Keynotes – February 2017

I am writing this article on January 20, 2017 moments after Noon EST. The news reports say that the approval rating of our new president is lower than any other in history as he comes into office. There have been protests for months and many more are expected in the coming days.

Many people have been hurt by comments he has made. Others have been emboldened to support those opinions. Our country is currently very divided, some supporting President Obama, others President Trump, and still others not supporting either. I would be glad to discuss God’s position at some other time when we can discuss this in person in a productive way.

In the mean time we have some Bible passages we need to wrestle with. Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Most people support one party or the other. There seems to be a very clear divide. Both groups might well look at the other and ask how God is working well through the President they don’t support, past or present.

Then we have Romans 13:1 “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Our internal reaction is that our good God couldn’t possibly put “That” bad leader in charge! To which God responds “Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” (Verse 2)

We have a choice to make. We can roll over and play the part of a helpless victim who has been wronged. We can pout and protest how unfair things are. Or we can stand up and take action that would be pleasing to God. I can’t speak for you, but I choose to do what is pleasing to God. God has called all of His Children to love their neighbor. He has called all His Children to forgive in every circumstance. He has called His Children to be a blessing to all those around them.

It is interesting that all of this also applies to our congregations today. Most LCMS congregations are in rapid decline. Children and grandchildren are not worshiping with us anymore. We don’t have a Sunday school or VBS. Our Sunday morning Bible Studies are not well attended. We are sharing pastors between congregations. The pews seem so empty. We have stopped having a great many activities due to a lack of attendance, lack of able bodies, or lack of joy.

We have a choice to make. We can roll over and play the part of a helpless victim who has been wronged. We can pout and protest how unfair things are. Or we can stand up and take action that would be pleasing to God. God has called all of His Children to love their neighbor. He has called all His Children to forgive in every circumstance. He has called His Children to be a blessing to all those around them.

As we do this, we will discover that we have not been as loving as we thought. We will discover that there is great joy in making new friends. We will discover that Jesus only had a dozen helpers and one of them betrayed Him, and yet the Kingdom grew in spite of that.

I am thankful for our PLI team and how much we are learning, and how as we learn we also learn how little we actually know. We are not victims; we are the Children of God! We have the backing of the Holy Spirit every step of the way. That backing includes giving us Words that we can’t even imagine on our own and wisdom beyond that of Solomon. We keep hearing the Words, “Be still, and Know that I am God.” Maybe we could rephrase that to, “Don’t fret, I’ve got this.”

No matter who you voted for, it’s time for our country to come together and strive for a unified goal that is pleasing to God.

No matter who you voted for as the leaders of our congregation, it’s time for our congregation to come together and strive for a unified goal that is pleasing to God.

May God bless our efforts as we join in saying, “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” God’s blessings to us all.

Pastor Oatman