Gathering Times

Posted on Aug 2, 2013 in Pastor's Desk | No Comments

From Pastor Becker’s Heart to Yours….
This past month [July 2013] saw major gatherings of Christians. Does the fact that 25,000 LCMS youth can be in San Antonio, TX for a gathering mean anything for the future of the Church? Does the fact that 3 million young people gathered for World Youth Day in Brazil to be with Pope Francis mean anything for the future of the Church? Does the fact that over one thousand LCMS delegates had a remarkably peaceful and harmonious convention in St. Louis mean anything for the future of the Church? Does the fact that thousands of young people made a pilgrimage to Taize, France mean anything for the future of the Church?

German Pastor and theologian Hermann Sasse preached an Advent sermon on December 15, 1940: “The Christian faith has never been a private, personal matter. Jesus Christ has never been a private, personal matter. He is no private, or personal Savior, but the Savior of the world. He will come again openly to judge the living and the dead, the members of his church, and all people…..You young people, eagerly looking toward the future – do you really think the church is a lost cause, believing in Jesus Christ, in a message and man from the past? No, if there is anything in the world which has a future, it is the church. Perhaps it will be a future hard for any of us to imagine. But it will have a future when everything that man can imagine or paint is gone. For the future of the church is the future of Christ. She wanders through the anxiety and distress of this world from his first advent to his last, from his incarnation to his return. Yes, the future of our Lord Jesus Christ – that is the blessed future of the church. Amen.”

Many things, mass gatherings and conventions included, may be well and good, but they tell us nothing about the future of the Church. Until the end of time, the Lord Jesus will continue to gather His children around the apostles’ doctrine, the fellowship, the breaking of the bread and the prayers. If you ever think that you have found anyone or anything more worthy of your complete devotion and attention, we can be sure that deception of the worst kind is at work. Would the Lord say to us as he said to Martha of old, “21st century Christians, you are anxious and worried about many things.” ? As we go back to work and school after summer vacation, remember that our future is the future of our Lord Jesus who loves us with an unimaginable love.

Pastor Paul Becker

Why 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World?

Posted on Aug 1, 2013 in Pastor's Desk | No Comments

Why 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World?
July 9 – August 7, 2013
“The wind blows where it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)

“A wind is blowing through the House of Islam…Today, in more than 60 separate locations in at least 17 of the 49 countries where Islam holds sway, new communities of Muslim-background followers of Christ are emerging. Each of these movements has seen at least 1,000 baptized believers and at least 100 new worshipping fellowships, all of which have come to Christ over the past decade alone. In some countries the communities have grown to number tens of thousands of new Muslim-background followers of Christ.

Though the total number of new Christ followers, perhaps 1-5 million, may be a statistically small drop in the vast sea of Islam, they are not insignificant. Not limited to a remote corner of the House of Islam, these new communities of believers are widespread, from West Africa’s Sahel to the teeming islands of Indonesia – and everywhere in between. …by the end of the 20th century, though, Christianity could count nine separate movements of entire communities of Muslims coming to faith in Christ. It is no accident that these movements coincided with a groundswell of prayer for the unreached peoples of the world, with particular attention given to the world of Islam.

The great harvest of the 1980’s and 1990’s is unprecedented in the history of missions efforts to Muslims. But it dwarfs in comparison to what has occurred in the first decade of the 21st century, as another 64 movements to Christ have appeared. Something is
happening; something historic. A wind is blowing through the House of Islam.”

According to the Muslim calendar, this will be the year 1434. For over 1400 years, Islam has been spreading like a spiritual cancer across the face of the earth, choking out faith, hope and love wherever it goes. As you ponder the wonders of God’s grace being poured out on these millions of lost souls, will you commit to praying every day of Ramadan for the Good News of Jesus to touch and change the hearts and lives of countless Muslims? Let Your kingdom come, Lord Jesus!

Pr. Paul Becker

Lions, crocodiles, cape buffalo. . . and worship schedule?

Posted on Jun 1, 2013 in Pastor's Desk | No Comments

From Pastor Becker’s Heart to Yours…….
Why are we moving to one Divine Service in June and July? Many congregations adopt a summer schedule for a variety of practical reasons, such as families being away on vacation. In addition to our musicians taking a much needed and well-deserved break with their families, let me offer this idea as well — unity in the body of Christ. In his book, “The Great Evangelical Recession” John S. Dickerson tells this story:

“My favorite picture of unity is a YouTube video titled “Battle of Kruger.” It was filmed on a South African safari ….if you haven’t seen it, you should check it out now.

