Video Ministry – May 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 two videos – a CORE Convictions Video by LCMC pastor Kent Groethe and a Video Book Review by NALC pastor Stephane Kalonji.

AN ANATOMY OF CONVERSION

BY KENT GROETHE

Here is a link to Pastor Groethe’s video.  He is pastor of an LCMC congregation in Arizona and is former editor of the Connections Magazine.

Many thanks to him for this video in which he shows that the story of Cleopas and a friend on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24 is an Anatomy of Conversion.  It is a paradigm for how God works saving/justifying faith in a person.  Pastor Kent speaks about each part the Spirit, the Word, and the proclaimer has in this encounter. 

STRANGERS NEXT DOOR: IMMIGRATION, MIGRATION, AND MISSION

BY STEPHANE KALONJI

Here is a link to Pastor Kalonji’s video. He is pastor of an NALC congregation in Texas.

Many thanks to Pastor Kalonji for his video review of this book, which was published by InterVarsity Press in 2012. Strangers Next Door is one of the many books written by J.D. Payne. Throughout this book, the author emphasizes a diaspora missiology. He brings together Holy Scripture and facts about immigration and migration, and challenges Christians to share the gospel with the peoples of the world who have migrated to the West.

Why are the majority world’s people migrating to the West? Payne contends that there are three principal reasons: Flight from war, search for higher paying jobs, and study. He notes that many of the migrants coming to the West have not been reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ and are, therefore, a ripe harvest field for gospel outreach. Basing himself on biblical stories of migrations, Payne argues that migration was part of God’s salvation plan from the beginning of creation and not an after-thought after the sin of Adam and Eve.

In response to the presence of migrants and immigrants in the West, Payne challenges western Christians to be intentional about reaching out to them with the gospel, beginning with those who are most receptive to it. He argues that if introduced to the gospel, migrants and immigrants can become missionaries to their own people. To accomplish this outreach, Payne proposes a strategy he calls R.E.P.S.: Reach, Equip, Partner, and Send. He concludes that “Global migrations provide a Great Commission
opportunity for us and our churches.”




Letter From the Director – December 2022

ARE YOU READY FOR CHRISTMAS?

Editor’s Note: This Lightstock image used for this post is described as a “Fresco painting of the Nativity, from the chapel of the Shepherd’s Field in Beit Sahour (a suburb of Bethlehem), the traditional site of the angelic annunciation to the shepherds.”

Are you ready for Christmas?  By that I do not mean, Do you have the tree up, all your shopping done, the presents wrapped, and the cards sent?  Rather I am asking, Are you really ready for Christmas?  Are you prepared for the arrival of God’s Son? 

Luke 1:  5-7 tell about an old Jewish priest by the name of Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth. It says that they were “righteous before God, but they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.”  They had no children, and the days for their hoping for a child were long gone.

In those days people believed that God would close the womb of a woman if He was mad at her.  So a barren woman was a disgraced woman.  Elizabeth was forced to live her life as though she had a sign hung around her neck that said, “God is mad at me.”  And even though Zechariah did not have quite the same kind of social stigma to have to deal with, still he had to live with the deep disappointment of having no child to carry on the family name. 

Do you feel like Elizabeth?  Is there something in your life that makes you feel ashamed or inadequate?  Do you feel like Zechariah?  Are you facing some deep sorrow or disappointment?

Well Luke tells us that while Zechariah was performing his priestly service in Jerusalem, he was chosen by lot to enter into the Holy Place in the Temple and burn incense there.  This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  While he was in the Holy Place, the angel Gabriel appeared to him and said, “Your prayer has been heard.  Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.” (verse 13) 

What do you mean, “Your prayer has been heard?”  What prayer?  If it was a prayer for a son, Zechariah had probably stopped praying that prayer a long time ago.  Zechariah might have even forgotten about that prayer.  But God had not forgotten.  What prayer were you praying a long time ago?  Maybe you have even forgotten about that prayer, but God has not forgotten.

In verse 18 Zechariah responds, “How will I know this is so?  For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.”  Well the angel Gabriel did not like that response, and so he said, “Because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.” (verse 20)  Zechariah comes out of the Temple unable to speak.  A few days later he returns home.

Verses 24-25 tell us, “After those days Elizabeth conceived and for five months remained in seclusion.”  She said, “This is what the Lord has done for me when He looked favorably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.” 

