Welcome to this week’s blog as we close out the month of March and enter into April. Hopefully, your March went out like a lamb, no April fool. The Red Roof Church of Bulverde, Texas would like to extend to you springtime blessings and greetings. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor at St. Paul, having the pleasure of sharing some thoughts with you. I’d like to personally invite you to join us for worship every Sunday morning at 8:30AM or at 10:45AM. I promise it is worship where God’s Word is Heard every week — no fooling.
I’ve got to be one of the luckiest people there is. As a pastor, my occupation goes hand in hand with my vocation as a Christian and I get paid for it besides. That should be enough blessing for anyone, but I have been given an extra dose. I love doing what I do and can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing.
During my life, I’ve had to do a fair number of jobs that haven’t exactly been a joy — road construction, janitorial work in equipment companies and churches, and sales to name a few. However, when I got to be a pastor all that changed. Preaching, teaching (even hormonal teenagers), and sharing my love for Christ is what I love doing more than anything else. Retire? I’ll do this as long as the good Lord allows me the strength and health to do it and a community of believers, like the disciples of the Red Roof Church, are willing to put up with me (which I hope is for a long time in both cases).
Not all of us have a job that we love. Some work at jobs that must be worked to pay the bills and we just do what we have to do. For those who believe in Jesus Christ, we do have a vocation (a calling from God) that we do love. Because of that, even a job that we have to do and maybe don’t like as much as we could still gives us the opportunity to show and share our love for
Christ. Our call from God is to share the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. That doesn’t mean we have to be preachers (A good thing since I don’t need more competitors). It does mean that the words we speak, the actions we perform, the compassion, kindness and understanding we show to others gives testimony to our faith in Christ. They see Jesus in us — or they don’t — it works either way.
As our Lenten journey is winding down, I hope you have had the chance to build a deeper, fuller, more loving relationship with our Lord. Lent is not just about seeing ourselves for who we are as sinners. More important is our desire to repent of our sins, change the way we live, and draw closer to the love of God by transforming our lives to meet with His desire for us. We have the example of Christ to follow and the strength of the Spirit to guide us in that process.
We might discover that we take a whole lot more joy in life in whatever we’re doing when we are more in line with God’s expectations for us.
And those are my thoughts.
God bless and have a great week.
Lee Harder, senior pastor at the Red Roof Church in Bulverde, Texas, wishing you God’s blessings as we meet for this week’s vlog. The great folks at St. Paul would love to have you join us for worship this Sunday at 8:30 and 10:45 AM. We promise that our fellowship of believers is where God’s Word is heard every week right from the heart of Scripture.
School here in San Antonio is now back in session. Spring break is over and the kids are back in school. That means our Christian Day School is also back in session for the week as well. I can’t wait. It means tomorrow (I’m writing this vlog on Monday the 18th.) and Wednesday I have chapel with them. I love sharing the stories of the Bible with the kids. They’re so eager and receptive. They want to be there.
I can’t tell you how important I think it is for children to know the pastor and as more than that strange guy in front of church. Besides, the payoff is huge. We have a few of our Christian Day School families who are disciples of the congregation. There is something gloriously magical and uplifting to have a young child run up to you before worship, face beaming, to hug your leg or hear them call out to their parents in the grocery store, “That’s my pastor!” Some of my most cherished possessions are a tree painted on a canvas with thumb prints for leaves in various colors of the children of the Day School and a hot pad (for the pastor chef) with prints from the kids (different year, similar idea).
The same contact is important when children get older and enter into more formal Christian education. I can’t fathom why a pastor wouldn’t want to be the primary teacher for understanding the basics of what we believe and why. I believe it’s a big part of the pastor’s responsibility and promised obligation when one becomes a pastor.
Our role as pastor is to preach and teach the good news of Jesus Christ. That means to all levels and ages. Connected to that is our commitment to equip the saints (including the young) to be true disciples of Christ so they can share their faith in the world. Despite rumors to the contrary, that is the work of the pastor (and administering the sacraments). This idea of “Let the pastor do it” is neither scriptural nor practical. No pastor can do it all and Jesus in the Great Commission never intended it to be that way.
