In Faith

“We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.” 2 Thessalonians 1:3

The congregation of St. Paul located in Pensacola, Florida began the discernment process of leaving the ELCA in 2018. We had the 2nd vote to leave the Florida-Bahamas (FB) Synod of the ELCA in 2019. We expected some challenges in leaving because of the small group of members who wanted to remain in the ELCA. The congregation voted with a super-majority to leave the FB Synod. St. Paul applied to and joined the North American Lutheran Church (NALC) in 2020. Shortly after being received into the NALC, the congregation council received a letter from the FB Synod informing us that we could not leave.

The congregation council of that period were faithful in their commitment to Christ. They had a strength in faith that was unwavering. It proved to be a blessing for us as the FB Synod attempted to stop the people of God from leaving. To resolve the issue of St. Paul leaving the ELCA, the congregation council filed a motion in court. This was to maintain our rights to the building and the financials of St. Paul. During the legal process, letters with false statements were sent to the church members of St. Paul (NALC). Slanderous statements were made against the council and me. The ugliness of letters from the FB Synod showed a lack of Christian love for others and did not speak the truth of the intentions within the ELCA. The object of the ELCA was and I believe still is to “suppress the truth” of what they are doing or what they have done. We had suggested that the majority (us) and the minority (them) could share the building. But that was met with another ugly response. The Bishop of the FB Synod stated in words like these: Any other denomination but the NALC would have been okay. But not the NALC.

Eventually after many legal disputes the FB Synod Bishop filed a summary of judgment with the claim of ecclesiastical hierarchy. Taking the matter away from the civil court and giving it back to the FB Synod to make the final determination. The ruling gave our building, bank accounts, and endowment funds to the FB Synod and the small group of people who wanted to stay in the ELCA.

This could have been crushing for us if it were not for “faith.” Instead, the ruling of the judge based on the ecclesiastical hierarchy was freeing! Shortly after we lost everything to the ruling, God founded a new name for us. Led by the Spirit, Epiphany Lutheran Church became our new name. In 2021 we sought and found a new location for worship. I was introduced to Rabbi Tokajer in September, and we began worshipping at the Synagogue on Nov. 7, 2021.

In faith we left the building in Pensacola for a new beginning. With our vision clear and our faith steadfast in Christ, we began rebuilding and evangelizing for God’s church in the new location. With little financial stability we stepped out. In our faith journey, we didn’t think about what was lost. Instead, we recognized how much God was providing.

I encourage pastors discerning their call to contact the General Secretary of the NALC. The threats from the ELCA that place fear into individual pastors is nothing more than evil. If you want to remain faithful to the Word of God, I encourage you to place your assurance in Christ not the ELCA. The letters I received informed me that I was nothing without their endorsement. The ELCA didn’t call me into ministry. God called me into the ministry of Word and Sacrament. What about my pension and medical benefits? Have faith! As God is my witness, this question came to my mind too. It was a fleeting thought as I discerned the call to serve in faithfulness. 

In March of 2023, I spoke to the congregation about our faith walk. I referred to the summary of judgment and the loss of our assets and property. In the message of faith I said, “We lost everything for the sake of Christ.” It is in this loss that we found out just how strong and faith filled we were. As I’ve said many times, “It’s easy to have faith when everything is going well in your life.” With the help of God, we’ve grown in number, in spirit, and in faithfulness. Like the letter of Paul to the Thessalonians, we lift up the church and all those who continue their journey in “faith.” We share the love of Christ with new believers and all visitors at Epiphany Pensacola. All are welcome to experience the love and joy of Christ in worship.

As I am writing this article it just dawned on me that on Nov. 7, 2023, when we break ground on a new church building it will be our 2nd anniversary of this new start congregation in Pensacola, Florida. God has blessed us with generous financial support for the church property. The mission and ministry have been financially supported by several NALC churches. We’ve received domestic mission partnerships from other NALC churches. The congregation has grown, and the people of God have been generous in supporting the mission and ministry of Christ. Losing everything for the sake of the Gospel has been transformational to the members of Epiphany Pensacola.   

Faithfully Serving,

The Rev. Dr. Franklin J. Gore

Epiphany Lutheran Church


“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)

Photos courtesy of Brenda Ekstrom and Donna Busarow.

