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Is Your Church A Hidden Gem?

This quote from another Pastor is a reminder of why I love the hidden gem that is Redeemer Lutheran Church in Colden, NY, why I'm grateful that God has brought me and my family back to it, and why I hate it whenever we miss a week of receiving God's gifts there every-now-and-then (even if it's due to being sick or the weather), because Lord knows I desperately need Him and them...


 
"The coming New Year can be an incredible burden or blessing to a church. For example, churches that build their foundation upon relevancy, contemporary-ness, momentum, next steps, and vision, will find the New Year to be a tremendous burden. That is to say, when a church lives under the Law of 'Self/Church-Improvement,' the church (and especially the leaders) will always be burdened to 'one-up' the previous year concerning attendance, sermon series creativity, music talent, mission ingenuity, effectiveness, etc. The burden will be, 'How can we do 2020 better than 2019?' 
However, when a church is built upon the foundation of the unchanging grace of God, the New Year is not a burden but another year to hear, receive, and inwardly digest the same undeserved and unmerited grace of God earned by Christ. 
Indeed, for these latter churches, the New Year is not a burden, but another year of Gospel -- to hear the same message again through all the seasons of 2020. It is another year to be amazed by the goodness of Christ toward sinners, no matter what the New Year has in store." 
-- Rev. Dr. Matthew Richard


Thanks be to God that I belong to a church with a Pastor who also understands this -- that it's about preaching Law-and-Gospel, not tickling ears (2 Timothy 4:3) with endless "To-Do Lists" fueled by whatever is culturally, socially, and/or politically relevant and trendy at the time. Sadly, far too many churches have forgotten why they exist in the first place.

At Redeemer, Christ is there for me every week, not to burden me by shouting "Do! Do! Do!" and "Get To Work!" but to remind me that "It Is Finished! It Is Finished! It Is Finished!" and that I should go there to rest in Him and to receive His gifts of grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

Don't take my word for it though. Please consider visiting one of these Sundays and you'll see what I mean.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, Redeemer Lutheran Church in Colden, NY is truly a hidden gem in this day-and-age.

Is your church a hidden gem? If not, if you're not receiving God's gifts of Word and Sacraments there, then please prayerfully consider joining us one Sunday morning.


NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just your average everyday Christian, Corporate Healthcare 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." So if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, "Praise the Lord! Thanks be to God!" but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor. Trust, but always verify. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this lengthy disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to "Confessional Lutheranism" and one who recently escaped an American-Evangelical-Non-Denominational mindset a little more than 7 years ago now despite being a Christian my whole life. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way back into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with the Bible, our Confessions, and Lutheran doctrine in general (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 not only correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1), but so that I can also repent of my sin and learn the whole truth myself. With that in mind, 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 B-A-S-I-C-S 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 more "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavily 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 demanding I correct them or take them down entirely, but 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 will 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 by that! 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!

About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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