God is My Hero

Pastor Paul Waldschmidt delivers a sermon entitled “God is My Hero” based on Luke 1:26-38 at Peace Lutheran Church in Hartford, Wisconsin.

Delivered: Sunday,  December 3, 2017

Advent is the time of year when we talk a lot about name meanings. Because knowing that, for example, the name Jesus, literally means “Savior” or Immanuel means “God with us”, knowing that adds supplemental wonder to the already wonderful Christmas story, God becoming man to save man. You probably knew the meaning of those names already. But you might not know the meaning of the name Gabriel, the angel who plays a prominent role in our text for this morning on the First Sunday of the Advent season. Gabriel is the combination of two Hebrew words–gibor which means mighty warrior or hero and el which means God.  So Gabriel’s name literally means “God is my hero.”

The Biblical moniker doesn’t always fit the Biblical personality, of course. King Zedekiah, for example, whose name means “The Lord is my righteousness” was one of the smarmiest fellas to ever sit on the throne as king of Israel, and that’s saying a lot.  But in the case of Gabriel, the name fits. God is my hero. Today we’ll say the same.

Even though Gabriel is technically the focus of our Sunday service, we should be clear right off the bat. He’s not the hero. God is the hero. God is my hero.  How Gabriel fits in becomes evident right off the bat in our text. In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth.”  He’s the messenger. Just like the angels in the sky outside of Bethlehem that first Christmas, just like the angels at the tomb on Easter Sunday morning, Gabriel was the messenger, not the hero. He came to tell someone what the hero was doing.

The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Think about that for a second. The one who stands in the presence of God comes and tells Mary that she’s the one who is highly favored! Isn’t that what God’s messengers say to us every Sunday? They’re like Gabriel in this regard—they’re messengers, sent to us to point us to what the hero is doing now. So they stand before God’s people and they say, “Greetings, you who are highly favored, the Lord is with you.”

Only problem is, we might come here wondering if either one of those statements is actually true. We might come here wondering if we are truly highly favored and if the Lord truly is with us. Because honestly, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Why should he favor me, we might ask? Why should he favor us when he sees all that goes on in our homes, in our minds and in our lives? Why should he favor us when he knows the cringeworthy words that have come from our mouth, the stomach turning sights our eyes have seen, the unseemly places our feet have stood?  We might well ask, “Why would he favor me when he should be repulsed by me? Why would the Lord be with me….shouldn’t he be running to get as far away from me as possible?”

But that’s the thing about heroes. Being a hero isn’t about doing an extensive evaluation and then saving people who are most likable, deserving or somehow worthy of saving. Being a hero is about saving people who need you, people who would be lost with you, people who absolutely cannot save themselves.

Just like Gabriel did long ago, just like Pastor Steinbrenner did last week and Pastor Husby will do next week, today I have the privilege to stand up here and say to you, though world weary and weighed down by sin, Greetings, you who are highly favored. The Lord is with you. Not because of something you have done, but because of something God has done. Remember, God’s the star of this show. A hero comes not to the people who deserve it, but to the people who need saving. People like you and me. That’s why God is my hero.

Showing up is half the battle. But it is only half the battle. But a hero doesn’t just show up on the scene. A hero also does the things necessary to save people. That was part of Gabriel’s message, too. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

You might think, “That all sounds very royal, and impressive, but it ain’t particularly heroic, per se.” Fair enough, but think about what Jesus did so that we call him great. Think about how he ascended to the throne of his father David, to his kingdom that will never end. How did he become king? Remember what the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians?

He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

This king became king by wearing robes most unroyal, the filthy rags of our wickedness. This king became king by wearing a crown not of gold, but of our shame. Our hero shed his blood and gave up his life, so that our sins would be erased and our eternities spared. A hero sacrifices his own well being to save people. That’s what Jesus did for us. That’s why God is my hero.

Mary didn’t totally understand how it could be that she would become a mother at all, much less the mother of God’s Son. Gabriel’s message continued. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.”

