CPR – What to look for in a church

CPR – What to look for in a church

In this CPR episode, Pastors Mark Tiefel, Neal Radichel and Nathanael Mayhew all join together to discuss the topic of Church Attendance and how to find a church home. Why should we go to church? In church the Lord offers sinners His forgiveness through His Word and Sacrament. So when we are looking for a church, we should be looking for a place where His Word is proclaimed in its truth, not based on how close it is to your home or the programs which are offered. What about those who say “You don’t have to go to church to worship God”? We can see God in nature, but this is the natural knowledge of God which is limited and we need more than that. We need to have God reveal what He has done with our problem of sin, and that is only found in His Word. Consider this: If we don’t eat, we die. The same is true for us spiritually. If we don’t feed our souls with the Word of God as Jesus says we should, we will die spiritually! It isn’t enough to THINK about eating food if we are starving. We need to eat. Similarly, it’s not enough to think about going to church or reading God’s Word. We need to feed on God’s Word and receive His Sacraments to be spiritually sustained. The true Church is about substance, not about style. We shouldn’t pick a church based on what we want it to be, but what God wants it to be. That is what is important! “Preach the Word!” Paul says. The quality of what we take in is what is important. It is easier in an earthly sense to go the big church that has many programs but offers no substance. It is difficult to dig into God’s Word and compare what a church teaches with what God says in His Word. But it is very rewarding! Finding a church isn’t about the music, the programs, or even the pastor, but it is about how the church proclaims God’s truth. It is a lot of work to dig into the truth, but it is rewarding as we are pointed to Christ and the forgiveness He offers to us through the cross.

Tempered Independence

Tempered Independence

Proverbs 15:20 A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother.

This verse from today’s devotion caught my eye. I write especially for teenage readers, but it really applies to all. Remember that God still cares about how you treat your parents. So often excuses are given because of immaturity or naive oversight. But, in reality, there’s nothing complicated about the intent of the fourth commandment. One of the subversive, under-the-radar, dangers we face in our culture is the desire to be independent of traditional norms, no matter the cost. There is a huge push for personal independence; so much so that the sin of simple disrespect is often overlooked.

Yet, it still matters to God that you take into account your parents’ thoughts and feelings, no matter how unjustified you think they may be. Personal independence is not the end all, be all of life; it’s a process whereby an individual grows and matures; it’s never supposed to be the consummation of life. If you make changes or want to do things differently, think them through first. Have a reason for your change that is not just about your personal independence, or doing something just to stand out. It’s often those very decisions which you will most regret later in life, but I’ll also give you two more reasons why:

1.Your parents love and care about more than you give them credit for. It’s not a coincidence that in the previous chapter of Proverbs, we see this bit of wisdom, “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray(12:26).” Many are the ways of life that can lead you astray, and many are the people that will befriend you on those paths. Who you choose to spend time with matters. Who you choose to imitate matters. Your parents love you unconditionally, so much so that they would tell you things you don’t want to hear, knowing full well the reaction they’ll get for it. You simply cannot overstate the value of love like that.

2. Your parents are blood-bought souls of Christ. He came to earth to suffer and die for them, just as much as He did those things for you. He loves them just as He loves you. This means your parents are valuable to God; and if they are valuable to Him they should be so to you. You also know how it hurts and affects their faith when you rebel or change for foolish reasons, or for your own selfish independence alone. Perhaps more than any other relationship you have, the way you treat your parents will have a profound effect on their faith. Instead of being so quick to separate yourself from your parents, exercise Godly wisdom by seeking to build them up in Christ.

 

Word of the Week: AUTHORITY

Word of the Week: AUTHORITY

On this Presidents’ Day, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew digs into God’s explanation of the word “authority” in His Word.  In Romans 13 we are told that all authority comes from God. Authority given by God is to be used for the good, blessing and service of all involved. But it often doesn’t work out that way. Because of sin we often see abuse of authority in many areas of life. Proverbs 29:2 says: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.” The government is entrusted with authority over its citizens. In Romans 13:1-3 Paul writes: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.”
God has given those in government authority to be used for the protection of society and the punishment of evil. When government leaders do not carry out that responsibility, or abuse their authority at the expense of others, they will be held accountable by God (Consider the account of Ahab and Jezebel in 1 Kings 21). At the same time, it is the responsibility of citizens to obey those who are in authority in government, even when we disagree with them! The only time we have a God given right to disobey our government is when our government forces us, by its laws or actions, to go against the command of God. In such a case Peter says, “We ought to obey God, rather than men” (Acts 5:39). When our government forms laws in areas where God has not spoken, even if we disagree for good reason, we are commanded by God to submit to those who are in authority. We are also called to pray for those who are in authority. He writes: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:1).  Paul doesn’t say that we should only pray for those leaders we like or agree with. He says we should pray for “all who are in authority” so that we might be able to lead a life that brings glory to God through our words and actions.  Lord give us good and faithful leaders, and help us to be good and faithful citizens!

