Monday, June 27, 2011

Conditions of Occupancy

In order to be granted residency in a college dorm, one must agree to a number of conditions, including the requirement to enroll with a full credit load, maintain good academic standing, and to comply with all university rules regarding conduct.  A new or remodeled building must be granted an occupancy permit by the building inspector and must have been built in accordance to the building codes of that state.   Low income housing requires that the occupant earn less than the prescribed amount to be eligible to reside in that residence.  So many rules and regulations apply to all walks of our life in this world.  Most of us have no problem meeting those conditions.  To be granted eternal life with our Father in Heaven, there is but one condition that must be met.  John 14:6, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  We are required to have faith in the Risen Christ, to believe that He is the only Son of God, that He went to the cross bearing the sin of the world, died as a sin offering for us, and defeated death, was resurrected, and sits at the right hand of the Father.  By this faith, and this faith alone, God grants us our salvation.  Nothing else, it is by faith in the Risen Christ alone.  No matter how many good works in our Lord’s name you may complete, without faith in Christ, you are lost.  Pretty straight forward, or so it would seem.  

But, the leaders and scholars of the ELCA would have you believe that faith in Christ is optional.  In order to promote their belief that God is love, and nothing but love, they teach the false idea that God affirms us, no matter what we believe, and there really is no need for a Savior.  The erroneous assumption that since God loves us unconditionally and would never withhold the gift of salvation, gives birth to the concept of universalism, contrived to support that there really is no sin, or that sin really doesn’t matter at all.  Hell is relegated to the status of an obsolete notion, and those that still believe that God will punish those that are not saved are considered behind the times, trapped within 16th Century reasoning.  The explanation of Jesus' descent into hell from the Formula of Concord states, “we simply believe that the entire person, God and man, after the burial descended into hell, conquered the devil, destroyed the power of hell, and took from the devil all his might.  Thus we retain the substance [sound doctrine] and [true] consolation that neither hell nor the devil can take captive or injure us and all who believe in Christ.  (emphasis mine)  The Augsburg Confession, cited by the ELCA as the true witness to the Gospel, states,  "He also descended into hell, and truly rose again the third day; afterward He ascended into heaven that He might sit on the right hand of the Father, and forever reign and have dominion over all creatures, and sanctify them that believe in Him, by sending the Holy Ghost into their hearts, to rule, comfort, and quicken them, and to defend them against the devil and the power of sin."  It is clear that faith in the Risen Christ is not merely a suggestion or optional.  It would appear that the ELCA's tacit acceptance of the false gospel of affirmation and universalism are contrary to their stated beliefs and further, places anyone who accepts this errant doctrine in jeopardy of losing their very salvation.

We have seen that the ELCA will accept pretty much anything in the way of doctrine, Christian or not.  Far too many members that follow the misguided leadership of the ELCA have fallen into the evil one's trap. What kind of audacity does it take to place conditions upon the Creator of the universe?  Who would demand that they will only accept God on their own terms?  Jesus said in Matthew 10:37-39, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”  When one puts conditions on our Lord, they place themselves before Him and by finding themselves, lose their lives.  Must we not give ourselves to Him?  We are made in His image and are subject to His word.  Come as you are, with all of your sins, with a repentant heart and God, who is forever just, will cleanse your sins and lead you toward righteousness.   We must live to please the One we love, not place conditions on God to make us feel more “comfortable, accepted and welcome”.  All are sinners and try as we might, we continue to fail our Lord and Savior over and over again.  Only God has the authority to place conditions upon His children and if we truly love Him, we will, with His help, endeavor to please Him with our obedience.   

When children place conditions upon their parents, they will soon realize that either they will become subjected to parental discipline or if the parents, using their imperfect love, erroneously acquiesce to the child, that child will have difficulty surviving in the real world.  The ELCA acquiesces to any and all “new doctrine” intending to remake God in their own image, disregarding those rules that they deem “no longer pertinent” in this new enlightened society.   The numbers of those accepting these false teachings continues to grow.  More and more of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being deceived by the false teachers of the ELCA.  Continue to proclaim the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and pray unceasingly that those that are or have become lost hear and understand until everyone meets our Lord’s conditions and will live in His house forever!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Breaking up is Hard to do

On June 5th of 2011 my church, Shepherd of the Hills, in Richfield, Wisconsin had its final vote to leave the ELCA. One hundred and sixty one congregants attended the special meeting and one hundred and fifty eight voted to leave the ELCA, affiliate with Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ and become members of the Augustana District of the LCMC. While I praise God for the unity our congregation showed to uphold the authority of Scripture, it still saddens me that the church body that I grew up with has fallen so far away from our Lord’s teachings. One of the things that drew my family to an ELCA church was the fact that they welcome anyone who is baptized and wishes a deeper relationship with Christ to partake in the sacrament of communion.  Who knows when someone is on the verge of coming to the Lord, but doctrine prohibiting non-members to take communion may turn them away from Him?  But, this welcoming spirit has replaced the Holy Spirit in the ELCA's ministry. Acceptance of secular ideals has replaced the authority of Scripture.  Tolerance of diversity of beliefs has replaced sound Lutheran doctrine. And worst of all, the misguided love of neighbor has been lifted up and substituted for the love of our Lord.

