Friday, June 25, 2010

Verses for These Days

We read the following scripture verses at the end of our congregation meeting on Wednesday. Let us meditate on them and let them grow deeply into our souls, praying that in Jesus' name we would live in a way that gives honor to God.  Pray that I might live in this way too.  If in any way you believe I have not lived up to these things, please speak with me personally and help me to hear the Lord calling me to repent.  I will fail and fall, but part of "growing in grace" means talking with one another and then allowing for an opportunity to repent and ask forgiveness.  There is one thing, however, that I cannot do.  I cannot step outside the Word of God.  I pray that my life and my conscience would continue to be bound only by God's Word--God's Word that we know most clearly in Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 4:15 - 5:2
So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another.  Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.  Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy.  Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption.  Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.  Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.


  1. As I reflect on the events that occurred on Wednesday nights special meeting, I'm perplexed as recall some of the statements made by the friends of the ELCA.

    We witnessed many emotional testimonies to tradition "I've been here for____ number of years". We witnessed "Bound Conscience" on a personal level with personal emotion making new truth. We even heard cute little catch phrases that seem to cast judgement on us who chose God's written word over personal voice.

    As I contemplate the future of this decision, I wonder, "What next?" along with the rest of you.

    I wonder when and if "Bound Conscience" will someday reject Adultery, alcoholism, incest, and many other of God's abominations.......

  2. To Anonymous, if you want to belong to a literalist, works-based theology church, the ELCA is not the place for you. There's the door!

    I'm sure the Republican Party will be very glad to have you in one of their cults.

  3. We must be super careful about the way we say things.

    Anonymous 9:15 AM - Though I share your concern about the dangers of a "bound conscience" is not "bound" to the Word of God, using phrases like "cute little catch phrases" does not promote neighborliness or help us hear one another. Perhaps you weren't aware that might be hurtful to some. Perhaps you can remember some of the specific words that were used. Also, if you can remember who spoke words that you found judgmental, Matthew 18:15 tells you what to do.

    Anonymous 1:37 PM - It seems as though you want people to leave our church. Do you really want that? If so, I must strongly object as a pastor of this church. I doubt if you can find evidence in scripture that says we ought to try to get people to leave who are more conservative. Perhaps you'd like to rephrase what you wrote. Also, in any church I'm ever part of, Republicans will be welcome in our church. I really believe, anonymous 1:37, that it's time to apologize to all of our Republican members and seek their forgiveness--which, I hope Republicans will extend for Jesus' sake.

  4. Also, please re-read the verses posted as the actual post here. They have direct bearing on this conversation.

  5. One more thing - to Anonymous 1:37 PM - Please don't mix politics and the Christian faith. That's a losing game.

  6. Steve, I am part of the "let 'em leave" camp. If individuals really want to leave the ELCA and form a new, homophobia-grounded denomination, that is your choice. Who am I to stop you? To me, it's no different than when the Southern Baptist Convention chose to support slavery and split from their northern brethren.

    So, if you want to stay in the ELCA, fine. Quit claiming that your view, and your view alone, stands on the "Word of God". You chide one poster for using "cute little catch phrases" which some may find offensive. Yet, you did exactly the same thing in your blog entry! Perhaps you devoted too much of your time and effort to convincing your congregation to leave the ELCA... now they have chosen to remain, and your credibility is lost. You have already alienated 50% of congregation. Shouldn't that have been a lesson to you? So, either move on or move out.

  7. So what did I say in my blog entry that parallels "cute little catch phrases"? Do you mean my reference to "not stepping outside the Word of God?"

  8. That must be it... though I have to say that I've never thought of that phrase as a catch phrase. Anonymous 8:43 p.m. - here's the problem - when I go deep into dialog with those who have an opposing point of view it's my impression that "they" end up lifting something other than scripture up as a way of supporting "their" position. Usually it's experience or conscience that is lift up over God's Word. Now, I could be wrong that we ought to let Scripture rule when there is a direct conflict between it and experience or conscience. I could be wrong, anonymous 8:43, but the ELCA statement of faith does NOT lift up experience or conscience as our authoritative source and norm for proclamation, faith and life. No where in our statement of faith do I read something about experience or conscience. Perhaps those things should be there, but until they are, I honestly think we need to not use those to rule over scripture in matters of "proclamation, faith and life."

  9. Well, Steve, I might respect you as being inside the "word of God" if you were consistent about it. When I start hearing that you're preaching on how illegitimate children burn in hell (Deutoronomy 23:2), how "women are to keep silent in the churches", and the other eccentricities of the ancient world in Scripture, then I might respect your position. So, start firing your female Sunday School teachers, and stop baptizing illegitimate children. Otherwise, it will continue to seem as if you're simply picking and choosing when to be inclusive and when to be exclusionary. If you're going to be a legalist, then be one. Just don't pick a single political position (that's what it is, btw) and emphasize it above all others.

