Devotion for Monday, August 26, 2019

“For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it
altogether.  You have hedged me behind
and before, and laid Your hand upon me. 
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain
it.”  (Psalm 139:4-9)

Lord, You know how things will
unfold.  You have already provided the
grace and mercy needed for those who love You. 
Everything is in the Lord’s hands and He has already accounted for all
that needs to be done.  His hand has
stretched out over His creation and His authority assures that when it is all
done in this age, it will be His will that prevails.  Come into the Lord presence and dwell with
Him always.

Lord, You know what I am going to say before I speak.  Yet, You allow me to continue even when I
choose the path of sin.  Guide me, O Lord,
in the way You would have me go that I may be led not by the whims of this
world, but by Your grace and mercy.  Help
me see through what is false now so I may live for what is true.  Let me grasp Your hand of protection that You
have placed around me.

Holy Spirit, that blows like the
wind, You are the protection before me and behind me.  You show me the narrow way and You illumine
the footsteps I take.  Let me hear and
listen.  Let me see and perceive.  Help me to always be led by You that I may
walk in the eternal way of hope and righteousness. Lord of life, You have given
me a mind, so help me to think clearly and always to abide in You.  Amen.

Photo by Monica Valls on Unsplash

Devotion for Sunday, August 25, 2019

“O Lord, You have searched me and known me.  You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.  You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.”  (Psalm 139:1-3)

The Lord knows all the days of
your life.  He knows where you will go
and what will happen.  Walk in the way of
the Lord and know His goodness.  Trust in
His grace that you may abide in His presence with a thankful heart.  Know that He who knows all the hairs on your
head knows the plans He has for you.  He
will lead you all the days of your life to walk in His eternal goodness.

Lord, You know when and where I will be tempted to err and stray.  You know the places that will be in front of
me before I arrive.  Prepare my heart to
receive what You give that nothing would hinder the path You have laid before
me.  Guide me in Your righteousness that
I may now and always abide in Your Spirit and walk in Your ways.  Lead me, O Lord, according to Your goodness
and purpose.

Lord Jesus, You are the Savior
who has paved the narrow path.  You came
knowing exactly what needed to be accomplished. 
Lead me in Your goodness that I would now and always abide in You and
You in me.  Keep me from straying, but if
I do, lead me back to You.  Help me now and
always to live out the life You have given. 
You are my Savior; keep me in Your salvation.  Amen.

Photo by Thanh Soledas on Unsplash

Devotion for Saturday, August 24, 2019

“I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies.  Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me,
and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in
the way everlasting.”  (Psalm 138:22-24)

The Lord knows every
circumstance.  The Lord knows the
situation you are in.  When you are in
places of adversity, the Lord knows. 
Yes, the wicked abide for a time, but they will not rule forever.  The Lord is Sovereign over all that He has
made.  Do not trust in your
circumstances, but in the One who has allowed circumstances to flow in the
stream of time.  He will vindicate the

Lord, teach me to not be anxious amidst any circumstance, but to see
that in You is the only hope for resolution. 
Guide me in the way of righteousness that I may now and always abide in
Your goodness.  Lead me in the way of
everlasting life that I would not live in resentment, but in the hope You
give.  Direct me by Your Word along the
paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake that I may abide in You.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for
clearing the way that I may now and always walk according to Your
goodness.  Lead me along the paths You
have established that I would trust in Your leading, knowing that You have
already made the way of  true righteousness
sure.  Grant me a right heart when
dealing with the wicked that I may not harbor wickedness in my heart.  Lead me by Your grace, Lord.  Amen.

Devotion for Friday, August 23, 2019

“Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God!  Depart from me, therefore, you bloodthirsty
men.  For they speak against You
wickedly; Your enemies take Your name in vain. 
Do I not hate them, O Lord, who hate You?  And do I not loathe those who rise up against
You?”   (Psalm 138:19-21)

This age is filled with people who are wicked.  There are those who put falsehood around this, excusing themselves, but there are really those who do wickedness.  They sprout for a while but quickly fade.  Sadly in this age, they are replaced with others who do wickedness. But let it not be you.  You have been called into the reality of the goodness of God and to dwell in His goodness and practice what He teaches you.

Lord, turn my eyes away from the evil which is in the world that I may
not be sickened with sin.  Lead me
instead to focus upon Your goodness and the call You have given me to practice
righteousness.  Remind me that all things
are in Your hands and that You will deal with the wicked in Your time.  Final justice is in Your hands and You are
unfolding history according to Your will.

