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To the End of Time

Mother and child hug.jpgAt the end of Matthew, as Jesus is giving his Great Commission, he gives a promise, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b, ESV) Jesus promises that we will never be alone. As a parent, I know the desire to promise the same to our children, but unlike Jesus who can truly keep that promise all of us will eventually leave this mortal coil. That is a hard reality for all of us. So many children walk without knowledge of this promise from God or believing that it doesn’t matter.

That is why we do things like Sunday School and VBS. We do this because it is important that children be taught. Ultimately, this responsibility is meant to be placed upon the parents, but these programs do step in the gap to some extent. As we dip our toes back into the water with VBS, my hope is that we reach a portion of families that don’t have a church home. The hope is that we can become the church family to those that don’t fully know the promise. Not so that they attend, but that we can raise up parents that will be the spiritual leaders in the home. This role was not meant to be the role of the church. As a congregation, our calling is to prepare families, particularly parents, to be the spiritual heads. Ultimately, God desires for the fathers to be that spiritual head in the home teaching about the faith and showing how our God loves us first through the love and respect that is in the marriage relationship and then in the relationship between parent and child.

Now I know how difficult this is as a father of six children born close in age and, currently, young. I am a passionate person that does not always express myself as I intend. I relate to Paul when he says, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:19, ESV) That old Adam keeps creeping up and out, and I react in the ways that I had known from my past. I get it, but that does not excuse it. I know I am forgiven, but it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t strive to be different. That is the way God desires us to be as parents and as followers of Christ. Not to be defined by our shortcomings, but by Jesus Christ and prayerfully let that be reflected out. That is why we all need a congregational home, a church family, to support us in our struggles and also to be reminded constantly of the promises of redemption given to us through Christ Jesus. A place where we can come and be loved warts and all. This is not always the case in some congregations but can be had through intentionality. This is not the norm of our the world and, unfortunately, not the norm of most families. I know it wasn’t in my home, and I know many other people that are similar, but God can change hearts and minds. We are not a perfect people, but a forgiven people, and when we admit our own shortcomings others can find hope in their own situations, also.

As we seek to be a light let our hearts be more like our Lord, Jesus, when he declared he desired to be like a hen gathering her brood under her wings (Luke 13:34). Let our reactions not be dictated by the actions of others, but in the love of Christ by responding not with contempt but compassion. As one who was wounded as a child, I know the blessing of ones who treated me with kindness and compassion instead of responding to the negative things that I would do out of pain, and I pray that I can do the same (this I fail at and repent of my failures daily). We do VBS and all our education to reach out to those wounded and broken within our community. Those that have not known or fully known the healing hand of our Lord Jesus Christ can come to know him in how we treat one another as Jesus reminds us, “Because of your love for one another.” (John 13:35)

Ultimately, we live by faith and trust in Christ’s love for us, and our salvation is not dependent upon the Law, but in Christ and Christ alone. It is our witness that is damaged when we do not abide, and the fruit of our spirit is not reflective of what the Holy Spirit is moving when we act like those that do not know Jesus Christ. As we are called to carry the message to the ends of the earth, we can’t be overwhelmed by the size because, as with everything in life, it all begins with that first step.

Camp Out VBS – July 20 -21

Camp Out VBS Logo.jpgLooking for something to do this summer! Join us on July 20-21 for Camp Out VBS. It will be two exciting evening with fun (weather permitting) an outdoor campfire with S’mores and singing and a lot of fun learning about Jesus Christ! A meal will be served at 5:30pm and all the fun will begin. Register online!

Alpha – June 2017

There’s More to Life Than This

alpha-logo-set-1mainWe like to ask life questions. Whether we are Christian or not the most often asked question starts with “Why?” It is that existential question that plagues our minds. As we search Scripture, many of these questions are answered, though not always to our satisfaction. The platitudes that are often shared often worsen the state of those that are asking the questions and lead them to further despair.  The reality is that many of us do not fully understand the “Who” and that causes the “Why” to allude us and it makes the “What” less visible.