We are a priesthood of believers who are all responsible to proclaim Christ and share our faith with the world. That’s our call as Christians. Yes, we need someone who can effectively help us develop the tools and confidence to go out into the world which is the challenge and role of the pastor.
I have another reason for teaching the children and youth. I want them to feel comfortable around the pastor. I want them to know they can trust me so if they need to talk or have fears and concerns, they can come to me confident that I will try to help.
Yet, a pastor can’t do it alone, even with a congregation willing to provide all the necessary resources. It takes the parents to make the commitment to encourage and demand their children of all ages receive sound Christian education. It is here I fear we are letting our children down. Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, confirmation or its equivalent are falling by the wayside. That might be okay if it is time for these approaches to evolve into something else more effective. The problem is, they are not evolving. They are just slowly dying as fewer and fewer parents are having their children attend to learn and grow.
I remember as a kid growing up and especially as a teenager going to confirmation, Christian education wasn’t always a high priority or great love for me. There were many Sundays I didn’t want to go. Thankfully, my parents didn’t give me a choice. I went. They made sure I went even if it was inconvenient for them. They knew it was important and acted accordingly.
I suspect this might be where some of the problem rests. Our children are doing more and more running of the parents’ lives instead of the reverse. I’m sure the ever greater influence and demands of the schools, especially in athletics, have added pressures of their own. Still, since when did children get to vote in decisions or dictate what they will or will not do? When did children get to be adults? Aren’t we as parents, the adults, supposed to show them by our example how to grow up to be responsible adults? Maybe I missed something in my childhood. Yes, my parents taught us to think and express an opinion, but they made the decisions, not me or my siblings.
I know, there are tremendous pressures on a family from the outside. The school places demands on family time. Sports & club sports place even more demands. Added to that are demands from the workplace and, if possible, the chance to play. The family in church, worshiping, sharing, growing and playing together in a Christian atmosphere is becoming a relic of the past. In my heart I believe that as it suffers because of a distracted lack of interest, so the family suffers because of a lack for the spiritual bond that gives the family meaning and holds it together.
My word of encouragement to parents is, “Take a time out!” However, make it a time out for the family to come closer to a God who loves them and cares for them and died for them.
And those are my thoughts.
Greetings from the fellowship of believers at the Red Roof Church in Bulverde, Texas. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor at St. Paul, wishing you God’s blessings and an invitation to join us as we worship our Lord, Jesus Christ. Our fellowship gathers for worship every Sunday morning at 8:30 AM for a more traditional style of worship and at 10:45 AM for a contemporary flavor. We’d love to have you join our family. Check out our website at redroofchurch.org and learn more about us.
I may have to give up looking at the news headlines and Facebook because they are beginning to depress me. Oh, I don’t mean the “bad news” because there’s always some of that and there’s good news, too. No, I’m thinking of the reports that keep popping up about what our younger generation is and isn’t doing.
Thanks to my own grandchildren, I am painfully aware that our children are not being taught cursive in our learning institutions (we called it “writing” when I was in school as opposed to “printing”). Further evidence was provided by my wife when she informed me that the students in her 5th & 6th grade church school class couldn’t “write” their names. They could only print them out.
I suppose not knowing how to write (cursive) isn’t the end of the world. However, as I recall, most of our historical documents (locally, state, nationally & internationally) were written out, you know, in cursive. If you can’t write or read it, doesn’t that imply the potential loss of history for posterity, besides one can’t “sign” (usually requiring cursive) a legal document. Although I imagine this fits in with today’s trend in re-writing (probably re-printing) history.
Truth isn’t nearly as important as making history socially correct, which also means condemning the past based on today’s moral and social standards. For now, I’ll refrain from commenting on the apparent inability to write (in this case print) the king’s English, you know, stuff like punctuation, sentence structure, and grammar.
