Word From The Center: Friday, May 25, 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…

“Fighting for the Right to Do Good for Others IN JESUS NAME!”

I recently came across an article that shared some wisdom about “how to talk about Religious Liberty” in an increasingly pluralistic world. The writers counsel that such freedom is a “fundamental right” for all; a protection of the “public space to do Good,” Churches included; an “authentic pluralism” in action; and something that the Church “needs to own” for the sake of its ministry. I concur.

But, Lutherans “own” this work a bit differently than others. We do believe in the principles already stated, but we realize that God is at work in the world two distinct ways. He is at work through the “things of Caesar” not to save, but to preserve the world. And that should shock Christians a bit, since Caesars then, and many Caesars since, have often not been the best human beings in person nor the most righteous leaders in practice. While that doesn’t stop us from seeking to hold our leaders accountable to public moral and ethical standards, we also realize that we owe them our prayers and our support when legitimate leaders even when we might not agree with their policies. (Such honoring though, never means blind obedience that violates the tenets of our faith or the morals of the Scripture). Generally, then, Lutherans practice a “Reformation Restraint seeking the Truth” when engaging in cultural issues. We practice that restraint to be cognizant that temporary successes or failures in the civic realm are never to be confused with the of Jesus as the eternal solution for the issues that we face as sinful human beings. We engage the culture then, for the sake of the culture, yes, but ultimately for the right to proclaim the Gospel so that all might hear and hopefully, believe.

So, when you think about Religious Liberty, rest assured that we at the LCRL are in D.C. to fight for that Liberty for you. But, also remember that winning that fight is just the beginning of our service. For religious liberty is the right to publicly be the church, not just for ourselves, but for the sake of others. That right allows us to demonstrate how following Christ changes how we care for our families, our friends, and yes, even our enemies. In that sense, the Church defends its right to be a public voice in the culture for the purpose of taking up its responsibility to be Christ’s people for others in His name.

I’ve recently shared with you a book that talked about the “hidden” influence of Churches in the city of Philadelphia. The Book, The Other Philadelphia Story, documents of how the 2000+ congregations continually contributions to the poor and the needy that would otherwise go unfulfilled if they were not there. And, the main reason for their work is not money or power. It is about service. And that service points to a Savior who has done all things well for us. Defending religious liberty is good for the culture, good for the community, and good for the Church. Protecting the Church’s right to be the Church is part of God’s Two-Kingdom work to bless and to ultimately to offer salvation to all as a gift.

Devotion: Monday, May 21, 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 15:26–27 where Jesus says,

Jn 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me… 16:14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

BOY, DO WE NEED A HELPER TODAY!

I’ve been in Washington D.C. for about 5 months now, and if there’s one thing that I’ve begun to realize anew, “Boy, we don’t just need “help”, we really need a helper.” One of the great temptations today is the pride that comes with our technological prowess and enormous wealth. With such an abundance of blessings, we are tempted to think that all problems are now within our grasp to be solved by the sheer force of our will alone. And the worst temptation of all, is to think that we can go it alone without God himself. That temptation is in D.C., but it’s in every human heart as well.

But the fact remains. When it comes to our spiritual challenges, our need for God, the problem is too big for us to fix. It’s not just knowing what needs fixing today. It’s knowing why and knowing how to do what’s necessary. Then, it’s having the capacity to make the hard choices to make it all work. We need a helper who has all the wisdom, all the patience, all the perseverance, and all the power, as well as the humility, to do all things perfectly not for himself, but for us. We don’t just need a helper. We need an incredible Helper who will deliver us the Savior we really need.

Henry Ford had a helper who was pretty special. His name was Charlie Steinmetz. Though physically challenged in many ways, Steinmetz had one of the greatest minds in the field of electricity that the world has ever known. Steinmetz built the great generators for Henry Ford in his first plant in Michigan, USA. One day, these generators broke down and the plant came to a halt. Ford brought in a variety of engineers, mechanics and helpers, but none of them could get the generators going again. They were losing money. So, Henry Ford called Steinmetz. The genius came, seem to just putter around for a few hours, and then threw the switch that put the great Ford plant back into operation.

A few days later Henry Ford received a bill from Steinmetz for $10,000. Although Ford was a very rich man, he returned the bill with a note: “Charlie, isn’t this bill just a little high for a few hours of tinkering around on those motors?”