How could we continue to “walk with” a denomination that places themselves in authority of Scripture? While it would have been much easier to simply remain within the ELCA as a congregation true to the Lord, we knew that the errant teachings that have seemingly replaced the normatives of our faith, would eventually appear at our church’s doorstep. We had already recently experienced a sermon by an ELCA pastor that our congregation has been supporting as a missionary for 8 years, who actually believes that there are many ways to heaven and that all religions offer a valid path to salvation. Another ELCA pastor was upset that our congregation was so united in the decision and that so little dissent was actually unhealthy. 1 Corinthians 1:10, “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” That so many held true to the very foundation of our faith should be commended, not criticized. As so many pastors and members have accepted the false doctrines promoted by the leadership of the ELCA, we realized that it would become increasingly difficult to remain as a member of a church body that no longer held to the classic Lutheran teaching.

When our bishop attended a meeting of our church council two weeks prior to the final vote, he could not understand why we felt it was necessary to leave the ELCA. He said that our differences made the ELCA stronger and that there was a place for Lutherans that believe in the classic teachings of our faith. While he was angry with us and said that it would be his prayer that our vote failed, we were sad that the decisions of the leadership of the ELCA forced us to seek a new synod to walk with and further pray that he would come to realize why we sought to break fellowship. He stated that he believed in the Creeds and the Augsburg confessions just like us. Problem is, there are fewer and fewer of those who uphold the authority of Scripture within the ELCA. And as more and more congregations and pastors that adhere to the tenets of our faith leave, the rocket sled to hell is picking up speed. Soon, there will be no one left within the ELCA trying to turn the leaders back to the narrow path. So many of our brothers and sisters are at risk, we cannot simply turn our backs and walk away. Our congregation intends to maintain some of our relationships with those ministries of the ELCA that continue to preach the Gospel of Christ and reach out to the lost. This decision was not universally approved, with one blogger likening that decision as leaving, but keeping one foot in the door. Some of the ELCA’s ministries actually do God’s work and those that have a connection with those ministries should consider preserving those relationships, even if the congregation votes to breaks fellowship with the ELCA.

As universalism, the false gospel of affirmation, bound conscience, and social justice overtake the doctrines proclaimed in the Augsburg confessions and creeds, the ELCA will drift further and further away from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The black and white instructions given to us by God in the words of the Holy Bible are becoming more and more blurred by the decisions to alter doctrine to placate the worldly desires of those that liken themselves as more enlightened than God Himself. 1 Corinthians 1:18-20, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” To maintain that these doctrinal shifts are due to “God saying a new thing” only promote that the belief is that man himself is superior to God. Proverbs 30:5-6, “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. 6 Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.” The “new things” that the leaders of the ELCA advance, are lies that do nothing but prop up secular ideals and lead those that accept them closer to Satan’s doorstep. Our help is in the Lord. Every word of Scripture is flawless and we rely on His word in all matters of faith and theology, not some church that is doing nothing more than denying Him!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Paved With Good Intentions

The old proverb declares that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. When one judges their own intentions, the tendency is that one will see more value in their own decision making than in others. One will always be able to justify their actions as a way to reach a desired goal. It is when a particular goal allows one to justify any action to obtain that intended goal, unintended consequences are likely to occur. Those following this course of action will often find that the outcomes achieved do not lead to the intended goal, in fact, these unintended consequences often exacerbate the problem it was intended to correct. This type of logic permeates the decision making process of the leadership of the ELCA. They feel compelled to go out of their way to welcome those that they feel are at the periphery of society, most notably the LGTBQ community. Secular society has been embracing that demographic of our society and has even enacted laws to protect the rights of individuals that choose that lifestyle. On the other hand, the leadership of the ELCA, using their flawed idea of love, takes this a step further. They believe that the LGTBQ community will not feel welcome unless the church ignores God’s law and pronounces that homosexual behavior is considered good in God’s sight. Using the doctrine of bound conscience, they insist that God is now telling them a new thing, and that since God loves us all, the ELCA will no longer consider homosexuality sinful. Although it is very troubling that a church chooses to place human understanding at a higher plane than God's will, using this doctrine to accept homosexuality, in and of itself, does not place a person's salvation at risk.  If this is where this bound conscience stopped, we would not be having this conversation. We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, but we are also called to obey God's law.

