Thankful for Vacations

I just got back from vacation. Vacations are strangely tough for pastors to take. There’s always a temptation to feel guilty for taking the time off.

But it’s worth it. My vacation has helped me recharge in many different ways. I was able to spend time with just my wife, with all my kids, and with other family. These are gifts from God that my vacation helps me to be faithful to in a better way.

And now, I’m back to work. Not dreading it and worn out, but ready to go. I’m ready to keep at the work I was called to do.

Published via Pressgram

As For Me and My House

As For Me and My House by pastorwalters
As For Me and My House, a photo by pastorwalters on Flickr.

This is my favorite wall in our home. It’s a cast iron cross that my parents had given us as a gift a few years ago.

I guess it’s especially meaningful to me tonight as I think about Christmas coming up and the sermon that I just preached.

Oh, the words are some sort of wall sticker-thing that my wife found somewhere, I think at Hobby Lobby.

Don’t Fall for It!

Sermon preached at St. John’s Lutheran Church on 8/9/12 and 8/12/12 for the 11th Sunday after Pentecost. Sermon text: 1 Corinthians 10:1-5,11-13.

“That guy is so gullible; he’d fall for anything!” If you’ve ever heard someone described as “gullible,” you know it means that they are easily tricked. You might picture jokes and tricks as something that only little kids do on the school playground. But that’s just not the case.

There are dangerous and very expensive scams out there. Someone who come to your door telling the story of their rare medical condition and the expensive treatment it needs. It’s not until long after you give them money that you find out they were never sick! Or there are email scams trying to get you to help someone out by sending a little money. But once you send it, they disappear. These scams are everywhere!

And I think most of us like to pride ourselves by thinking that we would never fall for one of these scams. We like to think we’re not gullible and this just isn’t a problem we have. But that’s not true.

In fact, every one of us are susceptible to the most dangerous scams out there, from the biggest scam artist of all time. We’ve all fallen for his tricks more times than we can count. Every temptation to sin that the devil himself sends our way is a scam. It’s a scam that makes us think, “If I commit this sin, I’m going to be happier. I’m going to enjoy my life more. It will have a positive impact in my life.” Of course, that’s just not true. It’s a lie from the devil himself.

I want to talk today about one of Satan’s most dangerous scams. Continue reading

Who Am I?

Sermon preached at Our Savior Lutheran Church for the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost on July 3, 2011. Sermon text: Exodus 3:1-15

Sometimes people will say that they need to spend some time away from others so they can “find themselves.” That always seemed like a strange idea to me: “I need to find myself.” If you yourself don’t know where you are, that would seem to be a bad sign! But trying to find oneself is actually a bit different than that. It’s finding out who you really are, and who you really want to be. It’s discovering if you’re on the path that you want to be on with your life.

mosesbushSo I ask you all: who are you? Who are you really? Maybe you’ll think about the fact that you’re a mother, or a daughter, or a father or grandfather. Maybe you think of yourself as a brother or sister. Maybe you’re a student or worker or boss. Maybe you think about yourself in terms of what you can do: a good writer, a good swimmer, a caring friend. Whatever you think of yourself as, ask yourself: am I the person I want to be? Should I be doing more, doing better?

And most importantly for us here this morning, who are you in your relationship with God? Who are you as a Christian servant? Some of the things we confessed earlier in this service lead to a not-so-good answer to that question. We confessed we are by nature sinful, that we have disobeyed God in thoughts, words, and actions, that we have done what is evil and failed to do what is good, and that we deserve God’s punishment both now and in eternity. Those things aren’t good! They don’t paint a good picture of who we are on our own!

And if that was the end of the story, if that was all we are before God, then none of us should ever serve God or call ourselves Christians ever again! But here’s the thing: that’s not all we are. Through Jesus Christ, we are so much more. In him, we are forgiven. In him, we are children of God. In him, we are empowered to serve God in all we do. So let’s serve him! Let’s live as the people that we are! Let’s all ask and answer the question: “Who am I?” I’m a child of God, born to serve him. 

Continue reading

Seek Him First

Sermon preached at Our Savior Lutheran Church on February 27, 2011 for the 8th Sunday after Epiphany. Sermon text: Matthew 6:24-34

A few years ago the television game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” was very popular. It was a quiz show where a contestant had to answer increasingly difficult multiple-choice questions on a wide variety of topics. What made this show different, though, were the “lifelines.”

Every contestant had 3 lifelines they could use. The first was to take a poll of the studio audience to see which answer they thought was correct. The second was called 50/50 and it took the 4 possible choices for the correct answer and narrowed it down to two. But my favorite lifeline was the last one: phone a friend. Here the contestant would actually get to call a friend on the phone who might be able to help answer the question. I think they got to pick three different friends to be available, though they’d only be able to choose one on the show.
If you went onto a show like that, which friends would you choose for your “phone a friend”? You’d have to think of who you know who knows a lot of facts, or who can think on their feet, or maybe who’s good at entering in questions into the computer and quickly finding the right information for the answer. But you can probably think of at least someone who might be a good go-to person for this.
And really, it’s not just going on a game show that you need “go-to” people to help you. In our lives, every time we have a problem, every time we’re met with a challenge, we instinctively look for that lifeline. We look for someone to help us. It might be someone in our family, it might be a friend, it might even be ourself as we rely on our own abilities to fix our problems.

But where is our God on that list of lifelines? Is he first as we constantly go to him in prayer? Do we always seek what he wants for us in our lives and trust him to take care of us with the rest? Or does our God fall much farther down the list? Has he become the last resort? Has our spiritual needs of faith and forgiveness become something we strive for, or are they just an afterthought?

Friends, our God and his love for us are the only true lifeline we need. Every worry and problem we have, God provides the solution. He gives us food and clothing and homes and all we need. He gives us his Son for forgiveness, life, and salvation. He has promised to give us all we need now and forever. Seek him first!

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This Day in History

On this day, February 18th, in 1546, Martin Luther died. Here’s a brief synopsis of his life.

Martin Luther, born on 10 November 1483 in Eisleben, Germany, initially began studies leading toward a degree in law. However, after a close encounter with death, he switched to the study of theology, entered an Augustinian monastery, was ordained a priest in 1505 and received a doctorate in theology in 1512. As a professor at the newly established University of Wittenberg, his scriptural studies led him to question many of the church’s teachings and practices, especially the selling of indulgences. His refusal to back down from his convictions resulted in his excommunication in 1521. Following a period of seclusion at the Wartburg castle, Luther returned to Wittenberg, where he spent the rest of his life preaching and teaching, translating the Scriptures and writing hymns and numerous theological treatises. He is remembered and honored for his lifelong emphasis on the biblical truth that for Christ’s sake God declares us righteous by grace through faith alone. He died on 18 February 1546 while visiting the town of his birth.

I found this paragraph on a page from This site has a lot of fascinating facts about events and people for every day of the year. Check out the full list of every day here.