“Reviewing the Basic Source Of Our Doctrine, What We Believe!” by Pastor Kris Nyman Article excerpted from the November 2017 issue of The Lampstand
I thought it would be good to be reminded of some of the basic teachings which the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations (AFLC) was founded upon. Please, as you read the following words, prayerfully ask God to reveal to your heart how they apply to your life. Or, ask yourself how your life might need to change because of these teachings. These teachings can be found in the booklet, Standing Fast in Freedom, which is available at our church office.
Declaration of Faith It seems good to us as we join together for common work and fellowship to state our beliefs in regard to the following matters.
I. Doctrine We accept and believe in the Holy Bible as the complete written Word of God, preserved to us by the Holy Spirit for our salvation and instruction.
We endorse the statement on the Word as found in the United Testimony on Faith and Life and would quote here the following: "We bear witness that the Bible is our only authentic and infallible source of God's revelation to us and all men, and that it is the only inerrant and completely adequate source and norm of Christian doctrine and life. We hold that the Bible, as a whole and in all its parts, is the Word of God under all circumstances regardless of man's attitude toward it."
We accept the ancient ecumenical symbols, namely, the Apostles', the Nicene, and the Athanasian Creeds [These Creeds can be found on pages 105-107 of the Ambassador Hymnal, which is available at the Church Office]; Luther's Small Catechism [Ambassador Hymnal, pp. 95-104] and the unaltered Augsburg Confession [Ambassador Hymnal pp. 80-94] as the true expression of the Christian faith and life.
We reject any affiliations or associations which do not accept the Bible alone as definitive for the life and practice of man and the church.
We submit all religious teaching to the test of II John 7-11, “7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. 9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.” (NKJV)
We endorse no one version or revision of the Bible to the exclusion of others. We recommend all which are reverent and true translations.
(Submitted to the Special Conference of Lutheran Congregations at Thief River Falls, October 25-28, 1962. Last revision on January 11, 1997.)
“500th Anniversary of the Reformation!” by Pastor Kris Nyman Article excerpted from the October 2017 issue of The Lampstand
October 31, 1517 Martin Luther did something that radically changed Christianity, though he did not intend this. Neither did Luther anticipate that his little known (at that time) deed would be noticed by anyone other than the leaders of the Roman Catholic church. That day, 500 years ago, Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Church in Wittenberg, Germany.
Now, the word theses is the plural of thesis. Here is how dictionary.com defines Thesis: “a proposition stated or put forward for consideration, especially one to be discussed and proved or to be maintained against objections.” This fits Luther’s idea of what he wanted to have happen. Luther had struggled with his faith, thinking that he had to earn or deserve God’s forgiveness through Luther’s own attempts to make peace with God. However, the harder Luther tried, the more he felt like he had failed. Then reading, or remembering Romans 1:16-17: For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” That final phrase, “The just shall live by faith” is what opened Luther’s eyes. He finally saw that it was by faith alone that we are saved and in a relationship with God. This spurred Luther to re-examine the Bible in light of this truth, and he saw many ways that the Roman Catholic doctrine did not adhere to God’s Word. Thus, he thought he should make the Church aware of these problems, and help them to REFORM the wrong doctrines to Biblical doctrines. Luther even believed he would be thanked by the Church leaders for helping them get back on track. He saw himself as a true son of the Church.
Luther was greatly surprised when his teachings were reacted to with anger from Church leaders of his day. He was also surprised that his 95 Theses, which were written in Latin, the language of the church, as well as of academics, were translated into German and became popular reading among the masses in Germany. His ideas quickly spread throughout Germany, thanks to the technology of the Gutenberg Press, which was invented in 1436, 81 years before Luther’s 95 Theses were printed.
The struggle about a relationship with God which comes through Faith Alone is that we feel like we have to do something. It does not seem possible, that it is, as Luther said, by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone, in Christ Alone, as revealed in the Word Alone. Many, when they realize that Jesus has done EVERYTHING necessary for their salvation in the Cross and Resurrection, surrender their hearts and lives to Jesus, through repentance. Thus, we feel like we did something, and we did, but these two ideas must be held in tension. I have to surrender to Jesus, yet Jesus did everything for me, even giving me the faith to surrender.
Here is how Luther spoke about this idea of the paradox of righteousness, holding the two truths in tension, neither one excluding the other.
