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  WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, JUNE 29, 2020 Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are Matthew 10:34-39, where Jesus says, Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are Matthew 10:28-33, where Jesus says, 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.  
  WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, JUNE 15, 2020 Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are Exodus 19:3b-6, where the Bible says, The Lord called to [Moses] out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”
  WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, JUNE 08, 2020 Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are Genesis 1:1 and 26-31, where the Bible says,  In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” ….  30….And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.


Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verse is John 7:37 which says,

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”

A year ago, I quoted Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary for President Bill Clinton, who said,  

The true battle (of the 21st Century) will be between the modern society and the anti-modernists; between those who believe in the primacy of the individual and those who believe that human beings owe their allegiance and identity to a higher authority; between those who give priority to life in this world and those who believe that human life is a mere preparation for existence beyond life; between those who believe in science, reason, and logic and those who believe that truth is revealed through Scripture and religious dogma; Terrorism will disrupt and destroy lives. But it is not the greatest danger that we face.[1]

[1] Ramesh Ponnuru, “Robert Reich’s Religion Problem,”  National Review Online, July 6, 2004

It still amazes me how brash, condescending, and dismissive his statement is. I could argue that belief in God is actually the source of his individual liberties. This is because the Western concept of the individual grew out of the notion of two public sovereigns, the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor (which grew out of the biblical distinction between the things of God and the things of Caesar; see Matt. 22:17-21). I could also argue that modern science grew out of a biblical worldview that sanctified the investigation of the dirt-level of life, rather than eschew it like the elites of so many pagan cultures before us did. After all, if God created human beings, that establishes an inherent dignity to the physical, human level of life. And if God then visited humans at that level (a foundational Christian teaching), then of course the “elites” of our culture shouldn’t mind putting their hands in the dirt as well!

What discoveries we started to make when we were willing to sanctify the research that used to be thought of as “beneath” us. I counter Reich’s caricature of the uselessness of those who see life as “eternal” by pointing out the nihilistic focus that his worldview has unleashed on our culture and on our world. If life is eternal, then what you do now matters. If life is merely one thing after another until you die, then nothing ultimately matters. So, which of these two views gives purpose and meaning to each day? Bring on the conversation, because belief in one, true higher authority brings civility, humanness, peace, and even salvation in the midst of this sinful, broken world. Other false “higher” authorities, when unleashed, bring tyranny.

My reason for citing this quote today pertains less to that enduring discussion than to the way many are facing the challenges of COVID-19. Amidst the data emanating from our health experts and politicians, real fears are not being vanquished; they are intensifying. With every solution, people are facing the possibility of their own mortality and demanding that such things be overcome. They are instinctively seeking answers from a higher authority. At this moment in time, people are also struggling with the notion of who to trust and turn to amidst all of the fear, uncertainty, and even despair. And too many are being counseled not to look to God, but to science, technology, political efforts, and earthly power alone. Yikes! I chuckle a bit when I see politicians puff their chest out and say, “God didn’t do this; we did!”[1] Governor Cuomo, who I think is doing a fine job overall, seems to forget that even if he locks people down, the human body with its God-given immune system, along with the medical knowledge of God-given anti-bodies and potential vaccines that lay in wait for us to discover, are the things that can really heal and protect us.

[1] Ramesh Ponnuru, “Robert Reich’s Religion Problem,”  National Review Online, July 6, 2004

If the COVID-19 virus has taught us anything, it has taught us how fragile life is even now. It has also taught us that there are things bigger than our best efforts, things beyond our capabilities to master. All of our technology and power, as well as our very own lives, can suddenly be overwhelmed by something as small as this virus. As we face tomorrow, the Bible instructs us to number our days (Ps. 90:12). Why? Because our life is not our own. It is a gift from God. This “faith in God” perspective doesn’t run from reality. It faces it with the courage, perseverance, and the perspective necessary to put our knowledge to work for the good of others without fear. Science, technology, individualism, “survival of the fittest,” and all the modern “shibboleths” of so-called “higher authorities” can never produce this “faith in God” perspective on life, even amidst the bigger-than-life terrors of this world.

