Word from the Center: Monday, November 12, 2018

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 from
Hebrews 9:27-28, where the Bible says,

Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was
sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin,
but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

Straight Talk about What Matters

Brutal facts. I hate to tell you, but we all have some brutal facts in our life. Facts that must be
overcome for our freedom. Such facts might be the troubles of the day. They might be the
obstacles that we face in life, whether those under our control or those out of our control. But this
Bible verse goes further, telling us about the ultimate “brutal fact” of life. Namely, that because
of our sin, people are destined to die once and after that to face the judgment.” A sobering
thought for sure, but that final fact, if faced in Christ, can change your life.

His name was James Stockdale. He was the highest-ranking Naval officer ever to be held in
captivity. Worse, he was held in the Hanoi Hilton during the Viet Nam war and the facts of that
captivity were completely brutal. He was shackled in a 3×9 foot solitary confinement cell, a
single light bulb shining both day and night. By the time he was released in 1973, his shoulders
had been pulled from their sockets from torture, his legs had been shattered, and his back had
been broken. These were the brutal facts of the price he paid fighting for our freedom. But these
were the facts to be overcome for his freedom too.

When asked how anyone could survive seven years of such torture, he recounted what is today
known as the “Stockdale Paradox.” It was his undying faith in the “end of the story of his life,”
not the issues of the moment. He said,

I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but
also, that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my
life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.1

And that wasn’t wishful thinking or the power of positive thinking. No. When Stockdale was
then asked who didn’t make it through the ordeal of captivity. He replied,

Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. They were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by
Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re
going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then
Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.2

Stockdale emphasized another crucial point:

You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never
afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current
reality, whatever they might be.3

As powerful as the “Stockdale Paradox” might be, there is an even greater power for you today. I
call it the “Cross of Christ Paradox.” Faith in the future, in the “good end of the story,” gives
power to live today. That faith must be rooted in something that’s real, that faces the brutal facts
of reality, and gives life and salvation in the midst of it all. The writer of Hebrews says that the
death of Jesus Christ did just that! In His life, death, and resurrection, the God/Man Jesus faced
the brutal realities of this sinful world in their fullest form so that His gift of life might be your
certain future no matter what you face today. That’s the powerful paradox of life and salvation
through the cross of Jesus.

It’s amazing to think of the power of the “Stockdale Paradox” today and how that might bless
your life. But I encourage you to not stop there. Also trust in the “Cross of Christ Paradox,” God
at work in this world to overcome all that is against you. May that powerful paradox truly bless
your life now and forever.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for your willingness to leave heaven and enter our sinful
world, and die once and for all in our place so that we might be saved. Give me faith to trust in
that powerful, paradoxical reality as I seek to live boldly in your name today. AMEN.

1 http://www.isharelight.com/the-stockdale-paradox/
2 http://www.isharelight.com/the-stockdale-paradox/
3 http://www.isharelight.com/the-stockdale-paradox/

Word from the Center: Friday, November 9, 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
topic/issue is….

Gosnell, a Movie that Must Be Seen!

Back in college, I was privileged to watch “Whatever Happened to the Human Race” by Francis
Schaeffer and the Surgeon General of the day, Dr. C. Everett Koop. It was a prophetic video
series that laid out the devolving direction of the Western world as it jettisoned basic JudeoChristian
principles about life and morality. Schaeffer warned our nation about the consequences
of culturally defining particular human lives as “lives not worth living.” He argued that such a
definition would unleash grotesque inhumanity and injustice in our culture like never before. As
I watched that video series back in the 70s, I was persuaded that issues such as abortion and
euthanasia were an attack on the basic dignity of what it means to be a human being. Yvette’s
and my work with pro-life clinics in New York city in the 90’s reaffirmed that belief. After all, if
we won’t protect the most vulnerable among us, what is the point of striving to be humane, just,
and civil, human beings at all?

Back then, Schaeffer’s predictions seemed beyond belief. With all our technology and
accumulated wisdom, wouldn’t we naturally become more loving people towards one another?
Who could imagine a society that would treat its children as disposable or would treat its elderly
as inconveniences? Not long ago, in the 1940s through the early 1960s, children were still seen
as blessings from God, marriage was a fundamental norm of society, and elderly parents were
still a meaningful part of one’s extended family. The idea of certain “human lives NOT worth
living” has changed all that.

