We've all seen them.

Each and every hotel and motel around the United States always has that one dresser drawer in each room that contains a Holy Bible that was donated and put there by a Christian group and organization called The Gideons International.

In fact, during my recent trip to Florida and Disney World just last week, this was proven to be the case once again. I made a point to remind myself to do some research on who these "Gideons" were when I got home so here we are.

Personally, I'm not out to attack or criticize them in this piece, but to better understand who they are and what they're all about and to see how that reconciles with what we believe, teach, and confess as Confessional Lutherans.

You know, I don't think I've ever met a Gideon face-to-face, and while I think it's absolutely wonderful that their efforts have succeeded in placing a Holy Bible into the millions upon millions of motel and hotel rooms across America, I also can't honestly say if it's the same Bible that you and I have.

In short, what's up with The Gideons International then? What do they believe, teach, and confess about our shared and cherished Christian faith? Are all those Bibles a "good" thing if they're word-for-word accurate or a "bad" thing if they've been altered and "modernized" in any way?



 
The Gideons International 
"Dedicated To Bible Distribution And Evangelism" 
Gideons International is an evangelical Christian association founded 1899 in Janesville, Wisconsin. The Gideons' primary activity is distributing copies of the Bible free of charge. This Bible distribution is a global enterprise taking place in 200 countries, territories and possessions. The association's members focus on distributing complete Bibles, New Testaments, or portions thereof. These copies are printed in over 100 languages. The association is most widely known for its Scriptures placed in hotel and motel rooms. The Gideons also distribute to hospitals and other medical offices, schools and colleges as well as jails and prisons. The association takes its name from the Biblical figure Gideon, depicted in Judges 6. The Gideons International has an international presence. Its members distribute Scriptures in many countries to people who cannot afford to purchase Scriptures on their own. Gideons began distributing free Bibles, the endeavor for which they are chiefly known, in 1908, when the first Bibles were placed in the rooms of the Superior Hotel in Superior, Montana. Members of The Gideons International currently distribute over 80 million Scriptures annually, and the numbers are growing, especially in places like Brazil, India, and Asia. On average, more than two copies of the Bible are distributed per second through Gideons International.[1] In late April of 2015, Gideons distributed their historic two billionth Scripture. The distribution of the first one billion Bibles and New Testaments by Gideon members spanned 93 years (1908 to 2001). The second billion was attained in less than 14 years (2002 to 2015). The headquarters of Gideons International is in Nashville, Tennessee. 
The association, an early American organization dedicated to Christian evangelism, was founded in 1899 at the YMCA in Janesville, Wisconsin by two traveling businessmen who met by chance when they shared a hotel room at the Central House Hotel in Boscobel, Wisconsin. Of the three members at the original meeting, two continued with the distribution of the Bibles. Gideons began distributing free Bibles, the work it is chiefly known for, in 1908, when the first Bibles were placed in the rooms of the Superior Hotel in Superior, Montana. The organization describes its link to the story of Gideon: "Gideon was a man who was willing to do exactly what God wanted him to do, regardless of his own judgment as to the plans or results. Humility, faith, and obedience were his great elements of character. This is the standard that The Gideons International is trying to establish in all its members, each man to be ready to do God's will at any time, at any place, and in any way that the Holy Spirit leads." In keeping with this symbolism, the symbol of the Gideons is a two-handled pitcher and torch, recalling Gideon's victory over the Midianites as described in Judges, Chapter 7. In addition to their well-known hotel room Bibles, members of The Gideons International also distribute Bibles to members of the military of various countries, to hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, MPs and students. The covers of the New Testaments distributed by Gideons are color-coded based on which groups they are meant for. A single copy of the Holy Bible in a hotel or motel room has the potential to touch up to 2,300 lives during its average life span they say. 
-- [Source: Wikipedia]


That doesn't sound so bad, does it? I mean, if they're simply distributing God's Word FREE OF CHARGE and around the world, then more power to them, right?

Well, maybe.

For starters, The Gideons International is not a denomination or a church. As a result, some could appropriately argue that they are "Missionorific Gospel Reductionists" (more on that in just a moment).

Now, that doesn't mean they are "bad" people per se or that they're "not" Christians. Quite the contrary!

Putting the best construction on this group and what they do, it's definitely noble that they are making Bibles available not just here in America but around the world, and that they say they only trust God to use His Word to increase His kingdom (1 Corinthians 3:6) rather than their own efforts.

That's refreshing to hear in this day-and-age of "Church Growth" strategies and techniques! Even so, you and I both know from our own experiences with the LCMS that was it says on a website doesn't always match the practices that are being done out in the real world.

Of particular interest (and concern) to me was this brief description that...



(Each Bible distributed contains...) a short description of the Evangelical understanding of salvation, with Biblical quotations, and a place for the reader to sign and date their confession of Jesus as their Savior (this is especially common in the shorter editions featuring the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs).


