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golter's musings

Confusion Abounds...Theybies?

August 10, 2018

When the Chief Architect’s design is not followed.

There’s (another) new trend unleashed upon the already confused country about sexuality.

Instead of shouting in the delivery room, “It’s a boy!” or “…a girl!” now, “It’s a THEYBIE!”

That’s right. Don’t thrust upon the little one a gender. One needs to protect these little ones from the harmful stereotypes of males and females, boys and girls. (Look up “theybies” and “Emily Zanotti,” for further reading).

Activists are evangelizing this approach: Sex is not “assigned” at birth but self-assigned in later years. This separates gender from bodily reality.

Ryan Anderson, in his 2018 “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” (Encounter Books) writes: “The best biology, psychology, and philosophy all support an understanding of sex as a bodily reality, and of gender as a social manifestation of bodily sex. Biology isn’t bigotry. Every human society has been organized around a recognition that men and women are different, and modern science shows that the differences begin with our DNA and development in the womb. It is true that men and women differ among themselves, and that some people have difficulty identifying with their bodily sex. But this doesn’t mean that sex is fluid or subjective…” (pp. 2-3).

Boys are boys, and girls are girls. God said so. He made them and continues to make them. “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them,” (Genesis 1:27).

God—the Father, Son and Holy Spirit—remains Creator, the designer of His creation which He called “very good,” (Gen. 1:31).

In and through God’s very creation He asserts His goodness and, in the marriage pattern itself of the groom and bride, He shows His deep love. Christ as the Groom and the Church as His Bride, who the Groom spilt His own blood to make her holy (Ephesians 5:25-27).

Raise little boys as boys, and little girls as girls, as God made them, body, mind and spirit. No confusion here, simply going along with the Creator’s design. The Father knows best.

Oh, and baptize them into the forgiveness of sins and teach them God’s Word of life.

Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

A New Logo

August 2, 2018

Take a look at Trinity’s new logo that is pictured above. What do you see?

Yes, the “T” is replaced with a Cross.

What does this mean?

It’s a reminder that all our work here at Trinity, from the preaching and teaching to caring and listening centers around the Cross of Christ. Without Jesus, we would be lost.

The Cross as the “T” in Trinity teaches something else. The Father will only be known through and by His Son. And, it is His Son who went to the Cross as the sacrificial Lamb. Jesus is the “image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15); in Him the Father’s heart is revealed to us.

The Cross is the lens through which we view the Trinity. God is totally selfless, as He sacrificed His Son on the Cross for everyone, and everyone is undeserving. The Cross reveals the surprising love and generosity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This Cross, Jesus’ Cross, teaches a selfless and sacrificial life of every Christian. It also teaches the selfless attitude owned by Trinity Lutheran ChurchSchool; it’s one ministry (note the two words joined together) that serves, cares, sacrifices and proclaims the Christ who pressed His flesh to the Cross.

Watch for the new logo in such places as the bulletin inserts, letterhead and mission cards.

Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

Every Sunday Holy Communion, And The 10:30 A.M. Divine Service

July 26, 2018

Inviting others over to the house for dinner is a generous gesture. It means friendship, an opening for discussion and sharing burdens.

How much more so when invited to God’s House and, to His Table for the Lord’s Supper! What sinners desperately need often is the forgiveness of their sins. God knows and accommodates, setting up His Supper in His House.

Luther writes in the Large Catechism. “We must never regard the sacrament as a harmful thing from which we should flee, but a pure, wholesome, soothing medicine that aids you and gives life in both soul and body. For where the soul is healed, the body is helped as well,” (Part V, par. 68).

The elders and I have discussed and studied this great Gift, as well as our great need of it often. Presently Trinity offers Holy Communion on the First and Third Sundays of the month, along with the days of the festivals, Christmas, Transfiguration, Easter, etc.

The Bible urges a continual, repeated and frequent offering of the Supper. “Keep doing this in remembrance of Me,” (1 Cor. 11:24). The Holy Spirit does not say every day, every other day, or even once a year. “Often” teaches the need of the Supper for every sinner, letting the hunger of a Christian be the deciding factor.

The new Luther’s Small Catechism (2017) says:

Christ has not specified a particular timetable but invites us to come often to this Sacrament on account of the gifts He bestows here and our own great need. In the New Testament, the Sacrament was a regular and major feature of congregational worship, not an occasional extra (Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 11:20, 33). This practice continued in the church, and in Reformation times our church celebrated the Sacrament “every Lord’s Day and on other festivals” (Ap XXIX 1). (p. 329)

Beginning the weekend of September 8-9 this Fall, the Lord’s Supper will be offered in every Divine Service. The individual’s own hunger and desperate need will determine whether to partake of the Lord’s Meal.

To accommodate this change, the 10:30 a.m. service will be changed to 10:45 a.m. on Sundays. This change will help greatly with our Sunday School hour, where requests have been made for a longer time to teach the Bible to God’s children, big and small.

Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

You Need the Holy Spirit

June 21, 2018

The first question is why? Without the Holy Spirit, you will not understand the Bible (John 16:13) or believe in Jesus.

The main work of the Holy Spirit, according to Jesus, is this: “He will bear witness about Me,” (John 15:26). He doesn’t speak or bear witness about Himself. One professor explained: “The Holy Spirit is the undercover Person of the Holy Trinity; He does not like attention.” The Holy Spirit’s work is to preach, bear witness, and testify of Jesus Christ, the Truth. And, Jesus is eternal life.

Here’s the second question: How does one receive the Holy Spirit? God gives the Holy Spirit through Holy Baptism (Acts 2:38), which is the Holy Spirit’s work as well as the way He is initially given (John 3:5, “born again of water and the Spirit”).

Initially given, what does this mean? Once God gives you the Holy Spirit, don’t you possess or own the Holy Spirit permanently? No, you possess the Holy Spirit as little as you possess the light of the sun, or the oxygen that you breathe. The Holy Spirit is God; He cannot be possessed, as little as a wife owning her husband and his love.

The Holy Spirit must be received continually and repetitively, just as one needs to keep breathing to receive oxygen to live. As oxygen keeps you alive, so does the Holy Spirit, by giving you Jesus Christ.

How do you receive the Holy Spirit continually? Through the Word, read, preached, sung, meditated or prayed. Paul writes in Galatians 3:1-5 that you receive the Holy Spirit by the hearing of God’s Word.

God also gives His Holy Spirit through His Supper, Holy Communion. The Word and also Holy Communion are God’s necessary “spiritual food” for this earthly pilgrimage, where you “drink of the one Spirit,” (I Cor. 12:13). Jesus gives you Himself in the Supper; the Holy Spirit is giving Jesus through the Supper.

What does the life of the Spirit look like? His children meditate and pray His Word, in the morning—bible devotions—and weekly, in the Divine Service. Paul teaches this in Ephesians 5:18 f. “But be filled with the Holy Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns…making melody to the Lord with your heart…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Believers are filled with Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit, through the Word and the Holy Sacraments.

How silly—reckless and dangerous—if one does not attend to breathing? The same is true for a believer not paying attention to their church attendance and Bible reading!

Naïve is the Christian who holds to the fact that “I still believe,” but abandon God’s way of keeping them spiritually alive.