“Therefore I admonish you, especially those of you who are to become instructors of consciences, as well as each of you individually, that you exercise yourselves by study, by reading, by meditation and by prayer, so that in temptation you will be able to instruct consciences, both your own and others, console them, and take them from the Law to grace, from active righteousness to passive righteousness, in short from Moses to Christ. In affliction and in the conflict of conscience it is the devil’s habit to frighten us with the Law and set against us the consciousness of sin, our wicked past, the wrath and judgment of God, hell and eternal death, so that thus he may drive us into despair, subject us to himself, and pluck us from Christ. It is also his habit to set against us those passages in the Gospel in which Christ Himself requires works from us and with plain words threatens damnation to those who do not perform them. If here we cannot distinguish between these two kinds of righteousness; if here by faith we do not take hold of Christ, who is sitting at the right hand of God, who is our life and our righteousness, and who makes intercession for us miserable sinners before the Father (Heb. 7:25), then we are under the Law and not under grace, and Christ is no longer a Savior. Then he is a lawgiver. Then there can be no salvation left, but sure despair and eternal death will follow.
“Therefore let us learn diligently this art of distinguishing between these two kinds of righteousness, in order that we may know how far we should obey the Law. We have said above that in a Christian the Law must not exceed its limits but should have its dominion only over the flesh, which is subjected to it and remains under it. When this is the case, the Law remains within its limits. But if it wants to ascend in to the conscience and exert its rule there, so to it that you are a good dialectician and that you make the correct distinction.” Luther, Galatians Lectures, Argument of the Apostle (LW 35:10-11).
In essence: I cannot trust my righteousness, my goodness, and neither can you. Jesus’ righteousness is perfect, I dare not trust my own. Jesus’ righteousness is given to us through the gift of faith. Yet, we must receive that gift by repenting and trusting Jesus as our Savior. If someone never receives Jesus’ righteousness, they remain outside of salvation. Yet, Jesus gives us the faith to receive him, so even the action of surrendering to Jesus is a God given gift. We cannot be saved unless we receive the gift of salvation of Jesus’ dying in our place, yet at the same moment when we do trust Jesus, the Holy Spirit is enabling that trust and surrender to happen.
Lutherans have lived with this paradox of doing, yet not doing on our own for the last 500 years. We will continue to live in this tension until our lives end, or Jesus returns.
"Becoming a Disciple-Maker!" by Pastor Kris Nyman Article excerpted from the September 2017 issue of The Lampstand
As you have heard in the sermons during the past few weeks in August, I have been preaching on discipleship. If you have missed any of these sermons, they should be available on our website: www.christcommunityonline.net
Paula and I attended training for this material on discipleship at the Home Mission’s Conference in Mesa, Arizona back in February of this year. We are using materials produced by Becoming A Disciple-Maker. The leaders of this organization were involved with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and their methods have been tried, tested and refined over the years. Becoming a Disciple-Maker’s mission is: “To help churches train disciple-makers to personally befriend and equip each new member with the needed ministry skills to enjoy a lifetime of spiritual growth and evangelistic multiplication.”
If you were asked by a less mature believer to disciple, or mentor them in their faith, where would you start? What would you include? What should be left for later? These questions and more are answered for you in the twelve weeks of materials we will take you through this fall.
In the midst of the twelve weeks, we will pair off, men with men and women with women to learn how to disciple each other one-to-one. As you have heard me say in the Sunday messages, this is really fool-proof. The person serving as the Disciple-Maker will have the answers to the questions he/she asks of the person they are discipling. Then the roles are reversed so everyone gets to see what it is like to be a Disciple, as well as what it is like to be a Disciple-Maker!
Paula and I will be offering this training during our Sunday morning adult Growth Groups. We also thought it would be helpful to repeat each class during one evening following each Sunday’s lesson, so that teachers of Children’s and Youth Growth Groups could also attend. Just this morning, one of the teachers asked me if there might be a possibility to have a week day class over the noon hour. Yes, this is a possibility. By the time you read this the details should be worked out.
One aspect I like about this course is it also focuses on a daily quiet time and provides the structure to carry that out. This benefits both the Disciple-Maker as well as the person being discipled. I was on a conference call today with other Home Mission’s pastors, and Pastor Joel Walde from Butte, MT said that his people have been learning this; they are excited and seeing growth in their own faith, as they are learning how to become disciple makers.
There is a nine week follow up course, after you have taken someone through the initial, Becoming A Disciple-Maker, to further deepen and strengthen your faith as well as the person you are discipling. As you know, when you teach someone, you usually learn even more as the teacher!
Looking forward to how this will grow our own faith and prayerfully grow our congregation!
