Pastor's Columns





“So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.  

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them.”  

Romans 12:5-6


“Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.”  That was the phrase used in typing class on actual typewriters.  I guess the combination of letters was designed to test finger dexterity on a QWERTY typewriter.  Maybe its origin also came about during a time of national crisis as a subtle way of driving home the need for citizens of the nation to support The Cause, whatever that cause may have been.


Yet the sentiment, with a little modification, could suit the present circumstances here at Our Savior: “Now is the time for all good members of Our Savior to come to the aid of their church.”  With the pending departure of Bob and Missy Auger to the green pastures of the Great State of “Missourah,” there will be a pressing need for others to take up many of the things they have done for us these twenty plus years.


We need someone to be the Sunday School Superintendent who will coordinate teachers and see that we can have Sunday School starting in the fall.  We need a Vacation Bible School Coordinator who will develop the program and helpers for this summer.  There will be a need for people willing to lead the Bible Classes, as well as the 5th & 6th grade Pre-Catechism classes that Bob taught, and a Sunday morning 7th and 8th grade teacher to replace Missy.  We will need someone willing to post online our weekly Services, someone to handle the Scrip program, someone to take Missy’s place on the Altar Guild.  These are just a few of the most pressing needs.


Some of those things can eventually be handled if we get a second pastor, but there’s no telling when that will happen.  Right now, you’re stuck with just me, and I can’t do it all.  I’m asking that you consider stepping up to the plate, especially those with educational experience.  I know that if you teach five days a week already that you may not want to take on another teaching responsibility, but you have the training and ability so, please, consider helping us out.


We have been very blessed these many years through the work of Bob as our Director of Christian Education and Missy filling so many rolls in the congregation.  We will miss them and pray God’s blessings on them as they begin a new chapter in their lives.  But if we value those things they offered to us and want them to continue, then we will need others (like you, perhaps?) to step up and do them.


Remember, Christ is still the Head of the Church, and we are members of Him and one another.  Now is not the time for fear or apathy.  Now is the time for all good members of Our Savior to come to the aid of their church.


“O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come.”  God bless you!




“I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.’”  Psalm 122:1


           Well, it’s another New Year.  It seems like 2022 started not that long ago, and here it is, 2023 already.  Wowza!  So, among all the many resolutions people are making for the New Year, may I suggest this one: Go to church.  Regularly.  Weekly, if possible.


            I know some may object to this suggestion, but are those objections truly valid, or just excuses?  While there are valid reasons why some can’t attend church regularly, if at all, such as age and health issues; work requirements; military deployments; lack of transportation, etc. how many objections really boil down to: “I don’t feel like it,” or “I’m just not that interested?”  And if that honestly is the reason, then we have other, more serious spiritual issues at stake than just lack of church attendance.


           Maybe you don’t go because you don’t like the pastor, or someone at church offended you.  Maybe you don’t go because the liturgy and hymns aren’t “peppy” enough for your tastes.  Maybe you don’t go because the Service times conflict with other obligations you have.  Then (Don’t take this wrong), find another congregation.  Lord knows, there are plenty of them around.  The key is that you are regularly gathering with fellow believers to receive the gifts of God in Christ.


           Or, perhaps, you’ve moved away and find it hard to connect with a new congregation because you’ve got such a strong attachment to your home congregation and pastor.  Going somewhere else seems, somehow, wrong or unsatisfying.  While the sentiment is certainly understandable, you must be careful not to turn your home congregation or pastor into an idol.  Pastors come and go.  That pastor you’re so fond of won’t always be at your home congregation.  You go to church, not to worship the pastor, but to receive the gifts of Christ given through your pastor.  Those same gifts are given by other pastors in other congregations as well.  And you need those gifts.  Regularly.  Weekly, if possible.


           Perhaps this will help: Jeremiah the prophet writes to the Israelites who were in captivity in Babylon.  They were away from their homes, country and Temple.  Likely, they would prefer to have been back in Israel, worshipping in their “home church,” but they could not.  Jeremiah writes: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.  Marry and have sons and daughters…Also seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you…Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper (Jer. 29:5-7).”


           In other words: They were to bloom where they were planted.  Life, including their worship life, was to continue where they were.  So with you.  Just because you might prefer your home church and pastor, yet you have moved elsewhere, with a new home and a new job in a new city.  So why would you not also attend a new church?  The gifts of God remain the same.  Your need for forgiveness remains the same.  His Word and Sacraments remain the same.  The Savior who died for you remains the same.  And the Lord’s will for you to gather with your fellow Christians to “hold God’s Word sacred and gladly hear and learn it” also remains the same.


           So, if you have not been attending Divine Services for a while, either here in Bad Axe or wherever you are, resolve, with the Lord’s help, to make 2023 a year of renewed involvement in the church.  Remember, God invites you to come and receive the wonderful things He has for you in Christ.


           God bless you and Happy New Year!



“Thanks be to God for His indescribable Gift.”  II Corinthians 9:15


Wow!  I know I must be getting old, because I can’t think of what the latest toy craze is this year that’s driving parents to dementia in order to obtain them for their kids.  But if this year is anything like past years, parents are already getting jittery and flooding the stores hoping to get for their kids whatever the popular, “must-have” toys are before the supply dries up.  Likely, we’ll be reading about fistfights and all sorts of mayhem.  Yep (everybody sing!), “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”


I know that sounds terribly cynical, but every year we are treated to the absolutely idiotic behavior of many parents who will do anything (literally!) to get these things for their little darlings.  Beanie Babies, Tickle Me, Elmo, Transformers, Pokemon (See, I told you that I am old).  Each year a new craze; each year new levels of absurdity.  The list goes on and on.  And, of course, we will be treated to smirking news anchors reporting on the crazed or violent behavior of people who must have these things at any cost.  What has happened to Christmas?


I guess it’s all a matter of focus.  In many areas of life, we are so selfishly intent on our own pursuits and gain that we have little time for people or for God.  Reflection, prayer, nurture and human contact have been replaced by video games, Facebook, Twitter, home theater systems, surfing the internet and all the other things that isolate us from each other.  Many prefer chatting for hours with strangers on the Internet while completely ignoring those who are closest to them.  So, if it will make my little Johnny happy, and get him off my back so I can do what I want to do, I’ll get him the latest fad thing that he must have to keep his life from being unfulfilled.


If you’ve read this far, you may be thinking Pastor Scrooge is really practicing his “Bah, Humbug!”   No, I’m not being a Scrooge, here, but let’s think about Scrooge.  He had everything, yet he was a bitter, empty man whose life would end as empty and bitterly as it was lived.  Only by seeing how little his money mattered and how important people were instead did his life finally gain meaning.


Christmas is about God sending His beloved Son into the world as a baby born to Mary.  He did not come as an earthly King with all the glitter and glory that entailed, but as the child born in a manger who would grow up not even having a home of His own.  He suffered poverty and disdain and eventual crucifixion for us.  He didn’t do this to give us a holiday of frenzied, shopping madness, but to save us from sin, death and hell.  It is through His life, death and resurrection that our sins have been forgiven and our lives can be changed.  He is the absolute proof of God’s love and mercy for those who are lost and condemned creatures.  He is the reason why we have Christmas in the first place.


Beanie Babies, Pokemon, Cabbage Patch Kids, Elmo and all the rest will quickly fade away.  They won’t matter at all in the long run.  Your life, or your child’s life won’t be one bit less affected (other than a temporary disappointment – you’ll get over it) if you don’t get these things.  What matters is not the latest marketing gimmick on sale in stores everywhere, but in giving to your children, and possessing for yourself the greatest gift of all, the gift that never grows old or outdated – Jesus.  If we have Him, we really do have everything we need for Christmas and for Life.


God’s blessings and . . . Merry Christmas!



“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13


This is going to be a difficult Thanksgiving for many.  Inflation, shortages, crushing costs at the gas pump and store, not to mention the crazy cultural and political landscape that we just can’t seem to avoid all seem to conspire against us having a “Happy Thanksgiving.”  But it is possible – with the right attitude concerning thankfulness.


All of the negative things we are experiencing, painful and disconcerting as they are, are not unique to us or to our age.  It is common to man in a fallen world.  When we go through times of peace and prosperity, it’s easy to think this is proof that God is blessing us, and when we go through times like these, it’s easy to think the opposite.  Yet maybe, just maybe, it’s during times like these that we can learn true thankfulness.


In the tough times we think about God more and, likely, also pray harder to Him.  In the tough times we really see how little control of our lives we have and become more dependent on God’s love and mercy to us.  In these troubled times our eyes begin to focus on our Redeemer, Jesus, who “though he was rich, yet for your sake became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).  St. Paul is not speaking about temporal riches, but the eternal riches that we can enjoy even now.


Yes, bread may be in short supply but, as Jesus says: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).  Our thankfulness should not consist only in the abundance of earthly possessions (though we should be thankful for them), but in the abundance of God’s love, mercy, grace and forgiveness to us in Christ.


Our earthly situations, good and bad, will change many times throughout our lives, but God’s word and promise to us in Christ does not change.  Even during anxious times as these may be, “… for those who love God, all things work together for good” (Rom. 8:28).  Perhaps that confidence in his Redeemer’s love and grace could enable St. Paul to say: “I have leaned in whatever situation I am to be content … I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil.4:11-13).


God grant that to be our confidence and peace, whatever situation we find ourselves in now.


A Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving in Christ.


 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake 
he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
2 Corinthians 8:9

Recently, President Biden announced his plan to forgive all, or a large portion of student loan debt owed by those who make $125,000.00 a year or less.  Now whether you think this is a great idea or a terrible idea, it is a fact that forgiving that debt does not make it go away.  Someone still has to pay that debt off, and if it’s not paid by the one who owes the debt, it will then be absorbed by the lender which, in the case of student loans is the government which then means taxpayers will foot the bill.
The thing that not too many are talking about is that even though a student may be “forgiven” ten or twenty thousand dollars, that student will eventually end up paying for his debt anyway through higher taxes, inflation of goods and services and the like.  So, in reality, the debt isn’t forgiven; the payments for the debt are simply shuffled around and exacted through other means.  That’s just how life works – no “free lunch,” and all that.
The same is true – mostly – for the debt of sin that has accrued against all mankind.  The debt for every last sin must be paid for, either by us individually, or by another.  And this is where “God’s economics” is different from human economics.
Humanity can’t band together to take on the sin-debt of individuals because everyone of us is in debt way over our heads with no possible way to repay our own, much less contribute to the payment of others’ debts.  We are all bankrupt and waiting to lose everything.
Yet, that impossible debt has been forgiven because Another paid it for us.  Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God bore our debt Himself by living the perfectly righteous life before His heavenly Father and bearing our sin and judgment on the cross.  That debt wasn’t just “disappeared.”  And unlike student loan debt forgiveness, the forgiveness of our debt of sin is not an accounting trick where we will end up paying it back in other ways.
It is completely, totally, utterly forgiven because Jesus completely, totally, utterly paid the debt for us, “not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and His innocent suffering and death” (2nd Article, Luther’s Small Catechism.  See also, 1 Peter 1:18-19).
This “debt forgiveness” is available to all mankind, but the benefits of it are only received by those who trust in Jesus as their Redeemer.  In fact, the only “debt” that remains for us isn’t because of our sin, but because of our Savior’s love, grace and mercy to us.  It is the debt “… to love one another” (Romans 13:8).
In Christ,



“I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.  Therefore, choose life,

 that you and your offspring may live.”   Deuteronomy 30:19


It is a highly charged, emotional issue, so much so that clarity is often lost amidst the din of so much yelling.  If we could step away from being blinded emotionally, would we – could we – come to a different perspective?


Recently, the Supreme Court finally handed down its decision that Roe v. Wade was “bad law” lacking Constitutional support (even Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg acknowledged that) and, in a 6-3 decision, returned the issue of regulating abortion to the states and the people of those states.  And all You-Know-What broke loose!  What follows is not a commentary as such on individual women who have faced or may face the very difficult decision of whether or not to abort their unborn child, but rather on the Pro-abortion movement itself.  


After the Supreme Court decision became public, the mask of mourning a “tragic but necessary” decision to end the life of a child was removed and the real face of the abortion movement was revealed as having an almost satanic bloodlust, declaring that unfettered abortion is necessary and a great good that must be celebrated and encouraged as the empowerment of women and their bodily autonomy.  They demand an unimpeded right to kill their unborn children at any and all stages of pregnancy and are working relentlessly to ensure that happens at the state level.


What is lost among these demands is the unborn child itself.  A human life that is allowed no bodily autonomy hangs in the balance.  While, to my knowledge, no state has laws prohibiting abortion to save the physical life of the mother, and most religious people agree under those circumstances, things get a little murkier when it comes to rape, incest or fetal abnormality.  Yet all of those categories of “extreme circumstances” only account for about five percent of all abortions performed.  That means the vast percentage of abortions obtained are for matters of “convenience.”


While not ignoring the emotional distress a woman may have with an untimely pregnancy, under whatever circumstances, does that justify killing another human being?  How far do we want to go with that?   Should we have the right to terminate the lives of children or adults because they are inconvenient or costly to us, for example: a two-year old who has been diagnosed with autism or grandma or grandpa who have Alzheimer’s?   Do our lives become protected simply because our place of residence has changed?  What’s the difference between a baby one minute before birth and one minute after that one can be “terminated” and the other protected?  It makes no sense, yet this is what the abortion movement is arguing for.


One drop in a bucket doesn’t seem like much.  A million drops in that bucket could create a flood.  Abortion is seen only from the perspective of an individual woman’s personal decision, but when a million women make that same decision, it can’t help but bring a flood of negative effects to a nation.  Our culture has descended into a lawless disregard for life in general.  While there are many explanations for this, one major explanation could be that if we don’t value the lives of the most vulnerable, the unborn child, then life in all stages loses value as well.


Abortion is not just a religious issue, as there are many non-religionists just following the science who are Pro-life.  Yet, as Christians, we must consider God’s perspective on this issue and not allow ourselves to be controlled by a godless culture that is enslaved to power and death.  God created us to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28).  He speaks of the blessings of children (Ps. 127:3).  God is the One who created us in the womb and knows us before we were born (Ps. 139:13; Jer. 1:5).  He warns against imitating a pagan culture that sacrifices its children to its gods (Deut. 18:9-10).  He will judge those who cause His little ones to stumble (Matt. 18:6).  He boldly states that no murderer has eternal life in him (1 Jn. 3:15).  Pagan and godless cultures sacrifice their babies; God’s people are not to do that. 


Could many, if not most of the problems we face today in all areas of civic life be traced to God’s judgment because, in selfishness idolatry, we have forsaken His Word to destroy our children and, thus, forced Him to withdraw His hand and leave us to ourselves (Rom. 1:18-32)?  As we see the rage and hate for the unborn that mark radical Pro-abortion activists, is it too late for us?  I don’t believe so.


The God who speaks judgment upon sinners is also the God who, in mercy, provides hope for those same sinners (which is all of us).  Jesus bore all sin upon Himself, and the judgment we deserve.  Those broken and fearful who, in repentance turn to Christ find welcome and healing.  Jesus came to give us life abundantly and in Him, even those scarred and burdened by abortion (whether in practice or in principle) can find peace and comfort in the love and mercy of Christ for them and for all.


Remember: the devil is a liar and a murderer, and he delights in deceit and death.  Our culture has listened to him long enough.  Now it’s time we listen to God, who delights in life and truth, and defend and uphold the sanctity of all life, born and unborn.


God’s blessings for Life in Christ.



