The Glory Has Departed

Lutheran book boxes sent to three African seminaries -
a third one has been sent now.

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

The Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream - Sunday, 10 AM Central Daylight Time.
Wednesdays Romans 1-5 in Greek

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

which works as too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Norma A. Boeckler Author's Page

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Reminder - This Ski Sermon Shows What SP Mark Schroeder, DP Patterson, and DP Zank Suppor

Pastor Randy Ott, who graduated in 89 with Joel Lillo and other Shrinkers,
has proudly posted this sermon on his church websty.
The sermon is reproduced verbatim below.

October 28, 2012
150th Anniversary Worship
Pastor Jim Skorzewski Lesson: Ephesians 2:1-9, 19-21

Kill The Cow!
It’s Not About The Building

Yep...that’s one of those things.  I came in today and I ran in Pastor Ott and he said, “Hey, you brought your gown, right?”  I said, “You told me not to.”  He said, “Oh yeah, that’s right.”  Warm welcome to my guest visitors.  My name is Jim Skorzewski.  I go by Pastor Ski.  I’m a pastor in downtown Appleton at The Core.

I kind of have a disclaimer this morning.  If you have your worship bulletin, inside your worship bulletin, kind of in that insert there you’ll see; you’re going to need that.  Also, as Pastor Ott talked about this morning, you have some pencils.  We are going to start right down here.  What I found is, I’m kind of a boring preacher, so the way we keep people awake is we make them write lots of stuff down.

The other thing you also need to understand is the way we do things in my church is it’s very much interactive.  I don’t preach again until about 5:30pm, and I have lots of time. So the longer it takes for you to respond, the longer the sermon gets.  That’s just one of those things. 

How many of you have ever heard the term “sacred cow”?  I know I’m 40 years old. I’m old.  A lot of people don’t necessarily talk that way anymore, but I think it’s one of those things. Have you ever heard that term “sacred cow”?  If you have, just put your hands up, it’s okay.  Anybody want to venture out and say what that is or define that? 5:30pm... lots of time.  Don’t worry, if you’re wrong, I’ll just tell you.  It’s okay.  (India?)

In India they actually worship animals, cows, sacred cows.  But in our context, in our society today, a sacred cow is something that is holy and no one would ever talk about, touch, look to change, because it would so upset the culture.  So when Pastor Ott called me and he said, “Hey, I would love for you to come and talk at our 150th Anniversary.  Would you like to do that?  What would you like to talk about?”  I said, “How about I talk about why your building is bad?”  He went, “Great!  Love it!”

So if you have your notes today, one of the things we are going to look at right away is Point 1.  It says this... whenever we talk about any kind of a cow or sacred cow, we need to make sure that we always “check our motivation.”  One of the things we have to recognize is this... something like that, a sacred cow, can actually come in and stand in the way between our relationship with our God.  And if we’re honest and we are clear, anything that stands in the way of our relationship with our God is an idol.

You have that passage right away... Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature... which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5.)

I know right now you’re thinking “Oh man, 150 years.  We were going to come today and talk about how great it is.  We are going to talk about all these incredible things that happened.”  Maybe? Maybe.  But let’s be really honest and let’s look at all of the ways God has blessed us.  Let’s say first and foremost that we are going to check our motivation.  Nowhere is that clearer where maybe they started out in a really positive good way, but all of a sudden that motivation shifted then back in the Old Testament.

Maybe one thing I should clarify too, one of the things we really believe downtown, I know you guys believe this too, is that the Bible is the greatest book ever, right?  Can I get like an “Amen” or something?  It’s the greatest book ever.  One of the things we do is we do everything topically.  We take and we have this crazy idea that the Bible proves itself.  From the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation, it all focuses on our Savior Jesus Christ and it weaves that altogether.  So in my sermon today, you are going to see passages from all over that drive this point home.

Nowhere is it more clear that we need to look at motivation than the Old Testament in Genesis, right?  If you have your paper in front of you, just look at this text.  There’s a part of it you’re going to join in and read with me.  So check this out.  If you grew up in the church, you know this, right?  We have the tower of Babel and this is what happens. It says, They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.  Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
(Genesis 11:3-4.)

