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


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

Grace for Losers (Jer. 31:1-14; Rev. 21:20,22-22:5; John 5:1-9)

What a world we live in! It’s a world that, at the same time, reaches both the heights of beauty and glory, and the depths of degradation and evil. We are greeted with both kinds of things almost every day in the news, and we know of it all instantly. Well, the world is what it is, and, with all its ambiguities, we know that Jesus has called folk like us to go out into that world, just as it is, to be his hands and feet. The heart of the Gospel is John 3:16, which was our call to… Continue reading

Loving One Another (Isa. 2:2-5; Acts 11:1-18; Jn. 13:31-35)

In John chapter 13, Jesus gave disciples some crucially important words just before they went out to face Jesus’ trial and crucifixion, all of which will, pretty much, change their lives forever. And, in reality, so will the words. In the earlier part of this chapter, John told the story of Jesus’ washing the disciples’ feet. He said to them that they should do for one another what he has done for them. In our passage, he puts what he had already done into the form of what he calls a new commandment to love as he has loved –… Continue reading

Doing What We See Jesus Doing (Ps. 23; Acts 9:36-43; Jn. 10:22-30)

Through the years I’ve had the privilege of forming relationships with people who have grown up in church, but for one reason or another, in later years have become distanced from Christian thought and people. My experience is that many of these people have been taught the most simplistic view of Christian history and the Bible, and, when they grew up, discovered that life was more complex than these views allowed. Mistaking that childish form of Christianity to be the only, or true, version of it, they have chosen to sacrifice it rather than sacrifice their intellect in science, history,… Continue reading

Singing All Together (Isa. 6:1-8; Rev. 5:11-14; Jn. 21:1-19)

I was reading an article in a magazine the other day, and it asked a question that set me to thinking. The questions was, “How do you want to be remembered?” The writer of the article said that a huge majority of people sixty years of age and older are quite worried that people will remember them for the mistakes they made rather than the successes they had. I used to say I didn’t care, but now, I’m at least wondering. What makes me wonder the most is my discomfort at being known for what’s in the past and cannot… Continue reading

The Stranger (Isa. 40:25-31; Rom. 8:31-38; Lk. 24:13-35)

“The Road” is both an ancient and a contemporary metaphor for “life as it’s lived.” I have remarked to you a number of times in this year that Luke presents Jesus’ teaching as for “the road.” One of the earliest synonyms for Christian life was “The Way,” and at least one source of that metaphor is the teaching of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. The goal of Luke’s “road” is Jerusalem, where Jesus’ journey came to an end and where the Church’s journey began in the Book of Acts.

So, just two weeks ago we came in off the… Continue reading