Seltz to direct Synod’s new Washington office

The first executive director has been named for the Synod’s first office in Washington, D.C., in 17 years.

The board of directors of the new Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty (LCRL) has received a letter from the Rev. Dr. Gregory P. “Greg” Seltz — speaker for “The Lutheran Hour” since 2011 — informing the board that he officially accepts its call to fill the LCRL executive-director post…..

Read the full post here.

Devotion: Monday, February 26, 2018

A Biblical, Christ-filled word to bless your lives. 

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verse is from John 10:10 where Jesus says,

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

What a powerful, purposeful, joyful statement about life and God’s will for your life and mine. Abundant, eternal life, that’s God’s design for every human being in the world. Abundant, eternal life, that’s life as God’s gift for you to be lived boldly for others in His name. There’s just one catch. It’s His life to give.

The Bible states from the very beginning that life is something that God gives, that God sustains, and even redeems. Already in the first book of the Bible, Genesis chapter 2, it states that “the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”

Rejection of “life as a gift” from God is rejection of life period. And that might be where you find yourself today dear friend. If you are like me, you tend to think that life is something that you control, that life is only what you make it. That might sound good for a time, but what happens when you and I make a mess of things? What happens when we realize that “life” is really out of our control?

It is at this moment most of all that we remember that Life is God’s to give and that He not only tells us this, He literally came to earth to live, to die, to rise again so that we might indeed have life in His Name! When thinking about basic truths like the sanctity of life, we remember that God is love, yes! God is life, yes! And human beings are truly alive when they are aligned with the one who not only created them, but also redeemed them so that by Grace through Faith, all might receive “abundant, eternal life.”

When Christians stand for life in our culture today, we aren’t standing for ourselves. We are not standing for some political position or posture alone, no. We are standing for the idea that human life is precious, that people are valuable, not for what they can or can not do for us, but for who they are, first and foremost, as “people created and redeemed by God.”

Word From the Center: Friday, March 2, 2018

Welcome to “Word from The Center” FRIDAY, a Two-Kingdom, practical reflection on the issues of the day from the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s issue…

THE “Pain Capable Act” a Bi-Partisan Issue

In a culture that seems more fractured and divided than ever, there are still issues that transcend politics. There are issues that define us as people, as humane—civil—moral people. The LCRL is involved in those issues (Life, Liberty, Marriage, even Education) for the sake of the church, yes… But also for the sake of the culture. This past January, our culture celebrated the issues of Liberty and Life. And the Congress, specifically the Senate, had an opportunity to do even more. They had the opportunity to legislate one of those issues as a fundamental way for our society to view the most vulnerable among us, the unborn child. The “Pain-Capable Act” was a clear statement about the humanity of our culture, limiting abortion after the 20th week because of the unimaginable pain and suffering inflicted upon the child in the procedure after that time period. It’s a gruesome thing to behold what is done to children in the womb after that moment in time. Defending the most vulnerable, empowers us all. Being unwilling to defend them, tarnishes us all.

See the article below, written by Senator James Lankford and Kristen Day, and notice the fact that it is written by a Republican and a Democrat. In fact, when I attended the January March for Life in Washington D.C., I got to know the group “Democrats for Life.” I was informed that there are 21 million pro-life Democrats. Wow! There are people on both sides of the aisle who realize that no euphemism can sugar coat what is done to the child in abortion, especially after 20 weeks. The Senate had an opportunity to affirm our common humanity. It didn’t. Still there are people from every walk of life, from every political persuasion, from every ethnic background that know that that won’t prevent us from affirming the dignity of all humanity, especially the most vulnerable at the beginning and the end of life. Why? Because Life is a fundamental thing. The sanctity of life is a key element in virtually every major issue in our world. And, Life is a Bi-partisan thing. There are people on both sides of the political spectrum who realize that a commitment to life is the first step in addressing so many ills in our culture, our world. The LCRL stands ready to represent this freeing, fundamental truth to anyone who will listen, whether here on the Hill or in our communities around the country. A commitment to life is the beginning of understanding the fullness of what it means to be human, or at least humane. To that end… Keep praying, Keep believing, and be ready to put your liberties to work for the sake of your church and your community.

http://www.newsweek.com/us-must-ban-abortions-after-20-weeks-793759

Who is LCRL?