Luther writes:

‘But I am a Christian; I believe; I am baptized; and I can talk all about it too’—and we become presumptuous and lazy spirits, who do not ripen but fall like a wormy fruit. ‘No,” says Paul [Eph. 5:15-20], ‘we were not called and baptized in order that we might be careless, lazy, negligent, and do nothing, even though you may say, ‘I am a believer; I have the Gospel.’ Rather, he [St. Paul] says: ‘You should take heed that you do not snore and sleep, as if you could be saved even with your presumption and dissolute [wild and wicked] life: ‘It will do not do me any harm. I am a Christian; the remission of sins is such a great thing that now [sins] are no great matter (Luther’s Works, 58:295).

This is why you need the Holy Spirit.

Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

Happiness Hour

June 15, 2018

Seeking happiness is a common pursuit by everyone. Bars invite customers to their Happy Hour. Churches have a “Happy Hour,” also.

It’s called the Divine Service, where those gathered by God meet His Son through the Word and the Sacraments, and hear of their sins forgiven.

Now, I have nothing against bartenders and their profession. But think with me, can you even imagine how many confessions the bartenders hear, night after night after night? What is likely absent, most likely absent, is an Absolution. “God has forgiven you in Christ.” I suspect some have said, “I wonder if you should go see a pastor.”

Happiness is elusive unless you discern what your true problem is. Right away in the Divine Service, the Holy Spirit teaches the gathered to confess sin, but not in the way Adam and Eve did it. Adam blamed Eve; Eve blamed the serpent (Genesis 3:8-13). You know the routine so well, me, too. Bottom line: sin is the problem, yours and mine. We can’t blame others.

One theologian labels this living by faith as “calling a thing for what it is.” No skirting the truth, I am the sinner. “The” is purposeful, because it follows what the tax collector said to God in church, “God be merciful to me, the sinner,” (Luke 18:13). The English translation misses the definite article, by putting an “a” before sinner. No. The tax collector wasn’t looking right or left to make comparisons with other sinners. He was not one sinner among many. He was the sinner. He simply knew—he knew!—that he was unworthy.

Jesus says of the tax collector, “This man went down to his house justified, rather than the other” (Luke 18:14). God’s word forgave this sinner because of the shed blood of Christ. The tax collector went home justified, that is, happy.

Happiness is elusive to those who play the blame-game, as Adam and Eve. Happiness is also not found by those who don’t know the cause of their unhappiness. One must know to whom to go and where to find Him, His words of forgiveness.

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,” (John 6:69), are words stuck right between the Epistle and Gospel readings in Divine Service Setting One, pp. 156-157 of the Lutheran Service Book.

Perhaps, we should call the Divine Service the “Happy Hour.” It would take some explaining…

You might take a peek at the Trinity church sign for the next few days. I wonder what it says?

Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

Serving the LORD Grows on You

June 8th, 2018

“Serving the LORD Grows on You.”

The veterans of the Cross, those who’ve been through the ups and downs of the Christian life, they give wisdom. We better listen.

The words above are from Margaret Duling, who also is pictured above, 90 years young, who spoke these words to Trinity’s eighth-grade class.

She added: “Whatever you do, make sure you are involved in your church. I didn’t know I would like volunteering and being involved in the church until I started doing it…It’s something that grows on you and becomes a family thing. Being involved in the church is so important because you know what’s going on in the congregation, and you get to meet so many people.”

“There was no one to do Altar Guild, so I decided to do it.”

So far, Margaret Duling, pearls of wisdom for us younger believers to ponder.

St. Peter writes: “The end of all things is at hand…As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace,” (1 Peter 4:7, 10).

The “end” of which he writes is God’s Second Coming to bring all His saints home to the new heaven and new earth. Since all sins have been done to by Jesus’ death and resurrection, believers do not need worry about the certainty of their salvation; it’s been done by God.

So what should we do? Margaret’s and Peter’s words describe: serve, help others, in this is profound joy.

Two big needs presently for your prayerful consideration here at Trinity:

1. Youth – The Lord moved Tony Dixon, our Director of Christian Education, to Cedar Rapids; he oversaw the youth. We have a marvelous Youth Ministry Team presently working and praying. A big opportunity is for someone—individual, couple—to lead and work with our Youth Ministry Team. Consider the cultural prophets who daily attack, attempting to cause God’s youth to doubt His sure and certain Word. What an opportunity!

2. Work Club – What is this? Glad you asked. A big need: for someone to lead and/participate in a volunteer group to address weekly facility needs: leaky faucets, tightening chairs, replacing lightbulbs, etc. A church in south Denver has a group of volunteers who gather every Tuesday morning for coffee, solve the world’s problems, and then attacked the list of needs.

What about you? Remember Margaret’s words: “Serving the LORD grows on you…I didn’t know I would like volunteering and being involved in church until I started doing it.”

What about you?

Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

To know the true God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

June 1st, 2018

Martin Luther of the 16th century writes in the Large Catechism: All who are outside this Christian people, whether heathen, Turks, Jews or false Christians and hypocrites…do not know what His attitude is toward them. They cannot be confident of His love and blessing, and therefore they remain in eternal wrath and condemnation. For they do not have the LORD Christ, and, besides, they are not illuminated and blessed by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, (Large Catechism, Part II, par. 66).

Luther’s words merely reflect Jesus’ own preaching: “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God,” (John 3:18).

Luther’s other points are worthy of reflection. Those who do believe in Jesus are richly blessed. They by faith in Jesus own a child-like confidence in the Lord’s love. They are confident in God’s attitude toward them. They don’t live life as if the other shoe is about to drop. They don’t live in fear of what God’s thinks of them. For they —we — know that there is no condemnation from God toward us because of our sin (see Romans 8:1).

Believers in Jesus also live without a grumpy edge but with an attitude of graciousness and joy, a gentle and burden-less spirit. Believers in Jesus don’t see the Divine Service as a “have-to” but a “get-to.” We get to meet the One, live and in person, who daily and richly forgives us of all our sins. Believers eagerly gather for Bible Study, summer, fall, winter and spring. “My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to Your word!” (Psalm 119:25).

Such a blessed life does not stop here. There are those who don’t know or have this privileged living, those who are broken by their sin but who do not own the knowledge of the Savior.

God has put Trinity here at this time and place, with every person part of the churchschool, to live and enjoy these rich blessings from the Lord.

Secondly, Trinity is here to be “the light of the world. A city set on a hill…,” (Matthew 5:14). Jesus goes on to say, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to Your Father who is in heaven,” (Matthew 5:16).

Such blessed living is not by compulsion at all, in any way.

An empty feeling remains, just like the Thanksgiving dinner without all the kids and grandkids. We do own—as the Savior does—a lively awareness that His family is not yet full. Jesus preaches: “Go quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame,” (Luke 14:21b).

Thus, we live and so we work.

Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

How to hink at Trinity: Let's go

May 24th, 2018

Here’s one proposal on how we should think? Oh, my, what shall we do? The Lord has blessed us, but look at all of our overwhelming needs:

  • Parking lot needs resurfaced
  • Youth ministry leader, we need one badly, now!
  • Roof repair, likely over $200,000
  • Assistant principal, via the experts, this is needed after an enrollment of 200; we have over 400!
  • Exterior painting of the Lord’s House
  • Two called teachers for the school….like now!
  • Youth space…now!
  • Lots of children—big and little— who need and want to know Jesus now!
  • What shall we do? Soon we’re paralyzed as a churchschool, and the devil rejoices.

