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Showing posts from 2013

Duck Dynasty

Dear Christians,
You have every right to be upset that Phil Robertson was suspended for paraphrasing God's Word concerning the sin of homosexuality.  Feel free to voice this opinion and to refrain from supporting A&E in the future.

But we need to talk.

All over Facebook today I have seen comments about "the gays" and posts demeaning homosexuals.  Let me be clear: homosexual acts are sinful.

That being said, homosexuals are sinners for whom Christ died.  We all have sin and each of us has certain sins with which we struggle more than some other people.  Men, can you tell me that you have never struggled with sexual thoughts about a woman who isn't your wife?  Women, can you tell me you've never coveted the relationship that another woman has with her husband?

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Now note that I am not saying that Christians should be silent about homosexuality, but we need to communicate the message in love.  These are sinners …

True Love

Continuing with the Princess Bride theme...

Inigo Montoya: "We need a miracle, it's very important."
Miracle Max: "Look, I'm retired. And besides, why would you want someone the king's stinking son fired. I might kill whoever you wanted me to miracle."
Inigo Montoya: "He's already dead."
Miracle Max: "He is huh, I'll take a look, come on in."

Yesterday I wrote about how Scripture tells us that we are not "mostly dead," but by nature we are entirely spiritually dead.  It's important to understand this, because until we understand our absolute helplessness, we will continue to try to make things right with God by our own efforts.

But when we realize that we are truly dead, that we are helpless, God has us exactly where He wants us. It is for the helpless, the dead in sin, that Jesus came.

But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this…

Mostly Dead...

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Inigo Montoya: "He's dead. He can't talk."
Miracle Max: "Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there's usually only one thing you can do."

Mostly dead, but not all dead.

Such is the way in which many churches and pastors view the fallen nature of humanity.  We're born "mostly dead," but not all the way dead.  Many believe that there is a "divine spark" that still exists within humanity.  The Hollywood version of this is Darth Vader having a spark of good still within him that allowed him to turn from "the dark side."

Sorry Miracle Max, but when it comes to humanity, mostly dead is a lie.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me."
(Psalm 51:5)

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins

Marriage, Communication, and Foreign Culture

How difficult would a marriage be if the husband and wife spoke different languages?  Imagine a marriage in which the husband speaks Greek and the wife speaks English.  How long would the marriage last if neither spouse made an effort to learn their partner's language?  Probably not too long.

In reality husbands and wives generally do speak the same language as far as the words that come out of their mouths, but they communicate in very different ways.  Differing love languages, the difference between men and women and varying family backgrounds can all make for challenges in marriage.

Think about how you would learn a foreign culture and take the same approach to your spouse, because after all, you do have very great differences.  Don't assume they think the same way that you think or see the world the same way as you see it or understand your actions the same way that you understand them.

If you take this approach you'll get to know your spouse in a far better way, commu…

Sanctified Wisdom for Social Media

I hesitate to write about things like this, because after all, I'm really not an expert.  However, as a pastor I see things that Christians do with social media that I know are not helpful and at times very destructive.  So...here are some basic guidelines, certainly not directly from God, but absolutely guided by the Word of God.

1. Don't post something that puts someone else down.
I mean it.  Don't do it.
As tempting as it is to get a dig in at your (teacher, friend, spouse, co-worker, family member, political opponent, etc.) taking personal shots at them online is not constructive and by doing so you do not present yourself in a positive light.

If you have legitimate political difference, want to point out where a politician is mistaken, or something like that, go ahead.  But remember that we are at all times to give respect and honor to elected officials (and I think the same could be said of those running for office).  You don't have to like them, but you do need…

Simultaneously an Individual and in Communion

Lutherans often speak (rightly) of the fact that we are "Simul Justus et Peccator," which is to say "simultaneously justified and sinner" or "at the same time righteous and sinful."

This dichotomy speaks the truth of what God has revealed in His Word, that we are justified (declared not guilty) before God for the sake of Christ, yet we remain sinners until the day that we die. (See Romans 7).

But there's another dichotomy described in Scripture that people today, especially Americans, tend not to understand.  Since I'm not away of any cool Latin phrases to describe this, "simultaneously an individual and in communion."

Here's what I mean: As Christians we are always individuals.  God created each person individually and unique.  This is a very basic part of what it means to be a human.

And it is important in the church to affirm the reality of the individual.
 In the Apostles' Creed we say "I believe" because each person…

The Pharisee and the Rebublican

The other day, in confirmation class, we were talking about Luke 18:9-14.  The book we were using referred to the Pharisee and the publican, but also noted that "publican" could also be translated as"tax collector."  One of my students didn't pay close enough attention and was referring to the Pharisee and the Republican.

Insert your political punchline here if you'd like...

We had an interesting conversation about this parable and the difference between the Pharisee and the tax collector.

The Pharisee believed that he deserved God's blessings because he had earned them while the tax collector knew that he was desperately sinful and only God's mercy could help him.The Pharisee was very happy with himself while the tax collector was in angst because of his sin.
We talked about what word of God the Pharisee needed to hear and what the tax collector needed to hear.
The Pharisee needed to hear God's law, to reveal his true unrighteousness, so that he …

The Invocation

"In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

Have you ever wondered why we begin the Divine Service with these words?

There are two key reason for beginning with these words.
It publicly declares to everyone who is there that we are gathered in the name of the Triune God.  It is God's house and God's service.It is a reminder of our Baptism.  When you were baptized, whether your remember it or not, you were baptized into the name of the Triune God.  Jesus instructed in Matthew 28:19-20 that we baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and so the church has done just that. And since the time of the Apostles, Christians have started the Divine Service by using the same words used when they were baptized.  It has served as a reminder for Christians throughout the history of the church of the promises of God that are theirs in Holy Baptism. The invocation can serve as a reminder to Christians today as well.  Beginning the service with th…

A Swing or a Top

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Many people imagine the Christian life as similar to a child on a swing.  When you are young you need the help of dad, a push, in order to swing.  However as a child learns to pump his or her legs and swing without the push, so the mature Christian becomes stronger and stronger and less dependent upon God.

The swing analogy is not Biblical.

Rather, the Christian life is much more as if each Christian is a top that is dependent upon God to spin.  The top cannot spin itself, it is dependent upon someone to spin it.  To mature as a Christian is not to learn to become stronger and less dependent upon God, rather it is to recognize your weakness and utter dependance upon Christ for all things.  You never become strong enough to be self reliant, rather you become less and less self reliant and more and more Christ reliant.

Why bother being part of the church?

Jesus Sinners Doth Receive

Sharing the Peace

The following was my newsletter article that was published this past week.  Just thought I'd share it here too.