Devotion: Monday, February 18, 2019

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 reading is from Luke 6:20-23, where the Bible says,   

Looking at his disciples, [Jesus] said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.22 Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. 23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.

Are You Ready for God’s Blessing?

Are you ready for God’s blessing today? Now that sounds like a foolish question, right? Everyone wants a blessing, right? Some say they want God’s blessing most of all. Good! I’ve got some good news for you then. The Bible is a book about God’s blessings for you. But, here’s the rub. The blessing, the one that is meant for all, yes, for you, me, and everyone, it comes through the person and work of Jesus ALONE! In fact, in our Bible reading today, Jesus tells us that our “blessing meter” might be off quite a bit. He tells us that our poverty now can actually be a blessing, that our weeping now can be preparation for lasting joy, and that our being despised by the culture we live in can be a sign of His blessing that never ends. In so doing, He is calling us to examine our appetites and our desires for the blessings that last.

Do you hunger, yearn, and strive for the things of this world alone? Or, do you wish to have God’s Kingdom blessing in Christ, even to the point of losing all this world can offer? You see, God’s blessing in Jesus is the key to it all. Wealth without Him, happiness without Him, and social capital without Him all amount to nothing in the end. So, if you are ready for a blessing, God would ask you, “Are you hungering for My blessing in Jesus Christ alone?”

Christians hunger for God’s Word because God there reveals how Christ satisfies our deepest need, forgiveness for our sins and the promise of life with Him now and forever. Our hunger for Christ and the forgiving grace He gives to us describes who we are as His disciples.

I suggest something like the above because I think that the devotion needs to define more precisely the last sentence in this paragraph. That is, exactly how is it that our “hunger for the things of God which come in Christ alone defines the key to our blessing from God”? Sadly, the world in which we live will tempt us to discard that hunger for Christ at times, to overlook it, even to despise it compared to other worldly blessings. But that hunger for the things of God which come in Christ alone defines the key to our blessing from God.

Christmas is not too far in the rear-view mirror, right? Lent is still weeks away, and Easter months away, so this year we get to bask in the glow of Christmas a bit longer. But, what is that celebration? What is that glow? Is it about the miracle of a Savior born in a manger? Or is it merely about presents for ourselves, family time alone, or holiday rest? What did you hunger for then? What are you hungering for now?

I love the story of 6th grader Andrew Wright. He completed an assignment for class which was to write about “what Christmas means to me.” He wrote a poem. It read: “The best Christmas ever is when everyone is there. It is when everyone is laughing here and there. That is the Christmas I want to share. Christmas is about Jesus’ birth. About peace on Earth. This is what Christmas is about. It is when He lay in a manger. And the three wise men come to see. That’s what it means to me.” Wow! You can feel the joy, can’t you? It’s simple, straightforward, and true to himself. Yet Andrew was penalized. His teacher circled the word “Jesus” on the rough draft and deducted a point saying, “He and another child did a poem about Christ. I know we can’t discuss these type [sic] of things in school so I asked the two of them to do another poem of their choice.”[1]

Though the teacher did finally allow the poem and graded it fairly compared to all the others, Andrew and his parents wouldn’t let the world’s petty persecution steal one ounce of the blessing that they have in Christ. Neither should you! Hunger for what God provides for you in the Savior born in the manger, the Savior who journeyed to and through the cross, the Savior who provides God’s blessings for life now and forever! You’ll be blessed if you do! PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, give us a hunger for you in these days, a hunger to receive and share your blessings as your people. AME


[1] https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon-illustrations/74947/persecution-by-sermoncentral?ref=TextIllustrationSerps

Word from the Center: Friday, February 15, 2019

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….

Family, Friends, Faith, and Work as the Keys to Happiness.

Social scientists have identified four primary drivers of human happiness, which we can put in the form of four questions: 1. Do you have family you love, and who love you? 2. Do you have friends you trust and confide in? 3. Do you have work that matters—callings that benefit your neighbors? 4. Do you have a worldview that can make sense of suffering and death?[1]

One of the reasons that the Lutheran Church has chosen to create an office in Washington D.C. is to join the struggle of limiting the government to its proper role in our lives. We exist to defend religious liberty, to promote the sanctity of life, to defend the institution of marriage, and to promote educational freedom so that the church of Jesus Christ can continue to freely strive to be God’s people serving in the communities and neighborhoods in which we live. Translation: Most of the big problems in our lives are not going to be solved by federal governmental control, edict, or policy. Most of what matters in life is going to come down to issues of family, faith, neighbors, friends, work, and community. While government is a necessary part of our life, it more often should involve itself in fundamental issues, or last resort protections. Elsewhere, it fails to do better what we can and should do for ourselves.

