Thursday, December 22, 2011

Obedience of Faith

Mary, not yet 16 years old, betrothed to marry Joseph, is alone when an angel of the Lord appears to her. Luke 1:28-35, “The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” So, Mary was faced with the prospect of being the mother of the Messiah, the Son of God. Was this a reason to rejoice or of great apprehension?  Becoming pregnant out of wedlock was an offense that could be punishable by banishment or death by stoning. Knowing that her betrothed was not to be the father should have caused great anxiety for the young woman. But, how did she answer the angel? Luke 1:38, “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.” This is obedience without question. God asks her to turn her life completely upside down and she answers, Your will be done.

How often have we answered the Spirit by simply ignoring the gentle tug to serve Him? To obey our Lord is not a leap of faith. We obey out of our love and trust for the one who gave His life so that we may live, eternally with our Father in heaven. But, to simply obey is not enough. One must freely give that obedience with a joyful heart. We are Disciples of Christ. If we truly love him, it should be our greatest desire to please Him in all that we do. And in Scripture, our Lord and Savior, called on His Disciples to obey His teachings. “Is it not written” was mentioned by Jesus whenever He cited Old Testament law, confirming that the law remained valid and was to be obeyed. Even though we are no longer under the penalty of the law, we are called to remain obedient. Romans 15:4, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” When Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, the New Testament had not been completed, so the Scriptures he referred were the Old Testament.

When one chooses to use earthly experience, knowledge and tradition to interpret Scripture to be more pleasing is selfish disobedience that greatly displeases our Lord. Deceiving their membership by adopting the doctrine of bound conscience, the leadership of the ELCA allows their members to place themselves in authority of God Himself. Any interpretation of Scripture, no matter how erroneous is acceptable to this misguided denomination through the doctrine of bound conscience. One is free to determine what is or is not sinful in the eyes of the Lord. This is just one more example of disobedience of a selfish human race that revolts against our God far too often. Romans 1:3-6, “His Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. 6 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.”

Joyfully obey the word of God. Romans 2:13, “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” May our joyful obedience be pleasing in our Lord’s sight. Continue serving the Lord faithfully, giving Him all the glory. Give thanks to the Lord for the opportunity to be a faithful servant and a willing vessel to do His will. Prayers for a blessed Christmas and joyous new year for all.

Monday, December 19, 2011

For You

As Christmas fast approaches, we need to keep this in mind. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ was born for one purpose. He was born to die for us, a sinful humanity. That little baby in swaddling clothes, laying in a manger, was born under a death sentence. Because of the evil in this world, committed by a sinful humanity, He had to suffer the penalty that each and every one of us fully deserves. We rejoice that His sacrifice enables those who believe, to gain eternal life with our Father in heaven. We truly owe a debt of gratitude to our Lord. While so much of the world decries the Truth, instead placing their faith in this world, those who truly believe are filled with the joy of the promise of everlasting life. How empty this life must be for those who have no expectation of life after this inconsequential life on earth that we live. This makes our Lord’s command of the Great Commission to make Disciples of all nations, even more important. Our joy is meant to be shared. Our Father desires all of His children to come to Him. Just think, if every Christian simply shared the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with one person who does not know Him, just how many more may come to know the Truth and be saved. How many more brothers and sisters in Christ would there be in this world?

Many who do not know Him claim that a God that sent His son to die is truly not a God of love. Know this, our God, who is one with the Son and the Holy Spirit, came down in human form and experienced all the pain, suffering and death Himself. A sacrifice such as this is truly an example the greatest love. To give one’s life, especially in such an agonizing way, is the ultimate sacrifice. The Son, God incarnate, humbly offered Himself as atonement for our sin. John 3:16-21, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

Our sacrifice as Disciples of Christ is to simply step outside of our comfort zone and proclaim the Truth to the world. We need to break out of the routine denial of our faith. Even Peter, the rock on which the Christian church was built, denied our Lord. When we have the opportunity to testify to the Truth and choose to ignore that opportunity presented by the Holy Spirit, and to be sure, God’s plan consists of many opportunities for the faithful, we deny Him just as Peter did. When we fail to share the joy that the love of Christ provides us, because we “don’t want to come across as too religious, we deny our neighbor the chance to come to Him. Every sermon you hear, every word of Scripture you hear and read, and every prayer you offer to the Lord is used to prepare you to serve the Lord. The Lord is constantly grooming you for the task of proclaiming His glory.

2 Peter 3:8-10, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare” One day, God will call the faithful home. He wants none of His children to fall into the abyss, so it is incumbent upon us to put on our spiritual armor and become Disciples of Christ. And Disciples are charged to bring the lost to Him. As John the Baptist proclaimed, Luke 3:4-6, "As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. 5 Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. 6 And all mankind will see God’s salvation.” We are called to prepare the way for our Lord. It is the least we can do for Him, who gave everything for us. If we choose to withhold our testimony today, will tomorrow be too late?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Upside Down

Our world as it exists today no longer applies to the rules of normalcy and things have become even more upside down as the days progress. The current administration of the United States has abandoned this country’s core principals in an attempt to institute the “democratic socialist” values embraced by Europe that are failing, country by country. Lavish entitlement programs force the US government to borrow forty cents of every dollar it spends, creating a national debt of over 15 trillion dollars.  Public assistance per capita is higher today than any other time in our history, including during the Great Depression.  Now the government employs or supports more than 50% of the population. The dwindling work force employed by the private sector, is no longer large enough to pay the bills to run this country. US debt is growing at a pace that will greatly expand beyond even the most optimistic economic growth estimates, creating a debtor nation. If the dollar is replaced as the standard currency for world trade will necessarily initiate double digit inflation for this nation, or worse cause another great depression.

In Wisconsin, union activists are attempting to overturn an election because the elected Governor, Scott Walker, enacted legislation to honor his promises made during the election. No malfeasance in public office, no sex scandals, nothing but passing legislation that makes public employees responsible for a portion of their pension contributions, instead of burdening the taxpayer with the entire bill for their generous benefits. Taking these and other reasonable steps to reduce spending has allowed Wisconsin to balance its' budget after the previous democrat administration left a deficit of over 3 billion dollars.  Rather than being thankful for receiving such generous benefits for over fifty years, these "activists" lie, cheat and try to steal an election using thuglike tactics, including unscrupulous parties that obtain false and duplicate names on recall petitions.

The Occupy movement is hailed by the mainstream media as a grass roots uprising while the Tea Party movement is derided as a Republican backed scheme to undermine the Obama administration.   Islam is continually cited as a religion of peace as more and more are murders are committed by radical Islamists shouting “Allah Akbar”. The attack at Fort Hood that took the lives of 14 of our brave soldiers is reclassified as “workplace violence”.   ATF allows guns to "walk" to Mexican drug cartels leading to the death of a US border agent and the administration stonewalls the investigation.  Crime is rampant and the vast majority of the perpetrators come from homes without a father present, yet the “nuclear family” is considered outdated and unnecessary. Christians that dare to speak out for the Lord and publicly declare their faith are mocked and ridiculed. And churches that call themselves “Christian” promote that faith in Jesus is not necessary to gain one’s salvation, instead preaching tolerance and advocating that “other paths” to heaven are just as valid. 

