Celebrating 500 Years of Reformation

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On this 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther’s spark that ignited the Reformation (October 31, 1517), I am so thankful for the courage of reformers like Luther (Germany), John Wycliffe (England) and John Hus (Czech Republic), who stood for access to Scripture and a faith-based salvation.

While I am proud to be a Protestant, I am also thankful for new cooperation between Protestants and Roman Catholics in the 21st Century. We who believe that Jesus is God, need one another.

At CIL, we are neighbors with Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Community. This parish has been so gracious to us, and we love to see them prosper as they lift up the name of Jesus to our community.

Believers are in a perpetual need of reformation. We need the power of the gospel to reform our hearts, habits, and harmful traditions. God help us all to keep thinking, growing and courageously implementing changes led by your Word and Holy Spirit.

Reflections on the Afghanistan War

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I still remember the vivid emotions I felt leaving a church service in 2001, when I heard the United States invaded Afghanistan.  An alarmed friend asked out loud, “What does this mean?”  Her husband soberly responded, “We are at war, honey.”   In that moment, I felt like life as I knew it would permanently change.  But, it did not.

For the last 16 years our soldiers have died in Afghanistan (and Iraq), and my life has proceeded in comfort.  During the economic crisis of 2008 and 2009, I do not remember meaningful public discussion on the validity of fighting a two-front war overseas while so many were hurting domestically.

Barak Obama campaigned on the position of pulling out of Afghanistan. Donald Trump was more ambiguous on his plans, but there was hope that he would end our longest war (and he may still). I believe both wanted to end the war, but obviously there is more information received as president that changed both of their intentions.  We discovered on August 21, 2017, that the Afghanistan War will continue with a new strategy.

With my limited knowledge in this area, I have concluded a few things:

  • This war has been so long because the average American does not feel the impact of the war on their lifestyle.
  • When a nation topples a government, that country must be prepared to keep military personal their 100 years. That is something to consider before the next military invasion to uproot a government. This is a concern for Iran, North Korea and Syria. Yet, the United States and allies may have no other choice when it comes to those troubled regimes.
  • For democracy to succeed, a revolution of values has to occur in people’s hearts. We cannot export our values as easily as we had hoped after the Cold War ended. It may take many decades for an idea to germinate in a culture before a people group rises up in defiance for lasting change. It is not enough to win freedom; it is a continual struggle to maintain freedom.  The United State has 241 years of history that proves this struggle is necessary.
  • The fallen soldiers and disabled veterans, and their families, deserve for the Afghanistan War to reach resolution.

My prayer is for our soldiers to come home soon, and for Afghanistan to thrive as a place of freedom and security. I do not know if both are possible, so I will support my country in the path it chooses militarily, as much as my conscious allows me to.

Though good men and women participate in them, war is a manifestation of evil.  Through the future rule of Jesus, there will come a day when all war ends!  Praise be to His name!

Pray for College Freshman

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A coming of age for me as a pastor happened Sunday when I said goodbye to several students who were leaving town for college. There are still a few more goodbyes ahead of me this week. I have been at CIL 9.5 years now, so it was both sobering and fulfilling to see these children become adults.

They were my friend’s children, who became my friends – and so they always will be.

Pray for all of our college freshman.  The first few days at a new college or a new season at home is crucial for a college-age student’s relational and spiritual success.

Prayer is a form of mentoring.

Charlottesville calls us to better angels

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Despite the evil in Charlottesville on August 11-12, I believe that most Americans are united in love and respect. My heart breaks for the loss of life, the visible hatred, and the hurtful visuals of protest that have stirred valid emotional pain.
 
The key to being a united nation is to love and respect everyone, every day.
 
Abraham Lincoln spoke elegant words we need to meditate on in his inauguration speech of 1861:
 
We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection … The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
 
With God’s help, let us appeal to the better angels of our nature.