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FriJul10

Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, has addressed the church regarding the changing situations as states and communities face reopening.

 


“We are now seeing a different phase in government, and that is resulting in a different response from the church,” Harrison said.

The LCMS is working with Alliance Defending Freedom, First Liberty and the Becket Fund to defend religious liberty where needed. Please go below to find links to letters, press releases, and the latest news from The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod on religious liberty with regard to congregations’ ability to worship.

 

 

Be Informed

Author J. K. Rowling made an unexpected stand for the difference between male and female. Learn more here.

 

Be Equipped

A Christian professor in Ohio got the message from his employer loud and clear: “You must endorse the university’s favored ideology or be punished. There is no room for dissent.” See how he’s fighting back.

 

Be Encouraged

“Lifting each other up, as we share our faith in Christ Who came to make all things new, is the only hope we have. Let us not waste this life God has given us, but let us move forward in faith, together, knowing that ultimately the gates of hell will not prevail against those who love God.” --Abbott Tryphon, Vashon Island, Wash.

FriJul03

This Saturday the country will celebrate the Fourth of July, a time when Americans still publicly cherish and celebrate the freedoms that they’ve been privileged to possess. It’s a time when we honor the things that make America special and, in fact, unique in this world. It’s a time when we come together, in spite of our country’s failures and our many differences, and honor what makes our country different. And what would that be exactly? Many today are trying to sell the notion that nothing about our country makes us “unique” or honorable. But is that true? Of course it isn’t! In fact, I’d like you to take the time right now to be thankful for a country that did some incredible things for you. No matter what your station in life at the moment, things like these have rarely, if ever, been done before.

 


Those who founded this country did the following:

(1) They organized a country based on the self-evident truth that people, as creatures of God, all “are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (Declaration of Independence). Such rights were to be virtuously engaged and constantly striven for “freely” without need of coercion. To be sure, not living up to those principles has caused our country tremendous turmoil, but the fundamental truth remains and still calls all freedom-seeking people to itself.  

(2) They not only realized the inherent dignity of all people, but also recognized the depth of the depravity of all humanity, themselves included. Who wins a revolution, writes a constitution, and claims a victory by limiting one’s own power? People who know that liberty for all is more important than personal power for some, that’s who. This truth makes America as a country unique to this day.

(3) Finally, they realized that the American experiment rises and falls on the idea with which the Constitution begins, “We the People.” This statement envisions free citizens in charge of our lives as capable, competent, self-disciplined, religiously-motivated people living freely for others just because it’s the right thing to do. In the biblical dichotomy of “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, give to God what is God’s” (Matt. 22:21), America was the first and only country that limited government types. It even gave the ultimate “Caesar-ship” to individual citizens with a Bill of Rights to keep power-hunger politicians in their place.

All of this was pretty special then, and, in the midst of the turmoil of the last several months, it remains even more special today . . . if we can keep it. Reverend Peter Marshall, Chaplain of the United States Senate for a short time in the 1940s, said this about America’s freedom in action: “May we think of freedom not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.”[1] Wise words.

So, while July Fourth is rightly called “Independence Day,” I want you to remember that exercising our freedoms is not libertinism, a “do as I please” attitude subject to no moral code or no civil concern above oneself as the final arbiter. On this Fourth of July, let’s prayerfully and thankfully celebrate those who sacrificed so much so that we can have the freedoms that we have today. And let’s realize that for such freedoms to endure, we must understand that our healthy “independence” is rooted and empowered by these three things: (1) our dependence on God in all things, (2) our interdependence with each other in community (e.g., family, church, neighborhood, city, and country), and (3) our humble, steely-eyed willingness to be independent and even “go it alone” for ourselves and for others when God’s fundamental, moral truths are one the line.

While the resurrection freedom of Good Friday and Easter Sunday is the only enduring, eternal freedom in the world, it is a precious thing to have the temporal freedoms of America as well. Such temporal, constitutional freedoms free us to be faithful to God on His terms and to others without coercion or fear. That freedom was worth fighting for then, it is worth celebrating now, and it is worth exercising in the future. A blessed 244th Independence Day then to you all and may there be many more to come!

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

Be Informed

A new survey “finds widespread support for letting Church, not State, control internal religious direction.” Learn more here.  