Thank You, Holy Spirit, for being
a constant guide and assurance at all times. 
Remind me amidst troubles that the will of the Father has already
prevailed against the forces of wickedness and the evil of this world.  Keep my heart and mind on the sure promises
of Christ and the tasks to which You have put my hand.  Lead me in the grace I’ve been given to
faithfully live this and every day in thankfulness and praise for the eternal
goodness which is ours in Christ Jesus. 

Letter from the Director – August 2019


me one of the most challenging parts of writing an article or a letter is
knowing where and how to start.  I know
what I want to say.  I know what I want
to include.  But where and how do I

is the challenge I was facing with my August letter from the director, where I
wanted to write about and review two church gatherings that took place during
the same week – the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Milwaukee and the NALC Theology
Conference, Mission Festival, and Convocation in Indianapolis.  I attended the NALC events.  Many thanks to ELCA pastor Steve Gjerde, vice
president of our board, who attended the ELCA event and gave us on Facebook an
account of the proceedings as they occurred.

wanted to write about those two gatherings and I knew what I wanted to include,
but for several days I could not answer the question, “Where and how do I
begin?”  But then, one week after both
events, during a telephone conversation with a pastor colleague, I was reminded
of the Gospel reading for August 18, the second Sunday after both assemblies –
Luke 12: 49-56.  In that passage Jesus
said, “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already
kindled! . . . . Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the
earth?  No, I tell you, but rather

the days leading up to and even more so since the 2009 ELCA Churchwide
Assembly, we all have grieved over the relationships that have been strained
and even broken, the damage that has been done to congregations, and a church
body that is going off in the wrong direction.  The division is even greater – the lines are
now even more sharply drawn – as the ELCA goes further and further away from a
traditional, orthodox understanding of the authority of the Bible, the mission
of the church, and moral values. 

Four days after the close of the assembly, on August 14, the ELCA released a summary of actions that were taken by the assembly.  A link to that summary can be found here.  The opening sentence stated that the voting members made “a number of key decisions to further the mission and ministry of this church.”  Those key decisions included naming patriarchy and sexism as sins; calling on the church to take action against gender-based violence, workplace discrimination, and economic inequality; pursuing racial diversity and inclusion; adopting memorials dealing with gun violence, engagement in the Holy Land, and gender identity; affirming the ELCA’s long-standing commitment to migrants and refugees; declaring the ELCA to be a sanctuary church body; committing the ELCA to support a campaign against rape and violence; and condemning white supremacy. 


you notice that there is one thing missing in all these actions?  There was no mention of Jesus.  And there was only one mention of God, and
that one mention had to do with speaking “boldly about the equal dignity of all
persons in the eyes of God.”  I did see
one other mention of God in one of the daily press releases during the
assembly, but that reference had only to do with using gender inclusive and
expansive language for God.  With no
mention of Jesus, there is nothing in these actions regarding telling the world
about what Jesus has done (grace). 
Instead they are all about what I need to do (works). 

some might say that that lack of reference to Jesus and that minimal mention of
God was only true of the summary of actions taken by the assembly.  Certainly Jesus must have had a more
important place during the assembly.

You might be able to convince me of that possibility if it had not been for the action taken by the assembly to adopt “A Declaration of Inter-religious Commitment” as “church policy for inter-religious relations.”  A link to that declaration can be found here.  The Declaration said, “We must be careful about claiming to know God’s judgments regarding another religion.”  It also stated, “Lutheran tradition has understood the word ‘faith’ to mean trust rather than affirming beliefs.  Hence, we also must be careful not to judge our neighbors only on the basis of their religious beliefs. . . . All we know, and all we need to know, is that our neighbors are made in God’s image and that we are called to love and serve them.”

do not know how anyone could read the Bible and study church history and say
that “we must be careful about claiming to know God’s judgments regarding
another religion.”  The prophet Elijah
spared no energy in warning Israel against the worship of Baal.  Other Old Testament prophets joined with him
in clearly warning against worshipping the idols of the surrounding
peoples.  The apostle Paul warned the
churches to whom he was writing about the other religions of the day.  How could we say that the Bible says that we
cannot know God’s judgments regarding other religions?  And besides, to argue that faith means trust
rather than affirming certain beliefs does not support the intent of this declaration
because my trust is only as good as the object of my trust.  I am not showing love for and I am not
serving my neighbors (which the declaration calls upon me to do) if I do not
warn them that what and/or whom they are placing their trust in is not worthy
of their trust.

