math.  In His hands, five loaves of bread and two fish are enough to feed more than 5000 people and to have 12 baskets full of leftovers. 

Today, we learn that Jesus is not bound by distance, gravity or darkness.  Jesus knows where you are.  He doesn’t need you to send a “share my location” from your cell phone.   He does not need a flashlight to find you in the dark.  He does not even need a boat to get to the middle of the lake.  

Jesus is the “I AM.”  He is the Almighty God. He does what He promises to do.

He is with you 24-7.  That’s a fact.

And His presence has a purpose:  He is with you to watch over you, to help you, to protect you, to enable you to do what He calls you to do. 

Did the disciples ever make it to the other side of the lake?  Yes.  How?  They could not do it by themselves.  They did not have the strength. But because Jesus was with them, they arrived safely. 

When Jesus commissioned the 11 disciples to make disciples of all nations, it seemed impossible.  How could 11 men succeed with such a big task?  They had learned to  trust Jesus’ promise, “Surely I will be with you.”  

Peter needed more than Jesus promise.  He wanted proof and so He put Jesus to the test.

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”  He said, “Come.”  So Peter got out of the boat and walked on water and came to Jesus. When Peter saw the wind, he was afraid.  And beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord save me.”

Now don’t think that you can go to the lake today and walk on water.  Jesus has not called you to do that.  But if Jesus did call you to do so, you could do what Peter did.  

Whatever God calls you to do, He enables you to do it.

CFW Walther was first president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. At the same time, he was the pastor of 4 congregations, president and professor at the St. Louis seminary, editor of the Lutheran Witness magazine, a husband and a father.   How could he do all that?  The same way Peter walked on water.  God called Him to do so and enabled him to do it.

The God who has called you to be a faithful husband or wife, a loving father or mother, an obedient and respectful son or daughter is with you to help you.  Jesus who calls you to take care of your frail neighbor will give you the time and the energy. The Holy Spirit who has planted in your heart the desire to speak of Jesus to your friend will give you the courage and the words to do so.  

Trust Jesus.  Step into your weekly responsibilities with faith in Jesus Christ.  Jesus is with you.  Keep your heart and mind solidly fixed on Jesus and His Word.  With Jesus by your side, you can do far more than you can imagine.    

We do well to point out that Peter had great faith.  He actually stepped out of the boat and walked on water.  But we have to be careful here that we do not put too much emphasis on Peter. 

Peter takes His eyes off Jesus.  He got to thinking, “I can’t do this.”  He quickly became afraid and began to sink.

Isn’t that the story of our life?  We believe. We think we are doing real well in following Jesus.  But how quickly that faith can turn to doubt, how just like that [snapping fingers] we can take our attention off of Jesus and we are afraid and we are sinking.  

I think of a little child in a swimming pool down on the deep end.  He’s doing OK because he is hanging on to dad who is big enough to touch the bottom.  But overconfident in his own abilities, the little child might try letting go.   Then things will not go so well.

Today, many of us probably feel a bit overwhelmed by the big storm waves that come into our lives one after the other.  We are Christians and we are listening to Jesus, but we are sinking and barely have our heads above water.  

What are people of faith to do?  We look up to Jesus and cry out, “Lord, save me” or in Aramaic, “Hosanna!”  It’s what God’s people do over and over again because  we are of little faith, because we fail over and over again, because repeatedly we take our attention off of Jesus and doubt His Word. 

  1. Our next observation about faith in Jesus:  We trust a God who repeatedly reaches out to us, grabs hold of us, and lifts us to safety.  We trust that Jesus is our Savior today and every day.

  Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith.  Why did you doubt?”  And when he got into the boat, the wind ceased.  And those in the boat worshipped him saying, “Truly you are the son of God.”

Jesus’ love for you endures forever.  His desire to save you is the same yesterday, today and forever.  

We should not doubt, but we do.  Our faith ought to be strong, but it is weak. But our faith is not in our faith.  Our faith is not in what we do.  Our faith is in Jesus.  The one who stretched out His arms to die on the cross reaches out to you every day to cling to His forgiveness.  The same hand that endured the nails is hanging on to you to keep you from sinking into despair or doubt. 

That’s why we are here today, isn’t it? No matter how hard we have tried, no matter how successful we have been a doing what Jesus asks us to do, we all have our failures.  We have gathered to do the one thing God’s people always do, to confess our sins and to hear again the sweet words of forgiveness that God spoke to you through Pastor Kootz today.

We wish our faith was not weak, but it is. We wish we never had doubts but we do.  We wish we were never afraid, but we are.  

But faith does not focus on what we do or don’t do.  It clings to Jesus our Savior. 

This week, step out with a strong faith in Jesus, even though the way looks stormy.  Jesus is with you.  He will help you do all that He calls you to do.  And most of all, live each day in peace knowing that each day’s failures are completely forgiven by Jesus our Savior.  May it be so!


8/2/2020 Service Video and Sermon text for August 2


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Can you imagine being sent home with twelve basketfuls of leftovers? Imagine that you’re at a party or a family gathering and you were left with the rest of the spread, perhaps instead of twelve baskets it’s twelve dishes that haven’t been touched. What does this mean? Well, it could mean that the event wasn’t well attended. It could mean that the food wasn’t that good. It could mean that I cooked the meal. In these scenarios when that much food is left-over it’s not a welcome sight, except for in this text today.

 

  In today’s gospel we encounter lots of leftovers. Twelve basketfuls of leftovers to be exact. This would have amazed the twelve disciples of Jesus. This would have amazed all the people there too, as well as you and me. But why the leftovers? As we dig into Matthew 14 we find that it wasn’t for any of the reasons we have just listed so far, but the leftovers were given so that we place our trust fully in the only One who does and has provide for us abundantly. 

Back when this event took place, Jesus wasn’t intending on serving 5,000 people. He went to a desolate place to get away from the troubles of the world. Yet 5,000 men along with women and children showed up to greet Him at the shore. Now a desolate place means there were no grocery stores like Dillons or Save-A-Lots or even Sam Clubs. It’s a place that is void of people; think of parts of western Kansas or most of Montana. Jesus didn’t invite people to come, but they came in droves anyway to see Him. I already mentioned there were 5,000 men who came plus women and children in tow. If you were to estimate the women and children into that number it could be around 10,000 people. 10,000 people! That’s the size of a small city, like Ark City Kansas - minus two. (It’s good to have you back Pastor Boxman.) The 10,000 people came because they knew who was cooking right? Jesus. Well, that’s not why they came in the first place.

 

They came for healing and they possible came to hear Jesus’ comforting words about forgiveness and heaven too. Yet at the end of the day they got more than they asked for. In the end Matthew says, they all left satisfied.

 

The disciples, during this time, could see a problem was brewing. The people were hungry and perhaps their own stomachs were growling too. What were they going to do? They told Jesus to send away the crowds so that they could get something to eat. But why? Didn’t they know that before them was the Bread of Life? Didn’t they know that Jesus was the One who created the heavens and the earth? Didn’t they know what power and strength Jesus brings? No, or at least not yet. So when this situation came up, a crowd the size of 10,000 people who were hungry and tired what did they do? They relied upon their own understanding and didn’t turn to Jesus. 

 

Saint Paul who would rely upon Christ throughout His ministry wrote these words to the Philippians: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Jesus is the only strength that they need. So Jesus, our Lord, told His disciples, Give it to me. Give me whatever you have. The disciples did just that. They placed the five loaves and two fish into Jesus’ hands and He looked up into heaven and gave thanks.  Thanks for what? For the food? Perhaps, but perhaps Jesus gave thanks for what He knew His Father was about to do. He knew of the storerooms up in heaven and He trusted that the Father would provide and He did, with twelve basketfuls left over. 

 

I was visiting one of our shut-ins this past week and I shared with her this reading from Matthew. After doing this, she shared with me how God came and provided her family with what they needed during a hard time. She remembered the kitchen table that she sat at growing up in the 1930s, the dark days of the Depression. She was a child at the time, but she remembered vividly what was going on then. All of the family would gather around the table and her mom would bring out all they had to eat for that day. A bowl of food was set out to feed ten empty stomachs. It certainly wasn’t 5,000, but it was a lot when they had so little back then. Her mom didn’t serve fish or bread, but the usual: potatoes. They were cheap and could fill in their stomachs. She said it was enough and it must have been. They made it through the Depression and today she, along with most of her siblings, are still alive to talk about it in their 90’s. How does that happen? It happens because they trusted in the Lord who provides. He gives us what we need according to His time and in His own way. 

 

Yet are we like the disciples with our problems? We like to figure them out on our own. We like to be able to pull ourselves up by our own two hands. But when we can’t do we just move on and say it’s impossible? What do we do? Where do we go? Whose hands do we seek to take on this trouble? 

 

Right now many in this world are trying to solve the health issues we face, the riots we see in the streets, along with other various problems. There is a lot of fear. People are distressed by what they see and hear right now. Yet you and I remain calm. Why? We have the One who overcame them all, Jesus. We turn to Him and place our worries and our fears into His hands and He places His life into ours. We have peace. He says your sins are forgiven. Death is destroyed. Be filled with joy because the Lord gives you life and gives it abundantly.

 

How do we know this? Look at the leftovers. Jesus could have given the exact amount of food to the people that day, but He didn’t. He wanted to show that He can give even more than they ask for: twelve basketfuls more. And do we see His leftovers around us? Yes, and not just in the fridge. Look at all the blessings that He brings: Clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, land, animals and all that you have. God daily and richly provides you and me with all that you need to support this body and life, including with His own life too.

 

In a moment He will give this to us again, the precious gift of His body and blood for our sins. Take some time and think about what that gift means. We have a problem called sin that we could not ignored, and none of were capable of solving it, expect Jesus. He came and told us to give the problem to Him. We do. Jesus took that sin and places it upon His cross to die to give His life in place of yours. What was the result? Basketfuls of forgiveness handed out for all who believe. Forgiveness that continues to keep on coming for all God’s people throughout the ages. Jesus provides food of salvation that will never run out.

 

So you can keep coming and keep receiving. Knowing that no matter how many times you show up here at church, there will always be enough forgiveness for you; and not only will there be enough for today, but there will be enough for every day after that, until Christ comes back to take you to Himself, the day when we will be done with sinning forever.

For the blessings of Christ will never run out; and will always be more in reserve. Just look at the leftovers He brings. Amen.


7/26/2020 Service and Sermon text for July26


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Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen

Do” or “Done”?

 

Imagine with me that you have gone to your favorite restaurant with someone special. You’re sitting down and you both order your meal. All of a sudden you remember it’s your turn pay. You wonder how much is this going to be? The other person orders desert and you know this is going to hit the wallet. By this time you’re looking for the ticket. You flag down the waitress and she tells you the good news. The meal is already paid for by someone else. It’s done. There is nothing for you to do.

 

At seminary we were required to read the theological words of Franz Pieper, and he talked about the fact that there are just two religions in the world, and they fit in either Do or Done

 

When I first read that, I thought this guy was nuts.  There is Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Shintoism, and on and on and on.  How could a theologian state that there are two and only two religions in the entire world?

 

Since the reading was required for class, I kept on going and Dr. Pieper clarified his statement.  He made the case that if you boil all the religions of the world down to their basic principles, you will find one or two teachings.  Either we must work our way up to God or God comes to us

 

Now I don’t claim to know the teachings of every religion on the planet, but with the ones I do know a thing or two about Dr. Pieper’s statement was absolutely correct.

-Islam has the five pillars.  

-Buddhism has the eightfold path.

-Mormons have works of obedience that they must do in order to be saved. 

According to these religions there are always some quest or work that we must do in order to be right with God.

 

On the other hand, Christianity makes it very clear that when it comes to our salvation, God does all the work.  Any effort that we contribute toward our salvation only makes our situation worse.

 

Today’s Gospel contains a parable that speaks of: A Treasure in a Field as well as A Pearl of Great Value. In each of these parables the main character does one thing: sell all that he has in order to obtain the item of value.

 

Just as there are two basic religions in this world, there are also two basic ways to interpret these two parablesOne way assumes that we can contribute something to our own salvation.  In this case, we identify the treasure in the field and the valuable pearl as Jesus or God’s Word or even Heaven itself.  

In this scenario we are the man who discovers the treasure or find the pearl of great value. We are also told what to do: sell everything we have in order to have the things of God.  

 

Now while this is a noble sentiment, is it even realistic? Let’s look at another encounter in scriptures that Jesus had with the rich young man. Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” What is Jesus asking this rich young man to do? Exactly what this parable calls for – sell everything he has in order to obtain the treasure in heaven. Did the rich man pass the test?  No. In the account from Matthew it tells us: When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” The young man failed.  He loved his possessions more than he loved God and he was guilty of idolatry.

 

Yet what about us?  Are we ready to get rid of everything that we have in order to obtain God’s gifts?  Be honest now? If we are honest we recognize we place our things higher than God’s.  When this happens guess what we have…. another god.  So when it comes to this particular interpretation of these parables, we all fail.

 

Fortunately for us, when Jesus gives us a teaching that is impossible to keep, He keeps it for us.  Look at today’s Old Testament reading with me. The first verse there, Deuteronomy 7:6, gives us the key to understanding the meaning of these parables we are looking at today.  The Holy Spirit inspired Moses with these words to give to God’s people:  The Lord your God has chosen YOU to be a people for his treasured possession.”  These words teach us that you are the treasure.  You are the valuable pearl. If that’s the case then God in Jesus Christ is the one who sells all that He has to purchase us.



Jesus loves us even though we are sinners. In order to have us, Jesus surrendered His throne in heaven. He took human nature upon Himself. He lived in poverty. He lived under severe oppression. When Jesus described His earthly wealth, He said in Matthew 8: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Ultimately, what little Jesus had was taken from Him. Even when He went to the cross, the soldiers there stripped Him naked in order to add additional shame to the torture He had already endured. Then in a few hours, while Jesus hung on the cross, He surrendered the last thing He had- His Spirit.

 

God would inspire St. Paul to write later to the church just how valuable we are to Him. In Romans 5: He wrote🡪 God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Just like the man who paid all he had in order to buy the field, Jesus paid all that He had, including His own life, to ransom the world from sin.

 

God spared nothing at all, not even His only Son to redeem us from sin, death, and the power of the devil.  God surrendered it all so that He could take us worthless sinners and transform us into His valuable treasure – His precious pearl. God liquidated all of His holdings in order to purchase and redeem you. He turned and had Saint Peter write down these words,For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” From this we learn that currency paid to have us was Christ’s holy innocent blood. It was a sufficient payment. For Jesus did not remain in the grave, but He rose up from the dead on the third day. By this God reassures us that we who believe in Jesus are indeed God’s treasure – His precious pearl.  Jesus’ resurrection comforts us that we will also rise from the dead too. 

 

So on the Last Day you and I will be in front of the judgment seat. Our bill will come due for all of our sins. For those who look to what they have did in this world they will be nervous, because they know they don’t do enough. But for us who believe in Christ and what He has done, we know that the bill has been paid already. Thus you and I have nothing to worry about, nothing to fret because our salvation has been won. It was paid for by our Savior Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen

 


7/19/2020 Service and Sermon text for July 19


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7TH Sunday after Pentecost July 18/19 2020

Text: Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43

Title: What shall we do with the weeds?

 

Grace, Peace, and mercy are yours from God our Father and Jesus the Christ. Amen.

Today Jesus continues to tell you about the Kingdom of God, what it is like, so that we do not grow weary. So that you and I know what we are to do. Jesus tells a parable about a master of the house who has a field that is producing wheat. Yet the servants notice something wrong and tell Him: “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds? The master replied back to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them up?’” The master tells them no lest they pull up the wheat as well.

   

I wish that I had remembered this passage when I was growing up on the farm. We had crops and weeds would come up in them as well. During the hot days of July and August guess what we had to do, walk the fields to get rid of the weeds. Yet this parable would have come in handy for me. It could have gotten me out of a lot of hard work during those summers. I could have turned to Dad and said, “Dad, look at what Jesus says here. He said we shouldn’t pull out the weeds. We should instead let the plants grow together.” But then Dad would turn to me and corrected me by saying, “That’s true, Jesus does say that, but Jesus was talking about a wheat field here. He didn’t say anything about the milo field or a soybean patch. Nice try.”

 

At the time of Jesus the farmers didn’t grow milo or soybeans, and the point Jesus was making wasn’t about what we should literally do with weeds in a wheat field at all.  He was telling His disciples about what He was doing in the world, planting good seed in it, faith in you and me. Yet, there are bad characters, bad seeds that produce weeds, produce problems in this world too. We wonder why doesn’t God send out the His servants to pull out these weeds? 

First off it’s because this field is like wheat. The weeds are close by, not far away from us. If He pulls the weeds out it will destroy the wheat. So instead God waits until judgment day to do this work. He waits until then to help protect us… and that’s not all. There are other reasons as well. 

 

Last week Pastor Boman mentioned to you about those other pesky weeds that he fully expects to welcome him on his return home. The weeds will come up and they’ll try to overtake the flowers for sure. So, I thought that while they are gone I might help them out. I might help by pulling the weeds for them while they are gone. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful surprise? When they come home they’d find no weeds! Pastor Boxman might say it’s a miracle and begin to think that they should go on vacation more often, and if that’s the case, I’ll try not to do such a good job.

 

Yet I might not be the best at it. You see I’m not a flower guy. I’ve pulled a few weeds in my day but I’m not so positive as to what is a weed or what is a flower. Some guidance might help: Like at least I know that weeds don’t have blooms.” Then again what about bindweed? Don’t they have pretty little white flowers that come up? Well that won’t help. I guess I can figure out the flowers. They’re the ones that aren’t prickly like thistles, right? But what about roses with their thorns?  

 

Do you hear something? I think it’s a car engine starting up in Michigan. Pastor Boxman and Lynn might be coming back to make sure I don’t touch any of their flowers.

 

You see when it comes to knowing what’s a weed or what’s a flower it’s not as clear cut as we would like it to be. It’s not like the old movies where the bad guys wore black and the good guys generally wore white. The bad guys also wore masks, and look at us today. It’s not easy and it’s a bit confusing. It’s the same way with the Kingdom of God. It’s hard to know what is “wheat” and what are the “weeds.” It’s hard to know who is “good” and who is “bad.” 

 

Even during the time of Jesus this was the case. Help me in identifying who these guys are? The one would say: “I was a disciple of Jesus. I followed Jesus everywhere. I received His teachings and His blessings. I went out with the disciples to spread the good news” and the final clue, the giveaway clue: “I took care of the moneybag. Who am I?” Judas. Right. Judas sounds like wheat to me, but as you already know Judas goes on to betray Jesus and falls away.

 

Now what about this famous guy from scriptures? He says: “I was a Pharisee of Pharisees. I went out and rounded up Christians, killing them because that’s what I thought the Lord wanted me to do. I approved the killing of Stephen, a man full of faith.” This guy sounds like a weed indeed? But who is this? Saul, who became Paul. Right! 

God would take Saul and turn him around. We read about his conversion and are amazed. Saul who is now Paul would carry out Jesus' message to the nations, the message he so desired to stop. Now instead of fighting to destroy the church Paul’s planting congregations throughout his journeys. Churches began to pop up everywhere, even at the small island of Malta where he shipwrecked, hundreds of churches were built there, twenty some churches even bear his name. Paul looked like a weed at first, but in the end, God would make him into wheat.

 

Yet today we see people dividing up the world into wheat or weeds. People are pigeon-holing others as either friends or enemies. We too are guilty of this. From our own mouths we make eternal judgments upon our fellow neighbors; and maybe our neighbors are weeds, but is it our task to denounce them? 

And what about us? Have we examined our heart? Have we compared it to an all holy and just God? When we do which side of the field do we fall upon? As we look at our past there are a lot of weed-ish activities we have done. In our confession today we spoke the truth. Before an all Holy God we turned to Him and asked Him to be merciful to us because we are sinners. Sinners who should be condemned. Sinners that are bound for the fire. Sinners who ought to be numbered with the weeds.

 

And that’s the condition of this world. That’s the condition of God’s field. It’s full of weeds. They’re everywhere! To paraphrase Paul in Romans 3 he says, “No one is righteous. No not even one, for all have sinned and turned aside; all have gone astray.” What is the harvester to do? What is the owner of this field, God, going to do? I know what would have happened if it was one of the fields on our farm, we’d burn it to the ground. 

But God looks out at His field. He looks out at this world, and He doesn’t set it ablaze. He doesn’t destroy it by fire, instead He tells the servants, “Don’t pull the weeds. Don’t throw them out of the Kingdom just yet.” Why? Because He plans to save them.

 

You and I who are wheat know what the Father does. He sends His Son Jesus. He sends in His only Son who is righteous and holy who alone can save. Jesus alone can redeem. He redeems what has been lost. Jesus redeems weeds. 

Jesus is planted in this world and throughout His life He produces righteous deeds, and then, when the time is right, He goes to the cross and dies. He dies there on the cross bearing our sins, bearing our weeds. Then God the Father raises Him up from the dead to give us eternal peace. We are no longer weeds, but instead we are wheat, wheat through Jesus. We cannot boast, this was all done by God’s grace to make us who were once weedy into wheat, wheat worthy to be gathered up into His barn. 

