Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam is dead

Despite the Roman Catholic view that the death penalty is against God, God's Word speaks clearly about the subject.

Lawful government, as God's servant, may execute criminals. Referring to the governing authority, Paul writes in Romans, "for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer." (ESV - Romans 13:4)

An evil man is dead. May the people of Iraq move forward in peace! Better yet, may the new-found freedoms in Iraq allow the Gospel to be proclaimed within its borders.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving 2006















Here's a picture of my girls on Thanksgiving 2006. They decided to go outside and burn off some of the turkey! The temperature outside is 58 degrees and sunny...an odd occurance for La Crescent, Minnesota in November. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Is the Bible literal or serious?

News::Clergy on Same Sex Marriage Ban

Ah ha! The literal truth has been revealed.

Joan Sulser of 1st Congregational United Church of Christ says this about the marriage ban.

I would suspect that most of our congregation is opposed to the amendment because even though we take the bible (sic) seriously we don't take it literally. We worship the god (sic?) who's revealed to us in the bible (sic) and continues to reveal gods (sic) self to us. That means we also bring our hearts and minds to bear on this and the bible (sic) can be read in a variety of ways.
I'm glad to hear that Sulser takes the Bible seriously! I wish she literally meant it.

  • Did God literally create the world in six days? YES
  • Did God literally destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins? YES
  • Did God literally flood the entire earth and save Noah and his family? YES
  • Did God literally become man in the person Jesus Christ? YES
  • Did Jesus (God and Man) literally perform miracles while on earth? YES
  • Did Jesus literally die for my sins? YES
  • Was Jesus literally resurrected after three days? YES

Once we don't take the Bible literally, the Christian faith falls apart. How can we be certain of salvation without the Bible being taken literally?

God literally hates sin. (Homosexuality is one of many sins listed in the Bible.) Jesus literally died to forgive our sins. We are literally called to a life of faith and repentance. Now that is serious!

Friday, November 03, 2006

God or Not?

Harris Interactive | The Harris Poll - While Most U.S. Adults Believe in God, Only 58 Percent are "Absolutely Certain"

While reading the results of the recent Harris Poll, I found it interesting that even some "Christians" aren't sure about the existence of God. Belief in the Triune God is a necessary doctrine to be a Christian.

These results may show us two things: 1) there is a difference between the visible and invisible church; 2) we don't always state clearly what we believe.

What are some other options to explain these results?

Read the poll results. There are more "scary" beliefs out there...

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Saints!

On November first, the Christian Church celebrates All Saints’ Day. It’s a day we recognize all the saints who have gone on to heaven before us. As John writes in Revelation, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:14 ESV)

But All Saints’ Day is not only a day to remember the faithfully departed. It is also a good time for us to celebrate our unity in Jesus Christ. As Christians on earth, still waiting for the Lord’s return, it is important for us to remember that we are all on the same team. The blood of Christ unites us!

As members of the Christian Church on earth we must constantly remember that we are one in Christ. “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, on faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:5 ESV)

In other words, we are on the same team! You are a member of the Church. It’s not a basketball team. It’s not a political party or a social club. It is the body of Christ!

There is a scriptural theme that ties directly to All Saints’ Day, that when applied to everyone, helps build teamwork. You and I are saints and sinners at the same time.

When we look at our own life and examine it clearly, we quickly understand that we are sinful. We are just like our brother or sister in Christ. “For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:22,23 ESV) As we look at our sinfulness, we find that there is nothing inside of us that is worth boasting. (See Romans 3.)

But just as the law points out our equality in sinfulness, the cross of Christ shows that we share in Christ’s glory! Again we are on the same team! “Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded… For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:27 ESV) By Christ’s work on the cross, you and I become redeemed saints of God and heirs of the kingdom….the same team!

When you look at our brother or sister in Christ, remember whose team we’re on. Perhaps the greatest teambuilding exercise is to remember that “I am a sinner redeemed by Christ” and then look at our fellow Christian and say, “You are a sinner redeemed by Christ the crucified.”

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, welcome to the team…the Church!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Definition of Marriage

There are a number of states, Wisconsin being one, that will be attempting to define marriage by means of an amendment to their constitution. I believe the readings from the 20th Sunday after Pentecost speak for themselves on this issue:

Genesis 2

18Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (ESV)

Mark 10

18Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (ESV)


Even if the amendments fail, God has defined marriage. Always remember, "We must obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29) Being a part of a church that stands on the Word of God alone and professes that the Bible IS the Word of God allows us to find answers in His Word and stand firmly upon His answers.

Exercise your right to vote! Vote your conscience; but let your conscience be guided by God's Word.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

When Non-Lutherans Act More Lutheran Than Lutherans!

La Crosse Tribune - Bethany Sermon Series Supports Gay Marriage Ban

It appears that I have to agree with an Evangelical Free pastor more than the pastors of the E(L)CA in the La Crescent / La Crosse area. Once again it is apparent that not all Lutherans believe the same thing.

According to the article, on September 17 Rev. Corey Sataren spoke for a Wisconsin state amendment that bans gay marriage based upon Genesis. The article also refers to the 2005 Assembly of the La Crosse Area ELCA resolved to oppose an ammendment saying, "it's already part of Wisconsin law." (Translated as, "We like the vagueness of the law!" It allows us to look the other way...)

If one maintains that all Scripture is god-breathed and is the Word of God (like real Lutherans), this is a no brainer. It's clear in Scripture, Gay Marriage is opposed to the way God created the institution of marriage. Homosexuality, whether approved by the state or not, is a sin.

