When I woke up this morning after staying up late to watch the LIVE "Brexit"/"Bremain" European Union (EU) Referendum results on Sky News, I immediately sent out this as my first tweet of the day...





That's because "Eschatology" (a fancy-schmancy word for "The Study of End Times Bible Prophecy") was a MAJOR part of my life when I first became a Christian.

I would even go so far as to say that I regularly focused on the subjective and the uncertain as opposed to the objective and the certain.

Worse was when I was taught how to connect breaking news headlines from around the world to some obscure (if not also cherry-picked) Bible verse in an attempt to justify whatever belief, teaching, and confession was being sold to the masses as a clear "sign of the times" that the history of mankind was unfolding "precisely" like we all thought it was supposed to.

Looking back, I can't believe how gullible and trusting I was, but then I remember how I was also extremely passionate about my new faith, and how I also thought I needed to fall in line and "prove" my passion for the Lord by distributing these twisted half-truths to others in order to "help God" convert them.

Lord, have mercy!


You can read the rest of the story below. The point of this post today is to take an opportunity that has been served up on a silver platter to try and help my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to prayerfully reconsider their entrenched views on this topic.

I'm glad The Babylon Bee chimed in too along these same lines today. So, here's what I just wrote and published on my Facebook page, which I'm sure will hit a nerve with more than a few people I know...


Would love to hear from all my old colleagues today who still think the EU is the "prophesied" One World Government that will also give us a One World Currency and a One World Military as well as the Antichrist. 
Specifically, I'm wondering if you might finally be willing to concede that perhaps your "Premillennial Dispensationalist" interpretation and understanding of God's Word is *wrong* despite the fact that it continues to be wildly popular among many Christians today thanks to various books and movies rather than based off of the Word of God instead. 
Truth is, yes, there was a time when I actually believed such things myself. In fact, I was one of the biggest proponents of these un-Biblical beliefs and teachings and even talked and wrote about the subject for several years to anyone and everyone who would listen. Sure, I meant well and I had very good intentions, but "the road to hell is paved with good intentions," and I was wrong about all of it. I know that now, and I can admit that, thanks be to God! I have since repented of those sins and done what I can to remove any trace of my previous work so that I don't cause anyone else to stumble into this false teaching due to their curiosity. 
In any event, I'm so glad The Babylon Bee (Christian satire) wrote this one today, because it needed to be said. Again, I was once deceived and sinfully believed such false doctrine myself for so long, and I hope that others who still cling to such a sweet-sounding, but un-Biblical beliefs and teachings about the "End Times" and "Last Days" will take some time to prayerfully consider the real truth of the matter.


To reiterate, I was a H-U-G-E proponent of the typical end times beliefs and scenarios!

However, rather than reinvent the wheel, here's what I wrote about this important subject including a detailed description of my own personal transition from a "Left Behind" type of Christian to a more Biblical and orthodox Christian (I'm sorry, but I am now CONVINCED that the so-called "Amillennial" perspective is much more faithful than any other that's related to a study of End Times/Last Days doctrine and theology).

Why I Left Behind The 'Left Behind' Mindset (Amillennialism: The Lutheran Perspective On Bible Prophecy) 
 The End Times In Revelation  
Great Reversal: Starting Over By Starting At The End  
Why I No Longer Believe In A 'Rapture' (As It's Commonly Taught)  
No, Jesus Is Not Waiting For Jordan's King Abdullah To Attack ISIS, Fulfill The 'Psalm 83 War Prophecy,' And Start World War 3 So The Antichrist Can Rise To Power Before He Returns!  
A Lutheran Response To The 'Left Behind' Series  
No, Pentecost Is Not About The Rapture!


This is most certainly true.

To paraphrase what I've heard Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller once say, "Jesus can come back at any time! He's not waiting for a Nuclear Power Plant to melt down! The thing that's holding Him back is His patience and love. There are no events that need to occur before Jesus comes back. So, seeing all the events around us and saying, 'Hey! Hey! That means Jesus is coming back!' the answer is 'No! No! That's a wrong way of looking at it!' Jesus can come at any moment."

My sincere prayer is that those Brits who voted to leave the EU will help to cause some Christians to finally leave the popular though un-Biblical views about End Times/Last Days doctrine and theology.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, they left the EU, now it's time for you to leave the "Left Behind" mindset once and for all.



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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Yesterday, I had the honor and the privilege of giving a Wedding Prayer (or the traditional Blessing before dinner at a Wedding Reception) since the couple's Pastor could not be in attendance.

Here's what I put together and shared for anyone who might find themselves in a similar position some day. Please feel free to borrow all or just parts of it as you see fit.


