Thursday, January 26, 2017

Watch those Barriers

By Rev. Tom Tuura
Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church

Proverbs 3:5,6 tells us (Lets say it together...) “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not on thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.”
We skip over the middle part, “Lean not on thine own understanding”.
As in the Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol”, lets take a ride with the “angel of Christmas present” to visit a few church attending people's situations. (Nothing to do with Christmas season, just using the metaphor.) All, except the last, have one thing in common, a barrier to which they won't allow God to cross.
This first person is a church member, who attends ocasionally but lives like she wants during the week. This woman never considered the Bible or her pastor's counsel. Like many, she's had a very tough marriage, husband is a real loser. Although married in the church, by a pastor, never talked to him when things got out of hand. And probably never followed her church's biblical guidance when they met and married. Just went straight to the lawyer's office to end it.
This second person is the church organist. The church organist is the superintendent in one of the local public schools--is also a fixture at the local Eagle's club sitting at the bar with a stack of pull tabs all around.
We continue our journey now to visit a young unmarried woman who is sitting in church, as a baby grows inside her. Even though she has gone to youth group, and Sunday School, she has made up her mind and will be aborting this pregnancy this coming week.
The fourth person we visit, is dedicated choir member and Sunday School teacher who is really struggling to sort out part of their private life. This isn't something to bring up in church, but where does one bring it up? Are they normal? She's wanted to talk to a “professional” but has been “Googling” the subject online. She has joined an online community who is advising her. She has decided on following that advice because they understand.
Fifth a Christian husband who has a good opposite sex friend through work. They call this a “work spouse”. They actually spend more time together over the course of the work week than either of them have at home with their own spouses because of various activities. He has compartmentalized this relationship so much that he doesn't even realize what is coming. They both have a business trip coming up on Monday.
The last one we visit is well known in the church and community for their faith. This person is in private, very weak, and a little insecure. In secret, struggles with temptation; and more often than they want to admit--lose. In public sometimes pridefully over-does-it in word or deed. Life is not easy, but day after day they open up their Bible, read, weep, confess and pray. They have to apologize sometimes to more than one person for a careless word, or misunderstanding. Fearing hypocrisy, ever mindful that they are not perfect, they still serve sometimes seen and sometimes unseen. Week after week he/she shows up at church. They worship listen and learn.
The fact is, all these people are sitting in church, battling and struggling, with demons, decisions, consequences, that are in some cases controlling them. And in the end, all too often not giving consideration to God in one key area. Sometimes its immaturity and ignorance that protects these barriers. And more and more, particularly with the growth of the internet, outside voices and influences are allowed to become way more important barriers to good, godly counsel. We all have barriers of some sort. We have to let the Holy Spirit tear them down.
We all mix a little Bible with our own concoction of selfish decision making. We put up limits on how far God can come in our life. And the result is stories like these.
The bad news is there are consequences to these decisions that can't be blamed on God or the church, or church people.
The good news is our Lord Jesus welcomes sinners who have made bad decisions—sometimes one after the other. In repentance He cleanses and makes us whole giving us a second chance.
There is nothing too bad, too deep, too personal, too gross, for God to forgive and deliver.
Be aware of these barriers, either ones that are preexisting, or ones we create, that are the cause of disastrous decisions. Beware also of the voices you listen to.
That's what “lean not on your own understanding” means. Instead, “Acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.


That’s my view from the Blackberry Patch Pulpit
Pastor Tom
###

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Normal

By Rev. Tom Tuura
Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church

What I've learned from aviation, is that planes are lost not in the storms, or when the engines quit, but when the training is neglected under blue skies, and calm winds, when the engines are running. Its too late when the storm hits. You are either prepared, or not. Captain Sullenberger who made the emergency landing in the Hudson, said in an interview with Air and Space, that they didn't have time to get through page one of the engine restart checklist. That day however started like any other--normal. Normal is good. In the space shuttle days, the astronauts talking to ground control about their systems working correctly, called it “nominal”.

How do you handle emergencies? Unfortunately, some emergencies are catastrophic and there just isn't time to do anything. There are three phases in these unfolding events, that determine whether they are catastrophic, or miraculous.
The first is the what we might call the nominal phase. What are the conditions prior to the event? To me, this is the most important phase. And the reason is the next two phases. It is the daily discipline that take place here that determine the outcomes. Where many of us are now.

