Monday, August 24, 2009

For me God's Word is clear on the issue of marriage, and God was clear at creation. I also understand we are all sinners and fall short of God's glory and are in need of forgiveness and salvation. I am taught by my Lord Jesus Christ to love the sinner and condem the sin. My perspective on Godly living comes from what God speaks to me in His Word.

Please know... in sharing this post, I am not judging a person or a denomination or branch... I want to address what is happening in our world and in our church, and also share that there is a difference in the Lutheran Church. The press has a way of not sharing the difference. Go figure.

I also ask each of you to pray for the Body of Christ.

My heart is burdened by what is happening not just in the Lutheran Church, but the Christian Church as a whole. Please know this...what I am sharing below are not my words but the resolutions that were passed (and taken from the ELCA website) as well the LCMS president's words as he was able to address the ELCA Churchwide Assembly this past Friday.

This past week I have been asked more than once "What is up with your denomination?"
Prior to discussing what the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) has passed this last week at their Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis, I have had to address that I am a Christian worshipping in a LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod) congregation. I know, confusing to those who are not as familiar with the differences in the Lutheran Church. LCMS and ELCA have many differences and I will not address them here, however I would like to share key resolutions that were made this past week and also the LCMS response addressing same-gender relationships as this is the best way I can explain what has transpired:

From ELCA's website

Churchwide Assembly Update
from Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson
Resolution 1: “RESOLVED, that the ELCA commit itself to finding ways to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same-gender relationships.” (Adopted 619-402)

Resolution 2: “RESOLVED, that the ELCA commit itself to finding a way for people in such publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders of this church.” (Adopted 559-451)

Resolution 4: This resolution called upon members to respect the bound consciences of those with whom they disagree; declared intent to allow structured flexibility in decision-making about candidacy and the call process; eliminated the prohibition of rostered service by members in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous same-gender relationships; recognized and committed to respect the conviction of members who believe that the ELCA should not call or roster people in committed same-gender relationships; called for development of accountability guidelines; directed that amendments to ministry policy documents be drafted and approved; and stated that this church continue to trust congregations, bishops, synods and others responsible for determining who should be called into public ministry. (Adopted 667-307 as amended)

The president of the LCMS had the opportunity to address the Churchwide Assembly and here it he LCMS President's response as pulled from the LCMS webiste.

Address to ELCA Churchwide Assembly, August 22, 2009 (President: Rev. Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick)

Presiding Bishop Hanson, Members of the Assembly, Special Guests, Friends in Christ,

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Over the years of my life and ministry, these words from St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 5 have become especially meaningful:

God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not counting mankind’s sins against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:19-21, ESV)

What a blessing it is to know that our sin is forgiven, removed from us as far as the east is from the west, because of the atoning sacrifice of Christ on Calvary’s cross. And what a humbling privilege and huge responsibility it is to know that God is making his appeal, through people like you and like me, people with feet of clay, that the world might be reconciled to God through faith in Christ.

I bring you these greetings on behalf of the 2.4 million members of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod at a difficult time in the world and in the church. Economic pressures bring great burdens. Strife finds its way into the LCMS, the ELCA, worldwide Lutheranism, and the Christian Church as a whole. Mankind’s inhumanity to mankind manifests itself in global unrest and worldwide terrorism. Peace is often elusive, both in the world and in the church, as sin and Satan continue to rear their ugly heads in both venues.

Lutherans are no strangers to discord and divisiveness. The Lutheran church was born under such conditions. Yet we also know the path to concord, expressed in these rather straight forward words in The Formula of Concord, written during a notable time of doctrinal controversy and discord in the church. Hear these words from the Kolb-Wengert translation:

"For these controversies are not merely misunderstandings or semantic arguments, where someone might think that one group had not sufficiently grasped what the other group was trying to say or that the tensions were based upon only a few specific words of relatively little consequence. Rather, these controversies deal with important and significant matters, and they are of such a nature that the positions of the erring party neither could nor should be tolerated in the church of God, much less be excused or defended.

"Therefore, necessity demands explanation of these disputed articles on the basis of God’s Word and reliable writings, so that those with a proper Christian understanding could recognize which position regarding the points under dispute is in accord with God’s Word and the Christian Augsburg Confession and which is not, and so that Christians of good will, who are concerned about the truth, might protect and guard themselves from the errors and corruptions that have appeared among us."

