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Advent records sermon and bible study content from Pastor Marcus Mackay and guest pastors through SoundCloud. Access and download content via the SoundCloud app on the App Store and Google Play, or as an iTunes podcast.
 
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  2019
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A New Translation

Dear blessed saints at Advent,

A dear friend of mine, and fellow LCMS pastor, Rev. Ryan Loeslie, recently translated a mini-article that was included in the September 10th, 1907 issue of “Der Lutheraner” under the title Warum ich auch bei Regenwetter in die Kirche gehe.  This magazine was the forerunner of the “Lutheran Witness”.  I share it with you, as he has, for “timeless encouragement to be in God’s house when Sunday morning comes.” 

Peace be with you,
Pastor Mackay

Why I Also Go To Church When It’s Raining

  1. Because God sanctifies every Sunday through his Word and makes no exceptions just because it is raining.
  2. Because I expect that our pastor will be tending to his duties, and I would be very astounded if he remained at home
        because of the weather.
  3. Because my presence will be all the more necessary at church, the less the attendance unfortunately is on such days.
  4. Because my example will have an influence on others under all circumstances, whether I attend worship or stay away.
  5. Because I see that the unchurched people, even the weakest among them, do not abstain from their amusements just
        because it is raining.
  6. Because the life to which a Christian is called may never be dependent on the change of the barometer, and because
        my behavior towards God’s Word is a measurement of my love towards him.
  7. Because I make the observation: those who use the excuse not to go to church because of the cold, heat, or because
        it is raining – these also make excuses when the weather is beautiful.
  8. Because the man who shrinks away because of such small difficulties may finally fear hindrances which are only
        figments of his imagination. Whoever follows the Lord from afar, as Peter did on the night of Holy Thursday, he easily
        is in danger of denying him completely.
  9. Because it can be, that according to God’s will, a special blessing awaits me in church on a rainy day.
  10. Because I do not know how many Sundays I have left on this earth.

This article may also be found at https://steadfastlutherans.org/2019/10/why-i-also-go-to-church-when-its-raining/



What is worship?

Pastor Marcus MackayThe next few newsletter articles will tackle the subject of “worship.”  For now, let’s start with what was heard at a popular local Christian church not very far away . . .

 “when you go to a Justin Timberlake concert…you are worshipping:  showing love, admiration, affection…Lucas Oil stadium…same thing…the question isn’t whether but what you will worship?”

“your church experience will only be as good as what you bring to it”

“you were made to worship…you were made to love and show admiration and affection”

“God is worthy of the WOW that is already in your heart”

“aim the WOW in your heart toward the one that is only worthy of it”

“you are already worshipping so direct it to Him”

“aim your worship…to God”

“life is hard and challenging….worship your way through it”

The underlying premise of this “sermon” is that true worship is standing, dancing, clapping, praising, exactly how you see done at a concert or football game.  The pastor even went so far as to say that God commands such worship and that humans beings are created to do just that.

Let’s start with John 6:28-29, Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

The highest form of worship is FAITH.  Not what you do or how you do it, but belief in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, crucified and risen for your sins and the sins of the whole world. 

The local pastor went on to claim that “you were made to worship” and that you are doing just that at a Colts game or Justin Timberlake concert.  Since this is worship, you merely need to “aim your worship at God.”  This is also false on many levels:

  1. Man is spiritually dead in his trespasses and sin.  He is not made to worship, he is so infected by sin that even Jesus says in John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.There are many passages that speak to our inability to worship God or that we can control or aim anything.  Here is another from 1 Corinthians 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.  
  2. Many Christians assume that the word “worship” is the same as the word “praise.”  This is why many churches, even Lutheran, have a “Praise Service” or a “Praise Team”.   The first word for worship that occurs in Genesis actually means “bow down.”  This is quite different from the definition of worship I shared above.  Bowing down is quiet and reverent and submissive.  I suggest we start a “Bowing Service” and a “Bowing Team”!  😊Just joking.
  3. God commands that we only worship Him, so if what we do at a Colts game or Timberlake concert is the same thing, then following the logic from this popular local Christian church, it would be sinful according to Scripture! Consider these passages where God commands worship of Him only:  Luke 4:8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’”  Deuteronomy 6:13 It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.

