Thursday, August 30, 2012

Attention Deficit Disorder

Early on my son showed signs of an advanced intelligence, but also was plagued with inappropriate behavior. Tested at an I. Q. of 158, my wife and I had high expectations for him. Unfortunately, his behavior became more and more troublesome and his grades were well below average. When my son was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), it posed more questions than answers. Of course, we now had an excuse to blame his poor grades and misbehavior in school. This diagnosis also found that he was deficient in his verbal recognition skills. We had to learn to give him a single task with a single explanation to accomplish that task. Assigning more than one task led to unfulfilled errands and eventually led to us being disappointed and him becoming frustrated. Medications were prescribed, some that actually exacerbated his condition. His frustration with this condition led him to leave school before he graduated, leading my wife and I to exact some tough love, telling him he had to leave our home and strike out on his own. Sometimes, things work out that are just beyond explanation. Our son is now married, with two beautiful children, owns his own home, finished high school and is now attending college while he works full time. The Spirit moves in amazing ways.

The malady that has infected the ELCA is not unlike ADD. Unfortunately, the enlightened leaders of the ELCA do not have the high spiritual I. Q. that they believe they possess. Poor grades in upholding the authority of Scripture has nothing to do with a lack of focus or inability to concentrate. Misbehavior by lifting up the doctrine of bound conscience above the will of God has nothing to do with a deficiency in their ability to recognize the doctrine of Scripture Alone and to disregard those that preach the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ, trying to gently correct and instruct. There are no medications that can open the eyes of the leaders of the ELCA that persist in focusing on the secular world to the detriment of the saving of souls. Their focus is so plain to so many, but the plank that is in their collective eye, unfortunately goes unnoticed by so many of their members who would rather maintain unity than uphold the authority of Scripture. Jeremiah 9:4-6, “Beware of your friends; do not trust your brothers. For every brother is a deceiver, and every friend a slanderer. Friend deceives friend, and no one speaks the truth. They have taught their tongues to lie; they weary themselves with sinning. You live in the midst of deception; in their deceit they refuse to acknowledge me,” declares the LORD.“

Strong words, but like so much of God’s word, remains pertinent to what is happening today. The doctrine of bound conscience allows members of the ELCA to live in the midst of deception, denying God, while acknowledging themselves as their own god by worshipping themselves, their possessions, and their identities. When a church substitutes the truth and replaces it with lies, for the sake of being more welcoming, tolerant and open minded, they deceive themselves and their members. I am a sinner. I sin every day. I must be so disappointing to my Lord in my spiritual failure. I don’t ask Him to affirm my sin. I ask Him to forgive my transgressions and to help me to live up to the standards He wants me to follow. When a church throws out God’s law, and yes, we are no longer subject to the punishment of the law when we believe in God’s one true Son, those that accept this errant doctrine are encouraged to feed their selfishness. We all can love our brothers and sisters in Christ without regard to the sins they commit. If we fail to acknowledge that we are by nature sinful and unclean, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. We make our God out to be a liar!

I don’t qualify as one to determine whether or not homosexuality is a choice or is an innate predisposition of the human condition. What I do know is that Scripture is abundantly clear that God does not approve of that behavior. When one opens their heart and allows the Spirit to enter, we are then able to believe and have faith in the Risen Christ. When one realizes exactly what He did for us, we are deeply indebted to Jesus. We, indeed, need to learn to deny ourselves and to obey all of His teachings. We fall in love with Him and it becomes our joy to obey, placing God’s needs above our own. I also do not qualify as one to understand why it is necessary for a church to disregard Scripture and lift up sin as right with God, allowing those with desires strictly prohibited by God and sanction those wishing to lift up their selfishness, instead of denying themselves. What is so plain to so many is still lifted up by this errant denomination as the proper way to love the neighbor while they accuse those who disagree as homophobes, intolerant and hateful.

He who spoke the universe into existence has the final word in all this. Does this doctrine of bound conscience jeopardize the salvation of those who accept it? I don’t know, but I believe it opens a door to allow Satan easy access to our souls. He is the father of lies, and bound conscience is as big a lie as any church has foisted upon the faithful. Full inclusion of the LGTBQ community must be a goal of all churches, as we are called to love everyone as ourselves. So vital to the ELCA’s drive to have the LGTBQ community normalized is the anti-bullying program, It Gets Better. But, it is not only the LGTBQ community that faces bulling. People fall prey to bullying based upon their gender, sexual identity, race, or any other excuse.  Those engaging in bullying are to be sternly corrected to the full extent of man’s and God’s law, and this behavior is not to ever be tolerated. We are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. If my brothers and sisters in Christ can love me in spite of myself, we can love all our neighbors as well.

The doctrine of bound conscience allows one to sin without the need for repentance.  Minimizing sin by making confession and absolution optional in the ELCA liturgy, dilutes our faith and drives a wedge between themselves and God.  It has become apparent that the leaders of the ELCA have abandoned their authority as a church of God. God already comes to us, offering His abundant grace. Will you stand with a church that denies Him? Titus 1:15-16, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.”

Friday, August 24, 2012

In a Twinkling of an Eye

For those who trust in the Risen Savior, death to this world is just a way to open a door into eternal paradise. When one believes and has faith in God’s one true Son, farewell to this world is a welcome sweet sorrow. Although we will have to wait, that wait will be but a twinkling of an eye. 1 Corinthians 15:52-54, “in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” For Jesus Christ paid the ransom for our sin, paving the way to our salvation. No matter how far short of the glory of God we fall, by faith, our Father will still welcome us into His kingdom. So, in that twinkling of an eye, when all are raised in that glorious day of judgment, we will be raised to new life, new bodies, and a new world, living in peace and harmony, eternally with our Lord and Savior.

