Blog- Oct. 11- 2021
Today is “Columbus Day”; a time when we celebrate the discovery of the New World by Europeans. Some, on the other hand, today are not “celebrating” because they see this as a time when slavery began. However, Africans had not been brought to, nor did they inhabit, the Caribbean area in 1492. In addition, some “scientists” in the Catholic Church thought that the world was flat! Columbus’ discovery sent their theories into a tailspin! Not only was the world round but wonderful new things were found, like sugar cane! Now THAT changed the world, permanently! It became a much “sweeter” place. (Pun intended.) At first only royalty could afford the sweetener but eventually people all over the world tasted the exotic flavor. Some found that it could be turned into a “magical elixir” called….rum! (You know the rest of THAT story…..)
But did you know that Columbus’ fervor to discover more of the world west of Spain and Portugal was secondary to his true intent? His diary, still under glass, reveals that his main goal was to “spread the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ”? Yes, it is true. (I’ll bet you didn’t learn THAT in school! It certainly is ignored by those who disdain the explorer’s efforts overall.)
While men jumped off the ships and reveled in the warm climate, the new fruits, and the abundant sugar cane, Columbus was trying to figure out how to communicate the Good News of the Redeemer to them. Many of the natives did come to faith, according to history. But unfortunately, many others saw a way to make lots of money by enslaving the natives and eventually importing African slaves; sold by African chiefs of warring tribes. The trade became famous and extremely profitable. Unfortunately, the proclamation of God’s Word took a “back seat” to greed.
Today the same thing is happening. Our forefathers came from Europe, most importantly, to spread the true religion. Both Calvinists (early Presbyterians), Roman Catholics and Lutherans bravely crossed the Atlantic Ocean to find a place where they were not persecuted for their faith. While they, too, reveled in the New World’s offering of rich land, they were most grateful for the opportunity to build churches where they could worship in good conscience. They soon set out to “make disciples” according to their own beliefs. But, like Columbus’ efforts, the Church in America soon took a back seat to greed, selfishness and rationalism.
Pray that God the Holy Spirit would cause men’s souls to rise up for His Truth today! Pray that the love, mercy and grace of God in Christ would so inspire and fill souls in the Church that there would be a new “discovery” in our sin-laden world; the free gift of God’s redemption through Jesus Christ! This is the “sweetest” and most precious gift man can ever know! 😊 In Him our loving Savior,
Pastor William C. Mack
Blog- October 10, 2021
Christ the Rock Lutheran Church, a virtual congregation, called their first pastor last Sunday (Oct. 03, 2021)……Me! Previously (June 2009- Sept. 2021) I was a “missionary-at-large” with pastoral responsibilities (preaching, teaching, evangelism, counseling, and administrative duties (ordering hymns online, doing blogs for the website, ordering supplies, etc..). Quite honestly, I’m delighted to be their “shepherd”. 😊
We have endured many “storms” along the way; attempting to find reasonable rental space, deaths, division, and apathy to our attempts at reaching out to the community. But still the Lord of the Church continues to bless us through His Word and the Sacraments. While we remain small, in numbers (18 souls) the faithfulness of this “flock” is remarkable.
And transitioning from a physical location in Carlsbad, CA (Senior Community Center) to a virtual situation has been a challenge for sure! When the Covid-19 virus hit and the former place of worship was not available because of governmental “lockdown”, we went online and tried “Skype”. As one member said, “It’s better than nothing!” Soon, however, we realized that Bible study would not be feasible from a Skype perspective. So, someone suggested “Zoom”. Even though we had very little experience with it (as a congregation), we soon realized it was “perfect” for us. 😊 We could not only see and hear the Word but interact in “real time”! “Perfect”!
Now we have most of our members and a number of visitors blessing us on Sunday with their presence. Several of the brethren are elderly and in nursing homes and are unable to join us but I minister to them by sending the sermon to them and visiting them in person with the Lord’s Supper. It is working out well.
Another congregation in Virginia, Agnus Dei Lutheran Church (Fredericksburg) also is practicing this outreach along with a physical presence. I’m certain that Pastor Jim Shaw and his “flock” will join us soon in fellowship and that a number of other Lutheran congregations searching for fellowship in the country whom I’ve been in contact, will also join us in establishing a group of Confessional, Lutheran, churches in “official” fellowship and support. Exiting time! 😊
Pray that the “Lord of the harvest” will send many more souls our way so that we may serve them with the blessed Word of God. With much upheaval in our country today, many souls are in dire need. May Christ’s peace be poured out upon them through His means of grace until He comes to take us all Home to Heaven. Praise His Name!
