Archive for January, 2014

The Foolishness That Binds Us!

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Third Sunday after the Epiphany (A), January 26, 2014
Rev. Brian Henderson—Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA

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In our Epistle lesson this morning (1 Corinthians 1:10-18), we’re allowed to briefly look into the heart of an apostle who is also a pastor.  This pastor, the apostle Paul is troubled by some news he’s received.  It seems there’s controversy brewing back in the parish over who is the best teacher, or preacher.  Some say its Paul himself, others say that it is Paul’s assistant pastor, Pastor Apollos, and others say that it’s Peter.  Then there’s another group who is trying to stay out of the whole argument, and they simply say, “I don’t know and I don’t care, I just follow Christ!”  Paul now wants them to examine themselves and their faith and see the error in what they have started.  He wants them to be of one confession of faith, and he wants them to be of one heart and mind, the heart and mind of Jesus Christ!

Now before we begin to click our collective tongues at this whole mess, let’s see if we too have a need to repent and refocus our lives. If you call yourself a Democrat or Republican Christian, you may have to repent.  If you call yourself a poor, middle class, or wealthy Christian you may need to repent!  If you call yourself a Christian only around other Christians then friend, you really do need to repent!  Now why do you think that any of this really matters?  Friends, it matters because the world is watching us; your neighbor is watching you!  They want to see if you’re the real thing; they want to know if you’re any better off than they are; they want to know if you really have the power of God unto salvation!

Was Paul angry when he wrote this letter to the church at Corinth?  No, I doubt it, but he was concerned.  There have always been disagreements among people of faith and there always will be.  Paul simply wanted to get everyone back to common ground… he wanted them to go back to the very foundation of their faith, Jesus Christ.  If he could get each person’s heart back to what Jesus did equally for each of them, then these other matters, like who is the best preacher, or what political party you vote in become secondary, and may I even say unimportant?

Divisions weren’t anything new in Martin Luther’s day either.  Listen to what he said regarding divisions that were created because of his preaching of the gospel: “For the operations of God are not childish or bourgeois or human, but divine and (they exceed) human (understanding).  But you do not seem to see that these tumults and divisions are marching through the world by the counsel and operation of God, and you are afraid lest the heavens should fall.  But I, by the grace of God, see this clearly, because I see other greater troubles in time to come, by comparison with which these present seem no more that the whisper of a breeze or the murmur of a gentle stream.”  What is Luther teaching?  He’s teaching the same thing that Paul is teaching and it’s this: Each one of you is saying something different, and that is what will cause divisions.  Instead of being different for your own purpose be different for God’s purpose.  Instead of preaching opinion to your neighbor, and causing division, preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and let the divisions be between light and darkness, good and evil!  Speak of Christ crucified!

Now there’s a danger when we share our faith with our neighbor, and Paul wants to be sure that we don’t fall prey to this threat.  What is that threat?  Friends, it’s the temptation of proclaiming a bloodless gospel, or if you will a cross without the body of Jesus!  Why would we do that?  Because many people today don’t like to hear about a Savior who died a criminal’s death.  They don’t want to hear about a savior who was beaten near death, and executed on a cross.  So instead of simply sharing the gospel as it’s found in the pages of the Bible, the temptation is to explain these things away with modern ideas, or to just share the moral ideals of our Christian faith.

Then there are those that we will encounter who don’t mind hearing the mysteries about a dying God, who came to us in our flesh and lived the perfect life on our behalf; they enjoy hearing how this God paid the penalty for our sins,  but to just leave it there, doesn’t seem fair.  This group of people insists that they need to add something to Jesus work upon the cross!  So for these challenged individuals, the church has, in error I will add, come up with little rules and regulations to help sell the message of the cross.  These false teachings say things like, “Jesus starts us on the right path with His cross and with our own baptism by giving us His grace, but after that” they say “it’s our responsibility to finish what He started by living a good life!”  With this sleight of hand, they turn God’s work into the work of sinful men and women!

To both of these groups, Paul is almost shouting at us in vs. 17 and saying, “No!  Christ didn’t send me or you to proclaim a gospel that’s centered on eloquent wisdom, the work of sinful man, or in a way that will be more accepting to sinful people!  If we do that then the cross that’s saved us will be emptied of its power!”

