Devotion for Thursday, January 31, 2019

“Also He blesses them and they multiply greatly, and He does not let their cattle decrease. When they are diminished and bowed down through oppression, misery and sorrow, He pours contempt upon princes and makes them wander in a pathless waste.” (Psalm 107:38-40)

What is the root of the blessedness that we have experienced in this age? Is it just the hard work of those who toiled that we may have an abundance? Has not the Lord caused the land to prosper? Have not the rains come at the right time and the growth been bountiful? Do not be deceived, it is the Lord who is Sovereign over all that He has made. He gives blessing for His purpose.

Lord, lift my head out of the sand that I may see the simple string of events that have unfolded in this age. Lead me to see that of course it is Your hand that brings blessings. You alone are able to make the seed grow. Lead my heart to give You praise in season and out of season. Help me to live according to Your never-failing Word of truth that I may prove to be Your disciple.

Lord Jesus, You have called for us to follow You always. Help me now and forevermore to walk with You in the lead that I may see things as they are and not as I imagine them to be. Help me live according to the Word You have spoken that I may grow in wisdom and understanding. Lift my eyes to the hills from whence my help comes, for You are the One through whom all things have their being. Amen.

Devotion for Wednesday, January 30, 2019

“He changes a wilderness into a pool of water and a dry land into springs of water; and there He makes the hungry to dwell, so that they may establish an inhabited city, and sow fields and plant vineyards, and gather a fruitful harvest.” (Psalm 107:35-37)

One does not need to be a devout student of history to look even in a cursory fashion in order to see changes in the landscape. Yes, you say, but what does this have to do with the Lord? Is not the Lord Sovereign over all that He has made? Does He not cause seasons and their events to unfold? See the Almighty power of the Lord, for He is Sovereign over all that He has made.

Lord, it is good that my faith is simple, but not good that I do not see that Your hand is upon all things. Lead my heart to see that it is You who guides the course of events and all things are in Your hands. Lead me in faith to acknowledge that You alone are Lord of the universe. Let me not give credit to anyone but You concerning the mysteries of unfolding history, and know that You are bringing all things into conformity with Your purpose.

Lord Jesus, You have come with great purpose to lead us into the life to which we have been called by grace. Lead me, O Lord, in the way You would have me go that I may now and always live according to the glory of the Father. Teach me this day those things You know I need to learn. Help me to see those things that are before me that I may grow both in wisdom and more like You. Amen.

Is the ELCA Church Council Out of Touch with Reality?

Editor’s Note: this article first appeared in the January 2019 edition of CORE Voice.

Click here to read the article.

Devotion for Tuesday, January 29, 2019

“He changes rivers into a wilderness and springs of water into a thirsty ground; a fruitful land into a salt waste, because of the wickedness of those who dwell in it.” (Psalm 107:31-32)

Do not fall for the deception that all of the changes that happen upon the earth are random. The Lord is in control of His creation. He causes the winds to blow where they will and shifts the landscape. This is His creation. He will shift the lands because of the wickedness that is in the world. He is the author of history and will do what is needed to assure that all who are in the Book of Life come to know Him.

Lord, You have revealed the mystery of unfolding history. Help me to see clearly that it is You who is control of the universe. Lead me with this understanding to be wise and discerning that I may not be deceived. Help me to look to You in all circumstances. You are the Creator of all that exists and only in You is there help and salvation. Lift up my spirit to look to You at all times.

Lord Jesus, You alone are able to lift any of us up through the mire of this world. Clear my thinking to see more clearly Your hand in all things. When calamities come, remind me in the Spirit that it is You who controls all things, for all authority is Yours. By Your grace, lead me this day in humility to do whatever it is that You see I can do.Guide me to become more like You this day. Amen.

Devotion for Monday, January 28, 2019

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men! Let them extol Him also in the congregation of the people, and praise Him at the seat of the elders.” (Psalm 107:31-32)

What is your purpose? Why did the Lord create You? What are the instructions. We were created to praise and thank the Lord. No matter the circumstance, we are to give thanks to the Lord for His goodness. Come then into the presence of the Lord and give Him thanks for all of His goodness. He alone is good and worthy of all praise. Look and you will see the wonder of His creation, in all that He has made.

Lord, I understand in my mind, by my heart is far from You, and becomes conditional depending upon circumstances. Lead me away from such reactions that I may learn to live as You have created me to live. Guide me in the goodness of Your mercy that I may praise You at all times and for all circumstances. Lead me into the eternal way of living that I may praise You for all Your wonders.

