Sunday, April 15, 2018

MATTHEW LEVI CALLED IN MARK

This is a sermon I wrote this week.  This Easter Season I have been preaching through the Gospel of Mark as suggested by materials created by Dr. Phil Ruge-Jones, rather than the traditional Easter Lectionary Texts.  Thursday night, actually about 1 a.m. Friday morning, I woke and was unable to sleep after trying for an hour.  So about 2 am I decided that what I was supposed to do was get up and work on my sermon for Sunday (today).  I made a pot of coffee and worked on the manuscript from about 2 am to almost 5 am.  But with the coffee in me, it was 6 am before making my way back to my bed.  Then...winter storm hit and I made the call to cancel worship (which I have never done in 20 years as an ordained pastor).  So my middle of the night sermon didn't get delivered.  A colleague copied and pasted her sermon in a Facebook post.  And I decided after talking to colleagues more tech savvy than I am, that the cleanest way to share this sermon (which hopefully is worth reading, or maybe preaching at a later time) that I wrote in the middle of the night is on my blog (even though it has been inactive).
The Mark Gospel text is Chapter 2, verses 13 to 17.  Last week's sermon was on the first 12 verses of chapter 2.  The Second Epistle Lesson is 1 John 3: 1-7, which is helpful to know because I reference it in the sermon.  Thank you for reading it.  I am open to constructive criticism.  A couple last things.  The prayer is from the movie "First Knight" and we use it when we hold a Knighting ceremony for our youth.  The song we were going to sing following the sermon was "Just As I Am."  As you can tell, there was a baptism scheduled.  Here it is.


