Yesterday, I visited an LCMS church for the first time that preached the kind of sermon that only destroys the faith of Christians.
Visited a local #LCMS church w/extended family following a wedding yesterday and learned ANOTHER #Lutheran church married #Evangelicalism— LutheranLayman (@LutheranLayman) July 12, 2015
The "Traditional Service" featured not a Biblical sermon, but a sermon on the Christian bestseller "Not A Fan" titled "Fan or Follower?"— LutheranLayman (@LutheranLayman) July 12, 2015
When I say there was no #grace / #gospel preached -- I mean there was none! I kept waiting for it, but it NEVER came! Ever!— LutheranLayman (@LutheranLayman) July 12, 2015
We were told things like "A fan is on the sidelines, a follower plays the game" and "The biggest threat to the church today are the 'fans'"— LutheranLayman (@LutheranLayman) July 12, 2015
Pastor kept asking us if we could shout out some ideas of the "differences" between a "Fan" and a "Follower" of Jesus Christ...— LutheranLayman (@LutheranLayman) July 12, 2015
The predictable "a changed life is clear evidence of of being a 'follower' of Jesus as opposed to a 'fan'" was preached! #NotLutheran— LutheranLayman (@LutheranLayman) July 12, 2015
"Not A Fan" makes some good points and has some great observations, but please give me a sermon on the Bible instead. #OrdinationVows— LutheranLayman (@LutheranLayman) July 12, 2015
Pastor: "What's a Follower? Someone who's authentic/genuine, not content with being on the sidelines. You know about Jesus, but KNOW Him!"— LutheranLayman (@LutheranLayman) July 12, 2015
That's how the "sermon" ended. No forgiveness. No grace. No mercy. No Gospel. No Sacraments (not even mentioned!). No Jesus. Just Law!— LutheranLayman (@LutheranLayman) July 12, 2015
Oh, and the ONLY Bible verse actually referenced during the "sermon" was the expected "pick up your cross" command too. #YOHBT— LutheranLayman (@LutheranLayman) July 12, 2015
Clarified to my family: "A Follower is a Christian who knows they're often a Fan, but they have faith, repent, and God still forgives them."— LutheranLayman (@LutheranLayman) July 12, 2015
Was today "7th Sunday After Pentecost" or the "1st Sunday In A New Sermon Series On The Book 'Not A Fan'" instead? Sadly, it's the latter.— LutheranLayman (@LutheranLayman) July 12, 2015
Sorry, but this "Follower (Saint)/Fan (Sinner)" will continue to put his trust in "the founder and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:1-2).— LutheranLayman (@LutheranLayman) July 12, 2015
It's so sad that this has become the norm in most Lutheran churches today as opposed to the exception that it once was.
Thankfully, there are some faithful men of God who still take their Ordination Vows seriously and deliver us God's gifts the way He always intended His servants to.
Here's one such sermon that wasn't preached yesterday, but a couple of weeks ago. I think you'll instantly recognize the difference as well as the clear presence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Like the disciples, we too are quick to blame the Lord when it appears that the Lord is sleeping or is nowhere to be found in helping us with the storms of our life.
For example: we may want the Lord to grab an oar and help paddle us out of our financial debt.
Or, we may want the Lord to grab a bucket and help us scoop away our marital problems.
Or, we may want the Lord to steer the boat away from the rocks of physical suffering.
Regardless of our circumstance, the point is the same, we want the Lord to awake from His slumber and deal with our belly-aching right away, for the time is urgent.
But the Lord does not help you and me. He appears to just lie there, sleeping in the boat like some passed out deadbeat father. While we are screaming our heads off in fear of all the fierce waves of life that threaten to destroy us, He just lies there sprawled out, asleep, or so it seems.
“[These] are the times when it’s easy to pray with the psalmist, ‘Awake! Why do you sleep, O Lord? Why do You hide Your face and forget our affliction and our oppression?’ (Psalm 44:23-ff).’ [Otherwise stated,] are You [O Lord] in Your [heavenly] easy chair, catching some Z’s while I’m down here [being wounded, getting sick, and] catching hell? Do you not care? Have you retired from your job as rescuer? Do you have Alzheimer’s, living in the past, as if the world is still a trouble-free paradise, forgetting who you are, where you are, who your children are, ignoring their prayers?”
There is no doubt about it, it is easy to grumble like this and it is easy for us to want the Lord to respond to our demands and to help us the way we want, when we want, and how we want, for we have convinced ourselves that we certainly know what is best for ourselves and we also get afraid quite quickly and begin to doubt.
After our ranting and raving and our apparent success in waking the Lord up, we come next to find out that the Lord does not help us or respond in the way that we ask. He will not do things the way we want Him to. He has His own idea of what is good for us and it is typically not heeding to our demands and our desires. Otherwise stated, He does not help, but rather, He does far more. He forgives.
We cry, “Lord, grab an oar and help me paddle out of financial debt.” He speaks to you, “Be still, be silent, dear child, your sins of greed are forgiven.”
We cry, “Lord, grab a bucket and help me scoop away my marital problems.” He speaks to you, “Be still, be silent, dear child, I forgive you for your lust, your pornography, and your neglect of your spouse.”
We cry, “Lord, steer the boat away from the rocks of physical suffering.” He speaks to you, “Be still, be silent, dear child, do not fear; I have redeemed you, called you by name, and have promised you a resurrected body after this life in the vale of tears is over. I am your life and your salvation, you shall not be afraid. Your health may fail, and your spirit may grow weak, but I remain the strength of your heart and you belong to me forever.”
Dear friends, no the Lord often does not help you the way that you want. He does not paddle your oars and He does not scoop the water out of your boats and He does not steer you away from rocks… He does so much more, He arises and speaks a word to the chaos of the storm, “Be still; be silenced.”
We cry, Christ speaks.
Matthew 9:12 (ESV) But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick."
Mark 2:17 (ESV) And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."
Luke 5:31-32 (ESV) 31 And Jesus answered them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."
"This is most certainly true."
In a Lutheran layman's terms, we cry, Christ speaks, and He says to us over and over again, "Be still, be silent, I am the Lord your God...Your sins are forgiven; sin, death, and the devil are defeated...Do not be afraid, believe in me, for I am yours and you are mine."
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, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism almost 2 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 pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category 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 we 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 notes 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 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 experiencing and/or 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!