[Matthew 4:12-25] Do you want God’s power in your life?  Then look to the cross!  What kind of power am I talking about?  Well how about this… it’s a power greater than the power that God used to create the entire universe!  It’s the power of God unto salvation and we call that power grace!  Grace is the undeserved kindness of God; it’s God making you right with Him and not the other way around.  Its new birth through the washing of the water and the Word!  It’s the power of grace that gives you faith to believe in God’s Word and follow it where ever He leads!  It’s the power of the Word which moves you to trust God even when you doubt Him.

In our gospel reading this morning, Jesus demonstrates that power for us when He calls Simon-Peter and his brother Andrew out into the mission field.  If you remember in last week’s gospel reading, Jesus had already spoken the Word of eternal life to them.  They were given God’s power of grace and faith unto everlasting life, and now Jesus calls them to learn to use that power to build the Kingdom of God.  What was this Word that Jesus spoke to them that was so full of the power of God?  It was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” [Matt. 4:17-19]

Dear friends, in these Words of Jesus we see two things.  First we hear that we must repent.  “That seems easy enough” many think, “I must simply quit doing bad things and try my hardest to do good!”  But friends, this is a grave and mistaken way of looking at repentance.  That type of repentance becomes your work and not the work of Jesus!  Do you want to see the work of Jesus?  Look to the cross!  That is His Work, His work for you!  To repent does not mean simply turning away from your sin to be saved; it means turning to the cross and seeing Jesus suffering and dying for you.  It means clinging to a Savior, to a God who died in your place so that you will be saved!  Now some might say, “Oh that’s just semantics preacher.  They both accomplish the same thing!”  And to that I say, “NO!”  Not at all; you see one way of repenting gives you glory for having the wisdom to know that you are a sinner.  It gives you glory for taking the initiative to turn away from your sin.  But the other way, the Biblical way to repent is to simply turn to God’s mercy and forgiving love and see Him dying in your place.  To turn to Jesus is to know that only through Him can we find life, abundant life!  And when we turn to Jesus we also hear Him say, “Follow me!”

Why do we follow Jesus?  Because we have heard Him call and invite us through the mighty power of His Word.  Why do we follow Jesus?  Because His Word has moved us to turn to Him and trust Him.  Can you see friends that it is God alone who has done this great work of repentance within you and it is God alone who should get the glory!  Through the Word of God and His invitation to follow Him we begin to hate our sin, and we are given the power to live a new life—the life of holiness.  Through the power of God unto salvation we are not only forgiven but we are changed.

The story is told of a former alcoholic who met up with a bunch of his former friends.  They were shocked that he became a “goodie two shoes” Christian, so they began belittling him. “Man, you use to be so sensible!  How can you believe in miracles like Jesus turning water into wine?”  The man responded by showing the evidence of his own changed life: “Whether you believe that Jesus turned water into wine I’ll leave up to you, but I know that in my home He’s turned whiskey into furniture and food and clothes for my wife and kids!”

Yes, the Word of God often does seem like foolishness to our unsaved neighbors, family, and friends, but to us who have been saved by seeing Jesus’ cross as our only means of salvation, it is God’s mighty power!  It is a mighty power that is always changing us and demonstrating His saving love and just how real He is!

Through the Christian artist the world is shown that Jesus and His cross are the source of all beauty.  Through the Christian musician they discover melodies that even the angels can’t sing.  Through the Christian builder, the world is shown that Jesus is the sure foundation.  In the service of the Christian baker, the world is shown that the church, which is Christ’s body is the one true loaf.  Through the Christian doctor, the world learns that Jesus is the great physician.  Because of the Christian geologist, the world learns that Jesus is the Rock of Ages.  In the love and care of a Christian parent, Jesus is pointed to as the way for the world to know the true Father.  And when each of us is living our calling through Jesus Christ, the sinner learns that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  And for we who make up the Christian church, together we declare that Jesus is the Son of the Living God, our great savior who calls each of us to follow Him to His cross by living out our own cross of service and suffering for our neighbor and together building the Kingdom of God.  I pray that you will continue to follow this call and find your vocation as a means to be fishers of sinful men, women, and children.  I ask this in Jesus name… AMEN!