In the clip, four lions pounce on three Cape buffalo as the buffalo drink from a watering hole. The Cape buffalo – mother, father and calf – scatter when attacked. The four lions get hold of the tiny calf, and it doesn’t look good. Gnawing, biting, tearing, and dragging, the lions fight to bring the calf down to the ground. It’s buffalo versus lion. Then, some crocodiles also get in on what seems to be a food fight. The little buffalo has no way of retaliating. All he can do is hang in there. Somehow he stays up on all four hooves.

Cape Buffalo, © Sloth92 | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Cape Buffalo, © Sloth92 | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

That’s when the herd shows up. At least a hundred Cape buffalo. A solid wall of muscle and bone and horns encircles the four lions. The largest, strongest bulls stand side by side, forming a battering ram of horns at the front of the mass. One at a time, the largest bulls take turns charging the lions.

One bull gores a lion, throwing it ten feet in the air. The other lions keep gnawing at the calf, which is still alive, but now out of the water and away from the crocodiles. The lions don’t take the herd seriously—until another lion gets gored. And another gets stampeded.

Finally, the calf breaks free from the last lion, and the largest bulls chase the pride of lions away. What no single buffalo could do alone – attack, frighten, and chase away four lions – the community of buffalo could easily do together. In the end, the calf walked away without a limp.

One animal expert explained that Cape buffalo typically function in various individual groups and even fight with each other (sounds like one of our dear evangelical churches and ministries, right?). But, she added, ‘If a youngster is threatened, both the harem males and bachelor males which usually fight with one another – will get together to try to rescue it.’

We need the humility and perspective to see that (our movement) is under spiritual attack, and we need each other.”

If anyone has doubts that moving to one Divine Service is a good idea, I sincerely hope and pray that watching this video clip will persuade you otherwise. Surely God allowed this amazing incident to filmed and viewed now more than 71 million times for a good reason! It certainly humbles me to think that such enlightened, intelligent beings as we humans might need to learn a lesson from dumb beasts. Well, it wouldn’t be the first time (Numbers 22:27-31)

Pr. Paul F. Becker

Joshua 4:24 “…that all the people of the earth may know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”

We Celebrate and Proclaim

Posted on Mar 31, 2013 in Pastor's Desk | No Comments

This month we celebrate and proclaim:

Alleluia! Christ is risen! Death at last has met defeat!

Our local mission council, Central Appalachian Lutheran Ministries, or C.A.L.M. has purchased seven (7) billboards that will display this identical life-changing message in Abingdon, Elizabethton, Johnson City, Kingsport, Rogersville, Morristown and Harrogate.

For four (4) weeks, tens of thousands of people will see this message connected with the LCMS cross/logo and the name and contact information of the local Lutheran congregation.
In order for this outreach campaign to have maximum impact, we need to do three things:

  • Raise awareness of the campaign in each member congregation by posters, announcements, newsletter articles, skits etc.;
  • Pray that the tens of thousands of our neighbors who see the message will be moved by the Holy Spirit to follow up by contacting and/or visiting our local congregation(s); and
  • Talk about the billboard campaign with your friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc.

In the world’s mind-set, Christmas is over on December 25, but the Church celebrates Christmas for twelve days (December 25 – January 6). In the world, Easter is history as soon as the last Easter egg is found, but believers celebrate the resurrection of Christ Jesus for fifty (50) days, from Easter (March 31) to Pentecost (May 19). Please take advantage of this unique opportunity to talk about your faith in the living Savior as the billboards go up throughout the greater Tri-Cities area.

Pr. Paul F. Becker Joshua 4:24 “…that all the people of the earth may know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”

Considering Marriage

Posted on Mar 6, 2013 in Pastor's Desk | No Comments

March 2013 • Considering Marriage

From Pastor Becker’s heart to yours…..
Back in the early days of our nation, a visitor from France made this observation: “… I do not know whether all the Americans have a sincere faith in their religion… but I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or to a party, but it belongs to the whole nation, and to every rank of society. …Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot….. How is it possible that society should escape destruction if the moral tie be not strengthened in proportion as the political tie is relaxed? And what can be done with a people which is its own master, if it be not submissive to the Divinity? (de Tocqueville, Democracy in America – Volume 1 Chapter 17).

What greater evidence of being “submissive to the Divinity” could there be than accepting God’s definition of Holy Matrimony? The U.S. Supreme court this month will hear a challenge to this sacred institution that could have a significant impact on our life together in both the kingdom of this world and in the Kingdom of God.

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear these cases is a significant moment for our nation,” Archbishop Cordileone said. “I pray the Court will affirm the fact that the institution of marriage, which is as old as humanity and written in our very nature, is the union of one man and one woman. Marriage is the foundation of a just society, as it protects the most vulnerable among us, children. It is the only institution that unites children with their mothers and fathers together. We pray for the Court, that its deliberations may be guided by truth and justice so as to uphold marriage’s true meaning and purpose,” Archbishop Cordileone said.

