Add your email address below
(at the bottom of the page)
to subscribe to the LCRL's mailing list!

To give via text messaging, send the keyword LCRLGIVE to the number 41444

Archives

Archives (150)

VOCATIONAL RESPECT SEEKING JUSTICE

“Defund the Police!” “Abolish ICE!” “Censure the police!” “Accept no limitations!” Such are the cries of a particular segment of American politics today. The other side says, “Support the police” and “Be Law-abiding citizens,” emphasizing the honoring of law enforcement, and the civilizing force of law and order over chaos and violence. How should a Two-Kingdom engagement of these issues proceed? Who is right? Who is wrong? Is it all just your perspective versus mine, your experience versus mine?


Here the Bible can give us some direction as to how to engage these kinds of divisive issues. In Romans 13:1-2, St. Paul instructs God’s people saying,

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

There is a priority, then, to one’s engagement with the “authorities.” Much like the Fourth Commandment calls us to honor our fathers and mothers, the Bible prioritizes a “be subject first” attitude that honors what God has set in place for our good, calling for our obedience to those with authority over us in society as preserving gifts from Him. The word “rebel” in the text doesn’t just imply mere disagreement or protest, but a total disregard for those in authority; it ultimately exposes our rebelliousness against God’s authority over our lives as well.

But does such a “be subject first” attitude mean that we as citizens blindly follow whomever is in charge? Hardly. The apostles themselves guide us here.  In Acts 5:29, Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men.” Here, such civil “disobedience” was not rooted merely in a passionate objection, or an offended will; it was rooted in the prioritizing of God’s clearly defined will over and against the fickle will of those in authority that day. That spirit would also temper our freedom and our exercise of our own will both towards God and towards one another.

When engaging the authorities then, especially those that are legitimate, legally established, and consented to, there should be vocational respect for their position and for the laws that hold us all in common. And if there yet be any challenges to such legitimate authority due to injustice, they should be engaged lawfully and orderly, for God is a god of order and peace (1 Cor. 14:33).

In the American context, there’s a unique wrinkle to this discussion as well. The constitutional limitation of coercive authority describes the citizen’s (the one in subjection) authority to delineate the degree of that subjectivity. In fact, the citizen, with the God-given, inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, has the constitutional obligation to work toward legally defining the boundaries of those in authority explicitly for the enduring of that freedom. As Christians, we are reminded here as well, that even in freedom we “should obey God not men,” even when those men or women are we ourselves.

An LCRL rule of thumb for public engagement then, especially when it is controversial, is that our attitude should be one of “vocational respect that seeks justice.” This means seeking to honor those in authority as a rule, and, when necessary, also correcting their leadership if we must, but in a spirit of order and peace. Why? Because true justice and lasting peace are beyond our efforts to perfectly create and maintain. Therefore, it’s best to be willing to let God do His preserving work through those in authority, while also putting our full faith in God’s saving work in Christ for all. Vocational respect seeks justice as an antidote to tyranny, anarchy, and chaos. But it is no substitute for the ultimate justice, mercy, and peace that comes from the person and work of Jesus alone. The former is intended to provide opportunities to proclaim and live within the latter. That’s something to always keep in mind, especially when issues become heated and passionate.

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

Be Informed

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recently “heard arguments over whether university officials can be held personally accountable for intentional religious discrimination on campus.” Learn more about the court case here.

Be Equipped

“Recent rulings from the United States Supreme Court have raised concerns for many Christians about religious liberty. While there is some reason for concern, the US Constitutions and legal precedents have numerous protections for Christians.” Click here to listen.

Be Encouraged

“When we vote, we are the government. Voting, then, is no mere right or privilege; it is a holy obligation, a responsibility, a small but significant vocation given by God to each Christian citizen.” – Rev. Dr. Joel Biermann

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 08, 2021

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s passage is 1st Corinthians 9:22-23, where the Apostle Paul writes,   

I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.


ALL-IN!

 

I’m not much of a poker player. When I was growing up, my family tended not to be card players (though the occasional, raucous game of “May I” could be cited as evidence to the contrary). But I do know the meaning of the phrase, “all-in.” How about you? In cards, and especially in the game Texas Hold-Em, “all-in” is when a player decides to put all of his chips on the table. At that moment, he/she bets all they have to either win or lose everything. Back in the days of the Wild West, they called it ''betting the ranch.'' This was not just putting all that you had that night into the pot, but risking everything you owned. That’s an “all-in” commitment in a game! What about an “all-in” commitment in life?

In this text, Paul demonstrates the “all-in” commitment of the Christian life in service to others. He’s talking about being committed to something more important than cash, property, or even all of one’s accumulated wealth. He’s talking about the things of God, the things of faith, which give meaning to all of life, now and forever. He then applies the “all-in” spirit that comes from faith to serving others for the sake of their eternal lives.

As believers in Jesus, before talking about becoming “all things to all people” in order to save some, we first need to understand God’s “all-in” love and forgiveness for us because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In fact, it’s impossible for us to be “all-in” for others on our own because we are sinful, broken people. God has to be “all-in” for our forgiveness and salvation before we can be of service to others in His name. Elsewhere, Paul speaks about a mindset that understands and trusts in God’s “all-in” love for us in Jesus. He describes the basis for it in Philippians 2:5-8 with these powerful words:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Those who put their faith IN Christ Jesus are free to care about others with an “all-in” commitment, not because of their works of love for others, but because God’s love and forgiveness are certain for them by grace through faith in Jesus. Confident in Christ alone, we can strive to be “all things to all people” so that we might save some. We can even be willing to pay the price that comes with sharing the Gospel of Jesus with others. We can be prepared to be uncomfortable, put out, challenged, or even ridiculed because our strength to share Christ comes from Christ, and our concern for neighbor is about them, not us. 

