July 4: 6th Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 9; U.S. Independence Day

July 4: 6th Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 9; U.S. Independence Day


Ezekiel 2:1-5 (God’s Spirit within the prophet called to speak to rebellious people)


Psalm 123 (Have mercy; we have had enough of contempt)


2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (Paul’s visions, and the thorn in the flesh)


Mark 6:1-13 (Jesus rejected in Nazareth; the 12 are sent on mission trip)






Let us pray to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ on behalf of the Church, the world, and one another.


A brief silence


Father, sometimes we give you thanks, then gulp. Thank you for your prophets, even when their words are hard. Thank you for your all-sufficient grace, even when it doesn’t remove suffering. Thank you for making us your emissaries and missionaries, even when the world holds you in contempt. Thank you – and deal patiently with us while we gulp!

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


You commissioned Ezekiel to speak to your people; and your Son chose the Twelve to spread the Gospel. Bestow your Spirit upon the Church, so it may speak words of warning and grace to all people. Grant that many are brought to repentance, faith, and redemption in Christ Jesus.


Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


Grant your all-sufficient grace to your persecuted servants. By their faithful witness, turn their enemies toward the cross of Christ, there to be forgiven and transformed. Bestow your favor and guidance upon your missionaries, especially those serving in dangerous places.


Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


Thank you for calling this congregation into fellowship with your Son. Give us the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and make us disciples and heralds of your Kingdom. Grant us courage to boldly share the Good News. Give us kindness, so that others may gladly hear it.


Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


You have given us this good land as our heritage. Make us always remember your generosity and constantly do your will. Save us from violence, discord, confusion, and every evil course of action. Give us what outward prosperity may be your will; but above all things, give us faith in you, that our nation may glorify your name and be a blessing to all peoples.


Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


Keep our military personnel and first responders in your care. Equip them to secure and further the blessings of peace, justice, and liberty. Help us to support and encourage their families until they are reunited. Heal all whose lives have been shattered by the violence of war.


Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


St. Paul prayed that his thorn in the flesh might be removed.  We pray for all who suffer, especially: {List}. Heal them according to your will. Give them confidence in your grace, which is sufficient for their needs. Thank you for all caregivers. Give them competence, kindness, and patience. Keep all for whom we pray in close communion with those who love them.


Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


Most holy Father, we praise you for your never-failing mercy. We entrust to that mercy all our departed loved ones. Wipe away the tears of all who grieve. Keep us close to your heart throughout our lives. Support us with your grace, and heal us with your forgiving love. Lead us by your Spirit into the Kingdom won for us by your Son, Christ Jesus our Lord.


Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.


Hear and graciously answer our prayers, dear Lord, as it is best for us and most glorifies your holy name. Amen.


What Does Lutheran CORE DO? May/June 2021

Lutheran CORE defines its mission as being a Voice for Biblical Truth and a Network for Confessing Lutherans.

As a Voice for Biblical Truth we alert people to ways in which the authority of the Bible, the historic, orthodox Christian faith, and traditional, Biblical moral values are being compromised and even rejected.

  1. We offer guidance in evaluating ELCA communications and decisions, such as the social statement, “Faith, Sexism, and Justice” and the “Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment,” both of which were approved at the 2019 Churchwide Assembly.   
  2. We challenge the ELCA to keep its promise made at the 2009 Churchwide Assembly to honor also the traditional view of marriage and human sexuality.  We confront the ELCA over their complete lack of support for traditional views, as evidenced in such things as the choice of keynote speakers for the 2018 youth gathering and the choice of workshop leaders and topics for the 2021 youth ministry extravaganza.
  3. We provide assistance for pastors and church leaders who want to gather examples to communicate ways in which orthodoxy is being threatened within the ELCA.
  4. We include articles in our bi-monthly newsletter, CORE Voice, on such topics as critical race theory, how to share your faith with people who are hostile to the Christian faith, and how to communicate in a way that is relevant to technically sophisticated, younger generations.

As a Network for Confessing Lutherans we assure confessing persons that they are not alone.  We provide connection for them with many others who share their concerns and are engaged in the same struggles.

