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?