Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Where Do You Find Strength?


As the world collapses... where do we turn?
Moved beyond our capacity...
Pummeled beyond our ability...
Abused beyond our contingencies...

where does our help come from?

Our soul wants to flee...
away from the wicked...
depart from the punishers...
avoid the persecutors...

The Lord remains.

Above our capacity... our ability... our contingencies...
His strength stands.
He is Hope.
He is Help.
He is Salvation.

See Psalm 11 & 73:26.

Monday, April 13, 2015

A More Excellent Way | 1 Corinthians 13

A More Excellent Way

“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” Everyone has been given different gifts to share in the furthering of his kingdom. Not everyone is a prophet or teacher or apostle, but everyone has been given something they need to bring to the table, to work together as one body. It is not up to one man, but a team of men. Yet, even above all of these gifts, “I will show you a still more excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 (partially paraphrased).

Love is something that we only understand “in part.” It never fades and abides through-out all of time itself. But, we only begin to understand love through a mirror dimly here on earth. Perhaps, slightly clearer in the body of Christ. Although we cannot see the complete picture nor the workings of the Spirit through-out our human frames, we can know that His Love, the love we have received from God, the love that works through us, is His gift.

Love empowers us to do things that nothing else could ever empower us to do. By the grace of God, bought by the blood of Jesus Christ, love allows us to forgive, it allows us to have faith and hope in one another. It allows us to try not to have our own way, but to be considerate of others. It grants us patience and kindness in place of joy at wrong-doing. It is the only thing that makes us more than clanging gongs reaching out to mute ears.

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Therefore, “let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7-8. This love is not a brotherly love or romantic love, but a holistic love. It is not a communal love (the text doesn’t say to love the body of Christ or work toward the common good), but an individual love (love one another just as I have loved you). This love starts with one. It’s personal and non-hypocritical. Although, our passions may be driving us one way or the other and we might be afraid of the outcome of love… “love hurts” as the cliché goes… love is a command and without love we are nothing. Walk in love. Walk with Christ.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The True Church | Walther

Theses that C. F. W. Walther* defended in the Altenburg* Debate:

I. The true Church, in the most real and most perfect sense, is the totality (Gesamtheit) of all true believers, who from the beginning to the end of the world from among all peoples and tongues have been called and sanctified by the Holy Spirit through the Word. And since God alone knows these true believers (2 Tim. 2:19), the Church is also called invisible. No one belongs to this true Church who is not spiritually united with Christ, for it is the spiritual body of Jesus Christ.

II. The name of the true Church belongs also to all those visible companies of men among whom God's Word is purely taught and the holy Sacraments are administered according to the institution of Christ. True, in this Church there are godless men, hypocrites, and heretics, but they are not true members of it, nor do they constitute the Church.

III. The name Church, and, in a certain sense, the name true Church, belongs also to those visible companies of men who have united under the confession of a falsified faith and therefore have incurred the guilt of a partial departure from the truth; provided they possess so much of God's Word and the holy Sacraments in purity that children of God may thereby be born. When such companies are called true churches, it is not the intention to state that they are faithful, but only that they are real churches as opposed to all worldly organizations (Gemeinschaften).

IV. The name Church is not improperly applied to heterodox companies, but according to the manner of speech of the Word of God itself. It is also not immaterial that this high name is allowed to such communions, for out of this follows:

1. That members also of such companies may be saved; for without the Church there is no salvation.

V. 2. The outward separation of a heterodox company from an orthodox Church is not necessarily a separation from the universal Christian Church nor a relapse into heathenism and does not yet deprive that company of the name Church.

VI. 3. Even heterodox companies have church power; even among them the goods of the Church may be validly administered, the ministry established, the Sacraments validly administered, and the keys of the kingdom of heaven exercised.

