LWML Midcoast Zone Fall Workshop, Oct. 5, 2013

The LWML of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Palacios, Texas invites you and your guests to the Mid-Coast Zone Fall Workshop to be held at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, 1206 4th Street, Palacios, TX on Saturday, October 5, 2013.

The speakers will be:  Lydia LeBlanc, a senior student at Concordia Austin. She will present, “Lutheran Women:  Grounded in Theology & Moving in Mercy” and  Earl Hudson, a representative of Bread of Life whose mission it is to provide free meals to anyone who needs one in Palacios and the surrounding areas.

Sermon for September 15, 2013

Sermon for Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Sept. 15, 2013

St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wallis, Texas

Sermon Text:  Luke 15:1-10

Sermon Theme:  “Lost and Found”

(Sources:  Emphasis online Commentary; Emphasis online Illustrations; personal examples and original ideas; Brokhof, Series C, Preaching Workbook)

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


Most of you have been lost at one time or other in your life, I’m sure.  It’s a terrible feeling!  Growing up with a perceptual problem that is probably a mild form of dyslexia, I have always had trouble with directions and not knowing whether I should turn right or left.  When I was seven years old, I got so lost I thought I’d never see another human being ever again.

My parents, my aunts and uncles, and my brother and I were fishing in the deep woods in Dime Box.  We were fishing in groups at several locations on this endless creek, and I left my parents’ group to go join one of my uncle’s group.  Rather than follow the winding creek, I took a short cut to save time.  Well, it was the long cut, because I soon found myself in a strange part of the woods, far from any branch of the creek.  No one answered when I hollered for help, because I was too far away for my voice to carry.  Keep in mind there were no cell phones in those days. Continue reading

Sermon for September 1, 2013

Sermon for Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Sept. 1, 2013

St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wallis, Texas

Sermon Text:  Hebrews 13:1-8

Sermon Theme:  “The Same Yesterday and Today and Forever”

(Sources:  Brokhof, Series C, Workbook; Emphasis Online Illustrations; original ideas; Concordia Journal, Summer 2013; Concordia Pulpit Resources, Vol. 23, Part 4, Series C.)

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

 I like the story told by the Krammers son.  When they got home from Church and Sunday School one Sunday, the dad asked Junior what he had learned in Sunday School that morning.

“Well, the boy said with excitement, Mrs. Fitzpatrick told us the story from Exodus about how the Israelites came to the Red Sea!   He paused for a moment and continued, The Hebrews pumped up their inflatable boats so they could escape from the soldiers of the Pharaoh.”

Dad, with a quizzical look, asked Junior if this was really how the teacher told the story in the class.  To which the boy replied, “If I told it the way she did, you would never believe it!

Continue reading

Sermon for August 25, 2013

Sermon for Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Aug. 25, 2013

Proper 16, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wallis, Texas

Sermon Text:  Luke 13:22-30

Sermon Theme:   “Enter Through the Narrow Door!”

(Sources:  Brokhof, Series C, Workbook; Emphasis Online Illustrations; original ideas)


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


Several years ago, people in a town along the Texas Gulf Coast were warned of an approaching hurricane and told to leave their homes and the locality.  Most people believed the weather bureau, and, on their advice, left the area.  Others, however, refused to heed the warnings and decided to remain.  Among those who refused to leave were two groups of people.

One group simply made light of the warnings and prepared a big party with eating, drinking, and entertainment, pretending like nothing was happening.  The other group recognized the danger but felt God would protect them if they prayed, so they gathered in their local church to demonstrate their faith in the power of  prayer.  The hurricane hit the town with a tremendous force and both groups perished!

In our sermon text for today, Jesus exhorts us to have the narrow-door type of faith; otherwise, He doesn’t know where we are coming from.  Sometimes our views on faith are distorted.  We must realize that our faith can be strengthened by the knowledge and intelligence of others.  Yes, the knowledge and intelligence of others.

Continue reading

Sermon for August 18, 2013

Sermon for Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Aug. 18, 2013

St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wallis, Texas

Sermon Text:  Jeremiah 23:23-29

Sermon Theme:  “The Fire and the Hammer”

(Sources:  Emphasis online Illustrations; Brokhof, Series C, Workbook; original ideas; “His Powerful Word” – Hammer and Fire  by Edward Frey.)