Nothing is impossible with God. Now don’t take the wrong way. It doesn’t mean that we should expect to do the impossible. It means that God can do anything he sets his mind to. You might look at your life and see impossibility. It’s impossible for God to love me and save me after I’ve done so much wrong and done it so long. Nothing is impossible with God. It might seem an impossibility that faith can come through water and the word or the forgiveness can come through eating and drinking. It might seem impossible that he will raise the dead, impossible that he will come back to judge, impossible that there is indeed waiting for God’s faithful children a much better life than this one in a much better place than this one. Nothing is impossible with God. This hero can actually do the impossible. That’s why God is my hero.

The hero who came once to save us, will come again to take his people home. So here is a serious question that demands a serious answer. When our hero returns, on the blessed day of his second advent, what will he find in our hearts and in our lives?  May he find hearts that shun sin in humble contrition. Hearts that cling to him in humble faith. Hearts that serve our neighbor in humble love. People that know their name is Christian and are personify what it means. That will be the reception Jesus deserves. That will truly be a hero’s welcome. Amen.



Be Content in Thanksgiving

Preacher, Pastor Jeremy Husby delivers a sermon entitled “Be Content in Thanksgiving” based on Philippians 4:10-13 at Peace Lutheran Church in Hartford, Wisconsin.

Delivered: on Thursday, November 23, 2017

Sick and yet happy, in peril and yet happy, dying and yet happy, in exile and happy, in disgrace and happy.

Those words, or something somewhat similar, were spreading like wildfire throughout ancient Macedonia, Achaia, and Asia Minor in the 1st Century. However, though they sound familiar to Christians who have read through the inspired words of Paul in the second lesson for today, they did not come from his pen, his mouth, or his mind. Unlike Paul’s letter to the Philippians, the words that were captivating the Roman Empire were not inspired of God.

Sick and yet happy, in peril and yet happy, dying and yet happy, in exile and happy, in disgrace and happy.

Epictetus, a Greek Stoic philosopher is credited with coming up with that phrase in particular; along with another insightful quip: It is not what happens to you, but how you react that matters.

It was not accidental that Paul’s words, I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances, sound almost as if Paul and Epictetus were cut from the same cloth.

One of the apostle’s apologetic strategies, his tools for defending and explaining the truths of Christianity, was to study the philosophers of the age and expand on their rudimentary understandings of how and why human beings exist.

For a few hundred years before Paul sent this letter to the Philippians, Stoic philosophers were sorting through those very questions. What is the point of life? Why are we here? What does this world offer to me to fill this insatiable desire to be content and satisfied and, finally, truly happy?

Paul learned the answer to that question. In keeping with his apologetic efforts, the word that Paul used to describe the emotional state and spiritual gift of contentment that he enjoyed isn’t used anywhere else in the Greek New Testament. It is, however, found over and again in the writings of the Stoics.
When Paul wrote, I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances, a much more literal translation of his words might read I have learned self- sufficiency whatever the circumstances.

Have you been to a bookstore recently? Or, rather, as you are seeking out your Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals over the weekend, take a look at what books are the most popular and best sellers among baby boomers and millennials, alike. The self-help sections have surged so much.

That’s because it isn’t just Stoics in the centuries just before and after Christ that are seeking happiness and fulfilment in life. Believers and unbelievers alike want the kind of self-sufficiency that Paul wrote about almost 2000 years ago. However, the secret of self-sufficiency that Paul learned is the difference between believers finally finding it and unbelievers continuing their search.

Paul had to learn that secret because, even as the philosophers posited, contentment is not a natural emotional state for human beings. That fact is something that you don’t have to learn, isn’t it? Even as you sit down for your Thanksgiving meal (tomorrow/today), with enough food to feed an army, will you feel satisfied? It could be something somewhat insignificant, like the turkey being a little dry or that your sister-in-law put too much pepper in the green bean casserole. Maybe you’d rather be watching the football game or be in a room with anyone other than your mother-in-law. Maybe it is that empty chair that still sticks out like a sore thumb, either because of the loss of a loved one or the one you are still looking to love.

Whatever it is, everything isn’t exactly the way that you want it. You might be happy, but it could be better. Or, maybe, you won’t be celebrating Thanksgiving at all. You might take the time, like you are for an hour today, to be thankful to God for all that you have but you’re not having a meal, there’s no family gathering, and your list of physical blessings to be thankful for is pretty short.