MATTHEW LEVI IS CALLED IN MARK
Please pray with me: May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be holy and acceptable to You, King of the Universe, and Dearest Friend.  Amen.
      Jesus called the strangest people.  Last Sunday morning I mentioned that in the early part of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus had been very busy.  Our lesson this morning follows immediately after our lesson from last week, the healing of the paralyzed man.  But first Jesus had called four fisherman to be disciples: Andrew and Simon (who we know as Peter), and James and John.  Fishermen.  Now, I love fishing; I’m just saying that they make an interesting (translate strange) first choice.  Now, immediately after healing the paralytic, he went back to the lakeshore – the same place where he had called the four – and he taught the people. 
      Now the sermon is over, and Jesus and the four are walking back into town.  As he’s walking back into town, Jesus approaches the tax booth where Levi is sitting, assessing and receiving tax money from the people of Capernaum.  And Jesus slows.  It’s like in a horror movie, where you want to yell at the screen, “Don’t open that door!”  But then she inevitably opens the door.  Walking with Jesus we want to warn him, “Don’t do it Jesus!  Not Levi!  For the love of God, not Levi!”  And he stops.  You shake your head.  “He’s going to do it.  I can’t believe he’s going to do it.”  And he does.  “FOLLOW ME.”
And Levi stands up, pulls the curtain, and immediately follows Jesus.  So strange.  Jesus calls Levi precisely “for the love of God.”  But…
“He’s a tax collector!”  Of all the people to call.
      Tax collectors in Judah (the southern half of what was Israel) were Jews, hired by the Romans to collect taxes for Rome.  So, first of all, they were collaborators with the enemy, the occupying army.  Second of all, the way they became rich was to impose rates much higher than the Roman tax, collect it with armed Roman soldiers at their back, and keep the difference.  Today, we have a word for that.  Extortion.  Tax collectors were slime.  Tax collectors were not allowed in the Temple in Jerusalem.  They were not allowed in the synagogues, the churches.  They were more than excluded.  They were hated.
      You know that one of the things I love about studying the Bible is that I continue to learn new things as I read it and prepare to preach it.  I am enjoying using The Gospel of Mark during the Easter season instead of the assigned Gospels this year.  I shared with you three years ago my characterization of The Gospel of Mark.  MARK IS STARK!  But I’m seeing how strange it is in places, like this one this morning.  What’s strange?
The story doesn’t end with Levi following Jesus.
Levi “follows” Jesus…to Levi’s own house!  That’s strange.  The next scene is Jesus reclining at table with Levi and his friends.  Not surprisingly, the tax collector’s friends are, well, tax collectors.  So now we’re up to our armpits in tax collectors!  I say “reclining” because people back then did not sit in chairs at the table to eat.  They leaned on pillows on the floor with a low table in the middle.
      Now the church leaders are upset: the scribes and the Pharisees.  They are experts in The Hebrew Bible, what we have as The Old Testament.  They also feel called.  They are called to keep and impose The Rules.  Now notice, they don’t go to Jesus with their complaint.  They take their complaint to the disciples: 
“Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
“Tax collectors” in this complaint is redundant, because they are the worst of sinners. 
      I shared last Sunday evening the influence that the work of Dr Leonard Sweet has had not only on my preaching, but on my understanding of the culture in which we live, and where this is heading.  He has a pretty great summary of The Gospels: Jesus ate good food with bad people.  There you have it: our lesson today from The Gospel of Mark.  Eating is actually a bigger deal in The Gospel of Luke.  I like to think of Luke as The Lutheran’s Gospel.  There is always food involved in Luke.  But in our Lesson today from Mark, Jesus is eating good food with bad people.  Why?  He told them.  “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
Now this is as strange to Levi as it is the church people.
“Jesus wants me?”  ME?  It is a strange and wonderful thing to be called by Jesus.
      But…it’s at this point that commentators and pastors are tempted to get warm and fuzzy.  This morning, let’s take a closer look at The Call.  First, what were they called FROM?  Peter and Andrew left their business, their livelihood, their future security, and followed Jesus.  James and John, fellow fisherman, did the same.  They left the security of the family business.  Remember, the call of the disciples is eerily similar to the call of God to Abraham.  Abraham was called by God.   “Go that way.  Not telling you where you’re going.  Not telling your when you’re going to get there.  Not telling you what you’re going to do when you get there.  That way.”
And the Apostles?  “Come this way.  Not telling you where you’re going.  Not telling you when you’re going to get there.  Not telling you what you’re going to do when you get there.  Come follow me.  This way.”
      Levi was hated, and excluded from the synagogue and Temple.  But…he was rich.  He left it all.  He left with nothing but The Call.  Over a three-year period he would come to learn what that meant.  Jesus taught them:
“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
      And what were they called FOR?
Some of us are old enough to remember Paul Harvey.  Hear now, “the rest of the story.”
      Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Lutheran pastor and martyr in Germany in World War II wrote the powerful book, “The Cost of Discipleship.”  The subtitle of the book I have shared with you before: When Christ calls a man, He bids him, ‘Come and die.’   Christ called Levi and Levi did.
Levi is better known to us as Matthew.  Matthew wrote the Gospel which appears first in our New Testament.  Only Matthew shared the Marching Orders Jesus gave before ascending into heaven at the right hand of the Father:  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.  And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Jesus called Matthew and chose him.  Matthew went, and taught, and died sharing the truth of Jesus.  He was executed for following Jesus’ call.
Why did Jesus call such a motley crew?  Again, I have gained direction and focus from Dr. Leonard Sweet.  Jesus did not call leaders.  Jesus did not call them to be leaders.   Jesus did not call me to be a leader.  He wasn’t looking for leaders.  He’s still not.  Then, as now, Jesus is looking for followers.  Dr. Sweet makes this point in his book, “I Am a Follower.”  He leads.  I follow.
      Jesus came to establish a kingdom.  It is a kingdom where all are loved; all are welcome; all are included.  But it is a kingdom with a King.  Following includes leaving.  It is and will always be Good News, that Jesus wants us as His subjects in the new kingdom.  He chooses us.  But when we answer the call, we become MUCH more than Jesus’ subjects.  We never stop being subjects of the King.  But we receive much more.  We become His brothers and sisters, adopted into the family of God.  This morning God adopted Jerret into that family.  As he grows in years, we the family of God gathered as Eleva Lutheran Church, will help place in his hands The Holy Scriptures and help to provide for his instruction in the Christian Faith.  That is from the Rite of Baptism in the Green Hymnal: The Lutheran Book of Worship.
God brings us into the family of God. 
The choice for us – is to live in it.
Just as we are – we come.  But God does not leave us as we are.  Love works.  Love works on us. 
We offer not only what we have, but what we are, in grateful devotion for all that He is making us to be. 
We are his subjects.  We are his children.  WE ARE HIS.
Did you hear it as Alyssa read it?  The amazing promise?
See what great love the Father has for us, that WE should be called “children of God.”  And we are God’s children now.  It does not yet appear all that we will be.  But this much we know.  When he returns, and he will come back, we will be like him, for then we shall see him just as he is.
Let us pray: God grant us the wisdom to discover the right, the will to choose it, and the strength to make it endure.  Just as we are – we come.  Amen.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