Lord Jesus, I need Your help in order to live the life to which You call me. You have provided the means, so help me to live into that to which You have called me. Guide me by Your grace to be willing to walk humbly with You, my Savior, that I may be guided into the life to which I have been called. May the Holy Spirit speak clearly this day to ears that are listening. Amen.

Devotion for Sunday, January 27, 2019

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, so that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet, so He guided them to their desired haven.” (Psalm 107:28-30)

Does the Lord love people? He provides for everyone all that is needed. Even though they reject Him and go their own way, He is there to hear their call when they are in need. The Lord awaits those who will turn to Him and come into His grace and mercy. He has created us to be in relationship with Him. The Lord is the only safe haven in this world of grief. He will lead you through every storm.

Lord, help me to see how I look to myself day to day with nary a thought about You being near. Guide me out of myself and into You that I may walk with You all the days of my life. Lead me, O Lord, in the way You would have me go. Teach me Your ways that I would care for others as You have cared for me. May I learn from You and come into the relationship You have made possible.

Jesus, You have come to lead the way into everlasting life. Guide me, O Lord, in the way of life that You have set before me. Keep me close to You that I may now and always walk according to Your never-failing promises. May I be found in You always, both in times of plenty and in time of need. You are the One, Lord Jesus, who must lead the way,for I will be lost otherwise. Amen.

Devotion for Saturday, January 26, 2019

For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; their soul melted away in their misery. They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wits’ end.” (Psalm 107:25-27)

The world is blown around, tossed in the sea of this age’s movement – always toward the same ending. The Lord speaks and the tempestuous nature of this world rages on. Do not be as those who do not hear, nor act as if they do not care. Do not act as the drunkard, reeling throughout the day and merely reacting to this world’s insanity. The Lord is speaking to you and will give you ears to hear.

Lord, open my ears so that I hear You speak. Guide me, O Lord, in the way of truth so that I will not fall prey to the insanity of this world. Guide me in the way of goodness that I may quietly carry on in the way You teach me to live my life. Keep me sober and sound so that I may stand before You in the righteousness of Christ having done what You have asked me to do.

Lord Jesus, without You the desire of my heart would be impossible. Guide me, O Lord, in the way I should go, knowing that without You I would wander and stray. Open my ears this day to hear Your Word of truth and to listen that I may go where You send me, doing what is pleasing in the Father’s sight. Let me not descend into the abyss, but always walk the upward path in the light of Your presence. Amen.

Devotions for Friday, January 25, 2019

“Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His works with joyful singing. Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters; they have seen the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep.” (Psalm 107:22-24)

No matter what you have or have not done, do you see the hand of the Lord wherever you go? The Lord created the heavens and the earth and He invites us to see His handiwork. Rejoice in the Lord and His goodness and know that He is Lord of all. Let your life be one of thanksgiving for all of the goodness of the Lord and know that He who made all things has you in His hands.

Lord, grant that I would have a heart of thanksgiving. Guide me, O Lord, in the way of Your truth that I would see Your hand through all things. Let me be one who is thankful for all of life’s circumstances knowing that You are the One who causes all things to be. In You is the hope for all futures and in You is the promise. Guide me to trust in Your promises now and always.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for paving the way that I might be one who is thankful in and through all circumstances. Guide me this day to live giving a thank offering by the life I live. The night before Your crucifixion, you gave thanks to the Father. Lead me into a life that is thankful at all times and for all things. May I become more like You this day, Lord Jesus, and do what is pleasing to the Father. Amen.

Devotion for January 24, 2019

“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses. He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness,and for His wonders to the sons of men!” (Psalm 107:19-21)

The Lord is not bent on destruction, the world is. The Lord in a moment could cause all that is to cease to be. But the Lord gives grace and mercy to those who fear Him. Move from rebellion into repentance and know that the Lord will lift you up to be with Him where He is. Be guided by His goodness all the days of Your life. Leave behind the ways of the world and walk in the ways of the Lord.

Lord, You know the tug in my heart that is always seeking what the world offers. I take comfort in the futility of this age rather than being comforted in Your goodness. Lead me, O Lord, that I may walk in Your ways and leave behind the destruction of this age. Guide me in Your goodness by Your mercy to see more clearly each day the path You set before me and I will follow You.

Lord Jesus, You have come and said, “follow me.” Lead me, Lord, that I may walk in Your salvation and learn from You how to believe and live. Teach me Your humble ways that I may be guided to do all to the glory of the Father. Help me now and always by Your grace to see through the wickedness of this world that I may abide in You as You abide in me forever. Amen.