My father in law passed away to this life this week and was born to new life with Jesus on August 23rd after a long struggle with diabetes. This is not a time for sorrow or mourning, but joy. Because Fred was right with his Lord and Savior. He believed in God’s one true Son. He believed that Jesus took all of his sins and willingly accepted the punishment that he deserved, so that when he leaves this life, he will be welcomed into his Father’s eternal kingdom. John 3:16-21, Jesus said, “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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 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. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 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.”

Fred lived a full life out in the light, as a child of God. Although his struggles with diabetes robbed him of his legs and eventually caused his life on earth to end at age 82, we can truly say that he is in a better place, free from the pain and suffering of this life. My wife said he is now dancing with Jesus, since he will be made whole again in God’s eternal kingdom. This is the promise made to all who choose to believe in the Resurrected Christ. And yes, even though God offers His grace to all and Jesus died to save all of God’s children, we must have faith. Even though many “mainstream” churches, such as the ELCA, tacitly accept that grace is offered without the condition of faith, Christ own words reveal that such a teaching is in obvious error. Without the need for faith, Jesus’ death becomes meaningless. Galatians 3:24-27, “So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

God’s grace is there for all of His children. Believe in Him who God sent to save the world and paradise awaits at the end of this life. For this world is only a short audition for the true life, eternal life with our Father. To truly believe is to truly love our Lord and Savior. To truly love our Lord and Savior means to please Him in all we do and to give Him all the glory. To truly please Him means denying ourselves and giving ourselves to Him, obeying all of His teachings. It is not What Would Jesus Do, it is What Would Jesus Want Me To Do! Live for the Lord and proclaim His glory in everything you do. Do not pass up any opportunity that the Lord places before you to do His will and to show His love through you. Thanks be to God who gave us life and offers us salvation!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Symptoms of a Greater Disease

A cough and sore throat may simply reveal that the patient is suffering from a common cold. These same symptoms can also indicate a more insidious disease, such as throat cancer. Doctors that simply treat the symptoms, often keep their patients suffering from the disease that may not be diagnosed until it is too late. While alleviating symptoms may make the patient feel better temporarily, this will not cure the root cause of those symptoms. Treating the person as a whole, diagnosing the malady and prescribing a course of treatment that will lead to a cure, will make the patient whole again. An article printed in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel March 15th, 2012 reported that the ELCA has issued yet another draft statement in their long line of social commentaries. This particular meddling in the affairs of the secular world calls for reform of the nation’s criminal justice system. Jeff Barrow, Bishop of the Greater Milwaukee Synod of the ELCA, called this a great idea and lamented about our broken justice system, stating, “The criminal justice system has not brought about any reforms, it’s expensive and I think there are better ways to make our communities safe.”

The article goes on to state, “Thursday’s statement says the ELCA affirms the fundamental principles of the U.S. criminal justice system, such as due process and the presumption of innocence, but that the system is in need of reform. The ELCA is troubled by the high rate of incarceration compared to the rest of the world, and racial disparities that lead to a higher rate of incarceration for minorities. It notes that 1 in 31 adults is in prison or on parole or probation; 1 in 11 for minorities. The statement calls for, among other things, greater use of prison alternative programs, changes in the national drug policy and opposition to the trend toward privatizing prisons.” Again the ELCA, so enamored of the world, fails to look toward God’s will for His children, and instead, looks to repair our broken world without His guidance.

After serving the Greater Milwaukee area as a law enforcement officer for almost 30 years, I have had more than a little experience in dealing with our criminal justice system. Those convicted of crimes are incarcerated according to state statutes and federal laws.To be a member of society requires one to obey the law of the land.  Those that choose to violate those laws pay the consequences for their disobedience.  In larger counties however, such as Milwaukee County, the justice system tends to be much more lenient, due, in part, to the vast number of criminal cases brought into the system. Many criminal charges are dismissed without the offender ever seeing a court room and many other offenders are diverted to alternate programs that often lead to the trivialization of the law. 1 Peter 2:13-17, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”

The misguided leaders of the ELCA try to cure the symptoms without regard to the very cause of the maladies befalling those that run afoul of the criminal justice system. We live in a society that actually promotes and rewards out of wedlock births. What was once a safety net for families in need, has now become an avenue for those who would rather depend upon the government for their livelihood than try to support themselves by entering the workforce. Offered just more than subsistence living conditions, low income women have numerous children by numerous fathers that often have little or no role in the upbringing of those children that they have fathered.  Families receive payments for each child, health care and transportation assistance.  These children are raised without a father's guidance, instead leaning almost exclusively on the women of their extended family. God rarely has a place in these families, so moral responsibility has become foreign to many of these children. This vacuum in their lives is often filled by association with other amoral individuals that have no respect for others, engaging in criminal and gang activity. These families have indeed become slaves to the government that supports them, nurtures them and makes them beholding to the politicians that enact these entitlements that many now believe that they deserve. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

While Scripture calls for God’s children to obey the laws of the world and that each of us should cheerfully give of ourselves to build up God’s kingdom, the leaders of the ELCA think it better to weaken the law and promote the selfishness of humankind. Without consequence those choosing to violate the law will not choose to obey if the laws are made more lenient. This tact does nothing to address the root cause of the crowded jail system in this country, nor will cause the crime rate to diminish.  If the leaders of the ELCA would choose to use their “bully pulpit” to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ and call to repair our broken families, it just may begin to alleviate the problem with the disparities in our prison population. As we know, the ELCA is so obsessed with quotas, so perhaps they can begin with promoting the quota of one mother and one father as the family heads that work together raising children, teaching them the Lord’s prayer, the Ten Commandments and bringing them to hear the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ, so that through the power of the Holy Spirit, they may come to know and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.