Christianity – Light Shining in the Darkness

August 2020
Dear Friends in Christ,

Jesus Christ is the Light of the world, in Him there is no darkness at all. The Christian faith that follows the teaching of Scripture holds unsurpassable truth. Not because Christianity presents a logically complete whole answering every question of the human mind. Nor is Christianity unsurpassable truth, because it teaches the most perfect morality.

Christianity is the perfect and unsurpassable religion, first, because the Christian faith does not ask man to reconcile God through his own righteousness or virtues. And second, Christianity is unsurpassed because its source for truth is not the word of men, but the Word of God.

In this world filled with sin and spiritual darkness, I pray the light of Christ’s love will shine in your heart that you may know your sins are forgiven. May the Holy Spirit fill you with the peace that surpasses all human understanding and guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor James Kroonblawd
Bearing the Light of Christ in a Chaotic World
By Kevin D. Robson

Christ’s mission — the  Church’s  mission — is filled with joy. Yet our life together is often exceedingly difficult. Ever since the fall of Adam, ours is a disordered, untidy, chaotic world. The challenges facing saints engaged in ministry and mercy — the hurdles standing before  you,  dear reader — are many and daunting. Today, most of Christ’s Body is not occupied in serene monasteries or hushed libraries.

Instead, we find ourselves walking into border towns filled with anxious people. We enter homes whose walls are covered with mold and whose occupants are filled with despair. In our pews, we look with compassion upon individuals and families struggling with separation, poverty, loneliness, addiction, illness and death. We march into refugee camps to deliver finite supplies, only to be faced with seemingly limitless human needs.

In every instance of such insufferable messiness, we strive to bring the brilliant, hopeful light of the Gospel of Christ to bear. We “dive in,” armed with full confidence that the powerful Word of God is ceaselessly robust and unbreakable, even under the harshest of conditions. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling” (Ps. 46:1–3).

The Gospel — through cross and resurrection, in its absolute forgiveness and the glorious promise of life everlasting to those who believe — is carried forth and given away in faith-borne words and works of mercy toward our neighbor. And it is this Gospel alone that produces lasting fruit. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Is. 40:8). Thank you for helping to make it happen, under God’s grace.

In Christ,
Rev. Kevin D. Robson
Chief Mission Officer, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
From God's Word

Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.  Psalm 50:15
The Light that Rises Above All Other Lights
Las Vegas – bright lights and Sin City. For First Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Las Vegas is the setting in which they proclaim the Gospel to bring forgiveness of sins and the brightest light of all -- Christ. 

A few blocks from downtown – not the Strip that many identify with Las Vegas, with its towering buildings and overwhelming glitz – in a diverse neighborhood, sits First Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. A new mural, painted by artist Heather Toledo, adorns the one side of the Church. The “All Nations” mural, based on the painting from John Lautermilch of St, Louis, accurately depicts the complexion of the community around it.
About a dozen small lights at the church illumine the mural at night. They compete with the millions of glittering lights in downtown and the Strip. “I am the light of the world,” said Jesus. “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12.

From God's Word

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.  1 Peter 3:15
Tragedy at Tree of Life
Over the past weeks, I’ve been encouraging pastors and servant leaders to think theologically. As storms rage in the culture, as rhetoric rises to a fever pitch, as we become confused by daunting questions about the Christian’s role in our swiftly changing and dangerous society, and as our hearts break over chaotic violence, we are called to seek God’s understanding and wisdom. “Theology” means “God’s Word.” By God’s grace, we do not conform to the world (Romans 12:2); we have been given a new way to think. We have been given “the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16

First, God gives the gift of prayer. He invites, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Psalms 50:15.

Second, God gives the gift of faith. In the Luke 18 parable of the unjust judge, Jesus said, “Will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.” Then Jesus asked, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:7–8 Even as storms rage, God promises to be faithful.