Luther describes that faith life of freedom in this way: “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none; a Christian is a dutiful servant to all, subject to all.”[1] In other words, Christians can be “all-in” for loving others in Christ’s name because Christ is “all-in” for them as their crucified and risen Savior.

Whenever you’re struggling with loving others, just remember God’s “all-in” love for you. Then get back to being His person by loving them in His name.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for the love You demonstrated and the salvation You accomplished not only for me, but for all people. Give me strength and courage to turn my full attention to those in my life, especially those who need to know You. AMEN.

 

[1] Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, American Edition, volume 31, page 344.

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, JANUARY 11, 2021

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s passage is Mark 1:9–11, where the Bible says,   

9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”


A SAVIOR WITH HIS HANDS IN THE DIRT!

 

The baptism of Jesus is one of those events in the Bible that will help you come to grips with who Jesus is, who you are without him, and who you are by grace through faith in Him alone. Baptisms, as a rule, are for people who are dirty and need to get clean. Yet religious washings tend to be about more than outward personal hygiene. They are often about people getting right with God in some form or fashion. Religious washings in general are about people with “dirt” on their hands and with “dirt” in their hearts, people like us who need to get clean before God. That’s why the baptism of Jesus is so strange and yet so wonderful!

Jesus’ baptism was not one of those times when something got washed away. This was not a time when someone with “dirt” on His hands or in His heart came to be cleansed. No, this was a time when the One who cleanses hearts put His hands into the dirt of our lives. Wow! John the Baptizer was floored by this fact (see Matthew 3:14). Here he was telling people to repent and be baptized in order to prepare the way for the Messiah who would come to save the world. Just before our reading, John announced,

“After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:7-8).

So when John meets Jesus face to face, amazingly, Jesus gets down into that water with John. What’s going on? Why is Jesus doing this? To put it simply, He’s identifying His life and His work with sinners like us and, incredibly, He is taking on the work of becoming “the Lamb of God who is bearing for the taking away the sin of the world." Jesus doesn’t merely identify with us. He literally lives our life perfectly, dies our death perfectly, and gives us His eternal life as a gift. Even here, He perfectly accomplishes repentance on our behalf, and, like faith, gifts it to sinners for their salvation.  In this action, Jesus takes upon His shoulders all the pain, destruction, and degradation that comes from our sin. Indeed, He takes upon himself the very sins of the world. Though He’s not the one with dirty hands, He willing puts His hands into the dirt of our lives to save us. Even more, as St. Paul declares, “For our sake he made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).”

In November 2010, a wedding party in Glenelg, Australia, was unexpectedly called into action right after the wedding ceremony. While they were posing for pictures on a scenic ledge, a woman who was unassociated with the wedding fell into the water and started TO DROWN. Dressed in his tuxedo, the best man jumped in and brought the woman back toward shore. Then the bride, a trained nurse, waded into the water and started administering CPR. By the time the official medics arrived, the woman had not only been rescued, she had regained consciousness. According to one safety official, she “was very lucky that the bridal party was there and they acted quickly and got her to the shallows.” After the daring rescue operation, the drenched but heroic best man and bride happily rejoined the wedding reception and continued with the festivities.[1]

For a quick moment in time, that best man and bride were “joined” to the destiny of the woman in the water. Her fate became their concern. What a blessed opportunity it was for them to jump into the water and put their hands into the troubles of her life. When Jesus enters the waters to be baptized by John, He isn’t just doing it for a moment, as happened on that wedding day. He’s doing it for the eternity of our lives. And He doesn’t jump into pleasant waters. He jumps into the cesspools, the whirlpools, and the raging seas of our lives so that we might again know the calm that can only come by grace through faith in Him.

Jesus steps into the river Jordan for a baptism that He didn’t need to save a people who didn’t deserve it. He did it to demonstrate His solidarity with sinners, to even take our sin upon himself, so that sinners might receive God’s forgiveness and mercy IN HIM. He’s a Savior with His hands in the dirt of our lives so that we might receive the cleansing grace that only His life, death, and resurrection can give. What a Savior! What a blessing!

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, thankfully You willingly jumped into the mess of our world and of our lives so that we might receive Your peace and joy. May we grow to know the depths of Your baptism as it prefigures your willingness to endure the cross for us all. AMEN.

 

[1] Best man jumps off Glenelg Jetty to save woman, News.com.au (11-29-10)

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, FEB. 01, 2021

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s passage is Deuteronomy 18:17-20, where the Bible recounts these words of God to Moses:   

17 The Lord said to me:…. 18 “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. 19 I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name. 20 But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death.”

  


TO WHOM ARE YOU GOING TO LISTEN?

 

No one gets through life without listening to someone. When a person doesn’t know something, or know what to do about a problem, the first thing they should do is gather information. Yes, it’s a wise person who looks to the words, temperament, and actions of others who have come before them and who have successfully dealt with the issue at hand. I’m a big “YouTube” video watcher when it comes to doing things around the house. I love to see people confronting the same problem or task I’m facing to see how they resolved it. I’ll watch one a few times and, if I think that they’ve done a satisfactory job, I’ll try to do it myself. Most of the time, I’ve listened to the right people. But there were a few times when I should have watched a few more videos, if you know what I mean! But the question, “To whom are you going to listen?” is a universal question of the human experience. And if you are one of those who thinks that you can go it alone without listening to anyone else, you are already walking into defeat (even if you don’t realize it yet).

Why is it that we all have this propensity to see ourselves in the most “forgiving/excusing” light, while seeing others much less graciously? Remember how, as teenagers, we often thought that our parents didn’t know anything about anything, only to learn in just a few years that they actually knew a lot about a lot of things! Today, in this Old Testament passage, Moses is pointing believers to THE one to whom they should give their ear, the one to whom they should listen when it matters most in their lives, the one in whom they should put their ultimate hopes and dreams. Moses is still a respected prophet in many religious circles today, but, in our reading for today, he pointed forward to THE prophet, the who would tell God’s people “everything” that God commands (verse 18).

