Halloween Is About You

Halloween. That is a weird word! Where did it come from? What does it mean? No doubt you know what it refers to, but do you know how it came into use?

Halloween is a conjunction, that is two or more words joined together. It shortened “All Hallows Eve”, which is the evening before All Hallows Day or All Saints Day. See, Halloween isn’t about ghosts, goblins, and witches. Halloween is about Saints. Are you one?

Most people would respond, “I’m no Saint!”. They reach that conclusion because they look at the way that they have lived, the decisions that they have made and the things that they have done, and rightly see that they are far from perfect. If that was the standard for being a saint, no one would be one. However, that is not the way that the Bible speaks of saints.

This is how Paul addressed the Christians in Corinth: “To the church of God in Corinth—those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, who are called as saints”. (1 Co. 1:2) Christians are saints because they are sanctified in Christ Jesus. That means that you can be a saint too. Everyone who believes in Jesus has been washed clean of all of their sins. Everyone who believes in Jesus has been credited with Jesus’ perfect life. In Jesus, you can be a saint too.

This year you will know what Halloween is really about. It is not about ghost goblins. It is about saints. It is about you. You have been clothed in Jesus perfect life by faith. You are a saint.

From the latest ELS Outreach Newsletter

A Message from our Synodical Fathers

The ELS web site has a growing number of resources from past times. One of these is the collection of convention essays delivered over the years. Keeping in mind that our synod’s rebirth in 1918 was a humble event, and insignificant in worldly eyes, it’s not hard to imagine that the fledgeling “Norwegian Synod of the American Evangelical Lutheran Church” had a lot of work to do. Yet very early in our history, the topic chosen for a 1921 convention essay was “Christian Day Schools.” In this essay, Pastor Torgerson identifies the need for our churches to teach the faith, and considers several options. It is worth our time to listen to his message. You can find it here.

A Visit to an Exploratory Mission

On June 28, the Jacobsen family was on our way back from Arizona to Oregon, having stayed the night at St. George, Utah. We had discovered to our delight that a WELS church existed in that town. It turns out to be an exploratory mission, Redemption Lutheran Church. They are meeting on the second floor of a nicely-decorated commercial retail building. Pastor Quandt, his wife, and three other couples were there for the 10 a.m. service. The Jacobsen family about doubled the attendance that day, but they drew together chairs for us in a second row (the back of the church), and we were given the extra service handouts for the day. It was a less formal service than at most of our churches, as the outreach prospects in St. George are unfamiliar with the rich and meaningful liturgical heritage of the Lutheran church. The main focus was law and gospel following the current ILCW lectionary, with a basic outline of the liturgy to be filled in over time as the members become more strongly catechized.

Please pray for Pastor Quandt and the gathering flock in St. George, as well as the white fields of prospects surrounding that mission, that God would draw them together to receive certainty of His grace, and rich forgiveness through Christ such as they have never experienced before.

Happy Hallowe’en!

It was on this day in 1517 that a professor and doctor of the Church posted a list of topics he wished to discuss and debate, concerning abuses and unbiblical additions in the teaching and practice of the Faith. Knowing that the next day (the Feast of All Saints) was a day when all the faithful were obliged to come to church, the doctor posted his list on the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, electoral Saxony, in what today is southern Germany.

The response surprised the doctor as his posting sparked a reformation of the Church, ridding the abuses and novelties he had noted, restoring the traditional and ancient practice and teaching of the Church Catholic, but causing division from those who preferred the errors in faith and practice, who segregated themselves under the guidance of their pope.

But the Reformation struck a definite blow for the clarity of the Good News of Jesus, in Whom alone is our forgiveness, life, and salvation— in spite of those who would persist in their errors and preferred Rome, or a number of other movements who sought not to reform the Church, but to radically undo and destroy and refashion the Faith.

Remembering the signal spark of the Reformation, the posting of the 95 Thesis, millions of boys and girls this evening will mock the devil (toothless worm that he is), dressing up, and running from door to door, knocking (as Luther knocked his list onto the church door!), and being rewarded with special treats from the adults who cheer on the miracle of the Lutheran Reformation.

Rejoice in the freedom of the Gospel, and give these little Luthers something tasty tonight.

Happy Halloween, you sons and daughters of the Reformation!

From Pr. James Wilson (ELS), in North Bend, originally posted to Facebook.

The Five God-given Purposes of Marriage

  1. To establish a household of faith
  2. To provide a way for a man and a woman to love each other
  3. To provide a legitimate and God-pleasing outlet for sexual desire
  4. To provide for the procreation and nurturing of children
  5. To provide for the mutual care of husband and wife in the commonwealth of goods

These are fleshed out in many different places. A good reference is the Small Catechism and Explanation. As listed above, these items are found in an excellent booklet we have at church called Second Thoughts about Living Together. This booklet provides a deeper explanation about marriage, and as its title says, a number of considerations for Christians against a practice in our culture that undermines this glorious gift from God.

Laache was exceptional tonight

One of the devotional books we use for family devotions in the evening is Laache’s Book of Family Prayer, published by the ELS. Like anything written by mortal man, it has its ups and downs. Usually it’s pretty good. Tonight it was great.

The devotion for Saturday after Trinity 12 is based on Psalm 142. The devotion text starts out,

“Don’t keep your cares locked up in your heart, dear Christian, but open your soul to God, open your heart to Him in words of prayer. The devil is a mute spirit who wants to tie our tongue, so that we cannot “cry to the Lord.”

Laache goes on to make five points using quotes from various psalms that echo 142.

