Thursday, March 16, 2017

Bad Samaritan?


WE PRESENT you with an online opportunity to view and participate in key portions of our worship experience. We offer this to you for the sake of those who are home bound, or temporarily cannot attend a worship celebration at their home church. In no way should this be taken as a replacement for regular Christian worship in a traditional faith community... for there you rightly worship God, are supported and offer the love of God to others.

To view our video, click on the screen arrow below. Once the video begins, you can click on bottom right of the video screen to obtain the YouTube call out. Click on that call out if you wish to enable larger, or full screen ability.



Let us go in Peace to Love and Serve the Lord!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Ash Wednesday!

Our OBSERVANCE of Ash Wednesday is slated to occur Hope Lutheran Church on March 1st, at 7PM. We shall meet in the sanctuary of the Free Christian Evangelical Church, on Pine Street in Smethport, PA. You need not be a Lutheran in order to attend, but only believe in the power of God. We hope to see you there.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Heavenly Climbing?


WE PRESENT you with an online opportunity to view and participate in key portions of our worship experience. We offer this to you for the sake of those who are home bound, or temporarily cannot attend a worship celebration at their home church. In no way should this be taken as a replacement for regular Christian worship in a traditional faith community... for there you rightly worship God, are supported and offer the love of God to others.

To view our video, click on the screen arrow below. Once the video begins, you can click on bottom right of the video screen to obtain the YouTube call out. Click on that call out if you wish to enable larger, or full screen ability.
 


May the Peace of God be with you now and forevermore.


Pastor Meets With Mission!

AS PART of tasks requested as a member of the Executive Council of the Mid-Northeast Mission District in the North American Lutheran Church (NALC), our Pastor Tom went to Washington, PA on February 23rd, for a meeting. During that meeting, many items for the future of our ministry together were discussed. Among these was the mandate towards gospel proclamation for our Mission District, clergy vacancies, and ecumenical activities. Noteworthy for us, was the closure of a congregation to our north, formerly located in East Amherst, in New York state. The loss is significant for our region, for it leaves only one organized congregation to our north. Several actions are underway concerning our loss and the district's mission going forward. Pastor will be contacted by leadership in the NALC about such matters.
 Pictured below are persons who attended the meeting, including Dr. Al Towberman (center), who donned a Wittenburg-style doctoral hat just as Martin Luther wore one 500 years ago. This year we celebrate that anniversary.





Sola Gracia, Sola Fide, Sola Christus!




  

Monday, January 30, 2017

Religious Divisions and Doom?

