Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Pride - the first sin

The old Lutheran dogmatician, Quenstedt, states: "We may assume that pride was the first sin of the angels. We make this deduction...from his (Satan's) perpetual endeavor to transfer the glory of God to himself.

From "Motivation for Ministry," page 49

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A Better Way by Rev. Scott Licht



by Rev. Scott Licht

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (James 3:13-18 ESV)

You’ve all seen it. The misguided pro-life zealot who blew up the abortion clinic. The “anti-abortion extremist” who shot and killed the doctor who performs abortions. The members of the church blocking funeral processions for members of the armed forces who gave their lives in service to our country—because the military allows homosexual men and women to serve. The rancorous protests and vicious rhetoric when “physician-assisted suicide” is debated.

God, through James’s hand, has a message for those who let their emotions and their own reason take control. Love for God and your neighbor demands a better way of getting your point across. “By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom” (James 3:13b). That wisdom is described thus: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17)

OK, but sex out of wedlock is wrong. Abortion is wrong. Physician-assisted suicide is wrong. I can’t condone those things, so what am I supposed to do?

When word gets out that an unmarried woman in your area is pregnant, what do you do? Do you call the person in town who knows all “the news” to find out about the father? Do you ignore her in the grocery store? Do you ascribe to her all of the demeaning names and adjectives that society uses? Or do you recognize the fact that she sinned, just as you have MANY times? Her sin may be more visible and may have different consequences, but it’s no more grievous than yours. That sin is just as forgiven as yours. Why not offer to help her in whatever way she might need? Drive her to a doctor appointment, throw a baby shower for her, offer to pick up groceries for her, LOVE her. She is carrying a child of God regardless of how that child was conceived.

A friend confides in you that he paid for his girlfriend to have an abortion 10 years ago—what do you do? Remind him that he was an accessory to the murder of his own child? Vow never to talk to him because you would never do “THAT”? Tell everyone else you know to avoid him? Or do you sit and listen, offering comfort and assurance of God’s forgiveness for that sin? Offer him the number for the Word of Hope counseling service (888.217.8679; word-of-hope.org), find a local support group for post-abortive men, share Scripture with him regarding God’s unconditional love, pray with him.

An 82-year-old gentleman whose wife died a year ago just found out that he has Alzheimer’s disease. He’s going to lose his driver’s license. He’ll have to move after the last time that he forgot to turn off the stove and nearly set his house on fire. Soon he may need help brushing his teeth, going to the bathroom, and getting dressed. He is sure that he is going to be such a burden on his children, and when they do come to see him, he probably won’t even remember who they are or that they came to see him. Couldn’t his doctor just give him a pill to end it all? If his regular doctor won’t do it, couldn’t he keep looking until he finds one who will? What do you do? Perhaps you could offer to pick him up and bring him to church each week. You could arrange for his friends to visit with him throughout the week. You could stop by to visit and sing some of his favorite hymns (or other songs) with him. You could be patient when he tells you the same thing five times within five minutes. You could just be there for him, reminding him you care and you will always care.

“By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.” Remember, “meekness” is NOT “weakness.” In the scenarios above, the “meek” actions were often more difficult and required more “strength” than following the ways of the world. Those things are certainly more difficult than doing nothing. But James also tells us that “a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:18). Notice that James doesn’t say that our actions are the cause of our righteousness—that has been won for us by Christ. We are merely to sow in peace in order to benefit from that harvest of righteousness.

Prayer: Gracious Father, we give You thanks and praise for the gifts which You have given us. Help us to share those gifts with people who are dealing with life issues—even if it means stepping outside of our comfort zone. Let us always remember Your urging to sow in peace as we share Your love and forgiveness, reflecting the love and forgiveness that You extend to us. Amen.

Action: As this New Year begins and you make resolutions of things to do for yourself, consider ways in which you could spend one hour a week helping someone in need—at a crisis pregnancy center, a hospice house, a nursing home, etc.

From Lutherans For Life


Monday, January 14, 2019

Need some light?