commend a voting member of the assembly for reminding the assembly that in the
words of Jesus in John 14: 6 we do have “a basis to know God’s views on
religions that do not require faith in Jesus Christ.”  This voting member proposed an amendment to
the declaration both prior to and during the assembly.  His motion to amend was overwhelmingly
defeated.  The policy statement was
adopted with 97.48% voting in favor.  How
can we view the fact that the discussion took place in the presence of
thirty-nine ecumenical and inter-religious guests on stage as anything other
than the ELCA’s manipulating and controlling the outcome?


Luke 12 Jesus said, “I came to bring fire to the earth.”  “I came to bring division.”  Contrast the actions and priorities of the
ELCA Churchwide Assembly and its de-emphasis upon Jesus with the clear
statements from the Rev. Dr. Daniel Selbo, who was elected to be the new bishop
of the NALC (North American Lutheran Church). 
In answer to the question, “What hopes do you have for the mission of
the NALC?” he wrote, “As a Christ Centered church body my hope is that we will
continue to grow in our relationship with Jesus as our Savior and Lord.  I hope each member of the NALC will become
stronger in their own personal faith-walk with Christ.  I hope our preaching and teaching will lift
up the name of Jesus. . . . My hope is that Christ will be seen in us because
we have fallen in love with Him and we have no greater purpose in life than to
live for Him. . . . Because ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,’
we must be tireless in our efforts to increase the number of people who come to
know Him as Lord.”  


am deeply disturbed by the actions taken, the resolutions approved, and the
memorials adopted by the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.  I am even more concerned when I consider the
percentages of the votes. 

“Declaration of Inter-religious Commitment,” which we discussed above, was
approved by a vote of over 97%.  The
social statement, “Faith, Sexism, and Justice,” was approved by a vote of
97%.  Elizabeth Eaton was re-elected on
the first ballot by a vote of over 81%. 
She is the first ELCA presiding bishop to win re-election on the first
ballot.  How could we expect her to view her
re-election as anything other than a clear mandate to continue leading the
church in the direction in which she has been leading it?

is the significance of all of these nearly unanimous or high percentage votes?  (Every photo I saw of voting members’ voting
by ballot showed everyone holding up their green cards.)  I can think of several probable outcomes from
the ELCA’s leadership and chief decision-making body becoming almost completely
of one mind.

  • An increasingly intolerant attitude towards and eventual suppression of any dissenting position.  They are well on their way to eliminating anything other than the preferred view.  If they are already at 97%, and there were about nine hundred voting members, they only have to eliminate twenty-seven people in order to be at 100%.  Why would they even bother to pretend to honor bound conscience and listen to and give a place for traditional views if the prevalence of revisionist views is so strong?  Even though the ELCA leadership and makeup of the churchwide assemblies will be increasingly out of synch with the majority of congregation members sitting in the pews and supporting the work of the church, those in power will fully be able to implement their agenda and priorities.     
  • An even stronger trend to promote only the official ELCA values and views at the ELCA seminaries.  While we are very thankful for every orthodox ELCA pastor serving in an ELCA congregation and as Lutheran CORE want to do everything we can to support them, it is only a matter of time until every ELCA rostered leader will have attended and graduated from seminary post 2009.  Orthodox churches who are blessed to have an orthodox pastor and who believe that all of this cannot and will not affect them are in for a rude awakening. 
  • An even easier path for positions that a few years ago would have been unthinkable to become acceptable, mainstream, and even preferred.  For example, there is a video in which Bishop Elect Leila Ortiz of the ELCA’s Metro Washington D. C. Synod speaks favorably of polyamory (a relationship in which there are three or more partners).  A link to that video can be found here.  With the churchwide assembly being so strongly of one mind, what is to prevent an even further erosion of Biblical views and values from taking place? 


In the July 2019 issue of CORE Voice we wrote about the document, “Trustworthy Servants of the People of God,” which was written in order to express what the ELCA expects of its rostered leaders.  A link to that article can be found here.  As we mentioned, the document was recommended to the ELCA Church Council by the ELCA Conference of Bishops.  But after hearing from many who objected to it, the ELCA Church Council declined to consider it and instead referred it back to the Domestic Mission Unit, who had originally written it, for review and revision.  In our opinion it was rejected because it was just too traditional and conservative.  We believe that the review and rewriting process will continue until it is exactly what the LGBTQIA+ agenda and community want it to be. 

