Wednesday, July 8, 2015
(Dr. Matthew Becker)
In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Omnipotent,
the Omnipresent, and the only Redeemer of the world.
To Him do we cling for truth, love, and mercy. Amen.
This is the third and final (?) post about the renegade "pastor" who has been teaching things that contradict Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, mocking our President, Pastor Matt Harrison, and refusing to recant. Because he and his supporters have been quite open with his identity, it is now no longer necessary to keep his identity private. The person I have been referring to in this series of blog posts is Dr. Matthew Becker, a professor at Valparaiso University. Lately, he has been accused of failing to defend the LCMS position, that the first three books of Genesis are a "historical record."
Because Dr. Becker just can't seem to keep his hands out of the cookie jar, after the latest accusation by the district president of the Montana District, his very own district president of the Northwestern District, Pastor Paul Linnemann, finally worked up the courage to approach Dr. Becker. Because of his refusal to recant his teachings, according to the accusation, Pastor Linnemann asked Dr. Becker to resign as pastor of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Dr. Becker refused because he believes that resigning is an admission of guilt. Because of his insistence on heresy and almost downright blasphemy, as well as openly contradicting the teachings of the LCMS, thereby defiling the beliefs and the faith of many of its members, Pastor Linnemann finally had to force his hand in the name of the of the Synod and of the Christian faith as we teach it. He told Dr. Becker that he was suspended as pastor of the LCMS. This suspension was the proscribed procedure when the leaders of the Synod are in the process of expelling a pastor who has strayed and refuses to repent. He was given 15 days to respond to his suspension, starting 1 July 2015.
These 15 days were a final opportunity for him to recant his heresies and blasphemies, before he is officially expelled from the Synod as a pastor. In response to his suspension and the July 15 deadline, Dr. Becker decided instead, according to his blog, that he would rather take his family and join a local church within the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, a.k.a. ELCA. In doing this, as ELCA is only not in fellowship with LCMS and teaches doctrine contrary to that of LCMS and Scripture, Dr. Becker has in fact excluded himself from the LCMS. In other words, if he indeed joins a church within ELCA, he is automatically expelled as a pastor and but also excommunicated as a member of LCMS by "self-exclusion."
While Dr. Becker's choice to be removed from the LCMS as a pastor and a member is sad and disappointing, it is not at all surprising. I have noticed that so many people contradict LCMS teachings in belief and in practice, only to leave the LCMS for ELCA or ELCA-supported churches. These individuals often are educated and very worldly, with strong beliefs in individualism. While having a fine mind is great and can be a benefit to one's church, one's community, and one's Lord, it becomes a problem when one's brain or one's desire to assimilate into the godless American culture leads them astray from the truth – – the truth that most of them had been taught since childhood by parents, relative, pastors, and teachers. This is exactly what has happened with Dr. Becker. While he is very gifted and educated, he allowed his own scholarship and kowtowing to decadent society to abandon the principles and beliefs that he swore when he was ordained to not only respect but to teach and practice.
Some may say that the LCMS has been losing people. On the one hand, because many people within the LCMS has become very comfortable with their lives, they often neglect their stewardship with their neighbors. This is not just a problem with the LCMS, but with most church denominations lately. Because Christianity has been such a stronghold in American society, we stopped working hard, and we instead try to condemn people to hell or focus on music and mere social activism. Stewardship, fellowship, and charity have taken back seats. This is why Christianity and the morals within our beautiful faith have lost so much ground in this country. While Christians are finally starting to wake up after the latest Supreme Court decision, they need to start getting up and getting back to work. When we are too busy worrying about football games and brunches and so forth, we are basically allowing people like Dr. Becker, to believe that while God does everything, he knows everything better.
On the other hand, I will agree with what one pastor has said about the decline in membership in today's society with churches – – especially evangelical churches. This pastor suggests that while the numbers may say that church attendance and in the percentage of people professing the Christian faith are declining, the number of true Christians has stayed the same. It is only the number of those leaving who were pretending to be Christian that is on the rise. By those who are pretending to be Christians, I mean those who only go to church to make friends, to make business contacts, because of cultural reasons, to listen to music, or because our parents or spouses expect us to. This may sound harsh to many, but if those are the only reasons you are going to church, you are not a Christian; you are a Churchian. A Churchian is someone who goes to church simply as a practice. They don't follow the beliefs of the church, they don't read Scripture, they don't pray, and they don't live out the Christian faith in their lives. Because of this country's increasing persecution of Christians and mockery of the faith and even Jesus Christ, Churchians have less of a reason to attend church. Therefore, they will certainly use Sunday as a day of rest or recreation, but when asked, they will no longer say that they are Christian but that they are "spiritual." Well, guess who is also "spiritual"? Satan! And his demons! And his demons believe in God, and they even know Scripture. But that does not mean they are Christians. All that means is they know what Christians believe in (or say they believe in), and they know ways that they can trap committed Christians. Just look in the book of Matthew chapter 4. Satan tried to tempt Jesus into throwing himself off of a high point because of what Scripture says. May be that is what happened to Dr. Becker. Maybe, Satan put doubts into Dr. Dr. Becker's head so that he could twist and turn Scripture into a way that is more popular with those who believe in cheap grace.
I have said this before, and I will say it again: a church is like a club, and a club has rules. It does not matter if you don't like the rules or disagree with them. You follow them because the rules usually define the club. In other words, remove the rules, and you destroy the club. If you do not like the rules, find another club. Those rules are clearly defined in Scripture, in the Book of Concord, and in the official statements of the LCMS. Dr. Becker was well aware of these rules before he was ordained and especially when he was ordained because he was in a pastoral position, according to his own blog, for 26 years. If he had any doubts, he should have spoken to a pastor, or gone to counseling. Instead, he decided to rebel against the very institution that ordained him and, by our own tithes and offerings, pay his salary when he preaches at a church.