Think about it this way: What view of life would motivate you to stay behind and care for others when pandemics and plagues hit? What would inspire such care when there was nothing in it for you? What would cause you to suffer along with someone when you knew you’d be exposing yourself to life-threatening risks as well? What would cause you to do all of these, rather than to look down on others who couldn’t? Martin Luther, a giant religious leader in history, wrote about this kind of faith life during the devastating plague of 1527. His letter was entitled, “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague.” Luther wrote compassionately about this, saying it was not “inherently” wrong to flee the plague, as long people ensured that someone of “greater faith” was there to care for their loved ones. He then said that those with “greater faith” to stay behind should not condemn those who could not bear the plague and fled. (Of course, he stayed). He wrote,

Yes, no one should dare leave his neighbor unless there are others who will take care of the sick in their stead and nurse them. In such cases we must respect the word of Christ, “I was sick and you did not visit me …” [Matt. 25:41–46]. According to this passage we are bound to each other in such a way that no one may forsake the other in his distress but is obliged to assist and help him as he himself would like to be helped.[2]

Faith in God binds us to each other in a way that no other belief can. In The Hill,[3] a political magazine in Washington D.C., Erwin M. Hawley also hails Luther’s “faith life” perspective in facing this COVID-19 pandemic. Such faith bears suffering with another because God bears with us in suffering too. What a way to live! This perspective value the lives of others as precious, even when sick or dying, because God values us as His created and redeemed people. What a way to face the fear of COVID-19! Does faith in God, trust in God, and belief in God as the ultimate “higher authority” change the way we live for each other? Yes, and for the better! In fact, I say there is no other “higher authority” that will do, especially in these days of COVID-19.

The Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz is the executive director of the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty.


Be Informed

Children need a mom and a dad. Author Suzanne Venker explains why boys especially need the steady hand of both to thrive in life.

Be Equipped

Dr. Anthony Esolen offers solid insight on love, marriage, and what to look for in a spouse.


Be Encouraged

“The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, by the blood of the eternal covenant, that great shepherd of the sheep, establish you in everything good for the working of His will in whom God is well pleased; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” – Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod





So, Chris tells Jamie, “I just couldn’t cast a vote for someone who supports abortion.” And Jamie says, “You know, Chris, abortion’s not the only voting issue. Other things matter to elections and politics too. Seems kind of narrow-minded for you to fixate on just that one.”

Have you ever heard a conversation like this? Have you ever had a conversation like this?

Have you ever heard a conversation like this? Have you ever had a conversation like this?

Have you ever met someone like Chris or Jamie? Have you ever felt like Chris? Like Jamie?

Is abortion an election issue? No and yes.

No, abortion is never just an election issue. But yes, abortion is always at least an election issue. Here are ten reasons why:

1. Abortion isn’t just a political issue. Abortion has to do with facts and truth about the science of human life—embryos and fetuses are living human beings as much as you and me. Abortion deals with the physical and psychological welfare of the most vulnerable among us—it kills children and makes mothers suffer. Abortion executes the injustice of discriminating against one another—unborn babies face deprivation and dying based only on their age, appearance, experiences, environment, or abilities. And abortion involves moral assessments and enforcements—who has the right to life, who has the authority to take life, when may we limit one’s lifestyle because it infringes upon somebody else’s survival?

2. Abortion isn’t just a single issue. Abortion is a conclusion that comes from a whole set of principles. It relates to economics, medicine and health care, justice and civil rights. It shows how one understands the roles of government and law—shouldn’t we protect the weakest? It affects one’s sense of the community’s commitments to our underprivileged and endangered—wouldn’t we want to make up for what they lack rather than take even the little they have? It informs how one feels about our relationships to each other as citizens in a society—can’t we care instead of discarding? And abortion has long-term consequences and global implications for both individual bodies and entire populations.

Click here to read the remainder of Pastor Salemink’s article.

Be Informed

During the recent pandemic, church members have been stepping up to care for their members in big ways. But “as churches are trying to adapt and serve, some government officials are targeting churches and treating them worse than local businesses. That’s why Alliance Defending Freedom has intervened on behalf of several churches.” Click here to learn more.



Be Equipped

The end of life can be deeply painful and challenging, often marked by anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Yet Christians working in hospice have opportunities to serve patients, families, and churches in these critical moments.” Hear from people working to show mercy and compassion to the suffering and dying, sharing Christ’s words of comfort and peace.  


Be Encouraged

“As you love the Savior, and through Him the members of your family, seek to remember how it is when Christ attends a wedding. He is not only to be a permanent and prominent Guest in your home; He should be its most visible centerpiece, enriching your marriage and empowering your relationships with others.” – Rev. Dr. Armin Oldsen, former “The Lutheran Hour” speaker, a Life Quote from Lutherans for Life


As children of Adam, we tend to be hedonists. We want to be immersed in comfort and pleasure. While it is true that God created people to bestow His good gifts on them, by turning away from God through the lie of the serpent, people attempted to find an alternative source of pleasure, which was destined to fail. All people found was death; there is not and may never be life apart from the One who is the Giver of life.