There was a very interesting email that was sent out
to some ELCA rostered leaders on August 3, in which Pastor Phil Hirsch,
executive director of the ELCA’s Domestic Mission Unit, asked for input.  He said that the review and rewriting
committee wanted to hear from “various communities,” including “the
confessionally conservative” and “those from all four convictions identified in
the social statement ‘Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust.’”

On the one hand, we are encouraged by the possibility
that an ELCA task force might actually want to hear from “the confessionally
conservative” and those who hold to more traditional views.  But then we wonder whether traditional views
will actually be taken seriously and whether this is only a way so that they
will be able to say, “We heard from all sides.” 
We are reminded of how strongly some people objected even to Lutheran
CORE’s presence at the 2016 Churchwide Assembly.  Some people said that even our presence made
them feel unsafe, to say nothing about the willingness on the part of the
leadership of the assembly to announce our evening hospitality gathering twice.  One person asked, “Who will they allow to be
here next?  The Taliban?”

If even our presence at the 2016 Churchwide Assembly
was so strongly objected to, how much more of an outcry will there be against
the review and rewriting committee’s wanting to hear from “the confessionally
conservative” and from those who hold to positions one and two as identified in
the human sexuality social statement? 
And will it be even easier for the objecting voices to prevail given
that the votes at the 2019 Churchwide Assembly were so close to being unanimous?

Still, if you have received one of those emails from
the Domestic Mission Unit, asking for your input, we urge you to respond.


times I have been asked by people, “Is there any hope that the ELCA will turn
around?”  I always tell them, “It would
take a major intervention on the part of God. 
It would take a powerful working of the Holy Spirit.”  Jesus said, “I came to bring fire to the
earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! . . . . Do you think that I have
come to bring peace to the earth?  No, I
tell you, but rather division!”

pray for a sending of the power and fire of the Holy Spirit, to convict us of
error and to bring us back to Biblical truth. 
We pray that we will not be comfortable and at peace until the church
returns to recognizing Jesus rather than a social activist agenda as its
Lord.  We pray that the church will be
united under the authority of God’s Word, which is living and active, sharper
than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4: 12), and able to pierce and divide truth
from error, true worship from idolatry, true values from misplaced

said, “I came to bring fire to the earth.” 
Jesus, we need Your fire.  We need
Your fire to reform, renew, reorient, and redirect Your church.  Please, Lord, bring Your fire.  How we wish it were already kindled!

Dennis D. Nelson

Director of Lutheran CORE


Devotion for Thursday, August 22, 2019

“Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.  And in Your book they all were written, the
days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.  How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O
God!  How great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would be more in
number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You.”  (Psalm 138:16-18)

Contemplate the eternal being of
God.  In this verse alone, we hear
clearly that God did not just set the earth in motion, but knew what He was
doing and with great purpose made a place for each of us.  He planned for our existence.  This is true for each person who has or ever
will live.  How marvelous the
thought!  Ponder anew the magesty of God
and His purpose for you.

Lord, these things are too deep for me. 
How can I begin to grasp the breadth and depth of Your being?  You have revealed truth and have called me unto
Yourself that I may abide in You forever. 
Guide me, O Lord, in the way that is true.  Lead me in the way that will hold me fast to
You always.  Let me not wander away in
this evil age, but dwell in the light of Your presence forever.

Lord Jesus, You have come to
illuminate what is right and true.  You
have come to clear the path that all who seek truth will find You.  Guide me, O Lord, in the way of truth that I
may now and always abide with You and You with me.  Help me through all that will come that would
lead me astray that I may remain with You forever.  In the magnitude of the Father’s will, keep
me in His presence.  Amen.

Photo by Karsten Würth (@karsten.wuerth) on Unsplash

Devotion for Wednesday, August 21, 2019

“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s
womb.  I will praise You, for I am
fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul
knows very well.  My frame was not hidden
from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts
of the earth.”  (Psalm 138:13-15)

The Lord knows how we are knit
together.  The Lord knows all that we are
and ever will be.  He knows the inner
secrets, thoughts and desires we have. 
He knows who we are.  By the also
knows the plans He has for us and will not stop short of what is needed to
bring us from where we are to where we need to be.  Come then and dwell willingly in the presence
of the Lord.