Yet, the real killer is what our learning institutions (schools) are doing to math. I saw it with my own kids decades ago when they brought home “new math.” Back then there was a lot to do with “guessing” or “estimating” the answer, not to mention some puzzling methods of getting to an answer. Apparently, the answer (pardon me, the right answer) didn’t matter as much as following the new way of arriving at an answer, sometimes called a guesstimate. Close was good enough. I don’t recall the teachers of my day allowing a “close” answer as satisfactory.
However, this week I saw on Facebook a comparison of our old fashioned math (adding, subtracting, multiplying & dividing) with the new math as taught in common core. It almost defies description. In the comparison, they solve a simple multiplication problem. The old way was to rely on the multiplication tables we learned as kids by memorizing until we could say them in our sleep. Today’s equivalent involved diagrams. The old way was done, coffee was brewed & a dog taken out for its duty while the new way plodded on. There was an argument that it was a training session for kids versus an adult doing the problem. True. I will not deny. However, if this is the way these kids as adults are going to have to solve the problems of math, the world is in for a rude awakening. It was the most ridiculous and time consuming method I have even been privileged to witness. This is what our children are learning.
When one adds to that the new, revised and sanitized history, world and American, which portrays our founding fathers as evil and vile while the sources of socialism, totalitarianism, and communism in governments and empires as desirable, we got problems. Nor should we forget the lack of English literature in the classics which provide a solid grounding in speech and language, again I repeat, we got problems.
And just so we don’t leave the church out, we no longer feel the need to have our children and youth possess a knowledge of what we believe as Christians (according to the Bible as opposed to some politically correct agenda) and why.
I’m not blaming the kids either. I’m blaming us for relaxing our standards to the point where we have none of much value. Apparently, it isn’t important that we can talk and write correctly (it’s called communication) and use our minds to actually think, so long as we use the right emoji. So pound sign (#) and hash tag that for what it’s worth.
But those are just my thoughts.
God bless and have a great week.
Greetings from St. Paul Lutheran Church of Bulverde, Texas. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor, wishing you peace from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. If you’re searching for a spiritual home that serves a feast of God’s Word over entertainment, then I invite you to check out our website at redroofchurch.org and watch one of our worship celebrations. Better yet, if you’re in our neighborhood right off 281 and FM 1863, stop by. We worship at 8:30 and 10:45 AM every Sunday and at 7:00PM on Wednesday evenings during the Lenten season. I promise, you’ll hear God’s Word and not a social agenda. You might even be entertained, but you will be inspired.
I hope you had a good beginning to the season of Lent which began this past Wednesday, March 6th, Ash Wednesday. I’ve noticed mid-week Lenten worship doesn’t have the same desire of involvement it previously possessed at many churches. I saw a story on the internet about a 4th grader who came from worship to school marked with the sign of the cross on his forehead in ash only to be told by his teacher to remove it. Apparently, the teacher was unfamiliar with Christian tradition (at least in the liturgical churches like Roman Catholic and Lutheran, for example) of the imposition of the ashes on Ash Wednesday.
Surprisingly, I am not shocked. Lent, a time of thoughtful self-examination and penitential preparation to journey with Jesus to the cross of Good Friday is seemingly being replaced by a more secular desire for self-improvement. You know — Eat more Kale — Cut out Krispy creams — Exercise more — Detox.
I never was a big fan of the traditional “Give up something for Lent” crowd with the premise that we’ll suffer with Christ. I don’t recall Jesus denying Himself chocolate [did He even have chocolate to give up?] or give up sex don’t even think I’m touching that one]. I’ve also been an advocate of doing something FOR Lent of a more Christ-like nature rather than giving up something I shouldn’t over indulge in anyway.
However, the decline of Lent and its purposeful meaning has hit a new low with drive-thru ashes offered at a city church. Don’t worry about that depressing confession and absolution stuff. Repentance — that’s old school. Today’s modern Christian wants sin without regret and God on demand.
Can’t wait for Easter and drive-thru communion [yes, that’s been done too]. Just serve up that chilled wine and designer wafer and get me back on the road to that leg of lamb or roast turkey or baked ham at grandma’s nestled in a bed of green plastic grass surrounded by chocolate bunnies [after all Lent will be over] and jelly bean droppings.