  1. We provide Facebook groups in which orthodox pastors, seminarians, and lay people can engage in conversation with like-minded people.
  2. We have a private and visible (Facebook terminology) Facebook group that includes pastors, seminarians, and lay people with several different church body affiliations.
  3. We have a private and hidden (again Facebook terminology) Facebook group that is only for orthodox ELCA pastors and seminarians.
  4. We have a third Facebook group, Lutheran CORE Worship, where people can post worship services and Bible studies.  
  5. We also have both a page and a group on MeWe.
  6. We are working with a pan-Lutheran group of younger persons to do four things: (1) develop a support network for orthodox students at ELCA seminaries, (2) develop a support network for college students considering attending seminary, (3) support people who are leading and/or seeking to start young adult ministries, and (4) find ways to communicate the Christian faith to younger persons in a clear and compelling way.   
  7. Through the Clergy Connect page on our website, we help Biblically faithful, confessional congregations find a Biblically faithful, confessional pastor and vice versa.
  8. As requested, we work with congregations that are reviewing their church body affiliation and walk with them through the process.
  9. Through our Congregations in Transition ministry initiative we have a group of (mostly retired) Lutheran pastors who have been trained to be coaches for congregations where the pastor either already has or soon will be retiring or resigning to take another call.     
  10. Through our sponsoring of the July 11-17, 2021 week of NEXUS at Grand View University, we are helping provide a way for high school youth to attend a week of Bible study, theological reflection, fellowship, involvement in ministry, and being challenged to consider attending seminary and become involved in a life of Christian service.   
  11. We hold our annual Encuentro festival in the Chicago area – a day of support, connection, fellowship, inspiration, and resources for pastors, lay leaders, and congregations that are already involved in or are considering becoming involved in Spanish language and/or bi-lingual (English-Spanish) ministry. 
  12. We provide on our website daily devotions and worship resources, including prayers and hymn suggestions.  We are also developing a bank of sermon resources for congregations that do not have a regular pastor. 
  13. We also provide on our website an annotated List of Confessional Resources – books, magazines, ministries, and other resources recommended by confessional pastors – as well as video reviews of some of these resources.
  14. We provide a listening ear for pastors who want to talk about such things as congregational dynamics, personal health issues, and/or are anticipating retirement or transitioning to life after retirement. 

Resources for Youth and Young Adults – June 5, 2021

Ashman, Scott. Who Am I?  Exploring Your Identity Through Your Vocations

Who am I? What is my purpose in life? How should I live? This book invites you to explore your identity through your callings, to imagine living virtuously for others, and to discover deep meaning and satisfaction in life. You’ll look at many vocations that young people have or will have later in life.  

Bainton, Roland. Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther

The Reformation of the sixteenth century was a vast and complicated movement. It involved kings and peasants, cardinals and country priests, monks and merchants. It spread from one end of Europe to the other and manifested itself in widely differing forms. Yet in spite of its diverse and complex character, to start to understand the Reformation you need know only one name: Martin Luther. Roland Bainton’s Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther remains the definitive introduction to the great Reformer and is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand this towering historical figure.

Bird, Chad. Unveiling Mercy: 365 Daily Devotions Based on Insights from Old Testament Hebrew

Unveiling Mercy will do just that—unveil how the mercy of God in the Messiah is spoken of from the very opening Hebrew word of the Bible, all the way to the closing chapter of Malachi. By the end of the year, you will have entered the Old Testament through 365 new doorways, looked with fresh eyes at old verses, and traced a web of connections all over the Scriptures that you never spotted before.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship

Speaking as a man who truly lived out his faith under the worst of circumstances, Dietrich Bonhoeffer does so with a mantle of authority. The bulk of this book is devoted to reclaiming the rightful place of the Sermon on the Mount, and by extension, the teaching of the Gospels, in the life of the believer.  German Lutheran pastor and theologian, Bonhoeffer was an example of sacrificial faith.  He opposed the Nazis from the first and was eventually imprisoned in Buchenwald and hung by the Gestapo in 1945.

Cullinan, Alice R. Sorting It Out: Discerning God’s Call to Ministry

Sorting It Out walks Christians of all ages through the questions and uncertainties that come with a person’s call to vocational ministry. Alice R. Cullinan analyzes what a call is, provides many examples of how others have received the call, considers the different kinds of ministry opportunities, and offers advice on how to proceed once one discerns a calling from God.

Forde, Gerhard O. Free to Be: A Handbook to Luther’s Small Catechism

This revised version uses updated activities and examples to explore Luther’s Small Catechism and relate powerful Reformation truths to today’s world.  Thirty sessions.  Available as both student book and teacher guide. 

Guiness, Os. The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose for Your Life

Os Guinness has penned a classic reflective work on life’s purpose. Far bigger than our jobs and accomplishments and higher than our wildest ideas of self-fulfillment, our calling does more than give purpose and meaning to our lives.  It completes God’s plan for us.

