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Living Hope

Our Victory

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

“‘O death, where is your victory?

    O death, where is your sting?”

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”


He came down from heaven to win the war for us.

Jesus Christ, born of Mary, the incarnate Son of the Heavenly Father, took the field for us and defeated the enemies of God and His people. He did it willingly so we could be brought back into the family of God. And when our enemies thought they defeated Him when they killed Him on the Roman cross, Jesus walks from three days later from the tomb.

The empty tomb symbolizes the great victory Jesus won for us.

Death no longer has control over us. Jesus victoriously walked free since death’s grip was overcome when He rose from the dead.

The victory over death is our victory, imparted to us because our Lord wants us to be with Him forever. He did it all on our behalf so we can stand as victors over death, sin, and Satan and gain eternity with our God. Jesus won the war for us.

It is a great feeling to know that our God has done this all for us and has given us the fruits of His victory. Though we may feel like we don’t deserve it, He gave it to us any way because our God loves us.

As we go through this time of immeasurable struggles with the coronavirus and see so many people lose their lives, we know that our redeemer lives and that all of God’s people will stand with Him for eternity. Though we cry today, our tears are wiped away by our Savior who redeemed us from eternal death.

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Living Hope Morning Coffee

More Than Seeing

John 20:29

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”


When we think about believing in things that you can’t see, it takes a lot of trust, doesn’t it? 

There are so many people who believe in UFOs and intelligent life on other planets. Have they seen an alien from a far away planet walking around the streets? No, but they still believe that somewhere in space there is intelligent life on some planet we haven’t discovered yet – life they believe is more intelligent than anyone of us – and one day their space ship is going land here on earth wanting to speak to our President.

There are some who believe the narrative in the “War of the Worlds” novel, movies, and television shows, that these intelligent beings are going to arrive here one day and try to kill all of us.

How much real evidence do they have to prove their beliefs? None.

They haven’t been privy to any real evidence, only conjecture and imagination, yet they believe.

To believe in God and Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is a completely different understanding of seeing is believing. Historical and archeological evidence has proven that the stories of Holy Scripture are accurate. 

The evidence is there. No need to dream that this evidence exists.

The question of faith and believing in Jesus is a deeper spiritual topic. Proving faith is not possible; it is all about believing and trusting in something greater than what we can see. And at the core of this faith is a deep-rooted living hope that the Creator of the world wants us to be with Him forever and He will do and has done everything to make this a reality. 

Faith is not touching the man Jesus and believing. Faith is believing the story of God that He loves us. And by the Holy Spirit, we say we believe and trust the God who created us, redeemed us, and sets us apart to be His own. 

We Christians who believe in Jesus don’t need to see the nail marks in His hands or the spear mark in His side to believe. We trust Him that when He said He came to fulfill the Law of God on our behalf and redeem us, He did just as He promised.

It is a wonderful feeling to live my life by my faith in Jesus Christ. Seeing this world through the prism that things can get better if all people come to faith in our resurrected world is a great feeling. So all of us work in tandem to bring this living hope of Jesus to all people on this blue ball floating in space. 

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Church Gospel Life LCMS Living Hope

‘Young People Don’t Go to Church’

“Young people don’t go to church.”

Ask anyone in the church today, the common refrain about the state of the established church on earth is that younger people – millennials, Gen Z’ers, Gen X’ers – don’t have a regular worship life. They could be the “high holy day” Christians, showing up on Christmas Eve or Easter morning. Or they be part of the “well, I was baptized and I believe in God, so I don’t need a church” crowd.

As recent news shows, a growing number of younger people are not only rejecting regular worship, but are rejecting God.

Church, as an institution, is frowned upon by our culture. The pedophilia priest issue in the Roman Catholic Church stained the entire Christian Church. I’ve been called various evil things about my role as a “priest” and questioned as to why hasn’t “my church” done anything to stop the abuse of children, even though I am not a Roman Catholic priest, but I wear the same type of black clergy shirts with a plastic tab in the neck. Other churches including my own Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod are called out for holding onto beliefs that are archaic and don’t have a place in the modern world. “Why doesn’t your church have women pastors,” I am asked. “Why do you hate gays and transgendered people,” is thrown at me even though I nor my church doesn’t hate gays or transgendered people.

Yet, even in mainline churches who embrace a modern view of the culture within the church are finding out that they, too, are seeing fewer and fewer people in their churches every Sunday.

“Young people don’t go to church.”

So the question of the viability of individual smaller churches is growing within the Church as a whole. Small churches can’t afford regular clergy leadership or any of the modern ways of worshipping that larger church institutions are making due with today. These smaller places of worshipping God can’t do the things larger churches do because there isn’t a support system to make them a reality. Every year, thousands of smaller Christian churches close because making a financial go of it is impossible.