 

The harvest is coming and on that day you and I who are wheat will be in the presence of Jesus along with all the rest of the saints. Imagine the reunion we will have. We’ll rejoice because there’s no more weeds. No more Co-vid, no more masks, no more lock downs. There won’t be any trials or pain and no more darkness too because you and I shall shine like the sun, shine like a golden wheat harvest out of God’s field.

 

But before that day comes, before the end, what should we do with the weeds? What should be our attitude towards them? Let me suggest to you three things, three things that all start with the letter “R”. First, Recognize that while we live in this world we are part of the weeds too. We need to keep receiving God’s word. Keep receiving God’s mercy and grace every day. Secondly, Remember that Christ’s death on the cross wasn’t just for you and me, but for the whole world too. He wishes to save them as well, to make them heirs of eternal life. So finally, God calls us to Reflect the Son of God. Reflect His love to others as we share His truth, His peace with them. As we Recognize who we are as we Remember what Jesus has done for the whole world and then Reflect Him in this harvest field what will happen? By God’s grace there will be more wheat! More wheat produced in God’s kingdom; and that is what the Kingdom of God is like. 


7/12/2020 Service and Sermon text for July 12


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Matthew 13:18-23  “What Happens When God’s Word Is Proclaimed?”

July 11/12, 2020,  The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost 

Pastor Mark Boxman, Trinity Lutheran Church, Salina Kansas

A parable is an analogy.  Jesus often uses parables to teach us about how God works by comparing it to how things work in some area of our lives.  

Today, we hear how God’s Word works in the hearts and lives of people who hear it by comparing it to the way seeds work when scattered by a farmer or a gardener.  

When you plant a garden, some seeds never sprout. Other seeds sprout and the plants grow, but before they mature and bear fruit, they die.  Thankfully, many seeds do well and produce an abundance  of flowers or vegetables.  

In a similar way, the world is God’s garden, God’s field.  God generously sows His Word.  It is broadcast in churches and in neighborly conversations, on radio, TV, and the internet, and in print.  The seeds are sown all over the world. 

But, among those who hear, the results are not the same.  Our teacher Jesus mentions four things that can happen.  

  1. Some people hear the Word of God, but they do not understand it. The powerful, life giving seed goes in their ears, but no further.  As we say, it goes in one ear and out the other.  They express no interest in Jesus.  They don’t care what God has to say.  Their hard hearts do not accept God’s gracious call to repentance and His offer of new and eternal life.  It’s like seed that lands on the concrete driveway.  It never sprouts.  The birds eat it or it blows away.  

Sometimes he devil just takes it all way.  People completely forget about what God wants them to hear and they give it no more thought.  

  1. The second group of people Jesus talks about are those who hear the Word of God, understand God’s call to repentance and get very excited about the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation given freely through faith in Jesus Christ.  But their faith and joy last only a short time.  Their faith is immature.  It does not have deep roots.  So, when some kind of trouble or persecution comes, their faith and joy shrivel and die. 

I think of college freshmen who move into the dormitory.  Many are still immature in their faith.  Afraid of what their dorm mates may think of them if they get up on Sunday morning to attend church, they never connect with a local congregation.  Or lacking confidence to sit in the pew next to strangers after sitting comfortably next to mom and dad for the past 18 years, they decide to no longer attend church.  Or, after four years of hearing professors belittle Christians, they no longer want to be associated with culturally unacceptable Christianity.  

Be very careful, young people.  The decisions you make when you get out on your own can have eternal consequences.  Without nourishment and care, your faith can shrivel and die. 

Colossians 2:6-7 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 

What about you? What troubles do you face?  During this COVID-19 era, are you taking care of your faith?   What happens if people do not receive the faith-building power of Christ in the Sacrament?  Do people have deep enough roots to survive 16 weeks without church, or 6 months, or 2 years?  Or will some people have their faith shrivel and die?

We do not know what troubles may come our way.  But we see what happens in our gardens when the weather turns hot and dry.  Only the strongest plants can survive severe heat and a lack of rain.

Let us know and believe with all our heart the Third Commandment—our souls need weekly refreshing through the God-appointed means of grace.  Let us act according  to what we have been taught in the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed:  we cannot by our own strength believe or keep on believing.  We need the Holy Spirit.    

Our roots need to be deep, tapped into the Word of God so securely that we can endure trouble and persecution.

Jeremiah 17:8 He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."

  1. The third situation Jesus mentions is the one who hears and believes, but the busy-ness of life, work, and recreation take up all his attention.  He thinks he has no time to go to church, or to read a daily devotion, or to contemplate the things of God.    Like weeds choking out a good plant, the worries and activities of life put a chokehold on faith.

Our flower beds get new weeds every day, and the weeds always grow faster than the flowers.  If I do not pull weeds at least once a week, the weeds can take over.  

Our lives are no different.  We need the accountability that comes with confessing our sins and having God, by His grace, remove those sins from us.  Regularly, we need to put the busy-ness out of our minds and to focus on Jesus Christ our Savior.  Otherwise, we may lose sight of Him.  

Yes, life has a way of choking out our faith.  

Remember Mary and Martha?  Martha was concerned about the cooking and cleaning.  She criticized her sister for listening to Jesus’ teach instead of helping with the chores.  Jesus gently corrected Martha.  “You are upset and worried about many things.  But in the end, only one thing is needed and Mary has made the better choice.”

I think of the countless families I have observed in my 30 years of ministry who have decided that hearing God’s Word is something they will do when they don’t have anything else to do.  This is a dangerous thing to teach children.  Our sinful nature can always find something else to do.  

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  Holy habits matter.  They keep us focused on Jesus and keep our faith strong.   

In these first three situations, the Word of God sown into human hearts proved to be unfruitful.  It was not that the seed was bad.  Seeds may look lifeless and unimpressive, but they are full of life, filled with the power to produce life and an abundance of fruit.  

The Bible may not look impressive.  A sermon may not sound all that spectacular.  But know and believe that the Word is powerful.  I has life in it.  It creates faith and causes new life to sprout and grow in the human heart.  

Why do some not believe?  Jesus has taught us that the devil, the sinful world, and our own wandering hearts can kill faith.  

But that does not stop God from sowing generously.  Nor should we become skeptical.  We know that not every seed will sprout but we know that some will and those that do will bear abundant fruit and bring much joy.  We plant. We water. We rely upon God to make it grow.

  1. That leads us to the fourth example Jesus gives us.  Some hear the good news that God has come in Jesus Christ to reclaim and forgive His people and that preaching bears abundant fruit.  The hearer understands the eternal significance of Jesus, believes in Jesus has his Savior, trusts that all Jesus’ promises are true, lives by faith, understands his earthly life as redeemed by Christ, draws upon Jesus for strength, rejoices in this life freely given, and will die peacefully with faith in Christ to awaken in the presence of God in heaven.  

If the Word of God has produced faith in your heart, do not take it for granted and do not think that this is your own doing.  Open your heart and lips to sing sincere praise to God. His Holy Spirit planted this seed in your heart and has caused it to grow and mature.  

Understand that a healthy garden takes daily attention and hard work.  Take good care of your faith.  Work very hard for yourself and your family to develop and preserve good and faithful habits.  Be vigilant. Spiritual dangers are everywhere.  Remember this parable every time you walk into your garden to take care of it.  Consider that God is taking care of your faith through His  Word.  Think about what weeds need to be pulled from your life. Remember what it takes to have healthy and strong roots.  

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy-- 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Jude 1:24 NIV)


7/5/2020 Service and Sermon text for July 5


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Amos 7:7,8  The Condition of Our Nation

A Day of Supplication and Prayer, July 4,5, 2020

Pastor Mark Boxman, Trinity Lutheran Church, Salina, Kansas

Gallup and other polling organizations routinely conduct surveys to determine the religious attitudes of our nation.  For example, according to a 2019 Gallup poll, almost 50% of Americans consider religion to be “very important” in their lives.  A shocking 20% of Americans say that they have no religion whatsoever, a 5-fold increase in the past 20 years.  Nearly 50% of Americans claim membership in a Christian church.

God took His own religious survey 2800 years ago.  In the Old Testament book of Amos we read that the LORD was holding up a plumb line.  A plumb line is used by carpenters to make buildings and walls straight.  The LORD was using a plumb line to see if the nation of Israel was on the straight and narrow, if they were tilting just a little bit, or if they were so crooked they had to be torn down to start over.  

What did God observe?  It was not good.  The people of Israel had been turning away from the LORD for several generations.  They no longer revered Him as God, but had adopted the values and beliefs of their ungodly neighbors.  They mistreated the poor.  Lying and sexual deviancy were in style.  Babies were sacrificed to the gods of pleasure and convenience.  The religious foundations were so weak and rotten, the entire culture was about to collapse. 

The LORD had been patient with them.  He sent preachers to call them to repentance, but their message fell on deaf ears.  Amos announced that God decided to take more drastic action.  The nation of Israel was about to be attacked and conquered by the cruel, godless and merciless Assyrians.  Those who survived the violent assault would be taken as prisoners to a foreign land.

This once godly nation that became godless no longer exists.  History refers to it as “the lost tribes of Israel.”   

God-fearing people realize that this same thing could happen to our nation.  People who read the Bible understand that God judges not only individuals, but also entire nations.  Any civilization that despises God’s law, rejects the LORD as the Creator of all things, and snubs Jesus, the Son of God and Lord of the universe, is in danger of God’s severe judgment. 

Our nation was founded on many virtuous and godly ideals.  “All people are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  Thankfully, our nation has many faithful Christians living godly and holy lives and many god-fearing politicians.

But, if God were to hold up His plumb line, the Ten Commandments, to evaluate America today, what would be the result?  Do you think America is spiritually healthy?  Or do you think God may bring judgment upon our land in an attempt to humble us and bring us to repentance?

We might wander:  How can God tolerate the murder of millions of unborn babies?   The Bible calls this detestable. 

How long will God allow our culture to arrogantly distort His creative order regarding gender, sexuality and marriage?  Because of this, the Bible says, God’s wrath is coming.  

Will God really permit our culture to be built on the false premise that God does not exist, that He did not make the world, and that He has nothing to do with education and daily living?   This is a flagrant violation of the first commandment.

How much longer will God tolerate the deplorable false teaching found in many Christian churches today?  Will God hold back His wrath for the sake of the small percentage of citizens who attend a Christ-centered church?  

God is merciful.  God is very patient. God does not want us to live our days on earth in sorrow and oppression.  But at times, God withholds His protective hand and allows entire nations to suffer.      

God knows that it often takes horrible circumstances in which people feel utterly helpless and miserable for them to recognize the seriousness of sin and our need for a Savior.  Repeatedly throughout history, in the midst of horrible oppression, godless people have turned to God, crying out for mercy and deliverance.

Does America need something to wake us up from our spiritual stupor? 

Do not let our politically uncertain and tumultuous times become for you a crisis of faith.  Do not doubt God’s goodness.  Trust that God knows what He is doing.  His discipline is always carried out in love, with an eye toward leading people to turn from their wicked ways and to turn toward Him so they may live. 

Remember the story of the prodigal son?  What turned that rebellious, runaway son around?  He returned to his father after all the things he enjoyed were taken away, after he found himself destitute and unable to help himself.  His sad condition made him long for the love and security of his father’s house.

What does it take to turn a prodigal nation back to God?  It may begin with very difficult, scary and uncertain times.   

This weekend, we celebrate our nation’s 244th birthday with thanksgiving.  God called us live at this time and in this place and has richly blessed us.  Most kings and queens throughout history have not lived as wonderfully as we have.  Our grocery store provides innumerable fresh fruits and vegetables, dozens of selections of meat, toothpaste, soap, and medicines.  We enjoy running water, air conditioning, instantaneous communication and safe, speedy transportation.  We are protected from tyranny by the Bill of Rights.   Our beautiful landscape includes amber waves of grain, purple mountain majesty, shining seas, and fruited plains.

But, our nation also has many serious problems.  Will God patiently and mercifully grant us more years in this land of the free?  Will He grant us peace and security or will He allow us, like the ancient nation of Israel, to be ruled by tyrants and bullies, perhaps by godless Marxists or communists?  Will He soon deliver us from this pandemic or will He allow it to continue to put fear and trembling into the hearts of unbelievers?  

We do not know.  

Is there anything we can do?  Yes, two things.  

  1. We will be a blessing to our nation when we listen to what God clearly says:  It is better that one man, Jesus, die on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, than for an entire nation to perish.  Entrust our nation’s future to God who was willing to give His one and only Son to be a mediator between a holy God and ungodly people, to pay the ransom price for our redemption.  (See John 11:49-52.)  

God does not want to bring our nation to ruin.  He wants to save everyone. He would rather that every citizen in our land and all of our leaders come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.  Could it happen?  It has happened many times in history.  Read the book or Jonah or of the period of the Judges.  These were times in which entire nations had a God-given spiritual renewal.  

Faith in God’s mercy in Jesus Christ leads us to be content with whatever our earthly circumstances.  Wherever we live, whatever kind of government we live under, whether there is great prosperity or poverty, public safety or the threat of riots and viruses, God has called us to be His witnesses in this context.  God is at work in the circumstances of life.  His ways are good.  His thoughts are higher and better than ours.  He desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

So pray for our nation.  

  1. (See 1 Timothy 2:1-6.)  We listen to God and we pray.  We pray for all who are in positions of authority in our nation, state and community.  They have an important and influential role to play in our nation’s future.  Their God-given job is to promote peace and security that we may live holy and productive lives on earth.  Pray that our merciful God will give us faithful and godly rulers so that our days on earth may be a joy, not a burden. 

We pray with a repentant heart.  Pray confessing your own sins and the sins of our nation.  Pray for God not to treat us as our sins deserve but to have mercy on us as individuals and upon our entire nation.  If we don’t who will?  Such prayer is our god-given, patriotic duty.  

Besides enjoying fireworks, hotdogs and apple pie, may this be a weekend of supplication and prayer to God on behalf of our nation. 

Lord have mercy.  God help us.  Amen.


7/3/2020 Letter From Pastor Boxman

Trinity Lutheran Church

702 South Ninth Street 785-823-7151

Salina, KS 67401 www.trinitysalina.org

 

Pastor Mark Boxman  markdboxman@gmail.com

        620-441-8342

July 3, 2020

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

“We know that his testimony is true” (John 21:24).   Every word of the Bible is trustworthy and true because every word comes from God who knows all things and does not lie.  We know for certain that God’s grace in Jesus Christ is real and true.  Thanks be to God!

In many areas of life, we have little certainty.  Those giving advice on how to handle COVID-19 have often changed their minds.  Over the past week, Kansans have been debating the value of wearing face masks.    

On July 2, the Saline County Commission issued a Public Health Order that states:  “Use of cloth face coverings will not be legally mandated within Saline County.  Individuals are highly encouraged to make responsible individual choices about wearing cloth face coverings within buildings and in outdoor situations when social distancing cannot be maintained, in order to protect themselves and others from the transmission of COVID-19.”

So, how does this affect our life together at Trinity?

  1. We deal with one another gracefully.  We respect those who choose to wear masks and those who choose not to.  There are valid points pro and con.  
  2. We encourage all people to be careful in interacting with one another when closer than six feet apart.  Masks are certainly appropriate, especially in the commons area and doorways.  Masks are available just inside the entryway.  We will not require masks.
  3. Please be respectful of others who may be more “at-risk.”
  4. If you or a family member has COVID-like symptoms, we kindly ask the entire family to refrain from in-person activities at the church. 
  5.  We ask God mercifully to protect us and to give us peace with regard to the risks we face every day. 

A couple more notes for you.

  1. Our Saturday 6:15 pm service will be held only if reservations for the 5:00 pm service fill up the social distancing seating. 
  2. The Lutheran Laymen’s League has postponed the ice cream social.  More details to be announced at a later date.

 

“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (3 John 1:1 NIV).

 

Serving the Lord with Gladness,

Pastor Boxman


6/27/2020 Service and Sermon text for June 28


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Matthew 10, 34-36, The Eye of the Storm  

Proper 8, June 27/28, 2020

Pastor Mark Boxman, Trinity Lutheran Church, Salina, Kansas

What do these names have in common?  Andrew.  Katrina.  Harvey.  They are  famous, destructive hurricanes that struck the United States over the past generation.

Interestingly, in the center of a violent hurricane is a small place of perfect calm.  Right in the middle of it all, no wind, no rain, no lightning, just peace.  It’s call the eye of the storm.  

Our life in Christ is much like living in the eye of a hurricane.  Troubles are all around us.  The storms of life rage with endless furry.  The world is violent and turbulent.  But in the midst of it all, Jesus brings peace to His people.  In a way truly remarkable, in a way beyond human explanation and understanding, Jesus brings a calm and quiet confidence to human hearts when everything around us is crazy.  It does not seem like it would be possible, but there it is and it is real.

  • You have seen this peace in the dying Christian—a quiet confidence that everything will be OK because Jesus has opened the door to heaven.  
  • You have seen it in those who have could dwell on the mistakes of the past and live in sorrow, but instead live joyously in Jesus’ forgiveness of sins.  
  • You have seen it in the one whose troubles seem to never go away, who seemingly has no reason to think things will ever get better, yet who trusts God for daily strength and lives to selflessly serve others.

The peace that Jesus brings is not that all is right with the world, but that all is right between us and God.  People may be rebelling against God, but God is not fighting back.  God has reconciled the world to Himself in Christ Jesus.  This reconciliation Jesus effected at great cost to Himself—a bloody death upon Calvary’s rugged cross. 

  • In Jesus, we know that we will never experience the eternal wrath of God—that’s peace. 
  • In Jesus, we are sure that God does not hate us but loves us, that He is not out to punish us but to bless us—that’s peace.  
  • In Jesus we know the grace and mercy of God--that’s peace.
  • Believing that God, in His infinite wisdom and love, is working all things together to save as many people as possible—that’s peace.  
  • God in Christ redeeming our earthly lives from futility so that our words and actions have eternal significance--that’s peace.

Peace in the eye of the storm does not depend on the circumstances being peaceful, but on being at peace with God in the midst of all the storms of life.  Peace came to this earth when Jesus was born and the angels taught us to rejoice in it.   “Peace be with you” were the first words Jesus spoke after His resurrection from the dead. 

This peace is experienced by those who have lost their homes to fires and floods, by parents who have buried their children, by farmers who wait on the Lord to provide favorable weather, by adults who have learned to forgive abusive and alcoholic parents, by people who live with risks but not with fear.

In our text for today, Jesus is sending the apostles on a missionary journey to share the peace of God with people caught in the devastating storms of life.  It was a practice run for the call He would later give them: the privilege of sharing this Gospel peace with the whole world.  

Having said all this about peace in Jesus, our text sounds a bit strange.  

Jesus says, “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.  I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”

Here Jesus is not talking about the peace that God puts in our hearts, but about venturing into the storms of life, going into the realm of life where the devil and His lies are holding people captive in unbelief, anger and fear.  

Jesus sends His followers well-equipped, with just the right tool   to defeat the devil and set people free from sin, death, lies and Satan’s tyranny.  Jesus gives us a sword, not made of bronze or steel, but the Sword of the Spirit, a powerful Word weapon to overthrow the devil and to liberate people from sin’s deadly reign.  

The point in our text is this.  Not all respond positively to Jesus. Some react to the message of the Bible with hardness of heart.  The very means that God has ordained to bring peace can instead bring conflict.   Some receive the sword assured that is it God’s way of saving and protecting.  Others see that same Word as a threat. 

The hot sun will melt wax and bake bricks.  The message of the Gospel will melt many hearts and turn them in repentance and faith to live in the peace of Christ.  That same Gospel message will harden other hearts.  What for some is a rock solid message of peace and salvation is for others a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.

The Gospel creates the strongest bond of unity among those who believe it.  But it can also create a deep divide between believer and unbeliever.

Often this divide hits right at home, where it hurts the most.  Family members may often clash with one another.  Some trust in Jesus with all their hearts.  Others reject Him.

What’s not to like about Jesus?  In a sin-twisted way, Jesus makes many people angry.  The sinful nature loves lies and hates the truth.  It is comfortable in the cover of darkness and despises the light of day.

When truth meets error, where the holy Son of God encounters a smug, unbelieving heart, it is like hot and cold air producing a thunderstorm.  The warmth of God’s love clashes with the cold, cruel world.

When the Law is clearly proclaimed it all its sternness, it cuts people open, revealing the sickness of sin. When the Gospel is proclaimed in all its sweetness, it injects the healing balm of God’s love in Jesus Christ into the wound.  Such a procedure brings life.  But it is also painful as it slays the old sinful man and gives new birth to a child of God.   Lies do not go away gracefully but with resistance.  The devil does not wave a white flag but fights to the bitter end. 

Jesus did not carry out His compassionate mission from a distance.  Jesus left the comfort of heaven and got right in the middle of the storm.  It was risky and He died.  But through this in-person ministry, God brings peace to the world.   

To this very day, God does not conduct His mission from a distance, from a safe bunker far underground or simply by posting sermons on-line.   God sends flesh and blood followers to look sinners in the eye, to speak Law and Gospel directly into the ear, and to extend the hand of fellowship to those who believe in Jesus.  He sends pastors to preach face-to-face and to place the body of Christ into the hand and the blood of Christ upon the lips of people gathered in name of Jesus.  