Pastor William C. Mack
Blog- Sept. 27, 2021
This week, on the church calendar, “angels” are celebrated. While very few of us have actually SEEN angels, we know they are there. How? “For the Bible tells me so.” (They are mentioned almost 300 times in the Scriptures!) You have your good angels who minister to God and His saints (that’s us) and bad angels, or demons, who were created by the Lord (Colossians 1: 16) as good but turned on Him and His creation; starting with Adam and Eve. And we know how THAT turned out! ☹
The term “angel” describes their office; “one sent” or “a messenger”. We’ll focus on “the good guys” today. They are spiritual beings who are without any bodily form whatsoever. They appeared to humans at times to comfort them but they must never be “worshipped”. That is an act solely set aside for the true God (Luke 4:8).
God created them as our protectors (Psalm 91: 10-11), to serve us in accordance with His will (Hebrews 1:14). Remember Daniel and the lions? (Daniel 6: 16-23) Talk about a “close call”! I think at that point I would have said, as they were getting ready to throw me into the lion’s den, “You’re with me….right Lord????”, while sweating through my robe….And who could forget the “close call” that Jesus had when Herod tried to kill Him! (Matthew 2: 13-21) Saint Peter, too, had some grim times as he languished in prison; only to have an angel of the Lord “break him out”. (Acts 12: 5-11).
As we look out today in the world, we might be overwhelmed with all the enemies of God trying to harm us and stop the work of the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 18-20). Just remember: the angels do His bidding (Psalm 103: 20) and they will “guard you in all your ways.” (Psalm 91: 11).
I remember driving Patty (my wife) to her new teaching internship in Wyoming. The roads were icy and as we approached a downward canyon, we saw that the curve had no guardrails at the bottom! A young man had broken through and died trying to navigate that path earlier. But, being the stubborn guy I am, I decided to try it anyway; telling Patty to get out while I “carefully” braked down to the bottom….It didn’t work. The car’s tires caught the ice and I found myself speeding to the bottom of the curve with the “tape” as my “protection” from falling into the canyon! Just before hitting the tape the car suddenly STOPPED! I had taken my foot off the brake and, going 20 miles an hour, decided to die in prayer. As the car came to a halt, I put it in park, backed up and drove my (hysterical) fiancé to her appointment. That summer we drove the same route; 90 degrees and a dry road. I actually STOPPED the car 2 feet away from the (new) guard rail and put it in NEUTRAL; taking my foot off the brake. The car went forward and bumped the guard rail! NO one can tell me that God’s angels weren’t there that winter, stopping my car. No way they were not there! 😊 God’s love, through Christ, will protect us always. May His grace assure you of that daily. In Jesus’ Name. Amen!
This week on my clergy calendar includes a commemoration of the prophet Jonah. As you undoubtedly remember, he was the guy who was called by God to go to his enemies in Ninevah, a town of the Assyrians, to preach His Word. Most people know the story of how he was swallowed by a whale, or great fish, and how he not only survived but that the entire city was brought to repentance! Two miracles!
Miracles are downplayed today; mostly, I think, because of the vast achievements in the last 200 years. Industry, scientific discoveries (like penicillin), etc., have allowed man to rely on himself more and more. We will have a “man on Mars”, undoubtedly, within the next 20 years. It seems like humankind has no bounds to its wisdom. Or so it seems…..
Last year I was going door-to-door inviting people to worship with us. When I came across a self-professing atheist with a “Ph.D in physics” I said to him, “Great! Maybe you can tell me where the sun came from!” He stared at me and said, “H_____, I don’t know!” I responded by saying, “That is why I’m here! So you won’t have to go there!” Evolution has many forms but no one who professes to be an atheist has ever given me an explanation as to how the sun “evolved” into being. And I have knocked on thousands and thousands of doors! Let’s admit it. It is a miracle, especially when you know that the sun is a burning ball of gas. How would ANY combination of atoms/miracles “decide” to get together to burn themselves up!? Then there’s that whole 2nd Law of Thermodynamics that says that order CANNOT come out of chaos. (I can tell you EXACTLY when the sun will come up 10 years from today…….Order…..). The universe is one huge witness to miracles from a Creator.