    Remember Jesus’ testing question of Philip in John 6:5, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” Before Philip and Jesus were far more than what we call the Feeding of the 5000 miracle; experts estimate the crowd as over 20,000!

    Philip responds of course from what resources they had. “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” (John 6:9).

    Philip forgot the greatest resource, Jesus. So do we. We have Jesus, as He speaks in the Divine Service and feeds us as the Bread from Heaven in the Holy Communion. We have Jesus as a Co-worker.

    One little note in the text (John 6:6). John writes that Jesus “knew what He would do” before He asked Philip the question. Jesus asked in order to provide Philip the opportunity to trust Him.

    This is our opportunity to trust. Let’s not forget about our greatest Resource.

    “Pastor Golter, we have so much need; it’s overwhelming!”

    “We do, but we have Jesus. We’re His co-workers at Trinity Lutheran ChurchSchool. He’s got plans. This kingdom work is worth our very lives. Others need this Jesus.”

    Let’s go.

    Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

    Church Growth

    May 17th, 2018

    Post Easter sermons have focused on The Book of Acts. I remain in awe over the Holy Spirit’s witness.

    At first glance, this is a conundrum: Should this book be called the Book of the Apostles or of the Holy Spirit or of Jesus Christ?

    Experts argue. I side with the title as we know it: The Book of Acts.

    This Book is a beautiful description of the ACTS of God and His Church; it is the one act revealed in many actions. God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, behind the scenes is working His way, converting, sustaining and adding believers to the family of God. Do you really think God would leave the care of His Church to us? He knows His sheep.

    Foundational is the Divine Service (Acts 2:42), and then the Lord’s work of growing His church. “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” The verb “being saved” is in the present tense and passive voice. This means that God is the active One currently and in an ongoing fashion saving sinners; sinners are being done to, worked on, and saved by God through the Word. The Apostles and believers were proclaiming, but God is tenacious, as a mother hen (Matt. 23:37) in His ongoing work.

    We rejoice in God adding and confirming His people this Sunday at Trinity Lutheran ChurchSchool:

    8 a.m. New Members received.

    9:30 a.m.: Reception for all New Members since January. Please come, meet and greet in the Fellowship Hall. (The Hebrews' study won’t meet).

    10:30 a.m.: Junior Confirmation. The Holy Spirit’s work will be evidenced in the confession of these marvelous children.

    Please keep in your prayers our ongoing search for two more teachers for our “mission” school. Yes, these little ones God uses to go home and tell of Jesus!

    Simply loving and rejoicing over God’s work here with you.

    Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

    Jesus' Best Work With You

    May 10th, 2018

    You don’t want to hear this, really you don’t.

    You have to admit it, reluctantly.

    Jesus’ best work within you were those times when you were helpless, hopeless, going nowhere to nowhere.

    He first brings you low, so He will raise you up. He doesn’t need your help.

    Consider Moses.

    God had a plan for Moses. How else can you explain the “daughter of Pharaoh,” and her discovery of Moses in the basket, in the reeds? Must have been karma! So goes the commentators of today for some “chance” event.

    Yes, it’s a denial of the One who is meticulous, even in the care of sparrows (Matt. 10:29). We don’t realize the absolute, gracious reign of God in life, all life.

    So Moses. He was trained in the Oxford’s of his day, speaking both Egyptian and Hebrew. He saw how his Hebrew brothers were enslaved. He saw one day an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, “one of his people,” (Exodus 2:11). He believed he was the deliverer of his brothers, so he took things into his own hands. He murdered the Egyptian, and then buried him beneath the sand.

    Deliverance of His people was on God’s mind, too. He would do it through Moses, but not with a knife. And not with this man who went by his power and intellect. Moses needed seasoning, that is, he needed to be broken. What about you?

    God takes him to the desert for grooming, that is, for a complete dying of all self-confidence, self-strategy, self-reliance….self.

    Forty years. Among the sheep. In the desert. Forgotten and powerless.

    Now, he is ready to visit Pharaoh. Who would have planned redemption of Israel this way? Only God. That’s the point.

    Moses needed to be older. He was now 80, not 40. He needed the strength of a weakened body to realize the power of Christ, in life and in death. God equipped him with the necessary tools: Staff and His Word. Nothing more.

    Has God changed His operational pattern? No. The prime example—and it is most glorious and disgusting—is the Father’s bringing low of His Son. Crucifixion. Capital punishment. Nakedness. Crowned with shame. Burdened with your sin.

    Brought low by His Father and raised gloriously the Third Day for your redemption. Deliverance through crucifixion. Thus, the pattern for His own, you. You’re baptized into Him. You’re His, wherever He leads. In your vocation. He uses you.

    You won’t like His way. No power, prestige or strength. Life in Him is though most glorious. “O Lord, you lead and I will follow.”

    Must be karma directing my life! No.

    It’s the Lord Christ doing His normal, daily activity.

    Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

    Advice for Preachers

    May 3rd, 2018

    Oops, Golter, you better watch out what you write! It may come home to roost.

    That’s OK, of course, if the shoe fits well…

    Jesus preaches a spectacular sermon in chapters 5-7 of Matthew. Famous are His words in 5:13. “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”

    A first take: Jesus accurately diagnoses the world; it needs salting. The world is rotten and corrupt, the world and every one. No exceptions. The world needs salting.

    Luther comments on what the salting process is: The real salt is the true exposition of Scripture, which denounces the whole world and lets nothing stand, but the simple faith in Christ (Luther’s Works, 21:59).

    He then applies this to the preacher: If you want to preach the Gospel and help people, you must be sharp and rub salt into their wounds… (21:56).

    This rubbing of salt exposes wrong teaching or living; this is the preaching of the Law which accuses. He goes on to write about a problem in his day, the sixteenth century: Preachers no longer rebuke the people or show them their misery and incapacity or press for repentance…Thus they let their self-made sanctity and self-chosen worship take root so deeply that the true doctrine of faith is destroyed, Christ is lost, and everything is ruined, utterly and hopelessly (21:56-57).

    Here’s a real temptation for preachers: There are many temptations…the temptation of keeping quiet either to escape harm and persecution or to gain popularity, property, or pleasure. Besides, we are weak, lazy, and listless…we get tired when we see things do not progress as we would like…

    What is the preacher’s confidence? More Luther: We must all be well armed…and look at nothing but the commandment of Christ. He entrusts this ministry to us and wants us to open our mouths vigorously, to denounce what must be denounced, heedless of our own danger, inconvenience, advantage, or pleasure, and of other people’s malice or contempt. Our consolation is in the fact that He makes us His salt and will sustain us in our salting. He commands us to do that salting with good cheer, regardless of whether the world refuses to tolerate it and persecute us…Let Him determine what and how much He wants to accomplish through us (21:58).

    Your pastors need your prayers and expectations of this kind of salting. Pray this for them: boldness, courage, and steadfastness in salting. Demand this from your preachers.

    Demand it. Jesus does.

    Otherwise you might remain in your rottenness and be deceived.

    Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

    Two Wills Inside the Believer

    April 27th, 2018

    Consider St. Paul’s own words.

    “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate,” (Romans 7:15).

    He describes two desires, two wills and, it is very frustrating.

