Monday, June 25, 2012

Speak the Truth to Power

This pretentious phrase has become a common expression used by liberal activists, or what they prefer to call themselves, progressives. Truth has little to do with those that utter this contradiction of terms, but it has much to do with power. This catchphrase is simply the excuse used by those on the left to disparage and demean conservative logic, since it is primarily used as a means to end an argument without the benefit of rational debate. The power is simply used to shut off any and all logical argument, especially conservative argument. There is little thought involved in much of the liberal or progressive agenda as, it merely involves vilifying someone or something, or pitting one class against another. We have witnessed the progressive left in politics speak this "truth", aiming their epithets and talking points at their declared enemies, the one percent. Most of these leftists cannot even articulate what it is that they so loudly protest. As a former liberal, I know of what I speak.

Now those who want to help those who have lost their way return to the Lord’s path are in the crosshairs of those they are trying to help. “Progressive” Christians chastise those with the temerity to uphold the authority of Scripture, by invoking this liberal talking point.  Lifting themselves up as tolerant, welcoming and loving they look with contempt at their conservative brothers and sisters in Christ who uphold the authority of Scripture, judging them to be hateful, bigoted and homophobic. They parrot tired and worn out slogans in a vain attempt to justify their selfish and deliberate disregard of God’s will. Rational argument quickly turns to verbal confrontation when those who adhere to traditional or classic Christian theology attempt to “gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.” 2 Timothy 2:25 Criticisms also appear as comments in local newspapers, in Christian blogs, many by those with no stake in the local issue at hand (see Grace Lutheran in Eau Claire, WI) and in various articles written for the more progressive churches, such as the ELCA.

Progressive Christians continually proclaim that our Lord’s command to love one’s neighbor allows one to ignore that which the Lord prohibits, in order to properly welcome them to our Father’s house. It is simply a false argument that asserts that since God is good everything He has made must also be good. Since God made those with sinful proclivities, they “reason” that those proclivities must also be good.  So, those trapped within that sin are affirmed by declaring that behavior no longer sinful. Affirmation of those with a proclivity to engage in sinful behavior is NOT the way that our Lord taught as a way to properly love and welcome the neighbor.  Leaving a life of sin to love, worship and honor our God is a lesson taught over and over again in Scripture. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you. Titus 2:11-15

The amoral attitude of those that have the audacity to challenge God’s law simply advocates for man to usurp God’s role as the sole authority in our lives. The leaders of the ELCA lead the faithful over the edge like lemmings in their misguided attempt to normalize that which our God forbids. What the world accepts is of no consequence to our Lord’s command. What His church accepts is another matter altogether. Scripture is the sole authority in our faith lives and any church that would have its members disregard God’s word and replace it with “new things” leads its members away from Him. Jesus has all authority and it is the leaders of God’s church that are called to uphold His word. “After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. “ John 17:1-5

Pray that the leaders of the ELCA abandon their attempt to be of the world.  Continue to pray that those true to the Lord recognize the truth and walk away from the apostasy of the ELCA.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Queer Eye for the Faith Guy

The Bravo Channel, a cable network, offered up a show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”, from 2003-2007, where 5 gay men, adept at interior design and personal clothing selection helped straight men become more contemporary. Usually the straight guy needed an upgrade from his typical ensemble of blue jeans and a flannel shirt or his home and/or apartment needed to be transformed into something that did not fall into the category of man-cave or worse, a pigsty. This show was popular for several years and became a favorite of the twenty-something college crowd.  The effort to mainstream the LGTBQ lifestyle eventually led to the formation of the LOGO cable network, launched in 2005, that caters to that lifestyle choice. Those that have chosen an alternate lifestyle are now often looked upon and cool, hip and enlightened, especially in the secular world.  Bishop Mark Hanson of the ELCA follows in the footsteps of those cable networks as he caters to those choosing to lead an alternate lifestyle. Much effort is put into anti-bullying, directed primarily as support for LGTBQ individuals through the “It gets better” project. Understand that it is absolutely reprehensible to discriminate, bully or treat those that choose alternate lifestyles as someone to scorn. Everyone is a child of God and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves, no matter their life choices. What is problematic though, is that Bishop Hanson affirms that lifestyle even though Scripture is abundantly clear that God does not approve.

So, why does the leader of the largest Lutheran Church in America decide that what God has obviously forbidden, is to be affirmed by God’s church? Hanson tries to explain that, somehow, God is telling us new things and that apparently, God (through the Holy Spirit inspired authors of Scripture) could not possibly fully understand that the alternate lifestyle would evolve as it has. It is also the misguided love of neighbor that drives his crusade to normalize the homosexual lifestyle. Is the sin of homosexuality any worse than any of the sins supposedly good Christians commit every day? No, it is not. Whenever I, as a married man, look at a woman with lust in my heart, I commit the sin of adultery. Whenever I place my needs ahead of God’s will, I place myself on the altar and push my Lord away. Should the church affirm this type of behavior as right with God? Of course not! 1 John 1:8-10, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” As a called and ordained minister of the church of Christ, Hanson has the authority to declare the entire forgiveness of all of our sins. But, what he does not have, is the authority to declare that which God has forbidden, is no longer prohibited and is acceptable in the eyes of God.