Video Ministry – January 2023

Here is a link to our You Tube channel.  In the top row you will find both our Video Book Reviews as well as our CORE Convictions Videos on various topics related to Biblical teaching, Lutheran theology, and Christian living.  You will find these videos in the order in which they were posted, beginning with the most recent.  In the second row you will find links to the Playlists for both sets of videos.  This month we want to feature a CORE Convictions video by NALC pastor Tim Hubert.


Many thanks to NALC pastor Tim Hubert for his very wise and insightful video on interim ministry.  A link to his video can be found here.

Pastor Hubert has been ordained for forty years.  For twenty-five years he served in regular calls; for fifteen years he has served various interim assignments.  He has seen and experienced both kinds of situations – when a very beloved pastor leaves as well as when a pastor in a very troubled situation leaves.

Tim describes three questions that congregations will have regarding the new interim pastor –

  1. Can we trust the interim pastor?  Including, Can we trust the interim pastor to love us in the way our former pastor loved us?
  2. Will the interim pastor stay long enough – until we are ready to call a new pastor?  Church councils want a seamless transition in ministry.
  3. Will the congregation allow itself to love the interim pastor, knowing that the interim pastor will be with them only for a short time?

He also lists three expectations that interim pastors have –

  1.  To be treated fairly and honorably.  The congregation needs to remember that the interim pastor did not cause the former pastor to leave.
  2. To be paid a fair and honorable salary.  While some congregations will try to save money at the expense of the interim pastor, Pastor Hubert believes that the interim should be paid the same as the previous pastor.  Otherwise, the congregation could be in for a real shock when they learn that they may need to pay their next pastor more than they had paid the previous pastor.   
  3. That the congregation will trust the process.

Losing a pastor is a grief process – both when the former pastor was loved and when it was a troubled situation.  All change creates pain.  Even good grief can take up to two years to heal.

Tim recommends that a congregation have an interim for one to two years.  In situations where there has been significant conflict, it can take longer to begin the process of healing.  It is a good sign of healing when members are returning to worship and are becoming involved once again.

Tim’s closing advice is –

Pray for interim pastors – there are fewer and fewer of them.

Thank the Lord when He provides you with an interim pastor.

Thank the Lord that He already knows and has chosen your next pastor.

Remember that the Lord is in charge.  As Jesus said in Luke 12: 32, “Fear not, little flock; it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.”

Critical Race Theory (CRT) v. The Cross, Redemption, and Transformation, Part II

 “Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:23-29, NRSV)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ —

The introduction of Critical Race Theory (CRT),into all segments of our culture, has created a massive outcry throughout our land because of its crushing and deceitful agenda; partly because it attempts to lure the general populace in — especially the most innocent among us, our children — through a dishonest narrative and then will unashamedly ambush and exploit its victims. But many are not taking the bait, and that populace is now waking up to such trickery! CRT is misleading and guises itself with different descriptive language to avoid naming itself for what it is, Critical Race Theory. It represents a wolf in sheep’s clothing (cf. Matthew 7:15) and a ‘hireling’ (cf. John 10:10-12) and will — in the end — morph into a new type of law which is controlling, vindictive, and even destructive. Thank you for allowing me to unpack further the juxtaposed distinctives between the philosophical ways and intent of CRT and the theological-biblical ways and intent of the Cross of Redemption and Transformation, specifically in light of Galatians 3:23-29.

As I shared in Part 1 of this article, Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker was one of Dr. Martin Luther King’s closest colleagues and advisers. Dr. Walker was a legendary key leader in the American Civil Rights Movement, having served as the Executive Director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the tumultuous years of 1960-1964. Too, he was a co-founder of CORE (the Congress of Racial Equality), chief of staff to King, and King’s ‘field general’ in the organized resistance against notorious Birmingham safety commissioner “Bull” Connor, and so much more. He was with King for the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, that produced the “I Have a Dream” speech where King challenged ALL citizens of the United States of America for civil and economic rights and called for an end to racism. His work was not in vain!