Am I missing anything. If this is what your Lent and Easter has been or is, I’m guessing with a fair degree of confidence you are — Christ.
But those are just my thoughts as we begin our Lenten journey.
God bless and be sure you know what you see in the mirror staring back at you.
The past few days, I’ve been working on a variety of subjects all geared for the season of Lent. It starts on Wednesday, March 6th, which liturgical churches, such as St. Paul, know as Ash Wednesday. To my surprise, I’m beginning to learn there are many Christian churches, including some mainline denominational ones, that don’t have the same appreciation or awareness for what the church seasons, like Lent, are all about. It’s as if with the move in Christendom to be more socially relevant, old church stuff like seasons (except, of course, Christmas and Easter which tend to be seen as days and not the seasons they are) don’t matter any more. Too bad, it’s losing out on something very valuable when it comes to understanding our Lord Jesus.
For this reason, the seasons (well, at least half of them) focus on the life of Christ. The church year begins in late November or early December with the season of Advent, an exciting, anxious time of getting ready for Christmas (both the day and the SEASON — 12 days in number — you know, like the song). Christmas and Jesus coming into the world moves into Epiphany revealing who He came for — everybody. Those plucky, non-Jewish, Gentile type wise men who were the first to worship the newborn Savior prove that truth.
The Epiphany season makes way for the season of Lent, a time of penitential preparation for Jesus’ journey to the cross and our forgiveness of sin. This first half of the church year culminates with the joyous and glorious celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter morning which starts the season of Easter for the next seven weeks. The rest of the church year is Pentecost with the Holy Spirit coming into the world and the building and growing of the Christian Church from its early beginnings.
So, what’s the big deal? Why should it matter? It’s a relic of the old church and I suppose it is. Yet, I think it offers the Christian, and the one searching for a solid spiritual home, the chance to see an over all picture of our Lord’s work, which is still going on. As a pastor and a preacher, I would admit there are times it would be nice to ignore some of the seasonally assigned texts from the Bible. I mean, some of those lessons are real “hummers” in the “how do I explain this” department. Yet, to avoid them means I don’t grow as a Christian or a preacher. It sure isn’t going to help the person in the pew wrestling with God’s Word who might find a little insight beneficial.
Maybe, just maybe, if we took a more seasonally, old church view, of the church year we might be able to see and celebrate, understand and appreciate that days like Christmas and Easter are more than one shot wonders. They are the book ends of God’s Word in the flesh, Jesus Christ, restoring us to a loving relationship which had been broken by sin. That might be worth it.
And those are my thoughts.
Welcome to our blog for this week of February 17th. I hope you had a great Valentine’s Day with your favorite valentines. I’m Lee Harder, the senor pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church of Bulverde, Texas. We celebrate Christ in worship every Sunday at 8:30 AM and 10:45 AM. If you can’t stop by, then please check out our streamed worship instead. St. Paul just might have what you’re looking for in a spiritual home. Come see us and find out.
Since the middle of January, we have been in a spiritual campaign as an exercise program to strengthen the heart of a believer. We’re trying to come to the realization that there are dark forces at work in the world that seek to silence God’s Word of hope in Jesus Christ. That truth took on a new reality this past week.
Apparently, several months ago a former Muslim, who has become a Christian and trained to serve as a pastor currently leading a congregation elsewhere in the nation, was arrested in Minnesota’s Mall of America. Here in his own words are the events that transpired.
I was speaking at a church yesterday in Minneapolis, Minnesota and after the church one of the pastors and his son took me to the Mall of America. We randomly ran into some Muslims and we began a casual conversation. They asked me where I’m from and I told them, Iran. The conversation led to whether I’m a Muslim or not and I said I used to be a Muslim but I converted to Christianity. They asked me why? What happened? Why did you change? I told them after I heard that Jesus died for me and rose again, I gave my heart to him. And I was giving them my testimony. Another Muslim lady who was hearing us went and told the security that, “I’m harassing them.” The security came and arrested me, filed a report and the police came and took me to jail. I was charged with “illegal soliciting” and “criminal trespassing.” I need to appear in court sometime soon.