Third, God gives the gift of love. 1 John 4:10 proclaims, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 

Fourth, God gives the gift of hope—eternal hope. It is a unique gift to a trembling world.

Is this kind of thinking naïve or foolish? How can any of these remedies work against bullets and bombs? This is how: Set against the backdrop of the tragedy in Pittsburgh, there was another tragedy near another tree of life when humans rebelled against God (see Genesis 3). Death became the prevailing and unstoppable shadow over humanity. But then came a promise. And then came Jesus. He walked the earth during the first century and did something no one had ever done. His cross of violence and death became the new tree of life for the world. He addressed evil and death head-on. And this real person, the true God present in history, triumphed over death when He rose from the dead. Rescue, eternal hope, and transformation are real through the risen Savior of the world.

Today, as humanity manifests a fierce and unrelenting evil, we know that our battle is not merely against flesh and blood. Let us think and live theologically. Let us have the mind of Christ during these dark times. Let us pray, believe, love and share hope in Jesus.

By Rev. Michael Newman
Texas District President. Oct. 18, 2018
Light and Darkness
The Bible uses both terms not only in a physical sense ( e.g. Gn 1 ) but also metaphorically or symbolically.
·          It refers to God as Light, the Source of light, or as dwelling in light ( Ps 27:1 104:2 1 Ti 6:16 Ja 1:17 1 Jn 1:5 Rv 21:23 ).
·          Christ is called “the Light of the world” ( Jn 1:4–9 8:12 9:5 12:35–36 46 ).
·          The Word of God,  esp.  the Gospel, is given to man to serve him as a light unto salvation ( Ps 119:105 130 Pr 6:23 Is 8:20 Mt 4:16 2 Ptr 1:19 ).
·          All believers are to function as lights in the world ( Mt 5:14–16 Lk 16:8 Eph 5:8 Ph 2:15 1 Th 5:5 1 Ptr 2:9 ).

“Light” figuratively designates holiness and purity ( Pr 6:23 Is 5:20 Ro 13:12 ), spiritual illumination ( 2 Co 4:6 Eph 5:14 ), the heavenly state ( Is 60:19–20 Cl 1:12 Rv 21:23 22:5 ).
·          “Darkness” is opposed to “light” ( Jn 3:19–21 12:35–36 Acts 26:18 Eph 5:8 ),  
·          Especially in reference to ignorance and spiritual blindness ( Is 9:2 Jn 1:5 1 Jn 1:6 2:8 ), powers of evil ( Lk 22:53 Eph 6:12 Cl 1:13 1 Th 5:5 Rv 16:10 ), love of sin ( Ro 13:12 ), sphere of evil deeds ( Eph 5:11 ), despair and misery of the lost in hell ( Mt 8:12 22:13 25:30 ), sorrow and distress ( Jl 2:2 ).

“It is incorrect to speak of the Christian religion as the “highest,” the “most perfect” religion. There is an essential difference as respects their origin (God-made, man-made), their nature (Gospel, Law), and their effect (assurance of salvation, hopelessness). Christianity differs from all non-Christian religions not as light differs from dusk, but as light differs from darkness (Eph. 5:8).”

Frances Pieper, Christian Dogmatics , CPH, 1950
Regarding the 3rd Commandment, Martin Luther wrote:

I thank God in this commandment for his great and beautiful goodness and grace which he has given us in the preaching of his word. And he has instructed us to make use of it, especially on the Sabbath day, for the meditation of the human heart can never exhaust such a treasure. His word is the only light in the darkness of this life, a word of life, consolation, and supreme blessedness. Where this precious and saving word is absent, nothing remains but a fearsome and terrifying darkness, error and faction, death and every calamity, and the tyranny of the devil himself, as we can see with our own eyes every day.