How did this happen? Are we all asleep and this is just a terrible dream? Unfortunately, no. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ told us to turn the other cheek and while we have heeded His command, the world has taken full advantage. We are not only struck on the cheek, but Christians are literally attacked and brutalized by the so called compassionate and tolerant left. What is so hard to understand is, that the leaders of God’s church are actually out in front of the attack on the truths of Christianity, the very truths they are charged to uphold. We are called to be in the world but not of the world. When Israel was in bondage in Babylon, the Lord was clear in his commands to His chosen people. Jeremiah 29:7, 11-13, “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  This country is on track, not to prosperity, but to ruin, both economically and spiritually even as many of His churches fail to seek the Lord, instead seeking the approval of the world.
 
Through a reckless embrace of secular ideals and a misguided attempt to fix our broken world, many of God's churches forgo their responsibility to bring the lost to Christ. Our world is broken because of our disobedience. We cannot fix this world any more than we could create it. Only God can repair what we have spoiled. From the beginning man’s disobedience has wreaked havoc upon this world and himself. God gave us a clear set of rules to guide us in this life on earth, but we continually choose to disregard His law.  Now many of His churches have enacted doctrine to allow their membership to ignore His will with their blessing. Romans 2:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” 

When we think that we are so enlightened that we can reinterpret our Lord’s word to fit in with our modern society, we widen the chasm that exists between us and our Father. These new things that the leaders of the ELCA say that they are hearing are not from God. They are exactly what the evil one wants us to hear.  Is all lost?  Absolutely not!  But, the onus now falls upon the faithful to be our God's hands and feet because many of the leaders of His church no longer listen to Him.  We need to be the proclaimers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Continue to dwell in His word and listen to the Spirit as you meditate on Scripture. Continue to meet with other believers and study and learn His word. Let the Holy Spirit equip you with the spiritual armor necessary to fight Satan and rescue those who foolishly listen to those pleasing words that they long to hear. Preach the Gospel to all who will listen so that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, they will come to understand His Truth and realize that the ELCA is preaching a false gospel. Pray unceasingly for those trapped by the false teaching of the ELCA to have their hearts and minds opened to the Truth.  And always trust in the Lord.  Even though we may not understand His plan for this world, His Truth and His kingdom will prevail, so hold fast to our Lord's commands, continually praying that His will be done.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Ten Suggestions

Well, we’ve certainly been busy here on Higgins Road these last few years. Disregarding Scripture, upholding everyone’s bound conscience, figuring out that Jesus really wasn’t quoted appropriately in that book of faith stories, debunking the truths myths of Christianity and trashing God’s chosen people, Israel. And of course we have been engaged in the continual assault on all those pesky pastors and congregations that believe in the authority of Scripture and try to follow all those archaic laws handed down from those uneducated men that obviously did not compile accurate data from God. Keeping in line with our new modern and progressive religion, we have proposed an update to the now mostly obsolete “Ten Commandments”. So here is a compilation of some of the “new” things that Satan God has been telling us. So, for an early Christmas present, we present this new document, formerly known as the Ten Commandments, handed down from God to Moses on Mount Sinai, now to be called the “Ten Suggestions”, so as not to cause any consternation for those who choose to allow their “bound conscience” to disregard our God’s commands.

#1 You know that God thing where you are supposed to have no other gods, well it’s really ok to worship other gods, heck, even worship yourself, your identity and your possessions if you want to, just kind of keep God in the background and mention His Her name once in a while, especially when you want to argue about the unity of the church, redirecting benevolences or congregations that want to break fellowship. And make sure you invoke the name of God if some intolerant Bible thumper lays down some Scripture that disagrees with whatever questionable activity you happen to be engaging in.

#2 Image, schmage. Go ahead and make whatever image you want. We don’t know what God looks like anyway and you can have any view of what He She is, so go ahead and use goddess beads or any other religion’s icons for that matter.

#3 Oh, and that thing about using God’s name in vain, we already think His Her chosen name is offensive, so call God Mom, Mother Earth, Rumplestiltskin or whatever else trips your trigger.

#4 What’s different about one day or another? Any day is a good day and why keep one day Sabbath (what the heck does that mean anyhow?) and holier than any other, because we change the rules as we go along anyway, so live it day to day.

#5 Honor your parents?? Of course we have reached the pinnacle of enlightenment and already know more than our parents, so maybe it’s the parents that should be seen and not heard. After all, they only want to correct (and that harms our self esteem) and encourage. We are infinitely more intelligent than them already, so there is absolutely no need to correct ourselves.

#6 Yeah, this one is somewhat problematic. You probably should not kill anyone, of course. Well, unless they object to your alternative lifestyle or try to correct your way of interpreting Scripture, we just may make an exception in that matter. But perhaps it is better to just shout them down, or belittle them, sue to confiscate their property or generally make a mockery of Christian love. At least this way no jail time is involved if you get caught.

#7 Now adultery, what to do about that one? Oh, I know! We’ll pass a resolution stating that as long as you truly believe it’s ok, it’s ok with the church and by osmosis or something, it will be ok with God, too. And of course, adultery without a “loving monogamous relationship” is strictly forbidden.

#8 Well, stealing is bad, unless of course you want to take land from those no good Israelites and give it to those godly Palestinians.

#9 And that lying thing. At least try to be a little discreet about it. No bald face lying and if you testify falsely, just make sure that the ends justify the means.

#10 Finally, the last one. Didn’t know if we could make it through all of these unreasonable rules, written by those ancient, dirty and uneducated men that most certainly were not inspired by God. Coveting your neighbors stuff. Covet, now that’s an old fashioned word for you. Take all those rich-fat cat-corporations-that steal the world’s resources-destroy the planet-don’t share-don’t use their evil profits to pay for all the government handouts that able bodied individuals choose to steal from society. Go ahead and covet their stuff because it rightly belongs to you. Who the hell are they to think that they can work hard to make something of themselves so that they can create jobs and pay for all the stuff that makes the world go round. Don’t just covet their stuff. Take it away from them. Advocate for the things of this world!  Disrupt society so that you can get their stuff!  That’s the ticket! Then it will be fair for everyone.

Well, I guess that’s that. Got all our bases covered so we can all feel good about ourselves no matter what we do. Never did much like rules anyway and since we are all about love (mostly of ourselves) that is good enough. Now it’s off to church to say our prayers to Mother Earth and see what our next new and improved social statement is going to be. Remember, these new ideas make us all stronger and diversity and acceptance is the real answer. Merry Christ Xmas!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Good Cop, Bad Cop

After retiring in 2008 after 29 years of service as a police officer in a Milwaukee, Wisconsin suburban department, one of the worst things to happen to anyone in the profession was to discover a corrupt cop that was wearing the badge. It is essential that police officers be trusted to uphold the law with the utmost loyalty and dedication to the citizens and community that they serve. One bad apple can spoil the whole batch if the police lose the trust of the citizens. After all, every person a police officer comes into contact with is subject to the authority that is entrusted to them. Police officers can take away the freedom of a citizen engaged in or suspected of criminal activity. Police officers are charged to protect and serve. A police officer will place his or her own safety in jeopardy to protect the weak and sometimes, even those guilty of criminal acts. Being a cop is much more than a job. It takes dedication and sacrifice, working on weekends, holidays, missing family functions and working hours when any normal person would be asleep. The saying goes that police officers are not paid for what they do, they are paid for what they may have to do. And some of those calls for police are not what anyone would want to experience or endure.