A number of years ago while vacationing at Camp Arcadia, Michigan, my family and I were invited to take a nighttime nature walk. Such activity is not usually my cup of tea, as they say, but Sherri and the older kids wanted to go on this excursion so I went along.  We gathered at our assigned spot where our guide told us what we would see and experience. She then concluded her presentation by saying, "And all this we will do in the dark - we will not be using our flashlights!"

No flashlights! Was she crazy? I tried not to panic.  It's just that I'm the kind of guy who likes to see where he is going.  Who wants to stumble like a fool over some tree root or fall into a hole? No matter what my destination might be, I want to be sure I'm on the right path.  If I have a phobia, it's the fear of getting lost!

Well, we survived the trip. And I'm sure there were more than a few who would have gladly gone again. Some are brave enough to walk in the woods in the dark.  But very few of us want to walk through life in the dark. Who wants to trip over the tangled root of temptation or stumble over sinful thoughts and ways or fall into the pit of despair and depression?

Psalm 119:105 is familiar to so many - Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. The psalmist assures us that we don't have to go the way that so many follow. We learn from this beautiful Bible verse that God's Word is light a lamp that lightens everything around us.  It shows us Jesus, the Light of the World, and His sacrificial love for us.  It enlightens us so that we might live God-pleasing lives.  By using this lamp for guidance, it assures us that we walk with Jesus.  This bright light of God's Word keeps us firmly on the path of faith and righteousness.  It helps us stay away from the slippery slope of self-indulgence and the confusing maze of worldly values.  Let God's Word light up your path and your life!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Christ, our substitute!

In our 8 and 11 am services today we sang the hymn, "To Jordan's River Came Our Lord."  The final stanza of the hymn struck me in a way it hadn't before:

Now rise, faint hearts, be resolute
 This man is Christ, our substitute
He was baptized in Jordan's stream
 Proclaimed Redeemer, Lord supreme.

A simple definition for substitute is: a person or thing that takes the place or function of another.

For being breakers of God's Law, we deserve God's punishment.  Jesus, our substitute, takes our place and suffers our punishment.  He suffers completely, becoming sin for us.

With our sin paid for, we are free to live as God's people.  But it could never have happened with Christ, our substitute!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The insanity of our sin

When we are unmindful of our special status as God's baptized, it is easy to live in the "insanity" of our sin.  Our days become a meaningless bunch of hours, we lose sight of the acceptance of our relationship with God, and we begin justifying lax behavior and attitudes toward work and those we love.

Kurt Senske, "The Calling," pages 91-92.

The baptism of Jesus

We where nearing the end of our Holy Land visit.  In Jerusalem we had visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Upper Room, the Wailing Wall and other sites.  On our own for a few hours to shoe, Sherri and I decided to wander around the area and stumbled upon the only Lutheran church in Jerusalem.  Supported in part by the ELCA, we were fascinated to wander through this austere and impressive building.

The baptismal font was located to the left of the chancel.  Next to the font was a tall cross.  It was the most unique cross I have ever seen.

It pictures Jesus coming out of the waters of the Jordan River.  I could just imagine Jesus lifting His arms toward heaven, hearing the Father say, "This is my Son, whom I love, with whom I am well pleased."  And although we saw so much on our 10 day trip that we'll never forget, seeing this cross was one of those amazing, unforgettable moments.

This weekend we will focus on the Baptism of Jesus.  Some wonder, "Why did Jesus have to be baptized? He never sinned.  He doesn't need forgiveness."  This is true! So, join us this weekend and learn why Jesus' baptism is significant for us.

Worship takes place today at 5 pm and tomorrow at 8, 9:30 and 11 am.  Come and be reminded of the blessing your baptism is to you!

Friday, January 11, 2019

The hereafter


Today's funny...

One day the pastor came to visit me.  He said, "You know, you're getting older.  Are you prepared for the hereafter?"

I replied, "Sure! I'm ready right now."

The pastor exclaimed, "Really? How is this so?"

I explained, "As I walk through my house each day - whether it be in the kitchen, family room or bedroom - I am always asking myself, 'Now, what am I here after'?"

Have a blessed day!