    Realize, these words come from St. Paul after conversion. Before he was converted, he says unbelievers are “enslaved to sin” (Rom. 6:6), “controlled by sinful passions “(Rom. 7:5),” are “enemies” of God (Rom. 5:10), and “hostile to God,” (Rom. 8:7).

    In the believer, this old sinful will remains, and it hates Jesus. In the believer, there is also the new will created by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel, it loves Jesus. The believer has two wills, two opposing wills.

    What is the Bible’s answer to this civil war? Paul says, “Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:25). Paul goes to the Gospel, remarkable!

    He doesn’t say, “I’ve got to try harder.” “I need a ten-step spiritual program to get better.” He goes straight to the Gospel, the Good News of Christ. We all need the Champion in whom we believe and trust. He fights for us. “For it is God Who works in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure,” (Phil. 2:13).

    Thus, God brings a person to faith and keeps a person in the faith by the power of the forgiveness of sins in Jesus. Even in the believer, however, the new man’s will is very weak.

    Our Confessions state: “The converted do good to the extent that God rules, leads, and guides them with His Holy Spirit. If God would withdraw His gracious hand (through the Word) from such people, they could not for one moment remain obedient to God. If this passage [2 Cor. 6:1] were to be understood as if the converted person cooperates alongside the Holy Spirit in the way two horses draw a wagon together, this interpretation could not be tolerated without damaging divine truth,” (Solid Declaration, Art. II, Free Will, par. 66).

    Oh, how weak even the new will!

    Where does this leave us? In good hands, His.

    Thanks be to God that Jesus has already won the battle, defeated all evil, the devil and the sinful flesh. The Father so chooses to see you only in Jesus, forgiven, restored and declared holy.

    Breathe easy…and fight by faith in Him.

    Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

    It’s So Hard to Stick to the Text – A Follow Up

    April 19th, 2018

    I was going to consider a person’s will after conversion this week. This topic of no free will, however, is good for further reflection. Consider this simple truth: The Holy Spirit doesn’t want you to take His work of conversion away from Him to you.

    Why? Is the Holy Spirit jealous? Yes, for He is your Comforter (Ex. 34:14; John 15:26). To take on His role of conversion places some dependence upon you. That’s trouble. How reliable are you? According to God’s Word, not at all. The Bible teaches: “None is righteous…no one understands, no one seeks God,” (Romans 3:10b – 11). No exceptions.

    Here’s a general biblical rule: Any time a demand is placed upon you, you bear the burden of doing it. The result is NO COMFORT, for the burdens rest upon you to come through! Here’s the Good News: Conversion is all God’s work. Relax.

    Hear how the Holy Spirit puts it. “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except but by the Holy Spirit,” (1 Cor. 12:3). “By the Holy Spirit” is very clear; there’s no mention of a decision for Jesus.

    Hear how the Holy Spirit uses the language of birth and re-birth in describing conversion. Jesus preaches to Nicodemus, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God,” (John 3:3, 5). The Spirit also says in 1 John 5:1, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.”

    We have two boys, Jacob and Caleb. What did they do to be born? Nothing. What did you do to be born? Nothing.

    The Holy Spirit calls conversion, believing in Jesus, as a second birth, being “born again.” What did you or I do to be spiritually born again? Nothing. The Holy Spirit through the Word did it. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ,” (Rom. 10:17).

    The Lutheran Confessions comment on this verse, “For it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” They state: “This precious verse is very comforting for all pious Christians who feel and perceive a tiny glimmer and longing for God’s grace and eternal salvation in their hearts. For they know that God has ignited this beginning of true godliness in their hearts and, moreover, that He wants to strengthen them in their great weakness and help them, so that they may persevere in true faith to the end,” (Solid Declaration, Article II – Free Will, par. 14).

    Let’s rejoice and be comforted!

    Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

    Stick to the Text: No Free Will

    April 12th, 2018

    It’s so hard, so hard to stick to only what God says.

    This is most certainly true when it comes to the topic of free will.

    Is a person able to choose to believe in Jesus? In all my years of pastoral care, this issue remains a challenge for so many.

    We believe that as we choose to which Whitey’s we travel to get an ice cream cone, so we have the free will to choose Jesus. The Bible does not support this belief; the text does not say this.

    What does the Holy Spirit say? Coming to Jesus is His work, not a person’s will. Christ says:

    “The natural person (unbeliever) does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned,”

    (1 Corinthians 2:14).

    “Natural” may be translated as “unspiritual.” To say that the “unspiritual” person cannot “receive” or “accept” teaches the impossibility to choose Jesus. The Spirit describes the state of the will before conversion as hostility, “enemies” (Rom. 5:10); the human will in spiritual matters is “dead” (Ephesians 2:1). Dead people can’t resurrect themselves. God must do it; that’s the biblical teaching.

    Jesus preaches in John 6:44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” John uses “draw” later in his Gospel describing Peter’s pulling or “drawing” the full net of fish to the shore—153 of them. The fish did nothing to be drawn; their weight actually resisted Peter’s pulling. The will before conversion actively pushes against the Spirit’s work of conversion.

    Is there a free will in spiritual matters? No.

    Does the person’s will help God convert them? No. The will is dead.

    This is why Lutherans do not have altar calls or ask people to come forward to make a decision for Jesus. The new Small Catechism states:

    “This is why Lutherans do not speak in terms like ‘making a decision to accept Jesus,’ instead emphasizing the Holy Spirit’s work of calling us and bringing us to faith through the Gospel. When Jesus says, ‘Follow Me,’ His Word, by the Holy Spirit, has the power to turn us from our sin and to move us to trust Him and follow after Him. See Matthew 9:9; John 10:27-28),” (p. 197).

    The assumption that people are able to accept Jesus by their choosing is wrong biblically; the Holy Spirit teaches differently according to the text. Coming to Jesus is all God work, for which we gladly give Him thanks and praise. “I believe in Jesus, because He converted me.”

    What about the role of the will in a believer, once the Holy Spirit has converted them? Wait till next week for that discussion.

    Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

    Do You Know a Mrs. Dean?

    April 6th, 2018

    Likely not, at least the one to which I point out in the title. Everyone in my Freshman English class feared Mrs. Dean. She required a spelling test every Friday. If you weren’t prepared, well your heart pounded out of your chest. Do you know a Mrs. Dean in your past?

    Mrs. Dean's raised the bar, required hard, difficult and necessary work. I credit Mrs. Dean for my spelling skills to this day.

    Do children need a Mrs. Dean today? Yes. So do you. Laziness, selfishness, lack of discipline, and a me-centered culture all lead to a collapsing country and unhappy children.

    (Please note the pinwheels on Trinity’s church lawn. Thank you, seventh- and eighth-graders from the school and Dr. Barb Harre! They highlight National Child Abuse Prevention Month. As they say, “All children deserve great childhoods…”)

    The Holy Spirit has something to say about the practice of life. Through the Apostle Peter, He writes: “For this reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue…” (2 Peter 1:5).

    “Virtue” may be translated “excellence.” Christians are to show forth excellent living, that is, moral living. The power is the faith given in Holy Baptism and the ongoing reception of God’s Gospel of the forgiveness of sins. The power of the Gospel compels believers to live resurrected lives.

    Moral living is patterned after the One who visibly walked it, Jesus. Compassion, other-centered, forgiving, praying, and working. This one Savior saves and is also the example.