EACH TIME we watch the news on television it seems that the situation across the world has become more severe. In this nation, much unrest has been caused because President Trump issued directives that persons coming into the United States from violent nations be restricted temporarily until their identity and allegiances can be verified.
 In Canada, news of murder breaking forth in a Muslim mosque shattered the night. In Syria, we have once again heard that Christians are persecuted and put to death; clergy and laypersons are kidnapped and killed, and churches are burned to the ground. Christian women and children reportedly do not receive mercy in this strife, with the former being raped, killed and enslaved. Children have been beheaded in front of their mothers. That news bears similar tyrannical markings of ancient King Herod’s travesty upon children so long ago.
 We cringe even more so as we hear news out of Egypt which mirrors alarm, as the text of many prominent newspapers reads similarly of persecutions and burned churches. Farther east, in the Orient, the same type of Christian persecutions occur in India, China, and other exotic lands. In Africa, where Christianity has given rise to great spiritual awakenings in Tanzania, Sudan and other lands, we find much to give alarm. Assassinations of clergy and laity, burning of churches, and kidnapping of Christian women grasp for headlines. Violence stems mainly from those persons who are selectively called “radical” Muslims. Their deeds rage across the media as they pillage, murder, and rape in the name of their warring god.
 Certainly the places I mention above are troubled areas of the world where poverty often strikes hard. Thus societal ills are often blamed as having fomented this violent response. But this reason does not hold for all... nor justify. The cause is buried deeper in the realm of the demonic. The fact remains... Christianity is under attack in these and affluent places.., even in my own “peaceful” America.
 Be aware however! Not being a dispensationalist theologian, in prophecy I do not ascribe credence to any form of tribulation periods or rapture sooth-saying. I do contend, however, that through the apocalyptic writings of scripture we are rightly warned.
 You see, because of our human sinfulness, history does tend to repeat. Given this thought, I ask you to view the following excerpt of scripture. This text was given to the very early church as it was caught in the politics, economics and violence of the Roman Empire. Vivid mind pictures of Revelation paint a dire portrait about that which confronted the early church. From these biblical pages, therefore, we may receive lessons for our own day. By the power of the Holy Spirit, after describing the woes and battles of war from the demonic, and the future triumph of God… blessed John wrote about more that was to come…
 “And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be loosed from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations which are at the four corners of the earth, that is, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city; but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Revelation 20:7-11)
  Indeed as we study history we find that Rome did fall, and then great unfolding events occurred on into the Middle Ages, the Crusades, and the rise of Charlemagne. That latter ruler, crowned as the “Holy Roman Emperor”, ushered in a period of history where the dual yokes of government and church finally led us to the Reformation, and on into the period of Enlightened Despots and two major World Wars. Europe broke into three political factions and World War I erupted. Many died supporting the political aspirations of leaders such as the German Kaiser and the Russian Czar.
 We note that both names ironically stem from the Roman title of Caesar. History does leave its mark and we repeat sin and evil persists. We find the church once again hid in catacomb repose while God saw evil roam.

 In the midst of these periods of conflagration, scapegoats were chosen… but they did not choose Christians. The Jewish people were those who were soon beaten, burned out, and raped by civilizations that were blinded beneath Satan’s deception. In World war II, the demons used nationalism in the heresies of Hitler, and the atheistic and communist ranting of Marxism enlisted by Stalin, to persuade each nation to try to become more powerful. Each seemingly threw the idiotic theory of Social Darwinism into play. During this era, not only Jews, but those who were Gypsy, or mentally-challenged were targeted. I fear to say, in large measure, that the Christian church’s foolish cowardice and silence splintered them into mixed response. In Germany, if it were not for such leadership as displayed by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, my own denomination would yet be crying in sackcloth and ashes. If it were not for Allied forces working for the survival of freedom, even more horrid events would have occurred as atomic energy emerged.
 After the travesty of World War II, it seems that we too easily ignored the warnings contained in General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s speech at West Point, wherein he spoke of the military/industrial complex. As a nation, we in these United States became involved in a series of “police actions” and wars. We found it more profitable to make tanks and blow them up, than to make school buses and ambulances. War seemed to be more economically generous than peace, as we now still sell warplanes to such as Egypt. Thus this nation and its allies have become a world police force touting the cause of freedom, while allowing the dangling of arms and ammunition before dubious powers. We have bought into “rescue” politics on a worldwide scale, with some wars justifiable indeed… while others are questioned. Our political tactics seemingly vacillate between profitability and righteousness, and voters are hard pressed to discern our future. Such is the situation now as Muslim populations trek to our borders. But the greater problem is… evil hands are still at work. Our best efforts can become demonic.
 In the midst of peaceful chaos demons often work. At present we walk through a world which has bought into the socialistic educational morass of a “one world” vision. Government has taken the reigns of education. In present public teaching rests a great lie. It is sometimes said, “If only we can ALL get along, everything will be alright worldwide.”