"GREAT NEWS!!!" by Pastor Kris Nyman Article excerpted from the August 2017 issue of The Lampstand
In September we will be joined by two new Parish Builders: Jessica Nikunen from Watertown, South Dakota and Moriah Graham from Calamus, Iowa.
Just like Cassie and Meesh, before they came to us, Jessica and Moriah have spent the last two years at AFLBS (Association Free Lutheran Bible School) in Minneapolis. Both Jessica and Moriah are out on a summer team right now. Summer teams, as you remember, spend a week in a congregation, helping with Vacation Bible School, then drive to another congregation for another week of VBS throughout the summer.
After they are both finished with their summer team work, they will travel to Springfield, Missouri for Parish Builder Training. We have an AFLC Home Mission congregation in Springfield. In fact the pastor of that congregation, Pastor Rich Ramsbacher, was the council president of the ELCA congregation I served in Beulah, North Dakota. It was Pastor Rich who helped me see what was so great about the AFLC! He is largely responsible for my ending up in the AFLC, and now we are both Home Mission’s pastors. This year, Meesh’s sister Dianna is a Parish Builder in Pastor Rich’s congregation in Springfield.
Once Jessica and Moriah have finished their training in Springfield, they will have a little time off, then travel to Hagerstown. They should join us sometime in September, probably around Labor Day.
There is no cost to the parish for their service. Our only responsibility is that we need to house and feed them. Is God calling you to be a part of their lives and their ministry by providing them a home to live in? Let me know. My contact information is in this newsletter (240-818-3753, email@example.com) and in the bulletin every Sunday.
Both Pastor Paul Nash, our Home Missions Director, and Meesh, who works with Pastor Paul as a recruiter for Parish Builders, think that these two women are a good fit for our congregation. I have been telling people, that in my mind, Meesh’s recommendation carries more weight than Pastor Paul’s, because she spent a year in our congregation. Meesh knows and loves us, and is excited for these young women to follow in the steps of Jesus while serving Christ Community, just as Meesh and Cassie did during their year here.
Please be in prayer for them as they finish their work on their summer teams, attend Parish Builder training, and move to Hagerstown. Pray that God will work mightily in and through them. Pray that we will be able to discern and use their gifts to the glory of God and the salvation of lives here in this area.
"A Very Powerful Message” by Pastor Kris Nyman Article excerpted from the July 2017 issue of The Lampstand
Have you ever had a message brought to you in a worship center that powerfully impacted your life? I have had many, and I pray that you have as well. Last night, at the missions festival worship service at the AFLC Annual Conference in Minnesota, I heard Gracia Burnham share about her and her husband Martin’s captivity in the Philippines.
“For 17 years, Gracia and Martin served with New Tribes Mission in the Philippines where Martin was a jungle pilot delivering mail, supplies, and encouragement to other missionaries, and transporting sick and injured patients to medical facilities. Gracia served in various roles supporting the aviation program and also home-schooling their children – all of whom were born in the Philippines.
“On May 27, 2001, while celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary at Dos Palmas Resort off Palawan Island, the Burnhams were taken captive by a militant group of Muslims called the Abu Sayyaf Group. In addition to the Burnhams, the group seized several more guests and took them to Basilan Island, an ASG stronghold.
“In the ensuing months, some of the hostages were killed, but most were set free. From November 2001, only the Burnhams and one other hostage remained in captivity. For more than a year, and under the total control of their captors, they were constantly on the move living in primitive conditions in the jungle, evading capture from the Philippine military, enduring gun battles, and witnessing unspeakable atrocities committed by the men of Abu Sayyaf Group.
“Soon after the events of September 11, the news media took a greater interest in Gracia and Martin’s plight and kept their story in the national headlines.
“On the afternoon of June 7, 2002, over a year since their abduction, the Philippine military attempted another rescue. Tragically, Martin was killed during the gunfight. Wounded, but alive, Gracia was rescued and returned home under a national spotlight.”
Perhaps you remember this news story. As Gracia recounted her time in captivity and the horrendous struggle of walking through the jungle, day after day, with little or no food, little or no protection from the jungle floor as they slept, she learned to love her enemies.
One time Gracia and her husband were able to get some medical supplies from a Philippine soldier who had been killed by their captors. One of their captors she nicknamed 57 had terrible head-aches which put him in bad moods. Some of the medicine Gracia and Martin took from the dead soldier was aspirin. They offered the aspirin to 57 and it helped him. After a few times 57 began to show some care for the Burnhams.