Periodically, it’s good to mention various matters in the congregation that need attention and action.  That is what this column is devoted to this month.


THANK YOU:  First of all, Pam and I would like to thank the many of you who gave us cards and gifts at Christmas.  Your kindness and generosity are appreciated.  Also, thank you to all who expressed their condolences at the recent death of Pam’s father, Don VanCura.  Your thoughts, prayers and encouragement are a great comfort to us.  Again, thank you!


2nd PASTOR:  As I have been encouraging the congregation to consider Calling a 2nd pastor on staff before I retire in a couple of years, the advantages of doing so outweigh, I believe, the disadvantages.  You will avoid a vacancy which could last several months to a couple of years.  It would maintain the congregation’s stability and, while there are two men in office, would extend the pastoral ministry and outreach to members, especially those that have “disappeared” from active involvement during the past couple of COVID years.  It would also provide both the congregation and the new pastor time to get to know each other while I am still here so that a smoother transition can take place.


To help with the added burden to the budget, a 2nd Pastor Fund has been established to receive donations in order to build up a cushion to help with the first year or two of his salary.  There will be a special Voters’ Meeting in the spring to decide whether or not to enter the Calling process.  Should the Voters approve, then the cushion will be utilized when the new man comes onboard.  If the Voters do not approve bringing a second man on before I retire, then the proceeds of that fund will simply be transferred into the General Fund.


PARSONAGE:  As Pam and I purchased and moved into our new home back in 2019, the parsonage has since been vacant.  The congregation will need to decide whether or not to keep the parsonage for another pastor or sell it instead (Renting is really not an option).  Either way, there will be some needed updates and repairs necessary, and should be undertaken by late spring or early summer.


INFORMATION UPDATES:  Over the last couple of years, we have found that many of you no longer have landline phones, or have changed your cell phone numbers, so our records are outdated.  This becomes a real problem when I am unable to reach someone after they have had surgery or for some other reason because the number has been disconnected.  Communication between the church and her members is vastly important and is hampered when we are unable to do so because we no longer have the correct contact information.


Please contact Mary in the church office to update, or at least verify your current phone number and email address, especially if you have changed any of this in the last couple of years.  Cell numbers for each member of the family would be great!  You can call the church office (989-269-7642) or send us an email with this information (  Also, if you have adult children who have moved away from home, we would appreciate having their address and phone number so we can stay in touch with them and not have them fall through the cracks.


LENT:  The Lenten Season begins on March 2nd with Ash Wednesday.  Starting then, Midweek Lenten Services will be offered on Wednesdays at 12:15 and 6:00 pm.


IN PERSON WORSHIP:  COVID has altered many patterns of our lives these last two years.  One significant shift has been regarding those who come to worship in person.  While our attendance has rebounded somewhat over the last year, we are still below pre-COVID numbers.  While there are many reasons for this, one of the biggest in my mind may be habit.  Just as people have become comfortable, and even prefer working at home, many also prefer to worship at home.  While in some cases this is still a necessity, in other cases it has become more of a matter of convenience.


While we are thankful that people are still “tuning in” at home, it’s just not the same as actually being present in church and being able to receive Holy Communion.  The whole dynamic is different in person than at home.  Again, for those whose circumstances are such that attending church is not an option at this time, please continue watching online.  But for those who stay at home simply out of habit or convenience, please consider returning to in-person worship.  Your presence is a great encouragement to fellow members and a blessing to you.


Well, that’s enough This ‘N That for now.  God’s blessings to you in Christ.




“Thanks be to God for His indescribable [Unimaginable] Gift.”

2 Corinthians 9:15


For some strange reason, John Lennon’s song “Imagine” has captivated so many.  It’s decades old, yet you still hear it played on the radio, in concerts, on commercials, and even at some public memorial events.  Essentially, Lennon is asking us to “Imagine” a world without war, strife, borders, heaven, hell or God.  It’s asking us to envision a Utopia where there is only peace and love flowing from all people everywhere, and where everybody shares everything alike.  The idea is: if we can imagine it, we can accomplish it.  This sounds so lovely – and, in this life, completely unattainable.


But I’d like you to “imagine” something else.  Imagine that to this world of violence, heartache and death, Peace and Love came, not as a concept, but as a Person.  I want you to imagine that this Person was able to change hearts, make enemies into friends, reconcile sinful people to God and even defeat death itself.  I want you to imagine that this Person alters the world and will one day make all things new.  Does this Person that I’m asking you to imagine sound just as fanciful (and impossible) as the perfect world John Lennon imagines?


Well, what I’m talking about you don’t have to imagine – it really happened – in real time and in real history.  The birth of Jesus Christ fulfilled thousands of years of promises from God to redeem sinful mankind.  His birth as a baby into our flesh and nature connects Him to us in a very tangible way for all eternity.  He embodies perfect Love and perfect Peace.  Through His death on the cross, He has reconciled us to God, and by His resurrection, destroyed the curse and power of death for all who believe in Him.


It is through Christ that those who are natural enemies can become brothers.  It is through Christ that the hope of eternal life is not a pipe dream, or lovely wish, but an actual reality.  It is by Christ’s glorious return that this world of darkness, heartache and death will be transformed, and all things will be made new.


And all this He gives to you freely, gladly, willingly, that you may be His own forever.


Imagine that!


God bless you, and have a very, Merry Christmas.




“[To God] be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, 

forever and ever.  Amen.”   Ephesians 3:21 

That little church had seen many things in its 150 plus years of existence, from the end of the Civil War to the end of the War in Afghanistan and all the history between the two.  But within her walls, the important history would be wrapped up in births, baptisms, confirmations, weddings, deaths and funerals.  Year after year she marked the words and works of Christ from Advent and Christmas, through Lent and Easter to the general season of the Church Year.  Generations came to know there the forgiveness and life that Christ won for them and to live out that forgiveness in their Christian lives.  To generations of individuals and families, that church was their home; their connection to Christ and to each other.


On the afternoon of September 19th of this year, while the congregation gathered for their annual Oktoberfest celebration in the parking lot of the church, St. Paul’s caught fire and burned to the ground.  While the cause of the fire is still unknown, it began in the steeple and, because of the age of the building, it quickly became engulfed in flames.  Fire departments from 31 municipalities all over the county responded but to no avail.  In two short hours, their church building was gone.




But will that be the end of that congregation?  Well, if it was only the building holding them together then, yes, it probably will be.  But Christ’s Church is not made of wood and brick but of “living stones;” people who are His through Word and Sacrament and connected to each other in the Body of Christ.  Buildings, as humble or beautiful as they may be, are simply places where the Church may gather around Christ and His Word.  Where that Word is important to God’s people, they will continue to gather around it, perhaps especially, in tragic times like the saints of St. Paul’s just experienced.



Though it’s been many years, I still know some of the people there.  I’ve treasured past opportunities to preach in that pulpit and admire the architecture, especially the raised pulpit that stood over the altar emphasizing the centrality of Word and Sacrament and the massive wall painting of Christ’s resurrection.  Though the building is now gone, God’s Word still endures forever.




The people of St. Paul are presently gathering together for Divine Services at the St. John Eagle Lake facilities and, this winter, will likely gather at my former Zion congregation.  The folks have some decisions to make, whether to rebuild (which is my hope) or simply spread out to Zion or St. John’s.  Whatever they decide to do, the legacy of St. Paul’s will continue because that legacy is anchored in Christ.


Built on the Rock the Church shall stand, even when steeples are falling.

Crumbled have spires in ev’ry land; bells still are chiming and calling.

Calling the young and old to rest, But above all the souls distressed,

Longing for rest everlasting.

LSB #645 vs. 1




In Christ, the Church’s One Foundation.




“These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”   John 20:31 


Two phrases: “What does this mean?” and “This is most certainly true” are well known to Lutherans.  They are found in Luther’s Small Catechism and, with the answers that come before or follow each phrase, help us understand the teachings of God’s Word, especially as it relates to Christ and His grace.


September is the time that our Christian Education programs gear up again after relaxing a bit for the summer.  Fifth through eighth graders are involved in Pre-catechism and Catechism classes, Sunday School for children and adults is again in full swing, and other Bible classes throughout the week are once more being offered.


So, what does this mean?  Well, it is God’s Word that the Holy Spirit uses to bring us to faith and salvation in Christ and sustain and strengthen that faith as we live out our lives.  God commands (yes, commands) His Christians to study that Word for themselves and teach it to their children.  Those who “despise preaching and His Word” sin against the 3rd Commandment and place themselves in very real spiritual danger.  The importance of each one of us being in the Word cannot be overstated.


Also, in an age that is increasingly hostile to Christianity, while at the same time Christians are less knowledgeable about what the Scriptures teach, the last thing the Church needs to do is “dumb-down” its educational curriculum and shrink back from offering as many opportunities as possible for people to have access to “read, mark, learn and inwardly digest” that Word of Life.  Who knows how long it will be before the freedom to hear, read and learn God’s Word will be no more.


And remember: Even apart from all the dire things I spoke of above, by being a lifelong student of the Bible, you get to know Jesus better.  I want to challenge you to become more firmly anchored in the grace and forgiveness and hope He gives through regular church attendance and Bible study.  The Holy Spirit, through that very Word, and the Sacraments received in church, continues to develop you in Christ’s image as His life is lived out through you.


This is most certainly true.


God bless you,




“The blood of Jesus his Son, cleanses us from all sin.”  I John 1:7


There is a principle in journalism, especially broadcast media, that the most dramatic stories and images are to be used first to get people’s attention so they will tune in to that station’s broadcast or buy that publisher’s newspaper or magazine.  The principle is: “If it bleeds, it leads.”


I guess by nature we are geared for being gripped by bad news.  If you don’t believe me, just try driving past an accident scene without looking at the carnage or try ignoring a house fire in your neighborhood.  Like moths to the flame, we are drawn to pay attention to stories and pictures of tragedy, sorrow, injury and death.  That’s why, if a news outlet has the choice of running first a story about an accident, a fire, a shooting and the like, or running a story of some good deed being done, or some person’s positive accomplishment, well . . . “If it bleeds, it leads.”


Besides the natural curiosity or sympathy we may have toward the sufferings of others, perhaps we are also drawn to bad news because we are secretly glad that’s not us.  Knowing our own mortality, there’s a certain sense of relief that it hasn’t happened to us yet.  But all these tragedies are grim reminders, whether we consciously acknowledge them or not, that this world is passing away and we shall someday face God.  The question is: How will we face Him?


If we stand before God and expect that it will have been good enough if we “tried to be good,” or “worshipped Him in our own way,” or think that “it doesn’t matter what you believe, all religious worship the same god,” or even “God would never send anyone to hell,” then He will face you with bad news: “Depart from Me, for I never knew you.”  St. Paul states clearly: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10).”


Ouch!  That’s a pretty grim list describing each of us in one way or another, whether in practice or in attitude.  The bad news is that, on our own, we’re doomed!  Even so-called “good people” have this tragic condition separating them from the true God and heading toward the flames of judgment.


But just as we are attracted to the bad news stories of accidents, injury and the like, and then are relieved if there are survivors, so there is Good News to our Bad News story, and what a relief for us!  Oddly, this good news could have the same principle as stated above, with one change: “Because He bleeds, then He leads.”


The very Son of God took our place under judgment and bled and died for our sins.  There aren’t many ways to heaven, but only one way: through faith alone in Jesus Christ.  Our good works for God will not save us.  Christ’s good work for us saves us.  Heaven is not something we earn or are entitled to “just because.”  It is a gift that is given to us, and to all who, in repentance and faith, cling to the Word and Promise of God through His Son Jesus Christ.


It is through Christ that the Bad News of the 1st Corinthians passage quoted above can continue with Good News: “And such were some of you.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (I Cor. 6:11).”  There really is hope for all of us affected by the tragedy of sin.  Christ, through His blood shed on the Cross, redeems us from our sin and enables us to live a new life, in practice and in attitude.  No, we won’t be perfect this side of heaven, but we are sanctified (made holy in God’s sight) through Christ and are called to forsake our sin and live in Him.


So, the Bad News may get our attention, but the Good News gives us life.  Because “He bleeds, He leads” us heavenward where we will be with Him forever.  Now we can face God with joy and hope because of Christ.


God’s blessings,



“This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people, but is also 

overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.”    2 Corinthians 9:12


This July 4th is the 245th birthday of what is considered the founding of this nation.  Patriots gathered in Philadelphia to craft a declaration stating our independence from Britain and pledged “to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”  They put everything on the line to build a nation upon those inalienable rights given by God to be enjoyed by all citizens of this land.  That torch of Liberty has been passed down from generation to generation, and now we hold that torch.  But, with all the “Hope and Change” promised by elected officials, and the sea-change of ideas, morals and sense of citizen involvement (or lack thereof) in the direction of this country, will we see many more birthdays as a free nation, or will we slide into just another socialist cesspool, like so many other nations?  The torch of Liberty has been passed to us.  Will the young patriots of a new generation stand up and take that torch, or let it fall to the ground and be snuffed out, even as previous generations of patriots die off?


Seventy-five years ago, three congregations finally merged to form a new, united congregation here in Bad Axe: Our Savior.  Those saints of God believed that by uniting as a single, larger congregation, they could accomplish more together than they could separately.  It required a lot of work, sacrifice and struggle to make it happen.  But happen it did.  And the torch of Liberty in Christ has been passed down to each generation since Our Savior’s beginning.


And now it has come to us.  Congregations, just like nations, cannot survive on the past work and accomplishments of those who have gone before us.  The sacrifices of previous generations give to us what they built, but what we do with that legacy will determine whether or not we have something good to hand down to future generations.


For this nation, that will take committed citizens who are not lured by the false promises of politicians who will promise safety and security if we are willing to “give up some of our freedoms.”  We must resist the temptation to expect others to do the heavy lifting while we sit back and fiddle on our smart phones.  An alert and involved citizenry is the best assurance of maintaining our freedoms for future generations.


For our congregation, and many like it, we also need this present generation of young people to be involved, picking up the torch of the Gospel to carry on the work of Our Savior.  Those generations that have handed down the blessings of God’s Word and Sacraments here in this place are now older or have passed on to eternity.  We in the present cannot expect that what we have been given and enjoy will continue if we aren’t the ones to continue it.  But if the younger folks of this generation don’t pitch in and get involved, those blessings handed down to us may just end here.


I know it’s tough with working, raising kids and the like.  But each generation had those same responsibilities and challenges with less of the “time saving” devices and equipment we now enjoy.  So, is it really harder for us to be involved now that it was for them then?  Sure, the present generation is different in that it tends to socialize online instead of in personal groups.  But that kind of bloodless interaction cannot really satisfy for long, and it does nothing to pass on the spiritual legacy of our forebears to our children.  This social isolation, intensified during the COVID year, will simply allow the congregation to finally dry up and blow away for lack of people and resources necessary to keep it going if something doesn’t change.


Now don’t get me wrong: Ultimately, God uses His Word and Sacraments to make us His Christians and keep us in the faith.  He does this through the gathering of Christians (Church) around those gifts to distribute them to each generation.  But if people aren’t interested in gathering together to hear God’s Word and administer His Sacraments, or simply stay home and watch online, then He will take His gifts elsewhere.  God forbid that this should happen to us!


So, this is what I’m asking:  While not everyone is gifted or able to serve on boards and committees, some of you are.  While families of younger children find their time is limited and precious, the souls of those children are even more precious.  You and your children need to be in church regularly.  If you are, your kids will learn to love and take to heart the truths of God’s Word, and also become accustomed to being involved in the church.  But if you keep them away from church for their entire childhood, don’t expect them to suddenly “get it” and become involved in their late teens or as adults.  They will have already learned from you how unimportant church is and will respond accordingly.