  10. The historic Christian church has always "picked and chosen" scriptures -- but that picking and choosing is done as scripture interprets itself and, in the ELCA, in our masterful statement of faith, we are very clear that the very CENTER of the scriptures is the incarnate Word of God... and EVERYTHING needs to be interpreted in the light of what HE has done for sinners like me in rescuing us from hell and in his wonderful lifting up of women in a whole variety of ways. I encourage you to look at and the other excellent work of "Christians for Biblical Equality." We only read scripture through knowing Jesus first. Otherwise it is closed to us. That is a Lutheran principle also.

  11. I see a pattern in the scriptures listed below. Praise and glory be to God for His mercy on the next generation.

    Judges 2:11 - Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals.

    Judges 3:7 - The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs.

    Judges 3:12 - Once again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and because they did this evil the LORD gave Eglon king of Moab power over Israel.

    Judges 6:1 - Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites.

    Judges 10:6 - Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD. They served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites and the gods of the Philistines.

    Judges 13:1 - Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, so the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.


    Judges 2:16 - Then the LORD raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders.

    Judges 3:9 - But when they cried out to the LORD, he raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, who saved them.

    Judges 3:15 - Again the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he gave them a deliverer—Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite.

    Judges 6:7-8,14 - When the Israelites cried to the LORD because of Midian, he sent them a prophet... The LORD turned to [Gideon] and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?"

    Judges 10:15-16 - But the Israelites said to the LORD, "We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now." Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the LORD. And he could bear Israel's misery no longer.

    Judges 13:3,5 - The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, "You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son... the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines."

  12. The "devil was dancing" long before the Cokato ELC's debate began. To quote one of the speakers last Wed night "Our church family WAS just fine last summer." However, after the ELCA's vote last August is when the devil began dancing! He knew what this would mean for our church.

    I can't believe this has even happened. The ELCA has placed this burden on our church family - we didn't ask for this change. Why does Anonymous 8:43 p.m. suggest that Pastor Steve should move on or move out when the real issue is that the ELCA has already left the Lutheran Church? Pastor Steve is just doing what he was called by God to do: uphold the truth and preach the Gospel.

    It's a slow fade - I'm very afraid of what will come next. I am just sad for those that can't see the danger - the wolves are in sheep's clothing.......waiting.

  13. Anonymous 1:37PM and Anonymous 8:43PM, Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

  14. All - thank you for a frank discussion. I continue to ask that we be kind to one another as we discuss in the spirit of Ephesians 4:15 - 5:2 which was quoted in the original post.

  15. I am happy to be admonished by others..

    Colossians 3:15-17
    15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

  16. Thanks, Wayne. I believe conversation is good, but I'm beginning to wonder about anonymous writers. Does anyone out there have an opinion about whether it's helpful or not?

  17. I have made two anonymous posts. I have no problem being accountable for my statements, but it seems lately people are being driven by a great deal of personal emotion. This makes people tend to let “who” is making the statement get in the way of “what” is being stated. This is why I have made the comments anonymously. Though I suppose both statements could use more explanation.

    Anonymous - June 26, 2010 11:25 PM:

    Israel, God’s chosen people, turned away from God again and again and again. This is very serious to God and it should be very serious to Israel (and us). In His perfect judgment, and His mercy, He gives Israel over to their enemies to remind them of what life can be like outside of His love and that they do need Him. Glory be to God that also in His mercy, He continued to pull them back into safety. But while sometimes Israel repented in less than a decade, other times a wicked generation took their sin to their grave, and it was the next generation that cried out and was saved by God. We often read these Bible stories and think Israel was so foolish to turn their back on God when He was right there! And so many times at that! But here we are, and have we learned anything?

    Anonymous - June 27, 2010 6:27 AM:

    It seems that those with a more flexible or open interpretation of the Bible, or those who outright do not want to follow the bible are the quickest to pluck Matthew 7:1 out of the Bible as a reason to turn away someone who is calling attention to sin (i.e. homosexuality, adultery, abortion, pornography, illegally downloading music, filthy language, gossiping, slander, etc…). Even if that person is a concerned brother trying to warn them about the road they are on. While it is true, sometimes these concerns are raised out of bigotry rather than the love of Christ, that is no justification to be a hypocrite and fall into the same prejudice or bigotry (i.e. “I'm sure the Republican Party will be very glad to have you in one of their cults.” or “If individuals really want to leave the ELCA and form a new, homophobia-grounded denomination, that is your choice.” etc…). Just remember that if you “speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love” then you are “only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” Don’t be that person.

