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Author: Neal Radichel

I am the full time lead (or head) pastor at Luther Memorial Church and School of Fond du Lac, WI since I was installed in January of 2011. I grew up near Minneapolis and graduated from my pre-theology and seminary training in the spring of 2007 from Immanuel Lutheran High School, College, and Seminary in Eau Claire, WI. Before serving in Fond du Lac I served as pastor at St. Stephen, a sister CLC congregation in Mountain View, CA. My passion is preaching, teaching Bible doctrine, Bible history, Comparative Religions, and Catechism classes both in and outside of our Christian day school. I also conduct information classes for anyone interested, pre-marital, marital, and other types of counseling. I am growing in my knowledge and experience with web development, computer networking, graphic and publication design, and social networking. Leadership training is very important to me, but secondary to the growth and maturity of an individual's faith in the true Word of God found only in the Holy Bible. My wife Erin and I were married in 2003 and since that time the Lord has blessed us with four children.
Couldn’t God have used evolution to create the world?

Couldn’t God have used evolution to create the world?

Couldn’t God have used evolution to create the world?

That’s an interesting question.  But it’s also a demonic one.  That’s right, I said demonic.  As in it is an idea from the devil (aka, Satan).

Allow me to explain further.  When it comes down to it, there are really only two different beliefs in this world – belief there IS a God, or belief that there ISN’T a god.

The “scientific” theory of EVOLUTION begins with the world view (belief) that there is no god.  I say “scientific” because any scientific theory is measured and recorded by observable evidence.  No man or woman has measured the age of the universe as it supposedly came about over the claimed millions (now billions) of years of its existence.  In reality, the faith of evolution is trusting in the theories of science as the only universal absolutes.

The scientific “theory” of CREATION begins with the world view (belief) there is one God.  I say “theory” because unlike an evolutionist’s claims, God was actually there to measure and record what He created (observable evidence).  The word science simply means knowledge. So in reality, the faith of creationism is trusting in the Bible as God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16) and as the one and only universal absolute.

Here’s where the problem or question can occur.

But what if I believe that the Bible is God’s Word, but I also believe the theory of evolution that the universe evolved over billions and billions of years?  In attempting to BRIDGE these two world views you wouldn’t be surprised for me to ask a question like:

Couldn’t God have used evolution to create the world?

This growing question in Christianity is really the product of two different theories often referred to as “Theistic Evolution” (God created or started evolution), or also referred to as “Old Earth Creationism” (That each of the ‘six days’ of Genesis 1 were actually millions or billions of years longer than six normal days). However you want to label or name the theory, the concept between God and Evolution is bridged in this belief = God planted the initial seeds of life, and then had evolution take over.

At first glance, that seems like this theory could be a Biblical, rational, scientific approach that beautifully marries modern scientific reason with Christianity.  But actually, it is an adultery of God’s Word.  I won’t spend excess time here going into the original Hebrew language and explaining the plain use of “day” in Genesis 1 and how it is used the same way throughout the rest of the Old Testament and by Jesus in the New Testament in the same 24 hour “evening and morning” way.  Or the blasphemous disrespect that God may have needed or used millions and billions of years with evolution to “create” all things as we know them.  Rather, I want to focus on how this Satanic question is so similar to the devil’s doubtful question “Did God really say?” in Genesis 3 and what it subtlety implies about the CHARACTER of our Creator God.

Couldn’t God have used evolution to create the world?   Yes, of course He has the ability to do that if He wanted.  But No, He wouldn’t ever do that based on His CHARACTER – who He is, what He does, or the kind of Creator God that He demonstrates for us throughout His Word – which sets Him endlessly and unfathomably apart from any of the man-made gods of this world.

Genesis 2:7 and 2:22 says, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” 22 Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.”

Man and Woman were God’s special creation that is obviously clear. This isn’t some evolutionary process. Everything that God created was for mankind.  God treats mankind just as what they are – His created children.  Jesus plainly teaches us that we are to call God “Our Father” in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9) and “Be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).  God would even come to this world and take on our flesh in Jesus Christ (as true man and true God) to lovingly, selflessly, and sacrificially suffer death on the cross for the rebellious, disobedient sin of the whole world (John 3:16).  So how does this help us with the question?