Hoppes, Peggy. A Thirty-Day Walk Through Luther’s Catechism

This 30-day devotional book follows the sections of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism and is designed for daily reflection on the Scriptures and the faith that we share. Guiding the reader through a journey of Law to Gospel, the devotions are meant to show readers their need for grace and where that grace is found in Jesus Christ. The book is not only meant as a basic daily devotional and prayer resource; it also serves as a brief overview of the themes of the Small Catechism.

Johnson, Donald W. Praying the Catechism  

This devotional book invites you to experience the parts of the catechism through a journey of prayer and meditation.  Originally written for adults preparing for baptism, it is divided into two sections, which may be used approximately forty days before and fifty days after baptism.  If baptism occurs at the Easter Vigil, the two sections are especially appropriate for the seasons of Lent and Easter, respectively.  It is hoped that people preparing to affirm their faith, whether old or young, will find this book helpful. It is also hoped that this book will be used by individuals and families as a part of their devotional life. In this case, the book may be used in its ninety-day entirety, or the devotions may be undertaken in smaller sections through the six sections of the Catechism: the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, Baptism, Eucharist and Confession.

Jones, Ken Sundet. A Lutheran Toolkit

Ken Sundet Jones sees the primary themes of the Augsburg Confession as a set of tools that God uses to build faith in us. He takes the reader beyond scholarly analysis and historical explanations and uses his own experience as a college professor, parish pastor, and sinner looking for mercy, to discover God’s handiwork in our lives.  The tools in this tool kit continually point to Jesus as the one who promises mercy and abundant life — and who has the power to deliver them. This is a word for those who have not yet heard it and for those who desperately need to hear it again.

Keller, Timothy. The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith

New York pastor Timothy Keller uses the story of the prodigal son to shine a light on the central, beautiful message of Jesus: the gospel of grace, hope and salvation. Keller argues that the parable of the prodigal son, while Jesus’ best-known parable, is also his least understood. He introduces the reader to all the characters in this timeless story, showing that it concerns not just a wayward son, but also a judgmental older brother and, most importantly, a loving father. This short but powerful book is a reminder to the faithful, an explanation to the seeker, and finally an invitation to all – both older and younger brothers – to enter into the ‘unique, radical nature of the gospel’: the reckless, spendthrift love of God.

Kimball, Dan. How (Not) to Read the Bible: Making Sense of the Anti-Women, Anti-Science, Pro-Violence, Pro-Slavery and Other Crazy Sounding Parts of Scripture

For centuries, the Bible was called “the Good Book,” a moral and religious text that guides us into a relationship with God and shows us the right way to live. Today, however, some people argue that the Bible is outdated and harmful, with many Christians unaware of some of the odd and disturbing things the Bible says.  Whether you are a Christian, a doubter, or someone exploring the Bible for the first time, bestselling author Dan Kimball will guide you step-by-step in how to make sense of these difficult and disturbing Bible passages.  Filled with stories, visual illustrations, and memes reflecting popular cultural objections, How (Not) to Read the Bible is a lifeline for individuals who are confused or discouraged with questions about the Bible.  It also works great as a small-group study or sermon series.

King, Steve and Little, Amy. Getting to Know Martin Luther

By learning from Martin Luther’s life, we get a better glimpse into what faith means for our own life – searching and understanding the Word of God, trusting in Christ alone for our salvation, standing up for what we believe in, and helping others to learn the truth about God.

Luther, Martin. On Christian Liberty

On Christian Liberty communicates essential teachings of Martin Luther. Luther’s great insight into the freedom of the Christian proved revolutionary in his century and remains timely and poignantly relevant in our own. For the Christian, this freedom means liberty from sin and death, as well as the opportunity to serve one’s neighbor.

Marty, Martin E. Lutheran Questions, Lutheran Answers

Lutherans often have questions about Lutheran theology and beliefs that are basic to the Christian faith itself. Featuring a unique question-and-answer format, Lutheran Questions, Lutheran Answers is an accessible and concise treatment that provides the most frequently asked questions on important topics and brief but complete answers from a distinguished Lutheran historian and theologian.

Nouwen, Henri J. M. In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership

Henri Nouwen was a spiritual thinker with an unusual capacity to write about the life of Jesus and the love of God in ways that have inspired countless people. This is the most widely read of the more than forty books that Father Nouwen wrote. For a society that measures successful leadership in terms of the effectiveness of the individual, Father Nouwen offers a counter definition that is witnessed by a “communal and mutual experience.” For Nouwen, leadership cannot function apart from the community. His wisdom is grounded in the foundation that we are a people “called.” This beautiful guide to Christian leadership is the rich fruit of Henri Nouwen’s own journey as one of the most influential spiritual leaders of the twentieth century.

