Wednesday, October 12, 2016

We are voting for a Politician

Voting for the President of the United States in 2016

Let us start with acknowledging that we see through the glass dimly (1 Cor. 13:12) and we are under the sun (Eccl. 1:14).  Both descriptions help us understand that we cannot choose whom to vote for and know for certain that we made the perfect choice.  And the Bible tells us that because of the fallen state of humanity any person we choose that is on a ballot cannot be a perfect choice. 

This years election appears to present a serious dilemma for Christians because the sins of the major party candidates go before them.  We are choosing between an egomaniacal misogynist and a narcissistic congenital liar.  For those of you who insist on the legitimate alternative of a third party candidate I have no wisdom, as you are concerned about your conscience first and I won’t argue with you.  But for those of us who care to have a say as to who will actually win the presidency it bares repeating that it is between an egomaniacal misogynist and a narcissistic congenital liar.  So what is the Christian thing to do?

Before I answer I must qualify what I perceive is the Christian thing to do by acknowledging again that I look through dim glass and I am living on the lower side of the sun.  What I think should be done is limited by my fallen state.  But here is what struck me just recently.  We are simply electing a politician who is to be a third of our government in regards to power and influence.  Yes, I realize that powers seem to have shifted seemingly swaying back and forth from the oval office to the Supreme Court but that is not something we can immediately control.  The fact remains that we are electing a politician to serve the major role in one third of our government structure.  That means that we are NOT electing a Christian or religious leader.  Christians should never want to elect a Christian leader in a political arena.  That does not mean we don’t want Christians to hold political office.  It only means that we do not elect Christians in the political arena to lead the Church.  Only within the governmental structure of the Church should Christian leaders be chosen.  Thus, because we are electing a politician we should be most concerned about the policies each candidate supports.   And the most important policy this preacher upholds is the right to life, the right to life of the unborn.  The right to life issue is important because defending the most defenseless is fundamental to both biblical revelation and natural law.  Jesus came for the least among us and there are no human beings that better define the least among us than those who are not even called human and have no means to defend themselves.   Natural law reveals to us that we cannot continue as a species if the most dangerous place a human can be is in her mother’s womb.

If you agree with the above you may be skeptical because you are not confident either party or candidate truly wishes to protect the unborn.  The only for sure we have is that one party says from their platform that they are most concerned about a woman’s right to choose while the other says that protection of the unborn is what is most important.  The fact that words from a platform have not turned into action for defending the unborn is true.  I have no immediate defense or solution for that fact.

Other policies that Christians should be concerned about include our national debt and thus what we are leaving for future generations.  We have a biblical responsibility to leave an inheritance for our children not a debt (Prov. 13:22).  Christians should also be concerned about national defense.  The one clear biblical responsibility God gives to government leaders is the protection of their citizens (Rom. 13:3,4).  This protection includes treaties with other nations and how we go about preventing terrorist threats before they become terrorist acts on our nations soil.  Policies concerning immigration should be examined in terms of both national security and biblical instruction to treat strangers in our land with dignity (Lev. 19:34).  Other policies concerning health care, education, bathroom sharing and whatever else we can debate about are informed by both moral conviction and wisdom. 

The last policy I perceive is most important is what each party and or candidate will do to protect freedom of religion so that Christian churches are free to preach the gospel without censor, without a tax and without harassment. 

A pastor should never tell his followers how to vote.  I will only tell you how I will vote.  I will vote for the candidate who gives the unborn the best chance to be protected.  I will vote for the candidate that gives our nation the best chance to be protected from enemies foreign and domestic.  And I will vote for the candidate that I have no confidence in regarding his or her character matching up to what he or she says he or she will do.  I see through foggy glass and I am blinded by the sun. 

“May God have mercy upon the United States of America, if that is His will.  May God judge us according to our deeds if that is His will.   May God’s Kingdom come and His will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.  In the name of Jesus who is Savior and Lord of all creation, Amen!”