Young pastors often become discouraged.  Preaching, they discover is not as enjoyable as they had assumed.   Exposing sin and calling to repentance with the Sword of the Spirit is sometimes met with resistance.

Our honest Savior knows that when we carry out His saving mission with heart to heart conversations around the dinner table, across the back fence and in stores and restaurants, we run the risk of upsetting delicate relationships.  We speak with gentleness and love, but some, instead of receiving the Word with joy, may be offended.

   Love for our neighbor leads us take that chance. We trust God that His Word will accomplish the purpose for which He gives it.  We believe that the Sword of the Spirit is the only way to liberate people from sin, death and the tyranny of the devil.  Faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ.  

Every life is precious to God.  Christ died for everyone.  He wants everyone to know His peace now and for all eternity.  

May God grant us peace even as we live in the middle of the storm.

Amen.

The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7 NIV).  May it be so!


6/20/2020 Service and Sermon text for June 21


Service bulletins are available using the "Connect" tab at top of page.


Lifting You Up into The Shelter of His Wings

Psalm 91

Sermon 6.20/21. 2020

 

  Grace, Peace, and Mercy are yours from God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

The calendar last week said it was still spring, but from the weather, what did it feel like to you? The dog days of summer. When this happens, when that takes place, where do we go? We go to the places that give us shade. 

 

Yet there is another type of shade we look for, a shade that gives us relief, not from the heat of sun but from the strife of this life. As the heat increases, it seems, so does the troubles of this world. But where will we ever find the shade that we need? Where do you go? We go to the Lord and He leads us to His word. We call upon His name to save us and He delivers us every time.

 

Today to find our shade, I’d like us to turn to Psalm 91. As we read this text God delivers us through His Son so that we find our rest, our relief under His wings.

 

Let’s go to the bulletin and look at verses 1 and 2: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 

 

There is the shade that you and I need; the shade that comes from the Most High. But the question is do we have it? Am I covered under it especially when I can feel as if I am away from God’s peace? Through God’s mercy we remember what He has done for us. That He washed us in the waters of Baptism, He has made us His own and covered us with His grace by the blood of His Son Jesus.  Listen to other scripture as well and know that this is true- Psalm 139: “Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, (think of Jonah and the whale), even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” 

 

God is there with you, no matter where you are at, even if it happens to be in the midst of communist country called China you can still say, My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. Because God’s shade is even there with you.

 

Let’s continue on. Verses 3 and 4: For He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

 

Do these words apply to you and me today? Absolutely! These words caught my eye when I read through it the first time. God’s word always is relevant. The virus that is out there now is a deadly pestilence and can be just like a hidden snare, a hidden trap that at a moment’s notice can take our life. Yet God promises here in verse 4 that He will cover you. That He will protect you. How? Through His faithfulness. With pestilences or viruses we turn to doctors, nurses, hospital staff to come to our aid  and administer God’s healing touch. Many times we find that their care gets us well, but what about those who don’t; when we don’t make it? Did God’s faithfulness fail? No, God still heals, it happens just on the way to heaven where God completely restores all those under the shade of His Son’s wings. 

 

Now verses 5 and 6: You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

 

At times do you feel as if you are bombarded with fear 24/7? As we look at these verse that’s the sense we get from the psalmist: Night, Day, Noonday. He’s pointing out that at all times we live in chaos which can cause us anxiety. So what can we do?

 

 Go to His shade found in God’s word. Long ago I had a wise pastor give me a verse that provides God’s shelter. It was Joshua 1:9, my confirmation verse: “Be strong and courageous, do not be fearful do not be discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you shall go.” I have to remind myself of that in anxious times. We go to that shelter as we remember words like Psalm 46:10: Be still and know that I am God. His word like a shade tree that we gather under. It’s His wings that covers over you and me in times of danger, in times of trouble. It is always there for you and me.

 

Now verses 7- 10 Although 1,000 may fall at your side, 10,000 at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place -- the Most High, who is my refuge-- no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague will come near your tent.

 

As we look at the deaths of 1,000 or 10,000 it causes us to think of a war or a plague that has gone on. Some scholars think that the one who shares these words was Moses who certainly saw in his lifetime the death of a 1,000 or even 10,000 fall at one time.

 

 God would lead His people out of the land of Egypt to the Promised Land and in order to get them out, He would send the 10 plagues. The last plague brought the angel of death one night. It took the lives of all the firstborn of who lived in Egypt: their children, their livestock, even their servants, none was saved, except Israel, who was God’s firstborn. The blood of a lamb protected them and the blood of the lamb still protects you and me today too. The blood of the lamb Jesus fulfills these verses for us. Yes will one day die, but on judgment day we shall life forever. We will not fall with the wicked on that day where there’ll will be more than 1,000s or 10,000s who fall, but not you. Instead God will lift you up and carry you to everlasting life. You will be saved because of the blood of the lamb protects you. 

 

Let’s look at the last verses here, verses that carry a lot of promises for you and me because of Jesus. Starting at verse 11:  For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. Because He holds fast to me in love, I will deliver Him; I will protect Him, because He knows my name. When He calls to me, I will answer Him; I will be with HIm in trouble; I will rescue Him and honor Him. With long life I will satisfy Him and show Him my salvation.

 

Do verses 11 and 12 seem familiar? Have you heard of them from somewhere else? These words come out of the mouth of Satan. He tried to twist them to get Jesus to fall, just like he did Adam and Eve long ago when he said- Did God really say...  Satan set up a trap, a snare to try to get Jesus to put our Father to the test, but Jesus wouldn’t fall for it. Instead, He would go on and defeat this devil. 

 

Moving onto verse 13, about treading over a lion, an adder, or the young lion or a serpent, I want to remind you what they used to say on T.V. to kids: DON’T GO HOME AND TRY IT! Let the professionals do this and the only one qualified is Jesus. Now you’ll have to do some thinking here: Who is compared to these animals in the Bible? Who is known as a roaring lion or a crafty snake? The devil. And who treads and tramples him? Jesus. As Jesus goes to the cross and rises from the tomb He crushes the head of Satan and fulfills Genesis 3:15:

 

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

 

This happens on the cross. Where God gives you and me the shade that we need. The perfect Son of God stretches out His arms on the cross, He stretches out His wings to give you and me relief- for the wages of sin death. That’s what we deserve, but under this tree, under Jesus cross we have shade that lasts for eternity. Jesus provides us with His pinions, He provides us His blood to shade you and me, not from the heat of the dog days of summer, but from the heat of hell. He comes to fulfill the promises of psalm 91:

 
  • To deliver you.
  • To protect you.
  • To answer you when you call in times of trouble.
  • To rescue you.
  • To honor you.
  • And to satisfy you with eternal life as He gives you salvation through the shade of His wings.

It probably seems like ages ago, but during Christmas time we sang: 

 

Hark the Herald Angels Sing Glory to the newborn King; Peace on earth and mercy mild God and sinners reconciled! 

 

I want you to listen to verse 3 because the hymnist writes: “Light and Life to all He brings, Ris’n with healing in His wings.”

 

Through the wings of Jesus we have been restored, even though we live in a world that is at times driven by fear. Even though there are physical, emotional, or spiritual battles surrounding us, Jesus provides us with the shade that we need. He lifts us up into the shelter of His wings and there we find His rest. There we find relief from this heat. There we find His eternal peace. Be at peace dear friends in Christ you have been lifted up in the shelter of His wings. In the Name of Jesus,

Amen.

6/15/2020 Letter From Pastor Boxman

Trinity Lutheran Church

702 South Ninth Street 785-823-7151

Salina, KS 67401 www.trinitysalina.org

 

Pastor Mark Boxman  markdboxman@gmail.com

        620-441-8342

 

June 9, 2020

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

In the Old Testament, the Lord gave people a year of Jubilee. Debts were forgiven and people were given a fresh start. The Jubilee celebration brought people together to praise God and celebrate. 

 

Jesus is our Jubilee. In Him, our debts are forgiven. Through Him, our lives are renewed each day. Let us celebrate and praise God. 

 

June 19 marks a Jubilee of sorts. As our community enters “phase out” from the COVID-19 restrictions, we praise God that our community has been spared the brunt of the pandemic. The virus has not completely disappeared, but our health department believes we can manage the risks without a long list of restrictions. Thanks be to God. 

 

Lord wiling, next weekend, we will begin to “return to normal” in our life together at Trinity. We will cautiously and gradually phase out restrictions and return to regular routines. We acknowledge that some people want to continue social distancing. Some do not. Some want to wear masks. Others feel comfortable without them. Some are ready to shake hands and give hugs. Others prefer to stay a few feet apart. We respect each person making their own decisions in these matters. We pray that our plans will accommodate your preferences. The number of Saline County COVID-19 cases and directives from our county health department will continue to guide our phase out plans. 

 

Our worship schedule beginning June 20/21 will be: Saturday 5:00 pm, Sunday 8:30 and 11:00 am, social distancing on the left (lectern) side of the sanctuary. Non-distancing seating (open seating) on the right (pulpit) side. 

 

Saturday 6:15 pm, and Sunday 9:45 am, social distancing seating only. All services will continue sanitizing between services. The offering will be received at the door. We will not use hymnals or other shared items. 

 

If you desire open seating, you do not need to make a reservation. If you prefer a seat in the social distancing area, please make a reservation by calling the church office (785-823-7151) on Friday or Saturday, 10 am to noon. Holy Communion will be offered on the first and third weekends of each month. 

 

Ushers, lectors, acolytes, greeters, hosts and other worship practices will be phased in over the next few months. 

 

May the Lord grant us continued unity and generous patience in our life together in Christ. 

 

Serving the Lord with Gladness,

Pastor Mark Boxman 

6/13/2020 Service and Sermon text for June 14


Service bulletins are available using the "Connect" tab at top of page.


Matthew 9 and 10, Compassion

June 13/14, 2020

Pastor Mark Boxman, Trinity Lutheran Church, Salina, Kansas

Please look at the pictures on your bulletin insert. (Please scroll down to see insert) What comes to mind when you see the homeless man or the lonely prison cell?  How do you react to the nursing home photo?  What thoughts go through your mind when you see the exhausted, single mom?  What’s the first thing you think of when you see the rioter or the person screaming in the face of the police officer? 

Jesus saw those same kinds of scenarios in His day.  What thoughts did He have?  

Matthew 9:35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 

Jesus did not conduct His ministry from behind a computer screen.  He was out and about among the people.  He saw what we see—volatile racial, political and religious tensions, individuals with huge obstacles to overcome, hucksters offering false hope, the masses being abused, bullied, and oppressed.

Everywhere He went He saw bloodied, battered and bruised hearts, people harassed and helpless, like animals getting caught in barbed wire with no one to set them free.  

How did Jesus react?  Does He say, “What a bunch of irresponsible, miserable, no-good people”?  No.  Does He conclude, “They are getting what they deserve.  They got themselves into this mess, they can get themselves out”? Absolutely not.

Jesus was not thinking that way.  He had compassion for the people.  Their predicaments made Him sick to His stomach, not in such a way that He wanted to turn and run away.  Rather, this compassion moved Him to visit all the cities and villages so He could shepherd the people, so He could help them and bring healing to them. He spoke the truth, not a nagging “I told you so,” but patient and loving words of forgiveness and hope, backed up with miracles that brought true deliverance in a way that only God can do.  

Compassion.  That word describes how God sees our world today and how the Lord looks upon you with all your troubles and heartaches.  Our holy God does not look down His nose and say, “You would not be in this mess if you had listened to me in the first place.”  Instead He says, “Let Me help you.  Trust Me and follow Me.  I will redeem your life and give you peace.”

Compassion led the Father to send Jesus into the world in the first place.  God has not given up on the world or upon you.  He seeks to be your Good Shepherd, your Helper, your Savior, your Comforter, your Leader, your Hope, your God, your Father, your Redeemer, your Sanctifier.  

With Jesus it’s not, “Get your life straightened out first, then I’ll love you and be your Friend.”  Jesus takes you as you are, troubles and all.  He loves you unconditionally.   He comes not to harass you, but to redeem you.  He does not harm you or offer you false hope. He is not angry with you.  He is all about grace—free and undeserved kindness. He is the Helper God provides you for all that is wrong. 

Jesus’ compassion is not in word only.  He did not stop in all those villages for a photo op and then get on his private jet to return to heaven.  He went to each town to take the sin, the guilt, and the sickness upon Himself.

Very rarely will someone die for someone else.  But Jesus demonstrates His love for you by dying for you and every other ungodly person, and for everyone pictured on our insert.

Today, Jesus has come to our town, to this church, because He has compassion on you. Whatever your “picture” looks like, Jesus wants to be your Shepherd in all the troubles of this life.  

My grandmother had a plaque on her bathroom wall depicting a man sitting in a toilet bowl about to pull the flush handle and saying, “Goodbye, cruel world.”

In compassion, God has not chosen to flush us or our cruel world down the toilet.  Nor does He want us to think that is the only solution available to us.  Jesus’ forgiving, saving, reconciling grace redeems our lives from the sewer.  He raises us up above the garbage going on around us and declares our lives of eternal value. 

Let’s continue reading.

37 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." 

The world needs more compassionate people who by their actions demonstrate the love of God, who with their words point people to the merciful God who sent His Son to this planet, not to condemn but to save.  Every harassed and helpless individual, every town torn apart by hostility, and every nation divided by hatred and violence need the burden-lifting, life-renewing, reconciling compassion of God in Jesus Christ. 

God teaches us to pray about this because compassion and peacemaking do not come naturally to sinners.  The way of the sinful nature is anger, self-righteousness, hatred, revenge, violence, finger pointing, name calling, disregard for human dignity and freedom, bullying and abuse.

Even we who ought to know better and do better can become apathetic and give pious-sounding excuses as to why we do not want to be involved with the people pictured on our insert or in the lives of others who are harassed and helpless.

And so we pray.  We pray for God to forgive us.  We pray for God to transform us.  We pray for God to provide compassionate workers to bring his love in Jesus Christ to a world that without it is a living hell on its way to hell.  

Faithful politicians may help some. Reform of bad laws will be a good thing.  But what is needed most is the reconciling, redeeming grace of God in Jesus Christ.  People who experience the compassion of God for  themselves begin to treat others with compassion and respect.  They create a culture that tears down the dividing wall of hostility between people and reconciles individuals and people groups to one another. 

In the 1960’s, Coca Cola got it right.  What the world needs now is love.  But the million dollar question is where does that love come from?  How do people come to treat each other with dignity and respect?  Love begins with God.  Love is revealed in Jesus Christ.  Love becomes a way of life when, one by one, people are reconciled to God.  Then like salt seasoning food, followers of Christ season an entire culture, and compassion becomes not a rare act that makes the news, but a way of life, the regular way in which people treat each other.

Only God can make that happen.  So we pray.

10:1 And Jesus called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. 5 These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And proclaim as you go, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.” 

Prayer is a wonderful gift from God.  We lay our hearts bear before our God and He hears us.  But prayer is also a little scary.  We pray for God to provide compassionate workers and how does He answer our prayer—by calling the pray-ers to be the answer to their prayers. 

That’s exactly what happens in our text. Jesus calls the disciples who pray to go and be the answer to their own prayer.

That’s what prayer is, isn’t it?  God’s people, with thanksgiving to the God who offered His Son for us, offering themselves to serve Him. 

Look again at the pictures on our bulletin insert.  Can you look upon each person with eyes of compassion? When you leave this sanctuary today and go about your daily routine, will you see each person you encounter as one dearly loved by God, a person precious enough for Jesus to die on the cross to save them?

When you see those who are harassed and helpless, those who do not have the shepherd to lead them, pray for them.  Ask God to provide a compassionate person to love them.  And then remember, you may be the answer to your own prayer. 

About 100 years ago, a man whose name I do not know, had great compassion for his fellow railroaders.  On the side of a steep hill alongside the railroad with white-washed stones he spelled out these words:  CHRIST DIED FOR THE UNGODLY.  Today, if you travel US 77 through Cowley County you can still see that 200 yard long passage.

As we sit here right now, there are many people harassed by the demonic influences of this world who feel helpless.  They may even be praying for God to perform a miracle to help them.  Your friendship, your phone call, your visit, your handwritten note, your text message, you extending and invitation to them to Life’s Biggest Questions class may be the answer to their prayer.  

May God grant it for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

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6/9/2020 Letter From Pastor Boxman

Trinity Lutheran Church

702 South Ninth Street 785-823-7151

Salina, KS 67401 www.trinitysalina.org

 

Pastor Mark Boxman  markdboxman@gmail.com

        620-441-8342

 

June 9, 2020

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10).

With great joy and thanksgiving we continue to welcome more in-person worship attendees each week (over 200 last weekend).  The Lord is strengthening our faith so that our lives bear an abundance of good fruit.  Thanks be to God!

Your kindness and patience with making reservations and being flexible with which service you attend and where you sit have enabled people to return safely.  Thank you very much!

Worship plans for this week (June 13 and 14) will be similar to last week.

Worship on Saturday, 5:00 and 6:15 pm, and Sunday, 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 am.  No Holy Communion this week.  Please call the church office (785-823-7151)  Friday or Saturday, 10:00 am to noon for reservations.

 

Next week, expect to hear about several changes to our worship routine.  On Friday, June 19, we will join our community by entering “phase out,” a period in which the Saline County Health Department and the Saline County Commission suggests a gradual return to regular activities.

Trinity’s leadership team has adopted a plan to gradually and cautiously “return to normal.”  With respect, we acknowledge that some people are ready to shake hands and sit close together.  Others are more cautious and prefer to continue social distancing.  We hope to accommodate your level of comfort with options for social distancing and no social distancing.

Our life together in Christ during the COVID-19 era involves loving sacrifice from each of us.  

May the Lord grant us unity and mutual encouragement and prepare us for a bold and faithful future of proclaiming Christ to our community.  

 

Serving the Lord with Gladness,

 

Pastor Mark Boxman 



***Snack donations needed for VBS.  If you would like to help, they are in need of individually wrapped single serving mini crackers (for example, Goldfish, Ritz bitz) and individually wrapped single serving mini cookies (for example, OREO, Chips Ahoy, Nutter Butter Bites).  A box will be in the Commons Area this weekend and next weekend for these donations.  Thank you!  


6/7/2020 Service Sermon text for June 7


Service bulletins are available using the "Connect" tab at top of page.



Psalm 8

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name!

 

Grace, Peace and Mercy are yours from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Dear Christian Friends,

Does it seem like our world is out of control? Does it seem like its falling apart? This past week my in-laws in Minnesota saw some of the chaos around them. Businesses being broken into. Places they frequented destroyed. My friend in Chattanooga Tennessee drives to work in Nashville and in that city they burned down the city hall. These are scenes you’d expect in a movie, not in reality. 

We wonder if there is anyone in charge, anyone in control. There is, God. He is in control. He has the world still firmly in His hands. His word reassures us of this. Today we hear from King David who says, “O Lord, my Lord how majestic is Your name in all the earth.” Majestic is word we don’t use often anymore, but it means power, control like a King. God is our King and there are four places that declare God’s majestic power still today. The Heavens, the earth, from the mouth of children and Jesus Himself. They all declare:O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name!”

Let’s turn to Psalm 8 and see.

The Heavens declare it-

Let’s look at verse 3. David says, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,…” David must have been a stargazer. Many in this world are. They gaze up there and wonder. Just this last week we sent up Space X with 2 astronauts went up along with a couple satellites to explore the vast Frontier above. You and I probably won’t get that opportunity to go, yet we can still do what King David did here and gaze upon the stars at night and see them point to God’s majestic power that makes us feel a bit small. 

 

President Theodore Roosevelt made it a habit, a ritual, to go out at night just to see the stars in the sky. Once he invited a friend named William Beebe to come with him and one night they looked at the lower left hand corner of Pegasus and William Beebe said, “There’s the Spiral galaxy of [Andra-muh-da] Andromeda. It is as large as our own galaxy, the Milky Way, with a 100 million galaxies inside it and over 100 billion suns, each bigger than our own sun.” The story goes that after hearing this Roosevelt paused and grinned and then said, Well“[n]ow I think we are small enough! Let’s go to bed.” But Wow! Think of those words Mr. Beebe said. How immensely small are we compared to the huge universe God has made. 

 

Do we really believe that the Lord God, who created the vast universe, with all the planets and their solar systems can no longer control this little one planet of ours? Of course not. We along with David can point God’s handiwork in the night sky as proof of His majestic power. The heavens there, the stars are shining brightly declaring to us and to the world, “O Lord, our Lord How Majestic Is Your Name!”

The second place David sends us to see God’s majestic name proclaimed is the earth.



