Tag Archives: Christ’s church

The Ocean is deep but doesn’t come close to the depth of the love of Jesus Genesis 9: 8-17 First St Johns July 26, 2015

[For the audio of this sermon please click on SoundCloud icon]

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who know the promises of God said … AMEN

This is one of those passages that the world likes to say is some kind of fable, mythology. The church hasn’t done a very good job with these Genesis passages either, letting them be some sort of similes or parables. Too many like to back off and say it didn’t really happen, but makes for good Sunday school material. The adults really don’t believe this stuff. The church has, essentially rejected, what God has given it to teach as truth. There was a Noah, that there was a world-wide flood, that there were people on the earth who needed to be destroyed because they had become so profoundly evil and irredeemable and that God then made a subsequent promise/covenant with Noah. Where He promised that He would never destroy the world again, through a flood. He will destroy the world again, as we see in the Book of Revelation, what was probably the last book of biblical revelation, but when He destroys the world again, it will be for the final time. In it’s place we will have the resurrection, where we and the world will be made into a place that God intended it to be and for us to be what we were intended to be. There will be no sin, no death, no fighting, there won’t be people creating artificial, phoney debates, we will all be one Body, God’s agents in creating a perfect world, where there will be few limitations, where as I’ve said many times, we will have life and life more abundant, Jesus’ words.

But today, the world, Satan, love to hijack what God gives us and apply it to the things of the world. God is, obviously, the most creative, the most uplifting, positive element in creation. He created everything, we are all pretty much in agreement that even in the evil, fallen, world, there is still amazing beauty, staggering evidence of God’s genius, His incredible creativity. As we go into space, we will see more evidence then we already know. Even now we are receiving pictures from the “dwarf-planet” Pluto, which is now bigger than was thought, that is showing some amazing aspects of that planet. But we love to live in denial about Noah’s story, because after all, we’re in charge, we call the shots. This bizarre idea that it’s all subject to democratic vote and the world’s not going to end because we say so, we have the technology, we moved beyond God’s will, if His will was ever a factor to begin with.

Noah’s ark and a world wide flood is an event that many feel is limited to this one fable from a people in the middle east and really has had no effect beyond that tiny group of people. That is also a fallacy that the world likes to live in ignorance of. Virtually every people in the world have a story about a devastating, all destructive flood and a man or family that were guided by God to save a remnant of people and animals. The geological evidence that has been discovered in very recent time, points to such a flood. The historical and geological evidence, again, destroys the worldly/Satanic lie that this is only a fable, it really did happen.

The upside to the flood is Yahweh’s words to Noah: “I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood,…” this is God’s first covenant, His first contract, promise with His creation. His subsequent promises will be to Abraham, to David, then finally Jesus, God the Son, who in His word says what I will be repeating in a few minutes: “In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Cor 11:25) This is the covenant Jesus makes with us, His people, those who have been given new life, have been saved from the death of sin in the world. His promise “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Cor 11:26) that He will return, that He will save those who are in Him, His Body, His church, and they will be restored to true life in the resurrection. After Noah, He tells Abram, that he will be the father of many nations, an old man who had no children at all. He tells King David that the Messiah, the Savior of man-kind will not only be born and deliver His people, but that Messiah, that anointed one of God will be David’s direct descendant.

But the world, in its cutesy way to continually undermine God, takes a symbol that God said is an “everlasting covenant”, of life, of a world of hope and promise and the world has turned it into a symbol of its own lusts and its hatred of God and His will, that is the symbol of the rainbow.

As I’ve said before, we shouldn’t be surprised when the world does things like this, it is the world, it is unsaved and doomed. The world has no promise, no hope. As the Prince of the world, Satan knows his destiny, he knows he is doomed to eternal destruction along with those who also refuse, defy and hate God. Satan has no compunction to take those who are also doomed and use them as pawns to further his fight against God in the world, to guide them to use God’s symbols in an evil way, to deny God’s teachings, such as Noah, and to turn them into symbols that lead us to believe it is all about us, that we are God, that we can do whatever we please, regardless of the consequences to us and those around us.