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

 Many years ago, a little friend of one of my daughters was standing in the middle of the living room, holding his hands over his eyes.  “What are you doing?” I asked.

“I’m hiding,” he told me with great conviction.

“But I can see you,” I said firmly.

“You can?”  he asked with a cry of disappointment.

Continue reading

Sermon for Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, August 4, 2013

Sermon for Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, August 4, 2013

St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wallis, Texas

Sermon Text:  Luke 12:13-21

Sermon Theme:  “Too Much Stuff!”


(Sources:  Brokhof, Series C, Workbook; Emphasis online Commentary; Emphasis online Illustrations; personal examples)

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

 Due to a plumbing problem, our house was flooded over three months ago.  We still have not had needed repairs made, nor any of the ruined flooring replaced.  Why?  Because we have too much stuff!  We are in the process of giving or throwing away half of it and finding storage space for the rest.  Continue reading

Sermon for July 14, 2013

Sermon for Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, July 14, 2013

St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wallis, Texas

Sermon Text:  Luke 10:25-37

Sermon Theme:  The Good Samaritan Revisited

(Sources:  Emphasis online commentary; Emphasis online Illustrations;  original idea; Brokhof, Series C, Preaching Workbook)


The ancient story of the Good Samaritan has been one of the most important parables in the history of Christian witnessing, but the sad thing is the world has grown even colder since the days of the Good Samaritan.  The victim was robbed and left half dead on a well-traveled road.  In Today’s world, he would be mugged on a busy freeway in front of people who wouldn’t help, and shot to death as a final gesture.  Back then, two out of three people wouldn’t stop to help him.  Nowadays, no one would stop to help him.

If you follow the picture that history paints, you will find that levels of cold-heartedness and indifference increased each century.  Makes you wonder where Christians were hiding out during those centuries; they weren’t hiding out, they were just part of the status quo, — many of them anyway.

Cold-heartedness and indifference were not just American traits, you found them everywhere – France, Germany, England – throughout history.  Napoleon Bonaparte himself was a cold-hearted, selfish little man.  Once when his army was severely wiped out by the enemy, he surveyed the carnage on the battlefield after the battle.  As he walked about the field littered with bodies, he would nudge the bodies of his dead soldiers with his boot, saying, “Small change, small change.”

There was a huge influx of German Lutheran immigrants into Texas during the 1840’s, 1850’s, and 1870’s.  Churches like this one and my home church were founded by descendants of those immigrants.  As these immigrants made their way by ox cart from Galveston to find a place to settle farther inland, they were poor, hungry and with a minimum of belongings.  They found that the “Americans” already settled in Texas (that is, the English-Americans and the Spanish-Americans) would not give them food or lodging.  Only if they were lucky enough to find other Germans already settled would they be blessed with food or shelter.  Only German Lutherans helped German Lutherans.

The thing is, coldness and harshness bred coldness and harshness.  Just as in Jesus’ day, ethnic groups shunned, avoided and mistreated other ethnic groups.  That is why the story of the Good Samaritan is so extraordinary, and why Jesus told it.  In today’s world, to the Jew, the Samaritan would have been like a black Muslim, — different race, different religion, different ethnicity.  A pious Jew would neither speak to, congregate with, nor touch a Samaritan.

Yet, the only one of the travelers on the road between Jericho and Jerusalem who was willing to help the victim of a vicious robbery and mugging was a Samaritan.  The half dead man was a Jew.  The Levite and the priest, who, like the wounded man, were Jews, came upon the near dead man, who was one of their own, and what did they do? – they walked around him on the other side of the road.  This is doubly bad, because both the Levite and the Priest were religious leaders (Levites were like assistants to the priests), and as religious leaders, they should set an example of sanctification for the people.

In terms of today, this would be like a pastor and an elder making a special effort to walking and ignore the wounded man.  The Samaritan, who was not a true believer, out of some compassion deep within him, lived out the very thing Jesus preached.  So who really had the Spirit of God living within themselves?  Jesus commands us to love our neighbor.

The common view of a neighbor is one who lives close to you in a spatial neighborhood.  In today’s world this is not necessarily the case.  Many do not know even the name of the family who lives in the apartment down the hall, nor the couple living in the adjoining townhouse.

