Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Monkey See, Monkey Do

This modern world of ours has its’ 24/7 news cycles that flood the airwaves with breaking news events and opinions. We have easy access to streaming videos on Youtube downloaded and ready to view within hours of breaking news events or of anything else you could imagine. Wikileaks has obtained and has downloaded sensitive and confidential government information on the internet. People on Facebook reveal a never ending stream of intimate information about themselves. Any sexual perversion one would want to access is available on the web in pictures, on videos, or in chat rooms. Communication is available to anyone without actually engaging in real one on one conversation through, texting, Facebook, Twitter, and the like. There is so much information available at the click of a button that many have disclaimers to not attempt to perform these acts. Far too many people attempt to emulate the actions of others that they see on the various media outlets available to them. The old adage, monkey see, monkey do, fits right in with our modern and enlightened society.

And here we have the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America falling into the same trap as those juveniles that break their bones imitating the reckless actions of those skateboarders attempting jumps and tricks that are next to impossible. Because the intellectual elite of this enlightened society embrace a “new age” theology, the leadership of the ELCA stumble all over themselves to be accepted by those secular elites and attempts to “re-invent” itself by professing and teaching a new understanding of Scripture. Since modern science would tend to discount the veracity of the account of Jesus’ immaculate conception, the leaders of the ELCA promote a new version of the Virgin Birth that placates those who are far too intelligent to accept such an idea. The Resurrection becomes visions or apparitions of the Risen Christ or that the Apostles just really wanted to believe in a bodily resurrection of Christ, so they embellished their stories. It becomes appropriate to believe that because God loves us, He also affirms us, so there is no need to ask for forgiveness and no need for a Savior, since everyone is going to heaven anyway. Now it is more desirable to have a diversity of opinions about the very foundational beliefs of Christianity than to defend them, and all opinions are considered appropriate. By virtue of the doctrine of bound conscience, any and all Scripture is subject to anyone’s particular interpretation.

Bishop Hanson covers his eyes, ears and mouth and stands by idly, while the church wide assembly votes to disregard God’s law and place man’s opinion, experience and understanding in authority over God’s word. Then, instead of defending the authority of Scripture, he questions God’s word and accuses the authors of Scripture of not having the same understanding of sexuality that we have today. When Hanson accuses the authors of Scripture, he also accuses our Lord. Matthew 19:4-7, Jesus said, “Haven’t you read,” he replied,that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Our Lord created us man and woman, He created us for a purpose. Genesis 1:27-28, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Our God makes it abundantly clear as to what He expects of His children.

Whatever it is that is deemed acceptable to our modern society is considered as appropriate doctrine for this misguided denomination. The leadership of the ELCA continues to twist God’s word to be pleasing to society’s appetites, while deliberately ignoring our Lord’s will. The purpose of our God’s church is not to lift up the things of this world. God’s church is to uphold His word, preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, and welcome sinners to God’s house, not disregard sin so those that are slaves to sin continue in that sin. We all fall short of God’s glory. It’s not easy being a Christian. We have to deny ourselves many things that are pleasing to us in order to fulfill and obey God’s law. Anyone can ape the actions of a society run amok, obedient only to the evil one. We must put aside ourselves and our desires in order to place our Lord at the center of our lives. The leaders of the ELCA are truly leading their membership on a path to ruin. There is a reason that so many are leaving this wayward church and affiliating with a synod true to the Lord. It is just unfortunate that so many fail to see and understand. Continue in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Christ, that their hearts and minds be opened to the truth.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Flawed, but Made Perfect

I am a Christian, yet I am terribly flawed.  As a disciple of Christ, I know what my Lord expects of me. Yet, try as I may to be what God wants me to be, I continue to fail miserably. I am indeed fortunate that God is faithful and just and will forgive my sins, because I need to ask for His forgiveness over and over again. I am often a poor example. Many who see my faults, cite those shortcomings as excuses to not accept Christ and not engage in fellowship with the church. I am to be an ambassador for my Lord and people are watching, and they often don’t like what they see. I am judgmental. I criticize what I perceive as the inadequacies of others, but fail to recognize my own shortcomings. I will look down upon those that are different or have opinions that are different than mine. I hold an inflated opinion of myself and will perform my good works in a way that others can see, so that I can take the credit for those good deeds.

