Saturday, February 24, 2007

Play Ball!

With a lot of snow yet on the ground, it may be somewhat premature to think about the Indians. But, I don't care. Baseball is just around the corner and it helps a little to think about baseball. In just over a month, the Jake will be hopping once again. This is their year! Go Tribe!

Tragedy or a Wake Up Call?

I hesitate even saying anything about Anna Nicole Smith, but I feel that I must. Her story is tragic on so many different levels. It is tragic that she died so young. It is tragic that her child is now without a mother. It is tragic that so many people want her fortune, sinking to the most despicable of levels. It is tragic that we treated her with any interest whatsoever. But, what is most tragic is her eternal destiny. She experienced personal demons that destroyed her; but, if she rejected Christ, those demons have become infinitely more painful. It is my prayer that people see her life and her death as a wake up call. Hollywood has very little, if anything, redeeming and important to say about what truly matters in life. We must not idolize that which is evil. It only leads to destruction. Wake up America! Over-indulgence and sexual immortality are not what they are cracked up to be. Contentment, peace, joy and hope are found only in Christ Jesus!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

For You Are Dust and to Dust You Shall Return

Last night, we had our Ash Wednesday service. It was a powerful and important start to Lent. I offered ashes to those who wanted them before and after the service in my office. For me personally, to not have ashes on Ash Wednesday was to miss something important. I grew up as a pastor's kid. My dad, a Lutheran pastor, always used the imposition of ashes. So, I got used to it. In the minds of many, the imposition of ashes are "too Roman." That is unfortunate because there are numerous things that we share in common, especially when it comes to worship practices, with our Roman brothers, i.e. the Liturgy, vestments, church architecture, Communion ware, just to name a few. Receiving ashes is not mandatory; but, I believe that those who received them were reminded in a powerful way that, "they are dust and to dust they shall return." We are mortal and will one day turn to ashes; and yet, on the Last Day, Christ will come and raise those ashes to be a glorified body. God bless.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Judge Roy Moore's Poem

You may have already seen this, but still good.

The following is a poem written by Judge Roy Moore from Alabama. Judge Moore was sued by the ACLU for displaying the Ten Commandments in his courtroom foyer. He has been stripped of his judgeship and now they are trying to strip his right to practice law in Alabama. The judge's poem sums it up quite well.

America the Beautiful, or so you used to be.
Land of the Pilgrims' pride; I'm glad they'll never see.
Babies piled in dumpsters, Abortion on demand,
Oh, sweet land of liberty; your house is on the sand.
Our children wander aimlessly poisoned by cocaine,
Choosing to indulge their lusts, when God has said abstain.
From sea to shining sea, our Nation turns away
From the teaching of God's love and a need to always pray.
We've kept God in our temples, how callous we have grown.
When earth is but His footstool, and Heaven is His throne.
We've voted in a government that's rotting at the core,
Appointing Godless Judges who throw reason out the door,
Too soft to place a killer in a well deserved tomb,
But brave enough to kill a baby before he leaves the womb.
You think that God's not angry, that our land's a moral slum?
How much longer will He wait before His judgment comes?
How are we to face our God, from Whom we cannot hide?
What then is left for us to do, but stem this evil tide?
If we who are His children, will humbly turn and pray;
Seek His holy face and mend our evil way: (Trust in Jesus for forgiveness- my words)
Then God will hear from Heaven and forgive us of our sins,
He'll heal our sickly land and those who live within.
But, America the Beautiful, if you don't - then you will see,
A sad but Holy God withdraw His hand from Thee.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Beware of False Prophets!

In the 2nd letter of St. Peter, the 2nd chapter, beginning at verse 1, we read, "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction."
This afternoon, I attended a lecture at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, OH. It was the third in a series given by Dr. Elaine Pagels. Dr. Pagels is a professor at Princeton University. She has written many books, some of which include The Gnostic Gospels and Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas.
As I sat and listened to Dr. Pagels, the above passage came to mind. What I am about to say next, I do not say lightly, but I am compelled to by the Word of God: I was listening to a false prophet. In our society, we hate to condemn anyone. Our world feels as if no one has an exclusive right to the truth, and everyone is right and no one is wrong. That attitude is dead wrong!
Here is what I mean. It is Dr. Pagels' view that the 27 New Testament books were brought into one unit, what we would call the Canon, for the purpose of having something to read in Church. But, she also feels that God may have wanted other "spiritual" or "divine" books to be read, marked and inwardly digested as you would study the Bible. She informed her audience that she believes that the Bible and the New Testament were written for new converts to Christianity; while the gnostic gospels, that is, the gospels that were found in Nag Hammadi in 1945, were written for those already well established in the Christian faith. So, in essence, the gnostic gospels are superior to the Gospels found in the Bible. Unbelievable!
I wanted to ask her, but I didn't have the opportunity, a couple of questions. 1) Does not the New Testament itself condemn false teaching? 2) If it does, does it also not condemn Gnosticism? 3) Then, if it condemns Gnosticism, what right do we have to read The Gospel of Thomas or The Gospel of Philip or any of the other gospels that have been found as the Word of God? It absolutely dumbfounded me that she was analyzing the Gospel of Thomas as you would any other New Testament book and implying that they might contain the Word of God.
Bottom line then is this: Paul says in Galatians, chapter 1, verses 8 and 9. "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed."
Again, what I say I do not say lightly: What Elaine Pagels teaches is heresy, pure and simple. The Bible specifically condemns what she teaches. She is a false teacher and it is my prayer that she repents of her sin and turns to Christ. And, even more importantly, may God have mercy on anyone, who after hearing these lectures, may believe her and be lead into false belief and despair.
In Christ,
Pastor Haugen

Monday, February 12, 2007

Another Explanation For Global Warming!

At adult Bible class on Sunday, another very astute explanation was given for the possibility of global warming. We were discussing Revelation 20 and the possibility that we are in the "little season" or the time where Satan is released after the 1000 years. The comment went something like this. "Pastor, maybe that is what is causing global warming. If God is allowing Satan out of his Hell, then it would make sense that the earth is getting warmer." Interesting?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

So You Think You Want to Be a Pastor?

On February 21st, from 4 to 7pm, the Reverend Scott Stiegemeyer, from Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, will be at St. John to visit with anyone who might have an interest in becoming a pastor. If this is something that you have thought about, now is the time to pursue it! It is never too late to answer God's call. We are located at 8888 Prospect Road in Strongsville.

Who Are Those Lutherans?

Starting this Sunday, February 11th, at 7pm, and going for roughly 8-1o weeks, I will be having again my adult catechesis class. This class is intended for those interested in pursuing communicant membership at St. John, as well as, for those who who are just interested in what Lutheranism is all about. We will be covering the Small Catechism primarily; but, we will also be discussing issues such as infant baptism, close communion, the nature of God, suffering in the world, homosexuality, abortion and much more. Please feel free to come at any time. St. John Lutheran Church is located at 8888 Prospect Road in Strongsville, Ohio. God bless.