In May, we began a new journey as a family of faith with Alpha. The first session focuses on this innate desire to find the “more.” This first group is with people who are currently attending Good Shepherd, but with future classes, the hope is that there will be more individuals who are not. The purpose of Alpha is to help us through the questions about Christianity and, hopefully, lead some that are not following Christ into the faith.

It is a safe place for a meal, a program, and some conversation that will hopefully develop deeper relationships. We all yearn for friendship, some more than others.  So, as we meet in a small group over food, it is natural for conversations to arise. When these discussions are centered on faith, they will, by nature, tend to lead to deeper, more intimate conversations since faith is often a more personal aspect of who we are.

In June, we will be putting up the television screens in the Fellowship Hall. This tool will help us with out with Alpha, but also will be a great communication tool. We live in a culture that when a screen is on eyes tend to be attracted to it, so these will also be used for announcements and other studies.

The focus of this, though, is not on the technology, but on gathering more people together to create a relationship. So, as we move on with Alpha, we will also use media and other forms to help begin the conversation. Topics will be discussed on what it means to be a follower of Christ and ways which we can reach out in a way that is not confrontational, but natural. It’s not about knocking on doors to tell others about Jesus, but to invite those with questions to safely discuss Jesus and learn about who he is without being attacked for some of the misinformation that they may have been taught.

Alpha runs a total of eleven weeks; the first is an introductory week and ten more in depth weeks with one weekend away that for now will consist of a Saturday, but eventually hope that it can become a retreat weekend away with worship. Each week builds on the other, and it affords great opportunities to delve into some important faith issues. Anyone who wants to attend is welcome and, though we hope that each person attends every session if someone decides not to return they will not be hounded after to return. It was developed in England at Holy Trinity Church in Brompton and in the nineties began to grow internationally with the sole purpose of being a means to reach those that are looking for something more in life. The hope and the prayer are that the Holy Spirit will call those that come to live a life within the faith of Jesus Christ. Let him do the hounding, let us be ready to receive them.

What I have found, personally, to be heartening about Alpha is that it does not try to sell Jesus by pressuring you into making a decision to follow Jesus. I have found the pressure to faith approaches to be offensive and ineffective. Alpha seeks to develop faith in the hearer with full reliance on the movement of the Holy Spirit on their heart. That is what we should strive to do and, for those that have grown up in the faith, it is a great tool to develop the heart for the lost. This new journey is exciting, and I am glad that we are embarking on it together. If you’d like to help, let me know. Feel free to join us on Wednesday. At the minimum, I ask that you pray. Pray for Alpha, pray for Good Shepherd, and pray for me. These are exciting times, and I am glad to be sharing them with you.

– Pastor Chris

 

Family Matters – June 2017

Family MattersAnyone who has spent a little time with me knows that family is important to me. I believe that the center of faith life comes in the home. Having come from a family that did not necessarily practice that mentality, I am continually working against some of those old habits that come from my upbringing as well as those habits that formed in the first ten years of marriage where Dawn and I had no children.

It is a constant struggle. I am sure that this is true for most families. It is something that is important to improve upon continually. It is also something that may from time to time need a restart or reboot. The best-laid plans, as they say, do not always turn out as you hope. With this in mind, as parents, we have to give ourselves some grace.

One of the hopes that I had was having monthly gatherings with the Confirmation families, which was and still is the families with children in our church. This can be a little more difficult because of life. We all have busy schedules and, it seems, they are getting more active with each passing year. Again, grace is needed for all of us as parents. Life happens.

As I look ahead, my next step is to look at developing more within the pages of our newsletter.

The greatest struggle we face within families is time. This is not just for families with children, but I would include within this those that are not yet married but may be single or engaged. This also includes those who have children that have are out of the house and may or may not have grandchildren. Again, we can also include those that are without children. Families are and should be broadly defined because we are all a part of a family. Ultimately, we are a part of the family of Christ, and our congregation is a portion of that family.