Third, I confess and acknowledge great sin and wicked ingratitude on my part because all my life I have made disgraceful use of the Sabbath and have thereby despised his precious and dear word in a wretched way. I have been too lazy, listless, and uninterested to listen to it, let alone to have desired it sincerely or to have been grateful for it. I have let my dear God proclaim his word to me in vain, have dismissed the noble treasure, and have trampled it underfoot. He has tolerated this in his great and divine mercy and has not ceased in his fatherly, divine love and faithfulness to keep on preaching to me and calling me to the salvation of my soul. For this I repent and ask for grace and forgiveness.

Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 43: Devotional Writings II. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 43, pp. 202–203). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
From God's Word

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins . 1 John 4:10
Racism and the church: A time to listen
Compiled by Pamela Nielsen and Stacey Egger

A policeman who was called to protect his city during a riot. A pastor who brought the Lord’s Prayer into the midst of the protests. A layman whose brother was killed by police. A mother living in a neighborhood damaged by riots. 

These are but a few of the voices speaking within the LCMS in the wake of George Floyd’s killing on May 25.

The voices said different things. There was pain, fear, weariness, courage, grief. No matter who spoke, there was one refrain: Christ and His forgiveness are the only way forward. We invite you to listen in to portions of these conversations.
What can you and your church do? 
(From Racism and the church: A time to listen)

Some suggestions from those interviewed.
Pray, listen, learn
Show mercy
  • Collect and donate supplies to affected neighborhoods
  • Offer water and food to those in need
  • Volunteer to help restore damaged neighborhoods and businesses 
Work for change
  • Suggestions from Rev. Dr. Roosevelt Gray Jr.
  • Assess community needs: spiritual, educational, physical
  • Work with your circuit and district
  • Visit for more information
Posted June 19, 2020
From God's Word

Will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.” Then Jesus asked, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? ”  Luke 18:7–8
Recommended Reading from LCMS Black Ministry
  • African Americans and the Local Church, Dr. Robert H. King — Concordia Publishing House
The purpose of this anthology is to present major church situations faced by African-Americans in the Lutheran Church and society generally. Concerns are identified with which African Americans have been and still are affected as the redeemed people of God. Some noteworthy situations, concerns, experiences, problems, needs and challenges encountered by African-Americans are pointed out by the writers. Moreover, they disclose some of the cultures, lifestyles, mores, characteristics, customs, values and traditions with which many African-Americans are identified and in which they find meaning, purpose and satisfying fulfillment as human beings created by the heavenly Father, redeemed by Jesus Christ and called to be saints by the Holy Spirit.
  • Black Christians: The Untold Story, Dr. Jeff Johnson — Concordia Publishing House
  • Days in the Life of Dr. Richard C. Dickinson, Deborah Dickinson-Mitchell & Dr. Frazier N. Odom — Black Ministry Services
  • Biography of Dr. Richard C. Dickinson
  • Eight Models of Ethnic Ministry, Dr. Robert H. King — Concordia Publishing House. This book gives good insights into practical approaches for sharing the Gospel with different people and groups. It should be read by every seminary professor, student, and pastor.
  • Light in the Dark Belt, Dr. Rosa Young — Concordia Publishing House. The story of mission work among the colored (Black) people of Alabama. The story is woven around the life of Rosa Young, a pioneer in this work. Miss Young wrote her story in gratitude to Almighty God, who, to use her own words, “led me and a host of others out of the gross darkness, which hung like a dense fog over our souls, into the marvelous light of His salvation.”
  • Outreach through Lutheran Schools: “Hands Stretched to the Lost”. Dr. Willie P. Stallworth, Sr. — Black Ministry Services. Developing a Plan for Outreach: the school staff’s ability to think beyond the classroom and realize that what they do to share the Gospel with students will impact the lives of their students’ parents.
  • Pastor Jenkins Said, Hang on to Matthew 6:33, Dr. Robert H. King — Concordia Publishing House
  • Roses and Thorns, Dr. Richard Dickinson — Black Ministry Services. Recounts a critical part of that bittersweet legacy. It is not only the story of struggle through adversity, but it is also the tale of success through perseverance. In a whole variety of very meaningful ways, the passionate account that follows captures the spirit of James Weldon Johnson’s verse: “We Have Come.”The Black Agenda
  • Dr. Jeff Johnson — Black Ministry Services. This work asserts that the agenda is to affirm, encourage the full implementation of, and support our ministry as Black Lutherans.
  • The Struggle for Unity, Rev. Richard O. Zehr — Elahar Enterprises. A personal look at the integration of Lutheran churches in the south.
  • This I Remember, Dr. Richard C. Dickinson — Black Ministry Services. For the person who is unfamiliar with Black Lutheran history, especially in the LCMS.
  • Together We Shall Overcome—Life story of Dr. William A. Schiebel, Black Ministry Services
  • Voices from the City, Rev. John Nunes — Concordia Publishing House. Offers pastors who minister to urban congregations ways to connect the Word of God to the urban experience. Excerpts from interviews with ministers — voices from the city — provide added insights into the urban dynamic that shapes these Black, White, Hispanic, and Asian communities. Also included are sample sermons for multiethnic audiences, which rejoice that “God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that you ask or think.”
A cross is set against wildflowers and the Huron River during sunset at Concordia University Ann Arbor on Wednesday, July 2, 2014, in Ann Arbor, Mich. LCMS Communications/Erik M. Lunsford
Emotions and the Church
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is traditionally a thinking church. We have very clear doctrine, while still valuing the freedom given to us in Christ. Martin Luther and his colleagues in the Reformation read, debated, considered, challenged and studied to earnestly seek truth from the Word of God in the contexts where God had put them. And we do the same in our time and place.