Christians cannot approve of actions that go against God's will. However, we must stand ready with the love of Christ for those who repent of their sin and desire God's forgiveness freely given to all sinners by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Front Line Soldiers in the Spiritual War

On the 15th Sunday after Pentecost I preached on the Spiritual warfare that we, as Christians, are a part. The war has been won by Jesus Christ. Today we are only dealing with the terroristic threats and gorilla tactics of the Evil One.

As Christians, we must always realize that we serve our Lord in this spiritual war by means of our vocation (calling in life). One vocation in particular needs our help and prayer: School Teachers and Education Assistants. These individuals are on the front line!

In general, our education system has succumb to the Evil One. While they will not allow Christianity in the halls, the religion of tolerance (amorality) and pornography are allowed and encouraged. I hear horror stories from adults and youth of what is allowed in some libraries and taught in classrooms behind closed doors.

Very often our fellow Christians in these schools feel alone and discouraged by what they see and hear. Support them. Pray for them. Encourage them in their struggles!

We need Christians to become involved in public education: to serve the Lord by serving our neighbor. Parents, ask what is being taught in your child's classroom. Tax payers, pay attention to how your money is being spent by these institutions.

Remember, the war has been won by Jesus Christ! We simply serve him with the talents and abilities He has given us.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Detour Ahead

Welcome to The Barna Group!

We've all seen the sign "Detour Ahead" and approached with apprehension and disgust. The same can be said about this detour.
I label the upper-teen to upper-twenty age years the detour years for many people. They are the years that church doesn't seem to be relevant or important. Barna confirms this theory in the Barna Update linked above.

While the church should be active in preventive maintenance on this issue. We also must realize that it may be inevitable for some. These people are ultimately exercising their free will and sinful nature. Adam and Eve rebelled; so do we.

How shall we respond to the detour years? How did God respond to Adam and Eve? He provided the Savior! He offered forgiveness for their sin. (Yes, he punished them with the realities we face today, but many of these people are feeling the consequences of their decision to leave God out of their lives also: addictions, strange diseases, improper relationships, broken spirits, guilt, etc.)

I suggest we welcome our fellow sinners with open arms. We need to be ready to embrace these people when they return. We also must be searching for them as Christ does the one lost sheep. The motivation is not for more workers in the field, it's not for more offerings, or higher numbers of attendance. The motivation is Christ and His love!

Where there is a detour, there are often road workers pointing out the correct path and offering guidance. We do the same using God's Word as our guide.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Does Size Matter in the Church?

Common Size, Uncommon Impact - Outreach

Taken from the article above:

According to Barna Research Group (barna.org), the average church in America has only 89 attendees. That doesn't sound like much, but I've seen how 89 people, including my preacher friend and his family, can change the spiritual landscape around them. They loved the people in their church and community, and in return, the church and community loved them. Good things were happening in that Midwestern church and town.
While mega-churches seem to receive more attention, there are many small churches on the front line of the battlefield also. All too often we look at the Church in human terms ( i.e. numbers, etc.) and think that the mission of God takes place by our own merits. We couldn't be more wrong.

God sent Jesus Christ into this world to win the war against sin, death, and the devil. He uses simple things like words, water, bread, and wine to share His gifts with His people. The Church is not defined by humanity; rather it is defined by the Triune God and His word.

Our churches teach that the one holy Church is to remain forever. The Church is the congregation of saints in whch the Gospel is purely taught and the sacraments are correctly administered. (Augsburg Confession VII)
Our role, whether in a large or small church, is to remain focused upon Christ and His gifts. As our focus is on Him, we find our strength.

Our size is not in the number of members, it's in the graciousness of our God!





Saturday, September 02, 2006

Church Health Self-Test

LeadershipJournal.net - The Church Health Self-Test

Church health appears to have a direct correlation to sin. It is by God's grace alone that he has chosen us as broken clay jars to extend His kingdom. We must always remember that the power of church health is God's Spirit.

While I agree that the five items listed in the article can have an effect on a congregation, I find it interesting that lack of connection to the Holy Spirit, found in Word and Sacrament, is overlooked.

Augsburg Confession V says:

"So that we may obtain this faith (Augsburg Confession IV), the ministry of teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. Through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Spirit is given. He works faith, when and where it pleases God, in those who hear the good news that God justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ's sake. This happens not through our own merits, but for Christ's sake.

Our churches condemn the Anabaptists and others who think that through their own preparations and works the Holy Spirit comes to them without the external Word."

With these things in mind, how does church health increase?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Faithful Worship or Movie-Going?

Guide for the Cineplexed

John Parker in the July/August issue of Touchstone Magazine shows the dangers of the "Market-Driven Church." He compares the market-driven church to a multiplex cinema trying to meet the needs of many different kinds of movie-goers.

The Church, with its one message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, cannot afford to be sidetracked by the sinful market forces of our age. However, we do have a responsibility to be able to meet people where they are. Paul shares a similar concern in 1 Corinthians 9:20-22.

Parker states that the worship service is for the believer. Market-driven churches practice the idea that worship is for the unbeliever or seeker. Is there a way to strike a balance between these two thoughts and remain true to Christ and His Word?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

American view of Christianity 5 years after 9/11

http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=244

The above link to recent Barna research shows that we Americans are just as religious now as we were before 9/11.

I remember 9/11 and the weeks afterward. Many Christian leaders, including myself, were hoping for a religious rebirth in our nation. I guess this study relegates our desires to simple dreams.

What do you think it will take for a rebirth of Christianity in our country? Or is a rebirth of Christianity merely a dream?

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