 

Be Equipped

Discover more about a dangerous agenda for America’s institutions with Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto. Click here to listen to a recent interview.

 

Be Inspired

“O Merciful Father in heaven, from You comes all rule and authority over the nations of the world for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. Graciously regard Your servants, those who make, administer and judge the laws of this nation, and look in mercy upon all the rulers of the earth. Grant that all who receive the sword as Your servants may bear it according to Your command. Enlighten and defend them, and grant them wisdom and understanding, that under their peaceable governance Your people may be guarded and directed in righteousness, quietness and unity. Protect and prolong their lives that we with them may show forth the praise of Your name; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”

  

[1] https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/33254.Peter_Marshall

FriJun26

Religion waxes and wanes in a culture and throughout history.  It can fade away, but it can also suddenly come back again.

The American Enterprise Institute has released an important study of American religion entitled Promise and peril: The history of American religiosity and its recent decline.

 


It is a meta-analysis--that is, a study of studies–bringing together a wide range of disparate research and analyzing the data in terms of each other to arrive at more rigorous conclusions.

You may have noticed, for example, that there have been many studies of American religion and its possible decline that come up with different statistics.  The problem is that different researchers study different aspects of the question.  You can focus on how many Americans claim to have a religious affiliation.  Or you can focus on how many Americans actually go to church.  Or you can focus on what Americans say that they believe.

Those are three completely different questions.  Many members of a church don’t attend much, or don’t believe what their church teaches.  Many Americans profess Christian beliefs but don’t belong to a church.  Furthermore, each of those questions rely on what individuals tell survey takers.  Another line of research is digging out objective data about American religion, such as church records and evidence of cultural markers, such as “religious” baby names.  Then again, church records are not always accurate and some congregations don’t even have memberships.  So the whole questions of “how religious are Americans?” and “is Christianity declining in the United States?” are more complicated to answer than it might appear.

Read more from Dr. Veith here.

Be Informed

Life begins at conception. Click here to see a timeline of fetal development . . . and to learn how a child’s heart starts beating at only 21 days old!

Be Equipped

“Many people are looking to a higher power for comfort these days. In March, the number of Google searches for prayer skyrocketed, according to a not-yet-published analysis of search results for 95 countries by an economist at the University of Copenhagen.” Learn more from the Wall Street Journal.

Be Encouraged

Dear Father, you sent your Son, who left His powerful position in heaven to be born in a lowly stable, to live life in our place, to die a death that is the recompense for this world’s sin, and to give us eternal life as a gift now and forever. May that motivate our prayers and our service to our friends and our enemies, to our brothers and sisters in the faith and our neighbors in the community, and all who are in authority to lead and to serve. Give us strength to be a people constantly in prayer, available for service, and bold in our witness of the God who is at work in the world to save. In the Name of Jesus, we pray. Amen!

FriJun19

Religion waxes and wanes in a culture and throughout history.  It can fade away, but it can also suddenly come back again.

That is one of  the takeaways from the American Enterprise study by Lyman Stone that we’ve been discussing this week:  Promise and peril: The history of American religiosity and its recent decline.

 


In addition to giving us something of a three-dimensional profile of the extent of religion in the United States and Western Europe, the study gives data about why religions decline but also what brings religions back.

As we reported from that study, the lowest level of church membership and church attendance in the history of the United States was in the 1780s, when only a third of Americans belonged to any church body and only a fifth of the population was in church on any given Sunday.  That’s far worse than today’s supposedly “declining” numbers, of 62% membership and 35% attending.

But after that religious low point at the very outset of our nation came the Second Great Awakening, which began in the 1790s and soon made our forebears the strong Christians we have always assumed them to be.

What changed?  Researchers have cited sociological factors.  For example, as we blogged about, the American Enterprise study says that the heavy-handed, politically powerful colonial churches created a backlash against faith, whereas their disestablishment and America’s new religious liberties created a climate for faith to flourish again.

Click here to read more from Dr. Gene Edward Veith.

Be Informed

Hosted by LCMS Urban & Inner-City Mission, the Rev. Dr. Greg Seltz, executive director of the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty, will presents a free webinar on “Religious Freedom in our PC Culture” from 1:00-2:00 p.m. Central time Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. Seltz will provide insights and strategies to winsomely witness to our world as the Christian faith becomes less “PC.” Learn more here!

