"Have you not asked those who travel the roads, and do you not accept their testimony?" (Job 28:29)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

On Burning Bridges...

RECENT DIALOG with other Lutherans in a Facebook group highlighted the depths of separation now found within our Christian denominations. Comments, some harsh and even Satanic, were made when I stated that in the darkness of night my mind was troubled over a present social ministry inadequacy within Lutheranism. The issue bothering me was that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), through its medical plan for clergy and church employees, will yet pay for abortion services with no questions asked. Thus I find it a stretch that friends and acquaintances remain in the ELCA.
 Certainly, since scripture reveals that God in all expressions of the Holy Trinity champions life, and more so our redemption unto eternal life… any funding of the dubious practice of abortion raises concern. I view the commandment “Thou shall not kill.” (Exodus 20:13) as standing seriously clear, covering the preservation of human life from embryonic to geriatric. Consider that we thoroughly examine our motives whenever we are called to fight wars to defend our neighbor. Thus, even as a sinful pastor I dare say that we are called to consider and avoid abortion whenever possible, and not cause other persons to advance such radical disobedience. For foundation in this position I quote concerning our important responsibility..,

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.” (Mark 9:42-43)

 Therefore I say that it is far past time for both clergy and laity to firmly cut ties with such heretical expressions as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). While such evil is not just restricted to Lutherans, the ELCA’s positions within the last decade on matters such as endorsing ordination for unmarried and cohabitating but sexually-active LGBT persons, plus providing advocacy for gay marriage and funding for abortions… supplies a gross straying from the right interpretation of scripture.
 Think of this! The actions that I list here devilishly diminish population growth within the church. The upshot is that many leaders within certain denominations and religious groups decry the loss of membership, even while foolishly accommodating such detrimental ecclesial policies.
 In the past I have enjoyed participation with the Lutheran CORE group on Facebook. Historically CORE has accomplished much, railing against many of the apostate actions in the church, even working to establish the North American Lutheran Church (NALC) in which I now serve. In the past, the organization made great efforts in bridging between its ELCA-based membership and those who have gone to the NALC. However, I fear that today boards fall from its span like that of an old and worn covered bridge. When I mentioned my unrest in that group over the ELCA’s abortion funding, it was met with turbulent conversation. First came the charge that I was not being supportive of historic CORE members who presently share my views but remain in the ELCA. A noted respondent waved the “foul” flag from the bridge, citing that my concerns were unfairly aimed since he had recently demonstrated in protest against the gross malfeasance of Planned Parenthood. As many already know, that organization is losing support because of horrid abortion practices and the parting out of babies’ bodies.
 However, I evaluate his retort as nonsense. I believe it to be rather hypocritical to hold an ELCA pastorate and serve in a denomination that will insure to provide abortions, and then demonstrate against a group that so cheaply forwards such evil. I wonder why such a faith leader would abide in a denomination that would pay insurance to slaughter even one child. Would it not be better to lead his congregation or a portion of it, away from participation in the ELCA?
 Why do such leaders resist so strongly? Is it that they would lose established tenure or financial prosperity? Or could it be that a spouse could lose a job if a proposed congregational vote to leave the ELCA failed, and the pastor then would be conscientiously forced to leave the area to serve another denomination. Maybe uprooting dependent children from a stable and able school system would be unsettling. Could geographic family ties be the hold? Could it be that there are no other NALC churches or Lutheran Congregations for Mission in Christ (LCMC) churches, or independent Lutheran churches… to be found in the preferred area where a pastor has personal history... so that the person could remain locally? Whatever the reasons, I contend that even if accumulated they pale in importance to the precious life of a defenseless child who is aborted.
 Argument was then made that it was appropriate to remain ELCA because Jesus himself dined with prostitutes, sinner and tax collectors. While this point seems to have initial merit in that we are called to imitate our Lord, we note that Jesus did not remain content to have those who were immersed in sin to remain as such. He called them to modify their lives! I offer, for example, that he spoke urgently to one woman caught in adultery. As he admonished her like we ourselves who are yet sinful, he told the woman to “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11b) All tall order to be sure, but an instruction nonetheless.
 Someone thought that I was being rather Pharisaic, claiming righteousness. Not so! I too kneel as sinful and saved only by the grace given as a gift through Christ’s death upon the cross. But I say that the gracious gift should cause us to go from the altar and into the world to properly administer the “Third Use of the Law”. Know that the Commandments condemn us and drive us to find salvation in Jesus Christ, but also they should be rightly used within the halls of society until rotten boards fall from the societal bridge.
 Some quote, “Judge not lest you be judged.” This text is often wrongly interpreted and leveled at those who attempt such actions. But I say that in this world we must judge, even as sinners who are made saints in the church. Is it not our civic responsibility to render judgments in either church or state concerning any offenses made against God and neighbor? Thanks be to God that these penultimate decisions, if faulty in judgment… are promised as forgiven through Jesus Christ when we shall stand in the ultimate court of the Father.
 Therefore my withdrawal from membership in the online Lutheran CORE group, while admittedly a kneejerk move on my part, may be seen as meaningless to most Lutherans. But it may also grow as a cellular, embryonic statement that honors the birth of the NALC from the maturity of our parent CORE organization. The NALC policy does not insure any abortion coverage!. In any case, I now consider future conversations with CORE to be simply like that of the continued Christian church relationship with those who endeavor in the Jewish faith. We share history, traditions, conversations… and still worship the same God, but now travel different paths. I pray that the Holy Spirit shall continually guide their way and my own. Finally in all this turbulence within the waters beneath the bridge, I say thanks be to God for salvation that is only made possible through baptism into Christ Jesus, our Lord. For in this there is yet hope.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Needed! Radical Christian Advocacy...

