Greetings from the Red Roof Church, St. Paul Lutheran in Bulverde, Texas. I’m Lee Harder the senior pastor and I would like to invite you to join us for worship this Sunday at 8:30 AM or 10:45 AM as we celebrate the birth of the Lutheran Church.
When Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg castle his sole hope and desire was to help move the Christian church back to Scripture and the authority of God’s Word which takes precedent over our human rites and traditions, as much as we may love them. Sadly, over the years, the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church had become entranced with the power, prestige and wealth they had accumulated. As the expression goes, “They started to believe their own press.” They moved from being servants of God to the people and began to think of themselves as lords to be served by the people.
Jesus faced the same problem and attitude in His day with the religious leaders of Israel. They, too, had an attitude problem. As Jesus told them, they heaped upon the people rules and regulations which they themselves did not follow. (Boy, that sounds a lot like what our elected leaders in Washington are doing to us. We should have health care or retirement packages or fringe benefits like they have. Better yet, maybe they should have to deal with the same garbage they dump on us.) God called these religious leaders to be caretakers of His Word, not corruptors. He called them to be ones who nurtured and helped people in their relationship with God, to know Him, not a source for driving them away from God’s truth.
I mention this sad reality this week because it is Reformation for many of us. In Jesus’ day, He stood against those who had failed in their office and responsibilities and called them “Hypocrites!” In Martin Luther’s day he faced a civil government and a church hierarchy that wanted him silenced and dead, even at the cost of God’s truth in the Bible. Luther was given the chance to take back what he had written and said, but rather than do that he declared, “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures and by clear reason (for I do not trust in the pope or councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by Scriptures I have quoted. My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me.”
Time moves on but things don’t seem to change. In our own times we have church leadership that has abandoned God’s truth in the Bible because it is inconvenient in our modern, politically correct church and world. Likewise, we have an elected leadership that wants to re-write or discard our founding documents. More than ever, we need for people of faith to stand on God’s Word because the world continues to seek the silencing of His truth so the world’s standards of morality and ethics can prevail.
Our founding fathers understood that as they forged a nation that put God first, our existence seen as a divine gift. As they declared in our independence almost 250 years ago, they did so standing on the presence of God as vital to our existence. Jefferson wrote in the conclusion of the Declaration: And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence (that’s God for the poorly informed) we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor. He also wrote: God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are a gift from God?
It’s time we reform ourselves to have the courage to stand boldly in the face of those who attack and act upon our faith in God and His Word. If those who attack through diminishing, discarding & denigrating the Word of God are allowed to go unchallenged, Satan wins and the forces of evil prevail over truth.
Both in the Christian Church and in the governing of this nation, we have been silent for too long.
When they took prayer out of our schools — we were silent.
When they removed the Ten Commandments from the halls of Justice — we were silent.
When they re-write our history and condemn it or fabricate falsehoods about it, denying divine Providence — we are silent.
When they set aside the Old Testament as well as selective verses of Christ from the New Testament because they don’t fit in the world’s standard of morality — we are silent.
It’s time we break our silence and make a bold stand on God’s Word.
Soon our nation will again vote for the persons who will represent “We The People” across the width and breadth of this Judeo-Christian nation. Shouldn’t the people who are nominated to serve “We The People” in all branches of government be willing to stand on the principles and morals that established this Republic in the first place? Our founding fathers established a nation that had “Freedom OF religion, not “Freedom FROM.” Yet, on both sides of the political spectrum, supported by large swaths of the Christian Church, we see a growing trend of movement away from God’s truth to embrace a secular humanism that will destroy us.
Look, I’m not trying to be political because I speak for no party. However, I do speak for the values, ethics and morality that the grace of God in His infinite love has generously given to us for our well-being and benefit. For the one who confesses to being a disciple of Christ, if we compromise our values and morality for worldly gain and acceptance, can we really call ourselves Christian?
At this time of Reformation, as we hear the God-given courage of Martin Luther and others, when we consider the candidates, all the candidates, let us stand firmly on God’s Word as we determine their worthiness to serve as our representatives in government. I want persons who will uphold our Judeo-Christian, God given values to serve “We The People.”