Encourage. Educate. Advocate.

LCRL is a religious Liberty organization in Washington D.C. Why? Because the government is encroaching more and more into the arena of the Church and its work, and Gods’ people have a role not only in sharing the Gospel, but in helping society/culture in being humane, civil, and temporally just.

In the World, Not of the World, Yet for the World

Jesus said some very clear things about how things are. One thing that He said very clearly, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” Yet here He is in the world to save the world.

Not Everything is a “Political” Issue

Jeremiah 29 tells God’s people to do something that is key for any Christians involvement in the culture in which it lives. Ready? Even when living in a “hostile, or unfriendly environment,” Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:6-7). Translation… Do the basic things for a healthy community and then seek to be a blessing there with the wisdom from the God who created us for liberty and life, righteousness and peace.

There are ways to be a blessing for others that are bigger than the winner of the election or the passing of a law. It is living a public life for the sake of one’s neighbor. There’s an attitude that God’s people bring to a world that tends to politicize everything. In the ancient world, the motto was “Don’t do to others, what you don’t want done to you.” Jesus turned that all around when He said, “Do unto others and you would have the do unto you.” And, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” That’s something to strive for even when the political winds don’t blow one’s way.

What Would Jesus Do? Or, What Would the Father Do?

Christians often confuse their involvement in public issues on morality or policy by citing the phrase “What would Jesus do?” Unfortunately, that confuses the way the Bible talks about how God works in the world. In general, the church teaches that the Father is the creator of the world, the one who orders the world, and we can see that ordering throughout the cultures of the world and in the consciences of people in the world. The Bible also teaches that the Father sent His Son Jesus to redeem and restore the world through His cross and resurrection. So, what’s the point? Well, when it comes to how the church should seek to reach out to people, to share the Good news of the Gospel… That’s a “What would Jesus do?” type of question. That’s a turn the other cheek type of answer. That’s a “serve others as God in Christ serves you.” That’s how God orders His Right-Hand Kingdom work, the work of His church.

But that’s not how He orders governments and magistrates and law-enforcement etc. That’s a “What would God the Father do?” type of question. That’s an “if a person won’t work, neither shall he eat,” type of issue. That’s “let the punishment fit the crime,” type of issue. That’s a “Fathers… Love and respect your wife and children; Wives… Respect and love your husbands and love your children; Children respect your parents,” type of issue. “What would God the Father do?” is a question of how to order a safe, prosperous, and humane world with sinful, broken people at the helm. God the Father does that through the fundamental laws written in the hearts of people. The common dignity afforded to all people because they are created by God, that’s a foundation for a civil society. The challenge to encourage strong families, Fathers, Mothers, having and raising children in the context of love and respect, that can ward off many ills. Honoring the temporal liberties of freedom of religion and freedom of speech so that people can freely serve others, that’s a temporal life worth striving for. What would the “Father have us do?” I think that in the American Context it is that we are to “put our temporal liberties to work for the sake of the common good and for the sake of the proclamation of the eternal liberties that only Christ can give as a gift.

WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? OR, WHAT WOULD THE FATHER DO? It’s a both/and thing!

Honor Your Local Sheriff, Support Your Local Families

A Christian, a Two-Kingdom citizen realizes that God is at work in the world two distinct ways to bless. In the “Left-Hand” kingdom engagement, God works through the orders of His creation as well as through the blessings of good government. So many of the issues that we face today are some form of breakdown in these orders or through these public vocations. But, so many things are tied together, are in relationship with each other. A healthy society can be traced back to healthy families, healthy children, strong moms and dads in the home. In those places, police and government can be “limited” because people are disciplined and motivated to do right by one’s own, and to do right by one’s community. When such things break down, when fathers and mothers stand down, often vocations of force tend to rise to curb potential violence or discord. The Romans 13 view of life is also predicated on the fourth commandment view of life where the Bible teaches that we are to “honor our father and mother that it may be well with us and that we may live long on the earth.” Honor our local authorities yes, but support and encourage strong families… That’s a Two-Kingdom dialogue that can bless a community.

