MAY 23

Tuesday, MAY 23, 2023

Pastor Bruce Kischnick, Grace Lutheran Church, New Albany, IN

“The Good That I Would…”

READING: Romans 7:15-20, 24-25 – I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it…What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!

The Terminix man came to my house the other day for our annual termite inspection. He looked inside and outside the house and thankfully found no sign of termites. As he was doing it I thought back to my first interaction with the company. Back then they placed bait stations all around the house. These were green plastic cylinders that were sunk into the ground. Inside each cylinder was a bait of some kind that termites found irresistible. They would enter the bait station and eat a poison that I guess they fed to their young and all of them died. That was the idea at least. They don’t use those anymore. They found that the bait worked so well that termites came from all corners and some of them decided not to wait at the station for their turn. Instead they began to chew on the house. The cure was worse than the disease.

The same thing happened when you used a Japanese Bean Beetle trap. Remember those? Some of them were housed inside a brightly colored plastic sunflower that you stabbed into the ground in your yard. The Japanese Bean Beetles caught a whiff of the bait contained inside and came at high speed, entered the trap, and couldn’t get out. Death to all Bean Beetles! The problem was the beetles came in such numbers that some of them stopped off for a snack on your roses, flowers, green beans, and other munchies. You found yourself with more Japanese Bean Beetles than you would have had without the trap. The cure was worse than the disease!

St. Paul says much the same in what I call his “Do-Do Section” of Romans 7. He says that if we want to gain God’s favor by doing good works and justifying ourselves by our own righteousness, then we are doomed to failure. He points out that as much as a person might desire to do good all the time, the truth is that sin is always there to show itself and taint every good intention we may have. His whole point is that if we think we can gain salvation by our own efforts, if we can perfect ourselves, we are in deep “do-do”! Doesn’t work. Can’t work. Won’t work.

Worse yet, when people convince themselves of the possibility of gaining God’s favor by doing good works, they blind themselves to their need for Jesus. If I can get to heaven by earning my place, then what do I need with a savior? Or, if Jesus just opened the door to heaven, but I have to climb the “ladder of righteousness” to get in, how much righteousness does it take? How many good works will get me there? And if I can pay for my sins with good works, who decides what constitutes a good work?

Paul says, “What a wretched man I am!” He says that for all of us. “There is no one who does what is right and never sins. No, not one.” (Romans 3:12) When people rely on works righteousness, the cure becomes worse than the disease because there are only two outcomes in that kind of life: despair or self-righteousness. Either a person despairs of ever being saved and becomes hopeless and fearful of God, or a person becomes proud of their own goodness and judgmental of others who don’t or can’t live up to their level of devotion.
In either case, the cure is worse than the disease.

When Paul concludes with, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” he speaks the good news of the Gospel to his listeners. We, as God’s people, do good works NOT IN ORDER to be saved, but because we ARE SAVED through Jesus’ merits alone. What a joyful outcome! What a rescue that is! If I had to save myself by doing good, the sin in me would doom me from the start. But because Jesus has already won salvation for me, I put my trust in him and in thanksgiving I do as much good as I can muster. And where I fail, I confess it and find forgiveness in Jesus alone. He is the True Cure for my sin disease, thanks be to God! Amen.



1) This Sunday, May 28, our eighth-grade confirmands will be Confirmed in the faith. Come, hear them and encourage them in their commitments to Jesus. This year’s class is: Mattie Barker, Judah Kischnick, Tristin Lawhorn, Kendall Leis, Brianna Siebert, and Samantha Young.

2) Next Sunday, June 4, there will be a special Voters Assembly between the services to consider the appointment of Mitzi Lyon Schmelz to the new full-time position of Family Life Director. Mitzi served us 18 years as Youth Director, and we think she would be the perfect candidate to lay the foundation for this new ministry. I would invite you to attend at 9:15 in the Fireside Room.

Youtube Video:

PRINTABLE PDF: WDMay23.PDF — (502) 797-7407


MAY 22

Monday, MAY 22, 2023

Pastor Matthew Woods from Grace Lutheran Church in New Albany, Indiana


This year’s VBS theme is Highs and Lows with the theme of “Roll with Jesus through the Highs and Lows.” We trying to give the program a board game feel in order to teach kids that sometimes things don’t go like we want them to. This is especially true when one plays many board games. A friend of mine in Jr. High would come over often just to play monopoly. We would play pretty cut throat; no grace. By the time one of us had most of the property and hotels usually the other would concede defeat just to start another game and do it all over again.

One of the games many of us may know well is the game of “Sorry.” It was released in 1928. The goal is to get each of your four pieces out of “Start” and around the board to “Home” faster than any other player. To achieve this, you follow instructions on cards which you draw at the beginning of each of your turns. The instructions on the cards range from your first move on the board (‘1: start or forward’ or ‘2: start or forward and draw again’) to how many moves your piece can go (backwards or forwards). But the card that everyone looks for from which the game gets its name is the ‘Sorry!’ card, which allows you to send a rival’s piece back to the beginning to start all over. When this happens, a player is supposed to say “sorry!” But of course, this is not really true. It is more like, “sorry about your luck, loser.”

When it comes to real life sorry is not a game at all. Just ask Peter who denied Jesus three times. When Jesus asked Peter if He loved Him in John 21:15, note how Jesus asks the first time. “Peter, do you love me more than these?” Peter once braggadocios about being more faithful than the rest now humbly responds simply “Lord you know that I love you.” As he answered Peter left off “more than these.” We can see how Peter was truly sorry when He wept bitterly when the rooster crowd and Jesus looked at him from across the courtyard of the High Priest in those early hours. By this point we can also see Peter’s humility as he answers Jesus. And notice Jesus never asked Peter if He was sorry. He asked Peter, “Do you love me?” Peter also did not say he was sorry. He simply responded in a fashion that showed he understood the real picture of himself. We can see that He was sorry. And that is the point for this today. Sorry is something that we see not just something we say. It is not like the game of Sorry where one says it but actually does something completely the opposite of sorry.

Consider the Ninevites in the book of Jonah. Chapter three reveals something remarkable. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, a nation known for its brutality and cruelty. In the eyes of Jonah and perhaps many others Assyrians were the worst kind of people. Jonah did not want them to have God’s grace and initially rebelled and tried to sail in the opposite direction. He was famously swallowed up by the giant fish and for three days He was in the belly of that creature. While inside the fish Jonah realizes his condition; his life was ebbing away within. And so, he is apologizing and praising God. “What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” How do we know that he meant it, meant that he was sorry? Jonah keeps his vow and goes to the city of Nineveh and preaches a message of repentance to people he did not like.

Curiously, these worst kind of Gentile people who were known for worshipping idols at their temples in the very city Jonah was preaching in…well, they repented. They never said that they were sorry. They simply took steps to demonstrate it. Starting when the common folks and working all the way up to the king, everyone was instructed to put on sackcloth and fast. And so, the king himself took off his royal robes and put on a burlap suit and sat in the dust far from his throne. And amazingly the Lord forgave the city and did not destroy it. Once again “sorry” was never said. “Sorry” was demonstrated by their actions. They willingly interrupted their daily routines to fast before the Lord.

Back when I was young and I did something to hurt my sister or my cousins I was usually brought before them and told to say, “sorry” to them. You probably know this drill. Reluctantly, and even defiantly, we would fold our arms and say “SORRY!” And then came the second part of how this works which is to say it “nicely.” Which I usually did holding on to a little bit of attitude while I said it.

Truth is…genuine sorrow does not come naturally to sinful people. Sinful people prefer the game of “Sorry” over genuine sorrow. Genuine sorrow does however, have deep meaning and it is always best demonstrated more than said. Genuine heart felt sorrow, called contrition, lays claims to the cross of Jesus. Peter’s sorrow led to become a more humble disciple who was more ready to follow Jesus than before. Jonah’s sorrow led him to follow through on his call.

Likewise, when a marriage is struck by a betrayal of trust genuine sorrow must be demonstrated. Once a couple came to me rather randomly while I was serving in my last congregation. Money was tight for them but somehow the young fellow thought it would be okay to buy and expensive bow without letting his wife know. He brought it home and tried hiding it on the porch as if his wife wouldn’t find it. It did not take long for her to find it of course. She felt betrayed. This bow was only a symptom of deeper problems that were becoming a patter that needed to change. She felt that if their marriage was going to make it a greater transparency and trust needed to be practiced. So, we talked about this for a couple of visits. Happily, it worked out. He demonstrated a sorrow by taking the bow back to the store for a refund. They started communicating more about their purchases and when they had the money, he got his bow. Trust was restored and the last time I remember seeing them at the county fair they talked about how well things were going.

Simply saying, “sorry” and then keeping the bow would not have meant anything. However, taking the bow back and showing a willingness to work together demonstrated a sorrow. And this again is the point.

In a world that is consumed with ‘justice this’ and ‘justice that’ our Lord calls us to practice repentance and grace. We are called to a life of repentance. We are called to a life of humility that is reflective of Jesus. And when we do, we demonstrate in our sorrow whom we truly love.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30


Youtube Video: — (502) 523-9327



Tuesday, MAY 16, 2023

Pastor Bruce Kischnick, Grace Lutheran Church, New Albany, IN

“He Brought His Best”

READING: Genesis 4:2b-7 – Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.