Be Equipped

Rev. Christopher Thomas discusses when Christians must disobey government’s restrictions on gathering in a recent Issues, Etc. interview.

Be Encouraged

Dear Father, you sent your Son, who left His powerful position in heaven to be born in a lowly stable, to live life in our place, to die a death that is the recompense for this world’s sin, and to give us eternal life as a gift now and forever. May that motivate our prayers and our service to our friends and our enemies, to our brothers and sisters in the faith and our neighbors in the community, and all who are in authority to lead and to serve. Give us strength to be a people constantly in prayer, available for service, and bold in our witness of the God who is at work in the world to save. In the Name of Jesus, we pray. Amen!

 

FriJun12

When John Kennedy was murdered in November, 1963, the Washington Star columnist Mary McGrory famously said, “We shall never laugh again,” to which  Daniel Patrick Moynihan, later to become a famous senator, replied, “Mary, we’ll laugh again, but we’ll never be young again.”

 


That Cold War tete-a-tete is surely to be repeated, at another level and for a new era, when official Washington begins slowly and incrementally to awaken to the reality of the Covid-19 chapter of American history.  The only thing that will have changed in our nation’s capital is everything, which is to say, the way in which the city has historically done business and navigated itself has been inalterably shifted and reimagined.

            In its 231-year history – through Civil War, two world wars, the Great Depression, major recessions, Watergate, Vietnam, the three wars of the last 30 years, etc. – there has never been a time when the United States Congress has not met in person and voted in person. To do otherwise, even up to two weeks ago, would have thought unthinkable.

But as a direct result of America’s current domestic war –- the attack of an invisible, lethal pathogen – remote voting will be installed in the House whereby Members of Congress will be given the option of remaining in their home districts and merely appointing a proxy on the House floor to vote in their behalf. This is genuinely a radical change.

            The United States Senate, perhaps the most tradition-bound institution in America with only one exception, refuses to move toward proxy voting; but it is inevitable, if there is, God-forbid, a second round of Covid spikes, that even that legislative upper house may need to find a contemporary manner in which to do its daily business.  The current muddle of discontinued subcommittee and committee hearings has become, for some members, intolerable.

            Most people who watch, track, and work with Congress most closely have been told that, in the post-Quarantine era, the House and Senate will revert to in-person voting, in-person hearings, and in-person modes of doing daily and weekly business.  Having worked on or near Capitol Hill for three decades, I feel confident that will not be the case.  Some changes are so dramatic, you can never go back again, at least completely. 

            Some of the current “temporarily-remote” ways of doing business in the House and Senate will likely be concretized into permanence and will thus fundamentally change how the House does much of its work.  With likely airline snafus and other related transportation hurdles on the cusp, there will be every incentive to reform the old decorum and to favor less centrality on the Hill and in the city.

            Thousands of people who work on the Hill, in the federal bureaucracy and in the institutions most associated with the work of the legislative an executive branches have now had a two-month sense of how working remotely can be made to work, and there will be inclinations toward keeping more people away from the capitol core of the city.

            Similarly, there has not been a time in White House history where there were so many daily hurdles to even getting inside the complex, much less near-to or inside the West Wing where the president, vice president, and their most senior staffs work.  To what was an already highly-restricted working space before Covid will be added layers of keeping more people away.  The risk is simply too high for infection; in fact, even with the most stringent barriers in Washington, senior White House aides still were infected and necessarily quarantined.

            Perhaps the biggest immediate change of Washington, D.C., in the post-quarantine era will be its impact on the United States Supreme Court.  Two members of that august body are in their 80s; four of the members, including the Chief Justice, are in their 60s or above; and for the first time in the court’s contemporary history, the justices heard 10 major cases, met in conference, and had discussions by teleconference, allowing the public for the first time to listen to cases as they were actually being argued. Lawyers making the cases were doing so from their living rooms via telephonic connection.

            There has been a longtime push to allow the public to listen to real-time audio from the court cases as they are being argued; others have pushed for TV coverage, much like C-SPAN.  The justices say such coverage would impede the way the cases are both argued and decided.  It seems unlikely at this juncture that real-time TV and radio are in the offing, but it is does not seem unlikely that, with the viral threat ongoing, new procedures and protocols will be adopted to modify how the Court adjusts to the new normal, and that may include a modified version of real-time audio.