 
The Word of God says in Colossians 3, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” 
Whether you’re married or not, I think we’d all agree that holding on to grudges can be so devastating to any relationship, but especially to a marriage. It might seem so cliché and obvious to talk about the “importance of” and “the need for” forgiveness on a day like today, and yet, I think it’s the best piece of advice that anyone could ever give to a Bride and her Groom. That's probably because it’s the one thing we all tend to struggle with the most. 
Trust me, those two words of “I Do” that you both said to each other earlier today and before God, mean absolutely nothing unless you are also willing to say the three words “I Forgive You” – and are willing to say them to each other often -- because “true love” means that we are to “forgive as the Lord forgave you.” 
And so my prayer for you SAM, and for you RANDY, is this… Almighty, Everlasting God, our Heavenly Father, grant that by Your blessing SAM and RANDY may live together according to Your Word and promises. Strengthen them in faithfulness and love toward each other. Sustain and defend them in all trials and temptations. Help them to live in faith toward You not just as “one flesh” but as part of the “one body” of believers that is Your holy Church. Help them to live in loving sacrifice and service to each other so that they may enjoy Your blessing and gift of marriage. 
Lord, we pray that they find all the tasks in life easier because they approach those tasks together. In sickness and in health, may they rely on Your strength rather than their own. In the shadows of doubts and uncertainties, may they find their way through them by the light of Your truth. In loneliness and desperation, may they find joy in You, Your Word, and Your Sacraments. In failures born out of sin, may they always be reminded of Your forgiveness and mercy, freely available to them and to all through repentance and faith in the death and resurrection of Christ. 
Lord, we are thankful to be gathered at this Wedding Reception to celebrate the love that unites SAM and RANDY in the bond of marriage. Bless this food that we are about to receive -- a sign of Your continuing care for us. May Your blessing be upon SAM and RANDY, their families, their friends, all of us who are gathered here today as well as those who are unable to be with us tonight. 
We pray all of this in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord and Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.




NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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As we approach the end of another school year, my humble and sincere prayer is that those of us who will be giving a Graduation Day speech or a congratulatory card/gift of any kind to our graduates from Christian schools will fight the urge to misapply (yes, "misapply") verses like Jeremiah 29:11 and fight the urge to tell them they need to "Learn How To Listen To The Holy Spirit" in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead of them as future citizens of the world.

Not only have I already seen such things in my kids' yearbooks that they came home with this week from the Lutheran Day School they attend, but now I've received word that the Guest Speaker personally invited to speak to the graduates at tonight's Graduation Ceremony is a former Teacher who is unashamedly non-Lutheran and quite AoG/NAR/Pentecostal in his beliefs, teachings, and confessions.

So yeah, I'm a little concerned given previous history let alone the fact that he will have a captive audience and an open forum to say whatever he wants to say to impressionable and unsuspecting hearts and minds who already look up to him, and who will likely take everything he says as "gospel truth" due to his past popularity there.

If you think I'm being incredibly "unfair" or "unloving" and am simply "blowing things way out of proportion" even, then I strongly encourage you to listen to any of the many so-called "sermons" he's preached over the past year at his "church" and then let me know if you still think I'm being unreasonable here. What you'll hear and see is a lot of style, but sadly, very little substance, more jokes and stories than Bible passages, hardly any mention of sin, no mention of the Sacraments whatsoever, and absolutely nothing that's distinctly Lutheran either. Yes, this is who our school invited to be the featured Guest Speaker at this year's Graduation Ceremony. 


That's why I felt it was necessary to dust off this very brief commentary to help explain the simple (and Biblical) reasons why it's extremely important for all of us to fight these common urges, especially for those influential men and women who truly mean well, who I know have very sincere intentions and who love God, but who would be doing more spiritual harm than good if they choose to go down these all-too-common paths (see the list of "4 Likely Outcomes" from the excerpt below, because it's incredibly sobering and we should all prayerfully consider those potential realities for our youth as well as ourselves).
 
Which Part Of "From The Devil" Don't You Understand? 
Here’s how this plays out. For those who seek such immediate, personal divine revelation, there are four likely outcomes:


1. They will listen and listen for this affirming, comforting voice from God that was promised them. And then, when nothing happens, they will begin to wonder… “Does God hate me?” “Is it because of some sin in my life that he won’t speak to me?” …and their view of God gradually becomes very sadistic and warped, as His silence causes them to question their status as His children. Surely His children should receive assuring communication from their heavenly Father just like the preacher, right? The despair this leads to will result in giving up on the faith. “It isn’t worth the heartache, and even if it is true, it isn’t possible, so it’s definitely irrelevant.” 
2. Despite hearing nothing, they will pretend to have heard something anyway to fit in. When they get tired of lying to themselves and to everyone else, they will leave the church for the sake of their intellectual integrity. “Pastor says that God speaks to us, and if this doesn’t happen, it’s probably because God isn’t real.” 
3. Being psychologically unequipped to confront the despair of divine rejection and too afraid to leave the faith, they will begin to manufacture the voice of God in their heads. They will begin to imagine things He said to them out of desperation for some tangible manifestation of the presence of God, to assure them of their acceptance in His sight. Intuitions, epiphanies, and coincidences start to be twisted into a web of personal revelation that is more superstitious than Christian. Desperation to hear the voice of God leads to guessing games such as “I feel like God is leading me to…” The focus of their faith is continually directed towards subjective phenomena and away from the cross of Christ until they find themselves wondering why they even bother getting up on Sunday morning. “I can commune with God just fine wherever I am, the church gathering is just for the weak and un-spiritual.” 
4. At some point, they will cease to care whether or not they’ve actually heard anything, but the lack of actual spiritual experience isn’t about to prevent them from demonstrating it. So they fake it till they make it, putting on a public show of false piety in order to show their righteousness before men. “Of course I’m not one of those people who can’t hear God.” At this point, reality cease to matter, because perception is influence. And thus we’ve fostered a spirituality of Pharisaism. 
This is where enthusiasm leads. Of course there are always other possibilities, but for those who take this teaching to heart, these are very common outcomes.


There's a reason why I highlighted that section from that commentary.