Bible Study – Interpreting Revelation

Bible Study – Interpreting Revelation

In a continuation of our introduction to the Book of Revelation last week Pastors Nathanael Mayhew and Rob Sauers tackle the issues of Biblical Interpretation that are important to solid, Biblical understanding of Revelation (as well as all the rest of the Bible). The literary structure of Revelation varies. The book opens in a way similar to other New Testament books, but the majority of the book is described as being figurative or symbolic in the opening verses. The events are real events, but they are described with picture language. Revelation is not to be taken literally, but literarily or depending on the kind of writing that is being intended by the writer. Some important rules of Biblical Interpretation include 1) The Bible interprets the Bible (use clear passages of Scripture interpret the less clear, not the other way around). 2) Don’t take passages out of context (of Scripture or the individual book or section). One example of bad Biblical Interpretation is found in Revelation 20 and the 1,000 years or “the Millennium”. Numbers in Revelation are symbolic, not literal. The pictures of the angel, the dragon are not literal either. Rather the 1,000 years refer to the New Testament Era (amillennialism). The first resurrection of that chapter refers to a spiritual resurrection (conversion) as seen in John 5:24-29. This does not indicate multiple physical resurrections as many millenialists say. The purpose of Revelation is to point us to Jesus and the victory which He won for us over sin, death and the Devil through His life and death. If we keep that in mind, the Book of Revelation is very easy to understand!

Be a Role Model

Be a Role Model

Although it’s been over ten years since I passed my driving test and received my driver’s license, I vividly remember one piece of advice from the instructor. He said, “Always be sure to use your turn signal, even if you don’t see any other cars. You never know who is watching.” This point of emphasis has probably stuck with me because I’ve been reminded of it often. Sometimes I won’t use my turn signal because I’m trying to dart out through the intersection quickly. Sometimes I just get lazy and don’t feel like signalling to other drivers. I know I’ve cut others off before because of these things. So much can happen so quickly on the road, it’s so important to remember that you can’t keep track of it all on your own.

I wish this principle was applied more often in other areas of life. Why don’t we make more of an effort to think about what we’re signalling to others? This is so obviously important in the example we set for others. We may think no one is watching, or paying attention, but oftentimes many are. As a sports fan I was reminded of this again in the past week as the topic of professional athletes as role models again came to the forefront. If you haven’t heard, there was an incident at Madison Square Garden, the famous arena where the New York Knicks play basketball. The incident involved Charles Oakley, a famous player for the Knicks in the 90s. For those who haven’t seen or heard it, the following video can bring you up to speed.

Now, I don’t know what the long-standing beef between was about. In a post-altercation retaliation, Oakley was banned from MSG, and the owner made comments about Oakley’s mental health and suggested he might have problems with alcohol. I don’t know about the validity or usefulness of any of those claims. What I do know is that what we witnessed on television (in the video above) was not normal, healthy, or appropriate. Oakley was eventually arrested, his actions were condemned, and he apologized privately. But, to me, the most concerning part of this entire episode is the present aftermath.

The latest from SportsCenter this morning portrayed Oakley like an underdog hero; someone willing to stand up to the billionaire white man. Former players are excusing his actions because that’s just the type of guy he is. He wouldn’t take any guff on the court so we can’t expect him to take any off the court either. In fact, just today, Oakley’s altercation was compared to the arrest and death of Eric Garner, an event that sparked social outrage. So, somehow Oakley now has become a symbol for social rights by getting into a fight in public and getting arrested. I don’t know what’s sadder; Oakley’s reaction or the media’s excusing and defending of it. Both of them set horrible examples. This doesn’t excuse the Knick’s owner at all, but no one is publicly defending what he did, even though it didn’t involve hitting anyone in public or getting arrested. Regardless of what the owner said or did that led to the altercation, there was absolutely no excuse for Oakley’s actions. Yet when they are continually pardoned in the public eye, people start to think it’s okay to act that way if you have a good reason for it.

Role models should be calm under pressure and never verbally or physically combative. Based on what I know about Oakley’s playing career and what I saw on the video of the incident, I wouldn’t be surprised if he did have anger management issues. Yet, today his actions are being lauded as honorable. Both things are sickening.

Here’s where the Christian’s calling comes into play. The Bible says nothing about fame being a requirement for mentoring and setting a good example yet so often we look to the rich and famous as role models. Rather, faith in Christ is the difference. When a person believes, he or she automatically takes up the mantle of bearing Christ’s name. This is so important and necessary because everyone to some extent, especially young people, desire to follow the example of others. Role models will be made even if you don’t show your faith. Don’t force young people to emulate professional athletes because they don’t see anything better in their lives. Take time today to help them see what makes an action right or wrong; don’t throw them to the media wolves to decide for themselves either. Above all, “let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful (Colossians 3:15).” When you act you may think no one is looking, but God always is, and usually many others are too.