Waking up to a new reality

Steve Kinsky says this about Dr. Walker, who co-authored an essay with him (“A Light Shines in Harlem,” September 24, 2015, RealClear Politics) regarding education reform and race relations. This is just part of what they wrote: “Today, too many ‘remedies’ — such as Critical Race Theory, the increasingly fashionable post-Marxist/postmodernist approach that analyzes society as institutional group power structures rather than on a spiritual or one-to-one human level — are taking us in the wrong direction: separating even elementary school children into explicit racial groups, and emphasizing differences instead of similarities. The answer is to go deeper than race, deeper than wealth, deeper than ethnic identity, deeper than gender. To teach ourselves to comprehend each person, not as a symbol of a group, but as a unique and special individual within a common context of shared humanity.” Their analysis of CRT was and is spot on, especially regarding our shared humanity. And, from our perspective as Christians, this “shared humanity” involves original sin and, ultimately, our great need for the Cross — The Cross of Redemption and Transformation, not CRT or any other such false narrative, pedagogy, or gospel! It’s been six years since the publication of the Kinsky-Walker article, and now thousands upon thousands of parents are witnessing first-hand how some public schools are shaming, harassing, confusing and often brainwashing their precious children, often pitting child against parent (cf. Luke 12:51-53)! In other words, mothers and fathers do know better than the largely compromised system of public school education on what is best for their children and what they should be taught! Many parents are waking up to the problems and underlying deceit of CRT. They are now quickly discovering that it is weighty, cumbersome, disorienting, and massively intrusive. It is an illegitimate ‘disciplinarian,’ without any sense of grace or mercy. Law without Gospel. (Perhaps) without knowing so, they are gaining strength through Galatians 3:25 — “But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.” Reflect just a moment on the fullness of this one verse and how it speaks volumes on the acute errors of CRT.

Recently, the state of Virginia became the epicenter of intense debate over CRT — a veritable spiritual battleground for the soul of the next generation of Virginians. The decisive outcome of the vote for the next governor of Virginia (and many other key public servants) reflected a complete repudiation of not only CRT but other radical agendas. So, why such a dramatic voting shift in the opposite direction? I strongly believe it was not because the citizens of Virginia suddenly wanted to support “white supremacy” (as the mainstream media purports, along with other vicious comments) but, instead, they were intuitively aware of the overwhelming and insufferable nature of CRT. To speak plainly, folks in general are fed up with hearing such hateful and racist rhetoric being spewed towards fellow human beings. Virginians, and many Americans, have been experiencing a ‘foretaste’ of how a new type of ‘guiding principles’ — law — might transpire and begin to dictate what is right and wrong, and how it could literally upend our nation as we know it. Good people are upset and voted accordingly. They love their children and their children’s children. Mama Bear has been poked and has now awakened!

A word from Galatians 3:23-29 — There is NO distinction

In light of the headline passage from Galatians 3:24-29 above, we celebrate that Christ has come and that the world, potentially, has been and can be set free: “Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith.” (v. 24) In this verse, the Greek word for disciplinarian is παιδαγωγὸς/paidagōgos which translates as trainer, a tutor, not only a teacher but one who had charge of the life and morals of the boys of a family. He was a legally appointed overseer, authorized to train (bring) up a child by administering discipline, chastisement, and instruction, i.e., doing what was necessary to promote development. In our present-day public ‘schooling’ environment, we entrust our children with teachers — whom we have authorized — to train and ‘bring them up’ in particular ways. But now that environment has radically changed and the disciplinarians are those we have NOT authorized, those carrying the CRT teaching. As Christian parents, our identity and authority rests in Christ and Christ alone. It is upon that foundation we claim Christ as our final disciplinarian. I believe this is what people genuinely desire. Christ did not come as a cruel and condemning taskmaster but as Saviour (John 3:17). We are no longer subject to a disciplinarian and under the law (Galatians 3:25; 5:18), for in Christ Jesus we are all children of God through faith (Galatians 3:26). Apart from Christ, the <Mosaic> law can quickly become burdensome and even deadly. In 2 Corinthians 3:6, Paul writes: “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant — not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” Of course, the Law of Moses, a grouping of  books (Torah) or “letter/s”, was a series of writings to regulate moral and civil actions telling people what they could and could not do; but, too, they were instructions on how to live in the land; i.e., in Deuteronomy 8:1-“All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply …”, Psalm 119:1-“Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!”, and dozens of other biblical references. As the cloud of confusion is lifting, it’s becoming clear that those behind CRT are bent on writing their own “series of writings to regulate moral and civil actions telling people” what they can and cannot do, hoping to remove and replace the traditional role of parents serving as the primary disciplinarian … and, especially the parents who place their faith, ultimately, in Jesus Christ as their disciplinarian, not CRT.

“Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed” (Galatians 3:23) Luther had profound insight regarding “the law” apart from faith, specifically in light of this verse: “The Law is a prison to those who have not as yet obtained grace. No prisoner enjoys the confinement. He hates it. If he could he would smash the prison and find his freedom at all costs. As long as he stays in prison he refrains from evil deeds. Not because he wants to, but because he has to … But the Law is also a spiritual prison, a veritable hell. When the Law begins to threaten a person to death and the eternal wrath of God, a man just cannot find any comfort at all. He cannot shake off at will the nightmare of terror which the Law stirs up in his conscience.” Any law, even the Mosaic Law, will lead to bondage. By now, I think you understand that I am not comparing CRT to the Mosaic Law but only suggesting that CRT is becoming law, except without God involved in any way, shape, or form. Through the implementation of CRT, the State/Government desires to become the schoolmaster, the custodian, the guardian, and the disciplinarian. Again, with the State, there may be no grace, no freedom, nothing but confinement indeed. (Project Wittenberg, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, 1535 by Martin Luther/trans. by Theodore Graebner, Chapter 3, pp. 135-149, Galatians 3:20-29, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1949)

The other obvious problem with CRT is how it automatically marks and makes a distinction with people groups through a hodgepodge of terminology. For instance, it regularly employs the label ‘white privilege,’ typically defined as a “concept that highlights the unfair societal advantages that white people have over non-white people. It is something that is pervasive throughout society and exists in all of the major systems and institutions that operate in society, as well as on an interpersonal level.” (“What Is White Privilege” by Arlin Cuncic, updated on August 25, 2020) At least a part of this particular definition, along with the rest of the noted article, kind of makes sense but then breaks down quickly when left as absolute fact/law without grace and mercy; and, especially, if not filtered through the heart and mind of Christ and His redemptive and transformative work at the Cross. From Galatians 3:28 we read, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for ALL of you are one in Christ Jesus.” There is no distinction!

Walter Myers III, who is the Principal Engineering Manager at Microsoft Corporation in Irvine, CA, holds a master’s degree in Philosophy from Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology, and is a member of the Advisory Board for the California Policy Center (CPC), recently wrote a fascinating piece on CRT. This is how he concludes his essay: “How will we ever find peace among the races if we can’t look at each other as individuals, person to person, based on actual facts and intentions? We simply cannot reconcile as a people if we allow ourselves to be judged by the ethnic, race, and gender essentialism of Marxist-style power groups, and thus we should reject CRT … Indeed, America has had a long and horrific period of chattel slavery followed by Jim Crow and racial codes that persisted well into the 1960s and 70s. But these practices ended as more Americans understood the gross violations of the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence. As a black man, I have seen tremendous progress over my lifetime, and while I’m cognizant racism will always exist, simply because evil will always exist, the only systematic oppression I see currently is the failure of public-school systems across America to prepare black and brown children for future economic success. It is the greatest tragedy of our time. And what is abundantly clear is CRT does nothing to advance the basic mission of K-12 education, while doing much to detract from it.” (Discovery Institute, American Center for Transforming Education, “Critical Race Theory — The Marxist Trojan Horse”) Certainly, CRT is becoming more than a distraction. Its disciplinarians are hoping to steal away the hearts and minds of our children. Jesus Christ, our disciplinarian, has set us free through His blood of redemption and transformation.

What the world needs now is HESED — Steadfast Mercy!

Our hope lies in this Word from Galatians 3:23-25, notably as it speaks on our freedom in Christ: “Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.” Throughout the history of the People of God (the Israelites), it was imperative that they remain ‘dependent’ upon the continual and merciful intervention of God. This ongoing and unfailing mercy of God was and is known as God’s Hesed; otherwise, they were lost and would die. Hesed is a Hebrew word almost beyond description, even pushing the boundaries of our comprehension. Hesed kept the law in balance. Apart from the “Hesed”/חֶסֶד of the Lord God YHWH — the completely undeserved, unconditional, loving kindness and mercy of God (named over 245 times in the Old Testament), the Mosaic Law could breed guilt and harshly assign punishments for violating the law, even issuing death sentences to offenders with seemingly very little — if any — grace and mercy attached to it. Of course, this Law was “only a shadow” of what <was> to come … “the substance <belonging> to Christ” (Colossians 2:17). As a stiff-necked people with very clayish feet, we are always tempted to fall back into the law, any law … even a law of lawlessness, especially when we drift from Hesed … the completely undeserved, unconditional, loving kindness and mercy of God. And now, of course, we have been set free! Here’s the incredibly Good News — this ‘hesedness’ was eventually fulfilled in the Incarnation of God, the Father, in Jesus Christ! We can now be proclaimers of such mercy and breathe life into our world, no matter what we face. We can’t say it enough: What the world needs now is mercy, especially revealed fully in Jesus. And, of course, we’ve been called to communicate this message of mercy, and shout it from the rooftops (cf. Matthew 10:27) — MERCY! If we don’t, others WILL fill that void with a counterfeit form of mercy — like CRT! Do you see what’s happening?  

