Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sticks and Stones

Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me. This phrase, spoken at those who intend to demean or humiliate another, are meant to say that the person verbally assaulted is secure enough to see themselves as they are, rather than as the hurtful words spoken against them. In this new enlightened age words are judged to be just as violent as the actions taken to cause actual physical harm against another. Say what you will. Those that feel the need to belittle someone else in order to make themselves feel superior does not bother the vast majority of their targets in the least. Unfortunately, those few that are actually offended and especially those that take umbrage for other “protected” classes, drive society’s attitudes. The word police are out in force as more and more words are added to the list of “hate speech” as society creates more and more protected classes. With all the “haters” that are branded by our evermore intolerant culture, it is a wonder that humanity can coexist at all. But, it is even more telling as to who, and why someone can become labeled as a “hater”. Phil Robertson, patriarch of the “Duck Dynasty” reality TV show family, really stuck his foot in his mouth, according to those more enlightened than I.

Seems that stating a personal conviction, based upon his Christian faith, upholding the authority of Scripture by quoting the Apostle Paul, was beyond the pale of acceptable behavior and speech today. As our society accepts an ever expanding list of what was previously unacceptable and aberrant conduct, it casts its’ aspersions in an unrelenting wave of skepticism against those they view as naive and gullible enough to profess faith in the Risen Christ. Those enlightened in our society look at Christians as judgmental, homophobic, exclusionary, hypocritical and hateful as they stand in judgment of those who dare to hold an opinion contrary to their own. While, we as Christians, stand convicted, we have a Savior who took our sins upon His shoulders, endured our punishment upon that cross, and now sits upon the throne, advocating for us to our Father. Jesus said in Matthew 5:11-12, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

So, in this day and age where truth is confused and the selfish cravings of a sinful humanity overtake our society, how does a Christian maintain sanity in this upside down world? Do we simply turn the other cheek and let those who would do us harm, slap us down, again and again? Especially troubling are the supposed leaders of God’s churches that look to ingratiate themselves with the world by minimizing or disregarding His will for us. Is God’s kingdom advanced when the leaders of the ELCA continually support the terrorist regime, Hamas, and Palestine, while casting stones at Israel? Is God’s kingdom advanced when the leaders of the ELCA support a women’s choice to end her pregnancy, or what is in reality, complicity in the murder of her unborn child? Is God’s kingdom advanced when the leaders of the ELCA lift up the homosexual lifestyle while chiding those that support the sanctity of marriage and call for the protection of a family with one man as the father and one woman as the mother?

The secular world looks down upon Christians as backward dim-witted rubes, easily duped by a religion they believe is simply meant to control them, while their own religion, that is all about pleasing oneself, is acclaimed as ideal. By invoking doctrine meant to affirm the selfish nature of humanity, it would appear that the leaders of the ELCA would have their members embrace the same ideals as secular society. In Robertson’s incident, reason prevails and “Duck Dynasty” is made whole again. This all has been played out before. The ending to this story has already been written. Evil does not win. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is victorious over the forces of the evil one and will ultimately usher in a new beginning for all believers. We needn’t be concerned with the small victories that the evil one wins here on earth because he will not win the war. Proclaim the power of the Gospel throughout the world. Let the love of Christ pour out of your heart. Let everyone see Him in your actions. Let everyone hear Him when you speak. Pray long and hard for our brothers and sisters in Christ to be delivered from the clutches of the ELCA and other misguided churches. Matthew 16, 24-29, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.” Stand strong for the Lord and when He comes, you will receive the ultimate reward, eternal life with Him.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Righting Wrongs

The old proverb goes, “Two wrongs do not make one right.” Stating otherwise is simply advancing a faulty argument. To advocate that when one is wronged it is appropriate to commit another wrong to that person to in order to even things out is illogical, at best. This misconception has been fully discredited since committing a wrongful action is not a morally appropriate way to rectify a previous wrongful action. Thomas Hobbes, a 16th century liberal philosopher, conceived a notion that if a moral standard or common social rule is violated enough in society, then an individual or group within society can break that standard or rule as well, because this prevents them from being unfairly disadvantaged. Apparently, Saul Alinsky was not the first to come up with rules for radicals. In the real world this way of thinking can only serve to get one in trouble. See how this way of thinking will work with your local police. “Officer, everyone else goes 20 MPH over the speed limit on this road” will not justify your actions and will definitely result in a speeding citation for you.

There are many erroneous assumptions one may make to justify wrongful conduct, but fact of the matter is, as Christians, we are called to a higher standard. Our Lord and Savior did not tell us to strike out at those that would harm us, Jesus said in Matthew 5:39-42, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

Unfortunately, illogical arguments permeate our society as from those who choose to surrender to their human cravings, yet argue that those cravings, no matter how depraved, must be accepted by society and even God’s church. Murdering an unborn child becomes acceptable because a woman has the right to choose what to do with her body. Too bad the child is left without a voice in the matter. Homosexuality morphs from an abomination to a “loving monogamous relationship between two persons of the same gender.” And most troubling of all, many progressive churches have minimized our Lord and Savior and pushed Him to the back of the bus in our all-knowing, enlightened new world religious order.

The ELCA promotes a “Big Tent” embracing any number of interpretations of Scripture and welcomes diverse opinions on theology, even some that deny the very truths of the faith. Jesus dealt with those on the fringe of society, in need of healing of mind, spirit and body. He embraced those shunned by society, healing lepers, eating with tax collectors and walking with Samaritans. Each of those He encountered were made whole again, not by affirming them within their sin, but forgiving their sin, lifting up their faith and leading them to embrace obedience of God’s law. The leaders of the ELCA deceive those searching for God and craving forgiveness by reaching out with their imperfect love and affirming behavior that is prohibited by God. Instead of reaching out and leading them to Christ, they direct them to the wide road that leads to destruction. Repent is not a word that has any meaning with this heretical church. Ignoring sin while affirming the sinner is far easier, although falling membership numbers indicate that not all agree it best to deny our Savior in order to lift up the selfish desires of humanity.

The leaders of the ELCA wrong the faithful, by leading them to believe that their desires for themselves are the same as God’s desires for His children by adhering to the false doctrine of bound conscience. They further commit the gravest wrong of all to their membership when they choose to promote a social gospel rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Indeed, two wrongs do not make a right. It serves only the evil one when they promote a gospel that leads God’s children astray. Zephaniah 3:1-5, “Woe to the city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled! She obeys no one, she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the Lord, she does not draw near to her God. Her officials within her are roaring lions; her rulers are evening wolves, who leave nothing for the morning. Her prophets are unprincipled; they are treacherous people. Her priests profane the sanctuary and do violence to the law.” While these verses refer to the people in the city of Jerusalem, they follow perfectly the path that the leaders of the ELCA have chosen from their tower in the city of Chicago. How is God's sanctuary defiled by improper teaching and preaching? And how vile are the comments to those who offer correction? Who says the Bible is not pertinent to today? From this, less than well known, book of the Old Testament comes a prophesy meant for today. Continue in prayer for our brothers and sisters adrift in the apostasy that so permeates the ELCA. Pray that God opens their hearts and minds to His truth and leads them to a safe haven away from these false gospels.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Devil is in the Details

Often big plans are derailed by those small things that are routinely overlooked but frequently cause serious problems later on, or leading to what can be called unintended consequences. President Obama has found this out with the myriad of failures brought about by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Again, it is the small things that disrupt these new and grand experiments. The ELCA birthed the doctrine of bound conscience in 2009. It was to be the vehicle by which behavior strictly prohibited by God, could be overturned by man and eased into mainstream Lutheranism. As with the problems associated with socializing medicine for a nation with a population of over 300 million, the grand design of this new way of interpreting Scripture is rife with false assumptions and contradictions. The Devil truly has his fingerprints all over the underlying opinions that are cited in order to prop up this misguided doctrine.

