The Pastor's Perch

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Accountability

When it comes time to ante up, you want to be able to back up your words with actions. It is not a good thing ever to say, "Do as I say and not as I do." Keeping a hedge between your talk and your walk means that you cannot be trusted. 

Today, election day for some of us--especially here in the Kansas City, MO, metro area--means walking the talk--or vote, in this case--and standing fast in a shifting mess of all kinds of detritus. It means being civil with uncivil people, who think shouting you down and cursing you is acceptable behavior. How do we respond in such a dog fight? 

  1. Pray for courage to follow as God leads us in His Word.
  2. Pray for those who oppose you, as they have believed the lies that are spread about Christ's followers.
  3. Pray for those who want to represent and govern in God-pleasing ways.
  4. Pray for Christians throughout the world, especially those who suffer for being followers of Jesus Christ.
  5. Pray for your congregation, your pastor, your family and all those who bear the name of Christ locally.
  6. Pray for you communities, schools, businesses and government that they stand to work properly to serve those entrusted to them.
  7. Pray that the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen continue to be broadcast throughout the world, but also in your community.
  8. Pay for the Holy Spirit and wisdom that causes you to be constant in God's Word and receiving His gifts through the Holy Church.

Be calm in strife; be constant in prayer; be loving with others; be faithful to the Faithful One, Jesus the Christ, who loved you first, best and always. He is the Faithful and True One.

Revelation 19:11Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 

Time

Never one to mince words, I often have to make decisions based upon necessity and practicality. Like which activity to do. Which person to visit. Which thing to focus in close. Time determines it all unfortunately. Even now, is this worth the time expended? God knows. He knows because He has all the time--your time and my time--in His nail-scarred hands. And time with Him is not wasted, neither does He think you and I are not worth the time. He provides enough time, but it is how we use it. The old saying is, do not count the days; make the days count. His sacrifice on the cross for you was worth it to Him.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

9 What gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man.

 

Not a Fan

Our adult Bible Study, being led by Eileen Green, is looking at discipleship through the lens of Kyle Idleman's book of the above name. He wants people getting past mere Christianity (a tip of my hat to C.S. Lewis' great work) and dive into a life that is informed by God's Word, which shapes us as we live daily in our Baptisms. 

A life in Christ is Christ in us, the hope of glory--Colossians 1:27. Not being merely a fan means we are followers of Christ, and we allow God to work on us through Word and Sacrament, which is what gives us strength for each day. So, we are not moved by what is around us, but with God in us we move things around us, according to His will. 

Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

Western Civilization

Apart from being an old curmudgeon and accosted by well-meaning youth behind fast food counters who want to float me a senior special so that I will not fall down in hunger, I think of myself as an open-minded citizen of the republic. 

So, when I encounter those who want to cancel or revise our country's history with all the bad things that were done, I tend to agree with them. To a point. We have a track record that when it comes to non-Europeans we encountered over the centuries, our prejudices came out in force. However, over the years, we have tried to improve ourselves as a nation of many, and many non-Europeans have weighed in on the side of the slow positive increase of a nation that seeks the good of others. We still are sinner-saints, so we will never become perfect, yet we have come a long way. 

That is why whenever I hear someone lumping not just Western Civilization, but also Christianity, into some trash heap, I would remind them of their lack of historical understanding.

Religion, or rather, Christianity, brought hope into a world that had slid into a terrible decline. Learning, health care and government were all served by religious people who founded hospitals, who created universities, who educated not just clergy and religious teachers, but also prepared lay people to serve in government and civil affairs. Too much good and too many positive things came with Christians in the world, helping the world, but not of the world. They are our heroes.

For people to suddenly state that Christianity brought evil, and repression, they should recall their complete history. Read chapter 11 of the general epistle to the Hebrews to see the sinner-saints who had the hope of the coming Christ in them that allowed them to move forward in faith. People who have hope in the future share Christ in the present and are filled with joy and peace in the midst of trouble. We should extend that now.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

2 Corinthians 5:7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

 

What Just Happened?

Several weeks ago, a major shift took place in American life and culture. Amid the cancel culture, the woke culture, the name-your-gender culture, the Supreme Court made a ruling which sent a legal tsunami that hit a fifty-year-old ruling and toppled it. And mere executive orders will not stop it.

In Dobbs et al vs. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the majority justices ruled that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives (moving the law back to the individual state authorities).  

Whatever you think of this, it puts the individual states' rules and legislation in charge of how reproduction is viewed. Telling in the language are words we may not have expected from a legal body of such immense power: unborn human beings. 

When was the last time anyone talked about reproduction in such basic terms? When was the last time someone referred to what was in a womb and used the term unborn human beings and not instead fetus? 