So here is Zechariah, a priest, a righteous man who knows God and who serves God.  But Zechariah has some spiritual growing to do.  When God gave him a wonderful promise, he did not believe that promise.  He doubted and underestimated God.  Zechariah is a prime example of a person who has known God for a long, long time.  He goes to church.  He is involved in church.  He does all the right things at all the right times in all the right ways.  But when God comes along and challenges him to grow to a new level of faith, he is not ready.

In contrast there is Elizabeth.  Zechariah cannot speak.  Elizabeth can speak, and when she does speak, she speaks about God’s grace and mercy to her and of how He has taken away her shame and disgrace.  She did not become bitter.  Rather she kept on serving and praising God.  Elizabeth was far more ready for Christmas than Zechariah. 

Zechariah was not ready for Christmas because he did not believe that God could step into his life and answer some long-forgotten prayer in a totally unexpected way.  How many of us are like Zechariah?  If we were to be honest, we would have to admit that deep down inside we are deeply disappointed with God.  And so, like old Zechariah, we keep on doing what we are supposed to be doing, but we really do not believe that God could and would step into our lives and do something that would bless us in unimaginable ways. 

If that is you – if you no longer believe that God could and would step into your life and work in your life in an amazing way to bless you, then like Zechariah you are not ready for Christmas. 

But the same God who sent an angel to Zechariah.  The same God who sent a heavenly host to startle some shepherds and tell them about the birth of a Savior.  And the same God who put a wonder in the sky to catch the attention of some star gazers, that same God has some very interesting and wonderful and amazing ways of getting through to you. 

God has a way of sending you a word of hope to remind you that life is stronger than death, light is more powerful than darkness, good will prevail over evil, and joy is deeper than disappointment.  All of which is at the heart of the message of Christmas. 

The question is, Are we prepared for all that?  Do you believe that God can work in your life in ways that you would never imagine to take away everything that is negative and disappointing in your life?  If you do, then you are ready for Christmas. 

* * * * * * *

COMMISSION FOR A RENEWED LUTHERAN CHURCH:

A DISASTER IN THE MAKING

In my August 2022 letter from the director, which I entitled “The Revisionists Have Completely Taken Over,” I wrote an evaluation of the ELCA’s 2022 Churchwide Assembly.  A link to that letter can be found here.  Among the most significant of the actions taken was a resolution which directed the Church Council “to establish a Commission for a Renewed Lutheran Church” which would be “particularly attentive to our shared commitment to dismantle racism” and which would “present its findings and recommendations to the 2025 Churchwide Assembly in preparation for a possible reconstituting convention.”  We noted that the resolution seemed to make dismantling racism the main mission of the church.  We also observed that once you know the makeup of the commission, you will know the outcome.

In light of that fact, we have been watching carefully for any official word from the ELCA regarding progress in creating that commission.  The official word came in a November 16 news release reporting on the November 10-13 meeting of the Church Council.  A link to that news release can be found here

Before I comment on the makeup of the commission, which is the subject of the third paragraph of the news release, I would like to make a few comments regarding a very interesting statement from Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton in the second paragraph.  There Bishop Eaton is quoted as challenging the ELCA to “try as best as we can and as faithfully as we can to remain true to the gospel, but somehow find a way to speak and act in the cultural vernacular.”  If you cannot do both equally well, which one prevails – remaining true to the gospel or speaking and acting in the cultural vernacular?  With the way Bishop Eaton phrases it, speaking and acting in the cultural vernacular seems to prevail.  She then makes reference to Martin Luther’s translating the Bible into German so that “people could receive it in their own language.”  I cannot imagine that for Martin Luther speaking and acting in the cultural vernacular would take precedence over remaining true to the gospel. 

In the third paragraph it states that “the commission will consist of up to 35 voting members, to include at least 25 % people of color or whose primary language is other than English and a goal of at least 20 % youth or young adults.”  At least that is better than the position of many who had been driving this process and who did not want this whole matter to be minimized or buried by being referred to the Church Council.  Those people have made it very clear that they do not want any white male over the age of sixty to be allowed to have anything to do with the process.

At least this is better than that, but think about it.  At least 25% of thirty-five would be nine, and at least 20% of thirty-five would be seven.  Nine plus seven is sixteen.  At least sixteen out of the thirty-five members of the commission (just two short of a majority) will be people of color, people whose language is other than English, or people under the age of twenty-five or thirty (depending upon how you define young adults).    How representative of the ELCA is that?  There is no concern expressed for Biblical and theological awareness and no concern for whether these people would understand what it takes to create and run an organization the size and complexity of the ELCA. 