I am a Christian, yet I am selfish. I will, more often than not, ignore that little nudge from the Holy Spirit to complete a task for our Lord, and instead, take the easy way out and do what it is that I want to do for myself. This is my biggest failure and my gravest sin against my Lord. For when my wants and desires take precedence over my Lord and Savior, I deny Him and worship myself, my identity and my possessions. I fail to remember that everything that I have, even life itself, is a gift from God. When I fail to welcome others, to share what I have with those in need, and to give of my time to those who are lonely, I also deny my Lord and Savior. Mark 8:34-38, “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37 Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

I am a Christian, yet I continue to commit sins against my Lord. My proclivity to feed the desires of the flesh, more often than not, cause me to err and to fall into sin. I take for granted my gifts from my Lord and I am often much too eager to accept the praises of others when I step out and serve the Lord. I fail to acknowledge God for the gifts He has given me and then selfishly keep them to myself. I am called to tithe, to give to my Lord only one tenth of what He has given me, yet I often only place a few dollars in the offering plate. Levitiicus 27:30, “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD”. My world revolves around myself, not God, making me an idol worshipper, lifting myself up as the idol.

I am a Christian and a child of God. Even with all of my faults and failings, my God loves me beyond my understanding. 1 John 3:1, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” I am made perfect in Christ. Colossians 1:22-23, “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven..”  Jesus took upon Himself all of my sins, suffered and died on the cross in my place, and defeated death so that I may be granted salvation and eternal life with my Lord.

I am a Christian and I am saved. Hebrews 9:15, “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance--now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” The only true universal salvation is that God wants all of His children to believe and be saved, that everyone comes to Him through faith in the Risen Savior, Jesus Christ. There is much sacrifice to be made by a disciple of Christ. There is nothing easy about the tasks our Lord sets before us. But, when we obey our Lord and trust in His will, we will be made perfect in His sight. All of us unworthy, sinful human beings are sanctified in God’s eyes by the blood of our Savior. And the cost to us to be able to receive this offer of grace from our God; nothing more than faith in the Risen Christ.  Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Unto You a Savior is Born!

After much prayer asking for the words to write a Christmas message, the Spirit remained quiet. After several less than fruitful attempts at composing the article, I came across this letter from the Augustana District of Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, LCMC. His Spirit does communicate with us in many ways.

Shepherds Quake at the Sight

Well, yes, of course they did! They trembled and shook, and quivered and convulsed, and they did so with such ferocious terror that they became sore (as the old King James Version put it): “they were sore afraid.”

Nothing frightens us much anymore. Oh, we worry well. And we are well-aquainted with that villain we call dread. Tumbling 401k’s that don’t seem to recover, unpleasant diagnoses, an occasional terrorist threat, or a denomination run a-muck – to be sure, these bring worry and dread. But not fear. Not really. We’re too rational, too confident, too scientific, and too callous to “shake in our boots,” or “quake at the sight” of something rare. We’ve seen it all before!

But not the shepherds. Not that night. Minding their own business, they were, and doing what ne’er-do-well shepherds always do: lounging and lolling their way through yet another night (the scriptures, in their overly-generous and gracious way, credit them with a highly unlikely “tending” of their flocks). Then there appeared to them and above them and around them and in front of them, from out of nowhere, an un-named heavenly being flapping and fluttering, floating and flittering, while something called “the glory of the Lord” with its 1,000-watt halogens (yes, it’s derived from ‘halo’) “shone” – no, blazed! – “around them.” And sore afraid were they that they quaked at the sight!

And they should have! For the God who comes as a quiet, reticent baby to salvage sinners from death requires – somewhere! – an epiphany so entirely grand that a man’s only possible response is to quake at the sight. Quickly, when barely the last “and lying in a manger” words spilled from the angel’s mouth, a whole, holy heavenly host was dispatched not to Paris, Miami, or even Vegas, but to the quiet hillsides of Bethlehem, where the poor, unsuspecting shepherds were invaded by the brilliance of salvation. Such are God’s ways. Your salvation – yes, yours – had arrived… and the ne’er-do-wells were the first to know.