Unlike the present-day “law of the land,” aptly described in our primary “letters,” the Constitution/Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence, CRT has no grounding in a Judeo-Christian God. In the end, it is god-less. It has no biblical understanding of Hesed or Mercy. Because of the God-void in every human heart, CRT has created this false narrative in trying to communicate mercy. It answers only to itself, thus “keeping us subject to a disciplinarian” and “under the law” (Galatians 3:23 & 25). I believe this terrible reality is exactly what our nation has been experiencing without being able to name it, an intuitive sense that something is not right. What our country — the world — needs now, more than anything else, is Hesedness, the Lord’s steadfast and unfailing Mercy, not a pseudo-mercy that is, in the end, merciless.

We all understand that the Cross lies at the very heart of the Christian faith, and without the Cross we have no faith at all. What took place at Golgotha was the single most important event in all of history — it was the central event of the human race. And, herein, lies the inherent flaw and great deceit/lie of CRT. Where there is no mercy with CRT, the Cross exudes Mercy. In Part I of this article, I clearly articulated that racism is a reality. It is dreadfully sad and awful, and damages each of our souls. In Walter Myers III words, “… while I’m cognizant racism will always exist, simply because evil will always exist, the only systematic oppression I see currently is the failure of public-school systems across America to prepare black and brown children for future economic success … And what is abundantly clear is CRT does nothing to advance the basic mission of K-12 education …”

In the end, for all of us, this life is all about pursuing and proclaiming the steadfast love and mercy of Jesus Christ and Him alone. There is a harvest of folks (cf. Matthew 9:35-38), including many of the so-called CRT proponents, who have not yet tasted such a mercy. Let us consider how we can effectively and faithfully engage in such a challenge. In the final installment of this article, Part III, I hope to raise two simple, logical and rationale questions: What is the end-game/purpose of CRT? And what was/is the end-game/purpose of Calvary? Until next time, stay the course …

In His Immeasurable Love and Mercy, 

K. Craig Moorman

Mission Developer/Pastor of River’s Edge Ministries/NALC-LCMC

Mt. Airy, Maryland

Letter From The Director – April 2020

Dear Friends in the Risen Lord:

Every morning – when I turn on my computer – I wonder, “How much worse is the news going to be today than it was yesterday?”  How many more confirmed corona virus cases will there be?  How many more people will have died?  What kind of greater precautions will we need to take, and what kind of greater restrictions will be placed upon us?  How much more will the stock market plunge?

In the midst of all this, we need encouragement, a source of strength, and hope.  What greater source of encouragement, strength, and hope could we have – and could we be able to share – than the good news that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead?  He is with us in our struggles, and He has defeated our greatest enemies – sin, death, and the power of the devil.

I would like to share with you four sources of strength and hope from the account of the Israelites’ crossing the Jordan River on their way to the Promised Land, as recorded in the early chapters of the book of Joshua. 

First, in Joshua 1: 2 the Lord said to Joshua, “My servant Moses is dead; now proceed to cross the Jordan.”  The Lord did not say, “Moses is dead; you might as well give up.”  Nor did He say, “Moses is dead; so why not go back to Egypt.”  “Moses is dead; it will never be the same again.” Or “Moses is dead; what hope do you have now?”  Rather the Lord said, “Moses is dead; now proceed to cross the Jordan.” 