Ben Sasse, a conservative senator here in Washington, recently wrote the book, Them, describing the present divisiveness in our culture and how we might overcome it. But, ironically, even as a politician, his solutions do not entail more government policy or more centralized, bureaucratic enforced solutions across the culture. No. He thinks that we should get back to solving our problems within our families, our churches, and our freely assembling public institutions that transcend government, even as they institutionalize service for one another. He says,

Because we believe that the most important issues are ultimately matters of the heart—that they are rightly matters of freedom choice, never of coercion—politics is simply the bare-bone instrument we use to protect the freedom to live lives of purpose, service, and love. But if we collapse civics and politics together, …. we ensure that politics squeezes out community.[2]

Well said. In another book on the subject, To Change the World,[3] James Davison Hunter argues in much the same way. What is needed now are more intermediate groups that come together freely to work out the issues for the communities in which we live. This is precisely why the government’s intrusion into groups like the Boy Scouts is damaging. This is why government coercion against groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor faith-based adoption agencies, and others is destructive. Intermediate groups, accomplishing wonderful things motivated by love and grace, are literally being driven out of business despite all the wonderful work they do.

As Lutheran, Two-Kingdom believers, we can say that solutions to the things that matter are two-fold. One, we must protect our religious liberties for the sake of the culture and the Gospel, and, two, we must we reach out to proclaim the Gospel as we serve in the communities in which we live. This means “both/and,” not “either/or.”  Two-Kingdom engagement seeks to preserve, not transform culture, even as it proclaims God’s transformative message of the Gospel. Emphasizing these Two Kingdoms, God’s two ways, is how Lutherans can affirm the role of family, friends, work, community organizations, etc., even as we proclaim the utter uniqueness of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus. It’s the way to get involved, to make a difference, and to be faithful to the mission of the Gospel of Jesus. That’s the ultimate matter of the heart, and that attitude and life will make a difference in a community where it is believed and lived.


[1] Ben Sasse, Them: Why we Hate Each Other and How to Heal, (New York, St. Martins Press, 2018), 44.

[2] Sasse, Them, 245-6

[3]James Davison Hunter, To Change the World, (New York; Oxford University Press, 2010).

Devotion: Monday, February 11, 2019

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 reading is from Luke chapter 5 where the Bible says,

4 When he (Jesus) had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break…..8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”…10 Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

Nothing Matters more than Jesus!


Hudson Taylor, the founder of China Inland Mission, used to hang in his home a plaque with two Hebrew words (transliterated into English letters) on it: EBENEZER & JEHOVAH JIREH. The first word means, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us,” and the second, “The Lord will see to it or provide.”[1]

These beautiful words from the Old Testament gave Taylor a wonderful perspective on life, just as it did for the believers back in Old Testament times. They could look back on their lives and see the God who fulfilled His  promises to Adam and Eve, to Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. They could also rest assured that the One who abundantly cared for His people in the past, would do so for them in the future. That’s powerful stuff!

What those Old Testament believers had, we have in an even fuller measure today. The promises that they held dear, as well as the history of God’s faithfulness to those promises, have come to fruition in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Even when Jesus was just a baby, we hear Simeon’s declaration, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace according to your word; for mine eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:29-30). Yes, that’s the baby Jesus he’s talking about.

In our lesson today, Simon Peter gets a glimpse of God’s promise being fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus right before his eyes. He encounters Jesus, who tells him to do something that his many years of wisdom and experience would doubt. But he does it just because Jesus is who He is. Peter does it, and Jesus not only brings success, but abundance beyond any of Peter’s expectations. It reduces Peter to fear until Jesus tells him that He has plans for Peter to love others as he himself is loved, to become a fisher of men for Jesus’ Name’s sake.

