Musings of a Recovering Lutheran: August 2014
I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, 

Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?

Then said I, Here am I; send me.

Isaiah 6:8 (KJV)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Reading list

5 Things You Can Do to Witness Christ, by John Wollenburg Sias.

Today's verse

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

Hebrews 8:10-13 (KJV)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Today's verse

And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

Genesis 8:20-22 (KJV)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Today's verse

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28 (KJV)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Today's verse

Be thou exalted, Lord, in thine own strength: so will we sing and praise thy power.

Psalm 21:13 (KJV)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Today's verse

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Genesis 3:1-5 (KJV)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Today's verse

Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man.

Psalm 43:1 (KJV)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Today's verse

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Genesis 1:1-3 (KJV)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Reading list

The Story, by Max Lucado and Randy Frazee.

Today's verse

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

John 1:1-5,14 (KJV)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The incredible shrinking church

Over at The Federalist Alexander Griswold has a good article about the decline of Christian denominations which have discarded the clear teaching of Scripture to embrace much of the homosexual agenda.

Opening part from the article:

By now, we’ve all heard the refrain that U.S. churches need liberalize their teachings on sexuality and homosexuality or rapidly decline. The logic behind the argument is simple: more and more Americans are embracing homosexuality and same-sex marriage, including growing numbers of religious Millennials. So long as churches remain the face of opposition to gay marriage, those churches will shrink into irrelevancy when gay marriage (inevitably, we are told) becomes a settled political issue.

These arguments often see church acceptance of homosexuality as a carrot as well as a stick. It isn’t so much that denouncing homosexuality will drive people away from church, but that embracing it will also lead people into church. LGBT individuals and their supporters, many of whom hold a dim view of religion after a decades-long culture war, will reconsider church if denominations remove their restrictions on gay marriage and ordination.

But a number of Christian denominations have already taken significant steps towards liberalizing their stances on homosexuality and marriage, and the evidence so far seems to indicate that affirming homosexuality is hardly a cure for membership woes. On the contrary, every major American church that has taken steps towards liberalization of sexual issues has seen a steep decline in membership.

Griswold goes on to describe the declining fortunes of the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the United Church of Christ (UCC), and the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA). My wife and I are former members of the ELCA who chose to leave after the disastrous 2009 decision to ordain non-celibate homosexual clergy and to bless homosexual unions, so this news strikes home in a significant way. Griswold's article well worth reading, especially for its detailed information about the rate of decline of each denomination.

However, I have one problem with the article. Griswold seems to suggest that the effort to change the church's stance on homosexuality is primarily to recruit new members and arrest overall decline of Christianity. In fairness to those who succeeded in changing the ELCA's position in 2009, I do not think this is necessarily so. Increasing the ELCA's membership was one stated reason for pushing for the change, but in my opinion it was not the primary one.

Instead, the proponents of the 2009 changes seemed to make three basic arguments:

  • Scripture is not being properly translated/applied. Regarding homosexuality as a sin is nothing more than a fundamental misunderstanding of what the Bible really says.
  • Lack of proper scientific understanding. The Bible was written in an era before modern psychology, so the early writers lacked a true understanding of homosexuality.
  • Social justice. Any religion which regards homosexuality as a sin is false and must be changed. The old attitudes towards homosexuality are on the same moral level as racism and sexism, and need to be ended.

    There was some inconsistency in the reasons that proponents gave for the 2009 changes. How (for example) is it possible for Scripture to be both misinterpreted and wrong? How can the Bible actually permit homosexual behavior and be the flawed product of writers who were ignorant of modern science and how it relates to homosexuality? The argument made by the proponents of the 2009 changes could be quite murky at times.

    Of all the reasons used to support changing the ELCA's stance towards homosexuality in 2009, only one - the social justice argument - seemed to me to be the primary motivation. Even before the disastrous decision to discard Scripture in favor of secular wisdom the ELCA had shown an obsession with political activism masquerading as Christianity. The Gospel continually took a back seat to political pronouncements and lobbying elected leaders.

    And here is where the seeds of destruction were sown. The Bible clearly regards the homosexual lifestyle as sinful and contrary to God's plan for His creation. But the powerful homosexual lobby decried this attitude as homophobic. So the false teachers and prophets of the ELCA rejected the Gospel in favor of secular political activism and goals. They have rejected the true God, and are working on making another god in their own politically correct image. It is no wonder the ELCA is hemorrhaging members.

    But (the counter argument will go) what about gays and lesbians who felt alienated and unwelcome by the church's previous negative stance towards homosexuality? Should we not rejoice in the fact that at least some of them will now come to church and embrace Christ?

    My response is this: are these new brothers and sisters in Christ being given the Bread of Life - or the spiritual junk food that the world offers and which can only harm them? All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and we need a Redeemer to save us from the consequences of our sins and reconcile us to God. By discarding the clear teaching of the Bible the ELCA is telling us a hellish lie: we get to decide what is sinful and what is not. Put another way: we get to veto God's commandments and replace them with ones we find more suitable. Two thousand years ago Jesus warned us about leaders who would do such a thing:

    Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are. (Matthew 23:15 (NIV))

    To my Christian brothers and sisters who are still in the ELCA, I beg you: do not let the false teachers and prophets of the ELCA succeed in dragging you into hell. I will not put myself in the place of God and tell you to leave your church - God will make it clear if He wants you to leave or not - but be aware that the false god the ELCA is creating for itself is a jealous god, and wants to separate you from the real God if it can. Your soul belongs to the One who loves you, and not the one who tells you to conform to the ways of the world.

  • Today's verse

    When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up. In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.

    Psalm 94:18-19 (KJV)

    Friday, August 22, 2014

    Update on Asia Bibi

    Sardar Mushtaq Gill, a Human Rights Defender and Chief of LEAD, has pledged to do all he can to free Asia Bibi. On August 9 he survived an assassination attempt.

    Key quote:

    On June 24,2014 LEAD filed petition in Lahore High Court, Lahore for the re-fixation of earlier hearing of Asia Bibi's appeal case which was heard on June 25th.The Court ordered to office of Lahore High Court to explore the scope of fixation of appeal hearing of Asia Bibi near future and ordered for submitting report within three days which was submitted on June 27th.Again the petition fixed for June 30th,the Court told the lawyers that according to the report, submitted by the Office of LHC, the appeal of Asia Bibi proposed to be fixed for September 9,2014 and on this order of the Court the petition disposed off after the lawyers' consent.

    Read Asia Bibi's own words.

    The online petition calling for mercy for Asia Bibi can still be found here.

    For those who do not know who she is, here is the story about Asia Bibi's unjust imprisonment and death sentence for "blasphemy" against the Prophet Muhammad.

    Please pray for Asia Bibi and her family. Also, please pray for those such as Mr. Gill who are risking their lives to free her.

    Today's verse

    He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

    1 John 2: 10-11 (KJV)

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

    Returning home

    We have returned home safely from our journey to Tanzania. Thanks be to God for our safe travel!

    Please visit our other blog to see pictures of the journey.

    Today's verse

    Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

    Psalm 91:9-10 (KJV)