This history impacts us greatly. As a denomination, we highly value the role of education in the faith at home, in our churches and in our schools. We have several universities in the Concordia University System and many chapters of LCMS U student ministries at colleges and universities across the nation.

We also value many other things — the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; salvation by grace alone, through faith alone; God’s Word as inerrant — I could keep going. I encourage you to dive into Luther’s Catechism and the Book of Concord and find out more about what we believe, teach and confess. 

One thing that happens because we are a church body that highly values thinking and learning is that we talk less about our emotions. This is not universal. You may travel in circles which talk about emotions and your experience of those emotions a lot. But as a generalization, I find that in the LCMS, in our churches and maybe even in our homes, we shy away from talking about our emotions. There are good reasons for this.
Watch and pray for brothers and sisters in Hong Kong
Our Lord Jesus Christ warned that the end times, in which the people of God now live, would be filled with wars and rumors of wars (Matt. 24:6). Recent events in Hong Kong have stirred up uncertainty across the globe for more than just the Church. Beginning with an extradition bill proposed in April that would allow Hong Kong to extradite Hong Kong citizens to China without due process, Hong Kong locals started protesting peacefully.

Christ calls His people to be light in a world of darkness, as a city on a hill or lamp on a stand (Matt. 5:14–15). If one were to put the lamp under a bushel, it would be a useless light. Even in the most extreme circumstances, the people of God stand on the hill reflecting the Light that comes down from above. 

At the same time, God does not call His people to intentionally place themselves in harm’s way. The martyr’s cross may come, but God’s people do not seek it out. 

Lutheran Witness Post published:September 13, 2019
Leaving the Darkness, Proclaiming the Light
By Kevin Armbrust

Many Lutherans in Tanzania seek to learn and teach the truth of the Scriptures as found in the Lutheran Confessions, and they are asking the LCMS to join them.

The LCMS is not in fellowship with any church body in Tanzania. Yet, plenty of work and many invitations to join together in the Word of God remain. And there are many opportunities to influence and encourage the Lutheran churches in Tanzania. As with many churches throughout the world, the Lutherans in Tanzania are facing challenges from within and without. Read all
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Soli Deo gloria
Trinity Lone Oak Lutheran
2950   Highway  55
Eagan,  MN   55 121