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Thursday, April 24, 2008 

Anne’s First Post

Here’s the first of two guest posts penned by Anne. Regular readers have known of her for sometime (years!) even if they didn’t know her by name. I’ve written about her and I on numerous occasions concerning the difficulty we’ve had communicating as an evangelical and a Lutheran, her being the former and me being the latter. She and I once argued and talked past each other for six years straight over what the word worship meant.

She is more than a friend, I consider her to be a member of my family. She’s my big, and a tad bit saner, sister and I love her dearly. I’ll let her tell ya’ll more….I hope you enjoy her post and it is my sincere hope (and Anne’s as well) that a good discussion will follow.


Hi, my name is Anne. I am the friend to whom Frank from the Haut South referred many times in March. My husband died about six weeks ago, and Frank came to be with us during that difficult time.

I have wanted for some time to respond to some of the posts he made, but I have been unable to until now due to my grief. . I would ask for your indulgence as I feel the need to do so now.

First of all I want to talk about encouragement.

I have, as Frank said, know him for a long, long time. I first met Frank when he was a teenager and I was his advisor in youth group at a Lutheran Church. (LCA now ELCA) A Lutheran church that, I am sad to say, was about cover dish suppers and sermons from the book “Everything I needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” It was humanistic and the Word of God was missing. There was no practical understanding of what it means to have Christ as a daily guiding Presence in one’s life. There was no movement of the Holy Spirit. I could probably still sing all of the liturgy from the green hymnal, but I had no understanding of the Word and no help in learning about it.

It was in this environment that I met a lonely, lost, awkward, frightened, (though he would never admit it) young man. He did not fit in well with the crowd, and prided himself on that, attempting to carry himself through the day with sarcasm and being different. His favorite hobby was spending time in the swamp near his home…

Perhaps I divulge too much of my friend. But I do have a point. Throughout scripture we find places where we are told to protect the weak. To encourage and defend them. We have in Barnabas an example of a man who was known for being an encourager.

I don’t know what it was about Frank, but I always, even in the absence of good biblical understanding, felt the desire and need to believe in this young man. I saw potential and hope in a person who by some might have been shunned or written off. And there is a lesson here. I never gave up on the hope and belief that God had a plan for him, and that he would be okay.

The paths that God had for Frank and I were different. God brought Frank to Him and has sustained him in the comfort and security of the liturgy and the creeds and the confession of faith in Jesus Christ.

My path took me from the Lutheran church in a different direction, Yes, I am one of those Evangelicals.

Speaking of encouragement, My husband was such an encourager for me. From the time I was in high school, he was the first one who saw more potential in me than I saw in myself. He believed in me and encouraged me - always. Years later I married him, and from that first day, he was my best cheer leader…..

He is now with the Lord. But I still hold dear the memory and strength of his encouragement.

So my first point is from Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

We must see people as Christ sees them. Some are brothers and sisters in Christ, some are prisoners of the enemy, and some are just lost and need to be shown the way. I thank God for having given me the opportunity to be an encourager in Frank’s life. I am proud and thankful that he has become such a strong faithful man of God. And I thank God for my husband, a man who believed in me, and helped to guide my way. And, I am thankful that my brother Frank, above all else, came to my rescue and guided me through the most difficult of times.

Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Secondly, by way of educating about kidney failure, the average time someone will be able to live on dialysis is 5 years. My husband was on it for 3 years. He was not well past the average lifespan. But it was 3 years he would not have had if he had not done dialysis, and that time allowed him to attend one son’s wedding, see another through college and meet his fiancé, and get a 3rd and last one off to college. I thank God for that time, and for my husband’s bravery.

Frank alluded to “My Song is Love Unknown.”

One verse speaks of the Lord’s grief. It says “Never was Grief like Thine.” So true. When I hold Lent in my heart, I ponder not only the scorn, the physical torture, the weight of the sin of mankind on Christ, but the pain and grief He must have known when he was separated from the Presence of God. Never do we ever, thanks to Christ, have to be separated from the love of God. And never do we have to be separated from His presence. Because God could not look on our sin laid on his precious son, He bore a much greater additional burden. He who was God, who created the world with God, who with the Holy Spirit and the Father made up the trinity that is God, He alone sent time separated from God. He was Glory, came from Glory, and for that horrible time found that God had to abandon him to do the work of saving your soul and mine ALONE.That is love unknown and incomprehensible.

