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May 2019, Pastor C

Few people know the name Milton Olive III. Born in Chicago in 1946, he was drafted and went to Viet Nam in 1965. On October 22, 1965, he was a member of 3d Platoon of Company B of the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

His platoon came under heavy fire from the enemy. Re-grouping, the platoon attacked the enemy positions causing the enemy to flee. In the ensuing attack Private Olive and four others moved through the jungle pushing the enemy back when suddenly a grenade landed in their midst. In that moment Olive threw himself on the grenade saving the lives of the other four soldiers that were with him.

On April 21,1966 Milton Olive was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”

Why does a person perform such a self-less act? What causes a person to decide to give his “last full measure of devotion” to save the lives of others? I believe that the answer is found in Scripture.

On the night of his betrayal Jesus met with his friends. After celebrating the Passover with them and instituting the Sacrament of Holy Communion, Jesus prepared them for what was going to happen in a few short hours. He would be betrayed, arrested, convicted of crimes he did not commit, beaten, and put to death on a cross.

Yes it would take, “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity,” to sacrifice himself on the cross. But their was something more, much more that led to Christ’s death on the cross. Jesus revealed what that “something more” was in John 15: 13, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Jesus Christ gave his life out of his great love for all people. Christ died to pay the price of our sins and to spare us eternal death. What motivated Christ was not “gallantry and intrepidity” but love: the love of the Father for his children, the love of a brother for his siblings. A love which is so strong, so powerful, so intense that it will stop at nothing to save the object of one’s love. That is the love that Christ was not only talking about, but the love he demonstrated on the cross.

On Memorial Day we will remember and honor all the Milton Olives from Bunker Hill to Shiloh, from San Juan Hill to the Argonne Woods, from Pearl Harbor to the Chozin Reservoir, from Khe Sanh to Iraq, and from Afghanistan to wherever tyranny tries to impose its will. Perhaps all those who, like Olive, displayed that love should have their commendations read, “for conspicuous gallantry, intrepidity, and unconditional love above and beyond the call of duty.” Lest we forget.

Veritas,

Curt

April 2019 Pastor C

When a church changes its values to match the current culture, it is no longer following the Bible, but instead is following the lost.

Is your church following the Word of God or the culture?

1. If a church is more concerned with gaining numbers and money than it is in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, then it is probably time to look for a new church.

2. “We preach Christ crucified!” The cross is the heart of the gospel message. Christ came to offer his life as a ransom to pay the price for our sins. A church that will remove Christ’s sacrificial death and the cross, is a church that has fallen away from the Word of God.

3. If a church says that trials and hardships come into a person’s life because they do not have enough faith, something is wrong. Certainly Christ faced trials and hardship; are we to conclude then, that Christ did not have enough faith?

4. Does the church preach that we are all sinful and unclean? Does it preach that Christ died and rose to pay the price for our sin? Does it preach that we are saved by God’s grace through faith? Does the church preach the “Triune God?” If not, you may need to look for a different church.

5. Is the pastoral leadership more important than the Word of God? Do we come to hear the pastor, or to hear the Word of God? Is the pastor more concerned about making fans for himself or for God?

6. Does the pastor talk about the reality of sin and that we are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God?

7. Does the church stress entertainment over the proclamation of the gospel? Are you coming to see a different show every week?

8. Does your church preach from the Bible? Is the Word of God the guiding principle of the sermons and the teaching of the church?

9. Does your church proclaim the importance of repentance? Does your church offer forgiveness without requiring the confession sin? Does your church offer salvation without repentance? Does your church offer eternal life without commitment?

10. Does your church proclaim that Christ was physically raised from the dead on Easter and that all who believe will also be physically raised to new life?

If your church is more concerned with matching its values to the culture, you may want to look for a different church.

Veritas, Curt

March 2019 Pastor C

Ghandi said, “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.

Two thousand years ago, Christians living in Rome would nightly go out to the town garbage dump and into the woods surrounding the city, to rescue children who had been abandoned and left to die by their parents. Literally tens of thousands of children had been saved over the next three centuries.