Our busy-ness gets in the way of relationship and often that quality time we all need to be in the Word and taking the time to be with God. The frustrations of life sometimes beat loudly against us and distract us from being in the Word, particularly with the family. Often, it can be that we are just tired after a long day and may not feel like doing anything more. Other times, things may just seem to overwhelm, and it may be pushed to the side. The reasons are endless. That is the difficulty, and that is where we can help and support one another.

As a faith family, I am looking to help in creating greater opportunities for us to come together and talk about faith, the Bible, and the things that we face in our daily living in an open environment. One tool that I look forward to developing for that means are the televisions that will be mounted in the Fellowship Hall. As Sunday School starts up again in the Fall, I am looking at ways in which we can introduce the Scripture and topics that our children will be learning which could then be discussed at the tables and periodically doing intergenerational activities together as a faith family.

It is good for generations to interact and to talk, sometimes little ones will have a way of seeing things that are quite surprising and heartwarming. Likewise, children like to be acknowledged and to receive positive attention from adults that are not their parents. As well as opening to door for those parent-child conversations. I am excited and look forward to seeing what God has in store.

 

Kids – June 2017

kids.jpgComing in July—VBS!

It is exciting times at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church! It has been many years since Good Shepherd held a VBS and we are excited to be holding one again this July. We are still coming up with the final details which will be coming out soon, but the week of July 17th will be our VBS week! So, be ready to invite your friends, invite your neighbors, invite the kids you run into at the park or the store! We are excited about this new chapter in our life together at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church!

Summer Bible Fun

Here’s a challenge for this summer! I will have a special prize for all those that are second grade and under that can recite all the books of the Bible in order from the Old Testament through the New Testament, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Apostles’ Creed.

For those that are in third through the fifth grade it will be a little more with the books of the Bible, the Ten Commandments, The Lord’s Prayer, and The Apostles’ Creed, and the Nicene Creed.

Now for those that are in Confirmation, here is your challenge—recite for me the Small Catechism and there will be a prize for you, also.

Here are the prizes:

2nd Grade and under

 $5 Walmart Gift Card

3rd Grade and up

$10 Walmart Gift Card

Confirmands

$20 Walmart Gift Card

 

Christ Over Coffee – June 2017

Christ-Over-Coffee-2.0On April 29th, my cousin, William “Chip” Carlson died. This was after burying a man in the church who many miss and love, Bob Lute. Over the past year, I have been with, sat by, and administrated a lot of funerals. In ministry, I often have the distinct honor of sitting next to someone as they enter into eternity and join the Church Triumphant. But I must admit some deaths are harder than others. The death of my cousin is one of those for me.

My cousin was a veteran who served in the U.S. Army. For much of his tour of duty, he served as an M.P. He was stationed for a time at the NATO headquarters at the Hague. He was my oldest cousin on my mother’s side. He and I had a special relationship, but I am sure that anyone in my family would say that. His laugh was infectious, and his smile always had a boyishness to it. At the same time, he could hold a cold stare of a soldier.

He struggled with mental illness, and I saw him at various stages as they would make adjustments to his medications that would affect him in ways that were not always positive. Now he is at rest in Fort Snelling National Cemetery near his father, Ken Carlson. He died of cancer, a rare form of Leukemia that was quite aggressive.

I reflect on this because sometimes we just don’t talk about those we love who have died. It isn’t something many people like to talk about, but it is something that all of us face. At last glance, death comes for everyone eventually. It is often not spoken about because our mortality makes us feel uncomfortable.

The hardest conversations that I have had with those preparing for a funeral are with families that have a limited or non-existent faith. The searching conversations that are had seeking some consolation. It is in these conversations that openness can be had. The reality is that at that moment salvation or condemnation are not mine to proclaim for the deceased since that is all in the hands of Christ. The message that I can share is a message of promise that our Lord has given to all those that are baptized.