In the next post Anne will address specific comments left by both readers and myself last month.

Labels:

Anne: Thank you for opening up during your time of grief - may God continue to bless you with His grace & comfort. I look forward to a productive dialog!

Frank: Thank you for giving this platform & opportunity to Anne!

-ghp

Anne,
Welcome!! I look forward to engaging in the dialog --- theological discussion is needed so that we may grow in understanding, whether in our own confession or anothers. And it's just plain FUN (Frank, that means it's a hoot).

“God brought Frank to Him and has sustained him in the comfort and security of the liturgy and the creeds and the confession of faith in Jesus Christ.”

I’m having a not so good day, so I guess I’ll need to watch my “tone” here. It is a source of constant frustration that I can’t seem to properly explain what it is that comforts me; it is God’s Word that comforts me.

It is not the historic liturgy (which I do admit I use) that comforts me. However, I do find the liturgy comfortable. But only in the respect that it forces me to look to Christ when I would wander to where I want to be instead of where our Lord has promised us He will be.

I do enjoy reading the confessions it is true, but only because they remind me that it is Scripture that we need to look to. Each of the confessions, including the Apostles and Nicene Creeds were written in defense of Scripture as answers to heretics that looked to human reason, philosophy, church councils, papal bulls, and their own works as the things that justify us before the Lord. It is my own sinful nature to do these very things and I do enjoy reading how the church has always dealt with people like me wanting to look not to Scripture but inward to how we would understand those things of a Divine nature. I find comfort in the Lutheran confessions only in the respect that they point both heretics and people like me back to God’s Word.

If I were to look at what I do for comfort, then I wouldn’t be looking to Jesus for salvation would I? If I were to look to what I do for comfort, I would only be brought to the point of misery and despair. Trust me; I know what I’m talking about here, as does everybody who knew me as an atheist. If I look at what I do for comfort then I would be setting aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes from doing something, then Christ died in vain.

Okay, Frank, I stand corrected. My mistake/

Anne

Anne,
First, it is easy to misunderstand just about anything from me, not only because I often speak in metaphors and hyperbole, but also, as I’ve stated before, you and I really talk two different theological languages. We use the same words that mean different things to an evangelical than they will to a Lutheran. Second, I’m just not a very good communicator. This is the source of my previously mentioned frustration.

Also, that which I did for you and the boys, I did out of love. You’re my big sis, what else was I supposed to do? Not help someone who stood by me for thirty or so years? Nope, that simply wasn’t an option.

You write of my encouragement. It’s important to note that I’ve had a good example of how we as Christians should show our love in our actions and in what we do for one another for thirty two years now. It was you who showed me how to take care of someone who was in need… first. I only tried to give back a fraction of the love you showed to me for all these years.

Love ya,
Frank

Anne, you say that God’s path led you to an evangelical church after leaving the Lutheran church where you first met Frank. Did you ever look for another Lutheran church where the word of God wasn’t missing?

Frank, why did you stay in that Lutheran church?

You ask why did I not look for another Lutheran church? I did actually. I was in 3 different Lutheran churches over the years. I encountered a hurtful pastor, a pastor who seriously betrayed confidences, and a pastor who, while I was in the inquirer's class, actually told me that he did not believe that a loving God would ever condemn anyone to hell.
Perhaps, dear brother, If I had encountered a group of folks who took their worship deeply to heart, as you folks seem to do, then I would have been more inclined to stay.
but you see, when I went visiting different churches, in search of what I was missing, I found places where the Word was taught in classes, in homes, from the Pulpit. I found worship that had meaning. Back up. I mean to say that the words we said and sang had life in them. The folks who worshipped did so with their hearts and souls and minds and strengths..
and I found the Holy Spirit.

Anne

Anon, I did not stay in that Lutheran church at all but rather ended up as an atheist for about 15 years. Let me also echo what Anne says about the state of Lutheran churches in her area; I’ve tried many, many times to find a congregation where the Word was preached purely and it is a struggle. Last time I was up there I left church feeling angry because the pastor said “I know the Bible says this… but what it really means is this…” from the pulpit. That pastor also wrote his own Apostles Creed and Lord’s Prayer to be sensitive to the unchurched and seekers. I wasn’t sure if I was in a Lutheran or a Unitarian congregation.

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  • From The Haut South
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