Steinmetz returned the bill to Ford. This time it read: “For tinkering around on the motors: $10. For knowing where to tinker: $9,990. Total: $10,000.” Henry Ford paid the bill.

Jesus, the Creator and the Redeemer of the World had the expertise to do what no one else could, reconcile the sinful world back to God the Father through the Cross. The Holy Spirit is our helper, who uses the Word of God to show us our need for Jesus, as well as creating faith in Him for our salvation. Thank God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that He not only knows where to tinker for our life and salvation, but He has paid the bill for it to be so as well.

PRAYER: Dear Holy Spirit, thank you for being the divine Helper that shows me my sin, my need for a Savior. Then, joy of joys, thank you for bringing me the blessings of Jesus’ work for my salvation. When the temptations of this world come, strengthen me to in Jesus, to trust in God’s Word more and more each day. AMEN.

 

Word From The Center: Friday, May 18, 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…

“Two-Kingdoms – Public Vocations for Service” – A Message whose time has come!

Last week we talked about the genius of “Dynamic Differentiation,” the understanding that God is at work in the world to bless and to save. Through government—sinful and broken as it might be—God is at work to preserve the world from peoples’ vice-filled intentions. Through the Church, God is at work offering His grace, forgiveness, life, and salvation to all realize that even their best efforts aren’t enough, to those who repent and put their faith in His work through His Son Jesus. Two ways, God at work… to bless and save.

Today we talk about a different way to be publicly active in the world as part of God’s work in the realm of “Caesar.” In today’s world, people often think that “all things are political.” We didn’t always think this way. Do you remember, just a few years ago, people used to say, “Don’t make a federal case about it.” Today, virtually everything seems to be a federal case. A Two-Kingdom, public philosophy offers a third way, a vocational way that all can embrace to serve others for the common good.

In an excellent article in First Things titled, “Two-Kingdom Theology in the Trump Era” by LCMS member Lyman Stone, he argues that Luther, reflecting on how God engages the world His two ways, expanded the notion of “vocation” and literally changed the world. The changes for the individual, the citizen in society, were profound. No longer would the average person be insignificant in their service. No longer would only the vocations of the elites, whether in church or in government, matter. Now, each person in their God-given station in life had the potential to be part of God’s persevering work. And, Luther’s view on vocation elevated the common person to the point where people began to think of average people not as “subjects” but as a “citizens.” Incredible!

So, what’s the point? Well, take this to heart. Not everything is political and that’s good news. If you think things must change here in Washington D.C., I agree with you. But that doesn’t change the fact that the most influential place where one can serve is with one’s family, one’s community, with one’s neighbors and friends. To be the best father, mother, leader, business person, teacher, policeman, alderman, school board member, etc… that’s where our influence will always be its greatest. To be active in the neighborhood for the sake of the neighborhood, that’s a third way to “be involved.”

In my work in Washington D.C., my main role is to be active in protecting the First Amendment, public rights of our Churches, Schools, and Universities. And, the good news is this. Right now, the federal government seems to be heeding our voice and protecting those liberties more than in the recent past. For that we are grateful, and for that we will continue to diligently fight. But the purpose of that effort is to show the world that ultimately the best general service for the community’s blessing is not a “government thing,” it’s a neighbor to neighbor thing, where we all seek to look out for each other first, calling for the coercive powers of the government only when it can’t be solved any other way. Look to the stations in which God has planted you. Undergird the ones around you with prayer and encouragement. And look across the fence to your neighbor first before calling the “911 of public policy” as your solution. We’ll all be glad we did in the end.

https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2018/04/two-kingdom-theology-in-the-trump-era

 

Devotion: Monday, May 14, 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 17:11b–19 where Jesus says,

Jesus prayed, “Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one… 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”

FOR UNITY, YOU NEED THE TRUTH!

In his younger days, Bob Barker, former host of “The Price is Right,” was the host of show called “Truth or Consequences.” On this program contestants were asked questions and if they gave incorrect answers, there were consequences. There was a penalty for getting things “wrong.” Now the consequences weren’t life threatening. They were comical stunts, a bit embarrassing, but all in good natured fun. And, at the close of every program, Barker signed off saying, “Good Night, hoping all your consequences are happy ones.” It was an instant and enduring hit from the 1940’s to Barker’s time in the 1960’s. And, even though it was more good-natured fun than actual punishment, the program was built on the premise that rang true in those days, the premise that truth mattered, and falsehoods have consequences. Truth or consequences, does it still matter today?