 According to this demonic thrust, the problems lay with our political mindset. Recently a thought entertained is that of a “common core” education. In this “common” worldview promoted for youth, we cannot be peaceful on our own, with kings, queens, emperors, presidents, clergy, churches, and various competing religious ways. In this view, proponents say those in power and influence need to equalize the differences and diminish forces that stand in the way. This perspective permeates the halls of education, from the elementary school to the safe spaces of colleges. In this dogma, humans shall progressively evolve into a one world, peaceful governance.
 I differ with this progressive, socialist theory, however… for we too soon forget that blessed Saint Paul reminded us about ourselves in the days of Rome.
as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks for God. All have turned aside, together they have gone wrong; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave, they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood, in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18)
In the Marxist educational and political thought worlds slanted over against scripture, Jesus’ statements about his exclusivity for the salvation of humanity is suppressed. Inclusivity becomes an overstretched umbrella that causes a liberal theological stench... one which opens to lift high such no-growth social agendas as gay marriage and abortion.
 Thus it is that our mainline Church dwindles quietly while only those steeped in fundamentalist entertainment worship garner growth. For this reason, some Christians sit sinfully in barren pews jealously guarding earthly inheritances, attempting by power of positions in failing churches, seeking to wrestle for survival against more successful, gospel proclaiming workers in Christ.

  In the modern mainline Church, we for too long have ignored our first calling in Christ to proclaim the “good news” to our neighbors. Therefore, I fear that churches shall certainly still dwindle in attendance. Minions argue incessantly among us about the finer points of worship and social works, pointing zealously to those across Christian denominations who twist right interpretation of scripture to suit their own agendas.
 We grovel at the feet of those factions in our midst who would blunt the penalty of God’s Law so to fill the pews and coffers of failing churches. These populist sellouts rail hot against orthodox Christians who hold to the scriptural fidelity in both Law and Gospel, and malign those who cling tightly to scripture and work to properly exegete that holiness received from our faith ancestors. Apostate churches deign to support popular social causes for the sake of wooing the ignorantly oppressed and fill whited sepulchers. For this reason, these clamor even for the unwitting defense of persons who may do public harm. From the halls of the Vatican and mainline Lutheranism... to the sway of Pentecostals, we in churches continually fall victim to those who twist and parse scripture in their practice of denominational navel gazing. Much tumult therefore results.
 I offer to you that my own switching of denominational allegiance in recent years to the North American Lutheran Church (NALC) has shown me a more proper way. Presently in the NALC, there exists an impetus to return to our primary calling of…. “Proclaim the Word of God through both Law and Gospel!”
Across the church, we echo loudly what Saint Paul had long established…
 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith.
                                                                                           (Romans 3:21-25)
Thus the Word of God persists for us, and will work to sustain us… even through historical and hysterical hiccups. Across the flow of history for a thousand years and yet a thousand more if needed, we shall therefore profess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Whether the gospel shall spring forth from disciples in this nation in churches large or small, or be relegated to the recent catacombs of a “house church” movement I do not know. But the way of the Holy Spirit is prophetically certain. Jesus Christ and his gift shall be made known, and in the last day the church shall survive triumphant. For it has been prophesied by John so long ago…
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it; from his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done.” (Revelation 20:11-12)

  Finally know this! Judgment comes upon us all, and we are all found wanting. However, we who cling to our faith in Jesus Christ, given to us by the power of Holy Spirit, shall know forgiveness and be lifted up from the ashes for the sake of his blessed gift of salvation made through his suffering and death on the cross. In this modern world, therefore, as the future unfolds boisterously in this land… the Holy Spirit comes upon us whenever we gather together by the power of our Baptism. We are Christians strengthened in forgiveness by the order of Confession and Absolution! We are forgiven and energized in faith by precious observance of the Holy Eucharist. In that solemn time wherein we receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus, from a hallowed place of worship, we are called to go out into the world immersed in chaos. Thus it is that we are privileged to proclaim to you and all that now read and hear… "Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. So it is, so it shall be! Amen"

FOR THOSE persons who want to know more about Muslims and violent Muslim extremists, check out a presentation given before the North American Lutheran Church (NALC)... The presentation begins at 1hr:11minutes into the video. Go to ...


May the Peace of God that surpasses all human understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.