Dear Fellow Children of God,
Before I left on vacation I was in Portland to attend the Convention of the Northwest District of our denomination, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Actually, when I arrived in FL and talked with my family I found that my two younger brothers and my sister had been at the convention of the Florida-Georgia District at the same time that I was in Portland. So we compared notes and found out that we had discussed some of the same issues on opposite shores of the country.
I have said in the past that I do not believe that majority votes in conventions are necessarily the best way to make spiritual decisions for the church. When we believe, as children of God, that God’s Word gives direction and decision, it is somewhat contradictory to make decisions by a vote of 51-49%. But, in this sinful world there are disagreements. So, acting in faith and humility and love God’s people sometimes meet to decide important matters. That is the reason for the events we read about in Acts 15. So God’s people continue to meet and discuss direction and plans for doing the work of our Lord.
However, sometimes God’s people forget whose work they are doing and to whom the church belongs. So, please look with me at what God says in the verses below.
· In Matthew 16:18 b, Jesus responds to the confession of Peter and says, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Jesus tells Peter the church belongs to HIM!
· In John 21:15 b, Jesus restores Peter after his betrayal, and Jesus gives Peter the following work, "Feed my lambs." Please notice, the lambs belong to Jesus.
· In Ephesians 5:23, God tells us, “Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” Jesus is head of the Church, not us.
God is very clear that the church is the body of Jesus. Jesus is the head. But, when God’s people become so passionate about their work that they can forget to whom the church belongs, this can lead to divisions rather than unified work for our Lord. Unfortunately, we have all see such disagreements and divisions in God’s church.
So, I was happy to receive an e-mail prayer recently from Rev. Dr. Dale Meyer. He is president of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and a friend of mine. (Dale spoke at St. John in 2003.) Please read below and pray this prayer with me.
“I was asked to offer a closing prayer at the convention of a district in our church. If you're active in your church, you may find this helpful.”
“O Spirit of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ, You have blessed us more than we know and therefore it is in our frailty that we thank You not as we ought but as we are able. Created for life in this beautiful world and this incomprehensible universe, You fill us with the added awe that we are Your redeemed and members of the Body of Christ. "The fear of The Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10).”
“As this busy day draws to its close, we have been privileged to be stewards of Your mission to people who are living and dying without the help and hope of their only Savior. We confess with shame those times when the feelings and thoughts that well up within us and those words that slip from unguarded lips reveal the heresy within us that this is our church, our doctrine, our practice. You, O Holy Spirit, keep calling us back to the truth that Jesus is the Head and we are His members. Thank You for the gift, the fleeting gift of daily repentance. Your patience fills us with the fear and love of God that should be the hallmark of all the baptized.”
“As the end draws near, lead us to pray not once but constantly, Dear Savior, abide with us for the day is far spent and the evening is at hand" (Luke 24:29). Give us joy in one another's company this evening. Make us kindly disposed toward everyone, for we are all precious members of the Body and love between us is the most excellent way (1 Corinthians 12:31). Watch over our loved ones while we are absent from one another. What a mercy from You, our God, that they lovingly tend to hearth and home while we are away. Yes, the end is near, only one heartbeat away. Grant us to close out this day in the salutary fear and love that finds its yea and amen in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). Amen. “
Thank you, Dale! Jesus died to save us and has given us the privilege of serving Him in His Church. May God use us to share His love.
A Child of God, Seeking to Serve my Savior in HIS Church,
P.S. Here are some pictures from our Fathers’ Day celebration in FL. https://picasaweb.google.com/114993745799525883148/FathersDay2015
P.P.S. Both the Florida-Georgia District and the Northwest District passed resolutions supporting licensed deacons in the work of God’s Church.
P.P.P.S. Here is another link to some vacation pictures. https://picasaweb.google.com/114993745799525883148/FloridaWithFamily
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am always adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you don’t want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message. . .