Whatever you are facing today, this lesson reminds us that nothing matters more than Jesus because he cares for you beyond your wildest expectations. Things may not work out as neatly as they did for Peter on that day, but the Lord who would go to the cross for people like Peter, did so for you too. With “cross and resurrection” confidence, you can be assured of Christ’s loving care for you. If nothing matters more than Jesus, isn’t it amazing that you matter that much to Him? Peter would remind us that this reality is more amazing than ever and than everything else!

So, today, look back on this event in the life of Peter and see the Lord fulfilling His promises, just like He always does. Then also look forward to His continued care for you and for those whom you love.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, ours is a fearful world and there are days that we feel exhausted and at the end of our strength, like Peter in the lesson today. Give us boldness to trust in Your word, especially on those occasions. Then bless us so that we might indeed be a blessing to others in Your Name. AMEN.


[1] https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon-illustrations/9118/looking-back-looking-forward-by-paul-fritz?ref=TextIllustrationDetails

Word from the Center: Friday, February 8, 2019

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….

Educational Freedom: A Cultural Need Whose Time has Come

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative Think-Tank in Washington D.C. sounds the alarm in education when it says,

Faith-based organizations involved in education increasingly face the
possibility of losing state or federal funding unless they assent to the new
cultural norms on sexuality. In 2016, California legislators introduced SB
1146, a bill that, if passed in its original form, would have disqualified
students for state aid if they attended a college with faith-based codes of
conduct and profession-of-faith requirements.[1]

What’s going on out there in our schools? Have your read about the Florida school that forced a male teacher to watch a female student (who identified as male) undress in the locker room. Other boys were literally caught with their pants down too, as no warning was given to her presence. What did the school do? They punished the teacher. (For more on this issue, see http://thefederalist.com/2018/11/14/florida-school-district-gags-p-e-teachers-telling-parents-girl-watching-naked-sons/). It would seem that the need to educate our children is increasingly running into the juggernaut of the sexual libertine movement of the last 50 years with students, parents, and even communities suffering from the collusion. With virtually no societal or legal restrictions today concerning such issues, what’s the issue? The issue is that there still remains organizations, i.e. the Christian Churches and her schools, who have a different perspective on sexual activity, relationships, and marriage and their proper use for a beneficial impact one’s life and one’s community. The moral code and conduct of the Bible honors the gift of sexuality as one that is to be used faithfully within the bound of marriage, one that seeks restraint of such a power gift as a blessing. Misuse and abuse of this gift can wreak havoc in our relationships, our families, and communities. And, those who are Christian, especially the Lutherans, understand that while there is a clear biblical perspective concerning such things, in the public square dialogue the Christian-moral worldview must be argued in the common language of physiology, sociology, psychology, and history. The good news is that there is plenty of data in these disciplines to undergird the biblical, moral worldview as a healthy part of any public discussion and/or practice of these issues for the sake of all.

So, again, what’s the issue? The issue is that the Christian worldview is under attack as a legitimate worldview by many in our educational establishment today even when reinforced by data from these other disciplines. It’s not that it isn’t viable. The issue is that it isn’t ideologically accepted. And, what’s worse, more and more such a view is being shamed into oblivion as well. (See the supposed outrage of Karen Pence’s teaching at a Christian School at https://www.foxnews.com/politics/pence-tells-mainstream-media-to-end-attacks-on-christian-education). In their book, Get Out Now, Marie Rice Hasson and Theresa Farnon describe the war against the Christian worldview in public education in even more heart-rending terms (the situation is worse than one can imagine). On virtually every front, the very worldview that undergirds the most tolerant culture in the world, one that philosophically undergirds so many freedoms and advancements celebrated throughout the West, that worldview isn’t being defeated by debate, it’s being shamed into the corner of our culture. That’s why we at the LCRL believe that educational freedom is a cultural need whose time has come. Why shouldn’t one’s education dollars go to the schools of one’s choice. Why must bathroom designations and androgynist locker rooms be hoisted upon every school when there is ample argument and opportunity for traditional designations amidst educational freedom. It’s true, our culture needs an educated and moral people—ironically, even the motivation for universal education can be linked historically to the religious movement called the Reformation. Then, why not let the parents take that money and give it to the school of their choice so that their children might pursue the finest education possible, having the skillsets and the moral acumen needed to live healthy, active, free, and disciplined lives for those whom they love? The “one size fits all” view of education isn’t working today. Let’s bring more voices and more parents, teachers, and leaders to the discussion table, not less. It matters for the sake of our communities, families, and our churches. The time has come.


