Worldview Contrasts #1

Scripture often points to a distinction between those who live in faith in Him, and those who do not. John often used the term “world” to identify everything in the world that is hostile to Christ and the gospel. For example, he urges us,  “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15, CSB)

That is a pretty sharp contrast—like night and day. That is another picture Jesus uses: “Jesus spoke to them again: ‘I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.’” (John 8:12, CSB)

Again, that is a stark contrast between Christians and those who do not follow Christ.

What is the difference. Are Christians innately better or more deserving? No. The difference is faith, spiritual life in Christ. With faith and the guidance of Scripture we have a different worldview than the world.

Over the next few weeks we will contrast the Christian Worldview with some of the most common false worldviews. We won’t get into the realm of political or social opinion, but will deal with more basic truths.

To begin with …

Christians view the world through the lens of the Holy Scriptures, which are inspired, true and without error, so we understand that we are God’s creatures, originally created in perfection, but now born imperfect morally, spiritually, and physically. We are beings both physical and spiritual in nature. Every one of us is accountable to our Creator for all our thoughts words and actions. We recognize that God has influenced history, including the natural history of the world, both directly through direct divine acts and through providence.

The world, by contrast, looks at the world based on physical senses plus human speculation. While our senses provide empirical information about our world, they are limited. We cannot perceive directly in others such things as pain, or love, or beauty or truth. With our sensed we cannot perceive spiritual realities such as sin, grace, the soul, or the presence of God, Who is Spirit, nor can we perceive the past or the future directly.

This void is filled by the speculation and imagination of sinful human beings, so they cannot know for sure “who we are, where we come from, or where we are going.

By |2019-08-30T18:19:35-07:00August 30th, 2019|Good News|0 Comments

What Is Your WorldView?

What Is Your Worldview?

A “worldview” is a body of concepts that describe and interpret the world in which we live. Our worldview may be true or false depending on whether we view and understand the world as it truly is. Do we believe, for example, that human life has value? If so, that will affect the way we look at others. Do we believe that the world was created? If so, we will respect the Creator; if not, we will view life as only a complex assemblage of matter.

Our worldview determines what is important in life. Is getting and having possessions the most important thing? If so, then we will neglect other “less important” things.

We are affected by the prevailing worldview of our culture, and therefore Christians have been “counter-cultural” when the prevailing worldview has been pagan or materialistic or humanistic, as the predominate culture is in our country today.

The Christian worldview hinges on four key realities: -Humanity was created by God in a state of perfection. –We have fallen from that condition. –We have been redeemed by God. –With or without this redemption, all must give an account to God at the end of life.

These realities are not shared by our culture, so they do not live as though they are true. We do live this way. We must!

By |2019-08-30T18:11:33-07:00August 30th, 2019|Good News|0 Comments

Reason for Hope (July 26, 2019)

Yes, There Is Reason to Hope

There Is an Oasis in the Desert of Life

but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15, CSB)

Why should we be full of hope?

Here are some answers I get:

  • I have a good job.
  • I have my health.
  • I’m young and have my whole life ahead of me.
  • The country is on the right track economically.
  • I have great family and good relationships.

But what if you don’t? What if you don’t have a good job, health, youth, or economic prospects? What if you are alone?

Any of these count as positive thinking, but all of the hopes listed here are bound to come to an end as we get older, the economy changes, we can’t do the work, or relationships inevitably end in death.

So then where is your hope?

Where is your hope when the brokenness of this world descend on us? Remember, God has already said that because of our sin, all these things will be taken away from us eventually. In Genesis 3, God tells Adam that labor, pain, alienation and death will curse this world because of sin.

But He also gave reason to hope. The fact is that He promised a salvation FROM this world and all the sorrow and trouble that is part of it. In fact, this sorrow and trouble is intended to drive us into the arms of our Savior.

We have hope because our Savior has taken sin and its curse upon himself, and so opened heaven for us—a new creation in which there will be no trouble, sorrow, toil, pain, or death.