If you’ve never thought about the destructive power of the cultural war against the sanctity of
life, please go and see the movie “Gosnell.”1 Leave all political bias at home and just watch.
Gosnell was a vile abortion doctor who operated with callous impunity until caught by accident.
The Washington Examiner reports:

The grand jury report described Gosnell as a “butcher of women” stating that he “didn’t
just kill babies. He was also a deadly threat to mothers.” Two women died at his hands,
and countless others were gravely maimed, yet numerous complaints fell on deaf ears.
These horrors were eventually discovered only by accident, when the clinic was raided by
the FBI and the DEA in a bust of Gosnell’s illegal prescription drug ring. The agents
were shocked to find little babies’ bodies “ scattered throughout, in cabinets, in the
basement, in a freezer, in jars and bags…. It was a baby charnel house.” Were it not for
this, Gosnell would still be “serving” women and snipping babies’ spines at his
“Women’s Medical Society” in West Philadelphia.2

Gosnell shows what we humans can become when we begin to create the notion in our
hearts/minds and policies of “human life NOT worth living.” Such an “anti-sanctity of life”
mantra can easily become a justification for the neglect of the most vulnerable among us. Who
can imagine clinics like those of Gosnell? But who could imagine garbage bags of aborted
children, or the sale of children’s body parts either? Sadly, our aging parents are being “reevaluated”
too. Assisted suicide is finding roots in Western culture and has even taken hold in
the United States in Oregon, for example (see https://www.ortl.org/the-facts/assisted-suicide/).
Francis Schaeffer’s predictions are unfortunately coming true. The debate about the sanctity of
life is not just about politics because human lives are at stake. With over 58 million abortions to
date, with the growing devaluing of the lives of the elderly, and the growing insensitivity to
others in general, reasserting the preciousness and sanctity of ALL human life is a notion whose
time has come again in America.

1 See https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/kermit-gosnell-was-just-the-beginning-gruesome-abortiondoctors-operate-with-impunity-around-the-country

2 https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/kermit-gosnell-was-just-the-beginning-gruesome-abortiondoctors-operate-with-impunity-around-the-country

Devotion: Monday, November 5, 2018

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 from
Revelation 7:9-10, where the Bible says,

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation,
from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb,
clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice,
“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

In Christ, the Rest Is History!

WHAT A PICTURE, WHAT A PROMISE! If you take the message of this verse to heart, the
Bible is saying clearly that IN CHRIST all things work out in the end. In fact, in a day of identity
politics, tribal motivations, and rampant individualism, the Bible proclaims the day where “all
nations” will be gathered together in harmony around the throne of Christ, the Lamb. So that’s
the future. For believers, that’s our future. But what does that reality mean for today?

What about here and now? What about the strife, the separation, the antagonisms of today? Will
politics solve the problem? Will our best efforts solve the problem? How can we make a
difference about things in this world when we can’t even get our lives together many times?
Those are great questions. And the Bible is blunt about the answer to those questions, blunt about
what we can really count on, now and forever. “Salvation belongs to our God….and to the
Lamb!” (Revelation 7:10). Christ’s work changes everything. Faith in Christ changes everything.

It’s like that phrase, “The rest is history.” When people say that phrase they are asserting that
because of the actions of some special person or some special event, no matter the issues of the
moment, the future is assured, and the outcome is plain for all to see. For example, Babe Ruth
was a great baseball player and home run hitter. If you said, “The Yankees were behind; it was
the bottom of the ninth with two outs; but Babe Ruth came to bat, and the ‘rest is history’,”
everyone would know that Ruth hit a home run and the Yankees won. Or, in football, if you said,
“The Patriots were down by a field goal in the 4th quarter. There were only 2 minutes left in the
game; but Tom Brady stepped on the field for one more drive and ‘the rest is history’,” you
would know instinctively that the Patriots won the game. In each example, in the bleakness of
the circumstances, one person made all the difference. Well, that’s what Revelation 7 is asserting
today concerning the present and the future of your life. It’s not about what we can finally do.
Instead, it’s about God engaging our world and our problems through His Son, our Savior, Jesus
Christ, “and the rest is history.” Even better, the overall message of Revelation declares, “The
rest, AS GOD SAYS, is HIS Story, for you, NOW AND FOREVER.”