The Earth Declares God’s Majestic name too

 

In verse four King David says: “…what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” In other words: Lord, why do you pay any attention at all to this one tiny speck in Your universe, why are You so mindful of us? And why do You give us such a big task? David says in verse 6, You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; and have put everything under our feet: all flocks and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.” David’s referring back to the whole Creation Account in Genesis, where the Lord God gave Adam and Eve and all their descendants they were to rule over everything in this world. They were to manage all of God’s resources wisely. When we think of resources we think of oil, gas, coal, maybe the forests. Yet here God includes with that all of God’s creatures: including the birds of the air, the beasts of the field, and all the fish of the sea. Including this one: 

 

It’s longer than 3 dump trucks, heavier than 110 Honda Civics, and has a heart the size of a Volkswagen Beetle? That would be the blue whale that lives in the Pacific Ocean. The blue whale eats 4 tons of krill a day which comes out to be over 3 million calories! Even a baby blue whale can put away 100 gallons of milk every 24 hours. Hey honey, I think will have to go to the grocery store again for milk. When a blue whale surfaces, it takes in the largest breath of air of any creature on our planet. Its spray shoots higher into the air than the height of a telephone pole. Our God made that Blue Whale. Just as He made eagles to soar, little hummingbirds from Central America to come and eat at your feeder in your backyard; He made bees to make honey and bears along with you and I to eat. 

 

With this in mind do we really believe that the Lord God who fashioned all these creatures with such creativity and loving care; the Lord God who watches over even tiny sparrows, is no longer watching over you and me? That he’s no longer keeping an accurate count of every hair on our head? Of course not. As we look at His creation we see the whole earth declaring how Majestic our God’s Name is in all the earth! The Heavens declare it. This earth declares it too.

But that’s not all, so do the little Children too.

 

The Little Children declares His majestic name!

 

Look at verse two now. David writes: Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. Jesus loves the little children, doesn’t he? He urges that they would also be able to come to him.  On Palm Sunday they were singing Jesus’ praises as He rode to the temple. Once He got there the Pharisees turned and rebuked Jesus for all this. But Jesus turns and quotes this psalm back to them. The NIV says it this way:  From the lips of children and infants you, O Lord, have called forth your praise.’[Why does He say this? Because Jesus knew that the scholars of His day, those who supposedly knew all things didn’t know Him, and Jesus was pointing to those who did: the little children, what some would say is the least in this world. They knew and believed in Jesus, just like our little children do today. Out of their mouths we hear them sing simple songs like: “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” They sing: “He’s got the whole world in His hands.” and “The B-I-B-L-E that’s the book for me.” It’s that simple trust that our Lord wants; the faith like a child. That is why Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4) So stop doubting and believe! Have faith like a little child and confess His Majestic Name!” 

 

It is nice to be able to look at the stars at night or to turn to His creation and see His majestic power or to hear about it from the lips of children, but it is necessary for us to have it declared in God’s solid word too. We want it in black and white, because ultimately if all we had was God’s creation we would be no better off than anybody else.

 

So Jesus Proves it to be true too!

 

David points us to Jesus, even a 1,000 years before He is born. David tells us what Jesus would ultimately do. David here in verse four mentions Him as David talks about the “Son of Man.” The Son of Man is a title that Jesus uses to identify Himself. It emphasized His humanity, how He came to be one of us. It emphasized His humility, how He was willing to sacrifice everything for us to save us. And that’s what this Psalm reveals to you and me. It gives us a little glimpse at what God’s plan was to save us. 

 

King David says in verse 5: “You made Him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned Him with glory and honor.” This took place when Jesus, the Son of God, was made into one of us. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary and placed in a humble stall in Bethlehem. We see Him a little lower than the angels when He was helped by them during the time of His temptation in the desert, and later in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was made a little lower than the angels when his enemies refused to recognize Him as true God. Instead they dismissed Him as a lowly carpenter, and then later beat Him up, spat upon and condemned Him to be hung on the cross. But Jesus was made a little lower, much much lower than the angels. As Jesus was on the cross He went through the depths of our despair to pay for our sins. The Son of Man cried out, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"-- which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Jesus was forsaken by His Father in heaven, His source of strength, His life and so He died. 

 

But our majestic Lord, our powerful King, did not stay in His grave. He didn’t remain humbled forever. Instead, He was resurrected to demonstrate His majestic power over death and the grave.  From there He ascended to the right hand of God to fulfill David’s words for us today: All authority in heaven and on earth has been placed under His feet.

 

This means God the Father has put Jesus in charge of all things! Now do you think that this same Jesus who lived for us and died for us, will it ever happen that He will forget the blood that He split for us? Will it ever be that as He rules this vast universe, that He won’t rule it in a way that is for our best interests? We all say No! 

Even in the face of a changing world filled with chaos and violence and destruction, we say no because His word our faith gives us the strength and the conviction that we need to see that all of God’s creation points to the evidence that says He, the triune God is still in control. And as we see it by faith we can turn to Him and shout our praise like David, “O Lord, our Lord, How Majestic Is Your Holy Name!” Amen.


6/2/2020 Letter From Pastor Boxman

Trinity Lutheran Church

702 South Ninth Street 785-823-7151

Salina, KS 67401 www.trinitysalina.org

 

Pastor Mark Boxman  markdboxman@gmail.com

        620-441-8342



June 2, 2020

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

Esther pleaded with King Xerxes, “And spare my people--this is my request”  (Esther 7:3).  King Xerxes, with the blessing of the LORD, spared the people.

By the grace of God, our community has been spared the brunt of the COVID-19 illness.  Thanks be to God!

Throughout the past three months, our government leaders have issued many guidelines for keeping us safe.  Today, the Saline County Health Department is presenting a plan to the Saline County Commission for lifting restrictions on activities. Lord willing, most restrictions will be lifted by the end of June!

So, we kindly ask for your patience for a few more weeks as we continue to comply with county guidelines to practice social distancing, sanitizing protocols, and others safety measures.  

With thanksgiving we are glad to add a fifth worship service this weekend to accommodate increasing attendance. Please call the church office on Friday or Saturday, 10:00 to noon, to make reservations.  Worship this weekend with Holy Communion will be Saturday, 5:00 and 6:15 pm and Sunday, 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 am.  

Lord willing, next week’s letter will announce plans to return to our regular routine.  

One more announcement:  The June Voters’ Assembly will be held Sunday, June 28, 6:30 pm.  We will meet in the sanctuary.  Please attend if you are comfortable doing so.  

Serving the Lord with Gladness,

Pastor Mark Boxman

 

A Sunday School teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her first grade class.  After explaining the commandment to “honor your father and your mother,” she asked, “Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?”

Without hesitation, a young boy from a large family answered, “You shall not kill.”


5/30/2020 Service and Sermon text for May 31


Service bulletins are available using the "Connect" tab at top of page.


Acts 2:4  “That’s the Spirit”

May 30/31, 2020, Pentecost

Pastor Mark Boxman, Trinity Lutheran Church , Salina, Kansas

 

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

Acts 2:4  “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”

 

A national job posting site recently listed some unusual occupations.  Let’s see if you can guess what these people do for a living.

 

What’s a snake milker?  He extracts poison from snakes for making anti-venom.

 

What does an odor judge do?  He sniffs armpits to determine how well a deodorant works.

 

How about a honey dipper? He’s the guy who removes the sewage from portable outhouses. 

 

If you are qualified, you may consider applying for one of these surprisingly high paying jobs.

 

Today we are going to talk about what the Holy Spirit does.  The Bible says that the Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier.  What does a sanctifier do?  A sanctifier sanctifies.   He makes clean what was dirty. 

 

Today we are not talking about the multitude of people in America who are sanitizing surfaces, but about the Holy Spirit who makes people clean, who makes people holy. 

 

The Holy Spirit sanctifies people

  1. by washing away the guilty stain of sin and 
  2. and enabling people to live holy and productive lives.

 

That is, the Holy Spirit connects people to Jesus.  The Spirit enters the human        heart, leading people 

 

  1. to repent of their sins, 
  2. to believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and 
  3. to live new and sanctified lives as followers of Jesus Christ.

 

Let me illustrate.  Here is a powerful cleanser.  But the powerful cleanser, no matter how wonderful it is, will do no good if it is not applied to that which needs to be cleansed.  But when applied, the cleanser does what the cleanser was designed to do.  It makes things clean.

 

God has provided sinners with a Cleanser—the blood of Jesus Christ shed Calvary’s cross.  But Jesus will do people no good if He stays in the bottle, in the Bible.   Jesus needs to be applied to sinners.  How is Jesus applied?

 

That’s the Spirit’s job—to apply the benefits of Jesus to sinners by bringing people to faith.  When a person comes to faith in Jesus, his sins are washed away and the Spirit takes up residence in the human heart to bring about a new and god-pleasing life. 

 

The Holy Spirit does not use a spray bottle.  He uses the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus. The Holy Spirit of God is powerfully at work wherever and whenever the Gospel is being proclaimed.  The cleansing power of Christ is being applied to people when  

 

  1. The Word of God is being preached.
  2. The Word attached to the water of baptism is being administered.
  3. The Word attached to bread and wine is being given to repentant sinners.

 

Through these means the Holy Spirit brings the sin-cleansing, life-renewing blood of Jesus to people.  

 

The Holy Spirit is a vital link in God’s work to save sinners from God’s wrath, from eternal death and from lives futility.  We need the Spirit because we cannot by our own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ or come to Him.  The Holy Spirit has to call us by the Gospel.  He has to enlighten us through the Word of God, and sanctify us by bringing us to faith in Jesus Christ.  

 

The Holy Spirit does not get a lot of attention because His job is to direct our attention to Jesus.  But on this festival of Pentecost, we want to think about how the Spirit is at work that we may give thanks for His work among us.

 

The rest of our sermon is going to be a quiz.  I am going to ask some questions.  You give the answer.  But don’t panic.  I will give you the answers before we begin.  The answer to every question is the word “Spirit.”  So I will ask the questions and the answer will be, “That’s the Spirit.”

 

What enabled Peter and the apostles, who a few weeks earlier were fearfully hiding, to courageously preach about Jesus to the people who were responsible for crucifying Jesus? That’s the ________.




         How is it that 3000 people, by listening to a sermon, had underwent a complete change of heart, repented of their sins, and received the forgiveness of sins through Holy Baptism?  That’s the __________ .

 

Why would a young man set his heart on being a pastor and dedicate 8 years of his life to prepare?  That’s the __________ .



What led Gary and Stephanie Schulte to give up the comforts of the American lifestyle and dedicate their entire adult lives to bringing the Good News of Jesus to the people of Africa?  That’s the __________ .

 

How is it that you, lost and condemned sinners, have come to faith in Jesus Christ?  That’s the __________ .

 

Who gathers the church to confess their sins, to listen attentively, to sing hymns of praise?  That’s the __________ .

 

Why does an unbelieving family member weigh heavy upon your heart, be a part of your daily prayers, and lead you to keep on sharing Jesus with him?  That’s the __________ .

 

How can a life shattered by addiction be redeemed and given a fresh start?   That’s the __________ .

 

How can a lady overwhelmed with guilt ever have peace in her heart?  That’s the __________ _.

 

Who’s responsible for the miraculous change when people who for 70 have cursed Jesus come to faith and to love Jesus and die in peace?  That’s the __________ .

 

What moves people to give willingly and generously to support the ministry of Christ’s church?  That’s the __________ .

 

How do selfish people become selfless people?  Why do parents sacrifice for children?  What enables neighbors to look out for their neighbors? That’s the __________ .

 

Why did you remember a Bible passage at just the right time to speak it to someone who needs to hear it?  That’s the __________ .

 

What enables Christians in Muslim and Communist countries risk their lives to believe in Jesus and in love to tell their neighbors about Jesus?   That’s the __________ .

 

How has the Bible, despite all the attempts to destroy it and banish it, survived to this day?  That’s the __________ .

 

What leads a person to stare death in the face and say, “I am not afraid of you.  I belong to Christ?”   That’s the __________ .

 

What empowers a person who has been wronged not to be angry but to forgive the person who sinned against them?  That’s the __________ .

 

How can people living in a god-less culture, remain faithful to Jesus?  That’s the __________ .

 

How can a world focused on race and skin color come to see that each person is created in the image of God and that God created only one human race?  That’s the __________ ___.

 

What can create peace and harmony in a nation torn apart by hatred?  That’s the __________ ?

 

How did you do on this Holy Spirit quiz?  

 

The purpose of our sermon today is for us to understand and appreciate the work of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit’s job is to sanctify us, to make us holy.  He does this by delivering to us the soul-sanitizing, the life-cleansing Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Our text today clearly illustrates that the Holy Spirit is at work in the preacher enabling Him to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in the  hearers leading them to repent and believe in Jesus.

 

What’s the purpose of this sanctifying work?  To grant people a right relationship with God now and for all eternity through the forgiveness of sins and to redeem our earthly lives to be holy and productive as we serve God and love our neighbor. 

 

Lord, fill us with Your Holy Spirit.  Amen.


5/27/2020 Letter From Pastor Boxman

Trinity Lutheran Church

702 South Ninth Street 785-823-7151

Salina, KS 67401 www.trinitysalina.org

Pastor Mark Boxman  markdboxman@gmail.com

        620-441-8342

 

May 27, 2020

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

James 4:13-15.  Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."

 

Here are a few updates on our life together at Trinity.

 

  • As of this morning, the Kansas governor has canceled the Ad Astra plans for re-opening Kansas and delegated all COVID-19 guidance to Saline County.  The activities of our congregation will follow the recommendations of the Saline County Health Department. We kindly ask for your continued gracious cooperation as we adapt to continually changing guidelines.
  • Until further notice, worship services will be conducted as in the past three weeks:  Saturday at 5:00 pm, Sunday at 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 am, with Holy Communion celebrated the 1st and 3rd weekends of the month.  We will follow social-distancing and sanitizing guidelines.   Please call the church office (785-823-7151) on Friday or Saturday mornings, 10:00 am to noon, to make reservations for worship.
  • If worship attendance reaches capacity, we will add a fifth service.
  • The June Voters’ Assembly has been postponed due to restrictions on seating capacity in our facility.
  • Some small group activities are resuming based on need and the comfort level of participants.  We have not published a calendar because most plans are written in pencil.  
  • Youth confirmation instruction has resumed and is nearly complete.  We look forward to scheduling Confirmation Sunday!
  • Keep up the good work of witnessing to your neighbors, encouraging the lonely and un-employed, serving your church, and giving generously.  
  • We place all things into the good and gracious hands of God.  

 

Serving the Lord with Gladness

Pastor Mark Boxman


5/23/2020 Service and Sermon text for May 24


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Ephesians 1:19-23  “Risk”

The Ascension of Our Lord, May 23/24, 2020

Pastor Mark Boxman, Trinity Lutheran Church, Salina, Kansas

Is it safe to leave home?  How risky is it to go to the grocery store?  Which people are most at risk?  Is it a good idea to shake someone’s hand?  How many people may safely gather in church?

Today we are going to talk about living with risks.  We are not focusing on spiritual dangers or protecting ourselves from temptation.  We are going to focus on how we get a grip on living with physical dangers. 

Over the past few months the spotlight has been on one threat to our physical well-being, but innumerable dangers are close at hand.  

There are dangers lurking in the air we breathe, in the food we eat, in the water we drink.  The building we are in could collapse. The earth upon which we stand could split open.  There are risks to riding in a car, flying on an airplane, riding a bicycle, taking a walk.  Most occupations involve a certain level of risk. 

There was only one warning label when God first made the world:  Do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that is, do not disobey God, or you will die.  After sin entered the world, warning labels are everywhere:

“Slippery when wet.”  “Bridge may be icy.”  Even a letter opener advises:  “Safety goggles recommended.”

How many signs have you seen:  “Stay six feet apart,”  “Wash your hands” ?

Humbly, we must admit that even our best efforts to protect ourselves are often flawed.  

Medicines can have unintended and dangerous side effects.  Air bags save lives, but the visor in my car says in bold letters, “Warning.  Children can be killed or seriously injured by the airbag.” 

The engineers who designed The Titanic were so certain of their ship they posted this sign:  “Even God cannot sink this ship.”  We know how that turned out.

We cannot eliminate all the dangers of life.

However, we do not give up.  Part of our God-given role on earth is to protect life and health.  Proverbs 27:12 “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”

Parents rightly prohibit their children from playing in the street.  Construction works wisely wear hard hats and steel-toed shoes.  Smoke alarms save many lives.  Tornado shelters are a good idea.

Some dangers we can escape.  Some dangers are inescapable, and we have to live with them.  

For example, in Genesis 3, God says there are risks associated with childbearing, but He does not want husbands and wives to stop having babies.  He says that the hard work of farmers may be frustrated by thorns and thistles, but He does not want farmers to stop farming.  God says that life will end in death, but He does not want us to give up on living.

We are not to be reckless and tempt God. But neither can we carry out our God-given responsibilities living in a bubble.  

Thus far we have talked about the fall into sin resulting in a gazillion risks.  We have talked about being wise and mitigating risk as best we can. But we have also stressed that we will never eliminate all the dangers of this sin-broken world.

The most important point in this sermon is yet to come.  So, I call your devout attention to what I am about to say.  

God has appointed Someone to manage the world and to keep the dangers of life in check.  In His great mercy, God, who knows our limitations, has appointed His Son Jesus Christ to be in charge of the world.  Jesus Christ, who loves us so much He willingly laid down His life to rescue us from sin and the grip of death, has not left us to face the dangers of life alone.  Our risen Savior has ascended into heaven, not into a retirement center, not to a place far removed from the affairs of this world, but to rule as King over all things.  Yes, He has been appointed to sit at the right hand of God the Father, that means to utilize the Almighty power of God for our temporal and eternal benefit.   He sits on the throne as ruler over everything.  He has authority over every matter, over every powerful force, over every threat, over every danger.  The Apostles understood this. They were not sad after witnessing the Ascension.  They rejoiced. They realize Jesus was watching over them and would be with them in their dangerous mission.

God says in Genesis 2. “The day you sin, you deserve to die.”  Why did not you die along time ago?  Because God’s merciful hand has protected you from danger.

Christ’s ascension into heaven is an important factor for us as we consider how to manage our lives with dangers all around.  

When Daniel was threatened with being thrown to the lions for illegally praying to God, He understood the risks. Wildlife experts said he had no chance.  But the experts did not consider this: Jesus is in charge of the lions.  Jesus who has power over all things shut the mouths of the lions. Daniel survived unharmed.

When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace, the king mocked them:  “What god will be able to save you?”  He must have looked at the computer models that predicted that human flesh could not survive the extreme temperatures and these men would die within seconds.  

But the king did not know the God Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo knew:  “The God we serve is able to save us….But even if He does not, we will not worship your idols.”

Those who witnessed the event saw four men in the furnace, not three. Jesus was with them and not one of their hairs was singed.  

Military experts said the shepherd boy David had no chance against Goliath the Giant.  David understood the risks and marched out to face the blaspheming unbeliever. Jesus directed the stone that left David’s sling, and it struck Goliath in the small gap in his helmet right on the temple.  

The Apostle Paul, by the odds, should have died many times over. 

He explains, “I was imprisoned frequently, flogged severely, and exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned.  Three times I was shipwrecked, and I spent a night and a day in the open sea.26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked….In Damascus the governor (under King Aretas) had the city (of the Damascenes) guarded in order to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.” (2 Corinthians 11:22-33)

How could Paul escape all those life-threatening situations?  It was not because Paul was Superman; he was weak.  Paul survived all these dangers because Jesus Christ is in charge, and He is ruling over all things for the sake of the church.  Paul defied the odds, rather, Jesus defied the odds.  With all the power of God, Jesus rules according to His good and gracious will.

These Bible stories are recorded for us so that we may understand the significance of Jesus’ ascension.  Jesus, our Savior, rules the universe. That means that He is in charge of managing the risks we face. Daily, He mitigates the risks, the dangers that could hastily consume us.  

A reporter recently asked one of America’s governors why the Coronavirus infection rate was slowing in his state.  He responded: “The number is down because we brought the number down. God did not do that.  Faith did not do that.”  (Governor Cuomo)

Sadly, this comment seemed to go unnoticed.  Maybe that’s because many people think that all is up to us to protect ourselves from danger and that Jesus is irrelevant to life’s many dangers.

We have worked very hard to keep the doors of our church open during this pandemic.  We did not want the church to be a big billboard announcing to the community: “Jesus is irrelevant right now.  We have other Jesus-unrelated business to attend to.”  Rather, Jesus is the only One who can and will, in His time, bring an end to the threats we face. “Unless the Lord watches over the city, those who watch over labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). 

Ephesians 1:19 You know the unlimited greatness of his power as it works with might and strength for us, the believers. 20 He worked with that same power in Christ when he brought him back to life and gave him the highest position in heaven. 21 He is far above all rulers, authorities, powers, lords, and all other names that can be named, not only in this present world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put everything under the control of Christ. He has made Christ the head of everything for the good of the church.  (GWN)

Is life risky?  Yes, it is full of dangers.  With humility we do what we can, as best we can, to manage, to mitigate the risks.  But our limited knowledge and abilities provide us with only minimal comfort. 

What helps us infinitely more is this:  Jesus ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, as ruler over all things, for our benefit now and forever.  What a privilege to entrust ourselves and all life’s risks to Him who lives and reigns!  Amen.

 


5/19/2020 Letter From Pastor Boxman


5/17/2020 Service and Sermon text for May 17


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Bringing Them To The Lord

Acts 17:16-31

May 16/17 2020

Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

 

What a wonderful thing for you and I to say, and not only that, but to know what it actually means. I want you to try this out on someone you don’t know: Say the phrase Christ is risen!.” and see how they respond back to you. See if they come back to you with the other part. I assume that you’ll find that they might think you’re crazy and start backing away from you. If they start to bring out the straight jacket, maybe act like you’re going to cough or sneeze. That might get you out of that sticky situation.