Some of you will remember a fellow by the name of Skip Hentchel. He was a golfer, a jack-of-all-trades, a real go-getter, but what you might not have known was that he was a very skilled gardener. He and his wife, Norma, lived his last years together in a house trailer in Jeffersonville. The back of his lot was a riot of flowers in all colors and full of all kinds of vegetables by the end of spring. He was particularly fond of Irises, and he actually cross-pollinated his Irises and developed several new and distinct varieties that he took to gardening shows and flower shows. He used to joke that he could make some money off his creations except he often traded the bulbs for those of other Iris growers.

One day as I was visiting him and Norma to bring Communion, Skip took me out into his Iris patches and showed me all the varieties he had. He was particularly proud of several varieties that he had developed that had double and even triple blossoms. That meant there was a blossom within a blossom within a blossom – very lovely and very rare. Later as I was about to leave he asked me if I would like to have some Iris bulbs for my yard, and I said gratefully, “Absolutely!” He said he would dig some, treat them for parasites, and drop them off at church sometime the next week.

True to his word the following week a bag with a dozen bulbs appeared on my desk. I took them home, prepared a bed right where I could see them from the living room, and planted them. By fall, I had a nice stand of Irises. When the spring came they popped right up but they didn’t blossom. Skip said that was to be expected. They would certainly blossom the following spring, and they did. But to be truthful, I was disappointed at first. All of the blossoms were snow white. I was expecting colored ones, even a variety of colored ones, but here they were, just plain white.

When next I saw Skip, he asked if I had Irises, and I assured him I did indeed and thanked him for them. Then he casually commented that he had given me some of his own triple-blossomed he had developed. Then he also told me how the white ones were the rarest of the bunch and among his favorites. Within myself I was convicted. I had felt disappointment with his gift not realizing their value and meaning. Skip had given me the very best of all his flowers, and I have treasured them ever since. They are in full bloom even as I speak, and they are gorgeous.

When Cain brought his offering before the Lord God, he brought “some” of his produce. Abel, on the other hand, brought the “fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.” In other words, Abel brought the very best and most choice portions while his brother put little thought or effort into his offering. He went through the motions, and God knew it. It wasn’t disappointment with the gift, it was disappointment with the giver. Cain put no love into his offering while Abel showed his thanksgiving and gratitude by giving God the best he had.

Sometimes you and I are definitely “Abels”, but sometimes we are most assuredly “Cains”. Sometimes we worship the Lord with our whole hearts. Sometimes we go through the motions while our hearts are far from him. God doesn’t grade us by the size of our gifts or the value of our gifts. Rather he looks at our hearts as we give to him our offerings, our praise, our worship, our service. What he looks for are hearts devoted to him with real love and real gratitude for all he has done and continues to do for us.

Skip gave me the very best of his flowers. It was a real sacrifice that he made to give me flowers that every spring remind me of Skip and his generous spirit. Once I realized what Skip had done, I valued the love and thoughtfulness that his gift represented. Abel gave God his absolute best because his heart was filled with love and thankfulness. God read his heart and Abel found favor in God’s sight. Cain gave haphazardly and with a poor attitude. God read his heart and Cain didn’t find favor in his sight. There’s something to be learned here. We want our offerings, worship, and service to truly reflect our love for the Lord for all his gifts to us. So when next you set out to offer your gifts to the Lord, stop, reflect, and bring that gift with a heart set on giving God the glory due his name. Make it not just “some” of your produce, but “the fat portions of the firstborn of your flock.” God is worthy of our best. Amen.



1) Our Confirmands will make their confession before the Church on Sunday, May 21, some in early service and the rest in late. Then on Sunday, May 28, they will be Confirmed in the faith. Come, hear them and encourage them in their commitments to Jesus. This year’s class is: Mattie Barker, Judah Kischnick, Tristin Lawhorn, Kendall Leis, Brianna Siebert, and Samantha Young.

Youtube Video:

PRINTABLE PDF: WDMay16.PDF — (502) 797-7407



Monday, MAY 15, 2023

Pastor Matthew Woods from Grace Lutheran Church in New Albany, Indiana

“Trust In the Lord With All Your Heart”

The late Dr. James Kennedy, author of Evangelism Explosion shares a couple of thought providing illustrations from page 101 of His 3rd edition. “Imagine that you are out in the middle of a lake and there are two rowboats and you are standing with one foot in each boat. One boat, however, is filled with holes and is sinking fast. It is obvious that unless you do something you will soon be in the lake. The boat with the holes represents ourselves with all the leaks caused by sin. The boat without holes represents Christ. It should be obvious that with one foot in each boat we shall end up in the same place that we would have ended up in we had had both feet in the boat marked “self.” The only safe place to be is to have both feet firmly planted in the boat marked Christ.

Or to change the picture, suppose that you were trying to cross from one cliff to another one which is a hundred feet away. It is five thousand feet down to the rocks below. You have, however, a one-inch-thick piece of rope which is capable of holding up several tons. There is a difficulty though, for you have only fifty feet or rope. I say, “Do not worry! I have fifty feet of thread. We can tie my thread to your rope and then tie that to trees on either cliff and then you can go across.” You decline my offer and I respond, “What is the matter? Do you not trust the rope?” “Yes,” you say, “I trust the rope but I do not trust the thread.” Then let’s change the story and make it ninety feet of rope and only ten feet of thread. You’re still not comfortable. Then suppose we make it ninety-nine feet of rope and only one foot of thread. One inch of thread? You see, if you have one inch of thread, you will be just as dead on the rocks below as if you tried to cross on a hundred feet of thread. The rope obviously represents what Christ has done and the thread represents what we have done. We must trust in Christ alone. As Charles Spurgeon put it, “If we have to put one stitch into the garment of our salvation, we shall ruin the whole thing.”

The book of Proverbs says (Proverbs 3:5) “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Trusting God means having confidence in Him, that what He says, He will do. Trusting God implies that we believe in His integrity. But trusting Him with all our heart goes a step further. Trusting Him with all my heart implies that I would trust Him no matter what the cost, or the risk. Yet not even the disciples on Good Friday could honestly say they trusted God with all their heart. Jesus invited them in John 14:1 to trust in Him. Fear for their lives kept them behind locked doors. Later they would demonstrate a fearless trust in Jesus and were ready to accept whatever cost went with being a disciple of Jesus even in the very Temple courts where Jesus’ enemies roamed.

Wouldn’t it be great to have the courage of the three men of Daniel 3 who willingly went to the fiery furnace rather than bow to a false idol? The famous history of David and Goliath is exciting because David takes the giant down in the name of the Lord. His courage outshines his older brothers and even King Saul himself. But for most of us that is not the level of trust most of us have in the Lord. The proof is how often we try to do our thing, change the rules, or lessen the commands God puts on us. We all want heaven but not always the obligations.

Trust is however, essential to faith. Faith cannot exist without it. Life cannot be lived without trust. So, consider a few basic of aspects of trust. More could be said but for the sake of time we will consider these.

First, trust must be learned. David did not believe that the strongest man would win the fight. David as a shepherd had defended his sheep from both a lion and a bear; both are much stronger than David. David had a close relationship with God; he was trusting God to rescue him (17:37). The issue for David was not that there wasn’t any danger. Goliath was a killer. But because of his experience with the lion and the bear he had a confidence in God that Goliath would fall. Likewise, our experience to excel at previous challenges and obstacles or maybe just getting through them when we thought we wouldn’t provides a resume of events that prepare us to face our our own giants.

Secondly, expect some failure. Sinful human beings are famous for making a mess of things. Peter famously denied Jesus three times. It was not a lack of love for Jesus. It was a lack of trust and therefore a lack of courage. He wept bitterly seeing his unfaithfulness to Jesus. Sometimes trust may be broken. When it does expect that trust will have to be rebuilt in small, deliberate steps—and often it takes a lot of transparency, patience, and hard work. And remember the deeper the hurt the longer this may take. Believe however, that it is possible for trust to be rebuilt. Broken trust is only healed in the grace of forgiveness. The relationship often changes. One is more aware of their own mistakes and may be more on their guard because of the betrayal of one we love.

Finally, trust is only learned by trusting. I know this sounds like the first one. Here however, it is not the lessons learned and then applied in trusting but the progression that trusting leads to in that it brings one closer to the Lord. Nicodemus came to Jesus at night looking to understand Jesus wondering if Jesus was the Messiah. Much later Nicodemus would openly follow Jesus and aide Joseph of Arimathea in Jesus’ burial in the tomb. Somewhere, little by little, miracles, signs, and even the way in which Jesus died; lifted up like the serpent on the pole all contributed to trusting Jesus as Messiah. Trusting Jesus at night became an open faith willing to accept the cost of their careers and a risk of their own indictments just by associating with Jesus. Learning to trust begins by trusting someone—a doctor, a mechanic, contractor, a spouse or even a pastor. It always assumes some risk and some cost. But learning to trust Jesus may come from being honest when we would rather hide. It may be learned by resisting temptation or forgiving someone. It may be learned by applying the numerous teachings of the Sermon on the Mount all with the goal of trusting Jesus with our salvation—which the point of all trust.