And those are my thoughts.
Welcome to our Blog from St. Paul Lutheran Church in Bulverde, Texas. I’m Lee Harder, the senior pastor of St. Paul known as the Red Roof Church. I’d like you to join us each week as I share some thoughts with you. Better yet, why not check out our web page at redroofchurch.org or join us for worship this Sunday at 8:30AM or 10:45AM. We’re anxious to share our love for Christ with you.
This week I’ll begin by demonstrating the advantages and disadvantages of a classical education in a Christian Liberal Arts College of 60 years ago. Yes, that would be from the last millennium, but then, so am I. The Bard (that’s Willy Shakespeare for those never introduced to real, classical literature) wrote in his work, Hamlet, a line spoken by the chief protagonist (fancy way of saying “Hamlet said it”) — To Be, Or Not to Be: That is the Question. Well, allow me (with the permission of the master) to paraphrase it by applying it to the act of blogging and/or vlogging — To Blog, Or Not to Blog: That is the Question.
You see, I have discovered that the honest, sincere, exchange of ideas, concepts, realities and perceived truth doesn’t matter. Someone is always going to feel that what is said shouldn’t be said because it will offend, upset or disappoint them. After all, this venue is a method of advertising a particular goal or product. If what is said offends, then the source for the offense (in this case me) could possibly adversely impact the church I serve. Yet, this can be a source for venting and elaborating on topics that need addressing even if some maybe offended, alienated, conflicted or upset.
Look, I’m just sharing my thoughts. While I certainly mention who I am and where I can be found, it is to provide the source for where that is. If you find me irascibly or intellectually stimulating, you could come and learn more, especially about our Lord Jesus. I have a passion for sharing our Lord and helping people think. I am certainly not trying to keep a neutral view on life and subjects of interest to me. Simply, I share my thoughts (underline “my thoughts” not the church’s because they are mine) honestly and sometimes bluntly, while having a little fun even by poking fun at myself. It’s also a way to keep in practice writing to keep me sharp. After all, there’s a sermon which must be prepared each week. I’ll use humor, metaphors, stereotypes, exaggerations and more all for the purpose of getting people to think. Could it turn some people off? Yes. At the same time, it might turn some people on to a train of thought that makes them think. Whether spiritual, political, social or cultural, getting someone to think is always a good thing. God made us to be intelligent creatures. I suspect He intended we should use it. So, the answer to the question as to whether to Blog/Vlog or not is, as far as I’m concerned a big “YES!”. I’m having fun & I like thinking and stimulating others to do the same.
That said, I came across some material on why people leave a church. Certainly the topic is one that affects all churches, regardless of denomination or lack of denomination, in Christendom. There are dozens of sites showing why people move from upbeat, modern contemporary churches with their driving beat and pyro-technic light shows surrounding a moderate Scripture based message to more traditional churches or away from church altogether. There were just as many sites with the reverse explanations of people moving out of traditional mainline churches to contemporary settings or, again, outside the church entirely.
I think of it as a churchy version of shopping at HEB. People used to shop for themselves, you know, walk the aisles, compare prices, fill their carts, bag their groceries, drive them home and unpack them. Now, with ever growing numbers, more and more are having someone else do the work for them so they can just pick the groceries up or even have them delivered to their front door.
People used to be loyal to a church, specifically a congregation, because it was their spiritual home and they identified with it. They invested themselves in it through their involvement. Through thick or thin, good times or bad, they would remain loyal. They understood that to be a member of a church or better yet a disciple means you have to do the work yourself. It isn’t going to be done for you.
Today, I accept the growing numbers of those either incapable of shopping for themselves (We’re getting older — me, too, but I still do my own shopping. We’ve already established in past vlogs I am an in control kind of guy.) or just not wanting to be bothered for less than positive reasons. The number of people in churches wanting a free ride with God delivering a painless, less demanding or critical expectation of their role in the church as a disciple is growing, too. Instead of working to make things better in a church setting, many are now shopping for a church that is better now, at least for today. If things change (and they will) it will be time to go church shopping again. I thought it was about our relationship with Jesus and not what makes me satisfied in church. But I could be wrong.
