Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Ant and the Grasshopper

Aesop’s Fables contain the story of the ant and the grasshopper. If you can recall from your childhood, the ant toiled to prepare for the coming winter, saving his food and building shelter for the anticipated storm. The ant chided the grasshopper for not planning for the future, while the grasshopper ridiculed the ant for not living for today. The grasshopper fiddled away the summer, partying, binging, eating all of his food and failed prepare at all for the future. When the harsh winter arrived, the ant was warm and cozy while the grasshopper starved to death in the cold. Our Lord and Savior would call on us to open our homes and feed and clothe the grasshopper, even though he did nothing to deserve our compassion. So it is with our brothers and sisters of the ELCA. The doctrine of bound conscience and the gospel of radical inclusiveness allow those that choose to do so, to create a god on their own terms and believe as they wish, simply disregarding any and all Scripture deemed to be troublesome. Those true to the authority of Scripture plan for a future with our Lord by reading and listening to the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ, believing through the Holy Spirit, and endeavoring to obey our Father’s rules for us.

The long hard winter will eventually arrive and our brothers and sisters in the ELCA that accept and believe these false gospels are very much at risk of falling away from God. When one chooses to interpret Scripture to placate their personal desires, they risk being charged and convicted of placing themselves above our God. When one chooses to raise up the gospel of radical inclusiveness over the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or as Bishop Hanson proclaims that one cannot exist without the other, they risk rejecting the grace of God and losing the very salvation that our Lord offers them. Those that have left behind the heresy of the ELCA and decided to “walk together” with a church that upholds the authority of Scripture have planned for and secured their salvation. What of those that continue to trust a church that preaches a gospel other than the one our Lord preached? Will those who have attended to their own spiritual safety sit back and allow our brothers and sisters in Christ to starve?

James 5:19-20, “My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” Christians are called to proclaim the Truth to the world so that they too may be saved. What of those who fall away, chasing the pleasing words of affirmation, welcoming, and tolerance? What are we if we sit by, safe and secure, and do nothing to save our brothers and sisters? It is all well and good to save yourself, but once saved, do we not burn to share our joy? We cannot simply stand by and watch fellow Christians be led down the path that the leadership of the ELCA would have them travel.

This fight is for the souls of those that belong to Jesus Christ. We are the Lord’s soldiers and we are charged to love our neighbor as ourselves, and that means sharing the Gospel with everyone, especially those who are being led astray. Bishop Mark Hanson leads his merry band of grasshoppers, choosing to advocate for those wanting the affirmation of their sinful lives rather than the daunting task of denying themselves and turning their lives over to the Lord. His two-step dance of the gospel of radical inclusiveness and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, omits the need for self-denial. This leaves his flock simply hopping around on one foot, not dancing to the Gospel that our Lord taught. It is time that Christians take the lead in this dance and lead them back to the Lord. Most that choose to accept and believe these false teachings, still have the love of Jesus burned in their hearts. It is our responsibility to make sure that flame continues to burn, overwhelming those false gospels so that the love of our Lord brings them back to path our Lord wants them to follow.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Follow the Money

When police investigate crimes, it often becomes important to follow the money. Many a drug dealer has been done in by accountants. Al Capone was not indicted for murder or extortion; he was charged with and convicted of income tax evasion. Many terrorist organizations have been exposed when the trail of money leads to their benefactors. People protect their money and make appropriate accounting of their business transactions, so many criminals, dishonest politicians, and anyone involved in dubious dealings almost always keep a record of their financial transactions. The ELCA, for instance, leaves a wide money trail that exposes the priorities of this misguided denomination. Since the church is charged with doing God’s work, one would expect that much of their benevolence is dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel, since it is the church’s primary and most solemn responsibility is to bring people to Christ and save their souls for the Lord. This is obviously not important to the ELCA. The budget amount for the mission to proclaim the word to the world has dipped below the level of the 1988 budget amount. Missionary staff has been cut to less than 200. This is a church with a membership of over 4 million and a budget in excess of 100 million dollars. Anyone else sense a discrepancy here?

