Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I'm Sick of It! Lord have mercy.

Greetings in the name of Jesus.

Having a blog gives me the opportunity to say what I want to say. Something that has been on my mind for quite some time is our national obsession with immorality and deviant sexuality. We are getting so immune to it. Everywhere you look, there is some company or business cheapening and denigrating sexuality. So many movies and television shows promote adulterous and promiscuous relationships. Even children's programs have subtle sexual themes now and again. There are pre-conceived notions as to what is attractive and what is acceptable and if you don't fit the mold, you are less than a person. Is there any wonder, we have so many problems. There was a school here in the Canton area that had 65 out of 490 girls who ended up pregnant, that's 13%. Can you believe that? Something that was intended to be "very good" is manipulated and abused everywhere you look. I am so sick of ladies showing off their mid-sections. I am so sick of young girls who try so hard to be "sexy" far too early. A radio talk personality calls them "Prostitots." I am so sick of men going outside of marriage to find fulfillment. I am so sick of all the pornographic sites on the internet, all the chat rooms, all the advertisements. I am so sick of cameramen, at a sporting event, when there is a lull in the action, focusing the camera on some "attractive" lady. If there is something that is going to destroy us as a country, this is this. How long will God put up with it? May we repent of our sins, and may the Lord have mercy on our souls. Thank you for listening.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Is This Still Your Grandfather's Synod Lectures

Is This Still Your Grandfather’s Synod?
The State of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Today

You are invited to attend one of two special lectures. There will be two different lectures at two different locations, with the same topic. The correlation between missions and doctrine will be the topic discussed in both lectures.

Rev. Lloyd Gross will be presenting the subject: “What we sow, what we reap; What does doctrine have to do with missions?” He is a 1968 graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, with his STM from there in 1974. Rev. Gross has been serving at Christ Lutheran Church in Cleveland for the past 26 years. He will be presenting at:
Grace Lutheran Church
989 N. Portage Path
Akron, OH 44313
Saturday, September 24 from 9:30 to noon

There will be time allotted for questions and answering.

Rev. Jack Kozak will be presenting the subject: “What we sow, what we reap; What does doctrine have to do with missions?” He is a 1990 graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne. Rev. Kozak has been serving at Hope Lutheran Church in Akron for the past 10 years. He will be presenting at:
St. John Lutheran Church
8888 Prospect Rd.
Strongsville, OH 44149
Saturday, September 24 from 9:30 to noon

Friday, August 26, 2005

Ablaze Is Not the Answer!

Ever since I heard about the Synodical mission emphasis of "Ablaze" a couple of years ago, I was against it. Many "pastors" have asked me, "how can you be against Ablaze? It is all about mission." I am not against mission, just so long as it is God's mission, not our man-made version of God's mission. I am against Ablaze because I don't believe that it coincides with the mission of God's Word. Everyone has a mission. All businesses have a mission. The devil also has a mission. Just because something has the outward appearance of being a mission doesn't mean that it is God-pleasing.

First of all, the name "Ablaze" conjures up Pentecostal themes. Could they not have picked a different name? If I didn't know any better, I would think that the current leadership is trying to take us away from traditional Lutheran theology and practice to a more tolerant, loving and compromising stance. Second, all that "Ablaze" seems to be is numbers and counting. "Boy, look how good we are! We have shared the Gospel with x number of people. We are doing God's mission. Why don't we just pat each other on the back." As if God needed us to do His mission. I happen to remember a certain census that David took in the Old Testament that made God very angry. I have to ask: what is the point? Third, Ablaze fits neatly with the theology of Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven Church. In Warren's view, everyone should be a missionary. But I ask you: is everyone a missionary? We say in Lutheran circles that, "All are priests. Some are ministers/pastors." Would we not say the same thing about missionaries? "All are priests. Some are missionaries." The Bible seems to indicate that missionaries are a special group of pastors called by God to start up a new church, hand it over to another pastor and move on. Is everyone called to be a missionary? I must answer no! I do not believe that everyone is called to be a missionary. I do believe that everyone is called to live out their faith in their various vocations. We are all priests of God, "offering our bodies as spiritual sacrifices to God." If we are the body of God and if we extend the metaphor out, would not pastors and teachers be the mouth? Not everyone is the mouth in the body of Christ. We need all the other parts of the body to function.