            The Irish-Anglo statesman Edmund Burke famously observed that the best definition of a healthy conservatism is that which allows worthy institutions to be reformed in order to be preserved.  It seems to me Burke’s definition accords with right reason in the public square of a post-Quarantine, twenty-first century Washington, D.C.

            The Constitution has a fixed meaning and purpose; its original vision remains more vital today than ever; the way contemporary Washington adapts and reforms will be the largest historical question going-forward, and will be fascinating to watch and help impact.

Timothy S. Goeglein is the vice president for External and Government Relations for Focus on the Family.

 

Be Informed

“How Minnesota Catholics and Lutherans Teamed Up to Open Their Churches:” the title of the article says it all! Read it here.

Be Equipped

Every child deserves a mom and dad, but for those absent fathers, one man is stepping up to help. Check out “Dad, How Do I?” for more.  

 

Be Encouraged

In a nation that grants its citizens liberty and freedom, in a nation that seeks to limit the powerful and set the religious, disciplined, self-governing citizen free, we, as believers, pray that we might rise to that challenge as your people, to proclaim your ultimate work of redemption for all. Amen.

 

FriMay29

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

 

[1] https://www.westernjournal.com/god-not-gov-cuomo-tries-steal-glory-god-flattening-curve/

[2] https://www.patheos.com/blogs/chorusinthechaos/martin-luther-and-the-black-plague/

[3] https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/488675-the-plague-coronavirus-and-martin-luther-why-they-all-matter-now

FriJun05

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

 

FriMay22

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

 

FriMay15

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.  

[1] https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/oureconomy/coronavirus-crisis-shows-its-time-abolish-family/

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 • www.lutheransforlife.org

 

[1] https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/oureconomy/coronavirus-crisis-shows-its-time-abolish-family/

[2] https://www.bizpacreview.com/2020/04/18/feminist-scholar-calls-to-abolish-the-family-amid-pandemic-households-are-capitalisms-pressure-cookers-910312?utm_campaign=bizpac&utm_content=Newsletter&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_source=Get+Response&utm_term=EMAIL

[3] https://www.bizpacreview.com/2020/04/18/feminist-scholar-calls-to-abolish-the-family-amid-pandemic-households-are-capitalisms-pressure-cookers-910312?utm_campaign=bizpac&utm_content=Newsletter&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_source=Get+Response&utm_term=EMAIL

FriApr24

Police in Finland are investigating the leader of an entire denomination for publishing a booklet that disapproves of homosexuality.  The author of that booklet, which sets forth the Biblical teachings about sexuality, is also under investigation for the crime of “agitation against an ethnic group,” a statute which added “sexual orientation” to the list of protected classes.  The maximum punishment is two years in prison.


I have blogged about Christianity in Scandinavia and Finland in particular, based on what I learned during my speaking engagements in those regions.  See my posts on the subject, for example, Confessional Lutheranism in Finland, Scandinavia’s Two Tracks of Christianity, and Challenges for Conservative Churches in Scandinavia.

The police came for the Rev. Dr. Juhana Pohjola, Dean of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland.  This is a church body that broke away from the established state church.  It was started by members of independent mission organizations, which have become the home of evangelical, conservative Christianity in the nordic countries.  The Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese is committed to confessional Lutheranism and is a member, along with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, of the International Lutheran Council.

The church published a 24-page booklet entitled in English Male and Female Created He Them.  (The link will take you to the English translation.)  There is nothing hateful in the booklet.  It simply lays out what the Bible says about sexuality, including the teaching that homosexuality is against God’s design.

To learn more about this story, click here.

Dr. Gene Veith is the author of some 25 books, a retired literature professor, provost emeritus at Patrick Henry College, and director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Be Informed

Have you heard the news? “As more states look to ban abortion during pandemic, legal battles erupt nationwide.” Click here to read more from the Washington Post.

Be Equipped

Did you know that “The Supreme Court has agreed to take a case that will clarify the role of faith-based agencies in the foster and adoption system”? Read more about this landmark case by clicking here.

Be Encouraged

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

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