Couldn’t God have used evolution to create the world?

It’s helpful to ask this question at the same time…

Wouldn’t God just leave us to suffer and die alone?

 The answers are “No.” to both questions.  He is not that kind of God or Father.  Earthly, sinful parents who are excited and eagerly expecting to bring a child into the world take all kinds of care to prepare a room and nursery for their child, have all the proper furniture, all the right clothes, and all the necessities and even toys ready when the time comes to bring the child home.   That’s exactly the kind of CHARACTER our Heavenly Father shows to us in Genesis 1.  Careful, planned preparation and divine execution to bring His children into a perfect world.  A world where He wouldn’t abandon them to random evolutionary chance or a “survival of the fittest” godlessness (fatherless).  And how could God have called millions and billions of years of death, “good”? (Genesis 1:31)

Even if someone argued, “God could have overseen all that preparation with evolution!” we would back up and say that’s like suggesting those same parents just threw all the furniture parts, clothing fabric, and unassembled toys, etc. into the nursery room to come together on their own before the baby would happen along.  What lame, irresponsible parents would do such a thing?   What an insult to God’s power and wisdom to suggest that about our Father in Heaven.  When it comes to this theory that’s what He did with evolution.

Isaiah 29:16 Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; For shall the thing made say of him who made it, “He did not make me”? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?

Rather, God’s recorded Word goes on from Genesis 1 to show you and me that His love for us is beyond our comprehension.

1 John 3:1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.

Hebrews 13:5 For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

If you find yourself hearing, or even tempted to be thinking, Couldn’t God have used evolution to create the world?   Just think why the devil would want that thought in your mind.  Satan doesn’t want you to trust God’s Word.  Satan wants you to pick it apart.  Satan wants to make you “prove” it.  Ultimately, Satan wants to ruin your relationship with your Savior Jesus Christ.  Jesus has proved to you His love and faithfulness by His sacrifice on the cross for you, so that you can spend eternity in His awesome and amazing heavenly home!

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Couldn’t God have used evolution to create the world?   No.  That completely goes against His character!

 

 

 

“Don’t You Dare Compare a Pastor to a Firefighter!”

“Don’t You Dare Compare a Pastor to a Firefighter!”

You and I make comparisons every day that are based on a person’s value in our personal life. In an age where public servants such as police officers, military, and politicians aren’t getting much respect, do you think these comparisons are initially based on outward looks and appearances?  In our jobs, comparisons are normally based on work performance or future potential.  Maybe decisions are based on proximity, as with a neighbor.  Would you agree that we often make decisions about who we respect or let into our lives based on our comparing and weighing their usefulness to us?

The Comparison
Let’s briefly test and explore this by daring to compare a pastor to a firefighter.  That probably seems like a silly comparison, but through this there is a very important lesson for each of us.

Here are a few interesting similarities:

  1. On Call 24/7 – Both pastors and firefighters are generally on call at all hours. Even if a firefighter is “off shift” or a pastor is “on vacation,” the pager or the cell phone however does not take breaks.
  1. Wants to help others – Both pastors and firefighters are public servants. You may hear about a crooked pastor or firefighter now and then, but in general they desire to be responsible to those who are in need.  In this way both also intend to support the local community as much as possible.
  1. Can’t be everywhere – Both have limitations. Often times, crisis situations are more prevalent than the pastors or firefighters who are trying to handle them.  Both the general population of a city’s citizens or church’s members have definite expectations of these public servants, and rightly so. But both groups should remember they can’t be everywhere at once.
  1. Extensive training – Both pastors and firefighters, if they are going to know what they’re doing or talking about, will have extensive and continual training in their ministry (service). Much like a doctor or lawyer, this is obviously necessary for those whom they are intending to serve.
  1. Wants to save others – Both have the goal to save lives. But here’s where the differences start to come into play.  One is obviously more focused on an eternal salvation, the other on a physical salvation.