Most people knew that this was going to happen with Dr. Becker. Deep down inside, he knew this was going to happen. He was given many chances to recant and to keep his contrary beliefs to himself, but he openly defied our doctrine. I will say that I am glad that Dr. Becker has the insight to join ELCA as I am certain that there are some pastors still within the LCMS, and I know at least one, that are against LCMS teachings, yet they will not leave the LCMS. On the one hand, Dr. Becker will now be given an opportunity to further lead others astray within ELCA (yet that will not be an arduous task considering that it is ELCA), but on the other hand, he will no longer be able to lead those in the LCMS astray. Truly a blessing in disguise. While we pray for Dr. Becker and for his family as they sadly find themselves departing from an institution they have known most or all of their lives, Scripture clearly demands that there be church discipline when someone openly speaks against Scripture and will not repent. Pastor Linnemann, Pastor Forke of the Montana District, and the President of the Missouri Synod, Pastor Matt Harrison, have served us and our Lord well by calling heresies and blasphemy what they are, giving Becker a chance to change his ways, and finally disciplining him. This sends a strong message: times may change, but God remains the same.
Sunday, June 7, 2015
In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Omnipotent, the Omnipresent, and the only Redeemer of the world. To Him do we cling for truth, love, and mercy. Amen.
It would appear that the world is changing, and not exactly for the best. Take America. This was once a culture that bowed to God and put their trust in the Lord Jesus. Even though we have sinned in many areas, including how our nation was conceived, the Lord provided us with abundant blessings. Just like Israel, however, we have become too comfortable, and with that less insightful, then less discerning and more permissive. Now, many true Christians are looking around and noticing what our society has come to and are asking, "What happened?"
A good example of how far America has sunk is in the holiday of Christmas. This holiday began in the fourth century when it was implemented by Emperor Constantine when he declared the birth of Christ a holiday. Later in that century, Pope Julius I declared that December 25th would be the day that the birth of Christ would be celebrated. This date was deliberate; it was the same day that European pagans celebrated the Winter Solstice. Hence, Pope Julius I coincided the pagan holiday with the birth of Christ in order to win over new believers. Before that, however, it was commonly understood that Christmas was a Jewish Christian holiday, as this commemorates how Jesus first manifested himself to the Jews (shepherds). Epiphany, on the other hand, was when Jesus was first made known to the Gentiles (therefore the rest of the world) as a toddler (The Magi or the Three Wise Men). After a while in Europe, only Epiphany was observed, and the Birth of Christ was made part of the festivities. Later, in many parts of Europe and what was to become The United States of America, this holiday became less popular until there were generations of those who did not celebrate at all. Even the Puritans outlawed the holiday due to charges of paganism, only to have such laws overturned by the British Empire. Even so, celebrating Christmas was considered a cultural taboo. Christmas became popular again in the 19th Century throughout Europe and the USA, and it became an official holiday in our land in 1885. While the cause of the Christmas revival was due in part to many historians and authors who fantasized of celebrations from the days of old, no one provided more influence to revive this holiday than Charles Dickens by his book "A Christmas Carol."
Before you start hailing Dickens as a saint or a prophet, be very clear of one fact: Christmas for him was not meant to be a spiritual/religious festival. Instead, it is meant to be a time for fun, games, and family gathering. To this day on television sitcoms, when discussing the meaning of Christmas, all of the characters point to being with loved ones, charity, and joyfulness. Because of this, atheists, agnostics, and people of other religions see no problem with trying to secularize Christmas to be politically correct. There are even those who profess the Christian faith who fall into this trap to please others.
If this is not bad enough, there is another distraction to what is supposed to be a holy-day--Santa Claus. While Santa Claus, or Saint Nicholas, truly existed, he was not a fat, jolly man with a long beard who climbed down people's chimneys on Christmas Eve with presents. He did not ride a sleigh with flying reindeer. He is incapable of knowing who is bad and good. He was not even from the North Pole. The truth is, he lived in a part of the Roman Empire that is now in Turkey, and he was a bishop in that area--all in the fourth century. There are many parents who mean well who tell their children about the myth of Santa Claus in order to make their childhoods "magical." This is wrong for two reasons: first, believe it or not, you are introducing your children to idolatry when you tell them about Santa.
This may shock some people, but telling them about a magical man who rewards the good and knows what children are up to makes Santa Claus into a god. Plus, the Bible is very clear that ANYTHING that takes glory away from God is idolatry. After all, the birth of Jesus is the TRUE meaning of Christmas! Second, nearly all parents know that either their children will learn the truth about Santa's existence on their own or they will need to tell them. The first thing that tends to happen is that the child feels hurt that they had been lied to for years. Second, a point exemplified by my pastor, they will become skeptical about the Christian faith that their parents taught them. Think about it. A child is told for years, simultaneously, about Santa Claus and Jesus Christ. Then, their parents tell them that Santa does not exist. It would only be human for a child to then question their faith. To them, maybe that is also untrue. Maybe if Christian parents would stop telling their children about Santa Claus, there would be fewer apostates. Just maybe.
Then, of course, there is consumerism--the American way. People cannot even enjoy Thanksgiving because of the pre-Black Friday sales. People will trample over and even stab each other for such great deals. And Christmas Eve is not much better. To play the devil's advocate, how can Christmas be a time of fun, games, and family when recovering from wounds or visiting a grave because Dad died trying to get that 25% down game console for Junior? What about when Junior, who was very good, lost his father on Black Friday, and asked Santa to bring him back only to not get his wish?
Because of all the reasons I mentioned, I regretfully feel that Christmas has been ruined for true believers. It is ruined for me, and it doesn't even seem sacred anymore. While it is very possible that the true Christmas spirit can be revived among all Christians, I am not one to hold his breath. Instead, I feel compelled to consider Epiphany as an alternative as it is a holiday that has been relatively neglected and therefore not corrupted. I may change my mind, and even if I do, I urge all Christians to learn more about the beauty of Epiphany and, at the same time, focus only on Jesus Christ and lean not on your own understandings--and customs.
"Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?"--Galatians 4:16
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
You treat people like roaches, you treat people like tools
You treat people like roaches, you treat people like tools
And you think you're the Savior to protect the church from “fools”
But they'll know you're a Christian by your love, by your love
Yes, they'll know you're a Christian by your love.
You are cold to the visitors and rude to the flock
You are cold to the visitors and rude to the flock
And to those who will challenge you, you'll reprimand and balk
Yet they'll know you're a Christian by your love, by your love
Yes, they'll know you're a Christian by your love.
You'll berate the parishioners who don't look like you
You'll degrade the parishioners who don't think like you
You're a fraud and a hypocrite, but one day, you'll be through
Still they'll know you're a Christian by your love, by your love
Yes, they'll know you're a Christian by your love.