"Come quickly, Lord."  Revelation 22: 20

I come and check on my blog from time to time.  I am grateful for all of you who took the time to read through my posts, whether you agree with me or not. My purpose in this blog was not to offer yet another opinion online, but rather to lift up The Creeds and the Lutheran Confessions, and comment upon them as authority in The Lutheran Church.  I think this is a particularly important time to do that as the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther presenting the 95 Theses is upon us.  I am beginning Dr. Martin Marty's book, "October 31, 1517: Martin Luther and the Day that Changed the World."  

Long introduction to say that the other reason I am posting is to let each of you know that this entire blog (absent this post) is available now in WORD document form as a whole.  If you would like the WORD document, you can contact me at lauva1956@gmail.com, and I will gladly send it to you.  As the 500th approaches, I am reading through my blogs 30+ posts in my morning devotional time, along with "Martin Luther: Day by Day We Magnify You", daily readings from the works and sermons of Martin Luther, which I have been working through since Advent last.  Blessed Reformation to you all.

"I thank my God in all my remembrance of you..." Philippians 1: 3

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

TRUTH HAS BEEN ABUSED…
Formula of Concord, Part II, Solid Declaration:
10 For that reason necessity requires that such controverted articles be explained on the basis of God’s Word and of approved writings in such a way that anybody with Christian intelligence can see which opinion in the controverted issues agrees with the Word of God and the Christian Augsburg Confession, and so that well-meaning Christians who are really concerned about the truth may know how to guard and protect themselves against the errors and corruptions that have invaded our midst.
The Summary Formulation, Basis, Rule, and Norm, Indicating How All Doctrines Should Be Judged in Conformity with the Word of God and Errors are to Be Explained and Decided in a Christian Way
1. We pledge ourselves to the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments as the pure and clear fountain of Israel, which is the only true norm according to which all teachers and teachings are to be judged and evaluated.
2. Since in ancient times the true Christian doctrine as it was correctly and soundly understood was drawn together out of God’s Word in brief articles or chapters against the aberrations of heretics, we further pledge allegiance to the three general Creeds, the Apostles’; the Nicene, and the Athanasian, as the glorious confessions of the faith—succinct, Christian, and based upon the Word of God—in which all those heresies which at that time had arisen within the Christian church are clearly and solidly refuted.
3. By a special grace our merciful God has in these last days brought to light the truth of his Word amid the abominable darkness of the papacy through the faithful ministry of that illustrious man of God, Dr. Luther.
Book of Concord: Preface:
6 Mindful of the office which God has committed to us and which we bear, we have not ceased to apply our diligence to the end that the false and misleading doctrines which have been introduced into our lands and territories and which are insinuating themselves increasingly into them might be checked and that our subjects might be preserved from straying from the right course of divine truth which they had once acknowledged and confessed.
I have read quite a few articles lately sharing opinions about how it is that Donald Trump became the President of the United States.  Several of those articles claim to take us back to the beginning.  They don’t.  To go back to the beginning, we need to begin with Truth.  I have sort of been studying, in the sense of trying to understand and come to grips with, the implications of Postmodernism since it first smacked me in the face on the campus of a Lutheran University in the Sociology Department in 1975.  I began reading the works of C. S. Lewis at almost exactly that same time.   In C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, he began from the trend he was seeing already in WWII 40s.  He began by addressing the concept, the philosophy, of relative truth.  He began his lectures (which became the book) by addressing the fallacy that there is no such thing as objective truth.  (Anyone with philosophical training recognizes immediately that the statement that there is no such thing as objective truth, is itself a truth statement claiming objectivity.  It is self-refuting.  Yet the snow ball got ever bigger as it rolled down hill.)  Later, in The Abolition of Man, he took it further, taking on the concept directly as it spread across academia in England.  Lewis predicted the end of culture as we know it if the trend went unchecked.  Finally, in his Epilogue to The Screwtape Letters, “Screwtape Offers a Toast”, he applied this trend to politics (false understandings of democracy) and education, through the lecture of a Lieutenant in the Infernal Organization of Hell.  For those who want the end at the beginning: Truth Matters.
The progression goes something like this.  What I believe is true, is true, because I believe it.  If you do not believe it, then it is true for me, but not true to you.  What you believe is true, is true for you.  Most of you already see how we got to where we are.  Younger generations are beginning to see: If everything is equally true, then everything is equally meaningless.  What C. S. Lewis predicted in Abolition, is that truth, so defined, cannot stand against propaganda, rhetoric, manipulation.  The better the manipulation, the better the control. 
Five Iron Frenzy wrote at the turn of the Century: “truth has been abused.”  Switchfoot wrote well before the Facebook craze of “fake news”, “We’re Selling the News.”  The bridge of Switchfoot’s powerful song is particularly enlightening: When nothing is sacred, there’s nothing to lose.  When nothing is sacred, all is consumed.  We’re still on the air, it must be the truth.  We’re selling the news.
The sad irony is that the postmodern mindset was promoted by what is generally understood to be liberalism.  (It goes by many different names now.)  It was open and tolerant.  It never judged between true and false, right and wrong.  UnChristian found that the new favorite Bible verse among young adults was Jesus’ statement, “Judge not.”  (Totally taken out of context, of course.) Even George Lucas pointed the way in “Return of the Jedi”.  “What I told you was true, from a certain point of view.”  But what C. S. Lewis warned was that no one could predict who would be the best at manipulation; who would be the best at rhetoric.  But someone would be.  Eviscerated truth, thus weakened, could not stand.
Can you see how pointless “fact-checking” is in such a system, such a culture?  It’s true because I believe it.  And if social media is actually flooded with “fake news”, who is equipped so sift?  The issue is Truth.