And because the church is made up of God’s Christians of all ages, I’m asking you younger people to join with the older members in doing the work of the congregation that will enable it to continue to be a place where people of all ages can gather and receive God’s gifts in Christ.  I’m asking you to pick up the torch handed down to you.  I’m asking you to consider serving, even in small ways.  I’m asking you simply to support, through the giving of your time, your talents and even, yes, your treasure, the continuance here in this place of the wonderful liberties we have in Christ for future generations.


In this 75th Anniversary year of our congregation, let’s all work together, worship together, and pray together that the Gospel will continue to shine forth in the lives of our people, and be proclaimed here to all for another seventy-five years and beyond.


Together in Christ!



“And [God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth.”

Acts 17:26


By nature, people tend to be leery, if not outright antagonistic toward others who are different or are not part of the group.  And by nature, those who are in the majority, or who are in power tend to take advantage of those who are not.  And it’s true that those who are in the minority will, in the moment they gain power or numbers, do the same things to others as was done to them, in spite of protestations to the contrary that they are only seeking justice and equity.  That’s just what sinners do.


 While the founding of our country in 1776 (not 1619!) didn’t create utopia, and its founding fathers weren’t perfect men, The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution created an ideal, and the means to work toward that ideal that could address problems in society and work toward “a more perfect union.”


Certainly, while slavery – not unique to the United States, nor foundational to it – was a dark stain on our past, no other nation in history has taken the steps to eradicate it and make up for past wrongs as we have.  It would take a war costing 600,000 lives, decades of legislative efforts, a Civil Rights movement, numerous social programs and more before theoretical equality became a reality.  While there are still individuals (of all colors) who are racist, racism has not been “systemic” in American institutions since the 1960’s.  Blacks and other minorities have made tremendous progress, economically and otherwise since then.


So why is it that a country which has made such strides in moving toward colorblindness, judging a person “not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” is now being forced back into ignoring character and focusing only on skin color?  Why are groups that fought bravely for desegregation in the past now clamoring for re-segregation in the present?  Why have those who were oppressed in the past now become the oppressors?


The short answer is Sin.  That’s just what sinners do.  The long answer is much more complicated than can be adequately addressed in this article.  Yet there are a few things that do need to be mentioned here: “White Supremacy,” “White Fragility,” “The 1619 Project,” and “Critical Race Theory” (hereafter CTR).  These are all cudgels currently being employed to portray America as evil from its inception and to intimidate and shame into silence the traditional majority of Americans by branding them as inherently racist by virtue of their skin color.  


CRT especially is a Marxist philosophy infiltrating all levels of society including our elementary schools.  It is designed to erode the true history and foundation of our nation and to portray White people as being the cause of all evil, misery, prejudice and oppression in the world.  CRT and its ugly stepsisters teach our kids to hate themselves and others to hate them for the color of their skin.  And it teaches everyone to hate America.  


CTR, and its Marxist/Leftist proponents, claim to be correcting past and present “inequities.” In reality, they are employing a scorched earth, “divide and conquer” strategy that isn’t meant to heal the hostilities and divisions between “races” (Side Note: There is only one race – the human race, descending from Adam and Eve), but rather to inflame those hostilities and divisions for the sake of power and control over people.  That’s just what Marxism does.  It divides and destroys everywhere it is tried.  CRT and Marxist Leftism is antithetical to the ideals of America in general, and especially to the tenets of Christianity specifically.


But this is not entirely a political problem with a political solution.  Ultimately it is a spiritual problem that can only be healed in Christ and by His Word.  The devil seeks to divide people and use them for evil.  Christ seeks to unite all people in Himself (“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself,” John 14:32).  Therefore, it is incumbent on His Christians first to believe the Gospel is not only for us but for all people; to repent of any wrongful prejudices and practices against others because of skin color or nationality; to avoid being manipulated by media or politics that foment division, suspicion and hatred; and to pray for healing for ourselves and our nation.


Indeed, all people are sinners, whatever color they are.  We all do hurtful and harmful things to others.  But to indict all people of a certain “race” because of the sins of some, or to forcefully oppress and segregate anyone because of skin tone is of the Evil One.  What is of God is the Gospel, which is colorblind and is for all people.  Indeed, “God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him” (Acts 10:34-35).  We know that Christ “is our peace, who has made us [all] one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph. 2:14).  We know that heaven will be made up of an uncounted multitude “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Rev. 7:9) redeemed by the blood of Christ for them.


The only way the divisions between people groups in our country can begin to be healed is for we in the Church to “have the mind of Christ,” to remain united with one another, and “to love one another as He has loved us” (1 John 4:11), regardless of the color of our skin.  The dividers seek to enslave us to a political system and make us hate one another.  Christ sets us free and enables us to love one another.


As citizens, we can acknowledge the wrongs and injustices of the past and present and continue working to correct them.  But in the process, we should not be blinded to the ideals of our nation which has brought freedom, opportunity and prosperity to countless millions of all colors that is unique in the history of the world.  We dare not let that be taken from us by the haters and dividers.  


Don’t be fooled: No political changes or systems can create heaven on earth (and oftentimes creates just the opposite).  But God’s Christians of all colors – the Church – living out our lives in faith, love and unity can bring the blessings of heaven through Christ to those around us.


In Him, who is the Savior of the Nations.



“God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it.”  

Acts 2:24   


     “Snatching Victory out of the Jaws of Defeat.”  That phrase captures nicely what we, as humans, perceive concerning Christ’s death and resurrection.  His death appears to us as His defeat, and His resurrection as His victory.  But as another saying goes: “Appearances Can be Deceiving.”


      While Christ’s death on the cross can have the appearance of being a defeat, it is quite the opposite.  Christ’s death, and His resurrection are both victories.  Even as He hung on the cross, bruised, pierced and bleeding, Jesus was in full control of the situation.  He did not die until He was ready to die; and He would not die until your sins, and the sins of the whole world were fully atoned for by Him.  In the death of the Son of God, Sin (and the devil’s accusations against us because of our sins) was defeated.


      And though the grave, in apparent victory, swallowed up His body, it choked on it and had to give Him up again, resurrected, alive and glorious!  Indeed, as St. Paul writes: “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead . . . [and] death is swallowed up in victory!” (I Corinthians 15:20, 54).


      By the way: Christ’s victory over sin, death and the devil is our victory as well.  Even as we may be tempted to say at a loved one’s death that “death won,” the reality is, it lost!  The Christian who has died is no longer in the struggle against sin; no longer afflicted with pain and sorrow; no longer suffering the assaults and temptations of the devil, the world and his sinful flesh seeking to destroy his faith.  The Christian who has died no longer lives in hope; instead, he now lives in the fulfillment of that hope in the presence of his resurrected and glorified Savior.   It is only his body that is “Asleep in Jesus” waiting for its victorious resurrection at the Last Day.


      We know all this to be true because God’s Word says it is true, and Christ’s resurrection proves that it is true.  So, here’s another saying for you: “Christ is Risen!  He is Risen, Indeed!  Alleluia!”


      Please join us during our Holy Week and Easter Services as we behold again the love of Christ for all, and His victory for us.

Maundy Thursday: 12:15 & 6:00 pm

Good Friday: 12:15 & 8:00 pm

Easter Eve: 6:00 pm

Easter Sunday: 7:00 & 10:00 am


A Blessed and Happy Easter!




“If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins 

and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  I John 1:9


Tell me if you think this is an apology: “I’m sorry that you’re upset,” or, “I’m sorry that you were offended by what I said.”  I’ll bet that, if you were the one hurt, you wouldn’t consider either of these statements an apology.  Why?  Well, because the one making such an apology is actually putting the blame for the problem on you.  Let’s look at it again: “I’m sorry that you’re upset.”  “I’m sorry that you were offended, etc.”  In other words, “I’m sorry you’re ticked off, you unreasonable slob!”  People who apologize this way are not sorry for what they did; they’re just sorry for how you reacted.  Politicians and bureaucrats are famous for issuing these types of “apologies.”


Now, imagine trying this with God: “I’m sorry, God, that You’re mad because I had an affair,” or, “I’m sorry, God, that You don’t like me misusing Your name.”  Do you think these are true confessions that show remorse over sin?  No way.  Rather, it shows an unrepentant spirit that believes God’s anger or hurt over sin is unreasonable and unjustified but, in order to avoid any repercussions that may come, resorts to mouthing these non-apology apologies. 


So, how should a proper apology sound?  Try this: “I’m sorry.  What I did was wrong.  Please forgive me.”  This is so simple that it’s a no-brainer.  And yet it is so difficult to do.


The reason for that is pride.  None of us likes to admit we were wrong.  No one enjoys putting himself in a position where he appears weak.  When we are forced to face up to a problem we’ve caused  and resort to using a “stealth-apology,” we are attempting to mollify the situation without actually having to be sorry.  The same applies to the “But” apologies: “I’m sorry, but . . .,” which is another way of trying to shift the blame for what we did to someone or something else.  The moment we deflect our guilt elsewhere, even partially, then we are not truly repentant, and it is no genuine apology. 


It requires humility to acknowledge and confess our own wrongdoing to others.  It also requires courage to face possible anger and rejection in order to make things right.  A true apology is a sign, not of weakness, but of strength and it is the necessary first step in fixing what we broke.


True humility first begins with Christ, who “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil 2:8)” so that all our sins might be forgiven.  The necessity for the sinless Son of God to die in our place if we were ever to hope to get to heaven must humble us, unless we have hearts made of stone.  And it instructs us of the importance of coming to terms with sin and forgiveness – not just with regard to God, but with regard to our neighbor, as well.


While it may be natural to want to deflect our guilt to another, or at least minimize it, doing this does not really help us in the long run.  The relationship we’ve damaged may not fully heal and, deep down, our consciences will still accuse us.  And God does take seriously our lack of repentance toward Him and toward others. 


So, what do we do about this?  First, be honest with yourself and with God about who and what you are, but also trust what God has already done for you in Christ.  The general confession of sins in  “Divine Service Setting Three” (LSB pg. 184) is a good primer for this:


 “O almighty God, merciful Father, I, a poor, miserable sinner, confess unto You all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended You and justly deserved Your temporal and eternal punishment.  But I am heartily sorry for them and sincerely repent of them, and I pray You of Your boundless mercy and for the sake of the holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be gracious and merciful to me, a poor, sinful being.”


In that spirit, with no dodging or weaving about our sin, we are ready to receive the absolution of Christ, who willingly took our place under judgment, and paid the full price for all our sins.  We are forgiven in Christ, and God is our gracious heavenly Father.


Secondly, having come to terms with the above, we can now be honest with those we have sinned against.  Living out the forgiveness we have in Christ enables us to truly apologize to others without adding any qualifiers.  Sure, it will still be uncomfortable and scary, and there’s always the risk that they might not accept your apology.  Still, it is the right thing to do.  We don’t lose anything by this, and we have everything to gain.


It is indeed by the Gospel we have the power to not only “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another (James 5:16),” but also to “forgive one another as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).”  That’s what it’s all about.


God’s blessings in Christ,


“I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” Psalm 122:1


Believe it or not, Lent begins on the 17th of this month.  That is almost eleven months to the day that last year’s Lenten observances were shut down by the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Eleven months is a far cry from shutting down for fifteen days to “flatten the curve,” as churches around the country were told.


A lot has happened in this time.  Many churches that were closed down have reopened to varying degrees and most, including us, went virtual with online Services.  These online Services helped many who were isolated and fearful of the virus to still be able to hear God’s Word and have some semblance of being involved in worship.  This online presence has been a blessing – and maybe a curse, as well.


It’s been a blessing because, during the lockdown, it kept our people connected to God’s Word, and encouraged and hopeful during a very dark time.  We even picked up a number of viewers who weren’t coming to church before the pandemic started.  But has it also become a curse?  It is said that it takes thirty days to develop a habit.  We have had eleven months to become habituated to staying home and “getting our church” online.  I am fearful that many are now in the habit of choosing the convenience of watching Services online instead of the wholesome discipline of getting up, dressed and coming to church to gather with your fellow Christians.


Now this is not directed to those who can’t come to church because of age or infirmity, or because they are in a high-risk category for the virus.  I am reaching out to those who are younger, healthy and less at risk of the virus being deadly to them but yet are electing to stay home anyway.  We have been offering Services at the normal times, with masking, social distancing and rigorous sanitization measures since last May.  Thankfully, many have returned to in person worship since then.  But many have chosen not to, and what is being lost because of that?  


When you’re home online, being part of the physical “communion [community] of saints” and the personal connection with others is lost because you aren’t gathering with them to sing and pray and listen.  It’s more difficult to be a participant in worship, and not just an observer when you’re online only.  Most importantly, you can’t receive online the body and blood of Christ, “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”  And I dread to ask: After so long, do you even miss receiving Holy Communion anymore?  I hope you do.  In truth, online Services are meant to be an aid for those unable to attend church, not a substitute for those who can.


Lent is a season of repentance, reflection and hope as we see again the love and sacrifice of Christ for sinners.  Perhaps this Lent will see many reflect and (if needed) repent regarding public worship, put aside convenience or fear, and make the sacrificial trek to church each week to be with our fellow redeemed and receive all the good things God has for us in Christ.


God bless you!