Is the ELCA Church Council Out of Touch with Reality?

The official report from the November 8-11 meeting of the ELCA Church Council, dated November 19, 2018 said that “the council engaged in discussions around a ‘well-governed, connected and sustainable church.’” I do not see how the Church Council could call the ELCA well-governed, connected, and/or sustainable.

Math Doesn’t Add Up

First, sustainable. The predecessor church bodies that merged in 1988 to
form the ELCA achieved their statistical peak in 1968 when they reported a
combined total of 5.9 million members. Fifty years later, in 2018, the ELCA
reports having only about 3.5 million members. That represents a 41% loss in
fifty years.
How long can a decline like that be sustainable? The synod in
which I was rostered before I retired balances the budget by spending money
obtained by selling the buildings of closed congregations. These buildings were
built and paid for by faithful followers of Jesus whose view of the Bible,
orthodox theology, priority of evangelism, and views on such things as human
sexuality that synod rejects. How long can a synod continue to exist and how
can it be sustainable if it balances the budget by closing congregations?

Speak Louder

Second, connected. The 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly said that a wide
variety of views on human sexuality, including the traditional view, would be
treated with respect. And yet a keynote speaker at last summer’s youth
gathering (who could very well be the prime spokesperson for the ELCA) led
31,000 young people in rejecting the traditional view as a lie. My letters to
synodical bishops were totally ignored when I wrote to them about the free
reign and amount of power that are being given to the LGBTQIA+ community and
about how the ELCA’s doing so is a blatant betrayal and violation of trust
because of the way in which the LGBTQIA+ agenda goes way beyond what was
approved at the 2009 assembly. How could a church that advocates for justice
but then acts so unjustly, and that claims to be inclusive and yet consistently
excludes, diminishes, and dismisses a significant part of its constituency call
itself connected?


Third, well-governed. In a recent letter to Presiding Bishop Elizabeth
Eaton I challenged her to exercise the authority of her office and hold the
organizers of the youth gathering accountable for their choice of speakers. I
also called upon her to restore sanity to the ELCA’s teachings on human
sexuality by working with the administration and faculty of the Lutheran School
of Theology in Chicago to renounce the “We Are Naked and Unashamed” movement.
That movement rejects marriage by any definition as normative for sexual
activity. It was well-represented among the keynote speakers at last summer’s
ELCA youth gathering. Bishop Eaton gave a very limp reply when she said that
she will be “speaking to the leadership team of the Youth Gathering.” She also
said that she did not want to “give more attention and credence to a movement
that is outside this church’s social teaching by speaking about it publicly.”
As Bishop Eaton refuses to speak publicly about movements within the ELCA that
are out of control, Nadia Bolz-Weber is gaining visibility and notoriety as she
is promoting her new book, Shameless: A Sexual Reformation, and as she
is calling upon women to send in their purity rings so that she can melt them
down and make a statue of a golden vagina. How could a church that refuses
to address actions and behaviors that are in direct violation of what it claims
to be its beliefs and standards call itself well-governed?

Late for Damage Control

Either the leaders of the ELCA are in agreement with Nadia Bolz-Weber or
they are not. If they are in agreement, we have a problem because they are
joining with her in calling the traditional view of human sexuality a lie. If
they are not in agreement, they have a problem because they have allowed her to
become so prominent. They did nothing about her at a time when it would have
been easier to do something about her. How would they be able to stop her now? When
a church body has allowed a situation that is doing great damage to become so
large and out of control, how could it call itself well-governed?
situation created by Nadia Bolz-Weber is doing great damage because of the
message she is communicating to young people and the turmoil she is creating in
some congregations. 

and Re-Examine

That same report said that the ELCA Church
Council formed a working group which would develop a document which would
contain “a confession of this church’s bondage to the sins of slavery, racism,
discrimination, white supremacy and quietism, and a commitment to begin the
work of repentance, which this church confesses to be ‘the chief topic of
Christian teaching.’”
The ELCA has far more that it needs to confess
besides racism, discrimination, white supremacy, and quietism. It also needs to
repent of its own acts of betrayal of trust, violation of agreements,
and marginalization and even bullying and intimidation of pastors and
congregations who hold to traditional views. It also needs to seriously
re-examine its own theology. How could it call itself confessionally
Lutheran when it says that our need to confess rather than God’s work of
salvation through Jesus Christ is “the chief topic of Christian teaching”?