What would happen if your congregation’s council were to decide that a commission that would develop recommendations for totally redoing the structure and mission of your congregation were to be at least 45% people who do not represent the vast majority of your congregation?

As one member of our board said, What would have happened if the Council of Nicaea had been made up according to the requirements of these quotas?  Would we have had such a profound theological decision that defined and preserved orthodoxy?  Or what would have happened if the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 had been comprised according to these quotas?  Would we have had a decision which resolved the issue at hand and advanced the mission of the church? 

The third paragraph states that “nominations will be received from synod councils or synod executive committees as well as through an open nomination process” and “the Church Council’s executive committee will present a slate of nominees at the council’s April 2023 meeting.”  But I have a feeling that a lot of the decision has already been made in regard to who will be the people of color and people whose language is other than English who will be on this commission.

The third paragraph ends by stating, “The council also referred to the commission the question of changing the denomination’s name.”   There are many who would like to see the word “Evangelical” removed from the name of this newly reconstituted church.  The claim is that the word “evangelical” is associated in the minds of many people with right-wing, racist, white-supremacy fundamentalists.  

We will keep you posted.  One can only hope, when this new church is reconstituted, that congregations will be given an opportunity for an “easy exit” because this new church will not be what they had signed up for in 1988.  

I also want to comment on two of the bullet points in the section which begins, “In other actions.”  Under the second bullet point it says that the ELCA Church Council “scheduled for 2024 the initiation of a task force for reconsideration of the social statement Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust.  Ever since that social statement was approved in 2009 we have known what would eventually happen.  Sooner or later the ELCA would renounce its promise to recognize as legitimate and valid traditional views of human sexuality.  It would only be a matter of time until the ELCA would renounce its commitment to provide a place of dignity and respect for those who hold traditional views.  No one should be surprised.  What is interesting is that the ELCA is minimizing the significance of this massive breach of trust by not even beginning the process of creating a task force until 2024, one year before the next Churchwide Assembly.  What the ELCA values it gives abundant time and energy to.  For something it considers to be of minimal significance, it does the opposite.

And then under the sixth bullet point it says that the Church Council “adopted a continuing resolution establishing council advisory members to include . . . a representative of Reconciling Works.”  The use of the word “include” as well as the fact that the Church Council “also approved revisions to the ELCA Church Council Governance Policy Manual to include reference to advisory members,” would seem to allow for the possibility of additional “advisory members.”  I will be writing to the Vice President of the ELCA to ask how it was decided that a representative from Reconciling Works would be an advisory member and whether there will be any consideration given to a provision for a representative from a group with traditional views, such as Lutheran CORE, to be one of the advisory members.  In the January 2023 issue of our newsletter CORE Voice I will give a copy of my letter to the vice president and let you know whether I have heard anything. 

 * * * * * * *

VIDEO MINISTRY

Each month we feature two videos – the most recent addition to our video book reviews, and a recent addition to our CORE Convictions videos.  The CORE Convictions series is designed particularly for those who wish to grow in their knowledge of Biblical teaching and Christian living as well as for those who want to know more about how Lutherans understand the Bible. We also want to provide this resource for those who do not have the opportunity or the option of attending a church where the preaching and teaching is Biblical, orthodox, and confessional.

Here is a link to our You Tube channel.  In the top row you will find recordings from both sets of 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.  We now have seven videos in our CORE Convictions series.  Many thanks to Dr. Robert Benne for his video on “Martin Luther on Vocation.”  His video will be featured in February 2023.

This month we want to feature a video book review by Kim Smith and a CORE Convictions video by Pastor James Hoefer. 

“THE AWE-FULL PRIVILEGE: THIS THING CALLED PARENTING”    

Many thanks to Kim Smith for her review of the book, “The Awe-full Privilege: This Thing Called Parenting” by K. Craig Moorman.  Kim hails from Maryland and is completing her third and final term on the board of Lutheran CORE.  A link to her video can be found here.

Pastor K. Craig Moorman is a Lutheran pastor in the NALC and is also on the board of Lutheran CORE.  He lives in Mt. Airy, MD.  He is a mission developer and is married with five children all of whom are now adults in their 20s and 30s.  One of the most remarkable things about Craig and his wife, Nancy, is that allfive of their children are Christians and have a deep and abiding relationship with Christ.  In his book, Craig writes that in claiming a “deep and abiding relationship with Christ, we are telling the rest of the world that we will build our lives on this reality.”