So, when you and I are faced with the world as it is, full of mistakes, flaws, and errors, when we
are faced with our own failures, sins, grief, and pain, the Bible invites us to put our hope in the
“Lamb who was slain” (Revelation 5:12), both now and forever. In a day when people more
foolishly put their trust in politicians, in political prognosticators, in secular gurus, in temporal
heroes, or even in our best efforts, God calls us to put our faith and hope in Him. And, no matter
the circumstance of the moment, when Jesus Christ “goes to bat for you and me,” that’s a “the
rest is history” story that really matters in your life, now and forever. Revelation 7 gives us a
resurrection glimpse of that future so that we can live in its promise IN CHRIST certainly even
now.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for your action on our behalf and the future reality of
brotherhood and life that comes by faith in You. May we strive to live up to what we already
have in Christ. AMEN.

Word from the Center: Friday, November 2, 2018

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

Family, Children, and All Saints Day!

One of the big issues today in people’s lives is whether or not there is “purpose,” real purpose in
life. All the efforts for education, work, careers, and retirement don’t make much sense if there is
no purpose to life in general. When I was working in New York City, we had Bible studies on
Wall Street. And we began to find out, just as we suspected, that just because a person had
financial success, that wasn’t enough. There was still an emptiness in life that only a relationship
with God could fill, a purpose in life that could only be met by striving for meaningful
relationships with others in Him. Our culture used to value these things. Faith in God and the
importance of marriage and family, these used to be basic goals in life for which one was to
strive. No so much today.

Not only are “nones,” people who claim to have no faith in God, or at least no desire for such a
thing a fast-growing group in America, but family is also on the decline. Sadly, more and more
people are eschewing the purpose of family, namely committing oneself to loving another for a
lifetime, as well as raising children together as parents (see the data trend at
https://www.bloombergquint.com/onweb/almost-half-of-u-s-births-happen-outside-marriagesignaling-cultural-shift#gs.FynoYFE).

November 1 is a date that is celebrated by Christians around the world. It is called “All Saints
Day.” It is a time to remember the faith of those who have passed away. It is a time to celebrate
the legacy of faith in our families, from generation to generation. It’s a time to realize that there
is a basic purpose to life. Life is about coming to grips with who you are as one who is created
and redeemed by God. It is also about learning to love and to care for others in His name in
meaningful, committed relationships.

Faith, Family, Children…these are fundamentals to a purposeful life. They are the reason that
one seeks an education, the reason why one works hard, the reason that one occasionally enjoys
leisure too. The legacies of faith, marriage, and family are also fundamental to the growth and
stability of society as well. No policies, no policing, no government-safety-net can ever replace
the importance of faith in God and the importance of marriage and family. In fact, the goal of
one’s marriage relationship was never meant to be just for personal happiness. It was also meant
for the passing on of one’s culture, one’s heritage, and one’s faith as part of the long line of
relationships that came before you.

The LCRL is in Washington D.C. to fight for the freedom to live as Christians in the public
square, as well as to protect a Christian’s right to strive for marriage and family according to
God’s design. With those protections in place, the real key still is living as God created and
redeemed us to live, striving to bless our neighborhoods and communities one family at a time as
a testimony to the power of faith in God lived out in love for our spouses, our children, and our
neighbors.

The trends we see happening in our culture cannot endure long. Faith, marriage, and family are
fundamentals not only for a purposeful life; they are fundamentals of a free, civil, just society.
It’s time to turn those trend lines around, not just for our sakes, but for the sake of our culture as
well. That’s a change that we all can strive for starting today.

Devotion: Monday, October 29, 2018

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 8:31-36, where the Bible says,

31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

There are Two Kinds of Freedom – one’s helpful, the other is absolutely Necessary!

There are two kinds of freedom in the world. One is the freedom that you and I can “earn” on our own. There are times when it seems like that freedom is secure, in our hands. There are other times when it seems like it is always slipping through our fingers, beyond our reach. The other freedom is the kind of freedom that God has to make happen by His work on your behalf. Can you guess which one lasts? Can you guess which one is absolutely indispensable? Right, it’s the one where the “Son sets you free” by His life, death, and resurrection for you.

This is Reformation weekend for many in the Christian Church. It’s a time when we celebrate the clear teaching of the Gospel that Jesus Christ came into this world to save us all, to forgive our sins, to offer us new life in Him by Grace, through Faith, Alone. But, it’s also a time to remember that the freedom of Faith undergirds all other freedoms as well. People today often don’t realize that many of the teachings that go along with such a Gospel message helped bring more “temporal freedom and liberty” to this sinful world too.