There are other professions that, by the very nature of their reputation, invoke the highest of confidence and trust. When one is called to serve the Lord as a member of the clergy, they are necessarily believed to be guided by the Holy Spirit in, and through their service. To fail to properly serve the Lord faithfully by preaching “something new” that undermines the Truth, is not even on the radar screen for those that love the Lord. In Presiding ELCA Bishop Mark Hanson’s address to the ELCA Church Council on November 11th this year, he said that ELCA members are "called to be part of God's reconciling and restoring community" in the world. 1Timothy 2:1, 3-6, “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 5 For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. 6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.” When we are called by the leader of the largest Lutheran Church in North America to “be a part of God’s reconciling and restoring community, one has to determine what our role is to be as reconciler. As Paul wrote, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ was the only one who could reconcile God and humanity. Perhaps by proclaiming the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as He taught the Apostles, by praying for and interceding on their behalf may just be the way to save them and lead them to understand the Truth. Additionally, concentrating on what our Lord called us to do in the Great Commission would go a long way to restoring community in the world.

At this time in the life of the ELCA, mission to bring the word to the world has fallen prey to loss of membership and benevolence. Social statements and advocacy for the things of this world have a higher priority for this misguided denomination and funds normally directed to mission have been cut. The doctrine of “Accompaniment” is being lifted up as the ELCA’s way of watering the seeds of mission they have already planted, rather than starting new mission work. Hanson tried to further illustrate the ways the ELCA is deeply rooted in God’s mission. He highlighted the process by which the ELCA adopts social documents, which "informs our public witness, but not bind our conscience, to help us live as responsible people of faith in a complex world." It is interesting how cavalierly that Hanson uses the term “bind our conscience” as a tactic to give the impression of marginalizing their true objective, secular ambitions, rather than our proclaiming the Gospel to the world. Social statements only act as barriers, set in front of faithful ELCA members that blind them to the call of our Lord and Savior to save the lost. How could God’s church place a higher calling on advocating for things such as the “DREAM” act while they choose to abandon their responsibility to reach and save the lost?

Hanson also called to “affirm the vocation of political service as being a calling from God and therefore need to hold public servants accountable.” It is true that God places those in positions of authority and we do need to respect those in office. We are similarly called to hold those in office accountable to the public trust. Police officers that fail to conduct their duties in a lawful manner will be held accountable by the authorities within their respective departments or if the conduct merits it, the criminal justice system. Politicians that fail the public trust will be held accountable at the ballot box or, if necessary will also face potential criminal actions. For those in the clergy that deliberately lead their flock astray, Jesus said in Mark 9:42, “And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.” Bishop Hanson continually advocates for the things of the world and emphasizes their importance in trying to "fix" our broken world. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ gets no more than lip service in the mission of the ELCA. For certain, there are ELCA churches that do not buy what Hanson is selling and remain true to the Lord, but we all are known by the company we keep. Those that decide to remain a light within the darkness of the ELCA, are simply on a fool’s errand that will only lead them to the understanding that the leadership of the ELCA has truly abandoned our God. Jeremiah 5:30-31, “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: 31The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?”

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Useful Idiot

Useful idiot is a derogatory adage, describing a person either too na├»ve or ignorant to understand that their advocacy of malevolent organizations only allows those organizations to conduct their business with impunity. Confused and misguided, the “occupy” movement is used by the labor unions and left wing radicals to conduct their bidding, disrupting the very business activity they need to support them. Gay rights advocates lobby to legitimize behavior that is contrary to God’s will, rather than loving their neighbor enough to lead them back to the Lord. Prior to the fall of the Soviet Union, soviet sympathizers used their influence to promote socialism and in several instances, used their positions to steal sensitive information and forward it to soviet agents. What they did not know, however, was that although the Soviets used the information, they actually reviled the sympathizers as traitors. Neville Chamberlain, the prime minister of England, used the policy of appeasement in an attempt to placate Hitler and Nazi Germany, only showing a weakness that gave Hitler the confidence to mount a sustained military campaign, almost bombing England out of existence. Those trapped in poverty by social programs that provide nothing more than a meager existence, continue to vote for those that would keep them trapped in a life of poverty. So, the list goes on and on with these supposedly well intentioned individuals and groups foolishly working toward goals that actually happen to be destructive to themselves and society.

Bishop Mark Hanson uses his office to appease the LGBTQ community by affirming their sinful behavior. Hanson proclaims that the authors of Scripture would not have an understanding of homosexuality as do the enlightened leaders of the ELCA, and as such, we need to reevaluate what Scripture says about sexuality. Mark 10:6-9, Jesus said, “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. 9 Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate.” So, that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ taught that marriage is between one man and one woman is overruled by the 2009 ELCA churchwide assembly. Those gullible human beings, using their imperfect love, overturn our God’s command. Bishop Hanson, whose duty is to safeguard sound doctrine, chooses to abdicate his responsibility to uphold God’s will and allows the inmates to run the asylum. Now, what God considers sin is no longer sinful in the official policies of the ELCA and homosexual relations are even acceptable for clergy as long as they engage in a “loving monogamous relationship” because God’s children are apparently wiser than their Father in heaven.

Hanson uses his office to denounce God’s chosen people, Israel, while offering support for Palestine and their terrorist leaders, Hamas. “Peace” activists attempt to violate a legal blockade of Palestine by Israel, attack Israeli forces attempting to board their vessel and Hanson delivers a scathing rebuke of Israel when, in fact, the Israeli forces acted with incredible restraint. Hanson advocates that ELCA members and Americans as a whole, support an embargo on all goods made in Israel. Hamas showers Israel with rockets, targeting civilians, causing casualties and fatalities, yet Hanson stands mute to those atrocities. Romans 9:4, “They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God’s adopted children. God revealed his glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave them his law. He gave them the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises.” Yet, Hanson persists in his affirmation of Palestine, while condemning Israel at every opportunity.

Hanson welcomes diversity within the ELCA. While we should welcome a diversity of people in our church, we should hold fast to the truths of Christianity, not welcome a diversity of beliefs. Universal salvation, the gospels of affirmation and radical inclusiveness, questioning the Virgin Birth and Jesus’ resurrection are just some of the “new things” that Hanson proclaims that God is now telling us. Throughout Scripture, we are warned to “not change a single word of Scripture”. Jesus said in Luke 16:17, “It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.” Who is Hanson obeying when he, as the presiding bishop of the ELCA, decides to rewrite Scripture to placate those that want their worldly desires affirmed by the church? As Satan works on our worldly desires to lead us to sin against our Lord, Hanson decides that these “new things” are from God, but those true to the word realize that this is exactly what the evil one wants us to believe. Those being used by Satan to do his bidding have found a place in leadership positions at our Lord’s church. Just as the Politiboro used unwitting idealists to betray their country, he has found willing servants in God’s own church. After all, how better could Satan infiltrate God’s church, but to use words that sound so appealing, so welcoming, so tolerant and so diverse to those intending to use their imperfect love to create a new religion, based upon what they want to believe, rather than what our Lord has taught.