This event happening scares me in ways I haven’t been before. As a Christian and a pastor, I am only too aware of the painful truth and reality that Christians are no longer, how shall I put it, “The flavor of the month.” We are seeing the Christian faith, an integral part of the foundation of who we are as a nation and a people, being discarded which is sad enough. The Christian faith has been locked out our schools, the marketplace and the halls of justice; but, of greater concern is how other belief systems are being not just tolerated, (as they should be in our free nation) but embraced with enthusiastic acceptance where Christianity is not.
I truly believe God has blessed this country so richly as a Christian nation for a reason. We are to be an example of freedom and liberty for all regardless of creed or race. While we are far from perfect, by any means, we still are a model that the world could pattern itself after in generosity, freedom and compassion, despite our flaws which we do not deny, but seek to outgrow.
Yet, now there seems a concerted effort to silence who we are as believers in Jesus Christ. I have heard examples of pastors in Canada who have been silenced in their pulpits because of threats that their sermons can be considered “hate speech” because God’s Word runs contrary to current public standards of correctness. It would not surprise me if such would eventually happen here with current political and social trends. Now arresting a pastor because he is witnessing, not proselytizing or evangelizing, but sharing how he became a Christian to some Muslims who asked him how and why seems just wrong?
I continue to be shocked and dismayed when I see and hear how Christians are being attacked and ostracized from different elements of our culture because they are Christian. I am angered and enraged when I see people, especially leaders within the Christian community, treating forces that threaten our faith and the freedom of this nation as acceptable and equal in status to the Lord they confess.
Here’s where I stand concerning these outside forces. We do not worship the same God, but I accept every one’s right, in this free nation, to worship a god or deity any way they want. I expect the same from them in this free America. This is especially true of those who have the responsibility and duty to protect those rights. We all have freedom of speech and of worship as we see fit, regardless of our religion or faith. From a Christian perspective, acknowledging Jesus is not the same as believing in Him for our salvation, but we will respect another’s right to choose a different path. Every Christian should know that truth and act accordingly.
The church has been persecuted before, it is now and will be again in the future. However, I also know and believe it will never be destroyed or silenced because it is the body of Christ. It is His church, not ours. He is in control as these others continually discover to their regret. Fear not for He is with us.
And those are my thoughts. God bless us everyone!
I wish I could greet you with joy in my heart. I can’t. I will invite you to be a part of a family of believers that hold life sacred & humble ourselves before our Lord Jesus Christ. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church of Bulverde, Texas. We have worship celebrations every Sunday at 8:30 AM & 10:45 AM and you are welcomed to join us. I make this promise: You WILL hear God’s Word preached without compromise and that word does not condone or tolerate the murder of unborn children.
As I drove to church this morning I was dumb struck with the news that the state of New York has passed a law that…Well, let me quote — The law allows abortions to be performed by non-doctors up until the point of birth for many reasons. They actually cheered when it passed. It seems this same law will find its way into other states very quickly.
The murder of unborn children, children who have been conceived and grown within their mother for nine months, children who could survive and thrive outside the womb, is now acceptable in our society & heralded as wonderful news by the progressive left and the vile forces that pay them homage — the leftist media, the democratic party, the feminist movement, and more. Normally, I refrain from political statements about a party one way or the other, but on this subject I cannot be silent. Those who have taken the murder of unborn children to new, absurd levels have forced me, for the sake of personal conscience, to take a stand. I know, it’s all about the woman’s right to choose & control her own body. I get that.
I recognize I’m a man and know nothing. However, if a woman has the right to choose what happens to her body involving a pregnancy (and I believe she has), then explain why she doesn’t make the CHOICE not to get pregnant in the first place. Put aside the extreme circumstances where a pregnancy is the result of a violent act and let’s focus on willingly getting pregnant. YOU DON’T HAVE TO. For crying out loud, my teenage granddaughters can get all the birth control aids of all sorts for nothing, just ask. Some of them are not that old, but that doesn’t seem to matter to our modern schools. They will hand out birth control stuff just for the asking and mom and dad don’t have to know. For a woman, regardless of color, try saying “No!” If that’s not possible, for whatever reason including lust, then I say “You made your choice.” But there are still options. If you find yourself pregnant, which shouldn’t take that many weeks to figure out (if it does, you really aren’t smart enough to be a parent), seek out one of the countless free abortion clinics available, if you must. After all, isn’t that one of the benefits of tax payer supported places like Planned Parenthood?