C. S. Lewis, in his conclusion, saw hope in the possibility of a redeemed Science that would reach the mature conclusion, “Because something can be done, does not mean that it ought to be done.”  But that assumes that “ought” and “ought not” have meaning.  Perhaps our hope is in young adults who have recognized that if everything is equally true, then everything is equally meaningless?  I want to give credit to Dale Beran for his article, 4chan: The Skeleton Key to the Rise of Trump.  He takes us back to the beginning of 4chan and the young adult males who began it.  They responded in desperate nihilism, or anarchy.   My point in this post is that it goes WAY back before that.  But what if instead, young adults began to question whether there is in fact something that is “really true” and thus, “really false” as well.  What if the search for that which is objectively and universally true became a “thing”?

I close with two Bible references.  For St. John, Truth began as a Person.  Jesus is referred to as such in his Gospel account.  But over time, as false teachings entered The Church, truth came to be understood also as true teaching, true doctrine.  In St. John’s first letter he used the words truth or true eleven times!  His second and third letters are quite short - only one chapter each.  Yet in these two chapters he mentioned truth six times and true teaching two more!
John 17: 17-19: (Jesus prayed) 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

Truth matters.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Updating "About Me"
I have recently gone back over my blog posts.
As I have mentioned, the blog is not active anymore because my purpose was to promote "Mere Christianity" (C. S. Lewis) through The Confessions, and not focus on what makes Lutheranism distinct from other Christian denominations.
I went back to my "About Me" first post, and decided to post a short blurb announcing that as of January of 2015 I have been serving Eleva Lutheran Church, in Eleva Wisconsin, part of the Northwest Synod of the ELCA.  I was introduced to Eleva by a colleague in ministry who grew up in the congregation when his father was pastor here.  I am grateful that many have continued to come to my blog post as a reference on Christian issues I covered over the year and a half that I was actively posting on The Lutheran Confessions.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Martin Luther describing himself: "I am rough, boisterous, stormy and altogether warlike.  I am born to fight against innumerable monsters and devils.  I must remove stumps, stones, cut away thistles and thorns and clear away the wild forests."  He referred to himself as "a man of war."  Here is the third person description of Luther: His words are battles.  He overwhelms his opponents...."
Phillip Schaff quoting Luther in “The History of the Christian Church.”