So we see that the definition of “worship” from this big box church is incorrect, from Scripture.  Furthermore, how do you deal with sin in your life?  This church falsely tells you to “worship your way through it”.  This puts ALL the work on you! 

Our Divine Services as Lutheran-Christians focus on two things:  humbling ourselves before the almighty God with reverence and awe, but an awe that bows down before Him, which is so different from the way the world worships.  We don’t worship God like we do the Colts or Timberlake, because we have nothing to offer Him.  We are sinners.  Thus, the Divine Service is not about us coming to God, but rather God coming to us.  Forgiving us.  Which reminds me, Jesus commands (mandates) the Apostles’ and the church that follows them John 20:19-23, On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.  Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

I watched the entire service of this local church.  Never once did I hear the pastors speak these life-giving words of Jesus: I FORGIVE YOU.  Why don’t they do that?  Jesus commands it. 

Luke 24:46-47 Jesus said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

Forgiveness of sins was mentioned once or twice, but it was not the main thing in the “sermon”.  They never mentioned the Gospel in terms of what Jesus did by living a perfect life, dying a death as the once for all sacrifice upon the cross, and rising to new life in His resurrection.  This church is trying to get you and others to believe a false gospel, that you can and should worship God in a certain way.  This is all Law.  I am saddened to hear such drivel and fear for those who may be led astray.

And if we are going to talk about what God commands, what about Jesus also commanding the Lord’s Supper?  We do it every Sunday.  And not just because He commands (mandates) it, but because we also need it and desire what He forgives:  forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.  I did not see nor hear this emphasis at this local church.  Luke 22:19-20 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

Lastly, disciples are NOT made by teaching them to worship or aiming their worship at the right person or place.  Hear again the words of Jesus, Matthew 28:18-20, And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Disciples are made first by baptizing, not worshipping.  Which is one of the reasons we baptize our infants.  They, as sinners, receive God’s grace and mercy.  They do nothing, He does everything.  Then we teach.  We catechize.  I did not hear this emphasis from Scripture, at this local and popular “Christian” church.  They are preaching a false gospel and twisting God’s word to appeal to you and others, leading them away from the gifts of Christ.    

The crux of this first newsletter article on worship is this:  we have nothing to offer Him, but He gives everything to us through Jesus Christ, through His Word, through His Sacraments.  It is not sinful to celebrate at a Colts game or Timberlake concert.  True worship is faith and quiet submission, which should bring to mind the story of Mary and Martha.  Martha is busy working and doing things for Jesus.  Mary is sitting quietly, at Jesus’ feet, listening, learning and receiving.  Jesus commends Mary’s faith and actions, not Martha’s.  Let us first receive His gifts of Word and Sacrament and then get busy with all that needs to be done this side of heaven.  How we worship, what we say and do, does matter.  More to come in the next newsletter article.

Forgiveness of sins, life and salvation are freely yours through Jesus Christ your Savior!

Peace be with you,

Pr. Mackay



Encouragement for the Scared Father

As we begin a new school season and one in which we will be focusing on our youth during our new Wednesday night prayer and confirmation class, please enjoy the following article by a wonderful Lutheran layman, Mr. T.R. Halvorson, a member at Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Sidney, Montana.  Encouragement for the Scared Father
 
May the Lord so grant our prayers for faithful parents in teaching and nurturing our youth!
 
Pr. Mackay


Pray the Catechism

Pastor Marcus Mackay
Summer is quickly coming to a close and most of us are looking ahead to a Fall schedule filled with school, sports and weekly activities at church, such as choir and catechism classes. 
 
