Tag Archives: Church life

Don’t Kill Jesus (John 11:48)

If we let him (Jesus) go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” [John 11:48, ESV, Bible.com/app]

Earlier on in this chapter, Jesus was deeply moved in spirit and greatly troubled over the people’s lack of hope. Later, when at the tomb of his friend Lazarus, Jesus wept. He didn’t weep because his friend was dead and gone, but rather  Jesus wept because the people were in a state of hopelessness; they didn’t believe that Jesus could do anything. But Jesus knew what he could do and therefore wanted the people to have hope that death is not the end. Jesus wanted people to believe in HIM.

Following the raising of Lazarus scripture says that many people believed in Jesus but others went and reported this to the pharisees; the religious leaders of the day. Their response was troubling (the verse above) as…

They were only concerned about their jobs and not the people.
They were only concerned about their “Church” instead of the Kingdom.
They were only concerned about their job descriptions.

The people were coming to faith in Jesus and that would change the course of the “Church”; the course of history, and (as they feared) the course of their nation. So something must be done (as we read in the rest of the chapter):

[53] So from that day on they made plans to put him (Jesus) to death.

Kill Jesus
Stop this Gospel
Get control of the situation
Stay relevant

Wow, that sounds familiar (and not because I have read this text before). This is familiar because this is happening today in a couple ways:

(1) The Gospel, the Church, biblical interpretation are changing because many feel if they don’t change these then the Church will get left behind. And so in order to “protect” the church; 2000 years worth of doctrine is changing, interpretation of the Bible is “evolving”; and all in a effort to help the Church become/stay “relevant”. So this Pharisaical concern is nothing new as leaders are trying to protect their jobs, positions and status.

(2) This Pharisaical concern is also happening in the local church. This appears through churches afraid to take a stand for what they believe. “Let’s just go along with how things have been done and not upset the apple cart”.Let’s just continue with what the higher ups tell us is the truth,” The fear is that change will cause a disruption in the peaceful status quo.  And so the status quo is fought for, tooth and nail, when fighting for THE Gospel should be the way.

We can not allow things to go on like this. THE Gospel of Jesus Christ is what we should be clinging to and not this Pharisaical concern of relevancy. The Church can not let the culture dictate it’s doctrine. Our doctrine comes from God and God alone through Jesus Christ. Our doctrine is the unaltered Bible; the Word of God. This hasn’t changed and it is not going to change. People need to hear THE Gospel and not some watered down version that meets their needs. To do that causes great harm as anything watered down loses it potency.

Jesus (and him alone) is the Resurrection and the Life. All who believe in him, though they die, will live; and all who lives and believes in Jesus will never die. That is the Good News. Do you really believe this?

If so…

Worship GOD through Jesus Christ
Spread THE Gospel
Give GOD control of the situation
Stay in Scripture

Cultural relevancy is something Jesus never advocated but rather Gospel faithfulness; no matter what the culture thinks or says.

So with Jesus I weep and thus pray…

That the Church remains faithful/returns to faithfulness
That Christians stand strong for what they believe against all odds
That the authority of scripture is held high and untarnished
That the unaltered Gospel is proclaimed with boldness
And that in the face of relativism, the Church does not budge

JESUS is Lord and King. Let’s boldly and proudly announce this and stick with this confession…

…and not kill Jesus.

God, King of all creation, make us bold in our faith that we may boldly proclaim Your glory. Make us strong to stand, that when push comes to shove; as relativism tries to assert it’s so-called claim on the culture, that we stand. Make us unashamed of the Gospel that our hope may be secure in Jesus. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Legendary potluck

I consider the potlucks at the churches I serve (Salem and Belmont) to be legendary, but Sunday’s meal was one for the record books…and for a reason you might not expect.

This past Sunday, freezing rain slowed SW MN down to a crawl. Actually…it was way too slippery to even crawl.  Sidewalks, roadways, gravel, everything was covered in a very slippery coating of ice and I have a bruise on my leg and an achy arm to show for it.  My 8 mile drive from Belmont (my country congregation) to Salem was driven at 25 mph, which at times felt very fast for the conditions.  Call me a dare devil if you want, but I had another worship service to lead that morning.

As I inched down the slippery road, in town, going to Salem, I darn near slid right by the parking lot at a whopping 5 mph.  After managing to will my 4×4 Jeep to turn left, I slowly got to my garage.  I then gingerly crept over to the church with my arms full and hoping I didn’t fall again.  Upon entering the secure footing of the inside of the church building, I hurried to get ready.  You see…it was also annual meeting Sunday and I began to wonder if we were even going to have it.  I found my council president and walked to the sanctuary with him to access the situation.  Very quickly we decided to postpone the meeting for 2 weeks.  But what about the food those few people brought for the potluck?

We decided that since we were here and that there was food, why not eat it (following worship of course).  The hot portion of the potluck consisted of a crock pot of BBQ wienies and some corn hotdish thingy.  There were also a few relishes, some homemade bread, a couple salads and a bunch of desserts.  Not the healthiest meal in the world but very yummy.

The “legendary” status of this meal came in the fact that we all gathered together, at three tables, and ate.  Not one person minded the skimpiness of the selection.  There was laughter, conversations, fellowship and safety from the treacherous conditions.  And it was very clear to see that great potlucks are not measured by the quantity of food available for plate heaping but rather the quality of the time that is spent together with the Body of Christ.