This book covers parenting from soup to nuts–from marriage to the culture wars impacting our lives, to the need to stand in the gap and be the gatekeeper—protecting the hearts of our children. He has chapters on parenting, chaos, managing time and things, being wonderfully made, what home should be, and the critical components that are key to serving the Lord with integrity and faithfulness.  He also writes about wisdom and where to look for it.  And he writes of the need to persevere and hold your family together at all costs.  He boldly discusses our societal ills and how to combat them.  And he ends with challenges that will help us start a Christ-centered revolution in our own homes.

Craig’s book will go a long way in helping you raise your children to be Christians—in more than name only.

“THE PERSON AND WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?”

Many thanks to AALC pastor James Hoefer for his very clear and complete explanation of the work of the Third Person of the Holy Trinity.  A link to his video can be found here.

Just before His ascension Jesus told His disciples, “Don’t do anything until you receive the Holy Spirit.”  There was a good reason for that.  Without the Holy Spirit we cannot believe, we cannot love as God wants us to love, we cannot experience the freedom of being the person God wants us to be, and we cannot live the abundant life God wants us to live.

James expands on the five verbs that Martin Luther uses in his explanation of the Third Article of the Apostles Creed to describe the work of the Holy Spirit.

First, CALLS.  The Holy Spirit calls us through the Word of God, the voice of Jesus.  We experience true freedom not when we make choices, but when we realize that we have been chosen.

Second, GATHERS.  The Holy Spirit gathers us into the church.  It is not that we join a church.  Rather it is the Holy Spirit who adds us to the Church.  The Holy Spirit gathers us into groups of believers and into the Kingdom of God, which is bigger than any one denomination. 

Third, ENLIGHTENS.  The Holy Spirit uses the means of grace to do His work in our lives – baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the Bible as the Word of God.  This is a process that goes on throughout our lives.

Fourth, SANCTIFIES.  Like a dentist who will not stop until every problem has been found and fixed, so the Holy Spirit finds and fixes everything in our lives that needs to change.  Using another image of our day, the Holy Spirit upgrades us with a whole new operating system.  We begin to see the Fruit of the Spirit develop in our lives as the natural result of being continually filled with the Holy Spirit.

Fifth, KEEPS.  The Holy Spirit guards and protects us with all the spiritual armor of Christ. 

Pastor James then concludes this video with a prayer for the Holy Spirit’s anointing power and new operating system.  He prays that God will empower our lives with His Word, His gifts, and the very life of Christ inside of us. 

* * * * * *

May God bless you with all the hope, love, joy, and peace of this Advent and Christmas season.

In Christ,

Dennis D. Nelson

Executive Director of Lutheran CORE

dennisdnelsonaz@yahoo.com




September 2022 Newsletter




Letter From the Director – October 2021

WHAT WILL IT BE NEXT?

There are two things we know for sure about the ELCA.  First, they will always give us plenty to write about.  And second, they will always leave us wondering what will it be next.  Such was the case during the past couple months.

On August 23 the Religious News Service released the story that Nadia Bolz-Weber, the ELCA’s most famous pastor, has been installed as pastor of public witness by the Rocky Mountain Synod.  This is the Nadia Bolz-Weber who was one of the keynote speakers at the 2018 ELCA youth gathering.  She led 31,000 young people in a chant rejecting traditional views of human sexuality as a lie.  (See CORE Voice July 2018).  This is the Nadia Bolz-Weber who is known for her profanity and her bragging about the sex she is having outside of marriage.  I assume it was to accommodate Nadia Bolz-Weber that the ELCA Conference of Bishops recommended and the ELCA Church Council approved a wording in the recently revised document, “Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline,” which no longer describes abstinence from sexual intercourse until marriage as an expectation and requirement for pastors and other rostered leaders, but instead only as “the aspirational teaching of this church.”

In the past, when I have expressed concern about the pagan goddess worship at Ebenezer HerChurch in San Francisco, I was told that they do not represent the ELCA.  When I wrote to ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton regarding the “We Are Naked and Unashamed” movement, which wants to eliminate the requirement that pastors be married (by any definition) in order to be sexually active, I was told by her that they are outside of the teachings of “this church” and she does not want to give them attention and credence by commenting on them.

