Monday, June 15, 2015

Rich Man and Lazarus

Many of us covered the Rich Man and Lazarus recently in church services talking about faith of the individuals in the parable. We nod our heads and inwardly scoff at the rich man for being so callous. We then head home, pop lunch in the microwave, peruse Facebook and maybe turn on the big screen television for a sports show. Not once do we consider the problem with the Rich Man while doing many of the things he would never dream possible or affordable. This isn't an article, though, on how riches are evil but the danger of cares of this world. His goods and riches didn't force him away. But they did distract and dissuade him from faith and a life devoted to God. Immediately following the parable, Luke 17:1 has the following: "Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come." The parable and this verse brings the parable of the sower to mind recorded in Luke 8:
13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.
Why the Rich Man was faithless is irrelevant. Lack of faith is eternally fatal without regard as to why. I wanted to caution you to be careful lest the world carefully snatch your faith, smother it under the cares and entertainment of this world, and replace it with the useless gods of this age. Guard yourselves carefully as the devil and the world have been deceiving since the Fall. Which is more important- Pintrest or Bible study? We might know the answer in our heads, but our daily routines would likely argue against our soul.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

The Point of Work

Sometimes you hear people complaining that if God was really all powerful He would do this or that. Or perhaps it is worded as "Works don't merit salvation, so why do I have to..." The root of the complaint is really the speakers desire to do what they want, which is to rebel against God. Using the common Biblical comparison of a parent and children, the tasks we have to accomplish in a day sometimes are assigned as chores for children. It isn't because we can't do them. Its to teach them how to do the chore properly and to help them grow mentally. A lot of time the children really don't like the chore, but the action of working through the chore teaches them. It isn't for the parent's benefit, but the children's. So when you hear the complaint, ask what it is they think God is trying to teach them or why they are rebelling. That might cause them to think a little harder about the task, and less about the chore.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Martyrs

According to recent articles, IS (ISIS/ISIL) came into an area in Iraq where there were Christians. IS demanded they recant Christ and pledge their loyalty to Mohammed. Four of the children refused, and IS beheaded them. This is the brutality of the group, and now there are (at least) four more Saints before the throne praising God for eternity. A reminder for all of us to append our Advent services with "Come, Lord, return and bring us home!" Only that will end the madness.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Advent of our Lord

The season of Advent is well underway. Most of us are looking to Christmas with a mix of anticipation and dread for various reasons. We see the manger scenes and christmas trees. There are festive songs on the radio. We have decorations and plans all drawn up to maximize the holiday. All is well with the world, isn't it? Not really. The signs of the second Advent of our Lord are everywhere. Natural disasters, wars, rumors of wars, corruption, greed, and insidious movements within christian churches endeavoring to steal the Word all show that the world is groaning, waiting for the coming King. While you are baking or shopping this season, ask yourself if you are truly prepared for the coming of Christ. Are you ready to face your Lord? He won't be in the manger, sleeping while swaddled in cloths with cute rosy cheeks. Christ will be leading the armies of heaven, the visible wounds of Calvary on his hands and feed as He comes in judgement. Our Lord is coming, and I hope you are taking the time to reflect on His Word, lest you be caught unaware.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Role of Faith

Christians often take the opportunity to reflect on Christ on the cross and the cost of our sins. This sacrifice paid our debt, removing the guilt of sin, and bringing the promise of Eternal Life to humanity. This blessing is facilitated by faith given by God, and usually the example of a gift is used. There might be another way of looking at it that helps clarify what’s going on.

Christ talked about His yoke being "easy" (Matt 11:25-30). The yoke, being a tool to enable hard labor to be performed, is rarely light itself. We are all born with the heavy yoke of original sin. The guilt of sin and the burden it causes weighs down the sinner, creating progressively harder yoke. Some grow to love the sin and the burden it causes, loving the impossible task and enslaved by their sin. Others find the Gospel, and faith flourishes. They find it lightens their load, and the world is no longer hopeless. Christ carried our burden to the cross, paid the debt we owed, and laid the yoke of sin's guilt to the side, replacing it with His yoke. Forgiveness is always available from Christ, although we continually sin. We put the sinful yoke on, add the guilt, and wonder why things are so difficult. When we receive forgiveness through the Sacraments, Faith takes replaces the yoke with Christ’s yoke, relieving us of the burden. Granted, we eagerly pick the sinful yoke back up at the first opportunity, but God is patient with us. Faith pulls the sinful yoke back off, sometimes after we have experienced the painful burden to remind us. When one rejects the Faith, they usually grab ahold of some sin over time, burden themselves with it, and add to it as often as they can. They push God's "hand" away, preventing God from removing the burden they grew to love. They no longer seek the Sacraments, or forgiveness. They feel the weight of their guilt, and hold on to it. Over time, Faith no longer removes the burden and leaves the sinner alone. The devil, world and flesh gleefully add to it, knowing the yoke will remain even though it bites into the shoulder and breaks the soul.

Only the Faith generated by the Holy Spirit can lighten the yoke. We cannot reach the bindings to free ourselves, only the places to grasp more firmly to the yoke. We can only add to our burden and never able to loosen it. That God-given Faith loosens the straps, lifts the yoke off our shoulders, and bids us rest with Christ’s yoke. When we do so, our yoke is light because Christ has carried the burden. There is no more debt to repay. No more of the yoke that destroys but the light yoke that builds up and saves. Faith removes that which damns and destroys and replaces it with bondage to Him who has risen from the dead. You must be bound to a master- the one who craves your death, or the one who did it all for your life.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Plugging Along

I have been a little overwhelmed with important matters lately. I have also been pondering what the Evangelical Lutheran church bodies seem to have lost. More precisely, it seems that they tend to grow the church, one family or baby at a time, and leave the fallen and dying world to others. There seems to be this "we belong  over here, they are over there..." mentality when it comes to evangelism. I suspect the historical hierarchical structure leaves parishioners with the false sense of "there's a committee for that" when it is really their duty to evangelize. I also suspect the Roman Catholic (and similar) have similar challenges in a general sense. Baptists, Enthusiasts, and Mormons are determined to bring the "lost souls" in, but the known theological issues almost negate the additional bodies in the pews/chairs. So one group has fallen off the "limited evangelism, heavy theology" side of the horse, while the others have fallen on the "unlimited evangelism, light theology" side. So how does a Confessional Lutheran (or just conservative Christian) church evangelize without sacrificing theology and avoiding "mega-church-itis" programs? This is what I am considering now as its becoming apparent that the Church is becoming very luke-warm, unwilling to risk a small persecution by declaring God's Word openly, everywhere.

I was directed to this blog entry by my pastor, and I share it because it is helpful to understand the why behind the prohibition of women pastors. Why I changed my mind

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Good Post

A good post from Rev. Juhl. His topic is Matt 22:1-14, and it looks like his Sunday sermon. Well worth the read.