Of course, we would reject something like that due to its use of the so-called "Sinner's Prayer" approach to evangelism, which they also affirm on their website.

In addition, I learned that membership is limited to current or retired business or professional men aged 21 or older who are members in good standing of an Evangelical or Protestant church. Wives of Gideons may only join what's called the "Gideons International Auxiliary" and that's it.

Yep, we'd certainly reject that too.

My research also led me to an 114-page PDF File published by The Gideons International called "The Life Book" that reads like another denomination's contemporary and post-modern version of the Book of Concord (BoC) by the way they attempt to explain the Bible in layman's terms with a "Ghost Reader's" anecdotes, comments, and notes in the margins.

However, it comes across a little too conversational and irreverent and detracts from its primary purpose, in my humble opinion. Then again, it is aimed at the youth in this country so it's really no different than the material you'd often find being distributed by most Youth Groups today.

Please don't misunderstand me though. When I said that it "reads like another denomination's contemporary and post-modern version of the Book of Concord (BoC) by the way they attempt to explain the Bible in layman's terms" that's not to imply that it's a theological treatise on par with the BoC or that I even tacitly approve of it.

Truth is, I haven't spent much time reading through it at all since I discovered it so please be careful and discerning should you choose to do that yourself.

According to the Gideons, I learned that...



The Gideons International continues to contact youth in America through The Life Book, coordinating with churches and their youth to distribute copies of the Bible in high schools.


In other words, The Gideons International is very much "Missional" and "Church Growth" oriented despite their claims of adherence to 1 Corinthians 3:6, and The Life Book is their primary tool for finding success in those worldly pursuits.

Finally, it seems as if their beliefs and well-intentioned efforts to spread the Gospel ignore the importance of Christ's Church, His Sacraments, the Office of the Holy Ministry, and the Doctrine of Vocation too (note: they embrace a slightly different view of vocation it seems rather than simply ignoring it outright).

I may be over-generalizing a bit based on the limited info I found, but if that's the case, then that's not so good.

Yes, what The Gideons International have done to spread God's Word over the course of the past 100+ years is truly amazing when you think about it, but we must be very careful not to give them all the credit for what God and God alone has done to grow Christ's Church around the world, because He and He alone should receive all the credit.

There's a scent of a "New Obedience" and "Theology of Glory" mindset that pervades everything I read related to The Gideons International so that also cannot be ignored.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, The Gideons International seems to have its heart in the right place when it comes to evangelizing the lost and spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ still after all these years, but we also need to be discerning about some of the beliefs they hold to as well as some of the methods they use to reach the lost and how they are inconsistent with what we Lutherans believe, teach, and confess as Biblical truth.

Still not convinced? Need more proof?

Thankfully, I found a commentary written and published by a Lutheran layman who was once a Gideon himself that speaks directly to these truths I've identified and that explains why it's so important for us to mark these critical differences and separate ourselves from them.


Why I Quit The Gideons By Joseph Klotz 
After attending the meetings for a while, though, I knew that I couldn’t stay. Despite their claims of being a non-sectarian para-church organization, the nature of the organization lends itself to certain idiosyncrasies of American Evangelicalism which are, at best, suspect. Among the issues I ran into were Pelagianism, the prosperity gospel, works righteousness, and the idea that people are converted by your testimony rather than by God working through means as he has promised (the means of grace – Word and Sacrament). At camp meetings, there were a lot of heart-wrenching stories of how this-or-that person’s life was changed for the better after they received their PWT. It was also sobering to hear the accounts of Gideons in other, more hostile parts of the world, enduring great hardship in order to get Bibles and New Testaments into the hands of Christians who desperately needed them. What we never really seemed to talk about was Jesus. Well, Jesus was mentioned a lot. We just never seemed to talk about His death and resurrection as our atoning sacrifice, repentance, or the forgiveness of sin. We certainly never talked about our need for those things. I heard people discuss how they had been terrible sinners before their conversion, but that was the end of the talk of sin. After all, we were already Christians. Now that we were saved, it was our job to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, right? To many in the organization, I’m afraid, "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling," translated to, "Live your best life now." Knowing what is in my heart, however, I also recognized my need to repent and receive forgiveness for my sin constantly. It didn’t take long for the tension level to rise. Jesus was there, to be sure, but he wasn’t the focus – D.L. Moody was. The important thing was the presentation – how being a Christian will make your life better, how to package this message in the most effective way to reach the unchurched. That may sound strange, but it was my experience.




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 see that an old article titled "Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave The Church" and written by an Evangelical is making the rounds again even though it's nearly three years old.

It's nothing we don't already know (thanks to the research of others like Rev. Matt Richard), but that's why I felt the need to say a few words about it again today particularly as the LCMS Church continues to play around with un-Biblical and irreverent "Church Growth" strategies, tactics, and techniques.