Life, in the womb, is a miracle. And the Bible, of course, is full of unexplainable actions. The greatest miracle is that God took human form, came to earth, suffered, died and rose again…..for us. Faith, a gift from God, allows us to supersede the natural stupidity we have (spiritually) and trust in a God Who, not only loves us, but has promised us other miracles; forgiveness and eternal life in a place where supernatural beings (angels) live and where no pain, stress, or negative thoughts ever occur! THAT is much more miraculous, in my book, than surviving being swallowed by a whale! And that comfort is ours, by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. I have my doubts that the whole town where I live will be brought to faith as I continue to knock on their doors. But, by God’s grace, I know that the miracle of faith has brought me a peace that I cannot find anywhere else. I pray it is yours, as well. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Tomorrow is a BIG day for California! Voters go to the polls to determine whether our present governor should be taken out of office or not. Tempers are flaring on every side! With the Covid-19m crisis, rising gasoline prices, and the inflation rate going up, people are questioning whether it could be the present administration in the state…..nor not. The great thing is that Californians get a vote; a chance to tell the world what they think. Whether or not their vote will be a deciding factor is up to the majority of those who actually cast a vote. Historically, recall votes come in way below 50%. But just wait and see the people’s reaction if their “side” loses! Pontification will reign in both the local communities and on the news channels. Emotions flaring equals money for the news channels. That is a fact. Nobody responds to boring news…..
What if God determined morality and the certainty of Heaven by a “vote”? Can you imagine what THAT would look like? From month-to-month people would wonder what is “right” and what is “wrong”! They, too, would constantly question whether or not they are bound for Heaven for Hell! Anxiety would reign supreme! Depression would overwhelm the populace as consciences, seared by one new “law” after another, pummeled them into guilt ….or anger. Yet that very thing is happening in the United States. One Christian church after another is “voting” to change God’s Word. What was a “damnable sin” 50 years ago is actually celebrated in some churches! Is there no objective truth? In the Roman Catholic church last week, the Pope declared that the Ten Commandments were “not objectively true.” What? Do you mean adultery, murder, and theft are “up to the individual” now? The Christian church has lost its mind!
Thanks be to God (and I really MEAN that!) Jesus said, “Sanctify them in the Truth. Your Word is truth.” (John 17: 17) We can come to grips with our sin, confess it to God, and know, beyond all doubt, that it is forgiven. ( 1 John 1: 9) The blood of Christ has declared us righteous and holy and He longs to assure us of eternal life with Him in Heaven (John 14: 1-2) No one, even in the Church, has to “vote” on it. God is a majority…..(Actually He’s the only One “voting”…..) and He has made it clear. No need to wait for further verification. No need to “hold your breath” until the Last Day. God has stated clearly His truth: “He that believes and is baptized SHALL be saved.” (Mark 16: 16). Period. Our “side” has already WON! YEAH for us!
I hope my side wins tomorrow. I’ll be happy about that but if not I know God’s plan stretches out farrrrrr beyond tomorrow into eternity. And I checked the “back of His Book”. We WIN! Praise God from Whom all blessings flow! In Him Who is our eternal Savior. Amen.
Tragically, this week marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Almost 3,000 innocent people were murdered! I say “murdered” because there was no state of war declared between the U.S.A. or any other nation. “Faithful” Muslims decided to actually act on their beliefs and take the lives of “infidels”; those who rejected the teachings of Islam.
For those reading this who know “really nice Muslims who wouldn’t hurt a flea”, I remind you that in every religion there are those, like in Christianity, who follow their religious beliefs to whatever degree they feel comfortable, not according to its decrees. In other words, in every faith, there are liberals, moderates, and conservatives.
James E. Horn, a veteran who served in the Diplomatic Corps of the U.S.A., wrote a book on his 25 plus years in the Middle East. (Experiencing Islam)(2009) He served in areas that were “backward” and some that were “civilized”. Overall, this excellent book (I have read MANY books on Islam) reveals that those who follow Islam “faithfully” will kill (murder) and all who oppose OR reject the Muslim faith! The liberals and moderates, like all the same mindset in other religions, smile and “get along”……until the conservatives (“radicals”, actually truly FAITHFUL) Muslims force them to act. They have. The “liberal and moderate” Muslims are building up in tremendous numbers in the U.S.A.; both in general society and, especially, in political settings. Why is this so dangerous? Because the goal of TRUE Muslims is to make the United States an Islamic state! Sharia law is incredibly cruel, especially to women! Death in the “service” of blowing up buildings or U.S. military is “the guarantee to Paradise”! Time and space do not allow me to point out the hundreds of deficiencies in the pagan religion of Islam. Overall, Islam is extremely works-righteous.
When Sept. 11, 2001, occurred, I had read much on Islam and often responded to people, “Yes, it is sad but it should have been expected! Ignorance is not always bliss!” But what can we do? God has brought hundreds of thousands of Muslims into our country, I believe, so that we can reach out to them with the Gospel. Many Muslim souls have been brought to Christ. I, personally, heard a former Islamic terrorist speak who was converted to Christ and is now a missionary in the United States to Islamic communities! The dark religion of Islam must be parted by the light of Jesus Christ; His grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness.