And lucky for us, they hastily quaked and quickened their way to the Baby, to “make known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.”

Whatever worry, dread, or even fear we may find ourselves encountering this Christmas, the brilliance of salvation overshadows it. In the Light of Christ, the villains of darkness, dread, and death have no choice but to scatter and flee into crevices of extinction, like bugs from poison. Such is his salvation.

Silent night, holy night! Shepherds quake at the sight; Glories stream from heaven afar, Heav’nly hosts sing, Alleluia! Christ, the Savior, is born! Christ, the Savior, is born!

Reprinted with permission from the Augustana District, LCMC

Luke 2:10-11, “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

Merry Christmas and Praise the Lord. Our Savior is born!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Crimes of Omission

Sometimes the words one uses speak volumes about that person’s true beliefs. Sometimes the words one omits speak louder. In the book, By What Authority? Pastor Mark Chavez penned an interesting article about what was omitted from the Revised Common Lectionary. He concentrated on those verses cut from passages cited in the lectionary. Much of the omitted text left out the apparently troubling aspect that our God is a living God that ought not only be loved, but feared. Entire books of the Bible have been rejected for use in the lectionary by those that chose the Scriptural verses. 1 Chronicles, Ezra, Obadiah, Nahum, 2 and 3 John and Jude have been left out of the lectionary. When a church denomination attempts to water down the word of God to be less intimidating and more loving, welcoming, and accepting, much of God’s intent is disregarded. Sin is all around us. Even the most ardent Christian commits sinful acts every day, intentionally and unintentionally. Even though God loves His children beyond our understanding, God is also to be feared. Will not a child who faces no consequences from his parents for wrong behavior simply choose to be willfully disobedient? By God's grace we are allowed to have a place with Him for eternity in His house, but that does not mean that we can willfully disobey God’s law.

The ELCA, in its’ never ending quest to reinvent our Lutheran faith, has also decided to omit confession and absolution in their worship service. In the latest hymnal, confession and absolution is considered optional, replaced by a celebration of baptism. Now, we should celebrate our baptism, but as sinful human beings it is especially important to confess our sins to God and to hear that He does indeed forgive us. 1 John 1:8-10, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” We recite these verses each Sunday, placing before our God our failings and asking Him to forgive and renew us. The last two Greater Milwaukee Synod Assemblies conducted their worship services without confession and absolution and those services seemed empty and without substance. But, since this misguided denomination has also decided to ignore sin, they teach that there is really no need to ask our Lord to forgive us.

In order to placate the radical feminists that are offended by the audacity of Scripture to use masculine terms when describing God, the leadership of the ELCA has determined that calling God by His revealed name is not always appropriate. It is now acceptable to omit God’s preferred name and to call our God, mother or any other feminine pronoun that one chooses. Her Church, an ELCA congregation in San Francisco, chooses to worship a pagan goddess rather than to be relegated to worshipping such an offensive God who chooses to be referred to in the masculine gender. That an ELCA church, that omits our God from their worship, is accepted as a Lutheran church by the leadership of the ELCA is absolutely blasphemous.

The ELCA promotes the love of neighbor as paramount in their ministries throughout the world. While this is the second most important commandment, they conveniently omit the most important command. Matthew 22:37-38, “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.” With the love of the neighbor as the primary goal in the mission of the ELCA, it is easy to disregard the Great Commission. It is also easy to leave our Lord behind and promote the legitimacy of other religions as alternate ways to salvation. Apparently the leadership of the ELCA believes that traditional and orthodox Christianity is out of step with their idea of a new world order. The tail wags the dog when the leaders of a Christian church side with secular values and diminish our Lord’s role in their ministry. We are to be a beacon to the world and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not try to fit in and water down our faith. And these enlightened leaders of the ELCA just don’t understand why their membership continues to dwindle and that congregations faithful to the Lord want to break fellowship to affiliate with a denomination true to the Gospel. Isaiah 33:22, “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; it is he who will save us.”