So what’s going on is all the people have been kind of nomadic.  They lived in tents. They’ve had temporary shelters, and now they get this great idea that they are going to take and become permanent.  Maybe for you guys here you can kind of understand that looking back.  When was your building built?  1927 but you actually started in 1802, right?  1862, I need my glasses.  I took piano instead of math.  Let’s be honest, right? So you had a long time where you were in a temporary structure.  So you can get this. You can get it.

So look at this next part... “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens... Read the next nine words with me... so that we may make a name for ourselves.  Whoa, I said nine words.  Just nine.  So that we may make a name for ourselves, and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.
I’ll be honest, this morning I got into my office really early.  I Googled how to get here because I had never been to Greenleaf or Morrison.  I still get lost in Appleton after five years.  I’m driving down County W and all of a sudden, guess what?  I see this immense structure.  I say, “That’s got to be the church.”  There it is, standing out, drawing in people.  And I thought right away, “Man, this is so crazy because this is just like the thing.”  When this building went up, why did we build the building?  Didn’t we do this thing because we, as simple people, we love to do things like this.  And maybe we don’t always realize we do it, but if we’re honest and we look at our heart, we do this. We look and we say, “We are going to build this incredible thing,” and we couch it and we hide it and we say things like this, “for the glory of God,” when really we’re thinking in our hearts, we are going to say it’s for God’s glory, but we want to make sure that this is for us.

I’d be willing to bet that as part of your 150th celebration, there are tons of things you looked at and said we are going to fix and we are going to make better.  You kind of went down and you had this checklist and you said, “Man, this is going to be good, and this is going to be good.”  And maybe even you couched it this way... “We’re going to make it better so that when people come in, it will be warm and it will be welcoming and they will love it, and they will want to come back and this will all be for the glory and the honor of God.”  Did you do that?  No one is answering now.

I’m not saying that’s wrong.  But I’m saying, are we honest?  So many times what happens is pride creeps in and we say we want the best.  We say we want it for God but really we want it for us.  I know this.  I’m a pastor downtown.  We spent the first four years, three and one-half years, in temporary places.  We started at an IMAX movie theater, moved to a concert hall, and here it is.  Are you ready for it?  Just recently, in June, we bought a bar that we turned into a church.  When you do that, you really can’t call it a “burch” or a “char.”  We call it a “chaloon.”  It just sounds better. As we are remodeling it, we can take and we can couch and say “We better have this.  We have to have this because guess what?  We want to do this for the Lord.”  Let’s be really honest.  This is Point 2 if you have your notes.  This is Point 2.  Let’s be really clear... “church doesn’t equal building.” 

Church doesn’t equal building.  So one of these great things, you have the passage in front of you, right?  Matthew 16, one of my favorite sections of all Scripture.  Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
(Matthew 16:17-18.)

Jesus takes his disciples up on a mountain, and this is what he said.  He asks them this question.  “Who do people say I am?”  His disciples just start going, “Some say you are John the Baptist.  Some say you’re a prophet.”  Then Jesus flips it and he drops it on them and he says this, “Who do you say I am?”  Simon Peter, who we can all relate to because he’s impulsive and he doesn’t think things through, he just starts talking.  He looks and he says, “You’re the Christ.  You’re the Son of the Living God.”  Good job Simon.  Jesus comes back and he changes his name from Simon to Peter and he does this. Check this out.  Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my (say it...) church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

I have three kids.  I have a 15-year-old daughter who goes to Fox Valley Lutheran High School.  I have a 12-year-old who is a 7th  grader at St. Peter.  And I have a 5-year-old who is also at St. Peter in kindergarten.  When my wife told me that we were expecting our third, I got a little bit nervous, but also a little bit excited.  In our house, we kind of name our kids for very specific reasons.  My oldest daughter’s name is Abigail.  That name means “the joy of my father.”  My second daughter is Megan.  It is a derivative of Margaret and means “the blessed one” or “the pearl,” brings a lot of joy.  So I said to my wife, “Man, if we’re having a third child, I need to know what it is, because if it’s going to be a girl and I’m going to have three girls, I have to prepare, and we are going to name her Mara,” which means “bitterness.” 

So we get to that incredible point where we get to have the ultrasound, right?  Those of you that have kids, you know this.  I was a pastor in Milwaukee.  Sometimes being a pastor gets perks because when you go in for the ultrasound, you’re not supposed to take people.  It’s just you.  But we were big like “you kids are part of it and you are going to have a little brother or sister and this is huge and we are going to find out.”  We said to our tech before, it was someone from our church, “can we bring our kids?”  They said, “Pastor, you’re not supposed to, but you’re my pastor, so sure.” 

