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Welcome

WHO AM I? WHO CARES! IT'S ABOUT HIM
(BUT IF YOU MUST KNOW, I'M JUST A LUTHERAN LAYMAN)




First off, it's never about me, but always about Him (at least it should be that way).
Still, I realize that some people just want to know a little about the person who has been entrusted to manage things in this digital space for their own peace of mind. So, this is probably as personal as this blog will ever get even though I do intend to document my ongoing journey from American Evangelicalism to Confessional Lutheranism as well as discuss the difficulties I experienced (and continue to experience) along the way.

Perhaps the best place to start for an "in-depth summary" of how I got here would be to read the following commentaries when you have some time. They're as honest and raw as I can get to try to explain things to anyone who happens to stumble upon this blog (especially those who know me from my Look Up Fellowship and Right Now Radio days several years back before I became a Lutheran).



Why Am I A Lutheran? Why Am I A Lutheran In The LCMS?

Becoming Lutheran: My Escape From Evangelicalism

I'm A Confessional Lutheran, But...

Don't Eat At The Buffet of American Evangelicalism!

Why I Left Behind The 'Left Behind' Mindset (Amillennialism: The Lutheran Perspective On Bible Prophecy)

Great Reversal: Starting Over By Starting At The End


Please keep in mind that all those post hyperlinked above were written about 3-4 years ago so for a more complete picture you can always spend some time in this blog's Archive or Recent Posts sections.

In short, I became a Lutheran (rediscovered Lutheranism really) and now I'm a Lutheran layman who thought it might be helpful to publish my musings on Apologetics, Bible Study, Confessional Lutheranism, and a Christian Life from my own humble perspective as I go through this process myself.

Another way to put it is to simply say that this website is committed to contending and defending with a childlike faith, but in layman's terms if at all possible.

Most importantly, however, it's important for anyone and everyone who visits and reads the material here to remember that I am not a called and ordained servant of God's Word and Sacraments so if you have any questions or concerns about anything you find here in this space, then please drop me a note about it, and then go see your own Pastor and talk to him about it. No blog (especially a blog written by a layman!) should ever become a substitute for the spiritual food you are to be fed from your under-shepherd at your local church.


Again, to reiterate, I'm just a Lutheran layman documenting my escape from American Evangelicalism and a Non-Denominational mindset to becoming a Confessional Lutheran after learning I apparently wasn’t a "true" Christian. Ever have that happen to you? I was told I had reason to "doubt my salvation" not because I believed in some kind of false doctrine (oh no! although I did believe some un-Biblical things at the time), but because I didn’t have "crazy love" for Jesus, and because I wasn’t "radical" enough in my life for Him either. Sorry, but I'm "not a fan" of that kind of Scripture twisting thanks to best-selling "Christian" authors and those who buy into their teachings and want others to conform to them. People think I’m weird and it has absolutely nothing to do with my red hair or the fact that I’m left-handed! They think I’m nuts because I believe in this thing called the "Doctrine of Justification" or "Sola Fide" (fancy-schmancy words that mean "Faith Alone") as in, I believe I’m saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, which kinda sounds a lot like Ephesians 2:8-9 when you think about it.

I’m also "too Lutheran" for my Lutheran family members and friends so there’s that. So, if "being cool" and being "part of the in crowd" is important to you, if you like to pet wolves, if you think the 11th Commandment should have been "Thou Shall Not Offend" (and think contending for and defending the faith is actually "offensive" despite what Jude 1:3 says), if you say that "Jesus Is My Homeboy" or "The Big Guy Upstairs" and not the King of kings, Lord of lords, the Messiah, the Lord and Savior who sits at the right hand of the Father, then you probably won't like reading the blog or listening to the podcast...but then that just means that you probably should.

So, who am I? Christian. Husband. Father. Friend. If I had to be defined by one title and one title alone, then I would want to be known as Your Humble Servant (or is that too "pietistic" perhaps? haha) even though we all know how difficult it is to love and serve our neighbor as we should, right? Again, that's why I would prefer to talk about God's grace and propitiation for my sins and yours upon the cross for me, for you, and for all as opposed to my own perceived "good works" done in His name for others.

When people ask me about my cherished faith, I always answer that I'm a Christian, but that should not be taken to imply that I'm somehow ashamed or embarrassed by the fact that I'm a Lutheran who belongs to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS).


