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Mobile Office Goes into the Community

Although it has been mobiling for some time now, on and off, the Mobile Office of Pastor Michael Barnes and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church is taking the next step. The locations and hours will be posted at least 24 hours in advance for your convenience!

  • Sometimes you want to just talk to a pastor, but outside the formal setting of the church building.
  • Sometimes you might have a question that has been crawling around in the back of your mind, or need to unload a burden of sin, and know that you will not be judged (or shunned) by the listener.
  • Sometimes you want someone who will pray for/with you about the things of life: troubles, thanksgivings, joys, etc.
  • Sometimes you just want to sit and enjoy company with another human being.
  • Wattch for location. Stop by. You are always welcome.

Goodbye 2016, Hello Eternity!

New Year Musings

2016
You have now been relegated to the history books. You shall be remembered as the year of many celebrity deaths, even up to the last few hours of your existence. You shall be remembered as the year where politicians were bypassed in favor of a businessman for president in a very controversial campaign and post-election antics. You also shall be remembered as the year when most, or all, of your resolutions were easily made and just as easily broken. You will be remembered for demonstrating to yourself and to others the things that are really of most importance to you.

2017
You bring a new beginning. What will you unveil to us? A hope for a better future? A new set of resolutions that you will be serious about … this time? The cycle of this age continues as the calendar moves on. And nothing really changes.

For the Christians who follow the church calendar, with all its half-forgotten festivals and commemorations, the change of the year’s number means little. The Christians see in the church calendar a message that brings only joy, only peace, only life, and no broken promises.

The church calendar begins with promise, not on January 1, but on the First Sunday in Advent, preparing those who hear with the promise of Immanuel who has come and is coming. Then is the celebration of the that coming in the person of the baby laying in a manger. We look upon Him and see God with us. His presence among us is our guarantee that this, and every year from now until eternity will be truly another year of His grace.

This peace and grace can be yours, contact me today to find out how…
Pastor Barnes

“Crux sola est nostra theologia!”

Theology of the Cross or Theology of Glory?

The Theology of the Cross focuses exclusively on what Jesus Christ has done for us. A Theology of Glory focuses on what we do.

The Theology of the Cross understands that there is nothing we can do to initiate, add to, or complete our slavation. A Theology of Glory is always looking for ways to keep the individual in charge of salvation.

The Theology of the Cross keeps our eyes on Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 1-2). It means we see all things, including our salvation through suffering. A Theology of Glory is intent on only seeing the end glory. In doing so it bypasses the cross.

As one is either a theologian of the cross or a theologian of glory, it is possible to distinguish between the two in how things play out as we gather together.

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At. Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church we believe, teach, and confess a theology of the cross.

Aren’t Lutherans Just a Liberal Cult?

First, we would like to make it abundantly clear that there are those who call themselves Lutheran and attach that nomenclature to their buildings and publications, yet they have, sadly, wandered from the Word of Truth as revealed in the Scriptures. The congregations of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod are not counted among them. Rather….

As Lutherans:

We believe, teach, and confess that the only rule and norm according to which all teachings, together with ‹all› teachers, should be evaluated and judged [2 Timothy 3:15–17] are the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures of the Old and New Testament alone. For it is written in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” St. Paul has written, “even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).

 

We believe that the meaning of any text of the Sacred Scriptures is arrived at on the basis of the Scriptural context in which the passage rests, and the Scripture as a whole. Interpretation is not understood on the basis of its own, isolated existence. [On the basis of such “proof texting” many heresies have arisen within the Church. Scripture interprets Scripture.]

We believe that the center of all Scriptural doctrine is Jesus Christ on the cross as the only atonement for the sins of all people of all times.

We believe that Genesis 1-11 is historic narrative; that God created out of nothing all that exists in six 24 hour days as is commonly understood in normal conversation, that there was a universal flood at the time of Noah and that this man and seven others were saved through the waters of the flood by God.

We believe Jesus when He declares that He is spoken of, and is found in, the writings of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms. To fully understand Jesus, we are directed to the Old Testament as well as the New.

 

We condemn all those who say that the Scriptures are simply the opinions of men from a former time.

We condemn those who, through deception, say that they acknowledge the inspiration of the Scriptures as the Word of God, yet understand it to be the same inspiration that poets, writers, and artists experience in their work.

We condemn those who, although saying that the Scripture is the Word of God, yet by deception mean that the Scriptures simply contain the Word of God, which the individual Christian is left to discover.

We condemn those who say that human reason is a necessary element in the understanding of the Sacred Scriptures, as human reason is tainted by the devil, the world, and the sinful flesh.

 

 

On social issues we are pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-family.

Why Do Lutherans Call Themselves Lutheran?

As Lutherans we honor the name and memory of Martin Luther, the 16th century monk who defied Pope and Empire for the sake of the Scriptural teaching of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. By the grace of Almighty God, Luther’s examination of the Scriptures freed the Church from the bondage of works righteousness and a theology of glory that made man the center of his own salvation. Lutherans maintain that Gospel in all aspects of their lives.