Before we examine a few of the differences, think again about how we make choices each day about who we let into our lives.  So if you only could pick either a pastor or a firefighter to have in your circle, at this point would it be an easy decision which one?

firemans-prayer

Now take a look at those differences:

FIREFIGHTER PASTOR
1.   may selflessly die as a hero may selflessly die as a martyr
2.   physical and emotional emotional and physical
3.   emergency medical treatment emergency spiritual treatment
4.   respected by those they serve respected and hated by those they serve
5.   fights with water fights with living waters (God’s Word)
6.   tries to rescue from fires tries to rescue from fires of hell

Looking at the comparison between pastor and firefighter, which do you think is more important to have in your personal life?  As was mentioned in the beginning, it’s all about how you value each person and what they do for you.  If you’re more concerned with your physical health and safety, you would pick a firefighter over a pastor.  If you’re more concerned with your spiritual and eternal well-being, you’ll likely pick a pastor.  So what’s the point?

The Conclusion
The truth is that we make decisions daily about who is most important to have in our lives.  Naturally, this is often based on the somewhat selfish question, “What can this person do for me?”  How would you like a firefighter who, in the interest of self-preservation, wouldn’t come into your house if it were on fire?  In reality, firefighters risk their lives for us every day!   Or how would you like a pastor who could care less what you are doing with your life?  The word “pastor” literally means “shepherd.”  What happens when a shepherd of Christ doesn’t care about the sheep for which he is responsible?

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)

The real lesson here is in comparing these public servants to yourself, “Do I aspire and desire to be like a firefighter AND a pastor?”  In other words, like a heroic firefighter, would I be willing to lay down my life for a family member, a friend, a stranger, or even an enemy?  Or like a persistent pastor, am I willing to loving and patiently point out selfish and sinful behaviors in others, regardless of who they are?  What we pray the Lord will teach us through these questions is that we are thinking about the physical or spiritual health of others, first.  In the end, this is the selfless, sacrificial love we see best in the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Savior.

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:12-14)

Compare Jesus to the firefighter and pastor, and He exceeds both perfectly.  He desires all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4).  He didn’t come to do His own will, but the will of His Father’s in heaven (John 6:38). He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).  Jesus came to this world to literally rescue you from your sin and from the eternal fires of hell (Matthew 25:41,46).  He conquered death when He rose from the dead and promised, “Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19).  Your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is on call for you 24/7 and will never leave you or abandon you (Hebrews 13:5).

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

So you see?  If we make our decisions based upon the reality of comparing JESUS to anyone else in our life the answer is simple.  Jesus is the MVP of your life.  He is beyond value.  He is beyond any treasure.  There is no comparison!  Let’s continue to learn the lesson of Jesus’ selfless love for you and for me.  And by His grace and help, let’s live it also!

save-from-hell

Pornography – In our Heart and At our Fingertips

Pornography – In our Heart and At our Fingertips

What is Pornography?

Pornography has many definitions depending on the person who wants to define it. Generally, pornography is defined as “printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings.”[1] From this definition one can see how prevalent pornography may be accessed from TV’s to tablets, from movie’s to magazines, or from cell phones to any computer.

man-looking-at-computer-screen-jpg

A Reality Check

How prevalent is pornography?  Statistics show that nearly three-quarters of young adults (71%) and half of teens (50%) come across what they consider to be porn at least once a month, whether they are seeking it or not. It is also reported that 62% of teens and young adults have received a sexually explicit image and 41% have sent one (usually from/to their boy/girlfriend or friend). When they talk about porn with friends, 89% of teens, and 95% of young adults say they do so in a neutral, accepting, or encouraging way. That is, only one in 20 young adults and one in 10 teens say their friends think viewing pornography is a bad thing.  Despite the awareness of the problem, most churches do not have programs specifically designed to assist those struggling with porn use. [2]

Is Pornography Sinful?

The Greek word “eros” is the origin and basic root word for our English word eroticism or erotic.  The meaning of this word is to express love in a sensual or physical way, often igniting some level of sexual arousal. Eros was the name of the imaginary Greek god of love who was thought to be quite mischievous. We might think of our modern day Cupid who more playfully inflicts lust on an individual.  But when one searches God’s Word, the word “eros” isn’t found. In fact, when this physical/sexual love is expressed on its own, outside of God’s definition of a marriage, God uses a different word to describe the activity as “pornaia” (English “porn”).

