First Baptist Church of La Crosse, Wisconsin
First Baptist Church of
La Crosse, Wisconsin
1209 Main Street
La Crosse, WI
(608) 782-6553


Focus (Genesis 18:1-10a; Luke 10:38-42)

Today’s lessons are understood best if we start by seeing them within the social context of life in an ancient Mediterranean culture. The story in Genesis 18, although probably composed much later than Abraham’s time, does have a genuine remembrance of ancient social customs and roles because, in many ways, these had not changed for the centuries between Abraham and the writing of this story about him. The culture dictated that males took the lead in matters outside of the home, while females were in charge within it. That is why Abraham is the one who actually invites and welcomes… Continue reading

Neighbours (Amos 7:7-17; Colossians 1:1-14; Luke 10:25-37)

I cringe a little when I get these purple passages from which to preach, and “The Good Samaritan” is, surely, one of these. We’ve all heard (or preached) many sermons that purport to be about this passage. Most of us are familiar with approaches that that attempt to make us feel guilty about some opportunity that we had to “be nice” to someone who needed help and didn’t get it from us. I think this parable has become diminished by overexposure and dumbed down into just being nice. Now, it isn’t a bad thing to be nice, but I think… Continue reading

Priorities (2 Kg. 5:1-19; Gal. 6:7-16; Lk. 10:1-11, 16-20)

Ancient and modern literature is full of examples that suggest care in choosing what we deem important and valuable in the world. What seems, initially, to be of first importance, may not be. There are priorities in life. Sayings such as “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” or “Nice things come in small packages,” or even “Look before you leap” offer the lesson that common cultural values are not necessarily the ones that will lead to lasting satisfaction in life or are of the highest priority. Even an old Beatles’ song has the lyric: “I never cared too much… Continue reading

On the Road (Ps. 77; Gal. 5:1,13-25; Lk. 9:51-62)

Years ago, the CBS Evening News used to have a weekly human interest feature called On the Road in which Charles Kuralt introduced viewers to unusual stories and people, out in the highways and back roads of the USA. Kuralt is long gone, but, in more recent times, on Fridays, the correspondent Steve Hartman (not the one who was a minister in Wisconsin) has revived the “On the Road” segment. He always seems to be going somewhere. In the old days, Kuralt was happy enough sometimes to introduce viewers to quirky, or odd folks. The newer ones almost always have… Continue reading

Stop the Madness (Ps. 42; Gal. 3:28-29; Lk. 8:26-39)

Although we only read the 42nd Psalm today, the 42nd and 43rd Psalms belong together as songs of God’s people in times of trouble. These two were probably originally one song, and it’s really anybody’s guess how or why they became two. They are united by the same refrain that describes what the Psalmist was feeling. And, maybe, we are feeling it too today. It begins: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me”? From time to time, the Hebrew word that is translated as “disquieted” (or “in an uproar”) is used to… Continue reading

As We Forgive Our Debtors (1 Kg. 21:1-10,15-21a; Lk. 7:36-50)

In a recent edition of The Christian Century there was an brief article that showed how much/how little various groups of people trusted in what the government said to be true. It is not surprising that the responses broke out generationally. There are fewer and fewer folk in generations before Baby Boomers now, but the farther back one goes, the higher the trust level that the government tells the truth and that those in government have the people’s best at heart. In a previous issue of the same magazine, there was a survey about how much hope different generations of… Continue reading

And They Glorified God Because… (1 Kg. 17:17-24; Gal. 1:11-24; Lk. 7:11-17)

I struggle with sermon titles as many of you know. I understand that most “cutting edge” preachers now don’t use them. Unfortunately, I started out many years ago with titles, and I don’t feel like I’m “done” until I affix one. Today’s title comes from the fact that all three of our passages end up with witnesses of various types giving glory to God. It’s rarely the case, however, that people in the Bible (or you or I for that matter) give glory to God for no reason. The important word in the title is “because.” What kinds of things… Continue reading

Taking a Lower Place (2 Kg. 5:1-19; Ps. 113; Lk. 7:1-10)

I always miss TEE in the summer months, mainly because it gives me a chance say things I’m thinking about and how they might go into a sermon. The passages we have read together this morning could have used a good session of TEE. The greatest puzzle among them is the Gospel Lesson, which seems to be a story about the long-distance healing of the servant of a Roman mercenary soldier, who never meets directly with Jesus, or hears his voice (so far as we know), and yet trusts Jesus in spite of that. Even Jesus, we read, was “amazed”… Continue reading

Be Still…and Know (1 Kings 19:8-12a; Psalm 46; John 16:12-15)

Today, we’re about halfway through the Christian Year. We began with Advent and longing for a new relationship with God in the world, and we discovered it, as Christians, in the birth of Jesus, the Messiah, at Christmas (the shortest season of the Christian Year, only 12 days long). Christmas was followed by Epiphany, when we’re supposed to think about how this little baby that was born in a particular time and place (that is, long ago and far away) has meaning for the whole world with all its diversity and chaos. This was followed by Lent, as we prepared… Continue reading

Why Celebrate Ascension Sunday?(Ps. 93; Eph. 1:15-23; Lk. 24:44-53)

Today is Ascension Sunday, when the Easter season officially comes to an end. Most Baptists I know don’t know what to make of Ascension Sunday or, really, of Jesus’ ascension. Of course, most of us are aware that the New Testament says that this thing “happened,” and, it’s not that we can’t believe it, but most of us aren’t sure what significance it might have, other than marking the point at which Jesus’ disciples didn’t see him physically any more – which happened nearly two millennia ago. Is Ascension Sunday simply a way of marking the end of Jesus’ earthly… Continue reading