    Moral living does not add to faith, as if it brings additional help to trust in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Rather, it displays the generosity of our generous Benefactor, who supplies all that we need.

    William Bennett, in his 1993 “The Book of Virtues,” writes about practicing virtue. He refers to Aristotle as one who emphasized that “habits make all the difference. We learn to order our souls the same way we learn to do math problems or play baseball — through practice,” (p. 22).

    My folks had this habit: Every weekend we went to church, without fail, except for two weekends a year: opening duck and pheasant hunting season. When I went off to college, guess what I did on Sunday mornings, even if I stayed up to 3:00 in the morning? You guessed it.

    Trinity ChurchSchool is God’s place to deliver His unexpected gifts of forgiveness and the Holy Spirit; it’s also a training ground for developing a Christian habit of life, displaying godly virtues.

    Who’s your Mrs. Dean?

    Better, be a Mrs. Dean to the children, with discipline and holy habits. They’re not going to learn it from this American culture.

    Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

    Extra Nos

    March 29th, 2018

    A Latin phrase, it means "outside of self."

    Elizabeth and I saw "Paul, the Apostle of Christ" last Friday. I was expecting a historical narrative of Paul's preaching and teaching, going from town to town, as the Book of Acts shows.

    Rather, this movie is of Paul's imprisonment in Rome and the absolute frailty of the small Christian church in Rome.

    The Christians were constantly under attach, terrified of Nero's accusation of the burning of Rome. Nero's soldiers were out to identify and arrest them.

    Division arises within the Christian group: some say, "Let's take up arms and rebel, let's kill the soldiers and Nero; others, let's fight with love, as our Lord did." Some of the young men did choose the sword but were killed. Others did not choose the sword and were killed.

    What was Paul's advice? He often says in the movie, "Christ says...." It was impressive. I like it. I often say, "Well the Bible says this...." I think for American ears, the Bible is a suspicious source. Whenever you and I say the Bible, ears shut down.

    Why not try, "Jesus says...." or "God says...." or "Jesus Christ says..." when engaging with others? Let's see their response. Of course, we can then lead them to the Holy Scriptures.

    Jesus speaks two ways: "Thus it is written..." (Luke 24:46), and as God Himself, "But I say to you..." (Matt. 5:22, 28, 32). There are many more examples.

    Whether we say "Jesus says..." or "The Holy Bible says..." both point to something outside of us, they point to God Himself and His writing.

    Luther did the same thing when arguing with Ulrich Zwingli (October 1-4, 1529), as to whether Christ's real and true Body and Blood is present in, with and under the consecrated bread and wine.

    Zwingli taught that the Supper was just a memorial feast, thinking that it was not rationale to believe otherwise.

    Luther, however, after writing "This is My body" in Latin which he had written with chalk on the table, says, "This is our Scripture passage...'This is My body.' I cannot pass over the text of my Lord Jesus Christ, but I must confess and believe that the body of Christ is there." (Herman Sasse, This is My Body, p. 207).

    The Scripture says, Jesus says, this is our highest comfort on this Maundy Thursday.

    By faith, we look, watch and give thanks to the One who has saved us from our sins, apart and outside of our contributions or efforts.

    By the way, go see the Paul movie.

    Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

    Why Don't We Sacrifice Animals Any More?

    March 22nd, 2018

    It's a good question, is it not?

    Why do we have a "blood-less" Divine Service?

    Well, actually we don't have a "blood-less" Divine Service, because Jesus' blood - and body - are present in the Holy Meal (Mt 26:26 f., Mk 14:22 f., Lk 22:14 f., John 6:53 f.; 1 Cor. 10:16, 11:23 f.).

    Oh, yes, the Divine Service lacks animals' blood, but not God's blood!

    This helps calculate biblically not only no more dietary restrictions, as you find in the OT (Lev. 11:47), as well as no more tithing as a law, as you find in the OT (Numbers 18:21,24; Deut. 14:22, 27, etc.).

    The New Testament does not reinstate dietary restrictions or the tithe. Jesus and Paul had ample opportunity to reinstate both but do not.

    Paul teaches freedom, and to push back against those who want to push dietary or any other kind of restriction. "Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ," (Colossians 2:16-17, emphasis mine).

    The Hebrews teacher uses "shadow" also: "For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near," (Hebrews 10:1). See also, "They serve as a copy and shadow of the heavenly things," (Hebrews 8:5).

    The contrast is between the shadow of a person and the real person. The "shadow" is cast by the body beneath the sun light. The shadow is not the real body! The OT restrictions were the "shadow," the coming of Christ is the real thing. The shadows find their completion and end in the coming of Jesus, the Sabbath rest, the blood sacrifice, and all giving. All the demands find fulfillment in Him!

    It was in Wyoming when we lived on a farm at our first congregation. The sun was sitting to the west over the mountain ridge. Walking eastward with our oldest son, Jacob, he suddenly cried out. "Daddy, I see your shadow!" Then he tried to step on it.

    Then I realized the Holy Spirit's teaching of shadow and the Old and New Testament teaching. If Jacob followed my shadow, he'd find his daddy. Once he found his daddy, why would he ever go back to the shadow! Once Jesus is here, God made visible, why would we ever go back to the shadow of the Old Covenant!

    The NT Divine Service is no shadow, but in the Lord's Supper the real, true Blood and Body of the one, final Sacrifice. This reality causes all kinds of freedom and exuberance, in living by faith, where the only restriction is love without measure.

    Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

    Our Father...

    March 15th, 2018

    Stunning it is how Jesus authors the "Our Father" by not stating "My Father."

    A popular opinion is that religion is just between me and Jesus.

    I don't need anyone else, and they don't need to know what I believe. Jesus does not agree.

    He needs you to be part of His family; in fact, you are His family through baptismal splashing and simple faith in Him.

    Christianity knows no "me and Jesus" mentality. Of course, one believes in Christ, but the motion does not stop there!

    Christ is always gathering more like you, more broken, restless and bruised sinners who need His help. Christ's intention - and always has been - is the more the merrier! And, heaven rejoices (see Luke 15:10)!

    The "Our" of the Lord's Prayer shows that this is not a solo practitioner religion! You are not drawn to the Divine Service gathering for self-improvement, and then leave without any word or relationship to those He has also gathered.

    His "Come home" words means: "Come home to Me and My Father, and all the others who need me." He takes you on His back, the one which owned the stripes of your salvation.

    Of course, one prays alone (see Jesus' teaching in Matt. 6:4-7), but the Father doesn't keep you there. The motion is always toward the group, the church, Jesus' brothers and sisters gathered before the Father! Again, the more the merrier!

    Those who stay home or who come and remain alone are deprived of the joy and fellowship of the many. It's like the one child who remains in their room, not wanting any fellowship with the family.

    No, we're in this thing together, with Jesus and Our Father. There's reason why Jesus penned the prayer "Our Father..."

    Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

    Let's Go

    March 8th, 2018

    See what happens when one prays?

    What do you mean?

    Consider Jesus' activity in Mark 1:35 and 38. "And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He departed and went out to a desolate place, and there He prayed....And He said to them, 'Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach thee also, for that is why I came out.'"

    Jesus prayed...and then preached the Good News. There's a connection here. So much of American Christianity teaches prayer is something that we do by ourselves.