Examine how God places this in the obvious “works of the flesh.”

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,  idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,  envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” [Galatians 5:19-21]

Notice what other sins are listed with “sexual immorality.” In fact, the first three listed each point in one way or another to sinful lust.  “Impurity” can be defined as impure motives or thoughts. “Sensuality” or lasciviousness, can be understood as unrestrained or unbridled lust.  In looking at this particular list of sins, someone might ask why are some of these sins listed acceptable in our society, while others are not?  It’s NOT about what is socially acceptable, but what is acceptable and unacceptable to our Almighty God.  Pornography would fall into this same category of “pornaia” (the actual Greek word used here, meaning sexual immorality), whether actually committing the sexual acts or watching the sexual acts committed.  Jesus clearly demonstrated this when He spoke about the 6th Commandment in His Sermon on the Mount, [Matthew 5:28]

“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

In further teaching about adultery and sexual immorality Jesus quotes, as always, with His divine authority from Genesis 2:24,

“Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female… ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” [Matthew 19:4-6]

Jesus’ teaching about the unity of “one flesh” is very critical to understanding true sexual morality. “One flesh” means that within God’s institution of marriage, a man or woman is permitted and blessed by God to only have sexual intimacy with his wife or her husband (this is His wedding gift to the couple).  Sexual activity outside of the bond of a married couple is the sinful act of adultery. Sexual activity of the unmarried is called fornication.  God is clear, both adultery and fornication are sinful and against His holy law.

But is Pornography sinful, if you’re thinking of your Spouse?

It is helpful if men and women are reminded that marriage between a husband and wife is to be patterned after Christ’s relationship with the church. Since Christ would never “cheat” on the church, and since sinful man’s idolatry is often described as spiritual adultery, this question might be appropriate:

“When the Israelites were worshiping false gods like Baal and Molech, [Ezekiel 23:36-38] would God have been okay with it if they simply said to Him, ‘We were only thinking of you Lord’?”

This very thing happened when Aaron made the golden calf.

“So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it.  And Aaron made a proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD.’”  [Exodus 32:5]

The LORD was furious that they gave all the credit of His deliverance from their Egyptian slave owners to a golden calf they had just made, and then said they were worshipping the LORD!?!  Likewise, if a husband or wife says he or she is thinking about their spouse while watching porn (or even watching it together), what’s the point of the porn?  Either the spouse is good enough and the sole source of the desire, or they’re not. When pornography is being used he or she isn’t becoming excited by their spouse, but by the images/videos of another man or woman.

In a similar illustration, would a man be okay if his wife was bathing and some other man was ‘thinking about his own wife’ while watching the man’s wife bathe?  If a man were thinking about your wife while touching himself or someone else, would that make it alright?  In the same way, if a husband or wife was thinking about his or her spouse while gazing at the private parts of another man or woman, does that make it OK in God’s eyes? Since the fall into sin (Genesis 3), there’s a reason why we call them “private parts”. When our eyes see something that they shouldn’t, we pray the Lord would remind us in that moment, “That’s not yours to see.”

“…the lust of the eyes . . . is not from the Father, but is from the world.” [1 John 2:16]

“Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, Nor are the eyes of man ever satisfied.” [Proverbs 27:20]

No matter how the man or woman tries to justify his or her lustful thoughts, the Word of God is clear that it is sinful (pornaia = sexually not moral).  This includes pornography.  After giving a list of immoral choices to the Romans, Paul writes:

“Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” [Romans 1:32]

Sin is serious!  We need to be reminded, by watching pornography an individual is also giving approval to those who are practicing sexual immorality.  This even includes those involved in producing the pornography. From Paul’s words, God holds the ones approving of it just as accountable as the ones actually engaging in the act.

Do we Dress for Sexual Success?

Just like we pray for the Lord “to lead us NOT into temptation,” it would be hypocritical for us to lead others into temptation with what we wear. If we are to dress with modesty, [1 Timothy 2:9] how in the world could we excuse something as immodest as pornography?

Is Pornography MORE than a Spiritual Issue?