It still does, whether we admit it today or not. In our Scripture for today, Jesus isn’t joking around, this isn’t a game show. He is laying on the line. He knows that this is an evil world, a sinful world. He knows that sin and evil have consequences if left unchecked. He also knows that sinners, no matter how technologically advanced, no matter how smart we think we are, sinners are not capable of overcoming the consequences of our falsehoods. Only “Truth in action” for us can do it. And that’s what He is praying about here. His prayer takes seriously sin and evil, and it takes even more seriously the protecting, sanctifying power of Truth.

But here’s the key. Truth and Jesus are inseparable. He is the Creator and Savior of the World. He is the truth. His words, Law and Gospel, are the truth. And, His life, death, and resurrection are the enduring “truths in action” to redeem and restore you and me to Him. Take to heart today Jesus’s prayer to the Father for you. Jesus boldly claims that if a person “abides in His teaching, that person will know the Truth and the Truth will set Him free.” Let the words of the Scripture then fill your heart and your mind with the sanctifying power of God and let what Bob Barker could only wish for, that “all your consequences to be happy one’s,” let it be an eventual, eternal reality because of who Jesus is and what He has done for you, now and forever.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, I know the world doesn’t think that there is real “truth” today. But, even in our vain intellectualism and pride, we see the consequences of falsehood all around us. Give me a hunger for your Word. Give me a hunger for You because you are God’s enduring truth in action for me. And with you there is forgiveness, freedom, wisdom, and eternal life. AMEN.

Word From The Center: Friday, May 11, 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…

“Separation of Church and State” – A Message from the Church? Who knew?

For the next two weeks, we are going to be talking about two articles that underscore the influence of a healthy, public relationship of the Church and the State in a free and freeing society. Today, we start with the realization that the “separation of the public authority of the Church and the State,” is not a modern invention, but a reflection of a unique Christian voice in the public square even today. In the article linked below, by Paul R. DeHart, titled,“The First Amendment Didn’t Separate Church and State—Christianity Did,” the author argues persuasively that the American experiment is rooted in a healthy understanding of the differentiation of the public, adjudicatory spheres of religion/conscience (the Church) in tension with those of the realm of the State.

This “separation” is not some modern creation of an all-encompassing, secular State, privatizing all things religious. Therefore, any modern-day understanding of “separation” must deal with the fact that such separation reflects an ancient, Christian public square proclamation of two sovereigns, Caesar and Jesus Christ—each with its authority, one temporal, one eternal—presciently present already in the first three centuries after Christ. Also to be noted, the very roots of separation go deeper as Jesus himself differentiates these realms when He taught, “Give to Caesar what is Caesars and give to God what is God’s,” and when He instructed Roman Governor Pontius Pilates that “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above.” (John 19:11).

So, what’s the point? Uniquely, In America… this Constitutional, First Amendment perspective—this separation— was for the sake of the Church, the Citizen, and the rights of the individual to pursue life, liberty, and happiness as rights from God. If there is a separation, it is for the sake of the limitation of the coercive power of the State. And, the “limited” State’s role then is primarily to protect free people, driven by conscience and faith, to be a self-governing people of a more perfect union. The limiting of the “federal” reach of the State and the freeing of the individual, self-disciplined, religious citizen was a first amendment exercise that honored the rights of those created by God, already on God’s terms.

From the Bible’s perspective, this separation is more like “differentiation.” At the LCRL, we call it “Dynamic Differentiation,” that is, the Bible declares that God is at work (dynamic) in the world two distinct ways (differentiated),to bless and ultimately to save. God is at work through the vocations of fathers, mother, business people, magistrates, law-enforcement etc. in His Left-Hand rule primarily to preserve not transform the world, curbing the vices and sinful ambitions of people through outward law and order. That’s why Jesus could even call His followers to give Caesar prayerful respect in that endeavor, though Caesar may not have deserved much else. Christians also understand God’s public work of saving the world through His Son Jesus Christ, is to be offered as gift through His Right-Hand rule in His Church. Such a public proclamation/truth calls all people to faith, especially those who realize that even a “more perfect union” falls woefully short of God’s ultimate intention for the world, eternal, abundant life with God as a gift.