    Prayer's success is then dependent upon a Christian's willpower and persistence and, finally, how well one performs and lives the Christian life. This teaching leaves Christians exhausted ("I'll never get it right!") or puffed up with pride ("I'm doing it!").

    Rather, prayer is the action of faith whereby we by the Spirit's prompting acknowledge that we're completely dependent on God for everything. Dependence is the perfect posture of the heart and sets God apart from whom we receive everything.

    Such dependence upon God alone causes abundant activity! Jesus could not but go but first He cashed in on all His Father's promises. Compelled by His Father's care He goes. He then led the disciples to go even to the small villages for one purpose: To herald the radical Good News.

    Jesus continues to compel and even drag us along with Him, to His Father in prayer and into the villages to proclaim. Oh, by the way, this happens every Sunday; He brings us to the Father and then leads us out into the world.

    "Let's go" started with prayer; nothing has changed.

    Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

    Death and the Divine Service

    March 1st, 2018

    So many believe death is natural.

    A quick perusal of the internet with this question: Is death natural? finds one comment: "Death is as natural as birth."

    It is true, one begins life with birth and ends life with death; it is a common happening. Death, however, is not natural. How should one consider and deal with death?

    God created death as His punishment for rebelling against Him.

    God tells Adam before the fall into sin this: "For in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die," (Genesis 2:17; see also 3:19).

    God created Adam, and then Eve, in the state of absolute dependence upon Him, for everything physical and spiritual, nourishment for both the body and the soul.

    God's threat of death therefore is upon both body and soul. Death is both a temporal and eternal death, a killing of the body and placing of the soul that is destined for eternal separation from God, that is, hell.

    Death therefore is God's judgment, and must not be sanitized or minimized.

    As the "Judge" of all (Hebrews 12:23), God "will judge" those who sin, for He is able to judge by His Word even the "thoughts and intentions of the heart," (Hebrews 4:12).

    He retains His judgeship no matter how hard people resist; resistance won't matter. Solomon writes, "And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it," (Eccl. 12:7). God keeps His vocation of being God and Judge, in giving and the taking of life.

    The best way to deal with death.

    Consider the church's center aisle as the road from Jericho up to Jerusalem! One joins the parade of fellow pilgrims heading to meet the Savior. "Did you hear, the Messiah has come!"

    One approaches the Lord's place, where His Word is preached and read, and where His Body and Blood are given. No fig leaves will do but only honest cries for help, "Lord, have mercy!" And the Crucified One does surprise, forgiving abundantly, covering all by His blood. The pilgrims leave then in peace.

    Every Divine Service is a rehearsal for death and the Last Day. How comforting!

    Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

    Leading with Your Gospel Shoulder!

    February 22nd, 2018

    I know this is a football analogy. I played quite a bit of football a while ago.

    The coach would instruct, "When you tackle lead with your shoulder!"

    Pastor, you didn't play football! Well, let me show you pictures of all my touchdown runs!! They look photo-shopped to me! Oh, sorry, I have to go read the Bible! Sure you do.

    Yes, it's a bit corny to apply this to spiritual matters, but bear with me.

    Leading with your gospel shoulder means this:

    Lead with the Gospel in your relationship to others!

    Remember the Lord constantly and daily shows you His mercy; it's His practice! How odd and strange it would be if you don't do likewise with others! It is your baptismal nature. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy," (Matt. 5:7). These words describe Jesus first, and then each of you "in Him," as you are by faith. The Gospel is your lens to view the other.

    Resist fixing the other person!

    Almost always fixing is the habit. But, who has perfect follow through? Only Jesus. One can't help but to be the judge, jury and executioner! Your fellow believer struggles-as you do-under the pressing Law; all fight to live by faith in Jesus. Arrogance and hypocrisy is not allowed! See Jesus' preaching in in Matthew 7:3-5, where our logs seem like specks and others' specks seem like logs. Yes, hypocritical judging is sin! God does require judging, of course, of teaching by others (Acts 17:1-11; 1 John 4:1), one's works (1 Cor. 3:13), others who have been overtaken by sin (Gal. 6:1-2), and one's attitude before participating in the Lord's Meal (1 Cor. 11:28).

    Relationship to the other is most important!

    Paul teaches this priority in Ephesians 4:3, "Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." The English Standard Version says "maintain;" a better translation is "treasure!" Unity in Christ is of highest importance, and is given by Him through the Word! So be "eager to treasure" this God-given unity! Attitude along with effort is a must.

    Do you want to see those football pictures?

    Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

    Another Mass Shooting - Making Sense from Solomon?

    February 15th, 2018

    Another mass shooting, now in Florida. Oh, my, how extremely sad. It's the third of 10 of the deadliest mass shootings in American history, happening in the last five months.

    How does one make any sense of this, at least a sense that helps to steer a path forward, even daily?

    I turned to Solomon, his Ecclesiastes, since I've been teaching this since last September. The wisest man in the world - except for the God/man, Jesus Christ, of course. Consider his insights:

    Be Realistically Optimistic!

    Remember, this is a fallen world! This is not God's intention, evil and its outbreak of destruction, pain and sorrow.

    Evil erupts like the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park. Don't be surprised or fall into despair. The "wicked" - often times - get rewarded, while the "righteous" suffer, (see Eccl. 3:16-22; 8:14-15).

    There's only One in whom there is abiding hope: Jesus Christ. Remember, He wept too at Lazarus' tomb (John 11:35). Your God is not detached from evil, sin and its consequences. Jesus remains the Father's Chief Scheduler and Time-keeper (Eccl. 3:1-8).

    Best to keep the Faith of a Child!

    You can't figure out the timing or destination of the outbreaks of evil. Even when the devil has his successes, he remains God's fool. You are totally helpless, yet remain strong in the One who was crucified in weakness and raised in power by the Father. It's best - in fact, it's your vocation - to remain His child, while He works everything out!

    Have Compassion

    It's what God does, and so do you, as the baptized into Christ. Life is hard, very hard, also for your neighbor, and your Florida neighbors!

    As God knew the suffering of the Israelites (Exodus 2:25), Jesus groaned deep down inside when He saw the helpless crowds (Matt. 9:36). That's why Solomon simplifies life: "Fear God and keep His commandments," (Eccl. 12:13).

    Trusting in the One who is deeply involved with His creation is the only way. Remember, He even feeds the "birds of the air," (Matt. 6:26). Every person is much more valuable than His birds!

    This final thought by Solomon may seem so out of place in this evil world, but he repeats it often: Enjoy life (see Eccl. 5:18-19; 9:7).

    With God running the show, there's freedom in having compassion, making other's burdens your own, while enjoying a lunch with your neighbor. The devil desires to snuff out your care-free trust and living beneath the Lord's mercy! The burden is all on Jesus to figure this life out! Don't take His vocation away!

    Gladly serving Him and the neighbor along with you,

    Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

    The Purpose Driven Life?

    February 8, 2018

    Are you tempted to do more, pray more, and study more? Me, too. I want to look for practical guides to help me be a better Christian! I want to be better.

    Give me a formula or plan that I can follow. I know, let's plan this year's New Year's resolutions!

    Let's listen to Jesus, His two-word sermon to Matthew, "Follow Me" (Matt. 9:9). This ought to be easy, following Jesus! I'll be like Jesus, imitate Jesus, and I'll be just fine!