Shortly before the beginning of World War 2, Nicholas Winton, made aware of the Nazi persecution of Jews in Europe, began an underground railroad to save the lives of Jewish children. Winton bribed, tricked, forged, and did whatever was necessary to get children safely to Great Britain. By the time Winton was done he had saved the lives of 669 children.

Yet two thousand years after those early Christians and eighty years after Nick Winton, this nation has so devalued human life that two states have passed laws allowing children to be killed during birth and a third is proposing a law which says that a child born may be left to die if the mother decides she does not want the baby. Those who wrote and supported those laws and those who stand idly by and do nothing are morally bankrupt.

It is God alone who is the author of life. It is God alone who said, “BEFORE I FORMED YOU IN THE WOMB I KNEW YOU, AND BEFORE YOU WERE BORN I CONSECRATED YOU.” Now we have men and women who believe they are greater than God. Evil men and women who want to treat the weakest in our nation like a piece of garbage.

If one looks back at history, we can see where unchecked evil takes us.

When churches in the south refused to condemn slavery, slavery flourished. When churches in Germany refused to condemn Nazi tyranny, twelve million people died in places like Auschwitz.

And if we, as the church remain silent now, if we refuse to speak out against such evil, then we are doing nothing more than aiding and abetting that evil.

Edmund Burke said, “All that is required for evil to triumph is for enough good men to do nothing.” Dante said, “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in the time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality.”

Fifty, one hundred, a thousand years from now - we, too, will be judged by how we treated the weakest members. What will be the verdict?

Veritas, Curt

February 2019 Pastor C

In a few short weeks, the Church will be moving into the Season of Lent.  The forty days of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends with Pasion Sunday, which is the beginning of Holy Week.
 
Lent is traditionally a time for meditation, reflection, and self-examination.  It is a time for us to “count the cost for my sins.”  For you see it was not the Jewish leadership, it was not the Romans, but it was our sins that put Christ on the cross.  Had we not rebelled against God and his Word, there would have been no need for Christ to suffer and die on the cross.
    
Sadly, the Church is losing the significance of Lent.  Church “gurus” tell us that people don’t want to hear about sin, sacrifice, and death.  They want to hear a message that is happy and joyful.  Don’t “beat me up” by talking about sin, sacrifice, and death.  Those things turn people off.
   
Many churches skip Lent altogether.   They go right from Ash Wednesday to Easter.  “Don’t weigh me down, don’t burden me with a crown of thorns, nails, and crosses.”  “Instead, I want to be told that I am a good person and that if I believe in Jesus, nothing bad will ever happen to me and I will become rich and famous.”
 
Hmmm... How does one justify that kind of thinking, preaching, and teaching with Jesus’ words, “If anyone would come after me, let him pick up his cross and deny himself and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”?
 
The heart of God’s Word is that of “sacrificial love.”  A sacrificial love that is displayed when a Father gives up his Son to pay for the sins of all people.  A sacrificial love that is displayed when the Son says, “Not my will, but thy will be done.”
 
Lent is not so much a time for grieving, but a time to reflect and meditate on God’s unfailing, sacrificial love for someone like me.  As the old hymn goes, “Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”
 
Lent is a time to understand that I did nothing to receive God’s grace, rather I am a recipient of God’s grace because of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
   
To bypass Lent and go directly to Easter is to fail to understand exactly what it cost God to save us from sin and death.

Veritas, 
Curt

December 2018 Pastor C

The wind blows sharp and cold off the “Lake” as you walk along Michigan Avenue in Chicago, in December. But thankfully, as you walk down the stairs to Lower Wacker Drive, the wind is no longer a factor.

I noticed the flickering Christmas lights and the yellowing tinsel that hung, as a celebration of the season, in the window of the Billy Goat Tavern. As I entered I looked around and saw the usual crowd. The Luciano brothers who ran a midnight auto supply out of their garage, Aldreman Jack Hayes, who never met a bribe he didn’t take, and Mary Jane Schmidt, who never met a man she didn’t like.

Back in a corner booth were my two good friends, Martin Luther, the reformer, and Philip Melancthon, writer of the Augsburg Confession. As I walked to the back booth I held up three fingers and Jack, the bartender, nodded.

I stood at the booth watching Melancthon reading the “Trib,” and Luther working on his Christmas Eve sermon. Melancthon peered over the “Trib” and said, “What happened to our Cubs? Where was Bryant’s head and what was up with Baez and the big ‘hug”?