Another man would recite the Arabic Quran daily. Gracia asked him what he was saying, he replied, “I don’t know what it says.” She began sharing from God’s Word telling her captor she knew what it said and wanted to bless him with these powerful words of love.
Little by little she began to learn to trust God to love her enemies. After she was rescued, many of her captors were put in jail in the Philippines. She corresponds with many of them, and some of them have become Christians!
I was humbled by this woman’s love for her enemies, real enemies, who held her in terrible conditions for over a year. Do I love my enemies? Do you? Likely the answer is “No.” Actually, I don’t think any of us can ever love an enemy without the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling us and transforming us with His love! It is only by His grace, power and love that we can, as Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you," Matthew 5:43-44.
“How Well Are You Doing at Passing Faith in God to Your Children/Grandchildren?” by Pastor Kris Nyman Article excerpted from the June 2017 issue of The Lampstand
From the time of Moses, God has charged parents with teaching their children and grandchildren the faith. One of the main places this happens is in Deuteronomy 4:9-11 (NKJV), 'Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren, especially concerning the day you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb, when the Lord said to me, ‘Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’
And we also see this in Deuteronomy 6:6-8 (NKJV), 'And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.'
God is very clear here that the task of talking about and teaching the faith to children is the task of the parents. Unfortunately, the church has allowed itself to take the place of teaching the youth faith in God. So today, we have a phenomenon I call “Parking Lot Parents.” These are the people who drop their kids off in the parking lot before their children's Growth Group begins and are back in the same place an hour later to pick them up again.
These kids have very little chance of holding onto any form of faith as they grow up. They are being taught by their parents that Growth Groups are for kids, and regular worship is for no one.
The children whose parents bring them to worship, then the parents leave during Growth Groups and return to pick them up afterwards, fare only a little better than the kids of the parking lot parents.
Then we have the parents who are actively involved in Growth Groups themselves. These families seem to fare the best in passing on the faith to their children. Yet even with this group, the church has not consciously helped to equip them for the task of passing on the faith to their children.
We hope to address this dilemma this coming fall. We are looking at starting a program called Disciple Makers. We do have many disciples at Christ Community. For many, Via de Cristo has proven to be a great discipleship program. However, is discipleship happening within families from one generation to another?
Studies have shown that the people with the greatest influence on a child's faith are his/her parents! Your kids may not be encouraging this kind of thinking and certainly the world discourages this kind of thinking.
Becoming Disciple Makers is certainly for more than passing on discipleship to our children and grandchildren, but it certainly could be used for older children in Junior High and High School. And becoming a Disciple Maker will certainly influence how parents of young children live out their faith in their daily lives.
Look for more information on this as we get closer to the autumn.
"The Difference Between a Source and a Symptom" by Pastor Kris Nyman Article excerpted from the May 2017 issue of The Lampstand
The following are all symptoms when people do not take the Word of God as the inerrant, infallible Word of God: ordination of homosexual pastors, abortion, universal salvation, or even the commonly heard, "all religions are just different paths to the same God." The Word of God clearly speaks against all of these things and many others which plague our world today. The problem is, many people do not see the source of Biblical authority as the problem, and only focus on the symptom or symptoms which are currently causing problems in the greater church of Jesus today.
I want to illustrate this in a strong way. Place two Bibles on the floor and stand on top of them. This is what liberal Christians have the arrogance to do, placing themselves above the Word of God as the highest authority, and dare to declare certain parts of the Bible are the Word of God and certain parts are not. This flies in the face of over 1,900 years of saying that the 66 books of the Bible are the inerrant, infallible Word of God.
There are theologians and professors in liberal seminaries who have been casting doubt on the Word of God for decades. I was taught this garbage when I started seminary in the fall of 1978, and I am sure it has been going on longer than that. So, for over 40 years pastors have been coming out of seminary and casting doubt on the Word of God. No wonder so many in the churches today believe that all the symptoms described above are “OK!”
We dare not place ourselves as authorities above the Word of God. God’s Word must be the authority above us! We must submit ourselves to the authority of God’s Word and what it teaches.
I have changed a lot since I have come into the AFLC. As I have studied and sought out what God’s Word teaches about what the sinful world claims is "good." It doesn’t matter what I think or feel about certain issues. I have to submit my beliefs to what the Word of God teaches. We, as a congregation, must align our beliefs with the SOURCE of our authority, God’s Word. Then and only then will we avoid falling into the SYMPTOMS of what our culture is so freely embracing today, and claims to be “Biblical,” but are not.
