Saturday, June 20, 2015

It's Not a Black and White Thing

The following “Note to Readers” was posted by the Baltimore Sun earlier this month in response to an email scam that falsely attributes a race baiting article entitled, "The Black Dilemma," to them and their columnist, Ian Duncan. It first started circulating online in September 2014, when the American Rennaissance blogazine first posted the article written by Anthony Bryan on the 23rd of that month.

June 11, 2015
An essay posted on the Internet titled "The Black Dilemma" includes incorrect attribution suggesting it came from The Baltimore Sun. The Sun did not write, publish or have any other association with it.
Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun*  
 
In addition to the false attribution of this article to the Baltimore Sun and its columnist, please note that the original source of “The Black Dilemma” article, American Rennaissance, is devoted to the philosophy of racism and unique cultures based upon race that pits said races against one another as incompatible at best.    

I certainly appreciate and share the concern about the civil unrest that is being stirred up by the folks in Washington and elsewhere who want us to believe that all men were not created equal, as per our Declaration of Independence; in the image of God, as per Genesis 1:26-27; and have taken it upon themselves to fan the flames of racism for political gain and earthly wealth—all in the name of altruism and pursuit of a perfect society.

But, dear reader, please don’t buy into the idolatry that has created this golden calf of racism. Two wrongs do not make anything right, they only exacerbate each other and carry us deeper into falsehood and further separate us from the God who not only created us but has redeemed us in Christ Jesus, His only Son, our Lord.
There is only one race, born of Adam, created by God in His image. Though we have lost that image in Adam’s fall, still (according to Paul, the apostle of our Lord) God desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).”  

Neither you nor I are any different than any other person on earth—past, present, or future—in regard to virtue, morality, or godliness no matter the color of skin, nation or continent of origin, or culture of upbringing in the eyes and heart of the One True God, as Paul again tells us in Romans 3:22b-25a.

“For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” 

Furthermore, as Baptized children of God and members of His body the Church, we and “as many of [us] as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave] nor free, there is no male and female, [neither Black nor White], for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” [Galatians 3:27-28] 

The dilemma the United States of America faces today is not that it has mixed a bad culture with a good culture, or black with white, but that its people as a whole and across cultures have become godless with everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes.“ [Deuteronomy 12:8. See also Judges 17:6, 21:25; Proverbs 21:22, et al.] Or more to the point, once again in Paul’s inspired words: “they [have] exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” [Romans 1:25] As a result, God has given “us (as a nation) up to dishonorable passions.” And as you can see from the rest of this portion of Paul’s letter to the Christians at Rome, while it is a black and white matter of right and wrong, truth v. lies, it is most definitely not a black and white matter of race. While the depth and breadth and severity of the matter might well differ from culture to culture, Paul’s list of depravity and debasement is hardly limited to one skin color or another. He writes in Romans 1:26-32:    

“For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” 

Need I mention this week's Charlotte massacre suspect, Timothy McVeigh, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, Peter Singer, Margaret Sanger, Brigham Young, etc.? Or on the other side of the coin, Herman Cain, Lt. Col. Allan West, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Condoleeza Rice, Clarence Thomas, the Tuskegee Airmen, George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington, e.g.?

But all historical and anecdotal evidence aside, as I preached to the saints here in the southwest corner of Kansas two weeks ago Sunday, each of us has enough of our sin that we best not become like the Pharisee of Jesus’ parable thanking God we are “not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like [that Bruce Jenner guy/gal, or those inner city rioters and looters].” There is no sin but our own than can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus—and that only if we do not acknowledge and confess it as our own most miserable fault and condition.
 

So, my dear reader, as I also preached on that Sunday:

“Let’s not forget those words of this crazy savior of ours who really is the Son of God that tells us all:
‘For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.’” [John 3:17]
 

“The world includes Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, and all those around us [again, no matter the color of skin, nation or continent of origin, or culture of upbringing] whose vanity we [like Adam and the Pharisee of Jesus’ parable] often use to hide from God, and thus keep God hidden from us. God has not only called us on our sin and called us out from it to know and believe in Him, He has called us out to go and reveal Him, His love, and His salvation to those we know who are still in hiding and therefore are hidden from the love that God has for them in Christ Jesus; the love that forgives the sins that it has uncovered, the love that calls sinners out of hiding to deliver them out of that sin and leave it behind, the love that gives eternal life to you, the love that desires to give that forgiveness and life not just to you, but to every sinner so that they with you might no longer be lost and hidden in the crazy blasphemy and vanity of sin. 

“Dear Baptized of Christ & Faith, go therefore back into the vanity and craziness of the world in which we all live as God ‘s forgiven children, not hiding any longer, but to forgive others as we have been forgiven to deliver us from the vanity and craziness of sin and into the sanity and blessed peace of eternal life—in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.” 

Please don’t let the hatred of this depraved and fallen world drag you back out of your Baptism and into its pit of competitive cultures and mistaken identities. You are God’s beloved child. You are being born again--along with all those Baptized into the body of Christ that is His holy Christian Church on earth--to live in His love now and forever. As a member of the body of Christ here on earth, you are also sent back into your world to extend that love of God in Christ Jesus to those who have yet to hear and know of His love and His deliverance from the depravity of this world and its various cultures, all of which lead inevitably to death.

