Archives 2022 (95)

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, November 28, 2022

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 Bible reading is Philippians 4:4-6 where the Apostle Paul says,

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, November 21, 2022

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 reading is Colossians 1:17-20 where the Bible says this of Jesus Christ:    

17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Whereas it is the duty Thanksgiving Proclamationof all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks, for His kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which He hath been pleased to confer upon us. And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best. Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

“George Washington issued a proclamation on October 3, 1789, designating Thursday, November 26 as a national day of thanks. In his proclamation, Washington declared that the necessity for such a day sprung from the Almighty’s care of Americans prior to the Revolution, assistance to them in achieving independence, and help in establishing the constitutional government.” Read more here.

Common sense is no longer common. Such a thing is often said, but is it true, and if so, why? In Orwell's 1984, we are told that two plus two makes four, and that all else follows. Deny reality at your soul's peril and your body's as well. So, we must say that she is a he or they, or else. Why does the state demand such obedience? For if we are willing to say that he is a she or a they, then we belong not to ourselves but to them, not to God, but to them.

It's worth noting that in our circles we seem to have a difficulty with exhortation and wisdom. Saying it's just common sense, nothing special, nothing to do with the Gospel. But when we speak or whisper words of wisdom what we are doing is confessing the truth of the created order, confessing the God who created us through eternal Wisdom, that is His only begotten Son.

In general, the church should stay out of politics.  But sometimes politics is foisted upon the church.

That’s the gist of an article in First Things by Ben C. Dunson, visiting professor of New Testament at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, entitled Should Pastors Be Political? 

If you want justice, speak like a prophet against the secular elite who dominate our culture, those who promote death and the abolition of man. If you want justice, now is the time to speak against abortion, now when it's all on the table, and we can actually pass laws to save lives. This is our holocaust, and it, if justice warriors care as they claim, disproportionately affects people of color, and it does so by design

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, November 14, 2022

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 reading is 2nd Thessalonians 2:14-15 where the Apostle Paul writes,    

14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.

  

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, November 7, 2022

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 Bible reading is Revelation 7:9–12 where the Apostle John recounts this vision of heaven:    

9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

  

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, October 31, 2022

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 reading is John 8:31-36.     

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

  

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, October 24, 2022

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 reading is 2nd Timothy 4:7, where St. Paul declares,      

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

  

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, October 17, 2022

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 reading is Luke 18:1-8 which says,    

And [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

 

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

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

 

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

 

PRINCIPLES THAT EMANATE FROM A 2KG THEOLOGY

Thus, God has a spiritual rule in the hearts and lives of Christians; He also has a secular rule that extends throughout His creation and in every culture. God reigns in the Church through the Gospel, the proclamation of forgiveness in the Cross of Jesus Christ, a message which kindles faith and an inward transformation in the believer. He reigns in the world through His Law, which calls human societies to justice and righteousness.[1]

 

[1] Gene Edward Veith Jr., “Two Kingdoms under One King: Toward a Lutheran Approach to Culture,” in Christ and Culture in Dialogue, ed. Angus J.L. Menuge (St. Louis: Concordia Academic Press, 1999), 137. See Schumacher, “Civic Participation,” 165–66, where he adds another dynamic insight with regard to God’s Two-Kingdom reign in the world. Because of this view of “two, differentiated realms,” God’s involvement in His world is through two different kinds of righteousness. “The passive righteousness of faith depends entirely on the person and work of Christ; this alone establishes and determines our identity and righteousness before God. On the other hand, and at the same time, our righteousness in the world (coram hominibus) is active and not passive; it depends on the activities by which we fulfill our vocation and serve our neighbor. Luther’s right understanding of justification involved the insight that our own activity and works have no place in deciding our standing before God. Similarly, the preaching of the Gospel does not govern nations, feed children, build houses, punish criminals, etc. Both kinds of righteousness are God’s will, and both kinds are necessary for us to live in the world as fully human creatures restored in Christ.” For the purposes of this paper humankind’s depraved anthropology must be understood in the promotion of the potential, active, civic righteousness of public society in which God still somehow rules and creates humane society despite our sinfulness.

 

The mother and child communion. Nothing on earth is quite like it. Conception marks the beginning of life, but until a child's birth, the rest of us are outsiders. A mother becomes a mother long before the child's birth. She feels it in her bones. The mother gives life sustaining nourishment to the newborn, but this nourishment begins from a child's conception. Don't ever say that a preborn child is simply a clump of cells. Mom knows better, for that child is within her in a kind of earthly communion of love.