Remember, be like the Bereans, and do what they did in Acts 17:10-11 "Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." "Be a Berean,"search the Scriptures daily." Then, and only then will you know what God's Word says, or does not say, about any given symptom in our society today. Go to the source to check out if a symptom is truly Biblical or not!
"Hiking in the Mountains Can Be Deceptive" by Pastor Kris Nyman Article excerpted from the April 2017 issue of The Lampstand
The summer of 1981 Paula and I met at the Sky Ranch Lutheran Bible Camp in the Rocky Mountains, west of Fort Collins, Colorado. I had the privilege of being a “backpack counselor.” I would take high school youth, and adults who came with them, on 5-6 day journeys through some spectacular scenery that would often take your breath away. I mean that in an emotional sense; though if you were out of shape, any hiking between 9 and 13 thousand feet above sea level with a 40 pound pack on your back could certainly take your breath away!
Depending on the route we took, we would take the day to hike up and over a peak which was close to 13 thousand feet tall. We discussed the mission ahead of us the night before. We would have to get up early, make breakfast quickly and be ready to go. Now remember, we were hiking. This was not technical climbing with ropes. Nevertheless, it would take us the better part of a day to get this task accomplished.
We would start out up the trail, which could be deceiving at times. We would be hiking up a steep incline and could only see what looked like the top of the mountain as we got nearer. Then, when we would crest what looked like the top of the mountain, in the distance the rest of the mountain would loom ahead, higher than we had expected.
The first time this happened the kids were excited that they were “at the top already!” Only to find this was not actually true. They were usually a little upset, thinking that they had been tricked.
By the time we finally reached the top, those high school kids knew they had accomplished something significant. We would sit at the top and take in the spectacular view, giving God thanks and praise for his awesome creation. We couldn’t stay at the top too long. We had to get part way down the mountain, back below timberline where we could camp in the shelter of the trees. You see at the top of the mountain the winds can be much stronger, because there is nothing to diffuse the wind.
The journey of our lives can be similar to what these kids experienced on their trip to the top of the mountain. We may be going through something difficult. We may be hiking up some unfamiliar territory spiritually or emotionally. We may come to a place where it is easier for a while, and we rejoice, only to find that suddenly we are being forced to go further than we expected or wanted.
When we see these situations in our lives, we need to remember the words of Psalm 121 (NKJV) A Song of Ascents. 1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help? 2 My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. 3 He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. 6 The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. 8 The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.
It is as we lift our eyes to Jesus, looking to Him for the strength and grace to go through what is ahead of us, that we are given what we need for the next part of our journey. Enjoy the vistas along the way. One day, by faith, we will reach the mountain top. Only then, we won’t need to go down the other side to find shelter. We can simply glory in the presence of Jesus for eternity.
"Lenten Services begin on Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2017!" by Pastor Kris Nyman Article excerpted from the March 2017 issue of The Lampstand We will be worshiping at New Hope Alliance Church, 300 South Artizan Street, Williamsport, MD, 21795, except for Wednesday, March 8 which will be at Willow Brook. Hope Alliance is an older white framed wooden church, very easy to find. We will be worshiping at 7:00 p.m. every Wednesday starting on Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2017.
The pastor from that church, Todd Stroud, was with me on the last Kairos team where we served at Maryland Correctional Institution - Hagerstown. He invited us to use their facility on Wednesday nights because they don’t have any services or other functions there on Wednesdays.
For our Lenten Series, we are going to be looking at excerpts from a book, A Faithful Guide to Peace with God, by C. O. Rosenius. This book is published by our very own Board of Parish Education of the AFLC (Association of Free Lutheran Congregations). N. J. Laache took many of Rosenius’ writings and put them together in this book. It is designed to be a two month devotional, yet it is nearly 400 pages long. This is much longer than most modern day devotionals.
Carl Olof Rosenius lived in Sweden in 1816-1868. He was the leader of the Evangelical Revival that swept through the nation. His father was a pastor in the Lutheran Church, which was, and still is, the State Church of the nation of Sweden. So, Rosenius was raised in a Godly home and his father laid the foundation for the revival, for which Carl Olof became the leader.
Carl Olof’s father was likened to John the Baptist calling people to repentance, many did and he wanted them to be founded on God’s Word. Those who daily read their Bibles and sought to have a living faith as they walked with Jesus were taunted by the State Church and other nominal believers as “readers.” Now you need to know that at that time in Sweden and in Norway lay people who became spiritual leaders, who taught and preached were many times jailed. The Lutheran State Churches in these countries had passed laws stating that only clergy ordained by the State Church could preach and teach spiritually. However, the State church had fallen into rationalism, and the clergy were often the most educated people in the areas they lived, that their sermons were more about how to raise good crops, or have healthy livestock, than preaching the Gospel.
