Christ Lutheran Church Stover, MO
Christ Lutheran Church
Saturday, May 25, 2019
Loving GOD Through Worship and Service
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Pastor Tuura

 

That I May know Him

 

By Rev. Tom Tuura

Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church


May is a busy month. Why? One word—graduation. If that isn’t enough, it's usually confirmation. Add to that field trips, track and field day, and outdoor high school sports. Tired yet? We’ll lay low here under the water tower. It's time to take a look at our theme for 2019. From our January Focus article, The theme for 2019, Lord willing, “That I may know Him...” zeroing in on discipleship and spiritual gifts based on Phil 3:10. (The theme for 2020 “...His truth endures to all generations.” based on Psalm 100 verse five.) Test question: Who is known as the Father of nations? For this year, the basic premise centers around the word ‘know’. But really, how well do you know Him; I mean really know Him, His Word, His church, His people? After ordination in early summer of ‘87, the ministry that I experienced was different from that of my home church from day one. I’ve seen this change in every church I’ve served since. So, put a marker beginning sometime in the early ‘80’s. It appears the same was true here under the water tower. As we’ve stated, the last time this church averaged 200 per Sunday was 1980. By 1990 the average was in the 140’s. And by ‘93 it was down to 125. My home church is a mere shadow of the 350-400 people of what it was in 1980. What was happening? Good question. All I know is it seems lives became suddenly many times busier. But it's more than mere numbers. It was like an invisible revolution was taking place. The church was being displaced. And the cumulative cost is what we see today in the generations now who don’t really know who Abraham is. The irony is, we live in a time of the most abundant quantity and quality of biblical content. We have more biblical material in our pockets than anyone of any time or place. How about you and me as individuals? Are we declining? Or are we growing? Let’s grow! Let’s not continue the decline. Let’s seek the Lord through His Word and Sacrament. Let’s set aside time to pray, as we set aside time for fitness and our diets. Let’s put them to work in our church. Let’s put them to work in our homes, and lives. So it begins with our heart. Jesus says in Revelation 3:20, “Behold I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears my voice, opens the door I will come in to him sup with him and he with Me.” He says to the church again, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” (Rev. 2:4). Spiritual decline, for whatever reason, has only one outcome slavery or captivity. Liberty comes only from God’s hand. We learn from the captives in Israel following their ultimate rejection of God’s ways, and slavery in foreign nations. Jeremiah 29:11-13 says to the captives, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” So once the decline in our spiritual lives is arrested, through repentance and action, then we can move forward into freedom. Hence our theme for the year. “That I may know Him.” from Phil. 3:10. Knowing Him, involves the personal, or the heart as just stated. But it also involves the head, i.e. head knowledge, the hard work of study—lessons. I’m talking about school. The absence of biblical knowledge and doctrine are also part of the decline, of a people and need to be reversed. We as adults and our young children need biblical teaching. Our precious baptized children desperately need the “milk of the Word” as they grow, day by day. All Lutheran theologians agree on the need of the Baptized child. As shared in our Focus Newsletter in October ‘17 issue, baptized children need to grow in their relationship with the Lord. Nobody teaches that the Sacraments work apart from faith. What that means is our young children need to be brought up in a Christian home, introduced to Christ by their parents, and taught the Bible. Their unconscious faith of infancy needs to grow into a conscious faith of childhood and adolescence. Left alone many, or most will fall away into the world. In the strongest terms, it's not automatic or assumed. All parents need to grasp this soberly. The efficacy of Baptism is real. And so is the need for a real conscious understanding and nurture of that relationship. As adults, we recognize that there is an expectation of continuing education within our careers, both formalized and individualized. Several places in the NT it calls the believer to be growing in their faith. Hebrews 5:12-14. Then there is 2 Timothy 2:15 “Be diligent to show yourself...” Instead, many adults perhaps aren’t sure of their personal faith, and can’t list even a few of the Ten Commandments. So what should the average church member know? Adult and confirmed church members need foundations in these areas: General Bible Knowledge/Biography Old Testament, New Testament Bible Stories of faith e.g. Noah, Abraham Gen 1-11 contains all the major biblical doctrines of the Christian Faith. Lutheran Theology Creeds and Augsburg Confession Sin, Grace, Repentance, Salvation, Law and Gospel, Redemption, Doctrine of God, Trinity, Holy Spirit Church History/Reformation Fellowship. The Bible says, we are not to forsake assembling together, Heb 10:25. This knowledge then affects our morality and what we allow in our homes, on our screens, and in our hearts. So let us agree that the 21st century member of Christ Lutheran Church is a perpetual student. It seems overwhelming. But we can start together. Here’s the good news. All of this content is available online or through our church offerings. Parents, have you decided what your children need to know for their education? I know what the answer is, because I know what my answer was as a parent. I trusted it all to the school and the church. And because we’ve left it all to institutions and their curriculum, we’ve never had to think about it. The change since the early 80’s is really putting the squeeze on our traditional programs of Sunday School and other educational offerings. We, like most churches need to decide where our Sunday School is going. We may never recover the church programs of our parents and grandparents. That’s survivable if we can replace them with equivalent learning. If not, we, like the Israelites, will end up enslaved in a foreign land—and not have a clue who Abraham is.

 

"That's My View From The Blackberry Patch Pulpit" 

-Pastor Tom Tuura