Who knew that the genius of the separation/differentiation of Church and State was not a modern invention, but a very old idea rooted in God’s two ways of working in the world? Who knew that separation was the first charge against the church in its public witness of Jesus in the Roman Empire? And who knew that such a healthy separation, such a proper respect for the public realms of God through Caesar and God through Jesus, would help produce a constitutional Republic that has evidenced some of the greatest temporal freedoms to humanity. And, that such constitutional protections, would at the same time allow for the proclamation that there is a greater freedom for those who believe in God’s greatest work in Christ for all. Who knew? (next week, the “Concept of Vocation – a better way to be a “public” person in society!”)

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2018/04/21381/ (*A note to the reader – The link to the article does not necessarily imply full agreement with the article in its entirety)

Devotion: Monday, May 7, 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 15:9–17, where Jesus says,

“THIS IS MY COMMAND, “LOVE EACH OTHER.”

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE?

The Beatles sang the song… ”All you need is Love… everybody… Love is all you need.” So let me ask you this, when Jesus says, “this is my command, Love each other,” is He saying the same thing as the song? Is His view even close to spirit of that melody and verse? Actually, no.  It’s a completely different song altogether. And we need to come to grips with this today. So much of our lives are “out of tune,” because of us, because we fail to understand that God is love, and that life without God is life without love. In John 15, Jesus warns us that living life apart from Him, apart from His love, amounts to nothing in the end.

But people are unconvinced. More and more people are very comfortable with living life based on their new definition of what love is. And they are happy to sing the song, “Love, on my terms, that love is all we need.” For many, the reason that God isn’t part of the equation is that we are the center of the new definition, and that’s all we need. You hear it all the time. Unconditional love is for other people to “love what I do, whatever I do, and if you think what I do is wrong, or even if I know what I’m doing is wrong, love me anyway.” Actually that’s not love. Today you don’t hear people talk about the need for Godly things like “repentance, forgiveness, speaking the truth, or striving for self-disciplined, moral lives” as part of love. There’s an emptiness to such a view of love without God, no matter how fervently we strive for it.

So, if that’s you today, hear Jesus talk about “commands, obedience, loving the Father and not loving the things of this world,” all as a part of His real love in action. For Jesus, the love we need begins and ends with our being right with the Father. And so it is wonderful to hear that “out of true love” God the Father sent His Son to live our life, to die the death our sins deserved, and to grant us His life, His Love, as a gift to receive and share. A life lived in His love for others strives for moral virtue, and honor, and respect, that’s living life on His terms for others.

And here’s even more good news. As we abide in His Love through His Word, our lives will be fruitful, even eternal. And that’s the point of love anyway, being with Him, living in Him, receiving and sharing His love with others forever. The Beatles would have gotten it right if they would have sung, “All you need is His love, His love is all you need.” Let’s make that song one of our favorites today in whatever we do, toward whomever we meet.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you calling me to repentance, for seeing my lack of love, my emptiness without you, so that I can be filled with your love and life forever. Give me strength to avoid the temptation of trying to “go it on my own,” so that I, in your love, can be all you have created and redeemed me to be by grace through faith. AMEN.

 

Word From the Center: Friday, May 4, 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 Sanctity of Life, the Preeminence of Parents, and the death Alfie Evans.

Very often in public discussions, the Pro-Life message is reduced to the issue of abortion alone as if that is its sole concern. While it’s true, abortion is the most egregious manifestation of the anti-life philosophy, it is not the only one. Francis Schaeffer, in his prophetic work, “Whatever happened to the Human Race,” warned that the public acceptance of the idea of “a life not worth living,”[1] and the growing view of the state being the final arbiter of such issues would lead again to the great mischief of modernity, the destruction of innocent lives. In the State-ordered death of Alfie Evans, one sees not merely the seeds of this view, but its growing manifestation.

First, the Christian worldview understands that government, even a secular one, has a godly place in our lives. That said, it is healthy to note the government is “not God” to us either. In a healthy intersection of Church and State, both the Government and the Church understand their public purpose and limitations. For many today, the State has thrown off its limitations and has become the final arbiter of virtually every aspect of life, even its end. Such a view, from the LCRL’s perspective, is not a healthy understanding of the State’s purpose and limitations. It surely wasn’t the view of the founders of the United States, who feared the tyranny of the State more than any perceived tyranny of moral, religious, free citizens striving for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The case of Alfie Evans evidenced the State’s transgressing of one of those healthy boundaries. In “chain of command” terms, there are certain places where the State has secondary authority. That view is undergirded by natural law, long historical-sociological precedent, and also by religious belief. Simply stated, “The family who bears the child cares for the child.” As such, the Family has a fundamental pre-eminence over the State with regard its own affairs. Until recently, the government’s limited intrusion into the affairs of the family sought to honor the “sphere sovereignty of husband and wife in marriage,” by the limiting of the man’s and woman’s individual rights via a “marriage” contract solely for the concern of the oversight and nurture of their children for the society’s need for family stability. In the Alfie Evans case, one sees a completely different spirit involved, one that sublimates the family to the naked power of the State, supposedly for the sake of the child from the State’s vantage point alone.

