Posts tagged peace
Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’ “For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:31-34
Sequestration. noun \ˌsē-kwəs-ˈtrā-shən, ˌse-; (ˌ)sē-ˌkwes-\
1 the act of SEQUESTERING : the state of being SEQUESTERED – a jury in sequestration
2 a: a legal writ authorizing a sheriff or commissioner to take into custody the property of a defendant who is in contempt until the orders of a court are complied with
Until February 2013, I rarely heard the word “sequestration;” perhaps, I heard it a dozen times or so. And then, it was used in the context of legal matters. Since February, I have heard it countless times on radio, television, and internet outlets.
“Sequestration,” since February, has been the harbinger of government doom and gloom. Broadcasters used it to warn of pending government shutdowns, loss of health care, loss of civil services, and the loss of jobs for some folks. It almost took on an Armageddon-like meaning.
Many were, and are, anxious about the future of the US government’s ability to provide protections, services, and support for citizens. I, too, wondered what the consequences of “sequestration” would be. I am still waiting for the effects in my personal life. I suppose most of you are, too.
I find it easy to listen to the world. The message is very enticing. After all, I am a human being. I need health care; I need various government services; I am planning for retirement. All these things matter to me. So, I quickly grow anxious about the world’s concerns.
In the midst of anxious moments, God calls me back to His reality. His reality is not limited to government plans and programs or the whims of lawmakers, for that matter, it is not limited to space and time. His reality is rooted in the work of Christ. That work is about the reality of sin and the reality of His grace.
So, “sequestration” may cause a bit of anxiety; let not your hearts be troubled. Christ Jesus knows that we are but frail, anxious folk — fearful, weak sinners — and for us He died. He answered the cries of our anxious longings once and for all. Let the covenant that He made with you in baptism sustain you through every worry of mind, body, and soul. Amen.
Gregory K. Williamson
Chief Mission Officer – LCMS
The Fifth Commandment
You shall not murder.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.
The recent murders in Connecticut have spawned debates about the growing violence within American society. Debates include gun control, mental health, school security, and parental responsibility. Most experts recommend action by local, state, or federal governments to better secure our society—legislate new laws to protect our children, more aggressive intervention for the emotionally disturbed, more oversight by social welfare agencies, but few, if any, have addressed the acts of murder as a moral and spiritual problem.
Simply put, the experts do not include sin and the old nature. The Bible records the first murder in Genesis chapter 4, “And Cain talked about Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” Not long into mankind’s history do we encounter murder, and not much has changed.
The old nature’s inclinations are close at hand every moment of every day. Scriptures exhort the wise to flee temptation; yet, to flirt with sin is titillating and stimulates the worst within us. Even those who do not process evil from a Christian perspective recognize the danger of a society that inoculates itself to violence and stimulates the passions within by vicarious means.
Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, author of “On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society,” writes in 1996,
In video arcades children stand slack jawed but intent behind machine guns and shoot at electronic targets that pop up on the video screen. When they pull the trigger the weapon rattles in their hand, shots ring out, and if they hit the “enemy” they are firing at, it drops to the ground, often with chunks of flesh flying in the air.
Grossman goes on to say,
This new “pseudo reality” will make it possible to replicate all the gore and violence of popular violent movies, except now you are the one who is the star, the killer, the slayer of thousands.
He concludes by saying,
That force [innate rebellion against killing] has existed in man throughout recorded history, and military history can be interpreted as a record of society’s attempt to force its members to overcome their resistance in order to kill more effectively in battle.
Following the massacre in Connecticut, Lt. Col. Grossman shared his concerns about the desensitizing of our society to violence via movies, television, and video games. I, for one, appreciate his call for less violence within the media; however, what Grossman fails to see is what faith reveals. That is, the innate force within mankind is not rebellion against killing; but, on the contrary, the old nature seeking to satisfy bloodlust.
Without God’s intervention there would be no moments of safety, peace, and tranquility; rather, the constant world state would be violence, murder, and massacre. No human laws, ordinances, or constraints can check this “old Adam.” This is the tragic plight of humanity without the gracious intervention of God through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Another soldier, General Douglas MacArthur, references this innate propensity to violence and war in his speech at the surrender of the Japanese on September 2, 1945 and again in his farewell speech to congress April 19, 1951 where he said,
Men since the beginning of time have sought peace. . . . The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature and all material and cultural developments of the past two thousand years, It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.
MacArthur points to a solution to war and violence that is spiritual, a spiritual “recrudescence.” More precisely, and from a Lutheran understanding, it is only through the atoning work of Christ and the renewing of the Spirit that any has hope. This hope was given to us through the waters of Baptism where we were clothed with the righteousness of Christ—a true spiritual renewal.