Dennis Agajanian Concert at Trinity

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

You Lack Nothing!

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Rev. Brian Henderson, Pastor-Trinity Lutheran Church-San Diego
Epiphany 2A, January 19th, 2014

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“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in Him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [1 Corinthians 1:4-8]

I too, give thanks to our God for all of you.  Not because of you, but because of His grace which He has poured out upon each of you through Jesus Christ, His Son, our Savior!  Does that sound harsh?  It should not; after all, without Jesus Christ, the true servant of God, where would any of us be?  I’ll tell you where we would be, on the express road to judgment and damnation.

You see, we have a big problem that keeps getting in our way… sin!  Because of our sin, we do not love as we should, and we do not fear God as we must.  You could say that as well intentioned as we may be, by nature we are sinful and unclean; we are disobedient to the core!  So what is the solution?

We must be overtaken by the true obedient servant of God; that is the Son of God must come to us, redeem us and teach us every day what it means to be redeemed, that is saved from our sins.

In our Old Testament reading (Isaiah 49:1-7), we are allowed to enter into a conversation between God the Father and the Son of God, who for us men and for our salvation, came to us as Jesus Christ, to be one of us in order to save us from our sins, and teach us what obedience to the will of God is.

So many people will willingly confess Jesus Christ as their Savior and God, but moments latter, they’ll go about living their lives as they see fit, and not how God demands.  They will jump on board of whatever social idea is popular, just to avoid being singled out and being forced to defend their faith and the truth of God’s Word.

Today is national Right to Life Sunday.  You have a wonderful hand-out for you to take home and read, and perhaps consider getting involved with your time, talent, or treasure.  It is a cause that is Biblical and clear.  Life begins at conception.  But that is not what society says.  And what do they say?  Well, the truth is they can’t agree when life begins.  So instead of having a real discussion on the matter, a discussion that we Christians want to be part of, they simply cite a Supreme Court ruling (Roe v. Wade), and they claim that the unborn child is part of the pregnant woman’s body, just as her breasts are part of her body.  And just as we’ve see recently in the news, that there are woman of high profile and great wealth who are having their breasts surgically removed because of a high propensity to acquire breast cancer, so we too, see women aborting their pregnancy because there is an even higher propensity that these children if born, will change their lives forever.  We all know the arguments for having an abortion, so there is no need to bring them up this morning.  No, what we need to hear is what God thinks about these unborn children.  So what does He say?

In our lesson this morning, we see a couple of things right off the bat: God calls children from the womb and God knows them by name; they are His servants.

Now, some may be thinking, “Hold on just a minute there pastor; that Old Testament lesson is talking about Jesus, the Son of God.”  And to that, I will say, “Congratulations, you are one step closer to seeing things God’s way.”  Yes, that scripture is about the Servant of God, the Son of God, but it is also about Jesus, the Son of Mary.  Born of a woman and suffered on this earth as all of us know suffering and pain.  Why is that important?  Remember that I told you that because of our sin, one of our biggest problems is disobedience?  Well, Jesus did not have that problem; He was obedient even at the expense of His life.

“Listen” is the first word Jesus, the Obedient Servant of the Lord speaks in our Old Testament lesson.  “Pay attention” are the next words spoken.  Who is the Son of God talking to?  He is talking to everyone who is far away from God.  Because of our sins, we could never be any farther away, so He is speaking to you!  Aside from the call He received within the womb of His mother, He tells you how His flesh was created; it was created to give witness to God through the words of His mouth.  Words that were like sharpened swords.  Have you ever heard the saying, “The truth hurts”?  Here is something to think about, when it is God’s truth, when it is His law meant to show us our sins, it is suppose to hurt!  In fact, it is suppose to kill.  You are suppose to hear what God says about your sin, other peoples sin, and the sin of the world, so that you will then do two things: First you will agree with God; agree that He is right and you and society are wrong, and second, you must then hear and receive His solutions to your sin problem; that is your incessant disobedience problem.