Reflect upon this hope, and let it show, and then be ready to share this hope with others who ask. And don’t hesitate to use me to help. Is someone you know sick and in the hospital? Dealing with family problems? Facing loss? Tell them of your hope, and then offer to send you pastor around.

In this hopeless world, Christians and the Christian Church are the real oasis of hope.  — Pastor Bryant

By |2019-07-31T18:25:51-07:00July 31st, 2019|Good News|0 Comments

Got Peace? (July 20, 2019)

Real Peace?

God’s Peace

In the early 70’s, toward the end of the Vietnam War, a little girl in the Sunday school said emphatically, “I only like “peace” when Pastor says it!” It seems that the wise little 8-year-old had been put off by the “peaceniks” who were misusing the word to insist on the surrender of America in Vietnam.

She impressed on me the common misunderstanding of the word. What is peace of God? What is the peace that Christ gives? Is it emotional well-being? Is it cessation of hostility? And end to war? Is it not being upset in life?

This peace is important. Do you know what this peace is? Three thousand five hundred years ago,  The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” ’ “So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.” (Numbers 6:22–27, NKJV) Likewise, Paul invoked the Lord, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7, NKJV)

God’s Peace is reconciliation with God. It is the forgiveness of your sins, and the gift of such righteousness that you are beloved of God and counted as His dear child. It is only the Prince of Peace who brings such peace, and He is present in His words of peace.  —- Pastor Bryant

By |2019-07-31T18:18:57-07:00July 31st, 2019|Good News|0 Comments

Love Diminished (July 5, 2019)

Toleration Diminishes Love

All false teachers and all false religions are known by their false teachings. That is what Jesus meant when He said, “Watch out for false prophets; by their fruits you will know them.” One of the chief false teachings that Jesus pointed out was the self-righteousness of the Pharisees, that they were righteous because of their goodness instead of God’s mercy.

That false teaching is still alive in the idea that we must give approval to the popular vices of our time. Disapproval is considered “unloving,” even when the one insisting upon approval blasphemes the Name of the Living God, degrades the holy institution of marriage, snuffs out the life of the unborn, and denies the order of creation. This is not love, but the hate of the Evil One bearing fruit in humanity.

The true love that has come into the world is the love that acknowledges the depths of human depravity, recognizes the terrible penalty required to give satisfaction for it, and then pays that penalty upon our behalf. That love is found alone in Jesus Christ!

Anything that minimizes the gravity of our sin minimizes the price Jesus paid to make satisfaction for our sin and so diminishes the love of Christ for us. The true Christian faith upholds the law of God in all its severity so that it may truly value His unfailing love.

By |2019-07-31T18:08:36-07:00July 31st, 2019|Good News|0 Comments

Whatchathink? Does Your Belief Matter? (July 13, 2019)

When Does What-You-Think Matter?

Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” What do the “crowds”—the people you rub shoulders with daily—say about Jesus? A great teacher? A moral crusader? A rebel? A good example? A fraud? A judge? What about your friends and acquaintances?

Jesus didn’t ask the question because the crowds’ opinions would make a difference in Who He Is. Nor do all these opinions matter.

He then asked his disciples, men who had witnessed His miracles, heard His teaching, and listened to His exchanges with the leaders and teachers of the people. These were men who had heard Jesus expound on the Scriptures and how they applied to Him. Their answer mattered more, because at least it was an informed answer.

Peter answered for them all: “God’s Messiah.”

It was the right answer, although Peter and the others didn’t quite understand everything that they knew. “God’s Messiah,” “The Christ of God,” and “God’s Anointed One,” are all equivalent translations.

The point is that Jesus is Who He IS, and not whoever someone imagines or wants Him to be.