As you read the Bible, you begin to realize that Jesus is THE prophet who deserves our ultimate attention (see Acts 3:18-23). Why? Because He is even more than the ultimate prophet, the ultimate priest for humanity, and even the King of all creation. He is this world’s Savior. He is the one regarding whom God said through Moses, “I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name” (verse 19). Many centuries later, during an event called the Transfiguration of Jesus, His disciples heard the direct voice of the Father say of Jesus, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” (Mark 9:7).

Today the real question is, “Have you given Jesus your ultimate attention?” Do you realize that when you read the words of the Scripture, you are hearing the voice of God in your life? Will you venture back to church on Sunday and give Jesus your undivided attention in the liturgy, songs, Scripture readings, and sermons? Do you give Jesus your ultimate attention during home devotions, or are you often just trying to get through them so you can get to bed or get on with dessert? Do you think even for a moment that, yes, God Himself is indeed listening to your prayers? So, to whom are you speaking? And to whom are listening? When it comes to your relationship with God, Jesus Christ is the answer to those very important questions.

So, let this “post-pandemic” moment be one where you focus more of your attention on the words of this Jesus, rather than the words of pietistic politicians or the vacuous words of entertainers, singers, and athletes, or even of the words of your own personal passions and common sense. Listen to Jesus. Take His words to heart, and then put them into practice. Receive Christ’s forgiveness, and, when He urges us to forgive, be forgiving. When he commands purity, it’s what we will strive for even though our friends may mock us for taking God’s Word so seriously. When Jesus promises to provide, we can show our trust in that promise by sharing our gifts with others. You can give Jesus your ultimate attention because He is more than a prophet. He is the Son of God and Your Savior. His very words are “spirit and are life” for you (John 6:63), words you can trust for all that really matters.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, Your words shine like light amidst the darkness. Please diffuse the chattering voices that seem to draw my attention away from You, and give me a hunger for Your voice, Your Word in my life. AMEN.

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, JANUARY 25, 2021

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s passage is Mark 1:14–15, where the Bible says,   

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

  


NOW IS THE TIME FOR FAITH!

 In a Charlie Brown cartoon, little brother Linus is looking very forlorn. He asks big sister Lucy, “Why are you always so anxious to criticize me?” Lucy, looking very self-righteous, replies, “I just think I have a knack for seeing other people’s faults.” Linus turns indignant. “What about your own faults?” he asks. “I have a knack for overlooking them,” says Lucy.

I think Lucy’s attitude is an endemic condition of the sinful human heart. What do you think? Be honest now. It is so easy to see the faults and sins of others, while virtually ignoring the enormous brokenness within ourselves. Human beings tend to judge themselves by their intentions, while judging others by their actions. We have a natural tendency to learn to live with our pet sins, while becoming extremely irritated and put off by the sins and weaknesses of others. Sin ravages our relationship with God, it devastates our relationships with others, and it destroys a healthy sense of ourselves. The Bible is clear, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). No cryogenic freezing, no DNA tinkering, and no long-term health program is going to reverse what starts in our rebellious hearts. 

Now is the time to realize the sobering news that God can’t and won’t overlook our sin. He’s holy; He cannot abide with sin. But He loves us and doesn’t wish for us to be ravaged eternally by our sin. Now is also the time to hear the even better news that God, out of love, has done something about our sinful, human condition. The good news is that, while “the wages of sin is death, …the gracious gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

The Gospel of Mark gets right to the point, doesn’t it? Of course, Jesus had to be born. But Mark doesn’t spend time retelling the birth of Jesus. Mark doesn’t even take time to talk about the early years of Jesus’ life. What matters in his account is the public ministry of this Jesus. What matters is that He has come to deal with the universal problem of the fallen human race. He has come to deal with our sin and the impending judgment of God. He has come to save.

That’s why the message of today’s reading remains as simple and multifaceted as, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Don’t be a “Lucy” who misses out on the good news of Jesus because you’re too busy telling yourself that you are just fine the way you are. On the other hand, don’t miss out on the good news because you think that you are too much of a lost cause for Jesus either. Jesus came for you, sins and all, to give you His gracious gift of forgiveness, life, and salvation. The question isn’t whether you are too terrible a sinner for His grace. The question is, “Is His grace powerful and all-encompassing enough to include you?” The answer is a resounding, “Yes!”

Sometimes we look in all the wrong places for healing from our brokenness. We look to self-help gurus, to smooth talking politicians, and even to athletic or societal “heroes.” Ironically, even as believers, we tend to underestimate what Christ has done and can do for us. I’m sure those first disciples had a hard time thinking that Jesus could do anything and everything, especially the really big things. I know that they would see Him still the storm, feed the hungry, and heal those with diseases. I know that they would see glimpses of His greatness. But then they would also see Jesus tired, hungry, and worn out on occasions. Eventually, they would even be confronted with Jesus willingly hanging on a cross, giving up His life for us. Little did they understand that the person dead on a cross was the almighty and eternal Son of God. But they would soon realize that Jesus of Nazareth, risen from the dead, was indeed the eternal Word of God who created the heavens and the earth, and who become flesh for us and for our salvation (see John 1:1-3, 14).

Jesus Himself calls you this very day to “repent and believe the good news!” Repent means “to turn around from the direction you are going.” Turn from living life on your terms, on those “Lucy” terms. Instead, be honest with yourself and open your eyes to this messiah named Jesus. Now is the time to believe in HIS good news for you, to put your trust for now and forever in the one who has come all the way from heaven to earth to be your Lord and Savior.  

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, let Your simple invitation to repent and believe in You move us to confident trust in You for our very lives, today and always! AMEN.

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, JANUARY 18, 2021

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s passage is John 1:43-46, where the Bible says,  

43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”

44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip.

 


COME AND SEE!