Starting each Wednesday in September, we will begin having 7th-8th Confirmation Classes, Adult Form of Faith Classes, Adult Bible Class and Senior High Youth Group. 
 
Beginning at 7:00 pm, we will gather in the Sanctuary to “Pray the Catechism” (also sing the Hymn of the Day and hear a short Homily), breaking up at 7:30 pm until 8:30 pm for our various classes. 
 
“Praying the Catechism” might sound a little strange to you, but for such it was designed.  Most Lutherans think of the Catechism as something rotely memorized or drummed into our heads by our parents, teachers and pastors.  It is so much more! 
 
Enjoy this article by Prof. John Pless and ponder the gifts we have been given.  And as you are able, come join us on Wednesday nights! 

Peace be with you,

Pr. Mackay



Presentation of the Augsburg Confession

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.  Hebrews 12:1

On June 25th, the Church commemorates the “Presentation of the Augsburg Confession.” The Church Year is divided weekly into the following categories:  Sundays & Seasons, Feasts & Festivals & Commemorations. A helpful explanation of these observances can be found on pp. x-xiii in the front of our hymnal, the Lutheran Service Book. It is good, right and salutary for us to remember those who have come before us and follow their path of faith and good works.  As our congregation and Pastors subscribe to the Unaltered (original) Augsburg Confession, it is also helpful to review the foundational nature of this historic document (and why it is part of our confession of the faith and included as a Commemoration in our Church Year). Lastly, it is imperative in our culture today to recognize and model those who stood their ground in the midst of a world that so quickly deserted God and His Word. Reprinted below is an excellent article by Dr. Kilcrease.  May we find our voice and stand firm in the same faith.  

Enjoy! 

Pr. Mackay

The Presentation of the Augsburg Confession
by Dr. Jack Kilcrease

Throughout the 1520’s, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was deeply frustrated by the rise of the Lutheran Reformation. Although he wished to put an end to the various Protestant movements that had grown up in the empire, he nevertheless found it very difficult to do so in light of a variety of wars he was engaged in with the Ottoman Turks and the League of Cognac. For this reason, Charles was effectively forced to allow the Reformation to spread largely unchecked throughout the 1520’s.

Nevertheless, by 1530, Charles had either defeated or made temporary peace with his enemies.  Hence, he was finally able to turn his full attention to the religious issue that had plagued Germany since the Diet of Worms in 1521. Therefore, in January of 1530, the Emperor called an imperial Diet to meet in the German city of Augsburg in April of that year to decide the religious question.

As part of this imperial meeting, the Lutheran princes were asked to present their religious teachings. Wishing to present a unified front at the Diet, Luther, Melanchthon, and several other Wittenberg reformers met at Torgau  in March of 1530 and drafted a confessional document which came to be known as the “Torgau Articles.”  Since Luther was still officially an outlaw under imperial law, he could not travel on to Augsburg to present these articles before the Emperor and the imperial Diet. Instead, a delegation led by Philipp Melanchthon traveled to Augsburg to present the confession of faith before the Emperor, while Luther remained at Coburg Castle. Once there, Melanchthon revised the articles drafted earlier at Torgau under the advice of a number of theologians and political leaders. The final draft was complete on June 23rd and came to be known as the “Augsburg Confession.”  Luther was sent drafts of the revised document as it was composed and approved the revisions and the final draft as well. Although the petition of the Lutheran princes to have the document publicly read was initially refused, the Emperor finally agreed.  As a result, Melanchthon read the confession in the presence of the Emperor on June 25, 1530.

The Augsburg Confession is comprised of twenty-eight articles. Of these articles, twenty-one represent a positive presentation of the Christian faith as taught in the Lutheran Churches while the last seven articles cover suggested reforms of certain practices of the medieval Church.  Although the ultimate aim of the Augsburg Confession was to summarize the main teachings of the Bible, Melanchthon also wished to emphasize the “catholic” (that is, meaning “universal,” not “Roman Catholic”) nature of Lutheran teaching. Throughout the confession, Melanchthon quotes or makes reference to the theologians and councils of the ancient Church to demonstrate the Lutheran Church’s continuity with early Christian teaching.