That feeling of discontent isn’t there simply because you are being ungrateful. That’s simply a symptom of the disease that affects the way that you perceive and receive the actions of your neighbors and the situations that surround you.

The reason that, by nature, you are discontent is because you are sinful. It is not outside influences that teach you how to have insatiable desires. That has been an inclination in human beings ever since Adam and Eve conceived their first child. Which means that the problem with finding self-sufficiency, that even the greatest philosophers couldn’t solve, is that your self is flawed.

But, if happiness doesn’t come from outside influences and it cannot come from within, where can it possibly be found? What is the secret?
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Paul’s secret isn’t so secret. It is the same thing that has been giving people strength for centuries. Strength cannot come from within you and it does not come from adapting your mind and heart to, or simply accepting, your particular circumstances. It is not understanding who you are. It is about understanding what Christ changed you into.

The secret that Paul learned by experience in his life, when he was blinded and, subsequently, when the scales fell from his eyes, was so much more than simply giving him rose-colored glasses to see the world differently.

Up until his conversion, Paul had been seeking to find contentment and satisfaction in pleasing God through his righteous acts and religious fervor. But, as he learned, he could never accomplish it on his own. He could never be good enough. Instead, Christ gave him the strength to be righteous in God’s sight by changing him from being a sinful enemy of God to being an innocent child of God.

Jesus did that by living a perfect life on this earth, never once falling for the Devil’s temptations to covet or be envious or greedy. In his divine self, without the flaws of sinful man, Jesus was content to leave his plentiful life in heaven to feel hunger on earth and sacrifice that life to pay for all of the times when Paul was covetous, envious, or greedy. With his precious blood, shed from the cross, he covered Paul’s imperfection completely so that, when God looked at Paul he only saw his own perfect Son, instead.

With Christ’s forgiveness on his mind, Paul was content with whatever situation he is placed in. Even if in jail, which is likely from where he wrote the book of Philippians, he sang praises to the one who redeemed him and gave him self-sufficiency in the life Christ made his.
Is Paul a good example for you to follow? Sure. But rather than focus on him being able to overcome any situation in life, focus on why he was able to do it; Christ gave him the strength.

Christ gives you the strength, too. He lived perfectly for you. He died in your place. Whether you are well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want, Christ strengthened you to be a blood-bought child of God.

To paraphrase Epictetus, you can be sick and yet content, in peril and yet content, dying and yet content, in exile and content, in disgrace and content because in
Christ’s life and death, made yours by faith, your new self is sufficient for you. Amen.

God Keeps Two Sets of Books?

Preacher, Pastor Paul Waldschmidt delivers a sermon entitled “God Keeps Two Sets of Books?” based on Revelation 20:11-12, 15 at Peace Lutheran Church in Hartford, Wisconsin.

Delivered: on Sunday, November 21, 2017

You might say that Richard Scott is in a little bit of trouble. The Los Angeles, California man is in jail tonight, accused of defrauding the United States Veterans Administration of over $11 million dollars! You see, Richard Scott was the owner/operator of the parking lots at the Los Angeles VA Hospital and as such, he was supposed to turn over 60% of his gross revenue to the Veterans Administration. Only he didn’t do that. He kept a big pile of that money for himself and used it to fund a lavish lifestyle as evidenced by the possessions in his garage, which included a racing boat, three Ferraris, a 1969 Corvette L88, two “high-end” Mercedes-Benz, and a Shelby Super Snake Mustang (whatever that is!), luxuries now all seized by the federal government.

How did Richard Scott manage to bilk the VA out of 11 million dollars? Easy. He kept two sets of books. The fake one full of made up expense forms and falsified income statements that he showed federal auditors. And the real one kept by his accountant.

Ask anyone and they will tell you that keeping two sets of books is a really bad idea. It’s the stuff of embezzlers and organized crime and it will sooner or later land a person a spot in the slammer right next to our pal Richard Scott.

Usually two sets of books is really bad thing. But not today, not when it comes to God. Today in our text we see that God keeps two sets of books. It’s not because he’s up to any funny business, of course. Our God is nothing if not pure, and just and totally above board. And it’s not like one set of books is fake and the other legit. No, both sets of books that will be opened on Judgment Day are real, valid and undeniably true.