Hopefully, that account clearly demonstrates why each and every one of us (myself definitely included) need to take James 3:1 much more seriously than I think we do at the present time.

If you're giving a Graduation Day speech or giving a special graduation gift to a Christian graduate this time of year, please keep it Christ-centered and cross-focused (John 3:6; John 14:6; Romans 5; 1 John 2:2)!

Please keep it about JESUS FOR YOU and not YOU FOR JESUS as though any of our "good works" done in His name in this life ever earn us God's love, forgiveness, righteousness, and salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9; Isaiah 64:6; Matthew 6:3-4)!

Yes, it's very tempting to want to share with them a message overflowing with command after command to "Love, Love, Love!" and to "Do, Do, Do!" and to talk about what you perceive to be their need to have to always "Do More!" and "Be Better!" in order for them to obtain a so-called "victorious/successful" Christian life.

However, it's far better to share with them a message that they are forgiven, that they are loved, and that they have hope even when they might not always "be" and "do" what they're supposed to, and especially when they might not "feel" particularly forgiven, loved, or hopeful, and that they have this glorious gift from God because of what His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, has already done and continues to do FOR THEM and FOR ALL MANKIND despite our/their sins.

That's the Gospel, my friends, and yes, even Christians need to hear it repeatedly! In fact, our young graduates and the future of the world (the future of Christ's Church) need to hear it even more often in this post-modern day-and-age.

Besides, there are some pretty BIG DIFFERENCES between popular Graduation Day messages and this life-saving, life-changing Gospel, are there not?

One is a message full of sweet sounding platitudes, half-truths, and outright lies that tickle the ears (2 Timothy 4:3), while the other reminds them of our common enemy, what this world is really like, who they truly are, and why all of it means they will always need Jesus in this life (John 16:33).

One is always somehow fixated on personal pride and self-glory, while the other is always fixated on our humility and upon Christ's glory.

One always seems to awaken the "Old Adam" within, while the other merely drowns Him with the waters of our Baptism into Christ.

One is all Law all the time, while the other is a proper distinction between Law and Gospel.

So, let's try to be about substance and not style this year.

Sure, a person might be the "popular" choice to speak on Graduation Day, but is he/she going to reinforce all the things we claim to believe, teach, and confess as Lutherans, or will his/her words cast doubt upon much of it if not present his/her hearers with another alternative?

Sure, the message accompanying a graduation card or gift might be the "common" and "popular" choice, but is it actually Biblical and does it reinforce all the things we claim to believe, teach, and confess as Lutherans, or will such words cast doubt upon much of it if not present the recipient with another alternative?

Doctrine matters. Our confession of faith matters. Doctrine and our confession about that doctrine also informs our practices.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, please stick to the Gospel, remember the Sacraments, and encourage graduates (and their families who will be in attendance) in their current Vocations.




NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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I thought it would be helpful to revisit some truths about tragedy and suffering from a Christian perspective in light of the recent terror attack in Orlando, FL.


 
INTERVIEW: CLICK HERE FOR AUDIO 
This is an excellent 20-minute sound byte regarding "God And Suffering"/"Why Does God Allow Bad Things To Happen?" from the Lutheran radio program Issues, Etc. that I first listened to years ago in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombings, which is relevant whenever a tragedy of any kind occurs like the one our nation is facing in Orlando, FL right now. The words of hope and joy we have in Jesus Christ were beautifully confessed in Pastor Wolfmueller's interview with Pastor Todd Wilken. In times of suffering and tragedy, the only comfort we have is the cross of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. I hope you will take the time to listen to it and I pray that you find Pastor Wolfmueller's response both comforting and helpful (hopeful) to you regardless of your own unique circumstances right now. Just remember this wonderful promise: Revelation 21:4 (ESV) "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." Until that day, please continue to pray for all those who are hopeless, hurting, and lost in their pain and sorrow.


Straight and to the point and most definitely Biblical.

Now, if you're looking for a more in-depth study that expands upon those truths, then please feel free to check out the podcast I did way back in June 2013 on the same subject (when I was still doing a weekly podcast).

All I ask is that you please keep in mind that I recorded it at a time when I was first transitioning to becoming a Confessional Lutheran myself, and so even though I shared a lot of material from distinctly Lutheran sources, I'm sure there will be some obvious traces of my old non-Lutheran and Evangelical beliefs sprinkled in there too so use discernment!


PODCAST: Hope For The Hurting And Jesus' Take On Mass Tragedies 
What do you say to a grieving mother following the death of her child? What do you say to someone who's endured any kind of devastating, personal loss? How can we Christians offer true counsel and comfort? We thought a podcast like this would be helpful to anyone who has just experienced a deep, personal loss regardless of the unique circumstances, and we also thought it would be helpful to share what the Bible has to say about mass tragedies. The full title of this message is "Hope For The Hurting, Jesus' Take On Mass Tragedies, And Asking The Right Question" and we hope you'll join us and share it with others in need. [SOURCES: All content is compiled from a collection of selected passages from the Holy Bible; selected excerpts from related sermons available online; and various blogs/ministries]


Again, I sincerely hope that such material is a blessing to you and your loved ones.

While that was my primary reason for writing this today, I feel like I would be remiss if I didn't also take some time to offer a brief political commentary of sorts here as well. Specifically, I think we Christians need to be reminded about some truths regarding terrorism too.