--Dedicated to all church hypocrites and those who let them run amok.
Thursday, May 7, 2015
Reason One: Favoritism
Favoritism can come in many ways. It could mean that people are treated better because of an elite status. Perhaps there is a congregant who is rich or donated time, services, or resources to the church more than anyone else. Another reason could be racism. For some reason, a church may have favoritism for one race or culture other over another or may discriminate against one group. Then there is family history. Let's face it: nearly every church is going to have that pair or half dozen families that have been there for generation after generation, and therefore are given much influence. Or, this could be the family of the pastor. For whatever reason, favoritism is wrong! James 2 says this specifically. Favoritism gives the church a bad name and threatens the harmony of the church.
If you see favoritism going on, the best thing to do is to not contribute to it, for starters, but also call it out as it is. If you notice that it's going on then, have the courage to confront the offenders and call them out on it, but in a gentle and loving way. If they still will not budge or will be offended, then take bring along a witness or take it to the rest of the church as outlined in Matthew 18. If after the church, aka the pastor, is involved and still nothing is done about the favoritism, then that person needs to be isolated in one way or the other according to 1 Corinthians 5, for the sake of harmony sanctity of the church grounds and the church proper. If, for some reason, the church will do nothing about this, then it may be time for you to consider greener pastures. After all, at church is not truly a church unless it includes everyone and notes each person's contributions to be equally important and to value each person equally. This reminds me of an old African American joke: an African American man just moved to a town, and as soon as he settles, he starts looking for churches. He found a church that was huge and very beautiful. It has a spectacular choir which was much disciplined and used the best music, and they had a very educated and gifted pastor. When the man reached the top of the steps at the church and was about to enter the door, a group of ushers stopped him. They said, “You cannot enter.” Perplexed, the man asked, “Why?” The ushers then said, “This church is for Whites only.” And they told him to leave. The next week, he tried again to enter the church, but different ushers told him to leave again. He tried to enter the church for about 2 more weeks. Finally, the last time he was asked to leave, he asked to speak to the pastor. The pastor then came outside to meet him. And the pastor said to him, “What is the problem?” The man said, “I just don't understand. I am a Christian a very devoted Christian, and all I wanted to do was worship here at your church. I just don't understand why I am not allowed to enter just because I am African American.” The pastor said simply, “Well, maybe you should go home and pray, asking Jesus why.” He then turned and went back to the church. And that was the last time he chose to try to visit that church. A few weeks later, the pastor was in town, and he saw the man leaving the grocery store. He remembered the man, and he was surprised that the man stopped trying to get into his church. So he walked over, and asked the man, “I'm just wondering, why did you stop trying to get into my church?” The man said, “Well, pastor, sir, I did what you said and I went home and prayed to Jesus about it” The pastor was intrigued. “Really?” The man said, “Yes, pastor, and Jesus answered me”. “Is that so? What did Jesus say?” The man smiled at the pastor and said “Well, the Lord told me, I have been having the same problems with you. I have been trying to get into that church since it first opened, and I haven't made it yet!” This story, while humorous, is a sad truth. The church that expects the Lord to enter should be welcoming. If reject a poor man, you are rejecting Jesus. If you reject a newcomer, you are rejecting Jesus. If you reject a person of color or a person of a specific disability, you are rejecting Jesus!
Reason Two: Lack of Discipline
The second reason why people leave a church is because there is not enough discipline going on. I have seen way too much of this. We see it when the pastor's children are allowed to run wild because, since they are the pastor's children, they can do no wrong. We see it when a rich benefactor is allowed to mistreat people because of his contributions to the church. And, we see it when a pastor is allowed to do or say things that are against Scripture and that go against the body of Christ simply because he is the pastor. And a lot of this leads back to the first reason. Favoritism is a reason why a rich benefactor is allowed to get away with mistreating people is simply because he is used his resources for the betterment of the church building, or to fund certain programs. Also, it is the reason why a person is allowed to do as they please with or in the church--because of their influence because they belong to a specific family. And of course, there is racism, in which wrongs done against congregants of a racial minority are ignored. Just like that favoritism, not enough discipline in the church is wrong.
Again, when you see this happening, you need to follow Matthew 18 if you see someone doing something wrong. They really need to be rebuked but in a friendly and gentle way. Well, you don't know that person's situation. You know they must be going through something very difficult. The thing is, Jesus called sin by its name when the prostitute was just about to be stoned by temple and synagogue leaders. He did not say that the prostitute had to sell her body because she was poor and had no husband. No, he said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. And when she was not stoned, Jesus told her, “Go and sin no more.” He did not say, “Oh, they were being intolerant or maybe they don't really understand you, or maybe they understand that even though you're rough around the edges you are a good person. No! He said to go and sin no more. That means, he was not excusing her sin but was instructing her on how to lead a moral life and to sin no more. Therefore, we should do the same. So, what if someone is rebuked with Christian love, but they refused to repent or make retribution? In that case, it is time to get the witnesses involved so that they could know that their sin has been noticed by more than one person and that there are others in the Christian community who want this person to come to repentance. If there were no witnesses, or if the person will not even listen to the witnesses, then again, it is time to get the church involved as Matthew 18 says. In most cases, in contemporary times, by church we mean the pastor. Meaning, the pastor must meet with this person and say what their sin is and encourage them to make retribution. Now, I know this is not an easy task, but it is the pastor’s job to do this! It is his job to make sure that those who are living in sin come to repentance and that both parties receive resolution and absolution so that there is Christian harmony. Therefore, a pastor's job is with the help of other church leaders, to keep the peace in the church.
If the person after speaking to the pastor still refuses to repent, then as Matthew 18 says, it is time to treat this person as you would a tax collector. In other words, it is time to isolate the person from the rest of the community. And not in a cruel way but in a way to let them know that they are not living as a Christian should live, and this means they need some time apart to reflect and to realize what it truly means to be a Christian. In most cases, this means they will receive no communion lest they bring condemnation on themselves by defiling the elements. In other cases, it can also mean that this person will not be allowed to worship at the church in order to not disturb the other members. In either case, a person who openly refuses to repent needs to be shown discipline, and if they refuse to accept that discipline, they must be isolated from the community and not even be treated as a Christian.