Some of the most contentious discussions that I have had with people are the saving act of Baptism. I cling to the promises of Mark 16:16 in which we are told that baptism in Jesus Christ is a saving act for those who believe. We are told of the great promises of Baptism in Romans 6 and Titus 3:5. We are told we are clothed in Christ in Galatians 3:27. Then when we speak of the saving work of Baptism we can find in Acts 2:38-39 that it extends not only to those who are adults and profess a faith but also to their children who are baptized also. When I sit with a family, particularly those that I do not know, I find out about when they were baptized, and then I speak of those promises that are poured out in those saving waters. I remind them of the promises conferred through those waters, and ultimately in that, I seek to speak words of hope and comfort.

For me, when I reflect on my cousin, I know that he did not live a perfect life. But I know that he was baptized, and as he lay in the bed dying I had my aunt place the phone by his ear, and I spoke those words of promise that he received in those waters many years ago. I prayed for him and told him how much I love him, but moreover, I reminded him how much our Lord Jesus loves him. These are the promises that all of us can cling to throughout our lives. We have a God who claims his own. It is a claim that is given not because we deserve it, but because he gives it. It is that promise to which I cling. It is that promise that I pray upon all who lay suffering and those who lay dying. One day we will all leave this mortal coil and enter into eternity. The greatest gift that I see is that our Lord has given us a promise that Paul reminds us of in Romans 10:13, that all who call upon Jesus will find that he is near at hand and is ready to take us in his warm embrace. This is regardless of our shortcomings and failures because when we have nothing else and give it all to him, he redeems us. He forgives us. He receives us as his own. My prayer is that all cry out to him sooner rather than later and, in him, find hope.

 

To the Ends of the Earth

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, ESV)

Great Commission.jpgI remember the first time that I heard this put out as a mission statement. I had heard it but had never put much thought into it as a call to the ends of the earth. Often, when we focus on the ends of the earth, we think of the words in Matthew 28:19 as the Great Commission. The words in Acts are only an expansion of this as it also calls us to focus on our communities. The vast mission field is great, and we have great work available to us right where we are here in Washington, IN.

The mission is not just “out there” but is meant as something near also. Unfortunately, we often miss out on the opportunities that are present right in our neighborhoods. I would argue that many, when asked about mission think about places we can send money, listen to missionary speakers that come and tell us about the work, and places we can send people to do short and long-term mission trips.

Jesus’ mission began locally and was spread globally, and that was how it was meant to be and continues to be still. We also find that the ministry was spread significantly because of persecution. Christians were, for the most part, driven out of Jerusalem because of persecution that arose. When that happened, many fled to safe areas and in those places they told of the faith. This continued as the Apostles were faithful in the calling of the Holy Spirit and traveled to various locations.  Paul, who as Saul persecuted Christians, was one who greatly spread the Gospel around much of the Roman world that day.