The solution of course is His obedient servant who exchanges His obedience for your disobedience.  To the world, this Servant of God was on a fool’s errand.  And as proof they will point you to the servants own words in verse 4: “I have labored in vain (that is for no purpose); I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity”.  That is what the world believes, and for a moment that is how Jesus felt as He hung upon the cross between to criminals and experienced for the first time in eternity His separation from the Father and the Spirit.  So painful was the separation that He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”  But Jesus knew why He was forsaken; He was forsaken for you.  His cry should rightly be your cry, because of your great sins and your continued disobedience.  But shortly after His cry of fear and pain, we hear Him speak the gospel, the hope of sinners and gentiles.  “Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit.”

Here, in this moment of death, Jesus the Christ, points your eyes of faith to God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.  And then He calls for you to look upon His agony and death and see Him as the Father’s only Son, your Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.”  But why?  So that you would understand these next words from our Old Testament reading: “What is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.  And now the Lord says—He who formed me in the womb to be His servant to bring Jacob back to Him and gather Israel to Himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength—He says, “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant (and only) restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles (that is all disobedient sinners) that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

So Jesus “descended into hell.  The third day He rose again from the dead.  He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.  From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.”

Now, hear a Word that is simultaneously both Law and Gospel.  You will be judged!  If you find your peace and happiness in this willfully sinful world, which is outside of the Obedient Servant’s grace, you will know only eternal damnation, that is separation from God forever.  But because your eyes of faith are continually fixed upon the cross of Jesus, the Servant who alone is obedient, even unto death, you are saved.  You are judged one with Jesus.

Jesus is your light, your source of hope and peace with God because He alone has taken away your sins, and in your baptism He has washed you clean and made you right with God the Father, His Father and now yours.  Jesus is your Redeemer.  You who were once sold into sin as it’s slave are free.  You, who once knew only eternal misery because of your bondage, now know by faith that the sinless Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, has even taken away your sin.  Because of the Lamb of God, the Obedient Servant, you now have peace with God.  You lack nothing!

You have been called out of darkness into the wonderful gospel light of grace.  As God ensured that you would hear and keep on hearing the message of the Gospel, which alone is the light for all gentiles, He now asks you to throw in with that work.  He has called you to be a witness.  A witness is nothing more that one who reports what He has experience.  He speaks the truth, even if the truth hurts, but He speaks the truth in love.  Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a no good, lost sinner like me.  I once was lost but now I’m found; was blind but now I see.

Yes, we are all witnesses, but we are also ambassadors.  We are to speak the message that God declares to the gentiles who are lost in sin.  What is that message?  Repent, that is turn back to God and know His forgiving love.  Know that there is no sin so great that God can not nor will not forgive through His grace, which is yours through Jesus Christ, if you will not reject it.

This grace, this fullness of life is for all people, even the unborn; and mystery of mysteries, even for the unborn who have been aborted.  God knows each of us, even in our mother’s womb.  He knows and He loves us all with an abundant love through Jesus Christ.  None of us deserve this love, and none of us will ever be able to live up to the standard of this love, but it does not mean we won’t try.  When we look at the birth, life, and death of Jesus, the Son of God, we can also see our lives knitted right into His.  We remember that the Lord looks beyond appearances, and He asks us to do the same.  As we listen to or read His Word, He tells us always about His Obedient Servant who was despised and abhorred by society.  And He tells us that His servant was also our Servant, and His service has become ours.  He reminds us that things are not what they seem to be.

Today Christ’s church faces frustration and what appears to be failure.  Our membership declines and society is more hostile than ever to those who speak God’s truth.  All of our witnessing and effort seems to be done in vain.  We know that we are not innocent in regards to blame; things we have done and even the many things we have left undone have contributed greatly to the apparent failure of the church.  We have not been that city on a hill, that bright light unto the gentiles.  Yet, we are reminded that just as we are, we lack nothing in regards to God’s gifts of grace, which are ours through God’s Obedient Servant, because we are the body of Christ!

Together, we testify to God’s salvation as His wounded and scarred body, which is often rejected and scorned.  But we know that our labor, the giving of our time, talent, and treasure is not in vain.  We know that just as God the Father was faithful to His servant Jesus and raised Him from the dead, so too we live and bear witness to this gospel hope in Christ alone.

May God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit keep us in this great epiphany hope, the mystery hidden for ages but now revealed through Christ Jesus our Lord… AMEN!

Not You, Jesus!

