Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Divine Call and Minnesota

Last week I received documentation of a Divine Call I received from Messiah Lutheran Church, Sartell, MN. The call process in our Synod is one that can cause much chaos, internal and external.

My family and I love the church we now serve, St. John Lutheran Church, North Prairie, WI. A congregation that takes the Bible and being Lutheran serious. They are especially gifted in love and care of one another. And they are on the verge of some great mission in this community.

Yet, all of those things does not mean that one does not consider a call because the Holy Spirit is leading Messiah to extend this call. I will be visiting Messiah today and greeting the saints of that congregation.

I covet everyone's prayers as we ask for the Holy Spirit to bring wisdom on where He would like us to serve.

Lord have mercy

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

LOST comes to an end...but what does that mean?

It all came together on Sunday night. After five seasons, many questions, and many confusions the series LOST came to an end. But what in the world just happened?

My wife and I have followed LOST from its beginning while rarely missing an episode. Actually, it is kind of emotional in a weird way because it is literally the only show we still watch and one of the last things Amy and I did together before kids that we still do (although many of those things we did pale in comparison to our children)! Yet, I think we all were left with more questions than were answered. And for me, appalled at the horrible theology and it implications on religion in America.

The ending basically told us that the island was a kind of "mini-god". The island had the power to call all of the main charatcters to the island because their lives were a mess and to evaluate if they would end up being the protector of this island. The island had a main source of life right in the middle and there was an evil force that wanted to destroy it to get off the island. The ending showed all characters realizing that they were in essence a purgatory state, not able to get out until they realized they could enter heaven by their own accord.

At the very end, they all realized that they were dead. They meet in a church, Jack's father tells them that they were a special group that were called together as special people, and now were ready to enter heaven. They could choose to stay in "purgatory" OR enter heaven with all of their friends. It made for a fun story.

Some might say that it is a nice story that has no implications on our society, families, or theological world. However, as one can not swim in sewage and expect to not be affected, we have to address some concerns over the views portrayed on LOST and it affects on faith. This is vital for everyone to be able to discern, since LOST is one of the most popular and idolic shows of all time.

Here are a few issues:

1) There is no Scriptural support for a purgatory state between life and eternity. As Christians we understand a few things after we die: 1) Our spirit will be at rest, 2) Our spirit be with Jesus, and 3) Our spirit will yearn for the fulfillment of everything in the resurrection. LOST portrayed what many people want to believe; we will still have many choices after we die. The Bible simply does not indicate that.

2)Not everyone just goes to heaven. In LOST you have Sayid who is a Muslim, Charlie who is Catholic, and various forms of other religions all sitting in a Christian church walking into heaven. You have murderers, liars, cheaters, and swindlers all looking to the heavenly doors of eternity. I am NOT saying that heaven will not have those kinds of people, because it is all by the blood of Jesus. However, there was no sign of repentance, no sign of any kind of faith statement, and just the assumptions that everyone (like dogs) goes to heaven.

My Old Adam loves this theology. You are good, I'm good, we all are good. When we die, no worries we will go to a heavenly place. Get your freak on and don't worry about anything. Yet, even if I like the taste of rat poison, it does not mean it won't kill me. There is only one way to salvation, Jesus Christ (John 14:6) and the life of any believer is one of repentance and faith.

3) Feelings are not always a good guide for truth. The most common line in LOST was, "Nothing has ever felt more right than this." All characters used it at various times to justify making decisions. Most of the time they were wrong.

We love emotions, feelings, and thoughts to drive our every move in life. LOST captured what is already going on in our society. If it feels totally right in our heart, therefore it must be right. It does not matter if external matters or understandings differ, it must be right because my "spirit/feelings" are always right.

This is a minor form of what is called, "Gnosticism." Gnosticism believes that the body is BAD and spirit is good. Therefore if you are able to find out what the spirit is doing, even it is counter external means, it must be right. Give you a modern day example: If a person feels it in their heart, feelings, and thoughts that they love a person of the same sex so much as to have sexual relations, then it must be o.k. because their feelings led them to that decision. Even if the "plumbing" doesn't work, it is still the right thing due to feelings.