The second phase is common to all emergencies. The year 2009 gave us two events to learn from. The first was US Air flight 1549 which I already referred, and Air France flight 447.
While there are notable and obvious differences, notwithstanding the outcomes, there are a couple of crucial similarities, and lessons learned. In both cases, there was mere seconds to save the ship. The transfer of a routine flight when everything is "peachy" to certain perishing of all on board took place in seconds. It is mind numbing how quickly we have to be called on to that transition. One moment peace and quiet, or the wonderful scream of jet engines to chaos, and a much more ominous silence from the engines. Unfortunately not all captains realize this. Recent mass tragedies of cruise ships and ferries tell us this. That screeching noise of rocks on the hull, or listing to port are ominous harbingers of something wrong.

Both flights took off normally, with a period of nominal performance. Admitted Captain Sullenburger's normal flight was measured in only seconds. Flight 447's flight plan was normal for several hours. Passengers had time to watch a movie, be served their refreshments, and settle in for a good sleep.
The other similarity is the suddenness to which the pilots needed to declare an emergency. Experiencing an emergency, is not the same as declaring and emergency. It may be surprising, but just declaring an emergency is a big issue. Certain things happen when those words are stated. And too many of us think we can handle a situation, which really is an emergency. For Captain Sullenberger, it was obvious--the engines quit not long after takeoff--talk about an awkward silence. For the pilots of flight 447 it was "kinda" obvious, and "kinda" not. However, for them, after some three to four hours in the air, they were all dead in three and a half minutes. The last question heard on the black boxes in the cockpit, was "What is happening?" It would be over three years before they knew the answer to the pilots' question after recovering the wreckage from the Atlantic. Realizing an emergency saves lives.
Both cases held grave consequences for the passengers and crew. That is the last similarity between these two fateful flights. It is the consequences that are often the unseen factor in these situations. We live in a day and age when consequences seemingly can be "ducked", postponed or avoided altogether. But there are always consequences to our actions, or inactions.
Not every person, or ship captain, for that matter takes preparation seriously. Including all of us at one time or another. We've seen catastrophe's over the last hundred years beginning with the Titanic, and more recently, Asiana 777 crash in San Francisco, a cruise ship, and just this past spring, the South Korean ferry. Each of those has a different reason why they ended badly.

The only one of these situations that ended without loss of life, was one in which there was advance preparation. All others were catastrophic.

The Bible tells us there is an emergency coming. It is certain. Unlike air travel, one's chance of emergency is almost nil. But for each of us, there is a crisis coming. We are going to die and face judgment. Some of us will have time to prepare, and some of us will not.

So how prepared are you and I for our certain emergency? We are in a period of calm--normal. We have blue skies and calm winds above. Now is the day of salvation, according to Hebrews chapter three. Here is the warning from chapter two, “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him...”

We can look to the Cross of Calvary, where Jesus faced judgment for us. That's the beginning of the “heeding” mentioned in the above text. The rest is daily walking and surrender to Christ.

As a congregation too, as leadership, we are in preparation mode—while things are seeming “normal”, The horizon is screaming change. The landscape is changing before our eyes. And if we are not careful, we will be caught unprepared. The only preparation is that of the soldier, in Ephesians 6.
Not only is there persecution increasing at an exponential rate, critical academics are ratcheting up attacks. Because of our Biblical/Theological positions, we could find ourselves on the wrong end of the law, facing legal costs, defense and issues we've never dreamed of.
We need to pray. Its all around us, and we have to decide NOW what our position is.

Today's Wall Street Journal had a story, about a Washington DC couple who were scheduled to go to Granada in Spain for vacation. After departure, watching the monitor on the seat in front of them were horrified to discover they were headed to the Carribean. They are suing British Airways. How much worse would it be to discover you are headed to Hell because of bad scheduling? Trust Christ today. Nothing else is more important. Realize the situation, and declare an emergency. Your emergency will not be catastrophic, but miraculous.

That’s my view from the Blackberry Patch Pulpit
Pastor Tom
###
From the November Focus newsletter:

All she did was take a drink of water...