The news story said that the entire Conference of Bishops had to sign off on at least the creation of that position, if not also choosing Nadia Bolz-Weber for that position.  In addition, she was called to that position by the Rocky Mountain Synod and installed in that position by the bishop of that synod, Jim Gonia.  All that tells me that there is no way that the ELCA can say that this is action that does not represent and reflect on the ELCA.

Well, if that is what happened in August, what happened in September?  The ELCA again made the news.  That must be one of their greatest goals – to make the news.  This time they made the news by installing Protestantism’s first transgender bishop, Meghan Rohrer of the Sierra Pacific Synod.  There is much to be said about that action.

Of course there is much that could be said about the ELCA’s even having a transgender pastor who could be elected bishop.  The ELCA fully embraces the LGBTQIA+ agenda, even though the ELCA has never officially taken action to approve the BTQIA+ portion of LGBTQIA+.  (Transgender is the “T” portion of LGBTQIA+.)  The actions taken by the 2009 churchwide assembly only approved the ordination of a certain group of L and G persons – those that are in (PALMS) publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous same sex relationships.  Even the recently approved document, “Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline,” which I have referenced above, affirms that “this church’s understanding of human sexuality is stated in its authorized social teachings” – the most recent of which is the 2009 “Social Statement on Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust.”       

Not too long ago I received an email from an ELCA synodical staff person, who is now an ELCA synodical bishop.  She agreed that in 2009 the ELCA did not act to approve the ordination of BTQIA+ persons.  She also said that if the ordination of BTQIA+ persons had been part of the vote, it probably would not have been approved at that time.  But, she said, the Holy Spirit has revealed new things to the church.  What good timing on the part of the Holy Spirit!  To reveal new things to the church after and only after enough traditionally minded people have left that church so that these new things will not only be accepted, but welcomed and embraced.

But there is much more that can be said about the installation service for Bishop Rohrer.  I will start with the wording of the invocation given by ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton.  The news story said that “congregants were invited to stand as clergy gathered around the orchid-festooned baptismal font, giving thanks as decanters poured water from the Sacramento and Garcia Rivers, Lake Tahoe and the San Francisco Bay as acolytes waved blue streamers overhead.”  And then Bishop Eaton said, “You, oh God: Parent, Child, and Holy Breath.  You are the water we crave. . . .  You, oh God: Rain, Estuary, and Sea.  You are life for us all, now and forever.  Amen.”

I assume all this is intended to be some kind of creative reference to baptism, but what is it actually?  Idolatry.  Notice the parallel sentence structure.  The first “You, oh God:” is followed by five words that identify God – “Parent, Child, and Holy Breath.”  Not Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as per the ecumenical creeds and the Lutheran Confessions.  (Interestingly enough, at the ELCA service of ordination for a minister of word and sacrament – the new term for pastor – the candidate is asked, “Will you therefore preach and teach in accordance with the holy scriptures and these creeds and confessions?”  At the ELCA service of installation of a bishop, the bishop is asked, “Will you carry out this ministry in accordance with the holy scriptures and with the confessions of the Lutheran church?”  But why would we expect the ELCA to expect one of its own pastors and/or bishops to actually do what they said they would do?)

The first “You, oh God:” is followed by five words that identify that God – “Parent, Child, and Holy Breath.”  So we should be able to assume that the words that follow the second “You, oh God:” also identify God.  And what are those words?  “Rain, Estuary, and Sea.”  What is this?  Idolatry.  Invoking God as Rain, Estuary and Sea, and invoking Rain, Estuary, and Sea as God.  Worshipping the creation rather than the Creator.

And who is this said by?  No one less than the Presiding Bishop of the ELCA.  The ELCA could argue that Ebenezer HerChurch does not represent the ELCA, and the agenda and goals of “We Are Naked and Unashamed” are outside the teachings of “this church,” but I assume that what the Presiding Bishop says represents the ELCA and is within the teachings of “this church.”  Does Bishop Eaton actually believe that God is “Rain, Estuary, and Sea” and “Rain, Estuary, and Sea” are God, or is she so careless about saying what she is handed to say at the service for the installation of a synodical bishop? 