Consider just a few things. The idea that your life is precious to God and therefore precious to each other just because He created and redeemed you, that teaching undergirds what we in America call, “The Bill of Rights.” Also, the idea of a right for all to be “educated.” That impulse grew out of the Reformation. When Martin Luther rediscovered the unique teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he wanted to make sure that everybody could read it for themselves. Such a thing was unheard of in many other parts of the world, then and now. And, finally, the message that God sent His Son into the world to save we who were rebels, sinners, and unworthy of His grace…such a “FOR YOU” message undergirds the ideas of the dignity of human beings even in their brokenness, and the mercy that we all need not just for this life, but for eternity.

So, this weekend, take a moment to thank God for the liberties that you have, especially because voting day is on the horizon. But never forget the LIBERTY that is the foundation of them all, the one that comes from the Son. One’s helpful, worth defending….one’s absolutely necessary, worth believing.

PRAYER; Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for the eternal liberties of your grace, and the temporal liberties we enjoy in this country. Help us to receive them and use them to your glory and to our neighbors good. AMEN.

Word from the Center: Friday, October 26, 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 topic/issue….

Reformation Revelations about Liberty and Freedom!

James Madison wrote about the uniqueness of the American government and its inspiration from the Reformation in a letter to Rev. Schaeffer, Dec. 3, 1821, saying:

It illustrates the excellence of a system which, by a due distinction, to which the genius and courage of Luther led the way, between what is due to Caesar and what is due God, best promotes the discharge of both obligations. The experience of the United States is a happy disproof of the error so long rooted in the unenlightened minds of well-meaning Christians, as well as in the corrupt hearts of persecuting usurpers, that without a legal incorporation of religious and civil polity, neither could be supported. A mutual independence is found most friendly to practical Religion, to social harmony, and to political prosperity.[1]

This weekend is the celebration of the Reformation in Christian Churches around the world. The Reformation rediscovered the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a unique proclamation of Freedom, Life, and Salvation offered to sinners by grace alone, through faith alone, in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. In order to clearly proclaim the freedom and eternal life that uniquely comes from Christ as a gift, Luther rediscovered the biblical idea that God is at work in the world in two distinct ways to preserve it and ultimately to save it. His teaching is called “Two-Kingdoms,” though it is no dualism. It is merely the idea that God’s work in the world needs to be differentiated according to His distinction. Jesus himself reminds us to “give to God what is God’s and to give to Caesar, what is Caesar’s” (Matthew 22:21). And, even then, it is to be noted that the realm of Caesar is created and directed by God according to His Law, written into the consciences of people and to be exercised in love by fulfilling one’s God-given vocations in the world for the sake of its preservation. Luther reminds us in his explanation of the Fourth Commandment (the one that talks about Honoring Father and Mother) that in order to carry out that kind of preserving work faithfully,

Governments must establish courts of law, punish criminals (with death if need be), wage war against invaders, sanction the legality of contracts, encourage marriage, regulate commerce, and support education; they may use such lawful means that these ends require. Governors are to perform their duties faithfully, avoid tyranny, insure the usefulness of their regime to land and people, suppress rebellion, preserve the peace, and protect the poor.[2]

As the Western world differentiated the two freedoms, honored the two realms of public authority, and defined the extent to which they ruled over the hearts, the minds, and the bodies of people, the notion of “Caesar and his Subjects” was transformed into the reality of “The Citizens and their Elected Officials.” The Bill of Rights, as well as the rights of citizens to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness as people created in the image of God are ideals rooted in the Reformation. Living them out in ways that glorified God and served one’s neighbor became foundational principles for temporal liberty in the American experiment. And, at the same time, it was to be clearly noted that as precious as these constitutional liberties were, they were not to be confused with the eternal liberties that were unique to Christ and dispensed by His Church.

Earthly liberty stems from God’s preserving work in the world, exercised through family, government, work, and enterprise, even in a world hell-bent on its own demise. Eternal Freedom, however, comes only through God’s restoration of it through the person and work of His Son, Jesus Christ alone. That differentiation brought out the best of both for a time. On this Reformation weekend, let’s rekindle our commitment to be faithful to the God who both preserves and redeems this world in His ways. And let’s us remind ourselves of the blessings which come from following Him in all things, now and forever.

[1] http://www.beliefnet.com/resourcelib/docs/10/Letter_from_James_Madison_to_FL_Schaeffer_1.html

[2] Large Catechism, Fourth Commandment, 167-169 (BS, 603; BC, 388; CT, 628, 629)

Devotion: Monday, October 22, 2018

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 Mark 10:23-27, where the Bible says,

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “It is Hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!… It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; with GOD AL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!”

There are Some Things in your Life that only God can handle!