By Rev. Tom Tuura
Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church
We are on a busy fall schedule, and I want to grab a subject that is just around the corner, and discuss it before it is consumed by the busy holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sandwiched in between is of course Reformation and also something called IDOP or International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
2017 is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. We will be hearing much about that in the next year.
Last month we looked at a couple of “hot button” terms which are thrown around quite a bit, they were “evangelical” and “fundamental”. If you missed that article, I'd encourage you to go back and read it or request it. Not on purpose, the subject this month could be another term, “persecution”. Persecution is defined as hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of race or political or religious beliefs. Wikipedia.
Persecution is very similar to another hot button term we hear constantly today, discrimination. Both of these are relevant to our society because of their placement in our Constitution, (1st and 14th Amendments). Freedom of religion which is functionally or legally absent in places were persecution is taking place and of course discrimination which continues to universally affected our planet.
At home in the USA, Christian persecution has not been a problem in our nation as a whole since the ratification, legislation and rulings of our government. Certainly there have been cases that have been fought and won, and fought and lost. But even the cases lost such as the notable Supreme Court rulings of the early 60's, ruling that prayer and Bible study were illegal in the public schools though debated and disliked have not resulted in persecution—far from it.
Basically our debates have centered around two clauses in the First Amendment, called the establishment clause and the free exercise clause. Then there's Thomas Jefferson's famous “wall of separation” wording which isn't even in the Constitution.
In fact Christians in the USA have perhaps had the most unprecedented freedoms to worship, work and witness than at any time in the 2000 years of the church. That has not always been the case. We've had freedom of religion fights, which are serious, but very little rises to persecution--yet.
Historically, and in other lands, we know that persecution in a general sense has taken place. Unfortunately it has to be admitted acting in the name of the Church, Church leaders themselves have been guilty of persecution at times. This includes persecuting the Jews. And of course the official state sponsored persecution of all things religious, Christian and otherwise in the name of Communism and Nazism.
Lets narrow this down. Sadly we acknowledge that there is persecution of all sorts all around, even towards other religions. This is very important to understand in this discussion. There is plenty of guilt to go around. However, there is also a persistent theme of denial towards Christian persecution.
Jesus states that the Christian is unique. “If the world hates you, know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you...If they persecuted me they will also persecute you.” (John 15:18-20)
We need to make very sure that this “hatred” is because of Christ, and not for any other reason. We are hated because we are not part of the world system. We are chosen “out” of the world. Are we truly “out”? Is the world truly out of us?
I was a brand new Christian, probably a freshman in college when I went to a dinner in Duluth Minnesota put on by Open Doors ministry. That was my first presentation on Brother Andrew author of the famous paperback, GOD'S SMUGGLER, and the persecuted church. I was stunned. My church invited the author of TORTURED FOR CHRIST Richard Wurmbrand as a guest speaker, but I was too young to really pay attention.
Both of these presentations impacted our congregation. Certainly myself as I learned about Brother Andrew traveling into Communist Eastern Europe in a VW filled with Bibles.
We have all heard of the violent and bloody persecution stories, but here's a contemporary example of what they go through. This story from an Indian village is reported by several outlets. “According to ucanews.com, the Gond tribal people of Barbattar village include 15 Christian families. Most of the 1,000 villagers practise their ancestral animist faith. However, the leader of the 60-strong Christian population, Mohan Netam, said their neighbours turned on them because "we refused to succumb to the village body's pressure" to abandon the faith. He said their lives have "become miserable" after the village governing body "banned us from collecting firewood or grazing our animals in the forest".
And I'll close with this. “Aasiya Noreen better known as Asia Bibi is a Pakistani woman who was convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court, receiving a sentence of death by hanging. In June 2009, Noreen was involved in an argument with a group of Muslim women with whom she had been harvesting berries after the other women grew angry with her for drinking the same water as them. She was subsequently accused of insulting the Islamic prophet Muhammad, a charge she denies, and was arrested and imprisoned. In November 2010, a Sheikhupura judge sentenced her to death.” wikipedia
All she did was take a drink of water.
These words are in the brief video trailer put out by Open Doors for this years IDOP observance. “Don't pray for us. Pray with us. If you pray for us, you will pray for the wrong things. You will
pray that the church will be safe. We do not pray for such things. We pray that when persecution comes, when they threaten us, when they kill us that until our last breath, we will cry out Jesus is Lord.”
Its completely understandable that we as American Christians don't want to hear about persecution within the church. But we have to realize that these are our brothers and sisters in Christ, with whom we will share heaven. “Oh how did you die? I died with my Christian friends and family around me. How about you? I was put to death for taking a drink of water.” Keep that in mind.