[1] https://www.heritage.org/what-you-need-know-about-religious-freedom/impact-faith-based-organizations

Devotion: Monday, January 28, 2019

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 verses are Luke 4:18 and 21, where Jesus reads these words from Isaiah 61 and then adds a most remarkable assertion:    

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to proclaim Good News to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” …. And, He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing!”

In Christ, There’s Freedom…. Freedom that lasts!

It was a Sabbath day back in Jesus’ day. He stood up, read a portion of the Bible from Isaiah, and then said that all of these things were now fulfilled IN HIM. Wow, what a synagogue service that must have been! He said that God the Father had sent Him to proclaim good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, sight to the blind, liberty to those oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. What’s even more amazing is that He brought all those blessings with Him as He brought God’s eternal freedom, eternal riches, and eternal redemption to all who believe.

But, then, like today, we think that we know what all that means even more than God himself.  We think that we’ve got it all figured out. We don’t need a messiah or a savior for liberty, freedom, and sight, NO. All we have to do is try harder, think smarter, or throw more money at the problem AND OUR WISDOM WILL WIN OUT. Sadly, then, like now, because of our sin and arrogance, we often CAN’T see our own foolishness when it is plain to anyone who is willing to look. And, when it comes to the FREEDOM that Christ brings, we often miss that too when it is the one thing that we really need.

I WAS REMINDED OF THE DEPTH OF OUR FOOLISHNESS WHEN I HEARD ABOUT THE STORY OF A PROJECT THAT WAS BEING CONDUCTED at the University of Oklahoma. You can read more about it in an article by Paul Harvey, a nationally-syndicated columnist, which was published in a Los Angeles newspaper on January 1, 1980. He said,

My son Paul Jr, while doing research for a “The Rest of the Story” broadcast, became acquainted with a research project at the University of Oklahoma.

……For many years, a project was underway to teach a 15-year-old chimpanzee named “Washoe” to talk by combining sign language with simple recognition. Over the years, the chimp learned 140 different signs.

Finally, the project directors decided that it was time for Washoe to “conceptualize” meaning, SO, instead of merely imitating human words, she would express thoughts on her own. Now, understand that Washoe was a pampered animal in the university’s laboratory. She was well fed, physically comfortable, and safe from harm. And yet, when she was able to put words together to make a phrase on her own, the first, which she has used repeatedly, was, “Let me out!”

THE SO CALLED “SMART PEOPLE” MISSED THE WHOLE THING, DIDN’T THEY? Even the chimpanzee knew that freedom was precious. Well, in a similar way, the people of Jesus’ day missed the point too. It was for freedom that God was to set them free in Jesus. But, instead of embracing what was God’s to give, THE PEOPLE GOT MAD AT JESUS because he WAS CLAIMING TO BE THE SOLUTION FOR ALL THESE ISSUES, ON HIS TERMS ALONE (see Luke 4:28-29). You see, His life, His death on the cross, and His resurrection alone provide eternal liberty and freedom from sin and death for you. And they are given freely by Grace to be received through faith. Today, put your faith in Him, because in Him God’s favor and freedom are here for all who believe.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, give me the wisdom to recognize what you say I need. Then fill me with your grace, mercy, and peace for a liberty that can never be taken away. AMEN.

Word from the Center: Friday, January 25, 2019

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….

Made in the Image of God and the Sanctity of Life – Healing the Cultural Divide!

In November of last year, I was privileged to sit on a panel that discussed the issue of immigration in our culture. It was a very meaningful experience. My charge was to discuss the perspective that faith, especially faith from a Lutheran perspective, brought to this discussion. At the end of a rigorous dialogue on a variety of policy issues, the discourse culminated with this compelling question from the audience: “How can we come together as a country on issues like this  or are we bound to be divided forever?” Good question.  It transcended the topic of the day in one way. It pointed to the fact that there must be a common presuppositional truth to dialogues like this, truth that can bond us together even if our policies might diverge. The Jewish Rabbi on our panel immediately responded to the question, saying something wonderful. He said, “In all of these issues, we must first begin with the common understanding that we are all created in the image of God.” Wow! Great answer. And virtually everyone in the room seemed to agree, some whispering, some even shouting, “Yes,” to that assertion.