If for some reason a person is not by the pastor or the congregation if for some reason a person is not rebuked but the pastor or by the congregation but is allowed to continue to live in sin and to not and to not repent to the person they sinned against, then the pastor and maybe even the congregation shares in the sin that the person committed, and in fact, they are even more even more guilty of the sin because they refused to bring Christian harmony they refused to bring and they refused to fulfill James 2.
Reason Three: Too Much Discipline
Then, there is too much discipline. Unfortunately, too much discipline can also go back to the first reason: favoritism. You see this when people who are poor, people who are the racial or ethnic minority at the church, or people who are newcomers are given harsher discipline for smaller issues, yet those who are mainstream are not given get as harsher discipline than the situation warrants. For instance, if a person violates the commitment about bearing false witness against your neighbor, aka gossiping, is African American, poor, or unconventional in lifestyle or hairstyle in a way that is not catastrophic, yet the pastor of a congregation throws the proverbial book at them, then that's too much discipline. If a person who is a minority of the church—a political minority, if you will, if you add class, race, and family history--has confessed and has made retribution, and yet they are still marked, meaning people refuse to forgive them and their sin is always thrown in their face, then that is too much discipline.
Again, when you see this happening, be aware that this is also a threat to Christian harmony and an affront to the body of Christ. The way to handle this is to remind the offending parties (and when I say offending parties, I do not mean the person who is not being forgiven; I mean the person who will not forgive but judges) of Matthew 18 and which it says its a person repents then you then you are to forgive and you have won the brother over. Therefore, if a Christian confesses, repents, and tries to make resolution, yet you will not grand them true repentance, you are guilty of sinning against your brother (or sister) and Christ Himself.. Shame on those who do this! When you do this, you have to ask yourself, are you truly a Christian? Because a Christian truly understands what forgiveness means. The Scripture says, if you do not forgive, you will not be forgiven. Think about that one parable. To apply it to more modern terms, a peasant owed his king $1,000,000. The king brought him before him and said “You owe me a million dollars; pay up now!” The peasant said, “Please forgive me your highness, but I but I don't have the money now. Be patient with me, and I will pay you back. The king then felt pity on this man and decided to forgive the debt, meaning he would no longer owe the $1,000,000. Then one day, as the peasant is walking down the street, he ran into a fellow peasant who owed him $100. He then grabbed that fellow peasant by the throat and said, “You still owe me $100; pay me!” That second peasant said, “I don’t have the money now. Please be patient with me, and I'll pay you back.” But the first present would not listen. He had the second peasant arrested and thrown into prison until he could pay back the $100. When the other peasants heard this, they become very distressed, and they reported this to the king. The king summoned the first peasant and said, "You are ungrateful!" If I was so gracious enough to forgive you rather a large debt you owed me, why did didn't you forgive your servant for that he owed you? And then he said to his guards, “Take this worthless servant, and throw him into prison until he can pay back what he owes me!” This, then, is what will happen to those who will not forgive. These are not my words, friends! These are the words of our Savior, Jesus Christ! Therefore, if you have the audacity to throw a person's sins into his face, how can you expect Jesus to accept you as a brother or sister? How can you expect God to welcome you into His kingdom? How can you expect your sins to be forgiven?! Therefore, if you see someone getting too much discipline or is not being forgiven, then it is your duty as a Christian to go to that judgmental condemner, and warn them that it is their duty to forgive and to encourage forgiveness from others.
However, if that church then becomes an environment of judgmentalism and lack of forgiveness, then you know you're no longer in a church. And then it is time to leave unfortunately.
Reason Four: Change in Liturgy
A very common reason why people leave a church would be the change in liturgy. This reason is both legitimate and illegitimate. Here's an example: a group of people goes to a church that has traditional, High-Church liturgy. They enjoy it, they are used to it, and they look forward to it every Sunday. And then, church leaders decide to satisfy the needs and requests of others--to do away with the traditional worship and bring a more contemporary worship such as gospel, heavy metal, or just praise music. They would be affected by this and want to keep traditional worship. They try to get their voice heard, but no one seems to listen. Leaving for this reason is kind of legitimate because it's something that someone is used to, especially if they have used it for the majority of their lives and find it difficult to change all the sudden. This change is even more difficult when they did not ask for it and when their input was not invited or appreciated. Some will leave a church over this. It's sad and sometimes unnecessary.
To this I would say two things: one, go to those who want to make the changes, and suggest having two services so that both groups of people are satisfied. Usually those who want to make these changes are not trying to hurt anyone. They are doing this to satisfy the changing demographics of the church, or to satisfy the needs of those they're trying to bring into the church. While both of them are good reasons, the latter can be dangerous if not done properly. Yes, it is important to try to get in new people, but it should never be at the expense of those who already there. Therefore many churches thought they would get more members, only to receive fewer members or the same. This is because for every new member they receive they lose one or two old numbers. Therefore, it would be necessary to encourage leaders to have two services: one traditional, and one more contemporary. Another possibility would be to go to the unsatisfied members who are losing their favor their preferred service, and encourage them to be patient yet more vocal. It would also be necessary to encourage them to maybe learn more about the proposed liturgy that’s to take place. However, for something like this, there needs to be some sort of resolution between both parties.
Reason Five: Unappreciated Talents.
This reason means that a person feels that their gifts offered to the church are unappreciated. We see this in a few typical ways: one may come up with a gift or a set of ideas that are considered unusual for a small or more traditional church, or if there's too much red tape for a large church. Let's start with the second one. When you are in a large church, you tend to have a lot of people with professional degrees for everything that they do. For instance, those who are on the board for church planning may run businesses or are executives. Those who are in charge of music often have music degrees. Regardless we must remember that there is no such thing as a music degree in the Bible. Also, an MBA is not needed to present ideas or suggestions for running the church building or organizing a group. Remember that sometimes the best ideas do not come from formal education but by experience or the desire to learn. Then there are small church ideas. Sometimes the church culture makes it very difficult for change to happen. For instance, it its funny, but one of the most common sayings in the Lutheran Church is “We've always done it that way.” Even though it has always been done that way, as long as ideas that are affordable and the biblical are presented, it's a good idea to allow those to be suggested. Therefore, if you feel that your gifts are unappreciated, the best thing to do would be to continue to campaign your ideas and your heart. Also, if you see that there's someone in the church who is the political minority and has not been getting the attention they need with their ideas, make sure that this gets known. Try to campaign for them. Also, if something seems funny or new, just remember that it may not necessarily be bad. Try it out, and if it doesn't work at least you were open minded enough to try new things.