Ash Wednesday: Feb. 17th.  Midweek Lenten Services each Wednesday at 12:15 and 6:00 pm

“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”  1 Corinthians 12:27

     In preparing this month’s newsletter article, I thought it might be interesting to look at what I wrote last January and, in the light of everything COVID related these last several months, see if that article would have offered anything to help prepare people for what was to come.
     It did, but not in the way one would have expected.
     The article dealt with the importance of gathering in church with one’s fellow Christians to receive that which God wants to give us in His Word and Sacraments.  It explained how we become Christians through the Church’s work, both directly and indirectly, and how faith is sustained and allow to flourish as we remain connected to it.  I encouraged those who could be in church but habitually did not come to resolve in 2020 to reconnect actively in worship and in fellowship with one another.  It was kind of your typical New Year’s Resolution encouragement.
     Then in mid-March COVID hit, and by the end of March, people couldn’t attend church even if they wanted to.  Churches all over the country were locked down for two weeks to “flatten the curve.”  Two weeks became two months, which became even longer.  Suddenly, folks began to realize that, despite what the politicians declared, church was an “essential business” that offered positive and necessary benefits to the spiritual, mental and emotional well-being of people.  Even many who were relatively inactive in their church attendance before COVID really began to miss being able to attend when they wanted to.  I guess the old adage, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” really is true.
     The initial lock down forced us into the 21st Century by driving us to offer scaled down Services on YouTube and our Facebook page.  We did not miss one Sunday in making available church services to people and, if you looked at the numbers, our “attendance” at church through online Services more than doubled from our in-person attendance before the lockdown.  And even though we have resumed in-person Services since the middle of May, with pretty good attendance, we still have a fairly large online community watching our Services or listening to them on WLEW.  It just goes to show that God’s Word is not bound by viruses or the dictates of politicians.
     But the point of last January’s article still is valid.  Those who were active in worship before the pandemic hit had spiritual and emotional reserves built up to help them better cope with the time when in-person attendance at church was not available to them.  Those that did not found themselves scrambling for help and comfort in a very scary and uncertain time.  Thankfully, many did make use of the online resources we provided.
     But those resources are limited in what can be offered.  You cannot receive Holy Communion online.  The personal touch of being absolved in church is just not the same online.  The spiritual and emotional uplift by being together and singing together can’t be duplicated online.  And even the healthy rituals of attending a particular Service each week, and the active movements of standing or sitting during parts of the liturgy are harder to maintain at home watching on TV or your computer.  It’s just different.
     Don’t get me wrong.  I’m glad for those who continue to watch the Services.  Christ is still there for you, and the Word is still effective.  But God created us to be connected to one another personally, and the Church is His Body of which we are each a member of it.  So, my encouragement to you is to consider whether or not it is time to return to the public worship of our Savior with your fellow Christians.  I know that, because of underlying conditions making one susceptible to the worst of COVID, or anxieties related to being infected or infecting others, there are those yet nervous about attending, yet I hope you are looking forward to the time you can join us together in church and fully participate in the life of Christ here and His good Gifts for you.
     I do want to thank everybody who, during the whole time the church was locked down, and since our reopening, have been faithful in supporting the church with their prayers, notes, phone calls and offerings.  One thing that has always impressed me about this congregation is that when there has been a need, the congregation has always stepped up to meet that need.  You really stepped up during 2020, and I thank you for that, and I thank God for you.
     Life has changed (A LOT!) during 2020, but what doesn’t change is God’s Word and His love for you in Christ. 
     Here’s to 2021, hopefully a happier and healthier New Year together in Christ.
Pastor Lueke


“She will bear a son, and you will call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  Matthew 1:21
There is no doubt that uncertainty prevails regarding the holidays.  At this writing, Michigan is again under another set of COVID restrictions until December 8th (But we know how that tune goes).  Government and health agencies strongly discouraging, or severely restricting gatherings at Thanksgiving had put a damper on family get togethers and, for some, even celebrating at all was not a possibility.  Will Christmas fare as badly?  Will the “Covid Grinch” steal Christmas, too?
                        You’re a mean one, Mister Grinch
                        You really are a heel
                        You’re as cuddly as a cactus, you’re as charming as an eel, Mister Grinch
                        You’re a bad banana with a greasy, black peel!
There is a very real possibility that many of the traditions we love about the Season may be curtailed or omitted altogether, either by government fiat or by individual choice.  Parties, caroling, parades and even traveling to be with family for Christmas may not be an option for many this year.  Discouraged, there may be those who won’t even bother to decorate their homes or put up their Christmas trees this year.
                         You’re a vile one, Mister Grinch
                        You have termites in your smile
                        You have all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile, Mister Grinch
                        Given a choice between the two of you, I’d take the seasick crocodile!
So again, will the Covid Grinch steal Christmas?  Well, that depends on what makes Christmas Christmas.  If Christmas is only about the trappings of the Season then, yes, there is a very real possibility you may not get to enjoy them, at least to the extent you did in past years.
But if Christmas is primarily about Jesus, His birth to be your Redeemer, then government, health agencies and even the Covid Grinch cannot steal that from you.  Though many of the traditions of the Season may be curtailed, you can still read about the birth of Christ in Matthew chapter one and Luke chapter two.  You can sing or listen to the hymns and carols of Christmas.  If you can’t be in church on Christmas Eve or Day, you can still watch Services.  You can still pray and give thanks to God for His indescribable gift to you.

To you this night is born a Child
Of Mary chosen virgin mild;
This little Child of lowly birth
Shall be the joy of all the earth.

While wrapping paper on the gifts is pretty and festive, it’s the gift inside the wrapping we really want.  So while the traditions of the Season are pretty and festive, what really matters is The Gift those traditions are meant to convey – Jesus.

This is the Christ, our God Most High,
Who hears your sad and bitter cry;
He will Himself your Savior be
From all your sins to set you free.

It is said in the Scriptures that we walk by faith and not by sight.  This year that faith may become more apparent as we focus on what is truly the heart and soul of the Season, and that our gaze is directed more to the marvelous love of God for sinners that sent His Son to rescue us from the sorrows and heartaches of a fallen, sin-infected world.  Maybe not having so many “activities” this year will give us more time to grow closer to our Redeemer.

Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Prepare a bed, soft, undefiled,
A quiet chamber set apart
For You to dwell within my heart.

 I really do hope that we can celebrate all the traditional festivities of the Season.  That families will be able to get together and that our church will be full of those coming to worship “The Newborn King.”  But whether or not that happens, we can still sing with full throated joy:

Glory to God in highest heav’n,
Who unto us His Son has giv’n!
While angels sing with pious mirth
A glad new year to all the earth.

No Grinch can steal that!
Merry Christmas!

“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’  Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus!”   
Revelation 22:20  

     November is an interesting month.  We’re transitioning between fall and winter.  By the end of the month, the trees will have lost all their color and leaves and we’ll be “battening down the hatches” in anticipation of snow – LOTS of snow.  November seems to have a finality to it.
     Perhaps it is fitting, then, that in the Church Year, November is bookended by two observances that mark The End: “All Saints’ Day” at the beginning of the month, and “Christ the King” at the end.  The first is a commemoration of the end of our individual lives on this earth, and our ongoing life with Christ in heaven.  The second reminds us of the end of all things when Christ returns in judgment at The Last Day, and our ongoing life with Him in the “new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13).”
     Both “endings” remind us that this life, and the things of this life are passing away.  We will come face to face with Him who will “judge both the living and the dead.”  Those in Christ will not have to fear that Day (either the day of our deaths, or that Last Day), for Christ has redeemed us by His death for our sins and guaranteed our victory over death by His resurrection.  Though here, we mourn those who have departed this life, we still rejoice over those saints (made so by faith in Christ’s atonement) who are with the Lord.
     And though the thought of the end of the world can be somewhat frightening to us, yet there is a deep longing to see God restore this creation to that which it was meant to be where “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain (nor COVID, nor lockdowns) anymore, for the former things have passed away” and Christ is “making all things new (Revelation 21:4-5).”
     Though November is a month of endings, it is also a month filled with hope, anticipation and “thanksgiving,” not just for God’s earthly provisions and blessings to us, but for the eternal victory that is ours through Jesus Christ.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints.  Amen (Rev. 22:21).”
Pastor Lueke


 “From childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to make you wise
for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”  2 Timothy 3:15

“As the Head of the Family Should Teach it in a Simple Way to His Household.”
Luther’s Small Catechism
Since October is the time that we commemorate The Reformation, it might be good to hear from Martin Luther a few things about which we need another Reformation today: Teaching and being taught God’s Word.  While Luther uses earthy language that is often colorful and coarse, you never have to wonder where he stands.  The idea for this article, and a few of the quotes used in it, come from an article by Marcus Johnson in the September/October 2015 Issue of Touchstone Magazine entitled: “Our Sacred Duty to Teach the Devil to Death.”
Luther had strong words for pastors and preachers who neglected to teach the faith to their congregations: “[They] deserve not only to be given no food to eat, but also to have the dogs set upon [them] and to be pelted with horse manure.”  In fact, preachers who did not catechize their people were “lazy bellies and presumptuous spirits” who “live like simple cattle and irrational pigs.”  His verdict: “Shame on you!”
Those condemnations aren’t just for the clergy; they are also for the parents and heads of households who despise or neglect teaching the catechism’s doctrines (which are the Bible’s doctrines) to their children.  The catechism doesn’t replace the Bible but is simply a textbook schooling us in the Word of God and shining forth the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins in Christ.  From the time that the children are born, parents [Heads of Households] should be teaching them about God’s Word through the catechism.  This, together with bringing their children to church and Sunday School, prepares the kids for when they begin their official catechism training in the church and their ongoing life in Christ.
Many parents, though, think that this isn’t that important, or that it isn’t their “job.”  But, as Marcus Johnson emphasizes in his article, it isn’t a question of “whether or not the Church [God’s people] will be catechized.  The answer is always yes.  The question is not whether, but by whom?”  Failing to teach our children the catechism doesn’t mean they go un-catechized, but that they are, instead, catechized by the devil.
Neglecting to teach your children the faith from infancy puts them at a huge disadvantage, both in knowledge and in spiritual development by the time they reach 7th & 8th grade confirmation classes.  By then they will have had many years of being catechized by the world instead.  You must understand that teaching, and learning the catechism isn’t simply child’s play; it is the way that the Church protects our children (and adults) from being seduced by the spirit of the times; keeps us oriented in faith in the one, true God, and anchors us in true reality.  By it we, in the words of Luther, “Teach the devil to death.”  An ongoing study of the catechism’s teachings helps to form and root our faith in Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.  These things are too important for parents to neglect regarding their children or themselves.
Again, as Marcus Johnson observes: “Where the Church stops teaching the devil to death, the signs will be telltale.  Churches will bend over backwards to repent of their patrimonial faith and to believe [instead] the gospel of its cultured despisers . . . They [the churches] will come to accept and even celebrate what we once knew to be scandalous and shameful . . . Worship will be evaluated on its ability to entertain . . . Children will put to memory creeds and songs, only they will belong to Hollywood rather than the Church.”
To counter this, we need to use the catechism at home and in the church to teach and train young and old alike in the truths of God’s Word, and in the forgiveness of our sins in Christ.  We are to be godly examples to our children as we actively receive the Means of Grace through regular attendance at the Divine Services.  In other words: we don’t just send our children to church and Sunday School, but we bring them with us so all may hear and study God’s Word and be catechized by the Holy Spirit.
In Johnson’s words: To neglect or despise these things “will indicate that the Church has indeed been catechized masterfully [by the devil].  Shame on us forever, Luther rightly said.  Release the hounds!”
Yours for an Ongoing Reformation of Our Hearts and Minds,

“These things I remember … how Ι would go … to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise.  Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.”  
Psalm 42:4-5  

They say that the most energy needed to move an object is in getting the object started, after which less energy is needed to keep it moving.  I wonder if the same is true for people, too.
We are almost six months into this “Corona-Crisis” and, though many things have started up again, I sense an inertia in myself and in others.  Doing things now that I did before all this began is like trying to slog through mud.  Many, for a variety of reasons, are still staying locked down and inactive for the most part.  With all the uncertainty, and all the conflicting “science,” it’s understandable.
But at what point does the inertia grow so great that we stop moving altogether?
In person Services have been held here at Our Savior since May 16th.  Many have been attending those Services, for which we are thankful, yet we are still well below the numbers we had before the lock down happened in March.  Since March, we have tried to meet the needs of those who were stuck at home by offering online video Services through our Facebook and YouTube pages, and through our On Solid Ground radio program on WLEW.  We have been gratified by the numbers of viewers and listeners.  Those Services are expected to continue even after we are past the Coronavirus restrictions.
But has inertia set in for many?  While we fully understand that those most susceptible to the virus’ effects (the elderly, those with underlying medical conditions, etc.) are unwilling to chance exposure by coming back to church, I wonder if others have simply become accustomed to watching “church” at home.  It certainly is easier and more comfortable to stay home in your P.J.’s and slippers with a cup of coffee ready at hand than to have to dress up or get the kids ready to travel to church for worship. 
It’s easier, but is it better?
The Greek word for “Church” (Ecclesia) means “the gathering.”  We are meant by God to gather with each other and receive in person His gifts of Word and Sacrament.  Being together gives us a sense of community, fights isolation, energizes one another as we share together our confession of Christ.  At church we are awash in the work of the Holy Spirit as we receive forgiveness of sins won for us by Christ and are equipped and empowered to live as His Christians day by day.  Certainly, at home, through video or radio we receive some of this, but you can’t replicate the same sense of community and fellowship, along with the mutual encouragement we give to one another when we gather together in church.  We need to be with each other.
So, I encourage all of you who have been absent from church these last several months to examine the reasons you are still staying home.  If it is because you are in the “danger group,” or you are still fearful of infection (again, because of all the conflicting media coverage of the “science” of COVID), we understand, and pray for the time when you no longer feel in danger.  But if you are staying home because it’s “convenient,” or worse, because you no longer care all that much, then it is time to take the first step toward returning.
I know.  The first step to overcome inertia is the hardest and requires the most energy, but it becomes much easier after that.  And while coming to church is not as comfortable as staying at home, it is more fulfilling to be in the presence of your Savior with your fellow Christians.
We may not have coffee for you, but we do have Christ.
God’s blessings in Christ,



“Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.”  1 Timothy 6:20-21

Lately we’ve seen commercials reassuring us that Science will solve our COVID-19 problem, as well as all problems facing mankind and, essentially, be the savior of the world.  I am all for Science and believe that it has contributed wonderfully to the quality of life we enjoy and the technologies we take for granted.

But . . . 
We must remember that Science is developed by scientists; i.e. flawed human beings who are sinners, just like us all who aren’t always necessarily neutral, and most certainly don’t know everything.  “Believe the Science” is the mantra by politicians pushing for certain responses from the masses, whether regarding COVID-19, Climate Change or a number of other crisis issues.  Yet which “Science” are we to believe, since there are conflicting data and scientists aren’t unanimous in their findings or recommendations?
Now, of course, the process of science is to work through the differing pieces of data to try to arrive at the most probable explanations and procedures.  Those assumptions that are found to be wrong are discarded and another try is made to ascertain the truth.  Yet, if Science is allowed to be skewed in order to manipulate a certain outcome or response, then is it really science, or is it something else?
My point here is not to be anti-science.  We do thank God for researchers, scientists and all the others engaged in finding answers, understanding our world and helping us grow in knowledge, health and happiness.  This is good.  My point is a cautionary one.  Science is not God.  And because Science constantly changes its theories and practices, we cannot trust it as being our ultimate Source of meaning or being.  Science will never have all the answers and, all too often, creates as many problems as it solves.  Science is a great servant, but a terrible Master.
Our trust should ultimately be in the One who created the universe and the Laws by which it operates.  It should be in the God who not only has created but sustains the universe by His almighty power.  It should be in the God who sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem lost mankind, die for our sins and conquer, not just sickness, but death itself.  It should be in the God who has revealed Himself to us in the Bible.  This God is at work in ways that Science (or any of us) will never totally understand.  True Science and the Bible are not at odds with each another, but actually complement one another. Many great scientists were or are devout Christians who approached their tasks believing in the orderliness of the universe because God is a God of order, and thus were able to make tremendous strides in science.  Christians should not fear true Science.
But we should not worship it as well.  When called upon to bow down to the high priests of Science and take every proclamation they utter as Gospel truth, simply because the mass media say it’s so, let us rather remain standing, like Daniel’s three friends and face the fiery furnace with the confidence: “Our God is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace … but if [He chooses] not, we will not serve your gods or the golden image you have set up (Daniel 3).” 
This is how we can truly “flatten the fear.”