 

I challenge you in this way because our texts from I Peter and Acts speak to us about evangelism, of going out and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. Today I want us to focus in on our passage from the book of Acts.

It places us in the city of Athens with a man named Paul. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that Paul was probably the greatest missionary who had ever lived. He was there in Athens, a large influential city, filled with a lot of temptation and various idols. Paul wasn’t there to tour the town. He was there to fulfill his calling of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ whom the people of Athens wanted and desperately needed to hear.

 

You’ve heard this phrase before: Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Paul’s checking out Athens and he notices that there is certainly a lot of smoke there; a lot of idols that if left unchecked it would lead the Athenians to the unquenchable fire in hell. So what did Paul do? Did he become like John the Baptist and give them a sermon filled with fire and brimstone to turn them around? No. Instead he says to them these words we have in verse 22: "Men of Athens! I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you." Paul doesn’t beat up the Athenians. He doesn’t pound them with the Law; but instead he works with what he sees as an opportunity for the Gospel to be proclaimed; to point them to Jesus Christ who is the true God. Paul starts with the Gospel.

 

The Gospel is that God wishes to turn sinners into saints; that God desires to forgive rather than to condemn. For God the Father sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world not to condemn it, but to save it. As we heard from the lips of Jesus today, He doesn’t leave us as orphans; instead He calls us by grace to become children of God and to be a part of His family forever.

 

Paul recognized that the people of Athens were still searching for the truth. God led Paul to the Areopagus, a place filled with altars to find an open door to share the truth about Jesus, and Paul found that door and took it.

 

Part of Paul’s witness would be his past. I don’t know if you know this, but last week we encountered Paul in one of our readings. It was the reading that shared the stoning of Stephen. Paul was there, but by a different name: Saul. Saul was giving his approval of the murder of Stephen. Later on he would also approve and have a hand in the murders of other Christians. He did this because he thought that’s what God wanted him to do, but Paul was naive as to who God was. He was misled and mistaken. He found out he didn’t know much about the true God until God came to him and turn Saul into Paul as He lead him to faith. God would lead Paul to the saving grace founded in the cross of Christ because He wanted to save Paul, but not only that, God wanted to save you and me as well.

 

You and I have been led to worship at the true altar of God. We were given the Word along with the Spirit so that we could hear God’s good news: That you and I are His, and that He is ours. That we have eternal life, life that no virus can steal or take away. God gives us an inheritance, a retirement that we can truly say is out of this world. You and I are blessed to be able to know this, to have faith that sees this and to believe that it is true. The most important thing we have, is not the money in our bank accounts, our house or our college degrees. The most important thing we have is this: faith in the message that Jesus died for me on the cross, giving up His life so that I can be saved from all of my sins. He then rose from the dead to give me life, life eternal with Him.

 

That’s peace, that’s the true peace that we have. People around us don’t know of that peace. In fact they are still looking for it. They build up their own altars where they place their time, talents, and resources upon hoping that would give them peace. But in the end, all of it is for naught. The gods of silver and gold, of stocks and bonds can go away pretty fast, can’t they? It is tough to take if that, is all of what life is based upon. But you and I know the truth. We know the God who created the heavens and the earth, and that we live and move and have our being in Him who gives us life. He desires us all to know that He is our Father and that we are His offspring.

 

This past week I was doing one of my video recordings for the Youth messages. If you haven’t seen them check them out on our website under the Share My Ministry Tab on the opening page. Ever Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 5:30 pm I share a message that the youth help me put together. One of the messages I did was for this text and a little lady helped me out with it and she did a good job. She said this word from Acts reminded her of her baptismal banner and how through baptism she was declared a child of God. Who told her that? What let her know this truth? It was the Spirit that did. It was the Word of God that was placed into her heart long ago. It follows along with the famous children’s song: Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so. The Word tells us all about our Savior Jesus and His grace that gives us peace.

 

God also led her parents to share the knowledge too, but what about you? Was it your parents who helped you to see the true God is Jesus? It was for me. My parents led me to church to receive His grace. They knew there was a soul in need of its savior and until that soul finds Him, finds Jesus, it will not be at rest. St. Augustine wrote long ago:“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in You.” There are many souls that are not at rest right now. A fellow sister in Christ here at Trinity who told me in her prayers for the lost neighbors, family and friends that she has she simply prays this- Lord go get ‘em! God hears those prayers, and He certainly does go after the lost souls too. He goes after them through you and me. If it is to be done through us, how will it happen when we feel that we don’t know what to say or how to begin? 

 

There’s a Syondical rep named Pastor Nabil Nour who came to the Kansas District a couple of years ago for a workshop on Evangelism. Pastor Nour grew up in a Jewish- Christian home in a little ole town named Nazareth. Has anyone heard of that town? Not the one in Pennsylvania or Texas right? The one that is located in the Middle East. He would joke: Can anything good come out of Nazareth?  I guess we’ll find out. 

Well as he presented on how to spread God’s word to everyone, he shared with us that he had a heart for Muslims. He certainly knows that they are not too fond of the Jewish nation, how some very radical Muslims have taken the life of some of his people; but God has placed in Pastor Nour a spirit that seeks to save them.

He lives in now in St. Louis Missouri, and guess who he has for neighbors? Muslims. So knowing that they need the Gospel, that they need to turn from the false god of Allah, Pastor Nour looks for an opportunity to share with them the true God. 

He first gets to know them. He strikes up a conversation when he sees them out in their yard. If they need some help he lends them a hand, lets them borrow his tools. If something special, like a birthday or a holiday, he finds out and sends them his greetings and blessings to them. He shows he cares for them and is interested in them. Now this next part sounds counter—intuitive, but he’ll even ask them to share their book of faith, the Quran. Why? It’s so that later on he can ask if it’s okay to share his book of faith, the Word of God with them.

He also invites them over to his house for a light snack or meal, and before eating guess what he has them do: pray. Slowly but surely Pastor Nour gets to tell them about Jesus Christ. He gets them to know about the God who can give them life.

That’s how evangelism works. You might have thought it was cold calls or high pressured sales pitches or riding a bike wearing a dress shirt with a black tie, but it’s not. It’s not even sparring with a neighbor over scripture. It’s getting to know your neighbor and then letting them get to know you and the Word of God and His Holy Spirit that lives inside of you. It’s turning toward a neighbor and listening to them first, as Pastor Nour did, as Paul with the Athenians in our text and then waiting for that door to open up in their heart so that Jesus may walk through that door and welcome them home. 

As we do take this approach with the lost souls among us we are helping them come to the true God. We are helping them to see the God who gives grace, peace and mercy named Jesus. We are helping their souls to turn and to know the joy that we have when we say: “Christ is Risen!” He is risen indeed! Alleluia. Amen.


5/13/2020 Letter From Pastor Boxman


5/10/2020 Service and Sermon text for May 10


Service bulletins available using the "Connect" tab at top of page.


John 14:1  Trust in God.  

Easter 5, May 9 and 10, 2020

Pastor Mark Boxman, Trinity Lutheran Church, Salina, Kansas


    Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!    


I call your devout Christian attention to our Gospel reading, John 14:1, where Jesus says, “Trust in God.”


    Do you trust in God?  Or do you trust Him only to a certain point?  Do you trust God in all things, in regard to every matter of life?  Or do you trust Him in only in one slice of the pie?


    When Jesus says, “Trust in God,” He is inviting you to trust in God above all things, to commit your life completely to His keeping and to rely upon Him for help in every need. 


    God is worthy of your trust.  He loves you and cares about every matter of your life more than you can grasp.  The Bible says He cares about every hair upon your head.  I don’t even care about myself that much.  


    The depth of God’s love and care for you is emphatically revealed in the humble life, innocent suffering, and brutal crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all--how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us [take care of us in] all things?”  (Rom 8:32 NIV).    You never have to wonder whether God cares about you.  He has proven it.


    We may find it easy to trust God when things are going well, but what about when things are falling apart?


    Jesus said, “Trust in God,” in the midst of a disturbing conversation.  He was informing His disciples that over the next few hours, they were going to live through a nightmare—witnessing His unjust and brutal crucifixion and seeing themselves fail miserably with betrayal, denial and desertion. 


    Confused and afraid, these men became troubled of heart.  They thought they trusted Jesus fully, but now everything seemed cloudy.  No longer confident, no longer certain, feeling powerless, what were they supposed to do?


    “Trust in God.” Jesus says. “Trust in Me.”  


    It cannot be that simple, can it?  Or can it?  Jesus’ words may strike us as a bit naïve, like they are spoken by someone who does not understand how hard life can be.  


    But Jesus does understand.  He is fully human.  He faced great obstacles and endured huge disappointments.  He encountered threats, murderous plots, the death of friends, having no place to sleep at night.  He faced the devil’s A game.  But He trusted that God would work through His suffering to being deliverance     to the world.


    As we look around, we see human sin, the threat of death, panic, desperation, and satanic influences.  But Jesus says, there is more going on than we can perceive.  In the midst of it all, God is executing His caring and saving plan for you and me and the world.  He is calling people to get serious about life and eternity.   


    Jesus says, “Trust in God.  Trust in Me.”  Those are two ways of saying the same thing.  Trusting in Jesus is trusting in God.


    Today I talked to a man who was down in the dumps. The past two weeks have been the worst days of his life.  What could I say to this man with a deeply troubled heart?  I said what Jesus said, “Trust in God.” 


    Our trustworthy God expects people to be trustworthy as well.  He entrusts people with a variety of responsibilities.  Trusting people is part of our life together on earth.  A bride trusts that her groom truly means his vows.  We trust that the grocer did not contaminate our food. We trust that a pharmacist is giving us the right medicine in the right dosage. Children trust moms and dads.  That’s the way life is supposed to be. 


    However, trusting in people is a bit tricky.  Our trust in people and things must be of a different degree than our trust in God.  God repeatedly warns us not to put our ultimate trust in people, in politicians, in military might or in money, not even in ourselves: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely upon your own understanding”  (Proverbs 3:5).


    Every day we have to decide who and what we can trust and how much we can trust them.  Do we trust a mask or not?  Do we trust epidemiologists and their models or not?  Do we trust a vaccine or not?  Do we trust a teacher? Do we trust a news report?  Do we trust a pastor?


    But we do not have to decide whether or not we can trust God.  There is no need for us to waver.  The Almighty and All-knowing God is always trustworthy.  He has never led anyone astray.  He has never broken a promise.


    Trusting in God above all things, committing our lives completely to His keeping,  relying upon Him for help in every need, being convinced that He keeps all His promises is a big deal.  Such trust calms troubled hearts in the midst of life’s ferocious storms, and trust in Jesus is a matter of heaven and hell.   


    Trusting in God when life is clouded with uncertainty is hard.  We must admit that we do not always trust Him as we ought.  We all need God’s forgiving mercy.  And our daily prayer must be that God would give us His powerful Holy Spirit so that we can sincerely say, “I trust in you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God’" (Psalm  31:14).  


    Now let’s consider a few examples of what it looks like to trust in God. 


    In our first reading today, we hear about serious complaints that arose within the church.  Who would want to get in the middle of that?  Only those who are full of the Holy Spirit, that is, those who trust in God.  Those who trust in God are willing to do difficult things in service to God. They make good church leaders.


    At that time, it was a dangerous to be a Christian.  Who would ever be so bold as to preach publicly about Jesus?  One of those deacons, Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, trusted God and did what God wanted him to do—he publicly preached of Christ—and, without complaint, died doing it.   


    150 years ago, Pastor Rudolph Klinkenberg of Whitecreek, Indiana, realized that there was a rapidly growing town called Seymour that did not have a place where people could gather to hear the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Every week, Pastor loaded up his family and made the round trip to Seymour to begin Immanuel Lutheran Church, a congregation that has over the years faithfully served thousands of God’s dear people.  But that trip was risky, traveling through a mosquito infested swamp.  The entire family became ill.  Two children died.  Did Pastor Klinkenberg make a mistake in doing what He did?  No.  He faithfully carried out his calling, taking the risks involved with loving one’s neighbor in this sin-cursed world.  He did so with trust in God.  I am thankful for Pastor Klinkenberg who helped start my home congregation.  


    Graduates, what does trusting in God look like in your life right now?  You may not get the job you prepared for.  Your life may be headed in an unexpected direction.  But the Lord has His good reasons for putting you someplace you never thought you would be.  Trust Him.


    Maybe there are some moms who are worried about your children.  God says, do what you can do and leave the rest to Me.  “Trust Me.”


    Many of us have troubled hearts because of all the uncertainty in our nation. What is going to happen to my 401K?  Will the 20 million Americans who are unemployed get their jobs back?  Will businesses survive?  Will the virus have a second wave? What is safe to do right now?  Will government restrictions ever be lifted or is being told what to do and when to do it the new normal.  


    We may not have the answer to any of those questions.  God has not given us the ability to know everything.  But He has given us the privilege of knowing Him. And so we accept Jesus invitation to Trust Him in all things.     Amen. 


5/7/2020 Letter From Pastor Boxman

 

Pastor Mark Boxman  markdboxman@gmail.com

        620-441-8342

 

May 6, 2020

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

“Be of good courage, and the LORD shall strengthen your heart”  (Psalm 31:24).

With thanksgiving to God, we have begun Phase One of Ad Astra:  A Plan to Reopen Kansas.  We ask the Lord to grant us a safe transition as we gradually resume our cherished activities at Trinity and in our community. 

In order to comply with our governor’s guidelines, we still have a lot of rules to follow.  As we heard last week in our Epistle reading, God calls us to be gracious as we endure things we do not like (1 Peter 2:19-21).  We kindly ask that you be gracious with us as we explain a few temporary rules regarding our life together.

For the next few weeks, our worship service seating capacity is however many people can “maintain 6 feet of distance with only infrequent moments of closer proximity” (Ad Astra, page 11).   To efficiently utilize our space, we will have designated seating areas 6 feet apart with a capacity of about 50 people.  Families, or course, may sit together.  

Many of you have heard that gatherings of more than ten people are prohibited.  That only applies to “instances in which individuals are in one location and are unable to maintain 6 feet of distance between them” (Ad Astra, page 7). 

Here are this week’s announcements.

  • Worship this weekend, May 9 and 10:  Saturday at 5:00 pm.  Sunday at 8:30, 9:45 and 11:00 am.  Call the church office (785-823-7151) on Friday or Saturday, 10:00 am to noon, to make reservations.  
  • We respect everyone making their own personal decision regarding a return to worship attendance.  We look forward to seeing more and more of you each week.  If our scheduled services fill up before we can increase seating capacity, we are prepared to add an additional service.   
  • Online access to recorded services will continue to be available on our website and on Facebook.  Bible classes and youth object lessons are also available online.  See trinitysalina.org.
  • Trinity is hosting a food drive for the Salina Emergency Food Bank on Saturday, May 9, from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.  Stop by the church parking lot and place your donation into the back of Pastor's pick-up truck (or on the porch if raining).  Items needed are canned fruit and canned vegetables including any kind of beans (except green beans) and jelly.
  • The church office is open again!
  • The Parish Planning Board will meet on Thursday, May 14.  Congregational leaders will discuss a responsible and reasonable timetable for resuming church activities.  
  • Happy Mothers’ Day to all the moms.  God delivers the precious gift of life and care through moms.  Thank you, Lord, for all faithful moms!
  • Graduates, congratulations.  May the Lord guide you as He calls you to a new chapter in your life!  
  • If the statewide shutdown of our economy has put you in a financial crisis, please contact Pastor Boxman. 
  • Your pastors are still not allowed to visit in nursing homes and hospitals.  However, if someone is in critical health, facilities may make an exception.  Please contact us if there is a pastoral care need.  
  • Praise God for your generous offerings!

 

“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (3 John 1:2 NIV).

 

Pastor Boxman



Just for fun…

 

Favorite Hymns

One Sunday morning, the pastor announced that whoever put the most money in the offering plate could pick their favorite hymn.

A young lady was the clear winner with her $1000 check.  

The pastor asked, “Which hymn would you like?”

Pointing to a handsome young man in the front row, she said, “I pick him!”

 

A Cure for Gossip

Mildred was the town gossip, but no one ever had the courage to ask her to stop.  

One day, she told everyone that George was a drunk.  “I see his truck parked in front of the bar every day,” she said.  

George said nothing. Than one evening, he quietly parked his truck in front of Mildred’s house, walked home, and left it there all night!

.


5/4/2020 Service and Sermon text for May 24

Ephesians 1:19-23  “Risk”

The Ascension of Our Lord, May 23/24, 2020

Pastor Mark Boxman, Trinity Lutheran Church, Salina, Kansas

Is it safe to leave home?  How risky is it to go to the grocery store?  Which people are most at risk?  Is it a good idea to shake someone’s hand?  How many people may safely gather in church?

Today we are going to talk about living with risks.  We are not focusing on spiritual dangers or protecting ourselves from temptation.  We are going to focus on how we get a grip on living with physical dangers. 

Over the past few months the spotlight has been on one threat to our physical well-being, but innumerable dangers are close at hand.  

There are dangers lurking in the air we breathe, in the food we eat, in the water we drink.  The building we are in could collapse. The earth upon which we stand could split open.  There are risks to riding in a car, flying on an airplane, riding a bicycle, taking a walk.  Most occupations involve a certain level of risk. 

There was only one warning label when God first made the world:  Do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that is, do not disobey God, or you will die.  After sin entered the world, warning labels are everywhere:

“Slippery when wet.”  “Bridge may be icy.”  Even a letter opener advises:  “Safety goggles recommended.”

How many signs have you seen:  “Stay six feet apart,”  “Wash your hands” ?

Humbly, we must admit that even our best efforts to protect ourselves are often flawed.  

Medicines can have unintended and dangerous side effects.  Air bags save lives, but the visor in my car says in bold letters, “Warning.  Children can be killed or seriously injured by the airbag.” 

The engineers who designed The Titanic were so certain of their ship they posted this sign:  “Even God cannot sink this ship.”  We know how that turned out.

We cannot eliminate all the dangers of life.

However, we do not give up.  Part of our God-given role on earth is to protect life and health.  Proverbs 27:12 “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”

Parents rightly prohibit their children from playing in the street.  Construction works wisely wear hard hats and steel-toed shoes.  Smoke alarms save many lives.  Tornado shelters are a good idea.

Some dangers we can escape.  Some dangers are inescapable, and we have to live with them.  

For example, in Genesis 3, God says there are risks associated with childbearing, but He does not want husbands and wives to stop having babies.  He says that the hard work of farmers may be frustrated by thorns and thistles, but He does not want farmers to stop farming.  God says that life will end in death, but He does not want us to give up on living.

We are not to be reckless and tempt God. But neither can we carry out our God-given responsibilities living in a bubble.  

Thus far we have talked about the fall into sin resulting in a gazillion risks.  We have talked about being wise and mitigating risk as best we can. But we have also stressed that we will never eliminate all the dangers of this sin-broken world.

The most important point in this sermon is yet to come.  So, I call your devout attention to what I am about to say.  

God has appointed Someone to manage the world and to keep the dangers of life in check.  In His great mercy, God, who knows our limitations, has appointed His Son Jesus Christ to be in charge of the world.  Jesus Christ, who loves us so much He willingly laid down His life to rescue us from sin and the grip of death, has not left us to face the dangers of life alone.  Our risen Savior has ascended into heaven, not into a retirement center, not to a place far removed from the affairs of this world, but to rule as King over all things.  Yes, He has been appointed to sit at the right hand of God the Father, that means to utilize the Almighty power of God for our temporal and eternal benefit.   He sits on the throne as ruler over everything.  He has authority over every matter, over every powerful force, over every threat, over every danger.  The Apostles understood this. They were not sad after witnessing the Ascension.  They rejoiced. They realize Jesus was watching over them and would be with them in their dangerous mission.

God says in Genesis 2. “The day you sin, you deserve to die.”  Why did not you die along time ago?  Because God’s merciful hand has protected you from danger.

Christ’s ascension into heaven is an important factor for us as we consider how to manage our lives with dangers all around.  

When Daniel was threatened with being thrown to the lions for illegally praying to God, He understood the risks. Wildlife experts said he had no chance.  But the experts did not consider this: Jesus is in charge of the lions.  Jesus who has power over all things shut the mouths of the lions. Daniel survived unharmed.

When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace, the king mocked them:  “What god will be able to save you?”  He must have looked at the computer models that predicted that human flesh could not survive the extreme temperatures and these men would die within seconds.  

But the king did not know the God Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo knew:  “The God we serve is able to save us….But even if He does not, we will not worship your idols.”

Those who witnessed the event saw four men in the furnace, not three. Jesus was with them and not one of their hairs was singed.  

Military experts said the shepherd boy David had no chance against Goliath the Giant.  David understood the risks and marched out to face the blaspheming unbeliever. Jesus directed the stone that left David’s sling, and it struck Goliath in the small gap in his helmet right on the temple.  

The Apostle Paul, by the odds, should have died many times over. 