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

Rev. Brian Henderson, Pastor-Trinity Lutheran Church-San Diego
Baptism of our Lord, /Epiphany 1A, January 12th, 2013

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“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” [Romans 6:4]

Our gospel reading this morning (Matthew 3:13–17) confronts us with a very real, a very human reaction to the arrival of Jesus.  It’s a perfect example of how the Son of God’s real presence breaks into our very real and normal experiences of life.  Think about this for a moment; if you were John, and God called you to preach repentance and offer baptism for the forgiveness of sins, and Jesus, whom you’ve known from childhood as the promised Messiah, approached you to receive a sinner’s baptism, wouldn’t you also have said, “No.  Not You Jesus”?

And yet, there is Jesus, coming alongside of sinners, throwing in with them, becoming one with them, and receiving something He had no need to receive.  Why do you suppose that is?

Because He IS one of us.  He came to be one of us in order to save us.  He came to remind us that we are not alone; God is with us; Jesus is Emmanuel!  He is with us in the waters of our baptism, because through His own baptism He has sanctified even blessed that water through His Word, through His real presence to make it a holy washing of water and Word.  But the banks of the Jordan were only the beginning of His mission to save mankind from sin, death, and the devil.  We must follow Him as He leaves the Jordan and hear the Father proclaim in a powerful voice: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”  [Matthew 3:17]  We must see the Holy Spirit take physical form and descend on Jesus, confirming that He is and always has been the eternal Son of God, but now He is God among us; God in our own flesh, come to be our Champion and defeat our mortal enemies: sin, death, and the devil.

But we must not leave Jesus at the bank of the Jordan.  We must follow Him as He is led by that same Holy Spirit, into the wilderness to be attacked and tempted in the flesh, in our flesh by hoards of devils.  And not once did He succumb to temptation; not even once did He falter or fail.  He could not fail, because He must not fail.  And to understand this truth, we must continue following Him to Calvary, to the place of the skull where He will be crucified, put to death for our sins.  There at Golgotha, He presented His body as a holy sacrifice, without blemish, spot, or stain of sin, as the acceptable sacrifice for your sins, which He loaded upon His body that fateful day when He allowed the baptism of sinners to be applied to Him.

If you have ever watched the movie “The Passion of Christ” by Mel Gibson, you remember how graphically our Lord’s Passion was displayed on that Passover day, when Jesus also submitted to something that only sinners should have to go through; He allowed Himself to be beaten within an inch of His life, and then nailed upon the cross  to die a criminals death for our sins… FOR YOUR SINS!  I remember the first time I watched that movie how I was immediately sucked into the drama, which we call Good Friday.  I remember being shocked by how brutal and painful it was.  And suddenly, it was not just a movie; it was not a depiction of something that happened long ago, but it was real, and it was happening right then.  It was happening to Jesus because of my sins.  I remember weeping and saying out loud, “No, not You Jesus.  That should be me.  I deserve that and never you.”  And it was at that moment that I remembered the words of our Epistle reading (Romans 6:1-11), specifically these words: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

Did you hear that?  YOU ARE DEAD!  Just as Christ died that bloody and painful death upon the cross, so too you, must count yourself dead along with Him.  You are dead to sin, that is your sin has no claim over you.   You are dead to the power of the devil; that is he can no longer accuse you of being like him and deserving punishment for your many sins.  And you are dead to death itself, because we know that “if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.  For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.  So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” [Vs. 5-11]

You see dear friends, just as I asked you to follow Jesus from the waters of the Jordan to the deserted place of temptation, and then to Golgotha, the hill of death, I also ask you to follow His lifeless body to the tomb where they laid Him.  I ask you to wait the full three days and then after the rock that sealed the tomb is blown away, look inside to see that the tomb is empty.  Hear the angels ask you, “Why do you seek the living among the dead!”  He is risen indeed, and so shall you.

