Monday, September 24, 2007

What Are the Most Important Things We Can Teach Our Children?

As a father of four boys, I have often asked myself this question: what are the most important things I can teach my children? Is it to throw a baseball or a football or is it to cheer for the Cleveland sports teams or is it how our American form of government works or is it how to deal with our enemies or is it how important our military is to our national security or is it how to spend money? Certainly, all of these things are important, some more than others. But, as a father, I have learned what is most important thing to teach our children: it is the Gospel; and not just part of the Gospel, but the entire Gospel. Teaching our blessed children right from wrong; teaching them that they are sinners in need of God's grace; teaching them that God loves them for the sake of Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection; teaching them that they are God's beloved children in Baptism; teaching them what goes in Holy Communion so that when they are old enough to receive it, they will truly appreciate it; teaching them Bible stories and our blessed Lutheran doctrine; and teaching them that when they die they will be in God's presence forever. This is the Gospel and this is what we need to teach our children.
So often, myself included, I think parents get side-tracked. Because of busy schedules or just a lack of concern, children are cheated out of what we as parents should be teaching them. Sometimes what we are teaching them is not what we want to be teaching them or we are allowing the media, television and the Internet to be teaching them. Being a parent is such a humbling experience. But, as a parent, I know how quickly the time goes. So parents, may we truly heed the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 6, beginning at verse 4 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. "And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you- with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant- and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. "

Sunday, September 23, 2007

1 Goal Reached, 11 games to go!

I must admit that at one point this year, I didn't think they would get it done. They proved me wrong. Unbelievable game, but they aren't finished. 11 games to a championship. The city needs it. We have waited long enough. Go tribe!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What Do We Believe as Lutherans? Adult Instruction Class

Starting on Wednesday, September 26, at 7pm at St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church, located at 8888 Prospect Road in Strongsville, Ohio, we will be starting another adult instruction class. This class is intended for all adults who are considering joining St. John, for those interested in knowing more about the Lutheran faith, or for those who are already members who want to go back and study again what they learned as youth. Anyone is welcome. It is a great opportunity to learn more and grow in our faith. The class usually lasts anywhere from 10 to 12 weeks. Come one and all.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

He Did It Again?

Unbelievable! Way to go Casey! Twice in four days, he hits a walk-off homer. A 5 1/2 game lead. The magic number is 7. Playoffs here we come.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Time For Me to Rant!

It's time for me to rant! Yet another "star" has been "exposed" on the Internet. It shouldn't surprise me; and yet, it does. I remember reading a book awhile back that revealed how all of the major female stars in Hollywood had taken off their clothes, in one form or another, on their way up the ladder of success. It was a kind of "rite of passage" to be successful in Hollywood. We've fallen so far as a society. When is it going to stop? The success of the movie, "High School Musical", rather tame in comparison to a lot of what we watch today, reveals just what we value in our society. We value having fun at all costs. We value doing whatever we want whenever we want. We look up to people who lack moral integrity. Where does it lead us? Only God knows. But, here is my plea. America, stop! Stop spending millions of dollars watching the garbage that comes out of Hollywood. Stop going to the movies! Stop buying and renting DVDs. I can't even go to Blockbuster with my children anymore. What they see on the shelves staring back at them makes me blush. Turn off the shows that promote promiscuity and moral ambiguity. As a culture, we must stand up and fight it. If we don't, our future is in serious jeopardy. But, let us not forget that there is forgiveness for all sins at the cross! It is only the grace of God in Jesus Christ that can cure what ails us!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What Are They Planning Next?

The day after the 6 year anniversary of 9-11, we still must ask ourselves two very important questions: 1) Are we any safer today than we were six years ago? 2) What are the terrorists planning next? To answer the first question, we must say that in some ways, we are safer. We are more aware of the fact that we have enemies and that is a good thing. I think prior to 9-11, we had forgotten that we have enemies- enemies that are bent on our destruction. I am also certainly thankful for the men and women in our military who are fighting to make us safer. In that way, we are safer. Lastly, certain governmental policy has made us safer. But, it is also questionable whether our airline industry is any safer or if we are any less vulnerable to an attack. Our border to the south is a huge problem and in that regard, we are less safe. So, are we any safer today than we were six years ago? Not sure.
To answer the second question, we must be honest. We don't know what they are planning next; only, we know they are planning something. I believe that it is just a matter of time before we are hit again. Glenn Beck, on the radio and on his television program, brought up the possibility that terrorists may strike at our schools. A couple of years ago, extremists attacked a school in Russia. Many experts today feel that our schools are also vulnerable. Talk about terrorism. There are buses missing in Texas and bus radios missing in the Northwest. Again, we don't know. But it certainly makes you wonder what the terrorists are up to next.
So, the bottom line is simple: pay attention to what is going on around you. Get involved in your local community and vote in office those leaders who you think will protect and keep you safe. But, most importantly, pray. Pray for our nation and especially for our children. God bless us.

Monday, September 10, 2007

What is a Pastor to do?

Pastors today are asked to do a lot and to know a lot. Today, the expectation by some is that a pastor must be able to master many different trades. They are asked to be Cruise directors (make sure everyone is happy and having a good time), Chairmen of the Board (providing leadership and goals for the future), firemen (put out fires), policemen (break up fights), lawyers/judges (determine who is right and who is wrong), doctors (help with medical needs), and accountants (balance the budget). But, first and foremost, the role of the pastor is to do what this painting so beautifully portrays. What is a pastor to do? Point people to Christ. When they are in despair, point them to Christ. When they need help, point them to Christ. When they are in error, point them to Christ. Whatever the situation, point them to Christ. If a pastor is doing that, he is doing what God wants him to do and what the congregation has called him to do. Pastors today must not become distracted from their primary function- point people to Christ. Soli Deo Gloria!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Chief of Sinners Though I Be!

William McComb, a laymen from Ireland, in the 19th century, wrote one of our greatest hymns about the nature of our relationship with God. In our day and age, to speak of sin is taboo and judgmental. But, to God, acknowledging our sinfulness is good because it leads us to cling to Christ as Savior. Read these words and may Christ lead us to Himself. Soli Deo Gloria!
1. Chief of Sinners though I be, Jesus shed his blood for me, died that I might live on high, lives that I might never die. As the branch is to the vine, I am His, and He is mine.
2. Oh, the height of Jesus' love, higher than the heavens above, deeper than the depths of sea, lasting as eternity! Love that found me- wondrous thought! Found me when I sought Him nought.
3. Only Jesus can impart balm to heal the wounded hear, peace that flows from sin forgiven, joy that lifts the soul to heaven, faith and hope to walk with God in the way that Enoch trod.
4. Chief of sinners though I be, Christ is all in all to me; all my wants to Him are known, all my sorrows are His own, He sustains the hidden life safe with Him from earthly strife.
5. O my Savior, help afford by your Spirit and your Word! When my wayward heart would stray, keep me in the narrow way; grace in time of need supply while I live and when I die.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Six Game Lead with 25 to go!

About 3 weeks ago, I vented my frustration about the Cleveland Indians, wanting them to start winning. Since that time, boy have they turned it on. With a month to play, they have a six game lead over the Detroit Tigers. Keep it going, Tribe! This is the year! 60 years is long enough for a championship.