Showing the catholicity of Lutheran belief was important, because many Roman Catholic theologians had claimed that the Lutherans had broken with the traditional theology of the Church going all the way back to Christ and the apostles. Contrary to this charge, the Lutherans sought to show that their faith was not only drawn from Scripture, but had been the basic teachings of the Christian Church throughout the ages. It was only later that the medieval Church had corrupted the true faith through unbiblical and uncatholic innovations. This argument also carries over into the last seven articles that deal with reforms. With a few exceptions, most of the reforms proposed by Melanchthon involved rolling back changes that had been made to Church teaching and practice in the eleventh century by Pope Gregory the VII and his followers during a period often called the “Gregorian Revolution” by Church historians.

Although it is highly unlikely that modern Christians will ever be called upon to give an account of their faith in quite the same manner as the Wittenberg reformers did at Augsburg, the presentation of the Augsburg Confession may still serve as an important model to the Christian life of faith. Paul teaches us: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). For this reason (although Christians do not earn their salvation by confessing Christ publicly), faith necessarily gives rise to a public confession of faith through words and actions. If we believe in Jesus and the salvation he offers, we will confess that faith publicly, knowing that whatever the negative social, political, or personal consequences, the forces of this world do not have the power to control our ultimate fate. Christ has already overcome the world (Jn. 16:33) and we need not fear confessing the faith boldly.

https://lutheranreformation.org/history/presentation-augsburg-confession/

 



A Worm and No Book?

Senior Pastor Marcus MackaySome 500 years ago, Martin Luther pointedly identified how the world viewed Holy Scripture, just as it is with Christ in the world, as He is viewed and dealt with, so it is also with the written Word of God.  It is a worm and no book, compared to other books(Luther on Ps. 22, WA 48, 31).

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the world has not changed its view of Holy Scripture!  And how many other “books” have surfaced and become popularized since then!  The Koran, Book of Mormon, Evolutionary Science Textbooks, Legislation legalizing the murder of unborn babies in the womb, Legislation legalizing same-sex marriage, Transgender & Homosexuality issues . . . need I go on?

And how easy it is for the Christian to ignore and turn a blind eye to what is around us!  The devil is crafty and sneaky, always attempting to slowly chip away at the foundation of our very faith and being.  And when we allow ourselves to be swayed and convinced by the world, the devil and our own sinful nature, the Bible becomes to us “a worm and no book.”  May it not be so among us.

Christ Himself was mocked and ridiculed (Matt. 27:28ff; John 6:42).  Bearing the punishment for the world’s ignorance and disrespect of God’s Word, our Lord willingly offered Himself up, shedding His blood to cover your sin and mine.  In His resurrection, we have the assurance that His sacrifice has been accepted . . . for us! Christ is Risen!  Alleluia!  Amen!

Emboldened by the Holy Spirit, we seek to be “genuine” while recognizing that the world yet regards us as impostors” (2 Cor. 6:8).  We pay heed to our Lord who said, whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels(Mark 8:38).

The teaching and preaching of Holy Scripture will continue to be the central labor of Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church.  Together we hear and learn the precious truth: in Sunday School and Bible Classes, in our Preschool, in the Divine Services.  Together we receive forgiveness for our timidity and sins against His Holy and precious Word.  So let us teach such truths to our children and our children’s children!  Let us labor diligently in the fields set before us here in Zionsville and beyond.  Let us gather together around the Lamb, singing His praise and strengthening ourselves for the battle that yet rages around us.  It is a joy to serve here among fellow saints who confess such truth and also wrestle with “what does this mean?”  May the Lord bless us and keep us firm in the one true faith.

A worm and no book? 
I think not, forblessed is the one who is not offended by me” (Matt. 11:6).