That’s my view from the Blackberry Patch Pulpit
Pastor Tom
###
From the September Focus Newsletter:

Terms and labels

By Rev. Tom Tuura
Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church
Terminology. Now during the political campaigns and all the social issues going on today, a lot of terminology is thrown around. There are conservatives, liberals, progressives, extremists, moderates, etc. etc.
Some of these terms have positive, complimentary connotations, and some of them are very derogatory. Do you fit in any of these labels or terms?

Well there is a legitimate use of these descriptive terms. What about Evangelical? What about conservative? What about liberal?

No one really wants to be defined by labels. But I want to briefly discuss a couple of terms and show their context for the past and also for today. They are “evangelical” and “fundamental”.

The term “evangelical” according to the National Association of Evangelicals and Lifeway Research “defines evangelical by theology rather than by self-identity or denominational affiliation.
The NAE, one of several stewards of the term, hopes that the new belief-based research definition will replace older definitions based on race or politics that lead to incomplete results. For example, the report notes that "though the African American Protestant population is overwhelmingly evangelical in theology and orientation, it is often separated out of polls seeking to identify the political preferences of evangelicals." Christianity Today, November 19, 2015.
They continue with four bullet points for specific beliefs:
  • The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.
  • It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.
  • Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.
  • Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God's free gift of eternal salvation.
Its my sense as a pastor that evangelical is by in large a neutral to positive term. I say positive, because many people generally want to be in that category. I mean, if you deny the Bible, it takes some serious reflection, people think twice about going there—even if they are not living the way they should be. These are by the way what is known as “orthodox” Christian belief, or consistent with our creeds. (If something is consistent with one or all three creeds, it is orthodox. In addition, orthodox also includes historic Lutheran teaching according to the Augsburg Confession, Luther's Catechism and the Book of Concord.) We at Christ Lutheran are by these definitions orthodox Lutherans and evangelicals.
I want to mention another term, “fundamentalist”. This today has a definite derogatory meaning. Almost everyone runs from this term. As it is used today, it is now a label that is slapped on any radical or extremist from any religion. As the saying goes, any movement is defined by its opponents. And that is definitely the case here.
Even Christian leaders like Rick Warren said, speaking at the Pew Forum on Religion in May of 2005, “Today there really aren't that many Fundamentalists left; I don't know if you know that or not, but they are such a minority; there aren't that many Fundamentalists left in America. The word ‘fundamentalist’ actually comes from a document in the 1920s called the Five Fundamentals of the Faith. And it is a very legalistic, narrow view of Christianity." He's right probably on the first to statements, but is he right in that it is a “very legalistic” document? He goes on to say as quoted in the Philadelphia Enquirer in January 8, 2006 that Christian Fundamentalism will be the enemy of the 21st century: ... 'Muslim fundamentalism, Christian fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism, secular fundamentalism - they're all motivated by fear. Fear of each other.'"
Certainly there are extremists in all religions, but lets look at the Five Fundamentals of the Faith in that document:
What are those Five Fundamentals of the Faith? www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/pewreligion.htm#fundamentals
1. The Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:1; John 20:28; Hebrews 1:8-9).
2. The Virgin Birth (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:27).
3. The Blood Atonement (Acts 20:28; Romans 3:25, 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:12-14).
4. The Bodily Resurrection (Luke 24:36-46; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 15:14-15).
5. The inerrancy of the scriptures themselves (Psalms 12:6-7; Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20).
I've seen several listings and they vary a little, but this is the basic content. Are these extreme or narrow? Look at number one, or any of them for that matter. Are any one of them non essential? Is one “narrow” who embraces these?
I think based upon this list, that we believe in every one of them. Are we fundamentalist? Well, in this sense yes. Are we extremists, like the suicide murderers of other religions? Absolutely not.