He explains, “I was imprisoned frequently, flogged severely, and exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned.  Three times I was shipwrecked, and I spent a night and a day in the open sea.26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked….In Damascus the governor (under King Aretas) had the city (of the Damascenes) guarded in order to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.” (2 Corinthians 11:22-33)

How could Paul escape all those life-threatening situations?  It was not because Paul was Superman; he was weak.  Paul survived all these dangers because Jesus Christ is in charge, and He is ruling over all things for the sake of the church.  Paul defied the odds, rather, Jesus defied the odds.  With all the power of God, Jesus rules according to His good and gracious will.

These Bible stories are recorded for us so that we may understand the significance of Jesus’ ascension.  Jesus, our Savior, rules the universe. That means that He is in charge of managing the risks we face. Daily, He mitigates the risks, the dangers that could hastily consume us.  

A reporter recently asked one of America’s governors why the Coronavirus infection rate was slowing in his state.  He responded: “The number is down because we brought the number down. God did not do that.  Faith did not do that.”  (Governor Cuomo)

Sadly, this comment seemed to go unnoticed.  Maybe that’s because many people think that all is up to us to protect ourselves from danger and that Jesus is irrelevant to life’s many dangers.

We have worked very hard to keep the doors of our church open during this pandemic.  We did not want the church to be a big billboard announcing to the community: “Jesus is irrelevant right now.  We have other Jesus-unrelated business to attend to.”  Rather, Jesus is the only One who can and will, in His time, bring an end to the threats we face. “Unless the Lord watches over the city, those who watch over labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). 

Ephesians 1:19 You know the unlimited greatness of his power as it works with might and strength for us, the believers. 20 He worked with that same power in Christ when he brought him back to life and gave him the highest position in heaven. 21 He is far above all rulers, authorities, powers, lords, and all other names that can be named, not only in this present world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put everything under the control of Christ. He has made Christ the head of everything for the good of the church.  (GWN)

Is life risky?  Yes, it is full of dangers.  With humility we do what we can, as best we can, to manage, to mitigate the risks.  But our limited knowledge and abilities provide us with only minimal comfort. 

What helps us infinitely more is this:  Jesus ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, as ruler over all things, for our benefit now and forever.  What a privilege to entrust ourselves and all life’s risks to Him who lives and reigns!  Amen.

 


5/3/2020 Service and Sermon text for May 3







Fourth Sunday of Easter

John 10:1-10

Our Good Shepherd, Jesus

May 2/3, 2020

 

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Today we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday, and this day comes to us at just the right time. We are making it through a dark chapter of our lives and there is one reason for that: we have the Good Shepherd leading us every day. The Good Shepherd has been there for us throughout all of our life, giving us what we need including the very breath we take.

The Good Shepherd makes us His own in the waters of Baptism and then He leads us because He knows that we need Him and because of who we are.  I don’t know if you noticed but God didn’t make us like ferocious lions or a mighty ox or a powerful elephant. No, though we might be, depending on who we ask, like a stubborn mule at times. But the most fitting comparison to the animal kingdom of who we are is a sheep.  We compared quite well to a sheep because we are helpless.  We don’t have powerful jaws or “razor-sharp” claws to defend ourselves from the Devil.  We don’t have long legs to help us outrun our sin and temptation.  I guess you can say we are just a ball of wool, hoping not to become lamb chops on someone else’s plate. We need a Shepherd. We need someone to protect us, to lead us, and that Shepherd for us is Jesus.

What does our shepherd do? He gives you and me what we daily need. He gives us His Word to protect us, to daily defend us from Satan’s attacks.  The shepherd comes and walks before us to lead us away from any dangerous traps that would threaten our life and our salvation.  He feeds our soul with His body and blood in the Lord’s Supper to revive our strength. His voice calms the worries we have in our minds and the fears of our hearts as He shares with us words of peace to lead us through. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Think of all of His sheep throughout the world right now needing that peace. Jesus is there for them. I conducted a Google search on just how many sheep Jesus would have and Google came up with 2.18 billion. That’s a lot of sheep and Jesus knows where each one of those them is at all times. Why does He want to know that? It’s because you are that precious to Him.

There’s not a sheep in His flock that Jesus doesn’t know! Our scripture records: The sheep hear His voice, and He calls His sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.”   Jesus knows everything about you including your name. He knows even what’s going on inside of you: your fears, your sorrows, your struggles, and your pains too. He knows how much you can handle and doesn’t push you through things you must face; instead, He leads you through them all.  He goes before you. Listen to this scripture from Isaiah, Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”  He is the Good Shepherd and no matter what dangers are threatening you, including this Coronavirus, He will be there to see you through.

Pastor Boxman and I are like sheep-dogs to this Good Shepherd. Sheep-dogs are the helpers whose job is to keep you in line, keep you pointed in the right direction. Some of you that’s easy, others require more grace. We point you towards Him, the Good Shepherd because He is what you need. He loves you; He watches over you, and yes many times, He forgives you for wandering off.  Our Good Shepherd doesn’t just know about your fears or your worries, but He knows about your sins, and your failings too.  He knows the sins that we know did, as well as the sins that we don’t know. But instead of letting the Devil, pounce on us and kill us, Jesus steps in-between His flock and this ferocious beast. He steps in and gives up His life for you and me.  He allows Himself to be struck down by the Devil so that we can pass through the valley of the shadow of death with no fear of evil.  This is why He is not just a Shepherd, but He’s the Good Shepherd.

How do we know Him? By His voice. A pastor who had been making several visits to a lady in the nursing home felt he wasn’t doing any good. This older lady had dementia and possibly Alzheimer’s. Every visit to her it seemed that she didn’t know who he was. One visit he was her brother, another visit her uncle, another visit her father. She spoke to him at times with incoherent ideas and would weave random words and sentences together. He wondered to himself: Am I doing any good here? Am I bringing anything of value to her?

So one day he decided to ask the older pastor what he should do. The older pastor said ‘That’s easy, sing to her the liturgy.’  The younger pastor replied, ‘Why, what good will that do?’ ‘Sing to her the liturgy because that’s God’s word that she knows. It’s the voice of her Good Shepherd.’

So the next time the young pastor visited he sang her the liturgy. He sang, Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.- Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word.

As this was taking place he saw her eyes turn towards him, and her expression changed in her face. She said, “You’re my pastor aren’t you?” Before this, she didn’t know him from Adam, but as she heard the voice of her Good Shepherd, her mind became in tune with the Savior again through the words sang to her by a frail man that day.

 

You know that voice. You’ve heard that voice for many years. For many of us, that voice started ringing in our ears long ago. It started when we were chomping on cheerios or eating marsh mellows on our parent's or grandparents' lap in the section Gary, our custodian would call the peanut gallery. People might have thought you weren’t getting much out of the service, but God was already at work in your heart, imprinting His voice there. It’s like a mother’s voice is for a newborn baby. We turn towards it because it gives us so much comfort and peace. That’s why we like to be here in church, to hear the familiar voice of our Good Shepherd.

 

That’s been a struggle for our world recently. It needs to hear its Good Shepherd. What has it been hearing lately? A voice of uncertainty. Every day we hear this voice and it can overwhelm us. It causes grief and despair.  

 

Jesus warns us about these voices. How they can be thieves and robbers if we exclusively listen only to them. They are thieves as they stealing away our hope. Robbers as they take away our joy and our comfort. Finally, in the end, they can take away our salvation. What can we do? What turns us around? What can bring us back? There is only one thing that can, is the voice of our Good Shepherd.

 

Remember the account of Mary at the tomb? She was filled with grief and despair because she couldn’t find her savior. The Good Shepherd came to her and at first, she didn’t know that He was there, but then He called out to her with His voice and said Mary, and right away her grief and despair turned into everlasting joy. In the Old Testament what brought King David back when he sinned against Bathsheba? It was hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd that came from the prophet Nathan. What brings you and me back upon the shoulders of our Good Shepherd? It’s the same voice calling out to you, the voice of our Lord Jesus. We hear His voice today as words of forgiveness are spoken to us. We hear His voice when the Scriptures are read. We hear His voice as a preacher points to the cross to tell you again that your Good Shepherd died there for you to bring you peace. We need to hear His voice because there are so many voices out there that are only trying to stir up trouble, division and strife in our hearts. Your Good Shepherd knows this and so He calls out to us with His voice to lead us away from it and into His green pastures and calm still waters.

 

Today Jesus turns to you and me and grabs our attention. He says: Truly, Truly, I say to you.”  Right here Jesus saying: “Listen up my flock! What I’m about to say to you is important for you to hear.” And so what do we His sheep do? We turn to Him once again to listen. Listen to that voice of the Good Shepherd. We listen and He leads us into His arms so that we would find rest. We listen and follow Him so that we may have His peace. 

 

In the name of Jesus our Good Shepherd. Amen. 


4/26/2020 Service and Sermon text for April 26





Acts 2:14, 36-41 “What Shall We Do?”

Easter 3, April 25,26, 2020

Pastor Mark Boxman, Trinity Lutheran Church, Salina, Kansas

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

What if someone discovered a simple, free, immediately-accessible-to-everyone cure for Coronavirus? Wow! We would be set free from our lock down! We could get back to living life as we are called to live it. We’d visit the sick. Families could have paychecks. We could hug the lonely. Churches could gather. We’d celebrate.

Well, there is a simple, free, immediately-accessible-to-everyone cure for the multitude of deadly risks we face each day. Jesus’ atoning death on the cross and His victorious resurrection from the dead liberates us from bondage to the threat of death.

In Christ, viruses need not paralyze us. Jesus has conquered the grip of physical and eternal death. His powerful, gracious and personal rule over every detail of lives for our temporal and eternal benefit sets us free. We need not cower at anything the devil throws at us. We need not be discouraged or afraid.

We trust our Savior Jesus Christ whose love and constant care cannot be taken away from us by the disturbing circumstances of life.

If someone discovers a cure for Coronavirus, it must not be kept a secret. Such good news demands immediate release and widespread dissemination.

The proclamation of God’s Good News in Jesus Christ is essential. It is needed today to calm troubled hearts, to comfort those who are sick, to prepare those who may die, to give courage to those who have lost their income, to speak liberating truth and certainty to those who doubt, and to encourage us to keep loving our neighbor.

The Church’s work must not be put on hold as if there is something more important to attend to. Christ’s gifts are more essential than the food we buy at the store: “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

The message of the Christian church is vital to our community. Human effort will never eliminate all threats of death or the fear of death. Only Jesus takes away the sting of death. His transforming grace has created a holy army of people—prudent, compassionate, loving, courageous, trusting--set free from the heavy burdens of this sinful, dying world.

We cannot keep this Good News a secret.

That’s why our after-Easter Scripture readings recount how the Apostles told everyone who would listen about the new, eternal and liberated life Jesus freely gives.

Let’s look at our reading today from Acts chapter 2.

ESV Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them….Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified." 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"

Jesus’ glorious resurrection from the dead deserves the top headline in every news broadcast. It ought to be stated before any updates on the virus.

Jesus is Lord and Christ. The Almighty, All-knowing God is our Rescuer, our Savior, our Deliverer. Trust Him in all things!

Christian sermons proclaim this eternally significant headline and challenge us: Do you have Jesus in your life in the way you ought to have Jesus? Do you grasp, do you understand, who Jesus is?

Those listening to Peter’s sermon did not. They had rejected Jesus as a fraud and crucified Him.

But what about you? What do you think of Jesus?

Do you ignore Him? Curse Him? Doubt Him? Do you treat Him as insignificant?

During this pandemic, do you see Jesus and His Word as vitally important, essential, and relevant? Do you believe that Jesus is the all-knowing Lord over viruses and that this pandemic will end when He so wills? Do you trust that the number of days you have on earth are determined by Him? Do you listen to Him or do Jesus’ words take second place to the limited knowledge of scientists and the politicians?

Do you believe in your heart and reflect in your life that Jesus is your Lord and God, your Creator and Judge? Are you more afraid of that which can kill only the body or do you revere above all, He who has authority to destroy both body and soul in hell?

Do you even care about these questions? Are these matters of utmost importance to you?

In our text, through Christian preaching, the Holy Spirit led thousands of people to be cut to the heart. They realized the horrible mistake they had made by rejecting Jesus.

Were you severely wounded today when you confessed that you have sinned against God in thought, word and deed and that you have not loved Him with your whole heart? Was your heart pierced when you realized that you deserve God’s punishment now and for eternity?

God is at work getting our attention. He uses sermons. He uses the circumstances of life, including pandemics. He wants people to cry out: “What shall we do?” Or as one lady expressed it to me this week, “What do I need to do to get ready to meet my Maker?”

38 And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

What shall we do?

Masks, gloves, distancing, staying at home. These physical protections have their place. Their purpose is to push off meeting our Maker to a later date. But none of these Dr. Fouci suggestions will prepare us to meet our Maker.

What should we do? Two things: Repent and be baptized.

Repent. Change your mind in every matter in which you ought to change your mind. Change your ways in every way they ought to be changed. Let God’s Word have its way in your heart, in your mind and in your life. In every way in which you have not respected God, or loved Him or trusted in Him above everything else, change it.

Turn not away from God but turn to Him. Believe in Him with all your heart. Trust in His care and His daily and eternal provision more than you trust in any man, any politician, any expert. Consider that Jesus and His Word are applicable to every situation in life.

Also, remember your Baptism. Without any merit or worthiness on your part, God adopted you to be His very own. Consider His promise attached to that water, based solely on His grace and mercy. He forgives all your sins. Our perfect, loving heavenly Father has not turned His back on you. You may have wandered from Him. He has never left your side. You may forget about Him. He thinks about you 24-7. You may not understand all His ways. But His ways are always for your benefit.

Consider that God has given you His powerful Holy Spirit so that you can live your days on earth without fear, confident that the God, who calls you His dear child, has things under control.

39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself."

Does God really love you? Does He really forgive all your failure to honor Jesus as He deserves? Don’t take my word for it. God says it clearly. His gracious gifts are for you, for your children, for people in faraway places, for everyone.

Even if you have ignored Jesus for a big chunk of your life, even if your children have run away from Him for an extended period of time, do not be discouraged. God’s grace extends even to those who, with extreme hatred, executed Jesus.

40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation."

I have many other words I could say to you today. Do not be swept away by our culture that insists God is irrelevant. Do not reject Jesus and what He has to say about all the hot topics of the day—gender, marriage, masculinity, parenting, work, providing for a family, sickness, visiting the sick and lonely, the threat of death, protection of income.

Hang on to Him. He is the Way, the Truth and the Giver of life.

Broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are on it. Do not join them (Matthew 7:13).

41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

What shall we do? Continue to receive God’s Word. Gladly hear it and learn it. Let your thoughts, words and deeds be shaped by it.

What shall we do? Remember your baptism. Say to yourself, “I am a dearly loved child of God. Jesus is my Savior.”

What shall we do? Don’t keep this Good News a secret. Like the Emmaus disciples who sprinted a few miles to tell of the resurrected Jesus, understand the urgency of calling people to know Jesus so that more be added to our number.

Amen.


4/22/2020 Letter From Pastor Boxman


4/22/2020 Letter From Pastor Kootz


4/19/2020 Service and Sermon text for April 19

The Easter Difference

John 20:19-31

April 18/19 2020

 

Grace, Peace, and Mercy are yours from God our Father and our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

 

Today our Gospel text brings us to the evening of Easter, and you might be pondering what happened. Last week we were rejoicing, saying Alleluia! Christ is risen! He’s risen indeed Alleluia! Yet here, we see the disciples look like they are dead.

 

Not literally dead, but their hearts are sunk.

 

The last time these disciples were all together in one place, they were running away in fear in the Garden of Gethsemane. We saw Peter and John, following Jesus to the trial, and then, for John, he stood at the foot of the cross watching Jesus die.  Three days later in the morning, these two ran to the tomb and saw that Jesus wasn’t there. They had heard from the women that He was alive! He’s not dead, and you and I cried out again and again after hearing this good news last week: Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

 

But what has happened since then?  Why have these disciples become completely paralyzed by fear again?

 

Well perhaps the disciples have good reason to be afraid – seeing is believing, and they know what they saw. Jesus was killed on a cross, and one can only assume that They might be next.  To make matters worse, they saw that the tomb was empty, meaning there will be a hunt for the body, and who will be the most likely suspects? Them.  If they are discovered, if they are found, either by the Jews or by the Romans, these disciples will find themselves literally dead.

 

But here they are figuratively dead.  Too paralyzed by fear to leave the house.  Too overcome with grief to encounter anyone on the streets.  Too dazed and confused by all that has happened to even begin to make sense of it all.  Too overcome with guilt to even try to explain it to others.  The disciples may not be dead; but even the dead have more coherence and bravery than these who gathered here behind locked doors.

 

But how about us? Are we dead?  Are we trapped as they were in fear or guilt, fear and guilt in our life that refuses to let go and allows us to get out from behind our locked doors?

 

During these past weeks we certainly have an idea of what is to be behind doors, stuck inside. We know how life has made us leave behind the life and the freedom we once knew before, before the fear of our death took place. Jews and Roman soldiers aren’t looking for us, but instead an invisible enemy, the virus. We are told not to go out unless it is necessary. We are told not to reach out with physical contact to our family and friends, our neighbors; and with little to no contact with others, it can make us feel like we are dead or at least paralyzed.

 

But looking at our lives there is another house that has been shuttered up for an even longer time than this. There is another house that has been barred and closed up before Governor Kelly’s shelter-in-place order was put into effect. This house holds back our faith.

 

We have placed our faith behind locked doors for some time. We have been given the good news of Jesus Christ. We’ve read, marked and inwardly digested His Word that tells us of good news. The good news is that Jesus is risen from the dead. That He has brought life to this world which is heading towards death. Jesus has brought peace and forgiveness. Yet when we are confronted and asked what is it that we believe, what happens to our faith? Are we mice or men? We are like mice locked up behind closed doors like these disciples.

 

Now to be sure, we do have our moments of bravery; just like the disciples who ran to the empty tomb, and found it empty.  We do try to speak up a little by placing a Christian symbol perhaps on the back of our vehicles, and joining the whole world praising God last week, lifting up Alleluias, and perhaps sending out tweets and texts saying Christ is risen! But then Monday arrived, and then Tuesday, and finally the rest of the week; and what happened to that Easter spirit?  It went into hiding behind closed doors again. Why? What happens? 

 

Satan comes around after Easter and whispers into our ears about our sins. He points out what we have done, how we have gone astray.  How can we possibly tell someone else about Jesus when we have done this or done that? He points out how our lives are far from perfect, and because of this it places us with the disciples in that locked room again.

 

Our sinful flesh gets after us too. We get lazy and say we can wait until things open up again. There’s always tomorrow. Besides right now the world since it bars us to go and talk to them face to face.  

 

Yet who will go out and tell others that Jesus is alive?  Who will go out and proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God?  Who will announce that where there once was death, life has risen?

 

It’s certainly not going to be these disciples, nor many of us stuck in a locked room. For there we find ourselves paralyzed by guilt, afraid that if someone looked at our past, they might call us a hypocrite.  Let’s be honest folks, when it comes to sharing our faith, we are as dead as those who are buried in the cemetery, like the lifeless clay that Adam came from long ago.

 

And yet in the midst of the locked room, life appeared.

In the midst of the locked room, Jesus appears and He changes everything.

 

Jesus comes to them, and He breathes into these disciples new life. Jesus took away all of their fears and confusion. This breath of life took away their guilt and their grief. Jesus took away their burdens and placed inside of them His Holy Spirit.

 

Jesus is alive, and now the disciples’ confusion is clear. Everything Jesus shared before makes sense, especially how the Son of Man would die and then rise on the third day. The disciples understand it all now.

 

Their grief is over and their friend, their leader, their teacher, their Lord who once was dead, is alive, and He shall never die again.

 

The crucified one now lives.  Think about that. The tomb could not hold Him. Death has no power over Him. Jesus is alive. Alleluia!  Jesus is alive, and He comes into their midst, past their locked door, the place filled with despair, and He breathes life back into them.

 

They would have had guilt, running away from Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter’s guilt of denying Jesus, refusing to speak up at Jesus' trial. What would Jesus do? He turns to them and gives them His peace as He forgives.

 

The disciples are restored, and the fear that had so paralyzed them before, the fear that told them that they would be next in line to be crucified, is removed. They know now that even if they die, that their Lord will fulfill His promises, raising them, as He was, to life eternal in heaven.

 

We see here that Jesus holds no ill will towards these disciples. Jesus doesn’t mistrust them after all of their failings in the past three days. Instead Jesus welcomes them back into His fellowship, and into the kingdom of God.

 

That breath that Jesus breathed upon them He also breathes upon you and me. He breathes life into us so that we too may not remain behind locked doors full of fear, guilt, or grief, but instead that you and I may be alive with Him. Jesus breathed upon you His life so that we could be welcomed into the fellowship of God, so that we would be restored as His children.  He restores us and sends us out like the disciples with work to do. Jesus sends us out to proclaim His Word to set people free, to restored and to forgive as Jesus does us.

 

We go out without fear of what the world may do to us for the faith that we confess. We go out without fear even though we know that the devil will try to stop us by doing his worst. We go out without fear from our locked doors because Easter is the difference. It is the difference in what happens with these disciples, and it is the difference in you and me. When Easter was realized by the church, when that good news finally materialized into the disciples’ lives, the church knew what it had: Victory! Everlasting victory secured by the one who conquered death and still lives on high named Jesus.