Unfortunately, bound conscience has opened a Pandora’s Box of new heretical teachings in the ELCA. John 14:6, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” For members of the ELCA, faith in the Risen Christ is no longer necessary to gain salvation and they are taught to accept that there are many paths to heaven, although Christianity is considered one of the better paths. With the false gospel of affirmation, God loves us unconditionally, is never angry or disappointed with us, and there is no need to repent of your sin, because there is no sin. With the false gospel of universalism, everyone is going to heaven anyway, so there is no need for a Savior. These particular teachings are not listed on the front page of the ELCA website, but are becoming increasingly prevalent in mainstream discussions in ELCA seminaries and publications. So, a doctrine with the misguided goal of being more tolerant, welcoming, and loving of our neighbor, is actually being used to undermine the Christian faith that the leaders of the ELCA are called to uphold. And this is not coming from some atheist declaring in a lawsuit against school prayer that there must be a separation of church and state, but is being allowed (promoted?) by the leadership of the largest Lutheran denomination in America.

Do we take the ELCA at its’ word that they confess the Apostle’s Creed and that the Augsburg Confession is the accepted normative of the Lutheran faith? It would appear that the normative of the Lutheran faith is only used when it suits them, especially when they chide those that accept the authority of Scripture. We are accused of being intolerant every time one of the “new things" that they tell us that God is saying, is exposed as false doctrine. During His ministry here on earth, Christ loved everyone, especially those on the fringe of society, since they were most in need of spritual healing. This fact is misused by the leaders of the ELCA to desecrate and pervert Scripture in order to placate those with cravings that are contrary to God’s word. We are reprimanded when we seek a synod that upholds the authority of Scripture and are accused of breaking the unity of the church. Christ is the church. Our hope is in the Lord, not some church that abandons the responsibility to reach the lost for Christ. John 8:31-32, “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” When a church refuses to hold to our Savior’s teachings and allows all kinds of false teachings to be acceptable, they do not know the truth and they do nothing but place their membership in bondage to the evil one. And the unintended consequence of the ELCA's misguided foray into apostasy is the breaking of fellowship with those that remain true to God's will.  Are we to remain in fellowship with the ELCA so that we continue to support an organization that promotes these false teachings? Hundreds of congregations have already said "No, we stand with our Lord!" and have left with many more in the process of leaving.  We must save those trapped by the pleasing words of these purveyors of false Christian doctrine. We must expose the heresy that permeates the ELCA and bring the lost back to Christ.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The ELCA and Unity

Below, an update on Grace Lutheran Church in Eau Claire from the congregation's president,

Below is her note, and below that is her official president's report to her council and congregation.


I have attached the President's Report that I delivered to our May Council meeting last week. While you are free to do with it what you will, I am not asking you to do anything except read it and act as a witness to the continuing challenges at Grace. You have all been tremendously supportive to me as I have tried to find a path through all of the obstacles that have been thrown at our church. The fraudulent Facebook page and the attempt to get our Council person fired coupled with Bishop Pederson's severing our ties to the church in Malawi and now his removal of Pastor Nestingen from the synodical council re-enforce to me what a big battle we are in.

Despite these efforts, the attendance at Grace is up. Our finances are in great shape. We have had many inquiries about new membership. The spirit of Grace is one of excitement for all the good that has come our way and anticipation for all the great things the Lord has in store. This has been a fascinating experience for us all.

Thanks for your past encouragement. Please continue to pray for us - that we are creative and energetic and positive; especially as we face a hearing next week to remove a different Council member for persistent trouble making. That meeting should be full of fireworks.

Hope this finds you all well and enjoying the warmth of summer.

Singing God's praise in Eau Claire,


John 1:1-2. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

As Christians we believe that the Word spoken of here is Jesus the Christ and Scripture at the same time. Somehow they are interwoven. We do not separate one from the other. The words of God in the Bible and the person of Jesus each possess the power of almighty God to reach and to teach. Jesus is our Hope, and the Word is our guide. They are interconnected. To take from one is to detract from the other.