We have heard it said over and over again.  We are living in unprecedented times.  We were not prepared for this, nor did we see it coming.  We do not know how long it will last or what life will be like after it is over.  We know it will be different, but we do not know how it will be different.  In many ways Moses is dead.  The realities, resources, and support systems that we had been counting on no longer exist.  And they disappeared so quickly.  But just as God said, “Moses is dead; now proceed to cross the Jordan,” so God is saying to us, “Life will be different, but it is not over.”  With God’s presence and power – with the hope of the resurrection – we will be able to get through this.  One year from now we will be able to look back and say, “God is good, and He saw us through.”  Moses may be dead, but we still need to and we still can cross the Jordan. 

Second, three times in the first nine verses of Joshua 1 God says, “Be strong and courageous.”  In verse 6, verse 7, and verse 9.  “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

It would be very easy today to be frightened and dismayed.  We have many, very valid reasons to be frightened and dismayed.  Just like the disciples of Jesus, on the evening of Good Friday, had many, very valid reasons to be frightened and dismayed. 

But the angel told the women who came early on Easter Sunday morning to the tomb, “Do not be afraid.  I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here.  He has been raised.  Come, see the place where He lay.  Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has been raised from the dead.”  (Matthew 28: 5-7)  So we, too, need to see the place where He lay.  We, too, need to see that the tomb is empty.  Then we, too, need to go quickly and tell people that He has been raised from the dead.  This year – during the upcoming Holy Week season – may God give you even more strength of conviction and mountain-moving faith, so that you will be able to believe with power and with boldness, “Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead.”

Third, in Joshua 3: 2-4 we read that the leaders of Israel went through the camp and commanded the people, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord our God being carried by the levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place.  Follow it, so that you may know the way you should go, for you have not passed this way before.” 

What do we need the most as we go through a national and global crisis unlike any we have experienced before?  We need to know that God is with us and that He goes before us, “for (we) have not passed this way before.”  I remember a poster I had on my wall in my dorm room in college.  It showed a mushroom cloud from an atomic explosion.  It asked the question, “Is there a future?”  It gave an answer from God.  “Yes, I am already there.”

Paul describes Jesus as “the first born from the dead.”  Jesus has already gone through the experience of death ahead of us.  And He has broken the power of death over us.  Therefore, “nothing in all of creation” – and that includes the corona virus – “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8: 39)

Fourth, Joshua 3: 15-16 tell us that “when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the edge of the water, the waters flowing from above stood still . . . while those flowing toward the sea of the Arabah, the Dead Sea, were wholly cut off,” so the people were able to cross over on dry ground. 

There was a miraculous crossing of a body of water at the beginning of the time of leadership of Moses (the Red Sea), and there was a miraculous crossing of a body of water at the beginning of the time of leadership of Joshua (the Jordan River).  But there is a significant difference between the two.  In the case of Moses and the Red Sea, God sent a strong east wind that blew all night.  In the morning there was a dry path. The people did not need to step into the sea until they had a dry path.  In the case of Joshua and the Jordan River, somebody had to step into the water first before the flow of the river stopped and a dry path became available.

I know that I, for one, would like to have a dry path before I have to step in.  But that is not the way it always goes.  It sure would be good to know how this pandemic will end and how long it will last, but at this point we do not know.  But still we need to step in, take necessary precautions, help those who are most vulnerable, and see this time as an opportune time to show the kind of courage and compassion that Christ can give. 

I remember several years ago a woman who was very close to dying from cancer read the lessons on Easter Sunday.  Never before had those Scriptures passages spoken so strongly to me as they did that day as they were being read by someone who would soon be dying and who believed with all her heart that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life.

This Easter season may your faith in Jesus be even bolder, your hope in Jesus be even greater, and your love for Jesus be even stronger.

Dennis D. Nelson
Executive Director of Lutheran CORE


Our prayers are with all confessional Lutheran pastors as you find and develop ways to stay connected with your congregations, give your people hope, courage, and strength, and reach out to your communities during these most unusual times.  On our website you can find a list of some congregations that are livestreaming and/or posting recordings of their worship services.  A link to that list can be found here.  Please let me know if you would like to be added to that list.

Devotion for Wednesday, July 11, 2018

“For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; and give heed to the voice of my supplications! In the day of my trouble I shall call upon You, for You will answer me.” (Psalm 86:5-8)

The Lord is gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He has sustained all throughout the ages, both the just and the unjust. See that the Lord provides for all of creation. Come to the Lord and know His goodness. See that He has provided all the grace needed that we may know He hears and answers. Come and know that Your God walks with you always.