Knowledge is the way to understand when the evil one is attempting to use you. Dwell in His word and put on the full armor of the Lord. Jude 17, “But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. 20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21 Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” Learn to recognize the useful idiots working in league with Satan that are proclaiming a gospel other than the one our Lord taught.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

We're Not Worthy

Mike Myers and Dana Carvey created the Wayne’s World characters Wayne and Garth for a 1988 skit on Saturday Night Live. (When it was still relatively funny) The premise of the skit entailed a couple of slackers that hosted a public access cable show. Whenever they interviewed someone of note, they would both do an exaggerated bow, stating, “We’re not worthy, we’re not worthy.” Well, we just may be able to learn from their example, because we are certainly not worthy of the grace that our God bestows upon us. Martin Luther wrote the explanation of the fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer in the Small Catechism, “We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look upon our sins, nor deny such petitions on account of them; for we are worthy of none of the things for which we pray, neither have we deserved them; but that He would grant them all to us by grace; for we daily sin much, and indeed deserve nothing but punishment. So will we verily, on our part, also heartily forgive and also readily do good to those who sin against us.” We should always be eternally grateful that our Lord can overlook our numerous shortcomings and grant us eternal life, in spite of our blemishes.
 
Since we are forever unworthy of our Lord’s love, should we decide to simply rest on the laurels of our faith in the Risen Christ? Should we sit idly by and humbly accept the grace that grants us our salvation? Should we merely be happy that our Lord and Savior took upon Himself all of our sins and generously accepted our punishment, died in our place and rose, defeating death so that we should live? Or should we rejoice in the knowledge that faith in the Risen Christ is the only way to salvation by sharing the Good News with our neighbor? If we fail to abide by our Lord’s command to preach the Gospel to the world, we fail as Christians. The responsibility that comes with being a follower of Christ is that we simply can't not share the love that God has for all His children. Everyone should come to know Him and if we fail to take that responsibility, we fail our Lord. For certain, this does not affect our salvation, but any of His children that are lost bring sorrow to our God. If it is our goal to please our Lord, we must take up His cross and become a Disciple of Christ.

We must endeavor to not only reach those who have not heard, we need to reach those who are misled by false teachers, such as the ELCA, the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ, that accept and promote errant doctrine. As these churches lead their members away from our Lord, placing their authority above our God, we must proclaim the true Gospel. To simply run away, clinging to sound doctrine, is to abandon our responsibility to gently correct in the hope that God will grant them repentance, leading them to know the Truth. Every soul that does not know our Lord is a soul longing to hear the word. Those that have been properly instructed in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ have the solemn duty to “preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.” 2 Timothy 4:2.

Satan is alive and doing very well in this modern, accepting, tolerant society of ours. He has infiltrated our churches, particularly through the misguided leaders of the ELCA, Episcopal, and UCC churches. Satan must be dancing with glee when hundreds of pastors sign documents lifting up sexual immorality and support for reproductive rights (abortion). When the leader of the ELCA, Mark Hanson, denounces God’s chosen, Israel, while lifting up Palestine, led by the terrorist organization Hamas, Satan must be so proud of his work. If we choose to sit by idly, many may be at risk of losing their very salvation. They may only need to hear the truth from fellow believers to turn back to the Lord. We can all leave these errant churches, join new organizations true to the Word, but it doesn’t change the fact that those left behind are your brothers and sisters in Christ. If we leave and let them be led away without trying to bring them back, we are just as guilty as those that lead them away. We must be diligent in our proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that not only those who have not heard come to Him, but that those who have fallen off the path can have their hearts and minds made right with God, so that they can return to Him. James 5:19-20, “My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, 20 you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.” Let the Lord help us not only to save the lost who have not heard, but to save those that have been unknowingly led to accept a gospel other than the one our Lord preached.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Wishful Thinking

Those that hope for an outcome that would be most pleasing to them often use wishful thinking when making decisions, rather than considering real evidence, logic or truth. This pattern of thinking continues to persist throughout human society and now is being embraced by “mainstream” religion. When one decides on a course of action which is deliberately guided by wishful thinking, things may actually go well for a time. But, fantasy can never be reconciled with reality. As things start to go south, the wishful thinker will often make an even more determined effort to keep their dream alive. Then, as reality closes in and everything starts to unravel, the illusion crashes back to earth. For the leadership of the ELCA, their “new things”, such as bound conscience, are in the process of falling apart. As more and more congregations discover the direction that the ELCA is heading, more are taking steps to disassociate. The ELCA’s leadership is currently engaged in a very determined effort to keep their dream of an all welcoming, tolerant, accepting and appeasing religion that does not recognize sin, alive. They have changed the rules for congregations that are in the process of discerning whether or not to continue in their relationship with the ELCA. They have taken a hard line with the faithful, seeking to maintain unity in their wayward church by using threats and subterfuge.
The leadership of the ELCA persists in adhering to two different hermeneutics that are irreconcilable, promoting that man is in authority of Scripture, while also proclaiming to profess the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, or Scripture alone. Unfortunately, because they so foolishly wish that their “bound conscience” will give them license to justify any worldly desire, they have also deliberately led their unwitting membership along the path of unintended consequences. This wishful thinking leads the misguided that long to have their lifestyle affirmed by the church, to ascertain that because Jesus did not specifically comment on homosexuality, one can derive that this indicates that He does not disapprove of that lifestyle. No matter how much one would want this to be true, Jesus over and over cited the Old Testament laws as valid. Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-20, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” So, although we are no longer bound by the law in order to gain our salvation, it still is important to not only obey, but to uphold the law by teaching sound doctrine.

Another “new” concept that intrigues the leaders and scholars of the ELCA is that hell somehow no longer exists, or is at least irrelevant, apparently since hell is cited only 53 times in the Bible. This is just one more example of wishful thinking. To encourage teaching that God is a God of love and nothing but love breeds a dangerous assumption. Promoting the idea that God would never punish His children and that since Jesus died for everyone it is not necessary to know or even believe in the Risen Christ to gain salvation, is more than simply wishful thinking. It is a perilous notion that jeopardizes the salvation of those foolish enough to trust a church that promotes or at the very least, acquiesces to this errant doctrine. 

These are nothing more than false doctrines that the leaders and scholars of the ELCA have concocted and illegitimately foisted upon their trusting members. These leaders and “Biblical scholars” claim that God is now telling them a new thing, appealing to the emotions of those who want a God who affirms them within their sinful behavior. Bound conscience is no different than saying, “If only I want something bad enough and truly believe it, then it will come true.” This type of thinking will only lead one to a bitter disappointment. I’m sorry, but being a follower of Christ carries great responsibility. It’s not about us and what we want; it is all about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:8-9, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” Expose the heresy of those that seek to redefine Christianity. Reject those that preach a gospel other than the one our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ taught. Pray that those lost or that have fallen from the path of righteousness return to the Lord. Proclaim the true Gospel with all your heart and with all your might, praying that the Holy Spirit gives you the wisdom and strength to persevere.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Let it Be

Let it Be was a song written in 1970 by Paul McCartney, but credited to both McCartney and John Lennon, and recorded by the Beatles. McCartney, and especially Lennon were not particularly spiritual, even though Lennon was much more conservative that he led on. McCartney based the song on a dream he had where his deceased mother, Mary, visited him during the troubled times just before the band broke up, and told him that everything will be alright, just let it be. While McCartney looked to his mother for guidance, Christians look to our Lord and Savior for direction, through the word of the Holy Scriptures.
 