As we look at the call of our Lord, I am moved by the Great Commission to teach and equip all Christians that God places in my purview to understand and tell others about this faith we hold in Jesus Christ.  A pastor and writer, David Householder, recently wrote about the difficulty that we have when it comes to missions as Lutherans. He placed this struggle on the fact that as a Confessional faith we were not a faith focused on how to tell others to convert them. We are focused on teaching those who believe to understand as well as defend our faith against those that wish to criticize the faith that we hold. This is because, at the time of the Reformation, the thought of those that did not have the Christian faith were far away and, for the most part, unreachable, and we had a large group of Christians that had a very limited understanding of the Christian faith. Though I think that there are aspects that afford us a mission view, I agree that there are weaknesses in how our understanding of Catechesis can be used to bring others into the church because much of our tradition holds experiential faith as something of which we should be suspicious. We are not a tradition that holds to the common “free will” arguments that are put out in many evangelical methods of evangelism. Our tradition is a tradition that places the power of conversion on the Holy Spirit not through our convincing arguments. Though when we are faithful in our witness, this is not a problem for those of us who understand the Lutheran tradition and how God guides us in our faith and guides those that He calls to the faith. It is in how we answer the questions. When we are faithful to our understanding, we are reliant upon the work of the Holy Spirit guiding us in our witness. That faithfulness comes in understanding that witness. That is why good teaching and preaching is important and why my heart is to share the truth of the Gospel to all who will listen and, furthermore, train up followers to “go and do likewise.” We are forgiven, and in that forgiveness, we can offer others that same forgiveness.  As we grow in our understanding of our tradition as well as the Word of God  (not that the tradition supersedes the Word, only that how we believe guides us in how we understand the Word) we will have a greater understanding of how to share. This understanding of the Word is informed by Scripture itself as we firmly let Scripture interpret Scripture. So, as a people of the Word, we are fed by the Word, and in that, we grow to share that with others so they too may grow and know that Jesus Christ is Lord. Let us share that in confidence. Let us be firm in that foundation. Let us be light to those who walk in darkness.

 

Three-in-One

We like to combine things. That is a part of the modern Western culture. Sometimes we do so Trinity.jpgwith great results and other times we fail miserably.  Unfortunately, when we apply our mentality to the Trinity, we often fail. As we worship a God of three Persons, when we try to come up with an explanation we fall short. Most often we fall into an ancient heresy called Modalism, which tries to break Person of the Trinity into a specific mode of what they do or are. The mystery of the Trinity is not something that, I believe, we will ever fully understand or grasp. God just is.

For this reason, there are those that have broken away from the Trinitarian formula and developed a pseudo-Christian faith that ignores the statements of Jesus like, “I and the Father are One.” (John 10:30) In fact, John 10 is full of references which Jesus declares himself to be in the Father while not the Father and the Father to be in him, but he not being the Father. The term Trinity, though not in Scripture, was formulated to clarify this concept more simply to speak about the threeness of God. It also helps us to know and understand the Oneness of God. We do not worship three separate Gods – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – but one God in three Persons. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, but they are one God. The greatest explanation was given that attempts to explain this in its fullness is the Athanasian Creed which states:

Whoever wants to be saved should above all cling to the catholic faith.
Whoever does not guard it whole and inviolable will doubtless perish eternally.
Now this is the catholic faith:
We worship one God in trinity, and the Trinity in unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the divine being.
For the Father is one person, the Son is another, and the Holy Spirit is still another,
But the deity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is one, equal in glory and coeternal in majesty.
What the Father is, the Son is, and so is the Holy Spirit.
Uncreated is the Father; uncreated is the Son, uncreated is the Spirit.
The Father is infinite, the Son is infinite, the Holy Spirit is infinite;
Eternal is the Father, eternal is the Son, eternal is the Spirit;
And yet there are not three eternal beings, but one who is eternal,
As there are not three who are uncreated and unlimited beings, but one who is uncreated and unlimited.
Almighty is the Father, almighty is the Son, almighty is the Spirit,
And yet there are not three almighty beings but one who is almighty.
Thus the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God
And yet there are not three Gods but one God.
Thus the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, the Holy Spirit is Lord,
And yet there are not three Lords but one Lord.
As Christian truth compels us to acknowledge each distinct person as God and Lord, so catholic religion forbids us to say that there are three gods or three lords.
The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten;
The Son was neither made nor created, but was alone begotten by the Father.
The Spirit was neither made nor created, but is proceeding from the Father and the Son.
Thus there is one Father and not three fathers, one Son and not three sons, one Holy Spirit and not three spirits.
And in this Trinity, no one is before or after, greater or less than the other,
But all three persons are in themselves coeternal and coequal, and so we must worship the Trinity in unity and the one God in three persons.
Whoever wants to be saved must think thus about the Trinity.
It is necessary for eternal salvation that one also faithfully believe that our Lord Jesus Christ became flesh,
For this is the true faith that we believe and confess: that our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is both God and man:
He is God, begotten before all worlds from the being of the Father,
And he is man, born in the world from the being of his mother,
Existing fully as God and fully as man, with rational soul and a human body,
Equal to the Father in divinity and subordinate to the Father in humanity.
Although he is God and man, he is not divided but is one Christ:
He is united because God has taken humanity into himself; he does not transform deity into humanity.
He is completely one, in the unity of his person, without confusing his natures.
For as the rational soul and body are one person, so the one Christ is God and man.
He suffered for our salvation.
He descended into hell, and rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
At his coming, all people shall rise bodily to give an account of their own deeds.
Those who have done good will enter eternal life, and those who have done evil will enter eternal fire.
This is the catholic faith.
One cannot be saved without believing this firmly and faithfully.