Pr. Mackay

 



Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

Senior Pastor Marcus MackayHe said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” Mark 16:6-7
 
Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
Alleluia! Amen.

The women were alarmed and afraid. Who could blame them? They had witnessed the disturbing events of our Lord’s Passion: betrayal, whipping, scourging, physical exhaustion, dehydration and excruciating capital punishment in the form of Roman crucifixion. Their family member, friend, Master and Lord had experienced all of this and was now stone-cold-buried-in-the-ground dead. But . . .

You have likewise witnessed trauma of varying degrees in your life. Perhaps you are experiencing it now. It leaves an ache, a void, a pain that no words could ever express. And perhaps like the women at the tomb, you hear the precious Good News that Christ is yet alive! But like the women, you are still seized by trembling and astonishment who even after hearing such remarkable hope and joy-filled words . . . said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
I often find that the hardest truth for Christians to accept is that death (physical) and life (spiritual) go together. Pain and pleasure. Sorrow and joy. Sinner and saint. Law and Gospel. Confession and Absolution. Water and the Word. Bread and Body. Wine and Blood.

My mother likes to sing. She would wake us up in the morning with silly songs that she made up on her own. She would sing old radio and TV commercials from her childhood. She would sing hymns and spiritual songs. It was often annoying! But regardless of the current events in a busy and tumultuous household, she found some way to strike a balance. Her faith in Christ was and is her one true joy. And so I now annoy my own children from time to time!

We sinners need balance. We need some way and means of truly dealing and wrapping our head around the events of our life.

Christ is your balance. Silly songs and other such things have their place in our day to day lives, but they are but a result of what and who our faith grasps and hold dear. Ultimately, in the grand scale of death and life, our Savior is the only way to strike a balance and forge a path forward.

Consider Pastor Apostle Paul, who in the introduction of his first letter to the Corinthians says this: we preach Christ crucified. That’s all about death, pain, sorrow and sin!  But yet later in the same letter he says: if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. These are seemingly two completely different things! Death and resurrection. But in Christ, they are one. For you.

“Our hope comes from God. May He fill you with joy and peace because of your trust in Him. May your hope grow stronger by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

The women at the tomb did not yet grasp this or even possess such a balance. But Jesus keeps His word. He appears to them in Galilee, showing forth His resurrected body and even eating food with them to prove His yet intact divine and human nature. Marvelous!

If this Easter season finds you and your household in a good place, thanks be to God. If this Easter season finds you yet struggling with trembling and astonishment, thanks be to God. For your Lord yet comes to you! This is the heart of our Divine Services, every Sunday morning, where we gather on the weekly day of His resurrection. It is here that He meets us poor sinners. It is here that He brings joy and encouragement. “I forgive you” He speaks to you. “Peace be with you” He says through the mouth of your pastors. Through His Holy Gospel He comes and even stands among you and speaks to you in our Gospel Processional. “Take and eat, take and drink” He says of the bread and wine now also His body and blood . . . for the forgiveness of your sins.

He also continues to go ahead of us, preparing a place in heaven and the resurrection of our very bodies yet to come. So bring your alarm, your fear, your worries and your very sin and gather with others who confess such a simple truth, even in the midst of such a culture that calls such a faith “folly” and nonsense. He who was dead is now alive! And so shall it be for us. For He comes to be with us in Word & Sacrament. There you will see Him, just as He told you. Even still today. For you.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.

Pr. Mackay

P.S. Ponder once more the depth of this simple words sung by our women here at Advent as we began our Easter celebration at the early service in the dark. Marvelous.
Christ is Arisen  Christ ist Erstanden (c. 1100)

Christ is arisen from the grave’s dark prison.
So let our joy rise full and free;
Christ our comfort true will be.
Alleluia!

Were Christ not arisen, then death were still our prison.
Now, with Him to life restored,
We praise the Father of our Lord.
Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia!
Now let our joy rise full and free;
Christ our comfort true will be.
Alleluia!