When we find ourselves in times of trouble, Jesus comes to us, speaking words of wisdom, “Come to Me for comfort.” In our hours of darkness, He is standing right in front of us, speaking words of wisdom, “Give yourselves to me and I will lead you to salvation.”

When the broken hearted people living in the world agree, they will find that Jesus is the answer, the way, the Truth, and the life. For though they may be parted there is still a chance that they will see, there will be an answer, let it be the Risen Christ.

And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me, but shine not just until tomorrow, let His light shine forever. When I wake up to the sound of music, my Savior comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, “Come to me and share My kingdom.”

We must also “let it be”. We must let ourselves, our time and our possessions become secondary to our love of our Lord and Savior. For if we persist in placing our needs before our Lord, we withhold that which He desires of His children. Failing to give ourselves to Him will only lead us on an empty pursuit of worldly things, leaving us unable to find the love and fulfillment that a deeper relationship with Jesus will overcome. When we truly give in and let God control our lives and strive to simply please Him, we will have found the answer. No matter how much wealth or fame we have, it can never be enough and will ultimately only lead to disappointment and emptiness. If we find that our identities are the driving factors in our lives, we can never reach a height that will truly satisfy. There will always be someone better, with more skills that we covet, and there will always remain a void in our lives.

With Jesus in control, whatever it is that we do is good enough for Him. Whenever we fail, He loves us unconditionally, no matter how far we fall. When we give up control, we find comfort in His direction. We please our Lord by simply loving Him, thankful for the life He gave for us. We do not need to be broken hearted. We can all agree that Jesus is truly the Way, the Truth and the Life. We can also agree that we need to share the joy that the love of Jesus brings. We must share that which the Lord has blessed us with. We must shine the light of the Lord upon the world. We must give those that do not know, the chance that they too, may see. The Good News is meant to be shared. True Discipleship will require sacrifice on our part, but everything we have is a gift from God. In times of trouble, Jesus is there for all, they only need to have His love and wisdom shared to rescue them. When darkness is all around, He is standing there, waiting for the words, “I believe” to extend that liberating salvation. When the night is cloudy, be the light that shines the light of Jesus to those in need. With the sound of music, lift up your praises to the Lord and reach out beyond the safety of your comfortable church and share that joy with those who have not heard. Ephesians 6:19, “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,” Pray that we Christians will also be given the words and the courage to proclaim the Truth and become Disciples of Christ.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Truth, No Consequences?

Truth or Consequences was a game show that originated on the radio in 1940, then graduated to television in the early 1950’s, lasting until 1988. Contestants were asked to correctly answer a trivia question or “Truth”. Typically there was either no correct answer, or the allotted time, often two seconds or less, would elapse. An incorrect answer or failure to beat the clock would subject the contestant to "Consequences," usually a zany and/or embarrassing stunt. Many contestants deliberately answered the question incorrectly in order to face the consequences. Stunts often included a surprise family reunion and many active military personnel were brought home to reunite with their families. When we accept the Truth that is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we no longer are subject to the consequences of our sinful lives. The punishment that our sinful behavior warrants has been covered by the blood of Jesus Christ.  Isaiah 53:5, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

So, once our lives truly belong to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the consequences of our sinful behavior are no longer counted against us, we are home free, right? Actually, there are many more consequences once we believe. We are no longer in control. When we are filled with the Spirit, our wants and desires become secondary to our Lord’s will. We truly become a new creation, placing our Lord in control of our lives. It’s not “What Would Jesus Do”, it’s what would our Lord want us to do to bring Him the glory. We cannot simply become a Christian without the desire to be a Disciple of Christ. And being a Disciple brings with it much responsibility, the greatest being to make disciples of all nations. This unconditional grace that grants us eternal life with our Father must be shared. Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.“ If we selfishly keep the Good News to ourselves, we not only neglect our Lord’s command to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but also to love our neighbors as ourselves. For if we truly loved our neighbor as ourselves, we would want to share the gift of salvation with everyone.

The leaders of the ELCA have neglected their responsibility to engage in the mission to reach out to save the souls of those who do not know our Lord. So much money has been lost due to congregations leaving, by members who uphold the authority of Scripture and have left to join other denominations or began a new mission start, and by other ELCA members that have redirected their benevolences to Christ centered mission, that the ELCA mission budget has been slashed. The ELCA has budgeted less to mission in 2011 than what was budgeted in 1988. This is more than simply a sluggish economy.  Something had to give if the ELCA was to continue their drive to transform the very foundation of Lutheranism. Something would have to be cut since the social justice agenda continues to be of utmost importance to this wayward denomination. Since the largest Lutheran denomination in North America has abandoned its’ duty to save the lost, it is even more important that more Christians step up and become Disciples.

Now is the time to get involved in mission. Now is the time to step out of your comfort zone and start sharing the peace of the Lord with someone outside of your secure and cozy church. There are so many missions looking for volunteers. There are many churches looking for partners in existing mission ministries and others wanting to share the Good News, but need partners to help them get started. Putting a few extra dollars in the collection plate is way too easy. It is time to “get some boots on the ground” and those boots belong to you. It is easy being a Christian. Will you step out and be what God calls you to be and become His Disciple? Matthew 4:19, “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” Use the gifts that God has blessed you with and reach out to the world. Take that first step and truly give yourself to Him. Don’t take the easy way out. Accept the consequences that come with being a Disciple of Christ, the Truth that sets you free.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Joyful Spirit

Constructive criticism given by a friend rubs you the wrong way. You respond in anger or withdraw, mumbling under your breath, shaking your head, thinking “How could you”. The drive for perfection leads you to accuse those around you of not carrying their weight. Feeling hurt or betrayed by the one you love, you draw into a shell and cut off communication. Acrimony, jealousy, pride, tension, and bitterness are just a few of the negative emotions or moods that allow Satan to poison our relationships with others. As children of God, we have one thing that others do not. We have a Savior that gave Himself for us. We have the promise of eternal life with our Father if only we believe. 1 Thessalonians 5:8-11, “But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Sometimes, we do not, in fact, lift each other up. When the evil one takes advantage of our failings, we become the selfish beings that rebel against our God. Instead of filling our heart with His Spirit, we allow our own selfish cravings to let Satan in and ignore the Spirit.

Psalm 147:1, 7, “Praise the LORD. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! 7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp.” Praise Him with a joyful heart. Every time we sing praise to our Lord, let our hearts be filled with His love and let us share that joy with everyone in our Father’s house. Romans 15:32, “Then, by the will of God, I will be able to come to you with a joyful heart, and we will be an encouragement to each other.” As Disciples of Christ we need to encourage our brothers and sisters, and it is so important to do so with a glad and joyful heart, for we praise the God of all creation that sent His son as a sin offering in our place. So, put aside those things of this world and proclaim the joy that our Lord has placed within our hearts. Hebrews 10:25, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Let us hold fast to the words of the Holy Spirit inspired authors of Scripture. Whenever two or more are gathered in our Father’s name the Spirit will also inspire us to give glory to Him. We should not simply sing praises to God, but use our voices to open hearts and minds to the power of the Holy Spirit, to lead them to understand God’s will and open an avenue to begin or enrich a personal relationship with Him.