However, if you feel you can have an abortion after nine months of carrying this child (Yes, it is a child.) then, please don’t kill it. Someone else will gladly take on the burden of responsibility you were too incapable or unwilling or too cowardly to do. Make a good choice!
Our nation is no longer sliding down the slippery slope to destruction. It has arrived when it is legal and acceptable in the name of choice and women’s rights to murder the unborn. You want proof it’s that bad. Check out the Animal Planet and the pet police. Persons who abuse and cause injury and death to a dog or cat will receive more punishment and condemnation in the state of New York than someone who seeks to have or performs an abortion of a child ready to come into the world as a real human being after nine months in the womb. That’s pathetic.
And those are my thoughts. May God bless us and have mercy on us.
Grace and peace to you and yours from the great folks of St. Paul Lutheran Church of Bulverde, Texas. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor, and I invite you to come to worship with us live and in person or via our website where we offer a live stream of our traditional and our contemporary worship celebrations. Join us at 8:30 AM or 10:45 AM and celebrate the Word of God in Christ Jesus.
It’s Monday morning, my day off according to rumors. On TV, TCM is showing 2001: A Space Odyssey — they’re walking down the ramp to the monolith on the moon right now. I usually write my blog on Mondays, even if I don’t record and upload it until Thursday or Friday. As I struggle for this week’s topic, I find it amusing to think that such an old movie, one made back in the late sixties (about 60 years ago), still packs a punch in what it reveals and contemplates. And why not! Old doesn’t mean the absence of dynamics, value or substance. I’d stack the multiple, thought provoking messages and the methods of presenting them in this old Syfy movie (which was a ground breaker in its day that still challenges today’s high-tech, computer generated new stuff) against most of our modern equivalents. Why am I mentioning the qualities of “old stuff”? For two reasons. (I have a feeling I should have phrased that better, but we’ll see when I let Karen see it.)
Karen, my better half for the last 47 years of marriage (not counting those before) and I just celebrated her birthday last week. I refuse to mention years since I do not yet have a death wish. We’ve shared our years together for what many today would consider a long time. Yet, I would triple it and still find it too few. Sure, the years have left their mark on both of us, but I look at her and still see the woman wearing the yellow, long-sleeved blouse, white jeans, blowing long dark hair and sunglasses sitting in the back of the boat or that athletic young woman exercising in our first home. They are two pictures I have etched into my memory and can view faster than any cell phone or computer can display. I love my wife more today than ever.
The second reason is the Bible/Church stuff that seems to have less and less importance in the lives of many who call themselves Christian. Even the Church and so much of its intellectual leadership wants to modernize our relationship with God. I see God’s Word and the basic tenants of what we believe in the same way as I see my beautiful and much needed and desired wife, Karen. I can’t live without it.
If we love someone or a special relationship, truly love, then that love becomes richer and deeper, more meaningful and precious the longer we live and the older we get. I cannot, will not, think of my life without Karen. Yet, as important as her being with me is to my existence, even it pales next to my desperate need for the love of my Lord. I dare not, could not contemplate life without all He has done, is doing and promising to continue to do in the future.
I still see my relationship with God having the simplicity and purity, the assuring confidence of those Sunday school stories of my past or the trust of my youth knowing “Jesus loves me, this I know.” It may be “old stuff” but it possesses a dynamic presence that has no modern equal.
This past Sunday as we entered into our spiritual campaign recognizing that we are at war with evil in this life, I preached on the reality of Satan and how Job remained true to his faith and love of God. At the services, our Melodic Minions sang the old song “This Little Light of Mine.” The line “Don’t let Satan blow it out” with proper actions and sound effects I might add, reminded me that we need to do the same.