The entire premise behind the doctrine of bound conscience is to elevate man’s experience when interpreting Scripture. Societal evolution becomes a determining factor when inferring that the author apparently misunderstood the intent of the Holy Spirit because they were unaware that this generation would become so enlightened as to transcend the authority of God Himself. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America disregards the very articles of the Lutheran faith by accepting the flawed logic of bound conscience. The new and apparently improved official ELCA website no longer contains the “what we believe” section, instead it is replaced by a new faith section where it explains what is taught by ELCA churches. It states that the ELCA confesses the Triune God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that they proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That in their preaching and teaching the ELCA trusts the Gospel as the power of God for the salvation of all who believe. It further states that ELCA teaching or theology serves the proclamation and ministry of this faith. Teaching or theology prepares members to be witnesses in speech and in action of God’s rich mercy in Jesus Christ. Apparently, no longer does the ELCA proclaim that the Bible was inspired by God's Spirit and that God spoke through their authors, who recorded and announced God's revelation centered in Jesus Christ.

The ELCA’s official Confession of Faith identifies the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments (commonly called the Bible); the Apostles’, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds; and the Lutheran confessional writings in the Book of Concord as the BASIS (emphasis mine) for their teaching. ELCA congregations make the same affirmation in their governing documents, and ELCA pastors promise to preach and teach in accordance with these teaching sources. Just wondering out loud here, but does not “Her Church” teach outside of those boundaries? Promises apparently are meant to be broken by some ELCA pastors. I would guess that their guidelines on human sexuality and bound conscience are found within those teaching sources. They’re not either??? Well, never mind then, they must just be some of those “new things” that the Holy Spirit is revealing to a select few of the more enlightened among us. Since the Father of Lies uses all kinds of wordplay to appeal to our innate selfishness, it would appear that the Devil is surely in these details.

With the ELCA further watering down their statement of faith, one needs to ask, why would they do this? As the leaders of the ELCA become more and more enamored of the world, they conform more and more to what they believe the world expects of them. The more they seek the approval of the world, the further away they drive themselves and their members away from God. Rather than submit to God and understand and teach that all human beings are sinful and cannot free ourselves from the burden of that sin without the saving grace of our Redeemer, ELCA members are called to enable their bound conscience and do what they believe is right. Rather than knowing that human beings are enslaved to sin and continue to engage in evil and immoral conduct, the leaders of the ELCA proclaim that God made you as you are and God does not make evil and immoral beings. I guess Satan was a spontaneous combustion or something like that according to the logic of some ELCA leaders. Rather than denying oneself and pleasing the Lord, the leaders of the ELCA promote that you should please yourself and deny the Lord.

Romans 3:28, 31, “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.” The doctrine of bound conscience serves to nullify the law, replacing it with human sensibility. The Apostle Paul was called by Christ Himself to serve to proclaim His Gospel throughout the world. I think he nails it right on the head, exposing all of us as frauds. Without first submitting to our Lord and Savior, we remain on the outside looking in. While the righteousness bestowed upon believers in the Risen Christ grants them salvation, the law serves to remind us of our sin and teaches us what is wrong in the sight of God. The leaders of the ELCA would have you temper your acceptance of the authority of Scripture and replace it with what they determine is a more sensible approach. This church has fallen so far it is unlikely to ever regain footing on the solid ground that is our Lord and Savior. And unfortunately, there are over 4 million of our brothers and sisters in Christ that are subjected to these false teachings. Pray unceasingly for their eyes to be opened to the Truth.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Positive Reinforcement

How do we, as the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” For the time has come where people are no longer putting up with sound doctrine. Instead the people today have gathered around themselves theologians and church leaders that lift up their selfish desires and preach to them what their itching ears want to hear. Saving our brothers and sisters in Christ that have fallen prey to false doctrine means walking that fine line between correction with great patience and judgmental finger pointing. It is never easy to correct, rebuke or encourage someone who truly believes that they are on the proper path. It is very easy to shut out the very persons that are truly acting in Christian love when our words are often taken as hypocritical condemnation. One needs to find the words that open an avenue of constructive communication.
 
The contemporary Christian band, Hawk Nelson’s song “Words” echoes this sentiment.
“They've made me feel like a prisoner. They've made me feel set free. They've made me feel like a criminal, made me feel like a king. They've lifted my heart to places I'd never been. And they've dragged me down, back to where I began. Words can build you up, words can break you down. Start a fire in your heart or put it out. Let my words be life. Let my words be truth. I don't want to say a word unless it points the world back to you”. Well intended words often are not accepted by the recipients of those less than helpful comments.

When, as citizens, we criticize our government leaders or laws, we understand that there are differing opinions in civil society. We may become angry for a time, but we move on. When another country criticizes our government leaders or laws, we tend to take greater umbrage. Consider the outpouring of negativity when Piers Morgan, a CNN correspondent and British citizen, criticized our second amendment rights to bear arms. And the anger and dismay over an immigration protest where illegal aliens displayed Mexican flags, while disrespecting the American flag. We tend to take on a bunker mentality, rally the troops and move to protect our sovereignty, even to the point of defending those leaders and laws that we may personally disagree with.

When we are over critical of the leaders of the ELCA, those brothers and sisters that remain members of that wayward organization begin to circle the wagons, as many believe that criticism is also targeting them. So, how does one point out the danger that each and every member of the ELCA faces from all the false doctrines that permeate this defiant church without them putting up a wall to shut you out? Just as one cannot trust the government without the proper checks and balances, one can no longer blindly trust the leaders of our churches. Sounds inappropriate, since the message from the pulpit is expected to be led by the Holy Spirit, but behind each pulpit, behind each robe, and behind every leader of every church, stands a human being. And human beings are prone to falling short of the glory of God and to be led into trap of the evil one. We are called to dwell in God’s word to try to discern His will for us and pray unceasingly for guidance and direction in our lives. We cannot simply attend church on Sunday, hear the word and be content that our spiritual appetites are satisfied. His word is always there for us and we must study and learn so that whatever “new things” that are promoted by the church are truly God’s will.

Whenever we reach out to our brothers and sisters adrift in all of the apostasy driven churches, we must do this carefully and without the appearance of being judgmental. Focus on some of the good things that their churches do and commend them for furthering God’s mission in those ministries that are Christ centered. Once we can get their attention and enter into an even discussion, we can ask those questions about errant doctrine and help direct them to the truth. It really is quite plain when one looks at these issues without that defensive wall that closes the door to reasonable discourse. Temper your argument from being against their errant teaching to being for the truth. Temper your calling out of sinful behavior with the realization that we all are sinful and fall short. Colossians 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” We will never be successful in correcting, rebuking and encouraging if our words end the discussion. Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit inspires us with the words that will point the world back to Christ.”

Friday, October 18, 2013

Upward Mobility

Throughout our lives we are taught to work hard and good things will happen. When you are driven to succeed, you will be more likely to attain your desired outcomes. You may earn that job promotion with its greater salary. You may find that perfect mate. You may go on and purchase your dream house, have your 1.5 beautiful children and live happily ever after. But, once you reach those goals, why does it seem like your life is, somehow, unrewarding and unfulfilled? Why does something always appear to be missing? Why isn’t that success enough? As parents, we always want our children to attain that which we could not, to have a chance at a life that is better than what we achieved. How is it that you are still not as happy as you should be when you accomplish these important worldly goals?

Romans 12:2, “Do not conform 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.” It is so easy to fall into the trap that is this world. It is so easy to look past the gifts God has blessed us with and seek the things of this world. It is so easy to focus on our own wants and desires while placing God on the backburner. We not only conform to the pattern of this world, we often embrace it. Our place in this world is very evident when we realize what is really important. We are disciples of Jesus Christ. We are called to be good stewards of this world that God has blessed us with. Our time here is limited. Our future lies ahead, and the things of this world are not the final objective. The one who has the most toys does not win in this competition. Our Father’s house has many rooms and He wants to fill them with all of His children. But, not all will be allowed to enter. Contrary to what some theologians would have the faithful believe, those who do not believe will not be welcomed into eternal paradise at our Father’s house.