What if the prophets of Baal were right and Elijah was wrong and the gods are merely forces of nature?  Certainly rain is a gift, and water is essential for life.  I live in Arizona.  I give thanks for the monsoon rains which fell this past July and August.  The danger of fires is now listed as low or moderate, rather than extreme, and most of Arizona is no longer suffering from extreme or exceptional drought.  But if God were only the forces of nature, and the forces of nature were God, then what do I do about the fact that the forces that can make life possible can also destroy?  If God were only the forces of nature – Rain, Estuary, and Sea – then I would know nothing of a God who loves me as well as created me and who went to great lengths and paid a high price to save me.

Yes, it does matter what we believe.  It does matter how we witness.  It does matter what we say within the context of a worship service – especially one that is so publicly visible.

The final thing that I would want to comment on from the installation service for Bishop Rohrer is the way in which the service began with a “land acknowledgement” – a declaration that “the land where we live and worship in this place is stolen land.”  Participants in the ceremony, which was held in Grace Cathedral – in a historically wealthy neighborhood in San Francisco – were encouraged to “find concrete ways to make reparations to the original stewards of these places and their descendants.”

It is interesting.  For the ELCA the worst of sins are the ones that they are proud that they are not guilty of – white supremacy, racism, male dominance, and sexism.  They feel free to blast and criticize those awful white settlers who stole the land from indigenous persons, not realizing that they are doing the very same thing when they send in “woke” pastors who decimate congregations.  These congregations then close, their buildings are sold, and from the proceeds synods and ELCA churchwide finance their agenda. 

For example, I wrote in my June letter from the director about the online synod assembly for the ELCA synod in which I was rostered before I retired.   The proposed spending plan for the 2022-2023 fiscal year included income of $899,000, but expenses of over $1.2 million.  The assembly rejected the budget, not because it was not balanced, but instead because it did not provide funding for all of the favored ministries.  The attitude of the assembly was, We need to sell more buildings from closed congregations, and we need to use more of the dollars already obtained from already selling buildings from closed congregations.

The hypocrisy is amazing.  Encouraging the participants in the installation service of an ELCA synodical bishop to “find concrete ways to make reparations to the original stewards of these places and their descendants” while showing neither respect, consideration, appreciation, nor regard for the people who built and paid for the buildings which they are now selling in order to fund their agendas, values, and priorities.  

* * * * * * *

IN SHARP CONTRAST

In sharp contrast was the LCMC gathering in early October, which I had the privilege of attending on behalf of Lutheran CORE.  In the second reading for October 10 – in Hebrews 4:14 – the author of this letter urges his readers, “Let us hold fast to our confession.”  The people at this gathering were not afraid to hold fast to their confession.  They were not afraid to call God Father, believe in the authority of the Bible, see the Lutheran Confessions as an accurate statement of Scriptural teachings and relevant for us today (even though they were written by white males), and view the mission of the Church as proclaiming Christ and helping people grow as disciples of Christ.

* * * * * *

VIDEO BOOK REVIEW – “WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED”

Lutheran CORE continues to provide monthly video reviews of books of interest and importance.  Many thanks to Bill Decker for giving us a review of Erwin Lutzer’s book, We Will Not Be Silenced: Responding Courageously to Our Culture’s Assault on Christianity.  This is a book for all who are concerned about how they can and will live out their Christian convictions against a growing tide of hostility in our contemporary culture.  Picking up on the words of Jesus to the church in Sardis in Revelation 3: 2 to “strengthen what remains,” this book is written with the ardent hope that the U. S. church will wake up and “strengthen what remains.” 

Mr. Decker is an ELCA rostered lay leader who has done editorial and grant writing work for the ELCA.  Erwin Lutzer is a student of Martin Luther and pastor emeritus of Moody Church in Chicago. 

This review, as well as ten others, have been posted on our YouTube channel.  A link to the channel can be found here.

Dennis D. Nelson

Executive Director of Lutheran CORE

dennisdnelsonaz@yahoo.com




NEXUS: One Theology Institute, Two Mentors’ Perspectives, and a Triune God

by Ethan Zimmerman and Luke Ratke

Executive Director’s Note: Many thanks to Ethan Zimmerman and Luke Ratke for telling us about their experiences at NEXUS this past summer.  Ethan and Luke are both NALC college students and are planning on attending the NALC seminary after graduation.  They have also made a video about NEXUS, which is posted on our website.  A link to that video can be found here.