And everybody blames the young people who don’t go to church.

The church, as a whole, needs to take the time to ask themselves questions about how they worship, how they do ministry, how they teach, how they evangelize, and how they serve their neighbor before they reflexively jump to the easy answer to the church’s problems that “young people don’t go church.”

We need to really take time to look at our churches and how we operate. Have our churches become social clubs where people in our churches meet for coffee and cake every week and do little on outreaching into our communities?

My LCMS, on a local level, is struggling. Small churches are closing. Where our urban churches are located, they are barely hanging on. And in many urban centers, our LCMS churches have just given up.

Some have ideas in which to save the church. Smaller churches could close up and join other churches so they can form slightly larger churches. More people would be in the pews every weekend, giving the newer church a chance at making it for a while.

Another idea is to close smaller churches in the suburbs and make them come together with a larger church so that this new, much bigger church can support missions within the urban areas.

Yet within our struggling churches, the people have the answer to all their problems – young people just have to come to church.

Maybe it is time for a new way to look at our local churches and how we “do church.” We need to begin to question our local church governance and our how we center our lives and our mission on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The time of the social club church is at its end.

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Church Gospel Life Living Hope

Abilities for the Church

Since I last wrote about using talents for the good of the Gospel, I started thinking about how to get this message across. In more established congregations, members may not be the most hyped up people when it comes to community outreach. Here at St. Matthew’s, we’re the same. A lot of our members are older, closer to retirement or wanting to move closer to family in other parts of the country rather than doing outreach here in the greater New Milford area. Others just haven’t done this type of work in the church before and they don’t know how to do it.

As I was pondering the importance of becoming a church whose core is bringing Jesus to people, it hit me: Not everyone is equipped to do this type of work, but they have other skills and abilities that can support and grow the church behind the scenes. In reality, a church doesn’t exist if it doesn’t have an active support group willing to do things to make the church stronger for new people and those already part of the church.

The important aspect of the wholeness of the church is that it works together to make discipleship essential. No one is greater than another. We are all equal in the eyes of God. Everyone has skills and talents that strengthen someone else’s faith and comfort level. Leadership doesn’t mean lording abilities over others; it means providing a vision and a dedication to make sure that all people inside the church are using their best abilities for the growth of God’s House.

Let’s say that someone in the church is great with kids. How can this person use this talent to help grow the church? People in the church can be terrific cooks or bakers or musicians or craftspeople. Others have great people skills or can come up with great ideas to enhance worship or the various ministries inside the church. Can these types of skills be used to make people feel comfortable and welcoming to new friends and potential disciples in the church?

Just because someone is not ready to outreach doesn’t mean they aren’t a vital part of the church! The individual talents we’re given can be used favorably for the spreading of the message of hope in Jesus Christ. Every ability each of us has can do just that! 

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Living Hope Prayer

My Prayer Life Isn’t Great

I have to make an admission – my prayer life isn’t very vibrant.

This is terrible since I’m a pastor. You’d think of all the people on the planet, the last person to complain about their prayer life would be a clergyman.

Yet, my prayer life isn’t great.

I don’t pray enough. And when I pray, I feel as though I’m rushing through the petitions so I could get onto doing something else.

I’ve thought about setting aside time on my schedule to pray, kind of like saying, “Between 8 and 9 AM, all I’m going to do is meditate and pray.”

It sounds good, but it ain’t happening. Life gets hectic very fast.

But the hectic life is my fault. I don’t organize my time well enough. Honestly, I’ve never been great at organization when it comes to merging my personal and professional lives. I compartmentalize too much, setting up group times for stuff needing to get done so my personal life doesn’t crash around me and stuff that the pastor needs to get done.

And even with compartmentalizing, setting up “Prayer Time” never happens.

I think I need to pray for my prayer life.


This weekend in church, we’re praying for:

  • An end to senseless violence as another horrific shooting happened this week at a bar in California. Truthfully, I’m getting tired of adding these petitions in our weekend prayers every time when a crazy person shoots up a public gathering. The sadness of these events rips at our souls.
  • Sunday is Veteran’s Day and we’re going to remember the Veterans of our church, community, and nation.
  • That the weather gets better in California that will help curtail the wildfires that are burning up the landscape and ripping apart lives as great numbers of people and families are losing so much.
  • And, for the Church and all Christians. We need to be better people.

Of course, our regular petitions for the sick and needy, asking for greater faith so we can trust God more, and for our church’s leadership here in New Milford.