But what if you still need to leave?
Even when you follow these techniques and ideas, there unfortunately are still times when a person must leave the church for reasons other than moving. In my experience, you should follow 4 steps so that you can leave your church with dignity and in the love of God.
If you have any positions at the church, resign immediately or as soon as you can.
Start looking for new churches; spend time away from your current church in order to get to know these new churches so that you can find a prospective congregation. By this time, it should probably be at least a month since you stopped going to that stopped attending that original church. By this time, church leaders in a church that's not too large may begin to recognize your absence and become concerned, and they may reach out. If they do not reach out, or if their efforts are unsatisfactory to you,
Start giving your tithes and offerings to your church of choice. Usually for the large churches, they may not always recognize you resigning your position or that you have not been coming to church, but ironically, they will notice when they're doing the books that you have not been giving money for a while. Unfortunately, as King Solomon once said, “Money answereth all things,” so churches are no exception.
Finally, after a month or two of not giving any tithes or offerings, and no one seems to notice, or something too severe happened where you cannot stay, or reparations for any offenses against you have not been made, it's time for you to officially transfer your membership and send them a detailed letter. In this letter, you should state what happened, when it happened, who was involved, how it made you feel, what you expected to see, and how nothing satisfactory was done about it. This way you can show that you're not just making a rash decision, but it's been thought out at great length. For this, unless it's hard to find a church that fits your needs, I would say from the time you stopped attending church to the time you try to transfer your membership, it should be about 3 to 4 months. Hopefully, it should not come to this, but if enough people or at least if enough people of a certain demographic should stop coming to church, it send a message out to the community.
Naturally, it is pointless and dangerous to even try looking for the perfect church, but there are still times when staying in a church is a danger to your soul because it is either lawless or legalistic, and the leadership is often too corrupt or weak to truly lead. Hopefully, before choosing that new church, you will remember the reasons why you left the old one. This will serve as a blueprint for what you need or will not tolerate from wherever you go.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Honestly, that is a very difficult question to ask. For many, no matter how much notice we get, there is no way we can truly prepare for something like that. Even if the person is 110 years old, no one can really say they actually prepared when that person dies.
I say this, because a friend of ours, Rose Maslauskas, died last week. She was 30 years old. She had been in and out of the hospital for over a year. She was in the hospital since the New Years--for over 4 months. She was having heart problems, she had dialysis, and so many things. She even had a feeding tube. And no matter how much we wanted it not to be so, many of us knew better that time was running out. Perhaps it is because we love the person so much that we truly cannot or will not actually prepare for that person to die because we cannot imagine our lives without that person.
For me, I've seen so much death that I often think that I am prepared to know that someone going to die-- even someone who is so young. I know this because I once had a front row seat for the death of a 2 month old. I actually held her warm corpse. She was my cousin, Jayana McGraw. She was hooked up to so many machines, and we were told that she would not survive the night, that she would die from a stroke or heart attack. Even with the best of care even, she still could not be saved. Seeing her like that, especially considering that some of my relatives died within the moment's notice, and my family buried two of my uncles in less than a year, I still find myself mourning even when I know someone is likely to die.
I can only hope that I would have the strength and knowledge to prepare all of my loved ones for my passing. Before you ask, I have good health, and I'm not planning to go anywhere anytime soon. However, even though they find it difficult to believe or simply do not want to believe, I know I will not die old. I know that I probably will not be fortunate enough to even see 50. This is because I too have had a lifetime of health problems. And that's why I tried to live as if I'm preparing myself. That's why I attend church regularly, pray regularly, read the Bible, try to accomplish lifelong dreams, and love and respect those around me. That way, not only will I be prepared to die, but it might help loved ones be a little bit more prepared. That is what I put my face in Christ, and I believe in him and believe that He died for my sin. This way, all of my loved ones who also believe as I do can see will have be assured that not only will I be with the Lord, but they will see me again as they are with the Lord. Therefore, friends, if you do not yet believe that Christ has died for you, it is not too late. As I'm sure you will learn from my friend Rose and my cousin, you never know when your time will come to leave this world. That's why, even if you can't be prepared for the death the other people, you can at least be prepared for your own.
Rest in peace, Rose!
Monday, April 6, 2015
If you like to gossip or look over the shoulders of others,
do not read this post.
Yesterday, I had to adjust my Facebook security settings so that only certain people can see my posts. Over 30 people who could see everything I post no longer have that privilege. The sad fact is that about half of the people I blocked from seeing my posts do not even deserve it, but when you have been burned enough times, you become wary of the fire. I just don't know who I can trust anymore. There are those I am supposed to trust that have violated my trust too many times. I doubt whether it is safe to trust those I have not even blocked from seeing my comments. The issue is, I have had enough of people gossiping against me because they disagree with what I have to say. I am also tired of people writing nasty responses because they disagree with me. Some of these people are not even on my friend's lists, yet they think they have the right to offer their obnoxious opinions to a forum to which they have not even been invited. I do not know who is doing the gossiping and who next will look over a brother's shoulder, see something they do not like, and decide to be abusive towards me. Of those I know do not deserve to be blocked, I had to do so anyway because either a person in their household shares a computer and/or account with someone deliberately blocked, or not blocking them will place them in an uncomfortable situation.
I am told many times that whatever I put on Facebook is public. Well, I just made it less public. Even if my freedom of speech is taken away, I will write whatever I want that is not blasphemy, libel, or a direct threat. I never write anything that is meant to offend others, and I try to make amends when someone is genuinely offended. Still, it kills me that people use vulgar language, say things that are threatening to another person, and even talk about bodily functions, and people will laugh, agree, or offer support, yet when I take a stand on a moral issue, vent about something, or lament about hard times, like I did last weekend, someone has a problem with it. What is with the double standard?