We trust that the leaders of God’s church are inspired by the Holy Spirit to lead us in ways that are pleasing to our Lord. We accept that the message from the leaders of God’s church is the truth and they would never lead us astray. But, they are not only ministers of God’s church. They are also sinful human beings just like every one of us. When one uses human understanding to try to discern God’s will, one may just hear what they long to hear, rather than where the Holy Spirit is leading. When one believes that their own imperfect human love approaches the pure and perfect love of our God, one can disregard the truth and replace it with the desires of imperfect human beings. All believers are equally inadequate before God and fall woefully short of the glory of God. But, when God’s children trust the leaders of God’s church and are led astray by those leaders, a heavy burden falls upon those leaders. Just as the police officer is held to a higher standard of the law, the leaders of God’s church must endeavor to preach the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ, so that with the power of the Holy Spirit, those that are lost may come to believe. If they lead their flock astray, Jesus said in Luke 17:1-3, “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves.”

The misconception that one must accept sinful behavior as somehow pleasing to God in order to properly love the neighbor, makes no sense whatsoever. Do I expect that my brothers and sisters in Christ look upon me as righteous, even though I am a greater sinner than they? Do I withhold my love of my brother until they accept my sin as acceptable to God? It doesn’t matter what your sin. It doesn’t matter what you have done. It doesn’t matter what you have failed to do. Faith in the living Christ is what matters. And if you truly love the Lord, you will want to please Him. If you want to please the Lord, you will try your best to delight in His will and walk in His ways. If you love Him, you will want to give all the glory to His Holy Name. My Savior and king died for me, an unworthy sinner and I am forever grateful. It is time for Mark Hanson lead his flock to the truth and not simply placate those that want their earthly desires affirmed.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Devil's Advocate

In the 1997 movie, Devil’s Advocate, Al Pacino skillfully plays the role of Attorney John Milton, the human form that Satan has taken. Near the climax of the movie, Satan was attempting to convince his son, attorney Kevin Lomax, played by Keanu Reeves, to join forces with him. Pacino was describing how he, Satan, was going to take over the world and win the battle against God through the law profession. Reeves asks him, “Why lawyers? Why the law?” Pacino answers, “Because, the law my boy, puts us into everything. It's the ultimate backstage pass. It's the new priesthood, baby. Did you know there are more students in law school ...than lawyers walking the Earth? We're coming out...guns blazing! The two of you...all of us, acquittal after acquittal after acquittal...until the stench of it reaches so high and far into chokes the whole f----g lot of them!” The ELCA, in an effort to maintain their grip on the things of this world, while disregarding God’s law, have decided that man’s law can be used to their advantage. Following in the footsteps of their ecclesiastic bothers in the Episcopal Church, where church property belongs to the greater church organization, they have decided to attempt to seize the assets of churches that choose to leave. Those congregations attempting to break fellowship are taken to court in an effort to wrest whatever assets this greedy organization can take. After all it takes a lot of money to run their bloated bureaucracy. Abandoning their responsibility to preach the Gospel to the world and bring the lost to Christ is also apparently quite expensive.

Some of the churches affected by this new approach are Grace Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, WI, where Bishop Duane Peterson, is leading 70 congregants that support the ELCA, into court in an effort to seize the congregation’s ample assets. Initially, Peterson offered support to the "Synodically Authorized Worshiping Community" by starting a mission church, sharing facilities with First Lutheran, another ELCA church in Eau Claire, agreeing to find an alternate worship site by February 1st 2011. When the pastor of First Lutheran held fast to the deadline, he was removed by the synod, throwing another congregation into turmoil. Peterson then decided to facilitate, what became known as Amazing Grace Lutheran, into bringing legal action against Grace Lutheran. While Peterson fights Grace Lutheran from breaking fellowship with the ELCA, he himself is embroiled in a divorce action with his wife. Even though ELCA church policy advises clergy involved in divorce proceedings to refrain from active ministry, this does not deter this champion of the ELCA from his attempt to cause strife, division and suffering for this congregation that voted unanimously (322-0) to break fellowship with the ELCA.

Redeemer Lutheran in East Falls, Philadelphia, PA was sued by the Southeastern Pennsylvanian Synod of the ELCA in an attempt to take control of congregation’s assets and property. In 2007, Synod Council assessed the fragile status of Redeemer, including its diminished attendance records, income and expense figures, and approved a resolution authorizing Bishop Burkat to take Redeemer under "involuntary synodical administration" in accordance with Section 13.24 of the Synod Constitution, in effect, ordering the church council to turn over the keys, checkbook and vacate the property. The ELCA ultimately locked out the Redeemer congregation and there are still counter suits by the Redeemer congregation to regain their church property, valued at over $1.5 million. I’m certain that the property value had little to do with the ELCA effort to seize that church and its assets.

Life Lutheran Church in Richmond, CA, an ELCA congregation, one of only two congregations serving Chinese-Americans in the area, were given a building that was closed by the ELCA and formerly served by the current pastor of Ebenezer Lutheran Church, also known as “Her Church”. After beginning the process of breaking fellowship with the ELCA, Life Lutheran was taken to court by the ELCA in an effort to reclaim the property and evict them from the building. Life Lutheran left the ELCA in 2011 and joined LCMC. Life Lutheran continues to worship at their church, but legal proceedings are still in process.

So, perhaps the stench of these legal actions, initiated by the so very tolerant, loving and welcoming organization commonly referred to as the ELCA, is reaching the realm of Heaven. This just may be the new priesthood for this family of believers that cling to an organization while relegating our Lord to what they consider His rightful place, just below the enlightened leaders of this misguided organization. Reject the apostasy preached by the leaders of what was once one of God’s churches. Hold fast to the truth so that you can recognize Satan at work in this world. Pray unceasingly for God’s children to be rescued from the pit that has become the ELCA. 1 Peter 2:7-10, “Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,” and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”