Saturday, May 13, 2017

Try occasional walks through a cemetery




After mentioning my weekly walks through the cemetery next to our church, several members asked me if I really did that. The answer is yes. I just spent 35 minutes walking there tonight. Sometimes I google the names of people to find out their story. 


Cemeteries tell the truth to us all. I suggest a walk through one from time to time. 


For me, as a pastor, my calling is to prepare people for how they'll spend the massive, overwhelming, majority of their existence. Cemeteries remind me of sin's devastation. No one escapes physical death. Ignoring that reality is eternally foolhardy. Cemeteries drive me to the only One who defeated death. Frankly, I literally don't have time for the flawed opinions of others about something as serious as death. Only the risen Christ's Word is sufficient to reconcile what walking through a cemetery will conjure in your mind...especially when you see your father's headstone, which bears the same name as you.

A stroll through a cemetery on Saturday night holds me accountable to preach the gospel Sunday morning.

Woe to me if I don't.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Skeptics of the Church of Esquelito



Esquelito was the quirky side kick of Nacho in the epic film, Nacho Libre.  Nacho was a deist posing as a monk, who was concerned that Esquelito did not believe in God, but rather only in Science.

Indeed, for Esquelito "Science" was God. 


With the election of a president who has voiced skepticism about the Climate Change movement that has gripped so many in high governmental and industrial places, the debate about "Science" has been reignited. 

I suggest, for the most part, rather than saying "Science has shown..."or "Science has proven..." a more accurate to description would be-"Certain people applying the rules of scientific inquiry (hopefully) to a certain situation have come to postulate...."

Science (in noun form) rarely represents something as settled as those who use the term think or suggest. Just because "Science" is used to bolster a claim doesn't mean true science was actively engaged in...even if a chart is shown or the results of a certain study are quoted. 

The modern Climate Change movement seems absolutely certain the "science is settled" on the matter. If a person disagrees they are basically laughed at and marginalized. An article that came out yesterday revealing manipulation of data and negligence in the peer review process.  See the post here.  The post claims-

A high-level whistleblower has told this newspaper that America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) breached its own rules on scientific integrity when it published the sensational but flawed report, aimed at making the maximum possible impact on world leaders including Barack Obama and David Cameron at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015

For those who think healthy skepticism is required to discern all claims about anything important, not to mention the modern "scientific" claims that usually have massive financial implications, the revelations of this article (which are not the first of it's kind) do not come as a surprise. One of the serious objective problems for the Climate Change movement is the pesky satellite data (that's right, DATA or FACTS) which appears to argue against the Climate Change movement message. The findings from the satellite data show an apparent pause in any kind of global heat up. This is indeed inconvenient data for the Climate Change industry...um...I mean...business....oops, sorry- movement.  Look up "The Pause" and read the entertaining defenses for why we should read the facts differently. If you are not skeptical about the religious-like defensiveness of the Climate Change movement after reading the arguments about "The Pause", you are truly lost in your trust and faith in Science. 

Cue immediate reaction from adherents to the Church of Esquelito. 

They will react on the basis of their credal commitments, some of which are like these:

Scientists don’t lie.
Peer review is key…
People who aren’t “scientists” really don’t have basis to judge.
Skeptics are deniers and not very intelligent (they don’t always say this one outright, but they definitely mean it and snicker about it in private).

Forgive the many who are skeptical about the multi trillion (by extension) dollar modern scientific industry. Objective proof of data manipulation and the outright neglect of the all important peer review process are the very reasons everyone should be on some level skeptical.  

By the way, skepticism is not equal with denial.  

The Church of Esquelito must defend it’s God, which is the thing so often called “Science” today.   For the rest of us- we’ll keep asking questions when we see repeated breaches in the sacred scientific system.

I predict the reactions to findings like revealed in the above article will prompt Trump-like attacks on the credibility of the source and the whistle blower rather than deal with The Pause problem. 

On a positive note, by the end of the film, Esquelito joined Nacho's deistic commitment, it seems.  Note his heartfelt prayer for Nacho early in this clip. Hopefully adherents to Esquelito's Church creed will convert too.  




A Free People- a recent letter to my church




Perhaps some of our older members can remember a more socially and politically contentious time in our nation’s history. The acrimonious year-long build up to the November election and recent inauguration of President Donald Trump was unlike any of the eleven similar cycles I recall. Christians had seemed quite divided in in their public opinions before the election.  These early days after the inauguration indicate strong division in the nation as a whole. There is a mixture of extreme fear and anger with some and a sense of relief and high hopes for others. Hopefully this initial furor will dissipate and there will be opportunity for the new administration to exercise sound leadership. Certainly not everyone will be pleased no matter how the new administration governs. Whatever the case, we should pray fervently for our leaders. 

Christians ultimately rest in God’s sovereignty and His providential watch care over all human affairs. If our study of Isaiah has taught us anything, it is about God’s people remaining devoted to Him no matter what the socio-political scene. God has a special love for His Church which compels us, by His grace and power, to be witnesses for His gospel and faithful in obedience to Him. As I have written and stated many times, churches like Redeemer will play an increasingly important role in our nation’s strength and vibrancy. Shaky times should encourage the God’s people to a renewed and steadfast devotion to the ministry of the Word and Sacraments. Certainly those who are well trained in the Word should be all the more involved by applying biblical principles in our social actions and votes but let us not forget where the transforming power lies- the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

The followers of Christ must rise above the political bickering and angry name calling so prevalent in our culture today. Scripture gives us clear guidance on how to navigate difficult social and political waters. The Apostle Peter writing at the time of one of the most despotic Roman emperors in history, gives very helpful instruction-

“Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor". - 1 Peter 2:13-17


The part about subjecting ourselves to the governing authorities is obvious enough. We should not miss what else the passage states. Christians are truly a free people. The gospel has liberated us. We are free from the penalty of our sin because of faith in the finished work of Christ. We are also free to obey God by His grace in our lives. By freely doing good as God empowers us, we will silence ignorant and foolish people. We are not an angry or fearful people.  We honor God-appointed human authorities but we do not look to them for our joy or sustenance. Whatever social or political climate may be prevailing, we have our clear instructions from God-Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Timely words for Christians on Inauguration Day 2017

Timely and instructive words to Christians from God's Word on inauguration day 2017


"Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme,or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor". - 1 Peter 2:13-17