So we go CIA on our kids.  “We are going to take you in this room.  It’s going to be dark.  Don’t talk.  You’re not supposed to be there.  It is a huge responsibility.  She is breaking rules.”  My kids are like “Okay.”  So we go in and my wife is sitting there.  They put the goo on and move it around and all of a sudden you hear the “whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.”  You know what I’m talking about?  My kids are there and the lady has the little baby up on the screen.  She grabs the John Madden pen and she says this... “Do you want to know what you’re having?”  I looked and I went, “Yes, of course I do.”  She took the John Madden pen and draws a huge circle.  She puts a dot right in the middle and says, “That right there is a scrotum.” 

My daughter who was seven jumps from her chair and does this... “YES!!!!  A SCROTUM!!!!”  I thought the baby was going to be born right there because my wife freaked out.  The tech doesn’t know what to do.  My daughter turns to her sister and goes “Abby, what’s a scrotum?” 

I know right now you’re thinking, what does this mean?  That’s a good Lutheran question, what does this mean?  I think that’s just what happened on the mountain, because Jesus says this.  Peter makes this confession, right?  “You’re the Christ.  The Living God.”  And Jesus comes back and he says, “Peter, on this rock, on this confession, on what you just said, I’m going to build a church.”  And I bet the disciples were like this... “WOO!!!”  “What’s a church?”  This is the thing.  You have common people.  You have common people, Jewish people.  The only place they went was synagogue, not church.  This is where Jesus instituted it. 

Notice what he said.  He’s not saying “Hey look.  Peter, this is what I want you to do. I want you to lie down and we are going to put in the foundation and we’re going to put pillars on you and boom, this is it.”  No, he looks and he says, “You guys, you disciples, you Peter, this message, this message that Jesus Christ is the One who was promised, the One who came, the One who lived, the One who died, the One who would be crucified and resurrected, all to fix a broken relationship with a God who is perfect, this message is the church.”  This message.

We have a saying downtown and it goes a little something like this... Hell is hot and eternity is long, and because of that, we don’t want people in hell for eternity.  Someone called me out recently and said, “You know, when you say that, hell is hot and eternity is long, that’s kind of negative.  Why don’t you say this, ‘Heaven is really good and eternity is really long, and we want you there with us.’”  I said, “I like that.”  This is what it is... Jesus loves you and he values you so much that he lives and dies for you.  He lives and dies for you.  That changes everything.

Notice what he says.  Look at this passage.  Pastor Ott read it before from the Lesson. Look at what he says... Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22.)

Downtown at my place, this is how I dress.  I’ll tell you, I get more ministry done outside of that building than I get done inside that building.  But it’s one of those things as we are getting our building set up and kind of how we conducted our ministry, you might not believe this, but we get some flack. 
In our new building, we have a 44-foot screen, and a stage, and a band.  I almost got in trouble when your kids sang because I was going to start clapping.  We clap.  We’re clappers.  It’s just one of those things.  One of the things I hear is this.  People will come and they’ll look at what we do.  They don’t worry about what we preach.  They don’t get caught up in that because that’s not really what’s important some people would say.  I disagree.  They look at how we do things and they say things like this... “What you’re doing isn’t really how Jesus would do it.”  Now let’s be really clear, if we’re going to do things the way Jesus did things, and we’re going to look at how Jesus did things, and we’re going to pattern and model everything after him, I’m going to tell you right now that you have a huge remodel project because Jesus wore sandals and preached from a boat.

Do you know what the crazy thing is?  He didn’t have gowns.  He didn’t have altars. He didn’t have screens.  He has a message.  The message is this.  The world is sinful and broken.  The world needs a Savior.  The world needs to be shown what love is and what value is.  And he says this, “I not only will tell you, I will do it.”

I read a lot.  Not necessarily books, but blogs and things like that.  I heard this great story. This couple was coming out of marriage counseling.  They go their separate ways.  He goes back to work and she is going home.  As she is going home, this is what happens.  She’s driving by this house and she sees this 86-year-old woman out there with a lawn mower in 97° mowing the lawn.  She stops.  She gets out.  She has heels on.  She has a dress on.  She says to the lady, “Hey look, I am going to mow your lawn for you.  I want to do this.”  The lady looks and says, “You don’t even know me. Why would you do this?”  She says, “Because I love you.  That fact that it’s 97° out, you’re in your 80s and you’re out here mowing, I love that, and I love you.  I believe that love does.” 