    Hold on for a moment. Jesus does not say to imitate Him, but to follow Me!

    Of course, Jesus' call involved Matthew's moving of his feet, rising up and following Jesus. But Jesus is calling Matthew to faith - yea, an invitation-to believe! First the heart, and then the feet, is the great Physician's way.

    Christianity is not primarily a following of rules, a religious set of principles, but a person, the Person, God's Son, along with His Father and the Holy Spirit. Faith grabs onto Jesus!

    Matthew's following followed Christ's call to believe. Following Christ is the consequence of believing in the crucified and resurrected One. This faith in Jesus is sufficient for all of life, too!

    Many times, believers are tempted to start with the Gospel but look elsewhere for continued life and sanctification. Many look to a greater purpose or cause or discipline.

    Please listen up: It's not the purpose-driven life that works, but the Gospel-given life! The believer lives a Christ-given life. Real life is driven DAILY not by the goal but the ongoing Source, Jesus Christ! Attending the Divine Service one time won't do, as breathing in air one time is not sufficient for the blood cells to live!

    Sticks or stones don't drive you, but the Person of Jesus Christ. Baptismally speaking, to what Paul is want to refer often, you're "in Christ," (see Gal. 2:16; Eph. 1:1; 1 Cor. 1:30).

    Stunningly, imitation of Jesus for Paul is to be crucified, buried and raised with Him (Rom. 6:1 f). It's a daily dying to sin by repentance and by faith trusting in the One whose body and blood is given in the Holy Meal.

    Some years ago, a woman visited a church I was serving. She was desperate, for her marriage was nearly broken. Her pastor had been preaching a series of sermons on how to improve your marriage.

    Initially, it sounded so good, practical advice, she said. It was an 8-week series. But then she vocalized, "What I really need is forgiveness!" Don't we all?

    Faith is only sustained by oxygen of the forgiveness of sins, the Gospel!

    What followed in her life was quite stunning! Her life changed (see 1 Peter 3:3-5). Her husband was moved to repent of his sins, too!

    Repentance is starting from the bottom every day, as a beggar, and His love uplifts. Loved much you love much.

    That's the way it is, life in Christ.

    Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

    Let's be Liberal Lutherans!

    February 1, 2018

    "Come on, Pastor Golter, I thought you were so staunch about right Biblical doctrine! What's going on?"

    Well, of course, the Lord does not give His permission to tamper with His Word. The Holy Spirit through St. Paul's pen says as much!

    "We tamper with God's word..." (2 Cor. 4:2). Paul's opponents accused Paul of fraud (2 Cor. 12:16, 19), attempting to undermine his mission work. Paul, however, works with integrity (1:12-14, 24). The Lord demands integrity, first and foremost, in not corrupting or diluting the Spirit-given word, and integrity by His workers (2 Tim. 3:14-16)! Preachers are merely God's workers, not those who call the shots (1 Cor. 4:1-2). They must and want to operate with integrity!

    How then are you a liberal Lutheran?

    Liberal in giving, loving, serving, and forgiving, taking after the Lord Himself. Look at what happened to Zacchaeus, who at one time stole from others. He was the "chief tax collector." This is the only time this word is used in the bible. Zacchaeus was rich, likely very rich, but poor of soul. He no doubt kept his eye on the Jerusalem Stock Exchange every day! Greed consumed him.

    Oh, how that changed! See his marvelous confession in Luke 19:8, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." Take note of the activity he describes; it's already happening! The Holy Spirit does not delay in His production of good works! A new Lord reigns in Zacchaeus' life!

    That's how it is when one hangs around Jesus in the Divine Service, too! Jesus' generosity of forgiving sinners generates liberal Christians! The Temple choir's oft refrain was, "The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love," words retrieved from God's self-description (Exodus 34:6-7).

    The Divine Service is your Zacchaeus event!

    One sees liberal activity in the Good Samaritan story, where the Good Samaritan represents Jesus Himself, and then you, as you are baptized into Him. Jesus' telling of this parable is His definition of what is means to be "neighbor" (Luke 15: 36) to others: one does not count the cost! The Good Samaritan said to the Motel 6 owner, "Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back," (15:35).

    Whatever! You need forgiveness, I forgive you. You need help with your house, I am here. You need an ear, let's have lunch. Your heart is troubled; you have my full attention and, let me tell you about Jesus.

    Let's be liberal Lutherans....whatever!

    I Don't Know

    January 25th, 2018

    Lutheranism’s great strength—at least one—is the freedom to say, “I don’t know!” Actually, it’s Christianity’s great strength. There’s freedom in not being the Lord! “OK, I don’t know. The LORD in His bible did not tell us.”

    Since God is the only one who converts people to His Son, Jesus, by the Spirit’s power (see 1 Cor. 12:3; John 6:65; Eph. 2:8-9; 1 Cor. 2:14). And people are totally spiritually incapacitated by their inherited sin (Eph. 2:1; John 1:5; Gen. 8:21, etc), then why do not ALL PEOPLE believe? If people can’t believe of themselves, and God desires ALL PEOPLE to believe (Ezek. 33:11; John 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:4) and, only He alone converts, why do not all people believe? I don’t know! God has that figured out; you’re not responsible to tell God what to do in matters where He has not shown His mind to you. In the end, when one resides in heaven, all credit goes to Jesus who has elected them (Eph. 1:4-5; Rom. 8:28 ff.; Matt. 22:2-14); if one spends eternity in hell, it’s their own fault (2 Peter 2:10, 20; Luke 11:24; H-26; Heb. 10:26-27; Eph. 4:30).

    So, Jesus says to take eat of His Body and drink of His Blood (Matt. 26:26-28; 1 Cor. 11:23-24; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-23). How can that really be! It looks, feels, and tastes like bread and wine. And, really, how can one eat and drink of Christ’s Body and Blood, that which hung on the Cross and rose the Third Day? Surely, Jesus meant to say “symbolize.” Dangerous, this is very, very dangerous. Don’t put words in Jesus’ mouth. He says what He says, just leave it. Best to say, I don’t know! My Lord said so!

    Asking why is not a sin, unless it’s done in arrogance and doubt. Consider the Virgin Mary, who wondered with all modesty how she could be pregnant without a man (Luke 1:34). She heard the angel’s preaching, and by her silence (not rebuking or contesting God’s angel), she spoke her faith by her words (“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to Your word, Luke 1:38), and her actions. She ran to her cousin Elizabeth, believing she was pregnant, even though she was not nauseated or had a bulging tummy or the Baby Jesus kicking! She went by God’s preaching!

    Then there’s Zechariah, who questioned the Lord with doubt. “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in year,” (Luke 1:18). “Ah, Zechariah, you don’t doubt God’s Word and messenger, Gabriel. You should have taken that bible study class on the Book of Daniel when it was offered! Gabriel also preached to Daniel some 700 years earlier! Daniel doubted and could not speak (Daniel 10:7-11, 16-17, cf. 8:16; 9:21). By the way, Zechariah, you’ll be struck with silence right now, “until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words!” (Luke 1:20; 64-65).

    I don’t know does not lessen the need to study the Word, pray and ask for help from His Spirit. If you don’t understand, it’s not God’s fault. The Bible’s Author writes with absolute clarity! Best way to hear is to clear out the clutter, the garbage of sin lying on your conscience that’s getting in the way of hearing by faith. That’s why the Confession of Sin and the Absolution begin the Divine Service; best way to hear God’s Word rightly is to repent and believe the Good News!