Once again, the sins of hate and murder have been on full display these past couple of days thanks to a sinner who took Islam's satanically-inspired religious writings to heart.

Yet another Islamic terrorist took life into his own hands and believed his actions were demonstrative of his own love for his beloved prophet and god.

I know there are some non-Christians out there who think that we believers in Christ are somehow happy and thrilled that this happened given that it was homosexuals who were targeted and killed.

In fact, I guarantee that there are some who believe that all Christians are "Westboro Baptist" types, but that would be completely wrong and here's why. It also shatters the myth that "since all Christians are not Westboro Baptist types, then all Muslims surely are not Islamic terrorists!" More on that a little later.

Personally, I love how Rev. Jordan Cooper put it today...


It's possible to not agree with someone's decisions or lifestyle, and still love and care for that person. Many of the same people who believe that homosexual acts are sinful would have also jumped in front of a bullet for those who were killed without a second thought. It's been sad to see all of the politicizing that has happened already, and the assumption from certain people that any sane Christian would support, or had any part in, something like this. Christians are people of life. Jesus laid down his life for us, and we should be ready to do the same for others, including homosexuals.


Amen! For the record, what happened to those people in that nightclub in Orlando did not happen because they were somehow so-called "worse sinners" than the rest of us (see Luke 13).

This is very similar to something else I saw from other faithful Christians yesterday...


We as Christians should be willing to step in front of a gun that is pointed at someone because they're gay. Love is sacrificial. Let us as Christians step forward to defend those who are having violence done to them. ‪#‎OrlandoShooting‬ ‪#‎Christianity 
-- Michael Salinas

If we, as Christians, can not mourn for the loss of life in Orlando, I don't believe we understand Christianity at all. Lord have mercy. 
-- Dave Williams‬


Yes, those are the correct Biblical/Christian responses in light of what Scripture clearly says and so this is how we should hope to respond to this or any tragedy for that matter.

Even so, we need to be careful not to go too far to one extreme, which is why I also feel obligated to reiterate something I observed and criticized following the last terror attack that dominated the news headlines a few months ago.

As we pointed out in the aftermath of last November's terror attack in Paris, France (which itself was only weeks before another terror attack on U.S. soil in San Bernardino, CA!), when it comes to terrorism, the "All You Need Is Love!" type of Christian is wrong, because we should hate evil!

So, here are some thoughts today from God's Word following last night's barbaric murders in Paris for any Christians out there who believe in an "All You Need Is Love" Beatles brand of Christianity rather than "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3)...


Proverbs 8:13 (ESV) All who fear the LORD will hate evil. Therefore, I hate pride and arrogance, corruption and perverse speech. 
Amos 5:15 (ESV) Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph. 
Psalm 97:10 (ESV) O you who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked. 
Psalm 45:7 (ESV) you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions; 
Psalm 26:5 (ESV) I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked. 
Romans 12:9 (ESV) Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

But what about "love your enemies" (Luke 6:35)? What about it? We "love our enemies" when we first expose their evil deeds by being realistic about them, and by calling it what it truly is, and by "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15) against such enemies while also praying for God to lead them to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus. 
So, yes, you can cite Luke 6:35 all you want, of course, as long as you also understand its proper context in the legitimate execution of justice in a world where the Lord also clearly says that there's "a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace" (Ecclesiastes 3.8). 
Dear "All You Need Is Love" Christian, I ultimately reply to you with this sobering word of caution from Isaiah 5:20 that plainly says, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" 
My friends, we cannot cherry-pick the Bible verses we like and ignore the ones we don't like. We need to prayerfully consider the Word of God in its full and complete context and recognize that Scripture interprets Scripture and does not contradict itself. To do otherwise is to be a purveyor of false doctrine while paving a road to hell with good albeit politically correct intentions that betray the true Gospel of Jesus Christ that saves. 
Christians should most certainly HATE evil just as God hates it Himself. To suggest otherwise is absolutely absurd, dangerous, irresponsible, and dare I say quite un-Biblical too.


The reality? Reading through the Book of Concord for the first time in recent months, I'm amazed by how much time our church fathers spent writing against this very same notion of "Love Wins!" and how prevalent it was in the Catholic church back then (and still is today throughout contemporary Christianity).

Look, you are not being "pious" or "obedient" or "reverent" to God by publicly and proudly proclaiming that you do not hate evil in this world since you prefer to not hate anything at all while attempting to "love God more" instead (Works Righteousness anyone?), especially when we Christians are emphatically told repeatedly that we most certainly should hate evil whenever and wherever we find it in this life.


NEWSFLASH: 
Terrorism = Evil = Christians Hate Evil = Christians Hate Terrorists/Terrorism


My dear friends, this is what it means to take a truly honest look at any terrorist attacks let alone what our only response should ever be as Bible-believing Christians.

If you're curious to prayerfully consider some additional truths so that you can obtain the proper perspective in such times as these, then perhaps you should read our post on Martin Luther's "On The War Against The Turks" also published several months ago in the aftermath of another Islamic terror attack.

Actually, I just recalled that it was back in March 2016 (just 3 months ago!) when Brussels faced its own terror attack that caused me to write the following piece that's worth sharing again here today...


More Barbarism By Beasts In Brussels 
This is getting absolutely ridiculous. I've written this same post several times now. Deja vu. That's because each and every time there's a terrorist attack in some part of the world that arrests the public's undivided attention and grabs the international news headlines, these are the words I choose to share in an attempt to expose the truth and to offer hope in the Prince of Peace Himself.