Well, this is the end of the line! I will express my opinions anytime I want--on Facebook, by email, and especially here in my sanctuary, The Silver Soapbox. If anyone has a problem with what I write, you can either be an adult and diplomatically talk to me about it in private, offer evidence of the contrary in comments sections, or hold your peace. Starting now, there will be consequences for those who call me names, insult me, or raise their voice at me and not apologize. I deserve respect, and I will have it. Because even if you think I am wrong, always remember that I am still human. Some of the people closest to me stand for things that I disapprove of and have done things to really hurt me, but I still love them and see them as a person trying their best. When you dehumanize someone you disagree with, you become beneath them, and you do not change their mind. In fact, you may actually prove their point even further. In summary, do onto others as you would have them do onto you because you will reap what you sow.
Sunday, March 22, 2015
In regards to my last post, Lunchroom Lutherans, the buffet line is closed..., the 41 District Presidents of the LCMS throughout the country, met for a conference in February, and they discussed, among other things, the subject of said post. Below is their official statement, which they unanimously agreed to, with which I agree wholeheartedly. The copy came from The Reporter. Again, the renegade "pastor" I spoke of should repent immediately of his blasphemies, or he should leave the Synod.
Thursday, January 29, 2015
Lunchroom Lutherans: The buffet line is closed. Accept what is on your plate, or find another kitchen.
Reverend Matthew Harrison
In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Omnipotent, the Omnipresent, and the only Redeemer of the world. To Him do we cling for truth, love, and mercy. Amen.
Surely many LCMS Lutherans who read online Lutheran magazines or browse Facebook often have read the following statement from our beloved Synod President:
When a public teacher on the roster of Synod can without consequence publicly advocate the ordination of women (even participate vested in the installation of an ELCA clergy person), homosexuality, the errancy of the Bible, the historical-critical method, open communion, communion with the Reformed, evolution, and more, then the public confession of the Synod is meaningless. I am saying that if my Synod does not change its inability to call such a person to repentance and remove such a teacher where there is no repentance, then we are liars and our confession is meaningless. I do not want to belong to such a synod, much less lead it. I have no intention of walking away from my vocation. I shall rather use it and, by the grace of God, use all the energy I have to call this Synod to fidelity to correct this situation.
While Pastor Harrison was discreet enough to not mention the "teacher's" name, this "teacher" was not discreet enough in defaming about our President in his blog. Just look at the links below to realize what I am talking about. Now everyone with a brain knows the false prophet Pastor Harrison is referring to.
My patience with these matters is wearing thinner and thinner. I have seen too many people who have called themselves Lutherans--even pastors--who openly discuss things that go against LCMS doctrine--and hence Scripture. I have known an LCMS female church leader who boasted about being pro-choice. I have known a pastor, the same one who ended the friendship for being unmoved in my defense of biblical marriage, who used foul language around me and even showed me a movie with a graphic scene of two naked men having sex. Yes, he is an ordained LCMS "pastor." Such people I have given two names: Elcite (a member or benefactor of ELCA) and Lunchroom Lutheran (derived from Cafeteria Catholic).
There are those who say that what a pastor or an Christian says or does in their private life outside of church does not matter. Wrong. I learned the hard way to be careful of what I post that pertains to church life. Also, when you as a church leader speak to anyone outside of the immediate family, how you conduct yourself will reflect on you in your office.
There are also those who say that there is nothing wrong with playing the devil's advocate and inviting discourse. To this, I say that those who are not careful with playing the devil's advocate eventually becomes the devil's mouthpiece. This is especially true when it comes to a pastor. If a pastor has doubts, he should express them, in private, to another pastor or to his district president. He should not use his blog or his classroom to contradict official LCMS teachings. This is not only a defamation of LCMS' image; it is a defilement of his own vestments and ordination. Worst of all, it is a great contributor to "scattering the flock." This constant questioning and open rebuke is the main reason why strong churches are split apart and decimated. Just look at what happened to the Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and ELCA churches. Look at what is happening to the Methodist Church. Rabble-rousers who feel that God's will is subservient to our personal opinions and priorities disrupted the peace and ruined unity. People like the "teacher" are doing the same thing.
The worst culprit, dare I say, is not the "teacher." It is the district leaders who refused to listen to our President and bring discipline to him have the greater sin. A Christian leader's job is to counsel the person who erred to repentance and, if he refuses, separate him from communion until he repents. This is not meant to be "mean" but to correct him and to keep him from spreading more lies that put unity and strong faith in jeopardy. The First Book of Corinthians, chapter 5 explains the need for church discipline more in detail. As the fifth chapter of James warns us, to not discipline a sinner is to open the gates of Hell for him.
I have explained the morality at stake in this matter. Now, let's consider the more practical approach. A church or a denomination is like a club. A club has rules, procedures, and traditions. When you join a club, you accept the rules and agree to obey them--even if you do not agree with them. If you break a rule, expect there to be consequences. If you openly mock the rules--especially with those not in the club--your loyalty and your place in said club are brought to question. As this "teacher" has been given many opportunities to repent and rejected them all, he does not belong in the LCMS; his place is ELCA. As for the leaders who refused to discipline him and remove him from the roster, and I say this with all respect to Lutheran pastors and synod leaders, I wonder where their true loyalty lies.
In case anyone has doubts, let me list all of the official teachings of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod that have been debated by the Lunchroom Lutherans for too long:
- The world was created in 6 24-hour days. Yes, God has that power. Hence, evolution is not true.
- The Holy Bible is the true and sole source of divine truth and church doctrine. The Bible, through Jesus Christ, is the final authority in all spiritual and moral matters.
- As God ordained men to be the spiritual leaders in the household, the only people who are allowed to become LCMS pastors are men (I'll admit, I used to disagree with this, but now I submit myself to this teaching.)
- While we are to love and pray for gay people, Scripture, the Word of God, tells us that sexual relations between people of the same sex are unclean, and the only marriage that God recognizes is that of one man and one woman.
- Life begins at conception, and abortion is murdering a human being.
- We are only in full communion with churches that teach the basic principles of our denomination and are in line with Scripture. Hence, non-LCMS Lutherans may not preach sermons from our pulpits or serve us communion in our churches. Along those lines, LCMS pastors may not do the same in non-LCMS churches.
"Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?" Galatians 4:16.
For Part II of this whole megillah, click here.
For Part II of this whole megillah, click here.