The non-believer wags his finger at God and says “how could God destroy the earth, He must be evil!” They will stipulate to a destruction story if that gives them a reason to spew their hatred against God. But they will not accept that God is serious, He has a people whom He does want to save and establish a world that will be perfect. He is showing all of us, He is not going to tolerate a sinful and base world filled with evil people. If people continue to be so willfully evil, as we see all-around us at this time in history, He will destroy it again and leave those who are condemned to face the penalty of their sins which is eternal condemnation.

God the Father is a loving, merciful, compassionate God. He has shared His promises with us, His Word, the Bible is filled with hope, promise. His Son Jesus Christ came that we would have life and life more abundant, not only in this world, but where it truly matters, to all eternity. We who are in Christ know that we have the promise that through Him we have forgiveness, we need forgiveness, because God is truly Holy, righteous and just. He does not tolerate sin and in His creation in the New Jerusalem, He will not tolerate sin. His new creation will only be populated by those who are saved in Jesus. We who are righteous, only in Jesus, because of the price that He paid, His perfect life, a ransom for many, that gives us the promise of eternal life.

What other things does the world promise us, what other symbols, what other failures of the world do we tolerate because, well we just all want to get along? We are not here to compromise with the world, because the world is wrong, sinful, seriously messed up. We do not buy into the world’s story, because we have the true story. The world likes to tell us that the story of Noah and Jesus are fables, that the stories of Darwin, Marx and the Kardashians are real and that’s what we should trust in. Take a step away from the nonsense of the world, can we all get along? In reality, not really. We reach out into the world with the love and mercy of Jesus, the world loves to think that it’s so tolerant, but when Jesus, the cross and His church comes up you can see the hate and poison in the eyes of the world. Despite that we do have to continue to love, serve in compassion, have mercy, but also have righteousness, assure that our witness is always for Jesus and not the things of the world. This is not going to make us popular, but John tells us, “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” (1 John 3:13) The world hated and still hates our Lord Jesus, it’s going to hate those who are faithful in Him. But it doesn’t matter what the world thinks, it does matter what Jesus thinks. The world can take the symbols of Christianity and try to corrupt them and try to make it in the name of tolerance, but that is a lie straight from Hell and another attempt by Satan to corrupt the church and Jesus’ people. So write in your journal about what the rainbow really means, as well as God’s other covenants, and how you can use them to show others the love of Christ that is in you.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom.

Ministry to those who are there after or never had children,

The Midlife Church Crisis

Image: Shutterstock

A while ago, my husband and I went to a newcomers’ luncheon at a church we were considering attending. We watched as church staff, almost all in their early- to mid-30s, schmoozed with the young families. While I recognize the demands at these types of events, only one staff member connected with the newcomers who were obviously the oldest people in the room. We left the gathering feeling like we’d become an anachronistic punch line.

I’ve had one too many conversations with empty-nester peers about what it’s like to go to church once our kids are grown and gone. Our midlife crisis of faith came from questioning not our beliefs, but our role in the body of Christ.

When the bulletin is filled with announcements for mothers of preschoolers’ gatherings, family camping weekends, and Vacation Bible School, I know I’m welcome to lend a hand by baking muffins or doing crafts. I’ve gotten the message that, now that my own children have grown, my role is to support the real focus of the church: families.

Decades ago, baby boomers and older Gen Xers pushed to create churches centered on the young, nuclear family. Sadly, this ministry model now excludes many of us. Having outgrown the local church’s core programs, we’re left to usher, teach fourth-grade Sunday school, or attend committee meetings. At times, I can’t help thinking: Been there, done that. Got the Christian T-shirt to prove it.

While local churches work to reach a younger generation, some of their graying members are stepping away. In our 50s, 60s, and beyond, we face a new set of challenges: relationship shifts, loneliness, health risks, divorce, and death. Boomers have begun attending church less frequently, according to Barna Research, while Gen Xers registered a significant uptick in those with no church affiliation.