WHERE DO we Christians go in times when society begins to fall apart?  How do we... living in this nation, or any nation, continue in faith as leaders fail and life begins to descend the slippery slope into oblivion? To what may we cling? I say to you that we need to go to scripture and consider the prophecies of our Lord.
 Indeed, Jesus told us specifically what should unfold…

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?”
  And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-20)

In the faith history of the Christian church, we find many examples of rock -based prophecy and church advocacy. Many examples come from Holy Scripture as our righteous God revealed proper judging, admonishing, punishing. The revealed Word also focused our attention, however, upon God’s ultimate forgiveness provided through his beloved Son, Jesus Christ. The faith thus given to Peter and the other disciples survived as God’s forgiveness empowered us. In the midst of the slippery social slope then, God anchored his people upon this “rock” to do divine works in the world. As Christians then, we must ask, “What is this proper work of the church?” In answer, as a Christian pastor I quote our Lord…

Greater love has no man than this. . , that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. This I command you, to love one another. (John 15:13-17)

 Anchored firmly in divine benevolence, therefore, our instructions as the church show forth plainly again and again as we read the scriptures. Recorded are instances where God judged, admonished and punished the lack of right hospitality and advocacy. Dire punishment, for example, occurred in the fiery story of Sodom and Gomorrah (see Genesis Chapters 17-19). In scripture we read how those cities were utterly destroyed. However, also in viewing biblical history, we must also hold this story in tension with the radical advocacy and hospitality shown by his servant Abraham. An ancient desert chieftain, Abraham as our ancestor in faith offered radical hospitality and advocacy. He slayed the fatted calf in order to feed his divine visitors. (Genesis, Chapter 18)  His reward from God for this advocacy was a radical, nearly unbelievable reward… a reward that made elderly Sarah laugh. Full of years, Sarah would bear a child who would become the father of many lands.
Later, even when the Hebrew people rejected the loose confederation of pastoral tribes, so to ask for governmental leadership that reflected the world, God in radical response gave them that for which they asked. First was a king, and second were unchanging laws by which they were to live. Amid this Law called Torah, which definitely condemns us should we not adhere, we read with alarm… “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” (Exodus 15:13). An alarm sounds for us like a firehouse bell, therefore, for we know that we continually violate not just this one law… but all laws given from above. The Law thus condemns us.
 We ask, “Why would God do such a thing as give us this Law code we sinfully fail to keep in this fallen world?” Some therefore reject his Law. The answer, however, is laid out before us in the life of Jesus Christ. You see, the Law condemns us and drives us to Christ because we cannot fulfill its demands. We find that we need a Savior, and the Father has given us one. By doing so, he gave us through that champion a radically new Law. It does not contain ten convicting laws, and certainly not the host of case laws that sprang from them. Rather, Jesus said to a leader of his day…

And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And he said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:35-40)