It reminds me of an Open Letter that Chris Rosebrough from Fighting For The Faith once highlighted that was written by Dr. Randy White who explained why he decided to leave the so-called "Church Growth Movement" himself.

So, here's a look back at that article from February 2013. It's a piece that should make this an open-and-shut case for us (I hope it does). Here are the "Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave The Church" courtesy of Marc5Solas...


 
We all know them, the kids who were raised in church. They were stars of the youth group. They maybe even sang in the praise band or led worship. And then...they graduate from High School and they leave church. What happened?

It seems to happen so often that I wanted to do some digging; to talk to these kids and get some honest answers. I work in a major college town with a large number of 20-somethings. Nearly all of them were raised in very typical evangelical churches. Nearly all of them have left the church with no intention of returning. I spend a lot of time with them and it takes very little to get them to vent, and I’m happy to listen. So, after lots of hours spent in coffee shops, and after buying a few lunches, here are the most common thoughts taken from dozens of conversations. I hope some of them make you angry. Not at the message, but at the failure of our pragmatic replacement of the gospel of the cross with an Americanized gospel of glory. This isn’t a negative “beat up on the church” post. I love the church, and I want to see American evangelicalism return to the gospel of repentance and faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins; not just as something on our “what we believe” page on our website, but as the core of what we preach from our pulpits to our children, our youth, and our adults.


The facts?


The statistics are jaw-droppingly horrific: 70% of youth stop attending church when they graduate from High School. Nearly a decade later, about half return to church.


Half.


Let that sink in.


There’s no easy way to say this: The American Evangelical church has lost, is losing, and will almost certainly continue to lose OUR YOUTH.


For all the talk of “our greatest resource” or “our treasure” and the multi-million dollar Dave and Buster’s/Starbucks knockoffs we build and fill with black walls and wailing rock bands…the church has failed them.


Miserably.


The Top 10 Reasons We’re Losing Our Youth
:

10. The Church is “Relevant”


You didn’t misread that, I didn’t say irrelevant, I said RELEVANT. We’ve taken a historic, 2,000 year old faith, dressed it in plaid and skinny jeans and tried to sell it as “cool” to our kids. It’s not cool. It’s not modern. What we’re packaging is a cheap knockoff of the world we’re called to evangelize.


As the quote says, “When the ship is in the ocean, everything’s fine. When the ocean gets into the ship, you’re in trouble.”


I’m not ranting about “worldliness” as some pietistic bogeyman. I’m talking about the fact that we yawn at a 5-minute biblical text, but almost trip over ourselves fawning over a minor celebrity or athlete who makes any vague reference to being a Christian.


We’re like a fawning wanna-be just hoping the world will think we’re cool too, you know, just like you guys!


Our kids meet the real world and our “look, we’re cool like you” posing is mocked. In our effort to be “like them” we’ve become less of who we actually are. The middle-aged pastor trying to look like his 20-something audience isn’t relevant. Dress him up in skinny jeans and hand him a latte, it doesn’t matter. It’s not relevant, It’s comically cliché. The minute you aim to be “authentic” you’re no longer authentic!


9. They never attended church to begin with


From a Noah’s Ark themed nursery, to jumbotron summer-campish kids church, to pizza parties and rock concerts, many evangelical youth have been coddled in a not-quite-church, but not-quite-world hothouse. They’ve never sat on a pew between a set of new parents with a fussy baby and a senior citizen on an oxygen tank. They don’t see the full timeline of the gospel for every season of life. Instead, we’ve dumbed down the message, pumped up the volume and act surprised when…


8. They get smart


It’s not that our students “got smarter” when they left home. Rather, someone actually treated them as intelligent. Rather than dumbing down the message, the agnostics and atheists treat our youth as intelligent and challenge their intellect with “deep thoughts” of question and doubt. Many of these “doubts” have been answered, in great depth, over the centuries of our faith. However...


7. You sent them out unarmed


Let’s just be honest -- most of our churches are sending youth into the world embarrassingly ignorant of our faith. How could we not? We’ve jettisoned catechesis, sold them on “deeds not creeds,” and encouraged them to start the quest to find “God’s plan for their life!” Yes, I know your church has a “What We Believe” page, but is that actually being taught and reinforced from the pulpit? I’ve met evangelical church leaders (“Pastors”) who didn’t know the difference between justification and sanctification. I’ve met mega-church board members who didn’t understand the atonement. Since when do we choose leaders based upon their ability to draw and lead rather than to accurately teach the faith? Well, we don’t teach the faith. Surprised? And instead of the orthodox, historic faith...


6. You gave them hand-me-downs


You’ve tried your best to pass along the internal/subjective faith that you “feel” to them. You really, really, really want them to “feel” it too. But we’ve never been called to evangelize our feelings. You can’t hand down this type of subjective faith. With nothing solid to hang their faith upon, with no historic creed to tie them to centuries of history, without the physical elements of bread, wine, and water, their faith is in their subjective feelings, and when faced with other ways to “feel” uplifted at college, the church loses out to things with much greater appeal to our human nature. And they find it in...