So what’s in the books? We’ll find out as we study our epistle lesson from Revelation 20, a little more closely. You might know that the Book of Revelation is a vision that Jesus allowed John the apostle to see showing him the battle of God and his church would wage against foe and oppressor, the battle that would play out throughout history. When we jump into chapter 20, we press play as story is reaching its climatic moments. Satan is thrown into a lake of sulfur, consigned to torment day and night for eternity. And then we cut to a different scene. Judgement Day. And it looks….pretty much like you probably pictured Judgement Day to look.

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. It’s relatively easy to deny, defer and delete God from our daily thoughts now. Many people do. They have the option to not think about standing before an almighty Judge. So they occupy their thoughts with chasing after the baubles and trinkets of this material world.

But there will be no denying the Creator-King on Judgment Day.. The one who once dreamt peacefully in a manger, will on that day judge in purity and perfection on a great white throne. Those who called him anything less than God, those who dismissed him as imaginary, those who classified him along with Peter Pan, Superman and Paul Bunyan will realize to their terror just how wrong they were.

As we see in the next verse, no one is too powerful in man’s eyes and no one is too insignificant in man’s eyes, to be exempt from standing beneath the Judge’s gaze. In other words, John sees us. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Uh oh. If you wanna know what’s in those books, remember a couple things.

First of all, God doesn’t count sins like a heavy man counts calories. You know what I mean? Long on loopholes and short on accountability. God does not look at our constant disobedience and say, “Well, he struggles with so much in every other part of his life, it’s probably okay for him to indulge a little bit in this temptation.” God doesn’t say, “She flew off the handle and lost control of her language but her obnoxious kid just wouldn’t stop pestering her. That’s understandable.” He doesn’t say that.

Second of all, God doesn’t sort sins like an 8 year old sorting football cards at the kitchen table. He doesn’t say, Okay, little sin…little sin…medium sin…big sin…ooh, I’m gonna remember that one.” He remembers all of them. He’s God after all, how can he forget? He knows all, sees all and demands perfection above all. So when we’re talking about two sets of books, we have to understand first of all that God is a ruthless accountant. He has to be. He had make sure not a single one was missed, not single one was dismissed so that he could punish them all, ruthlessly and without mercy….on the cross.

Remember, two sets of books. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. So what’s in this book? No works, right or wrong, no sins and offenses. Just names. 15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. That’s admittedly a little jarring. And it is true. 15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. But don’t forgot the unspoken opposite. If anyone’s name is found written in the book of life, all of a sudden that first book we mentioned no longer spells our doom. O baptized child God rejoice! For you and I can say, “Yes, my sins are real. Yes, I deserve their full, complete and unending punishment. But check the other book and you will see my name.”

How do I know my name is there, listed as a child of God and heir of eternal life? How can you know that your name is there in the book of life? Because God himself has promised it. In the water and the word of Holy Baptism, He not only took you in his arms, he wrote down your name. The apostle Paul wrote, “All of you who have been baptized into Christ, have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

O great and mighty Judge, one day, I will stand in your courtroom. I look forward to that day without dread and without trepidation because I know that I stand in the robes of righteousness you yourself have won for me and given to me. And so I pray, do not delay. Come soon, Lord Jesus. Come today.

That’s one of the side effects that comes from knowing there are two sets of books, that indeed there is a book of life, with the believers’ names written in it. You’re not afraid of Judgment Day. As the world around us continues to devolve, and the society around us continues to crumble, maybe we start to see the leaves on the trees and know that summer is near—as Jesus said in our Gospel lesson. Maybe we start to see that the signs of the end and know that it really, seriously could happen today. Come soon, Lord Jesus. Come today. And even if it’s not today, nothing changes what God has told us in his Word today. We go on with our lives—watching, waiting, eagerly anticipating, and doing the very things God has given us to do while we wait. Living with a quiet spirit, an obedient heart, a mouth that builds the people around us up, hands that are more ready to give and serve instead of taking and being served. Not so that our names can be written in the book of life, but because our names already are.

Two sets of books? Two sets indeed. We thank God for that second book and wait with eager hearts for the day that it is opened! Amen.