Thus our Lord radicalized the Law. This meant that to his followers such commandments as “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” were extended farther. His admonition to “love your neighbor” was radicalized so that we are righteously not only called to not kill our neighbor, but called to defend our neighbor… even if that neighbor is an unborn child.
 Consequently, for this eternal, loving reason we of the church are called to defend against the practices of abortion. Once life has been granted to an embryo by God, even though the parents and unborn child are yet sinful in the flesh, we are still called to defend that child. This is especially since that new neighbor is an unborn infant who is defenseless and mute.
 What does this mean to us today? We in these United States of American, are amid the slippery slope of a declining society. In that slippery morass, a portion of the church has also gotten its boots caught in the sludge. According to present sinful church polity, because we live in a sinful and unfair world many denominational expressions of the mainline Christian church have failed to weigh actions of right hospitality to the unborn. We thus are called, therefore to turn around  from our murderous ways and face God, and ask forgiveness. Given that divine state for the sake of Jesus Christ sacrifice, we then should leave the altar immediately and act in behalf of the oppressed unborn according to a “just war” doctrine. This doctrine provides agreed-upon guidelines of the church. They provide for actions against the demonic, whether the weapons we use are political discussion, public resistance, or more… even unto doing as last resort, open violence against the perpetrators of this great evil. Does this sound radical? Yes, indeed… let us not be persuaded that we live in a peaceful, benevolent society when we see contrary evidence that powers of government shall permit infant murder!
 As a church we must wage continued war against legislators and people who by popular vote fail to defend unborn children, from the conception of a child’s embryonic nascent life onward to birth… using for their position the false virtue of meager legalisms in redefining when “human life” exists. As a church, in the name of Jesus Christ, we needfully are called to support politicians who fight these murderous abortion practices.
 We need to firmly rail against those persons who arrange and do abortions, naming names and identifying their paid or voluntary assistants, so to bring their dark works to light. We should clearly identify the minions of satanic powers who advocate or fund abortions, those who deceptively claim that they serve the cause of women in society. Consider this! To murder a woman’s child, even if she is complicit, is of no service to a pregnant mother! She stands as party to the crime of murder. Additionally, these deceiving ghouls of the satanic, are even noted recently to allow the selling of aborted infant body parts… all beneath the guise of helping those who find themselves with child. They murder children for profit in answer to loose morality and criminal rape. They further population controls which hide racial discrimination in society, rather than using the lens of God’s law to ferret out and rightfully punish these sinfully horrid causes from our society. For certain, know that this issue is paramount for us. You see, in covert action these demons of infant death would use abortion to diminish the population and family structures of the Christian church.
 Brothers and sisters in Christ, we need rail against those leaders and lobbyists of the US government who promoted the murderous redundancy of funding both Obamacare and Planned Parenthood abortions with our tax dollars, and even yet immerse in legalistic swamps those charitable Christian organizations, hospitals and businesses who refuse to perform or pay for abortions.
 Let the church stand firm and rather become pro-choice in our giving… in that we champion de-funding such murderous travesties as Planned Parenthood. Rather than slyly funding abortion in our church and clergy insurance packages as is done by some apostate mainline denominations; instead, let us promote life as provided by God’s grace. There are many causes that better deserve our attention and funding, such as: St Jude’s Hospital for Children, Wounded Warriors and other charities that promote both healing and life.
 I find it repugnant that our government uses our tax dollars to kill babies! Indeed we serve Jesus Christ, declaring him as the “Prince of Peace”, but let us consider that we live in a world that also clamored “Crucify him!”, and still does so yell out the same. Therefore as the Body of Christ, let us not hide from giving voice toward mercy in the public square. Do not allow ourselves to be caught up in vacuous, never-resolved political discussions that distract us in their useless arguing over defining “proper” protected embryonic development, while thousands of minutely-developed unborn children are murdered everyday by legally-sheltered butchers. Instead, let us rise up and champion the entirety of those who cannot defend themselves, who exist in God’s eyes from the first day of conception.

 From Martin Luther, a founder of my own denomination, to apply these just war categories we simply must ask whether the action being fought is caused by the devil, In this I say we have cause with a resounding “Yes!” Satanic are those who permit, fund, or do abortions. According to Lutheran doctrine then, Christians may without sin wage just war, though private revenge is prohibited. As Luther promoted in the Book of Concord, a political leader or any person may follow the example of David in his waging war against the Turk, and wage a just war. If the leadership of either church or state fails to protect the unborn, we as Christians have the right and more so the responsibility to resist their failure in either overt or covert actions. Based in scripture we thus need to practice radical advocacy for many persecuted persons, and that especially includes the unborn who cannot yet speak for themselves. Let us do so, in the name of Jesus Christ, who has plainly instructed us to lay down our lives for one another.
 For those who wish to comply and arm us with immediate action, simply click on the baby image at the upper right side of this message. By doing so, you shall be connected to "Lutherans for Life". Please give to their efforts as you are able.