VII. 4. Even heterodox companies are not to be dissolved, but reformed.

VIII. The orthodox Church is chiefly to be judged by the common, orthodox, public confession to which its members acknowledge and confess themselves to be pledged. CSM

J. F. Köstering, Auswanderung der sächsischen Lutheraner im Jahre 1838, ihre Niederlassung in Perry-Co., Missouri, und damit zusammenhängende interessante Nachrichten, nebst einem wahrheitsgetreuen Bericht von dem in den Gemeinden zu Altenburg und Frohna vorgefallenen sog. Chiliastenstreit in den Jahren 1856 und 1857 (St. Louis, 1867), pp. 51–52; W. O. Forster, Zion on the Mississippi (St. Louis, 1953), pp. 523–525.

Here's the original source.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Jesus Among Other Gods | Ravi Zacharias

In 2000, the renowned Christian Apologeticist, Ravi Zacharias, published Jesus Among Other Gods. This is his attempt to address the dominating worldview at the end of the twentieth century. He realized that our culture teaches, “philosophically, you can believe anything, so long as you do not claim it to be true. Morally, you can practice anything, so long as you do not claim that it is a ‘better’ way. [And,] Religiously, you can hold to anything, so long as you do not bring Jesus Christ into it.”[1] He saw irony in the fact that in Western nations, spiritual ideas of the east are granted critical immunity while the traditions of the west are openly mocked.

 This mood of postmodernism crushes reason and clings to emotion. Yet, the truth of Jesus Christ still needs to be proclaimed and sustained. Ravi attempts to explain how that’s even possible in such a whimsical world. He begins by explaining that Jesus himself was not western, but eastern. But, just as the West has adulterated the message of Christ, the East has left too many religious beliefs uncriticized. “Every religion must face the responsibility of answering the questions posed to it.” “All religions, plainly and simply, cannot be true. Some beliefs are false, and we know them to be false. So it does no good to put a halo on the notion of tolerance as if everything could be equally true.” Christianity has been the strongest religion in standing up against criticism.[2]

 Ravi reviews six particular points that Jesus addresses in his ministry that no one else would have addressed in the same way. This proves not only his uniqueness, but also his persona. Jesus Among Other Gods then takes Jesus’ answers and compares them to other leading religions such as Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism in order to reveal the difference.

 One of the first points is that “The first casualty in such a mix [of cultures and religious revivals] is truth, and, consequently, the person of God.” Ravi continues that Jesus Himself made perhaps the most dramatic and daring statement that He is the way, and the truth, and the life, explaining that “’No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6). Every word of that statement challenges the… entire world today.”[3]

Implicitly, Jesus is saying that there is only one way to God. This runs contradictory to universalism and Hinduism. He says that God is the Author and meaning-giver of life, this is denied by Buddhism. And, Islam cannot understand the fact that God can have a son. “Every claim that Jesus made of Himself challenged my culture’s basic assumptions about life and meaning.”[4]

Following, Ravi shares that Jesus’ ministry was “the one time in history… [a] person was essentially different from all of us.” He retells the story of Nathaniel explaining that Jesus in short, “said, ‘You are shocked because I revealed you to yourself? Wait until you see the full disclosure of who I am from and whence I come.’” This relates highly to Ravi’s own culture growing up as his identity was so closely tied to his family’s.[5] Jesus takes this aspect of His identity even further. The theologian explains that “to ask for the ‘where’ of Jesus’ home is the same as asking the ‘when’ of God’s beginning.” No other prophetic figure would have answered that question in the same manner.[6]

The third point addresses the Jews’ request for a sign. “Jesus gave the greatest proof of His authority by accurately predicting His death and the time of His bodily resurrection. Of all people, the temple authorities should have been alert to His promise, but they never dreamed that it would actually come to be.”[7]

Fourth, Ravi discusses the words of institution and Jesus’ need to “meet a greater hunger.” This “hunger of life… could only be filled by different bread.” This was hard to hear for a culture with such strict dietary laws.[8] As we dig deeper behind the scenes, “there is a second but not so obvious truth. ‘I am the Bread of Life,’ said Jesus.”