It is time to turn away from this church that is awash in its’ heretical teachings and begin a new walk with a church that accepts the authority of Scripture and places our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ first in their ministry. Continue to share the Word and to expose the heresy of the ELCA so that those unaware will wake up before it is too late!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fight the Good Fight

The Apostle Paul gave this instruction to Timothy, 1Timothy 6:11-12, “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” In these verses Paul instructs Timothy to act as a soldier for the Lord to fight the good fight of faith. There will be conflict to resist corruption and temptation, and to fight against the powers of darkness. Many of us struggle when dealing with the ELCA’s shift away from the traditional, orthodox Christian message that is such an integral part of our faith lives. We become increasingly frustrated when we try to fight the good fight for our Lord and are met by fear and even worse, complacency. We must continue to speak out for our Lord and by doing so, pray that more brothers and sisters in Christ listen and realize where the ELCA is taking them. Once God’s children learn the truth, the Spirit will lead them.

Our faith journey is just that, a journey, and a journey consists of many steps. We listen to God’s word and try to discern God’s will while endeavoring to travel the path that He has set before us. We act in Christian love when we reach out to our brothers and sisters to try to protect them from false teaching and evil in this world. Those that are true to the Lord and have discovered the truth about the ELCA’s path into apostasy truly want to save their brothers and sisters. We want to lead them to the safe haven of a church that truly walks with the Lord and believes and preaches His word. But, it’s not just about reaching that goal, it is about taking the path of truth that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ traveled before us. We are met with many choices along this road we travel, and we need to discern God’s will so that we can take the proper steps. Making those choices that fulfill our Lord’s teaching is much more important than reaching the desired goal, because that goal, more often than not, is what we want and not necessarily God’s will. After all, we pray that His will be done.

We will meet many stumbling blocks along the way on this journey to reveal the truth. Some of us meet those that refuse to listen. Some will refuse to believe. Some may be too comfortable with a familiar relationship and are resistant to change. Some may feel that we have become too evangelistic. Some don’t care what goes on in the greater church as long as they can attend church whenever and wherever they choose and be able to get home in time to watch the Packer game. We must remember that not everyone is at the same place in their spiritual journeys. 2 Timothy 2:24-26, “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” So many are unaware of the false teachings that have overtaken the ministry of the ELCA. We must gently instruct, realizing just how unbelievable it is that this church has strayed so far from our Savior’s teachings. We must listen to their concerns and understand that it will take time for many to digest the enormity of the heresy promoted by the leadership of the ELCA. And we must pray that the Spirit will open their eyes, minds, and hearts so that they will see, understand and accept what is so difficult to comprehend.

It would be so much simpler if the leadership of the ELCA abandoned their secular ambitions and returned to the Lord. It would be so much simpler if the leadership of the ELCA would actually promote and believe that the Bible is the word of God, instead of proclaiming it a book of faith stories. If they only truly practiced what is proclaimed as "what we believe" and accept the Apostles, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds and the Augsburg Confession as the true declarations of our Lutheran faith, instead of casting doubt upon the very foundation of Christianity. It would be so much simpler to stay and not go through the pain and effort to break fellowship with the church many of us have been members since childhood. The problem is that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is the most important aspect of our lives and we cannot remain affiliated with a church that denies our Lord His proper role in its ministry. 2 Thessalonians 3:14, “Take special note of those who do not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard them as enemies, but warn them as fellow believers.” So, we have no choice but to break fellowship, praying that our rejection will cause the leadership of the ELCA to reconsider and return to the Lord.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Good Works or God’s Work?

Many Christians give of their time, talents, and possessions to serve those that are in need. Our Lord instructs us to reach out to the hungry, the lonely, the imprisoned, and anyone else in need as we would provide for our Lord Himself. But, are we truly fulfilling Christ’s mission if we fail to do this to the glory of our Savior’s name. What differentiates those that perform these tasks in Jesus’ name and those that simply do this out of the goodness of their hearts? One does not need to know the Lord to give of oneself much more than many Christians would ever do. Those Christians that fail to nurture the spirit of those that they serve, do them a great disservice. If one fails to fill their heart with the Holy Spirit when doing good works, one can easily fall into the trap of the evil one and become enamored of oneself and those good works that we accomplish. Romans 15:18, "I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me." Something as simple as telling someone that Jesus loves them while serving in a soup kitchen is even more important than providing food for them. We don’t need to proselytize to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our actions can serve as a beacon to those we serve. But, we must do these things in Jesus’ name and be selfless as we serve. Matthew 20:28, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Luke 22:26-27, “But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” Just as our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ came to serve, so should we be servants of our Lord. It is not our willingness to merely perform these tasks; it should be our willingness to serve the Lord.