Luther didn’t look up from his notes and said, “Sit down, Joe. Good to see you.” Jack brought us our three beers and we toasted. “To 2019 and may the Christ return!”

“Got your Christmas sermon done, Joe?” asked Luther. “I’m struggling,” I replied. “How do you take the same old thing and make it relevant?”

Luther gave me a sideways look and said, “What is wrong with you? Think of the angel’s message, Joe. ‘Today a savior has been born to you.’ It is new, it is refreshing, it is a hope; a sure and certain hope that God has, is, and will act again. The world is dying. People are looking for hope in all the wrong places. It is up to us, the faithful, to declare that the coming of Christ in Bethlehem was not a one time event, but a foretelling, a promise of God’s Kingdom coming in its completeness. The message is that Christ came to fulfill all your hopes, and He is coming again to make all things right and new. That’s the message of Christmas.”

I looked up, and for the first time I saw hope in the eyes of all that were in the tavern.

I left the Billy Goat realizing that Christmas was not a one time event, but a promise of what is to come.

A blessed Christmas to all!

Veritas, Curt

January 2019 Pastor C

“The NEW YEAR is one of the most important things in life. Comes to us very clean, it’s perfect when it arrives and puts itself in our hands. It hopes that we have learned something from LAST YEAR.”

For far too many of us the things that drive us, the things that give us meaning, the things we believe will bring us satisfaction are wealth, fame, and power. Since early on we were told that wealth, fame, and power were the signs of success. The reality is that these things are what the “world” says are important. Jesus said, “You are in the world, but don’t be of the world.” What Jesus meant by that was to place the meaning of your life in something far greater than what the world has to offer. The Word of God tells us that if we want to walk in the light, instead of stumbling around in the dark, we should embrace the “3 F’s.”

1. FAITH in God. It means worshipping, not when there is nothing else to do or when it is convenient, but worshipping regularly every Sunday or on Wednesday, spending time in God’s Word, spending time daily in prayer, spending time in daily devotions. Draw closer to God in 2019.

2. FAMILY. That means making quality time for our families. Sharing our values, our beliefs, and our FAITH with our families. The faith is to be passed on parent to child, parent to child. The less time we, as parents, spend in our relationship with God, the less our children will spend with God, and their children’s children, until one day there may be no more faith.

3. FRIENDS. That means developing friendships with other people who share our values and our FAITH. Choose friends wisely. Choose friends who are walking in the light of God. Friends who will support you and your FAITH, not people who will lead you away from God and His truth. Friends who have your “SIX” and will not betray you.

This NEW YEAR comes to us clean and perfect. For 2019, let the 3 F’s lead you into God’s LIGHT!

Veritas,

Curt

November 2018 Pastor C

   On October 3, 1789 President George Washington declared a National Day of Thanksgiving for November 26, 1789.  In part he said: 
 
“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor…” 
 
Less than a hundred years later, President Abraham Lincoln in his Thanksgiving Proclamation said this:
 
“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.” 
 
Too often we forget or just take for granted all the blessings we have received from God almighty over this past year.  We tend to focus on the things that have gone wrong and totally forget to thank God for all that He has given us out of a gracious heart.  So, where does one start in offering thanks
 
If you are reading this, you ought to give thanks to God for another day of life, because tomorrow is promised to no one. 
 
If you had a roof over you head, you ought to give thanks to God. 
 
If you had clothes on your back and food on the table today, you ought to give thanks to God.
   
If you and your family are in reasonably good health, you ought to give thanks to God. 
 
If during this past year you had the opportunity to speak your mind, cast a vote, or worship in any way you chose, you ought to give thanks to God.
 
If your children and grandchildren are happy and healthy, you ought to give thanks to God.
 
If you have income from a job or from a pension, you ought to give thanks to God. 
 
If you have a friend who will put up with your griping, will comfort you when you mourn, will laugh with you when times are good, then you ought to give thanks to God.
   
Perhaps the Psalmist said it best in Psalm 106:1 - “Praise the Lord!  O give THANKS to the Lord, for He is good; for his stead fast love endures forever.” 
 
Veritas,
Curt

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