5. Community


Have you noticed this word is *everywhere* in the church since the seeker-sensitive and church growth movements came onto the scene? (There’s a reason and a driving philosophy behind it which is outside of the scope of this blog.) When our kids leave home, they leave the manufactured community they’ve lived in for nearly their entire life. With their faith as something they “do” in community, they soon find that they can experience this “life change” and “life improvement” in “community” in many different contexts. Mix this with a subjective, pragmatic faith and the 100th pizza party at the local big-box church doesn’t compete against the easier, more naturally appealing choices in other “communities.” So, they left the church and...


4. They found better feelings


Rather than an external, objective, historical faith, we’ve given our youth an internal, subjective faith. The evangelical church isn’t catechizing or teaching our kids the fundamentals of the faith. We’re simply encouraging them to “be nice” and “love Jesus” since we believe that's enough. When they leave home, they realize that they can be “spiritually fulfilled” and get the same subjective self-improvement principles (and warm-fuzzies) from the latest life-coach, or from spending time with friends, or volunteering at a shelter. And they can be truly authentic, and they jump at the chance because...


3. They got tired of pretending


In the “Best Life Now!” and “Every Day A Friday!” world of evangelicals, there’s little room for depression, or struggle, or doubt. Turn that frown upside down, or move along. Kids who are fed a steady diet of sermons aimed at removing anything (or anyone) who doesn’t pragmatically serve “God’s great plan for your life” has forced them to smile and, as the old song encouraged them be “hap-hap-happy all the time.” Our kids are smart, often much smarter than we give them credit for. So they trumpet the message I hear a lot from these kids. “The church is full of hypocrites!” Why? Even though they have never been given the categories of law and gospel...


2. They know the truth


They can’t do it. They know it. All that “be nice” moralism they’ve been taught? The Bible has a word for it: Law. And that’s what we’ve fed them, undiluted, since we dropped them off at the Noah’s Ark playland: Do/Don’t Do. As they get older it becomes “Good Kids do/don’t” and as adults “Do this for a better life.” The gospel appears briefly as another “do” to “get saved.” But their diet is Law, and Scripture tells us that the law condemns us. So that smiling, upbeat “Love God And Love People” vision statement? Yeah, you’ve just condemned the youth with it. Nice, huh? They either think that they’re “good people” since they don’t “do” any of the stuff their denomination teaches against (drink, smoke, dance, watch R rated movies), or they realize that they don’t meet Jesus own words of what is required. There’s no rest in this law -- only a treadmill of works they know they aren’t able to meet. So, either way, they walk away from the church because...


1. They don’t need it


Our kids are smart. They picked up on the message we unwittingly taught. If church is simply a place to learn life-application principals to achieve a better life in community...you don’t need a crucified Jesus for that. Why would they get up early on a Sunday and watch a cheap knockoff of the entertainment venue they went to the night before? The middle-aged pastor trying desperately to be “relevant” to them would be a comical cliché if the effect weren’t so devastating. As we jettisoned the gospel, our students are never hit with the full impact of the law, their sin before God, and their desperate need for the atoning work of Christ. Now THAT is relevant, THAT is authentic, and THAT is something the world cannot offer.


We’ve traded a historic, objective, faithful gospel based on God’s graciousness toward us for a modern, subjective, pragmatic gospel based upon achieving our goal by following life strategies. Rather than being faithful to the foolish simplicity of the gospel of the cross we’ve set our goal on being “successful” in growing crowds with this gospel of glory. This new gospel saves no one. Our kids can check all of these boxes with any manner of self-help, life-coach, or simply self-designed spiritualism...and they can do it more pragmatically successfully, and in more relevant community. They leave because given the choice, with the very message we’ve taught them, it’s the smarter choice.


Our kids leave because we have failed to deliver to them the faith “delivered once for all” to the church. I wish it wasn’t a given, but when I present law and gospel to these kids, the response is the same every time: “I’ve never heard that.”


I’m not against entertaining our youth, or even jumbotrons, or pizza parties (though I probably am against middle aged guys trying to wear skinny jeans to be “relevant")...it’s just that the one thing, the MAIN thing we’ve been tasked with? We’re failing. We’ve failed God and we’ve failed our kids.


Don’t let another kid walk out the door without being confronted with the full weight of the law, and the full freedom in the gospel.


What do you think? What do you agree with? Disagree with? Is there anything you would've added or changed?

For me, I've seen plenty of firsthand evidence recently to suggest that things are changing albeit very slowly.

As Pastor Richard pointed out...