John 1:10-13, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” Things change, yet, still they remain the same. The very people called upon to serve the Lord, fail to recognize Him. When the leaders of the wayward ELCA embrace their gospel of social justice, they choose to reject Christ, rather than receive Him. By believing that we can make a difference in this world without the guidance of our Lord is nothing short of a fool’s errand. Bring the lost to Christ is the primary mission of the church. Our world is broken because of us and our unwillingness to let go and let our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ lead our hearts and minds. We can no more repair our broken world than we could build a new one. New things promoted by the self-proclaimed enlightened leaders of a new world order of Lutheranism promote a gospel that does not serve the Lord and drives their members that accept these new things, away from Him. Once we are filled with the Holy Spirit and come to understand and believe, our purpose becomes clear. We are to proclaim His glory everywhere and to everyone until all are saved.

Progressive mainline Christian church leaders are driving the faithful and those searching away with their embrace of secular ideals. Seems every time a church leader tries to minimize sin or revise doctrine to gain acceptance from the world, more are confused as to the role of religion in their lives. If it doesn’t matter what we do or believe, there is really no reason to believe in anything but ourselves. As children we need the boundaries provided by our parents, schools and faith. If left to our own devices, our selfish nature takes over and we would be lucky to make it to adulthood. The law is written upon our hearts and our obedience not only protects us, but is pleasing to God. And pleasing the Lord in all we do is the cure for the unfulfilled heart. When Christ is the reason we live, everything is a gift, even those trials and tribulations God uses to mold us. Each and everyone of us deserves to be condemned to hang on that cross. But in the greatest gift ever given, Christ took our punishment, carried away our sin and defeated death. To save all of us unworthy sinners from an eternal death. An act of unconditional love that is simply beyond our understanding. And by simply having faith in the Risen Savior, God grants us eternal life. Romans 2:7-8. “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” Seek not to attain worldly wealth, but seek the glory that is the Lord’s. Whatever gifts God has blessed you with, use them to proclaim His glory. Seek the riches of the joy that the love and forgiveness that Christ has given to you. Proclaim His love to the world.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

As For Me and My House....

In an article printed in the Guardian on September 11th titled, “Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own consciences” the head of the Roman Catholic Church was quoted, "Given – and this is the fundamental thing – that God's mercy has no limits, if He is approached with a sincere and repentant heart," the pope wrote, "the question for those who do not believe in God is to abide by their own conscience. There is sin, also for those who have no faith, in going against one's conscience. Listening to it and abiding by it means making up one's mind about what is good and evil." It would appear that the dialogue that the ELCA has been having with the Roman Catholic Church has been making quite an impression. The inference that somehow, one’s conscience can trump faith is charting a course down the slippery slope of apostasy. When leaders of God’s church chart a new course, seemingly apart from God’s will, how many will nod their heads in agreement? Of course, a spokesperson for the Pope backpedaled and tried to spin Pope Francis’ comments as no change from the long standing Roman Catholic doctrine. “The pope had had "no intention of provoking a theological debate on the nature of salvation", it said, adding: "They cannot be saved who, knowing the church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, would refuse to enter her or remain in her." Looks like this guy can jump right in and replace President Obama’s creative spokesperson, Jay Carney, without missing a heartbeat.

Pope Francis’ other statements regarding homosexuality and abortion were largely misinterpreted by the media. His emphasis, albeit stated somewhat disjointedly, was that we, as Christians, should refrain from judging others outside of the community of believers. And even those within the church should not be judged by fellow sinners, even if they have fallen prey to homosexual desires or had undergone an abortion procedure. While his message was unclear and apparently widely misunderstood, we Christians do have a habit of falling back into overemphasizing the law while minimizing the redeeming forgiveness of the Gospel. Perhaps, it would be more beneficial for our church leaders to refrain from comments that muddy the waters of the redeeming grace of the cross. That Jesus came to save all sinners and to open a door to salvation to all who simply believe that He died for each one of them should be the persistent message from the church. Leave the social justice agenda for those in politics. Save the lost and bring them to Christ and discover just how much better this world becomes.

Mainline Christian churches are hemorrhaging members at an unprecedented level. There is a clear reason why. Contradictory doctrine that minimizes our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ’s role in salvation leaves those searching for the Truth confused, wondering how they could possibly find answers at those institutions. Many believers become disillusioned when their church leaders question long standing doctrine and are forced to look for a new church, one that preaches the pure Gospel. It is clear that these misguided leaders of God’s church are dividing the faithful, forcing them to choose between their friends and familiar surroundings or remaining faithful to the Lord. Why is it so difficult for those who have allegedly dedicated their lives to serving the Lord, to preach the Truth? Why is it so easy for them to fall in love with the world? When the leaders of the ELCA promote their tolerance and welcoming to the world, who are they looking to please, the world or God? Romans 12:2, “Do not conform 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.” Certainly, proclaiming these errant doctrines do not please the Lord. Certainly, they do nothing to save the lost. And most certainly they fail to give all the glory to the Lord our God. No, these elites long to accept accolades from the world when they demonstrate how modern and enlightened their new religion has become.

Progressives argue that organized religion, in particular Christianity, is dying in part due to the perceived exclusivity. After all, not all will be welcome in heaven and far too many Christians remain trapped within the Law calling out sinners as rule breakers. But, God is very much alive and believers are growing in numbers, just not in the traditional mainline churches, so only part of their conclusion is legitimate. The Gospel saves, the law condemns. We are forgiven, even of our gravest sins because our Savior redeemed us with His precious blood. Why do we find it so hard to forgive as we are forgiven? Jesus called us to love our neighbor. Helping a brother or sister come to Him is the greatest gift that we can offer to our Lord. If we continue to remain trapped in the law, we do nothing but become an impediment to those searching for Him. When one truly accepts Christ, the law that is written upon their hearts is obeyed joyfully in order to properly please Him.

So, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord by loving Him with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength and with all our mind. And we will show our love to our neighbor by sharing the joy that having one’s heart filled with the love of Christ brings. If this means stepping on the toes of those in positions of authority in God’s church when they stray from sound doctrine and fall in love with the world, it will be shouted from the mountaintops. Isaiah 40:8-9, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever. You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid.”

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Kinder and Gentler

Since the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin trial, there has been much gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands. The race baiters continue to prattle on, all in the name of justice for Trayvon. Little has been discussed about the culture of violence that permeates our society, particularly in the inner city. The “unfairness” doctrine is cited whenever violence rears its ugly head, with blame cast at a society that leaves minorities without an equal chance to succeed. Few have the courage to discuss the inherent reasons why these terrible outcomes occur over and over. What those who espouse a more progressive agenda often fail to understand is that actions do produce consequences. While some of these consequences are unintentional, some are calculated and very intentional. In an effort to create a kinder and gentler society, progressive activists use tactics that sound so very inviting. How could one challenge government programs to take care of the poor? How could one not support giving minorities a leg up when applying for jobs and college since so many have suffered discrimination for far too long? How could one possibly dispute protecting our environment? A women’s right to choose what to do with her body? Striving for social Justice? Combating bullying? Fighting obesity? The list goes on and on, each objective more appealing to the sensibilities of society than the last.

Disproportionate numbers of minority offenders housed in prisons cause activists to rave on about the inequities of our criminal justice system. While it is true that the prison population does not mirror our society’s racial composition, little emphasis is given to the reasons that cause this disparity. Those advocating to “fix” our broken justice system look to lessen the penalties for law breakers, especially for those who commit “non-violent” crimes, to cut the prison population rather than determining why it is that criminals choose to commit crimes. Bill O’Reilly produced an op-ed piece entitled The Color of Hope that addressed one of the root causes of criminal behavior in the inner city and called on minorities to take responsibility for their lives. This brought out the race baiters in force, calling O’Reilly a racist and worse. It’s easy to point fingers and place the blame on everyone but those who should be held accountable. It’s also easy to find real solutions, if we simply open our eyes, hearts and minds.

