What Lutherans think about teaching Biblical principles for living

 

Tony Robbins 6 by Vincent_Tan

We all know that we are to teach and preach from the Bible.

But what? There’s a lot of stuff in there.

….

Check this one out when you get some time:

 

(By the way, that is not an Evangelical prayer meeting, but an Anthony Robbins seminar)
 

click here > Preaching Biblical Priciples for living

 

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Thanks to flickr and Vincent_Tan, for the photo.
 
 
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Motivations

Where do we go with this one?

Well, we can go a lot of places, but this time I want to try and unde rstand my own personal motivations in having this blog and what motivates me to post what I post.

First off I like to tell you what I think does not motivate me.

I have no desire to prop up the denomination, or the church body to which the congregation that I belong is affiliated.

The ELCA is a denomination that has fallen upon hard times. It has done so willfully out of a sense of it’s own importance. It has replaced God’s Word with man’s words and deeds. It has decided to ignore God’s law and institute a policy of radical inclusiveness, where sin is not only condoned, but flaunted. In it’s quest to be liked by all, it has forgotten it’s first Love and has fallen hard for the fleeting glances of a world which cares nothing for them, or for their God.

The ELCA is not concerned with lifting high the cross of Christ, but lifting high the head of man. It is a feel good program whereby one can justify his own willful disobedience by merely throwing trinkets at the poor, or helping sinners feel comfortable with themselves.

In much of ELCA preaching, Christ rarely shows up as a just and righteous God, but rather a teacher of good deeds or example of a great life lived…that we might emulate Him.

Since the ELCA has pretty much abandoned God’s Word of law, it has pretty much turned itself into a law of it’s own making. A do-gooder organization that helps a lot of people with their secondary needs, but leaves them starving for what they really need…God’s unmitigated law to kill them off, and then God’s unmitigated promise of forgiveness to raise them again. 

Thanks be to God that they haven’t thrown out the liturgy and the sacraments yet. Christ is still there in those things.

I pray for a change of heart over at the ELCA whereby (by the grace of God) they might return to their first Love, and return to the mission of preaching the cross of Christ to sinners.  God may work a reformation at the ELCA. The libertine, 60’s mindset leadership will not live forever, and God may breathe fresh life into that organization, or He might just let them go on ‘playing church’ until He decides to turn out the lights.

That said, I realize that there are many good and faithful congregations and pastors within the ELCA that are more ‘centered’ (Christ centered).

I am not motivated by a desire to hold up any person, or written document, or scripture verse, or denomination (including the LCMS, WELS, or any others) whereby the efforts of man are put forth in a manner that leads one to believe that he can actually contribute, even in the slightest, to the goodness and righteousness that only God alone in Jesus Christ can provide. I believe preaching cooperation with God towards our sanctification is pouring gasoline on a fire. (We have discussed this recently a few posts ago…I already know your disagreements)

That said, I realize that there are many good and faithful congregations and pastors that are more ‘centered’ (Christ centered), within those denominations also.

 So I am not motivated by a desire to defend those that stand on scripture, but rather those that stand beneath it.

I am motivated (when I’m at my best) by a desire to preach Christ and Him crucified, to a world that needs Him… and Him alone.

I am motivated by a desire to take our efforts and place them in the proper arena, that of the neighbor and his needs.

I am motivated by a desire to kill.  To kill off the Old Adam or Eve that lives within us all, that Christ might raise the new man or woman.

I am motivated by a desire to have others know of the great freedom in Christ that has been bestowed upon me in my baptism. A baptism that did, and still does, exactly what it promised to do…kill me and raise me…forgive my sins and give me Christ.

I am motivated to let others know that Christ’s promises are true. When He says “my yoke is easy”…He means ‘easy’ for us…costly for Him. I believe an easy yoke is not a list of things that we ought be doing.

I am motivated by a desire to say to one and all, that Christ has done it all. There is not one thing left to do. Not one. “It is finished.”  I think He meant that quite literally. “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completetion.”

I know my motivations are tainted by sin. I also know that where Christ and His forgiveness of sins is proclaimed, He promises to show up, regardless of my motivations, and the mistakes I might make.

I pray that He will continue to show up, and to keep us in His faith.

    – Steve Martin

Homeless in my midst…

Today was sort of a strange day. For some reason I was thinking about the plight of the homeless people in my area. And since they were on my mind I seemed to notice so many more of them than I otherwise might.  For Her, It Was Just Another Sunday

Well, the fact that I was thinking about the homeless isn’t the real point of this posting. The real point of the story is what I did about it… nothing.