About 18 months ago, we were told by Bishop Pederson that if 10 people are sitting around a table studying a Bible passage they could come up with 10 different interpretations of that Scripture. We were told that all of those interpretations were valid and that we must each of us respect the views of the other. We were told there was no unity in Scriptural understanding. Bishop Hanson supports this view by saying that “irreconcilable interpretations of Scripture are acceptable”. Each of us then gets to pick and choose what we want out of God’s words. We get to form our own god and worship it as we will, and no one can tell us that we are wrong in our “Scriptural interpretation”.

Some would say that this is liberating. Some would say that this offers freedom and empowerment. But freedom without responsibility leads to chaos. Empowerment without a guide leads to lawlessness. The license to do what I want when I want is selfish and arrogant. Procedures and guides are set up in society to protect all citizens from such behavior. For each of us to go our own way is destructive to the body as a whole. The lack of commonality in purpose and the absence of coherence in principle is the classic definition of anarchy. When we throw away Scripture, we throw out our moral compass.

And this atmosphere is what Grace has been living in for quite some time.

It first began about a year ago when letters were being written complaining about our pastors. The complaints were not just submitted to our Council or our Personnel committee – the proper procedure. The letters were also sent directly to the Bishop with requests that he discipline our leaders.

Then it was discovered that a member of Grace, without authorization, used our tax exempt number for personal purposes. The action is fraud. That person has been reported to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.

Instead of volunteering to take some of the six empty Council seats available in February and working through our current system, Grace for All was formed to represent the ELCA. The group sent out unauthorized mailings and passed petitions with misleading information. They resisted revealing information about their finances and membership; and when they didn’t get what they wanted, they formed their own church.

Rumors were circulated that Grace would not open its doors on May 22 for worship because all the real members had left, and the pastors no longer had a congregation. It was told that there would be no more music department. No more choir. No organist. The best and the brightest had joined the synodically authorized worshipping community and there was no one left to offer God’s praises at Grace. Her doors would be shut.

And last week two more incidents of lawlessness came to my attention.

On May 18, a person identifying themselves as a female born in 1990 named Grace Lutheran who had no college education but was employed by Amazing Grace Worshipping Community opened a Facebook page. She has posted worship services for the worshipping community and for GLC and advertised the youth play and the service honoring our high school graduates. Then she posted the names of all our graduates. The creation of the site is fraud. The posting of the names of those students is an invasion of their privacy. The site has been reported as being fraudulent and steps are underway to discover the identity of the person who set up the site.

And last week, someone approached the employer of one of our Council members and tried to get them fired from their job – not because of this person’s job performance, their expertise in their field or company loyalty. The attack came directly at this person’s character because they sit on Grace’s Council and have dared to ask questions about the ELCA. Now, this person’s employer knew the character of this employee and would not entertain any thought of dismissal. Their job is safe, but after such a personal attack and such a violent threat, it will be a long time before they feel any sense of security.

Why is all this happening? Don’t let anyone ever say that it has anything to do with the Social Statement passed in 2009. It has nothing to with that and everything to do with power and control. It has nothing to do with the ministry of Christ and everything to do with personal ego. It has nothing to do with spreading the news of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and our own assured salvation through Him and everything to do with the appearance of suffering for social justice. There are some who think they have the right to do whatever they want and get away with it. That simply cannot be because that is not the way true Christians live their lives. It is not always an easy way to live, but we do it nonetheless.

We speak this truth: Jesus loves us. Jesus died for us. Jesus expects us to honor Him through our living a life of personal responsibility, honesty, faithfulness, self-control, patience, humility and, most of all, love. We will continue to expose falsehoods. We will continue to protect Grace Lutheran Church from those who would use her to advance their own interests. The Church does not serve itself, it serves Jesus Christ who is the center of our faith. He is the beginning and the end. If we must suffer for speaking that truth, then we will suffer gladly.

Because without Him, we are nothing.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Another Successful Vote

The following is the official statement of Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church of Richfield, WI.

On June 5, 2011, Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, of Richfield WI, voted 158-3 to change its synodical affiliation from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), to the Augustana District (AD) of Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC).

We look forward to working with LCMC, an association of congregations which share our primary commitment to reaching others for Christ. Through the Augustana District, we will be working with congregations which share our strong commitment to classic Lutheran theology and practice.

We want to express our gratitude for our many years of partnership with the ELCA, and will continue to work with them in a variety of ministries.

In many ways we are happy that our congregation remained unified throughout the discernment process that led to the vote to leave the ELCA and join the LCMC.  We are also saddened that so many are still at risk of the errant teachings that are overtaking the church that many of can thank for helping lead us to Christ.  I pray that one day, those leading the ELCA will turn away from the world and look to our Lord for guidance.  In the meantime, I for one, will continue to have them in my prayers, especially my brothers and sisters in Christ that remain within this wayward church.