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.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Place of Marriage

I have been listening to the Bible on CD while going to work and came across this clear reason for marriage in Malachi. With all of the popular culture focus on marriage and "who should be able to...", keeping perspective is quite important. First, the Word from Malachi, Chapter 2 (NKJV):

14 Yet you say, “For what reason?”
Because the Lord has been witness
Between you and the wife of your youth,
With whom you have dealt treacherously;
Yet she is your companion
And your wife by covenant.
15 But did He not make them one,
Having a remnant of the Spirit?
And why one?
He seeks godly offspring.
Therefore take heed to your spirit,
And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.


Clearly written is that God desires godly offspring from marriage, which is in keeping with other passages discussing the blessings of children, such as Psalm 127:3-4. This keenly and clearly illustrates the 6th Commandment "You shall not commit adultery." (Ex 20:14). If the purpose of marriage is to be blessed with godly offspring, then anything not towards that end (relations outside marriage, homosexuality, and so on) would be unrighteous and sinful. Note, though, that this wouldn't include those who cannot bear children as "adulterers" because the opening of the womb is God's doing. They can be faithful, even while barren, if they are following God's direction. 

It is important to note that the use of marriage is an inherently religious term, and should not be confused as a secular one. Secular life entails "civil unions" in the form of a contract. Even a "marriage license" you have to sign from the state at your wedding attests to this fact. You can be bound as man and wife (or some other collection of nouns) outside of the Church, but because it is done in the civil realm doesn't make it righteous, proper or even a good idea. Christians should strive to the example of Christ and the Church and eschew even worldly vocabulary if it muddies the clear meaning of Scripture. This is always our challenge. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"Trinity in Unity"

We recited the Athanasian Creed last Sunday (Trinity Sunday). I know it is long, but I think we should recite it more. It encompasses the identity of God as well as the mystery of three Persons in one God. The part that stuck out most to me this past Sunday is the text that says, quite bluntly, "Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly." This is clear profession of what the other creeds do not explicitly say, but is implicit. This warning goes back to 1 John 4 (NKJV):

1Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that[a] Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

The test to determine if a spirit (or thought or creed or anything else) is from God is to determine if it holds that Christ is the Son of God come in the Flesh (incarnate). Explicit here is the warning that failure to hold Christ in proper orientation with God is evil. The Athanasian Creed holds likewise, and also provides a similar warning. This is why it is important to guard against the devil, the world and the flesh. This is especially true in "safe haven" such as a church body. Why should we be so cautious? Because warnings like 1 John instruct that is both wise and prudent. The Athanasian Creed brings that to remembrance, which makes it something we should often review and ponder.