Someone once remarked that the medicine of modern life is experiencing the joy of not knowing where you’re going and the confidence of not knowing how to get there so that you can have the peace of not worrying about when you’ll arrive! Well, the God who became man in the Babe who was laid in a manger seeks to shake us from such doldrums in order to give us the gift of forgiveness, life, and salvation on His terms alone.

That’s why the call to “come and see” in our text today is so powerful. To put one’s faith in Jesus is to believe in what He tells you, to go where He says to go, and to trust that where He takes you is where you need to be. That’s why Jesus is not merely a prophet. He’s not merely a teacher. He’s the world’s Savior. And it’s Him or no one else. He’s the antidote for ancient man and modern man. He’s all that and more. So, come and see for yourself!

That’s the message that Philip gave to his friend Nathaniel in our text for today. Philip’s invitation to Nathaniel, and Nathaniel’s encounter with Jesus would change his life forever. That’s the way it works when you meet the Savior of the world. When you meet Jesus on His terms, even your false, preconceived notions can’t get in the way. “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”….“Come and see” (verse 46). Seeing the Christ of Scripture involves an encounter that moves us from modern banality and post-modern skepticism to being “surprised by joy.”

Surprised by Joy is the title of a book written by one of the most reluctant converts to Christianity in modern times. His name was C. S. Lewis. Yes, he’s the author of the Chronicles of Narnia and Mere Christianity, just to name a few of his other works. But this eventual defender of the Christian faith to those with a “modern mind” was at first a reluctant convert. His friends kept challenging him to “come and see,” to read and get to know the Jesus of the Bible. That finally made the difference in his life. In his engagement with the Christ of Scripture, Lewis saw a Savior that didn’t wait for us, but, instead, came to us. He saw a Savior who came to people like Philip. Then, through Philip’s invitation, He came to people like Nathaniel too. On Christmas day, we all heard the message that Jesus came for us all. Lewis says this of his conversion to faith:

You must picture me alone in that room at Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.[1]

I pray today that you have, through the words of the Bible, what Nathaniel received that day from Philip, an invitation to encounter Jesus. C. S. Lewis called such events "dangerous encounters.” He writes in Surprised by Joy,  

A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere — “Bibles laid open, millions of surprises,” as Herbert says, “fine nets and stratagems.” God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous.[2]

The “unscrupulous” God of the heavens seeks you out today too. He comes to us through the words of the Bible. He comes to us through the witness of our Christian friends. He comes seeking to surprise us with His joy, to overwhelm us with His salvation, and to grant us His forgiveness, as well as a peace that passes all understanding. Yes, the Bible’s witness blows our minds concerning how gracious God is. So follow along with us these next few weeks as we see this Jesus even more clearly. Come and see for yourself, and believe in Him.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, we are a reluctant people today. We sit in judgment daily about how things should be on our terms. Bring us to repentance and give us a “come and see” attitude that only an encounter with You through Your word can satisfy. AMEN.

 

[1] C.S. Lewis, Surprised By Joy, chapter XIV; https://gutenberg.ca/ebooks/lewiscs-surprisedbyjoy/lewiscs-surprisedbyjoy-01-h.html

[2] https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/conversion-story-of-c-s-lewis-9821

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, JANUARY 04, 2021

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 passage is Luke 2:41-50, where the Bible says,  

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions…. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” 49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

 


 

WHAT ASTONISHES YOU?


Mary and Joseph, though faithful to all that God had told them about Jesus, they still had a hard time processing what it all meant. And who could blame this. There was no one in the world like Jesus. How could this “boy” be more than just their son? How could He be the one who was come to fulfill all of the prophesies of the Old Testament, of God’s answer of salvation for all people? How indeed. Christmas is the proclamation that God became man so that that mankind could be reconciled to God again. Mary and Joseph would be continuously astonished, sometimes shocked, but always “pondering,” wondering what He was all about.

This event at the festival of Passover in Jerusalem was one of those moments when they saw the twelve-year old Jesus give them a glimpse of what was to come. His knowledge of the things of God was way beyond His years. But His relationship to God the Father was already one of intimacy and obedience. Mary’s ponderings would include days like that emotional “annunciation moment” when she would learn that she would bear the Son of God. It would include days like this day in the temple. Later there would be struggles when her son seemed not to acknowledge her uniqueness saying, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it (Lk. 8:22).” In the end, she would ponder the moment at the foot of the cross seeing her son literally die for the work that He had come to do. If there is a message for today, it’s this…. With a pondering, “treasuring all these things in your heart” spirit, make sure that you get to know this Jesus. Why? because He will not only astonish you, He can save you. And, be careful not to overlook Him because in the world, there’s no one like Him for you.

That challenge reminds me of a story of a certain old recluse who lived deep in the mountains of Colorado, one whose relatives failed to get to know at their peril. When he died, those distant relatives came from the city to collect his valuables. Upon arriving, all they saw was an old shack with an outhouse beside it. Inside the shack, next to the rock fireplace, was an old cooking pot and his mining equipment. A cracked table with a three-legged chair stood guard by a tiny window, and a kerosene lamp served as the centerpiece for the table. In a dark corner of the little room was a dilapidated cot with a threadbare bedroll on it.

They picked up some of the old relics and started to leave. As they were driving away, an old friend of the recluse, on his mule, flagged them down. “Do you mind if I help myself to what’s left in my friend’s cabin?” he asked. “Go right ahead,” they replied. After all, they thought, what inside that shack could be worth anything?

The old friend entered the shack and walked directly over the table. He reached under it and lifted one of the floor boards. He then proceeded to take out all the gold his friend had discovered over the past 53 years – enough to have built a palace. The recluse died with only his good friend knowing his true worth. As the friend looked out of the little window and watched the cloud of dust behind the relative’s car disappear, he said, “They should have got to know him better.”[1]

Mary and Joseph were just beginning to come to grips with the “gold standard” that was Jesus, their son, also, the Son of God, the world’s Savior. We don’t know much about what happened to Joseph, as his storyline drops out quickly in the Gospels. But, the life of Mary follows that of Jesus even when she sees Him hanging on the cross for the sins of the world. Her story is one of tenacious investigation and faithful pondering culminating in an enduring trust in not merely her son, but the Son of God, the savior of the world. Make sure that you look closely at Him through the Scriptures. You’ll not just be astonished, you see the riches of God’s love and grace in Him, just for you.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, give me an inquisitive mind this year to hunger to know you through your Word. AMEN.