Jesus told us so many times and in so many ways to take care of the poor. He tells us in Luke 14:33 that “if we don’t renounce everything we have then we cannot become His disciple.”

So why is it that I don’t sell at least some of what I have and give it to the poor?

The answer is simple. I don’t want to. And that is why today, after seeing and driving by at least 8 different homeless people…I did nothing. Well, almost nothing. I did talk to one guy for a few minutes about Christ, but he seemed totally disinterested and at one point I thought he might lunge out and strangle me. I probably had it coming. Actually I know I have it coming and if it were not for Jesus, the Father would probably do it Himself.

I think I stopped and talked to that last guy from the guilt of driving by the other seven.  Another righteous deed bites the dust.

I wonder how many other Christians ignore the homeless as I regularly seem to do?  I zip past them like they weren’t even there. Most of the time they might as well not be there. Oh sure, I’ve got plenty of good reasons. “Most of them are probably mentally ill. Most of them would probably just use the little bit of money I might give to them for drugs or alcohol, so I wouldn’t be helping them any. I’m late, so I don’t have the time to stop. I work hard for my money and they are lazy and don’t really deserve anything. It just encourages them to stay in their situation. There are plenty of other people that are out there trying to help them, and telling them about Jesus. They don’t want help. They might kill me. I might kill them.”  Lot’s of great reasons not to stop. So I don’t.

I guess in many ways I am like the righteous Jew who steps around the beaten man lying in the road. And, in that way, the Law condemns me.

We all know that we could be doing so much more and we’ve got every excuse in the book and most of them are quite valid as far as we are concerned.

It is exactly for self concerned, self absorbed, possession hoarding sinners that He came and died. We are incapable of the selfless love that He demands of us. We do not want to give up what is rightfully ours (not much of it anyway) and He knows it. That is why He had to die for us.

Should we always stop and help the homeless? Not necessarily. Each of us has to make those determinations for ourselves. Whether we do, or not, is not really the issue here…it is the heart. It is our willingness to ignore others that we might not be burdened. It is our desire to live as our own gods, making up the rules for life as we see fit, ignoring the Lord, the giver of life and His commandments to us.

We are sinners. No doubt about it.  Full on 100% grade ‘A’ sinners. We are not half-righteous (those of us that are honest about it), we are not getting better (those of us who are honest about it) we are not earnestly living as God would have us live (those of us who are honest about it).

So what do we do? Try harder? Read more scripture? Pray more often, and more fervently? 

Those are not bad things to do and we might benefit from doing those things, and then again… we might not.

No… the answer does not reside in ourselves, or anything that we can or will do. The answer resides in the person of Jesus Christ and in Him alone. He is our righteousness. He is the answer to our selfishness. He is the answer to our sinful rebellion towards a God that made us and sustains us.

We ought feel badly that we are not up to the task. But we shouldn’t despair over it because of the One who has taken our sins, all of them upon Himself and wiped the slate clean. He wipes it clean each and every day… in your life and mine!

  Or do you think God holds it against us each time we fail to stop and help someone in need?

          Thanks for your insights.

                                 - Steve Martin

Falling in Love

Have you ever fallen in love with someone, but they didn’t love you?

You tried everything possible to get that person to fall in love with you. Yoa walk on the beachu told funny jokes, you gave them gifts, you complimented them, you adorned yourself as much as possible. All to no avail. The love you were seeking from the other person was just not there.

Sometimes third parties try and get two people to fall in love. Those attemps often fail, and sometimes they succeed. But when it does happen, can the matchmaker take the credit for them falling in love, or rather should they take credit only for making it possible that they meet?

I have in mind those that try earnestly to make other people fall in love with the Living God.

There are some that call for us to have a real passion for Jesus. They say we ought realize how awesome and wonderful and gracious Jesus is, then we can fully have the love and passion for Jesus that He truly desires from us. Some folks rattle off long flowing lists of Heavenly adjectives describing God in such a way as to make any person with a hint of common sense realize that they too ought be feeling the same way about God. And if they don’t, well, then they ought try a little harder, pray a little harder, attend more bible studies, be with and emulate those that do. They maybe some of it will rub off on them.

This is a normal attempt by normal people to try and do what is right and good as far as God is concerned. They want to tap into all the benefits of a wonderful love affair with Jesus. They desire all the blessings and all the praise of a supreme God that ought be worshiped and glorified above all other things in their life. They really want to be all that God expects them to be.