  18. Colossians 3:15-17
    Luther's Sermon on this Bible Text

  19. Anonymous 1:34 PM


    Book of Concord (summary)

    "Therefore, it is our intent to give witness before God and all Christendom, among those who are alive today and those who will come after us, that the explanation here set forth regarding all the controversial articles of faith which we have addressed and explained—and no other explanation—is our teaching, faith, and confession. In it we shall appear before the judgment throne of Jesus Christ, by God's grace, with fearless hearts and thus give account of our faith, and we will neither secretly nor publicly speak or write anything contrary to it. Instead, on the strength of God's grace we intend to abide by this confession."

    In it Luther also says:

    "The great difference between doctrine and life is obvious, even as the difference between heaven and earth. Life may be unclean, sinful, and inconsistent; but doctrine must be pure, holy, sound, unchanging ... not a tittle or letter may be omitted, however much life may fail to meet the requirements of doctrine. This is so because doctrine is God's Word, and God's truth alone, whereas life is partly our own doing.... God will have patience with man's moral failings and imperfections and forgive them. But He cannot, will not, and shall not tolerate a man's altering or abolishing doctrine itself. For doctrine involves His exalted, divine Majesty itself (WA, 30 111, 343 f.)

    While you choose to shrink and simplify this issue down to a secular parisan issue, I urge you to do some study, outside of biased commentary and editorial that is only concerned with the current politics of the day.

    My hope for you is that you realize God's Word and even the Lutheran Confessions have been around a lot longer then your political leanings. I hope you spend some time learning what is at stake.

    May God bless you.

  20. Anonymous 12:12 - I think you were directing your comment to Anonymous 1:37 p.m. of June 26. From the content of your comment that seems obvious.

    Perhaps it would be easier if y'all identified yourselves, or, if you think that's distracting in some way, take on a pseudonym or something.

    The challenge with anonymous posts is that people feel they can speak so strongly because they don't need to worry about relationships with one another. I'm not sure that's helpful. I know it's always hard to love one another through disagreements, but it seems to me that would provide great evidence that Jesus himself is among us.

  21. I apologize Pastor Steve. However, seeing the emotional tirades that some are prone toward, it is sometimes better to remain anonymous so the ill-informed have only the words and concepts of scripture to attack.

    As has been demonstrated so clearly by Anonymous 1:37 pm of June 26, the truth of God's word cannot be defeated, so partisan politics homophobia and the secular culture is used to empower those who refuse to see the real issue and to listen to the truth contained in the bible.

    By remaining anonymous, the issue cannot be about the poster(me), as focus must remain on scripture and God's word for us.

    "Peace if possible, truth at all costs."

    Martin Luther

  22. continued......

    Oh and you'll notice that your Quote from Ephesians starts with "So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another...."

    This is exactly what we must do prior to healing. If we cannot put away all falsehood and see the truth together, then we are limited when it comes to doing anything together in harmony and in the name of God. This is the lacking wisdom of "Bound Conscience". Duel truth cannot exist in the same space.

    I apologize for hogging your blog Steve.
    I'll give it a rest. :)

  23. No need to apologize for "hogging" 3:40. There's a dual meaning, I think in your words about "duel truth." ;-)

  24. Why was it conceived by some last Wednesday night that to vote to leave the ELCA would mean leaving our church family?

    If we read and study the Word and dig deep into scriptures and seriously listen to what God is saying, it couldn’t be more clear. The truth is not always easy to accept. Sin is not pretty. We are all sinful. "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." 2 Timothy 3:16.
    How can I truly love my neighbor without pointing this out to him?

    My feelings and my conscience cannot be my authority. This is false teaching! Scripture is the authority. "Now I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who create divisions and sinful enticements that oppose the teaching you have learned. Stay away from them."
    Romans 16:17. The ELCA needs to be avoided.

    I praise the Lord for the grace He has promised me, and hold to the truth that He will be the judge of all. "Do not take revenge, dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath. For it is written, "Vengeance belongs to me. I will repay," declares the Lord." Romans 12:19.

    Our church could leave the ELCA (a very young man-made institution) and still be a strong congregation UNITED in the truth.

    Anonymous 1:37 wrote: ”If you want to belong to a literalist, works-based theology church, the ELCA is not the place for you. There's the door! I'm sure the Republican Party will be very glad to have you in one of their cults.” Is that how the 116 members that voted to stay with the ELCA think? If that is the case, Anonymous is right, I am at the wrong church.

    I ask you: Is that person loving his neighbor?