“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
Matthew 22:21

There has been much confusion regarding the Governor’s Stay-at-Home Executive Orders and how that relates to Services again being offered here at Our Savior and other churches throughout Michigan.  Originally, since the Order was to end on May 15th, we made the decision to reopen on the weekend of the 16th and 17th.  Then the Order was extended to the end of the month and is now extended again to the middle of June.  We reopened Services on the 16th and 17thanyway, despite those extensions.
One reason is the fact that, despite what the governing authorities have declared, church is an “Essential Service.”  We bring help to people for their spiritual, emotional and psychological health.  If liquor stores, pot stores and Big Box stores can be considered essential for the wellbeing of people’s bodies, then the church is essential for the wellbeing of people’s souls and spirits.
Secondly, while we were willing to follow the health experts’ guidance in the initial stages of the outbreak, when we saw that the rulings deeming what places were “worthy” or “not worthy” of being open seemed completely arbitrary and without logical explanation, we began to question if there was an inadvertent (or not so inadvertent) hostility toward religious entities.  Forcing churches to continue being closed now impacts our 1st Amendment rights under the Constitution.
What I mean by this is that we don’t have a Constitutional right to buy booze or lottery tickets, yet that’s what we are allowed to do during this pandemic.  But what has been infringed upon during this pandemic are our guaranteed rights under the 1st Amendment: 1. Freedom of Speech; 2. Freedom to practice our religion without governmental interference; 3. Freedom to assemble and, 4. Freedom to publicly redress grievances i.e. protest government.  Those rights were curbed throughout the country as authorities initially were trying to “flatten the curve” during the pandemic (which is understandable).  But the criteria for lockdowns kept changing, leading to increasing burdens on the rights of individuals, families, businesses and churches.  Even those in authority didn’t have a clear idea how these regulations were supposed to work or properly be enforced, thus why should the church remain closed when so many other places are open?
Now none of this takes into account the most important aspect of deciding to reopen: Our Lord’s own will is that His Christians gather in worship and not neglect meeting together.  We are to “keep the Sabbath Day holy” and that we are to receive strength for our faith and life of good works through His Word and Sacraments.  This, along with the biblical mandate “we must obey God rather than men” would be enough reason to offer weekly Services despite government lockdowns.
But, out of love for our neighbor’s health, and in obedience to those who have the civil authority over us, Our Savior “did its part” by suspending Services for a time while we watched how this situation would work out.  Now that we see that Huron County is not a hot spot of contagion, and that we have done due diligence in following State and Federal recommendations for mitigation of infection, it was long past time to reopen.
But what about the Governor’s Stay-at-Home order?  Aren’t we breaking the law by having church or attending Services?  The simple answer is: NO.  Even in several of the Governor’s Executive Orders, though tucked deeply away in the language, having Services or going to and from “Religious Services” are exempt from civil penalties.  Below is a quote from the recent Stay-at-Home order that shows this to be true:

EXECUTIVE ORDER No. 2020-96  (May 21, 2020)
Temporary requirement to suspend certain activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life 
Rescission of Executive Orders 2020-17, 2020-34, and 2020-92 
15.Rules governing face coverings. 

  1. (a)  Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, any individual able to medically tolerate a face covering must wear a covering over his or her nose and mouth—such as a homemade mask, scarf, bandana, or handkerchief—when in any enclosed public space. 
  1. Except as otherwise expressly stated in this order, nothing in this order should be taken to supersede another executive order or directive that is in effect, except to the extent this order imposes more stringent limitations on in-person work, activities, and interactions. Consistent with prior guidance, neither a place of religious worship nor its owner is subject to penalty under section 22 of this order for allowing religious worship at such place. No individual is subject to penalty under section 22 of this order for engaging in or traveling to engage in religious worship at a place of religious worship, or for violating section 15(a) of this order. 

So, even though a lockdown, as such, is still in place, churches and those who attend them are free to do so.  Of course, we should still do all we can to obey they government’s recommendations for health safety and mitigation of the spreading of the virus to the best of our ability while still being faithful to God’s Word by gathering in His church.  Those with conditions putting them in the greatest danger from the infection, or those who are yet uncomfortable in public gatherings should consider staying home for now.  Lord willing, this affliction will come to an end and we all can be together again as a congregation joyfully receiving God’s Gifts in Christ.
We have respected Caesar’s wishes, but our ultimate allegiance and obedience is to God.
Stay the Course.

“When the Lord returned the captives to Zion, we were like them that dream.  Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing … The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.”  
Psalm 126:1-3 (KJV)


It’s hard to believe that our last weekend of Services was March 21 & 22, almost two months ago.  Since then we have observed Social Distancing, Stay-at-Home orders, the closures of schools, churches, businesses, parks, golf courses and so many other things that we took for granted would always be there for us.  We have endured a constant changing stream of Executive Orders, medical reports of Michigan’s infection and death rates, fevered (pun intended) news reporting, readjusting of schedules and lifestyles and so many other things.  There is not one of us whose life has not been affected or changed.
But one constant in all of this has been the Lord’s Word, and His love and mercy to us in Christ.  For some, this was just a continuation of having been regular partakers of His gifts in church all along.  For others, it has meant reawakening a life with God that had been put on hold for a long, long time.  In any event, God has not stopped working for His people, even if His people have found themselves out of work or in isolation in their homes.  It has been a difficult time but, hopefully a time of growth as well.
And the time of our captivity is drawing to a close.
The Governor’s Stay-at-Home order is expected to end on Friday May 15th.  Our Savior will again be offering Divine Services beginning on the 16th and 17th at our normal times.  We will use common sense in continuing to observe Social Distancing.  Some pews will be taped off to allow more distancing between people.  You are encouraged to wear your masks and gloves to church.  While the Common Cup will still be offered for Communion, if you are not comfortable with communing from the Common Cup, you are certainly welcome to take from the individual cups instead.
Also, if you are elderly or have underlying medical issues; if you are not feeling well or are just simply uncomfortable being in a group at this time, please, stay at home.  We will still make videos of the Services available on our Facebook and YouTube pages, as well as the Sunday morning radio broadcast on WLEW.  Still, there is nothing like being physically present with each other in worship, and the work of the church still goes on.
SPECIAL NOTE:  Thank you to everyone who continued to send your offerings to church, or even increased your offerings during this time.  You helped the congregation continue to meet its obligations, and you helped shoulder the burden for those who would have liked to give but, because of being out of work or having severe financial constraints, could not.  This is a great example of being part of the Body of Christ where each member, whatever part we are, looks out for the other members of the Body, as St. Paul describes in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12.
The time of our “captivity” is almost over.  God will soon bring His people (You!) back to Zion with our mouths filled with laughter and our tongues with singing.  We will indeed rejoice that, in Christ, “the Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad.”
Lord willing, we’ll see each other soon.  God’s blessings in Christ.

March 24, 2020

Dear Fellow Redeemed of Our Savior,
Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).”  Indeed, the world, and each of us individually are experiencing tribulation due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the effects it is having on our lives.  Yet, though we are to shelter in place for the next few weeks, the Lord continues to be with us.
This letter is for the purpose of giving you information, encouragement and direction.  First, because of Gov. Whitmer’s Shelter in Place ban, all Services and activities at Our Savior are presently cancelled.  The ban is scheduled to be lifted on April 13th, the day after Easter, so the plan is to offer Holy Week and Easter Services that following week of the 16th – 19th.  Should the ban be extended past the 13th, then we will move Holy Week forward until we can offer it.
In the meantime, you can get the latest OSLC news on our Facebook page, and you can hear sermons and read articles any time on our website:, or by listening to WLEW Sunday mornings at 7:30 am.  We are currently looking for ways to make video of Services available through Facebook, but that’s a work in progress.
Other Lutheran programs are available for your spiritual comfort and growth are:

  •  “Talk Radio for the Thinking Christian”
  •  Broadcasts of hymns and music appropriate for the season.
  •  Music, Bible studies and other Lutheran programming
  •  Online broadcasts of Services hosted by the Indiana District LCMS and offering sermons from various pastors in the LCMS.
  •  Lutheran Hour Ministries providing Lutheran Hour sermons and other studies.
Obviously, we are doing what we can to keep things going at Our Savior until this present crisis passes.  If you need to contact the church, someone should be here off and on throughout the day.  Call 989-269-7642 if you have questions or needs and, if no one is here, leave a message and we’ll get back to you as quickly as we can.
Also, it would be helpful for communication purposes to have your email address and current phone number(s).  If you wouldn’t mind emailing these to us so we can update our records, we would appreciate having this information.  As always, this information will not be shared outside of the church office and staff.  Simply email this to
We know that people are being impacted financially during this time, but we encourage you to please continue supporting Our Savior through your prayers and offerings.  If you can’t give your offerings at this time, we completely understand.  But if you are able to continue, or even increase your support, we would be very grateful.  You can send your offerings to Our Savior Lutheran Church, 123 W. Irwin St. Bad Axe, MI. 48413, or drop them off at church during business hours.  If no one is in the office, just slide your offering under the Secretary’s door.
While these are trying times, we will get through this with our Lord’s help.  He is, after all, ultimately in control and, while things are unpleasant right now, has promised “that for those who love God, all things work together for good (Romans 8:27).”
Though currently we are unable to gather together around God’s gifts, we are still united together in Christ and the confession of His saving name.  Perhaps if we can see this present crisis as God giving us a “spiritual reboot,” so we can get back to appreciating that which is really important: family, friends, community and church, then this will actually have been a positive thing.
In closing, thank you for being a part of the Our Savior family, and for your involvement, prayers and support.  As we weather this storm together, we do so by the grace, mercy and peace of God to us in Christ.  Below I have included some verses from the hymn, “What God Ordains is Always Good,” LSB #760 (TLH #521). May they give you comfort and strength now as they have countless Christians before us.
God bless you now and always!
What God ordains is always good; His will is just and holy.
As He directs my life for me, I follow meek and lowly.
My God indeed in ev’ry need knows well how He will shield me;
To Him, then, I will yield me.
What God ordains is always good; He never will deceive me;
He leads me in His righteous way, and never will He leave me.
I take content what He has sent; His hand that sends me sadness
Will turn my tears to gladness.
What God ordains is always good; He is my Friend and Father;
He suffers naught to do me harm though many storms may gather.
Now I may know both joy and woe; Someday I shall see clearly
That He has loved me dearly.

“But He was pierced for our transgressions … and with His wounds we are healed.”
 Isaiah 53:5

If you have been watching the news, you would swear that we are reaching the End of the World.  Hysterical reports of an impending global pandemic of the Coronavirus have everyone on edge causing the stock market to plunge, people rushing to buy up masks and gloves for protection, restrictions on air travel and fears of mass quarantines.  It doesn’t help that some politicians are all too ready to use this event for political power.
 How should we respond?  Well, from a purely earthly perspective, we should be calm and rational.  Take normal precautions, as you would if it were only (only!) the flu going around.  Wash your hands regularly; avoid contact with symptomatic people; stay home if you’re sick.  You know the drill.  And thank God we live in this country with its excellent health systems and scientific researchers.  And remember: At the time of this writing there have been no reported deaths from the Coronavirus in this country, and relatively few people (so far) who have contracted it.  The worst thing to do is panic.
 As God’s Christians, we also respond with prayer for those affected by this, or any other virus and pray that God would guide researchers to find a cure.  We look for ways that we can be of help to others in their suffering.  We entrust ourselves to God’s care that, whether or not we contract this virus, God is still in control of our lives working out His good and perfect will.
 And we repent.  The Coronavirus, as all other diseases and sicknesses in this world remind us of the virus that infects us  all and will one day kill us: Sin.  Sin separates us from God and brings the judgment of death.  Yet God gave His Son to be  not only our Great Physician, but also our Cure.  In His life, death and resurrection, He has brought healing to our souls and life to us for all eternity.  Outbreaks of things like the Coronavirus should move us to repent of our sins and desire to live by regularly partaking of the healing medicine of His Word and Sacraments.
 Though the Sin virus still resides in us, breaking out regularly, our cure is already accomplished by Jesus.  And since we are now His, and we know what our future is, whether or not it’s the end of the world, we don’t need to panic or live in fear.  Use the brains God gave you to stay healthy and live in the confident faith God gives you trusting in Jesus through all things.  Ultimately, you will be just fine, no matter what happens in this life.

“Neither death nor life, (nor the Coronavirus) … nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  
Romans 8:38-39
A Blessed Lenten Season to you.



 “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil.”  

Isaiah 5:20 

I recently watched the documentary “One Child Nation,” which examines the One Child Only policy China enacted in 1979 and disbanded in 2015.  The documentary looks unflinchingly at, not only the toll on human life, but also the toll on human lives affected by that policy.
Under China’s totalitarian regime, women who already had one child were kept under surveillance in case they got pregnant again without permission from the government.  If they did, government officials would forcibly cart these women off to a facility to abort the child and sterilize the woman.  In other areas, heavy fines or homes torn down were punishments for giving birth to more than one child.
In a culture valuing male children more than female, that one child policy resulted in hundreds of thousands of female babies being born, then abandoned and left to die so the parents could try to have a boy instead.  With all the abandoned babies, a flourishing human trafficking industry developed to collect these babies and sell them to orphanages which then charged immense fees to couples around the world seeking to adopt them.
 As terrible as all this was, what really stunned me was how the government was able to pull this off and overcome the natural human desire to have babies and protect them.  This was accomplished through a massive and unrelenting propaganda campaign using posters and signs literally everywhere, and through television, music, operas and musicals, and a constant non-stop drumbeat extolling the virtues of One Child Only (not to mention the threats of punishment and following through on those threats).  Large swaths of the Chinese population eventually acquiesced.  Throughout interviews with various people, from parents to officials overseeing or performing tens of thousands of abortions, one statement kept reappearing: “I had no choice.  It was the policy.”  Natural human instinct toward the good was being overridden by an evil, totalitarian propaganda campaign.
We, too, have been subjected to a decades long propaganda campaign, not by a totalitarian regime (yet), but by cultural totalitarians pushing to unravel all human decency and morality.  Sex without consequences; no-fault divorce; abortion on demand; broadening definitions of gender; exposing younger and younger children to adult deviancy, and the list could go on.  And all of this is propagandized into our brains through media, academia, law and various interest groups whose loud and vocal demands far outweigh their numbers.  We do not resist because we have been made afraid.
And God’s Christians are in the center of the bullseye.  There has been a concerted effort to convince Christians to accept and embrace these evils as being good or, at least, silence us from opposing them (“I had no choice.  It was the policy”).  Those who dare to resist the cultural totalitarians are vilified and often punished.  The cultural totalitarian propagandists demand it.
But we must not lose heart in the midst of this.  We know what God has done for us and for the world in Christ.  He has not abandoned His little flock to the wolves of this world.  He continues to sustain us in His Word and in the forgiveness of sins won by Christ.  We know that whatever is happening to the Church in this world that, ultimately, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18).”
Our defense against being propagandized by evil is to know and embrace that which is true and good, as St. Paul writes: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12:2).”  That happens by the Holy Spirit working through our ongoing involvement in God’s Word.
With the loss of so many of their young over thirty-five years, China finds itself with an aging population without enough young to care for it.  Millions are also carrying the guilt and scars from that evil policy.  Now the government has switched from a One Child Only to a Two Child policy to alleviate the lack of youth, yet they have “sown the wind and [are reaping] a whirlwind (Hosea 8:7).”
Are we, as well?  That remains to be seen.
The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday Services on Feb. 26th.  This would be a good time to go back into Christian “Boot Camp” and, in repentance for our own sins and contributions to this cultural decay, see again what Jesus has done about it all.
God’s blessings in Christ,
Pastor Lueke



