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Friday, June 30, 2017 Devotion

“But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled my soul with fasting, And my prayer kept returning to my bosom. I went about as though it were my friend or brother; I bowed down mourning, as one who sorrows for a mother. But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered themselves together; the smiters whom I did not know gathered together against me, they slandered me without ceasing.” (Psalm 35:13-15)

Do unto others as you would have them do to you. This principle, given by our Lord from the beginning is to guide us to love the other not as they deserve but as they ought to be loved. In this sinful world where everything is weighed, we are called to live in the freedom to simply do what is right because it is right. Our Lord first loved us and calls for us to love others because it is the right thing to do.

Lord teach me to love as You love. Guide me in doing what is right in spite of how my neighbor acts. Lead me to give without expectation, to serve without being given anything in return, to care because all of Your creation should be cared for. You have given us dominion, which is not rule, but a call to stewardship, to care for others as You care for us. Help me to do these things.

Lord Jesus, in the mission of Your life among us, You have given us freedom from the recompense of sin in order to live as we have been created to serve. Guide me O Lord to see the truth of what You have revealed and then to live as I should. Help me this day to see more clearly the truth of the life to which You have called me that I would live that life in accord with Your Word of truth. Amen.

Thursday, June 29, 2017 Devotion

“All my bones will say, “Lord, who is like You, who delivers the afflicted from him who is too strong for him, and the afflicted and the needy from him who robs him?” Malicious witnesses rise up; they ask me of things that I do not know. They repay me evil for good, to the bereavement of my soul.” (Psalm 35:10-12)

Who created you? When you look beyond yourself, what do you see? Is not the One who created you there awaiting your awakening? Look and see, for many are they who will not look beyond themselves to see that they are created. The wickedness of this world cannot stand in the face of the One who created all things. Follow the Lord and do good. Seek Him while He made be found.

Lord, You are the Creator of all things and You have set into motion this creation. Guide me to look beyond myself to see that it is You, the Creator of the heavens and the earth who is behind all things. Lead me in the eternal way You have established that I may go in Your way of truth and live according to Your will. Let me be one who does good and seeks the good always.

Lord Jesus, all things have come into being through You, the Word made flesh. Help me to not see things as they are seen in this world, but to see them through Your eyes that I would do what it is You would have me do. Lead me to walk through all the wickedness of this age to live into Your eternal truth and find what You hold before me. May I follow You, Jesus, just as You have asked me to do. Amen.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017 Devotion

“For without cause they hid their net for me; without cause they dug a pit for my soul. Let destruction come upon him unawares, and let the net which he hid catch himself; into that very destruction let him fall. And my soul shall rejoice in the Lord; It shall exult in His salvation.” (Psalm 35:7-9)

There are those in this world who, bent on what is evil, lay snares for those who are unaware. Do not be naive and think there are not those who hate. There are. Do not be trapped by those who join in wanting you to turn from the ways of the Lord. Turn to Him and rejoice that the Lord has shown Himself to you. In Him alone is life, for He is the one who invented it. Do not be trapped by the wicked.

Lord, grant that I would have eyes to see and ears to hear the truth You have revealed for the ages. Guide me in Your way of truth and hold me fast to Your never-failing promises which can and will guide me through living this life. The wicked are all around, but You are greater. Bring me to the place where I exult in You and praise Your works. Lead me, O Lord, in Your ways.

Lord Jesus, You have shown in the life You lived while walking amongst the disciples how to live alongside those who sought Your destruction. Guide me, O Lord, to live according to Your purpose that I would forever hold fast to all that You have in store for those who walk in the narrow way. Lead me, Savior, in the way of living to grow in Your likeness that I may exult with my life in Your work. Amen.


  • June 27, 2017 - 12:26 pm
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I will never forget the first time I drove west across South Dakota. As soon as I had crossed over the state line from Minnesota, I started to see signs telling me how many miles it was to Wall Drug.

Wall, South Dakota, used to be known by locals as “the geographical center of nowhere.” But that was before Ted Hustead came along. Ted was a Nebraska native who opened a tiny drug store in Wall in 1931. Five years later it was still a tiny drug store, and Hustead, who had put all of his earthly resources into starting that store, was thinking about calling it quits. But then his wife Dorothy figured that the people driving by must be thirsty, so she suggested to her husband that he put up a sign on the highway advertising free ice water at Wall Drug. As any wise husband would do, Ted followed his wife’s advice, and by the time he got back to the store thirsty travelers were already lined up for free ice water. They have been stopping by and lining up ever since – over a million people every year – 20, 000 on a good summer day.