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Thoughts on Orlando

Below is a couple of points from my sermon this coming Sunday.  I needed to acknowledge how the teaching of Jesus in John 15 and 16 fit with tragedy that occurred last Sunday.

"The tragedy in Orlando last week is clear evidence as to why the world hates Christians for as Christians we can condemn the mass killing of people by the actions of a lone gunman or a group of terrorists and we can also condemn sodomy while our culture tells us to that to do so is to side with the terrorists.  But our culture is folding in on itself when it tries to embrace Islam as a peaceful religion and embrace the homosexual lifestyle as normal for the reality is that the former has already condemned the latter and that will not change.  And the Christian faith stands back away from it all and says that all need to repent and come to cross and find forgiveness.  The culture hates that because it wants all sexual behavior to be normalized and it wants all religions, except Christianity, to get along.  And when these things do not happen the devil convinces the culture that the Christian faith and thus the Christian Church is at fault.  Such was the case when the Roman culture began to crumble and such is the case today as the American culture crumbles."

"Although the teaching of Jesus in John 15 and 16 had immediate and specific application to the Apostles, the same principles apply to Christians of all cultures and all eras.  In our culture and era we experience temptations toward fear as acts of terror occur more frequently and heinously and the media intensifies its coverage of said acts from every possible angle of blame they can come up with.  These two ingredients can make it seem as though the world is crumbling around us.   Thus we are tempted to shut our doors and windows and stay home hoping that the world does not come into our lives.  But that is not what the Apostles did.  They went out and they spoke up.  And that is what Jesus has told all of his followers to do.  Did you notice that in the descriptions I gave of the Apostle’s who were martyred that many of them were martyred outside of Jerusalem having traveled as far East as India and as far West as Europe.  They did so knowing these words Jesus spoke to them.  The world would hate them, persecute them and kill them.  Beloved we should not need the guilt of Jesus walking past us out of our homes into the world why we are going into our homes to shut our doors and windows so that the dangers in the world cannot reach us."

"Yes, the world can be a dangerous and scary place because there are evil people who have made themselves tools of the devil.  Yes, when we speak the truth of the gospel in that same world we make ourselves a target of evil people.  But St. Paul’s words “To die is gain and to live is Christ” are to ring true to us if we call ourselves 'Christian.'" 

Monday, April 18, 2016

If you must choose, choose rationalism

The article linked is, from my viewpoint, a most important article especially for young adults.  Scientism has been used by the devil to give justified rejection of the Christian faith again and again.  The devil has dipped our culture into an empirical slough and we swim in it.  A scientific study comes out from a real scientist who has a real degree and has a real grant and it says such and such about this moral issue or that moral issue and all minds are changed because the real scientist and his real study say so.  Take another look.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Jorgensen Catechism

I wrote what is below for my children and for their children but I realized that I wanted anyone to use it who wanted to use it.  I hope it is helpful.  More will follow.


There is an old saying that goes something like this, “What was once a man’s conviction becomes his sons habit, which then becoming his grandsons throwaway.”  The point of the saying is that if a conviction is not passed on as a conviction it will eventually fade away from a family.  Having grown up within a nominal Roman Catholic heritage I became familiar with liturgical Christian worship but it was never a conviction of mine.  With your grandparents having died before they could pass much on to me I was at a disadvantage to understand why my father chose to convert to Roman Catholicism, the faith in which my mother was raised.  When I understood and accepted the gospel as an 18 year old I reasoned that since I did not find a relationship with Jesus in the Roman Catholic Church that I could find him in Protestant churches.  I have worshipped in charismatic churches, Baptist churches, Presbyterian churches, Methodist churches and Lutheran churches.  None of them were as meaningful to me and as helpful to me as what is called the “Anglican Way”.  The greatest revelation I have had in experiencing different forms of Christian worship is that followers of Jesus are not to worship as they prefer but as God would prefer.  And God has a preference on how He would like to be worshipped.  Below is a catechism of sorts that I am passing along to you so that, if you so choose, what is my conviction would become your conviction.  It is a beginning point.  