 

[1] https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon-illustrations/2807/god-the-father-by-andrew-chan

IS THE UNITED STATES RELIGOUS?

Some say America is very religious.  Others say America is very secular.  Which is it?


Well, the USA is a very populous country, the third largest in the world (after China and India).  That means that simple binary conclusions about the American conclusion are likely to be misleading.

When it comes to religion, the best way to describe the nation overall is that we are remarkably balanced.  About one-third of Americans are religious; one-third are secularist; and one-third are somewhere in between.

Not only that, the trends are intensifying.  Americans are becoming more religious than they used to be.  And other Americans are becoming more secular than they used to be.  From that, I suppose we might conclude that the other Americans are becoming more lukewarm than they used to be.

Read more from Dr. Veith by clicking here.

Be Informed

See where your congressmen and senators rate with regard to the pro-life movement by checking out the Susan B. Anthony List Scorecard here.

Be Equipped

The Atlantic recently published an article positing that the nuclear family is a mistake. Help make the case for why the family matters by learning more about the topic.

Be Encouraged

“Every family is different. We all have baggage and dysfunction. The lines fall in different places. But it is possible to speak civility and to actually talk about things that matter because they matter. I am not here to cast stones. I know there is risk in speaking the truth to anyone who is caught up in his sin. But sometimes Dad needs to be told to turn off the football game and pay attention to his children, or Mom needs to be told that no one needs a third glass of wine, or your friend needs to be told that he is not being fair to his parents. If you love people, the risk is worth it. If we were talking about how to please customers because we want their money, how to win friends and influence people this would be a different conversation, but we are talking about how to live together in love according to God’s Word. We are talking about actually looking out for one another and we aren’t trying to manipulate each other. Who hasn’t been afraid of the outburst a drunk friend will make if you suggest that he not drive or that he will look judgmental? But at the same time, who wants to go to that friend’s funeral and face his widow having made no attempt at all to stop him? None of us. We don’t do this because we think we are better than others. We do it because we love others.” – Rev. David Petersen, Redeemer Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, Ind.

"WHOSE" CHILD?

Imagine a nursery in a large hospital. A dozen women have children, and these children are placed in a room together. The next day, you are scheduled to go home along with your child. Would it matter which child you brought home with you? If love makes a family, then biology should not matter.


And what about the child? Should it matter to her? Are there some bonds that are primary? Are there some relationships that take precedence over others? To whom do we owe our first allegiance? To God, of course. After that? Is it mom and dad or the state? To whom do our children belong?

When Obergefell was decided, everyone applauded. It was a wonderful time for all of us to declare our independence from all those who have gone before us. Now those who speak against gay marriage called bigots. But do we recognize what we lost? Including the idea that marriage has any inherent meaning. Including the loss of parental rights.

Throughout history, marriage has been orientated towards children. Sure, other things are involved, such as friendship, companionship, desire, and the like. But government offers no legal recognition of friendship. Why is that? Because only one relationship, that of one man and one woman, can produce a child. And that child has a reasonable right to be raised by her mother and her father too, even as a mom and dad very well expect to leave the hospital with their own biological child and not another.

Adoption is wondrous; it is a great way of bringing joy out of a difficult or sad situation. But it is not the ideal. The ideal is that a mother raise her child alongside that child's father. A kid needs both a mom and a dad. Might a child do ok with only a mom? Perhaps. But statistically, it does not work out well. Children without dad at home are statistically vulnerable in just about every category of human thriving: poverty, incarceration, mental stability, and all the rest. (This is no knock at all against a single mom; it is simply a recognition that a child longs for mom and dad and rightly so.)

But as marriage is no longer a thing, children have no such expectations. But, moms and dads, don't think that your position is safe. It works both ways. As natural law is denied, replaced by societal opinion, a child's right to a mom and dad is gone, and so also is your right, as a mom and dad, to think of your children as yours. What the government gives, the government can take away.

The Rev. Dr. Peter Scaer is chairman and professor of Exegetical Theology and director of the M.A. program at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Be Informed

As Christians, we know every baby, from the moment of conception, is valued and loved. But why are some people still touting population alarmism? Learn more from Glenn Stanton in a recent Issues, Etc. podcast.

Be Equipped

A record number of pro-life women are now serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. Check out the list!

Be Encouraged

“As Christ was dying on the cross, His followers were terrified, distraught, hopeless, helpless. They thought that God had abandoned Jesus, and them. But it was not so. The Father had abandoned Jesus to death for them. The greatest act in the history of the universe appeared to be the most pathetic, powerless and useless failure.”  - Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, president, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

ABORTION AND THE WILL TO POWER

Critical theorists see power and oppression everywhere.  Why don’t they see it in abortion?

My friend and former colleague Mark Mitchell has written a devastating piece for First Things entitled Perverse Freedom. Read it all, but here is an excerpt (my bolds):


The primary value behind the label “pro-choice” is the ability to will. My desires must be gratified, even at the expense of another. Friedrich Nietzsche, that prophet par excellence of our age, insisted that all of life is reducible to the will to power. This assertion that individual will is primary means considerations of justice or goodness or rightness must either fall away or be subsumed under “choice.” The absolute rightness of choice is thus elevated as the single and unimpeachable principle; if the essence of a human being is nothing other than the capacity to choose, this elevation is entirely reasonable. What is forgotten in the euphoria of choice is a helpless human being. Abortion advocates must either deny the humanity of the unborn (a position that is increasingly difficult to maintain) or bite the Nietzschean bullet and acknowledge that abortion is at its core the exercise of power—the strong eliminating those who impede their freedom.