It has been some time since I have posted.  I wanted to explain again why I have stopped.  It has been gratifying to me as I have shared this link with others how many have now come to read what I have written in looking at The Lutheran Confessions.  I believe that this is a pivotal time in The Church of Jesus Christ, and also for The Lutheran Church in its many denominations.  As you know, I began this blog because I was disturbed by trends in my denomination, the ELCA, moving away from The Lutheran Confessions, and in so doing, away from the oath that we took as pastors.  There has been some discussion of removing the provision in the Oath as it relates to the Lutheran Confessions.  But this has not occurred.  As I type this, the commitment to preach and teach in accordance with the Lutheran Confessions remains part of the oath every pastor takes as part of ordination.
The purpose of this blog was to set forth not what makes Lutherans distinct from other denominations, but rather to set forth those provisions in The Lutheran Confessions which assert what it means to be part of the universal Christian Church.  This is what C. S. Lewis referred to as "Mere Christianity."  And that is the best explanation for why I stopped my posts some time ago.  This blog was not intended as an ongoing exposition of "my brilliant insights."  It was intended to set forth what Melanchthon intended, that The Augsburg Confession would not define what it meant to be Lutheran, but that it would define what it meant to be Christian, part of The Church Militant awaiting The Church Triumphant.  It was more of a treatise than a journal.
Thank you for walking this path with me.  If you have found these posts helpful, I encourage you to share them, with the caveat that it is not intended as an ongoing blog, but a statement of things that needed to be written.  
Someone should say that the emperor has no clothes.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

"I ain't afraid of no ghosts."

"The second is this: evil spirits have introduced the knavery of appearing as spirits of the departed and, with unspeakable lies and cunning, of demanding Masses, vigils, pilgrimages, and other alms."
Martin Luther, Smalcald Articles, Part II, Article 2: The Mass.

I came across a discussion on whether there is a Lutheran position on ghosts. I remembered this passage from Luther, as it was something I had stumbled across while researching other references in The Lutheran Confessions for this blog.  I was really surprised when I saw it, because I had actually been teaching this for about 20 years, before being ordained and before finding the citation.  I think this topic is more important than the attention generally granted to it.  My wife, Anita, pointed out, "Isn't it the position of Martin Luther?"  "Yes, in fact it's in the Confessions."  "Then blog on it."  Anita is in charge of common sense in our home.

If you have been following this blog then you know I believe in angels and demons, and why.  If not, the post on angels and demons is below.  My last post was on spiritual warfare.  Luther understood spiritual warfare well, maybe as well as anyone can since the First Century.  He could see that demons masquerading as the ghosts of those dead would be a logical tactical, strategic ploy to bring confusion.  The experience would be very real, and thus accepted outright by the person experiencing it.  But having an experience is not in itself an explanation of what it is.

We can't be sure what happens when we die.  Some references in Scripture support "soul sleep" without consciousness until The Resurrection.  Some references of Paul support our spirit leaving the body and going to be with God in Christ in Paradise.  What is not supported is that the ruin of the human (C. S. Lewis' description in his "The Great Divorce") exists on earth in a see-able form that can interact with its surroundings.  Yes, the Witch of Endor called up Samuel.  But she called him from "the place of the dead."  He was not just hanging around.

The story is told of a shrine built in what is now France to the Archangel Michael for his veneration.  I came across it during research for a St. Michael and all Angels festival sermon.  The monk built the shrine after the archangel Michael appeared to him and told him to build the shrine and to promote his veneration far and wide.  This the monk did - both.  That wasn't Michael!  How do I know?  It's not that hard.  Jude wrote that when Michael confronted Satan over the body of Moses he would not even condemn in his own power or name, but rather challenged, "The Lord rebuke you!"  Michael means "Who is like God?"  The question is rhetorical.  No one.  The Revelation to St. John makes it clear that angels reject veneration outright.  But there is one spiritual being we know of who does in fact seek the veneration and devotion due only to God.  

I am convinced that Luther was correct.  I do not doubt for a moment the experiences people have that are understandably attributed to ghosts.  But having an experience is not in itself an explanation of what it is.  If Luther is correct, the reason for such a deception would be to deceive on the nature of life, death and eternal life (as opposed to "afterlife"). That is why the discussion is worth having, and that is why it is important to keep God's Word in the place where it belongs; in the center.  Getting this wrong can have dire consequences.  