At the heart of every major religion is a leading exponent. As the exposition is studied something very significant emerges. There comes a bifurcation, or a distinction, between the person and the teaching. Mohammed, to the Koran. Buddha, to the Noble Path. Krishna, to his philosophizing. Zoroaster, to his ethics.

Whatever we may make of their claims, one reality is inescapable. They are teachers who point to their teaching or show some particular way. In all of these, there emerges an instruction, a way of living… By contrast, Jesus did not only teach or expound His message. He was identical with His message.[9]

Fifth, Ravi discusses Christ and suffering. “Every world-view—not just Christianity’s—must give an explanation or an answer for evil and suffering… The Christian world-view suggest that evil is better posed as a mystery than as a problem.”[10]

Finally, the author shares addresses Christ’s view of the kingdom of God. This is the reason Christ was born according to John’s account.[11] Yet, when asked of his origin, Jesus remains silent. “Jesus’ silence, with all of the implications… drawn, reveal[s] a contrast to others in similar situations who have claimed divine or prophetic status.”[12] This was far more humble than any historic figure of note.

Over all, the book was interesting and worth the read. It was encouraging to meditate on and reaffirm the truths of Christianity. He is very adept at understanding Scripture and relating its sense to every-day living. Yet, Ravi did not address the other religions as much as I had expected and this is an extremely brief summary... I highly recommend checking out the book... it's not too long.

“My earnest prayer is that when you read this, you will make your judgment of the Christian message based on truth, not the mood of our times. Moods change. Truth does not.”[13]

[1] Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods, vii. 
[2] Zacharias, viii, 3-4.
[3] Ibid., 4.
[4] Ibid., 4-5.
[5] Ibid., 27, 31.
[6] Ibid., 33-34.
[7] Ibid., 67. 
[8] Ibid., 79. 
[9] Ibid., 89. 
[10] Ibid., 108-109. 
[11] John 18:37. 
[12] Zacharias, 157.
[13] Ibid., x.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

ALDP | Ministry of the Month (04.15)

This month's ministry continues off of the momentum of last month... You may have learned of ACMNP's (A Christian Ministry in the National Parks) ALDP (Advanced Leadership Development Program). If you haven't, here's an update.

Six young Christians were chosen to undergo an advanced leadership development program. This program included a leadership skill evaluation as well as a weekend conference in Denver, CO. The "Sensational Six" will now help lead the national ACMNP conference next month before directly engaging their submitted assignments in the summer.

This program, like all others, comes at a cost. These chosen few are willing to put the time, faith, and courage into building up Christian witness and worship within our national parks. The main thing they lack is funding specifically for traveling to and from the park. That's where you come in.

Let's see who can raise the most this month!!!!


Josh Schmidt is a third year seminarian attending Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. He has lived all around the upper Midwest where he continues to travel and lead worship wherever invited. Josh has also served the ministry last year in gorgeous Glacier National Park, MT. He looks forward to leading a team in planting a Christian mission in Bullfrog, near Lake Powell, UT.

Fund him through or in the mail at 801 Seminary Pl., St. Louis, MO 63105.


Alyssa Jeanne is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts.

Help her by going to this website. So far, she has raised $250 out of her set goal of $2,000.


Daniel Reese is a student at Wake Forest University in Florida.

Fund him at this website. So far, he has raised $300 out of his goal of $1,000


Alli "Hugs" Huggins is a student at Yale Divinity School in Connecticut.

Help her by going here. So far, she has raised $625 out of her goal of $1,000.


David Myers served as a pastor at a young adult focused church, but is now considering ACMNP as his full-time mission.

Contact him for fundraising information.


David Tuell serves ACMNP in the Virgin Islands and is looking forward to the summer ministry.

Contact him for fundraising information.