Carl Olof Rosenius initially followed in his father’s footsteps and attended the State Church Seminary in Uppsala, Sweden. He was shocked by the way the students lived ungodly lives. Eventually he dropped out of seminary. He met up with a Mr. Scott, a Methodist from England, who helped Rosenius to see the value of preaching and teaching in the vineyard of the world. This lead Rosenius to work in writing. He wrote books, he wrote devotionals, he wrote articles in a Christian magazine. God used his writings, and lay preaching to advance a revival in Sweden.
Come here, come learn from Rosenius’ unique perspective. I pray that each of you will find, if you have not already found, your own Peace with God, as we together walk through A Faithful Guide to Peace with God.
“Where will Christ Community Church or the AFLC Be in 100 Years?” by Pastor Kris Nyman Article excerpted from the February 2017 issue of The Lampstand
For some perspective, please read an article which was written 110 years ago by the Co-founder of the Lutheran Free Church, Georg Sverdrup.
The Lay Ministry’s Centennial, 1796-1896 By Georg Sverdrup Originally Published: Folkebladet, Jan. 1, 1896 Translation: Benjamin and Linn Monica Nelson
It is impossible to write down the new year—1896—without being reminded that we are starting the Norwegian Lay ministry’s centennial year. Because the Norwegian lay ministry, with its indescribable blessings for our people and our church, has its origin from that strange moment in our country’s history when Hans Nilsen Hauge was called to be a crying voice for a people who by earthly pastors’ seduction were kept in the sleep of death.
Hauge’s calling to be a preacher of repentance and a fisher of men took place April 5th 1796. And this calling occurred simultaneously with “the new life’s breakthrough” in his life. For a long time the Lord had been drawing him with love and fatherly goodness, and especially during his 25th year Hauge became serious about his conversion and search for the Lord.
It happened on the fifth of April, 1796, while he was out working in the field and singing the hymn “Jesu din sde Forening at smage” (Jesus For Thee and Thy Blessed Communion), [Ambassador Hymnal #219]. In his own words; “After I had sung the second verse, my spirit became so uplifted to God that I was out of my senses and cannot say what was occurring in my soul. When I first collected my thoughts, I had a regret for not serving the dear and, over all things, good God; now I found nothing in this world worth my while. It was a glory that no tongue can express; my soul felt something supernatural, divine and blessed. I know all the good in my spirit that followed that moment in time, especially the sincere love to God and my neighbor, - that I had a changed spirit, a sorrow over all sins, a desire that men should partake with me in the same council, a special desire to read the holy Scripture, especially Jesus’ own teaching as well as a new light to understand it by and tie together all godly men’s teachings to the one goal, that Christ has come to be our Savior, that we by his Spirit must be born again, be converted, sanctified more and more by God’s qualities to serve the Triune God alone, to perfect and prepare our soul for the eternal bliss.” “Then it was like I saw the world laying immersed in evil, over which I grieved heavily and I prayed for God to delay the punishment so that some could convert. I wanted sincerely to serve God and asked him to reveal to me what I should do.” “I heard, then the Lord’s voice, saying: Who should I send to invite my great communion and call from all directions, North and South, East and West? I said: Send me; for my heart burned with love for all men.” It resounded in my inner being: You will confess my name to the people, admonish them to convert and seek me while I can be found, call upon me while I am near and touch their hearts, so they can turn from the darkness to the light.”
This is Hauge’s calling which clearly testifies that his whole church rests on the living experience of salvation, that his call to witness goes out from his Christian standpoint and status as a child of God, not from consciousness of any particularly great spiritual gift that had to be used.
On this calling, Hauge went. In faith in God and in the task that was set before him, to invite men to come to God, he walked through Norway from valley to valley. He was certain that the Lord had called him and sent him, therefore he could not rest as long as the Spirit drove him. No one can read his life story without feeling gripped by the powerful faith that carried Hans Nilsen Hauge in his work and his sufferings. He was called to awaken the Norwegian people and in the power of the Lord he fulfilled the mission that cost him everything; honor, freedom health and, in the end, life.
This sweet memory from the Norwegian people’s history speaks for itself. Let the one mocking, mock. One does not better one’s cause by giving Hauge praise and scolding his small and poor followers. For us, it is not of any worth whatsoever to build a monument of Hauge’s grave; however, it is a life cause for our whole church to go forth in Hauge’s spirit because it was a breath of God that swept over our people through him. The prophets’ graves will take care of themselves; but we do well when we “remember our instructors and imitate their faith, when we observe the outcome of their conduct.”