Using this definition of “neighbor” the lawyer in our sermon text was sure he was exempt from the law to love your neighbor.  In the parable, Jesus gives a new understanding of a neighbor; he is one who is in need of your assistance given out of love.

The neighbor is one standing in need of help, It does not matter if he is Jew or Gentile, in the
house next door or in Rhodesia, black or white, Christian or Muslim or Buddhist.  According to this understanding of a neighbor, the church has an obligation out of love to be concerned about social problems and to take social action.  Indeed, a good neighbor is one who has compassion for hurt people.

This is highly significant for us, because so many church people want to restrict their help and their charity to their own church or to their own community.  But that would not be in keeping with what Jesus is saying in this text.  One year the mother of a needy family came to me and wanted to know if my church had a food pantry.  I said no, but that there was a food pantry in Sealy, to which she replied that she was sure they wouldn’t give her any food because she lived in Wallis and not Sealy.  I replied that if they were Christians it wouldn’t matter where you were from.

Of course, at the same time, I felt a deep sense of guilt that our church did not have a food pantry for needy families.

Pastor Clarke tells the story of a young woman and her three children who came to the food pantry of his church.  She waited at the door for a long time, letting all the other needy people go ahead of her.  Finally, when everyone else had gotten their food, she and her three little daughters came forward; it was obvious that she was very embarrassed to be in the situation of begging for food.  The cheerful helpers at the food pantry were very loving and kind and gathered together three or four bags of food for her, treating the woman and her children like family.   They tried to find some of the little girls’ favorite foods.

When the woman and her children started to leave, the mother paused, looked back, a tear running down her cheek and said, “You…you… people here are like Jesus.  I always knew that He was real, but nobody ever showed Him to me before today.”

Who is the needy Samaritan in your life?  The painter Rothenstein once said,  “It is in the atmosphere of poetry and among men of large vision and magnanimous natures that I have been most happy and comfortable.  How delightful is the company of generous people, who overlook trifles and keep their minds instinctively fixed on whatever is good and positive in the world about them.

“People of small caliber are always carping.  They are bent on showing their own superiority, their knowledge or their prowess or good breeding.  But magnanimous people have no vanity, they have no jealousy, they have no reserves, and they feed on the true and the solid wherever they find it.  And what is more, they find it everywhere.”  Amen.

Sermon for July 7, 2013

Sermon for Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, July 7, 2013

St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wallis, Texas

Sermon Text:  Galatians 6:1-10, 14-18

Sermon Theme:  “The Laws of Christ Differ from the Laws of Moses”

(Sources:  Emphasis online Illustrations; Concordia Journal, Spring 2013; Believer’s Commentary; original ideas)


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


It seems like just the other day that a couple of young friends and I planted a spring garden together.  For weeks, it produced wonderful cucumbers and beans and squash, and now it’s gone.  Not everything planted came up and made.

When it comes to planting seed, certified seed, though more expensive, is the way to go.  Certified seed has the following benefits:  it is pure seed, meaning a very high percentage of the seeds will be of the variety you wish to sow; there is a low percentage or zero percent of other crop seed present in the seed.  It contains very little inert material (sand, twigs, chaff); there is little or no weed seeds present; and the germination rate is high.

In our garden business arrangement, one of my jobs was to purchase the seed.  At first I bought high quality certified seed or baby plants, but then a day or so later that wasn’t convenient, so I bought cheap dollar store seed.  Some of the cheaper seed didn’t even come up.

Considering that the cost of using certified seed constitutes only one and a half percent to two percent of total crop production, it is well worth the price.  Expert gardeners will tell you that using such seed reduces the costs of herbicides; the crop produced is generally hardier and better able to withstand changes in the growing season; and the harvest generally produces a better quality vegetable.

The past few months, I learned that it pays to use certified seed, or you reap what you sow.

That just happens to be one of the three laws of life, or “laws of Christ,” Paul talks about in our sermon text from Galatians.  In the text, he says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Now the “law of Christ” includes all the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ for us that are found in the New Testament.  It is summed up by the commandment in John 13:14, that we love one another.  We fulfill this commandment when we bear one another’s burdens.

The law of Christ is far different from the law of Moses.  Moses’ law promised us life for obedience, but gave us no power or ability to obey, and could only encourage obedience by fear of punishment.  The law of Christ, on the other hand, is loving instruction for those who already have life.  With the law of Christ, believers are enabled to keep its precepts by the power of the Holy Spirit, and the motivation for believers is love of and loyalty to Christ.