Word of the Week: LOVE

Word of the Week: LOVE

As we approach Valentine’s Day, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew digs into the Biblical definition of the word “Love.”  The word love is one of the most well known words in the English language. Even young children express their affection by saying, “I love you!” But in English, the word “love” is based on our feelings – on how we feel about someone else. Think of that same young child’s declaration when they are told something they don’t like: “I don’t love you anymore.”  In the Bible love is not based on feelings, but is an attitude of service toward another, even those who are may be “unworthy” or our actions. Love finds its definition and source in what God has done for us as Paul says: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God didn’t wait until we were worthy of His love before He sent His Son to bear our sins. He did this while we were still the enemies of God (1 John 4:7-11).  The love of God was not based on His feelings, but based on our need and His promise. Secondly, God’s love shown to us in Christ Jesus gives us an example of how we are to love others. Christians are to love God (Deuteronomy 6:5). Husbands are to love their wives (Col 3:19). Wives are to love their husbands and children (Titus 2:4). And even more, we are to love our enemies (Luke 6:27-28,32-33).
Finally, Paul’s familiar words about love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is a description of true self-sacrificing love as demonstrated clearly by God to sinners through Jesus. Lord, help us to appreciate Your love for us in Jesus, and to show that same kind of love to You and everyone around us!

Bible Study – Revelation

Bible Study – Revelation

In this Bible Study episode, Pastors Nathanael Mayhew and Rob Sauers dig into the complex and comforting book of Revelation.  This last book of the New Testament was written by the Apostle John in the 90’s AD while he was exiled on an island called Patmos.  Here he writes to seven churches of the early church describing for them the visions which the Lord Jesus gave him to assure and comfort His church, both then and now.  Remember that that book of Revelation is a symbolic book as John describes in the very first verses, to these are not literal events, but symbolic descriptions of what would take place in the furture.  See our next Revelation podcast on the interpratation of the book for more information on thist topic.  The main message of the book is to show how God in Christ has defeated the death and the Devil and to comfort the troubled child of God with the hope of salvation int and through Christ.  Christ calls us to take comfort and to endure knowing that He is our strength and our redeemer! 

Word of the Week: ENMITY

Word of the Week: ENMITY

Today Pastor Nathanael Mayhew defines the word Enmity as described in Scripture.  Enmity or hatred is obvious in the world around us as seen in human interactions like political rallies or racial riots.  There are many differences between human beings, but Christians have been called out of the world and are to be different than the world.  They are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), and to love their enemies (Mattew 5:44).  Christians have been called out of the world, because the world is enmity against God (James 4:4 and Romans 8:7).  Christ came to bring unity, not just between those who believe in Him, no matter who they are or what they have done, but more importantly to bring peace between God and man (Ephesians 2:15-16).  This was the purpose for Jesus coming to earth as a man and living and dying for sinners.  He came to remove the enmity which stood between sinners and a just and holy God.  May that truth bring you peace and comfort in the assurance of your sins forgiven in Christ Jesus!

CPR – Baptism

CPR – Baptism

In this episode, Pastors Neal Radichel and Nathanael Mayhew discuss the topic of Baptism.  They cover many topics related to the form and function of baptism from Scripture.  First, God reveals clearly that Baptism is not a work of human beings, but rather the work of God (Titus 3:5-8).  God is at work through water and His Word to wash away our sins.  They talk about “Believer’s Baptism” the “Age of Accountability” and “Infant Baptism.”  Children are sinful and have Original or Inherited Sin and are in need of the cleansing which God offers through baptism (Psalm 51:5; Acts 2:39).  Scripture also reveals that children can believe (Matthew 18:6).  God’s work of faith is a miracle of His Grace, and it is no less a miracle in a child than in an adult.  Baptism, because it is an act of God and not depending on us, is a one-time act. There is no need to be rebaptized again and again because you have fallen into sin.  There is also a connection between Circumcision in the Old Testament and Baptism in the New Testament (Colossians 2:11-12) which point to the foundation for infant baptism.  Regarding the form of baptism they show that the idea of immersion in baptism is forced on the Biblical accounts of Matthew 3 and Acts 8 in particular.  The Greed word “Baptizo” means to “wash” and does not neccesitate washing by immersion.  What a blessing God has given to sinners through Baptism!     

Word of the Week: GOSPEL

Word of the Week: GOSPEL

As we contine in the Epiphany season, Pastor Mark Tiefel defines the word Gospel in the Scriptures.  The word Gospel is used so often in our society that it looses its meaning in the true Biblical meaning.  Literally the word means “Good News” or “Evangelism.”  Isaiah says that the Good News of Salvation is what the Gospel is.  Jesus is the fulfillment of this Gospel.  Jesus preached the Gospel and healed people from sickenesses.  There is a distinction between these two.  Paul says that the Gospel “is the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16).  The Gospel why we have the hope of heaven (Colossians 1:5,23).  The real Gospel message is not about prosperity here on earth or political or social causes, but simply about the forgiveness of sins through Christ.  Thanks be to God!