In the Evan’s case, the government made the final decision to end the child’s life, against the parent’s wishes, in view of alternative treatments that posed no burden to the State, solely by virtue of the notion that the State’s determination of the child’s needs were preeminent. Such a standard, even undergirded by law, is not simply the beginning of a slippery slope towards tyranny, it’s well on its way.

Schaeffer’s notion that man’s corporate inhumanity to man is a result of the culture’s willingness to let certain human lives be classified as “those not worth living.” With health insurance companies already counseling doctors to make their terminal patients “aware of death with dignity” treatments, with abortion on demand still virtually limitless in our culture with no regard for the child in the womb, and with people’s growing willingness to let the power of the State take precedent over the compassionate care of parents for their children, countering all that with the honoring the sanctity of life is an idea whose time has come for the sake of us all.

 

 

[1]Francis A. Schaffer, The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer, Vol 5, “Whatever Happened to the Human Race,” (Westchester, Illinois: Crossways, 1982), pp. 319-329; 342-352.

Devotion: Monday, April 30, 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 15:1–8, where Jesus says,

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing

A WITHERING OR A WEATHERING LIFE OF FAITH?!

Each day seems to bring troubles, and challenges, and a few joys as well, right? Just a few weeks ago many of us faced “tax-day” together. And, we were reminded that the dollars in our pockets don’t go as far as they used to, do they? Resources for life, they are important. Having what you need to face the challenges of the day is one aspect to living life freely for others. But, our text is about the one key ingredient to that kind of life which has very little to do with what’s in your bank account, or what’s in your retirement fund, or what influence you wield at the company or in the community. The key ingredient to living a weathering, eternal life is to be connected to the one who is the source of life, Christ Jesus. He is the creator and the redeemer. He is the source of life, the strength of life, to face the challenges of life each day. John 15 asks a simple question, “Are you connected to Him… Are you abiding in His Word?” Are you connected to HIS power source of grace and mercy, living life boldly in His Name for others? Or are you withering on the vine, as they say, because you are stubbornly, and yes, sinfully trying to go it alone?

That’s a bit like Morris Siegel’s life.[1]He was a street person in Los Angeles. He lived like most street people – roaming about in back alleys, sleeping out-of-doors, carrying everything he owned in an old shopping cart. One day, at 72 years of age, he was found in an alley, dead of natural causes. It was if his life just withered away.

The interesting thing about Morris is that, while he only had $3.00 in his pocket that day, he had $207,421 in the bank earning interest. He had inherited money from his father, but he refused to accept it. The Division of Unclaimed Property literally had to track him down, his family had to force him to accept it, but he would put none of it to use for his needs or the needs of others. He was content to live life on his terms and his terms alone. Amazing. He had, what many would call, “abundance” at his fingertips, but he chose to live in the poverty and pain of the streets.

So many of us are like Morris Siegel, spiritually. God provides an abundance of grace, of mercy, and of wisdom for our lives in Jesus Christ and we forgo it to live on our terms in the poverty of our pride, our sin and guilt. Check your connections today. And, in repentance and faith, abide in the words of Jesus Christ. That’s life with power and purpose no matter what is on the horizon.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, your death and resurrection reconciled us to God. Where there was sin and death, now there is life and peace for all who trust in you. By faith, empower us to live life in that reality for a life that can weather all storms. AMEN.

 

[1]http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1989-12-24/news/8902170036_1_unclaimed-property-shopping-cart-great-western-bank

Word From the Center: Friday, April 27, 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…

ALL LIFE MATTERS…

One would think that today, with science so clearly demonstrating even in the womb that human beings are “fearfully and wonderfully” made, that seeing the value of human life would be a “no brainer.” After all, how you think about another human being clearly affects how you will treat that person. And, so many issues today could be solved if people would just value other human beings as people “made in the image of God,” with value and purpose therein. But that’s not where many are today in their thinking. The idea that we are merely animals having our own compulsions and drives is so prevalent today that many don’t see the sanctity of life in others. No, they see merely the convenience or the inconvenience of the lives of others in their life.