So the bottom line is this: To count how many people you have shared the Gospel with does not jive with God's mission or His Word. It is arrogant. It gives the appearance of, "Look what I am doing for God." It is foolish. How can we put a number or judge statistically what God is doing? And it is wrong. It gives the impression that to be a "real" or a "committed" Christian, one has to share their faith with as many people as possible. As if living out one's faith in one's vocation is not good enough? I am not saying that we shouldn't share our faith. But, if we are to share our faith with someone so that God brings that person into His Church through what we said or did, it will happen whether or not we make a conscious effort to do so. Praying the Lord's Prayer and its meaning come to mind. "The kingdom of God comes even without our prayer. But, we pray in this petition that it might come among us also." It seems to me that "Ablaze" is about guilt and superficial appearances pure and simple. I welcome any responses.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A Disturbing Trend in ELCA

As a life-long Lutheran, and as a LC-MS pastor committed to Holy Scripture and our Lutheran Confessions, I felt compelled to share some thoughts about what I see as some disturbing trends in the ELCA. My purpose is to encourage discussion and debate among its lay people. There are many things that are troubling to me and I would also hazard a guess are also troubling to many inside the ELCA.

There is much that unfortunately separates the LCMS and ELCA, but three main issues come to mind. They are: first, the role of women in the church, namely women as pastors; secondarily, the openness to the gay/lesbian movement and along with that ordaining of homosexual clergy and thirdly, the altar/pulpit fellowship that has been extended to many non-Lutheran churches over the last couple of years. Unfortunately, what I have learned in my discussions with other pastors in the LC-MS, open and honest discussion is often extremely difficult. It is fair to say that the LC-MS and the ELCA are not going to come together on these issues. Those who feel strongly about what they believe are not going to change their minds. The LC-MS and the ELCA are operating, it would seem, on two fundamentally different understanding of the Word of God and our Lutheran Confessions. There is not space here to include all my reasons for why the LC-MS believes what it does. Here’s my view. You are welcome to disagree. The bottom line seems to be: all of the above items, are the result of caving in to the pressures of the world. The ELCA has allowed itself to be manipulated by the cultural fads of our day.

To those within the ELCA, if you are not happy with your church body, let me remind you of what question #179 says in Catechism, Letter B, “We should be faithful to that visible church, or denomination, which professes and teaches all of the Bible’s doctrine purely and administers the sacraments according to Christ’s institution,” and also Letter C, “We should avoid false teachers, false churches, and all organizations that promote a religion that is contrary to God’s Word.”

At St. John’s, in Strongsville, we are committed to that which is fundamental: God’s Word, our Lutheran Confession and Liturgy. If you are not happy with your church, I encourage you to visit http://www.lutheranliturgy.org/. Type in Ohio and find many churches committed to traditional and confessional Lutheran teaching and practice. If you are happy with the decisions made by the ELCA leadership, then you are not probably reading this article. But, if you are not happy, maybe now is the time to reconsider your affiliation with the ELCA. God’s blessings to all.
Pastor Jim Haugen

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Yes Sound Theology Does Matter!

In my reading of Church History, it has always amazed me when faithful men and women were not afraid to do what was right; and to do what was right often cost them their lives. Certainly, as Lutherans, we can point to Martin Luther at various times and places in his life, when he risked his life for theology. Many of our church heroes actually lost their lives for theology. Yesterday, was St. Lawrence Day, a 3rd century Roman martyr (www.lcms.org/?3779 ). We also remember Ignatius of Antioch, John Hus, and many others. I can't count how many times I have heard people say, including pastors, that, "Yes, sound theology is important; but, we must focus more on reaching the lost. Our Synod spends too much time on incessant bickering over this teaching and that teaching. We must do whatever it takes to bring people in." Today, it seems that pastors and leaders in our church say that they care about sound doctrine, when in fact they really don't. It is just lip service. A historian of the church will tell you that sound theology was primary in the various debates throughout our history. Imagine what would have happened had Luther not cared so much about sound theology, or Athanasius, or Augustine and or even Walther. Are you telling me that these heroes fought and some even died for nothing? So for them, sound teaching was important, but today not so much? Is the need for sound teaching somehow less today? I wonder if some of our Synodical leaders were faced with the threat of death, would they hold to certain teachings? Would they be willing to die for the correct understanding of the Liturgy, of Holy Communion, Baptism, the Office of the Ministry, just to name a few? I fear that if push came to shove, many in our Synod would give in all too easily. The point is this: the battle is always about teaching the Word correctly. It started with Adam and Eve and it will continue to the blessed return of Christ. May God give us the courage to stand up and fight for what is right, no matter what! It is better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you're not!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Our Sympathy Is With You Brook Park