These laws of Christ are not for the purpose of earning God’s approval, no, they serve as guidelines for those who love and want to please God.  These laws of Christ are the laws of life, and they are threefold:

One, you reap what you sow.  Two, we are to bear the burdens of each other.  And three, we are to glory in the Cross, not in self.  Let’s look at each one.

No doubt every one of you in here today could come up with an example of reaping what you sow.  But the New York Times published the most bizarre example of this I think I’ve ever seen or read about.

A nineteen year old young man named Grant kept a pet python in his apartment.  To have such a pet as this, he knew everything there was to know about pythons and how to care for them.  Although he knew how much food the python needed every day, Grant refused to feed him enough, feeding him only one chicken per week.  For a large python, that’s a starvation diet.  One day, the 19 year old man was found by his neighbor, crushed to death by the snake.  Authorities speculated that either the young man forgot to wash the smell of chicken off his hands after feeding him, or the python was unhappy about his meager diet and decided to try for something bigger.  A hungry python can move at incredible speed.

If you are going to live with a python, you’d better be prepared to feed it well.  We reap what we sow.

The second law of life, or law of Christ, is that we are to bear the burdens of each other.  You may wonder how far we are to go with this.  It’s a fact that many non-Christians look upon the loving kindness and the caring hearts of Christians as weaknesses to be exploited for their own gain.

Pastor Derl Keefer tells that even as a youth, he was a kind and caring Christian who was always doing good deeds and helping others, something that caused him to be called names by his worldly friends.  He said even as a teenager he was called “preacher,” “Deacon,” Billy Graham, Jr., “Goody Two Shoes,” “Holy Roly Poly,” and some other names we don’t want to mention in church.

Keefer said he just wanted to be good.  To be ridiculed for being good was hard for a teenager to take.  Goodness was not something that came natural to anyone; even Keefer had to struggle to be good.  He didn’t feel holier than anyone else, as he knew how hard it was to be a good person, to do good works and to help others.  But he was taught that we must deny ourselves, that is, from evil motives, take up our cross, that is take on good motives, and follow the laws of Christ.  And he understood, as we must, that it is only through God’s grace and his transforming goodness though the work of the Holy Spirit that makes us good people.  Left to ourselves, we can do nothing.

It’s no easy task to bear one another’s burdens in the first place, and then to be ridiculed for doing so makes it even harder.  Yet our very purpose for being in this world is to love and obey the laws of Christ.

The third law of Christ is that we are to glory in the Cross, not in self.  Yet we are living in a self-centered, self-indulgent, self-loving, self-seeking, self-serving, narcissistic-driven society.

You know the Greek legend of Narcissus, don’t you?   Narcissus was the beautiful son of a river god and a nymph, who one day saw his own reflection in a pond, and was so taken by his own beauty that he fell in love with himself.  One version of the story says he pined away for himself and died of a broken heart; another version says he fell in the pond admiring his own beauty and drowned.

In any case, he is a symbol of self-love, and in many ways a symbol of the people living in today’s world.

Today’s youth spend a fortune on buying the right style of jeans, the most “in” T-shirts, famous brand shoes, and hours making sure their hair has just the right look, the zits are gone and there’s nothing dorky about any aspect of their being.  They are so worried about what other people are going to think of them.  And like my mother-in-law used to say, “The truth of the matter is other people don’t think about you at all, because they are too busy thinking about themselves.”

Adults are no better; they too are much more focused on themselves than on Christ.  Many adults are far too concerned about status and keeping up with the Jonses than they are with salvation and keeping up with Jesus.  It is our nature to want to glory in self, — even Jesus’ disciples wanted to be his number one and two men.  It is not our nature to want to glory in the Cross, so the thought of sacrificing for others is repugnant.  Instead, we like to glory in our own accomplishments and the accomplishments of our kids.

Yet Paul says in the text, “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”  Jesus says in Matthew 16:24, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Let’s face it, — none of us are willing to deny ourselves and sacrifice for others any more than young people are.  But with Christ and the Holy Spirit living in our hearts, we are enabled to do the impossible.  So then, as Paul says, “let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.  So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”  Amen.