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Who is more faithful to the faith? Wrong question!

Jesus Christ Crucifix

Jesus Christ Crucifix (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devotional Thought of the Day

8  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9  Do not let all kinds of strange teachings lead you from the right way. It is good to receive inner strength from God’s grace, and not by obeying rules about foods; those who obey these rules have not been helped by themHebrews 13:8-9 (TEV) 

Although it seems a paradox, those who call themselves sons of the Church may often be precisely those who sow greater confusion.  (1)

I see a lot of confusion among the people of the church caused by those in the church today.  Matter of fact, the old cliche, “we’ve met the enemy and we are it!” may be at a epic high.  It doesn’t matter what denomination, what movement, what area, there is a battle who is more faithful.  In my denomination, the battle as to who is most faithful often is waged between those who want to abide by the old rules, the old ways and customs and methods of the church in its 1940’s-1950’s heyday, and those who define faithfulness as being tied to ourreach and mission.  We get convinced that only if we can find the right box, with the right walls, then God will bless us – because we are faithful. That God will cause the church to thrive because of our perfect liturgy, our our desire to see people know Christ.

And we lovk ourslves in a box…. Sometimes in fear, sometimes in frustration, sometimes just because we want and need a way to now we are okay with God.

It is ironic.  But then, as sinners, we are good about making it all about ourselves.

In other times, it was waged over music, or church governance or finances or any of a number of good and practical things.  We focus on concepts, on the theology, on the practice… and we forget about the content, the relationship.. to put it bluntly, what I see lacking the most in these battles, is our desire to know and make known the Lord who loves us.

It’s time to cut through the confusion, its time to strip away both new ideas and old man-made requitements and just draw our strength from where it comes.  Hebrews says it is a gift of God, it is grace, it is walking each day in His presence, reveling in His mercy, depending on His faithfulness, trusting ourselves into His loving hands…confident of His faithfulness.

Seeing whatever happens as something He is working through, whether it is joyous or a cross, whether it is in abundancae …well… let me quote Paul

8  We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; 9  there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed. 10  At all times we carry in our mortal bodies the death of Jesus, so that his life also may be seen in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (TEV)

Here is the key that stops us from looking for affirmation of our faithfulness- because we don’t need it.  We have Christ.   We have a God who says, “you are my child, I have begotten you… dwell in my love.”

And when we do.. all sorts of interesting things happen…not that we’d notice… for our lives would be constantly praising Him… for His faithfulness.

So stop trying to prove your faithful, that your faithfulness is superior or more holy.. and just dwell in His presence, evjoy His love.. and adore Him..for He is our God, and we are His kids.

AMEN

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1664-1665). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Who should lead our churches? Evangelical Catholic Review #12

Crucifixion of Jesus -2011

Crucifixion of Jesus -2011 (Photo credit: Striking Photography by Bo Insogna)

 19  If the Lord Jesus is willing, I hope to send Timothy to you soon for a visit. Then he can cheer me up by telling me how you are getting along. 20  I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. 21  All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ. 22  But you know how Timothy has proved himself. Like a son with his father, he has served with me in preaching the Good News.  Philippians 2:19-22 (NLT)

  Now may I who am myself an elder say a word to you my fellow-elders? I speak as one who actually saw Christ suffer, and as one who will share with you the glories that are to be unfolded to us. I urge you then to see that your “flock of God” is properly fed and cared for. Accept the responsibility of looking after them willingly and not because you feel you can’t get out of it, doing your work not for what you can make, but because you are really concerned for their well-being. You should aim not at being “little tin gods” but as examples of Christian living in the eyes of the flock committed to your charge. And then, when the chief shepherd reveals himself, you will receive that crown of glory which cannot fade. 1 Peter 5:1 (Phillips NT) 

 

1.     In his manner of life and his priestly ministry, does this man manifest a deep personal conversion to friendship with Jesus Christ? Has he made a deliberate, conscious, and irrevocable choice to follow Christ? Has he responded to Jesus’s question to the disciples, who were shocked by his command to eat of him, the Bread of Life—“ Do you also wish to go away?”— with Peter’s answer: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” [John 6.67– 69]?              

2.     Does this priest take preaching and teaching as among his primary responsibilities? Does he preach clearly, biblically, and with conviction? Can he make the Church’s evangelical proposal to unbelievers? Can he, with charity and understanding, teach, and if necessary correct, Catholics who have embraced notions contrary to Scripture and apostolic tradition? How many converts has this man made? How many Christians of other communities has he brought into full communion with the Catholic Church? How many baptized pagans has he brought back into a fuller communion with the Church?  (1)

I have been primarily dealing so far this month with the issue of leadership in the church.
We just elected those who will work beside me as the leaders of this congregation, for the next two years.

  • I am in prayer about, and met with other district delegates last saturday, the national convention of our Synod next month
  • I just finished a two day seminar, the third of four, of a program in pastoral leadership
  • Above you see the passages for the two Bible Studies last night.  The first one is our midweek Bible Study, the second for the Bible Study of my elders.

So, it is little surprise when I took up Wiegel’s book this morning, that the topic was his understanding of the new standards for the leaders (bishops) of his church, the Roman Catholic Church.

But what find admirable, and indeed would love to see in my own denomination, is these first two standards Weigel sets, as our own concerns. (replacing of course – Catholic Church, with LC-MS)

What would happen if the leaders of our churches were first men whose lives were formed by a deep friendship with Christ. Whose character displayed such Christ-likeness and the servants heart we see in both Paul’s description of Timothy, and in Peter’s encouragement to the elders.  This is the nature of the men we should have leading us.  Men whose devotion and adoration of God, their treasuring of the first commandment, is the hallmark of their life.  If they were less guided by their own intelligence, their own wisdom, their own inner compass, than by the very kind of love that showed they experienced and reveled in the love of Christ?

What would happen, if the second dominant characteristic was that they could communicate this love of God that they were so sure of, this friendship with God that so defined them, to others with great compassion, great skill, and could do it equally well with those in the Body of Christ, (both those that depended on God and those who rebelled against God)  What would happen if he had a track record of bringing all into a deeper communion with God and God’s people – no matter whether they were mature, sacrificial believers, new believers, those who tried to “cafeteria plan” their faith, or those who were apathetic or antagonistic towards God.  What if they were truly apostolic/missional in this way?

What if we had such men to pastor our church body, what if we had such a man to imitate, even as they stripped themselves of all perks and privileges of being “the leaders”.

What if our priorities were discipling leaders like this, with these two characteristics being more a priority than academics, or linguistic expertise, or knowledge or political savvy?

Lord Have mercy!  Help us to be leaders like Timothy, like Peter… like Paul… as they cared like Christ cared… AMEN

(1)Weigel, George (2013-02-05). Evangelical Catholicism (p. 122). Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

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