Thursday, January 1, 2015
Very often when I have heard the phrase, "Those who do not understand the past are doomed to repeat it," it has been in reference to not only war but the Holocaust. In the past 100 years, we have not needed Nazi Germany as an example of how far bigotry can go. Just look at the Leo Frank Lynching, the 1919 Red Summer Riots, the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, the Rosewood Race Riot (Massacre) of 1923, the internment of Japanese and Italians in World War II, the UpStairs Lounge Massacre, and the post-9/11 hate crimes against Muslims, Arabs, and those who wear turbans. In fact, in the coming year, 2015, it will be the 100 year anniversary of the premiere of the pro-KKK movie, "Birth of a Nation."
When we see any actions of genocide, one with a good heart will begin to talk about the importance of tolerance. However, what is truly tolerance? According to American Heritage Dictionary, tolerance means, "The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others." That means, one has the right to disagree with a person's beliefs and values, whilst following their own. Unfortunately, in a society that wants to be diverse in every way and to please those who are "minorities," tolerance is not enough. Now, we must placate such minorities, and those who cry "equal protection" are silenced and humiliated. As a result, such "minorities have the upper hand, and many use that power viciously. We see it when state Supreme Courts severely penalize Christian bakeries whose owners cannot, by conscience, sell wedding cakes to same-sex couples or when the creator of an internet browser is forced to resign because he donated money to Proposition 8 and a gay CEO of a dating site did not like it. We see it when atheist groups have students punished for praying in class, sic the ACLU on Christian towns for building a nativity scene or the Ten Commandments in public areas. We see it when some African Americans burn down their own communities as a cry for justice, yet a man who tells his mistress, in a private phone call, not to bring Blacks at his games, is socially and financially destroyed. We see it when students are suspended for wearing T-Shirts with American flags during Cinco de Mayo.
Those who justify these actions say that they are necessary because of the history of bigotry in America and to make sure everyone has a fair chance. I have noticed that some of the most committed PC liberals are White. I am probably putting words in their mouths, but I am certain that at the heart of their liberalism, there is guilt and shame for what their ancestors did. Whether they will admit it or not, I know they feel that by putting down their own culture, sexuality, and religion, they are making up for the wrongs said ancestors did. They would be very wrong. First, all of the sins that happened in the past against certain groups cannot be undone by a multitude of good intentions. They happened, and history cannot be re-written. If you burn down your wheat field, then all of your wheat will be destroyed, and all of the profit is gone. However, after a season, the field can be re-tilled for a new crop. Second, political correctness and liberal fascism will only result in the resentment of the majority groups. When they become angry enough, they will organize and revolt, and this will only expose the minorities the liberals tried to protect to persecution, expulsion, and even genocide. Just follow the diagram below.
Toleranceà Political Correctnessà Fascismà Revolutionà Nationalismà Persecution and/or Exterminationà Guiltà Tolerance
Surely, there are those who say that this can never happen--especially not in a country as "civilized" as America. If that is the case, then consider the following examples.
· Since the early 20th Century, Germany was considered, especially under the Weimar Republic, to be a very sophisticated, cultured country. Liberal ideas flourished, and ethnic minorities felt very comfortable as Germans. Jews felt this way, and they were the most assimilated of the entire Diaspora. Until 1938, most Jews felt that there was no way the cultured Germans would open concentration camps or commit genocide. Obviously, they were wrong.
· Speaking of Jews, they were, for the most part, very prized minorities in Poland since Kazimierz the Great welcomed them to the country in the 1300s. They became the mediators between the nobility and the serfdom, and only sects of the clergy disliked them. This all ended in 1795 when Russia took control, and Poland was no longer a country. Since then, there was growing intolerance towards Jews within the Polish communities, and some Poles even told their children to keep away from Jews lest they should be eaten by them. By the 20th Century, there was a newspaper published regularly called "Polska bez Zydow" or "Poland without Jews." By the 1930s, there were anti-Jewish riots in certain towns like Przytyk and Bielsko. Then, when the Nazis invaded Poland, while Poland is known for having the most people to rescue Jews, there were practically as many Poles who stood and laughed while they were being humiliated and tortured, some who denounced Jews, and even those who joined in the killing. If that were not enough, there were Poles in Sosnowiec and Kielce who killed Jews trying to return to their homes after the war.
· When the British colonized Uganda, they brought laborers from India to work and to serve as a buffer between the British and the native Ugandans. Many of these Indians put the Ugandans in a cast below them because of their skin color and subjugation, and some became wealthy by exploiting the natives. When the British finally left, Idi Amin, the President of Uganda gained the support of the masses by taking property away from the Indians and expelling them from the country.
· When the Belgians colonized Rwanda, they placed the Tutsi minority in a position higher than that of the Hutus because the Belgians liked that their skin was lighter than that of the Hutus, and their facial profile did not look as African. When the Belgians left, the Tutsis gained wealth and positions of power and influence. This angered the Hutus so much that they orchestrated one of the most instant and successful genocide attempts ever known.
Those who are still not convinced that violence against minorities is possible in "civilized nations" should be aware of the growing violence and increased conservative extremism in European countries. In Sweden, a country where "hate speech" is punishable by prison, the streets are not safe for a visible minority at night. I was once told that, should I choose to visit a major Swedish city, I should never walk the streets after dusk without an auxiliary police escort, or I might be attacked by a Neo-Nazi. If there were laws against violence and the people were given free speech, perhaps these hate crimes would be less of a problem.
Also, let's not forget that violent acts excused by a great bulk of the majority are already occurring. So are hate crimes against African Americans. A few years ago in Jackson, MS decided to kill Blacks to relieve their boredom--even if their targets did nothing wrong. This year in Texas, an African American man was kidnapped and murdered without cause, and the local police called it a "drug overdose." George Zimmerman, the man accused of killing Trayvon Martin, is acquitted by a jury; he was not even convicted of manslaughter--which is what he was truly guilty of. And then, all over the country this year, African American men are being killed by police--brazenly, in front of witnesses--only to not face charges. Worst of these cases was the killing of Eric Garner, who was suffocated to death by a choke hold that was no longer even allowed. Even though he surrendered and kept telling the officers that he could not breathe, the officers still would not release him from the hold. Except for the Jackson case, nearly all of the culprits received moral and financial support from the masses. It is like they believed that Zimmerman and the police officers were automatically right and Martin and the other men had gotten what they deserved. This is what we have come to. Now that the police force throughout the country, which has traditionally been the most effective tool of racism in this country, is being attacked by Blacks who are tired of the injustice, the bigots and even those who are on the fence are now being energized and justified in committing violence against Blacks. This is how the pogroms and genocides have begun--with "random" acts of violence.
