Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fruitful Use of Money

Reformation Sunday 30 October 2011
2 Corinthians 9:11 Fruitful Use of Money
A wise man once told me that conversion to Christianity usually occurs in three stages:
 the head – we acknowledge the reality of God and the truth of His Word, intellectual assent you might say;
 the heart – we become aware of the indwelling Holy Spirit and strive to treasure the love of God that has been poured into us;
 the pocketbook – our attitude toward material wealth is completely reoriented toward the kingdom of God, as Larry Burkett said, our finances are an outward indicator of our inner spiritual condition.
Having looked at the fruitful use of our time and talents the past two Sundays, we come to the crux of the matter of bearing fruit for Jesus: fruitful use of money. Either Jesus is Lord of all or He is not Lord at all. St. Paul puts it like this in 2 Corinthians 9:11. The more you are enriched by God the more scope there will be for generous giving, and your gifts, administered through us, will mean that many will thank God. (J.B. Phililips)
Our freedom in Christ is not a mere abstraction or an interesting theory, but a new reality that empowers the fruitful use of money – by means of proportionate, cheerful and generous giving in response to God’s free gift to us.
1. The more you are enriched by God
a. God gives us spiritual and material riches
b. The only limit to the supply of goods and services we create is our imagination and our love
2. The more scope there will be for generous giving
a. The first thing Christians think about doing with money is…..followed by……finally.
b. Greater maturity = greater generosity = greater joy

3. Your gifts, administered though us, will mean that many will thank God.
a. We work with trustworthy people to distribute God’s goodness
b. I dreamed I went to heaven and You were there with me
We walked upon the streets of gold Beside the crystal sea.
We heard the angels singing Then someone called your name.
You turned and saw this young man And he was smiling as he came.
And he said, "Friend you may not know me now" And then he said, "But wait"
You used to teach my Sunday School When I was only eight.
And every week you would say a prayer Before the class would start.
And one day when you said that prayer I asked Jesus in my heart."
Thank you for giving to the Lord I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord I am so glad you gave.
Then another man stood before you And said, "Remember the time
A missionary came to your church And his pictures made you cry.
You didn't have much money But you gave it anyway.
Jesus took the gift you gave And that's why I am here today."
One by one they came Far as the eye could see
Each life somehow touched By your generosity.
Little things that you had done Sacrifices made.
Unnoticed on the earth In heaven now proclaimed.
And I know up in heaven You're not supposed to cry.
But I am almost sure There were tears in your eyes.
As Jesus took your hand And you stood before the Lord.
He said, "My child look around you. Great is your reward."
(Words and Music by Ray Boltz)

How to read the Scriptures

(by Fr. Lawrence Farley)
When one steeps oneself in the literature of the Fathers, one is aware of entering a different world, of breathing a different air. For the Fathers, the Scriptures spoke with the voice of God and an apt citation of a Scriptural text (read and interpreted, of course, through the Tradition of the Church) was seen as bringing all godly controversy to an end. This was not “proof-texting” (which involves the use of Scripture separated from Holy Tradition). Rather, it was an awareness of Scripture as a locus and carrier of that Holy Tradition and therefore as a reliable arbiter in all Christian disputes.

A casual reading of the Fathers will confirm that this was their approach. Consider the words of St. Clement of Rome:

“You well know that nothing unjust or fraudulent is written in the Scriptures”.

Or the words of St. Irenaeus:

“the Scriptures of certainly perfect, since they were spoken by the Word of God and by His Spirit”.

Or the words of St. Hippolytus:

“those who not believe that the Holy Scriptures were spoken by the Holy Spirit…are unbelievers”.

Or Origen:

“With complete and utter precision the Holy Spirit supplied the very words of Scripture through His subordinate authors…according to which the wisdom of God pervades every divinely-inspired writing, reach out to each single letter”.

The Fathers did not adhere to a view of dictation, which would reduce the human authors of Scripture to merely passive conduits of the Divine Word. They knew full well that these were human documents, subject to the normal human variants of style and didactic purpose. Nonetheless, they were also very aware that these same human documents were vehicles for the Spirit of God, containing, as Divine Oracles, God’s timeless and transcendent Truth, and thus not subject to error.

According to the Fathers, how should we read the Scriptures today? I would point out two components of an Orthodox and patristic approach to the Divine Scriptures.

We should read the Scriptures in the Church. That is, we should interpret the Scriptures guided by our Holy Tradition as preserved in the interpretations of the Fathers. As Origen expresses it,

“That alone is to be believed as the truth which is in no way at variance with ecclesiastical and apostolic Tradition”.

This does not mean a rejection of all the fruit of modern commentary and criticism. It does mean a selective use of such modern work. The plumb-line of Tradition is to be hung against new work: only such as is consistent with Tradition is be accepted.

We should read the Scriptures on our knees. That is, we should come to the Scriptures as humble learners to be taught, not as judges to teach and correct. Humility is the pre-condition for everything in the Christian life, especially in our reading of the Scriptures. In this as in all things,

“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

We are often exhorted to be diligent in reading the Scriptures. This is a valuable exhortation—but one that must be supplemented with another: read the Scriptures as the Fathers read them. We must open our Bibles as opening the oracles of God—reading, as it were, over the shoulders of the Fathers.

Only then can we gain true and eternal benefit for our souls.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What's nxt?!