Don’t get me wrong…I love those potlucks that force me to strategize my eating (so much food; so little plate and stomach room), but Sunday’s potluck will be one I will not soon forget.  Quantity or not, we had a great time.

Praise be to God!

The pastor -|—

Recharged

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Come to Salem Lutheran Church and get recharged.

On Monday morning a parishioner stopped by the church.  She was running some errands in a vehicle she knew had a bad battery.  All morning she kept reminding herself not to shut off the car, but when she arrived at the church…well…she forgot…and her car wouldn’t start.  She came inside and mentioned to me her car was dead.  Of course I offered to help and jumped her car.  When I came back in with a good report she was all excited and delivered the above quote.  I laughed.

I wonder…new mission statement?  I would like to think people get recharged here to go out and  serve the Lord.  And…if need be…find a set of jumper cables.

-edh-

Monday morning check in — Sewing day

Coffee and coffee cake with the sewing group is a time I look forward to every month.  On the first Monday of each month, the sewing group gets together to make quilts.  These quilts end up in the cities and get distributed to people who need them (sometimes these quilts head over seas).  It’s a sacred time…one that never gets messed with (unless of course there is an emergency.  Even then…it has to be a life or death situation).  At 9am Lucille emerges from the Fellowship Hall and calls out from the bottom of the stairs “IT’S READY!”  At this my secretary and I make our way downstairs (Lucille’s coffee cake is not to be missed (unless, like I said, there is a life or death emergency).  Each month, Lucille says that she tried something new with the recipe (who knew there were so many ways to make coffee cake).  And each month her coffee cake is absolutely delicious.  Even though I want to have more, I know I need to behave myself.  If there is enough left, Lucille will sometimes send a couple pieces home for Connie and I (which rarely makes it back to Connie…sorry honey). 

While we have our hot cup of coffee and warm piece of coffee cake, we discuss the “important” matters of the day.  “How is so and so doing?”  “Did you hear about that <news from the radio> this morning?”  Sometimes they look to me for some “inside information” (which I rarely give unless the other party has given me express permission to divulge the information).  It’s a sacred and intimate time even though to the untrained ear it looks and sounds like a gossip time, but it is so much more than that.  Some months it is just casual conversation.  But other times I hear questions that I normally don’t get to hear from people.  These question are sometimes hard, but always honest questions about what is going on in the church.  I guess they figure they have the pastor’s ear for a moment…and I am always happy to listen.

That is the morning gathering time.  At noon they have a little potluck where the husbands show up to eat and, of course, I am there.  It is during this time I learn the most about people.  It is where I learn who is related to whom (I am always amazed at what I learn here).  It’s where I learn about the church’s history.  I hear stories of the good ole days.  And, of course, there is the typical BS that is often heard when guys get together.  This is a sacred and intimate time.

Now…as I sit here typing this, I find myself getting more and more anxious about lunch; when the guys will show up; great food will be served; and stronger connections are made over coffee and hot dish.  We won’t solve the world’s problems today.  We won’t get into deep political discussions.  But one thing is for sure…this sacred and intimate time won’t be wasted.

Got to love sewing day 🙂

-edh-

Ministry model vs. Business model — Part 2

Ministry model vs Business model — Part 1

…I’m alright.  My mom called me this morning thinking something was wrong.  I did not post my usual “Sunday morning prayer” yesterday and had not posted my usual “Monday morning check in” yet today.  Sorry mom (and little sis)…I didn’t mean to worry you two.

Anyway…I am here.  Yesterday morning got a little busy and this morning has been the same.  It is hard to believe that September is right around the corner so that means Sunday school, Release Time and Confirmation is upon us.  Wow…where did the summer go?

Council meeting update
Last week I resumed talking about the business meeting model vs. ministry meeting model for my church council (See the above link for part one of this series).  In July we did some brainstorming on how we can better advance the mission of Christ.  I was very excited and encouraged about the outcome of that meeting.  I then mailed out some “homework” for the council; encouraging them to continue this ministry planning.  My hope was to discuss what they did at out August.  Unfortunately we did not get to do what I wanted to do.  It didn’t work out to start the meeting with mission planning and by the time we got to that agenda item it was getting late and people were getting restless.  I need to sit down with my president and make sure we are on the same page here.

Then today I got an email from a council member on how we need to spend more time in scripture and prayer at council meetings.  She felt we need to start our meetings reading the Bible together and praying more.  She must have been reading my mind these past few weeks and months.

So here is part of my plan to transform the Salem church council into a ministry meeting model over a business meeting model. Let me know what you think:
(1) On a piece of poster board that is hung in our meeting room, I have a list of our ministry priorities that we feel will advance the mission of Christ (this is our brainstorm list from July).  This will serve as a reminder each and every month why we really are taking time out of our busy schedules each month.

(2) The assigned council member for the month will lead the group in devotions as always.

(3)I will then lead the group in reading scripture.  Maybe the focus texts will be the lectionary texts for the upcoming Sunday.  Discussion and prayer would follow.

(4) Begin the “business” meeting portion of the ministry meeting.  This way, if the meeting starts running long, whats really important will not get the shaft.

So one of my priority do-to items this month is to sit down with my council president and share with him this plan and make sure he is on board.

What are your thoughts on this plan so far?  What would you add or do differently?

Series to be continued…

Take care and God bless!

-edh-