"Congregations that want to attract the millennial generation are now being told to ditch their contemporary worship services and to bring back the historic liturgy. Also, it turns out that young adults today have a 'sacramental yearning.' Church growth enthusiasts, take note." 
-- Sacramental Yearnings; Young Christians Are Desiring Historical Liturgy, Not Contemporary Worship


We would be wise to take these truths to heart and abandon our own perceived pragmatic plans, because the alternative is allowing apostasy, heterodoxy, and unionism to exist and flourish within Christ's Church if it goes unaddressed.

Worse, it's ignoring Christ's sheep and allowing them to either be eaten by wolves or to shipwreck their faith, which would have eternal consequences.

For a much better in-depth analysis and review of this same article, please check out Rev. Sam Schuldheisz's review.


In a Lutheran layman's terms, yes, there are various reasons why our kids leave Christ's Church, but let's start trusting God and His Word and His methods for growing and preserving His Son's Church (a.k.a. Word and Sacraments) since "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).



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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There's really no other way to say it: Andy Stanley is just another wolf in sheep's clothing (Matthew 7:15).

How else do you explain his latest comments during a recent worship service where he clearly INTRODUCED DOUBTS and QUESTIONED the the existence of God?


 
Perhaps There Is No God Suggests Andy Stanley 
For all my Andy Stanley fans within the LCMS. 
It boils my blood that *any* Christian so-called "pastor" would even imply such nonsense, and it's truly heartbreaking when you think about his enormous popularity and many followers across denominational lines. 
As one person put it... 
"If there is no God, and perhaps there's not," said Andy Stanley during an official Sunday worship service. Even in the overall context of what he's attempting to do, it's troubling that a Christian pastor would even say this during an official Sunday worship service. 
Yes it is. Very troubling indeed. Yet, extremely faithful to his Degree in Post-Modern Wolfology. 
Sadly, this is merely the latest in a long line of half-truths and lies that he has preached and taught over the years. 
When are Lutherans going to say "enough is enough!" and stop doing Small Group Studies on his material? 
This is why catechizing our members in "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) should not end with their Confirmation. 
Sorry, there I go being "divisive" and "unloving" again. ‪#‎DoctrineMatters‬


That's what I wrote on my Facebook page today in response to seeing this unbelievable story.

Here are the key comments from the writer who originally reported this for our benefit, which are spot on too...


"He’s approaching it as an informal discussion between him and unbelievers, but it is being done during official Sunday worship services. His end goal is to convince them of their need for God."

"Some may object and suggest he simply misspoke. He did not misspeak. What he said there is congruent with the rest of what he said. He left a lot of things open for possibility that a Christian pastor should not leave open. Here are further examples to prove he did not misspeak. 1. There may be no you, rather just biology. 2. The sense of no ought, and no value may be true. 3. Left open the possibility that something came from nothing, Complex life came from simple life, through the invisible force of natural selection. He said that may be true."

"If you listen to the entire sermon, I can guarantee you’ll hear more quotes from atheists than from scripture, and really, I’m pretty sure he didn’t quote any scripture, but maybe I missed one. Why during an official Sunday worship service is a Christian pastor quoting atheists more than scripture? (Probably no scripture at all.) Why is this Christian pastor even suggesting that perhaps there may not be a God?"


Others chimed in with some additional and appropriate observations to support the writer's assessment that this is spiritual (eternally?) dangerous and, sadly, nothing new.


"I affirm your every word. And I add Beth Moore, Sarah Young, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen and Rick Warren. Not only are people choosing to listen to and read materials from these noted false teachers, many Christian churches use their materials for Bible study groups and sermon topic series and sadly, this includes congregations in the LC-MS."

"My favorite is when he mocked Christians who highly value the Bible from the pulpit for an entire sermon. If that doesn't make Lutheran blood boil, I don't know what will."

"You'd be surprised how many otherwise sound theologians there are out there who would affirm philosophically it is possible God does not exist. Not that Andy Stanley is an otherwise sound theologian."


Unfortunately, we've been here before with guys like Carl Lentz and Steven Furtick to name a couple.

To reiterate, the words in the Holy Bible are pretty clear. And yet, as evidenced by the the types of comments that a piece like this will invariably draw, those "Christians" who want to object to the points and warnings I'm trying to make here today will do so by completely ignoring them.

Let that be all you need to know as you continue reading this heartfelt plea to BE VERY CAREFUL when it comes to accepting as "Biblical truth" anything and everything you hear (and read) being preached and taught by false teacher, Mr. Andy Stanley.


Matthew 7:15-17 (ESV) Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.

Matthew 24:24 (ESV) For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

Mark 13:22 (ESV) For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect.

2 Peter 2:1 (ESV) But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

Acts 20:29-31 (ESV) I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears.

Galatians 1:6-10 (ESV) I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel -- not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Galatians 2:1-2 (ESV) Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in -- who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery -- to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.

2 Timothy 4:2-5 (ESV) preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

2 Corinthians 11:4 (ESV) For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.

2 Corinthians 11:12-15 (ESV) And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 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 John 4:1 (ESV) Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Jude 1:3-4 (ESV) Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.