Why do we practice “formal” (liturgical) worship when we worship corporately?

There are many examples in the Bible of God rejecting people’s worship.  The worship of Cain and the worship of Eli’s sons first come to mind.  That means that God has standards.  He first reveals what His standards are when He calls Israel to corporately worship Him (see Exodus 24).  Those standards include the reading of God’s Word, the people responding in unison and the eating of a meal.  The Book of Common Prayer follows those standards while also using standards practiced in Temple and synagogue worship.

Why do we read formal prayers?  Are not extemporaneous prayers more “heart felt”?

Our formal prayers use the wording of Holy Scripture because we believe it is best to pray God’s Words back to Him for His Words are holy and infallible and ours are not.  While Book of Common Prayer worship does not forbid extemporaneous prayers and we are free to add them to our worship, we believe that read prayers are more theologically careful and can become very heart felt. 

Does not stating the same prayers over and over again cause them to become robotic rather than truly understood and believed?

While it is true that the things we do on a regular basis are susceptible to becoming so routine that we fail to pay close attention to what we are saying, we see such a possibility as a heart issue and not caused by the prayers, chants and recitations themselves.  It is the responsibility of every Christian who worships to keep attentive and focused on what is being prayed, sung or confessed. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

All Aboard the Trump Train!

How to Stop the Trump Train!

Christian leaders have spoken out against the nomination of Donald Trump as Republican representative for the White House.  Baptist Russel Moore has been outspoken against Trump on social media for several months.  Presbyterian Doug Wilson has recently posted a blog that outlines his disdain for Donald.  And then there are Christian leaders who have openly supported Trump.  Endorsements have come from men such as Baptist Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Baptist Robert Jeffress.  So what should an American Christian do?  If Trump wins the nomination, which is very likely after yesterday, and he is put up against Hillary Clinton, which way should a Christian vote?  Should Christians sit out or vote for a third or fourth or fifth party candidate so as to assure another Clinton in the White House? 

While I tire of blogs and articles that claim a more objective pose than everyone else, here is mine in all of this.  Donald Trump is a populace candidate.  Nothing unearthed there.  The people that like him like his bombastic ways and temperament because it is their own when it comes to expressing how they feel about the federal government.  They are weary of politicians who don’t do as they promised when they were trying to get elected.  And they are angry for little annoying things like not being able to speak stereotypical language without being considered a racist or homo/bi/transphobe.  They are tired of not being able to say “Merry Christmas.”  They are tired of being forced to pay the way for illegal immigrants and the willfully unemployed and not be defended or protected physically and financially by their own government.  Trump is a product of all of this being tired and angry business.  He has said what few if any have said that is against what is tiresome and maddening.  This diagnosis has been spoken by many others but this next question has not.  Who is responsible for what much of the populace is angry about?  Did you say the liberals?  Well, yes, ok the liberals.  But who is responsible for the liberals?  The devil?  Well, yes and no.  What Christians need to look at and acknowledge and then confess as sin to the Lord is how they are complicit in either supporting or ignoring that which has made the populace angry and thus that which made Donald Trump the likely Republican nominee as the next POTUS. 

While baptistic Christianity dominates the American landscape in Church attendance every Sunday so does the baptistic view that what is most important in the Christian life is a “Jesus and me only” mentality that leaves the Church (note the capital “C”) unnecessary and thus incapable of having a necessary voice to society that speaks out against unjust and immoral government practices and the amoral that poses as entertainment in our society.  Added to this “Jesus and Me only” mentality in the poor eschatology of many independent Christians who understand the world to be inevitably getting worse so that the “rapture” can take place and all of the real Christians (those baptized by immersion at the age of consent) can be off to heaven and leave the rest to find out just how bad a society can get when the Christians are gone. 