Matthew 6:1-4, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” It is so easy to forget why we reach out to those in need. When we do justice toward our fellow man, we tend to congratulate ourselves for reaching out and expect, to not only impress our neighbor, but to impress our God. When we are so wrapped up in doing good deeds, we often lose sight that our Lord taught us that this is what He expects us to do, in His name. For everything that we have and are is a gift from God. Our good deeds are merely a faint reflection of our Lord’s love for us. Every day the Holy Spirit taps us on the shoulder, offering us opportunities to serve Him by reaching out to our brothers and sisters. We are not to take credit for doing what our Lord taught us. John 7:37-39, On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” When we truly believe, we will be filled with the Spirit so that we become the instruments by which the Holy Spirit uses to minister to the world. All our good works flow from the Holy Spirit that dwells within us. Filled with the Holy Spirit, we can joyfully reach out in true Christian love to our neighbors, and proclaim the glory of our Lord.

There are many agencies that reach out to the world in need. Some are Christian, some are not. Some Christian missions tend to downplay the Lord’s role in their mission, instead choosing to be politically correct and tolerant with the emphasis on demonstrating their love for their neighbor. There will always be secular agencies that reach out to feed the poor, but as Christians, we are not only called to feed the poor, we are to pronounce our love of our God by proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.  When we engage in our good works, we do so to bring the glory to our Lord and to bring those we serve to God. So, we must remember that this life is but a mere whisper of what lies ahead. John 6:32-35, “Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.” 35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” Feeding the body without feeding the soul with the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will only lead to spiritual starvation and death. “The first and highest, the most precious of all good works is faith in Christ.” - Martin Luther from Chapter II of the Treatise on Good Works.  So, fill your heart with the love of the Lord and let the Spirit flow like a river while you go out and do God's work.  Praise be to God!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

In God We Trust

Trust is something that is difficult to earn, yet easily lost. In order to gain someone’s trust, you must first be proven to be truthful. You must place the needs of others before your own. You must be able to step out of your comfort zone and be there for that someone when times are tough. Losing that trust can happen in an instant. Even a minor indiscretion can break a trust. There is only one trust that can never be broken, our trust in our God. Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” When we believe, we have an absolute trust in our Lord that He will fulfill His promise to us. As Christians, we also have an innate trust of the body of Christ, His church. We believe and trust that those that are called by God to preach the Word and lead the church are empowered by the Holy Spirit and, as such, our God is speaking to us, through them. When we are in the pews on Sunday, we believe that we are hearing the Word of God, spoken through one that is indeed inspired by God. The thought that the message from the pulpit or that the leadership of the church is misguided or unsound doctrinally, is just not on our radar screens.

For years many of the more liberal ELCA seminary professors have taken it upon themselves to reinterpret God’s intent through His Holy Word, the Bible. These progressive professors that are so enamored with the secular world have taken to ignoring God’s will and reinterpreting His word to transform the message to incorporate the opinions of society. As the years have progressed, more radical thinking theologians have been elevated to teaching positions in the seminaries and the truly biblically based professors have been phased out and have become a dying breed. Theological discussions among these new, enlightened and progressive professors have led to the teaching of seminarians a diluted form of Christianity. Universalism, affirmation, social justice, and tolerance have replaced faith, forgiveness, sin and making disciples of all nations as the tenets of this new enlightened church. Papers submitted by seminarians that fail to follow these progressive professor’s new interpretations are deemed unacceptable and required to be resubmitted. Our future pastors are being taught a religion that believes that a Savior is pointless, since sin and forgiveness are unimportant and superfluous. These enlightened professors are teaching a new generation of pastors to lead the ELCA into the future, and that future is looking more problematic with each passing year. So, now when we worship or read our Bishop’s statements that he makes on behalf of the 4.6 million ELCA members, we must do so from a different perspective. Our trust in the ELCA’s message has been severely damaged, and as long as the current leadership persists on the path that they have chosen, it will likely remain broken beyond repair.