Relationships can become strained when the Spirit becomes secondary within that relationship. Endeavor to fill your hearts with the Spirit, leaving no room for the evil one to upset that balance. We sing our praises to God and not any earthly authority. There is no room for disagreement when we fill our hearts with the Spirit. There is no room for petty bickering when we lift us our songs of praise to the Lord. Pray that His Spirit guides us to offer praises worthy of our God. Psalm 113:1-3, “Praise the LORD. Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD. 2 Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore. 3 From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised.” Dwell in His word and meet regularly with other believers in prayer and praise. When we follow our Lord’s will, there is no room for the things of this world that Satan can use to cause us harm. Idle minds are the Devil’s workshop, so fill your heart and mind with the love that can only come from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Once we are truly at peace with our God, the things of this world simply no longer seem so important. Reach out to your brothers and sisters in Christ with a heart filled with the love that can only come through a right relationship with Jesus. Sing to the Lord with a joyful heart and joyful spirit. All glory and honor to the one who gave His life so that we may live.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

It's Raining Grace

Believers stand before God and literally bask in the grace that flows from heaven above. As believers we lift up our arms and open our hearts to let the Spirit fill our souls, falling upon us like a gentle, warm rain. Yet, there are still so many that do not have faith. There are those who simply do not understand the gift offered by God or have never heard the Good News. There are those who know about God, but open their umbrellas to deflect the grace that rains down, refusing to listen. There are those who choose to accept alternate paths that lead them away from Him. And then there are those who teach that everyone will be granted salvation, regardless of faith. John 3:16-18, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” Our God so loves His children that He wants all to be saved. His grace falls indiscriminately upon this world. It is there for all. We have the choice to accept His grace by simply believing in the Risen Christ.

But, there are scholars within the ELCA that promote a very different understanding of salvation. Though not taught as official doctrine of this wayward Lutheran denomination, the concept of universalism is gaining steam and is being taught in ELCA churches and seminaries. From the June 21, 2011 Living Lutheran, an article penned by Paul Lutter, a visiting instructor at Gustavus Adophus College, working towards his PHD at Luther Seminary. “Fully, Luther came to understand, God forgives, loves and saves us completely apart from anything we do or do not do. When this came to light, it was for Luther as if “the gates of heaven were opened to me.” Such news clangs in our ears, however. “I have to do something,” we retort. “God isn’t going to do God’s thing with or for us without our first believing, right?” When faith — or anything else God gives — is turned from a gift God gives to something we need to do first to earn God’s favor, we reveal something rather telling about ourselves. We do not trust that God gives as God promises. We do not trust God. God comes down the staircase, gifts in hand, ready to dole them out to us who are caught empty-handed. When God reaches us, God hands them out, as the one who sews seeds. God throws caution to the wind and hands out God’s gifts with wild abandon. Foolishly. Freely. For us. When we speak of grace alone, we mean to say something unconditional about the way God gives to us who are not ready and yet waiting for God’s presence and work among us. God gives. We receive. Fully and completely.” Like most ELCA teachings, some of Mr. Lutter’s analogy is correct, God’s grace is given freely to those who believe. Faith is the missing link in this essay. It is apparent that the instruction given to seminarians by this man is tainted with his interpretation of grace without the condition of faith. This is not what our Savior taught us and certainly not what Martin Luther preached.

From the March, 3, 2011 Huffington Post, an article by David Lose, Director of the Center for Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary, commenting about Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins”, “But I think the importance we attach to hell today has more to do with the allure of certainty than fear of punishment. A clear sense of the rewards and punishments for having or lacking faith in Christ offers a compelling logic regarding our eternal destiny that reduces ambiguity from the life of faith. After all, and as many Evangelical Christians have argued, if you can go to heaven without believing in Christ, what's the point of faith in the first place? This certainty, in turn, lends believers a sense of authority, even power, as they have a clear standard by which to judge "who's in" and "who's out." Talk about seductive!” Again, we find a professor at an ELCA seminary who looks upon those who have faith in the Risen Christ as self righteous and judgmental. Are believers somehow more special than others? No, God loves all of His children unconditionally. This is why Jesus charged His Disciples, and also all believers, to make disciples of all nations, so that everyone would find eternal life with the Father.

The initial printing of the ELCA Study Bible, included this footnote, written by Wartburg Seminary professor, Duane Priebe regarding Matthew 28:16-20: “...In contrast to 10:5-6, 23, Jesus now sends the disciples to make disciples of all nations. That does not mean make everyone disciples. Most people who are helped by Jesus and believe in him never become disciples. Jesus includes in salvation people who do not believe in him or even know about him.” Our Lord and Savior does not agree. Jesus said in John 6:40, “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” Why do these enlightened scholars of the ELCA continue to teach that faith is somehow optional? Our God does not force us to believe. We have the free will to choose to believe. Ephesians 2:8-10, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Share the gift that God has given you. Proclaim His word to those who have not heard and especially to those who are acceptant of false gospels. God wants all of His children to come to Him. We are His disciples on earth and we are charged to share the Good News and make disciples of all nations, so that all will be saved.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Conscientious Objector

"God wants our conscience to be certain and sure that it is pleasing to Him. This cannot be done if the conscience is led by its own feelings, but only if it relies on the Word of God." - Martin Luther. It is the doctrine of bound conscience that drives all other doctrine within the ELCA. It is the tie that binds all the other errant teachings of this misguided denomination together. It is the linchpin that locks out the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, replacing it with secular, not heavenly ideals. For without this bound conscience, one could not lift up their own opinion above the will of our God. Without bound conscience the false gospel of affirmation falls like a house of cards. Without bound conscience the concept of universalism is proven to be a lie, perpetrated by those who simply want to abandon their responsibility to save souls. Without bound conscience sexual relations are a gift, granted by our Lord, consummated by one man and one woman within the confines of the Sacrament of Marriage. Once man has granted himself authority over of the word of God, it is easy to replace it with their modern sensibilities. It becomes effortless to reinterpret Scripture to satisfy the longings of a depraved humanity.

The leadership of the ELCA has replaced reason with the deliberate confusion of the intent of our God in order to appease those who want a God on their own terms. Hebrews 12:22-25, “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. 25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?” Those who decide it is incumbent upon themseves to disregard Scripture in order to be more welcoming, tolerant and accepting, turn away from the commands of our Lord and encourage the faithful to follow errant doctrine. Those that accept this bound conscience may well be placing their very salvation at risk.
 
1 john 2:3-6, “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” To accept the premise of bound conscience one must necessarily disobey God’s commands, either by deliberately choosing to disregard His will or by acquiescing to or ignoring those that choose to do so. To truly love the Lord we must want to please Him above all else. To truly please our Lord is to walk as He did and follow His teaching, not place our needs before His. We all have our failings and fall into sin all too regularly, but if we deliberately defy our God, how long will His patience last. As a follower of Christ, my conscience compels me to object to the intentional rejection of God’s word by placing man’s opinion above His will. From the Formula of Concord, “when under the title and pretext of external adiaphora (Adiaphora refers to matters not regarded as essential to faith, but nevertheless are permissible or allowed in church.) is such things are proposed as are in principle contrary to God's Word (although painted another color), these are not to be regarded as adiaphora, in which one is free to act as he will, but must be avoided as things prohibited by God.” The doctrine of bound conscience does not fall under the auspices of adiaphora, even though the leaders of the ELCA paint it as such. It must avoided, as are all things that are prohibited by our Lord.