73% of all births to African Americans are out of wedlock, setting the stage for a life of poverty. Many of those children are raised without the influence of a father. Lacking the direction a father could give, many black children, especially males, are drawn into gangs in an effort to replace the vacuum in their lives. There is a reason that the Lord intended a family to consist of a mother and father, and that they, together raise their children. Deuteronomy 11:18-21,  “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.”Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Progressives look to the government to supplant the role of the father by granting entitlements that provide little more than a living wage to families in need. These subsidies bestowed upon them by a “caring” government are not enough to provide a way out of poverty, subjugating those who have become dependent upon government to remain in poverty with little or no hope of ever breaking those chains of bondage. Progressives not only desire to remove fathers from the family, God is also prohibited. So, where does God’s church stand and how are they responding to the violence that so permeates society, especially in the inner city. The largest Lutheran church in America, the ELCA, has this to offer. No statements from the bully pulpit of the new presiding Bishop rallying the troops to encourage men to take responsibility for the children they father. No affirmation of marriage to combat broken families dependent upon government for their livelihood. The 2013 ELCA churchwide assembly simply issues another social statement, passed overwhelmingly by the way, decrying the large number of those incarcerated and especially the disparity in the racial proportion of the prison population. Does the leadership of the ELCA truly believe that those incarcerated did not truly commit the crimes for which they are being punished and that society is not safer with criminals off the street?

In order to solve a problem one must determine exactly what is causing that problem. Why would one choose to commit a crime knowing that their actions will likely have negative consequences? Does lessening the criteria for punishment do anything to rectify the underlying issue? Not at all. The prison system is overcrowded because too many decide to break the law and commit crimes. Simply releasing non-violent offenders is not an answer. Reducing penalties does nothing to diminish the resolve of a person that chooses to commit a crime. Instilling the values and morals of a loving and just God is the answer. All these supposed men and women of God that spew nonsense about inequalities and social justice need to start doing what they committed to do when they chose to serve the Lord. It is only through the love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ that the solution to society’s ill resides. Preaching the true Gospel of Jesus Christ is not as popular with the "In Crowd"as promoting homosexuality or protecting creation, but He is the way and truth and the life forever.

Who will have the courage to stand up to the progressive elites that now seem to populate so many churches hierarchies? John 8:42-27, Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” It has become obvious that the leadership of the ELCA is no longer listening to God and have refused to do so for far too long. The “new” things that they are promoting lift up human desires and are simply the evil one’s bidding.

Pray unceasingly for the eyes, hearts and minds of those trapped within the apostasy of the ELCA to be opened to the Truth before it is too late.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Shades of Gray

In almost thirty years as a police officer in a Milwaukee suburb, I learned that the law had few exceptions or what could be called “gray” areas. The law is invariably black and white; choose to break the law and you will pay the consequences. As the saying goes, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.” If an officer failed to properly conduct an investigation, the only gray area was that in which the perpetrator’s attorney found a loophole in the law and the guilty walked away from his or her just punishment. The law is pretty plain for the police. Observe someone break the law and take appropriate enforcement action. Investigate crimes, identify a suspect and make an arrest. Prepare reports, appear and testify in court. Of course, there were those minor issues, such as speeding, where an officer could actually use his or her discretion. But, as the years rolled on, more and more discretion was eliminated from the police officer’s role in law enforcement. Mandatory arrests were required in every domestic violence situation. Every traffic stop was video recorded. Most interactions with citizens were also recorded for further review, requiring every officer to make certain to dot every “I” and cross every “T”. Police officers now operate in a fish bowl, with every decision made picked apart by the public, media and the administration.

The law in Scripture is quite clear. God declares a number of behaviors immoral, or more commonly referred to as sinful. The hot button issue of our time, homosexuality, is clearly defined as behavior that is unacceptable to God. No gray area here. Look no further than the 6th Commandment, You shall not commit adultery. Adultery is defined as sexual relations outside of marriage and God defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Jesus said so in Matthew 19:4-6, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

The leaders of the ELCA would have their membership believe that Scripture is chock full of gray areas and is not relevant to this new enlightened age of man. In lifting up R. Guy Erwin the first openly gay as bishop in the ELCA Southwest California Synod, they disregard their own contrived doctrine, specifically adopted to normalize homosexuality within the ELCA. Resolution 4 passed by the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly explicitly states, “This resolution called upon members to respect the bound consciences of those with whom they disagree; declared intent to allow structured flexibility in decision-making about candidacy and the call process; eliminated the prohibition of rostered service by members in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous same-gender relationships; recognized and committed to respect the conviction of members who believe that the ELCA should not call or roster people in committed same-gender relationships; called for development of accountability guidelines; directed that amendments to ministry policy documents be drafted and approved; and stated that this church continue to trust congregations, bishops, synods and others responsible for determining who should be called into public ministry." (Adopted 667-307 as amended)

Well, those of you in the Southwest California Synod who disagree are given no choice but to accept Bishop Erwin as their pastor. So much for bound conscience and allowing those who disagree to not call or roster people in committed same-gender relationships. From ELCA website, Conference of Bishops; "Each of the 65 synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America elects a bishop to serve as the synod's chief pastor and to exercise administrative oversight of the synod's work." When redirecting the authority of God’s church to advocate for those engaged in behavior prohibited by God Himself and place willful sinners that have no intention of repentance for their actions in a position of authority, the ELCA relinquishes any authority to remain as a church of God. No, it is not about disobedience. It is why the choice is made to disobey. Human authority replaces God’s authority. Human desires replace God’s will. Humans worship themselves, their identities and accomplishments instead of worshipping the Lord our God. When your doctor tells you that certain behaviors will end up costing you your life, either you change and eliminate those risky behaviors or the prognosis will come to fruition. Is it not more important to acquiesce to God’s will since it is your eternal life that is at risk? 1 Peter 1:24-25, “For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.”

Those that succumb to homosexual desires are no worse a sinner than any other supposedly faithful Christian. After all, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ said in Matthew 5:28, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” We don’t need to act on our desires. We commit the sin as if we actually indulged in the act. 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 is not in us.” When we choose to refuse to repent of sinful behavior, we deceive ourselves and make our God out to be a liar. When we deny our sin, we diminish the gift of life given through the death of our Savior. When we refuse to deny ourselves, we fail to give our Father the glory and praise that He deserves. It is not about us. It is not only about the love of the neighbor. It is about what He did for all of us, even though we deserve nothing less than what our Savior suffered upon that cross. Place your love and trust in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and not in this apostate “church”.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Baby Steps

On July 20th, 1969 Neil Armstrong became the first human being to step foot on the moon. The words he uttered were actually, “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” His statement is typically quoted as “one small step for man.” While Armstrong made a giant leap for mankind, it was just one small step in the progress of space travel. As a sinful, broken humanity, we take many baby steps in our walk through this life. Many of these steps end up taking us back instead of forward. Humanity’s selfishness often leads us astray. Our selfish nature compels us to be disobedient. Our selfish nature compels us to place our wants and needs above others. And our selfish nature consistently erodes away at our relationship with our Father. The selfish proclivities of a broken humanity are fed, not with the bread of life, but an affirmation of those immoral behaviors, by the former ELCA presiding Bishop, Herbert Chilstrom. Before all you tolerant and accepting Christians begin casting stones, know this, I am a far greater sinner than anyone who engages in homosexual relations. Yes, you heard it here, my sins are far greater than yours. But, it’s not about me is it? I cannot, by my own volition, earn my reward in heaven. Even though so many claim otherwise, this is not a matter about sex. It is a matter about my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and what He did for all of us unworthy sinners.

As we take our baby steps in our faith journeys, we are faced with many forks in the road. We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus said that this was the second most important command. Problem is, some of us are so concerned with loving our neighbor that we forget to love our Father first, which Jesus said is the most important command. Mark 12:28-31, “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

One step away from God.