The ELCA now uses what they call “accompaniment” as a response to the changing context of global mission. Now that the seeds of their ministry have been planted throughout the world, they can step back and allow those churches to support themselves. This probably has nothing to do with prioritizing the funds left after the drastic loss in revenue due to so many churches leaving the ELCA. Let’s see, what should we cut, social justice or saving the lost? Apparently, the lost are going to have to be on their own for a while. The ELCA states that today, 70% of their missionaries are lay people who are invited by companion churches to serve as specialized medical personnel, development workers, librarians, accountants and teachers of English, science, math and computers. They typically serve two to six years. Funny, I remember that missionaries are those charged by the church to reach out to those who have not heard the word so that they too, may believe and be saved. Of course, in the ELCA, the word has been toyed with, been juggled, and has been made to submit to being explained, twisted, stretched, and revised to suit people and to achieve peace and union. The leaders of the ELCA have eliminated any secure or stable foundation on which human conscience might rely. – paraphrased from a sermon by Martin Luther.

If the missionaries of the ELCA wish to reach out to the lost and proclaim the gospel of radical inclusiveness and the doctrine of bound conscience, perhaps we should be glad that the ELCA budget for missionaries has been slashed. If the missionaries, like the one my congregation supported for eight years, believe that there are many paths to heaven and that there is no hell, then perhaps it is best that they not preach a false gospel to the world. This is why it is even more important for those churches that submit to the authority of Scripture and preach the true Gospel of Jesus Christ to step up and serve. A new mission clearing house has been established by Lutherans Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) where all Christians can get involved in mission work. The site is This site is for congregations looking to help or partner with existing missions, for those looking to start missions, and for those looking for help or partner with missions they are currently involved with. Our Wisconsin LCMC congregation partnered with a Methodist church in Missouri to provide mission relief work in Joplin, MO and will partner with them this April in Indiana, both areas that were hit hard by tornados. So, there are many opportunities to get out and do God’s work.

Continue to pray that God will lift up and make strong leaders within the ELCA that will help turn them back to the path that our Lord wants them to travel. With the help of God, nothing is impossible. Proclaim the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world and reach out to our brothers and sisters in Christ that remain in the ELCA, with true Christian love.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sweating the Small Stuff Part II

When one gives in and lets God take the reins of our life, several things happen. We accept that God has a plan for us. We may not know the reasons why events transpire as they do, but rest assured, God has a purpose for everything that happens in our lives. We are comforted in the knowledge that God will provide, even in the darkest of times. We accept that it is His will and we are reassured that His plan is best for us. So, when we experience a life altering moment, or a big thing, we can more readily accept that God’s will is being done. Unfortunately, the small things tend to bring out the worst in even the most ardent believer. The evil one uses those mostly insignificant events to needle and cajole us, causing even the most ardent believer to fail to live up to God’s standards. That vehicle in the left lane going the speed limit elicits that expletive; if not uttered aloud, our impression of that particular individual will not be very favorable. The elderly person searching her purse for the exact change while there are 10 people waiting in line to check out, garners that contemptuous glare, rather than prompting empathy for her financial situation and the fact that every penny she has may be in that purse. Pet peeves, minor irritations, and all those other trivial annoyances that tend to get under our skin are the perfect avenues for the evil one to prod us to engage in those behaviors that we know cannot be pleasing to God. 2 Corinthians 5:9-10, “So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

