Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sherpherds, Hirelings, and Wolves

This is a very short excerpt from "Sermons of Martin Luther" edited by Lenker, Vol 3-4 from the sermon for the Second Sunday after Easter focused on John 10:11-16.
There are three kinds of shepherds: good or true shepherds, hirelings, and wolves. Good shepherds are like the good Shepherd Christ, who tends the sheep, goes before them, cares for those that are sick, scabby, or have the snuffles; who does not flee when the wolves come, but "who giveth his life for the sheep," as Christ here in this Gospel describes. It is not enough that we preach correctly, which the hireling can also do; but we must watch over the sheep, that the wolves, false teachers, may not break in, and we must contend for the sheep against the wolves, with the Word of God, even to the sacrifice of our lives. Such are good shepherds, of whom few are found. ... This the hirelings do not; they care not for the sheep, they receive temporal wages, riches and honor, and feed themselves; yet they are good to a certain extent and Christ also preaches through them; but they are not true to the sheep.... This is clearly seen, when trouble comes, when the wolves break in there is no one who remains faithful to the sheep."
This is what I see in the LCMS and other church bodies. They are staffed by hirelings and not shepherds. True, shepherds are more rare. But the encouragement of hirelings over shepherds dooms a church body to eventual heresy and falling away. The Church is always under assault by wolves, and the hirelings do little to counter the wolves, running away from the "controversy." The reason doesn't matter, whether it is riches, pensions, or even not wanting to be inconvenienced. Ultimately it scatters the flock and subverts their office as specified by Christ. Take heed, then, that your shepherd is a true shepherd, and not a hireling just earning a paycheck.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Planned Parenthood as organ dealer

It's on the news with two horrible videos where Planned Parenthood employees are discussing the sale of fetal organs. Ironically this undercuts their whole premise to scared new mothers that it "isn't a baby but a fetus." If it wasn't human, why are you selling the organs? Planned Parenthood really just are butchers of the unwary and unprotected. I pray the nightmare of legal abortions is snuffed out soon. God have mercy on these unfortunate souls.

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.