Those who affirm that which God prohibits, simply encourage the innate human selfishness, placing human desire before the love of the Lord. Ignoring or acquiescing to unlawful activity is not a prerequisite to properly love one’s neighbor. Properly loving one’s neighbor sometimes involves correction, especially if that behavior leads them to love themselves, their identities and desires more than God.

One more step away from God.

For a man of God, once chosen to lead the largest Lutheran denomination in America, to read between the lines and come to believe and promote that the Bible merely addressed homosexual rape or abuse and condemned only those acts, is more than a giant leap, it is simply delusional. Chilstrom so desires the normalization of homosexual behavior, he ignores obvious and clear evidence in the written word. Romans 1:26-27, “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” We have God’s law written on our hearts, whether we believe or not. This is what our “consciences” tell us when we engage in behavior that is not pleasing to our Father.

Take a step back to God.

When we allow the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts and open our minds to the truth, we come to faith in the Risen Christ. We are simply empty vessels waiting to be filled with the love of Christ and we cannot believe without the presence of the Holy Spirit. Our spiritual awakening means the death of our former lives. The person we once were dies and we truly begin to live as a servant of Christ. He is all that matters. Ourselves, our time and our possessions are gifts from God. Everything we are or are going to be is based on God’s will for us. If we place our desires above the love of the Lord, we deny Him. If we place conditions upon God that He must accept us as we are, we deny Him. If we love ourselves more than we love Him, we deny Him. Romans 6:11-14, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” Offer yourself fully to the Lord. Be an instrument for Him. Live to give God all the glory. Reject those that would have you deny the Lord as necessary to “properly” love your neighbor.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A New Creation

Our family just welcomed our fifth grandchild, Kyle Frederick, middle named in honor of my late father-in-law. Kyle was scheduled to arrive 3 days before my birthday, but decided to give my wife a special birthday present and come into this world on her birthday. He truly is a gift from God. I marvel at how such a tiny human being will grow to be an adult someday. God is great all the time and I am so thankful for all the gifts he has given me and my family.

The leaders of the ELCA proclaim lots of new creations these days. Each time the secular world decides to embrace what our Lord prohibits, they decide that now God is telling them “new things” that allow them to support those secular ideals. 1 John 4:1, 5, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.” It would appear that the all-knowing leaders of the ELCA fail that smell test. Murdering the unborn becomes a woman’s right to choose and the child is depersonalized and described as fetal tissue. Even the ELCA health insurance plan covers any and all abortion procedures. Homosexuality becomes a loving monogamous relationship between persons of the same gender. Church doctrine is then contrived in order to allow the ELCA to lift up and affirm behavior specifically prohibited in Scripture to show the world how welcoming and tolerant they are. Masculinity is offensive to the feminists and God becomes a woman with pagan goddess worship replacing God in the church’s liturgy. Acknowledging that humans are by nature sinful and unclean harms the self-esteem of those wanting to be affirmed within their sin and confession and absolution is made optional. Satan serves up the Kool-Aid and the enlightened leaders of the ELCA can’t drink enough.

We are all made a new creation the day we, through the power of the Holy Spirit, come to believe that God’s one and only Son, Jesus Christ took our sins to the cross, suffered the penalty we deserved, died and rose again, opening the door for us to have eternal life with our Father in Heaven. Whatever we were prior to that time dies and we are born again to love and serve the One who gave His life so that we may live. Every verse of Scripture does indeed speak to us. What the leaders of the ELCA call so quaintly a book of faith stories, is the blueprint that God gave His children to help us lead godly lives. Certainly, God is not asleep at the wheel and if you open your hearts and minds, He will speak to you.


Artwork done by grandson Jack, July 2012.


Jack and Ian, Kyle’s six year old twin brothers, are as different as can be. Jack is very analytical and deliberate, while the elder Ian shoots from the hip, tending to be more reactionary. Grandma and grandpa were spending time with the twins to keep them occupied while mom recovers from the delivery. Grandma was tasked to put the boys to bed and was going to pray the standard, Now, I lay me down to sleep prayer, when Jack asked for a special prayer. Grandma prayed a short prayer asking for healing of Kyle’s diaper rash, for mom to recover, for forgiveness for any misbehavior, and thanks for all of God’s gifts to them. After praying, Jack said, “When you are listening, Jesus can talk to you. He told me what you were going to pray before you said it. Jesus is in your heart, but he is also in your head.” Out of the mouths of babes. Grandma affirmed that God can talk to you if you truly listen. Jack again said that Jesus really did talk to him. Ian was skeptical and raised his doubts, but Jack was steadfast, certain that Jesus is alive and speaks to all His children, if we only listen.

Perhaps as we get older, our ability to hear our Savior speak wanes with all the distractions of our busy lives. Sometimes we need to listen with that innocence of a child, with the faith that He is present in our lives. Jesus speaks to us in many different ways. Each opportunity to serve is an invitation from our Lord to do as He would do. Each prayer we offer is answered, sometimes very obviously, sometimes not always as we would want them to be answered, but we always ask to do what is His will, not ours. From the praise hymn, He is Here, “He is here, He is near us, in our hearts, in our lives, in our midst. He is here, He is near us, calling us to trust in Him.” Talk to the Lord. Offer your prayers. He will answer if we only listen.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

If the Shoe Fits

Martin Luther penned a letter on August 1st, 1521 to his fellow priest Philip Melanchton. A small portion of the content of this letter is a major emphasis in the ELCA’s foray into apostasy and insistence in proclaiming sin, particularly the sin of homosexuality, as good in the eyes of their church. “Sin boldly” is the rallying cry of the misguided that declare that God could not have possibly understood how enlightened mankind would become, or that His children would pronounce the maker of the universe, mistaken. In August of 2009 as the ELCA churchwide assembly voted to accept practicing homosexuals as righteous, a tornado struck the ELCA church across the street from the convention center hosting the ELCA CWA, breaking the steeple and turning the cross upside down. This sign was declared by advocates of the assembly’s decision as a wind of change and that God approved of the actions of the assembly. Perhaps, God’s chosen that lived when the disobedient 30,000 Israelites were swallowed up by the earth and the perverse residents of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by burning sulfur rained down from heaven believed similarly, since many returned to their disobedience shortly thereafter.

From Luther’s letter; "If you are a preacher of Grace, then preach a true, not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly. For he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here we have to sin. This life in not the dwelling place of righteousness but, as Peter says, we look for a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. . . . Pray boldly-you too are a mighty sinner."
 
“If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. It suffices that through God's glory we have recognized the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day. Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager sacrifice for our sins? Pray hard for you are quite a sinner.”

When we pick and choose what we want to believe, while disregarding those passages of Scripture that we disagree with or are troubling to us, we deny God’s authority and behave as petulant children, ungrateful for all the gifts He has bestowed us. The leaders of the ELCA trivialize the tenets of the Lutheran faith, leading their membership away from the Lord and pushing them to worship themselves, their possessions and their identities by adopting the doctrine of bound conscience. So much of the ministry of the ELCA emphasizes social justice while reaching out to save the lost is less than an afterthought. Luther was right. This world is not fair. It is not a place where justice resides. We live in a broken world. We are here to proclaim the glory of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This world is but a stopping place on our journey to eternity, and a short stay at that. Like it or not, we are all sinners, no matter your chosen sexuality or sinful proclivity. Place your trust in the saving grace of our Savior and your sexuality no longer matters, only furthering God’s kingdom and giving Him all your praise. We do not put our trust in an institution that is falling away from the teachings of Jesus.