So, the key to any discussion about policy or public solutions for a sinful, broken world like ours is always a “compared to what,” discussion. In a world that cannot fix itself, the solutions will always bring tradeoffs. But just because we can’t create perfect solutions, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t want the “better” solutions in our communities and neighborhoods. Even the Apostles were blessed by the “Peace of Rome,” and the good roads which provided opportunities for sharing the Gospel.

It’s a Broken World – So No Utopianism Allowed

One of the hardest things to read in the Bible is when, in John 16:33, Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world.” Paraphrase… This world is a broken, sinful, even evil place. And Jesus didn’t come to make an evil place a bit better. He came to bring a brand new, eternal Kingdom because of His work in this world for all. So, when it comes to perfection, eternal life, that’s a God thing on God’s terms by God’s work for all. But we live in this world with that comfort and peace. We live in this broken world and in many ways, we are trying to make it the best place it can be while proclaiming that “you ain’t seen nothing yet” if you put your trust in God.

So, how should we handle those temporal questions about how to get along with each other in this world? How should we organize ourselves for the sake of liberty, justice, and peace? Well, whatever way you try to do that, don’t forget the fundamental truths. You are dealing with sinful, broken people through and through. Whatever policy or temporal solution you put forth, there are going to be side-effects and tradeoffs. Why? Sinful people never are going to get things perfectly right and as someone has said, “The demand for perfection is often the enemy of a “good” solution.” No utopianism here because this world is always going to be “full of trouble.” So, here’s some practical how to’s when thinking about what to vote for, what to vote on, or how to engage in conversations with others about what might be better for us all… It’s always a “Tradeoffs conversation.” If someone asks you about public issues or topics, you might say, “Compared to what?” There will always be unforeseen consequences and side-effects. The key through it all would be to create the most good while tempering the most bad, and always realize that God has the final answer in all these things anyway.

Christian Public Engagement – Reformation Restraint… Cautious Because of Our Callousness, Suspicious of Puritan, Utopian Absolutism

Oh, there is so much to be angry about today it seems, right? Everyone thinks that they have the answers that will make everything better, or do we? When it comes to radical changes, a Two-Kingdom citizen probably will be hesitant at first. Why? Well, there’s that teaching that God is at work in the world in the Left-hand Kingdom, even through people who might not be believers in Him. Crazy, right? Not really. When you understand, what God is doing through His Left-hand Kingdom, you can understand how He can even use “sinful, unbelieving” people to keep things relatively peaceful and temporally just. There are people right now who are doing a “good” job in their vocations as politicians, police, entrepreneurs, business people, even fathers and mothers, whose “heart may not be totally in it,” but they know they need to do the right thing for others in their work. Is that optimal? No. But God can even work through that to keep a nation, a community, or even just a neighborhood from imploding.

In Romans 13, the Bible teaches a basic relationship to all authority that is honoring, holding it in respect. It is not “absolute,” for the Bible teaches that when such authority, which is under God’s Left-hand Kingdom rule, oversteps its boundaries or teaches something contrary to the fundamental teaches of the Bible (see Acts 5:29), the Apostle Peter teaches that “we must obey God rather than men.” But even here it is not with a rebellious heart, but a heart that wants what is best for others as well as oneself. Reformation Restraint is the belief that God is at work in the world, and He is ultimately seeking the best for each person. Jesus himself tells us that “all authority in heaven and on earth” has been given to Him. Restraint, even if it becomes proper resistance in time, eager waits to see what God is up to first. Count on it.