Read more from Dr. Veith by clicking here.

Be Informed

“79 percent of Planned Parenthood's surgical abortion facilities are located within walking distance of black or Hispanic communities.” Its founder, Margaret Sanger, would be proud. Learn more about her horrifying beliefs here.  

Be Equipped

A recent study indicates a 50 percent increase on religious liberty intrusions around the world in the past year. Discover the four most disturbing trends with regard to religious liberty in 2020.

Be Encouraged

“As the Church, we are created to stand against evil. We are created to speak truth … and forgiveness. The truth is that abortion ends the life of a human being, and we should be unwavering in our opposition to it. But that is not the end of the story. We have been given the gift of Christ, and the power of Christ can wash our sins away.” –Rev. Troy Tysdal, Church of the Lutheran Brethren, www.lutheransforlife.org

DON'T GET READY. BE READY.

As I write this, we are bringing 2020 to a close, but there is no end in sight for the continuing tension between fellow Americans on the issue of religious liberty.   I am often asked if I am ready for the upcoming battles and challenges ahead and whether or not there were any victories in 2020.


A big victory was that the Department of Defense issued a revised instruction entitled, “Religious Liberty in the Military Services.” This updated policy is grounded in the Constitution and recognizes one of our first liberties is the free exercise of our religious faith and includes the men and women who selfless serve our nation in the military.  It emphasizes that service members have the right to observe the tenets of their religion and may not be used as the basis of any adverse personnel action, discrimination, or denial of promotion, schooling, training, or assignment. That’s a great victory for religious liberty. 

However, we still need to be ready and prepared for upcoming battles in 2021 where there are those who will continue to assault our God-given and Constitution-protected liberty to live out our faith.  Being prepared and being ready are always on the minds of our men and women serving so faithfully in the military. There is not a day that goes by that they are not training.  They must be ready at a moment’s notice to answer the call.  They don’t have time to “get ready.” They need to “be ready.” And to “be ready,” they train, train, and train some more.  

Pray that our LCMS Ministry to the Armed Forces is always ready to defend religious liberty for all who wear the uniform of our nation.  We don’t know the future, but we do know that we live in a sin-sick world and that there will be those who try to infringe on our religious liberty.  In America we may not yet be hauled out of our places of worship, our homes, or our businesses by evil people who threaten our physical life, yet we do live in a “cancel” culture where people are losing their jobs, businesses, or positions simply for giving a defense of their faith and speaking out against issues that go contrary to their conscience and the Word of God. They want you to leave your faith at the door of the church and/or your home and not bring it out into the public square.

Please pray for wisdom and courage as we stand alongside our LCMS members serving in the military that we may encourage them and defend them against assaults on their religious liberty.   Please pray that we remain vigilant in our defense of religious liberty for those who sacrifice so much for all the freedoms and liberties we enjoy today. 

Finally, remind those whom you know who are currently serving in the military that they are in our prayers and they don’t have to leave their religious faith at home when they join the military.  We are here to help them.

The Rev. Craig G. Muehler is CAPT, CHC, USN, (Ret.) and director of LCMS Ministry to the Armed Forces.

Be Informed

Did you know that the New England Journal of Medicine is calling for the removal of sex from birth certificates? Learn more from Wesley Smith in a recent Issues, Etc. interview.

Be Equipped

The Hyde Amendment has saved some two million lives since 1976. Now some want to repeal it. 

Be Encouraged

“[T]the family is universal. Individuals meeting from different cultures do not have to explain to each other what a family is. The family lies at the quantum level of human society. Family life is deeply rooted in an area of mystery we do not fully understand. Like a tree, it is living, rooted, and nourished by the soil of the past and reaching up into the future. It is not manufactured. Although socially reinforced, it is not ‘socially constructed.’ It is a precious Gift.” –James M. Kushiner, The Fellowship of St. James, www.lutheransforlife.org

WHAT'S AHEAD IN THE NEW CONGRESS.

Perhaps the most consequential same-day, same-state-U.S. Senate elections of modern times will take place on January 5, 2021, in the state of Georgia. 



On that date, voters in a single state will determine whether the new 117th U.S. Senate will have a majority of Democrats or Republicans.  The race includes Sen. Kelly Loeffler versus Raphael Warnock and Sen. David Perdue versus Jon Ossoff.

Because the U.S. Constitution says whomever is Vice President of the United States is also President of the U.S. Senate, and therefore can vote if he or she chooses to, especially on highly-controversial matters, it is possible that the Democrats could improve their voting total to 50 votes if they win both Georgia races, giving them a clear-majority when Kamala Harris, a current U.S. Senator from California, becomes Vice President.

If the Republicans win only one of those two contested Georgia senate seats, they would have a majority of 51 seats; had Vice President Mike Pence retained his office, the GOP would have 52 votes.

The House of Representatives is controlled by the Democrats, but by the lowest margin since the early 2000s.

Here’s what all this means and why it is important. 

The best-case scenario for the Democrats would be to win both Georgia senate seats and have Kamala Harris become Vice President.

If a Senate dominated by Democrats decides to do away with the so-called filibuster – that is a fancy word for needing 60 votes to pass any important legislation – their likely wish-list of major new initiatives would make the new U.S. Senate the most consequential since President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs were passed overwhelmingly in that upper legislative body in near-record time during the 1960s.