When Luther reached that epiphany that man cannot earn his way into heaven and is saved by faith in the Risen Christ alone, our understanding of God’s grace and our salvation was changed forever. No one is righteous. Only one human being was ever righteous, and that was and is Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Redeemer and Savior, who took upon himself the sin of all the world, suffered our punishment and rose, defeating death, opening the path to our salvation. Christ alone is the reason for our joy. Christ alone is to be given all the glory. Christ alone has all authority to save us from ourselves. So, this wayward denomination that places human understanding on an even plane with the Creator of all that is and stands accused of promoting heresy, affirming sinfulness, advocating multiple paths to salvation and endorsing the worship of the self, lashes out at those that attempt to lead them back to the path our Lord set out for them.

Truly, if the shoe fits, wear it. 1 Timothy 6:3-5, “Teach and urge these things. If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” Yet, the leaders of the ELCA persist in their declaration that God, through the Holy Spirit inspired authors of Scripture, could not possibly understand how times have changed and then try to justify their apostasy by inferring that God is telling them new things. That is truly reading between the lines and putting words in God’s mouth. Every time I read a passage of Scripture, I am truly amazed how those words written so long ago, are still so pertinent to our lives.

Continue in prayer that our brothers and sisters in Christ have their hearts and minds opened to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and realize the reckless path that the leaders of the ELCA would have them travel.

Friday, June 14, 2013

ELCA Hypocrisy

The unevenhandedness of the leadership of the ELCA is stunning. From synod to synod, the rules that bind the congregations of the ELCA are meted out without any type of consistency. Take, for instance, the issue of dual affiliation. Those congregations without a substantial value are either ignored by individual synod bishops or dismissed by the synod for violation of the ELCA constitution. Yet, those congregations having substantial assets are fought tooth and nail and even taken to civil court. The Grace Lutheran congregation of Eau Claire, WI was brought before Polk County Circuit Judge Molly Gale-Wyrick by the Northwest Wisconsin Synod of the ELCA and 67 disgruntled Grace Lutheran congregants, known as Amazing Grace Lutheran for violating the ELCA constitution regarding dual affiliation. Perhaps an explanation of the pertinent sections of the ELCA constitution that the synod accused Grace Lutheran and their council of violating will help us understand the depths of the ELCA’s depravity:

8.17. References herein to the nature of the relationship between the three expressions of this church—congregations, synods, and the churchwide organization—as being interdependent or as being in a partnership relationship describe the mutual responsibility of these expressions in God’s mission, and the fulfillment of the purposes of this church as described in Chapter 4, and do not imply or describe the creation of partnerships, co-ventures, agencies, or other legal relationships recognized in civil law. It would appear from this article of the ELCA constitution that the relationship between congregations, synods and the churchwide organization is not governed by the law of man, but is interdependent and a partnership in God’s mission. From this article it would also appear that a Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge should have no jurisdiction over the above said organizations.

20.15. The procedures for consultation and discipline set forth in the bylaws shall be the exclusive means of resolving all matters pertaining to the discipline of congregations of this church. Neither the churchwide organization nor a synod of this church shall institute legal proceedings in which conduct described in provision 20.31.01. is the basis of a request for relief consisting of suspension of that congregation from this church or removal of that congregation from the roll of congregations of this church. A congregation of this church shall not institute legal proceedings against the churchwide organization or a synod of this church seeking injunctive or other relief against the imposition or enforcement of any disciplinary action against that congregation. Again, the ELCA appears to not be so inclusive in all matters as this article dictates the exclusive means for resolving all matters of discipline of congregations. While no congregation can institute legal proceedings against any synod for the imposition of discipline, apparently break-away congregants can persist in troublemaking and become party to a lawsuit against another congregation. Interestingly enough, the ELCA constitution does not specifically allow an action such as this to occur.

31.03. Charges against a congregation which could lead to discipline must be specific and in writing, subscribed to by the accuser(s), and be made by one or more of the following: a. at least one-fifth of the voting members of the congregation, submitted to the synodical bishop; b. at least three other congregations of the synod, submitted to the synodical bishop; c. the Synod Council; or d. the synodical bishop. 20.31.04. When there are indications that a cause for discipline exists, efforts shall be made by the bishop of the synod to resolve the situation by consultation in the same manner as set forth above for ordained ministers in 20.21.04. and 20.21.05. 20.31.05. If those efforts fail, the procedures for discipline shall be the same as that set forth above for ordained ministers in 20.21.07. through 20.21.22.

20.21.12. The accused shall have the privilege of selecting two persons (one clergy and one lay) and their alternates of the six persons from the churchwide Committee on Discipline to serve on a discipline hearing committee. The remaining four persons (two clergy and two lay) and their alternates, or six, if the accused does not exercise the privilege, and their alternates shall be selected by the Executive Committee of the Church Council. The council and pastors of Grace were accused and convicted without due process since they were not allowed to attend the alleged disciplinary hearing before the synod council.

20.16. It is the intent of this church that all matters of discipline should be resolved internally to the greatest extent possible. It is the policy of this church not to resort to the civil courts of this land until all internal procedures and appeals have been exhausted, except for emergency situations involving a significant imminent risk of physical injury or severe loss or damage to property. This particular article is most troubling. While intent is a broad term, greatest extent possible is not. The synod went out of their way to violate their own constitution while accusing the Grace Lutheran council of violating the ELCA constitution while disregarding the synod council’s deliberate misinterpretation of their own document. Do as I say and not as I do or am required to do by the articles of the document instituted to govern their organization. Incredible!

It is not surprising that an organization that disregards the tenets of a faith they are called to uphold violated their own governing documents. What is surprising is that there are still so many that continue to uphold and support this organization that denies much of the long standing, sound Lutheran doctrine that they profess to defend. As the leadership of the ELCA greases the skids on their rocket sled to hell, when will those passengers wake up and realize that the ELCA is on a path to destruction. These liars and thieves make the tax collectors and Pharisees of Jesus time look small time in comparison. The devil is laughing all the way to the bank while these supposed men of God lead the faithful astray. 1 Timothy 6:3-5, “These are the things you are to teach and insist on. If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.” Those of you foolish enough to remain in fellowship with the ELCA; Keep filling the offering plates so that these ungodly purveyors of lies can continue in their wickedness or finally open your eyes and see what atrocities these co-conspirators of Satan are doing to the Lord’s church.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Mutually Inclusive

Many in the secular world decry Christianity as being the most exclusive religion. After all, Christianity confesses only one way to salvation, faith in the Risen Christ. John 3:16-18, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” This “exclusive” way to heaven is derided by those much more enlightened than I, labeling Christians as condemning, self-righteous and hypocritical. How could Christians be certain that there are not many other valid religious beliefs and alternate paths to salvation? “After all, and as many Evangelical Christians have argued, if you can go to heaven without believing in Christ, what's the point of faith in the first place? This certainty, in turn, lends believers a sense of authority, even power, as they have a clear standard by which to judge "who's in" and "who's out." Talk about seductive!” David Lose, Director of the Center for Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary St. Paul. MN.

It just may be true that other religions worship the same God. Unfortunately, human beings have perverted God's will by using their flawed and selfish reasoning. Many religions, even with the best of intentions, just plain get it wrong. Christianity, while also governed by flawed human beings, looks to the writings of the Holy Spirit inspired authors of the Bible. And many Christian churches have also betrayed our Lord and Savior in their misguided attempts to fix our broken world. Jesus called upon us to preach the Gospel and to make disciples of the world, but there is no earthly requirement that anyone must accept the truth of Jesus Christ. If one hears and chooses to ignore the Word, there are no earthly consequences. If one truly accepts, nothing else is necessary to receive the gifts of grace, forgiveness and salvation. One is free to continue living as they did before. But, once one receives the joy of salvation and understands the sacrifice our Lord and Savior made for us, everything changes. We are so grateful that we want to please our Lord in all we do, and obedience to His will becomes an honor and joy rather than simply rules that we must obey. Everything we are and have, are gifts from a loving God. We are imperfect, sinful human beings that deliberately disobey and dishonor our Father in Heaven each and every day. Yet, the only requirement that our God places upon His children to obtain eternal life is to believe that His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, took upon himself the punishment meant for us, His sinful and disobedient children.