But we are never alone.
"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.  By this you know the Spirit of God; every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God.  This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it is coming, and now it is in the world already.  Little children, you are of God, and have overcome them; for he who is in your is greater than he who is in the world."  I John 4: 1-4 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Where are the Warriors for God today?

"Nothing is so effectual against the devil, the world, the flesh, and all evil thoughts as to occupy oneself with the Word of God....  This, indeed, is the true holy water, the sign which routs the devil and puts him to flight."
Luther's Large Catechism: Preface.

"Then comes the devil, who baits and badgers us on all sides, but especially exerts himself where the conscience and spiritual matters are at stake.  His purpose is to make us scorn and despise both the Word and the works of God, to tear us away from faith, hope, and love, to draw us into unbelief, false security, and stubbornness, or, on the contrary, to drive us into despair, atheism, blasphemy, and countless other abominable sins.  These are snares and nets; indeed, they are the real 'flaming darts' (Ephesians 6:16) which are venomously shot into our hearts, not by flesh and blood, but by the devil."
Luther's Large Catechism: Lord's Prayer

I am teaching on spiritual warfare during adult study this fall.  In addition, I am knighting two of our youth in The Rite of Knighthood next month.  So my thoughts drifted to spiritual warfare, and I decided to post again on spiritual warfare.

BTW.  I was shocked to see over 3330 hits.  Thank you all for taking the time to read my posts.  As you know, I don't want this to be just my opinion, but The Confessions, The Creeds, and most of all The Word of God.

My post title comes from the monument to Jan Hus in Prague, Czech Republic.  Anita and I began our Luther tour as part of my sabbatical in the summer of 2011 in Old Prague, to begin with Luther's predecessor, Jan Hus, father of the Moravian Church.  We were at the monument and I was looking around the shops for a mini of it.  A man asked me, "Was he a good man?"  (Atheism is prevalent in former Soviet Czech Republic apprently.)  I answered, "He was a great man."  Back at the monument I bumped into a young tour guide and asked her to translate the inscription around the monument for me.  She translated, "Where are God's Warriors today?"

The back story for this is that when the ELCA came out with a new hymnal, several hymns from the Green Hymnal were "conspicuous in their absence."  Gone were "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "Stand up, Stand up for Jesus."  The compilers changed a word in "Lift High the Cross" and removed an entire verse.  I think they would have pulled "A Mighty Fortress" but they did not dare.  The idea is/was that these are too militaristic and triumphalistic to be in the hymnal.  But assuming Paul wrote Ephesians, and I do, he made it VERY clear in Ephesians 6: 10 et seq. that we are not fighting people.  We are fighting demons.  It is spiritual warfare against spiritual beings using spiritual weapons (II Corinthians 10).  

OK now the irony.  Clif Christopher, the stewardship guru, came and did a presentation in our small town thanks to the United Methodist Church in town.  (UMC pulled the hymns as well.)  Clif Christopher told the story of being on the ground in "Desert Storm" against Iraqi soldiers.  He ended his story by asking, "Where are God's soldiers today?"  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.  We have gutted virtually all references to spiritual warfare in our new hymnal.  We aren't training any.  Adult Study this fall will be on spiritual warfare.

None us of have time to go through the LEGION of verses in the New Testament on spiritual warfare and it's seriousness.  Nor do we have time to go through all the hymn references.  Suffice it so say that "A Mighty Fortress" is THE hymn on spiritual warfare; and it will never be excised because it is "A Mighty Fortress."  Read the words again.  Listen as you sing them on Reformation Sunday.  (We are opening with it before our Rite of Knighthood, followed by: "Onward Christian Soldiers", "Stand up for Jesus" and "Lift High the Cross" - in the original un-depleated version.)

OK:  just a few.
II Corinthians 6: 7
II Corinthians 10: 4-5
Ephesians 6: 10-20
II Timothy 4: 6-8
James 4: 7
I Peter 5: 5-9

"In battle we'll engage!  His might is doomed to fail; God's judgment must prevail!  One little word subdues him."  (The little word btw is: JESUS!)
Fight on.