The trouble is that we don’t want a love affair with God. Not only do we not want to fall in love with Jesus, we take just about every opprotunity we can to spit directly in His face. (every time we sin…no matter how insignificant you think it might be)

The scriptures make it quite clear where we stand with regard to wanting and loving and seeking God.  We don’t

St. Paul lays it out quite clearly in Romans 1:18 – 3:20   If you think I’ve got the wrong take on it then I’d advise you to go and read it again. And again. And again, if necessary, until that word of law does it’s job on you. That’s you and I he’s speaking about you know. When Paul says, “No one seeks for God”,  well believe it or not , that includes little ol’ you.

So after getting a handle on our true condition and our true attitude concerning Jesus, we can then make an accurate assessment about our ability to whip up some kind of sticky-sweet emotional feeling for our Creator. Although, I must say, we can surely fake it when we don’t want to appear as we really are (to others that are probably faking it as well)

When He came for them 2,000 years ago…they didn’t want Him.  When He comes for us today… we don’t want Him.  That hurts, because I really want to believe that I do want Him.  I want to believe that I was serious when I made that decision for Christ.  I want to believe that somehow I’ve got something special within me that is really desirous of God.  “If others can do it, then so can I !”

The trouble is others can’t do it. Only Christ can get this love affair going and then it’s pretty much a one-sided affair. His giving to us and loving us and forgiving us… and our taking from Him and rejecting Him and ignoring Him. (for the most part)

But Jesus knows this about us. Look at how He treated Peter. Look at how He treated the others. Look at how He treats you and me.

He loves us. In our broken, fallen, selfish, God hating condition…He loves us and forgives usnow !  Not when you’ve cleaned up your act. You don’t even know how to clean up your act.

And He gives us new life and forgives us… daily. He gives us His Spirit, and works repentance in us, and molds us into what He wants us to be.  He gives of Himself in baptism and in His supper. Freely, with no strings attached. No expectation that we will have to add anything at all.

This is the supreme Glory of God as manifest in His Son Jesus and His Spirit. That He loved us so much that “He sent His only begotten Son to die for us, that whoever believes would have eternal life.”

Can we love Jesus at all from our side of the equation? Yes we can. But our love is tainted by sin, by self interest, by all of the distractions of a fallen creature. Our love is spotty and is not as it should be. We can and do love Him, but never on our own. “We love because He first loved us.”

So, if you can’t seem to really muster up all that much passion for Jesus, don’t worry about it so much. For “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And that includes you!

‘Thank you Lord, that I am not like other men.’

A friend of mine recently told me that he was doing a lot better now at not sinning than he was doing before he became a Christian.

This struck me as an odd thing to say. What would possess a Christian, who’s been freed from sin by the blood of Christ, to say something along those lines?

It seems as though his personal performance is pregnant on his mind. I hear a lot of performance based preaching these days from the mega church preachers that seem to dominate the radio waves here in Southern California.

 Is there some correlation to the preaching of the law for betterment and the notion that one could actually be improving on the ‘sins‘ scorecard?

                             – Steve

‘A Dismal Failure’

Another day has come to an end.  And as I think about the day, and what I did for others and how much I thought about my Lord, I have to admit…I was once again, a dismal failure at loving God and my neighbor as myself.

If the equation is: that 100% of my time loving God and my neigh
hbor as myself is passing, or what’s expected of me, I’d have to say that today I was at about 5% God and my neighbor, and about 95% me and my concerns.

Shall I try harder tomorrow to even out that ratio a bit? Or will I, in the trying, actually worsen the ratio because now my motives will be shot to hell?

      – Steve

‘Does Motivation Count?’

When I was a kid, my parents often gave me jobs to do around the house. Yardwork was mainly the area of my responsibilities as I had sisters that took care of the chores inside the house.

When I was specifically told what to do, I did it, for better or worse, out of a sense of duty. I usually did a good job, and was normally happy with myself and my parents were generally satisfied with the job that I did. But it was just that…a job. It was a task that was required of me and I did it.

Every great once in a while, I would take upon myself a job that was not required of me. One that my parents had not asked me to do. Something that just needed to be done. It seems that I can almost remember exactly what these things were (as opposed to the regular mundane chores) that I did, more or less spontaneously.  One time I reworked the brick walkway that led to our frontdoor and sanded and repainted the porch outside the front of the house.

No one had asked me to do it. It wasn’t even mentioned in passing that it needed to be done. But I did it. And I went about this work, which was far more difficult  than my normal duties, with great joy.

My parents were thrilled when they saw it. I was given lots of thanks and praise for what I had done.

There is definitely a distinction between the two types of work that I had engaged in as a youngster. One was because I had to do it, and the other was because I wanted to do it.

Do you think my motivation in the second example showed a sense of selflessness, and was therefore the better work?

Are there any parallels to be drawn when we look at ourselves today in the light of our obedience to what God requires of us?

         – Steve

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