Many of the more tolerant and open minded in society believe that today’s morality trumps what Christianity teaches. Many progressive churches, including the ELCA, agree with society as they call out those that hold fast to the authority of Scripture. Problem is, they are actually right and yet they are totally wrong. They are right asking why would anyone want to be a part of a religion that has so many judgmental hypocrites sitting in their pews? Well, I for one, stand accused and am guilty as charged. So does every other Christian in this imperfect world. There are no righteous human beings in this world, especially not any Christians. There is a reason that we need a Savior and Redeemer, because, if it was up to us to earn our salvation, we never could. To those who reject our Lord and Savior because of me and my fellow believers, please understand that I am a greater sinner than any of you could possibly be. I want everyone to share in the joy that faith in the Risen Christ can bring. I want everyone to come to Him and be granted eternal life. I want everyone to love and care for their neighbor.

They are wrong because God created this world for us, His children. If you want to believe that, somehow, all of this was some random comingling of molecules and just a mathematical inevitability, take a look around you. See how intricate this world and universe is and try to come to the conclusion that God did not create it. As awesome as God is, He cares for and loves each and every one of us. He wants so much to live with His children in eternity that, rather than punish us justly for our sinfulness, He sent His only Son, to take our place. Now understand that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three, but also one, so when Jesus hung on that cross, God Himself was experiencing the pain and suffering in our stead. Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God’s act of forgiveness was accepting the punishment meant for us. Total, complete, and utter forgiveness, no matter what you have done. Just believe that Christ died for you. No conditions. There is no requirement that you face the east and pray five times daily. You don’t even have to pray at all if you so choose. Non-believers are not required to be converted or killed. There are no enemies to Christianity but the devil and his minions.

They are wrong when so many progressive churches, like the ELCA, go out of their way to be more inclusive in order to placate the secular world. Christianity could not be more inclusive as the gift of eternal life is offered to all who choose to simply have faith in the Risen Christ. John 6:40, Jesus said, “For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day." What could be more inclusive than that?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Deliberate Inaction

The late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who transformed society by not just talking the talk, but walking the walk of Jesus Christ. Dr. King influenced generations with his words and deeds. “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” He was calling out those that stand by when their brothers and sisters in Christ were treated unjustly, simply because of the color of their skin, and turning their heads away as if they could not see. Jesus said in Matthew 25:46, “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Far too often we turn a blind eye to man’s injustice to his fellow man. Even more frequently, we fail to do those things that could truly make a difference in the lives of our neighbor.

Today, we live in an age that celebrates when a professional athlete admits to deliberately breaking God’s heart. Society applauds his “coming out” by dubbing him a hero, as if it is truly right and salutary, that in all times and in all places we give thanks to those that push God aside and place themselves upon the altar to worship. This is how far humanity has fallen away from God. We are all sinful and unclean and we sin incessantly by thought, word and deed, by commission and omission. Christians today speak volumes by what we fail to say than those times when we choose to actually proclaim our faith in the Risen Christ. As a former member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, I know from where I speak. Far too often, when delegates were needed to attend synod assemblies, I kept my hand down and tried not to make eye contact with my pastor, lest he shame me into accepting an invitation. When I finally relented and attended my first Greater Milwaukee synod assembly in 2008, what I found was a church that I no longer recognized.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Instead of being fed the bread of life and worshipping, the assembly concentrated on social issues, such as anti-racism, which was described mostly as “white privilege”, immigration reform, the Iraq war, human sexuality, universal health care and environmentalism. Resolutions were brought forward that advocated for the synod to actively violate law, engage in civil disobedience and to openly overturn Scripture. I felt as if I had stumbled into a Democrat convention or the Occupation Movement, not a gathering of God’s people. Standing at the red microphone to challenge the resolution advocating for universal healthcare for all living within the borders of the US, which included those in this country illegally, the GMS bishop Paul Stumme-Diers told me I needed to go to the green mike to speak in favor of the resolution. When I told him that I was at the correct mike, his eyes widened.

Romans 13:1-5, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.” As a person who protected the public and upheld those laws for 30 years, urging God’s people to engage in unlawful conduct was not only improper, it violated the words of Scripture. I was almost shouted down after reading from the Bible. This just reinforced that this church was not just walking away from God, they were running away.

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” We have remained silent for too long. It is time to lift up our voices for the Lord. Progressive churches like the ELCA are leading the faithful away from our Lord and Savior, using the false gospels of affirmation, bound conscience and lifting up the love of the neighbor over the love of God. Jesus said in Mark 9:26, “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Is our silence evidence of our shame? Those that profess their faith in the Risen Christ in other parts of the world are subject to physical violence, even the loss of their life. In the US we worry about being looked upon as a “weak minded” Christian Bible thumper that clings to the Bible and our guns. We are called to proclaim His glory to the ends of the earth. Far too many of God’s churches are preaching a gospel other that the Gospel that our Savior taught and lived. The responsibility now falls to us. Continue to meet and study His word and build up your spiritual armor so that you will be properly equipped to save the lost. Our Lord and Savior said in Mark 4:21-23, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.” Now is the time to take action. Stand up and be counted among the faithful! Share the joy of your salvation, given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

“A man who won't die for something is not fit to live.” Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Just Sayin'

One is often judged, fairly or unfairly, by the company they keep. Hang with someone who is a thief and it may be assumed that you are also a thief. Affiliate with an organization and those values espoused by that organization are assumed to be yours. Fair or not, it is what it is. While our Lord and Savior hung around with those judged not acceptable by society, He came to heal their spiritual shortcomings. Jesus healed the sick, both physically and spiritually. So, when Jesus sat down with prostitutes and tax collectors, He did so to heal their hearts and lead them back to righteousness. Unfortunately, in this new enlightened age, the leaders of the ELCA conspire with the world and enlist the law to enforce their idea of justice.

The leadership of Grace Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, Wisconsin was troubled by the doctrinal shifts of the ELCA. Discerning their role in a denomination that no longer held fast to traditional Lutheran doctrine, they chose to allow their congregation to decide if they wanted to remain affiliated with the ELCA. Their first vote passed, but the second failed to reach the required two thirds majority. After the vote, the leadership of Grace decided to affiliate jointly with the LCMC and ELCA, since the majority of the congregation had voted to leave the ELCA. Now, the plot thickens. About 70 disgruntled ELCA supporters left Grace and began to do whatever they could to disrupt the congregation that they once worshipped with. Anonymous complaints made against a council member at their place of employment. An unauthorized Facebook page purporting to be the official Grace Lutheran worship community was set up announcing that worship services would no longer be held at the church. Some would call this persistent troublemaking, but the all welcoming, all inclusive and tolerant ELCA not only allowed this behavior, they encouraged it.

Out of a few angry congregants, "Amazing Grace" was born and dubbed the “synodically authorized worship community”, to be led by none other than Bishop Duane Peterson, himself embroiled in a messy divorce. Now the ELCA specifically and strongly recommends that clergy involved in divorce refrain from ministering to congregations, since they may be negatively affected by the stress and proceedings of their divorce. Not this champion of the ELCA. Peterson filled the void in his life by leading the small break away congregation out into the world of legal proceedings. Not satisfied with the daunting task of beginning a new mission church, Peterson, the "Amazing Grace" malcontents, and the ELCA decided to take Grace to court. New territory here, but as you know, the ELCA has been claiming to be hearing God saying all kinds of new things, so they deem it is best to avail themselves of worldly laws and to use them against the people of God in spiritual matters.

The first court proceeding ordered Grace to end its affiliation with LCMC, of which Grace complied. The ever forgiving ELCA then decided to judge the pastors at Grace harshly, and removed them from the ELCA roster. It gets even more convoluted. The final court proceeding ordered the leadership of Grace to step down, turn over the keys and assets to the 70 malcontents, and removed the other 1700 members, (no, this is not a typo) from the active membership roll, making them associate members with no voting rights. Judge Molly GaleWyrick, one of the lowest rated judges in the state of Wisconsin, presided over one of the most illogical judgments ever rendered in a Wisconsin court. To make matters even worse, an appellate court refused to issue a stay, giving the ELCA free rein to dispose of the ample assets of Grace. Justice is truly blind and in this case, the best friend of the court was none other than the evil one himself.

