Sunday, July 20, 2014

Thoughts From the Conventions - Friday

   Since I have already introduced this new "series" of publishing's, I shall continue into Friday's meditation with out further introduction.
   I sat down to wait for a friend to get back from chatting with another person. On the bench near me were three men talking so I listened to them for awhile. They didn't notice me until they were done talking and one of the men left the conversation. Then I was introduced to the group and I talked with them for awhile. It was when they had finished talking with me that one of the men hailed a young man that was passing down the hallway. The young man stopped and was introduced before the older men began questioning him. They asked him what he thought about the services so far and what he would like to see changed. I'm going to paraphrase his replies because I don't remember them word for word: "All they preach is grace, grace, grace. You sin, you ask forgiveness, you're okay, you go do it again. There's no heart change. That's why a lot of us aren't in there listening; because we don't agree with the way they are preaching." The older men looked slightly startled and I admit, I was rather surprised myself. I thought I was the only one who thought this way. When further questioned on what the young man would want to hear preached at the Conventions, the young man responded that he wanted to hear what he heard when he was younger. This being sins named from the pulpit and grace preached when a true repentance was made from the heart, not just when there was a confession made from the mouth. I told the young man that there were a lot of people who agreed with what he was saying, and he looked surprised to see that. He then had to go on his way, so the conversation was kept short.
   This conversation, as well as others with some of the youth, has really made me ponder. Why is our church this way? Here is a large group of people, ranging from 16 to 25, silently pleading and crying to God that the truth might be preached to them as it was when they were 5, 6, 7. We want the whole word of God, not just the grace part of it preached. Without sin, grace isn't needed. So I wondered and questioned others:

Is the youth as a whole being consulted when it comes time to ask the preachers who preach at the Conventions and the Youth Group?

Do the members that are organizing the Conventions care what the Youth Group wants?

If the members involved in organizing the Conventions don't want some of these older preachers (Dave Lappi, Paul Smallwood, Doug Coponen, Wilfred Sikkila, Ed Estola, etc) speaking at the Conventions, could they at least be called to speak at the Youth Group?

   We as a Youth Group whole are so often referred to as the future of the church. This is true in one aspect. But we are also right now the church. There are so many of us that come to church because we feel it is our duty. Then we come because we are seeking something. And then we leave, because what we are seeking we do not hear being preached. Is this really how a church should be? We should be joined together as members of one church, not as divided groups based on how liberal or conservative we feel the word of God should be preached. We shouldn't tell our preachers that they can speak that fornication is a sin but divorce is alright. That killing is wrong but planned parenthood is okay. That it's fine to fudge a little on our taxes but that stealing is a sin. No. We should let the men who stand before us speak the words that God gives them with all authority. (Titus 2:15) If we feel convicted, then we should examine our hearts before God. We shouldn't hush the mouths of those who preach to us, simply on the basis that we feel convicted. The Spirit is convicting you, not the man who is preaching to you. And it's the Spirit that the Youth want to hear. Will the church stand in the way of the yearning and desires of it's future?
   Dear God, please raise up amoung us strong men, zealous of Thy true and eternal Word. Give them all power and words to speak onto us, a fallen people, those things which Thou would have us to hear. Let them speak to exhort, rebuke, and teach us. Be their constant strength. Give them from Thy wisdom. Continue to keep us as Thy children, until we reach our eternal Home. AMEN.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Thoughts from the Conventions - Thursday

   For those of you who do not know it already, I am at the annual 2014 Apostolic Lutheran Church convention in Vancouver, Washington. It has thus far been a nice vacation. My dad drove me out here where I picked up a friend from the airport and together, we are braving the crowds. We have met a few new people and are hoping to meet even more before these services come to an end on Sunday night. There is a fairly large group from Scandinavia this year, amounting to around 70 people. Thus far, I have met quite a few girls and a few older people. Also, I've been able to chat with kamrat from Sweden who is pretty cool.
   So in view that these conventions are church conventions, I thought I would try a new thing this year. I have had many thoughts on the things that have been preached so I thought that I would share one for every night of the convention. I'll try to keep them fairly short and to the point...

Matthew 5:14-16

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.

We as Christians are called to be lights to this world that we live in. We should shine in this world; a goodly Christian example, a loving, kind people. We can not be lights to the world if we are in those dark places of sin, participating in those evil earthly pleasures. If we associate in those places and do those things which are sin, we are no longer a light to the world; we are no longer glorifying our Father which is in Heaven. (Matt. 5:16) We may feel that we are just one person; what can one person do? We may feel week, faint, tired. Our God is a mighty God! He is our strength, our light, our salvation, our example, our ALL! (Psalm 46:1, Psalm 62:1-2, Psalm 18:2-3) We may stand physically alone in our walk on Earth. We may never have an earthly friend to walk side by side with us to face our battles and be a light with us. We will be hated and persecuted for our beliefs and the lives we live. (Matt. 10:22) But we are never alone. No. Our Heavenly Father, the Good Shepherd, our precious Saviour is always by our side. (Heb. 13:5) He is there, even when we feel like our life isn't worth anything anymore. He is there when we are ready to sink and give up in despair. He is there, patient, tender, loving. Our light may not be as bright as we may want it to be, but our Father knows our hearts. He knows our desires and give to us as He knows best. We may feel worthless, as if we have no purpose on this Earth. God never makes a mistake. You may feel like you aren't known by anyone. You may feel like you live in a world in which you are invisible to everyone. God knows you. Don't give up! He is waiting for you to surrender ALL to Him. Let us work for Him, serve Him, listen to Him. Let us look up to Him, pray to Him, and speak to others of Him. Can we deny Him these actions? Will we deny Him these actions? He, who has gave His all, for us, poor defiled sinners? We may not know why we are on this earth, but He knows. Trust Him! (Prov. 3:5-6)