Therefore we are called to know Christ better and better. In this way we grow in faith, hope, and love. This is the reason for preaching, for Bible classes, for individual Bible study, and for personal devotions. That way, when facing troubles or even death, we can with certainty cling to Jesus, God’s Messiah, our Savior.

By |2019-07-31T17:57:06-07:00July 31st, 2019|Good News|0 Comments

Relevance and Christianity (June 21, 2019)

Christianity Relates to Life

Relevance: The degree to which something is related or useful to what is happening.

The Christian faith is the most relevant truth in the world. After all, every single one of us has a conscience that convicts us. Every one of lives in the midst of conflict, from petty squabbles to deadly wars. Every one of us will leave this life and give an accounting for how we have lived. Every one of us needs the Savior.

During The Season of the Church we come to appreciate the relevance of the Christian faith for all of us in every situation of life. After all, God pays attention to all the details of our lives! Jesus underscored this when He taught, “Aren’t five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. Indeed, the hairs of your head are all counted. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6–7, CSB)

In this season of the year we especially apply the truth of Gods word to our daily lives, from the things that touch us personally each day to the biggest headlines.

In this Sunday’s lesson, for example, we learn the true nature of faith. It is not just belief that there is a god, but confidence in Christ as the incarnate God, and our Savior, who cares for us intimately.

We also see how God shapes and uses the course of history to accomplish his good and gracious will, for we see that in Christ God has invaded this world, and it will never be the same.

Do you think, for example, that God depends upon the actions of nations to “go the right way” for His will to be done? It’s the other way ‘round. The course of nations depends upon God’s will for His church!

This is RELEVANT for us, because we live according to our view of the world, and through God’s word, that view of the world is rooted in truth.

By |2019-07-31T17:51:51-07:00June 19th, 2019|Good News|0 Comments

Yes, Christianity is VERY Different (6/14/19)

“It’s VERY Different”

At this time of the year we celebrate the Festival of the Holy Trinity and read together the Athanasian Creed, a confession of Biblical truth about Who is the true God. This underscores the chief difference between Christianity and all other religions: We don’t worship their gods. The God who truly exists has spoken to us through His word. All other gods are imagined, “made up” by human beings.

This makes Christianity fundamentally different from all other religions. But the differences are missed because our secular world pushes the assumption that Christianity is just one of many. The materialist / secularist / humanist believes only in a material world, and therefore rejects the soul, or the realities of right or wrong, or of the Creator.

So does this mean Christianity is different? Yes! It’s very, very different. Here are some of the ways:

The Trinity. God reveals Himself in the Bible unlike anything we find in humanity. Instead of a god imagined in the image of man, He is a God beyond our understanding.

Holiness. God is holy and so what is right and good is determined by Him and His word. The critique of God by man is a non-starter.

Human Sin. The problem of humanity is that, though created perfect in the beginning, we are broken and in continual opposition to what is right and good. Because of the rebellion of our forbears (the fall) everyone born of a human mother and father is born sinful, not knowing God, and hostile to the perfect good. We see this in every page of our history, nationally or individually. Though people do many good and noble things, we never escape the selfishness in our lives, the crime in our societies, or the oppression of the powers in the world.

Grace. This is the unmerited, undeserved love of God for humanity. While all man-made religions plot a path to achieving God’s approval and acceptance, only Christianity reveals God’s plan to reconcile rebellious humanity to Himself through the …

Substitutionary Atonement. This is the pivotal event in human history, when God Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, satisfied the judgment of God so that there is forgiveness for the world.

The Universal Church. It isn’t a human, social, or even visible organization. Though there are church bodies and denominations, the essential unity of the church consists in the proclamation of the Gospel, the Good News of what God has done to reconcile us to Himself. The resurrection of Jesus has empowered the resurrection unto eternal life of all who put their faith in Him.

The Christian church is therefore different from all other religions— very, very different.