I recently took an informal survey on my blog, and heard from nearly 500 believers about their church experiences as they’ve gotten older. Most stayed involved, using their extra empty-nester time to serve and continue their relationships with other congregants. But a little less than half said they’d scaled back their involvement from what it had been a decade ago. Those who had downshifted or left cited weariness with church politics, increased career demands, significant time devoted to caring for parents or grandchildren, health issues, and a sense that they’d somehow outgrown their church. “I’m tired of the same programs year after year,” one said. “I want deeper relationships with fewer people, more spiritual exercises like prayer and meditation than the canned studies offered.”

Those who’d scaled back emphasized that they hadn’t quit their faith. Many churches categorize churchgoers only as committed or not-so-committed, sorting the two based on participation in already-existing programs.

Anecdotally speaking, it seemed that those over age 40 who discovered meaningful service, worship, and connections reported that their church was committed to intergenerational ministry rather than family-centered, child-focused programming. Though there is some overlap between the two ministry philosophies, the congregations that concentrate on families with children under 18 unintentionally marginalize those who don’t fit the profile. Churches with intergenerational ministry have invested in building connections between members of different …

OK, kind of get this. But it seems to me that people have been part of the church just because of their children and now that they’re gone they’re realizing that they need ministry???

Amen on the following observation: “…it seemed that those over age 40 who discovered meaningful service, worship, and connections reported that their church was committed to intergenerational ministry rather than family-centered, child-focused programming.”

There’s a demand for real worship, there is real worship out there

Ya, I’m going to keep up this drumbeat, the evidence continues to mount and I intend to do my best to genuinely pastor a genuine Christian church in response to that evidence. I submit that all the iterations of the Christian church have done a lousy job, fussing at people doesn’t work, patronizing people doesn’t work, setting up phoney hurdles doesn’t work, wishy-washy liberalism doesn’t work. What works is Law and Gospel, seriously presented Law and Gospel of the Bible.

When I say that the evidence continues to mount, I refer to more research by David Kinnaman of Barna Research. Kinnaman has been added to my list of “I’d read his grocery list if he published it”. Barna Group’s recent research shows that while there is a move away from the church, it’s not because of a disbelief or rejection of God, or of Christianity. More and more the evidence points to the rejection of the church. It’s time to for the end of the phoney-baloney liberal church, it’s time for the end of the “feel-good” church, whatever goes church, the legalistic church, the palsey church. It  is time for the genuine Christian church and all the indicators point to the need for the genuine church to reassert itself. For too long the church has worried and fussed about being popular, that’s not what it’s supposed to be, it’s supposed to be Christ’s church and His Voice, not the world’s, not a popularity contest and filling the position and need that the world is realizing isn’t being met.

62% of unchurched people 2 out of 3, “consider themselves Christians.” Obviously what they need is not happening in the church as it is today, or not finding the right Christian church.

“About one-third (34%) …, describe themselves as “deeply spiritual.’ Four in ten ‘strongly agree that their religious faith is very important in their life today and 51% are actively seeking something better spiritually than they have experienced to day. One-third say they have an active relationship with God that influences their life and describe that relationship as ‘important to me’ (95%), ‘ satisfying’ (90%), and ‘growing deeper’ ( 73%).”

Clearly there is something missing, and too many, even among those in the church are realizing it and are searching for it and the church is failing to provide it. It’s time for genuine worship, Law and Gospel, it’s time for a strong, courageous church, that, empowered by the Holy Spirit, stands for Christ and His Word and not for the politically, socially and theologically popular. Worship is about glorifying God, praising Him, lifting Him up. It’s not about the pastor, he is there to point to Jesus so that people will leave that church knowing Christ better, not the preacher. It’s time for genuine discipleship, people want to “grow deeper”, and the church is treating it as if it’s just a social event. The church needs to grow in discipleship, prayer, genuine worship, genuinely lead as Christians, instead of competing for world popularity. The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod does have genuine worship and truly preaches Law and Gospel in Jesus. The need is out there and the LCMS stands ready to provide, let’s show the world what the church of Jesus will be.