But here’s the thing (and I said this as part of my contribution to the issue). If a person were to claim that being “created in the image of God” is the key to our common humanity, our common dignity, and our common community and you were to assert that at many public universities (e.g., in biology class, philosophy class, political science class, sociology class, English class or journalism class), or even at a public high school, you’d probably receive an “F” for your troubles. This fundamental truth is needed today more than ever. Proclaiming this truth does indeed bond us together as people (believers and non). When Christians proclaim the biblical truth of God’s ordering of the world, we engage our culture on God’s terms, seeking to bring temporal peace and civility (the “civil use of the Law”), even as this truth also exposes the disorder of our world and hearts, summoning them  to repentance (the “spiritual use of the Law”) and faith.  We uphold issues like the sanctity of life and the dignity of human beings as “created in the image of God” not merely as transitory truths, but as fundamental truths which undergird our temporal liberty, dignity, and humanity. When we see these truths violated, they also then call all human hearts to God’s ultimate solution to our human sinful condition in Christ.

So how do we answer the final question of the room that day? Amidst the many disagreements that we might have in a democracy, there are fundamental truths that undergird these discussions which need to be proclaimed and defended. Engaging culture for the sake of civility and justice calls us to proclaim and defend the knowledge that human beings are accountable to the God who created us, the One who also calls us to reflect His love and care for all those He has created and redeemed. Fundamental truths like the common dignity of humans created in God’s image, the sanctity of life, and the institution of marriage and family are truths that need to be defended for the sake of all, for the blessing of all. That’s a cultural mandate God’s people should fulfill. Furthermore, proclaiming God’s ordering of the world is also part of our missional work as we proclaim the truth that the God who created us, indeed the one who ordered our world for our blessing, sent His Son to redeem us from the disorder and pain our sin and rebellion have brought into the world. With humility, we have the opportunity to be part of the solution for our divided culture, even as we fulfill our mandate to call all to repentance and faith in the One who loves us and redeems us on His gracious terms alone.  

Devotion: Monday, January 21, 2019

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 verses are from John 2:1–11, where the Bible says,   

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and… Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine” …. Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So, they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

Jesus — He Brings Real Celebration to Life!

I love that title, don’t you? In a nutshell, it says what faith in Jesus is all about. He is “THE way, THE truth, and THE life” (John 14:6), and faith in Him brings His way, truth, and life to our lives as gifts of His grace. Wow! This call to repentance and faith is an invitation to receive life, His abundant life, as a gift. And that’s what we see in this first event of Jesus’ public ministry. Amidst Christ’s purposeful walk to Calvary to become God’s redemptive sacrifice for sin, He stops by a wedding! Yes, and a small-town wedding to boot.

There are all kinds of questions elicited by this simple act of attending a wedding and then turning water into wine. The activities of Jesus at this wedding challenge us as to consider what is really common and what is incredible, what is ordinary and what is extraordinary. In fact, it challenges our notions of what we think God should or shouldn’t being doing. It also challenges our notions of what joy and real celebration are all about.

What’s Jesus doing troubling himself with this couple’s problem? They ran out of wine right in the middle of the wedding feast. They were close to becoming the laughingstock of the neighborhood, and Jesus helps them. I think this event shows us the full extent of His love for us. He cares for our eternal lives, yes. But He also cares for our daily lives, our common lives, our joys, and our sorrows. Why? Because He cares for all of who we are, and all of whom we were created and redeemed to be.

It’s interesting to note that many of the details of this wedding are not recorded. In fact, we don’t even know the name of the bride and groom. I think that reminds us that, even though Jesus cares for us personally, the main point of this first miraculous event is that His mission is to bring eternal joy, eternal life, and an eternal celebration of life to ALL WHO PUT THEIR FAITH IN HIM! This is not to dismiss or devalue the day to day joys and challenges of this life. But, when the details of this wedding fade to the background, we are left with a Savior who is marvelous indeed. He cares for us through and through. And especially during those times when all things seem to be going wrong, when we are tempted to think that God doesn’t care for each one of us personally, this event reminds us that Jesus is God with us. He is the God on your side. He is God in the midst of your day to day lives to bring you the things eternal. He, as only He can, brings real celebration to your life, now and forever.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, help us to see your grace and joy not only in our successes, but also in the midst of our struggles, for your love for us never fails. AMEN.