    I don’t know.

    What freedom!

    This is Not My First Rodeo!

    January 18th, 2018

    The Lord has caused me to serve in various ways, for which I'm deeply thankful.

    One - it is hoped - gains a heart of wisdom, through interaction with His Word and the world. I've been around a while, for which I rejoice! This is not my first rodeo!

    Over the years, people (not always the young, retirees for financial reasons do the same) believe it's best to live together before or outside of the marriage bed.

    Well, the One who certainly has been through many rodeos is God Himself; He is marriage's architect some four to ten thousand years ago! He is Wisdom (Proverbs 8:12 f; 1 Cor. 1:30).

    Some reason: let's try it out first; let's see if we love each other.

    Well, love is not a feeling but a commitment. Commitment - as evidenced by God Himself in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world..." reveals love's definition.

    God didn't check you out to see whether you're compatible. God first and continually commits and continually gives of Himself to you.

    This is sustainable love. Such is marriage God's way. It's a daily grind with the Spirit's help to fight to put self last and the other one first, is it not?

    Sexual experimentation before or outside of marriage is absolute destruction to your faith in Jesus!

    As St. Paul says, "For if you live according to the flesh (fleshly desires), you will die..." (Romans 8:13). That is, you undermine and may even lose your faith in Jesus! It's a spiritual poison!

    "Pastor, what is the one thing that would increase the chance of me having a divorce?" "Glad you asked; it's cohabitation." Don't live together before your public commitment! God the architect writes in Hebrews 13:4, "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed by undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous." Your heavenly Father knows best; violation of the marriage bed has destructive consequences!

    America disparages the marriage bed, by cohabitation, open and multiple marriages! This is a dishonoring of the marriage bed and, according to God, it's not "acceptable worship," (Heb. 12:28).

    Secular studies affirm the fact of the destructive consequences of cohabitation!

    Glenn T. Stanton writes that "cohabitation increases the possibility of divorce by as much as 50 percent."

    He continues: "In both situations (premarital and cohabitation) intimate emotional, physical and even spiritual bonds are being made-without being backed up by the kind of commitment they demand.

    It is like walking on a tightrope without a net below."[1] And, he states (in citing another author), that "cohabitation (is) one of the most 'robust predictors of marital dissolution'- making living together first one of the worst things you can do for your marriage. Wow, it is the worst thing to do!

    What is one to do? Have your conscience - and body - cleansed by Jesus' blood in church!

    Repent and believe the Good News! And, don't let the world keep seducing you into unholy ways. God's word and counsel is always best. It's not His first rodeo!

    Pastor Golter is Trinity Lutheran's Senior Pastor

    [1][1] The Ring Makes All the Difference: The Hidden Consequences of Cohabitation and the Strong Benefits of Marriage," Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2011, pp. 62-63, emphasis added.

    Sometimes, I don't Feel like Going to Church!

    January 11th, 2018

    "Surely, you're joking, Pastor Golter!" Whenever have you known me to enjoy humor!:)

    I'm not, however, joking here.

    Over the years of preaching and caring for God's flock, it happens.

    Reasons vary, of course; laziness, tiredness, grumpiness, letting problems seem bigger than they are, or forgetting my desperate need for meeting Jesus in "real time," where He surprises and forgives me of my sin, giving me of His Body and Blood.

    Not going to church is similar to saying: I don't need to receive oxygen to live!

    But, then, once there with Jesus, singing hymns with the saints to and along with Jesus to the Father, hearing the Scriptures read, hearing the preaching - even when I'm preaching - He changes my heart. Have you been there? Of course. Why does this happen?

    The Word of God is powerful; it cuts to the heart (Hebrews 4:12-13). Why such power? Three fundamental reasons:

  • The Word of God - written and spoken - receives its authority and power from the One who wrote it, God! Even though He had men craft His thoughts into written form, they are very words of God Himself. They are God's verbal expressions, the very utterances of Him (see Matt. 4:4; 2 Tim. 3:16). The reason for the effective working of His Word circles back to its Author!
  • The Word of God - written and spoken - draws its power from the centering focus of its content, Jesus Christ. Its power - drawing the heart and mind to Himself - is the message of the Crucified One. "But, we preach Christ crucified," (1 Cor. 1:23). As the manger held the Christ, so the Holy Scriptures hold the same God. (Of course, this has much to say as to the necessary content of every sermon! Please, please critique your pastors' sermons in this manner!)
  • The Word of God - written and spoken - is powerful because God the Holy Spirit works through the Word to bring to you Christ (see 1 Cor. 2:4). He is the undercover Person of the Holy Trinity, Who preaches the Law to accuse and condemn you, and the Gospel to console and comfort you with Christ!
  • Therefore, when Trinity pastors and lay callers visit you in the hospital, they don't read to you from the Quad City Times!

    The QCT does not own the three criteria above. And, God's Word is not an opinion or simply a recording of events; it rather works in you life! (See Ps. 119:93, 107).

    So, when you don't feel like meeting Jesus where He locates Himself in the Divine Service, don't let that nagging conscience or apathy or pride or old habits or whatever have its way with you.

    Let me tell you: you need help. And, remember, this pastor can struggle also. OK, I admitted it!

    See you in church! [1]

    Pastor Golter is the Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran

    [1] The basic thoughts of this blog comes from "Robert Preus: Essays on Scripture, Doctrine is Life," Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2006, pp. 112-113. I think you can get it from CPH for around $5!

    Who's Your Teacher?

    January 4th, 2018

    Yes, this is the first of my weekly blog for your reflection, to strengthen your faith in Jesus and your resolve to live for others, and to bring others to this marvelous life of faith.

    Our grandson came home, asking a simple question of our son: "Daddy, why don't we celebrate Hanukkah? We're doing this at school." My son responded, "Well, they don't believe that Jesus is true, and that He died on the cross for our sins."

    This simple but very common story teaches this truth: if you aren't teaching your children the way of Jesus as the Father's only way of having sin forgiven, someone else is doing it!

    Martin Luther - in 1524 - writes to the German people about the necessity to establish Christian schools (See Luther's Works, Vo. 45:340 f.). He writes how the devil "induces carnal and worldly hearts thus to neglect the children and young people.... How can he (the devil) possibly be pleased to see the gospel destroy his nests (places where false teaching is taught) which he corrupts above all the young folks...?" (p. 349).

    If you aren't teaching children, the devil has his own University system where he is teaching unbelief and/or distrust in the true God. Either the wicked teach you and your children or the true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob teach you.

    Don't be foolish and say, "I'll let my children decide." Do you really believe they have the maturity to know and decide?

    Luther further argues: "Indeed, for what purpose do we older folks exist, other than to care for, instruct, and bring up the young? It is utterly impossible for these foolish young people to instruct and protect themselves," (p. 353).

    God has given to Trinity the University system of faith! It's the ChurchSchool, the one ministry (take note of the one word), whereby Jesus comes in the Divine Service and chapel services to wash big and little children's consciences clean by His spilt blood (see Hebrews 10:19-22).

    Jesus Himself destroys the devil's works through the Gospel.

    Who's your teacher?

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