Muslims believe that Jesus existed. They just don’t believe that He was, and is, God in the flesh Who suffered and died to forgive them. Let us share the Truth of God’s Word with these poor souls so that they may know the peace, joy, and absolute certainty of Heaven through faith in Christ.
I remember in middle school that we were given the homework to “memorize the Gettysburg Address”. I was shocked! I could hardly remember what I had for breakfast! To memorize such an important document seemed “light years” away in my ability. But even to this day, I remember parts of it. One section seems to be applicable to the many factions breaking off in churches today. Abraham Lincoln said:
“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”
This is true not only of physical nations but of spiritual ones as well. Once “Christians” began to become factional (breaking off because of man-made teachings) the Body of Christ began to suffer. When the church at Rome, prior to any “popes”, began to demand more authority and power because of their size, the “cracks” in the Church stared. Soon, that east of Rome pointed out THEIR perceived (human opinions) and they broke away from the Roman Church. One group excommunicated the other! Until Luther, there were only two, basic “churches” in Christendom, Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Luther, by the way, never wanted to break away from the Romanist church. He was excommunicated; declared a heretic and consigned to the fires of Hell! During his time, Calvin, (the founder of the Presbyterian church) declared his breaking away from Rome for many and varied man-made doctrines. On and on it has gone until the Body of Christ today is a broken mess. Cults who deny the Trinity, Baptists who deny baptism to infants, Presbyterians, and Methodists who deny the real presence of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Sacrament, Pentecostals who deny the two doctrines and demand that we “speak in tongues” ALL proclaim to be Christians! We even have “Lutherans”, today who deny every teaching in our beloved Small Catechism! Can the Lutheran Church, which has been around since 1517 “endure” the “civil war” of conflicting, fleshly doctrines? We shall see. We DO know that “the Word of the Lord endures forever” (1 Peter 1: 25), so it looks like a remnant will bless the Body of Christ until our Lord’s Second Coming. We, at Christ the Rock Lutheran Church, are part of that remnant.
As we fight the good fight and fend off the teachings of Satan which threaten our unity and the comfort of the Gospel, may He fill us with His mercy and grace to the end, may we pass the “test” by His grace alone and continue to look forward to the Day when He takes us to Paradise where there is no disunity, no bitterness, and no confusion. Amen! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!
This Sunday commemorates the martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist. As you probably know, “the Baptist” was not his last name. “Duh!”, you might say. Nor did he belong to a group called “the Baptists”. Nope. That denomination did not start until the 1630s. They were a group in America that fractured over “free will in conversion”; believing that man, naturally, has a spiritual “spark” of “good” in him. (Yeah, right ☹) Anyway, from the original Greek language (in which the New Testament was written), John’s name was literally “John the Baptizer”.
John, as you may know, was known for baptizing people “for the remission of sins” (Mark 1: 4). He had been called by God in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (Mark 1: 2-4 Isaiah 40:3) to “prepare” the “way of the Lord” by “preaching and baptizing”. People seemed to flock to him at the beginning; even though he had a weird dress (camel’s hair, very scratchy) and had a peculiar diet (locusts….yuch). But remember that the Jewish leaders had come up with many extra spiritual “laws”, outside of the Bible. The Jews, undoubtedly, just wanted to hear the basic truth and, especially, be comforted by God’s Word.
But when John (the baptizer) started preaching against King Herod’s living in sin with his sister-in-law things changed. Bad “P.R.” was not taken as lightly by politicians back then and Herod’s sister-in-law’s daughter demanded that they cut John’s head off. This, after Herod had (basically) offered her “anything”. Most of us would have said, “Take a hike, sister!” but not Herod. He bowed to her demand because of the nobles and officers he had invited to the party. Wow….Pride over death.
We, in the Lutheran church, have had many martyrs for the faith. Countless souls chose death rather than deny the faith. Rev. Robert Barnes, an Englishman, was the first Lutheran martyr; burned to death by the Church of England on July 30, 1540. Barnes’ final confession remained true to his Lutheran beliefs: 😊
“There is none other satisfaction unto the Father, but this [Christ’s] death and passion only… That no work of man did deserve anything of God, but only [Christ’s] passion, as touching our justification… For I knowledge the best work that ever I did is unpure and unperfect… Wherefore I trust in no good work that ever I did, but only in the death of Jesus Christ.” He and John the Baptist were led by the love of God in the Messiah, Jesus Christ. May we find such courage to face every day and, if it is God’s will, to die for the faith one day. May His will be done. In Jesus’ Name,
Rev. William C. Mack
Christ the Rock Lutheran Church
It was announced this week that an official “drawdown” of military troops from Afghanistan has begun. After 20 years of war with terrorists in that country, the United States militarily has begun its withdraw. After both, Republican and Democrat presidents had their input, and over 2,300 troops and over 3,000 civilian contractors lost their lives, the controversial question now is “What did we accomplice?” It’s been pointed out, on the positive side, that no major terrorist attack took place while we had troops in Afghanistan. True. It has also been pointed out that the terrorists are, already, taking over the major cities and will overrun our former military sites within days. So, what can we expect? Only God knows….