Like I said, God's Word is pretty clear to us. Crystal clear, in fact.

In other words, our desire to call attention to this today shouldn't be all that surprising to us...if we've been reading the New Testament.

Furthermore, our response to the things that were highlighted today shouldn't be all that surprising either...since they have their source in the very holy and divinely inspired Word of God.

See, this is what we must be on constant guard against. The Old Adam loves to have his ego stroked and his ears tickled (2 Timothy 4:3) so that he feels like he's somebody and knows better than God Himself.

It breaks my heart to think of the people deceived by this kind of teaching, which is Andy's brand of Post-Modern Christianity, and not Christ's, which transcends all cultures, times, and places.

My dear friends, this is what is masquerading as "Biblical truth" and "preaching" these days.

Our response? Any alteration, any distortion, any perverted version of Jesus Christ and/or His Word and His Gospel unto salvation is to be confronted by believers by speaking "the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15) in the hopes that we can help to "save others by snatching them out of the fire" and "to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh" (Jude 1:23).

My dear friends, fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, we must be more discerning! We must remember that there’s a reason why every Epistle in the New Testament issues a strong warning to us believers to be on guard against the reality of false teachers who are so dangerous and deceiving because they look and sound the part as though they were the real deal (2 Peter 2, for instance).

It’s why we read in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths."

Scripture, Jesus, and the Christian Church are to have a unified position. We are to be unified in love and unified in truth (Ephesians 4:4-6).

Pastors need to fulfill the calling of their God-given ministries. Where the Bible is clear, they need to preach boldly, but lovingly. Where the Bible is silent, the need to preach humbly, but with continued reverence. But they should never shy away from preaching on certain passages and topics simply because they're deemed "controversial" or because some "survey" said people in their congregation and community won't like it.

For me, that’s my main concern with Andy Stanley based on his own words that are a matter of full public record now.

For someone like Him who claims to know that Jesus Christ died for the sins of all mankind and that this is the one thing we all need to hear about (Christ crucified for our sins so that we may be forgiven and have eternal life), and yet, he refuses to give proclaim His name and His ministry of reconciliation to the sinner let alone God's very existence is downright despicable.

Dearly beloved, I'm sure Andy Stanley is a nice guy. He might even sincerely love our Lord and Savior. I have no idea. But just because men like him are sincere, flashy, gifted speakers doesn’t mean we should blindly accept, believe, and follow their every word.

Remember, the Bereans tested what the Apostle Paul himself taught them and they did so on a daily basis (Acts 17:11). That was the Apostle Paul for crying out loud! That's the Biblical approach we always need to take.

Why? Well, isn't it obvious by now? Sincerity and the ability to communicate effectively does not "automatically" equal Biblical truth or give you a free pass when it comes to preaching.

People must be preached the full weight of the Law followed by the full hope of the Gospel. They need to see their unrighteousness and need for forgiveness, mercy, and righteousness found only in the Savior, Jesus Christ, and His atoning sacrifice on their behalf on the cross at Calvary. They don't need a steady dose of doubts.

As always, please don't just take my word for any of this. Be like the Bereans (Acts 17:11) and "test the spirits" (1 John 4:1) to see if what I'm simply relaying to you from His Word is true or not.


"Heresy can never be restrained with force. It must be grasped in another way. This is not the sort of battle that can be settled with thee sword. The weapon here to be used is God's Word. If that does not decide, the decision will not be effected by worldly force, though it should drench the whole world with blood. Heresy is a thing of the soul; no steel can cut it out, no waters can drown it." 
-- Martin Luther


Now, please go warn a family member or friend about this wolf in sheep's clothing named Andy Stanley and pray that he repents of his false teachings and returns to "the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people" (Jude 1:3).

Of course, please pray for those sitting under his preaching and teaching too.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, Andy Stanley is just another wolf in sheep's clothing (Matthew 7:15).



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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My family and I have been away in Orlando, FL this entire week having been incredibly blessed to be able to enjoy our very first Disney World family vacation!

They say this place is "magical" and that you get to "put life on hold" while you're visiting. Not so fast! That's not entirely true.

The reality? Personally, I found this place to be even more tempting to my fallen, sinful flesh in so many ways when compared to when I'm back home living my day-to-day normal life.

So, that's why a few tweets by Rev. Johnathan Fisk truly resonated with me.




This is most certainly true. 


I hate my sin. I do. Yet, there are times when I also love my sin. I hate to admit it, but it's true...AND I HATE MYSELF FOR IT! Such is the disgusting nature of a "wretched man that I am!" (Romans 7:24).

Still, the reality is that I am no longer a slave to sin, but I was purchased by the blood of Christ who redeemed me and set me free from that slavery unto death (Romans 6:23).


Romans 7:25 (ESV) Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.


Back to that quote from Rev. Fisk that I referenced earlier.

I shared it on my Facebook page and it prompted this creative response Rev. Chris Agne...


