Monday, March 10, 2014

5 TakeAways for Great Christian Worship

Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting with 44 incoming members of our Concordia congregational family.  Along with 13 of their children, this is the first new member class of 2014.  Over the six weeks we are together, the pastoral staff overviews the doctrine and practice of our Lutheran congregation.  The first two weeks are dedicated to worship.  I wanted to share with you what I shared with these new friends of ours.

1.  Remember that worship and worship services are two very different things.  This may sound odd, but the distinction is terrifically important.  Our Lutheran identity is built on the conviction that just because we go through the motions, worship may yet not be happening.  Jesus spoke the tough words, "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."  We want to ensure that the worship of our hearts is true above all else.

2.  Put to memory the words of Psalm 46:10--"Be still and know that I am God."  This verse is the foundation of our worship aspirations at  Concordia.  Life is hectic.  Worship should be exactly opposite.  In worship we find rest and peace and quiet,  blessed assurance that God has reconciled himself to us through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Not just once each week, but every day our goal is to recline in the rest-filled embrace of the eternal God and Father of us all.

3.  Simply celebrate you faith in Jesus Christ--true and real worship.  Here's a deep lesson that builds on #1, above.  Worship that God esteems above all else is the faith which says Jesus is the world's savior from sin.  If worship is that action/activity by which we give God our highest praise, take this as an important reminder:  God's greatest glory is the giving of his Son for our sins.  Faith in that merciful provision brings greater glory than any hymn or song, any emotion or prayer.  So, when you are low or down or out or up and high and filled with joy, remember that the still quiet voice of faith in your heart is greater than all of that.

4.  Look around and behold your faith-filled family.  The Christian church is diverse and conducts worship with many forms, voices and instruments.  But those divisions are insignificant when we realize that we are gathered by faith in God's Son.  Certainly, every aspect of a worship service should lend itself to creating and sustaining faith.  Certainly, that faith comes through Word and Sacrament--the means of creating faith.  But it is the common, catholic (i.e., universal) faith that trusts Christ for mercy that I am talking about.  Check out Romans 10:14-17.

5.  Finally, commit yourself to regularly deepening your roots in Christian worship.  Faith always needs an object to anchor itself to.  That object is Jesus Christ offered through the Word preached and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper administered according the way God instituted it.  If you want great worship (faith in your heart), then make great worship services (Christ-centered) a necessary part of your weekly lifestyle.

That was week one...with the Pastors Newell and Meggers I'll keep you posted on the next five weeks.


Pastor Seidler

Rev. Dr. Scott K. Seidler
Senior Pastor
Concordia Lutheran Church
Kirkwood, Missouri

Sent from one of my idevices

Monday, March 3, 2014

5 Keys to a Disciplined Lent

Lent marks the season of 40 days before Easter.  Christians have the opportunity to "be still" and consider well the critical events of Christ's death offered in exchange of our guilt and shame.  Typically in the Church's history, Christians sacrifice something, too.  Roman Catholics forego meat on Fridays which makes for marvelous fish fries all around.  More protein-passionate Protestants might give up soda/pop/cola, depending on what region of the country you inhabit.  Chocolate, sweets, alcohol and fast food are there as well.

On the other side stand the protesting Protestants who "take on" some discipline that is not normally a habit for them.  An intentional schedule of daily prayer, bible reading or act of service is typical.

All that said, here are my 4 keys to a well-disciplined Lent, regardless of what you stop or start.

1.  Keep the good news at the center.  Approximating the sacrifice of Jesus through your sacrifice of what-not is admirable.  But, if the focus is on the discipline and not the reason for it, the discipline has lost all value.

2.  Make it communal,  not individual.  I think this is why fish fries among our Roman Catholic friends are so wildly popular.  It's a big party (and usually a good fundraiser!).  And who doesn't like that?!  Share your discipline in your Christian home or your circle of friends.

3.  Change it up from year to year.  Stop something this year.  Start something next.  Physical today.  Spiritually-oriented later.

4.  Of any discipline you can contrive, regularity in worship is always the most important.  Gathering around the story and the meal and the fellowship of the Church is the foundation stone of faith.  Every other self-generated discipline is sinking sand.  Before any other discipline is brought online in your life, make every weekend worship foremost.

Now...I have a couple days left to figure out what I am going to do...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Straw that Breaks a Camel's Back

The Straw That Breaks a Camel’s Back
Pastor Scott Seidler, Senior Pastor

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”—Mark 10:25

Life in God’s family requires us to shed the burdens we bear. That said, a camel has an easier time shedding its burdens than human beings do. That’s the message Jesus offers to a rich young man who appeared before him.