Your baptism is not just the seal of God’s Holy Spirit, which promises that one day you also will join Jesus in paradise, but it is also the proof that He is with you right now.  He is Emmanuel, all of God with you.  You see, the Holy Spirit took residence within you the very day you were baptized.  And wherever the Spirit of God is, there also is both the Father and the Son.  Because He lives so do you.  He lives to not just assure the pardon of sins for the world, but to ensure you of your pardon; that is the promise He gave to you on that great day of your Holy Baptism… all of your sins are forgiven!  You have a super-abounding supply of grace that forgives any and all sins that have attached themselves to you.  It gives super-abounding grace so that the fiery darts of accusation, which the devil hurls at you, can never stick or separate you from the love of God, which is yours through Christ Jesus.  You have super-abounding grace so that even death is not a threat to you.  It cannot end your gladness… you are baptized into Christ.  When you die here you will leave all sadness so that you will inherit paradise.  Now, opened eyed your grave is staring and waiting, but even there you’ll sleep secure.  While your flesh awaits it’s raising, still your soul continues praising.  Because you are baptized into Christ.

So all of this being true, and no matter how many your sins or how powerfully they work to trap you, you can rest assured that grace is even more super-abounding than your sins.  To that, someone might ask, “Doesn’t it make sense then to say that the more we sin then the greater we can demonstrate the power of grace over sin, death and the devil?”

And to that question St. Paul declares, “By no means!”  You are a child of paradise.  You are no longer your own person, but you have been bought with a price.  If you choose to stay in sin, then you are saying along with John the baptizer, “Not you, Jesus.”  And if not Jesus then who?  It must be you; someone has to fulfill all righteousness.  If not Jesus, then you must be the one to walk through the temptations of the devil alone.  It must be you who will bear the burden of your many sins alone.  And finally, it must be you alone, who will pay for your sins, all because you have rejected the very Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world; even your sins.

(Isaiah 42:1-9) Dear friends, we are not alone.  Jesus has marked us as His own child in our baptism by sanctifying those waters long ago.  From the water to the cross, and then to the empty tomb, He has proven that He is the servant of God for you, the beloved Son of God, whom the Spirit of God descends upon first so that you will know that the same thing was done for you.

Jesus is the One who leaves the waters of baptism sanctified for the Father’s great mission to save sinners, and then He sets out on a mission to bless and restore those who have faith in Him and His work of salvation.  He is the one who is appointed to be a covenant for the people of faith and a light for the gentiles, that is those who currently live outside of faith.

I would like to close with a story about a man who lived his entire life as a devout atheist; an enemy of Christ and His church.  One morning he was found dead in his room.  But clenched in his hand was a note with these words, which showed that at the end of life he had met the Son of God in a real sense.  The note read: “I’ve tried in vain a thousand ways my fears to quell, my hopes to raise.  But what I need, the Bible says, “Is ever, only Jesus.”  My soul is night, my heart is steel—I cannot feel; for light, for light, I must appeal in simple faith to Jesus.”

All his life, this poor soul lived a life that rejected Jesus, the Son of God as His Savior.  He lived his life proclaiming “Not you, Jesus.”  But thanks be to God, Jesus is the kind of Savior who will not break a bruised reed or puff out a faintly burning wick.”  He will never grow tired or discouraged in seeking out the lost, until He once and for all establishes justice upon the earth.  Thanks be to God that He has found you in your baptism.  Now to the life of a Christian we live, fighting sin, finding forgiveness, and waiting for eternal life in paradise.  AMEN!

Dennis Agajanian Concert at Trinity Lutheran Church

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

Dennis Agajanian Concert at Trinity Lutheran Church

WHEN: Friday, January 24, 2014 at 7:00 pm

WHERE: Trinity Lutheran Church, 7210 Lisbon Street, San Diego, CA 92114

COST: Free will offering accepted during the performance

Save the date; you don’t want to miss this concert.  If you have attended any of Trinity’s Gospel Celebrations or Jesus Jazz Café, then you have heard Trinity’s Treasures perform some of Dennis’ music before.  But no one, and we mean no one can do cutting edge, contemporary Christian music like Dennis Agajanian!

Dennis Agajanian’s music has something uniquely special for everyone to enjoy. Several churches, organizations and crusades throughout the United States have already booked Dennis for concerts for the upcoming year.

  We are honored and excited that he will be coming to Trinity to share his music with our community, and we look forward to a faith-filled, family oriented, and Christ-centered evening of music, fun, and entertainment.

Dennis can be counted on as one of the great Christian musicians who consistently delivers a dynamic performance. We are certain you will be blessed through the musical talents God has given him.