Perhaps we ought to add another “fundamental”--that of loving thy neighbor as our self, and loving one another as Christ commanded us in John 13:34,35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

That’s my view from the Blackberry Patch Pulpit
Pastor Tom
###

Friday, October 28, 2016

Originally published August 2014

Break Every Chain

By Rev. Tom Tuura
Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church

We need to be honest and acknowledge the reach of this enticement via technology and media.
Pretending we don't have temptation or struggle only alienates those who do.

Let's be honest... is a statement we are hearing more often. Its even an irritating advertising campaign about a personal product. Let's be honest--about something else personal.“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us...” Hebrews 12:1
What's keeping you from running the race? What's keeping you from really getting into the game? For many, its some besetting, or entangling sin.
I've struggled to approach this subject honestly from the pulpit, not wanting to become too overly specific thus singling people out, and not wanting to disgrace the pulpit as some preachers I've heard, who get way too graphic. Also, because I am vulnerable with sins of pride as well as weakness, as is everyone else.
But it must be preached because, “Sin will take you where you do not want to go. It will keep you longer than you planned to stay. And it will cost you more than you intended to pay.” James L Nicodem
It has just been redefined—in fact turned upside down. Sin is now entities, pollution, waste, wealth, corporations, greed, intolerance, racism, inequality.

Sin is not out of style. There's more preaching against it than ever. There's shaming, and ostracizing of those involved in it. It has just been redefined—in fact turned upside down. Sin is now entities, pollution, waste, wealth, corporations, greed, intolerance, racism, inequality.

Still a highly emotional subject today, society is highly resistant to the “old” definitions of sin. In fact there is an all out educational reprogramming taking place. The courts and legislatures are in an all out blitz to this reprogramming.
But society never informed our consciences of the changes, because the heart is still programmed to bring guilt and shame from the old definitions. St. Paul tells us in Romans 1:19 “because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.”

The Bible also informs us that a violation of God's will has occurred and natural man is stuck. But as the contemporary song playing on the Christian Radio say, “There is power in the Name of Jesus, to BREAK EVERY CHAIN”

Here's my approach to dealing with this as pastor. Ultimate goal is to expose it to light. There are sins of pride and power, and sins of weakness. Your areas may be opposite of mine. And we eventually have both, sins of pride and weakness.
Sins of pride are often out in the open. Sins of weakness, we tend to want to hide, in secret.
Sin is always dynamic, so the minute you and I think we have it fenced in, it breaks out. Or the fence that worked so effectively up til now, suddenly is less and less effective.
All sins are deceitful. The thing about being deceived, is...you got it—you don't realize it. Before we know it, the fence we built to put around sin, sin has put around us.

With regard to sins of pride and power, James says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6 Sins of pride and power, can be busyness, success, power, and money. Sins of pride and power are also often commended as drive, motivation, self promotion etc. Also breeds hypocrisy.

Here's the thing. While the pride and power sinner may sit in the choir, the person taken by sins of weakness, lives in a cycle of despondency and away from church. Sins of weakness are just as deadly. These are the secret sins we are ashamed of, the addictions we fear. But there is a new wrinkle to consider.
We have new enticements today. They say that our interstate highway system is the largest illegal drug pipeline ever invented. But its also used to drive the family across country. Well there is another superhighway of information that has been built—the internet. This superhighway is no different. It has huge potential for good, and huge potential for catastrophe.

Are you are crushed under the weight of guilt and sin? It could be either kind, pride/power or weakness. Our church should be the ER where you want to be. As a pastor, I want to make it that way. There's power in the name of Jesus, He breaks every chain.

So here's what we do. We approach one another with this sins of power/weakness paradigm.

Are you are crushed under the weight of guilt and sin? It could be either kind, pride/power or weakness. Our church should be the ER where you want to be. As a pastor, I want to make it that way.