“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”  1 Corinthians 12:27 


 “I believe in . . . the holy Christian Church [which is] the Communion (i.e. “Community”) of Saints.”  This is what we confess in the Apostles’ Creed.  That The Church is a fellowship, or community of those who, by faith in Christ, have been made holy and set apart for God through the forgiveness of sins.  So, how should that work out in an individual Christian’s life?
Well for one, it means that we are not alone, nor should we be.  When we are baptized into Christ through The Church, we become a part of The Church (not apart from The Church).  We become members of Christ and members of one another.  God’s will for His Christians is that we gather together to continually receive from Him the very gifts that create and sustain faith in Christ and to encourage and support one another in our faith and life.
Sadly, though, many believe they have no need to be an active part of a congregation.  To go to church seems a waste of time to them and is unimportant, except maybe for special occasions.  Or they have had conflicts with individuals in a congregation and have decided that they are better off without church.  And some have never developed the wholesome “habit” of church attendance; it was just never part of their upbringing, so they see no need for it.
These, and many other reasons people have for not being involved in church (and here I’m not speaking about those who can’t come, but those who don’t or won’t come) could betray a deeper issue: a faith that potentially could be stagnating or is dead already.  I suggest these possibilities not to be harsh or judgmental but to sound an alarm.
If you believe in Christ, how did that happen?  It happened because someone who is part of The Church (the Body of Christ) told you about Jesus and saw to it that you were baptized.  If you know about King David, Solomon, Moses, Jesus, Paul and Peter, it is because someone in The Church taught you about them.  If you have a Bible that you read, it’s because many “someone’s” in The Church produced it and made it available to you.  If you know and sing favorite hymns and Christian songs, it’s because of the many in The Church who wrote them throughout the ages.  
Without the faithful who are part of The Church, you would have none of these things, including the forgiveness of your sins and eternal life won for us solely by Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and brought to us by the Holy Spirit by Word and Sacrament through a church.  You wouldn’t have them because there would be no one proclaiming and administering these things to you.
There is only one Body of Christ (The Church) that encompasses all who believe in Jesus, both on earth and in heaven.  Yet this Body is seen in local gatherings of his people in congregations around the world.  While the Body of Christ will always continue, in spite of us, local congregations can continue by God’s blessing only when God’s people gather in them, are involved in supporting them and help to bring others into them.  If everyone felt no need to be active in a congregation, it would cease to exist, and all the benefits we expect from it would not be there for us.
Indeed, Christ died for you; but not just for you.  He died for all.  And Christ redeemed you from sin, death and hell, not for you to be isolated and alone, but to be a part of His Body, the Holy Christian Church and, equally a part of His Christians gathering in a local congregation (a “community of saints”) to receive what He desires to give you.  Yes, when you gather with Christians in church you are gathering with imperfect people; with sinners who can often be irritating and all too human.  But they are seeking the same things as you are: forgiveness of sins, an encounter with the True God, encouragement and comfort, and ultimate meaning in life.  These are not unimportant things.  These things are found through The Church and received in connection to a church.
So, since we’re in the time where people make resolutions for the New Year, I would strongly encourage you to make this one: If I’m active in worship already, that I would seek to be more so; If I’m sporadic in attendance, that I will endeavor to come more often and not let other things deter me; and If I don’t attend church at all, though I could, that I will repent of this and begin anew my relationship to my Savior and His Word by being a part of the church, and not apart from it.
A Blessed New Year in Christ, and in Church!



“A Savior has been born to you, which is Christ the Lord.”   Luke 2:11  

I am conflicted.  Here I’m supposed to be writing an upbeat Christmas column (since Christmas is less than four weeks away), yet my evil alter-ego, Pastor Grinch, is rearing his ugly head.  What has Pastor Grinch fuming would be all the early Christmas music and decorations in the stores, “Black Friday” sales starting on Thanksgiving Day, the sappy, Christ-less programming that seeks to portray the “spirit of Christmas” while having no clue as to the true Source and Spirit of Christmas.  Pastor Grinch wants to hurl and wishes it would all just go away.
But then good Pastor Lueke comes forward and says: “Listen to all the Christmas music – the hymns and carols.  Look at all the decorations and the beauty of brightly lighted trees and homes.  Hurray!  All the classic Christmas programs are on TV again, bringing back fond memories of childhood.  Oh boy!  Advent is here, and we have the opportunity to prepare for the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Let’s sing: ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year!’”
 And Pastor Grinch just wants to hurl!
So, you see, I am conflicted.  But what isn’t conflicted, even with all the smarmy, Christ-less aspects of the season, is the Gospel itself.  Whether people see it or not - whether they believe it or not – the fingerprints “of the Father’s love begotten e’er the worlds began to be” are still here.  Nothing changes the truth that Christ came into the world, born of the virgin Mary, “to save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray.  O tidings of comfort and joy.”
In a most marvelous mystery, God became man in the birth of Jesus Christ to bring about “peace on earth and mercy mild; God and sinners reconciled.”  Though millions may ignore the true meaning of Christmas, millions of others rejoice because “He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.”
So, Christmas is almost here.  “Let us all together praise our God before His glorious throne; Today He opens heav’n again to give us His own Son, To give us His own Son”
Take that, Pastor Grinch!
Merry Christmas!
Pastor Lueke



“Jesus said, ‘If you hold to My teaching, you are truly My disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”   John 8:31-32 

“Here I stand; I can do no other.  God help me.  Amen.”  Those words of Martin Luther as he stood before the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire still resound through the ages.  In this “Battle for the Gospel,” Luther was required to retract all his writings yet, unless he could be convinced by Scripture and reason that he was wrong, he refused to do so.
What we fail to understand is that this refusal wasn’t just show-boating or stubbornness.  It was life or death.  To refuse to retract and be obedient to his superiors, Luther faced the death penalty.  Others before him had been tortured and put to death for similar things, so this was a real danger.  It was only by God’s gracious providence and protection that Luther survived and the clear Gospel of “Salvation by grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ” was allowed to shine forth brightly again.
So, when I think about the courage and tenacity shown by Luther and other countless Christians through the ages who were willing to risk all to remain faithful to God and His Word, I wonder about our own situation here at Our Savior.  Are we so comfortable with both our outward connection to the church, and the freedoms we enjoy in our country, that we rarely feel the necessity of regularly hearing God’s Word and living up to the challenge of being His faithful Christians in the world?
What I mean is, we have over seven hundred people who are members of our congregation.  While taking into consideration those away at college, in the military, or are home bound and institutionalized, there are still more than a hundred of our folks who haven’t stepped foot in church for years.  And of those who would be considered “good members,” we still average under 200 in church on any given weekend, which is less than one-third of those who could be here.
I understand the busyness of life today.  I understand the competing demands made upon our folks.  I sympathize with the health and job issues many are experiencing.  But I am puzzled, both by those who are here faithfully only when they have a duty to perform at church, and by those who could be here each week but aren’t.  Why is that?  I am curious and would really like to know.
Has church become just one more obligation, among many, placed on us?  Are we so involved in the daily grind of this world that we have too little energy left over to regularly attend to that which prepares us for “the life of the world to come?”  Have we forgotten (or worse) the vows we made to God and before the congregation that we would “hear the Word of God and receive the Lord’s Supper faithfully” and “continue steadfast in this confession and Church and suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it?”
Perhaps we didn’t take those vows seriously back then, but God did.  He took them just as seriously as the vow He made to us – to “suffer all, even death” to redeem us from sin and death and reconcile us to Himself through Christ.  Church is not one more duty we perform for God but is a thankful receiving of the gifts and service He gives and does for us in Christ.
Through these Spirit given gifts in Christ regularly received, God gives us the strength to resist the devil, the world and our sinful flesh and, as His Christians, to boldly be able to say, with Luther: “Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me.  Amen.”
God bless you,
Pastor Lueke

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”                1 Thess. 1:2-3

Well, the plan worked; the secret was kept; the “victim” remained unaware of what was about to befall him, and the trap was sprung. Was I surprised?  You bet!  I had no idea that, for several weeks, plans were in the works to celebrate my 25thanniversary as pastor here at Our Savior.  Granted, I can be pretty dense, but you all kept the secret.  Well played!
It was a wonderful celebration as a son of the congregation, Joe Liss, who is now himself a pastor, preached the sermon that day. The food was great and plentiful at the “picnic.”  All the cards and comments from you folks at Our Savior, from many of the folks in my previous congregation at Zion in Beecher, Illinois, and others as well were quite touching.  And the gift from the congregation for Pam and me – for the Bavarian Inn in Frankenmuth, no less – was overwhelming.  Words just cannot express our thankfulness to all who made that day happen, and for everybody who participated.
This is a wonderful reminder of one very important aspect of being part of a congregation: That we are not alone but are part of one another and share together in this blessed fellowship the gifts of Christ and His love for us that enables us to love one another. Those who have never been, or chosen not to be involved in the church, I believe, are much poorer for that.  They are missing out on the blessings of fellowship with Christ and with each other.
It has truly been an honor and a pleasure to be your pastor these twenty-five years.  We are thankful for how you accepted and embraced our family and allowed us the space to be ourselves, and for the supportive and generous spirit you have shown, not just to us, but for the work of the congregation as well.  Lord willing, I’ve got a few more years left in me to continue serving you wonderful folks.
So, all I can say is: Thank You and, Wow! Just, Wow!


Some people are like bulls in a china shop.  They rush heedlessly around, unmindful and uncaring about hurting the feelings of others.  On the other hand, there are those whose feelings are hurt at the drop of a hat – and if you don’t have a hat to drop, they’ll lend you theirs.
The first type of person (The Insensitive Person) has the difficult task of recognizing when they’ve hurt someone, no matter how unintentionally, and making every effort to repair the damage.  But, the second type of person (The Hyper-Sensitive Person) has an even more difficult task of recognizing that the offending person may, no matter how rudely they come across, have no intention of hurting them, and resisting the temptation to run away in a huff.
Insensitive People can’t figure out why people are mad at them.  Hyper-Sensitive People can’t figure out that people aren’t mad at them.  Mix these two types of people together in one place and you have an explosive combination.
Every congregation has these, and many other types of personalities together in one place, and all too often it becomes the devil’s playground.  With The Insensitive Person, the devil has him thinking that his words don’t matter and that he can treat anybody any way he wants as long as “I don’t really mean anything by it.”  He sees no need to ever apologize and figures that if there’s a problem, it must be with the other guy.  In the case of The Hyper-Sensitive Person, the devil causes him to believe that every word, look, tone of voice, action or inaction by others is a deliberate insult obviouslymeant to offend him.  His next reaction is to flee.  He no longer volunteers; he quits coming to worship, or he runs and joins another church where “those people practice their faith” – at least, until someone there offends him, too.
It is pride that makes The Insensitive Person careless about the feelings of others and say: “Well, if they’re going to be so sensitive and run away, good riddance to them!”  It is also pride that makes The Hyper-Sensitive Person quick to perceive every word or action by others that isn’t exactly to their liking as a direct attack against them.  Then they say: “Well, they’re all hypocrites there, and I don’t associate with hypocrites, so I’ll go someplace else.”  In both types, this kind of pride is sin.  It disrupts and destroys the Body of Christ.
So, how do we get past this?  First, it helps to recognize if we are the type of person who easily gives or takes offense.  Recognizing our own personality traits can help us become aware of how we might possibly act, or react toward others.  But, above that, we need to recognize that we are all sinners who are saved by the same blood of the same Savior shed on the same cross for our sins.  If we stop looking at ourselves and begin looking at others through Christ’s eyes, many of our conflicts could be minimized.  We need to stop thinking in terms of “Us vs. Them.”   As Christians, and as members of the same congregation partaking of the same Means of Grace through the same Christ, it is simply “Us.”  
While The Insensitive Person may never totally overcome the unintentional tromping on toes that marks his personality, through a repentant and humble trust in Christ he can begin to deal with those times he’s crossed the line and reach out to those he hurts.  And The Hyper-Sensitive Person may never totally overcome the tendency that marks his personality to become quickly offended, but through a repentant and humble trust in Christ, he can resist the temptation to lash out or run away because of a perceived hurt.  Instead, he will constructively try to understand the nature of what was said or done for what it is instead of what he assumesit to be.
In reality, we need to see ourselves, and each other, with all our foibles and quirks in the light of the One who has loved each of us, and given Himself for each of us that “we [together] may be His own and live [together] under Him in His kingdom and serve Him [together] in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness.”  In this way, we will lessen the tendency of our own personality to fall into the trap of needlessly giving offense or taking offense.
This is most certainly true.


“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke
 of bondage.”  Galatians 5:1

This is just a brief reflection on the 4th of July.  It is a day of summer barbeques, swimming, fishing, family get-togethers and just general summer fun.  There may be parades, speeches, fireworks, picnics and other traditional activities.  But sadly, there tends to be little reflection on the meaning of the 4th of July, also known as “Independence Day.”
That was the day in 1776 that our country declared our independence from the rule of King George of England.  It sparked an experiment in a governmental system never before seen in the world;  a system which recognized that certain “inalienable rights” are guaranteed, not by the government (which can be taken away at government’s whim), but by our Creator.  It would be a government, later described by one of our finest presidents, “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
That declaration of our independence from British rule sparked a war that would decide if the American people would become free and self-governing or remain a colony under British rule.  We all know the outcome, and for over two hundred years we have enjoyed the freedoms won for us by the blood shed at our country’s birth and which, since then, has had to be shed both at home and abroad to keep those freedoms intact.  Freedoms we too often take for granted.
In spite of all our problems today, and the many misguided people who would gladly (and vainly) trade away those hard-won freedoms for the illusion of security and ease, there is still much for which we can be thankful.  I especially would like to remember the sacrifice and service of those in our Armed Forces, past and present.  I am thankful for our veterans and for our active duty service personnel.  I am thankful for those willing to go in harm’s way so that I can enjoy peaceful times and lazy summer picnics.  I am thankful for those standing on the front-lines so I don’t have to.  I hope we do not squander what you have given us.
And I think of another war in which blood was shed for our liberty.  It was a war that had to be fought for all of us in captivity.  The one who fought it didn’t have to, but He chose to do so anyway.  Jesus Christ, the Son of God, shed His blood and died on the cross to defeat those enemies who kept us captive: Sin, Death and the Devil.  By His death and bodily resurrection, He is victorious over those dread enemies and has set us free, giving life to all who believe in Him.  Some still squander His sacrifice and gift, but it doesn’t change the nature of what He did for us.  I am thankful He gave His life for you and me, and for the liberty we have in Him.
So, this 4th of July take time to remember (and thank) those who served and sacrificed for our freedoms.  And remember, too, your Savior’s sacrifice for you.  Indeed, “Stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made us free.”
God bless you,

“[You are] built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone.”  Ephesians 2:20

“Liberal” and “Conservative” are terms used regularly in political discussions.  If you’re for bigger government, more social programs, redistribution of wealth through taxation, relaxation of restrictions on sexual choices or behaviors and are supportive of abortion, then you are generally considered a liberal (or “Progressive,” or even, God forbid, a Democratic Socialist!).  On the other hand, if you want less government intrusion, fewer social programs and taxation, more restrictions on abortions or abortion outlawed altogether, marriage recognized as being between one man and one woman only, prayer in public schools and religious displays on public property, then you are generally considered a “Conservative” (or “right-wing, racist, sexist, bigoted, homophobe,” as the media would portray you).
In reality, these labels are not so clear cut as they would seem.  There are social liberals who are economically conservative, and social conservatives who are economically liberal.  It’s enough to make your head spin.  I would say that most of us tend to be on a sliding scale, depending upon the particular issue under discussion.  And then when you mix religion into the discussion, the possibilities become dizzying.  But it’s the religious part I now want to address.
Are you a “Bible-believing Liberal?”  Can that even be possible?  About five years ago, there was a news report of a church in Canada that held an Easter Service in a strip club, in order to be “edgy” and attract people who otherwise wouldn’t attend a “normal” church.  This report reminded me of a couple of articles I read a while back; one by Todd Wilken in “Issues, Etc.” and one by Gene Veith in “World Magazine.”  These articles exposed a stunning contradiction among so-called evangelicals, who are usually considered conservative in all ways.  Sadly, this same trend is often seen among Lutherans, as well.
According to Wilken, a Bible-believing Liberal is a Christian who is quite conservative on cultural, political and economic matters, and has a high view of the Bible as being the inspired, inerrant Word of God (unlike the theological liberal who sees Scripture as a product of man, and thus subject to change or rejection by man).  Yet, when it comes to church, or to the way they apply the teachings of the Bible, they end up being liberal/progressives.  Here are a few examples of Bible-believing liberalism from Wilken’s article:
o   “While they believe that the culture needs to return to its historic traditions, they think the church needs to abandon hers.”
o   “While they believe that men and women have defined roles in marriage and family, they don’t see why a woman can’t replace a man in the pulpit.”
o   “They want the Ten Commandments in the public square, but are unconcerned when those commandments are replaced with ‘Principles for Living’ from the pulpit.”
o   “[They feel that] ceremonies of a presidential inauguration are meaningful and inspiring, but the Sunday morning liturgy is boring.”
o   “[They believe] the differences between political parties are serious, but the differences between Christian denominations are petty.”
o   “While they insist on a literal interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, they play fast and loose with the Bible and its theology, even while maintaining its inerrancy and inspiration.  They are Bible-believing liberals.”