Simply put, there is nothing "peaceful" about Islam. These are the A, B, C's of Islam I'm afraid, or the A, B, C's of the so-called "Religion of Peace" where the following is this harsh reality -- "A" for "Attacks," "B" for "Beheadings," and "C" for "Crucifixions" -- all in the name of "Allah" and the "Prophet Muhammad" we're told.

By now, it should be crystal clear if it wasn't already -- Islam is not the so-called "Religion of Peace" as is often asserted. 
Furthermore, those who are waging war with bombs and bullets against those they consider to be "infidels" (and they don't discriminate either!) are actually the more faithful Muslims, according the the Qur'an. Those Muslims who are not torturing, maiming, and killing non-Muslims are actually the apostates of their religion (or "Muslims-In-Name-Only"), because the passages of the text that instructs its believers to do such things is entirely prescriptive instead of descriptive
And yet, because the West continues to worship at the Altar of Political Correctness, we continue to see our elected leaders and government bodies (and even the presidential candidates and presumptive party nominees) that are supposed to protect us by enforcing law and order doing and saying such absurd and offensive things if they even say anything at all. I mean, get a clue already! 
The collective response is always the same time after time and it's so frustrating. Politicians are all dumbfounded and asking over and over ad nauseam, "How could this have happened undetected? Why did this even happen in the first place?" The answer's simple, really. As Political Columnist, Mark Steyn, once wrote, "The barbarians are inside, and there are no gates." Indeed. 
Folks, the terrorists tell us repeatedly what they're going to do to us and our allies over and over again, but we never seem to want to take them at their word or do anything about it either. 
The bizarre knee-jerk reaction by many Christians is to say that we are to simply "love your enemies" (Luke 6:35) and do nothing despite the fact that our enemies love everything that is evil in this world since their father is Satan. 
We should know that our common enemy "the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). Still we do absolutely nothing. 
Sure, we all fall in line and make sure we quickly tweet #PrayForBrussels though I wonder how many of us who typed that actually did stop and say a prayer for the people of Brussels. 
I'm not trying to be a jerk here, but only trying to point out that we need to start taking this threat much more seriously than we do at the present moment. 
No, we'll never entirely eradicate terrorism as evidenced by history, but that shouldn't mean we just throw up our hands and do nothing about it.


Isaiah 5:20 (ESV) Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

I, for one, will not succumb to such vile actions in the name of "Political Correctness" or some twisted interpretation of Christianity, because there is hope to be found in Jesus Christ and in His Word and His Sacraments. 
Yes, it's even available to our Muslim enemies since "the Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2 Peter 3:9) and we now know that "the times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31). 
Our own Augsburg Confession even says, "Islam is the most atrocious and ancient hereditary enemy of the Christian name and religion." 
With that in mind, please be sure to take a closer look at the links above that cite Martin Luther's own personal writings on this topic. Luther actually had quite a bit to say about the "Turks" (a.k.a. "Muslims") in his day-and-age that deserves our attention and prayerful consideration, in my humble opinion. 
Obviously, we don't treat all of Martin Luther's writings as though they were the gospel truth, but what it is about anything he wrote several hundred years ago about this very same scourge that isn't true or wouldn't apply today? 
You might also want to look through our Archive and read the series we did titled "9/11 Through Martin Luther's Eyes" for a more comprehensive view of what the good doctor had to say about the Christian perspective on fighting, revenge, terrorism, Turks, violence, and war and peace. 
At this point, what else can I say that I and others like me haven't already said? All we can do is continue to pray for our enemies and continue to pray for peace. At the same time, we also need to keep a close watch on our own hearts and minds too. 
What do I mean by that exactly? Just that we Christians need to make sure that whenever we trot out the whole "love your enemies" Biblical command, that we're doing so religiously and not politically. 
See, lately, whenever something horrific like this happens, I tend to encounter the more liberal and progressive Christians who are always the most vocal. They're the first to speak up and the first to speak out on this issue, but they invariably all parrot the same "love your enemies" phrase and nothing else (it certainly never includes any mention of the Gospel!), which completely ignores a ton of Scripture that also instructs us to hate evil whenever and wherever we find it. 
In a sense, their intentions with repeating the "love your enemies" phrase is not a noble attempt to foster a deeper understanding of God, His Word, His Church, and Christianity, or to open the door to a discussion of faith and use it as a springboard to sharing the Gospel with anyone, but it's usually to merely echo a political talking point that makes Islam and Muslims the victim rather than those who actually had their limbs blown off or who lost loved ones who were just going about their daily business. 
But what about "love your enemies" (Luke 6:35)? What about it? We "love our enemies" when we first expose their evil deeds by being realistic about them, and by calling those deeds what they truly are, and by "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15) against such enemies while also praying for God to lead them to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus. 
So, yes, you can cite Luke 6:35 all you want, of course, as long as you also understand its proper context in the legitimate execution of justice in a world where the Lord also clearly says that there's "a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace" (Ecclesiastes 3.8). 
Remember, we are to use Scripture to interpret Scripture, and it never contradicts itself. Where there seems to be a contradiction is precisely the place where we must put our own human reason aside and have faith and trust in the Lord and His ways and Word. 
The "All You Need Is Love Christian" needs to recall this sobering word of caution from Isaiah 5:20 that plainly says, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" 
My dear friends, we cannot cherry-pick the Bible verses we like and ignore the ones we don't like. We need to prayerfully consider the Word of God in its full and complete context and recognize that Scripture interprets Scripture and does not contradict itself. To do otherwise is to be a purveyor of false doctrine while paving a road to hell with good (albeit politically correct) intentions that betray the true Gospel of Jesus Christ that saves.