The flaw in this mentality is that we have a physical God, who created our bodies in His image, and He has external laws to govern his creation. When we go against these boundaries, the implications are horrendous if not deadly. Feelings are a gift from God, however, when it is the main means by which we make decisions we end up forgetting that both our spirit and body are fallen and needing Christ.

I become very concerned on how well people are discerning shows like LOST. I love LOST, it was my favorite show, and I will continue to buy the seasons on DVD. However, are people thinking about the Christian viewpoint while watching these shows or are they becoming so influenced by their theology that they are in serious threats to question and/or lose their faith.

May the Lord guide all of us as we live in the world, but not of it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

40+ years of secretarial priesthood

Today we are celebrating God's work of 40+ years through our secretary Trudy Rupp. Trudy was officially hired in 1970. Yet, it actually began in the late 1950s where the church needed someone to print a few things off and the pastor who had bad eye sight needed rides.

She has served with nine pastors, at least 10 vacancy pastors, printed over 3,000 bulletins, 500 newsletters, answered over 70,000 phone calls (60,000 of which she hung up on advertisers), and lovingly cared for 100+ people who came asking for money.

Trudy's work has always centered on two things: her faith in Christ and the love of His church. Everything she has done was done with a deep understanding of the Scriptures, love of the history of her church, and simple way she "instructed" her pastors on how we do things here.

After 40+ years and becoming a foundation of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church, North Prairie, WI, she is retiring and serving in other ways. Keep her in your prayers as she moves forward and for St. John as we continue in ministry.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thank you Issues Etc

Just when you think nobody reads your blog, friends help you out. Thank you Jeff from Issues, Etc for choosing my recent blog post, "No internet, TV, or phone for a week."

Issues Etc is my favorite talk radio program that happens to be a confessional Lutheran focus. Check it out

Is our church a friendly church?

I recently visited a friend who is a pastor in the city of Chicago. The church is immaculate: beautiful sanctuary, huge steeple, marble altar, and elevated pulpit. The congregation at one time had thousands of members and people just rushed in to become part of this dynamic fellowship.

However, as people moved out, the area changed. The change was not necessarily racial or economic, but theological. There are still many people around of all ethnicities and kinds, but most have no desire to be part of a church, especially a Biblical, Christ-centered one.

With the complex history and struggle, what is the first thing this new pastor does? Bigger signs, parade floats, booths, contemporary worship service? Nope. He steps outside for at least an hour a day and now sits on the front steps. While hundreds of people walk bye his church, he and other members simply say, "hello." His main goal is to have the community see this church as a "friendly church." He continues Word and Sacrament ministry that is faithful to his calling, but he is using God giving gifts (as we say 1st article gifts in the Small Catechism) to help the community know that they are a caring community of people.

What ways is your church letting people know that you are friendly? Does the local community even know you are around? If you went door to door would they know anything about your church? What would they say?

May the Lord of wisdom, help us all find ways to be friendly churches with a powerful message.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

No internet, TV, or phone for a week

This past week due to weird circumstances we did not have our Time Warner bundle package (Ergo, no phone, internet, or TV). It was tough. I never realized how much we depended on these "needed essentials" for daily living. Whether it was calling family, keeping up to date in the world, or emailing for work, we felt like we were living in the stone age.

We realized one of the biggest issues with modern technology: idolatry.

There is a story from a pastor who told of a friend he had as a child that was Hindu. When he entered his friend's house, all seats faced their "house god." He thought it was very weird that something would be that important to place all furniture toward it.

Then he went home. As he looked at the layout of the family room and kitchen, ALL chairs faced the American "house god": The TV!

We have spent some good time repenting over this god and realize how quickly it can interfer with family time, devotions, and even sleep. May we all repent and look to Christ.

Great to be back in the modern world.