One must understand the term “catholic” here means universal, as in the universal Christian Church. It was written as a further defense against the Arian influence of the church. What is that? The reason for the Council of Nicea in 325 was because of a fight between two bishops and their followers. Arian denied the deity of the Son, Jesus, while still honoring the Son as a created being of God. They put Jesus, as the Son, next to God but not as God. This controversy still haunts us today within Christianity, particularly with the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Unitarians, but elements seem to creep up within what one might consider “mainstream” Christianity. The struggle of the Trinity is nothing new, but it is very important as an aspect of orthodox Christian faith. Each year in the Liturgical calendar we celebrate the mystery of the Trinity on the first Sunday after Pentecost for this reason. It is an opportunity to reflect on the gloriousness of our God that only He can take on the form of the Three-in-One. It is an opportunity for prayer and trust not to explain how it is, but to trust and believe that He is so.

Image result for Trinity

Filled

Holy Spirit.jpgThis week on the western liturgical calendar is Pentecost. The celebration of the birth of the modern Christian Church. The purpose of this is to remember the reception of the Holy Spirit by the Apostles.

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1–4, ESV)

The image is wonderful, as they were driven out after they were filled to proclaim the Gospel in the streets. How awesome is that! Not only that but as you read further you find that there were people from all over and they heard the disciples speaking in their own language. Each person was hearing the words of the disciples not being spoken in the language that each of apostles spoke but in the different languages of each person in the crowd. That is awe inspiring to me.

I, also, love the fact that they were found “together in one place.” We live in a disconnected world. I don’t know that at this time people were a lot more connected, but it seems that with all the communication tools we have at our disposal we still don’t seem to be that connected. A while back Toyota had an ad that captured it perfectly, in my opinion. The ad featured a young woman criticizing her parents for how few friends they had on Social Media while it shows her parents enjoying life and going out in the world in their vehicle. How often do we live life through a screen instead of in the world and in relationship?

That is the unique power of God. He drives us in his mission through his Holy Spirit. When God calls it is hard if not impossible to ignore as Jeremiah proclaims,

If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” (Jeremiah 20:9, ESV)

God’s call is compelling. It is that compulsion that drove the apostles out into the streets and is the calling that is placed on the hearts of all who belong to Christ. Unfortunately, that calling is often ignored and suppressed because of a rational approach that places the expectation on others. We don’t want to offend, so we ignore some of those urgings and comfort our troubled spirits by placing the duty on “people that are more educated.” The apostles were not the highly educated, but simple men and, I would argue, women that were filled with the Holy Spirit that drove them out. They did not appear nor did they strike the hearers as people of high standing or education which the responses given and the surprise described indicate. These were simple folk that did manual labor, they were, for the most part, uneducated yet they are the heroes of our Christian faith. Peter was a fisherman. We could argue that he had a business, but he caught fish and he slung fish. He earned his wages by the sweat of his brow not the ideas in his mind. The proclamation was given by the faith that he held to the depth of his being. The same is true for each and every one of us.