Too many of today’s moderns in the church and in the world want to discard or update the “old stuff” (blow it out) because it doesn’t fit their image. I submit: Maybe the problem is with their image and not the “old stuff” they seek to ignore or snuff out. Sure, Karen adds color to her hair every once in a while and I’m trying to lose some weight and eat a little better, but we’re not trying to change who we are. It’s okay to put a new polish to God’s Word so it communicates to more people the message of His love, but not at the cost of His Words of promise, integrity and absolute truth being altered.
I want a God who is beyond my ability to control (like my Karen); who challenges me to be better than I am (like my Karen); and who loves me despite me (Karen again). An awesome God like that doesn’t need changing or improving, just more loving and trusting.
And those are my thoughts.
God bless and have a great week. God is watching.
Greetings to you and yours from St. Paul Lutheran Church of Bulverde, Texas. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor, wishing you the warmest welcome in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. If you are in our area of Texas, the beautiful hill country, and looking for a church to call your own, then I invite you to St. Paul where we worship every Sunday at 8:30 and 10:45 AM. We’d love to have you consider us for your spiritual home.
Ever so often I come across something that makes me think, “Well, now I’ve seen everything.” That happens a lot with stuff inside the church as a great many Christians try to secularize the church to make it fit into the world’s image. After all, we just want to get along. When Christians started preaching and teaching that Jesus isn’t the only source of salvation, I thought, you know, that thought “I’ve seen everything.” Well, I was in error. Apparently there’s always somebody willing to step up to the plate and hit a record home run in stupidity. California just did it.
Under a new California law, those who work in health care who use the wrong gender pronoun when referring to a transgender patient could face prison time. The new law, signed last week by California Gov. Jerry Brown, will punish any health care worker who “willfully and repeatedly” does not use the “preferred name or pronouns” of transgender patients. Behind the bill is Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener who argues that no one will face criminal prosecution for using the wrong gender pronoun — even though the bill leaves the possibility open.
The bill states: It shall be unlawful for a long-term care facility or facility staff to take any of the following actions wholly or partially on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status.
The law states that violations can be punishable by a fine “not to exceed one thousand dollars” or “by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not to exceed one year,” or both.
Now as a pastor somewhat familiar with how GOD created the universe and all that exists, a student of English who has been referred to as a “wordsmith” denoting some working knowledge of the language, and someone familiar with human anatomy possessing a mirror, a wife of 47 years, three children, two girls and one boy, (oops, I suppose that might be considered gender insensitive) and 10 grandchildren of the usual mixtures, I thought I had a handle on pronouns. As of now I know otherwise.
For my blog today, I do not wish to get into the pronoun discussion on the basis of sexuality, preferred or otherwise, nor to seek debate on the basis of why about 10% of the population of the world (4.1 % in the US) can demand that their lifestyle is to be considered a norm for everyone.
Do I agree that there are shortcomings within the English language? Yes. However, these additions of gender neutral pronouns sound more like gibberish that has not been thoughtfully worked through or an agenda that seeks to establish the LGBT lifestyle as normal. It might be “normal” for the small percentage of the population that deals with it; but, it is not for the rest of the world, nor should it be used as a vehicle to teach our young, vulnerable, impressionable children seeking to create in them something they are not.
Now, if you were to ask me if LGBT persons should be treated with the same respect, love and consideration as everyone else, I would agree. As a pastor, I welcome them into the life of the church to use God’s gifts to them in furthering GOD’S PURPOSE & AGENDA in the great commission. Yet, they, too, fall under the realm of God’s rule, creation, and defining of what is right and wrong. Like for everyone else — that’s ALL PEOPLE — so there can be no doubts, I call sin for what it is sin. Sin also includes sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman, gossiping about anyone at anytime, doing anything that tears down a person’s self-worth and does not build and support them as a child of God to name but a few things that fall in the realm of sinful living. The list is quite endless because we are all guilty of sin. As I tell my students of all ages, we human beings are by nature sinful and unclean. That’s why Jesus came into the world, to pay the price of our sinfulness.
