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.

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