So the wife gets out and starts mowing the lawn.  The lady goes around the house and she goes into the garage and gets another lawn mower and starts mowing the other side with her.  She says to her “It’s because love does.  I’m so overwhelmed by your gift.”

This is the thing.  I’ll call Pastor Ott out right away.  I loved everything he said in the beginning except one thing.  He said we have to preach the Gospel.  I don’t ever talk like that.  I’ll never talk like that.  Because guess what? I get to.  I get to.  It’s not a have to.  This is it.  When you recognize true faith, what Jesus has done for you, everything changes.  For some of you here, you maybe never had that moment.  I know.  This is one of the things I believe, and you’ll hear me say it over and over again if you come to our church.  If you want to impress people, talk about your successes.  If you want to impact people, talk about your failures.

So you want to talk about things not happening in church and buildings are great and we’re going to get there, but let’s talk about what happens outside the church.  I’m going to tell you a story about my failure as a pastor.  It was my vicar year.  I vicared at Neenah, Martin Luther.  It was a Friday.  I had to have my sermon in.  I was late and my bishop calls me and says, “I need you to go to the hospital.”  I didn’t want to go to the hospital because I had to get my sermon in because I had a deadline.  But I went to the hospital.  I’ll tell you, I ripped the guy off.  The guy I went to visit, the guy I did devotion with, I ripped the him off because I wasn’t there.  I was there physically, but I wasn’t there emotionally, I wasn’t there spiritually and I wasn’t there mentally.  I ripped him off because I was so caught up in what I had to get done.

I got in the elevator... understand, this is like in May or June, and vicar year ends in August.  So really I’m about 15 months from being a “real pastor.”  It was close.  I get in the elevator and I’m going down.  There were two people in there.  Two people.  They were talking about someone who had cancer.  I think it was their mom or their aunt. They were weeping and talking about there being no hope.  Guess what I said? Nothing.  In fact, this is how bad it is.  I left.  I got in my car.  I drove back to my house. I got seven blocks from the church, and it was like this... what are you doing?!  I turned back around.  I drove back in.  How many of you have ever been to Theda Clark in Neenah?  They have the nice older ladies who are always sitting at the counter.  I went in and I said, “Ma’am!  I was just in the elevator with two people!  They were talking about someone who was sick and dying.  Do you know who they were?!”  You’re in a hospital.  I remember walking back to my car and thinking “Guess what?”  Never again.

I loved something right away when I came in here and sat down.  I loved this.  On the front of your bulletin, you have this... Morrison Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.  And you have this... Our mission is to glorify God as we help people grow in the Gospel and go with the Gospel.  I wonder, I don’t know because I’m not here, I wonder if your people know it and they see it and they do it and they live it.  I would challenge you.  You’re the church.  You’re the church. Church isn’t about buildings.  You are the church.  Do you do that?  Do you adopt this as your own mission statement?  Or do you have your own mission statement?

Our church’s mission statement downtown is this... The Core exists to transform lives for Jesus through faith that is real, relevant and relational.  My personal mission statement is this, because I’ve developed my own... From every pore of my body, I will ooze Jesus Christ so that in this world, as I brush up against people, my sweaty, oozy Jesus will get all over them!  Every day he gives you opportunities.  Every day!

This is the thing though, final blank.  We know that “God brings incredible blessings through buildings.”  150 years?  I want you just to think about this for a second.  We’ll put your pastor on the spot.  How many baptisms have been done here?  All of them? Good.  Got a number?  Lots.  How many confirmations?  Lots.  How many weddings? In fact, I bet some of you who are here when you walk in here you remember how you stood up here with the pastor.  It may not have been Pastor Ott.  It may have been someone else because we’re interchangeable, right?  Pastors come, pastors go, it’s that message now here with the Word and in front of your friends and in front of your family and before God when you made those vows.  Now every time you come in here you’re reminded how incredible it is that God blesses you.  Think about how many people have had funerals here where you have celebrated they had won the race and they’re now home.  You can’t do that on a street corner. 

Buildings are incredible blessings.  But let’s be clear.  It’s here where you bring people. It’s here where you come to be recharged.  Look at this passage... One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek:  that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4.)