This church, that so prides itself on its great diversity, always falls back on its “official” doctrine when the faithful call out to correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. What does their official doctrine say about allowing those who stray and teach a gospel other than the one our Lord taught? From the Epitome of the Formula of Concord, which is declared by the ELCA as further valid interpretations of the faith of the Church, “all doctrines are to be conformed, and what is, contrary thereto is to be rejected and condemned, as opposed to the unanimous declaration of our faith. In this way the distinction between the Holy Scriptures of the Old and of the New Testament and all other writings is preserved, and the Holy Scriptures alone remain the only judge, rule, and standard, according to which, as the only test-stone, all dogmas shall and must be discerned and judged, as to whether they are good or evil, right or wrong.” The doctrine of bound conscience is contrary to Scriptural intent and violates our Lord’s commands. And since one must necessarily invoke this bound conscience to accept other false gospels promoted and/or accepted by the leaders of the ELCA, it must be rejected and condemned.

1 Peter 3:14-16, “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” Continue to proclaim our Lord’s Gospel and to speak out to expose the heresies promoted by the leaders of the ELCA. Wear the slander that they speak against us as a badge of honor and continue to fight the good fight. There are far too many of our brothers and sisters that are too easily accepting these false doctrines.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Never, Ever Give Up!


The saying, never, ever give up always reminds me of the cartoon of a frog being eaten by a heron.  His legs are holding the beak open and his hands are around the bird’s neck, fighting valiantly to not become that bird’s next meal.  As Christians we are called to be vessels for our Lord.  We are to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.  We are also called to gently correct our brothers and sisters in Christ that fall into sinful behavior.  Those true to our Lord have discovered that one of His churches has strayed from the Gospel that He taught.  The leaders of the ELCA have taken the easy road that leads to the ruin of their membership.  Doctrine that is contrary to our Lord’s teachings has replaced sound Lutheran doctrine that has stood for centuries.  The primary mission of the ELCA has placed humankind’s experience, knowledge and tradition over the proclamation of the Gospel to the world.
Those of us that hear and yield to the Spirit and have challenged these false teachings are experiencing many hardships.  They are called troublemakers, zealots, and now the leaders of the ELCA accuse them of being misinformed or just plain liars.  We follow our constitutions and ask that our councils investigate the direction that the ELCA is heading.  Many of us are disheartened when our congregations refuse to listen, choosing to remain faithful to a church, not to our Lord and Savior.  2 Corinthians 4:1, “Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up.” We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up.  There is a veritable revival occurring within the Lutheran church.  More and more congregations are listening and discovering just what the ELCA is doing and voting to leave this errant denomination.  Many more individual Lutherans are standing up for our God, sometimes leaving congregations that they have called home for decades and have started new mission churches that preach sound Christian doctrine.
So, for those that are afraid to lose their church and the friendships they have made over the years, we are called to proclaim His word, but it is His will as to where our evangelizing ultimately takes us.  After all, it is not what we want that matters.  For every church united in upholding the authority of Scripture, there are those that don’t want to hear it.  For every church that votes to leave the ELCA, there are those that vote to stay.  We cannot be motivated by the end result, but our motivation is to do His will.  Our Lord will lead us to where He wants us to be.  The goal is to proclaim His word and that by the power of the Holy Spirit, those that hear will come to believe and/or return to the Lord.  We are merely soldiers for the Lord, to be used to give our God the glory.  Once we give up on those earthly things, we will better accept what is our Lord’s plan.  That plan may be to save your church, to lead you to leave and join another congregation true to the Lord, or take up the daunting task of starting a new mission church to proclaim His glory. 
Paul said to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:12, “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.”  So we will fight for our Lord and pray that those close to us will listen and discover that the ELCA is, in fact, leaving our Lord behind.  We will fight for our Lord no matter how difficult it is for us.  We will put on the armor of our faith and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and as Paul instructs in 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.”
We need to be that good example for our Lord and no matter how much we would like to have the outcome that pleases us, it is more important to do our Lord’s work for His glory and be patient, waiting for His will to be done.  Hebrews 10:35-39, “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.  37 For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay.  38 But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”  Do not lose heart and give up.  We are not one of those who shrink back and are destroyed.  We are those that believe and are saved and we will continue to proclaim His word until we can speak no more.  Amen.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Stop Making Sense

In 1984, the new wave rock band “Talking Heads” produced a movie/album entitled, “Stop Making Sense”.  It contains most of their greatest hits and remains one of my favorite classic rock CD’s.  Much of their music delved into rather mundane subjects, not usually associated with traditional rock and roll.  Their lead singer/songwriter David Byrne, a rather eclectic individual, did this intentionally so as not to fall into the category of normalcy.  He was, to say the least, unorthodox in not only his music, but in his lifestyle as well.  The presiding bishop of the ELCA, Mark Hanson, continues to forge ahead in the promotion of unorthodox doctrine.  Those that uphold the authority of Scripture and disagree with the direction that he is leading the ELCA, are told, in effect, to stop making sense.

In order to accept the errant doctrinal shifts that the ELCA is foisting upon its’ members, one would have to actually suspend belief.  In order to believe and accept these doctrinal shifts, one would have to read Scripture with eyes that do not see, ears that cannot hear, and a mind that does not understand.  How else could one read 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers not male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards not slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” Or Leviticus 18:22, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” And somehow the leaders of the ELCA, after years of careful study, determine that homosexuality meets with God’s approval and same gender unions are appropriate to be blessed in ELCA churches that choose to do so.  Bishop Mark Hanson said, “The understanding we have of homosexuality today does not seem to be reflected at all in the context of the biblical writers. Therefore, Lutherans should consider more modern views on sexual orientation.” You really have to read between the lines in order to come up with this conclusion.
Bishop Hanson believes and promotes that “there is a “traditional approach” and a “contextual approach” in interpreting Scripture, both of which are valid and irreconcilable.”  Think about that statement for a moment.  What Hanson is stating is that all interpretations of Scripture, no matter how off base they may be, are considered valid by the ELCA.  Please ignore that ancient document behind the curtain!  Does Hanson actually think that we are living in the land of Oz and that he is the supreme wizard?  It is the churches’ responsibility to teach sound doctrine, not placate those that want to hear what their itching ears want to hear!  So, when some new enlightened and popular teacher, such as Rob Bell, writes a book questioning the existence of Hell, the leaders of the ELCA are all over it, embracing this “new thing” and proclaim that a loving God would never subject His children to an eternal existence apart from Him, no matter what. 

From the Christian Universalist Association; “Meanwhile, there has been a trend toward universalist beliefs in several other denominations and traditions that have not historically taught universal salvation. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is one of the best examples of this, because Martin Luther himself never embraced Universalism, but the ELCA today is one of the major Lutheran denominations and some of its ministers openly teach the salvation of all -- although this is not an official teaching of the church.

From the American Spectator, 08-17-2007, written by Lars Walker, a former employee of the ELCA, “The ELCA, like other "mainline" denominations, is effectively Universalist today. Universalists, after all, get invited to the nice parties and are almost never made fun of in movies. The ELCA still talks about the Cross, for the benefit of the rubes who actually sit in the pews and pay the bills, but the people in the upstairs offices mostly agree that there's really no such place as Hell. This reduces the Cross to a metaphor at best, an artifact which they'll quietly relegate to the attic once the old people have died off (leaving their money behind).”