Say this with me right now, ready? “There are some things in my life that only God can handle.” In fact, I think that we all need to say that a few times today so that it can really sink in. Last week we talked about knowing and trusting in what is valuable in life. This week, we get to explore why. Jesus says it clearly. When it comes to eternal life and salvation, “with man this is impossible, but not with God; With God all things are possible.”

Jesus uses “wealth” as a teachable moment for what is truly valuable. When He talks about how hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, it’s not because wealth is intrinsically bad. It’s because it gives us a false sense of security. Wealth gives us a false sense of power. It tempts us to think that this sinful world is all that there is and that with tons of cash, we can do anything that we set our minds and hearts too. (That’s a particular weakness here in Washington D.C.) But the Bible calls that out for us all. It calls it what it is, false pride. And you know it’s true even if you didn’t read that in the Bible. You know it’s true just by looking at the brokenness and sin all around you, even in your heart and mind as well. I heard it said this way, “Money doesn’t give you life, it just helps you drain whatever life you have, faster.” Sobering. The Bible exposes our ineptness in these matters, not to humiliate, or to demean, but to get us to refocus our life on the one who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” Jesus Christ.

So, as Jesus says elsewhere, “Life does not consist of an abundance of things!” (Luke 12). But, He says that to remind us that He “came (so) that we may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).” Strive for excellence in all that you do. Be passionate. Set goals. But in living your life, remember the essence and fullness of life are God’s gifts, to be received by grace, through faith, in Christ, as a gift. When it comes to the “big things in Life,” only Jesus can handle that. Thank God He did for you and me.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, we I realize that you can handle the very essential things for my life, it gives me confidence that I can entrust all things to you in prayer. Thank you for that confidence. AMEN.

Word from the Center: Friday, October 19, 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 topic/issue….

When the Good News still Isn’t Good News!

Virtually every problem we face in culture today can be linked back to the destruction of the institution of the family in society. The libertinism of the 1960’s unleashed a destructive bomb in relationships that is continuing to devolve into social anarchy to this very day. Or is it? Lyman Stone in his research on the family notes that there might be some good news to share on the marriage and family front. Ready? The number of children born to out-of-wedlock parents is declining. Yay! Stone, in his article, “Decades Long Rise in Non-marital Childbearing Reverses,” says, “While a recent report from Child Trends highlights how high current levels are versus 1990, we are actually approaching a decade of falling births to unmarried moms.”[1] But that good news is overshadowed by the overall bad news; we are having less babies. And the good news is further overshadowed by the fact that each social class is actually trending higher in unmarried births despite the overall lull at the moment.

Why is this so important? It’s important because it goes to the issue of why marriage is vital to our society as an “institution,” not merely as a “relationship.” The defense of traditional marriage is not merely the defense of one relationship over several others. It is the defense of the institutional nature of marriage between a man and a woman for their lifetime that is physiologically, psychologically, and sociologically unique compared to all others. Marriage, if well practiced, undergirds a healthy society. When there are moms, dads, and their children in a home that strives to maintain the fidelity of the family, there is less poverty, less crime, and a more stable community. (For more information, see https://www.heritage.org/crime-and-justice/report/the-real-root-causes-violent-crime-the-breakdown-marriage-family-and). That’s because marriage by design was meant to be foundational to a stable and healthy society. In this case, the numbers don’t lie. Why? Because marriage is more than our relational choice for the moment. It is something rooted in our need as pro-creative, family-focused, community-driven people. It’s something that a culture dismisses to its peril.

That’s why Stone’s article tells us to look deeper into the numbers. The “good news” numbers can sometimes become bad news when people discount the enduring nature of marriage as an institution. Honoring the bigger meaning of “family,” namely, that it’s more than merely relationships for the moment, posits an institution that protects, preserves, and enhances one’s community as moms, dads, and children commit to each other and love each other. Only then will this good news about marriage and family indeed be good news!

[1] See https://ifstudies.org/blog/decades-long-rise-in-nonmarital-childbearing-reverses

Devotion: Monday, October 15, 2018

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 from Mark 10:17-22, where the Bible says,

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?….. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.

20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Don’t Forget Your Valuable!

I know, I know, it’s “Valuables” not “Valuable!” Well, no, for this devotion, it’s VALUABLE. I meant to write that very word because this lesson is talking about the ONE thing in your life that is the key to it all. In our lesson for today, an individual comes up to Jesus and asks the million-dollar question. “Lord, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” That’s the big question; that’s the one that really matters. You see, the Bible talks about life as precious, purposeful, and eternal. Those three all go together. Jesus wants you to know that your life is eternal, not just here today and gone tomorrow. He wants you to know that you are precious to Him, that your life matters to Him.