Luke

NEXUS is a vocational discernment institute rooted in Lutheran theology hosted by Grandview University in Des Moines, Iowa, and it is a week full of blessings! High school students who are contemplating their vocation, what God’s call for their life is, come to NEXUS and experience fellowship with other young Christians who are going through similar journeys. Morning and evening worship, classes on the Old and New Testament taught by solid Lutheran professors, small group discussions led by college-age mentors, and lots of prayer are all part and parcel of what NEXUS is, learning where God’s call meets your life!

Hi, my name is Luke and here are some of my thoughts on NEXUS: NEXUS is a great organization, because God makes it one! I loved being able to be a college-age mentor and a leader for the high school participants at NEXUS. Furthermore, I also liked being able to learn about God at NEXUS with and through the high school students.

My favorite thing about NEXUS this year was getting to meet and talk to Christians I had never met before or only briefly. I was able to talk to pastors, professors, and other Christians about Christianity. For myself, who someday wants to do full-time ministry as my career, working at NEXUS let me have conversations with other college-age students and high school students who think their vocation is full-time ministry. I also was able to practice and learn skills that will someday help me when I am doing full time ministry because I was a college-age mentor at NEXUS. Such skills were helping lead a small group, writing/giving a devotion, talking about the Bible with other people, etc.

Hello all, my name is Ethan Zimmerman, and this is my perspective on NEXUS!

NEXUS is something truly special, something that I don’t think happens anywhere else. NEXUS is not just another church or bible camp; discipleship and vocational discernment happen, and bonds of Christian fellowship that will stand the test of time are forged. My time as a NEXUS mentor was truly a blessing, and as my fellow mentor Chris put it, good for my soul!

Ethan

The topic of discipleship is something that has been on my mind for quite some time. I have wondered how I can disciple the people around me while I am at college, and being at NEXUS showed me how! Even though we were only with the participants for a week, we lived life with each other, we worshiped together, learned together, ate, laughed, and cried with each other. God showed me that this was how discipleship happened, in the nitty gritty little things of life, right in the trenches with people as they go through things and think about what God has in store for their life. Are they to be pastors? Missionaries? Youth leaders? Being there with these young participants while they pondered these questions and sought to answer what the Lord has called them to was truly a blessing and an eye opener as to what discipleship could look like.



I left NEXUS feeling encouraged, not just because I saw what discipleship and vocational discernment looked like in the lives of young folk, high school students, but because of the friendships that I left with. From the late nights discussing theology with the other mentors, to the goofy laughs shared with the participants, I left encouraged that there are other young Christians out there yearning to pursue God and answer the call He has given them in their lives, and that not every young person is all about decadent hedonism, but faith is still alive amongst my generation. I praise God for NEXUS, for the lives changed by it, for the doors opened because of it, and for the continued ministry it will have in the future!

We both think that every high school student that is a strong Christian should pray and think about coming to NEXUS next summer. Every high school student should think about going to NEXUS, not just high school students who think or know their vocation is full time ministry. We want to thank Lutheran CORE for financially helping The NEXUS Institute. And last but greatest of all, we want to thank God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for NEXUS! 




March 2021 Newsletter




Video Book Reviews – March 2021

Lutheran CORE continues to provide monthly video reviews of books of interest and importance.  Many thanks to David Charlton, ELCA pastor and vice president of our board, for doing this month’s video review.  His review is about the book, The Genius of Luther’s Theology: A Wittenberg Way of Thinking for the Contemporary Church by Robert Kolb and Charles P. Arand. 

Concerning this book Pastor Charlton writes, “Twenty-first century Lutherans are often confused and conflicted about the place of good works, service to the community, and social justice in the Christian life.  Kolb and Arand use Luther’s distinction between the Two Kinds of Righteousness to help us find a way to talk about all those things without losing sight of the doctrine of justification by grace through faith in the process.”

These reviews are posted on YouTube.  Our YouTube channel, which contains four other reviews, can be found here.  Many thanks to Pastor Charlton for having done a previous review, and to LCMC pastor, Chris Johnson; NALC pastor Brett Jenkins; and LCMC pastor Bob Rognlien for making the other reviews. 

Our plan is to publish a new video book review during the first week of every month.  Many of the books that will be reviewed are described in the List of Confessional Resources on the Seminarians page of our website.  That list can be found here.

When you look at a video review for the first time, please click on the Subscribe button.  As enough people do that, it will eventually help us to get a channel name that will include our organization’s name.  




November 2020 Newsletter