Fetus covers all mammals, not specifically unborn human beings. But words carry meaning and now the language of those who claim we are against choices being made should realize that a pro-life human being makes choices as much as the pro-abortion human being does, especially in regards the unborn human beings. 

Words mean something and the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, assumed human flesh into His Divine Nature, so as to be the One Who fulfilled all things in our place. If He took on the flesh of a human being to save human beings, why would mere human beings discard unborn human beings, made by Him, as though they were refuse--even taking their body parts and selling them. 

I usually stay out of such fray, but the pro-choice people, in typical bullying and intimidation, want people like me to be silent. Say nice things and keep your religion out of culture. Or. We. Will. Burn. Your. Church. Deface. Your. Property. Spray-paint the buildings. Maybe even accuse you of hate speech. I pray for these people who are so very upset and scared. I pray that they find the peace that passes understanding in Christ Jesus. I pray that they find other human beings--born and unborn--as precious and loved. Because ultimately, God loves us all and calls us to love one another. 

And to those of you who are pro-life and feel the heat of a world that does not honor, respect or love as we are called to, do not retaliate and remember what Peter said:

1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved,    what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word, for there we find truth, peace and forgiveness. To those who oppose your Word, bring peace and healing to their broken hearts and cause them to repent and receive the forgiveness of their sins, which we all have available to us through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Some Trust in Chariots...

Psalm 20:7 reminds us that we dare not trust in chariots or horses for our deliverance. Easier said than done. We trust in power. We are second to none in anything. Our defense dwarfs other nations. It was like many years ago when then-mayor Rudolf Giuliani of New York City was on a late night show, pretending to answer tourists' questions about the Big Apple. One person asked him if New York was the largest city in the US. He dismissively said, "If you have to ask..."

Smarty pants, but he was proud of his big city and his big country. That is just civic pride, but when pride also leads to arrogance and idolatry in worshiping man made things such as commerce, countries, tanks, ships, etc., then it is sheer folly to continue to lean on these things for care and comfort. A country might have the most and best, but it will not save us. Need some facts?

The Roman Empire existed over 500 years, but its last gasps were marked with division and destruction. 

The Russian Empire almost made it to 200 years, but the Soviet Union supplanted it and proceeded a little over 70 years. 

Technically the British Empire is still intact, although with the loss of India after World War II, one could argue that she is in massive decline. 

The French alternated between Empire and Republic, but they are still around in one form or another. 

And then there is US. And this is only just European History.

I could go on, but you see that nothing lasts forever. Except the One Holy Church, and she does not depend on human skill or ingenuity to exist. She started off in people's basements and attics, hiding from persecutors. Yet she has grown and continues to grow despite what some would say. She increases with the Holy Spirit's guidance, and she continues to offer comfort and consolation through Jesus Christ. It is through Him, our True Leader, Savior and Lord, that we have the peace that passes all understanding. We have this through His life, death, resurrection and ascension for us. And He with us in Word and Sacrament, until He reappears in glory to end the world in this present fallenness. 

Psalm 20:6 Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand. 7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. 8 They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.

Render unto Caesar

The last post seemed a little summary--even though it was long--and this next Sunday is what would have been the fourth Sunday after Pentecost or Propers 8. I say would have been because we are recognizing Independence Day on July 3.

We will observe this Sunday with Lutheran Service Book Hymns such as, Before You, LORD, we Bow, Now, Thank we all our God, and God bless our Native Land. 

We will hear from the LORD Himself, as He answers King Solomon's Temple dedication prayer from 2 Chronicles 7, St. Paul's exhortation to obey government authorities in his letter to the Romans, chapter 13, and our Lord Jesus' answer to the authorities that, yes, we pay taxes to Caesar, as God provides through government, regardless of what we think.

Am I a shameless flag-waving patriot? I would like to think so. While I am aware that governments are made up of people and people are sinners, so, too, can governments sin, the LORD uses even fallible people to serve Him in serving others. Well, He uses me, and I am a fallible sinner like everyone else, so I am not above anyone. 

Besides, the LORD of Hosts--one of His many wonderful names--uses every single particle that comprises His universe to serve Him, so it is all His, including countries, kings and taxes. And He suffers the fallible sinners for the sake of His Son, Jesus, who offers to all His forgiving shed blood from His Wounds. So give thanks to Him who rules the universe and watches over all countries, kings and whatnot. It is all His anyway. 

Considering what has recently happened with the President, the Supreme Court and the Legislature, I am encouraged by the way the LORD uses all of His hosts for the good of people. I am thankful to be here, watching with bated breath what will happen next, even if it has happened before...But praise be to Him Who watches over the universe.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.

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