When I-90 bypassed Wall in the late 1960’s, the Husteads (now in their fourth generation) did not sit back and wait for their business to die. Instead, they hired Emmet Sullivan, who had built Rapid City’s Dinosaur Park, to erect a fifty-ton, eighty-foot-long dinosaur with light bulb eyes next to the freeway – just to remind travelers that Wall Drug is still open and still expects them to stop by for free ice water.

Stop by Wall Drug today, and you will be amazed at what all got started simply by giving a cup of cold water.

I live near Phoenix, Arizona. Temperatures recently have been reaching close to 120. They even have to cancel flights when it gets that hot. With the effects of the heat on air currents, it is just not safe for the planes to land and take off.

With the temperatures that hot, you can imagine the effect on homeless people. The church where my wife and I attend is one of several Lutheran churches in the area that are involved in supporting the summer heat respite program at Grace Lutheran, one of the oldest Lutheran churches in Phoenix. From June to September every year they serve about 12, 000 homeless people to help keep them from dying on the streets from the heat. They serve breakfast and lunch to about 250 people per day, and distribute 500 bottles of water a day. They also hand out clothing and toiletries. But in many ways it is the cold water that is the most essential.

In our Gospel lesson for July 2 Jesus commends anyone who gives “even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones.” (Matthew 10: 42) Before moving to Arizona I never appreciated Jesus’ saying “a cup of cold water.” Water is essential for life. But when the temperatures reach well over one hundred, even warm water, let alone hot water, will not do. We need cold water to refresh the body, to cool down the body, to preserve life.

In the desert during the summer it is a matter of life and death – a cup of cold water. Do you share with others what is essential to life and what gives and sustains life – a cup of cold water, Jesus the Living Water? And do you share it generously and with genuine love and concern?

Dennis D. Nelson
President of the Board and Director of Lutheran CORE

Tuesday, June 27, 2017 Devotion

“Let those be ashamed and dishonored who seek my life; let those be turned back and humiliated who devise evil against me. Let them be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the Lord driving them on. Let their way be dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.” (Psalm 35:4-6)

The way of the Lord makes for a stark contrast against the way of the wicked. Live in such a way that your deeds are consistent with the way of the Lord. Yes, you will slip up, but the intent is made complete by grace. It is the direction of the path, not the rocks that are encountered along the way. The way of the wicked is slippery and continually fails. The way of the Lord is good and leads to righteousness.

Lord, I have set my course with You and desire that You be the One who leads the way. I see around me those who falter and fail. Yes, I will sin and slip up, but keep the bearing of my course set upon You who alone can lead me through the morass of this life. Guide me in Your way that I would walk in it and hold me to Your never-failing truth which You have revealed for us all.

Lord Jesus, I cannot do this without You. You are the way, the truth and the life. Help me, I pray, to see in You the hope of an eternal future so that I would keep on the narrow path and walk in Your way. By Your grace, help me to overcome the obstacles that will come along, knowing that in You alone is there hope and a future. May I not be humiliated in the humility You lead me to walk in. Amen.

Monday, June 26, 2017 Devotion

“Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me.  Take hold of buckler and shield and rise up for my help.  Draw also the spear and the battle-axe to meet those who pursue me; say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”  (Psalm 35:1-3)

Lord, You know that left to myself I would be destroyed.  In You there is hope and an eternal future, but many are the enemies that surround me.  Be my protector, O Lord of Hosts, that I may be shielded from all that the enemy would seek to do to destroy me.  Lead me in the things I should do that I would learn and grow according to Your Word and in Your way.  Lead me O Lord.

Lord God Almighty, You have established the way of truth from the beginning.  In the great rebellion of this age, many are they who are on the path of destruction.  Help me see that the narrow way You have established is alone safe and that only with You can I travel on this road of safety.  Keep me close to You Lord that I would not veer from the path You have established.

Lord Jesus, You said that You are the way, the truth and the life, and that only through You can we stay on the path that leads to eternal life.  You have also told us that broad is the way that leads to destruction, but narrow the gate that leads to eternal life.  Help me now and always to have eyes that see and ears that hear as You lead me in the way I should go.  May I never veer from the path You have established.  Amen.

Sunday, June 25, 2017 Devotion

“Evil shall slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.  The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.”  (Psalm 34:21-22)

The problem with evil is that it destroys its own.  Well, one of the many problems.  Evil is destructive and kills, maims and brings chaos.  Lord, You are the calm of every storm.  You are the rock of salvation that lifts us up by Your grace to be in Your presence.  Bring me into the refuge of Your presence that I may abide in You and You in me according to the Savior’s Word.

Lord, in this increasingly evil and hostile world, those who hate the righteous turn at every opportunity to take away what You have given.  Keep me close to You that I would remain in Your presence always and walk in the ways You have established.  Lead me, O Lord, to see clearly what this world is doing that Your way would be even more clear.  In and through all things keep me with You.