Please make this your special intention in prayer and fasting throughout this Lenten season as we pray together in our special Mid-Week services and especially during Holy Week at the end of the month. May God have mercy upon us and save the Supreme Court and this nation!

Pr. Paul F. Becker Joshua 4:24 “…that all the people of the earth may know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”

House blessings in Epiphany

Posted on Dec 29, 2012 in Pastor's Desk | No Comments

House Blessings in Epiphany

By custom of the undivided church, the Pastor visits and blesses the homes of the faithful during the Epiphany season. Many Pastors, myself among them, would dearly love to see a rebirth of this practice in the congregations and homes of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.

The Pastoral Care Companion, produced by our Commission on Worship says, “Homes may be blessed annually. Usually this is done during the season of the Epiphany due to the connection of the visitation of the Magi to the home of the infant Christ…The head of the household should be encouraged to pray regularly with the family, read the Scriptures, and sing hymns throughout the year, especially in times of distress.” To this I would add the following reasons:

  • To strengthen the domestic church by the Word of God and prayer
  • To renew the bonds of love between Pastor and the faithful of his flock
  • To impress on young and old alike the power and necessity of God’s blessing on all of life
  • To increase opportunities for conversation about the importance of our faith
  • To awaken awareness of our connection with the whole church in heaven and on earth

To this end, I hope that many of you will avail yourselves of this opportunity, thus experiencing the joy expressed in the hymn,

Oh, blest the house, whate’eer befall, where Jesus Christ is all in all!
A home that is not wholly His—how sad and poor and dark it is!
Then here will I and mine today a solemn promise make and say:
Though all the world forsake His Word, I and my house will serve the Lord! (LSb 862)
Pr. Paul F. Becker

Joshua 4:24 “…that all the people of the earth may know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”

Studying the Art of Marriage

Posted on Sep 22, 2012 in Pastor's Desk | No Comments

Contemporary Culture and Marriage

Did you enjoy the recent series on lies that our society and culture believe? We covered five basic categories: 1. everything is random. 2. no absolute truth. 3. people are basically good . 4. I can do whatever I want. 5.The goal of life is self-satisfaction. We tried to absorb the sobering truth that the wrath of God is being revealed over us because we have ex-changed the truth of God for the lie; that as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he; and that every wrong or destructive behavior begins with believing a lie. This also happens to be the premise of an article by Pastor Bill Eliff, “8 Lies That Destroy Marriage.”

This article and others like it can be found on a website: theartofmarriage.com. That just happens to be the title of a dvd-based marriage event created to help couples fully experience God’s plan for marriage. Usually scheduled over a Friday night and Saturday, through the use of engaging stories, real-life testimonies, and humorous vignettes, this is a natural tool to inspire couples to have the God-honoring marriage that He designed.

Imagine what might happen if every LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod)  church in the greater Tri-Cities offered the Art of Marriage at least once a year. Imagine what might happen if every couple then completed an eight week “Marriage Oneness” experience that equips couples to grow in true intimacy, connection, and purpose – and experience closeness for a lifetime. Imagine what might happen if even 10% of those couples committed to become mentors to other couples that need someone to confide in. Well, are you ready to see what God can do through a restoration of biblical, God-honoring marriage in our community? Please be in prayer for a kick-off “Art-of-Marriage” event for our CALM churches. This would familiarize two or three couples from each congregation with the experience and prepare them to host it in their home church. The goal of Family Life Ministries is for the Art of Marriage to be hosted at least once a month in 2013 somewhere in the Tri-Cities. Marriages need all the Christian encouragement and support we can muster! Think of the families and children that can be impacted with love and truth. Wouldn’t that be worth our while?

I bet you thought I forgot about the 8 Lies that Destroy Marriage, didn’t you? Well, here they are.

  • Lie #1. “My happiness is the most important thing about my marriage.”
  • Lie #2. “If I don’t love my spouse any longer, I should get a divorce.”
  • Lie #3. “My private immorality does not affect my marriage.”
  • Lie #4. “My sin (or my spouse’s sin) is so bad that I need to get a divorce.”
  • Lie #5. “I married the wrong person.”
  • Lie #6. “My spouse and I are incompatible.”
  • Lie #7. “Breaking the marriage covenant won’t hurt me or my children.”
  • Lie #8. “There’s no hope for my marriage—it can’t be fixed.”

We must combat the lies about marriage. The truth will set us free (John 8:32). God can fix anything!

–Pr. Paul Becker
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!” Luke 15:2

 

Welcome to Concordia Lutheran Church

Posted on Jan 23, 2012 in Pastor's Desk | No Comments

It is good, Lord, to be here.

This portion of our new website will host thoughts from the Pastor’s desk. We’re just getting started, so keep an eye on the progress!