Lord, Keep Us Steadfast

The last four Sundays of the Church Year are designated as the season of End Time, a season unique to the WELS. The focus of the season is fulfillment of Christ’s promises and encouragement for the Church of the End Times. We live in the last age of this earth, and in this season, Jesus wants us to remember his promise, “Behold, I am coming soon!” The season prepares the Church for these latter days by encouraging faithfulness to the Word, mindfulness of the judgment, watchfulness for Christ’s coming, and joyfulness in Christ’s reign.

On each Sunday, the Church prays that God would bestow on her a characteristic necessary for the End Times Church:

  • Reformation: Lord, keep us steadfast to the truth of your Word! (November 2-5)
  • Last Judgment: Lord, keep us steadfast as we await the Final Judgment! (November 9-12)
  • Saints Triumphant: Lord, keep us steadfast as we yearn for Triumph! (November 16-19)
  • Christ the King: Lord, keep us steadfast in the joy of our King! (November 23-26)

We Are Not Orphans. God Is Near!

Guest Preacher, Pastor Paul Jonathan Loescher delivers a sermon entitled “We Are Not Orphans. God Is Near!” based on John 14:15-21 at Peace Lutheran Church in Hartford, Wisconsin.

Delivered: on Sunday, May 21, 2017

In July 2009, a man was found wandering in Seattle’s Discovery park. He was dehydrated, confused, $600 in his sock. And he had no idea who he was. And no identification. As police investigators questioned him and then local news started to ask the public for help, snippets of the man’s life started to emerge. It was verified that he had taught English in Shanghai, studied to be a chef at the Culinary Institute of America, had encyclopedic of Renaissance art and European history. He was fluent in English, French and German. But even after the investigators told him that his name was Edward Lighthart, he replied, “That doesn’t ring a bell” and insisted that they continue calling him John Doe.

To forget one’s identity is a terrible and tragic thing. Even more so for you, dear Christian. For who you are is the most important thing in your life. I don’t just mean your name, address, or security number. Your identity is about more than your personal information. Your identity gets to the most important questions of life. What is most important to you? Who are the people depending on you and the people you depend on? Where do you spend your time? How do you spend your money?  The answer to those questions is your identity.

But that’s only part of it. You see, those questions make our identity sound like someone that we determine, that we create and craft and control. (There were an awful lot of “I’s, me’s and my’s” in those questions. Listen again, What is most important to me? Who are the people depending on me and the people I depend on? Where do I spend my time? How do I spend my money?) The reality, though, dear friends, is that your identity, the most important thing about you—is not what you call yourself, but what God calls you. That’s real easy to forget. So today it’s good that the apostle Peter reminds us. Don’t forget your identity. The word of the Lord is the epistle lesson from Peter’s first letter, chapter two:

Everybody of a certain age worries about having their identity stolen. Someone who steals your identity can apply for credit cards or loans with your name, can make withdrawals from your bank account, can purchase stuff online using your information. Having your identity stolen leads to countless headaches. But there is an identity theft that’s even more damaging, one that even Lifelock cannot protect you from.

Man was created in the Creator’s image, perfectly in tune with our God and perfectly able to actually do it. But a sneaky scoundrel rose from the flames of hell itself to steal that identity, to horribly deface God’s image in Adam and Eve and now…all of their children. We have a new identity thanks to that rotten devil, an identity you may not have thought about when we were asking those questions earlier—because it’s not necessarily an identity that we’re proud of. “Idol-worshipper.”

I read something this week that reminded me of that. It was an article in which the author laid his soul bare in a brutally honest confession. “If I’m honest, one of the defining features of my identity has been my desire to put something else—popularity, money, influence, sex, success—in place of God. That’s just who I am. For many years, I was taught that idolatry was sinful. As a good Christian, I fought the desire to commit idolatry, and repented when I got it wrong. But the desire to worship idols never went away.” Amen, brother. The 1st Commandment was not just made for ancient civilizations so prone to lay prone before gods made of wood and stone. The First Commandment—you shall have no other gods—was made for human hearts that by nature want to put their trust in anything or anyone else but God. Satan knows we won’t fall for worshiping tiki idols and voodoo dolls—so he tries to get us to worship, trust, find our identity in the things and people we live with, things and people that are God’s greatest gifts to us.

Remember our questions from earlier? What is most important to me? Who are the people depending on me and the people I depend on? Where do I spend my time? How do I spend my money?