If God forbid, a holocaust does return to America, I fear that many people who watch the news will feel justified in persecuting my people, as well as other groups. After all, part of the reason why some people are clapping their hands when cops kill Black men is the fact that, when we are attacking waitresses at restaurants because we are unhappy because of the bill, when we are destroying our communities because the world is unfair, and when we give everyone in the world a front seat to our violent tendencies at Navy Pier, we are giving people the impression that we are unruly savages who have become a cancer to this nation. While the corrupt "leaders" and godless individuals will have brought this oppression on us, the greatest contributor will be the liberal White person. No offense, but it is true, particularly because this group will excuse and ignore the behavior of minorities just to prove a point. When African Americans were rioting in Ferguson, MO, some White liberals called these destructive cowards freedom fighters and called the riot and uprising. The more negative behavior they excuse, the more will come. Just like in Nazi Germany, all it takes is three things for organized discrimination and genocide to occur--no matter how civilized they are: desperate and angry people, a charismatic leader, and a conflictual occurrence to exploit.
No matter how hateful things have become in America, there is still amply time to turn the tide. The best way to do this is to practice, on a national level, rule of the majority and protection of the minority. By this, I mean that it is time for the straight, White, Christian, citizen to put away all of his or her guilt. You cannot control what your ancestors did, and you cannot help being born in a country where you have certain "privilege," so it is unfair to be punished for what you cannot control.
On the other hand, refrain from condemning others for a "privilege" you may think someone else has because you just might have a privilege over them as well. For instance, a White feminist may be tempted to tell a Black man that he has "male privilege," but this idea is not only ludicrous; it is insulting. The simple fact is, White privilege trumps male privilege any day of the week. Hence, if you must accuse anyone of having "privilege" over you, make absolutely certain you do not have privilege over them.
Additionally, no matter how oppressed a group of people may have been, don't sell out your rights or excuse any behavior of theirs. In the TV series Little Men from the 1990s, a schoolmistress continued to excuse the behavior of a Black student because his parents had suffered slavery. Because she felt sorry for him and would not discipline him, his behavior became worse and worse until it could no longer be ignored. The caretaker was able to knock some sense into her by warning her that not treating him like all the other boys, for whatever reason, is just as racist. If you want proof of the reality of this, just turn on the television. Blacks with no scruples have thanked these White liberals by robbing them, raping them, destroying their property, and doing many other things to make themselves the gangrene of society and forcing the rest of the country to view all African Americans as a barbaric threat. Who let the dogs out? The I-pray-the-world-will-forgive-me-for-being-born-White liberals! Furthermore, these same senseless Blacks will take anything and play the race card against it. They have nothing better to do with their time than to cry wolf when there is no wolf. Unless things change very soon, the wolf will come, and no one will come running to rescue us.
With this in mind, I turn to those who consider themselves minorities, whether they are Black, Asian, Jewish, Muslim, agnostic, atheist, Satanist, immigrant, gay, bisexual, or transgendered. No matter how much you or your people have suffered, do not go around with the attitude that society owes you something. This means, do not trample on the freedoms and customs of others so that you can be recognized. The fact is, the majority of Americans are Christian, straight, citizens, and of European descent, and they have the de facto right to influence this country according to their values. Accept it. Be the acceptance you hope to receive from others. Be true to your own values and customs, as long as they are moral, and fight for your rights, but do not force the majority to kowtow to your way of life. If you do not want to assimilate or conform, fine, but leave people alone. Pick your battles and stop provoking people. On the other hand, take responsibility for your own group's problems. Don't waste your time being sour when an outsider points out your problems and when others "air dirty laundry" in public. You are not doing your people any favors by protecting the clowns within it. You are just making yourself another negative representative.
Also, if you feel that you are getting the best of services at certain businesses, organize and start your own businesses. This is more noble and productive than destroying people who will not cater to your preferences. Before affirmative action, the African American community was very productive, owning a great chunk of businesses in their community. Their personal success and organization were so astounding that others envied us and tried to take away what we made for ourselves. We did not ask for special treatment and we did not ask lobby groups to force businesses to serve us. Instead, we took care of ourselves, and we eventually earned the respect of other people--people who marched with us in Washington and risked their own lives to join us on freedom buses. In the current state of African-American affairs, who would help us if Jim Crow came back tomorrow? Definitely not enough people to make a difference.
Finally, O dear perceived minorities, never force people to accept you; it will eventually have an adverse effect. People may fear you at first, because of your upper hand, but eventually they will resent you. There have been cases in which Christian bakers refused to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples but have offered other products to them. The offended parties sicced the ACLU and Right Wing Watch on them, and they suffered legal penalties, humiliation, and heavy harassment and persecution. They even received death threats. Instead of gaining acceptance, the LGBT community only gained resentment, fear, and hatred. If this country has another Matthew Sheppard incident, people will remember the ludicrous lawsuits against the bakers, as well as other incidents before they can feel the slightest twinge of sympathy for the victim and what he or she represents. What the gay couples could have done, instead of being vengeful, was draw up plans to open their own bakeries. If there ever is a holocaust in this country, then my heart goes out to the gay community specifically because, with the legalization of same-sex marriage, all gay marriages under the law will be recorded in official records, making these individuals easy targets.
Surely what I have written is bound to make people angry. Of all the groups I mentioned, I have nothing against them personally. I have known people in each group who have been good to me. Still, one spoiled apple eventually ruins the others in the bushel if allowed to fester amongst them. If 2014 has taught me anything, it is that too many people are playing the victicrat in this country, and they are not taking responsibility over their own behavior. There are those in the mainstream, sadly, who do not put these victicrats in check because they feel sorry for them. All of this will backfire if not remedied. As this situation is getting worse, with the victicrats behaving like animals or spoiled children and the less tolerant factor in the mainstream becoming angrier at their communities being corrupted and their rights being taken away, my worry is that a holocaust is indeed coming within a generation's time. There is still time for us to do something about it, but will we?