And then there are the postmillennial Christians who spend too much of their time wondering whether a woman should serve as a manager over a convenience store if she has male workers as subordinates and also should a male even apply at such a store if the manager is a woman.  If you have not read these type of articles I assure you I am not exaggerating.  The conversation seems to think that to usher in the Kingdom of God you have to pretend that people have been converted before they are actually converted.  They want to consider how a Christian society should be run before you have a Christian society.  And thus while the Church is doing the real important theological work of deciding whether marriages should be complimentary and a patriarchy (read sarcastically) the Holy Spirit has already said Husbands love, wives submit, children obey.  He then wants us to get on with the true Kingdom business of preaching the gospel and being salt and light to the world.

And then there are the liberals and lukewarm who either actually don’t believe any of what Christianity historically professes or don’t think what is believed has any power.  To them we can only repeat, “I wish you were hot or cold.” 

I have heard Christians say recently, because of these primary elections, that we need to pray for God’s mercy for our country.  I have also heard Christians once again pull out God’s promises to Israel as if they are promises to America with the confidence that if we will humble our selves and pray that God will heal our land.  All of is believed while we continue to slaughter babies in the wombs of their mothers and bless acts of sodomy.  The biblical truth is that we cannot consider asking for God’s mercy until we repent of our national sins.  We cannot humble ourselves without stopping the murder of the innocent unborn and the acceptance of perverted sexuality.  Such are not our only national sins, mind you, but they are our most egregious.  

If the Church preaches against such sins and disciplines to save God’s people from such sins, then we might have a united voice to say something to our culture about truth and finding hope.

Speak out all you want against Donald Trump Christian leaders.  Pretend that Romney was better, that McCain was better and so on.  To be sure, I would prefer Cruz, Rubio or Carson to Trump.  But that may not be a choice I get.  But come the general election I will vote for Trump as an opposition vote to Clinton and as a recognition that his popularity I was foolishly responsible for because I am a member of the Catholic/Universal Church. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Israel-Day 8

Thankfully we had a much more relaxing day but not without some unique experiences. We checked out of Christ's Church in the morning and started off for Galilee. Our first stop was the Jordan river at the traditional sight of the baptism of Jesus.  It was quite crowded as there was a Coptic group rededicating themselves in the water.  We watched them for a time and then the Coptics were interrupted by an American middle age group that rushed to the water shedding their clothes to dip themselves.  I must say that I never expected to see half naked middle age women at such a holy sight. Some literally threw their tops off to quickly change. Can't make this stuff up.  We next drove around the Lake (Sea) of Galilee.  It is Thirteen miles long and 6 miles wide. It was calm today and quite beautiful as the sun struck it at different angles.

We had good drink and good conversation as we agreed that what the Jewish people do so well to maintain their identity is to be proactive at redeeming time and celebrations together. Christians need this type of identity in the home first and then in the faith community. Much more to be said!   We love the new hotel where we will stay two nights. Please pray we get home safe. Peace, Pastor Eric

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Israel-Day 7

We started with the former Temple now known as the Dome on the Rock. Did you know? 1) The Muslims do not believe Mohommed ascended into heaven from said spot. 2) The dome was designed by Bysantine Christians and it looks like a Byzantine Christian Church. 3) The gold color was added much later by the Jordanians using American money. 4) While the Jewish state tried to compromise with the Arabs by offering to take what was below the ground and let them have what was above ground the Muslims secretly built a mosque below ground as well. 4) The Muslims deny the Jews ever had a Temple built on the spot of the Dome On the Rock.  Neither did I.

Bobbi Lynn and I spent lunch with Rev. Walter And Nelda Banek walking up the Mt of Olives and then to the possible place of the garden of Gethsemene.  There are trees there that date back to the days of Jesus.  Very powerful to imagine what transpired there.  We also viewed the pool of Bethesda and imagined the lame man being healed!  Again, it is a great privilege to take in.  Peace, Pastor Eric

Monday, January 18, 2016

Israel-Day 6th

We both had a good night sleep last night so we were ready for the day. We started at the Tower of David which has nothing to do with King David.  Israel can be confusing like that. Archealogical evidence shows that the foundation was Herod's palace where Jesus was likely convicted and flogged. It has had several walls built around it since then and now serves as a museum of Jerusalem.