But this shift in the view of life matters. Francis Schaeffer, in his film series “Whatever Happened to the Human Race,” warned the Western world of the consequences of dispensing with the sanctity and intrinsic value of human life for the more malleable notion of the “quality of human life.” To treat certain life as “Lives not worth living,” due to illness, poverty, or congenital complications would open us to a callousness and disdain for others that would be unimaginable. Unfortunately, what Schaeffer prophesied has come true. People argue today for the unfettered abortion of the child in the womb right up to the moment of birth. Can Euthanasia be far behind? And, already in certain parts of our culture, insurance companies are demanding that Doctors counsel terminally ill patients about the “right to die” as a viable medical option at their disposal. Our callousness towards inconvenient life in the womb, or the lives of loved ones towards the end of their lives and all other points in between is clearly an outgrowth of our view of life as a “quality of life” issue, and not a “sanctity of Life” issue.

And our callousness seems to know no bounds. Just take a look at the article, “Thiessen-the Extra Chromosome isn’t a Reason for Abortion,” where some are clearly advocating for the ending of Down Syndrome, not through scientific discovery or some medical breakthrough, but through the extermination of children with Down Syndrome. Some have called it “the final solution.” Chilling! The fight for the “sanctity of Life” is a battle worth engaging not just for us, but for our culture as well. Technology and wealth don’t make us “better” human beings, they merely embolden us to be the “fallen, sinful human beings we are” more quickly and decisively. To fight for life is to fight for the one common cause that can open us up again to one another anew as people who have purpose and promise because there is a God in heaven who has made it so. Oh, and if you begin to realize that… I have more good news to tell, namely that the God who created us also paid the price to redeem us so that we could be all that we were meant to be in Him for each other. Life matters, All lives matter to the God who created and redeemed us. Let’s see what that view of others can do for the communities in which we live!

Devotion: Monday, April 23, 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 10:11–18, where Jesus says,

“The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come to give you life and to give it to you abundantly.” 

HERE’S REAL LIFE!

G.K. Chesterton is often said to have said, “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything.” In reality, he said that if we stop believing in God we lose our common sense.[1] For many, that’s that same thing. When you deny the one who is “The Way, The Truth, and The Life,” the one who in this text calls Himself the “Good Shepherd,” you don’t replace it with nothing, you tend to replace it passionately with the most absurd “other things.”

Absurd replacements, that seems to be the order of the day, doesn’t it? No longer do we talk about sin and repentance, Grace and mercy, or honor and virtue. They’ve been replaced. And, so much absurdity in this world is passed off as wisdom. In Washington D.C., they become slogans, marches, even policies. We are told that sex unconstrained, just for fun, outside of marriage is the way of progress, yet our broken marriages, our abuses of one another, and our callousness to each other say otherwise. We are told that honoring our Fathers, and our Mothers, esteeming those in authority is the way of the past and yet the present “dishonoring culture” is producing more vitriol and violence than ever before. But the worst of the absurdities today is the belief that we place in ourselves, our technology, our progress (with no honest assessment of the consequences) as if such things can actually replace the power of faith in God and His love for us in Jesus Christ.

Into such absurdities, Jesus’ words are often straight and to the point. He lays it on the line in John 10. He talks of himself as the Good Shepherd, the one who comes to give life and salvation to His sheep. But there’s the rub. For Him to be our Shepherd, we’ve got to be honest about the fact that we are “Sheep in need of one.” Let that humble attitude of repentance be yours today. Don’t let the “thieves of absurdities” steal that opportunity for you. For Faith in Jesus Christ opens you up to the one who loves you with and everlasting love and desires for you to become the person that He created and redeemed you to be. Repentance and Faith, being right with God on God’s terms, that’s the beginning of Abundant life, now and forever. As forgiven sinners, life becomes a walk of Grace eternally. Here’s to Life in His name.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for your willingness to confront me with the reality that I need you for my life and salvation. Like sheep who know their shepherd’s voice, give me the kind of faith that listens and follows your every word. AMEN.

 

[1]http://thefederalist.com/2014/05/06/the-seven-most-popular-g-k-chesterton-quotes-he-never-said/