Lord, help me to understand these things simply.  Guide me according to Your goodness to see
that only in You is there hope and a future. 
Lead me through the things that distract me that I would cherish
dwelling always in Your presence.  Lift
me up that I may become like Christ as is promised in Your Word.  Guide me to be thankful in all things as You
accomplish my completion.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, that You
have come to lead the way of salvation. 
Guide me today and every day, for you know all that is needed.  Let me not be hindered by the obstacles that
come my way but see through them, for You are creating in me a right and clean
heart.  May I learn from You how to live
obediently in the will of the Heavenly Father. 
Thank You for Your guidance. 

Devotion for Tuesday, August 20, 2019

“Even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold
me.  If I say, “Surely the darkness shall
fall on me,” even the night shall be light about me; indeed, the darkness shall
not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light
are both alike to You.”  (Psalm

The Lord looks upon His
creation.  He does not see as we see, for
He can see all things at all times simultaneously.  The Lord knows what He has made.  There is not for Him, as there is for us,
darkness.  Who then would choose their
own way when they must live an existence of light and dark.  Come into the eternal presence of the One in
whom there is only light.  Come to the
One who is always good and abide with Him forever.

Lord, You know where I struggle, for You see it.  You see what I cannot see.  Lead my heart to trust You above all
things.  Lead me to know that only in You
is there true hope.  Let me not be
carried away by deeds of darkness, but come into Your never-failing light and
walk as Your child.  No matter what I see
or do not see in this life, let me always see the shining of Your light.

Light of the world who calls us
abide in You, guide me this day in the way of salvation.  Lead me according to Your Word of truth.  Let me neither stumble nor fall, but instead,
faithfully walk with You every moment of this day.  Assure me of the truth that You who are
perpetual light do see all of the things before me.  No matter the circumstance, lead me to always
trust in You.  Amen.

Photo by Mike Abasolo on Unsplash

Devotion for Monday, August 19, 2019

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? 
Or where can I flee from Your presence? 
If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell,
behold, You are there.  If I take the
wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,” (Psalm

Remove the limits from your
thinking.  There is no place where the
Lord is not.  There is nothing the Lord
does not already know.  Sin and
punishment: He already knows the outcome of everyone’s action.  Salvation and redemption: He already knows
the actions of all who will ever live. 
The Lord knows all things and has created all things.  Wherever you go, there He is.

Lord, teach my feet to stop running away that I may learn to walk with
You.  Teach me to stop looking for
answers that do not exist so that I may look to You and receive the revelation
of what is true.  Guide me, O Lord, in
the way of everlasting and eternal truth. 
Guide me ever deeper into Your will and purpose.  Lead me according to Your steadfast love that
I may now and always abide in You.

Lord Jesus, You have come that
all who turn to You would follow You into everlasting life.  Lead me in the way of Your truth.  Guide me according to Your purposes that I
may now and always abide in Your goodness. 
Help me to see in You the hope of glory and the truth of Your presence.  You who knows all things, keep me in Your
shadow so that I may walk in the true light. 

Photo by Andy Beales on Unsplash

Devotion for Sunday, August 18, 2019

“For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it
altogether.  You have hedged me behind
and before, and laid Your hand upon me. 
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain
it.”  (Psalm 138:4-6)

Have you ever spent time
contemplating the depth and breadth of the Lord?  True, we cannot begin to understand, but let
His Word sink in and marvel that the God of all creation created you with
purpose and a call.  He knows you by
name.  It is the LORD who has marked you
as His in baptism.  It is the Lord, who
knows all things, that is calling you even now to come into His presence and
dwell with Him forever.

Lord, Guide my eyes to see and my heart to hear the truth You have always been speaking.  Lead me in the way of everlasting life.  Guide me into the life which You have created.  Teach me according to Your purposes to be humble, for You who know all things have done great things in the sight of all people.  You have accomplished all things for Your purpose and glory.

Lord Jesus, God in the flesh, You
have come that those who believe might have life everlasting.  Guide me in the way You already know I need
to go.  Keep me from those things which
would cause me to resist or reject Your guidance.  Give me an obedient heart.  Lead me, O Savior, in the good way of faith,
for You know all that is before me.  Keep
my eyes upon You always.  Amen.