Last and most important point. Trust in Jesus for salvation is unique. Dr. Kennedy’s point about trusting only in our own abilities the thread breaks or the boat sinks. Trust in the Lord must exceed all other trusts. But here again, is the beauty of trust. David teaches trust in the Lord can be learned. Peter teaches us that a broken trust can forgiven and may lead to even stronger relationships. Finally, Nicodemus teaches that trusting Jesus is learned by trusting Jesus with the Word. The purpose of trust is to bring us ultimate to our Father’s House in heaven.

Trust in the Lord with all Your heart. It is challenging but Jesus never said following Him would be easy. In fact, He said it would be hard. But he also said it will come with the greatest of rewards. May the Lord bless us to trust in Jesus with all our heart so that we may hope in the greatest of rewards.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30


Youtube Video: — (502) 523-9327



Tuesday, MAY 9, 2023

Pastor Bruce Kischnick, Grace Lutheran Church, New Albany, IN

“Nobody Knew”

READING: Luke 23:50-56 – Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

Our swimming pool is open. (Yeah!) Since it’s been open we’ve had more cold days than warm, but I am still the one who has to check the chemicals, clean out the filter, empty the skimmer basket, and generally prepare it for use. Don’t get me wrong, it’s one of the best investments Becky and I have made in our property. All eight of our grandchildren have learned how to swim either in or because of our pool. In the summer they love to come over and go swimming. They frolic and do cannonballs, make a lot of racket, and generally have a great time together. They just don’t have any idea how much work Papa does to keep the pool in good shape and the water safe and clean. They just don’t know.

On Good Friday evening we have a tradition of taking a “Christ Banner” down from the chancel cross, wrapping it in burial cloths, and carrying it to a tomb we have outside near the entrance. If you’ve been there for the service, then you know how moving that portion of the service can be. The pastors and the acolyte lead everyone out of the Sanctuary in complete silence. We wait until everyone is gathered around the tomb, then we place the “body” inside the tomb and roll the “stone” in front of the opening. After a few moments we send everyone off to their vehicles in complete silence.

What I particularly like about this tradition is how it gives us insight into that first Good Friday as the sun was beginning to set. We come out there and wait in silence as everyone spills out of the church. As we wait for them, I listen to the sounds of the evening. One hears birds singing their evening songs. Sometimes you hear a dog barking somewhere in the distance. Often you’ll hear children yelling to each other, or a mother trying to get her children into the house for dinner or a bath. One year a group of lady friends were having margueritas together in the backyard of one of our closest neighbors. They were laughing and talking excitedly even as we were sad and solemn. They are the normal sounds of the evening on a Friday in the spring. Those folks in the neighborhood just don’t know what we’re up to while they go about their normal routines.

And that’s JUST what was going on while Joseph and Nicodemus, Mary and the other women were putting a dead Jesus into a brand-new tomb. People around them were going through their normal Friday evening, “Day of Preparation” activities. If they stopped to listen, Jesus’ tiny band could hear mothers shouting for their children to come in before the sun went down and the Sabbath began. Dogs were barking, donkeys were braying, birds were singing their evening songs. It was just another Friday and THEY DIDN’T KNOW what God had just done for them and every other human being in the world. His Son had just been sacrificed. Jesus had faced the wrath of the Father, been cut off from his mercy, left to die while everything else around him went on just as before. People went about their routines, their preparations, their work, without any knowledge of what had taken place on that fateful day. Many would never know nor care. Others would find joy, hope, and peace in those events and what would follow.

The world did not stop and bow in silence and wonderment as Jesus hung dying on that cross. From a distance they simply saw three more criminals being executed by the Roman authorities just as they had on so many other days. It happened often enough that many just looked the other way. The world did not recognize Jesus. Even those close to the action didn’t think much of it. The Jewish leaders were satisfied that they had removed a thorn from their side. The Romans were satisfied that they had kept the Jewish leaders from causing them problems. The disciples were hiding in fear and confusion. The women were already planning the completion of their duties when the Sabbath was over. THEY JUST DIDN’T KNOW what had just been accomplished. Easter would change all of that.

It started small – just a few women, angels, an announcement. Then came reports of sightings and contact. Then Jesus appeared to them IN THE FLESH. Before anyone realized what was happening, the Church was born and the Gospel of Jesus Christ changed the world and changed eternity for those who put their faith in him. And his Word continues to change us and comfort us and give us peace. There are many who still don’t know and we want them to. But for you and for me, the words HE IS RISEN still resonate and give us a thrill. He is risen. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.



1) Our Confirmands will make their confession before the Church on Sunday, May 21, some in early service and the rest in late. Then on Sunday, May 28, they will be Confirmed in the faith. Come, hear them and encourage them in their commitments to Jesus.

2) SPECIAL VOTERS ASSEMBLY on May 14 during the Sunday School hour, 9:15, to decide upon a proposal to establish a new full-time position of FAMILY LIFE DIRECTOR and a possible candidate to fill that position in the short term. I would encourage you to be there.

Youtube Video:

PRINTABLE PDF: WDMay9.PDF — (502) 797-7407



Monday, MAY 8, 2023

Pastor Matthew Woods from Grace Lutheran Church in New Albany, Indiana


What is devotion? Maybe we can’t define it but I’ll bet we can describe it.

It’s being married for 50 years and still letting your spouse have the last piece of pie.

It’s being married for 72 years.

It’s the daughter who lives with her elderly mom and dad because mom and dad need help with just about

It’s a husband grateful to be helping his wife walk into church after dropping her off at the door because she can still get there.

It’s the wife who tends to every need of her husband during his illness—everyday for over ten years.

It’s the widow who writes cards to her friends, remembering every birthday, anniversary, holiday, and get-well moment.

It’s the 90-year-old widow who although bent over her walker from age still manages to get in the car to visit her friend in the nursing home each month.

It’s the mechanic who prefers to do the job right and honestly for his customers because it’s what His father would expect of him.

It’s the janitor who double checks the locks on the doors, makes sure the bathrooms are clean, and grass looks good, because it’s been his church for most of his life.

It’s the single mom making many trips to the doctor with her sick daughter to find out what’s making her sick and what to do about it.

It’s young parents of a little girl whose beautiful long hair had to be cut to endure an important medical procedure and having the creativeness to call it a “rock star haircut” which makes her smile big.

It’s that same mom who camps out at the hospital just to keep her daughter company.

It’s another mom who makes it a point to learn every detail of her daughter’s illness just so she can be more helpful every way possible.

It’s a friend from AA who becomes the POA of a dying friend and keeps him company until he dies; then calls his estranged family to comfort them too.

It’s the generosity to a deceased friend’s daughter just because she randomly called for help in a crisis.

It’s the Dad who is fatally burned in an apartment fire because he desperately searched through the flames to save his little girl whom he thought was still inside.

It’s a young man who stops by the house of a family friend and veteran just to help get some things done that he can’t do anymore around the house—more to enjoy the company than be busy.

It’s the single mom who works two jobs to keep food on the table, clothes on her kids backs, and a place to call home.

It’s the single dad who takes his kids to school everyday regardless of how busy his day gets.

It’s the coach who never gives up on the shy kid.

It’s the teacher who puts in the extra hours to get the kids ready for the spring recital.

It’s the doctor who diligently and sincerely helps a mom and grandmother with breast cancer by taking a personal interest in her well-being and praying for her.

It’s the pastor who has served for over 30 years at the same congregation.

It’s the music director who has been there almost as long.

It’s the preschool director who’s been at the preschool long enough to welcome second generations.

We know what devotion looks like.

Acts 2:42-47 shows us what devoted believers look like. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Can you see the joy in their devotion?

Can you see the love in their devotion?

How about the self-sacrifice?

Who wouldn’t want to be part of that kind of community?

And devotion we notice is never just a one off but verse 46 says is part of every day. A mother’s devotion is not just for the convenient times. Neither is that of the believer.

We know what devotion looks like.

Without knowing it perhaps people demonstrate devotion all the time.

True devotion is always of Christ.

True believers are devoted because Christ was devoted to them.

It’s the Savior who puts up with the disciples’ dull moments, and cheap contests over who is greater than another.

It’s the Savior who endures the abuse of his enemies, the nails, the scourge, and the cross to die while were yet sinners.

It’s the Savior who rises from the dead just to come back and promise to take us with Him.

We know what devotion looks like.

On behalf of those who depend on our devotion I say, “thank you.”

To those who are tireless in their devotion may God strengthen you.

For those who benefit from our devotion may the love of Jesus within that devotion fill you up just like those early Christians.

We know what devotion looks like.
My prayer is that when we see examples of devotion, we give thanks for it. Devotion between loved ones is a gift, a joy, a help, and a taste of the kind of devotion Jesus shows to us; All because He loves us and is devoted to our salvation day and night.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30


Youtube Video: — (502) 523-9327



Tuesday, MAY 2, 2023

Pastor Bruce Kischnick, Grace Lutheran Church, New Albany, IN

“Claiming to Be Somebody”

READING: Acts 5:33-39 – When they heard [Peter’s speech], they were furious and wanted to put them to death. But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. Then he addressed them. “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about 400 men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

Two weeks ago I journeyed to Frankenmuth, Michigan, in order to participate in a German party that, except for the past three years of the pandemic, has been held there every year for 47 years. It’s a night of German songs, stories, and jokes all done in our local dialect. We have a lot of fun, and we all enjoy hearing the language of our childhood spoken by our parents and grandparents for generations.