These observations are devastating precisely because they are so true.  It is shocking to many devout Christians who consider themselves foot soldiers defending conservatism in the culture war to have pointed out to them that, in religious matters, they are really old-line liberals in their thinking.  As Wilken continues to observe:
"They fail to see that, just like the old-line liberals, they have allowed the culture to call the shots in their church’s teaching and practice.  [W]hile they have fought the culture’s influence in society, they have surrendered to it in their churches.”
Clearly, there is a message there for all of us.  Are the roots for much of our desire for the new and the novel in worship and liturgy really found in a rootless liberalism that changes with the whims and fads of the culture we live in?  Do we see the importance of conserving the traditions and values that strengthen society while ignoring the very traditions and values that strengthen the church?  Are we working to preserve our society from the corrosive effects of the current culture while plunging our churches headlong into that very culture, supposedly to reach those who wouldn’t be caught dead attending a “regular” church?  Even though we consider ourselves conservatives, have we actually become liberals, at least in a religious sense?
 There is no better time than the present to reassess our attitudes toward God’s Word, the church, and its teachings and practices.  Have we, like Esau, been selling our birthright for a “mess of pottage (Heb. 12:16)?”  Are we exchanging the tried and true for the shallow and meaningless?  Then repent.  Look again to Christ, and His love for fallen sinners that brought Him to the cross to atone for our sins.  Understand that the church stands on God’s Word alone, whether or not the culture, or our fallen natures like what it says.  And the liturgies and hymns of worship in the church likewise must be rooted in that Word, and centered on the atonement of Jesus Christ.
As Gene Veith writes in World Magazine: “Christians who want to conserve traditional values might start by conserving their churches.”
God help us to do so, for Jesus’ sake.

Wilken, Todd  “Bible-Believing Liberals”  Issues, Etc. Journal Vol. 4, No. 2
Veith, Gene Edward  “Liberal Conservatives”  World Magazine  July 16, 2005


 “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality . . . then shall come pass the saying that is written: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory’”  1 Corinthians 15:53-54

Here we are now, Post-Easter, having celebrated our Lord’s bodily resurrection from the grave and His victory over death.  This truth had me pondering our own understanding of our physical bodies and how we regard them.  Are they important and, if so, for how long?  Do we understand that these are creations of God and His possessions as well, or do we think that, in the long term, our bodies are ours only to do with them as we see fit?
In his article, “The Gates of Hell and the Table of the Lord,” Pastor Christopher Esget makes this interesting observation: 
“We live in an age that is both obsessed with body image and denies the body has any lasting significance beyond death.  One day the body is honed and toned through exercise and plastic surgery, and the next it is cremated and scattered to the winds.”  He continues: “The Christian view of the body recognizes its value now and calls us to holiness in our bodily actions . . . At the same time, we recognize the great value of the body after death, knowing that God will raise us up again from the dead.”
This is not a criticism of cremation, per se, but about our attitudes concerning the body after death, whether they have been cremated or buried intact.  He rightly observes that all too many have a faulty view of our physical bodies, regarding them as ultimately unimportant in the eternal scheme of things, and something that we use now for our own desires until we shed them at death, after which they are forgotten.  Both views are wrong.  God created and gave us our bodies to be “a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God[.] You are not your own, for you were bought at a price.  Therefore, glorify God in your body (I Cor. 6:19-20).”  We also know that, after death, our souls just don’t go to heaven forever, but to await the resurrection of the body at the Last Day: “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself (Phil. 3:20-21).”
Our bodies are so central in God’s design that 1) He created them in the first place, 2) Provides the means to keep and preserve them, 3) Sent His Son into human flesh and nature to redeem us, body and soul from sin, death and hell, 4) Was Himself bodily raised from the dead, 5) Gives us His true body and blood in Holy Communion for the forgiveness of our sins, 6) Still exists for all eternity with His glorified body, and 7) Has promised to raise and glorify our bodies at the Last Day so that we may be part of the “new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13).”
As such, our bodies are not mere playthings for our carnal desires, divorced from our spiritual life in Christ, nor are they simply something that we will be released from and discard one day.  They are incredible creations of God meant to be eternal.  Sure, sin has corrupted this creation and, as the result of God’s judgment upon sin, we deal with pain, weakness, dissatisfaction with appearance, and the eventual death of our bodies.  But that doesn’t change what God has created them to be.  It just makes us thankful and hopeful that because of Christ’s Incarnation, Life, Death and Resurrection – for us – our bodies will not be dispensed with, but the present effects of sin in our bodies will be one day “be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet . . . and the dead will be raised imperishable (1 Cor. 15:51-52)” to live with Him forever, body and soul, the way we were meant to be.
In the meantime, we can and should glorify God in the manner in which we conduct ourselves with our bodies while alive, and in the ways that we choose to treat our bodies in death, that will reflect our confidence “in the resurrection of the dead and in the life + of the world to come,”through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
“He’s Risen! He’s Risen! Christ Jesus, the Lord!” 



 “If Christ has not been raised from the dead, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins – But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead.”  1 Corinthians 15:17, 20 

At the risk of being an old fuddy duddy, I want to address briefly a problem that some Christians have concerning the resurrection of Christ that, while well meaning and can be properly understood, tends to make the skeptic and unbeliever more convinced that Christians believe in fairy tales.  That problem is sentimental emotionalism or a reliance on one’s feelings to determine truth.
Recently in the Adult Bible Class, we talked about a popular Christian song of a number of years back that has this line: “How do I know that Jesus lives?  He lives within my heart!”  While one can properly understand what the composer means to say, this mushy sentimentalism is no more persuasive about the truth of the Resurrection than the Mormon at your doorstep saying he knows Mormonism is true because he has “a burning in the bosom.”
So, if your assurance of what is true is based on how you feel, what happens if your bosom isn’t burning anymore, or your heart feels empty, sad and discouraged with life?  Does that mean Christ is back in the tomb?  Is the Resurrection no longer true because we feel bad?  Do our feelings about something determine if it is true or not? Does Truth change as our feelings change?
Why do we always put the cart before the horse?  The fact is, our feelings don’t determine Truth; Truth informs our feelings.  The fact that Jesus rose from the dead isn’t because of the testimony of our hearts. We know He rose from the dead because of the testimony of the Holy Scriptures.
Here are some other facts we should come to terms with: The Fact that we are sinners worthy of hell should make us not just feel bad but scare the living daylights out of us.  The Fact that the Son of God had to die on the cross for our sins should make us grief-stricken and sad.  The Fact that Christ was willing to undergo this great suffering and sacrifice to redeem us from sin, death and the power of the devil should fill us with a profound sense of thankfulness and relief.  And the Fact that Christ rose bodily from the dead, never to die again, should fill us with joy and courage, knowing that we will be raised by Him at The Last Day to live with Him forever.
See, feelings do have their place.
One more fact needs to be mentioned that should give us profound feelings of thankfulness: The Fact of the Resurrection is attested to by over 500 witnesses, changed lives, a world changing message, and the promise of the Old and New Testament Scriptures.  Skeptics may laugh and cynics may doubt, but the fact remains that the testimony of the Word of God has survived two thousand years of ridicule, doubt and attempts to undermine its message.  It continues to live and remain, while all those doubters and skeptics of times past are dead.  And those of today will be just as unsuccessful in “putting Jesus back in the tomb.”
Jesus Lives, the Victory’s Won!  And because of that fact, we are filled with joy and hope.
A Blessed and Happy Resurrection Day in Christ! 



“God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

A few years ago, popular author and pastor of Saddleback Church, Rick Warren, wrote the runaway bestseller “The Purpose Driven Life,” and its follow up program, “40 Days of Purpose.”  Its “purpose” was to show Christians how they can find meaning in their lives through a forty day program of spiritual renewal.  Sadly, though many Christians (even some Lutherans) were wild about the book series, its theology was deficient and Law-driven. You have to do certain things for God so that He would “smile upon you” and then do things for you.  The forty day process was meant to help you achieve this.
Though Warren’s theology leaves a lot to be desired, the idea of setting aside forty days for a type of spiritual renewal and “rebooting” has a lot going for it – so much so that the Church has already been doing just that for centuries.  It’s called Lent.
The difference between the forty days of Lent and Rick Warren’s forty days of purpose is the focus.  Lent’s focus is on Jesus Christ, the Savior of sinners, whose path to the cross brought about forgiveness and life for all who believe in Him.  Warren’s focus is on us improving ourselves, and finding out what our purpose in life is, so that God will be responsive to us.
Do you see the difference?  It is truly a difference between Law and Gospel; between condemnation and salvation.  Lent is about God first acting on our behalf, “while we were yet sinners,” to reconcile us to Himself through the life, death and resurrection of Christ.  It is this very Gospel that gives us a life of purpose as His redeemed children living out our vocations in Him.  Warren’s book, on the other hand, is pure Law, telling us that we must first find our purpose in life by living out certain principles, which will then enable us to measure up to God’s expectations.  This will please God so that He will then give His blessings to us.
The sad part is, Warren’s book may initially make us feel good about ourselves, and even convince us that we are on the right path to pleasing God and deserving His blessings.  But it won’t take long for our sinful natures, and the sins we commit, to bring this spiritual house of cards crashing down around us.  We may try harder and harder to live out the 40 Days principles, but we will find less and less comfort and peace in doing so.  Rather than teaching us to love God, this treadmill of the Law in Warren’s book will teach us to hate God instead.

This is why the 40 Days of Lent is so important.  Now we look not at what we are doing for God, but at what He has done for us.  Rather than seeing a harsh taskmaster, we see a loving Father willing to sacrifice everything to redeem us and make us His own.  We see that, even though we have done nothing to deserve His blessings, He gives them richly to us through the atoning death of Jesus Christ, the benefits of which we receive through Word and Sacrament.  Now we can truly begin to love God, because in Christ He first loved us (I John 4:9-10).

So, if you want to embark on 40 days of realpurpose, where all that Jesus has done for you and your salvation are central, then join us in our Lenten observances this year.  Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, March 6th.  Services are at 1:30 and 6:00 pm each Wednesday in Lent.
God bless you!



“So teach us to number our days that we may get a
heart of wisdom” Psalm 90:12

Though the title of this column may sound depressing, and it contains some excerpts from an article written by Martin Luther that may seem, at first glance, shocking or outrageous, we all would do well to consider these things.  We see in the news, and from our own experience, that death comes to young and old alike – sometimes suddenly – and that being properly prepared mentally and spiritually for that day is not a morbid thing but a very good thing.
I will admit initial discomfort at Luther’s comments, which were written during an outbreak of the Bubonic Plague ravaging Germany at the time, with mortality rates in varying regions of 30 – 90%, but under those circumstances one can understand the seriousness and wisdom of what he has to say.  It’s a strong dose of the Law that’s needed also in our day when so many Christians live lives of apathy toward God’s Word until their last moments come and they suddenly (maybe) become concerned about their eternities.  Here writes Luther about how to prepare for death:
First, one must admonish the people to attend church and listen to the sermon so that they learn through God’s Word how to live and how to die.  It must be noted that those who are so uncouth and wicked as to despise God’s Word while they are in good health should be left unattended when they are sick unless they demonstrate their remorse and repentance with great earnestness, tears, and lamentation . . .
Second, everyone should prepare in time and get ready for death by going to confession and taking the sacrament once every week or fortnight.  He should become reconciled with his neighbor and make his will so that if the Lord knocks and he departs before a pastor or chaplain can arrive, he has provided for his soul, has left nothing undone, and has committed himself to God.  When there are many fatalities and only two or three pastors on duty, it is impossible to visit everyone, to give instruction, and to teach each one what a Christian ought to know in the anguish of death. Those who have been careless and negligent in these matters must account for themselves.  That is their own fault.  After all, we cannot set up a private pulpit and altar daily at their bedside simply because they have despised the public pulpit and altar to which God has summoned and called them.
Third, if someone wants the chaplain or pastor to come, let the sick person send word in time to call him and let him do so early enough while he is still in his right mind before the illness overwhelms the patient.

Obviously, pastors will want to minister to the dying, if possible.  And certainly, the Holy Spirit can bring a person to a living faith even in the “eleventh hour.”  But Luther’s point is that the one who during his life has been careless and neglectful of God’s Gifts through the Church may, at the most critical time when death approaches, not have a pastor available to minister to them, or be in a condition to receive those Gifts if a pastor is present.  Then their carelessness and neglect of God’s Word in this life, and their lack of preparedness for the hour of death is on their own heads.
The task of ministering to the dying is much easier when that person has demonstrated an active faith beforehand.  And, should that person die before a pastor can come to them, he will still enter into Eternal Life through his faith in Christ, the promises of God given to him in Baptism, and having been nurtured and sustained by Word and Supper in this life.

“Teach me to live that I may dread The grave
as little as my bed.

Teach me to die that so I may
Rise glorious at the awe-full day. 
LSB #883 vs. 3

God’s blessings in Christ our Redeemer.