Because Christ died for all humankind and God wants all His children to be saved, somehow the condition that one must believe, is relegated as unnecessary to obtain God’s grace and our salvation.  The leaders of the ELCA deride those that are traditional or “literalists” and accuse them of “placing God in a box” and who are we to decide who God is going to save.   I’m just a poor lay person who has not attended seminary, but as Lutherans we believe in “Sola Scriptura” or Scripture alone in all matters of faith, and when my Savior says that He is the way and the truth and the life and no one can come to the Father, except through Him, that is good enough for me. 

Official ELCA doctrine, (wink, wink, nod, nod) is cited whenever congregations question the direction of this misguided denomination.  It is not what is officially stated as ELCA doctrine, it is the fact that teaching a gospel other than what our Lord and Savior taught is not only tolerated, it is welcomed.  What those misguided leaders fail to realize is that Jesus called upon us to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  So, it is true that Jesus died for all and God wants to save all of His children, but one must have faith in the Risen Christ.  There is no other way.  And with the ELCA slashing the budget of mission to less than they spent in 1988, it would appear that the mission to bring His word to the world is no longer a priority.  Since Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are no longer under penalty of the law and by faith alone, we are saved.  Those that have not heard or do not believe continue to be at risk of eternal damnation.  The leaders of the ELCA call for their members to suspend belief and “stop making sense” as they lead them away from the path that our Lord has set before them.  Too many of our brothers and sisters are still unaware of the heresies promoted by the ELCA and think that the ELCA is on the proper path.  It is incumbent upon us to proclaim His truth and expose the errant doctrines of the ELCA so that those trapped within can have their spiritual hearts and minds opened.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Path of Least Repentance


I am a sinful human being that continually falls short of the glory of our Savior.  Without my Lord and Savior, I can accomplish nothing.  John 15:5-8, Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”   I so look forward to confessing my sinful behavior to my God and receiving the assurance that I am forgiven.  As much as I would like to behave in the manner that my Father in heaven demands, by myself, I always fail.  That my Savior took upon Himself all my sin and received the punishment I deserved is such a solemn relief.  I am liberated from the punishment of the Law by our Lord’s grace, simply because I have faith in the Risen Christ.  Because of that faith, I will still have a place in my Father’s house no matter how many times I fall from the path my Savior intends for me to follow.
For ELCA Lutherans repentance is optional.  Apparently, the concept of sin is such a negative connotation and those that stand accused of sinning may have their feelings hurt, so doctrine is enacted by a vote of imperfect human beings that believe that they have more wisdom than our Father in heaven.  Confession and absolution becomes an optional part of ELCA services and is allowed to be replaced by a “Celebration of Baptism”, because this is much more positive and loving.  Those portions of Scripture that show that our God is not only a God of love, but a God that is to be feared, are eliminated from the Revised Common Lectionary, because a loving God would never punish His children.  Hebrews 12:4-11, In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”  Parents that coddle their children and offer no direction or discipline often find that their children will be improperly equipped to survive in the real world.  God’s children are no different, except those that belong to ELCA congregations that choose to follow errant doctrine.
The leaders of the ELCA promote new doctrine that allows those that choose to remain in sin to invoke their “bound conscience” and use their human experience, tradition and knowledge to interpret Scripture to fit their fancy.  Those that uphold the authority of Scripture are allowed to disagree, but are called to not, as is written in 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.”  They are called on to respect that person’s interpretation, even if it is in obvious error.  This doctrine calls on the faithful to ignore our responsibility to reach out to save those in error and lead them back to the path of righteousness.
So, the choice remains, do we accept the authority of Scripture and truly believe that we are nothing without our Lord and Savior, or do we follow an errant church that diminishes the Word of God, rewrites Scripture to placate those that have no desire to repent of their sinful behavior, and calls on its’ members to refrain from sharing their faith by witnessing the true Gospel.  Unfortunately, the church that we grew up in our faith is no longer on the path that our Lord demands.  The leaders of the ELCA lead a rudderless ship that leads to the destruction of those that accept the errant doctrines that are overtaking its’ ministries.  Pray unceasingly that those true to our Lord and Savior choose to leave this errant denomination and join a church that accepts the authority of Scripture.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Heaven on Earth

Many eastern religions attempt to create a heaven on earth.  Hinduism has reincarnation as a main focus.  Buddhism teaches that life exists within itself, that there is no inherent meaning to life, other than to be happy and not suffer.  The one thing that ties many of these religions together is the worship of the self, since they do not believe that there is a God.  One of the reasons that a heaven on earth is necessary is that salvation is not a part of these religions.  There is no Savior to stand in to receive the just punishment so rightly deserved, so one’s behavior on this earth must be exemplary.  Many of these eastern religions have no expectation of life after death, so improving the world we live in must substitute for that heavenly aspiration.  The leaders and scholars of the ELCA also promote that we must create a heaven on earth.  They abandon their responsibility to bring the lost to Jesus while they engage in a headlong rush to lift up the goal of social justice over the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The false gospel of affirmation that the ELCA embraces has no need for a Savior, since eternal life with our Father is a foregone conclusion.
As Christians, faith in the Risen Christ is the only requirement necessary to be granted salvation.  For ELCA Lutherans, it is entirely up to you whether or not you believe or how you want to believe.  For ELCA Lutherans, new doctrines allow the individual to believe as they wish, because God so loves us that we all are going to heaven regardless of faith, chosen religion or non-belief.   Jesus Christ, true God from true God, of one with the Father said in John 3:16-21, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”  The leaders of the ELCA again convict themselves by choosing to disregard our Lord’s command, hide their lies in the darkness, all the while encouraging their membership to accept a false gospel that sounds so very appealing.  Those appealing words lead their members away from the Lord.  Overemphazing the love of neighbor over our love of the Lord places their membership at risk.  After all, we are called to love our neighbor as our Lord and Savior loved us.  Romans 15:7, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”  And by very definition, our neighbor is anyone who happens to live on this earth, regardless of any differences among us.
Why is the ELCA so preoccupied with the things of this world and so driven to in their quest to create some kind of Utopia here on earth?  Why is the crusade for social justice the overriding element of their mission?  As the leadership of the ELCA continues to drive a wedge between themselves and our Lord, earthly preoccupations take precedence over their true calling to save the lost.  Would it not be more appropriate to teach those that have not heard the true Gospel of Jesus Christ rather than to dilute our faith in an effort to placate those that only want to believe on their own terms?   Once one truly surrenders to our Lord, we and our sinful desires are no longer important.  For certain, all who surrender continue to sin again and again, but if we truly desire to become Christ like, we will endeavor to place our needs secondary to our Lord’s will.  In 1 Corinthians 10:23-24, the Apostle Paul wrote about a believer’s freedom, “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. 24 Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.”   If social justice is to truly prevail in this world, we must fill our hearts with the true love of Christ, striving to follow His law and the fulfillment of His will  2 Corinthians 3:4-6, Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.  6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”   Share the Good News of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and work to bring all who have not heard to Him.  Only when all come to Christ will we even approach anything remotely resembling a heaven on earth.  Our great reward is an eternity with our Father in heaven.  Whatever it is that we accomplish in this world, it is done to give glory to our God.