If the Democrats become the majority in the senate, and former Vice President Biden becomes the new President of the United States, here are the ten most important legislative proposals to watch for:

+   statehood proposals for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.  This would give the Democratic Party a probable added four new seats in the U.S. Senate because both Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia are overwhelmingly Democratic;

+   some version of graduated amnesty for millions of people who are living in the United States illegally.  This number could be as high as 15 million and as low as 11 million;

+   the end of the filibuster.  This voting-protocol has been a fundamental tool to give strong representation and input to the minority party; without it, and especially on all controversial matters, the majority opinion would always prevail.  This is decidedly not what our Founders wanted or envisioned;

+   the end of the Electoral College. The ramifications of ending the Electoral College are immense and would constitute one of the most radical changes in American history.  The Founders designed it as a stop-gap to allowing the largest states by population to have an outsize influence on the governing of the country. They were wise in its design. Abolishing the electoral college would be a mistake of enormous proportions;

+   creating a larger public option for health care in America.  What this would amount to would be the eventual abolition of private insurance and the building a single-payer health care system much like Western Europe’s socialized medical systems.  Most progressives see this as the logical next-step after ObamaCare;

+   the provision of monetary reparations for slavery. Many members of the present House and Senate favor this idea and are keen to begin its design and implementation;

+  major tax increases. Vice President Biden and Senator Harris, in their primary bids for the Democratic presidential nomination, and during their summer political convention, promised substantial increases in several sectors of American life totaling into the trillions of dollars;

+   codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law and abolishing the Hyde Amendment.  Democrats have long been uncomfortable with the possible chipping-away at the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision imposing abortion in all 50 states up to and including the ninth month of pregnancy.  Both Biden and Harris favor transforming the abortion decision into standing federal law. Similarly, the Hyde Amendment has banned federal funding of abortion successfully Congress after Congress.  The Democrats strongly favor taxpayer-funded abortion, and the toppling and ultimate repealing of Hyde is a major goal;

+   expanding the Supreme Court by up to three seats.  The U.S. Constitution does not mandate the number of justices, but the present nine-member model has been the standard for over a century.  Packing the court to add more liberal justices is an idea that Vice President Biden would strongly consider, and has promised to convene a new national advisory counsel likely to recommend new seats on America’s highest court;

+   voiding religious exemptions from various federal laws. Currently, the cornerstone protection of religious liberty and conscience protections at the federal level – congruent with the Constitution itself – are provisions in federal law that rightly give churches and religious institutions broad leeway.  Biden and Harris are uncomfortable with that latitude and, for instance, strongly favor punishing the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious groups by removing foundational protections.  We would see much more of that anti-Little Sisters model in a new senate; and finally,

+   elements of the Green New Deal would be proposed and enacted; as with most major environmental legislation, the ramifications for families and communities would be directive and burdensome.  Also, population control and mandates on suburban, exurban, and rural America would be an essential element of long-term environmentalism.  The vague nature of the Green New Deal is seen by its strongest proponents as a plus so that potential opponents or critics are kept in the dark until the last moment.

A sage once observed that “elections have consequences.”  Perhaps none as consequential as the pending 117 United States Congress depending on how those elections in Georgia transpire.

Timothy S. Goeglein is vice president of External and Government Relations for Focus on the Family, Washington, D.C.

Be Informed

Identity politics are popping up everywhere, even at places like the Smithsonian Museum. Learn more from Joy Pullman in a recent Issues, Etc. interview.

 

Be Equipped

Did you know that Planned Parenthood aborted some 1,500 babies each day in 2018? The numbers from their annual reports will horrify you. Click here to read more.

 

Be Encouraged

“As this New Year begins and you make resolutions of things to do for yourself, consider ways in which you could spend one hour a week helping someone in need—at a crisis pregnancy center, a hospice house, a nursing home, etc.” –Rev. Scott Licht, National Director of Lutherans For Life, www.lutheransforlife.org

 

A blessed Christmas to all of you “for today (many years ago) in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:11-12). The life, death and resurrection of Jesus came as a blessing to the world even though the world didn’t deserve it and, even worse, was unreceptive to receiving Him as the gift that He was for them (see John 1:10-13).


Increasingly, the world in which we live today seems very unreceptive to that same Gospel, a message that has been such a blessing to the world for more than two millennia. Instead of receiving the Good News of Jesus like Mary and Joseph, the wise men, or the shepherds, the world in which we live is violently suspicious of the message of the Messiah like Herod in Matthew 2. In a speech last month, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito warned our nation, saying,

In certain quarters, religious liberty has fast become a disfavored right,” Alito said. “For many today, religious liberty is not a cherished freedom. It’s often just an excuse for bigotry and it can’t be tolerated even when there’s no evidence that anybody has been harmed.[1]

Later in the speech citing COVID 19 and state overreach, he was even more concerned when he said,

The resulting (state) restrictions “blatantly discriminated against houses of worship,” Alito said Thursday, adding that he believed religious liberty is in danger of becoming a “second-class right.”[2]

How did the cherished right of religious liberty and religious assembly become anathema in the culture in which we live? That discussion is for another paper. What remains vital today is first, our awareness of the fact that religious liberty, especially the liberty to believe and teach the whole counsel of God faithfully according to the Bible, that right is under direct assault. Much like Herod’s overt violence against the Christ child that first Christmas (See again Matt. 2:13-18), there are many today who would joyfully welcome the silencing of the Christmas message and the Church that is dedicated to proclaiming that message for all to hear. Like Joseph who gallantly protected Jesus and Mary that first Christmas, we as believers should also put to use our God-given freedoms to fight for our right to be the Church in this culture for the sake of the culture and the mission of the Church. But, even more importantly than that, the MAIN MESSAGE FOR THIS DAY, no matter what is happening in our world, is this: There is no Herod, no Caesar, no Pharaoh, no tyrant, no dictator, nor even a duly elected president, or elected official that can stop the persevering power and blessing of the message of Christmas of coming for you, for me, for all.

Today’s the day to rejoice in the fact that God’s love keeps coming no matter the time, no matter the place. God’s love for you comes no matter the struggles in your life or in your family. God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness keeps coming no matter the foolishness or the bravado of the culture in which we live. Today’s a day to rejoice with those first shepherds on Christmas day. Today’s the day to remember my favorite Bible verse from Rom. 8:31-38.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?....