What's nXt?
There is something stirring in Clio. In January 2010, the congregation of Messiah launched a new worship service dubbed “nXt,” and by no mere coincidence membership has been growing.

The guiding concept is simple: reach out to those who do not know Jesus. Sure, most churches have that objective, but how is the church uniquely situated to carry out the goal?

Messiah’s Pastor Erik Cloeter has brought to life a vision of a captivating worship experience that breaks down typical church stereotypes, and the community has noticed.

In just over a year since its inception, the nXt service has inspired nearly 100 people to join Messiah’s growing membership. Many have cited being initially sparked by the presence of the band at community events, such as the Annual Fireman’s Parade and Fourth of July Fireworks celebrations.

So why “nXt?”

Pronounced “next,” the abbreviated version is intended to provoke the question, “What is nXt?” “What’s Next” is also one of the central themes of the worship service.

Cloeter explains. “I meet many people who come to church, join, and say, ‘OK, I’m a Christian ... so what’s next?’ At Messiah, the answer has always been to reach out to those who still don’t know Jesus and to help them connect with God in a real way.”

What is truly unique about the nXt service is that it is different. It doesn’t look, sound, or feel like a traditional or contemporary worship service. Nxt is for the people that have strong faith and want to express that faith. Nxt is also for people who are struggling and looking for answers. Those who may have been reluctant to come to a worship service find this to be, by design, something unlike what they may have experienced in the past. Some of those differences include: pews being replaced by chairs, the pulpit by a stage, LED smart lights, media screens instead of stained glass, and a live band. These are only a few of the changes you will notice on Sunday morning.

While the allure of the service is its willingness to boldly challenge the status quo, the heart of the message is what keeps people coming back.

Cloeter further shares, “The church is like a hospital for sinners – people in need of a Healer, of a Savior. The church is where we come together to receive acceptance, forgiveness, and love from a God who wants to be closer to people. Just as you go to a hospital when you are sick, the church is where we gather to ask for and receive forgiveness for our sin, because the price has been paid for us by Jesus Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection. Everyone is welcome. Come as you are, but leave transformed to reach out to others like you—others who need Jesus. They’re nXt!”

Friday, October 14, 2011

Trashing Tim Tebow by George Weigel

No, Tim Tebow is a target of irrational hatred, not because he’s an iffy quarterback at the NFL level, or a creep personally, or an obnoxious, in-your-face, self-righteous proselytizer. He draws hatred because he is an unabashed Christian, whose calmness and decency in the face of his Christophobic detractors drives them crazy. Tim Tebow, in other words, is a prime example of why Christophobia—a neologism first coined by a world-class comparative constitutional law scholar, J.H.H. Weiler, himself an Orthodox Jew—is a serious cultural problem in these United States.

It is simply unimaginable that any prominent Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Sikh quarterback, should such a fantasy of anthropology exist, would be subjected to the vileness that is publicly dumped on Tim Tebow. Tolerance, that supreme virtue of the culture of radical relativism, does not extend to evangelical Christians, it seems. And if it does not extend to evangelicals who unapologetically proclaim their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior and who live their commitment to the dignity of human life from conception and natural death, it will not extend to Catholics who make that same profession of faith and that same moral commitment. Whatever we think of Tim Tebow’s theology of salvation, Tim Tebow and serious Catholics are both fated to be targets of the Christophobes.

Wherever the Gospel is proclaimed with fervor, it draws opposition. The ultimate source of that opposition is the Evil One, but we know what his fate will be. What we don’t know is how democracy can survive widespread, radical Christophobia.

George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. Weigel’s column is distributed by the Denver Catholic Register, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver. Phone: 303-715-3215.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

some were evangelists...

Almighty and everlasting God, we thank You for Your servant Philip the Deacon, whom You called to proclaim the Gospel to the peoples of Samaria and Ethiopia. Raise up in this and every land heralds and evangelists of Your kingdom, that your Church may make known the immeasurable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

tough love

“to remain silent in the face of false doctrine is not a demonstration of love, but rather of hate; for how then can errorists be saved?” 2

1 Walther, Essays For the Church, Volume I, (St. Louis : CPH), 1994, p. 122-123.
2 Ibid., 124.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sermon exerpt from 10-2-11

(Preached by Rev. David Kind, pastor of University Lutheran Chapel, Minneapolis, MN.

Let no one doubt that you are being sinned against in this. You are, but more importantly Christ is being sinned against. Yes, those who claim a fellowship with us as members of His mystical Body, who have been raised up as leaders in the Church, have chosen to serve two (or maybe more) masters. They will exchange the work of the Gospel in this place for 3.5 million dollars of mammon. And they are convinced that they will be serving God by doing so, but they are wrong. It is a pious lie, they have bought into long ago, a lie about how the Church could be better than what Christ and the Holy Spirit have made it; a lie that says if we just do things our way, if we compromise our way of worship, the forcefulness of our preaching, the strength of our confession, the discipline of Christ’s table, then the Church, and we as her people, will prosper. And if we conduct our churches more like cold-hearted businesses, then we will grow. And I say, what is this but unrighteous mammon, the mammon not only of money, but of man’s method, the idolatry of serving something other than our One True Master, Jesus Christ.
This is a frightening thing, for St. Paul warns: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” Those who sow deceitfully and unrighteously against Christ’s flock will reap God’s judgment if they do not repent. For attacking the Body of Christ is the same as attacking Christ Himself, no matter how pious the misguided intention may be.