I have been one of the presenters for five of these parties now. I enjoy preparing and practicing my German so I can do it with fluency and from memory. This year the committee that puts the program together was very excited to learn that “The German” was coming. It seems that a man named Gunter from Neuengettlesau in Germany had heard about this event from an American pen pal. He volunteered to travel to Frankenmuth at his own expense to share folk songs and stories in the Frankish dialect similar to ours. He claimed to be a regular at various festivals in his region and would be happy to share his talents with us. So in every advertisement, every handbill, and every article about the party “The German” was touted as a new addition to the festivities. Everyone was excited about the coming of Gunter.

And, oh boy, was Gunter a disappointment. When he got on the stage with his guitar, he held forth for a full half hour, a good ten minutes more than he had been allotted. He sang folks songs all right. But he shouted them at the top of his lungs. When he wasn’t “shout singing”, he talked so fast that none of us could understand what in the world he was saying. His dialect was close to ours, but at the speed with which he spoke, not one of the 190 of us there could make out more than a few words and phrases here and there. He was a bust! I don’t think anyone wants Gunter to visit again. He had the look of the fanatic about him. It didn’t seem to matter to him whether or not anyone was gaining anything from his performance. He just needed to make noise.

When the Sanhedrin met to deal with this “Jesus Movement” that had sprung up in Jerusalem, they were of a mind to do away with the whole bunch of the Apostles. Peter’s speech did nothing to dissuade them. They had warned him and the others once before, only to find them continually teaching about the Nazarene in the Temple courts. Now their boldness and refusal to accept the discipline of the Sanhedrin enflamed them to the point of violence, much as they had done to Jesus at the time of the last Passover.

Then Gamaliel stands up and gets their attention. He has their ear because he is widely known and honored as a great rabbi, teacher of the law, and erstwhile Pharisee. He has the Apostles removed from the room, and then he addresses the Council in serious tones. He reminds them of two other “false Messiahs” who had risen up and made big claims. Theudas “claimed to be somebody” but he was killed and his movement came to naught. Then Jesus the Galilean came along, gathered disciples, and led a revolt against the Romans. He, likewise, was killed and all his followers scattered and forgotten. These guys just needed to make noise, and when the noise was quieted, their causes died with them.

So, he says, the same thing is likely to happen with the cult of the Nazarene. He is dead, and his motley crew of fishermen, tax collectors, and uneducated hangers-on are likely to be scattered and forgotten in short order. However, he warns them, if this man really was from God, if this movement is being guided by God’s will, then they will not be able to stop it or silence it. Then they’ll find themselves on the wrong side of God and the wrong side of history. They must be careful, thoughtful, and deliberate. And, for a time, they heeded Gamaliel’s advice. They only have the men flogged and warned. The real persecution comes sometime later.

You and I know how the rest of the story goes. “The Way”, as it came to be known, grew leaps and bounds because Jesus WAS from God. His birth, life, death, and resurrection were God’s plan of salvation for Jew and Gentile alike. His coming was foretold by the prophets. His appearance was light in the darkness, refreshment for the thirsty seeking righteousness, and hope for those weighed down by their sin. His movement could NOT be stopped by the Sanhedrin, the Romans, the pagans, or the devil. Jesus’ Resurrection became the spark that ignited and sustained Christianity, and it still does.

Gunter was a big disappointment. His coming to Frankenmuth was a bust. But the joy, hope, and deliverance Jesus brought to us continue to be the fruits of his Resurrection and our continuing watch for his Second Coming when this old world will be scrubbed clean and so will we. He is risen! He is risen indeed. Amen.



Youtube Video:

PRINTABLE PDF: WDMAY2.PDF — (502) 797-7407



Monday, MAY 1, 2023

Pastor Matthew Woods from Grace Lutheran Church in New Albany, Indiana

“Is All Love Good?”

This is a simple question. Is all love good? So, often love is thrown around like a coverall for anything and everything that one wants to consider good. If one loves someone or something it must be good. But is this always true? I would like to challenge this a little bit. I would like to do so with a some examples to demonstrate that this is not always actually true.

In C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce he describes a case of the “The Loving Mother.” She is in hell. She is also obsessed with her son, so much that all other things fall into insignificance. Lewis concludes that she does not love her son too much but too little. “There was no excess, there was defect. She loved her son too little, not too much. If she had loved him more there’d be no difficulty. I do not know how her affair will end. But it may well be that at this moment she’s demanding to have him down with her in Hell. That kind is sometimes perfectly ready to plunge the soul they say they love in endless misery if only they can still in some fashion possess it.” (Chapter 11 C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce)

This mother made an idol out off her son. Jesus says Matt 10:37-38 37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” We are more likely to take up our cross if Jesus is the primary focus of our love not just peripheral. We can make idols out of anyone in our lives.

Can we say the love of this mother is good? I would say not. Such love is suffocating and destructive. Such a “possessive love”, turns the person, that one whom they are in love with into a resource; someone to fulfill the other. Gradually isolation takes hold as mistrust is sown, convincing the loved one that friends, family, pastors, etc. have turned against them in some manner. Gradually and systematically those like the mother in Lewis’ book paint themselves as the only one the loved one can truly trust. The clue is how much those like the son will have to walk on eggshells; watch everything he says, and give up the last word on just about everything. Possessive lovers love only in so far as they can maintain some level of control and like a hidden trap grind them down with their protection, their decision making, and their love until it becomes a kind of hell for which they cannot escape. This is not a good kind of love.

This is the love that overprotects children and never lets them take risks; never allows a child to be frustrated, or struggle. A parent may think she is doing this for the child but may be more about the mom’s peace of mind and her own struggle with anxiety. This is also the love of cancel culture. It has only view of the world and that view is often undereducated, immature, or simply selfish. They miss out on learning and finding true solutions. This is a love that promotes safety at the expense of freedoms. This the love that demands conformity at all costs. Love at best is misguided self-promotion and at worst just likes to be in control.

What about a love that desires? In his book Holy Sexuality and the Gospel Christopher Yuan talks about desire for God verses how sin has shifted desire from God. Our desires have shifted toward the created things over the Creator. In regards to this he notes Romans 1 as it speaks of the foolishness used to suppress God’s truth as godless people turn to idols and the sexual perversions that often associate with idol worship.

Everyone experiences desires. Desire is not bad. God Himself has desires for our salvation. Love usually comes with a certain list of desires. “God desires all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth” 1 Timothy 2:4. It is God’s love for the world that brings the particular desire Jesus and the truth of His Gospel. God desires what is good. Likewise, Yuan points out that the redeemed can also have godly desires. Paul for example writes in Philippians 1:23 of a desire to be with God and in Romans 10:1 that he desires for His fellow Jews to be saved. Likewise, I would add that a godly parent would want their child to be safe, to succeed, to be a godly person of integrity, and hopefully, to remain faithful unto eternal life. A godly spouse is Jesus-centered spouse; one who puts the needs of his wife, for example, above his own well-being. It is a sacrificial love first.

More often, however, desire is portrayed negatively in scripture starting with Genesis 3 where Eve saw the fruit as desirable for gaining wisdom and she took some and ate it. The 9th and 10th commandments are all about controlling one’s desires. The problem with coveting is that it is a threshold sin. It leads to other sins as in the very famous case of David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11. Sexual sins that are outside of God’s covenant of marriage are of a desire that is sinful as well just like David’s lust for Bathsheba. Yuan rightly points out that many are quick to condemn homosexual sex but then are quick to overlook ‘living together’ as though this were sanctified because it is a heterosexual relationship. Jesus defines this as adultery and immoral (Matthew 19:1-11). Such desire is not sanctified if takes one outside of the plainly defined nature of Marriage as a covenant union and sex is meant to be unique to this definition. Love for another that ignores the Word of God is also not good.

So let’s ask the important questions. Jesus comes to Peter in John 21 with three simple questions. Peter denied Jesus three times. Three times Jesus asks Peter do you love me. The English falls woefully short. The first two times in verse 15 and 16 Jesus asks do you love with the Word agapas. Literally, “Do you love me as your Lord?” The third time is different. Vs 17 says, “The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. This time Jesus asks, “Do you philes love me as your friend?” Or as Pastor Denke recently expressed it, “Peter do you even like me?” And this is the one that saddens Peter. Jesus and Peter were close friends and Peter knew that he let Jesus down. Peter desired to do right by Jesus but that was short-circuited by a desire for self-preservation.

The questions I think apply to us. “Matt, do you love me as your Lord?” “Matt, do you respect me as Your friend?” Like Peter my version of love may actually turn into a denial of everything I believe in. Peter we know loved Jesus. Jesus knew that Peter loved Him. But in the first real moment where Peter is around the fire barrel being challenged love folds like a cheap lawn chair. Are we any different? Whether it be a desire for self-preservation or other desires; when the impulse of desire sings to us, so often we stumble.