That is why we should not be surprised when our thinking of Christian life gets distorted in many ways. Christ said He came so that people “may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10), and we are tempted to understand it in terms of possessions in this life. St Paul said: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”(Phil. 4:13), and we find delight in thinking that we must be successful in this life, for our God is strong and powerful. Alas, by our nature, we do not want to recognize that the Lord’s “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).

We naturally want to be on the winning side of things, all the more in our Christian life, both individually and collectively. “We are the champions.” The old man in us is anxious to see growth, prosperity, respect and admiration from everybody else, Christians and non-Christians alike.

The Christian message, however, and the God in whom we believe run contrary to our human aspirations of the old Adam. The scandal of Christianity is found in its insistence on exclusivity. There is only one truth, only one way to salvation. By default, all other religions are misleading and paving the way to hell. That makes Christians not “friendly” in the eyes of the world. That is embarrassing. And so it may cause some to compromise in the matters of faith with the hope that it will result in more peace and stability in society. That is not likely to happen. The perception of being part of a “Christian society,” once fairly common, is quickly disappearing.

As Western society rapidly reverts to the non-Christian moral values, it becomes more important to study the rich experience of the Church with respect to persecution and martyrdom. The main lesson we can learn from it: This is extremely serious. It is a matter of life and death. And shallow Christianity that is individualistic and psychologically oriented is absolutely doomed in that epoch.

Christians suffer because Christ suffered

Christians may seem increasingly small and miserable in this world. We should not be surprised. After all, our Lord looked miserable on the cross, and it only with the eyes of faith that we can see Him there for what He is: almighty Lord and King.

It is important to realize that our sufferings caused by persecution are not incidental to our faith. If it were so, then the cross of Christ would also be incidental, just one of the steps in “salvation plan” to get over and forget about.

So, you are a Christian? Congratulations! You belong to the faith where you are expected to suffer in this life. Christian sufferings are inherently Christological, and in that they reflect the nature of God as He truly is.

Read more about Rev. Streltsov’s five ways to prepare for persecution here.


The Rev. Alexey Streltsov is a pastor in the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church. This article is reprinted from the June/July 2014 The Lutheran Witness.


Be Informed

Military chaplains, and all who work to defend our religious liberty, need our prayers as they respond to this global pandemic. Learn more from Chaplain Craig Muehler!


Be Equipped

Looking for ways to care for others, rather than worry about yourself, during this pandemic? When it comes to valuing every life, and especially those of the ones God has placed in your midst, KFUO has you covered!


Be Encouraged

“It was many long years before Elizabeth had the joy of seeing, in her own body, that God had not forgotten her. ‘He looked on me,’ she said. The proof was the baby growing inside her, though she was an old woman by that time. But you and I don’t need to wait so long. God has looked on us, too. The proof is the baby growing inside of Mary—God’s own dear Son Jesus, Who came to be your Savior. In Jesus, you can see that God has remembered you. He has looked on you with love—He has even made you His own child. You are not forgotten. You are beloved.” – Dr. Kari Vo, Lutheran Hour Ministries, a Life Quote from Lutherans For Life


The last several weeks have reinforced biblical truths that matter now more than ever. Marriage and family are God’s blessings and provide society vital resources for facing the challenges of COVID-19. These vital gifts are essential to our cultural capacity to face the COVID-19 crisis, as they have been with so many crises before. Biblically and sociologically, marriage and family provide even more than relationships. These institutions provide the very foundation for a healthy, civil, and prosperous society. The biblical call to “honor your father and your mother” (Ex. 20:12) also means to honor the God-given authority upon which civil societies can be built. When families are loving and strong, communities are strong. When marriage and family are neglected or despised, community and society are at risk. I’m not going to recite the data about the demise of the traditional family and the rise of crime and poverty in our urban areas. I’m not going to cite the outrageous rise in STDs, divorce, and unhappiness in society since the sexual libertinism of the 1960s. Today, I’m just going to reference the important dialogues happening in many homes around the country right now.