  

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 17:11-19 which Jesus says,    

11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers,[a] who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

 

THE UNIQUENESS OF 2KG CITIZENSHIP

Differentiating God’s preserving from His saving work has practical implications for cultural engagement. The state is a temporal agency, dealing with temporal solutions to temporal issues. The Church is an eternal institution, dealing with eternal solutions to eternal questions. The state can compel its citizens to do what is demanded; the church can only persuade, not coerce. 

  

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, October 3, 2022

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 17:1-4 which Jesus says,    

And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin[a] are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.[b] Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

  

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, September 26, 2022

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 reading is Psalm 146:1-6 and 10, which proclaims:     

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. 3 Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.4 When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, 6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever;….. The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!

  

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, September 19, 2022

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 reading is Luke 16:10-13 where Jesus says,    

10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

  

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, September 12, 2022

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 reading is Luke 15:8-10 where Jesus says,    

“What woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

  

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, September 5, 2022

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 reading is Luke 14:34-35 where Jesus says,    

“Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? 35 It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

 

THE UNIQUENESS OF 2KG CITIZENSHIP

Christian engagement in the political realm asserts that Government has a vital but secondary or penultimate purpose which both supports the family and allows the Church to accomplish its work.[1]

 [1] Article #8 from “Articles of 2KG public engagement,” produced by the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty. http://lcrlfreedom.org/images/general/2KG%20PRINCIPLES%20FOR%20PUBLIC%20ENGAGEMENT.pdf

 

Your kids leave home: become Woke, march in the Pride Parade, fly the rainbow flag. What to do? Well, be prepared to welcome home all prodigals, but don't rush the process. And whatever you do, don't fall away from the faith to stay close to those who have left it. In doing so, you endanger your soul, but theirs as well.

 

Indiana has passed a law that does much to restrict abortion, though it is far, far from perfect. Admittedly, I do not have a real grasp on whether the new legislation is decidedly good, a step in the right direction, or something else.

 

The differentiation, yet honoring of the legal, public authority of the Church from the State can be persuasively argued to have been a creation of the Christian Western worldview.[1] The notion of the “two established sovereigns” in culture, historically transformed the concept of citizenship from the notion of a person being a “subject” of a regime who is granted rights, to one where people are free, public agents with unalienable rights, privileges, and responsibilities before the law. The proper differentiation of the realms of the church and the state, rooted in a 2KG understanding of God’s work in human history, has had real, historical implications for people of all faith perspectives even today.

 

 

In a time of cancel-culture, partisan-politics, pandemics, violence, and mistrust, it’s important to affirm even more boldly that God is at work in history for the sake of the world. A biblical, two-kingdom (2KG) perspective boldly asserts this even as it clearly differentiates between God’s preserving and saving work for all. But powerful voices that puritanically yearn for the secularization of the culture and other smaller, but engaging voices that yearn for the cultural “christianization” of America through better laws, have tempted us to believe in false narratives that conflate rather than differentiate God’s gracious preserving and saving intervention. America is primed again to be blessed by an idea from one of its smallest and most insignificant cultural voices.[1] The message of 2KG theology for the sake of the culture and for the sake of the Gospel, emanating from a small, confessional Lutheran Church, might indeed be positioned to be a positive force in the community, one which can be a civilizing blessing to the culture even as it proclaims the uniqueness of humanity’s salvation by grace through faith in Jesus alone.

 

 

 

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, AUGUST 29, 2022

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 reading is Luke 14:7-11 which says,    

Now [Jesus] told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

 

 

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, August 22, 2022

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 reading is Luke 13:23-27 and 30 which says,    

Someone asked [Jesus], “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’....Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last."

 

 

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, August 15, 2022

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 reading is Luke 12:49-51, where Jesus says,   

49 “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.

 

 

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, August 08, 2022
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 reading is Luke 12:22-23 and 29-31 where Jesus says,
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes…. And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”

 

Ibram X. Kendi said, "The very heartbeat of racism is denial." Robin DiAngelo plays the same card. That's the way Critical Race Theory works. It's a matter of sweat sessions, of training, and compliance. It's a world where every disparity can be attributed to racism and racism only. Such a worldview does not welcome conversation, but simply asserts that there can be no argument. CRT is part of the world of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity, none of which words means what you might hope. Equality, has to do with opportunity, while equity lives in the world of equal outcomes, hence the term cultural Marxism. That is to say, equality is the language of the Reverend Martin Luther King whose vision was predicated on biblical belief that we are all created in the image of God, and that therefore every person has dignity.

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We all like to be liked, to fit in, to feel like we belong. In high school, it's commonly a matter of peer pressure, which so easily overrides parental concerns. Strong families act as a counter-force, but as things fall apart, and more folks are isolated, the opinion of others has a stronger gravitational pull. That peer pressure is not just a high school hallway phenomenon, but now it's Rumblr, Tiktok and all the rest.

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