The Lord’s desire for us never waivers. His love is good. His love brings us the cross. His love brings us places of promise like John 14. “In my Father’s house are many rooms. I am going to prepare a place for you and then come back so that you can be with me forever.” Jesus’ desire is for us to be one with Him as He is with the Father just as he prayed in John 17. Jesus also teaches us how one knows if our love is good. John 14:15 tells us that obeying God’s commands is a sure sign that something good is going on. That is perhaps the most challenging of them all mainly because we think that if we love something and feel good about it that it must be good automatically. God’s love however, is always good and thankfully directed toward us.

Is all love good? The answer at least from a scriptural point of view is no. Only the love that chooses to put the Lord above self, sacrificial love looks the most like Jesus. And this is the kind of love that is truly good. This is the love we are called to put into practice.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30


Youtube Video: — (502) 523-9327



Tuesday, APRIL 25, 2023

Pastor Bruce Kischnick, Grace Lutheran Church, New Albany, IN


READING: Luke 24:9-12 – When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Did you ever have one of those weeks? You know, a week where everything seemed to go wrong? I had one recently. Becky and I spent a week in Wisconsin visiting with our eldest son Andy and his family. We came back home on a Monday. That evening I went into the storage room in the basement to get something and I noticed a puddle under the water heater. Great, it was leaking. Called the plumber to order a new water heater. That same evening, I opened the pantry closet in the kitchen to get something and the light fixture flickered and dimmed. Ok, I need a new bulb. Got one and installed it, but the light flickered and dimmed and went out. Tested that bulb, but the bulb was fine. Something had gone wrong with the fixture. Went out later in the week, bought a new fixture and installed it. All was fine…not!

My lawn was beginning to get long and shaggy. Time to mow it for the first time. I bought my first riding lawnmower from my son Dan when he and his family moved to New York last summer. I really like it. So I hopped on the seat, checked the controls, and turned the key…nothing! Not a sound. Wouldn’t start. Dead battery! Had to mow the whole lawn with the old walk-behind mower that made me sore for two days. The day I put the new fixture in the pantry I also bought a new battery for the lawnmower and it starts just fine, now.

That was a Monday. Tuesday evening I was at the Elders meeting when my phone dinged. Becky sent me a text that read, “My car won’t start!” When I got home I found that the battery was dead. It had been in her car since 2016, so I got my money’s worth, but now to get the battery changed out. I took off the cables and tried to lift the battery. It wouldn’t come. I looked and there was a clamp holding it in place by a bolt that required a socket wrench. Ok, I have one of those. Brought out the set, tried various ones – too small, too large. The one I needed was 9/16. Guess which socket was not in my set or anywhere else I looked? Yup, the 9/16! Went to O’Reilly, bought a socket and a battery, and got Becky back on the road. And, oh, for my trouble, I woke up with a backache the next morning!

Did you ever have a week like that when everything seemed to go wrong? Well, the disciples did. On Palm Sunday they were carried to great heights by the singing and chanting of the Galilean pilgrims. Monday they saw Jesus exsert his authority at the temple. Tuesday they watched him make one delegation after the other look foolish. But things began to turn on Thursday. There was a strange Passover Seder in which Jesus changed the normal wording and gave dark hints about his body and blood broken and shed. Then disturbing news about one of them being a betrayer. Then everything came apart in Gethsemane when a mob surrounded them, sent them fleeing, and arrested their Rabbi. From then on it was a nightmare. Jesus arraigned, charged, tried, and condemned by the Sanhedrin. Before they knew it, he was beaten, scourged, and condemned by the Governor. Helplessly, they cowered in the Upper Room while Jesus carried his cross to Golgotha and was put to death. By sundown he was in a tomb and they were stricken with grief. Things couldn’t get any worse, right?

Oh no, they could. Early on Sunday morning while they wallowed in grief, smitten with guilt and shame at their cowardice, despairing of the future, Mary Magdalene comes bursting in with the news that someone has opened the tomb and taken Jesus away. They must have thought, “They can’t even leave the Master alone in death!” After some of them visited the site, they come back wondering what more could go wrong. Then it does. The women folk come barging in exclaiming, “We saw angels who told us Jesus is risen!” Then two others come exclaiming, “We saw Jesus on our way here. He lives!” And then Mary Magdalene returns breathlessly claiming to have seen, touched, and heard Jesus!

“All right! That’s it! That’s enough! You women are full of nonsense! Your grief has muddled your minds! Leave us in our sorrow and stop with all this foolishness.” It couldn’t be, could it? After their euphoria on Palm Sunday and the crowds and excitements of the early part of the week, they had been dashed on the rocks of loss and fear and mourning. What a week! It was unlike anything they had imagined. And now, this! It was just more than they could handle. They just weren’t prepared for all of it.

I’m hoping for calmer waters going forward. Don’t need a week like the one I’ve described very often. I’m looking for sunshine and blue skies! The disciples were thrown into the deepest of depressions, yet as Jesus had told them, their grief was turned to joy when he suddenly stood in their midst, in the flesh, wounds yet visible, but his resurrection body alive and whole. Oh, they were bound to have some bad weeks in their future, but the knowledge of their Lord’s resurrection would carry them through to eternal life. We are bound to have some bad weeks ourselves, but that same knowledge of the Resurrection is our constant joy and eternal hope. He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! And, amen.



1) DAY TRIP by bus to the Louisville Botanical Gardens along the River Front on WEDNESDAY, MAY 10. We’ll visit the Gardens, then take lunch in downtown Jeffersonville. After lunch we’ll get a guided tour at the “Fire Museum” in their new location. Wouldn’t be surprised if we saw our old friend, Pastor Curt Peters, there. He is the president of the museum board. We plan to leave the church at 9:00 A.M. Should be back there by 3:30. Sign up at the office or call Karen.

Youtube Video:

PRINTABLE PDF: WDApril25.PDF — (502) 797-7407



Monday, APRIL 24, 2023

Pastor Matthew Woods from Grace Lutheran Church in New Albany, Indiana

“I Can See!”

I recently, saw another video of a young man who was color blind try on a pair of glasses which allowed him to see color for the first time in his life. The reaction always moves me when I see these videos. He looked around at his surroundings looking at trees, plants, and people as if he had suddenly discovered them for the first time. It is amazing to me how the world opens up to people who can see color for the first time.

This is my sense of things for the first Easter. Jesus’ disciples and followers seem to really see Jesus for the first time when He appears to them after His resurrection. This hit me as I was preparing for yesterday’s message when I was studying the Emmaus boys in Luke 24. We are told that Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them for miles. He taught from the Old Testament that the Messiah had to suffer and then be glorified. It amazes me that they walk along with Jesus but they are kept from recognizing Him. Yet their hearts burn within them as He taught them. The Word used is “opened” up the scriptures to them as if they finally see something they had not seen when they saw them before. It is like looking for the relish in the frig. My wife tells me it is there and I know that I have a vague memory of it being there somewhere but I just don’t see it. She says, “It’s right there on the top shelf.” I say, “We must have run out because I can’t find it.” Finally, she comes over, opens the frig door back up and goes right to it and hands it to me. And I think to myself, “How in the world did I miss it? It was in front of me the whole time.” Same may be true of the Emmaus disciples. The Scriptures were probably taught and heard all their lives. But with Jesus its as if He put on special glasses that day so they could see all the color. It was as if they saw the scriptures for the first time noticing all the teaching about the Messiah in a new light. Only then do they finally recognize Jesus when He gives them the bread. Something about the way He went about opened their eyes.

It is amazing to me that people can see the same evidence and come to such different conclusions. The Emmaus disciples told Jesus, “Some of our companions when to the tomb and found it just as the women had told them.” We know that it was Peter and John who ran to the Tomb. But something subtle but important happens. Listen again the vs 7-10.

“He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.”

They saw the burial clothes almost like a chrysalis, or like the body deflated leaving the burial clothes suddenly empty of its contents. The face clothe was folded up. Not really signs of theft. But the reaction is notably different between the disciples. Peter runs up and theorei, observes the conditions of the tomb. John however, sees the tomb with the word eiden from the oida meaning to know. John seems to quietly understand or perceive that the tomb means more then a stolen body. It says “John saw and believed.” John seems to have an edge about the resurrection before everyone else. “Yet, they still did not understand from scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.” “Yet” also tells us that the remaining disciples still have more to learn.

Peter sees the Rock rolled away. He sees the linens inside. He sees everything just as the women reported. John sees evidence…evidence of something much more going on—a resurrection. The women saw the tomb and looked for a body. When Jesus appears to Mary, she sees a gardener at first just as the Emmaus disciples only see a stranger walking on the road. But once Jesus opens the scriptures to them their hearts burn within them. Once Jesus speaks, “Mary” then she sees in an eiden fashion.

What am I driving at this week? I am in awe of how the scriptures still get opened to me in a way that let me see more. This year’s revelation came to me as I was studying up on the guards at the tomb. After reading Matt 28 a countless number of times something was opened to me that wasn’t before. When the angel came down, rolled away the stone, and then sat on the rock the guards fainted like dead men. These battled hardened men represented all the forces that convicted and crucified Jesus. The angel did not even acknowledge them and yet his mere presence rendered them irrelevant. The plotting and scheming and hatred toward Jesus was instantly irrelevant; replaced by a greater reality. All the angel had to do was show up—Just an angel of God. That got me thinking.
The next time the resurrected Jesus comes all He will have to do is show up and its over. All enemies, schemers, power mongers, and all ungodly useless causes will be instantly irrelevant. Even death itself will become irrelevant. I talked about this some on Easter. I get excited about this because the punch line of this revelation is that all enemies of Jesus are already rendered powerless.