I still take my sin out to lunch occasionally. But, we mostly sit and stare at our phones the whole time.


I really like that analogy!

In fact, thinking about this past week and how I indulged myself in all that Disney had to offer me, I began to piece together my own similar analogy.

Here's what I came up with...


 
For me, it's like I'm in the traditional and tragic abusive relationship with my sin. I truly hate her, and finally understand why I must leave her for good, but every now and then she seduces me with memories of what I thought were "good times" together, and I flirt with the feeling of wanting to get back together even though I know it's wrong and she could kill me. Truth is, I'm utterly helpless to leave her on my own and need Someone to save me from her before I die! 
The solution? It's not magic! It's faith!


Truth is, I feel this war raging within me all the time (Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38) -- even as I type these words here!


Romans 7:14-25 (ESV) We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.


The Word of God declares it. I'm merely living evidence of the truthfulness of those words.

Then, right on cue, I saw this excerpt from Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller's new book "Has American Christianity Failed?" that someone highlighted online...


"Jesus is a better Savior than you are a sinner. Christ died for sinners...You are only unsavable if Jesus says you are unsavable. He doesn't. You are only unforgivable if Jesus says you are unforgivable. He doesn't. Jesus over and over in the Scriptures comes with kindness and mercy, with promises of life and salvation, with the forgiveness of our sins."


That is a beautiful declaration of the Gospel and just what I needed to be reminded of today!

Later, Rev. Fisk added a few more powerful words on the subject...


With sin mortified by its inability to be redeemed, the redeemed mind is supernaturally trained to resist its call. By faith alone a Christian despises his sin. He sees no proof of removal beyond hope that in Christ sin will die yet leave him still living.


"By faith alone." Period.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, it's not by magic that we are forgiven for our many sins and redeemed. It's by faith in the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for me (and for you) and by faith alone.



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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You might think this is a very strange title for any piece that shows up on a Christian blog.

After all, aren't WE supposed to be the ones GIVING "generosity" and "kindness" to our neighbors as we love them through our various vocations?

You bet we are, but there's something about being on the reverse and receiving end of our neighbor's own "good works" and their own generosity and kindness to us that I think we should be mindful of based on what the Word of God says about it.

Personally, I've never been one who accepts generosity, gifts, and kindness from others very well.

In fact, everyone knows that I often joke about having a "guilt complex" when it comes to such people and what they have done or continue to do for me and my family.

Why is that though? What is it about me that makes it so difficult to simply say "Thank you!" and be done with it? Why do I always feel like I have to "keep score" or "pay them back" somehow and in some way down the road? Most importantly, is such a feeling and response sinful?

It's not exactly in sync with our Church Calendar, but here's an excellent sermon I found that was preached by Rev. Esko Murto in Concordia Seminary's Martin Luther Chapel in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada for a Divine Service on December 9th, 2015 that addresses this subject for us.

The sermon text was Luke 9:1-6. How does a Bible passage on the "Sending of the Twelve" have anything at all to do with accepting generosity and kindness from others? I thought the same exact questions myself. Here's the answer...