Now, this case mirrors another instance of the un-evenhandedness of the ELCA. Although many ELCA churches are dual affiliated, only a few are challenged by the ELCA and not allowed to leave. Some are allowed to dual affiliate, others are removed from the ELCA roster as discipline for violating the ELCA constitution, such as St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Marion, IA. St. Peter Lutheran Church in Fort Pierce, FL, like Grace Lutheran, had ample assets, with property holdings worth some $5.5 million. The ELCA challenged their two unanimous votes to leave and the synod council prohibited them from leaving and taking their valuable property with them. Eventually, St. Peter Lutheran Church did leave and is now a LCMC congregation. Just my humble opinion here, but these actions seem more like those a devious and unethical organization would choose to use to swindle good and trusting people.

For those who choose to remain in this apostate denomination, hear this. While Jesus sat with sinners, those sinners were led to repentance. The ELCA is scrambling to maintain their power and refuses to repent of their sinful actions. Sit in the pew of an ELCA church and turn over the gifts God has blessed you with is the equivalent of funding the evil one’s mischief in the world. These tax collectors will not only fail to apologize for their actions and make amends, they will continue to take money and resources from the willing and the unknowing, not using it to further God’s Kingdom, but to build up and maintain their own earthly wealth and status. By choosing to remain in unity with this errant church, you choose to hold on to the things of this world, rather than being united in Christ. Ephesians 5:5-7, “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.”
Just sayin’.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pulling Out All the Stops

When seeking to make a good impression you just may decide to pull out all the stops. This may entail buying a dozen roses for your beloved, taking your boss or a client out to the city’s best restaurant, or deciding to spend your money on that once in a lifetime trip. We place our frugalities on the back burner in order to curry favor in the hope that it will elevate your standing with that person. This saying actually has its roots in the church. Pipe organs, so prevalent in older churches, were equipped with what were called stops that controlled the air flow of the organ, in fact, controlling the volume. Organists would pull out all those stops to finish with a flourish. In our faith journey, pulling out all the stops is not part of our plan.

While we often shower those close to us with gifts and love, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ gets less than our best, often becoming merely an afterthought. The one who gave His life so that we may live is relegated to a place secondary to our selfishness. The one who should be celebrated as King of Kings stands outside patiently waiting for us to allow Him to enter our hearts. The one who lavishes His love upon His children is rewarded with disrespect and indifference from those who owe everything to Him. Why are we so quick to prattle on about our children and then ignore the opportunity to share our faith and give praise to our Lord and Savior? Has our secular society that so looks down upon those that “cling to their Bibles” causing us to be ashamed of our God? Jesus said in Luke 9:26, “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

As our faith is assailed by the liberal media, academia and even by “progressive” churches such as the ELCA, it is our responsibility to stand up and proclaim His praise unending. Those that stand by and acquiesce to the all-out assault on Christianity are just as much to blame as those who wish to destroy it. While this so-called new progressive and all enlightened generation chastises Christians for being purveyors of the most exclusive of all the world’s religions, nothing could be further from the truth. Christianity is by far the most inclusive religion. After all, Jesus died for all humanity, one needs only believe in the one true Son of God took your sins to the cross, died in your place and rose so that all who believe can live eternally with the Father. Works are not required. Mandatory daily prayer is not required. Attaining enlightenment is not required. Faith in the Risen Christ is the only task required.

It is not important who is “in” or who is “out”. All are in if only they accept that the blood of the Savior cleansed their sin and accept the grace of salvation from the Father. When one accepts the gift of grace, we are filled with joy. When we first believe, we want to share our joy with everyone and bring the world to Christ. As we mature as Christians, it certainly seems that that joy and enthusiasm wanes when it should be just the opposite. As “baby” Christians our immature joyfulness, buoyed by our limited knowledge of Scripture, often would turn off potential believers. As we build up our spiritual armor through hearing and reading His word, we are much better equipped to be a Disciple of Christ, yet we balk when the Holy Spirit offers opportunities to share our faith. It is time to pull out all the stops and start proclaiming His glory, everywhere and to everyone. Every opportunity should be eagerly awaited and prayers made to have the Holy Spirit guide us in advancing His Kingdom. Share your joy!

Yet, the greatest impediment to those thirsting for the Lord is us. Yes, we are all too often the road block that turns potential believers away from God. Our propensity to remain trapped within the law by overemphasizing sin is the greatest obstacle. If engaging in sinful behavior would be  a disqualifier, I’m sorry, but we would all stand condemned. That is why we look to the cross. We are saved not because of what we do, but because of what Christ did for us. We tend to put the cart before the horse and turn off those willing to accept by our self-righteousness. Are believers better than any other child of God? No! We are, in fact, worse if our behavior turns even one of His children away. 1 Peter 2:24-25, “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” We all were once lost. We all are a fallen humanity. We all fall into disobedience. We all need a Savior and Redeemer. Jesus calls on us to teach the Gospel and to make disciples of the world. That final crescendo is waiting to be played. Will you pull out all the stops, listen to our Lord and work to bring the lost to Him?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Finger Pointing

One thing we Lutherans are good at is finger pointing. We are quick to point out the faults of others, especially when confronting, what we believe, is errant Christian doctrine. After all, the Protestant Reformation that begat Lutheranism began in 1517 when a priest by the name of Martin Luther, disagreed when the Roman Catholic Church sanctioned indulgences, or buying your way into heaven, and wrote his 95 theses to protest that errant doctrine along with many others. This began a movement away from a doctrine of salvation by works to justification by faith alone, away from the primacy of the Pope to the authority of Scripture alone, or Sola Scriptura. For Lutherans, the Holy Bible contains the word of God that teaches and guides us in our spiritual lives. The Bible is an ancient document. The Old Testament was compiled between 3500 BC and 450 B C, while the New Testament was written in the last half of the 1st century.

President Obama attended Easter worship services at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, DC this year. The presiding minister, Reverend Luis Leon had an interesting sermon for the celebration of our Savior’s Resurrection. Craftily inserted into his message of “Easter vision” was an admonition of the “captains of the religious right”. Apparently, he believed it important enough on a day of celebration, to point his finger at those who uphold the authority of Scripture. He said that the religious right would have Christianity return back, rather than look ahead to the new, to relegating blacks to the back of the bus, women back to the kitchen, gays back into the closet and immigrants back over the border. What his opinion on these issues had to do with his Easter message is beyond me. Finger pointing is obviously not exclusive to Lutherans, nor the religious right.

As a member of that apparently despicable religious right, I do, indeed, want the church to go back:

Back to the preaching of the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, more and more come to believe. Luther explained in the Small Catechism, “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.”

Back to having all persons, regardless of color, to feel welcome in God's House. I want persons of color to break the chains of dependency to government entitlements and look to be led by God. I want all men, no matter the color of their skin, to have an active part in their families as Spirit led fathers. Hebrews 12:7-11, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Back to having women to be a major part of a vibrant revival, from the pulpit or wherever the talents God has blessed them with can further the Kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

Back to having people from other countries respect the laws of this country and immigrate here legally so that they can be a valuable member of this society and not have to hide in the shadows. 1 Peter 2:13-17, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, 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 people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”

And I want the LGTBQ community to be welcomed in God’s house, for their sin is no worse than any other sinner in God’s House. I want the LGTBQ community to forgo their selfish nature and give themselves unconditionally to the Lord. 1 John 1:5-10, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 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 is not in us.”

We are called to be of one mind in Christ. We are called to love one another as Christ loves us. Maybe we do need to go back to the basics of our faith, turn to God and follow His words. Dwell in His word and His path will become clear.