My point in bringing this up now is that new things in scripture open all the time like putting on a pair of glasses that let me see color for the first time. What if the Emmaus disciples walked back without Jesus? That would have been a much different walk. What if Peter only got to see the empty tomb without meeting Jesus that night? But Jesus did. Peter did see Him. The Emmaus disciples did walk with Jesus. Jesus opens His scriptures even now as we talk here.

I encourage you to keep reading your Bible. Keep that Red Letter Challenge going. Start with the Gospels. Do not start in Genesis if the Bible is still unfamiliar to you. Start where Jesus is and then work out from there. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament. Spend some time around others who have studied the Word more than you have. Before Lent, the pastors spent time with Dr. Kloha who works at the Museum of the Bible. He took us through Mark and opened Mark in ways I had not yet considered. My own heart burns within me when that happens. Finally, ask a lot of questions and study. We are always so ready to stress an education for math, English, or even a trade. It stands to reason that the same can be said of God’s Word. If you want to be good at anything, especially anything meaningful to you asking questions and studying are great avenues. Since eternal life is the most important goal of our faith it seems to me that an Emmaus walk with Jesus in His Word is the way to appreciate it much more fully.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30


Youtube Video: — (502) 523-9327



Tuesday, APRIL 18, 2023

Pastor Bruce Kischnick, Grace Lutheran Church, New Albany, IN


READING: James 1:13-15 – When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Many years ago the Preschool invited a “menagerie” to visit the school to thrill the kids with a wide variety of animals. They had a goat, a miniature pony, two dogs (a big one and a little one), guinea pigs, rabbits, and several more species that I forget. And, they had one big old orange tomcat. Our janitor (and my good buddy) Frank Appleby, good guy that he was, went back to the gym to help the man put away his animals, his pens, and his equipment. It was Frank who related to me what happened next.

As they were working they suddenly heard the most pathetic and unnerving yowl coming from somewhere back in the bowels of the building behind the stage. It was long, plaintive, and communicated a great distress. The man listened for a moment and then said, “That’s Tigger, my cat!” Both men went in the direction of the lamentations following the sound to its source. It led them into the “old kitchen” and then to the “scullery”. And, sure enough, there they found Tigger and the source of his anguish.

It seems that Frank had put some “sticky traps” in various places to catch the occasional mouse that made its way into the building. (Sticky traps are flat, baited pads that have a super-sticky glue on them. The mouse goes for the bait and immediately becomes affixed to the trap, never to rise again.) One of those sticky traps was under the sinks in the scullery, and it had successfully completed its mission. A mouse had become stuck and had died there. Frank said that it must have been there for some time because it was all dried up and desiccated. Still it looked inviting to Old Tigger!

Evidently the cat had gone off on a look-see and spied the mouse sitting in the corner. It looked like a good opportunity to score. I envision the cat slinking up on that mouse, quiet step by quiet step, and then, tail twitching, it leaped upon that mouse. He got it, and then got more than he bargained for. He got the sticky trap stuck to both of his front paws! Poor old blighter, he tried shaking it off but it was there to stay. After a bit he began crying for help and lamenting his situation. Frank said they had to work together carefully to get the trap off the cat without doing damage to his paws. He would never have been able to get himself free of it by himself.

I love that story, but even more I have always seen it as a perfect illustration of how temptations snag human beings. St. James knew it, too. We see something we want. We tell ourselves it will be good for us, won’t hurt anyone else, and possibly that we deserve whatever it is. We scheme, plan, and execute – only to find ourselves stuck in a situation we didn’t envisage and were not prepared for. Just like Old Tigger and the sticky trap, we “…are tempted by (our) own evil desire, (and we are) dragged away and enticed.” Then the really sad part comes into play: unintended consequences. We find that our sin has “given birth” to problems, sorrows, and heartaches we did not foresee. It all looked so good…and then “wham”, the trap has us and we’re stuck!

Just like Old Tigger, we cannot relieve ourselves of our sin. Once the sticky trap was on his paws he was helpless to remove it. He had to have help. Once we are stuck in sin, we are helpless to remove it from our souls. We have to have help. Thanks be to God for our Savior, Jesus Christ, who we celebrated less than two weeks ago for his sacrifice on the Cross. Every one of us was tainted and trapped by our sinful nature. Big or little, public or secret, our sins divided us from our Creator. The Law was plain: “The wages of (one) sin is death.” Without God’s mercy and the grace we received through Jesus, we were stuck…eternally. By his death, Christ took our punishment. By his Resurrection, he gave us a hope and a promise. Sin now cannot hold us. The grave now cannot hold us. And Satan now cannot have us.

That’s all Good News, certainly. With that also comes a heightened ability to see temptation for what it is: a trap. Every time we say the Lord’s Prayer, we ask that our Heavenly Father would “lead us not into temptation.” Luther says, “God indeed tempts no one, but we ask in this petition that our Heavenly Father…” would help us to see the trap and turn aside from it. It always looks so good, but that’s the nature of temptation. As the children of God we make every effort to resist it, and when we fall, which we will from time to time, how good it is to have “the blood of Christ which cleanses us from all sin.” Happy Easter, and watch out for the sticky traps! Amen.



1) DAY TRIP by bus to the Louisville Botanical Gardens along the River Front on WEDNESDAY, MAY 10. We’ll visit the Gardens, then take lunch in downtown Jeffersonville. After lunch we’ll get a guided tour at the “Fire Museum” in their new location. Wouldn’t be surprised if we saw our old friend, Pastor Curt Peters, there. He is the president of the museum board. We plan to leave the church at 9:00 A.M. Should be back there by 3:30. Sign up at the office or call Karen.

Youtube Video:

PRINTABLE PDF: WDApril18.PDF — (502) 797-7407


Monday, APRIL 17, 2023

Pastor Matthew Woods from Grace Lutheran Church in New Albany, Indiana

Title: The Backdoor of Doubt

Philip Yancy in His book, “Searching for the Invisible God” talks a little bit about his own doubt. He says, “I must exercise faith simply to believe that God exists, a basic requirement for any relationship. And yet when I wish to explore how faith works, I usually sneak in by the back door of doubt, for I best learn about my own need for faith during its absence. God’s invisibility guarantees I will experience doubt.”

As human beings doubt is very much in the picture for many of us. Doubt may manifest itself in the form of anxiety or in weighing things each according to our own personal limits. Possibilities then only get as far as we imagine ourselves capable of them. The disciple Thomas, often nicknamed ‘Doubting Thomas’ told the other disciples, “Unless I touch the wounds in His hands and feet and put my finger in His side, I will not believe it.” Thomas had known Jesus for three years. He had seen Jesus raise others from the dead. But still, despite so much first-hand experience with Jesus, Thomas’ faith was overshadowed with doubt. Someone rising from the dead is impossible he must have thought. So, somewhere within himself He limited the possibility of any resurrection.

Consider Martin Luther, the hero of the reformation. Luther battled constantly against doubt and depression. He once wrote, “For more than a week, Christ was wholly lost. I was shaken by desperation and blasphemy against God.” His doubts were manifested in his anxiety over his own righteousness before God. He knew such righteousness was impossible from within and no good works were good enough. When he discovered that the righteousness of God was a gift and not earned it was sweet relief to his soul.

And then there is this desperate unnamed father of Mark 9. We are told that his son was demon-possessed. From childhood his son has suffered and his father felt helpless to change it. His son could not speak, he had epileptic seizures, foaming at the mouth and convulsing, on occasion the young man would be thrown in to a fire to be burned alive or thrown in water nearly to the point of drowning. He turns first to the disciples, but they cannot provide any help. By the time this father approaches Jesus he is at his wits end and is placing bets that Jesus will fail him too. Yet his love for his son drives him to try. Seeing is believing and what this man saw left him nearly lost.

Doubt can be a trap but it can also be an avenue to a greater faith. What do we do with our doubt? Do we tuck it down and pretend that everything is okay? The answer I believe is in the humble prayer of this desperate father in Mark 9. “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” This father acknowledges his doubts, confesses them to the Lord, and asks for help. “Lord, I do believe, but I’ve been struggling with my faith because so many things have gone wrong.”

Even modern psychology teaches that since we cannot really eliminate our feelings we might as well go ahead and express them. The Bible encourages us to express them. When Job shares his doubts with his friends, his friends shutter and decide that is not a good idea and blasphemous. Yet, in the end it is Job that God upholds not his friends. We do with doubt as we do with all things, we confess them, reveal them, and take them to the Lord in Prayer.

Faith in Jesus has been expressed on many levels, with the sturdy centurion, where Jesus proclaimed, “I have not found such great faith not even in all of Israel.” And the woman who was rewarded for her persistence, as she accepts the scraps from the Lord’s table. And then there is this father, desperate, broken, and hurt. The Bible demonstrates that the level of faith runs the spectrum. But it is not the measure of faith that sees us through it is the presence of faith in Jesus that makes the difference, sometimes faith no bigger than a mustard see.