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Merry Christmas! And may the certainty of God’s love for you in Jesus Christ give you strength, comfort, and confidence this day to face whatever comes tomorrow. For, nothing can overpower the persevering power and blessing of Christmas IN CHRIST FOR YOU!

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

 

[1] https://nypost.com/2020/11/13/justice-alito-warns-of-threats-to-religious-liberty-in-speech/

[2] https://nypost.com/2020/11/13/justice-alito-warns-of-threats-to-religious-liberty-in-speech/

Critical theorists see power and oppression everywhere.  Why don’t they see it in abortion?

My friend and former colleague Mark Mitchell has written a devastating piece for First Things entitled Perverse Freedom. Read it all, but here is an excerpt (my bolds):



The primary value behind the label “pro-choice” is the ability to will. My desires must be gratified, even at the expense of another. Friedrich Nietzsche, that prophet par excellence of our age, insisted that all of life is reducible to the will to power. This assertion that individual will is primary means considerations of justice or goodness or rightness must either fall away or be subsumed under “choice.” The absolute rightness of choice is thus elevated as the single and unimpeachable principle; if the essence of a human being is nothing other than the capacity to choose, this elevation is entirely reasonable. What is forgotten in the euphoria of choice is a helpless human being. Abortion advocates must either deny the humanity of the unborn (a position that is increasingly difficult to maintain) or bite the Nietzschean bullet and acknowledge that abortion is at its core the exercise of power—the strong eliminating those who impede their freedom.

Read more from Dr. Veith by clicking here.

Be Informed

Is there a connection between fatherlessness and the street violence that occurred in 2020? Mary Eberstadt, author of Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics, explains in a recent interview with Issues, Etc.

Be Equipped

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled recently that Texas can remove Planned Parenthood facilities from its Medicaid program.  Learn more from KFUO.org.

Be Encouraged

“Will you be without loved ones this holiday season? Will you be struggling with illness or discouragement? Will you feel the pressure to make the holiday season great? You are not alone. You are not on your own. Read John 10, a great chapter about a Good Shepherd. Listen to His voice comfort and strengthen you.” –Rev. John Boeder, Martin Luther College

Help support our efforts to contend for the freedom to proclaim the faith. Click here to learn more or to donate.

Baptism washes away our sins, but sinners we remain.  So it is, we daily repent.  Daily, we pray, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” When we sin against one another, when we speak harshly or take what is not ours, we do well to go to our brother or sister and ask for forgiveness.  Some sins nag at us, weigh us down, and for those sins especially, we have private confession and absolution.  The pastor, bound to confidentiality, forgives us in the stead and by the  command of our Lord Jesus, and our sins are there and then lifted from us, and we become unburdened, joyful and free.



But there is also a place for communal repentance, which we do as congregations, as church bodies, and even as nations.  Look around you, fellow Americans, and tell me what you see.  What have you grown accustomed to?  For half a century, abortion has been the law of the land, and the lives of some sixty million little ones have been taken, by the most brutal of means.   No doubt, Satan is at work among us.  First he came for the children, but then also for natural marriage, the blessed union of one man and one woman, written into creation.   Divorce and cohabitation are far too common among us, hardly arousing even the blink of an eye.  Same-sex marriage and homosexuality are not only tolerated among us, but now they are even celebrated, promoted with pride and parades. 

And yet, we as Christians have been all too silent.  The apostles were told to teach us to observe all things whatsoever our Lord commanded.   Christ warned us that if we are ashamed of Him and His words, so also will He be ashamed of us on the day of judgement.  This is not about moral issues, as if we were breaking some sort of civil code or regulation.  This is about fidelity to the God who created us and to the Lord who as a Bridegroom laid down His life for us.

Now, one may be tempted to say that they are not engaging in unnatural relationship and have loved their children.  But the problem runs deeper, for we shall be judged not only for things done, but for things left undone.  In the face of the lies that swirl around our children, we are called to speak the truth about the value of children, the sanctity of natural marriage, and, yes, now, the truth of male and female.  This world has become a fearful place for Christians.  Now I think of the baker, the photographer, the florist who have come under fire for operating their businesses according to the truth revealed in sacred Scripture. I think of Christian adoption agencies and schools endangered simply for operating under the assumption that children need a mother and a father.   And then I think of all the Christians who have remained silent, who have not come to the defense of their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Make no mistake, our nation is in crisis.  The secular world threatens to overwhelm us, even as we find it more and more difficult to do something so simple as to attend church weekly, with mundane matters like youth sports, or perhaps plain laziness, get in the way.   What can we do in all this?  Simply this.  Repent.  Put on the sack cloth and ashes.  Bend the knee and bow the head.  Sing a song of sorrow over our sin.  Pray that the Lord would have mercy on us, wretched ones that we are.  Pray that He would deliver us from this body of sin, that He would create a new heart in us, so that we might learn to value His words over the siren songs and deceptions of those who opinion we value far too highly.  Pray that forgiven, we might turn away from evil, fight for that which is good, speak the truth in season and out, and at the end, hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

The Rev. Dr. Peter Scaer is the chairman and professor of Exegetical Theology and director of the M.A. Program at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Be Informed

“The Supreme Court handed a partial victory to a California church arguing that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s coronavirus restrictions on the number of worshippers allowed at a service violate its religious freedom on Thursday.” Read more here.  

Be Equipped

Did you know that a record number of pro-life women were elected to the U.S. Senate and House this year? Learn more from Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List.

Be Encouraged

“Let us remember that Christ’s coming into the world began with an unexpected pregnancy. Mary of Nazareth was unmarried and certainly had reason to be confused and afraid when she was asked to carry the Son of God. But she courageously let God’s plan unfold for her and her Child and brought our Savior into this world, despite her uncertain circumstances.” –Right to Life of Michigan

 

Help support our efforts to contend for the freedom to proclaim the faith. Click here to learn more or to donate.