For one hundred years the Norwegian lay ministry has been a church of love amongst the people, an earnest calling from God for conversion and faith and salvation.
For one hundred years it has been a sign of contradiction that the humanists have despised, mocked and persecuted. For one hundred years it has been a call to suffering; many of the pastors have rejected it, and the masses have cast condemnations and stones at it.
For one hundred years it has been fulfilling its mission, to the awakening of many souls to life; and while many of those awakened are still fighting for the crown on the pilgrim journey towards eternity, there are also many of those awakened souls that have fought the fight to the end and won the victory and are standing before the throne with the palm branch in their hand.
In another hundred years, - where will we be then? That depends on what we are today and the rest of our days. In another hundred years, where will the Norwegian people and the Norwegian church be then? That depends on if we know our visitation and if we stay faithful in the calling. Christ’s Spirit calls our people to follow the way of the Spirit and live a life in blessing to themselves and to our neighbors. The flesh pulls and tempts us to immerse in sin and death, in worldliness and habit-Christianity, so we lose our calling and become salt that has lost its saltiness, so we are not even suitable as fertilizer on the field. Shall the flesh win and we be lost, or shall the Spirit conquer in us for eternal salvation?
“Wake up and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die!” (Rev. 3:2)
“JUST HOW IMPORTANT THE WORD OF GOD REALLY IS!” by Pastor Kris Nyman Article excerpted from the January 2017 issue of The Lampstand
In Mark 13:31 Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” Here we see just how important the words of Jesus are. They will outlast this present earth and the present heaven. That is difficult for us to imagine. This world is all we have ever known, yet the Word of God will outlast this world. Think of what you invest in. Most of us have some kind of retirement savings. Some of us are more aggressive than others. Some of us are more concerned than others with the daily ins-and-outs of Wall Street and other stock exchanges. Yet nothing that this world brings can outlast God’s Word. Nothing we can buy, build, or influence will last longer than the Word of God. It sounds like something we should be investing in much more than we are now.
Think of the time when Jesus was taken by Satan to a high mountain and tempted with all the wealth and power of the World. (Matthew 4:8-11 ). What did Jesus find more important than EVERYTHING this world could offer? The Word of God!!! Jesus also found that worshipping God and serving only God was the most important thing in life!
If a newspaper reporter came to you and asked, “What is the most important thing in life?” Would you answer that worshipping God and serving only Him was the most important thing in your life? If not, you may not be saved. If not, you may be breaking the first commandment, which says, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:2-3 (NKJV).
Jesus also said that His Words would outlast Heaven. Now that is almost impossible to imagine. The Word of God in Revelation 21:1 says, “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.” This new heaven will last forever, just as the Words of Jesus will last forever. This causes me to begin to look at my own attitude towards God’s Word and how my attitude needs to be corrected. So, if you would, look with me, at what may need to change in our lives. Look at how you are, or are not, investing in God’s inerrant Word.
How much time are you spending in the Word of God? How important is it to you? How closely does your life align with God’s Word? These are all vital questions which each and every believer needs to reflect upon and take whatever action God shows us that we need to take in order to make God’s Word central in our daily lives.
Recently I have struggled with aligning myself with God’s Word, or not, because it made me uncomfortable in a particular situation. That may sound trivial, but it could affect not only my life, but the life of our congregation as well. I have prayed for discernment, and for the grace and strength to align what I say and do with the Word of God. I ask for your prayers. And, I pray for you as you take some time to reflect on how YOUR life aligns with the Word of God.
"The Salt of the Earth" by Georg Sverdrup This is a translation I did for the Sverdrup Society. I hope you enjoy it. ~ Pastor Kris Nyman Article excerpted from the December 2016 issue of The Lampst
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. Matthew 5:13
Jesus prayed for His disciples this way: “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.” John 17:15
This prayer of Jesus has the same concerns as His testimony in the Sermon on the Mount: You are the salt of the earth, namely about the serious call, which the Lord has given to his faithful, the position of full responsibility, in which He has set them in the world, a position, which carries such great dangers for themselves, that they know God’s grace can protect, so they themselves become saved.