By |2019-06-11T16:04:05-07:00June 11th, 2019|Good News|0 Comments

A Popular Fallacy: “I’m Not Religious, but I’m Spiritual” (6/7/19)

“I Don’t Need Religion; I’m Plenty Spiritual”

Of course you are spiritual. After all you are a spiritual creature– body and soul (or spirit).  As spiritual beings, we are at least vaguely aware of spiritual realities, like right and wrong, immortality of the soul, and the existence of other spirits. The problem is that we are spiritually blind. Even though we know there are spiritual realities, we do not know what they are.

Religion supposedly reveals the truth about these spiritual realities. —There are religions that claim to find the spirit in things and places, like the spiritus of rivers animals and plants. —There are religions that imagine that all things are part of a great spiritual reality. —There are mystical religions which believe that introspection and meditation are ways to find the truth about the spiritual. —There are those who use mind-altering substances and techniques as pathways to the spiritual, like shamans or medicine men.

Results have been disappointing.

I can see why people are disenchanted with such religions. None of these religious efforts seem to offer anything more than we can imagine on our own. They all seem to say the same things: Be good. Resist wrong. There is something greater than we are. This life isn’t all there is. Somehow what comes after depends upon whether we have been good or bad.

If you haven’t been exposed to a clear expression of the Christian faith, you might think that it is just one more religion like the rest. But there is a huge difference. Christianity isn’t our discovery of spiritual truth, but God’s revelation of spiritual truth to us. That’s why we call Christianity revealed truth; it’s the revelation of spiritual truth from God through the Bible.

The truth of this revelation, the Bible, is supported in several ways, both internal and external: The historical accuracy of the Bible. The accurate description of human nature. The verifiable prophesies. Especially through the person and work of Jesus Christ.

At the Festival of Pentecost, we celebrate the special gift of the Holy Spirit to the church. The Holy Spirit inspired the prophets, apostles, and evangelists to write a true revelation of God and His relationship to us.

So you see, the Christian faith is like no other religion in that it is divine revelation instead of human development.

By |2019-06-11T16:05:01-07:00June 11th, 2019|Good News|0 Comments

Spiritual 911 #8 Where the Pastor Works

Where the Pastor Works

Spiritual 911

The Pastor as our spiritual first-responder.

#8 Where the Pastor Serves

One way of understanding the way our Lord uses pastors to heal and strengthen His people is to remember where they serve. On the one hand, pastors serve at church to those who come to hear the word , and on the other hand they serve in the  community for those who do not or cannot come.

Serving Those Who Come
It is most efficient for pastors to serve many people at once. In the Divine Service the pastor gives the forgiveness of Christ through the word and sacraments. This is like the regular use of good food and exercise to keep the body healthy; only here it is the soul. Through His word, our Lord warns us of our sins and the deceitfulness that is in the world, He comforts us with the assurance of His forgiveness, and He teaches us the way to live in this world with a view to eternity. It includes practical applications as well.
In Bible classes we look at God’s word in more detail. Our own questions and the questions of others help the pastor make applications to our own lives.
In this way we find healing from our spiritual injuries and renew our faith.

Serving Those Who Do Not  or Cannot Come
But sometimes people cannot come. Perhaps because of infirmity, age, illness, military deployment, etc., a person cannot attend church or Bible class.
At other times someone doesn’t come because of shame or guilt. I have seen this often when people have been though a divorce, have struggled with substance abuse or have otherwise been embarrassed. Often the devil deprives a person of just what they need by tempting them to cut themselves off from God’s healing word.
In Luke 8, Jesus tells us that the “worries, riches, and pleasures of life” so ensnare us that we neglect the word.
So, much of the pastor’s time is spent visiting the sick, sending sermons and devotions to the deployed, seeking appointments, counselling in private, coming by with private communion and just listening, and he loves doing it!
At other times, the pastor is like a shepherd pursuing someone who wanders.

But always, the pastor’s calling is the strengthening and healing of souls.

By |2019-03-04T17:05:12-07:00March 4th, 2019|Good News|0 Comments