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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 refuse...to 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)...in 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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