Awards and Highlights

2013 Musician of the Year with ICM (Inspirational Country Music Awards-Nashville,TN USA)
2010 Musician of the Year with The Christian Country Music Association
2009 Musician of the Year with The Christian Country Music Association
2008 Living Legend Award with The Christian Country Music Association
November 2003 Awarded by the CHRISTIAN COUNTRY MUSIC ASSOCIATION “MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR” and “ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR” in Nashville, Tennessee – Nationally Televised on GMA from the CCMA Awards Show held at the historic Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium.
November 2002
May 2, 2002 Dennis gave an invitational concert commemorating the National Day of Prayer at the Pentagon and received a special invitation to the White House by president George W. Bush.
November 2001 CHRISTIAN COUNTRY MUSIC ASSOCIATION in Nashville, Tennessee nominated Dennis for both the “MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR” award and the “ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR” award. DENNIS was awarded the “MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR” AWARD! He was honored to reveive his award at the historic Grand Ole Opry.
March 2001 Worldwide Pictures presented “ROAD TO REDEMPTION” A Billy Graham Evangelistic Association premier movie. Dennis was featured as a strong, rough biker representing Jesus Christ to the lost. Now released on video and DVD.

God’s Gifts That Keep on Giving

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

Rev. Brian Henderson, Pastor-Trinity Lutheran Church-San Diego
Christmas 2A, January 5th, 2013

Click here for audio of this message

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the  heavenly places, even as He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before  him.”  Those are the Words St. Paul used to begin his pastoral letter to the church at Ephesus so that they would have certainty  and peace with God, knowing that He had done all things necessary to assure them that God would not abandon them.  And  now, for the very same reason I your pastor, declare these same words of comfort and peace to you.

Four phrases jump out at us and demand our attention through out our epistle reading (Ephesians 1:3-14).  They demand to be  considered and applied to our lives, as the precious gifts that keep on giving.  Precious indeed, and they are these: In Christ God  chose us; In Christ God loved us; In Christ God saved us from our sins; In Christ God adopted us as His Sons, that is as His  children.  So the theme and the very source of comfort for us this morning can be summed up in this way, “In Christ, all of God has chosen, loved, forgiven and saved, and adopted us as His very own child!  All of this He has done for His glory and praise!”

This morning God is speaking to you.  Don’t worry about what He is saying to anyone else, because this message is for you; it is between you and God.  So get rid of any and all distractions that are clouding your mind and hear Him speak.  God has saved the world, but more importantly, He has saved you.  By His death upon the cross He paid the ransom price for the sins of the world.  But by the power of His Word, through the washing of the water and the Word, He has saved you by giving you pardon for your many sins.  In your baptism, God has placed the seal of the Holy Spirit upon you and claimed you as His own child.  All that is left for you is to live out and trust this truth.  But this is a spiritual and eternal reality, one that is hard for our sinful flesh to actually receive.  So let me use an analogy that will illustrate your relationship with God.

Since the fall of Adam and Eve, mankind, that is you and I and all who have gone before us and will come after us have been born in bondage, that is we are condemned prisoners, even worse, we are slaves.  We are slaves to our sinful nature; that is, sin is our cage.  Our true enemy the devil, has installed himself as our master, and our punishment for our sin is life without the possibility of parole, ending in a death sentence.  There is nothing we can do to secure our release; it is eternal.  Locked away hopelessly lost from God our Creator is our eternal reality.  We are constantly being reprogrammed to believe that there is no God or that Satan himself is our master.  We cannot get to God, but He being God, He can come to us.  And come to us He has.  In the fullness of time, that is at just the right moment, God’s own Son came to us as a child, and He was named Jesus the Christ.  He came to be our Savior, Emmanuel.  This child Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God the Father; that is, in His humanity as the boy Jesus, God the Son grew as all humans do.  He grew mentally in the same way and attained more and more strength of mind, understanding, and reason.

At just the right time, this child became a man and announced to the world, first to His own people, the physical children of Abraham, and then to the gentiles, that He had come for them, to set them free.  And then at just the right time, this God-man fulfilled the mission that His Father sent Him on; He allowed sinful men to crucify Him upon a cross, so that His death would be a ransom payment for the sins of the world.  This ransoming work for the world includes all people from all times and generations; it includes you and your sins.