Those traditional Lutherans that adhere to the truth that is the foundation of our faith are looked upon as trapped in an archaic belief system rooted in a 16th Century understanding of Scripture. The leaders and scholars of the ELCA consider our founding confessions irrelevant to their new and improved interpretation of Scripture. The problem is that these progressive scholars only disapprove of those verses of Scripture that deny them their modern cravings. Those verses that lift up or are ambiguous enough are cited as the rationale to reinvent Scriptural intent. Traditional understanding of Scripture does not fit in with the way our modern society views morality. The leaders of the ELCA long to have their church looked upon favorably by the secular world, so Biblical morality is obsolete, to be replaced with the more politically correct world view.

What of those leaders of the church that are no longer faithful to our Lord and lose the trust of those that they are called to serve and protect? 1 Corinthians 4:1-2, 4-5, “So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.” Those who pervert the Lord’s church will be exposed for who they truly are. Their motives are known by our Lord and they will have to answer to Him for leading His flock astray. Psalm 118:8, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” Trust not in man and his wicked schemes, but put your trust in God. While the leadership of the ELCA continues to preach a gospel other than the Gospel our Lord preached, we have no choice but to find a new church, true to God’s word, that we can walk faithfully upon the path that our Lord has set before us.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Shock and Awe

The war in Iraq began with a campaign entitled “Shock and Awe”. The attack was to be so swift, so intense, and so decisive that the enemy would be overwhelmed. Communications, supply lines, and military equipment was targeted and destroyed with the goal of eliminating the Iraqi Army’s will to fight. Much of the Iraqi army was scattered without any connection to their battle leaders and this strategy did lead to the surrender of numerous Iraqi battle groups in the field. The Iraqi army was easily defeated, with few Coalition forces lost. The attack on the foundations of our faith has been much more deliberate. The ELCA has been moving toward the creation of a new Lutheranism for decades. Using the hot button issue of homosexuality as a smoke screen, the ELCA has contrived doctrine to allow us to commit sin without remorse. Many were shocked after the 2009 ELCA Church Wide Assembly actions. The leadership of the ELCA stood by and allowed the Assembly to vote to disregard God’s law, knowing full well that all that chose to speak out against these actions would be looked upon as homophobic, intolerant and hateful. The leadership of the ELCA then used this to their advantage. The doctrine of bound conscience, invented to bolster the argument for the Human Sexuality statement, was utilized in a much more insidious way.

Bound conscience is the ELCA's way to justify their argument that we must not break fellowship simply because we have “differing viewpoints.” This false doctrine enables the ELCA to have a "Big Tent" and to draw in a new and diverse membership. You see, the ELCA has been hemorrhaging members almost from the day that it began. The ELCA has lost almost one million members since their inception in 1988. As they have moved further left, pursued a stated goal of social justice, and have left our Lord behind, there is little left to attract new members. Those looking for Jesus need not look to the ELCA to advocate for our Lord when there is so much else that is more important in this world. Filling your heart with the love of Christ is not on the radar screen of these enlightened leaders of the ELCA. It is indeed shocking, that a Lutheran Church would betray the Lord, relegate Him to a place secondary in their ministry, while publicly refuting God’s word, the Holy Bible. This is just beyond our comprehension. This church, in which many of us found the Lord, has fallen away from Him. As shocking as this “fall from grace” that has overtaken the ELCA, know this, God has a plan for us and nothing happens that is not part of that plan, including the troubling times in the ELCA.

Part of that plan is the work that the Holy Spirit is doing with Christians that were complacent in their faith. This includes many of us that attended Sunday services regularly but did not take the time or have the interest to dig into God’s word. I am awestrck as to how, in these troubling times, so many Christians have awakened and have been invigorated in their Spiritual lives. You can count the writer of this blog as one those Christians that has been awakened from his slumber. So many traditional, Bible based congregations have seen a marked increase in congregants reassessing their relationship with the Lord and are now attending Bible studies and getting involved in the church. You see, sometimes it takes a veritable slap in the face to awaken those that take their faith for granted. Indeed, when times are tough, it is difficult to discern why God does the things that He does. Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Everything that happens, does so because God intends for it to happen in that way. God’s purpose may not always be evident, but rest assured, He does those things to benefit those that love Him.