Asked how one enters God’s kingdom, His family, Jesus tells the man that he must shuck off the riches and resources he had accumulated. Easier said than done.

What are the riches and resources that have, like barnacles to a ship, suctioned themselves to your life? How prepared are you to lay them down and cast them off? While seemingly impossible from our human point of view, with God all things are possible.

In Christ, we are offered full forgiveness of our sins and assured that the courage and character to move beyond the stuff of this life is possible.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Living Together After Marriage

"Living Together After Marriage"
Pastor Scott Seidler

"It is not good for man to be alone."-Genesis 2:18

For as often as we Christians condemn the notion of living together before marriage, we should mark equally well that speck of our calling to live together after marriage. For as many couples that disobey God by enjoying sexual intimacy outside of marriage, I believe there are an equal number of couples who, though still married, essentially live lives apart from one another. These "as-if-outside-though-contractually-inside" couples fail to provide emotional, spiritual, and relational support to one another in a way that honors the very reason marriage was licensed by God in the first place.

The result is not marriage as an estate, but lifelong relationships between husbands and wives as an essential part of being fully human. Marriage was never about contracts, but about a common consent to provide the most necessary relational foundation a human being requires.

Sin, as per the norm, completely undoes God's good intention-whether you're single or divorced or engaged or married, for better or for worse. Through Christ, the power of our sin is broken, relationships can be restored (at best), and past sins can be forgiven (at least). And, through all of this relational chaos, we can come to that place where we will never experience life alone again for we will be with God forever and ever.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Not Grandpa's Church

This is not your grandfather's church...culturally and practically understood...the technology of communication has changed, the visuality of understanding has changed, the music has changed, the worldview has changed, among many other things...the church must likewise adapt...and yet, may this never fail to be your grandfather's church...confessionally and doctrinally sin is still present awfully...but Christ died sacrificially...Christ rose victoriously...we have been redeemed completely...our hope is secured eternally--these things will never change...were the same for my grandparents and will be the same for my grandchildren...This is (not) my grandfather's church.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

By Pastor Scott Seidler
Numbers 11:5

“We remember the leeks and cucumbers we had in Egypt.”

There is a common sentiment in organizational leadership that simply states, “Vision leaks.”  The notion behind it is that human groups tend progressively toward entropy and chaos as opposed to a sustained unified purpose.

No surprise here.  Our Christian conviction regarding sin and its self-centering power in our lives has held this truth to be self-evident for centuries, from just after time began.  What a group of people commits to initially is always endangered by the personal desires and ambitions of each individual member of it.

What’s astonishing is the often miserable options with which we replace great calls to future group accomplishment.  Take, for instance, the Israelites fleeing Egypt for the (vision) of the promised land.  The road was no doubt hard and the journey no doubt long.  But the cry of their hearty stomachs was tiny onions and cucumbers.  TUBER-ISH VEGETABLES!  How is it possible that for these folks their entire existence could be boiled down to plants?  Honestly.

Mark well, the power of self-centering sin, how deceptive it is.  The power of evil at work in each of us to turn away from the vision of serving more greatly a Great God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ—this power of evil is indeed great.  No wonder Joseph in Genesis regarded the work of God he had been set to do as part of a “great salvation (Genesis 45-50).

For to such as these (as us) who strive and struggle to keep vision clean and clear, God reminds us that we are redeemed and we are still together.  Confessing and collaborating we can continue the journey toward the calling God has given our congregation, our families and ourselves to serve Him and bring glory to His Son.  

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Prayer for this Weekend
By Pastor Scott Seidler
We’ll sing the words.  Some of us may know well the tune.  But in the end, it is just (JUST!) a prayer…so before we word it and sing it, let’s ensure we’re ready to pray it at:

Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace; Streams of mercy, never ending, Call for songs of loudest praise; While the hope of endless glory Fills my heart with joy and love, teach me ever to adore Thee; may I still Thy goodness prove.

Here I raise my Ebenezer (I Samuel 7:12), Hither by thy help I’ve come; And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, Safely to arrive at home.  Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wandering from the fold of God; He, to rescue me from danger, Interposed His precious blood.(Hebrews 13:20-21)

Oh, to grace how great a debtor Daily I’m constrained to be; Let that grace no like a fetter Bind my wandering heart to Thee; Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; Prone to leave the God I love.

Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above. (Revelation 21)

I look forward to singing and worshiping with you this weekend.