Yesterday, at the Cleveland IX center, a civil/religious ceremony was held where thousands of people came to pay their respects to the over 20 U.S. Marine Reserve servicemen of the 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment, headquartered in Brook Park, Ohio, who lost their lives in two bloody days of war in Iraq. Politicians and local leaders spoke about love of country and the nobility of suffering for a cause. As Confessional Lutherans, we have the ultimate respect for anyone who would die for someone else. So, we say thank you. Thank you to all those servicemen who bravely stepped in harm's way to protect us. They come home heroes and may their bravery be an example to us. For those who mourn the loss of their father, son, husband, brother, friend, I pray that you find comfort the only place that it can be found and that is in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave. This Jesus conquered death so that all who look to Him as their Savior need not fear death; for they have their sins forgiven and can look forward to a bright future. Brook Park, our sympathy and prayers are with you!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

I Want the Blood! I Want the Body!

After the Divine Service today, I had to send this out. During the Distribution of the Elements, a child at our church was very insistent. He shouted, "I want the Blood! I want the Body." He couldn't understand why he couldn't also receive Christ's body and blood. Why does everyone else get to eat and I don't? As I passed him, I said, "In due time. When it is right."

I am not advocating young children participating in the Sacrament. What I do think that we can learn from this child is His insistence and persistence to receive what God offers. He really wanted it. He needed it. He had to have it. He was upset when he couldn't have it. I think as adults we have a tendency to lose that zeal, that desire for the Sacrament and what God offers. We are used to it. Holy Communion becomes sort of ho-hum. Been there, done that and got the shirt to go with it. We enjoy going up, but maybe we don't go with the same sort of zest and zeal for what is being offered to us: the forgiveness of our sins, life and salvation. May we learn from this little child and have a passion, a gut-level need for what Jesus is offering us: something out of this world. I want the blood! I want the body! Take care. Pastor Haugen

Friday, August 05, 2005

Looking for a Confessional Lutheran Church?

Are you tired of what is going on in your church? Do you miss the old hymnal, TLH, page 5 and 15? Does the worship leave you dissatisfied because it seems to be so shallow? Do you desire worship that reminds you of worship when you were a child? Well, you have come to the right place. If you want to visit a church committed to traditional Lutheran worship, visit this website: http://www.lutheranliturgy.org/ Go to the Ohio section and you will find several churches in the Cleveland area. Come and visit. God bless.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Calling All Lapsed Catholics- Part II

I got this off our web-site.

Q. What are the main theological differences between the theology of the Lutheran Church and the Roman Catholic Church?

A. At the risk of oversimplification, and keeping in mind that individual Lutheran (and Catholic) theologians would undoubtedly disagree about the success of recent Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogues in lessening or even "resolving" historic doctrinal differences between these two churches, listed below are what the LCMS would regard as some of the major theological differences between the Lutheran Church and the Roman Catholic Church:

1. The authority of Scripture.
Lutherans believe that Scripture alone has authority to determine doctrine; the Roman Catholic Church gives this authority also to the pope, the church, and certain traditions of the church.

2. The doctrine of justification.
Lutherans believe that a person is saved by God's grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. The Roman Catholic Church, while at times using similar language, still officially holds that faith, in order to save, must be accompanied by (or "infused with") some "work" or "love" active within a Christian.

3. The authority of the pope.
Unlike the Roman Catholic Church, Lutherans do not believe that the office of the papacy as such has any divine authority, or that Christians need to submit to the Pope's authority to be "true" members of the visible church.

4. Differences remain about both the number and the nature of the sacraments.
Lutherans believe that Christ's body and blood are truly present in the Lord's Supper, but they do not believe, with Catholics, that the bread and wine, are permanently "changed into" Christ's body and blood [transubstantiation].

5. Differences remain about the role of Mary and the saints.
Unlike Catholics, Lutherans do not believe it is proper or Scriptural to offer prayers to saints or to view Mary as in any sense a "mediator" between God and human beings.
While Lutherans believe that any doctrinal error has the potential to distort or deny Scripture's teaching regarding salvation, we also believe that anyone (regardless of denominational affiliation) who truly believes in Jesus Christ as Savior will be saved.