In the Christian Church we, too, know about “fighting the good fight”. (2 Timothy 4:7) Paul debated his fellow Jews and eventually gave his life for the cause of Christ. “War”, in the Bible, is mentioned over 230 times! It refers to both physical and spiritual conflict. Our battles, as Christians, are especially difficult because our enemies are the unbelieving world, our own sinful nature, and the Devil himself! Enemies of the Christian Church are not given specific uniforms or flags to wave. They are just hell-bent on destroying the “holy, Christian Church” on earth! Saint Paul told the Corinthians, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6)
Church discipline is part of spiritual “warfare”; as is pointing out the sins of those who will not repent of manifest transgression. “Correction” is one of the several uses of God’s Word (2 Timothy 3: 16). But pointing out the error and ex-communication do not bring us any appreciation or favor by our enemies. The “war” continues until our Lord’s return.
And when our Savior from sin comes to take us to Heaven, via our death or with His mighty angels on the Last Day, we shall finally lay down our “armor” and never again see hate, lies or death again. There in Paradise, we shall see all those who belonged, by God’s grace through faith, to His Body, the Church Militant.
But how do we know this is true? Because His Word promises that “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.” (Mark 16:16) Besides that, I “peeked” at the end of God’s Book (the Bible) and….WE WIN! (Revelation 21: 3- 8) Is our “war” with dark forces worth it? Yes! For in it our Redeemer is glorified, the saints are edified and we know through His Word that we are headed for a Place that is indescribably beautiful….with no more war. Praise God.
Gossip…..It is almost a humorous thing in our society. The visible Christian church finds it much easier to turn a “blind eye” to it because, as one pastor told me, “I’ve got much bigger 'fish to fry' in the congregation.” Wow….The 8th Commandment is stomped on, spit on, and ridiculed but the clergy, in general, are so busy dealing with “important” things like adultery, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and divorce that they, too often, ignore this horrendous sin.
“Horrendous ?!!”, you may say, “That is going over the top, pastor!” Oh really? There was a lady in my first congregation that was known as the “town gossip”. I did not have first-hand knowledge of it until another parishioner came to me, sobbing. Her reputation had been torn by the gossiper and the tale the gossiper had told was terrible! (And not true….) I confronted the gossiper; telling her what a wicked sin it was and that she must “repent” or I would, as her pastor, NOT give her Holy Communion and eventually see that she was excommunicated! She angrily responded, “Just WHO do you think you are ?!”. I clicked the clergy tab on my clergy shirt and said, “I am your pastor. A man of God called by him to this congregation.” After missing a Sunday, the following one she sheepishly came to worship and asked to talk to me “in private” where she cried, asking for forgiveness. I absolved her in Christ. She stopped gossiping.
Although it might “feel good” to gossip and we might have a tendency to condone it because we perpetually see it daily in the news, hear it from our neighbors, etc., we must ask, “Is it really a ‘sin’?” Short answer: Yes. Saint Paul says that gossipers are those with “a debased mind….deserving death.” (Romans 1: 28-29)(N.A.S.V.). “From such people turn away!” the apostle says in 2 Timothy 3:5. Solomon says that we should “not associate with them.” (Proverbs 20:19). Gossip is a sin that tears down a neighbor and makes the bearer of such slander a questionable, at best, witness for Christ.
Rather, let us uphold the 8th Commandment, putting the best construction on what our neighbor does (as difficult as it is, sometimes) and remember that God calls us, as Christians, not what we are according to our flesh but, by His grace, His “salt and light”(Matthew 5: 13-14), His “children” (John 1: 12), His “friend” (John 15:15), His “temple” (1 Corinthians 3: 16), His “saints” (Ephesians 1: 1), etc.. May those Gospel descriptions empower us to kindness and the desire to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) the next time we are tempted to gossip. May our mouths be fountains of grace and concern for our neighbor’s soul. Such was the mindset of our Savior for us. Indeed….In Jesus’ Name, Amen!
Pastor William C. Mack
Christ the Rock Lutheran Church