The writers of this Formula pledged themselves, and I quote, "to the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments, as to the pure, clear fountain of Israel, which alone is the one true guiding principle, according to which all teachers and teachings are to be judged and evaluated." Discord can become concord when Christian individuals and Christian church bodies are faithful to the Holy Scriptures, which reveal the Gospel of God’s grace, forgiveness, and salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

The very fact that I represent a denomination known as The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod at an assembly of a denomination known as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America bears witness to the fact that, sadly and regrettably, in spite of the holy Word and mercy of our God, the Confessions affirmed by the constitutions of both our church bodies, and the faithful example of those who have gone before us, schisms remain, not only in the Christian church, but also in the Lutheran church. We have doctrinal differences that separate us. That is no secret.

I speak these next words in deep humility, with a heavy heart and no desire whatsoever to offend. The decisions by this assembly to grant non-celibate homosexual ministers the privilege of serving as rostered leaders in the ELCA and the affirmation of same gender unions as pleasing to God will undoubtedly cause additional stress and disharmony within the ELCA. It will also negatively affect the relationships between our two church bodies. The current division between our churches threatens to become a chasm. This grieves my heart and the hearts of all in the ELCA, the LCMS, and other Christian church bodies throughout the world who do not see these decisions as compatible with the Word of God, or in agreement with the consensus of 2000 years of Christian theological affirmation regarding what Scripture teaches about human sexuality. Simply stated, this matter is fundamentally related to significant differences in how we understand the authority of Holy Scripture and the interpretation of God’s revealed and infallible Word.

Only by the mercy of our Almighty God does hope remain for us poor, miserable sinners. By His grace, through Word and Sacraments, the evangelical witness and authentic message of sin and grace, Law and Gospel, must resound to a troubled world so desperately in need of His love in Christ.

May God grant each of us sensitivity, humility, boldness, courage, faithfulness, and forgiveness as we continue to strive toward God-pleasing harmony and concord in what we believe, teach, and confess. We have much to accomplish in the mission our Lord Jesus has entrusted to us.

May God have mercy upon us all, and grant us His peace in Christ. "

Again, I pray that each of you know I am not condemning a person or the body... I wanted to address a serious issue that is affecting more than just Lutherans. I am praying dear friends. God's Word stands forever!

Monday, August 10, 2009

As Summer Wanes...

The kitchen calendar has been turned to the month of August, and in true "August" fashion the temps here in Indy have risen into the 90's. I cannot complain however. We have had an extremely mild summer, and it's felt a bit more like a Wisconsin summer than an Indiana summer. My garden has taken a bit of a beating from a big rainstorm last week. The mild summer has prevented my tomatoes from ripening in a manner that fits my time frame! ;) And I am not so sure the brussels sprouts will grow well enough to be served on the Thanksgiving table. I do have to admit... those tomatoes have been worth the wait. They are so flavorful and juicy. To me, a fresh garden tomato is the quintessential summer treat!

Most schools have started here in Indy... in my book, it's too early. The beginning of a school year always a rite of passage that summer is coming to a close.

The clock is ticking closer to Labor Day and I am trying to savor every bit of summer that I can. We still have much to do around the exterior of the house before the cold temps keep us indoors. I want to enjoy more evenings relaxing on the patio... I have many more bike rides to do before the cold keeps us inside on the spin bikes.

As summer wanes... do you have any special plans? Cookouts, household repairs etc? I would love to hear about them!

What is it that you have enjoyed most about the summer of 2009?

During this summer season I have enjoyed many wonderful bike rides. I got to meet my friend Paula's sweet little twins; I have spent some good quality "pool" time with our dearest friends; we have enjoyed running our sweet dog Jet w/ his "girlfriend" - Grace, the Great Dane... plus visiting w/ Grace's mom and dad! My niece got engaged! We enjoyed sleepovers w/ my younger nieces and nephews. So much has been packed into these few short months of summer I can't begin to list them all! There were ups and downs, but summer of 2009 has been full of so many blessings. With activities all over the board... the one thing consistent has been God's great love, mercy and devotion. I am so thankful that He is always there and never slumbers.

Savor this day friends... do not worry about tomorrow... He is in control and Jesus still reigns!!!!