Lord, in troubled times, when things are not going the way I desire or think they ought to go, You are there. Open my eyes to see that You are always present in every time of need; for You are present always. Lead me into a deeper relationship with You that I may abide in You as You abide in me knowing that in You is goodness and mercy. Lead me, O Lord, in righteousness.

Lord Jesus, You are God in the flesh who has fulfilled the prophecies and are the Savior. Come and lead those who hear Your voice in the ways of righteousness. Guide me, O Lord, to walk humbly with You now and always that I would know that in every time of trouble, You are there. Lift my eyes up to see You always and know that no matter the circumstance, You will lead me. Amen.

Devotion for Monday, November 27, 2017

“The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; He will wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.  And men will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth!”  (Psalm 58:10-11)

In a world filled with wickedness, it is hard to distinguish where justice lies.  The Lord knows, but we do not see His hand of justice at work.  The Lord is patient, but we, in our limited lifetimes want revenge now.  The Lord will judge and He will judge righteously.  Just trust in the Lord in all of His ways and know that He will lead all who turn to Him into the ways of righteousness.

Lord, I am easily led in so many directions by all of the wickedness in this world.  Guide the thoughts of my mind and the attitude of my heart that I would hold fast to the truth You have revealed.  Lead me, O Lord, in the way I should go and then help me walk in this way.  Grant that I would see Your hand upon this world and know that You are working all things together for good to those who love You.

Lord Jesus, in great love You have come to lead as many as would follow You in the way of truth.  The world is already judged and You have come for those who will come through You into light and life.  Guide my heart this day, O Lord, that I would look to You and Your ways and follow in them as You direct and lead.  By Your Holy Spirit, lead me this day.  Amen.

Devotion for Monday, November 13, 2017

“In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.  What can mere man do to me?  All day long they distort my words; all their thoughts are against me for evil.”  (Psalm 56:4-5)

Word twisting is nothing new.  It has been done from the beginning.  Pay attention to what the Lord has said, straight up, and praise Him as you have been created to praise.  Do not mind the ones who distort the truth, but live in the truth of the Word which has been revealed and know that God is good and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  Think on God’s goodness.

Lord, all around me are those who seek my acceptance of them and their ways.  Lead me, O Lord, in the way I should go that I would hold fast to Your Word of truth knowing that in You alone is there hope and a future.  Let my lips praise You all the day long and I will forever look only to You as the source of life.  Shield my ears from the false ways of the wicked ones of this world that I may hold fast to Your Word.

Lord Jesus, You have come that I may have life and have it abundantly.  My mind is affected by the twisted words of this world.  Clear my mind to hear the straight truth of Your Word which is from everlasting.  Help me keep things simple and listen to what You have to say.  You are the author and finisher of my faith.  Lead me in the way I should go and I will follow You.  Amen.

Weekly Devotional for November 8, 2017

“He who sits on the throne will shelter them with His presence.” (Rev. 7:15)

The old sinner in us doesn’t always like the term “shelter.”  Are we so weak that we need someone to shelter us?  Didn’t we cut the apron strings?  Shouldn’t Christians, in particular, be more questing, advocates in the public square for what is good and right and true?  Away with this mild Lord of shelter! (says the old, proud sinner . . . .)

And then 26 believers end up dead in a pool of blood as babies scream, mothers weep, and a nation goes on fighting.  Sudden illness cuts down beloved friends and family.  Opportunists prey on the young and deceive the poor, and an entertainment industry peddles vile myths to corrupt the soul.  Even churches quake with heresy, pressing the faithful into doubt, frustration, and a love of division.  

Come, O Shelter of the faithful!  What strength it takes to shelter others: resolve, compassion, and the willingness to go and seek the lost.  It takes a Man who would even bear a cross to overcome the power of death.  This Man is God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who knows you by name; whose love for you is stronger than death; and who will bring you, with great joy, to the throne that He shares eternally with His Father.  Have no fear, little flock!