  1. You are not the only one who eats the bread of tears.
  2. Humble yourself before the Lord.
  3. You should learn to believe on the Lord. (One of my favorite psalm verses here: 73:26)
  4. He “knows your path” and cares for you.
  5. So your worries soon will end.

The psalm quotes throughout are worth the price of admission and then some.

Some Thoughts on the Creation Debate

On Tuesday of this week, we had a group of people here at Bethany to watch the debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye about whether biblical creation is a valid scientific model of origins. Here are some thoughts about what we saw:

  • Both Ken Ham and Bill Nye ended the debate with the same position in which they started the debate. Ham is a creationist and Nye is an evolutionist.

  • Ken Ham is willing to call both evolutionists and creationists “scientists” in the same sense, but Bill Nye is reluctant to call creationists “scientists,” convinced by his own reason that anyone who believes in creation is incapable of scientific research or engineering, and that unless children learn to be evolutionists, America will fall behind other nations in scientific development.

  • Ken Ham notes a distinction between observational science and a historic kind of science. In observational science, it is possible to apply the scientific method, make predictions, test hypotheses, and make practical applications. Anyone can participate equally in observational science, whether they are creationists or evolutionists. When looking at pre-historic origins, however, everyone is limited to formulating theoretical models from the same evidence, but no conclusive tests can be made to verify whether one model is more likely true than another. The only source of better information would be the witness of someone who was actually present through that prehistoric time. Ken Ham therefore relies upon the information provided by God in the Bible.

  • Bill Nye denies the distinction made by Ken Ham, and denies that the Bible is credible, on the basis of what his own reason tells him. For example, “Miracles are impossible. The Bible describes miracles, therefore the Bible is false.” Bill Nye’s worldview supporting his use of reason is known as naturalism or materialism, and is believed by many people.

  • There are things in Bill Nye’s model of origins that he does not understand or know, like “What existed before the Big Bang?” Ken Ham knows some of those things from the revelation of God (who has always existed) in the Bible.

  • From his description and use of it, Bill Nye does not seem to know much about the Bible, its origin, its transmission, or its contents. His view of science and his naturalistic worldview would dissuade him from learning about it. On the other hand, Ken Ham knows a lot about the scientific theories at the heart of Bill Nye’s worldview. The creationist scientists mentioned by Ken Ham are also highly accomplished in their scientific fields.

  • Bill Nye repeatedly referred to the time of the Flood as 4,000 years ago, but that only seems accurate on his usual scale of millions of years. Abraham (Genesis 12) lived 4,000 years ago, and that was several long generations after the Flood. Furthermore, Ken Ham referred to adding up the lifespans of the generations before the Flood to arrive at the total age of the Earth, but the chapters describing those lifespans are not necessarily written for the purpose of giving a mathematical sum. While the numbers of years are certainly correct there, we know that other writers of biblical genealogies have skipped generations, in order to fulfil another purpose. For example, see Matthew 1:17. The purpose of the pre-Flood genealogy of Noah was to record the names of those faithful patriarchs who passed their faith on to future generations within their own family. So the numbers thrown around during the debate as a supposed biblical age of the Earth, or the time since the Flood, were not necessarily accurate. However, the error in those numbers would be in thousands of years, not millions.

We saw an excellent illustration of Hebrews 11:3, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” Ken Ham knows this, but only because he believes what the Bible says. Bill Nye cannot know this, because he rejects what the Bible says. Jesus described a similar problem when He explained to His disciples why He was teaching in parables (Luke 8:10), “that ‘Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.'” St. Paul also described this in Romans 1:20-21, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Christians cannot convince someone like Bill Nye that the Bible is true by simply making an argument or debate with him. That was not Ken Ham’s purpose. Rather, the only way someone can know the true origin of the world is to believe what God says. This faith is completely a gift of God, which He provides through the message of the Gospel. Now, all of us who care about Bill Nye and the truth have the task of praying that God would use the Gospel message to work a conversion in his heart. Ken Ham spoke that message more than once during the debate, and it’s also available to Bill Nye in many other places. God intervened in the life of Saul of Tarsus, who persecuted the Church terribly, turning him into the man we know as St. Paul. God can also convert Bill Nye, or any other non-Christian evolutionist.

We should also pray that God would correct and strengthen the faith of those Christians who are tempted to disbelieve the Bible because of the worldly pressure exerted by people like Bill Nye. There are Christian evolutionists in the world, but their Christian faith is constantly under attack within their own hearts by the naturalistic, materialistic worldview of evolution.

Finally, we should imitate our merciful God as we show love to our neighbors, many of whom are confused and misled by teachings like evolution. Since the public school system is unable to allow creationism equal footing with evolution, it would be a good thing for us to teach as many children as possible to understand the world in a biblical way. That’s one of the strong reasons why it would be a wonderful thing if God were to bless Bethany with a Christian day school.

False Religion Pretending to be Science

In a time when there is supposedly a high wall separating church and state, government and religion, this article from American Thinker points out that it’s not true of every faith. In fact, this false religion of Scientism is already well connected with American civil religion, which is another serious matter for Christians in our society.

In other words, many of our politicians are surrendering themselves to scientism. Scientism is not science. It is an ideology that is often confused with science. It is, rather, an abuse of the scientific method and scientific authority.

Scientism can also be classified as a religion. It is a religion with many denominations: Darwinism, environmentalism, feminism, hedonism, humanism, Marxism, socialism, and so on. How many Americans now find their fulfillment and purpose in these movements? They celebrate Earth Day and Darwin Day. They boldly assert, “Science is my Savior.”

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