Studies continue to show how porn destroys not only relationships and marriages, but “physically” men of all ages with porn-induced sexual problems, including ED (erectile dysfunction). Similar studies show the same kind of adverse effects in women also. Pornography confuses the dopamine chemicals in the brain which has a wide range of important functions throughout the body. Pornographic media creates multiple neurological “partners” that further desensitize the brain both emotionally and physically against a “normal” relationship. Porn is filmed showcasing next-to-impossible relationships and creating unreasonable expectations. [3]

God unites a man and woman as “one flesh” and the undivided sexual activity between a husband and wife is the blessed result of a God-gifted closeness. Pornography simply put, promotes and glorifies the physical act without the closeness.

How does God teach us to respond to Pornography?

In reading this, you may be responding to a friend or relative that has asked you questions or made statements about pornography, or you may be trying to navigate your own struggles with it.  In either case, it is important that we aren’t swayed with what the world and Satan are teaching us, but rather follow what our God teaches us!

“Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” [2 Timothy 2:22]

In Christ, there is forgiveness and strength. In 1 Corinthians 6:20, the Apostle Paul reminds each of us that “You were bought at a price” (with the blood of Christ = you, your body, is God’s), and in chapter 7:4 that “your body is not your own” but your spouse’s).  Therefore, we are reminded to “fight the good fight of faith,” to “pray without ceasing,” and remember wars aren’t fought alone or won overnight.  So Paul encourages,roads

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” [Phil. 4:13]

In fighting lust, talk to your spouse, or a trusted Christian friend or Pastor for help. Pray, pray, and give thanks for Christ’s strength in weakness!

Other available resources:

  • http://www.conquerorsthroughchrist.net/
  • “Every Man’s Battle” by Fred Stoeker
  • Accountability software: https://covenanteyes.com/
  • https://store.opendns.com/familyshield/setup/router
  • http://marripedia.org/pornography_objectifies_women
  • http://microsite.frc.org/get.cfm?i=RS09K01

[1] Oxford Dictionaries · © Oxford University Press

[2] Barna Report Stats: http://www.barna.com/the-porn-phenomenon/#.V87fnSgrKUn

[3] http://yourbrainonporn.com/

IF God is real, then why?

IF God is real, then why?

Have you ever had someone challenge your Christian faith by saying something like, “If Jesus is god and savior, why doesn’t he save or answer me when I need him?”  Or maybe it was a string of questions like, “If there is a god, why do people die of hunger in the world?”  “Why are there wars and murder?”  “Why didn’t he keep me from all the evil in my past and that is happening right now in my life?”  “Why would a supposedly all-powerful, all-knowing, always-present god allow bad things to happen to good people?”

33234652_640

All of these type of questions are really just asking the same question, “If God is REAL, why is he allowing (this) to happen?”  “Why doesn’t God seem to care?”

We are all tempted to ask questions about God’s presence in our lives.  But the Bible narrows in on our expectations of God and exposes a critical truth.  Instead of starting by pointing the finger at God, you and I should start by pointing at ourselves and recognize this deep spiritual truth about life as we know it.  ALL people and the world are infected with sin (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8).  The Apostle Paul made this clear when he wrote in Romans 3:10-12, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.  All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

The Word of God teaches a much different and much better question for each one of us to ask, “Why does God allow good things to happen to bad people?”  Despite the evil of the world, the wickedness of mankind, and the sinful nature of every person who sins against God in thought, word, and deed, God STILL loves us all!   Our Lord God, Jesus Christ, loved you so much that He died on the cross to take the full penalty and punishment of your sins away (Romans 6:23; John 3:16; Romans 8:1).  He did that so that you could one day leave this sin ridden world and spend eternal life forever with Him in heaven.   Until then, God could rightly challenge you and me, “If your love for Me is real, what are you doing to prove it?”

Evil may come upon us in this life, because we live in an evil and sinful world.  But we see the goodness and love of God, our Savior, as a light in this dark world. Those who love and trust in Christ, the Savior of sin, the Word of God in the Bible gives the confidence that He uses every evil thing that happens out for our eternal good (Romans 8:28).  While the Bible certainly uncovers the shameful sinfulness of mankind, it also reveals the undeserved goodness of God our Savior, Jesus Christ.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:6-11)

Now that’s good news.  No question about it.