The Gospel is not spread through a fancy church and big flashy programs, but the sharing of the Word by those whose lives have been changed by it. That is the great gift we all have as followers of Christ. That is the power of our faith. The calling is given to us in the waters of Baptism and in that we have not only the right and privilege, but, if surrounded by those that do not know Christ, we also have the duty that we proclaim Christ and Christ crucified that none should perish outside of Christ. That is the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are those that try and make it much more complicated than that, but the simple truth is that we are, as witnessed in Acts, given the same power and calling by God as followers of Christ. For proper order, it is important for Christians to call and ordain preachers and teachers within the community so that they would have leaders that are trustworthy, faithful, and knowledgeable to guide the community in faith. Not self-appointed, but established by the community is the main reason since we are all given a calling in our baptism.

The Holy Spirit fills us with the words when we fully are reliant upon him and not upon our own flawed reason. The Word emboldens us this way as we are fed through it and given the true knowledge that is revealed to us in the Word. That is the glorious gift of the faith. That is the glorious blessing of our calling. The true Church is found in regular worship, though not always visible since it is not the act of going to church but in the movement of the Holy Spirit. The Church that we see is full of sinners and saints alike and not all belong to God, yet for those of us who do belong to God, we are called to proclaim his truth wherever we are in actions and words. Let the witness of his light shine out in your life.

 

Oops…

I look and find that I took a much longer hiatus than I had planned, sorry about that. Family-GenerationsOver that time I have been busy writing. I wrote a Lenten devotional and have been developing and drafting the monthly newsletter as I seek to develop Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and her mission through positive communication. Central to my Christian view is Christ and his desire to see us united as a family. But more than that, our Lord Jesus Christ desires for us to be a family centered in the Word. This Word was centered in him and grounded in the Old Testament. That same Word is canonized in both the Old and the New Testament. As a Lutheran pastor, one of my passions is to teach and ground our Christian faith within the Word of God and our confessional teachings.

The world is becoming more hostile to traditional Christian teaching, even within certain Christian circles. This is nothing new, Luther, in his writings on Genesis, reveals this as he speaks of allegory which was quite common in his day and still today. It is a form that he used and many contemporaries used. It is useful in helping to apply the Bible to modern life. The issue is that it can also be overused, particularly when we try to allegorize history. The Bible is written in various literary forms and should be read as such, i.e. history is to be read as history, poetry as poetry, prophecy as prophecy, parables as parables, etc. Now we can allegorize aspects of history to understand how it in a way that reminds us of mistakes still made today, this does not undermine that it happened in the past it highlights how we are still alike. Unfortunately, we often confuse history with a story which can make actual events on the level of fiction. So, the real events of history become a fairy tale to those that are being told. So, the story of Creation becomes a myth as opposed to the history that God carried on through generations.

So, here we stand, Creation is a myth, Jonah is a myth, the virgin birth is a myth, the healing events of Jesus are a myth, and the resurrection is a myth. Where does it stop? Now wait a minute, you might ask, why the extreme? When faith is no longer centered in the Word of God, but on an idea that we hold within our own minds, what is truly God? The God of our own creation. We believe in Jesus Christ as a man that walked upon the earth. He was born of a virgin. He healed and taught about God the Father. He was crucified and died, and three days later he rose. Forty days later, he ascended to Heaven, and we believe he will come again. This, we believe, because it has been given to us in the Word of God, the Bible. We are the only faith that believes in a God who died for those who follow him so that they would be redeemed. We don’t have to work for our salvation, but it has been given to us through that sacrifice. If this is a myth, how sad a people we are. There is nothing sadder than what we would be. I believe and teach that the Word of God is revealed to us through the Scripture as received in the Canon of the Old and New Testament and explain as received and seek to enhance that through studying Luther and other theologians that are a lot smarter than I am. In this way, my prayer is that families will grow closer together and we as the Church of our Lord, Jesus Christ, will grow closer as a family of faith. A faith and a family centered in the Word of God.