Yes indeed, dear Baptized, as a child of our Father in heaven, Christ lives in you and fills you with His Holy Spirit in order to continue to bring you with all His elect out of the blackness of our (that is, every man’s) sin and into the marvelous light of His truth that brings salvation from the culture of death and deliverance into His kingdom of eternal life.

**http://www.amren.com/about/issues/

Graphic: "Adam and Christ," a composite by the author of two paintings by Hans Bauldung Grien (Austrian painter, 1484/85-1545), "Adam" (1520-23, left),  Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest (Szepmuveseti Muzeum); and "Crucifixion" (1512, right), Linden panel, 152 x 104 cm, Staatliche Museen, Berlin.  

Monday, April 27, 2015

My Own Know Me—for There Is No Other

The One who was the Perfect Sacrificial Lamb is now the Good Shepherd—leading us so we can follow where He has gone and come back out on the other side.

And it is a good thing, too. For it is not only that rich young man that had too many possessions to want to follow Jesus. We are all simply too rich to follow where He has gone. By our own thinking, by our own feeling we just have too much to lose.
To follow Jesus means to suffer, die, and be buried. Who wants that?

So Jesus--having gone there, done that and, more than having the souvenir t-shirt but even wearing and bearing the scars in His hands, feet, and side--has risen to be our Good Shepherd leading us by His voice where we fear to go.

To hear and/or read this sermon preached at Christ Lutheran-Elkhart, KS and Faith Lutheran-Hugoton, KS for The Fourth Sunday of Easter, "My Own Know Me—for There Is No Other," click on this link. http://lcmssermons.com/index.php?sn=4147

Graphic: German Cathedral art, details unknown.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

EARTH DAY THROUGH A SCRIPTURAL LENS

"The Creation of the Animals," by Raffaello ca. 1518-19, Palazzo Ponteficio- Vaticano.
Psalm 96:1-6 [ESV]
Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!...
2 Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
4 For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.


Genesis 1:26-28 [ESV]
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that cre
eps on the earth.”


"Adam Naming the Animals," medieval panel of anonymous origins in the Monastery of St Nicholas Anapausas, Greece.
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”


Genesis 3: 17-19 [ESV]
And to Adam [the LORD God] said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;


"God Curses Adam, Eve, and the Serpent," anonymous artist.
    in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.

19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”


2 Peter 3:10-13 [ESV]
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.


Sistine Chapel fresco of "The Last Judgement," by Michelangelo.
11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Isaiah 65:17-18 [ESV]
“For behold, I create new heavens
and a new earth,
 

Dürer, Albrecht (1471-1528), The Landauer Altarpiece, All Saints Day, 1511 oil on panel (detail), Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria.

and the former things shall not be remembered
or come into mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in that which I create;..."

Revelation 21:1-5 [ESV]
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
 
"The Vision By John of Heaven" by Matthias Gerung, c. 1530.
2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
 
Job 19:25-27 [ESV]
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.

26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
27 whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
 
"The Resurrection of Christ," by Peter Paul Rubens, 1611- 12.

 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Touching God

From the beginning, the relationship of God to man has been one of touching. When God touches man, His touch accompanied by the breath of His Spirit gives life.

The crowning creative work of the Father is accomplished through touch as we see depicted in Michelangelo's breathtaking fresco that graces the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

However, shortly after creation, man makes the decision that God’s touch is not enough and he seeks to touch God. There we see that when man touches, or seeks to touch God, it brings death.

To hear and/or read this sermon preached at Christ Lutheran-Elkhart, KS and Faith Lutheran-Hugoton, KS for The Third Sunday of Easter, "Touching God," click on this link. http://lcmssermons.com/index.php?sn=4141

Graphic: "The Creation of Adam" is a fresco painting by Michelangelo, which forms part of the Sistine Chapel's ceiling, painted circa 1511–1512.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Relevancy of the Word: You are Forgiven

Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you." Now when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." John 20:19b-23



This Gospel is for all of you who want your pastor to make the Word of God relevant in your life, in today’s world. This Gospel is for everyone who is looking to find purpose for his life. This Gospel is for everyone who wants their best life now. This Gospel is for anybody and everybody who wants to know how to get to heaven. In this little Gospel we are given the answers to all these questions, concerns, and heartfelt desires.

To hear and/or read this sermon preached at Christ Lutheran-Elkhart, KS and Faith Lutheran-Hugoton, KS for The Second Sunday of Easter, "The Relevancy of the Word: You Are Forgiven," click on this link. http://lcmssermons.com/index.php?sn=4132

Graphic: “The Incredulity of Thomas” by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn; detail from a 1634 oil on panel (53 × 51 cm) in the Pushkin Museum, Moscow.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

"The Son Sets You Free"

The problem 497 years ago in 1517,was the same problem of Adam and Eve who fled from the forgiveness of the loving God who created them in the beginning. It was the same problem of the Israelites. It is the same problem of the Church today and through the ages until the Last Day. It is the problem that has led to the closure of this congregation. It is the problem--the evil--of losing, replacing, rejecting the forgiveness of sins for the pursuit of happiness and our own self-centered, me generated ideas of worship.

In Luther’s Day the church had replaced the forgiveness of sins with things like indulgences and purgatory related to the works of men purchasing and working off the debt of sin. In our day we have largely replaced the forgiveness of sins with our own strength of faith and love for God.

To hear and/or the entire sermon preached for The Reformation, 'The Son Sets You Free," click on this link. http://lcmssermons.com/index.php?sn=3919