Consider what Jesus says to doubting Thomas after his resurrection. “Because you have seen me you have believed. But blessed are those who believe and have not seen.” When Doubting Thomas has his chance to touch and see Jesus, Jesus acknowledges his faith, but offers no special blessing. But for you and I who have not had this privilege we are called blessed. We are the recipients of Jesus’ special blessing.

Believing is seeing. Jesus says, prior to the father’s question, “Everything is possible for those who have faith.” Faith in Christ changes the way we believe, which changes the way we see. One proverb says, “If you want to jump over a difficult fenced, throw your heart over first and then go after it.” Faith, no matter how small, no matter how dampened, no matter how wounded, can work to accomplish the impossible—by bringing to life to something that was once dead. Believing is seeing—believing is seeing past the doubt.

Many years back I had the privilege to climb my first mountain. I was working the summer in Yosemite. We had studied the climb and seen the mountain many times. My roommate and I set out to climb the 8000 plus feet high Half Dome Mountain in the Yosemite Valley. Placing our trust in maps and the information we gathered we hiked the eleven-mile trek from Glacier Point which overlooked the bald granite rock. It was cloudy and it was late. It turned dark as we approached the base of the mountain, but we had the full-moon reflecting off the granite. Because of the trees there were still plenty of places we could not see making the trail hard to follow at times. In the extreme darkness of the trees, we got lost and wandered from the trail at times. Eventually, our flashlights were pulled out and put to work, but they were small, so we often watched only the place in front of us. Compounding this were the clouds that still threatened. Lightening can strike without warning when clouds hang over a mountain. Lightening that was known to strike visitors and we did not want to be a statistic. Despite the anxiety we pressed on deciding to stop where the safety of the trees stopped and try for the summit in the morning if the clouds did not clear. But they did so we pressed on.

We found our way to the permanent cables which would allow us to clime the last 1000 feet to the bald eleven-acre top. It was eleven thirty PM by then. There was a pile of gloves at the base of the cables so we grabbed some, realizing quickly the gloves were helpful for grabbing the cables that literally protected us from falling several thousand feet to our doom. We climbed up the steep reflective granite face, that seemed to glow in the dark. Poles held the cables at about every ten feet and gradually we made it all the way up. Under the stars and the lights of Fresno glimmering almost a hundred miles away we eventually slept exhausted by our efforts but exhilarated that we had made it. The next day we arose in time to see a deep red dawn and miles of God’s creation. It was one of the highlights of my life.

As I reflect on this experience it is much like faith. Faith involves some miscalculation, long periods of trudging, sometimes wandering in the darkness unsure if it is the right direction, sometimes long periods of waiting—resting, regrouping, and being reminded that no matter how careful I prepared, I still faced a great deal of risk. There is no faith without risk, and no reward without struggle. And all along the way one wonders if the trail is passable or if I have enough strength to make it to the top. Thomas is certainly an example of doubt. Yet I also think that he has a lot in common with the Father of Mark 9. “Lord, I do believe. I want to believe. I just need something to get me through the dark back on the path again.” Let’s face it if we were able to believe to the fullest extent that the Lord invites us to there would not be a mountain high enough that our faith couldn’t move.

When I think back to Half Dome, nothing felt as exhilarating, nor as exhausting as making it to the top of that mountain. It seems to me that faith in Jesus and His resurrection is very much like this. It is exhilarating and exhausting but the hope of being with the Lord keeps us going. Believing is seeing—past the doubt to the possible. Faith often comes through the back door of doubt for in the struggle with doubt one must also wrestle with faith. May the Lord give us just enough doubt to deepen our faith and a faith that is willing to take on challenges that can and do come. In Jesus. Amen.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30


Youtube Video: — (502) 523-9327



Tuesday, APRIL 11, 2023

Pastor Bruce Kischnick, Grace Lutheran Church, New Albany, IN


READING: John 20:1-9 – Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

I’m sure we all remember playing “Peek-a-boo” with infants in their first year or so of life. We’d take a blanket or a towel and hide our face from the little one, then suddenly drop the cloth below our face and say, “Peek-a-boo! I see you!” At first there was a look of bewilderment on their faces when we hid. At that age they haven’t figured out those spatial relationships. As they got older, we’d often get rewarded with giggles and baby-laughter when they began to catch on to the game.

A number of times I have watched videos on YouTube where dog owners play a similar trick on their faithful hounds. They’ll stand in an archway or entrance to a hallway, get the dog’s attention, pull the blanket up over the heads to completely hide themselves, then quickly go down the hallway to a room as they let the blanket drop. Often the dog gets seriously concerned as to where its master has gone. Some of them hop around, barking, clearly agitated at the disappearance of their human. Others will go into the hallway and look in both directions, all the while whining as though to say, “Where is the master?”

The women, then Peter and John, have a very similar reaction on that marvelous Easter morning. The women come to the tomb concerned about the big stone guarding the entrance to the tomb. When they arrive, the stone is rolled away. Obviously Mary Magdalene took one peek into the tomb and seeing it empty dashes away to report this to the disciples. The other women stay at the tomb and are visited by the angels who fill them in. Mary arrives at the Upper Room with the startling announcement, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

This activates Peter and John, who dash off to the tomb with hardly a word. John, younger and fitter than Peter, outruns him and arrives at the tomb first. He looks in and sure enough, no Jesus. While he takes this in, Peter arrives, and in his customary manner, barges right on into the tomb. What they find is important: the linen burial wraps are lying empty on the bench where Jesus had been laid on Friday and the face cloth neatly folded up and lying in a separate position from the linens. Someone took his “sweet old time” to unwrap the body of Jesus and then to fold up the face cloth neatly. That’s not what body-snatchers would have done, not with a whole crew of guards “sleeping” outside. Those were of course the lies that the Jewish leadership tried to peddle. Many still do.

Of interest is also the final statement in our reading for today: “They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.” John believed that it was possible that Jesus had risen from the dead as he had said. But they were a long way from putting everything together based on the Old Testament prophecies meshing with Jesus’ own. They were like the baby who wonders where you’ve gone when you hide your face. They were like the dogs who jump and tremble, agitated and upset at their masters’ sudden disappearance. They ask each other often, “Where did he go?” “What has happened to the Master’s body?” “What are we going to do now?” “What happens next?”

It takes two visitations by Jesus, showing them his hands, feet, and side, inviting their touch, eating some broiled fish, and speaking words of encouragement and blessing to them. It takes a miraculous catch of fish, a breakfast fire, and the command, “Feed my sheep.” It takes a front-row seat at the Ascension and a visitation of angels. And finally it takes an amazing out-pouring of the Holy Spirit before it all clears up for these men drafted into the service of the Church. As they study their Scriptures, they begin to see Jesus everywhere. They begin to understand what kind of a kingdom he came to establish and what his sacrificial death meant. And ultimately they come to realize that Jesus HAD to die and then HAD to rise that our salvation might be won and secured for us.

How good it was to sing “Alleluia” again! How wonderful to hear the choir, the musicians, and the joyous voices of God’s children singing the praises of him who was dead, but now lives eternally. How good it was to hear the pastor say, “He is risen!” and for us to respond, “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” Where did he go? Why, he is with us always to the very end of the age!
Happy Easter! And Amen.



1) I want to publicly express my appreciation for our Music Director, Helen Bohannon, for all the marvelous music we enjoyed throughout Holy Week and Easter. She is amazing! She coordinates dozens of people doing dozens of things, all that we may be immersed in sounds and tones that speak to our inner life and faith. Thank you to Helen, the choir, the musicians, and Pastor Woods for making Easter something to rejoice in.

2) I also want to publicly thank the “Kitchen Crew” for going to the effort to make Easter Breakfast for everyone who wanted to try it. That’s a very early morning on a big day. Thanks to Ed, Joan, Rick, Debbie, and all the rest of the crew. Thank you all.

Youtube Video:

PRINTABLE PDF: WDApril11.PDF — (502) 797-7407



Monday, APRIL 10, 2023

Pastor Matthew Woods from Grace Lutheran Church in New Albany, Indiana

“Who’s It Really About?”

We all know the concept of seeing things through rose-colored glasses. It usually means something like a person is seeing everything in an overly optimistic fashion. It also implies that the view is unrealistic because that person sees mostly what they want to see. It’s been my experience that people in general look at the world with some kind of bias toward one thing or another. It’s part of being a sinful human being. And it grows more acute the more a person is guided by their hubris. Especially arrogant people see only themselves in the end.

I recently got my eyes checked again and naturally my prescription changed to adapt to my older eyes. Sometimes its good to do this spiritually as well. This is why we regularly go to the Word of God here with you all. It is only in humility that we can hear the Word of God and follow it. And so, I ask that you consider John 12:37-46

37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:

“Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:

40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.”[i]

41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.

44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

About a dozen or so people from our congregation have asked me to read an article which is again from a local church that recently had a front-page article in a local newspaper. It is one of many articles that are part of a series focused on the trans community. The gist of it was that the congregation was a welcoming church because it allowed for all forms of gender diverse and sexually oriented people, and flew pride flags. It painted itself as a refuge to one individual who joined the congregation because it welcomed his transgenderism. It also suggested that any other congregation who does not go along with such identifications were hateful, mean, and persecutors. I’ve already discussed in previous videos the Biblical arguments in response to a previous article but let us remind ourselves that disagreement, even strong disagreement, is not the same thing as hate.