It's like Martin Luther said:

"The first thing I ask is that people should not make use of my name, and should not call themselves Lutherans but Christians. What is Luther? The teaching is not mine. Nor was I crucified for anyone. How did I, poor stinking bag of maggots that I am, come to the point where people call the children of Christ by my evil name?"


Even so, I suppose little more back story is probably in order though, especially since this Lutheran stuff is still relatively "fresh" and "new" to me too as I continue to learn day after day. 

My Mom was a Catholic, my Dad was a Lutheran, and I was raised a Lutheran, but we only went to church on holidays (except for this one year when my Dad made me get up early each and every Sunday to go to church because that was the year I was getting Confirmed). I remember always praying to "a god," but looking back on it now, it was actually a mix of "Hail Marys" and "Our Fathers" that came out of my mouth. Yes, I'm sure I even prayed to a saint or two at one time or another. I also remember this one phase I went  through where I had this tiny glow-in-the-dark white cross that said "God Is Love" on it that I slept with each and every night (I loved that thing!). My Catholic Grandmother said she thought that meant I was going to be a Priest someday. I was taught that there was power in the cross (and even a small, plastic toy cross like that), but not in Jesus Christ Himself in the sense that no one really talked about Him much except during Christmas and Easter, and so crosses and crucifixes were deemed "very important" in my home growing up (and even more so if it was hanging around your neck).

Fast forward to my teens and early twenties. I left the Church, and by that I mean I stopped going at all (even on holidays!) and only showed up for a wedding or a funeral. I still always believed in "a god" although it was never "God the Father," but a god of my own choosing and creation (can you say "idolatry" anyone?).

The truth of the words found in John 6:44 was definitely at work in my life after 9/11 though, and I remember the impact it had on causing me to search for real answers in this life. I saw a Ray Comfort/Kirk Cameron/Living Waters Ministries "Are You A Good Person?" typical Evangelical presentation of the Gospel late one night when flipping around on TV after hours of indulging in my various sins. Simply put, that was the very first time I had ever heard both the Law and the Gospel presented side-by-side and in a way that caught my attention and forced me to acknowledge my own sorry spiritual condition. I was cut to the heart, repented for my sins through a contrite heart that was also drowned with tears, and begged Jesus to forgive me and to become my sole (and my soul's) focus in life. Looking back, there was way more Law than Gospel I heard during that show though.

In hindsight, however, I know what kind of "seed" I was back then. The fact of the matter is that I was most likely a so-called "false convert" for perhaps the next year or so even though I told everyone (whether they wanted to listen to me or not) that I was "born again" as a "new creation" in Christ, and even though there was absolutely no evidence whatsoever of that being the case despite my lip service (no evidence that the public could see or that I could see when alone and in private settings either). I know now that even if I saw what I thought was "evidence" it would be foolish to put any kind of trust in that instead of in Jesus Christ Himself, but I'm getting ahead of myself. At that point in time, EVERYTHING having to do with Christianity was new, and I finally bought myself my own personal Bible and began reading it. No, I mean I actually devoured it! I remember sitting in my car during my lunch break during my very first full-time Sales job out of college just reading passage after passage starting with Genesis in the Old Testament and thinking, "Man, I just wish I didn't have to work to pay the bills and that I could just do this all day, every day!"

Obviously, that wasn't an option, but as time went by, I began to have this "urge" to start a personal blog focused on my new faith, but I hesitated out of fear (Galatians 1:10). So I prayed about starting a blog, probably mislabeled any subjective internal feelings I had about the idea as "a clear sign from God," and finally took the plunge one day thinking it would serve as a good outlet for me in that it would motivate me to spend time with the Lord and get me to read and study His Bible. Plus, I could put all of my personal study notes online in one place over time and if it helped someone, then great! I never expected it to be anything more than a personal blog that only my closest family members and friends knew about (more on how wrong I was about that in just a minute!). Oh, and I still wasn't going to church despite me "deep love" for Jesus. In fact, it wasn't even on my radar as something I thought I needed to do.