God created us, He made us male and female and placed us in this creation to be its stewards. I won’t deny that the world in its sinful nature has managed to mess things up royally, but that doesn’t make it acceptable to establish the world’s vision of what should be a reality for all. God is still the landlord in charge and those who occupy His holdings had better take it to heart.
And those are my thoughts.
God bless us, everyone.
Greetings for this new week from St. Paul Lutheran Church of Bulverde, Texas. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor, inviting you to celebrate Christ with us every Sunday at 8:30 and 10:45 AM. In between worship celebrations we offer Christian education for all ages & plenty of refreshments to tide one over. Join us this week.
Let me begin by apologizing. I just might go a little over the top this week, but I have good reason. It seems nobody wants to deal with the topic of sin and that’s not just bad, that’s dangerous. Case in point, apparently the Ten Commandments are no longer to be followed by Christians in today’s modern church. A pastor, Andy Stanley, at a popular Georgia megachurch (I’ll take their word for its popularity since I don’t get out and around much on Sundays.) called North Point Ministries has declared that “Participants in the new covenant (that’s Christians) are not required to obey any of the commandments found in the first part of the Bibles. Participants in the new covenant are expected to obey the single command Jesus issued as part of his new covenant: as I have loved you, so you must love one another.” He also added, “Just as his new covenant replaced the old covenant, Jesus’ new commandment replaced all the old commandments.”
For the record, he has a lot of company in several mainline Christian denominations. There are those Christian denominations, including a Lutheran one, that have declared that the Old Testament scriptures no longer apply to Christians. They are merely a collection of old stories, like fairy tales, to entertain children. Pastor Stanley also has the support of many of his various non-denominational colleagues, both mega and a little more modest, that avoid Old Testament stuff like the plague, especially as it pertains to sin because it might upset the crowds (that and impact contributions).
To all this ignoring, dismissing and voiding of the Old Testament by such brilliant minds like Pastor Stanley’s and the church leaders and theologians of mainline Christian denominations like the ELCA and Methodist Church, among others, I say this: God gives us ALL the right to be stupid, but some of us feel the need to abuse that right. Those who dismiss the Old Testament and the Ten Commandments as no longer applying to our Christian faith, fall into the abusive category.
One could say that Pastor Stanley with his mega church crowd are like so many others that I referenced in last week’s blog when I said how many Christians want to believe in God on their terms, not God’s. We want God to fit our definition. Doing away with the Ten Commandments is precisely what I meant. We find their adherence difficult, challenging and impossible causing us to be guilty of sin. Since we don’t like the thought of our sin, we simply eliminate what we believe to be the cause of our sin.
It doesn’t work that way!
The whole Bible is the inspired Word of God, not just the New Testament. Jesus did not come into the world to discard the Old Testament, the Jewish Scriptures, and replace them with the New or Christian Scriptures. The Old Testament is the account of God building the Hebrew people into a holy and chosen nation from which His Messiah would come into the world. The New Testament is the account of the birth and initial growth of the Christian church from which the message of God’s salvation in Christ Jesus would come to the world. What part of that do persons who call themselves Christian, much less pastors, or Christian denominations as a whole fail to grasp?
Dismissing the Old Testament, including the Ten Commandments, is heresy. It is a false teaching and Jesus warned us the there would be those, including those inside the church, who would serve the forces of evil, the devil, attempting to diminish the influence of God’s Word for us.
The Law serves the invaluable purpose of making us aware of our desperate need of Gospel’s hope in Christ. The law condemns us because we can’t keep it. We need to know that. Without that knowledge, we will not turn to Christ and the salvation only He makes possible in His death and resurrection. The Law opens us to the power of the Gospel.
Our preaching and teaching as Christians in the pews and pastors in the pulpits MUST count on the balance of Law and Gospel for God’s Word to be understood. The Law is to condemn us and the Gospel in Christ is to save. It doesn’t get any more basic than that.
I suggest that these so called authorities on Scripture spend a little more time in God’s Word before they start dismissing portions of it as non-essential. And those are my thoughts.
God bless and have a great week.
Pastor Lee R. Harder