Good morning. It has been a while since I have posted here. Occasionally I have gone through some dry spells when this blog was less active. Hopefully this new Buffalo Center Tribune article will kick things off again for this blog. So without further ado, here you go. To God be the glory!


In reading through 2 Corinthians last week, I paused on verses three and four of chapter ten, which read, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” I think of these verses whenever a national tragedy takes place, like a mass shooting, natural disaster, etc. Especially during an event like a school shooting, social media lights up with political finger pointing, blaming this and that party for their policy actions (or inaction) and beliefs. And then amidst the finger pointing there is another form of attack. This is directed towards Christians who wield a different kind of weapon in response to the tragedy. Their (our) calls for and commitments to prayer are met with mocking and anger as nonbelievers criticize Christians that prayer is not enough, or prayer is pointless in stopping a bullet or prayer is just being lazy and irresponsible when people are dying. I have seen all of these attacks on social media, and it saddens me. But it also reminds me that as a Christian, the battle, indeed, is not against flesh and blood and therefore the weapons we wield are different than the world’s weapons. For those fighting flesh and blood, the weapons include the political system, words, and actual real-life weapons. The world wields these and thus, to them, anyone who does not is weak and irresponsible.

As a Christian, the greatest weapon we can use is that which carries a different and greater power. It is a power that cannot be overcome by the world. It is a power that is unmatched by anything and anyone. It is a power that WILL destroy every stronghold. It is the power of God Almighty. And thus, the greatest, not the least, thing you can do is PRAY. It does not mean that Christians should not do something in this world in response to a tragedy, like engaging the political process, but do not let that be your only weapon of choice. We have to remember, as a child of God, the enemy is not of this world. But God our Creator is the victorious King, a victory won on the cross of Jesus.

The enemy, Satan, though defeated, keeps on fighting in this world. He keeps on trying to drive people to despair and to fight among themselves. What Satan sees on social media after a national tragedy is something that brings a smile to his face. Brothers and sisters, keep on wielding the weapons of the Spirit and never let the world convince you that you are being lazy. Rather, remember the divine power and grace that has saved you through Jesus and thus bring him glory through your faithfulness. Keep on fighting and trust God. HE is powerful and HE has won the Day. In Jesus name, Amen.

God’s Word is God’s Word

The following is an article I submitted to the Tacoma News Tribune. I have had the privilege of submitting articles every other week for a few months now and this my latest one; printed on Saturday, Nov 4. I have received a number of requests to make these more available so here you go…

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. [2 Timothy 3:16-17]

I came across a quote recently that really bothered me and scared me. The quote came from a prominent church leader in a major denomination. The reason it scared me was not just that it came from this leader, but that this leader has and will be again speaking at a national youth gathering. I fear what her ideas and beliefs will do to the next generation. The quote is this, “Preaching hopefully in some way is the word of God, speaking is not. So I thought, I wonder, we can look at (the apostle) Paul that way. You know like sometimes he was just going off on his snotty opinions, he has some authority to speak on it but that’s not necessarily the Word of God.” Just his “snotty opinions”? Wow, that is scary because it is saying that if you don’t like something in the Bible, you can just call it a “snotty opinion” and totally discount it as something not authoritative. The problem is that when you start doing this, then all of scripture becomes suspect. When that happens, then scripture ceases to be authoritative.

The fact of that matter is that ALL of scripture is breathed out by God. ALL of scripture is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, not just the parts you like. C.S. Lewis once said, “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.” Those are very wise words. The Word of God operates the same way. You simply cannot twist and manipulate it to justify a certain way of life, or a certain behavior, or a certain belief system. You simply cannot toss out the verses and/or chapters you do not like or agree with. You cannot rewrite scripture because it makes you uncomfortable. The Word of God is just that, the Words of God almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. You cannot pick and choose like going through some divine a la carte line. The Word kills but brings to life. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. [2 Corinthians 5:17]

The Word of God is not outdated or irrelevant as some would want you to believe. It doesn’t need to be updated to fit our culture today. The Word of God does not need to be softened so as not to offend certain people. The Word of God is authoritative, all of it, and thus needs to be listened to, for in it are the words of eternal life and that never goes out of style. Don’t minimize God’s Word but hold it as authoritative and watch it transform you. Cling to God’s Word and trust in its power. Taste and see that it is indeed good.

The Pastor -|—

Don’t Be Fooled (2 Cor 11:14)

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. [2 Corinthians 11:14]

Paul here is defending himself, and his colleagues, against the attacks of those who claim to be “super apostles” but really are leading people astray. Basically he says they are nothing more than wolves in sheep clothing. And this makes sense because even Satan does this so why wouldn’t Satan’s servants do the same.