We must be mindful of the spiritual realities present and operating behind the political realities too.

I'm reminded of a letter written by Franz Pieper in 1901 immediately following the assassination of U.S. President William McKinley with this powerful excerpt that condemns each and every one of us even if we're mere spectators of this past weekend's atrocity...


All people, but especially Christians, should recognize that the murderous spirit, which brought about this horrid murderous act, resides in every human heart and therefore must be acknowledged and fought. He who knows our heart described it this way (Mark 7:21-23): "For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within." So it is with every heart, also with every American heart. And it does not merely remain a matter of thought. The murderous spirit is so evident in word and deed that it is hard to comprehend.


This is most certainly true.

Yet, thankfully, that's not where the story ends though. There are so many Bible verses I could mention, but I'm thinking of Romans 5:7-8 that plainly tells us that. "For one will scarcely die for a righteous person -- though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die -- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

So, what's the critical difference between Christians and non-Christians or between us and them? We belong to Jesus Christ through repentance and faith and they do not.


Romans 8:1-11 (ESV) There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.


Praise the Lord that "there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). This is why a murderer can repent and be forgiven and saved. This is the hope that belongs to each and every one of us, because we are all sinners -- me, you, them.

The truth of the matter couldn't be any plainer and simpler than this...


2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.


To reiterate, this past weekend's tragedy isn't solely about terrorists or homosexuals. This past weekend's tragedy is a reminder to all of us that we are all sinners and we will all perish someday unless we repent of our sins and put our faith and trust in the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of All Mankind.

So, while Martin Luther's words are just as relevant to us today as they were back then, while the views expressed by me and the numerous "Talking Heads" on TV may resonate with the national majority, let's all keep in mind that it's only God's Word that holds the cure for all sins whether it is the sin of hate, the sin of murder, the sin of false religion, the sin of terrorism, the sin of violence, or the sin of war.

Yes, there is hope to be found in Jesus Christ and in His Word and His Sacraments! God's free gift of salvation is available to all of mankind!

As previously mentioned, yes, it's even available to our Islamic/Muslim enemies since "the Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2 Peter 3:9) and we now know that "the times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31).

Let's not ignore the fact that evil exists, that Satan is real, and that he has inflamed the sinful desires and passions of fallen man to the point where all the terrorists want to see is the red blood spilling from our non-Muslim bodies as opposed to the red blood that was shed and spilled for the forgiveness of sins for all men, women, and children upon the cross at Calvary thousands of years ago; blood that was shed for the forgiveness of sins for all mankind, which even includes them and their families too.

If nothing else, let's meditate on that this week as opposed to meditating on the fear, murder, and torture perpetrated by sinners.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, yes, we are called to hate evil, but we are also called to confess Jesus Christ crucified for the sins of all mankind, even the sins of the terrorists, whenever we see "#PrayForBLANK" messages and signs in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

Remember, what Christ did upon the cross is incredibly more powerful than any one ideology, any one terrorist, and any one weapon of mass destruction that he may use to inflict death and destruction in this life.



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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Church Politics. It should be an oxymoron, but it's not.

That's why one of the very first things I really struggled with when I became a Confessional Lutheran was accepting the reality that we have a Synod and that there are "Synodocrats" within that political structure who must not only be elected by us, but then who also need to act like elected officials in some respects.

The challenge for them (and messy part if they're not careful) is when their political aspirations trump their vocation as servants of the Word and Sacraments.

Of course, there's a reason why this sort of thing seems strange within Christ's Church, but I've learned it's a necessary evil (if "evil" is even the right word to use).

If it works the way it's supposed to, then there will be the proper doctrinal oversight from top to bottom. So, yes, checks and balances are a good thing for church governance. However, as with all things that prideful, sinful man touches...

Still, for any "new" Lutheran converts out there who are struggling with this, just remember that it's better to have accountability and formal structure within a denomination. I mean, it's not like our Synod President is anything even remotely like the Roman Catholicism's Pope anyway.

I know there are some well-respected men within the Lutheran church who feel differently though. Yet, despite their concerns (no matter how valid some of them might be), as a former American Evangelical and relatively new convert to Lutheranism, I want to go on record and state that I welcome this hierarchy and process -- warts and all!

Believe me, the alternative is much more dangerous and scarier spiritually speaking.


Galatians 5:9 (ESV) A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 (ESV) For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. 
1 Timothy 1:18-20 (ESV) This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith,among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. 
Jude 1:22-23 (ESV) And indeed, have mercy on those who doubt; And indeed, have mercy on those who doubt;


Look, I get the urge for many Christians (for many life-long Lutherans that I know) to just want to shrug their shoulders, throw up their hands, and roll their eyes with a "So what!?!" type of mentality.

As far as they're concerned (and I've heard this many times before including from one retired LCMS Pastor!), "It's all nonsense! Who cares what some religious bureaucrats in Missouri think anyway!?!"

Lord, have mercy!