We were greatly helped to understand the story of Jesus' time in the Holy City by hands on topography maps and models that showed the relationship between important buildings and areas within the city walls. I very much look forward to trying to describe it all to others.

Our next stop was the Church of the Reussurection or Holy Sepluchre, whichever you prefer.  There is so very much to take in  there because of the many traditions that lay claim to the spot.  Our guide is very quick to dismiss "Protestant propaganda" so my questions were almost ignored. Both Bobbi Lynn and I waited to touch the rock on which Jesus may have died.  It seemed like a necessary thing for a pilgrim to do.  Finally we took a quick trip to Bethlehem where we saw our first Palestinian soldiers. Their Prime Minister was in town to celebrate the Armenian Christmas. Because of the celebration we only got a glimpse of the believed spot Jesus was born.

There is much in dispute about these sites but there are too many witnesses very close to the days Jesus spent on earth allowing us to trust in the respective traditions.

Anyone who would come to these places and question the historicity of Jesus is a fool. Well, he is a fool even if he never comes to the Holy City.   Peace, Pastor Eric

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Israel-Day 5

Holy Communion service for Christ's Church began at 9:30 so we had a little extra time to relax in the morning.  The service was a mix of contemporary and low church liturgy.  The message covered the first miracle of Jesus in John 2.

Because of possible inclement weather our schedule changed to take advantage of the beautiful day given to us and we began by walking through the Jewish quarter, followed by the southern wall excavation and finally to the western or wailing wall.  The tour was helpful to set us up to understand how the second Temple era started in 538 BC to 70 AD which was a new way to consider it for me as I learned that the Jews did not accept Zerubbabel's rebuilding as a legitimate Temple.

Another lesson learned was that I had always thought that the Western Wall was the only wall of the Temple left standing.  Actually much of the Southern Wall is left as well and it was magnificent touch the southwest corner and gaze up at the massive structure while imagining what it once was.  The privilege was to step on the very steps that Jesus and his disciples would have stepped on to walk through the Southern Gate.  This is what makes for a true pilgrimage.

Most men decided to go into the section gated off to get to the Western Wall but I stayed behind the fence.  For me it was sad to watch so many devoted men rocking, praying and hoping for a deliverance that had come 2,000 years ago and who was and is the True Temple.

We finished with standing on a roof top in the evening to see the Holy City.  It is a honor to be here.  Peace, Pastor Eric

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Israel-Day 4

We started off early again (7:47 am) and enjoyed a much needed Morning Prayer service together on the bus.  Our first and longest stop was Masada.  I wasn't looking forward to this part of our journey because it is not a biblical event.  But the fortress itself is something to behold.  Our guide took us to each of the Jewish building built while occupied and discussed the benefits of Jewish practices.  A "elephant in the room" question stays with us, "Why should we be impressed with devout Jewish practices when they missed the Messiah?"  It is sometimes acknowledged but most of the time it is overlooked.  I do care about what the Jews did whether it be cultural or religious but only because I want to better understand how and why Jesus acted toward them the way he did.  There is too much more to discuss on the issue so I will save it for later teaching times.

Our next stop was the Qumran where the Essenes left their scrolls and where so much of our Old Testament content is revealed.  Consider that before these scrolls were found the latest archaeological evidence for the Old Testament were 900 A.D. scrolls.  These were 100 B.C. scrolls and virtually identical to the 900 A.D. scrolls.  Add to this evidence that Malachi was written 300 years before the Dead Sea Scrolls and Jeremiah just over 200 years before Malachi and we have the high likelihood that what we have today is a the Word of God.

Our final stop was to take a deep in the Dead Sea and it was worth the wait.  There is literally no effort needed to stay afloat and no sting to the skin.  Another once in a lifetime opportunity.