They can be used to define our identity. They can also be used to define our idols. You see, when your answer to those questions is concentrated on and limited to the things of this world, to something you can see and quantify whatever it may be…well, I hate to tell you, but you’ve got yourself an idol. Would I choose my spouse over my Savior? Do I love my family even more than Him? Do I trust in my IRA more than him? Does what I want to do, does what I think I deserve control my choices in life more than him?

Did you see it in that last one? What I want. What I think I deserve. Many times the idol I worship instead of God is…me.

If we’re going to have a realistic grasp of who we are, there is one identity that we must own because we most certainly have earned it. Idol worshipper. Self-worshipper.

But that’s not what Peter calls us here, is it? That’s because the image of God, the identity that was stolen away and replaced by the devil, gets added back, returned and restored by Christ Jesus. Peter’s so excited about that fact that he says it four different ways. You want to know your identity? You need to be reminded of who you are? Here you go. You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.

Let’s talk about that last one in a little more detail. If you had a ring that had been appraised with a $10,000 price tag, you probably wouldn’t be wearing that thing out while out planting flowers. It would get dirty and it could very well slip off your finger and spend months on end in one of your flower pots out front your house or in the landscaping out back. You wouldn’t be so careless, because that thing is precious. If you lose it, you ain’t getting another one. Either you or someone you love paid a hefty price for it. It belongs to you.

Do you think God is going to carelessly leave you laying around—after the price he paid for you???  You are a people belonging to God, paid for with blood, bought back by Christ. When the devil tries to convince you that you are lost, broken, irreparable, irredeemable, tell him what God tells you. “No way, devil. I belong to Him.” When he tries to convince you that the sins of yesterday will never be forgotten, tell him what God tells you. “No way devil. I belong to Him.” When he tries to convince you that tomorrow will be just more of the same, more failure, more sadness, more pain, tell him what God tells you. “No way, devil. I belong to him.” Don’t forget your identity. A people belonging to God. Don’t forget your identity. Blood bought child of Almighty—it’s the identity restored by Jesus.

But you are a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Our identity is not just our name. Our identity is what we do. Peter says that because you are a blood bought soul, you are a person with a purpose. To declare his praises.

Parents, you gave your children a name. Now you remind them of their identity. How do we do that? Care! You declare his praises when you show your children that you care about God and his Word.

Don’t leave it up to pastors, teachers, VBS and Sunday School. God has called you to be the One who declares his praise for your family. Embrace that identity and pursue it with your greatest zeal by what you watch on tv, how you talk to your spouse and your children, how readily you admit your mistakes, how easily you forgive.

Christian friends, your coworkers know your name. Do they know your identity? I know some folks are more reserved about their beliefs than others. I respect that. You can declare His praises by showing up on time, by following through on the things you say will do, by thinking ahead, by lightening the load of others. Those are ways that we show love to our neighbor. Those are ways that we declare his praises.

We declare his praises when we remain faithful even in the face of cancer. We declare his praises when we remain prayerful in the face of tragedy. We declare his praises when we take care of our health.

We declare his praises when take care of our homes. We declare his praises when we bring our offerings.

We declare his praises when we bring ourselves to his house and immerse ourselves in his Word.

We are a people belonging to God that we may declare his praises. That is who we are, that is why we’re here. Don’t forget. Don’t ever forget. Amen.


Don’t Forget Your Identity

Pastor Paul Waldschmidt delivers a sermon entitled “Don’t Forget Your Identity” based on 1 Peter 2:4-10 at Peace Lutheran Church in Hartford, Wisconsin.

Delivered: on Sunday, May 14, 2017

In July 2009, a man was found wandering in Seattle’s Discovery park. He was dehydrated, confused, $600 in his sock. And he had no idea who he was. And no identification. As police investigators questioned him and then local news started to ask the public for help, snippets of the man’s life started to emerge. It was verified that he had taught English in Shanghai, studied to be a chef at the Culinary Institute of America, had encyclopedic of Renaissance art and European history. He was fluent in English, French and German. But even after the investigators told him that his name was Edward Lighthart, he replied, “That doesn’t ring a bell” and insisted that they continue calling him John Doe.

Read more