First, develop a plan. Lets ask each other about our personal “security procedures” against our vulnerabilities. We do this for our computers!
Second, we need to resist the temptation to reprogram our thinking about sin. The best selling book and movie “50 SHADES OF GREY” is the prime example of Hollywood making this elicit behavior acceptable. Christian singing artists Mandisa and Natalie Grant set a good example by avoiding or walking out on the Emmy's.
Third, stop pretending. We need to be honest, and acknowledge the reach of this enticement via technology into our very pockets. Pretending we don't have temptation, or struggle only alienates those who do. Every week that goes by in this cycle strengthens those chains.
Last, expose the sin to light. Sin exposed to light shrivels up. It is killed at Calvary.
But those chains can be broken. Lets be honest. The Bible talks about a cleaning product that is free. A pastor colleague recently wrote this: “You are not what you have done. You are what you have overcome.”

That’s my view from the Blackberry Patch Pulpit
Pastor Tom
###
 Taken from the July 2014 Edition of the Focus on Christ Newsletter.

Normal

By Rev. Tom Tuura
Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church

What I've learned from aviation, is that planes are lost not in the storms, or when the engines quit, but when the training is neglected under blue skies, and calm winds, when the engines are running. Its too late when the storm hits. You are either prepared, or not. Captain Sullenberger who made the emergency landing in the Hudson, said in an interview with Air and Space, that they didn't have time to get through page one of the engine restart checklist. That day however started like any other--normal. Normal is good. In the space shuttle days, the astronauts talking to ground control about their systems working correctly, called it “nominal”.

How do you handle emergencies? Unfortunately, some emergencies are catastrophic and there just isn't time to do anything. There are three phases in these unfolding events, that determine whether they are catastrophic, or miraculous.
The first is the what we might call the nominal phase. What are the conditions prior to the event? To me, this is the most important phase. And the reason is the next two phases. It is the daily discipline that take place here that determine the outcomes. Where many of us are now.

The second phase is common to all emergencies. The year 2009 gave us two events to learn from. The first was US Air flight 1549 which I already referred, and Air France flight 447.
While there are notable and obvious differences, notwithstanding the outcomes, there are a couple of crucial similarities, and lessons learned. In both cases, there was mere seconds to save the ship. The transfer of a routine flight when everything is "peachy" to certain perishing of all on board took place in seconds. It is mind numbing how quickly we have to be called on to that transition. One moment peace and quiet, or the wonderful scream of jet engines to chaos, and a much more ominous silence from the engines. Unfortunately not all captains realize this. Recent mass tragedies of cruise ships and ferries tell us this. That screeching noise of rocks on the hull, or listing to port are ominous harbingers of something wrong.

Both flights took off normally, with a period of nominal performance. Admitted Captain Sullenburger's normal flight was measured in only seconds. Flight 447's flight plan was normal for several hours. Passengers had time to watch a movie, be served their refreshments, and settle in for a good sleep.

The other similarity is the suddenness to which the pilots needed to declare an emergency. Experiencing an emergency, is not the same as declaring and emergency. It may be surprising, but just declaring an emergency is a big issue. Certain things happen when those words are stated. And too many of us think we can handle a situation, which really is an emergency. For Captain Sullenberger, it was obvious--the engines quit not long after takeoff--talk about an awkward silence. For the pilots of flight 447 it was "kinda" obvious, and "kinda" not. However, for them, after some three to four hours in the air, they were all dead in three and a half minutes. The last question heard on the black boxes in the cockpit, was "What is happening?" It would be over three years before they knew the answer to the pilots' question after recovering the wreckage from the Atlantic. Realizing an emergency saves lives.
Both cases held grave consequences for the passengers and crew. That is the last similarity between these two fateful flights. It is the consequences that are often the unseen factor in these situations. We live in a day and age when consequences seemingly can be "ducked", postponed or avoided altogether. But there are always consequences to our actions, or inactions.

Not every person, or ship captain, for that matter takes preparation seriously. Including all of us at one time or another. We've seen catastrophe's over the last hundred years beginning with the Titanic, and more recently, Asiana 777 crash in San Francisco, a cruise ship, and just this past spring, the South Korean ferry. Each of those has a different reason why they ended badly.

The only one of these situations that ended without loss of life, was one in which there was advance preparation. All others were catastrophic.

The Bible tells us there is an emergency coming. It is certain. Unlike air travel, one's chance of emergency is almost nil. But for each of us, there is a crisis coming. We are going to die and face judgment. Some of us will have time to prepare, and some of us will not.