This is the good news. It changes everything. When a loved one passes, there is some sorrow and loss, but there is also joy for us too, for we know what has happened to our loved one. Their soul is enjoying their home in heaven. They are at peace, a peace that goes beyond our human understanding with our Savior Jesus in paradise.

 

God is telling you and me to have our faith come out from behind those locked doors! Christ is not dead! He is alive, and He reigns on high. Jesus has forgiven you and empowered you with the Holy Spirit to go out and be His witnesses. What is the difference for us? It is Easter. It makes all the difference in world. Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.

Let us now sing: “Jesus Lives! The Victory’s Won”


4/15/2020 Letter from Dave Goldammer, Executive Director

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4/15/2020 Letter From Pastor Boxman

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4/12/2020 Easter Sunday !

Matthew 28:1-10 Good News from the Cemetery

Easter, April 12, 2020

Pastor Mark Boxman, Trinity Lutheran Church, Salina, Kansas

 

    Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!


    School buildings are empty. Stores are closed. Toilet paper is hard to find. Ford Motor Company is making ventilators. The President is teaching us how to wash our hands. Unemployment applications have overloaded the system. Friends cannot touch each other. We have been ordered to stay at home.


Why all these changes to our daily routine? Why has a microscopic organism called Coronavirus had such a big impact on our lives?
 
     Why?  Because of death. Because this virus can be deadly.
 
     And we do not want to die.
 
     Death is not a good thing. God created us to live and not die. The shadow of death that hangs over our stay-at-home days brings sadness, anxiety and fear. We are dedicated to doing what we can to stay safe. But there are no guarantees.
 
     God created us to live. He has put in our hearts the desire to live. But sin has infected our world. And sin’s mortality rate is 100%. Whether soon or many years from now, death will come to all people because all have sinned. It may be a virus or some other medical condition. It may be an accident, a natural disaster, or a war. We do our best to stay safe, but we cannot escape death’s universal grip.
 
     Or can we? The last place we might expect to hear some needed good news is in a cemetery. But that’s where God takes us on this glorious Easter day.
 
     Cemeteries are unique places. Every other place is built for the living. But the cemetery is designed for the dead.Most places where people gather are lively and noisy. But the cemetery, though filled with people, is peaceful and quiet.
 
     Cemeteries have been the topic of many jokes. We all grin to hear that people are just dying to get in. We are amused to hear that cemeteries are raising their rates due to an increase in the cost of living. We chuckle when the cemetery caretaker asks for a pay increase because he has so many people under him.
 
     But cemetery jokes are a bit awkward. We find it uncomfortable to laugh at them. The cemetery is not a funny place. When we were there to bury a loved one, we were shedding tears, not laughing.
 
     The women in our Bible reading for today were brave and devout women who 2000 years ago awakened early on Sunday morning and went to the Jerusalem city cemetery to finish the burial details of their good friend Jesus.In their minds, made cloudy by grief, they wondered why they were even bothering to go.They were unable to role the heavy stone away from the entrance.They were quite possibly wasting their time.
 
     But then, in rapid succession came a whole series of cemetery surprises. Among the monuments for the dead came Good News about life after death and the world has never been the same since.
 
•   
First there was a strong earthquake as the Lord sent an angel from heaven to roll away the stone.The brave, trained soldiers assigned to secure the tomb were overcome with fear and passed out.

Then the angel preached the first Easter sermon explaining to the women what they were witnessing:"Do not be afraid.I have good news for you.Why are you looking for the living among the dead?He's not here. Jesus has been raised from the dead.Remember what he told you?He said that He had to be crucified and die and then He would come back to life on the third day.”
 
Next the angel invited them to look inside the tomb.Jesus’ body was not in the grave.The linen that had been wrapped around Jesus’ body was lying as if undisturbed, kind of like the way it would have been if someone had a balloon body, wrapped it in cloth and then popped the balloon.
 
As the women ran to tell the disciples, Jesus appeared to them.Yes, Jesus who had died on a bloody cross three days early, had been confirmed dead by the authorities, and who had been buried, stood in front of them fully alive.They touched Him and talked with Him.
 
     The women, as we can imagine, were quite startled.But they were also filled with great joy.They recognized that they were witnessing the fulfillment of what God promised the world when sin and death first entered the world—God’s Son come to earth to save the world from the guilt of sin and from the grip of death.They got it.In Jesus, God is giving sinners the forgiveness of sins.In Jesus, God is giving people victory over death and the grave and the gift of resurrection and eternal life.
 
     Do you get it? Do you understand what this Good News from the Jerusalem cemetery means for you today and on the day of your death?
 
     The women understood. And so did the apostles who were also privileged to witness Jesus’ resurrection.
 
     They got it. And their lives were never the same again. With zeal and urgency, they dedicated their lives to proclaiming the Good News of resurrection to a world of dying people. Not intimidated by persecution, unafraid of torture and death, these men wanted all people to know that there is hope.
 
     Death, which seems to be an unconquerable force, has been overcome. Cemeteries which we call “the final resting place” are not final at all.Jesus promises that on a day yet to come, He will give a command and all the dead will be raised. All who have placed their faith in Him will rise to everlasting life.
 
     These words are not empty promises, but made certain by Jesus very own resurrection.
 
     Do you get it? Or rather have you been given it? Has the Holy Spirit given you faith to grasp what happened in the cemetery that day? Has this Good News gotten a hold of your heart and mind and given you peace that only God can give, a peace about your own life and mortality, a peace about your future and your relationship with God? We retell the story every Easter because God wants you to get it. Get what? Get four things.
 
1.
God wants the resurrection of Jesus to convince you that Jesus truly is the Son of God.This remarkable feat of conquering death has not been done by Mohammed, by Buddha, or by anyone else who claims to speak for God.The resurrection is the sure and certain sign that Jesus is no ordinary man.No ordinary man could do this.Medical professionals, as good as they are, cannot overcome death.Researchers, despite their wonderful cures,have not discovered a way to bring the dead back to life.But Jesus has done it.Who else but the Almighty God could do this?
 
2.
God wants this Easter Day to convince you that Jesus’ words are trustworthy and true.Houdini promised the world that when he died, he would find a way to escape death and come back.Houdini has not accomplished that feat.His promise was unreliable.Jesus promised to die and come back to life and He did.Never doubt Jesus.When He says He will do something He will because He can.His Word is truth.We hear it, read it, believe it, live by it, bank on it, entrust our future to it.This Easter day provides us with proof that Jesus is worthy of our trust.
 
3.
God wants this Day of Resurrection to give you peace, to assure you that God the Father accepted Jesus’ sacrifice of atonement for sin.If someone is paying for a crime by sitting in prison, when the jailer releases him, it means that the crime has been paid for.Jesus paid the debt of sin by His death on the cross.By releasing Jesus from death, the Father is making it clear that our redemption has been accomplished.For Jesus’ sake, all your sins are forgiven.Do not let the guilt of past sins weigh heavy on your heart.Confess your sins to Jesus.Then hang on to Jesus.He cleanses you of all your sins.He does not hold your sin against you.
 
4.
God wants the resurrection of Jesus to give you a certain hope in your resurrection from the dead.Because Jesus rose from the dead, you can be assured that Jesus holds power over death.He promises to come to this earth to judge the world.He will give the command and all people will be raised from the dead to stand before Him.All who place their trust in Him will be welcomed into the eternal mansions of heaven.All who reject Jesus have no hope.They cannot attain eternal life on their own.Only Jesus can save. Salvation is God’s loving gift to the world, a gift received by faith in Jesus Christ.Can Jesus really make your resurrection happen?Easter confirms His promise to you.We have a living Savior.He has made our death like falling asleep.He will awaken us from the dead just as He has been raised from the dead.
 
     Do you get it?   God wants you to get it.   This day shapes every other day of your life, puts a song in your heart, a whistle in your work, a bounce in your step, This Easter day plants in your heart a living hope, a confidence to live each day without fear, even in the midst of a pandemic.
 
     A person can learn a lot by walking through our city cemeteries.You can learn that some die young, some die in war, some die at a ripe old age. You can learn that, eventually, all people die.
 
     From the Jerusalem cemetery comes a different message, a message about life, the best message the world has ever heard. Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!  And because He has risen, we too shall arise.  Amen. 

 


4/10/2020 Good Friday Service and Sermon text

Jesus’ Seven Statements from the Cross, based on the Four Gospels

Good Friday, 2020, Pastor Mark Boxman,

Trinity Lutheran Church, Salina, Kansas

 

Jesus' First Statement from The Cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

                Jesus never sinned. He never hurt anyone. He never lied. He devoted His life to doing good, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, bringing hope to the hopeless. Yet there He was, nailed to a bloody cross.

                One might expect that Jesus would be angry, bitter toward those who betrayed Him, falsely accused Him, whipped Him, condemned Him, drove the nails through His hands and feet, and mocked Him.

However, Jesus is not angry. He came for the sole purpose of forgiving sins, so words of forgiveness flow from His lips even while blood flows from His body.

Don’t think of your sin lightly. Your sin and my sin put Jesus on that horrible cross. But He is condemned; we are not. He dies; we will live. He dies for you, for the forgiveness of all your sins.

When we sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2-3)

Jesus' Second Statement from The Cross: I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

                The story of the thief on the cross next to Jesus has brought comfort to a multitude of people sitting in prisons and to many people who, on their deathbed, have come to know Jesus. Jesus forgives sinners, even notorious ones. Jesus welcomes into Paradise those who turn to Him in faith, even in the last moments of their earthly life.

                When your last day on earth comes, Jesus promise will apply to you. On the day you die, you will awaken in the presence of Jesus. This promise does not depend on what you have done or not done. Your place in heaven has been prepared by Jesus.

                For by grace you have been saved, through faith in Jesus, not by your works but by His work on Your behalf. (Ephesians 2:8)

Jesus' Third Statement from The Cross: “Woman, there is your son! There is your

                Jesus is our Savior not only because He died for our sins, He also because He lived a perfect life in our place. The sacrifice for sin has to be pure and blameless. Jesus is pure and blameless; He fulfilled God’s law in every detail.

                With this third word from the cross, Jesus fulfills His God-given responsibilities under the Fourth Commandment. Even while suspended on a cross, He honors His mother Mary by providing for her care. He calls His good friend John to take care of Mary as his own mother. John faithfully accepted this responsibility.

                Jesus gladly accepted His assignments from God—to be a faithful son and to be our Savior. He did what we often do not do, so that we may receive His righteousness in place of our unrighteousness. May the Lord lead us to gladly accept the callings we have received from Him.

 

Jesus' Fourth Statement from The Cross: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” This means, "My God, My God,   why did You forsake Me?"

                Justice demands that the guilty sinner be punished. God is just. He cannot simply overlook sin. But God, in His mercy, allowed Jesus to take our place. Jesus experienced what sinners deserve—to be forsaken by God, to be left alone to carry the guilt and shame of sin, to suffer the agony of hell.

                When we sin, we are asking God to leave us alone. We should be the ones forsaken by God. However, Jesus was forsaken so that we will never be forsaken. Jesus endured God’s wrath and hell so that we will never experience what our sin deserves. We will never be abandoned to hell but will be with the Lord forever.

Jesus’ Fifth Statement from the Cross: “I am thirsty.”

                The forth word from the cross expressed the spiritual agony of the cross—to be forsaken by God. With this fifth word, Jesus expressed physical agony—great thirst.

                The Bible describes hell as a place of thirst. Without water, we die. Jesus is dying an agonizing death: His skinned ripped away by the scourging, His face bruised with fists, His head pierced with thorns, His hands and feet nailed to a rugged cross, His body suspended, and His throat parched.

                He endured it all so that He may quench our deepest thirst—to be made right with God and to live forever.

Jesus' Sixth Statement from The Cross: It is finished!”

                A lady asked me the other day if when a person dies they go to heaven or if they have to go to purgatory to be further cleansed from sin. Jesus answered this question with one Greek work, “tetelestai;” three words in English, “It is finished.”

                What is finished? God’s plan to save the world. What needed to be done to save sinners Jesus has accomplished. All is Done! No more needs to be done. The Lamb of God has taken away the sins of the world. Our forgiveness is complete. We need no additional cleansing from sin.

                Rejoice, O people of God, our salvation is complete.

Jesus' Seventh Statement from The Cross: Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit.”

                Wow! God who cannot die, dies…all for us and our salvation.

                Jesus’ first word was a prayer to the Father and so is the seventh word. Jesus died in peace. He knew His body would be placed in the tomb to await the resurrection. He knew His spirit would be with the Father.

                The first Christian martyr Stephen has taught us, at the moment of our death, to pray in a similar way. As he died, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And Jesus does. God sends the holy angels to carry the souls of His people to heaven.

                To be with a fellow Christian at the moment of their death is a holy moment, made precious by Jesus’ own death on the cross.

                We die entrusting our souls into the nail scarred hands of Jesus and our bodies into the tomb to await Jesus’ triumphant return to raise us to eternal life.


4/9/2020 Maundy Thursday Service


Access Denied to Access Granted

Maundy Thursday 2020

April 8, 2020

 

Grace, Peace and Mercy are yours through God our Father and Our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. Amen.

 

Two words: Access Denied. During these days of having to stay at home more than normal, perhaps you’re like me, coming across things you haven’t seen in awhile like old electronics. We have an iPad that hasn’t been used it in long time. I picked it up and turned it on, and on the screen it asked for a password. I couldn’t remember it. After several attempts it said: Access Denied. Perhaps you were working late one day on a project, and you wanted to get it done. So you went to the store for supplies. You pulled the handle and found out the doors locked. Access Denied.

 

I know we all can relate to those two words with all that’s been going on, but now think about how much sweeter it is when that heading change from Access Denied to Access What? Access Granted. Would you believe this has been the experience of God’s people for over 100s of years? If you’ve ever read the book of Exodus, you can see that being true. There you find that God wanted to grant His people a much, much better place to live. They were on their way away from the big bully on the block named Pharaoh-away from the Egyptians with their whips and their cords and unto a much, much better place for sure. They were headed from the land of Access Denied to the land of Access Granted.

 

The people of God here in Exodus 24 got to experience that. Check out verse one with me: Then God said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar.” In other words don’t get too close! As we hear we see once again those two words that get thrown over it as a heading, and you know what they are, Access Denied.

 

You see God’s people do not have full access to God, and I know that’s something that is hard for us to wrap our minds around, but let’s be honest, because of Jesus Christ we have a much, much different message and heading over our lives. Yet for God’s people at this time there are two words, two hard indigestible words come up: Access Denied; but why? It’s because God and His Word tells us that we have been born with this certain condition, and we don’t like to talk about it, but it infects every part of our lives. It’s called sin. God says that we were born into sin, and not just that, but we are also born as enemies of God. I know that’s hard to hear, but God tells us this in His Word, and unless something is done about this, it will always be Access Denied. How can a group of people infected with sin approach an all-powerful and an all-holy God?

 

Due to their condition, God’s people ended up here in Exodus at the foot of the mountain. Yet look. Moses gets to draw near, and we wonder, how does that work? In Exodus 24:2 God says, “Moses alone shall come near to the Lord, but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.”

 

This is why this took place: God was strategically putting into their lives a mediator, a go-between for them. Yet that question comes up again: How is Moses able to do this? Isn’t Moses a sinful person as well? The answer is yes. Isn’t Moses born into sin like the rest of us? The answer is yes. Isn’t Moses born as an enemy of God because he is born into sin? The answer is yes. So how is Moses able to do this, and what will happen to God’s people? Are they always going to have to live under the heading of Access Denied?

 

Here’s what God tells us in His Word in verse 8: “And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

 

You see blood is how God’s people get out of Access Denied. It was how God brought His people not too long before this out of slavery and bondage in the land of Egypt. God sent those 10 plagues, and the final one was the hardest of them all, the plague of the 1st born.

 

The angel of Death went over the homes of those there in Egypt. Any home that did not have the pure and spotless blood of the lamb on its doorposts gets visited. It’s through the blood. That’s how you get out. That’s how you get a pass that night. That’s also how the Israelites gain access to God. It’s through the blood.

 

Exodus 24:9-11: “Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were, a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And God did not lay His hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.”

 

Not only did these Israelites get to see God, which is hard for us to understand, but they also get to do what in His presence? Eat and drink! How wonderful is that? No longer is it Access Denied, but it is Access Granted! How does it happen? It happens through the blood.

 

This is God’s gift to you: Access Granted. This is not because of the blood of goats, or bulls, or chickens… but because of the precious blood of someone else.

 

Friends, let me put it this way, blood is how you and I get out of our Egypt. What is Egypt? It’s a place of struggle and guilt. It’s a place of bondage and things that we feel like we can’t shake or share. Egypt is where we are reminded of the mistakes we made in our past, filled with brokenness, hurt, and pain. Egypt is a place where it gets dark, where it seems there is no hope, no light to lead you forward.

 

Yet this is what God does for you and for me. He provides us with a way out, and you know how He does it? He does it through the blood. The blood is how you and I gain access to God. However, whose blood is it? It’s His. It’s the blood of Jesus Christ spilt for you and for me.

 

On the day of Good Friday there were a lot of people calling for blood, and if you know the story you know how it plays out. The Jews are calling for blood, the blood of Jesus. Herod in his own way calls for Jesus’ blood too with the trial in the scam and scheme. Pilate wants to wash his hands of it. He wants nothing to do with it, but he plays a part as well. The soldiers play their part. They want some of Jesus’ blood, and did they ever get it.

 

Yet, you need to know that this was not an accident that Jesus ended up on the cross. He was not at the wrong place, at the wrong time. No. Jesus was at the right place, at the right time for you and for me. Since Jesus went to the cross it is no longer Access Denied for you and for me, but instead it is what? Access Granted.

 

Tomorrow, I hope that you are able to continue with us as we pause and reflect on the reality of God being placed on the cross for you. It’s important event for us. We need to take some time and ponder upon what was given there for us.

 

Maybe you grew up in a house of brokenness where you didn’t have a father or a mother. You didn’t have unconditional love given to you. On that day we celebrate that God gives you that gift through His Son Jesus. God took a place that He didn’t have to, but He wanted to for you and me, so that our lives may no longer be Access Denied or in Egypt, but instead Access Granted because of Jesus Christ.

 

Today we draw near to God, knowing that through the sacrifice of His Son you are forgiven. You are redeemed, all by one thing, and only by one thing, the blood of the Lamb named Jesus. It is no longer Access Denied for you, but instead it is Access Granted all because of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who spilt His blood. Amen.


4/7/2020 Letter From Pastor Boxman

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4/1/2020 Lent Service and Sermon text for April 1

Matthew 16:16-18 Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God

April 1, 2020, Midweek Lent 6, Pastor Mark Boxman, Trinity Lutheran, Salina, KS

Jonathan Edwards, an 18th Century revivalist preacher, was famous for scaring people. With vivid imagery, he recounted innumerable ways in which people can die. He described life as walking on a rotten surface. One misstep and a person might plunge to his death.

As we listen to news reports, we may feel like we are living out a Jonathan Edwards’ sermon. One wrong step and we might be overcome by a microscopic organism.

Indeed, life is very fragile. We walk in danger all the way. Sin’s mortality rate is 100%.

Mercifully, God has given us a gift to alleviate our fear, to lessen our worry, and to take away the paralyzing dread of what might happen. This gift is Jesus Christ. God came to this earth to take the infection of our sin upon Himself. Jesus died from sin’s deadly sting. Then, the biggest news headline of the past 2000 years, He rose from the dead revealing that death rules no more. Jesus is more powerful than death. God, who is faithful, promises us eternal life, a glorious and worry-free life, a life without the constant threat of death, a life without separation, a life without talk about ventilators and protective gear.

The number of days we have on earth before we experience this victory over death, this new and wonderful life, is in our Savior’s hands.

Fearful and worried people need to hear about Jesus, our God and Savior.

That’s why, in this Lenten season, we are preparing to share with others the wonderful hope we have in Jesus Christ.

When asked about Jesus, Peter confessed boldly: Jesus, you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus praised Peter’s 10-word confession and held it up as the foundation upon which the church is built, a confession stronger than the forces of death and hell.

Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God.

These words speak of the greatest treasure we possess. Jesus is the true and real God who came to rescue us from our sin, from the deadly torments and threats of the devil (whose work is very prominent among us right now), and from God’s eternal wrath against sin.

How does Jesus do this? That is summarized in His title “the Christ,” an important Bible word that refers to the three things Jesus does to save us.

1. He speaks the truth. He talks to us openly and honestly about our sin, not to drive us to despair, but to point us to the cure. He shows us our sin and its mortal consequences so that we may appreciate having a Savior and the gift of life.

Indeed, these words are true:

1 John 1:8-9 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

2. The second thing the Christ does is offer the sacrifice necessary to save us. Jesus the Christ does what needs to be done so that we may have this forgiveness and life. The debt of our sin is far beyond what we can pay. We could never do enough to atone for our sin. But Jesus paid that debt for us.

1 Peter 1:18-19 “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”

3. The third thing Jesus does for us is this: He lives and rules over all things to bring us through this valley of the shadow of death to our eternal home in heaven. Our lives are not subject to chance as if walking on a rotten canvas.

Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God. That’s Peter’s confession, revealed to Him by the Holy Spirit; the confession proclaimed by the church today, a Good News message that God wants all to hear and believe. Jesus’ Word is reliable and true. He is our Savior. He lives and rules to bring us to faith and to strengthen and preserve us in that faith until He calls us to our eternal home.