In the midst of this crisis, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, sons and daughters are all talking about the crisis and how they can come together to support one another. We’ve had those discussions in our household. They have gone something like this: “What if our mom and dad get sick? How can we take care of them?” It’s family first and foremost, especially now. Wouldn’t any of you do whatever it takes to sit with a sick husband or wife, grandmother or grandfather, or any of our children, and risk getting the illness or having to suffer in quarantine just to comfort those we love? Those are the thoughts being bantered about during our sheltered-in-place conversations. What about the coming economic crisis that even now is unleashing its brutal challenges to our culture? Do you think that a few checks from the government could ever replace loving, hard-working moms, dads, and families striving to provide for themselves? No way! Our Christian faith calls for dedicated familial love. Our liberties in American also call us to our first civic duty, that of caring and providing for those in our immediate and extended family. The honoring and undergirding of family at this moment is vital.

That’s why an article written by Sophie Lewis, a “scholar” at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research entitled, “The Coronavirus Crisis Shows It's Time to Abolish the Family,”[1] is so outrageous. In a time when families, not government, are the enduring source of strength and comfort for most people in our culture, Lewis seeks to use this crisis to push Americans to abolish the family, rather than to support and strengthen it. 1960s libertinism masking as “research” has ravaged our culture with broken families, violence, poverty, and despair. Now, rather than deal with the measurable damage such views have inflicted on our culture, people like Lewis seek to destroy the family altogether. It’s ironic to me that researchers like Lewis never seem to see that the destructive, selfish behaviors of libertinism, which sadly now plague even the family, actually cause and expand the pain and brokenness she laments, rather than mitigating them.  


Katie Everett from Campus Reform[2] rightly responds that the answer going forward is actually the strengthening of family, not the hastening of its demise. Quoting Glenn Stanton, director of Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family, she notes, “Academic and government research over the last couple of decades consistently show that married women and children living with their married biological fathers are the least likely to suffer sexual, physical, or verbal abuse compared with other domestic configurations.”[3] So find a way to love and take care of your family. We will all be blessed if you do.

In this time of crisis, biblical common sense tells us that those we love, especially those in our own family, are our first defense against many of the issues that plague our culture today. Our Founding Fathers honored the biblical structures of family and church as fundamental places of liberty that had the enduring capacity to rise to the challenges that a free culture would face. Now is the time to be thankful for the family that you have, to seek to honor those that you love, and to strengthen those relationships closest to you. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it has taught us that the institutions of marriage and family matter now more than ever.

The Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz is the executive director of the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty.

Be Informed

Stephenie Hovland, member of the Lutherans For Life National Board of Directors, explains how parents can instill life values in children, even at a very young age. Click here to have a listen!


Be Equipped

I write to encourage some different thinking on the part of our public leaders. For Christians, gathering together in church is essential. We live our lives according to the Scriptural teaching above, that man lives not only by bread but also — and I would add, especially — by the Word of God. For Christians, going to church is just as essential as going to the grocer, the doctor or even to the hardware store or garden center. We need to fix a pipe and to hear that our sins are forgiven. It’s time for [governors] to make allowance for churches to meet within reasonable and safe limits — masks on except for when receiving Communion; no more at a time than can fit while maintaining at least six feet between households; similar limits as put in place for ‘essential stores’ (50 percent capacity at most). If we could meet in the aisles of a grocery store, we should be able to meet in the aisles of a church.” Read more from LCMS pastor Rev. Michael Schuermann on the importance of churches being able to gather again, even under COVID-19 conditions.


Be Encouraged

“Ascension Day, a holy day falling inconspicuously on a Thursday in May, is the conspicuous declaration that we are not left as orphans. In the same post-resurrection body that He invited Thomas to touch, Jesus invites us to full humanity even today. He ascended with a body, He shares in our humanity, extending His own body even now, promising to return for our own bodies. Christ is preparing a room for us, and we can know it is real because He himself is real.” –Jill Carattini, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries – a Life Quote from Lutherans For Life •







Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are John 17:7-11 and 20-21, where Jesus says,   

Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one…….20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.



Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verse is 1 Peter 3:13-16, where the Bible says,   

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.




Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verse is 1 Peter 2:13-17, where the Bible says,   

13 Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.



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

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.



Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are Luke 24:29b-35, where the Bible tells of these events after Jesus had walked to Emmaus with two of His followers on the evening of His resurrection:    

So, [Jesus] went in to stay with them. 30 When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. 32 They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” 33 And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, 34 saying, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.



Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verse is John 20:29, where the Bible says,  

Jesus said to [thomas], “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”