Satan was active and working hard to stop the church then and he continues to do the same today. And in a lot of ways, Satan is more powerful and crafty today largely due to technology and the speed of how information can be sent around the world. Someone’s message can reach thousands and millions of people very quickly. And with the age of social media; ideas can be spread and go viral very quickly.

It is, therefore, so easy for a worker of evil to disguise oneself as an angel of light. Just consider the prosperity gospel preachers out there; preaching a gospel of peace and health and success in this life and nothing more. They stand in front of millions of people and wave their Bibles around (“dressed” as an angel of light) all the while leading people down the path of destruction. Satan has got to be licking his chops today.

And because there are so many wolves running around in sheep’s clothing; as sheep we need to be on the look out. We need to be testing the spirits as 1 John teaches us. We need to be cunning and discerning; not taking everything you read and hear to heart just because of who says it (and that means testing everything I write).

So how do we test the spirits? There is no one fool proof method but below are three questions to get you started:

(1) Does the messenger accuse you of being a sinner?
YES ~ Great, but this still could be Satan. In either case respond by saying, “I know but I have Jesus“.
NO ~ You have a wolf. The truth of who God is starts with the admission that you are a sinner in need of a Savior.

(2) Does the messenger preach Christ crucified and risen FOR YOU for the forgiveness of your sins?
YES ~ Praise be to God!!!
NO ~ You have a wolf. A servant/messenger of Christ is going to preach this for this is THE Good News, and therefore, this Good News can not be said enough.

(3) Does the messenger promise peace and security in this life?
YES ~ You have a wolf. No where in the Bible does Jesus promise an easy life for his followers. Actually, he says you will have a cross. Be skeptical of messages that promise the easy life now through X-number of easy steps.
NO ~ Then you have a follower of Jesus who is actually following Jesus.

Granted, this is not a full proof testing system here, but it is a start. Basically, know your Bible, pray without ceasing and rely on the Holy Spirit. There will be wolves that will try to circumvent these questions, so beware. The wolves are out there, prowling around waiting for someone to devour. Don’t be their next meal.

Oh holy God, grant us a discerning mind to test the spirits and to be able to see the wolves in sheep clothing. May we be diligent in our study of scripture and may we seek your Holy Spirit. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Cyber Giving

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
[2 Corinthians 9:6-8]

Apparently today is Cyber Monday; a day dedicated to “amazing” online deals.  Millions of people will flood the Internet in search for those must have items for themselves or for Christmas gifts.  I can not even begin to imagine the amount of money that will be spent today on stuff.  Sure…there is stuff that I want, but is there stuff I absolutely need?

I can think of many people who need stuff that I take for granted.  I can think of many charities and ministries that need assistance that I take for granted.  So instead of cyber spending I am going to be cyber giving today (leave it to me to buck the trend).  Instead of spending money on myself or on stuff, I am going to be spending money on others.  And I challenge you to do the same.  In the midst of your Cyber Monday shopping remember to do some Cyber Giving; remembering those who are less fortunate.

Here are some ideas on how to celebrate Cyber Giving Monday:
(1) Commit to give a certain percentage of your total Cyber Monday shopping total to a charity/ministry.  (i.e. Giving 10% — Spent $200 — Total gift $20)

(2) Take your Cyber Monday spending total and give that amount to a charity/ministry.

(3) “Cyber shop” (not actually buying anything) and give that amount to a charity/ministry.

(4) If you buy toys for your children also buy some toys to give to your local Toys for Tots.

(5) Cyber shop for someone in your community that can’t afford to buy presents for their kids.

And I am sure there are many more things you can do on this day to help someone out.  Most of us have enough stuff, but others do not.  Let’s  cheerfully cyber give to the glory of God.

The pastor -|—

More processing…

O.K….I am back, writing about “the vote” at the ELCA CWA, but all I want to do here is share with you a couple snippets and let you process/respond to them.

FIRST — a woman came into my office last week to express her feelings about where the ELCA is going.  We had a very fruitful discussion, even though we have differing views.  She stopped in again today and handed me a piece of paper with 2 Cor. 6:14 – 7:1 written on it.  She said that this is where she is coming from.  She was on her way to another appointment so we couldn’t talk about it.  What do you think about this scripture in relation to the homosexuality discussion?

SECOND — I received this link on Facebook today.  It is a news release from the ELCA titled “The Church’s mission is bigger than one issue”.  I found this helpful.  What do you think?

Like most other people I am still processing.

Praise be to God!