Not long after our text, in the presence of strangers, Peter failed to confess, not once, but three times. Afterwards, with great sorrow, he wept bitterly. He had withheld from others the gift that others desperately need.

Our failures to confess Christ have laid upon our hearts a load of guilt. We know people need to hear. How can people believe if they have not heard?

But when by God’s grace, you have explained the Gospel to someone, and if you have been privileged to see that Word sprout into faith, you know the joy that comes to you and to the one who listened.

Over the past few weeks, many of you have been developing a brief statement, an outline that will help you explain the hope that you have in Jesus.

Here are some of the “Gospel in Seven Word” submissions we have received from you.

“I am dust. Christ brings me life”

“God’s love and forgiveness equals eternal life.’

“Do you want peace? Follow Jesus.”

“Jesus is our light in darkness.”

“Everyone’s broken. Jesus heals the broken.”

“Jesus: He came. He died. He conquered.”

“Worry no more. Jesus saves.”

“New life in Christ through faith alone.”

“Gifts of forgiveness, grace, peace, hope, joy”.

“Through Adam all die. In Christ, all live.”

“God sees me through Christ-colored glasses.”

Those are just a few of the wonderful submissions we received explaining the Gospel in 7 words. Lord willing, we will publish a complete list of submissions in an up-coming newsletter.

Preparing to explain your faith to others is for such a time as this. People are looking for hope, for help, for something to take away their fear. We know what that is: Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God.

Enjoy sprinkling this good news into your conversations. Amen.


3/31/2020 Letter From Pastor Boxman


3/28/2020 Service and Sermon text for March 29

 

Who’s In Charge!

John 11:25-26

March 28-29, 2020

Grace, Peace and Mercy are yours through God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ! Amen.


One of the first things you may have noticed lately in Salina is the number of restaurants who have empty parking lots in town. It’s an eerie thing to see. Before the virus there were a lot and people frequenting restaurants all the time. Every evening many parking lots would look full, but today that’s not the case, at least not for a while now. If Jamie and I were able to go I’d choose Olive Garden. I’d go there and order my favorite dish Five Cheese Baked Ziti and yes I’d add that sixth layer of extra cheese on top. The cooks there do a great job, always good food there, but if the noodles weren’t quite done or the sauce was a little cold, I would complain, and I think you would too. We’d say something like: Hey, this meal isn’t quite right. It needs to be fixed. Take it back. When the plate returns and it’s still not right we’d say, “I want to see a manager. We’d say: Who’s in charge, send him or her to me?”


Right now our country is asking that same question, not to a waiter or waitress or to a restaurant manager but to our president. It’s because we do not like the dish we’ve been recently served in this life. We are feeling the pinch of our economy; having to stay away from each other and staying pretty much at home. This isn’t quite what we had in mind during these last three weeks, is it? We’re missing out on our normal activities for this time of year too. So we say: Who’s in charge? We want to see them. People will point us to those in authority including the big guy in the White House, our president. How’s he doing so far? Well, it’s not for a lack of trying, to be honest with you. No matter what you feel about the president or the congress or our governor these days, they’ve all tried along with the local officials and the health department to slow down this crisis that has come upon us. So is there anyone in charge? Yes, but none of these that I just mentioned.


In our reading from John today we find out who’s in charge. We are led to a man named Lazarus who was ill. Now we’re not sure what was causing Lazarus to be sick, the text doesn’t say, but we do know his sisters were deeply concerned. They thought Lazarus wasn’t going to make it, that he might die. Both Mary and Martha were faithful believers, and so we can imagine them praying as they waited for an answer from God. God heard all of their prayers. He hears our prayers too and He does answer the call. You may remember a sermon or a Sunday School lesson that taught you about the way God answers prayer. The answers are these: Yes, No, and Not Yet. We like it when our prayers get answered with a Yes, because God gives us the relief we seek, and maybe God answers us also in the same way we prayed for it.


However, when the answer turns out to be No or Not Yet, it’s harder for us to take. We don’t like those answers. Also when they come to us it’s usually after some time and so it requires us to wait and wait some more. Patience has never been our strong suit.


What will the answer be for our petitions our prayers for our nation now? We don’t know yet, but what we do know is the answer here. We do know how God answered Mary and Martha’s prayers and this answer leads us to some comfort that we need right now.


Lazarus was getting worse. At this time God’s answer to his sisters’ prayers was Not Yet. So what did they do? Mary and Martha turned to Jesus for help with an urgent message saying, “He whom You love is ill.” Meaning: ‘You better get here soon Jesus, our brother isn’t doing well.’ Jesus doesn’t go. Instead Jesus stays for another two days in Bethany. In those two days Lazarus dies. Jesus turns to His disciples and says, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I will go and wake him up.”


Think about that for a moment. The Son of God gets word that His friend is dying and instead of going He lets His friend whom He loves die. Jesus allows Lazarus’ heart to stop and his lungs to cease breathing. Martha verbalizes this conundrum of with her own words when she sees Jesus: “Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died.” Behind that we can sense her saying: ‘Where were you in my hour of need? Where were you for my brother Lazarus, your friend?’


We ask those same questions too in our struggles. ‘Where are You Lord? Where are you right now? When my loved one goes through cancer or a heart attack, when we are in financial straits? Where are you now during this pandemic? Who’s in charge during my hour of need?’ Who should I go to? Is it You Lord, because it’s really hard to see that right now?


We ask these questions when difficulty strikes. Yet we do know why it happens: it is because of our sin. That is why we suffer. Ever since the fall in Garden of Eden we have received our due. Yet, notice here, in the text we see another reason. God uses our moments of trial to point us back to Him. God does this so that our eyes might see His glory, and that He is still in charge.


In verse 21 Martha was struggling to see Jesus. Her vision of faith were fuzzy. She couldn’t quite put two and two together and come up with the answer that this Jesus, before her, was her Savior who brings life. We can understand why, pain and suffering can blur our vision. They’re like dark clouds of trouble covering over the light behind it making it difficult for us to stand upon the solid ground we have in Jesus.


Yet Jesus doesn’t abandon her or us during these times. Jesus continues to come to us to help us remember where our source of strength comes. It comes from Him and He is all you need.


Now here Martha is at a loss. She doesn’t know what to do. In that time and place she’s devastated. Most of us might not pick up on this, but for her and her sister they didn’t just lose their brother. No, they also lost their life. Lazarus whom they cherished and loved was also their only means to live. So when Lazarus died their life came to a stop as well. Yet, here is Jesus, and I can imagine Him coming up to her and taking her hands into His at this time. Jesus full of compassion looks to her and He knows her pain the uncertainty that’s running through her mind right now. Jesus doesn’t have to read Martha’s heart, He can see it. Jesus draws Martha close to Him so that she can focus not upon her loss, but upon what He has to say: words, powerful words that will change her and all those who believe in Him forever. Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe in this?” Martha’s faith hears these words. It speaks up and confesses: “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”


Now Jesus is not done yet. There is still a lot of unbelief there among the tomb of Lazarus. Unbelief not from Mary or Martha but from the rest gathered there that day. They had placed there hoped in Jesus as well when they saw what Jesus did a man born blind and questioned: “Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind also kept this man from dying?” They thought that Jesus’ power limited him to only those who didn’t pass to the next life. They thought Jesus didn’t have the power to create life, to put it back into the body. Jesus knowing this was deeply moved. For the sake of those who were lost in unbelief Jesus turns to them to revive their faith. He turns to us and He shows us that He’s in charge, even over the powers of death.


Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days. Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”So they took away the stone and Jesus prayed to His father. “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” Then Jesus cried out loud, “Lazarus, come out.” and the man who died came out alive!


Who are you placing your trust in today? When the chips are down who or what thing have you placed your hope in? A president, a governor, the health care system, money? What is it? Who’s in charge here? For Martha and Mary and for all of us we know who: It is Jesus, who comes and says in the midst of trials and troubles: I’m the one! Put your trust in me, for I am the resurrection and the life! Do not doubt, but believe.


Jesus, is the one in charge. He’s in charge of it all for He still sits at the right hand of God with all power and authority invested in Him. How much power does Jesus have? What can He do? Jesus can and does take away our greatest problem of all: death. On the Last Day Jesus will repeat this scene here once more, but this time He’ll shout out Your name. You too, along with Lazarus, will come out to never die again. All through the word that comes from the one who is in charge, Jesus. In His name we pray Amen.


3/25/2020 Letter from Pastor Boxman March 25


3/25/2020 Lent Service Wednesday March 25


Midweek 5
The Gospel in Seven Words: “Isolation and Community”
Psalm 68:6
March 25, 2020
God’s grace, peace and mercy are yours through God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. Amen.

As we continue throughout these days, it is important to know that God is not far from us.That He is still faithful, and He will see us through. Nothing can ever separate us from the love of God, even social distancing that we are observing now. Our message today blesses us as we focus upon how God continues to bring us together, even during these times, so that we can see our hope founded in Jesus Christ.

Throughout our Lenten series we’ve been privileged to work on St. Peter’s command to the early church as well as to us. What is that command: Prepare yourselves to confess the hope that you have in Jesus Christ. We are considering how we might summarize the Gospel in just seven brief words so that we are ready when God gives us an opportunity. At this time of being apart what are ways we can share our faith? Letters, through phone calls and through emails too. It’s important that the light of the world, Jesus, is known and believed in so that when the Last Day comes they too may rise as Jesus did on Easter and live forever in the Kingdom of heaven.

Two weeks ago, we considered the theme of captivity and freedom— how Jesus frees us from our sin and death. Last week Pastor Boxman helped us to reflect upon death and life as we face these uncertain times. With both of these themes we see that confessing this precious message of the Gospel involves two fundamental truths. First, that we along with all creation have turned away from our Creator. This turning away from God IS what’s wrong with this world. But the Gospel, the gift founded in Jesus Christ, is the good news that we have a God who loves us and reigns over us in mercy & love through the God-man, JesusChrist.

Today, we’re going to examine another important biblical theme. The theme I’d like us to consider is one that we are unfortunately seeing more and more of right now: Isolation and loneliness. It is a problem that has been a part of our life for some time.

Now a couple of weeks ago you might claim that loneliness wasn’t a problem. We’re the most connected society that has ever been. To some degree this is true. In various ways we can be connected to each other either through technology via our phones and computers, snail mail or our mailbox, or just getting in our car or using our two feet to do some face to face time, we can connect with one another. But data claims that loneliness has been on the rise. An article from Fortune magazine published just a few years ago, (“Chronic Loneliness is a Modern-Day Epidemic.”June 22, 2016), tells us that the percentage of people who are regularly lonely has more than doubled over the years. In the 70s and 80s, 11–20% reported they had moments of frequent loneliness. In this last decade the numbers have jumped to more than 40–45%. With all that’s going on today you can see we’re way above that number right now.

So I know we can all relate to this topic. We all know what it feels to be alone. What it feels like to be outside of a community on your own. Looking at Scripture, the world knew about loneliness right away. It was the first problem we had ever faced. Right out of the gate in Genesis God saw Adam and how he was all alone, even in a perfect world. God acknowledged this and said it was not good for man to be alone. Adam needed a companion, a helper. So God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep and out of one of Adams’s ribs God created Eve. The problem was solved, for at least a little while. Then came into this world sin, and with sin came separation again. Adam and Eve became divided against each other, and this reflected another division that arose between them and God.

Sin does that. It divides us. First it divides us from God, and then it divides us from each other. Consider the effects of sin in your relationships: with your loved ones, with members of our own family, with members of your community, with even people in the church. I talked with a person who used to be a member here. Sin got in the way and she drifted for 40 years. Now she doesn’t believe there is a God. Sin gets in the way, and it causes us to not be one with each other and with our God above. This is not how God wants us to live. This wasn’t His plan for us at all.

Yet consider what God shares with us in His word: Psalm 68:6. King David writes these 7 words: God settles the solitary in a home.” God settle the solitary in a home. David certainly knew what loneliness was all about. You may recall he was a shepherd of sheep, and shepherds would spend a lot of time out by themselves in the pastures. Later on, after being anointed King, he would have to run away from King Saul, and then Absalom, his son, as he hid for his life. King David knew what it meant to be divided, separated,isolated in this world.

But notice what God did about this. Even when David committed terrible sins, God did not leave David in isolation. No, God forgave David. He restored him - returned him to the community of God’s people time and time again. That’s what God does. He doesn’t condemn us and leave us alone. No! He instead restores us and brings us into His family to be together as one. This happens for us early on in life, through the waters of baptism. God washes us clean and marks us with His name. You and I who have been baptized are part of a bigger group, a family of sons or daughters of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Nothing can take that away from you. Your part of my family, God’s family and families get together in a community.

Now imagine that family reunion. It’d be a gathering of many people who come to celebrate. Imagine the elaborate dinner, a feast prepared for the whole group to enjoy. There can be a lot of issues and problems between family members, but during that family reunion all of that mess has been removed. No quarrels. No grudges. No awkward conversations. No need to avoid any particular cousin.        Do you see that? Can you picture it? That’s the image we get from the Scriptures. Read Revelation 7 and Isaiah 25 and Matthew 22. In each of these passages God gives you and me a glimpse of the kingdom of heaven in terms of a community meal where there is no more loneliness, no more isolation and no more division or separation.

It’s community as it should be; as it will be in the eternal presence of God. I wish that was now, and God knows how our hearts yearn for this; and so He gives us a foretaste of this, a glimpse of what this would be like, what this would look like at the communion rail. When we come together there, we come as sinners looking to for forgiveness. We come there and confess that Jesus is the Lord, as we bow before His table and join Him with each other as one. Young and old are welcomed at this table of the Lord, babies as well as those who are well seasoned are welcomed there along with our loved ones who have already gone up to be with the Lord. Yes, even then we are not separated as a family. They’re not isolated from us in this life when we come together here.

A great comfort for us during this time when we are not all together is what Jesus shared one day with the woman at the well in Samaria, John 4:1-45. The woman said to Jesus, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father…the hour is coming, and is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth…” God’s Spirit has been placed inside each of you, and while we are not together here at Trinity, know that God is still with us. God is with you now- to comfort you - to guide you through these trials – to remind you that you have His peace. One day, and both Pastor Boxman and I are praying it will be soon, that God will let us allcome together at Trinity once again - to worship Him as one with one voice and as one body connected together in faith and the life and forgiveness found in Jesus. I know that God will make this happen in the future, but in the mean time keep that image of the glorious family reunion in your mind; this image of all of us together with the faithful and with our God together in heaven.

In 1624 the Christian poet and clergyman John Donne said, “No man is an island.” He was right, because it’s wasn’t good for man to be alone in the Garden of Eden, and it’s never been good for anyone of us to be alone since. That’s why today I’d like us to consider the Gospel in terms of God’s gracious gift to His church: the gift of community. God places us there in community when we are baptized, when we commune with each other. God gives us this gift of community so that we can live through good times as well as the bad times when we need to lean on each other. We come together always glorifying God as we support each other in Christian love and charity. While we do this, no matter where we are at, we do this with an eye always looking forward to that eternal reunion in heaven.

Hear the words King David shares with us again: “God settles the solitary in a home” (Psalm 68:5–6a). How might we summarize this good news in seven words that we can hold onto today and always?

How about this: “Jesus refuses to leave His people alone.” To that we say Amen and add thanks be to God.

3/22/2020 Readings and Sermon for March 22, 2020

John 9:1-11 "Why?"

Pastor Mark Boxman, Trinity Lutheran Church

Lent, March 21 and 22, 2020


    Grace, mercy and peace are yours from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.


    Why? The countless “whys” of little children have tried the patience of many a parent and older sibling. Little children ask big people “why?” because big people are supposed to know.


    But who are big people supposed to ask when they have “why” questions? Someone bigger.


    Christians have learned to ask Jesus. We have learned to open our Bibles and let God be our teacher, to let God give us understanding, a way to make sense out of the world in which we live.


    In our Gospel reading, the disciples ask Jesus why a man was born blind. (“And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" verse 2) We are going to ask Jesus this question: “Why is this pandemic happening? Why is God allowing us to go through this difficult and trying time?”


    Why? The smallest Sunday school child knows the answer. It must have something to do with Jesus.


    Right now, God wants every person to realize we all need a Savior. Human power, money and ingenuity are limited. We are not the masters of life or death. God is.


    Today God is calling us all to repent, to turn to Him, to contemplate why Jesus came to this planet 2000 years ago. He wants us to know and be certain that Jesus, by His life, death and resurrection, has prepared a place for us in heaven. We need not fear death.


    Today, I invite you to trust in Jesus with all your heart. Do not rely upon your own understanding. Know that Jesus is for such a time as this, for this real life crisis. God had these days on His mind when He sent Jesus to save us.


    Why this pandemic? That all may discover that the only real and lasting peace is knowing Jesus and His cross, that eternal joy is having our sins forgiven and being reconciled to God, that the only enduring promises are those from God.


    God does not desire that anyone perish but that all will turn to Him and live. God is not out to destroy us but to save us.


    How does God get the attention of a world that is distracted by a million other things? How is God going to lead people who ordinarily ignore Jesus to turn to Him? What can the Lord do to get people who think they can handle their own problems to realize they need God?


    Sometimes God pulls back His protective hand just a little bit that we might get a glimpse of our limitations, our inability to rescue ourselves from death and the diseases that lead to it.


    Our Old Testament reading says that at times God sent droughts and famine, or locusts, or some other plague upon people. He did so not to destroy them, but to restore them, to humble them, to lead them to repent, to have them turn to Him in prayer so that He might forgive them, so that He could again provide protection from the curses of sin.


    In our text, why was the man born blind? The disciples wanted to know whose sin was responsible. Instead, Jesus says, when you see the brokenness of the world, turn your attention away from the brokenness and see what God is doing to make things right. Pay attention to the work God has done in Jesus to rescue and save people. (verse 3 “that the works of God might be displayed”)


    Jesus healed the blind man. That was wonderful. The man could, for the first time in his life see his parents, a rainbow, a sunset.


    But God also wants to open the eyes of faith, for people to see in the Jesus the eternal God who fixes what needs to be fixed, who uses His compassion and power for our benefit.


    A few months from now we will be discussing how we can better prepare for a pandemic. That will be noble and worth striving for. But no preparation can eliminate the threat of death.


    This world is broken by sin. Tragedies happen. Death happens. It’s all a Genesis three matter. Sin brought the world under the curse of sin and death. Human effort will never eliminate that curse.


    (“Sin came into the world through one person, and death came through sin. So death spread to everyone, because everyone sinned.” Romans 5:1 GWN)


    But there is hope. There is a bright spot in all this. His name is Jesus. “I am the light of the world." ( Verse 5.) Jesus, God’s very own Son, the Almighty God. Jesus is the bright spot in every one of our days. God loved the world infected with viruses so much He sent His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him shall not endure eternal death, but live forever.


    Sin is saying to God, “Leave me alone”

    Mercifully, God does not leave us alone. He does not treat us as our sins deserve. He has not chosen to keep a safe distance away from us so that He would not be contaminated by our sin. Instead He has come right into the epicenter of sin’s contagious and deadly realm. Jesus came to live among us all for the purpose of taking our sin from us and carrying our sickness and death to the cross.


    Indeed, God has an amazing way of working all things together for good. He is doing that right now.


    Do not be afraid of that which can kill only the body. Rather, trust the One who can save both your body and your soul.


    In these past few weeks, people are asking what is most important.

    What is most important? Your family. Your friends. Everyone knowing Jesus.


    Your parents brought you to baptism so that in the midst of all the uncertainties of life you may know what is certain. God has committed Himself to be Your God to lead You through the valley of the shadow of death to your eternal home in heaven. He is your Father. He is your Savior. He is the one who puts in your heart real peace, hope and joy.


    Why are you here today? Why are you listening to this sermon?

    Why did you risk it? Because when death threatens, it is critical that we prepare for death.


    Whenever death comes to you, in the next few weeks or many years from now, you are ready because you have Jesus. Jesus has made the all preparations. He has taken care of every detail. He has a place reserved for you in heaven where you can live virus-free for all eternity, not separated from others but with all God’s people and with God Himself.


    My wife talked to a young lady this week who said she has been sobbing every day. That’s understandable. This is a very sad time. The curse of sin upon the world is very vivid right now. And this lady’s daily work immerses her in that brokenness all day long.


    She is hungering and thirsting for the Good News of God. And she will get exactly that this morning. She is attending a Christ-centered Church and will listen to a faithful pastor lead her to Jesus.


    We all have a long list of things to do right now—limit our contact with people, wash out hands, stay way from others if we are sick. I ask you to add this to your list. Take your bulletin home and look at the picture. That’s the blind man in our text, bowing humbly before Jesus, acknowledging Jesus’ worth, trusting Jesus, clinging to Jesus (John 9:38).


    I close with our epistle reading, Philippians 4:4-8, words worth reading throughout the week.


    Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! ⁵ Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. ⁶ Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. ⁷ And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ⁸ Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things (Phil. 4:4-8).


Amen.


3/18/2020 A Prayer for our Time


3/18/2020 Wisdom from the Past


3/17/2020 Letter From Pastor Boxman


3/17/2020 Sermon from March 18. 2020