LET US PRAY:  Protect, defend, and deliver us from evil, good Shepherd of the sheep.  By Your two-edged sword, that living word, silence the ancient enemy, curb all evil designs, bring us to repentance, and preserve Your Church in perfect peace until the day of Your appearing; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever.  Amen


Pastor Steven K. Gjerde

Zion, Wausau

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 Devotion

“Willingly I will sacrifice to You; I will give thanks to Your name, O Lord, for it is good.  For He has delivered me from all trouble, and my eye has looked with satisfaction upon my enemies.”  (Psalm 54:6-7)


Lord, You call for me to willingly sacrifice to You, but I often begrudgingly make sacrifices.  My eye often does look with satisfaction when my enemies get what I think they deserve.  But all of this merely points to the fact that my heart is far from You and not like Yours.  You have the ability to create in me a clean heart, So Lord I ask that You would do so, so that I may have a heart that is pleasing to You.


Lord, I can use this Psalm to justify the wickedness in my heart, but that is not why you put it here.  Help me, I pray, to simply come to the place where I am willing to put the whole of me on the altar of Your presence and be one who sacrifices all for You.  Deliver me from the trouble of my heart and guide me according to Your goodness to see in You alone the hope of glory that You offer in grace.


Lord Jesus, You have come that I may have life and have it abundantly.  Guide me by Your grace to make sacrifices that are pleasing to the Father.  Kindle in me the Spirit of Your love that I would not seek things for vain glory, but look to You as the example of One who sacrificed Himself for the sake of us all.  Lead me Lord Jesus, for I cannot, nor should not ever take the lead.  Amen.

Weekly Devotional for October 22, 2017



Devotional for October 22, 2017 based upon Matthew 22: 15-22

A young boy wanted a hundred dollars, so he prayed to God for an entire week, but nothing happened.  Finally he decided to write God a letter, requesting the hundred dollars.  When the Post Office got the letter addressed to God, they forwarded it to the White House.  The President was very impressed and touched, so he instructed an aide to send the boy five dollars.  He figured that five dollars would mean a lot to the boy.  Which it did.  So the young boy sat down and wrote a note, which read, “Dear God, Thank you very much for sending me the money.  However, I noticed that for some reason you sent it through Washington.  As always, they kept most of it.”  

In our Gospel reading for this morning Jesus said, “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (verse 21)  Most of us accept the fact that we do have to give to Caesar.  What Caesar wants, Caesar gets.  And most of us just kind of accept that.

Giving to Caesar is not a problem for most of us.  But for many, giving to God is a huge problem.   So I would like to ask the question, WHY DO WE GIVE?  Many churches hold their annual stewardship campaign during this time of the year.  Why would we want to tell God in writing what we plan to do in providing financial support for and being involved in the ministry of the Church this next year?

First, we give to God the things that belong to God in RESPONSE to all that He has done for us.  Times are tough.  Money is short.  Maybe financially times are tougher for you than they were a few years ago.  But do you still have your health?  Do you have people who love you?  Do you have food to eat and a warm place to sleep?  Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins?  Do you have a home in heaven?  The truth is that we all have much to be thankful for.  And so we give to God the things that belong to God, first of all, in RESPONSE to all that God has done for us.

Second, we give to God the things that belong to God as a REMEDY to the enslaving power of wealth.  There comes a time for all of us when we have to decide what role money is going to play in our lives.  Will we have money, or will money have us?  It’s really interesting – and tellingly significant – that as people’s income grows, the percentage of their income that they give to charities declines.  The more people earn, the less proportionately they give.  You would think it would work the other way around.  The more I earn, the more discretionary income I have, so the more I should be able to give.  But that’s not the way it works.  

A wealthy TV evangelist was dying in his mansion.  He gathered his followers all around him to hear his one last wish.  “Before I die,” he said, “I would like to take one last ride.”  They asked him what he would need for that one last ride before entering into the Kingdom of Heaven.  He replied, “I would like a very small camel and a very large needle.”

It’s happening to people all around us.  No one of us is immune.  People who used to worship God now worship money. And so we give to God the things that belong to God as a REMEDY to the enslaving power of wealth.

And then third, we give to God the things that belong to God as a REMINDER of who is number one in our lives.  According to Deuteronomy 14, the whole purpose of the tithe is to teach us to always put God first.  It’s simply a matter of priorities.  It is simply a matter of doing what Jesus said – “Give back to God the things that belong to God.”  Seek first His Kingdom, and then trust Him to provide and to take care of you.  

This coming week ask yourself, “Am I truly giving back to God the things that belong to God?”

May the Holy Spirit so live in your life that you will find giving back to God easier, more important, and certainly more enjoyable than giving back to Caesar.

Dennis D. Nelson

President of the Board and Director of Lutheran CORE