Lord Jesus, You have come to lead the way.  Only by listening to Your Spirit of truth can I discern what is right in the midst of all the evil of this world.  Help me, Lord Jesus, to hear Your voice of truth always and walk in the way You would have me go.  Lead me today and every day, Lord, and open my ears to hear when You speak.  May I always be found in the refuge of Your mercy.  Amen.

Friday, June 23, 2017 Devotion

“The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry.  The face of the Lord is against evildoers, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.  The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.”  (Psalm 34:15-17)

Those who are turned to the good are turned to the Lord.  Those who are turned to evil are turned away from the Lord.  The righteous are they who know the Lord is good and seek His ways.  The evil continue on their path, heading in the direction of destruction.  The Lord hears the pleas of the righteous and has, by grace through faith, delivered them from the pits of evil.

Lord, this world is in rebellion against You and many are they who fight against what is good.  Help me, I pray, to not only see clearly the mess of this world, but also to become completely Yours.  Guide me through those times of doubt when I do not understand circumstances to see that this is Your creation and Your will shall be accomplished through all things.

Lord Jesus, You have come into this hostile world which is at odds against You and the way You have established.  Help me this day and every day to walk in Your Way.  Lead me in the direction I should go and then firmly establish my walk to learn from You how to live.  Through the Holy Spirit, encourage me to do those things which will bring the Father glory and fulfill the eternal way of truth.  Amen.

Dr. Jonathan Sorum’s Presentation for the Pastoral Formation Summit: The Fifth City

  • June 22, 2017 - 4:42 pm
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The Fifth City

By Dr. Jonathan Sorum


Summary:  This paper proposes a new way forward in theological education that is neither an attempt to retreat into a premodern world nor a collapse into postmodern nihilism; instead, it is a way through modernity to a new, more faithful model of theological education based on Luther’s conception of the gospel. Unlike Luther’s gospel, the four existing models of theological education–named for the cities that epitomize them: Athens, Wittenberg, Berlin, and Jerusalem—fail to unite the inner and the outer, the external Word of revelation and the internal human self. Luther taught that, in Christ, the inner and the outer are held together in the union of Jesus’ death with God’s life as communicative event, as the external Word of promise that bring us internally to our end to live in union with him by faith alone. We need to develop a Fifth City that begins with this Word in its contingency, finitude and temporality and trains people to learn to read that Word and to write it—in proclamation and in their work of world-building.  Learning to read means training the senses to receive the God who is received fully and only through the senses.  Students are trained to expose and reject false eschatologies that attempt to protect Jesus and us from the cross.  They learn to interpret the scripture from the middle of time, the present that is full of all times, past and present, disciplining themselves against spatial representations of time that would give them a position above time and a supposed direct access to past and future.  And they begin to learn how to read the book of history and the book of nature by being read by the one Book.  Learning to write means learning  kenotic communication, dying to oneself in going into the other’s language and rationality, where both sides die to the hegemony of their own languages and find common ground in a new language that speaks Jesus here and now.  It means learning a transformed rhetoric that speaks the real presence of Christ as God’s electing Word that kills and makes alive. And it means a renewal of culture and world-building within the time God makes for us for in the interim: the interim takes its shape from the gospel precisely because it is thereby shown not to be the gospel.  The renewal of both the church and society depends upon reforming theological education along the lines of the Fifth City. The way forward toward the Fifth City is through repentance that finds its expression in hard intellectual work and a commitment to institution-building.


Dr. Sorum’s presentation is posted here: The Fifth City

Thursday, June 22, 2017 Devotion

“Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.  Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”  (Psalm 34:13-14)

As you think, so you speak.  Speaking nasty things creates a nasty- thinking mind.  It’s not ‘positive’ thinking, but guarding your speech to speak what is good and kind.  This will affect how you think.  Train your speech to speak what is good and guard your tongue from evil.  This life gives the opportunity to be trained to learn to think and speak as the Lord would have you do.

Lord, it is difficult in this world of duplicity and deceit to not get caught up in evil thinking, even though my tongue may be curbed.  Help me to become consistent in thought, word and deed that I would speak and think with charity for all whom I meet.  Lead me along the path of righteousness that I would seek inside and out to do what is always right and fitting in Your sight.

Thank You Lord Jesus for Your grace.  I do need it, but help me use this grace to do the hard work of curbing my sinful thoughts to have charity with others as You have had charity with me.  Lead me according to Your purpose to live in Your ways all the days of my life that I may become whom You have created me to be for eternity.  Lead me this day with its own challenges to put into practice these things.  Amen.