So how prepared are you and I for our certain emergency? We are in a period of calm--normal. We have blue skies and calm winds above. Now is the day of salvation, according to Hebrews chapter three. Here is the warning from chapter two, “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him...”

We can look to the Cross of Calvary, where Jesus faced judgment for us. That's the beginning of the “heeding” mentioned in the above text. The rest is daily walking and surrender to Christ.

As a congregation too, as leadership, we are in preparation mode—while things are seeming “normal”, The horizon is screaming change. The landscape is changing before our eyes. And if we are not careful, we will be caught unprepared. The only preparation is that of the soldier, in Ephesians 6.
Not only is there persecution increasing at an exponential rate, critical academics are ratcheting up attacks. Because of our Biblical/Theological positions, we could find ourselves on the wrong end of the law, facing legal costs, defense and issues we've never dreamed of.
We need to pray. Its all around us, and we have to decide NOW what our position is.

Today's Wall Street Journal had a story, about a Washington DC couple who were scheduled to go to Granada in Spain for vacation. After departure, watching the monitor on the seat in front of them were horrified to discover they were headed to the Carribean. They are suing British Airways. How much worse would it be to discover you are headed to Hell because of bad scheduling? Trust Christ today. Nothing else is more important. Realize the situation, and declare an emergency. Your emergency will not be catastrophic, but miraculous.

That’s my view from the Blackberry Patch Pulpit
Pastor Tom
###

Friday, June 26, 2015

I'm going to try to get out a quick post here before we leave for our Colorado Free Lutheran Youth Convention, or FLY.  Its getting a little attention.
Our youth leader at headquarters, was having a garage sale, and I believe he said he was donating some of the proceeds to some youth ministry, perhaps fundraising for their youth.  Their sign didn't expressly say what and where it was going.  A random lady came up and was commenting about how wonderful that was, and asked, "Its not FLY is it?"  (not realizing that she was talking to the person heading it all up).  Then she began to share how FLY had made a difference in someone's life she knew from across the country.  Wow!

Now that we got instructions on how to comment, lets try another study.
Last post asked, who really owns this stuff?  Knowing God as owner.

Who Calls the Shots?

Today McCann our book's author is asking Who calls the shots?  Knowing Jesus as LORD

What is the difference between Jesus as Savior and Jesus as Lord? 

This is a bit controversial today.  There is a lot of discussion in social media, the news media, and our communities about slavery, freedom, and people being forced, or coerced to say or do something that is against their will.   And some accuse the Bible of promoting slavery.  But what many don't realize is that the term "Lord" implies a form of slavery.  Jesus Himself, took upon Himself the "form of a slave".  And yet Jesus is called "Lord" which means master.    He says, "Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do the things which I say?"  Luke 6:46  And He called his Father "Lord"

Even the word "obedience" is a term that takes us back to an authoritative/submissive relationship.  This type of terminology is very lowly regarded today.

So Is Jesus Christ Lord?   Should He be?  Use the comments section to discuss.

McCann continues, "The previous lesson focused on God as our creator and owner.  It was designed to help you explore the fact that everything and everyone belongs to God since He is the creator of all.  No one can say, 'My life is my own'.  Everyone is indebted to God for his or her life and for everything he or she possesses.
"This study picks up where the previous one left off.  The focus of this entire series is that God is working with us to accomplish His purposes in this world.  In a sense, we are involved in a partnership with God."

Look up the following verses and list the ways he is Lord
Colossians 1:15-18

Philippians 2:5-11

Romans 14:7-12; 2 Corinthians 5:9,10

Colossians 3:17


If you make Jesus Christ Lord, what do you become?  Look up Phil 1:1

What is a bondslave?

Look up John 13:13.  What is He teaching here? 

It's what servants do.  Washing feet.

Amen. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

What kind of legacy will you leave?

What kind of legacy will you leave?

I have never liked to act my age. When I was 14 and 15, I would sit on the curb with my buddy and say, “I can't wait till I get my driver's license!”. Then it was “I can't wait to graduate.” But oh to be 14 again! Maybe? Sometimes.

Now, I could see how people can long for the 30's, or even 40's.
But what's wrong with where we are right now? What kind of legacy we leave depends precisely on how we can “act our age” in this very moment.
Those around us, need us to be who we are at this moment.