But the deeper issue at hand is always the same that it’s always been—pride–Sinful pride to be specific. Pride masks itself in many forms but when everything is about one’s gender or sexuality or whatever our favorite narrative turns into all other things tend to be measured on acceptance or rejection or our view. In most cases this tends to lead to rebellion against the Word itself and the misleading of others. If a pastor weighs everyone on how much the pastor is accepted or not accepted then the centerpiece stops being about Jesus and becomes about the pastor. The Word of God plays second to how one feels. And anyone who disagrees is immediately labeled hateful. This is pride. Pride likes to parade itself and show itself off.

I would agree with the article that it is never justified to cause harm to anyone or even vandalize a flag. Causing harm is not a message I can support either because it is not consistent with scripture. To cause harm or seek a personally conceived justice against another human being is itself an act of arrogance and wrong. The scripture says a lot about the binary nature of gender, “male and female he created them.” It speaks volumes on marriage. But it also tells us to witness to people with gentleness and respect especially if they identify as Christian.

Pride can get to all of us. Proverbs 16:2 tells us that “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” It amazes me that across the board most people weigh their membership of a congregation mostly on how friendly it is rather than on whether the Word is truthfully preached. When we make the service about our favorite music over God’s Word we are also communicating that we are more important than Jesus or His Word. When a child decides to ignore the rules of the classroom and disrupts the class that student is assuming her own authority over the teacher. When our ambitions cause harm to the well-being of a fellow worker we are communicating a greater sense of importance over others. When one is lazy and chooses to mooch off friends rather than take responsibility—relationships are strained or lost because they are in fact secondary to being lazy. In many cases pride refuses to see the damage we do to ourselves, and it refuses to hear anything corrective even if it given in love. Worse still the more one invests themselves into their pride the more one digs in their heels. However, Jesus is quick to tell his disciples who regularly fought over who was the greatest that they are to be as a child and serve one another in order to truly be great (Matt 18:3).

This is the essence of John 12:37-45. Those who would not believe the Gospel blinded themselves to the point that they could not longer see nor hear any truth. Their hearts became hardened. They just double-down and dig in their heels all with a mindset that believes itself more and more justified in its rebellion. And just to reference this further this is a consistent message throughout scripture: (Isaiah 6:9-10; Is 42:18-20; Is 44:18; Ps 69:23; Acts 28:26-27; Matt 13:14-15 Romans 11:8.)

It’s interesting that vs 42-43 also tells us; 42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.” Some believed but still chose not to give up the synagogue for Jesus. It is wonderful to experience the praises from newspapers and folks that agree with you. What pastor doesn’t want to hear that the service was meaningful. However, John the Baptist said it best in John 3:30, “Jesus must become greater and I must become less.” What good is being a pharisee or even a Christian if all you get is praise and miss out on Jesus. This is the danger of all pride.

And yes, I could fall victim to all of this as well as many. But I have people who routinely challenge my views and force me to get into the Word of God. They are my anchors. People who disagree with me I find very helpful and I enjoy the way they challenge me. So, keep the articles coming and we will talk. I believe wholeheartedly, that allowing yourself to be lovingly and respectfully challenged by those who genuinely want to talk is always helpful. If you are one who is just going to lecture me and yell and filibuster you are no more edifying than a noise without love. My wife and I don’t always agree for example. Yet, I depend on her point of view to help me consider something I may have missed or even be corrected if I am wrong.

For the sake of today; I know this is an odd thing to talk about the day after Easter. Our minds are still filled up with our celebrations of Easter. The resurrection is everything to the Christian faith. But it came through humility not pride. Jesus humbled Himself and died on the cross for us. He didn’t die in in pride on the cross. He made Himself nothing for everyone who is listening to this and all who are not. Humility takes hold of the cross and strengthens faith. Humility willingly confesses sin and repents. Humility brings about real change that no worldly transition can offer. Humility makes us better servants and lets us see and hear the truth of God’s Word more clearly and honestly. Humility makes hospitality possible and puts our desires in their proper places. In the end humility does more for people than any narrative or movement or even any church can boast about. It’s always about Jesus and not about us. That’s who it’s really about. In Jesus. Amen.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30


Youtube Video: — (502) 523-9327



Tuesday, APRIL 4, 2023

Pastor Bruce Kischnick, Grace Lutheran Church, New Albany, IN

“Just Waiting for Their Chance”

READING: Luke 19:45-48 – Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. “It is written,” he said to them, “’My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. Yet they could not find a way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.

Last Tuesday I was out jogging a four-mile course. At about the three mile mark I was laboring up a hill that leads to St. Joseph Road. As I huffed along, ahead of me in a couple of large trees about 80 yards from the road, I counted 25 buzzards. They were watching me slowly making my way up the hill, and I think I could read their minds: “Hey, this one’s not long for this world. Look at him. Any second now he’ll go down for the count. And, by the looks of him, all of us are going to get a good meal!” I couldn’t see their eyes, but I know I had their attention. They were just waiting for their chance. I smiled to myself and said out loud, “Not today, boys!”

As Jesus entered Jerusalem to the songs and chants of the Galilean pilgrims on Palm Sunday, his opponents gnashed their teeth and said to one another, “This is getting us nowhere. See how the whole world goes after him.” They had tried to ignore him. Then they tried to nay say him. Then they tried to undermine his relationship with the regular people of Judaism. But with each attempt, his popularity only increased. They needed a more “permanent” solution. They were just waiting for their chance.

On Monday he really stoked the fires! Went into the Court of the Gentiles and overturned the moneychangers’ tables, drove out the livestock, and accused them all of turning his Father’s house into a “den of thieves.” He wasn’t just addressing the moneychangers, and the chief priests knew it. They got their cut of everything sold in that marketplace. Jesus knew that, too. They were just waiting for their chance.

On Tuesday they came at him in waves asking questions and presenting him with various scenarios, hoping each time that he would say something to offend the crowds or something that would offend the Roman authorities. They set some fine traps, very clever ones. But every time Jesus turned the tables on them and made them look foolish and impotent before the people. They hated that more than anything. They craved the people’s deference and admiration. Jesus bested them, and he had to pay a price for that. They were all just waiting for their chance.

Then, Wednesday evening, after sundown, someone knocked on a door in the Temple precincts. It was one of the Twelve, Judas Iscariot, and he had an offer. He would bring Jesus into their hands, but for a price. He wanted silver. They wanted Jesus. They had been waiting for their chance, and now it had come. They were so secretive. They were so careful. It was all planned out: snatch him, bring him to Ananias (the rightful High Priest), then to his son-in-law, Caiaphas, the High Priest according to the Romans. He would convene the Sanhedrin well after dark so his trial could proceed without interference from his supporters. After that an assured guilty verdict, then off to Pilate’s courtyard for the death penalty. With any luck it would all be a fait accompli by the time the sun was high. They were waiting for their chance, and they took it.

Now we are waiting for our chance, aren’t we? We commemorate and celebrate Maundy Thursday and Good Friday later this week. We’ll walk with Jesus on those last terrible stadia to the judgment hall and Pilate’s court. We’ll wince at the whipping, watch aghast as he carries his own cross, and weep as he is hoisted up and left to die. We’ll tag along to the tomb and witness his final resting place. We’ll hole up with the disciples in the upper room that still smells of lamb, matzo, and wine. It’s our chance to rehearse our salvation bought at a terrible price.

But then we’ll be waiting for another chance, won’t we? To see the stone rolled away. To hear the angels’ announcement, “He is not here. He has risen, just as he told you. See the place where he lay!” It’s another chance to praise him, another chance to exult at his Resurrection and all that it means. It’s another chance to be strengthened and comforted in our own grieving because HIS resurrection becomes OUR resurrection, and the resurrection of all our loved ones no longer with us who trusted in his name. It’s another chance to sing “Alleluia” and “I Know that My Redeemer Lives.” They meant it for harm, but God has turned it into the highest good.

Those vultures along St. Joseph Road were disappointed last week, but they are a patient breed. They probably figured their chance would come one of these days. And, in a manner of speaking, they’re right. One of these days death will find me. I doubt the buzzards will get a crack at me, although once I fly away I don’t much care what they do with my “old tent.” But I know something they don’t: eat me or not, there will be a day when Jesus cries out, “Come out!” and I will come out from death to life. I’m just waiting for my chance! Amen.



1. PASSION WEEK SERVICES: Maundy Thursday, 7:00 PM, Good Friday, 7:00 PM, and Easter, 6:30, 8:00 and 10:30 AM. There’ll also be an Easter Breakfast, 7;30-10:00.

2. DAY TRIP TO FRENCH LICK AND WEST BADEN: On Friday, April 14, we’ll take a bus trip to French Lick and West Baden. Darrel Graham will accompany us and give us an excellent tour. He lived and worked in that area, and he is full of interesting history and background he will share with us as we go. Lunch will be at the “German Café”. The tour is free. Lunch should be under $20. Sign up at the office or call Karen. We Have room for 26 of us altogether.

Youtube Video:

PRINTABLE PDF: WDApril4.PDF — (502) 797-7407