Calling All Lapsed Catholics! Part I

I have been here in the Cleveland area for almost two years. It is amazing to me how many people that I talk to who are Catholic- lapsed Catholic that is. They are associated with the Church but they never attend. When I mention that I am a pastor of the Lutheran Church, they respond something like, "Oh, I know you guys. You split from us back 500 years ago. You wanted to reform the church." Maybe, they even say something like, "You don't have as many Sacraments as we do." But that is as far as it goes. Unfortunately, most Catholic don't know what the Lutherans believe. It is my contention that if more Roman Catholics actually knew what Lutherans stood for, they might come into our church. There are also many lapsed Catholics who are very angry at their church for one reason of another. Maybe, they are angry because of what a priest said or did or maybe because of an ugly divorce. The Roman Catholics and the Lutherans are different in many ways; but, we do have much in common. In other blogs I will discuss the similarities and differences, but for now, if you are not happy with your Roman Catholic Church, visit a confessional Lutheran Church. We would love to meet you. I believe that you will find all of what you like about the Roman Catholic Church and not find what you don't like. Try us out. You won't be disappointed.

Why Doesn't Anyone Wear Their Clerical Collar Anymore?

Living in the Cleveland area, and especially in Parma, due to the high number of Roman Catholics, I get a lot of strange looks whenever I wear my clerical collar. I have gotten used to the standard greeting, "Hello, Father." Most of the time, I don't correct them because I am a father- that is of 4 wonderful boys (see picture on my blog). It is especially humorous in public places when I have it on and my family is with me. What is disturbing to me, however, is the number of pastors today who don't wear the collar. I wonder why this is. I certainly hope that it is not because they are ashamed of their calling. Wearing the collar reminds me of my calling. For the first couple of years of my ministry, I didn't wear it, except on Sunday morning. Not that I would forget what I was doing, but when I wear my collar during the week, I am reminded of the seriousness of the office of the ministry. The criticism is that those of us who wear their collars, all the time, take themselves too seriously. Some have even asked me if I have clerical pajamas. I would argue that those who don't wear theirs take themselves and the office that they hold too lightly. The pastor who was here as the vacancy pastor reminded me of the symbolism behind the clerical collar. I think it fits; so I will share it. The pastor wears his black clerical collar for two reasons. First, the black shows to the world that the pastor too is a sinner, dead in his trespasses and sin. By himself, a pastor is nothing. But, secondly, as a called and ordained servant of the Word, the words that come out of his mouth should be as white as freshly fallen snow. When people see that collar, it reminds them that God is present and pastors are His representatives. Yes, some people will feel uncomfortable with it. Pastors who wear their collars may make some people nervous. Others will be turned off because of the individual problems with the Roman Catholic Church. Most people would agree that our society, and our church has lost a sense of what it means to be reverent. So much in our society is dumbed-down. Pastors who wear their collars remind the world that there is nothing wrong with tradition as long as it leads people to Jesus. That is what the office of the Ministry is all about- leading people to Jesus. Most people don't have a problem with a soldier or policeman who wears his uniform. When people see the officer in their uniform, it reminds them of what they are all about. Should not pastors stand out in the crowd? Should not a pastor remind those around that God is present? I believe that wearing a clerical collar does just that. Something to think about.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Trojan Horse in the Lutheran Church

Alvin Schmidt wrote a book several years ago, entitled, "Multi-culturalism: The Trojan Horse in America." If you want an honest analysis of how the ideology of multi-culturalism has affected and infected our culture, it is a very good read. Here's a spin off that thought. I would also call the Contemporary Christian Music movement the Trojan Horse in our Lutheran Church. Many churches accepted the music without critical analysis and thinking. It was seen as something harmless and even playful. What so many fail to realize is that the CCM movement is at the top of a very slippery slope. If you go down that road, it is very difficult to stop. The results are abandonment of Lutheran theology and practice. What we now see is the militant forces breaking out of that Horse and destroying our church. What can we do? Get rid of the Horse! Go back to solid, Biblical Lutheran worship! Don't allow the facade of the Horse to destroy us! If we continue to do nothing, it will continue to have an increasingly damaging effect. Just something to think about.