That is exactly what Jesus was trying to show the rich young man in Mark chapter 10.  Jesus offers to him what He offers to you and me today too….Love, HIS LOVE, the eternal and lasting love of God in Jesus Christ — and a life that is purposeful and eternal because of what He has done for you on the cross. When Jesus tells the man that he lacks “one thing,” He’s trying to get him to see his life as a gift from God. He’s urging him to see that following Jesus is the key to it all.

So, today, ask yourself, “Is there anything getting in the way of knowing and receiving the one thing that is Valuable for your life?” Are the things of this temporary world more precious than knowing the love of God in Christ Jesus forever? Are the trinkets of the moment to be more prized than God’s mercy in Christ? Is there anything more precious than knowing that no matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been, IN HIM, life can be fresh and new today? It can be eternal for you right now. The very same Jesus who urged this man to follow Him urges us too because only Christ Jesus can remove everything that stands in the way of our having life that is good and meaningful, life that lasts forever. Trust in what is valuable today, your life in Christ. And hear another promise from Him as you face this week. He says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, it’s easy to get caught up in the treasures of the here and now. Give us eyes to see that only in and through you does life become precious, purposeful, and eternal. Give me that wisdom to take up the challenges of today. AMEN.

Word from the Center: Friday, October 12, 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 topic/issue….

The Battle for the Supreme Court, or a return to Representative Government?

I wrote a post last month decrying the Supreme Court Nomination process whereby a good man was subjected to the very worst treatment by our government. Such treatment goes back decades, starting with another good man, Robert Bork, who was treated to the same strategy by a shameless senate. The call for civility in politics is a just one. And, our President could use some manners in his engagement with people too. But these public floggings are not just wrong, they are symptoms of a problem that goes much deeper. They go to the heart of the protections of our liberties in society. That’s why the character assassination of a good man like Judge Kavanaugh is so distressing. The process on display was not about your political proclivities versus mine, it’s about both of our liberties. It’s about putting “law-making” back where it belongs, in Legislatures, in Congress, back with the people, not in the courts.

Have you noticed that only one particular viewpoint gets “teed up” for such treatment? The newspaper casts the story in terms of “left and right.” Of course, by “left” they tend to mean the good guy, and by “right,” they tend to mean the one who is somehow going to take away your liberties at all cost. But, what really happened in the election of Judge Kavanaugh? Simply put, a judge was put in place who believes in the original intent of the Constitution as well as the constitutionally defined task of the Supreme Court to render cases according to the Law not to legislate from the bench. That’s it. He wasn’t put in place to exercise one political point of view or another political point of view. The creation of law is the Legislature’s responsibility not the Judiciary, and that’s the way it should be. Why?  because they must answer to the voters who they represent and to whom they are accountable.

So, what does this mean in practical terms? Judge Kavanaugh and the Supreme Court upon which he sits, may or may not overturn “Roe v. Wade,” though I wish it would. Why? Because the “right of abortion” is not in the constitution. And, if we are going to have laws for abortion on the books that allow us to kill babies, that law should be voted on and legislated where it belongs, State Legislatures, or Congress not in the Judicial branch of our government. Also, when courts begin to overturn the clear will of the people, havoc often ensues. I found it ironic in 2006 in California, when the people passed Proposition 8, the “Defense of Marriage Act,” the courts wiped out their votes and ruled against the will of the people. What I found most unsettling was the fact that it was one of the greatest disenfranchisements of African Americans in America, rivaling the government coercion of the Jim Crowe era. You see, most white people in California voted for “gay marriage.” Over 75 percent of black voters (As well as a large percentage of Hispanic voters) voted for the defense of traditional marriage. Yet no outcry to the vacating of their vote was heard in the land at all. I would have liked to have heard the words of an elected official trying to explain to his constituents why their votes were cast aside. In legislative debates, in the writing of the law, and in elections, those questions would have to be answered. But, when a judge can merely cast it all aside, freedoms are lost not gained.

In closing, these cultural issues are hard, they demand clear thinking, heartfelt listening, and legislation that honors all. That belongs in one branch of our government and it’s not the Judicial Branch. The Judicial Branch’s job is to rule according to the laws on the books. And if such law is “bad law,” the people have an opportunity to fix that every time they go to the polls. That balance was returned to our culture last month and all those who love their freedoms, yes even the freedom to disagree with each other and to love each other nonetheless, say, “Thank you.”