A Confessional Lutheran synod should be prized and famous for its militant disputational character. It should dispute with itself more than anyone else to ensure that any heterodoxy is refined out before it quenches the forge of justification. The treasure of the church should be poured into foundations of disputation since assaults and sieges against pure doctrine will never end until the return of Christ. Martin Luther and his fellow theologians of the Reformation modeled ardent disputation for us. The consequences of their disputation were hardly trivial — they were always just an axe-drop shy of losing their voices. In spite of the threats, they disputed continually with princes and Popes, laymen and lectors, bishops and barons to continue securing the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.The Book of Concord (BoC) demonstrates how vigorously and rigorously we are to contend for pure doctrine. The BoC is also instructive in matters of resolution. All Christian disputation has a single purpose — the maintenance of one pure and true religion. 
Modern America hates disputation because someone might discover a pimple on their self-esteem. Those engaged in disputation are condemned and shunned, and we prefer to be surrounded by accommodators. Our culture is deathly afraid of resolution because it requires someone to be right and someone to be wrong. Consequently, we resolve nothing. We bury things. We massage things. We euphemize things. We endlessly ponder and review things. We distract ourselves to prove that we have risen above mere resolution to the exalted glories of reconciliation. Before that throne, everyone agrees to disagree in the name of mutual respect and understanding. Our faith allows no such toleration, but bylaws must prevail over truth. LCMS seminarians are increasingly indoctrinated to be winsome in the manner of Campus Crusade. Valiant experts in Christian disputation? Surely not! Pastors engaged in disputation have no love for the lost, don’t you know? Pastors who toe-the-line are rewarded with winsome congregations in winsome districts that indulge themselves along the spectrum of heterodoxy to the point of heresy. Pastors who won’t submit to the institutional spirit are threatened and cajoled in innumerable ways until they crack or comply. When they don’t break or bend, they are slandered and politicked against. Those who organize to point out errors are accused of trying to split the Synod even as the accusers fund and tend their own shadow Synod. These are the shameful depths we have sunk to. 
[Source]


Sadly, this is what day-to-day life is like for Lutherans in some liberal Districts and some liberal congregations like here in the Eastern District.

Doctrine matters and making sure we elect someone to lead our Synod who firmly believes that Biblical truth is absolutely essential.

The point of all of this is to say that since this process is unavoidable, it's in all of our best interests to make sure we elect a Synod President who will remain faithful to both the Word of God and our Confessions.

To put it another way, we should want "a President who respects the tradition's confessional roots and will allow Lutherans to be Lutherans."

With that in mind, I want to offer my humble thoughts on why we need to reelect Rev. Matthew C. Harrison for LCMS President.

I want to start by mentioning a thought-provoking paper I just found titled "When Do We Use The Doctrine Of The Church Properly?" written 74 years ago in June 1942 by Professor Theo. Hoyer at the 41st Convention of the Minnesota District of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Missouri, Ohio and Other States.

With our own Synod Convention just weeks away, and the election of Synod President taking place as I type this, I thought it would be fitting to open this commentary with a few words from this 1942 historical document on the importance of...you guessed it...doctrine.

When reading it, please remember that this essay was presented just 6 months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the start of the United States' involvement in World War II, or at a time when a cry for "unity" was at the forefront of every Christian's mind as they clung to a hope of finding lasting freedom and peace. This is the backdrop.


"'The Church is one' -- this statement will hardly meet with dissent among those who call themselves Christians. There are two ways, however, in which people respond to the doctrine of the Church. Some say: Since the Church is one and you find members of this Church in all the visible organizations, it makes no difference which one of them you join; in fact, there is a legitimate reason for the diversity and in the end it is the will of God that it should be so. Others say, (and this is most prevalent in our day), since the Church is one, and you admit there are members of this Church in all Christian denominations, let’s forget our differences, unite, and form a common front against all those who are enemies of the Church; then we shall not waste our strength in opposing each other; we can on the contrary, assist each other in the battle with the common enemy. ... All of this always leads to unionism; and the reason for it lies in a false conception of the doctrine of the Church, or in a false application of the doctrine of the Church. It should be clear to us that it is not merely an academic question that we have before us this year; it is of immense practical value that we for our mutual strengthening once again consider the question -- When do we use the doctrine of the Church properly? -- There is a life that is worse than death; and there is a peace that is worse than war; and there is a religious union that is worse than religious division. To help keep us from unionism, the danger of the times, the pitfall which has time and again proved the ruin of churches -- that is the special viewpoint from which we shall consider the question: When do we use the doctrine of the Church properly?"


Boy, if that doesn't resonate with us today, doesn't it?

And yet, this was delivered at a time in history like no other.

It's funny, because we're always making everything sound so serious and like it's an "emergency" and "urgent" all the time (I know I'm certainly guilty of this, especially whenever I'm writing about the poison of false teaching and those within our churches who are feeding it to the sheep entrusted to their care), but this was in a day-and-age when discussions of "Unity At All Costs!" within Christ's Church had to feel like a true matter of life-and-death to believers regardless of the denomination they belonged to.

I wonder what it would mean for us as a church body if Pastor Harrison is not reelected this time around. I'm sure the immediate feeling of hopelessness could quite possibly turn into a feeling of fear and despair rather quickly.

Perhaps that would be the wrong reaction in light of a paper like the one I just referenced. Even if it is the beginning of the end of the Synod, it's clearly not the end of Christ's Church here on earth.


Matthew 16:18 (ESV) And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.