At this same time, eschatology (a fancy schmancy word for "The Study of End Times Bible Prophecy") was a major interest of mine -- more so than learning about Him, His Word, fellowshipping with other believers, and/or spiritual growth was -- and when I embarked on creating the blog "Look Up Fellowship" in service to Him back in July 2008, eschatology was the website's primary focus due to everything that was going on in the world that I was "convinced" meant the end was near. No, I wasn't the usual "Pin-The-Tail-On-The-Antichrist" type, but I did "major in the minors, and minor in the majors" if you know what I mean, and did that for a full 5 years until 2013 when the website "mysteriously" got suspended by Google/GoDaddy (I write the word mysteriously in quotes only to communicate that I personally believe that nothing happens outside of God's sovereign will and, as time goes by, I continue to thank Him for allowing/causing that to happen, because to this very day I still have no clue what happened and never once received any feedback when I tried looking into it with Google/Blogger Reps either!).

During those 5 years it was AMAZING to watch and witness how the Lord used Look Up Fellowship to reach people around the world -- just under 2 million people! On one occasion, He even used the blog to create a connection between me and another man several states away (a man I never met and only communicated with through the blog and via email) that was critical to keeping him from committing suicide after he sent me a Suicide Letter via email on Saturday morning! There are many more personal testimonies like that thanks to that blog He entrusted to my care, and I only mention it to illustrate a point. It was things like that (temptations to feel prideful if only a teeny, tiny bit) that Satan used to his advantage against me. It wasn't long before LUF gained in popularity throughout the Christian Blogosphere too, and people came calling and asking me to be a guest on their podcast and/or Radio program. Soon, I even began hosting my own podcasting channels too when I wasn't a Guest Host for others. Things got so insane that I started to receive invites to speak at Christian Conferences all because of the popularity of this personal blog of mine, which was much more "speculative" than anything "objective" and truthful!

Then, one day, I woke up to find that I had traveled too far down the rabbit hole in pursuit of various "myths and endless genealogies" (1 Timothy 1:4) in the "Christian Conspiracy Theorist" subculture at the expense of sound Biblical truth, and what began with noble intentions was quickly hijacked by Satan and used by him to create a sense of pride, a sense of invincibility, a sense of power that ultimately blinded me to the truth about myself and what I was 
doing. What is it they say? "The road to Hell is paved with the best intentions..." That's so true I'm afraid!

It doesn't matter what kind of "good" came from any of it, because at the end of the day, I was guilty of believing, teaching, and confessing false doctrine and became the blind leading the blind.


That was around the blog's third year. The next 2 years or so demonstrated a drastic change in me and in the content that was published though! As the Lord matured me (a.k.a convicted me about all of this and sanctified me in the process), the blog matured as well. I quickly began to realize the truth about...EVERYTHING...thanks to Him and quickly acted to clean up the mess I had created (if I could).

So, the first thing I did was go back through several years worth of archived posts and I actually deleted all the ones that were obviously un-Biblical any way you looked at them. Sure, I may have been "sincere" and had "good intentions" at the time, I may have sprinkled in some Christian terminology and Bible verses here and there, but we all know that sincerity and good intentions does not guarantee a good grasp of Gospel truth. "A little leaven" too, right? Lord, please forgive me! I could tell something was changing, especially when a lot of my posts always began with L-E-N-G-T-H-Y disclaimers to not take what I was writing/saying as a "Thus sayeth the Lord!" type of pronouncement still so common these days. Plus, I began to notice that any time I wrote non-speculative pieces (as in pieces with some doctrinal truth or something), that's when people -- presumably other Christians -- got upset with me! They hated reading those posts, but loved the ones that speculated about the so-called "signs of the times" or that tried to decipher what the latest Google image meant prophetically. That caught my attention too for sure. I just didn't get it. I would share a Biblical sermon instead of trying to analyze the day's news events and would receive hate mail for it! Then I did start to understand.

This is roughly the same time that the Lord also began to reveal to me my need to return to the Lutheran confession of the faith while abandoning all the other "-isms" that were living in my "spiritual house under one roof" (as one Lutheran Pastor called his own similar experience converting from American Evangelicalism to Confessional Lutheranism). Still, I remained a "spiritual island" unto myself for awhile and even though I was devoted to studying the Bible daily and through various Internet resources, I willingly chose to distance myself from any local body of believers (especially the specific denominational ones), because "all churches from all denominations are tainted by man and are apostate, blasphemous, and/or heretical!" I told myself. In short, if I was ever going to attend a church ever again, then it would be one of the Non-Denominational kind (or a "House Church" even) since I wrongly believed that they were somehow the most pure or something.