The salt of the earth is the name given to the faithful, in opposition to the destruction that knows sin is in the world. But this destruction continues not precisely in coarse vices, but it continues first and foremost because the worldly, sensual and corruptible things are the goal for people’s aspirations. Paul portrays this destruction or rottenness this way: "For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things." Philippians 3:18-19
See it is well spoken. The spiritually dead, who are separated from God, have spiritual decomposition for their immediate path. The spiritually dead are found right there, where the soul can seek earthly things and sensual gratification.
But this is just another name for heathenism; for Jesus says so: these things the heathen seek after, namely after food and drink and clothes, this is the goal of life for them, nothing else has value for them.
There was a story about a Malagasy (a man from Madagascar), wondering if he could still say the Lord’s Prayer. At first he said “no,” and for a long time said “no.” He said that he had forgotten it, but when the Missionary asked him if he remembered any of it, he finally said, “Give us this day our daily bread!” He hadn’t forgotten that. And this is a sign for the greatest multitude of heathens; they have sense for food and drink, but what lethargy, apathy and lack of receptivity when it comes to questions about things that are spiritual!
Now therefore Jesus says this about his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth.” This is a sign of a high and holy duty; He gives them a call whereby they can in no way be qualified by themselves or from their own human nature. For by nature were they born in the world, just like everyone else.
It is only life that helps to counter death; it is only the spiritual life that helps to counter spiritual death. It is only when one comes over from death to life that one becomes salt in the first place, as Jesus speaks of here.
Now therefore the Word rings true to those who in our time are called Christians, and so becomes sure for everyone who finally have enough of serious reality in the back of their souls, a sharp testing saying like this: “You are the salt of the earth.”
But are we the salt of the earth? Yes, are we really this? Have we gone over from death to life? Have we come out of the destruction which knows greediness is in the world, and in love’s life, which operates from God’s Spirit, and which is both itself powerful to guard eternally and which also has power to pull others with yourself from death into life?
For everyone knows this well, those who will see that many who are called with Christ’s Name are after all enemies of the Cross of Christ. They help with all power to further spiritual death and rottenness amongst the people.
But we are not just called Christians in this meaning because we live in a Christian nation; we are called a congregation and God’s children, holy and beloved chosen and precious for God. So are we then also salt? Do we feel and know this in our lives that we are in the way of sin and death. Does your speech and actions know this power in your life? Is it as the Apostle says: “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person”? Colossians 4:6. Do you really “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity”? Colossians 4:5
Truly, it becomes a difficult testing for the congregation, when it shall go forward in the light of the Word and ask itself: Are we the body of Christ? Are we living His life, and doing His actions? This really is the meaning of the saying: You are the salt of the earth.
But, God be praised, they are still a few there, who have gone over from death to life and who stand as men in the work and struggle for life.
But the question still remains: What are you salting? How great is the reach of your influence? Jesus says: The salt of the earth [is] the earth’s. So great shall be the influence of the congregation’s reach. The influence doesn’t end with my family or a circle of friends or with the local boundaries of the parish, or with the Fatherland, or even with our own nation. The call goes out farther and wider. As long as death continues Life must endeavor to reach out. Isn’t this what is meant?
But where do sin and death rule in a more unflustered and autocratic way than out in heathenism? And you believe on him, who knows death has been made powerless, who had the force of death, You believe in death’s conqueror; you believe that Jesus’ gospel is medicine against death.
What do you do then? Do you bring the gospel to the dying or dead? Look, it is just that which is needed. This salt comes in the closest-immediate contact with the one who needs to be salted. Why do you keep yourself so detached? Why do you stand on the outside?
The earth does not receive the gift of salt except as it is used; except as it is given away, as it is yielded up and sacrificed. Is it a great sacrifice, so truly is it also a cruel sacrifice. It is like Paul says: “For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” 2 Corinthians 4:11.
This is the nature of salt. It is used up, it corrodes along the way; but it also guards and protects and saves life, and it has accomplished its mission.
But if you don’t risk life’s struggle against death, then the danger is great. [If] the congregation doesn’t risk taking up its call and its cross, then they will shrivel and waste away their own lives. And as they conform themselves to the world, then they will fall under the same judgment and destruction with the world.
Therefore these are life’s terms for Jesus’ disciples and His congregation: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.” John 12:24-25.
Let us not be anxious to be consumed in service of the Lord and His love’s work! He, Himself has given His life in death and gloriously is raised from there, He shall also give them who give their lives to death for His sake, a glorious resurrection and a blessed entrance to eternal life.
Sverdrup’s article means that the gift of giving faith in Jesus to others so they can be saved is the best gift anyone can give at Christmas. It is also the best gift anyone can receive.