Instead, many of us are rushing around in “attaining” mode. We are attaining this, or that, when there should be a “being” mode. That is the mode of contentment.

Please indicate the question number you are responding to in your comments.

1. Look up 1 Timothy 6:6-10. Comment on the trait tied to godliness in this passage.

Why is this trait tied to godliness?

How is it “gain”?

2. When we think of our planet, what do the following passages teach us?
Deuteronomy 10:14, I Chronicles 29:11-14, Psalm 100:1-3, John 1:1-3, Psalm 50:10-12,

3. Living in the mode of contentment instead of attaining mode, breeds what is spoken of in Psalm 100. What is the response in Psalm 100:4?

4. Discuss, whether or not people are thankful. What are the circumstances in which you are thankful?


McCann, the author of the book I am following says, “Okay. So I accept God's ownership. The Bible teaches it. It makes sense. I have no problem acknowledging God as Creator and owner. But how can I let that truth impact my daily life? What difference does it make?
...the beginning point of managing God's resources is taking His ownership seriously. What will my life look like when I integrate this truth into my activities and relationships? Will I be required to sell all I have and give it to God? Do I have to renounce all desire for money or material objects? Must I feel guilty for buying things I don't need?
Perhaps the best way to wrestle with these and similar questions is to establish a few perspectives and disciplines. Below are three suggestions...to help you clarify your thinking on the issues brought up in the suggestion.”

A challenge
A good place to begin is to challenge yourself to see everything you call your own as belonging to God.

A prayer
A second discipline to develop is to spend more time in prayer before making purchases. If it is God's money, you will want to use it as he desires.

A Journal
Keep a journal to evaluate how well you are progressing in acknowledging God's ownership.


Scripture memory: Psalm 24:1 or Deuteronomy 10:14

Lets get a discussion going.  

 
Theme: 2015 Faith and Family Legacy, Work, and Community  --Think about it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Repost: Welcome to the Blackberry (Patch) Pulpit Blog!

Thank you for checking this out!  The blog has been viewed 74 times, but unfortunately no one has been able to comment.  I changed the settings last week, but still no one could comment.  I'm reposting  to see if you can now comment on the "new" material.

 
 "God invites you to be His partner.  More than that, He has called you to a partnership.  If you are one of His people, you have already been enlisted for God's enterprise.  You are a part of His mission in this world."
"This is no ordinary partnership.  Your Partner is no ordinary partner.  He is the King of the universe."

Our consideration of the Book of Colossians this past month for our Sunday messages.  The book of Colossians is a technical manual of sorts for our faith.  It has some great doctrinal passages.

There are two verses that pertain to our work in Colossians,  Please give me your interpretation of these.
They are Colossians 3:17, and 3:23.

So here goes.  Give these verses your best shot.  What do they mean for you? 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Welcome! First Discussion Post!

Welcome to the Blackberry (Patch) Pulpit Blog page!


Blackberry Patch road is where our original church was located back in 1870-1905, hence Blackberry Patch pulpit.  For some reason Blackberry Patch Pulpit was already taken.

I'm pastor Tuura, the moderator on this page.  Others perhaps will be contributing from time to time.
This is intended to be a two way conversation.  I contribute through this blog space, and you can reply and communicate through the comments section. 

We are blazing a new trail here, at least for us, so please be patient as we work the "bugs" out. 

To get things started, I'll be drawing from a study book that is out of print called, "God owns, I manage" originally published by Standard publishing.  The study was written by Micheal D McCann.

Mr. McCann begins, "God invites you to be His partner.  More than that, He has called you to a partnership.  If you are one of His people, you have already been enlisted for God's enterprise.  You are a part of His mission in this world."
"This is no ordinary partnership.  Your Partner is no ordinary partner.  He is the King of the universe."

Our consideration of the Book of Colossians this past month for our Sunday messages.  The book of Colossians is a technical manual of sorts for our faith.  It has some great doctrinal passages.

There are two verses that pertain to our work in Colossians,  Please give me your interpretation of these.
They are Colossians 3:17, and 3:23.

So here goes.  Give these verses your best shot.  What do they mean for you?