So, I continued to commit myself to personal Bible study and listened to sermons from all sorts of preachers online, but never joined a church or fellowshipped with other believers outside of Cyberspace. Not good. Then our two kids were born and we moved. At this same time, I struggled with my beliefs. I asked myself, "Why am I even identifying myself as a Lutheran? Should I be a member or a different denomination? What do we believe and why?" since I never really asked them before. Those questions eventually led me to the truth and led me to discover God's precious gifts to us in His Word and Sacraments. I learned so much! Our desire to return to church -- not just for our children, but for ourselves -- was a true gift from God!

Since then, He has convicted me and drawn me to Him, encouraged me to do the right thing for His glory despite the personal costs, and taught me so much in such a short period of time. He blessed my children with a private Christian education while also bringing me and my family back to the Lutheran Church -- to a local LCMS church. However, the truth is that I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only (LINO)" for the entire time that we were there...with the exception of the past year or so since attending a more faithful church, all because I never knew anything about the existence of our Confessions, our distinct doctrine, and our rich heritage and history. Worse, I knew nothing about the Divine Service, Liturgy, and Sacraments which should transcend any particular denomination since they were instituted by Christ and clearly described for us in the Word of God. Our first LCMS church we joined in December 2011 when we moved and had our kids just never taught any of this to us -- and, sadly, they still don't! 


This final point is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my more recent (and heartbreaking) discoveries that the church we're still "officially" members of is anything but "Confessional" as they claim to be, and that there's a strong desire and movement to distance itself from Confessional Lutheranism, which is why my conscience has become increasingly conflicted to the point where we looked for a more faithful LCMS Church to call home in the area, and have found it (we're juts not "officially" members yet). With all of that in mind, that's why I decided to create this blog.


It's been a wild ride though since my story is similar to that of many others I've met in the sense that I've come out of Evangelicalism and back to Lutheranism. Actually, I'm still "coming out" I'd say, as old beliefs and tendencies still show themselves every now and then whenever I learn something new about Lutheranism that I hadn't known before, or that are in contrast to the contemporary American Evangelical position I was entrenched in for so long. I'm also learning how to fellowship and interact with other sheep (as well as with some goats and wolves in sheep's clothing) -- Biblically -- on a flesh-and-blood basis through real relationships instead of just virtual ones in Cyberspace.

Bottom line, I can honestly say that I am truly a "new creation" in Christ Jesus saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-10). Oh, and I no longer tell people that "I was baptized..." but that "I am baptized!" (interestingly enough, that seemingly subtle difference is one of the many reasons why I feel like I've "come home" to Christianity by becoming a Confessional Lutheran). From the world's perspective, I'm sure that their initial take is that I'm just a skinny red-head with glasses who loves life, loves people, and loves to talk about God and His Word, but that's the pious flesh talking.

What else? Well, I’m just passionate about learning and sharing God's Word as we strive together for unity not just in love, but unity in doctrine, practice, and truth above all (Ephesians 4). Yet, make no mistake, I'm even more passionate about the Person who it all points to -- my Redeemer, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! I'm just not passionate all the time...miserable sinner in need of His saving grace that I am.

You probably want to know where I'm from too, huh? Well, I was born and raised in Western New York (Buffalo, NY) and have lived here in the birthplace of the Chicken Wing my entire life. I've been married to an incredibly amazing woman for almost 12 years now who is not only my wife, but also my best friend. Add two beautiful kids to the mix (Luke is 10.5 and Amelia is 9.5) and life just doesn't get any better than this. Yes, I'm extremely blessed! I'm also a Christian who masquerades as a Sales/Marketing Rep and an Executive Recruiter by day in one of my vocations. Oh yeah, I'm also a Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres, Baltimore Orioles, and Syracuse Orange fan...but please don't hold that against me.

In short, I'm a God-fearing, Bible-believing, Confessional Lutheran who desires grace, mercy, forgiveness, righteousness and truth that only Jesus Christ can offer me through His life, death, and resurrection for me (and for you). He certainly doesn't need my help one bit, but please pray that the Lord will use me and this humble blog to help me mature spiritually, to help me fulfill my various vocations in life, and to be a blessing to others through confessing Christ crucified for the sins of all mankind.

Thanks for being here. Please feel free to make a comment and/or send me an email to say "Hello!" or to simply send me ideas of topics you'd like to see me address here.

Grace and peace to you and yours!

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