We ended our day here at the Christ Church guest house and what a blessing it is.  It is in the Old Jerusalem right across from the Tower of David.  This will be our home for the next four days.  Peace, Pastor Eric

Friday, January 15, 2016

Israel-Day 3

Israel-Day 3

The day started with a visit to the home and memorial for Ben-Gurion.  He was a modern prophet for the state of Israel as he became instrumental in establishing the contemporary Jewish state.  If your education was like mine or if you simply remember yours like I remember mine we thought Israel became a state because the UN felt sorry for them after WWII and Holocaust.  Not true.  How Israel came to be a nation and why they face the animosity they now face is found in their beginnings.  Too much to discuss in this blog.

We next went to En Avedat where we took in spectacular views and realized just how difficult it was to get across the dessert region called the Negev.  We went down the ravine and then we climb up 100 meters by way steps, trails and 90 degree ladders.  A picture of us at the top is on our Facebook page

A wonderful outcome of such a trip is found in what it meant for Moses to hit a rock twice for water to come out.  I had always thought of it as a simple big rock in the dessert but when you walk the ravine and see water seeping out of canyon walls and understand that it was an old shepherd's trick to hit such rocks causing them to de-plug and for water to come forth, you know why God told Moses to speak and not strike.

Finally we went to Makhtesh Ramon a crater that was not on our agenda but was a beautiful view of God's creation as we meditated on the view reading Psalm 104.

This journey with Old Testament references is such a fantastic way to anticipate following the steps of Jesus and entering Jerusalem.

Please read Bobbi Lynn's comments below as she is keeping a woman's perspective along with me.  

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Israel-day 2 Walking in the footsteps of Abraham

Happy Birthday to my dear sweet wife! I wouldn't say that to her until it was the 14th in the states.  Our first stop today was at the "supposed" well of Abraham. Evidently the Bedouins claimed it as Abrahams well in the 19th century but archeologists cannot age it past 1000 years. We took pictures there anyway.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Israel-day of travel

The plane was scheduled to leave at 10:50 pm. While waiting we spent $40 on sliders and pita with hummus at Newark Airport.  Israel has an additional search before you board which we preferred. I was curious regarding the many Orthodox Jewish men on board. They were dressed in accordance with the rabbi they follow. Most were in all black with different curls for sideburns and different top hats. They prayed, recited and rocked together at certain hours even on the plane. Some people might have respect for their devout life styles but I struggled watching them. It was not their ritualism that bothered me. It was not even that they trusted in their ritualism. It was the fact that they have rejected Jesus as their Messish.

Our group Evening Prayer followed the lectionary reading from Ezekiel 3. There the prophet is told by God that the people of Israel will not listen to the prophet because they will not listen to God.  To hear that while being present in the land of Israel was surreal and gave me a deeper appreciation for the courage of the prophets.  St. John records Jesus saying that the Jews did not know him as their
Savior because they did not know the Heavenly Father. As Christians we can have respect for devoted Orthodox Jews but they need Jesus as their Savior. No exceptions!

We arrived at The Leonardo hotel in Beer Sheba at 7:30 pm (12:30 est).  Had a good meal and now wait to fall asleep so that we don't wake up at 3:00 am. Tomorrow we look at the land that Abram walked. Peace to you, Pastor Eric

Friday, January 8, 2016

And yet another problem...

with the "Jesus and me only" doctrine is how it seriously limits a believers ability to understand the covenant of salvation God has made for His people.  When Abram looked to the stars at God's instruction he was not only to understand the number of "seeds" that would come from him but also to see the immensity of the covenant God had made with him.  When Abram believed God's promises and it was accounted to him as righteousness the specifics of those promises would not be realized by Abram.  And it didn't matter.  The faith Abram had was not about him.  That cannot be said by those who think that their personal testimony to ask Jesus in their heart is the crux of their life.  That is why they bounce from church to church.  It is why service to the Lord is conditional and convenient.  It is why they can treat other Christians in a non-loving manner.  But it is never "Jesus and me only."  Believers are part of an immense covenant that God has made for our salvation.  Just look to the stars!