Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What Are We Exposing Our Children To?

I just came from our children's school, Muraski, here in Strongsville, where they had a "parade" of children walking around with their costumes. But, as I stood there, a thought came into my mind: what are we exposing our children to? What are our children watching? There were many fairies, many Spidermen and many Darth Vaders. These I don't have as much of a problem with; but, there were a lot of costumes that were scary in every sense of the term. I saw a Jason from "Friday the 13th." I saw a Freddy from "Nightmare on Elm Street" and Michael Myers from "Halloween" the movie. Muraski only goes up to the 6th grade and that means that the oldest child is maybe 13. Do our children watch these so-called horror movies? I ask that knowing full well that they do, because I have talked about it in confirmation. We should be furious that kids of all ages are watching these movies that adults should not even be watching. We live in such a violent society already and we should not make light of violence in any way. What redeeming value is there in letting our children dress up like mass murderers? It is sick and it is wrong. It sends the wrong message and especially if we are not teaching our children what is right and what is wrong. Is it any wonder that children go into schools and act out what they see in movie? If anyone saw the pictures from the shooting at Success Tech in Cleveland, you know exactly what I talking about. Asa looked like someone you would see in a horror movie. When will it all end? I wonder. The bottom line is that we must take a stance against this in our society and we must do it quickly. Lord have mercy on us!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Standing Up For What You Believe In!

From the beginning of my ministry (1998), people, especially District executives, have said that I needed to change my viewpoints on worship. The historic liturgy was on its way out. People today need something more. They need bands and contemporary music. Hymns were too old-fashioned. For a church to be successful, it had to have a contemporary service. But, it is my firmest conviction, that what people need is the Word of God and the historic liturgy, our hymns and confessional Lutheran worship is the best way to bring that to them. We don't need to change who we are for the sake of increasing our membership. Yes, there will be some people that demand a certain type of worship. But, I believe that if people truly understand how our confessional Lutheran worship is structured and why we do what we do, they will desire it. The bottom line is that we have been given a beautiful and magnificent form of worship, i.e. the historic Lutheran liturgy and we must hold on to that no matter what. I will believe that for as long as God allows me to serve Him as pastor. S0li Deo Gloria!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Reformation Angel

This image to the left is taken from the title page of the 1534 Bible of Martin Luther.
Revelation 14, verses 6 and 7, "Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water."
These two verses from Revelation 14 beautifully describe Martin Luther, the man God used to bring the Gospel back into the spotlight. He definitely was an angel, a messenger the Lord used to bring countless souls into the kingdom of God. But remember, this Reformation Angel isn’t gone. He still flutters his wings whenever the Word of God is proclaimed in its truth and purity. He still flies through the air and contends with God’s enemies of sin, death and devil. Thank you, Martin Luther, for being a faithful angel or messenger of Christ!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Who are the Jehovah Witnesses?

You never know when you are going to have an opportunity to bear witness to the faith (1 Peter 3:15-16). Sometimes, it comes when you least expect it or when you least desire it. On Sunday afternoon, God provided an opportunity for me to confess the truth to two young Jehovah Witness ladies. Sunday afternoon, I am usually fairly tired from the Sunday activities; and this past Sunday, I also had a hymn fest that I was going to later in the day. Needless to say, I was not necessarily in the mood to debate theology at my front door. But, as these ladies came to the door, I knew that it was an opportunity that I could not pass up. As the conservation began, I asked them where they were from and what they were up to (I had previously told them that I was a Lutheran pastor). They continued with their presentation. I listened for awhile and then when the opportunity presented itself, I began to stir the conversation around who Jesus was. Predictably, they informed me that Jesus was a created being, not God. Jesus was a good man, but not our Savior. He was, "our king"- one who shows us how we should live our life. Also, I asked them if they believed they were going to heaven. Their response, "No, only 144,000 are going there. They were going to the new earth that Jesus was going to create." As the conversation continued, we discussed many other topics, but before they left, I presented to them the Gospel. "We are all sinful, truly and completely unable to save ourselves. So, therefore, God the Father, who is rich in mercy, sent His only Son into the world, Jesus Christ, who died and rose again for all people. Those who believe and are baptized into Jesus will be saved." I also warned them to make sure that their beliefs were really from the Word of God. I, then, invited them to St. John and we parted ways. I will probably never know the full effect of this conversation. I pray I may have an opportunity with them again someday. But, as a Christian, the opportunities are all around to bear witness to Christ in what we say and what we do. May the Holy Ghost inspire us to be bold and take advantage of the opportunities as they present themselves! God bless!

Keeping Things in Perspective

I'm upset. This wasn't supposed to happen. This was their year. I had nearly given up earlier in the year; but, as the season ended, I was a firm believer. Everything was lined up and as game 7 with the Red Sox ended, I was in shock. But, as a few days have passed, my attitude has changed. It was disappointing- no question about it. But, keeping things in perspective, it was a great year. We won the division. We beat the Yankees and we were one game away from going to the World Series. I am very proud of our team. It will take time to get over how this season ended; but next year will come. We will be ready to take it one step further. Go Tribe!