So why do we maintain the use of Luther’s name in defining who we are? Unlike a cult, which focuses on the man, Lutherans focus on what the man taught. Luther never wanted his name attached to anything of a movement. Rather, his desire was that the Church maintain the name Christian. Reform, not replacement, was his goal. Unfortunately his enemies would not let it drop.

With the resulting protestant splinter groups that came out of the original Reformation, the name eventually stuck, and has been used to identify those churches that still hold to the Scriptural teachings of justification. True Lutherans find their ultimate identity in Jesus Christ alone. To be Lutheran means to follow Jesus Christ.

Terrorism and the Two Kingdoms

It is a sad commentary on the condition of this world to say that terrorism is nothing new. In its latest manifestation we find Islamic Jihad, ISIS, ISIL, Islamic Brotherhood, and a host of other identifiers that all have the same goal, the elimination of Western culture and laws and Christian faith, and the establishment of a world-wide Caliphate governed by Sharia law. The means to accomplish these goal are threats, violence, terror, and bloodshed.

I am not here to give a history lesson, or to engage in political debate. I’ll leave that up to you in a different venue. Let’s just say that the means of their goals has been seen yet again, this time on the streets of Paris.

As we struggle to come to terms with such violence I am asked what should be the Church’s proper response. I can give the Lutheran viewpoint and you can take it from there.

We believe that God operates in this world through two kingdoms: the kingdom of the right and the kingdom of the left. The kingdom of the right is the kingdom of grace as seen in His Church. Christ rules over His church in love, guiding and directing her in the mission of bringing the good news of Jesus Christ and His free gift of salvation to the entire world. It is a kingdom in which He directs us to love even our enemies and to pray for them and their conversion. Christians are to be the quintessential speakers of peace and love in the world that flows from our understanding of the cross.

The kingdom of the left are the governmental forces of the world. God works through them to keep order in the world, to punish evildoers, and when needed, to wage just wars for the protection of all. It operates from the basis of the law of God that is written into the hearts of all people.

As government officials can also be true Christians, so also can true Christians operate within the governmental sphere, as both are from God and are therefore ultimately to His glory.

The Christian/Lutheran response to terrorism then is this: we pray for our enemies, for those who do evil and conspire against us and our most holy faith. We love our enemies, our hearts breaking at the demonic madness that enslaves them and praying for their conversion through the power of the Word made Flesh. As citizens we serve as we are called upon to serve for the protection not only of our personal families and friends, but also that of the nation, and yes, even at times the world. Love for humanity directs that protection.

In all this keep in mind that ultimately it is Christ who has the victory. His promises to us are trustworthy, and He has promised that He is returning to put an end of all our suffering in this life. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Pastor Barnes

Close Communion – How Dare We?

The issue of the Lord’s Supper can be a very emotional one, especially as it involves the question of who can and who cannot attend at any particular altar. For those who prefer the emotional route to theology, there is nothing here that will settle your mind and heart. I would simply ask that you approach this post with the desire to learn the “why” of the “close communion”.

I want to look at this briefly from three points from the Holy Scriptures.

First, when our Lord Christ says to His disciples, “Take eat, this is my body… Take drink, this is my blood” He is not doing so metaphorically, symbolically, or allegorically. He is speaking on the basis of the entire Old Testament that eating and drinking the sacrifices for sin and the establishment of covenant with God are necessary to gain the benefits of that sacrifice. Being the final sacrifice as the true Lamb of God (not metaphorically, symbolically, or allegorically a sacrifice), the benefits of what the sacrifice accomplishes comes to us through the eating and drinking of the flesh of sacrifice. (I don’t make this stuff up! Go search the Scriptures!)

Second, St. Paul, knowing this truth that the body and blood of Jesus are present and distributed to those gathered to receive, reminds us all in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 that to receive the elements of the Supper without recognition of the body and blood of Christ is guilty of sinning and brings harsh judgment on themselves. The pastor of a congregation is charged by the Lord to be stewards of the mysteries of Christ (and this would qualify as a mystery, I would think), As a result of this charge they are held accountable for the souls under their care as we see in Hebrews 13:17. A pastor knows his flock and so can vouch for them with confidence. A stranger he does not know, so for the protection of all, close communion.

Third, and related to the above, there is the obvious fact that there is division in the earthly church, and most all of the divisions relate back to Jesus and the cross. True unity of the church is possible in this world only through true unity of teaching. For example, how can one group say that Jesus was born of a clinical virgin, was fully God and fully man in one Christ, died as the Lamb of God on the cross to take away all sins, and physically rose from the dead after three days also claim to be in untiy of teaching with those groups who deny all of it? Two different teachings, two different Christs! As the communion is a demonstration of the oneness of faith and the avoidance of error (Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 10:17; 1 Corinthians 11:26; Romans 16:17) we are bound to make the confession and practice close communion for the very sake of the Gospel.

How dare we practice a close communion? A better question is: how dare we not?

Pastor Barnes