 
Sending The Twelve (Luke 9:1-6) 
The sermon today focuses on the verses 3 and 4 in today’s Gospel: Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart.  
Why does our Lord give this kind of a marching order for his disciples? These are the ones he is sending like sheep among the wolves – and to make things worse, so it seems to us, he specifically orders them not to take a staff for self-defence, no bag, bread or money to keep them sustained, not even two tunics to help them stay warm in case they would need to spend the night outdoors. 
Perhaps he is setting an example here? Showing that those serving him ought not to expect much in the way of possessions and especially not to be greedy for worldly things, but should accept a humbler, more meager standard of living, showing in their own lives that they do not gather treasures on earth, but rather seek only to increase their heavenly riches? 
Yet none of the things Christ lists here could be considered particularly extravagant or luxurious. He is not talking about magnificently ornamented chariots or splendid robes, rich foods or money bags heavy with gold. All the things he lists are parts of ordinary travel gear, the kind of things any sensible man would take when heading out. The things our Lord denies are not some additional, extra comforts. He takes away the things to meet their very basic needs. 
Why then such a commandment? The fourth verse gives answer to this: Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. 
Our Lord did not intend that his disciples would not have bread during their mission, but he decided that this bread would not come from their own bags, but from the ladles of their hearers. Those people who heard and received the good news of God’s kingdom were meant to be the ones who supplied them with their basic sustenance. 
The reason for this can be two-fold. Firstly, it gave the hearers a way of showing their faith and thankfulness in tangible, concrete works of service. Those whose hearts were filled with new hope, joy and peace, were thus invited to take part in the mission of Jesus. Not as preachers themselves, but as ones who supplied for the preachers by giving them a roof over their heads, a bed, a meal, warmth and friendship. As St. James exhorted, they were given the chance to show their faith through their works as they took care of the disciples. 
Secondly, Christ here wanted to bring his disciples into closer contact with the ones who they were preaching to. The disciples would not form an isolated group that just conducts hit and run preaching assignments. Eating the same bread and sharing the table with their hearers made them part of the community they preached to, allowing, or even forcing them to get to know the people they served with the gospel. 
During my years of ministry I have come to understand that there are two things that make it hard for Christians to show love toward each other. One of them is the obvious one: we struggle with selfishness, and are often slow to help when others need aid. The other is more easily missed and it is this: we are reluctant to allow ourselves to be helped by others. We strive for self-sufficiency and independence, and even if there would be someone who would be willing to help and give, we try our hardest to hide our needs and problems. This problem can occur with pastors, when they try to be as self-sufficient and self-reliant as possible, perhaps imagining that in this way they won’t burden the congregation, but actually by so doing, they are unwittingly isolating themselves from the people they serve. 
So here Jesus prepares his future apostles for the time when they, as bishops of the early church, would need to devote themselves fully to prayer and preaching, and allow themselves to be cared for by their hearers. Even today, it is not only the duty, but also the holy and unalienable right of the Christian to care for their pastors, and those preparing for that office need to learn the art of receiving kindness as well as showing it to others, lest they deprive their congregations of this God-pleasing sacrifice they otherwise would want to give. 
This is the manner with which God provides for his servants, he operates as if working from behind masks. The disciples returned, our Lord asked them: did you want anything while you were on the road? And they replied: no. They had everything they needed. But how did they receive it? They received their upkeep from other people, but this way they were also shown from first-hand experience that our Heavenly Father knows our needs and provides for us. 
Yet all the love and service we can receive from fellow men pales in comparison to the loving kindness and grace our Lord himself shows to us. Whatever house you enter, He once said to his disciples, there you should remain, and eat what is offered to you. Today we have come to the Lord’s own house, and set before us is the food he has prepared, a meal that restores the traveler’s strength and strengthens our faith. This is the house where we will not be turned away, where we are invited to stay, eat and rest. This is where those without bread will come to eat the bread of life; those without gold will drink the blood of Christ and receive eternal life; those with soiled tunics will be clothed with the white garb of Christ’s righteousness; those with no strength will be defended by the rod and staff of our High Shepherd. So leave aside your pride and self-sufficiency, and allow yourselves to be clothed, fed, defended and made rich by the Lord Himself. Amen.

I just love that!

Plus, this could not have come at a more perfect time for me since me and my family have been truly blessed in more ways than we could've ever imagined we would in this life.

Specifically, it also comes at the precise moment in time when I have been seriously considering whether or not to go to Seminary so this is an important reminder for me to not rob my fellow brothers and sisters of the joy of serving the Lord by providing for me and my family in whatever way they might deem necessary either now or in the future.


Even today, it is not only the duty, but also the holy and unalienable right of the Christian to care for their pastors, and those preparing for that office need to learn the art of receiving kindness as well as showing it to others, lest they deprive their congregations of this God-pleasing sacrifice they otherwise would want to give.


A mere six verses packed with so much wisdom!

I like how Luke 9:3 shows how the apostles were required to truly trust God to provide for their every need. As mentioned, their daily needs were to be met by those that received their ministry and provided hospitality (food and lodging).


In contrast, Luke 9:4 prohibits the Twelve from constantly moving about so as to secure better accommodations and provisions for themselves. The good will of those who received the Gospel and extended hospitality to Christ's ambassadors was much more important than the apostles' own personal comfort and well-being.

You know, with that in mind, I wonder if there's something to be said about this particular verse in relation to the kind of "Pastoral Musical Chairs" we so often see throughout Christ's Church today.

What I meant to say is that, nowadays, it seems rather rare for one Pastor to serve a single congregation during his entire life as a called and ordained servant of the Lord since he will likely receive multiple calls to other (and what he perceives to be "better" perhaps?) churches.


Regardless, the message couldn't be any clearer: we possess the same hope and eternal life through Jesus Christ crucified for the sins of all mankind that these Twelve were sent to preach about back then, which is why we have an obligation to show our gratitude to such men in our midst today.


Romans 10:15 (ESV) And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!"


For the layman who's reading this passage of the text, I think the message is the same.

No, we're not the Twelve, and we're not Pastors ourselves, but if another believer wants to do a good work for us for any reason, then we should simply receive their generosity and kindness while thanking God for working through such people that He intentionally put in our lives.

So, for anyone who's reading this (family, friends, and strangers alike) who has either prayed for me or provided for me in some way or both, I just want to say THANK YOU and MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND YOURS!!! You know who you are.


In a Lutheran layman's terms, we need to leave aside our pride and self-sufficiency and allow ourselves to be cared for by other believers while always recognizing that we are "clothed, fed, defended and made rich by the Lord Himself" as He is the One Who ultimately provides us with our "daily bread" each and every day that He gives to us.



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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