You have to understand, our building is so not like this.  Right Mark, Reese? Not like this. So this morning I come in, and I was really paranoid because I figured I was going to get lost.  It’s just one of those pastor things when you are guest preacher and I kind of figured that I was going to roll in at like 9:05am and be lost driving around like “Where is the church?”  But here it is.  I walked in and I looked up here and this is exactly what happened.  I was just like this... “Oh man!  This is so cool!  So cool!”  This is what I noticed.  Your building is so visitor friendly.  You have good people.  I sat down this morning and the people behind me introduced themselves to me, and they said, “You must be Pastor Ski.”  I think the mic gave it away, I don’t know, might be, right? Everything is neat and it’s tidy.  And this is the thing... you are prepared to welcome guests, because it’s that message that is so important.

I know that we cannot do anything to enhance the Gospel.  I loved what Pastor Ott said before... Our future is not our kids.  Our future is not our building.  Our future is this Gospel.  And you realize it, right?  It’s not about form.  It’s about that message. I love that he says “I want to dwell in the house of the Lord.”  I don’t know how it is for you, but this is how I hope it is for you.  This is how it is for us downtown.  On Sundays, our people look forward to coming because it’s here where they get recharged.  It’s here where they get to hear how much Jesus loves them.  It’s here that no matter what kind of week they have, when they walk through the doors, there are people who look and say “Hey, I love you and I’m glad you’re here and I’m glad you’re here to hear what He’s done for you, because it fills your cup and it sends you out.” 

Last passage, check this out... Lord, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells. (Psalm 26:8.) This is what I think.  Do you remember this one? You all know it... do it.  Here’s the church... 5:30pm!  I want to see all the hands up. Here’s the church, here’s the steeple, open the doors, see all the people.  Good.  You can clap for that.  We’ll clap for that, it’s nice.  Understand this, how do they get here?  How do they get here? 

I don’t know Morrison at all, but I know this.  I know there are people in your life right now who don’t know Jesus.  Or maybe, maybe they know a Jesus, but they don’t know the Jesus.  They’re hurting and they’re broken.  This is my hope... my hope is that you have this incredible building and this is what you do... you don’t come in and look and say this is a museum of saints.  I hope you don’t come in and say things like “this is my pew” or “this is where my family sat” or “this is how it is” but rather that “this place here is a hospital for sinners,” where people who you know in your life you can bring in and you can say things like this, “Man, you’re life stinks right now.”  Or “Man, you’re hurting right now?  Let me tell you about my best friend, because my best friend makes it better.”  “You’re feeling unloved or unwanted or used?  My best friend doesn’t do that. In fact, my best friend says the opposite.  You are so loved.  You are so valued.  You are so wanted that he lives for you and he lays his life out and he dies for you.”  I tell you, that’s humbling.  It’s humbling.

I don’t know what kind of people you are, but I think this is my thing.  This is what we built for downtown.  I know Randy and I know he does this.  It’s great to look back and it’s great to celebrate what God has done, but let’s be crazy.  Let’s be reckless for the Gospel.  Let’s look forward.  Let’s ask questions like this... the last 150 years have been incredible, what are the next 150 years going to look like?  When we say how many baptisms and he says all of them and he says lots, what does that mean in the future? This is the thing, you are a part of that!

In my church downtown, we’re a huge outreach.  That’s what we do.  We push that. We push that.  We push that.  Somebody always asks this question to me... how many people do you have on your outreach committee?  How many people are on your evangelism committee?  I always laugh and I say to my assistant, “How many people were in church last week?”  She says “270.”  I say, “What about the week before?”  She says “330.” I say, “That’s how many we’ve had the last two weeks.”  They look and they say “You don’t have an outreach committee?  You don’t have a evangelism committee?”  I say “I do, they’re called Sunday worshipers.”  We’re not going to do that. We’ve removed the responsibility from the people.  Rather it’s this message that changes hearts, changes lives and if we are honest, it changes eternities and that’s our responsibility.  The thing is that it’s not a have to, it’s a get to.  It’s a can’t help but.

This is my hope and my prayer for you this morning... we get to look back a little bit, but we look forward, and we get excited to see what our God is going to do.  We get fired up.  And man, from every pore of your body you ooze that goodness, that love, that compassion.  And that you bring those people here so that they can hear what he has done.  We ask for his help in this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.