In a society desensitized by violence, it behooves Christians to walk circumspectly, not in accordance with the wisdom of this world, but by faith. As St. Paul writes to the Colossians,
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
–Gregory K. Williamson
Chief Mission Officer – LCMS
 Lt. Col. David Grossman, On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, 1st ed., (New York: Back Bay Books; Little, Brown and Company, 1996) 314.
 Ibid., 316.
 Ibid., 332.
 General Douglas MacArthur, “Surrender Ceremony Speech,“ U.S.S. Missouri, Tokyo Bay, September 2, 1945, Radio broadcast to the world following the formal surrender of the Japanese.
 Colossians 3:15-18.
My Dear Brother Pastors!
Our Lord’s Apostle writes,
Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart!” (2 Corinthians 4:1).
Many issues can cause us to lose heart in the pastoral ministry, even (perhaps especially!) in this holy season. The devil seeks to divide us from one another in hopes he can divide some from Christ. Our sinful flesh in its pride seeks the place of honor at the expense of Christ. Brothers fail us, sometimes miserably. Our people won’t listen to us. The world doesn’t care about the Gospel. The culture is going to you know where in a you know what. The list of complaints can be as long as your arm! And they all involve sin.
Where are you right now? What are the burdens of your heart? How is Satan tempting you to lose heart? Where does your ministry tend to go off track? What are your secret sins? What do you see when you quietly and privately examine yourself?
One subtle deception common to every preacher is the impulse, when things are not going well, to go the way of the law. When people are not measuring up or things are not getting done, we are tempted to go back to the rules. We’ve got to find more principles to follow, guidelines for living the Christian life, instruction to take to heart, etc. – these are the watch words of this way of thinking.
But what does the law always do? Without fail? It will always accuse you, always show you your sin. No matter how you think you are using the law, it always shines the light of God’s perfection into the darkness of our sin. This, by the way, may be one of the reasons we are tempted to lose heart!
But Paul says we have this ministry by the mercy of God. It is not our doing, not our performance, but His mercy. As he writes, “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us… We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” (2 Corinthians 4:5-7, 10).
What does that mean? You are not the center. Christ is. You are not the driving force. Christ is. The Gospel’s power does not come from your cleverness, but from Christ. Without Him we are dead. Only in Him are we alive.
Let me simply encourage you, my brothers, in your preaching and teaching. Go over your sermons, your lessons. How many of them walk in the way of the law? How clearly do you bring your people the gifts of God in Christ? Preaching the law in a general sort of way is easy. Everyone does it. But preaching the law so as to kill that God can make alive in Christ – that’s difficult. And even more difficult is preaching the Gospel clearly so that it’s fresh, good news for your people. That’s because the Gospel is unlike anything else in the world.
God gives! It’s not our doing, but Christ. All our sins are laid on Him. All the issues that cause us to lose heart? He carried them to the cross. They drove Him into death for us. Killed Him so that we might live. And when God raised Him from the dead, He removed our sins from us, as far as the east is from the west. Jesus lives to say to you and me, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent Me, so I am sending you.” (John 20:21). It’s all gift, His gift to us and His gift to our people through us.
Now go preach that! It’s God’s call and your privilege. Go give away the gifts of God to your people. The law accuses and lays burdens. Jesus has come to absorb the accusations and lift the burdens. You are His agents, His servants.
Make sure the heart and soul of every sermon is the life of God in Jesus Christ. “What we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord.” Let the people see and hear Jesus through you – not only Jesus the example, but most of all, Jesus the Savior. Jesus the Life Giver. Jesus our Peace. Jesus our Joy!
Know also that Jesus carries you. It doesn’t depend on you. It all hangs on Him. Now “we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit…” (2 Corinthians 4:14-15a). He will provide you with everything you need to bring His Good News clearly. It’s all here in His Word.
That’s why, Paul says, “we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day… So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16, 18). You handle the unseen, eternal things when you proclaim life in Jesus’ name, when you forgive sins, when you give away His body and blood.
All the stuff that goes the way of the law is temporary. What is eternal is the unseen work of God in the hearts and minds of believers when they hear the Good News of Jesus from your lips. What is eternal is the change that only God’s Spirit works to bring life by the Word of Jesus, the Word you bring.
So we end where we began. “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart!” (2 Corinthians 4:1). Go preach it, my brothers! Preach Life in Jesus’ name – with passion and with joy! And remember, it’s for YOU, too!
You fellow preacher of the Living Christ!
First Vice President – LCMS