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!