“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”   Psalm 90:12

    What is it about starting a new year that so catches people’s imaginations?  Other than turning the pages of a calendar, nothing really changes from December 31st to January 1st.  We’re still the same people we always were, so, what’s the big deal?
            Perhaps it boils down to everyone’s need to “clean the slate,” make a new start and have a renewed sense of hope for the future. By saying goodbye to the past year, we are mentally putting to rest our past failings or disappointments and looking to the future with the prayer that things will be better - that wewill be better.  Each new year serves as a mile-marker on life’s road, with new experiences, new sights, new opportunities.  It also serves to remind us that we’re one year closer to our eternal “destination.”
            How are you approaching your destination?  Which road are you taking; the wide road that leads to destruction, or the narrow road that leads to eternal life?  It’s not your failings or triumphs, joys or sorrows, hopes or disappointments that determine your destination.  Rather, it’s in Whom you put your trust that does.
            If you’ve been living for and trusting in yourself, then no matter how much success you’ve had, you will end up forever lost. But by trusting in the One who was born for you in Bethlehem, laid down His life for you on the cross, and rose again victoriously from the grave -- Jesus Christ -- then no matter how many disappointments and failures you’ve had, you will still reach your heavenly home rejoicing in God’s love and mercy forever.  Through the precious Gospel of Christ, God will work in, and through the joys and sorrows of your life, giving you the strength to deal with them and bringing about the changes that He desires for you.
            So, as we begin a new year, among the different resolutions you make and the hopes and dreams you may have, resolve this year (and stick to it) to grow closer to your Savior through regular participation in Word and Sacrament.  Then, living daily in thankfulness for His love and forgiveness, look for ways to make a positive difference in the lives of those around you.
            Though your life may not turn out exactly the way you had hoped, with Christ you will always end up at the right place.
            God’s blessings for a happy and prosperous New Year!
“O God, our Help in ages past, our hope for years to come; our shelter from the stormy blast and our eternal home.”    LSB #733 vs. 1



“Thanks be to God for His indescribable Gift.”  
II Corinthians 9:15

Wow!  I know I must be getting old, because I can’t think of what the latest toy craze is this year that’s driving parents to dementia in order to obtain them for their kids.  But if this year is anything like past years (and if the recent “Black Friday” riots are any indication), parents are already getting jittery and flooding the stores hoping to get for their kids whatever the popular, “must-have” toys are before the supply dries up.  Likely, we’ll be reading about fist-fights and all sorts of mayhem.  Yep (Everybody Sing!), It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
I know that sounds terribly cynical, but every year we are treated to the absolutely idiotic behavior of many parents who will do anything (literally!) to get these things for their little darlings. Beanie Babies, Tickle Me, Elmo, Transformers, Pokemon.  Each year a new craze; each year new levels of absurdity.  The list goes on and on.  And, of course, we will be treated to smirking news anchors reporting on the crazed or violent behavior of people who must have these things at any cost.
It’s ironic that my generation (the Baby Boomers), who marched in the streets and took over college campuses decrying the materialism of their parents have become such gross materialists themselves, doing things for gain that their “materialistic” parents would never have dreamt of.  And the Millennials are following suit. What has happened to Christmas?
I guess it’s all a matter of focus.  In many areas of life, we are so selfishly intent on our own pursuits and gain that we have little time for people or for God. Reflection, prayer, nurture and human contact have been replaced by video games, Facebook, Twitter, home theater systems, surfing the internet and all the other things that isolate us from each other.  Many prefer chatting for hours with strangers on the Internet while completely ignoring those who are closest to them.  So, if it will make my little Johnny happy (and get him off my back so I can do what I want to do), I’ll get him the latest fad thing that he must have to keep his life from being unfulfilled.
If you’ve read this far, you may be thinking Pastor Scrooge is really practicing on his “Bah, Humbug!”   No, I’m not being a Scrooge, here, but let’s think about Scrooge.  He had everything but was a bitter, empty man whose life would end as empty and bitter as it was lived.  Only by seeing how little his money mattered did he finally see how important people were and his life gained meaning.
Christmas is about God sending His beloved Son into the world as a baby born to Mary.  He did not come as an earthly King with all the glitter and glory that entailed, but as the child born in a manger who would grow up to not even have a home of His own.  He suffered poverty and disdain and eventual crucifixion for us.  He didn’t do this to give us a holiday of frenzied, shopping madness, but to save us from sin, death and hell.  It is through His life death and resurrection that our sins have been forgiven and our lives can be changed.  He is the absolute proof of God’s love and mercy for those who are lost and condemned creatures.  He is the reason why we have Christmas in the first place.
Beanie Babies, Pokemon, Cabbage Patch Kids, Elmo and all the rest will quickly fade away.  They won’t matter at all in the long run.  Your life, or your child’s life won’t be one bit less affected (other than a temporary disappointment – you’ll get over it) if you don’t get these things.  What matters is not the latest marketing gimmick on sale in stores everywhere, but in giving to your children, and possessing for yourself the greatest gift of all, the gift that never grows old or outdated – Jesus.  If we have Him, we really do have everything we need for Christmas and for Life.
God’s blessings and . . . Merry Christmas!



“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”  Colossians 3:3 

Late fall can be a melancholy time, bittersweet in many ways. Though the colors of both land and sky 
are the most glorious of the year, and the smell of wood smoke and the chill in the air can be 
bracing, fall is still a harbinger of winter.  The shortening of days, the lengthening of shadows and the 
dreary, overcast days and patter of chill rain are reminders of things passing away.  For many of us, 
the question, “Where did the year go?” turns into “Where did my life go?”  The spring of childhood, 
and the summer of youth have given way to the fall and winter of middle and old age.  “Where did
my life go?”
But, as the passing of seasons also marks the passing of life, each has its own particular joys 
and pursuits. While spring, summer, and fall are times of busyness and activity, winter can be a time 
of growth and reflection.  A time of settling down and considering “the one thing needful that will never 
be taken away (Luke 10:42).”  Where have our lives gone?  They are “hidden with Christ in God.”
For the one in Christ, each passing day brings opportunities to live and grow in the love and mercy of 
Christ.  Each passing day brings us chances to serve God by praying for, and helping others.  Each 
passing day also brings us closer to our eternal home.  While we may grieve our loss of youth, we can 
still rejoice that at that Last Day “our bodies will be made like His glorious body, by the power that 
enables Him to subdue all things to Himself (Philippians 3:21).”
A great way to keep all of this in perspective is to connect the passing of the seasons with the passing 
of the Church Year.  Advent and Christmas, which occur in early winter, focuses our attention on God 
sending His Son into our flesh as our Redeemer from sin, death and the power of the devil. Midwinter 
sees the Epiphany season, where this Savior, born of the Jews, is the Savior of the gentiles as well.  In 
the darkest time of the year, Epiphany celebrates that “Jesus Christ is the Light of the world; a Light no 
darkness can extinguish.” Late winter begins the Lenten season, where Christ, out of love for us all, 
travels to Jerusalem and the cross to accomplish His work of atonement for the sins of all mankind that, 
in Him, we might have life.  Early spring is also the time of Easter.  As winter must give way to spring, 
so death gives way to Christ’s bodily resurrection, which makes possible our resurrection, as well. 
Then, in late spring, the Pentecost season begins, which first commemorates the sending of the Holy Spirit 
to Christ’s followers, empowering them (and us, too!) in faith and life to live for Him.  Summer and fall is 
the general season of the Church Year, where we follow Christ’s life, works and words, all for us and for our 
salvation.  And as fall deepens toward winter, we move to the last Sunday of the Church Year, the Sunday 
of the Fulfillment. As the seasons pass; as this world passes away, our attention is drawn to the return of 
Christ, the end of all things in this fallen and sinful universe, and the promise of all things being made new.
So, you see: just as each season of the year has its own glories and challenges; and as each season of our 
lives do as well, marking the time through the Church Year keeps everything in perspective. Thus, our 
focus will not be on what we are losing, but on what has been gained for us through our Savior Jesus Christ.  
      While the changing of the seasons may give us melancholy moments as we see our own lives tick by, 
we can confidently and joyfully know that as winter must inevitably turn into spring once more, so the 
winter of our lives, which are already “hidden with Christ in God” will inevitably pass away into the 
eternal spring of “the resurrection of the dead and the life + of the world to come.”  Amen!
God’s blessings in Christ, whatever season we are in!


“A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or wrong in connection with any offense that has been committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.”  Deuteronomy 19:15 

The current circus in Washington D.C. surrounding the confirmation hearings of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court raises interesting, but troubling questions. Can a person’s entire career and reputation be destroyed by a single allegation from an event that allegedly took place decades before?  Is it the job of the one being accused to prove his innocence, or is it the job of the accuser to provide evidence for the guilt of the accused?  Should one’s sex automatically presume the truthfulness or guilt of an individual?
In former times where logic and sanity prevailed, these answers would be self-evident: One accuser with scant evidence would not be acceptable; One’s innocence is presumed until proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” is presented; and One’s sex, male or female, was not an automatic indicator of one’s truthfulness, guilt or innocence.  But in this era of “#MeToo,” which originally rightly gave sexually abused women (and some men) a platform to confront their abusers and receive justice, we have now come to the point that all women’s accusations against men are to be believed, even without proof just because they say it is so, and that all men are automatically presumed guilty of whatever accusations are leveled against them by women.  Rather than looking at actual evidence of wrongdoing, we are just supposed to accept and believe “the pain” that a woman claims to be suffering from alleged abuse.
Even what constitutes abuse has changed.  Now, instead of actual rape, or other sexually aggressive conduct, abuse can consist of what would have been considered in the past by both men and women the normal interplay and flirtations between the sexes.  Even that old song you hear on the radio during the Christmas Season, “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” has been declared by some as fostering “Rape Culture.”
We have come through fifty years of the so-called “Sexual Liberation” movement, where it was no one else’s business whom you have sex with, and graphic sexuality is portrayed in media and entertainment as being one’s “Right” to engage in.  But without clear boundaries and definitions of right and wrong, the political Left has entered into a “New Puritanism” regarding sex, clearly tipped in favor of women.  A woman today can have “consensual sex” with a man one evening and, if she has regrets the next day, or finds she wasn’t satisfied with the encounter can accuse the man of sexually assaulting or raping her, and the prevailing opinion in culture is she must be believed and the man must be guilty.  (NOTE: Is it any wonder why God created marriage as the place where sex is to occur in a healthy and holy bond between oneman and onewoman, and gave us the 6thCommandment to protect Marriage and Sexuality?)
So, what does all of this have to do with Judge Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court hearing?  We have what appears to be an imminently qualified man who is vehemently opposed by those in the opposite political party because he’s conservative in his approach to the Constitution now being accused in the 11th hour by a woman who claims he sexually attacked her at a drinking party when he was seventeen.  Details of Who, What, When, and Where are extremely fuzzy, and she has no witnesses to back her up.  She may or may not testify under oath, and her handlers are trying every trick possible to delay her testimony.  The Judge’s reputation is being destroyed, his career possibly being ended and his family in utter 
turmoil because of one woman’s uncertain recollection – or, maybe, one political party’s desire for power and revenge.  (NOTE: Is it any wonder God gave us the 8thCommandment to protect people from this kind of unjust destruction of their reputations?)
While, as of yet, we have no idea of whether or not the Judge did this thing so long ago, or if his accuser is suffering from faulty recollection, mental or emotional issues or is just a shill being used to torpedo a man’s career, God knows. He knows the guilt of all of us who are lawbreakers, even if the world never finds out what we have done.  He knows the political maneuverings and motivations of all politicians.  He knows the secret sins of our hearts that leave us condemned before the One who “will come to judge the living and the dead.”  And His accusations against us are true, to the point, accurate, and damning.
But where accusations are being leveled against Judge Kavanaugh to destroy him, God confronts us with our sins to keep us from being destroyed.  He even provides an “Escape Clause” for us through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Not that we are not guilty, but Christ bore that guilt upon Himself in our place.  It is because of Christ that God forgives us and does not hold us eternally accountable to our eventual destruction.  It is a truly remarkable mercy and love that would do this for us, and calls us in thankfulness to do the same for others.
While the woman making these accusations against Judge Kavanaugh should be heard, she should not be automatically believed just because she is a woman. Let her testify before the Senate Committee and present witnesses and evidence to her charges.  If they are true, Kavanaugh should not be on the Supreme Court.  If she does not testify, or if she cannot produce evidence and witnesses to back up her accusations, then the Senate needs to vote to confirm Kavanaugh as the next Supreme Court Justice.
Remember, if we forsake The Rule of Law as first laid down in Deuteronomy, and codified in the laws of this Country; if we unquestioningly allow baseless charges to be brought, and punishments leveled against people without witnesses and evidence based solely on the sex of the individuals involved, then we will sink into chaos and Totalitarianism and will lose the freedoms and rights that we have so taken for granted for more than two hundred years.
And make no mistake: If they can do this to Judge Kavanaugh, they can do it to you.
God bless you,
Pastor Lueke


 “These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”   John 20:31 

Two phrases: “What does this mean?” and “This is most certainly true” are well known to Lutherans.  They are found in Luther’s Small Catechism and, with the answers that come before or follow each phrase, help us understand the teachings of God’s Word, especially as it relates to Christ and His grace.
September is the time that our Christian Education programs gear up again after relaxing a bit for the summer.  Fifth through eighth graders are involved in Pre-catechism and Catechism classes, Sunday School for children and adults is again in full swing, and other Bible classes throughout the week are once more being offered.
So, what does this mean?  Well, it is God’s Word that the Holy Spirit uses to bring us to faith and salvation in Christ, and sustain and strengthen that faith as we live out our lives.  God commands (yes, commands) His Christians to study that Word for themselves and teach it to their children. Those who “despise preaching and His Word” sin against the 3rdCommandment and place themselves in very real spiritual danger.  The importance of each one of us being in the Word cannot be overstated.
Also, in an age that is increasingly hostile to Christianity, while at the same time Christians are less knowledgeable about what the Scriptures teach, the last thing the Church needs to do is “dumb-down” its educational curriculum and shrink back from offering as many opportunities as possible for people to have access to “read, mark, learn and inwardly digest” that Word of Life.  Who knows how long we have before the freedom to hear, read and learn God’s Word will be no more.
And remember: Even apart from all the dire things I spoke of above, by being a lifelong student of the Bible, you get to know Jesus better.  I want to challenge you to become more firmly anchored in the grace and forgiveness and hope He gives through regular church attendance and Bible study.  The Holy Spirit, through that very Word, and the Sacraments received in church, continues to develop you in Christ’s image as His life is lived out through you.
This is most certainly true.
God bless you,
Pastor Lueke


“Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit.’”  Luke 23:46

           Back in the 1960’s, the popular trend on college campuses was the “God is Dead” movement, which was based on the atheistic philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche.  God was considered “irrelevant,” therefore, he was dead to modern man.  A few years later, when I was in seminary, someone had written in the bathroom stall: “’God is dead.’ Signed, Nietzsche.”  Then, written next to it: “’Nietzsche is dead.’ Signed, God.”  I know: Seminarians are nerds.  But that does bring up some interesting questions: Can God die?  Did God die?  What is death?
           Let’s take the last question first: Death is not an end to our existence.  It is the separation of the soul from the body.  The body “returns to the dust,” yet the soul continues on, with God or apart from God, awaiting the resurrection of the body at the Last Day.  The person does not cease to exist simply because the body ceases to live.  God created us body and soul to live forever.  Sin brings the judgment of death, yet Grace brings the judgment of resurrection and life out of death.
           Now for the first question:  Can God die?  Before the Incarnation, the answer would be “No.”  Remember, death is not the end of existence, but the separation of the soul from the body.  Since “God is a spirit,” He had no body to be separated from, thus God could not die – before the Incarnation.
           Finally, the second question: Did God die?  Let me answer that question with a question.  Who is Jesus Christ?  In the words of Martin Luther, He is “true God, begotten of the Father from all eternity, and also true Man, born of the virgin Mary.”  Here you have the 2nd Person of the Trinity, God the Son, becoming also a human being with a human body and soul.  Since God and Man are united in the person of Jesus, it wasn’t only Jesus the Man hanging on the cross, it was Jesus, the God-Man.  You cannot separate the Two Natures of Christ, so when Jesus died, God the Son died – not a cessation of existence, but the experience of the separation of soul and body in death.  So, with the Incarnation of Christ, God could, and did die.  He died, not because of His sins, but because of ours.
           Only a man can be under the Law of God and die; only God can make atonement for sins and conquer death.  Jesus was both and did both.  While we may wonder at this great mystery, let us also rejoice that through such great love for us, we have eternal life in Him, and death itself has been swallowed up in victory.

O sorrow dread!  Our God is dead, Upon the cross extended.
There His love enlivened us As His life was ended.
“O Darkest Woe”  LSB #448, vs. 2

           God bless you in our crucified and resurrected God, Jesus Christ!