Rosenbladt, Rod. Christ Alone

In our postmodern, pluralistic world, there are plenty of genuinely spiritual people who consider Christ a way to heaven, or even their way to heaven, but who refuse to acknowledge Him as the only way for everyone. In their estimation, anyone who stresses an exclusive, saving faith in Jesus Christ is at the least intolerant and, at worst, completely ignorant. Yet, as Rod Rosenbladt shows in this booklet, there are numerous evidences that support the centrality and exclusivity of Christ. Even in the face of sophisticated theological attacks, God’s Word – and Christ’s unique claims – still hold true.  There is One whose words and works stand far above all others, and whose entire existence proves His exclusive claims. He deserves not only our worship, but our witness before a lost world.

Saint Augustine.  Confessions

Written between 397 and 400 AD, this work outlines Saint Augustine’s sinful youth and his conversion to Christianity.  It is generally considered one of the most important texts of this early church leader and is widely seen as the first Western autobiography ever written.

Sutton, A. Trevor. Being Lutheran

“Why are you Lutheran?” is a valid question in this modern age of denominations, distinctions, and choices.  Being Lutheran is an explanation of Lutheran theology for the modern layperson. Using “normal” language and applications to daily life, it translates complex theology into understandable knowledge, exploring such topics such as vocation, means of grace, law and gospel, and much more.

Sutton, A. Trevor. Why Should I Trust the Bible?

You have tough questions about the Bible. Maybe you have even heard things like, “The Bible is racist,” “The Bible has too many errors and edits,” or “The Bible is merely a mythological story like Homer’s Odyssey.”  This book tackles accusations like those head-on. Pastor Sutton compares the Bible to writings that have been deemed more credible than the Bible, like the Book of Mormon, encyclopedias, and even Shakespeare’s works. He tests the Bible using the same rigorous standards that have been used to test those other writings. He examines historical evidence, witness accounts, and translation concerns.  By the end, you will be able to better defend your faith when its very foundation is attacked. You will get many of your tough questions answered. And you will see that when all other texts fall, the Bible still stands – completely, undeniably trustworthy.

Tranvik, Mark. Martin Luther and the Called Life

One of the hallmarks of Luther’s theology was his concern for daily life. His concept of vocation is a way of understanding that all of life is under the care and interest of God. All of our activities are a part of a called life.  Tranvik begins this book with a clear exposition of Luther’s context and a focus on how the reformer actually lived out his own calling. He rapidly moves into the contemporary sphere, drawing on twenty years of teaching and interaction with undergraduate students to outline how a renewed understanding of vocation is a powerful and liberating tool for life in the twenty-first century.

Veith, Gene Edward, Jr. The Spirituality of the Cross

A challenge for today (for both Christians and non-Christians alike) is to cultivate a meaningful life in a seemingly meaningless world. Our natural religious impulse is to earn salvation based on what we do and what we deserve according to our own moral compasses.  Lutheran Christianity is different. The theology of the cross provides an understanding that relates to the world we live in today. Presenting a true understanding of justification by faith, the means of grace, vocation, theology of the cross, the two kingdoms, worship, and the church, this book is an excellent explanation of Lutheran spirituality.

Williams, Rowan. Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer

In this simple, beautifully written book Rowan Williams explores four essential components of the Christian life: baptism, Bible, Eucharist, and prayer. Despite huge differences in Christian thinking and practice both today and in past centuries, he says that these four basic elements have remained constant and indispensable for the majority of those who call themselves Christians. In accessible, pastoral terms this former Archbishop of Canterbury invites the reader to really think through the Christian faith and how to live it out. Questions for reflection and discussion at the end of each chapter help readers to dig deeper and apply Williams’s insights to their own lives.

Devotion for Friday, June 4, 2021

“The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9).

When a disciple of Jesus models godly behavior, copy that behavior.  When you are taught well, listen to what is being taught.  In and through all things, be guided by the Lord so that You may continue the journey of becoming like Christ.  The Lord is making a new creation in you through grace and you are to put into practice these things as a part of becoming what is new.

Lord, help me to focus upon what I need to focus upon.  Help me to model what is good and tell me so that I may know what is good.  In and through all things, help me to daily be conformed ever more closely to the image of Christ.  In You alone is there hope and being a part of the new creation You are making by grace, which is the invitation You have given me.  Help me to always fully participate in what You are doing.

Lord Jesus, You have come not only as the One who purchased our redemption through the cross, but You also have modeled the godly life.  Help me to see with new eyes the ways in which You demonstrated how to live this life You have given us.  Guide me today in Your ways so that I may live into the new life which is mine through You.  Through all these things, bring me ever more nearer to You.  Amen.