Now, the door to your cage has been torn open.  You are free from the bondage of your sin.  Death no longer has a claim over you, and the devil’s lie has been revealed.  He is not your master; your Master is Jesus Christ, the very Son of God.  Now ever so softly, the voice of the Holy Spirit speaks to you and says, “My Child, you are free.  Come out and enter the Kingdom of grace, which the Father has prepared for you.”

Most of us, when we first begin to really consider the gospel, the message of forgiveness of sins, have two main thoughts going on in our heads. Is this really true, and can it really be for me?! And to those questions, the Holy Spirit takes your empty hand of faith and fills it with the promises of the Word of God, and then points you to the waters of your baptism.  There in the washing of the water and the Word of God, He assures you that Jesus has taken you by the hand, sealed you with the Holy Spirit, and claimed you as His own dear child and His brother and friend.

The door of your cage is open.  The invitation to leave your bondage is real.  Will you allow Him to take you by the hand and lead you out or will you pull away?  God’s Word this morning makes it clear that it is His desire that you do not pull away.  He desires that for your entire life here on earth, you will allow His gift of faith to lead you away from sin and the devil, and then finally discover that your death is simply a departure from one place (here ), to another, in paradise.

This morning, God the Father wants you to know that He has loved you with an everlasting love and chosen you from the beginning of time, before the world was ever created.  He chose you to love you and for you to love Him.  In the Father’s love, that is, through His Word, He points your eyes and heart to the cross of Jesus Christ; through that cross He made you holy and blameless even though, as we know all to well we are neither!  But you must keep reminding yourself that it is only through the work of Christ upon the cross that God makes it possible for you to become adopted as His child.

So we can say that God chose us at the beginning of time; He saved us at just the right time; and He adopted us throughout time with an eye not on time but on eternity.  Everything that you have heard this morning is meant to open your eyes of faith so that you will see that it is God who does everything to save you and claim you as His own.  He isn’t bound to time or space, to influence or laws; He is the creator of all things.  Even if there are things that we can’t understand or figure out in our minds, our gift of faith can simply learn to trust God in all things, and believe that He has come to us.  He is the One who sees all things at all times as one fluid thought; from the beginning to the end He sees and knows, and He sees you and your life and what goes on as you live it.  And what He sees shouldn’t alarm you, but bring you comfort.  He has saved you and is saving you, because He has chosen you.  But He has not chosen you because of something He found in you; no, He has chosen you through Christ Jesus, His own dear Son.

God the Son has come to you to be your champion to set you free; every day, He continues to come to you.  Everyday, He reminds you that it was and is His sacrifice that does the choosing, the loving, the saving, and the adopting that the Father desires.  Through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, all of God has come to free us from our pain and suffering; to tree us from our struggles; to free us from all fear and worry, and to free us from our sins and death itself.  I say that in God the Son all of God comes to us because He is our triune God in human flesh.  Wherever the work of the Son is, there also is the sending heart of the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Through Jesus Christ, God shows Himself to be our only provision and our only source of hope and security in a hopeless and insecure world.  Through Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit has sealed us with His sign in the waters of our baptism, and marked us as God’s own by taking residence within us.  Now think about that for a moment… God lives within you.  You can’t get much more secure than that!  And as the Holy Spirit lives within us, He assures us that God will never leave nor forsake us; He comforts, guides, teaches, builds up, and equips us with gifts that give real strength and power.  But strength and power for what?  To trust the presence of God that comes to the door of your cage and says come out.  Allow me to take you by the hand of faith and lead you upon life’s way.

Dear friends, the door is open.  Your bondage to sin, death, and the devil is over.  As Jesus once called Lazarus who had been dead for four days to come out from the tomb with the Words, “Lazarus, come out,” He now calls you as well.  Would it not have been ridiculous if once made alive, Lazarus chose to remain in the tomb as a dead man?  Is it not as ridiculous for us to live as if we are still in bondage?  So let’s rise upon our feet together, as God continues to lead us and sing the first verse of LSB Hymn 722, “Lord, Take My Hand and Lead Me.”

“Lord take my hand and lead me upon life’s way.  Direct, protect, and feed me from day to day.  Without Your grace and favor I go astray.  So take my hand, O Savior, and lead the way.  AMEN!”