Now, that's not to say that we should ever minimize the presence and effects of false doctrine (Galatians 5:9), or that we should marginalize our dear brothers and sisters in Christ who attempt to bring up concerns over such false doctrine (2 Peter 2).

In other words, despite the political shenanigans we've seen that appear to be no different from the kind we see the secular world exhibiting on a regular basis, we shouldn't view the impending election of the next LCMS President as though it isn't important.

Quite the contrary, because doctrine matters!

All of this is to simply remind us (me included) to keep the proper perspective moving forward regardless of what does or doesn't happen.

As many of you already know, we have a number of reasons to be concerned about who is elected, and we have a number of reasons why we should pray that it is Rev. Harrison who gets reelected.


 
Please May We Have More Dispute, More Resolution, And Less Reconciliation In The LCMS

Voter Apathy Still #1 Problem. Does Anyone Care?

The Repentance Of Nineveh, Or Mocking God?

Praesidium Responds To Concerns Posed by Former CCM Members

Three (Or Four?) More Years! Steadfast With Harrison.

Philipp Melanchthon Did Not Preach Or Administer The Sacraments

Thoughts On The Upcoming Election For Synod President By Rev. Andrew Yeager

President Harrison: A Faithful Leader Supporting Colleges And Universities In Their Mission

Pastor Wolfmueller Weighs In On President Harrison

Gottesdienst: Harrison For President

The Life Of The Church, And The Synod's Future


I know that's a ton to take in, but I wanted to help demonstrate why this is such an important time for our Synod. Personally, it feels as though our very Lutheran identity is at stake. I'm sure my feelings are a little biased given the District I currently find myself in, but there's no denying that there are two distinct camps competing for the right to influence the Synod moving forward.

Right now, there is a definite split within the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) regardless of how we all might try to ignore it or kick the can down the road. You don't have to take my word for it either. Merely spend 5 minutes on the ACELC website and you'll see what I mean.

In case the above links were just too much for you to read, here's a quick summary including some excellent video clips I found of Pastor Harrison from over the course of the past several years...


  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
  

 Vote Collar – A Top 15 List 
The Top 15 Reasons Why I’m Voting for Matt Harrison for LCMS President 
15. He’s evangelical and catholic. 
14. He wears a clerical collar – because he has a high view the Office of the Holy Ministry without being a sacerdotalist. 
13. He’s a theologian of the cross. 
12. Who else would jokingly say: “As a synodical bureaucrat, I am, after all, deeply and profoundly shallow.” 
11. He translates NT Greek on the fly during interviews. 
10. He understands Anfechtung. 
9. He answers the question. 
8. Because I love how he says “splachna.” 
7. He’s got a kneeler in his office. 
6. He puts up with all our bellyaching. 
5. He’ll keep your secret. 
4. He understands liturgy and hymnody as a timeless treasure, not a curious German relic from our past. 
3. He thinks doctrine and practice go together. 
2. Because of that fabulous ‘stache! 
And the number one reason that I’m voting for Matt Harrison for LCMS President: 
1. He oozes Gospel.


So here we are. What will be the end result? It's too early to tell, but we do know that there are 2,700 fewer voters registered this year than there were in 2013 so it could be close.

Regardless of who we'll be voting for, let's all make sure our faith and trust isn't misplaced.

I'd like to conclude today's commentary with a few words from Rev. Matthew Harrison that he wrote in response to C.F.W. Walther's "Thesis V" in The Church & The Office Of The Ministry where Walther said, "Although the true Church in the proper sense of the word is in its essence invisible, nevertheless its existence can be (definitely) recognizable, namely, by the marks of the pure preaching of God's Word and the administration of the Sacraments according to Christ's institution."


My sainted teacher, the Rev. Dr. Kurt Marquart, used to put it this way: We cannot infallibly know the "who" of the Church (because faith is unseen), but we can know the "where." As Ignatius of Antioch put it: "Where there is Christ, there is the Church." The presence of the Church is not determined by a priesthood sanctioned by the papacy. The presence of the Church is not guaranteed by the morality of church members. The presence of the Church is not guaranteed by an Office of the Ministry passed from minister to minister in succession. The presence of the Church is not guaranteed by a voters' assembly. The presence of the Church is not guaranteed by the size of the congregation. The presence of the Church is not determined by the activity of individual members. 
The presence of the Church is determined and guaranteed by Christ in His Word and Sacraments. Christ creates and sustains faith by these means. Where they are present and distributed, there is the Office of the Ministry and believers who receive these means of grace. This teaching is enormously comforting because in this life we are associated with Christians who are purely poor sinners just like ourselves. They fail. We fail. Pastors fail. Some fail horribly. We are often loveless. "Our righteous deeds are as filthy rags," as Isaiah says (see 64:6). Our congregations are often beset by controversy and conflict. Why? We are sinners, just like the apostles at the time of Jesus and just like the congregations in Galatia, Ephesus, and Corinth. The beautiful and comforting teaching of the New Testament is this: the Church lives where Jesus is in His blessed Word and Sacraments. There faith is created. There is the Church.


This is most certainly true.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, doctrine matters, doctrine informs practice, and Synod politics will never change that, because the presence of Christ's Church is determined by the presence of Jesus Christ and found not in any one man, but found where His Word is properly preached and where His Sacraments are rightly administered.

Let's vote to elect the man who not only believes that, but who will do everything using the power given to him by God to ensure it always remains that way within the LCMS.



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!


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