The direction that the leadership of the ELCA is taking their membership is contradictory to what faithful Christians have been taught since they were old enough to attend Sunday School. This attempt to transform the ELCA into this welcoming, tolerant, and all accepting social club that denies the very foundation of our faith has fueled the righteous anger of many faithful Christians. Ephesians 3:10-12, “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Now that this church, the ELCA, is ignoring our Lord’s intent and is spreading a gospel other than the Gospel our Lord taught, we must seek out a new church, true to the Lord, in which we can “walk together” in our faith journeys. We must also be diligent in our efforts to expose the heresies being promoted by the leadership of the ELCA so that no more of God’s children will fall prey to these false teachings. Continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ so that they too may see the truth.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Give Them What They Want

“Give them what they want, they’ll get what they deserve” was a moniker local law enforcement adopted in the late 80’s and early 90’s after several “overzealous” police officer actions led to a number of abuse of authority complaints. This slogan was to remind the police officers that justice will be done to the offender and to allow the system to mete out the punishment. This would encourage police officers to treat criminals with more respect and prevent them from engaging in any type of “street justice”. The false gospel of affirmation alludes to the first portion of the above slogan and, in fact, gives those thirsting for acceptance, whatever it is that they want. This false doctrine promotes the idea that God affirms us all because He loves us unconditionally, so that you can have whatever it is that you want. There is no need for forgiveness, since our sinful nature is ignored by God and we are supported in whatever sinful activity we engage in. And we don’t need to feel guilty when engaging in sin, because, again there is no need to ask for forgiveness.

Unfortunately, the second part of the slogan will pertain to those that adopt this false doctrine. Those accepting of this false gospel will “get what they deserve” and be due the just punishment for disobeying the Lord. Deluding oneself to believe that God affirms us all and acquiesces to our sinful acts, will simply be leading toward Gnosticism. Gnosticism was a movement away from Christianity that began in the 1st century A.D. Gnosticism relies upon the individual or experiential knowledge of God and of the spiritual nature within us. (see Our mother, who is within us) Gnostics believe that they have privileged knowledge about God and the universe of which everyone else is unaware. Gnosticism allows and accepts different religious beliefs and incorporates tenets of those beliefs into their own. They promote the concept that salvation is achieved through relational and pragmatic knowledge. In other words, they rely upon human reasoning and experience! Sound familiar?

When one longs to have his or her lifestyle accepted and places demands that in order to be welcoming, the church must ignore Scripture and accept and affirm that lifestyle, that person places self and their identity as paramount, pushing aside our God and worshipping the self. The ELCA’s doctrine of bound conscience enables sinners to “thumb their noses” at the Lord and to engage in sinful behavior, believing that they can do so without consequence. The leadership of the ELCA continues their headlong rush to transform the church into what they consider an all loving and all inclusive social club by embracing all religions as truth and incorporating non-Christian principles to replace the long held foundational truths taught by Jesus and the Apostles. Those that believe there is no need for forgiveness deny our Savior, Jesus Christ. Where there is no need for forgiveness, there is no need for a Savior.

So, where is the leadership of the ELCA leading their membership? It would appear that this new world order of Christian Lutheranism perpetrated by the ELCA is far from the path that serves our Lord. This new and all accepting, all welcoming, church that is tolerant of everything is advocating for the worship of the self instead of our Lord. If this new religion promoted by the ELCA doesn’t need a Savior, doesn’t promote morality, advocates that other religions offer another path to salvation, and that one need not believe in anything at all to be saved, why would one choose to worship at an ELCA church? Why would we remain in fellowship with an organization that does not share the belief system ingrained in all of us since childhood? Those that choose to remain a part of this heretical organization are doing nothing short of supporting the denial of the truth that is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. If enough churches remain in fellowship with the ELCA, they will just continue down this path and lead more Christians into the abyss. Proverbs 1:28-33, “Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. 29 Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD, 30 since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, 31 they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. 32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; 33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

We must choose Jesus and deny the ELCA. There is no other way to turn the ELCA back to the Lord and if this fails, continue to pray for the faithful that remain, that they too, will rise up and break fellowship with this errant denomination.