Too bad! One day I suspect the Lord just might have something to say about all this.
And those are my thoughts.
God bless and have a good week.
Welcome to this week’s blog. I’m Lee Harder the senior pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Bulverde, Texas, known as the Red Roof Church. I would like to invite you to join us for worship this Sunday and every Sunday at either 8:30AM for a traditional worship celebration or at 10:45AM for our contemporary worship. I promise you’ll hear about Christ. I hope you’ll check us out.
It’s been one of those weeks and I couldn’t help but remember an old magazine I read as a kid, MAD magazine, with its iconic image of Alfred E. Newman and his “What, me worry?” You remember, the fictitious mascot and cover boy of that American humor magazine. The character's distinct face, with his parted red hair, gap-tooth smile, freckles, protruding nose, and scrawny body was to be found on the cover of every issue.
There are a number of different definitions one can assign to the phrase “What, me worry?” For example:
1. As an interrogatory, indicative of a nonchalant attitude towards potential criticism, not caring about what other people think, confident and self-possessed.
2. Someone who doesn't care about anything.
Well, I don’t know anybody who isn’t a little concerned about what others think even if they are confident. Likewise, I pity anyone who doesn’t care about anything, but I suppose there are some. So, we worry, at least a little and sometimes a lot.
Worry is one of the most pervasive things we face in life. It consumes some of us and effects nearly all of us in some way. We worry about all sorts of things, small and large in our lives. We worry about the world; wars, immorality, famine and hunger, disease, oil prices and the world-wide financial crisis. We worry about things in our individual lives; our finances, our children, our spouses, our health. And we worry about very mundane things like the expiration dates on the milk and eggs in our refrigerators.
On the subject of worry Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-27 — "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” A moment later in Matthew 6:34 Jesus added, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Boy, is He right, but how to implement is the issue.
The trouble is putting the worry aside. It’s easier said than done. Oh, I’ve counseled many a soul about how they must put aside their worry and give it to God. I just can’t do it with the success I would like. Some days I’m better at it than others, but there are THOSE days which always come. Maybe it’s because of my role as a pastor. It’s not easy being the smartest man in the universe which seems to go with the job. (Believe me when I say I KNOW I’M NOT that smart. Not even close. Unfortunately, people in a congregation, every congregation, too often think the pastor is supposed to have all the answers to all the questions. You know, the problem solver.) In addition, when issues come up that can cause difficulties, challenges or create tension to a body of believers, I worry. It’s not easy for a confident, control freak, in charge kind of guy like me to let go. I’m suppose to have the answers, so I review all the possibilities and worry that I didn’t do enough.
It’s a big challenge to turn these things over to God. Does this mean we should not worry? As humans, I don’t think we have the capacity to not worry. It is how we respond to the situations that cause our worries that makes all the difference.
When we allow our worries to consume us, to overshadow all else, we are taken off the narrow path that Jesus wants us to walk following Him. Satan is eager to take such consuming worries to do his work. This can lead to anxiety and depression. It can cause us to make foolish decisions. It can drive a wedge between spouses, between people in a congregation and between us and God.
Or we can take those things that cause our worries to God in prayer. We can turn things in our lives over to Him. It takes practice and I’m still learning. I never seem to run out of opportunities to engage in a new lesson to learn.
Turning things over to God instead of fretting and worrying about them does not give us free license to do whatever we want. Turning over control means following our Lord Jesus, doing His will. And we have to do our part by preparation to head off such situations. God does help those who help themselves. Where we run into problems here is when we think we are helping God instead of the other way around, God guiding us to do the right things.
So, perhaps Alfred E. Newman only got it part right with his “What, me worry?” It’s how we handle worries when they occur that matters, along with leading lives that prevent those situations that cause worry.
So, if you’re worried about the expiration dates on the milk and eggs…make an omelet! For the significant worries in our lives, pray. Turn your life over and follow the Spirit’s guidance. Advice I will try to apply to myself.
And those are my thoughts.
God bless and have a good week.
Pastor Lee R. Harder