Word from the Center: Friday, January 18, 2019

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 March for Life — It’s about the Science?

This is the week when thousands will gather here in Washington D.C. to participate in the March for Life. Yvette and I will be there marching with fellow Lutherans, fellow Christians, those from other faith traditions, and even non-Christians from all over the United States who are standing up for the fundamental principle of the sanctity of all human life. That’s right. It’s more than the issue of abortion. It’s about the essence of life and the fundamental value of each and every life. That ever-expanding proclamation has led to a growing youth involvement in the Pro-Life movement. In fact, it’s one of the reasons that abortions continue to drop year by year(For the trends and the data, see https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2018/11/21/number-abortions-us-hits-historic-low/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.0d014bcf887b).

It’s also important to note that when we stand for life, we stand for the value of life for those we love, yes; but we also stand for the value of human life, even for those with whom we might disagree. Valuing life as sacred undergirds so many of the universal blessings of our culture. Notions such as equal justice under the law, societal protection of the vulnerable, universal education for all, and many like them flowed from a fundamental notion of the sanctity of life as something precious. People aren’t just cogs in the machine of culture; they are individuals created in the image of God. As such they have value and purpose in life. Even in our darkest moments in history, this notion of what it means to be human has been a driving force in what is good and healthy in our culture. That’s why it is so vital to defend it, to proclaim it, and to live it for others.

But this year’s March for Life has a theme that you might not have heard much about in the popular culture. Ready? “Pro-Life Is Pro-Science.” At a Capitol Hill news conference last month, Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education & Defense Fund, announced the theme, “Unique from Day One: Pro-Life is Pro-Science,” as she said,

“So many who are abortion advocates erroneously try to paint life and science as being in conflict, and it’s just not true,” she told CBN News at the event. “So we thought we would re-visit the facts, Biology 101, and emphasize how being pro-life is pro-science.”[1]

That notion that we are unique human beings with unique DNA from conception until natural death (we would add, uniquely created by God, of course) is key to the protections and rights that we all enjoy. It is also the motivating factor that compels us to strive to use these rights faithfully in service to one another as unique creatures of God. If we don’t see you in D.C. at the March, remember you can join the movement in cities around the country.  You can also pray for our work together with the March For Life, Lutherans for Life, and the other Pro-Life groups here in our Nation’s Capital. This year I’ve been honored to share the opening prayer at the March for Life banquet. I’ll be praying for the strength needed for all of us to be Pro-Life people, not just for those we love, but for all.


[1] http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2018/october/pro-life-is-pro-science-how-march-for-life-is-schooling-pro-abortion-advocates

Devotion: Monday, January 14, 2019

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 verses are from Luke 3:21–22, where the Bible says,   

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

An “All the Way” Savior — That’s What We Need!

Substitution. That’s a biblical truth that really hits home for me today. Why? There are times in my life when I realize that my best efforts just aren’t good enough; my heartfelt tries still miss the mark. Something just isn’t right, and it doesn’t seem that I can overcome the problem at all. It’s like I’m trying to swim, but the cold waters are numbing my limbs, preventing me from staying afloat; or the waves of warm waters are pounding me to the ocean’s depths, preventing me from gasping the air I so desperately need. At times like that, one needs help from above, help from outside. What an incredible thing when at that moment another jumps in and faces the destructive power of the water so that I might come out of that water alive and well. Substitution. Iit matters when your life depends on it.

To illustrate the powerful principle of substitution, George Sweeting, Chancellor of Moody Bible Institute, told a story of salvation that happened amidst a series of fast moving, destructive tornados in western Pennsylvania.[1] Nearly 100 lives were lost because of the storms, but one little girl from Wheatland, Pennsylvania was saved. Her uncle, a man named David Kostka, was umpiring a Little League baseball game when he saw the black funnel cloud barreling toward the field. He tore off his gear, rushed into the stands, grabbed his niece, pushed her into a nearby ditch, and covered her with his body. Minutes later the tornado struck. When the little girl looked up, her uncle was gone. He had given his life in the deadly storm to save her. Kostka faced the power of the wind and the water so that she might be protected. He substituted his life for hers.