Even though we make ourselves right with God and endeavor to accept His will, we are continually tripped up by the small stuff. Typically, these things are not even on our spiritual radar. But, the evil one uses many other ruses to tempt rather than simply appealing to our selfish nature. Those at peace with God’s plan and submit to His will have many weak spots that the evil one can take advantage. One of my weak spots occurs when I am behind the wheel of an automobile. Perhaps it is due to 30 years of traffic law enforcement, but I am particularly annoyed by those drivers who do not pay attention to their surroundings. Even while listening to Christian music on the radio, I have been known to mutter under my breath, certain unpleasantries to those drivers that, if still on the job, I would pull over and cite for inattentive driving. The things of this world continue to affect us and if we are not vigilant, we fall directly into the center of the evil one’s trap. 1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Even when we think we are doing God’s will, we fall off the path of righteousness. We make certain that we are being fed the bread of life through the proclamation of the true Gospel, leaving the apostasy of the ELCA. But are we abandoning those who have been blinded to false gospel of acceptance, tolerance and welcoming by leaving them behind? Those brothers and sisters that trust in the leadership of the ELCA to maintain proper doctrine need to hear the truth. When our goal to maintain our personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, causes us to leave our brothers and sisters to fall away, this is not what our Lord would have us do. It is our responsibility to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and make disciples of the world. When it is our brothers and sisters in Christ that are at risk of falling away, we have the duty to reel them back in. This is no small thing. Every Christian lost to the evil one is one less soldier for our Lord. We must not forget our brothers and sisters in the ELCA. We must continue fighting the good fight and proclaiming the heresies promoted by the leaders of the ELCA. 1 Timothy 6:11-12, “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.” While we are called to flee from the ungodliness that has overtaken the teachings of the ELCA, simply fleeing and saving ourselves is not enough. Continue in prayer that our brothers and sisters wake from their slumbers and realize just where the ELCA wants them to go and they also flee to find a denomination true to the Lord.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Addicted to Love

Addiction is normally associated with the physical or psychological dependence upon certain drugs. Addiction can also be a persistent commitment to an objective in spite of the negative consequences that it brings. The leadership of the ELCA persists in proclaiming the love of the neighbor as foremost in their ministry. They reach out with imperfect love in an effort to repair our broken world. This love of neighbor, over the love of our God, leads them to affirm behavior acceptable by secular society instead of recognizing that our God does indeed have rules.  We must not willfully disobey.  We must accept and understand that certain behavior is not acceptable to Him. John 14:23-24, “Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” Many of those who choose to disregard God’s law cite many verses in the Old Testament in an effort to discredit those who uphold the authority of Scripture. Jesus stated many times, “Is it not written”, confirming the Old Testament laws. So even though believers are no longer subject to the punishment for breaking God’s law, which we all do with way too much regularity, we still should aspire to obedience to show our love for our God.

When we put the cart before the horse and try to replace God’s perfect love with our imperfect love, we lift up the things of this world, rather than that which our Father desires. The elevation of secular ideals and placing a greater emphasis on social justice rather than striving to save the souls of the lost is the ELCA’s greatest shortcoming. The leaders of the ELCA look to use their misguided goal of fixing our broken world, disregarding the fact that, if more came to the Lord, that in and of itself, would necessarily make this world a better place.  If more accept the Truth and obey our Lord’s teaching, more would reach out to their neighbor in true Christian love. Any organization can work to make the world a better place, but how much better could it be if this church would actually reach out in true Christian love and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world as the way to repair our broken world. When a greater emphasis is placed on lobbying for the “Dream Act” while our God’s business is ignored, the leadership of the ELCA is simply preaching a gospel other than the one our Lord taught. When statements issued by the presiding Bishop, on behalf of the ELCA, are filled with deliberate misrepresentations and inaccuracies, as he did with a statement condemning Israel for boarding ships violating the Gaza blockade, he discredits the entire synod.

Man’s flawed desire to love the neighbor too much, leads to the affirmation of that which our Father prohibits. The whole issue of human sexuality was turned chaotic when the leadership of the ELCA decided to place their own experience, knowledge and tradition above the authority of Scripture. Does loving one’s neighbor also require us to affirm sinful behavior and to disregard words of Scripture? Is one obligated to accept behavior that is specifically prohibited by our God in order to be welcoming to our neighbor? We are called to preach the word to our brothers and sisters in Christ and “correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.” When the ELCA adopted the doctrine of bound conscience, it abandoned its’ responsibility to maintain proper doctrine and began teaching its’ membership a false gospel.

When love is not rooted in the Risen Christ, it is truly directed from within, from the self and to the self. The leadership of the ELCA is addicted to the imperfect love of the neighbor that is embedded in the love of the self. We are to be a vessel for our Lord with Christ central in our hearts. When we place Christ first in our hearts His love will truly flow through us and to our neighbor. For, if one is not dedicated to pleasing our Lord, he only pleases himself. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” It is when we choose to place Christ first in our hearts, and only then, will we truly be able to reach out in His love.