That’s a glimpse of what is happening in our lesson today. It is the most incredible thing to read in the Bible that, when sinners were coming to John to be baptized, Jesus was baptized too. As sinners, they all needed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3). Jesus didn’t. In this event one begins to see the fact that Jesus is an “all the way” Savior. He is not just a teacher. He is not just an example. He is a Savior who left His heavenly throne to be born into the very world that He created so that He might indeed be its Savior. He entered the waters of John’s baptism for sinful people to identity completely with people like us, sinners, whom He came to save.

When you read stories about people jumping into danger, substituting their lives for the lives of others, you get a glimpse of what our Savior Jesus is all about. He didn’t just jump into our lives. He lived our life and then died our death to give us His life as a gift. That’s the kind of love that really does change things.

An “all the way” Savior — that’s what we need. Jesus’ willingness to be baptized like every other sinner reminds us that in HIM, that’s what we have.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, give us hearts that are willing to ponder the depth of your substitionery love for us. May that love overwhelm and empower us to live in You for others. AMEN.


[1] http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/s/substitution.htm

Word from the Center: Friday, January 11, 2019

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 Sanctity of Life and the Institution of the Family!

There’s a disturbing trend in the European and American Western cultures. It’s the virtual dissolution of the family as an institution (See Ted Malloch’s, The Tragedy of the European Family @ https://www.intellectualtakeout.org/article/tragedy-european-family). While we are having discussions (or lack thereof) about relationship “fairness” for all, about no-fault divorce and serial monogamy with impunity, the actual building block of society is being ridiculed and ravaged with enormous consequences. In this month of looking at “life issues,” there’s none more important than the institution of the family as a unit that was meant to protect and foster life. From a biblical perspective, marriage is not only a sacred bond between a man and a woman for life (Matthew 19:6), it is a necessary foundation for a healthy society (whether people believe in its sanctity or not). When the notion of “family as an institution” erodes, there is more crime, more societal unrest, more poverty, and more vulnerability for those who need the loving protection and guidance of a father, a mother, brothers, and sisters, as well as an extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who love them. That’s more to marriage than a mere relationship; a healthy, institutional view of marriage is fundamental to a healthy society.

Here’s another weighty thought: while it is true that the Bible proclaims such a view of family, it is not unusual to find this attitude about family even in cultures that do not affirm the Bible’s authority. That shouldn’t surprise us. The Commandment to honor one’s father and mother (Exodus 20:12) is intrinsic in virtually every culture around the world because it is intrinsic to the hearts of human beings created by God (see Romans 2:14-15). Again, that’s why it’s disturbing to see the cultural trends undermining marriage in Western cultures, societies that at one time honored marriage as an institution, not merely a relationship. Sadly, the most vulnerable, especially children, are the first casualties in this short-sighted re-imagining of marriage and the family.

Malloch’s article identifies a disturbing undercurrent in all of this. The family dissolution is not happenstance.  It is part of a movement to empower the State in the most basic relationships of society, that of marriage and children. Just think back to the debates about marriage in the last few years where many have proffered the notion of the government’s role in establishing relationship “fairness.” People have spoken of the government granting civil rights to all; you know, the way that they do for a man and a woman. But that idea is completely backward from the way that the State should engage us in our relationships. The State doesn’t grant us civil rights. Those are granted to us by our Creator. In fact, the State’s natural impulse is to limit people’s rights for its own power. That’s just how power, especially political power, works in the world. So, what’s the role of the State in marriage? In a proper role   in regard to marriage, the State would limit its involvement to those areas where it had a vested interest. For example, in “marriage,” it limits the rights of a man and woman (i.e., makes them sign the contract called “marriage”) purely due to  the physiological reality that such a relationship could produce a child. And children need their parents (more than the State) to raise them, educate them, protect them, and love them. That’s what is under attack today. That’s the issue on the table and there are societal consequences when the State usurps its role as a defender of God-given rights and starts defining what our rights are, even defining what healthy relationships are for all.

The next time that you see issues of community violence, poverty, or illiteracy come up, ask yourself, “Why all these solutions from the State?” “Why aren’t they talking about strengthening the family as an institution instead?” They should be, because when families are strong, life is valued, children are nurtured, and society is blessed. Defending traditional marriage is not merely a discussion about relationships. It’s a discussion about a healthy society, one that values life in all of its vulnerabilities.