Roger's Postings

Saturday, September 24, 2016


1 Timothy 6:6-19.                             Take hold of the life that is truly life!!!!   25/9/16



6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honour and might forever. Amen.

17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.



Take hold of the life that is truly life. This is the challenge that is laid before us today. At a time when all kinds of ideas are floating about as to what constitutes life; while a truly Godly and Christian life is decried and actively discredited in our nation; we here are encouraged and challenged to grab hold of the true life, for dear life’s sake.



At the present time we are having all kinds of changes thrust into our midst as being good and acceptable, even though throughout history they have been roundly condemned. Homosexuality, same sex marriage, living together, drug taking, and the list could go on. Not to mention the self-centred, hedonistic lifestyle that is regularly espoused by many.



Then to add to all of this is the complacency toward things that are important and valuable. We all have become very comfortable in life; and as long as things don’t make life too difficult for us we will go along with almost anything. As long as we are getting our entitlements as freebies we are happy. So selfishness is espoused to the detriment of those less fortunate than we ourselves.



In our readings this morning all these things are being addressed. In fact, God has some pretty harsh things to say in this regard. In the reading from Amos he told us very clearly that complacency is a major downfall for many. Particularly when there is no concern for the things that are important in life. God declares woe for these people.



In the Gospel reading we see again how wealth has distracted the rich man from his concern for the poor and the things of God. The result is that he goes on to suffer eternal torment in hell where there is no relief. Only then does he realize his stupidity; but it is too late. So then he wants to warn his brothers back here on earth, so that they do not make the same mistake.



Then even more tellingly, God goes on to state that those still on this earth:  ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” So they too like the rich man will burn in hell.



The truth of this statements is very clearly seen today. We have Jesus risen from the dead and clearly attested to, so that all can be sure of the fact. Yet so many do not want to take any notice. They are hell-bent on going their own way, totally ignoring or rejecting what God has clearly set before them.



In fact, we even now have many who are doing their utmost to destroy the Christian faith and God’s Word. Many in the media and academic sections of society are using everything at their disposal to get rid of Christianity altogether.



But even within ‘christianity’ there are today many who are changing and downplaying what God has to say in his Word so that they can be free to make Christianity what they would like it to be. Sin is downplayed and so also then Jesus death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. So ‘christianity’ then become a human, moralistic religion.



God’s Word is quite clear that those who willingly and wantonly go down this track will suffer the same fate as the rich man in the Gospel reading. Jesus Christ is to accepted as Lord; that is the one who determines what is right and good for his people. If we reject him as such, his Word again is clear, that we will suffer the same result as the rich man.

So the challenge is laid before us this morning to Take hold of the life that is truly life.  It is time for us to be ‘fair dinkum’ when it comes to the Christian faith. Since God challenges us against complacency, we need to look to him and seek what he would have for us, so that we can live the life that he would have for us. So let us look at what he tells us here in Timothy.



Firstly, he says:  But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.



So we see that this true life firstly recognises the realities of life in our world around us. We come into this world with nothing, and we are here but for a short time – at best a hundred years – and then we leave this world again with nothing. Not matter how much we have strived, cheated or whatever to gain our wealth and possessions, in the end we will leave it all behind.



So as long as we have the basics we can be content. So we are not to seek to get rich by fair or foul means as if they are going to give us everything. Loving money and possessions as all important leads to all kinds of evils. Most significantly it has led many people away from the faith and caused all kinds of griefs in their relationships with other people and with God. So a true life is not centred on the accumulation of wealth as being that which is all important.



In fact, this reading tells us: But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. So rather than chasing wealth we will pursue other qualities in life. A right relationship with God and other people will be important. Living a godly life – that is a life that is centred on doing what God would have done. It is a life of faith that trusts in God and his provision, rather than the things of this world. Instead of a self-centred, selfish life we are to love others by putting them and their needs, before our own. In the midst of life, we will ‘hang in there’ enduring the rough and tumble of life in this world. As well we are encouraged to take a gentle approach to life.



This true life also entails, Fighting the good fight of the faith. That is, that we will recognise that in this world we are in the midst of a deadly battle between good and evil – between God and the devil. The devil has infiltrated all around us and is peddling his false propaganda in order to lead us down the wrong track. The devil, the world and a sinful self constantly seeks to get rid of God from our lives.



So we need to fight the good fight of the faith. That is to constantly look to Jesus Christ and all that he has done for us through his death and resurrection. Constantly recognise that he has defeated the devil through his death on the cross and the forgiveness of sins. So we trust in him alone rather than to look to ourselves or things around us.



We also are to, Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In our baptism and then in our confirmation our allegiance has been given to believe in and trust in our Lord and all that he has and is doing for us. In connection with him we do have forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. He has ensured us that eternal life with God is ours, as long as we don’t turn our backs on it. So we will constantly seek to hold firmly to this throughout our life.



We will do so recognising that God is both Lord and Judge. He knows what truth is and it is he who also has the power to give eternal life to those who trust in him and what he says. We are told here in this reading that:

In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time.



So in light of all of this we will seek to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way we will lay up treasure for ourselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that we may take hold of the life that is truly life. So in light of who God is and what he has done for us through Jesus Christ and his death on the cross we will seek to hold firmly the life that he has for us both here and in eternity. Let us take hold of the life that is truly life.



To God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honour and might forever. Amen.



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


Saturday, September 17, 2016


Luke 16:1-13.                     Serving two masters???                                                18/9/16



Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’

“The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’

“So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’

“‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied.

“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’

“Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’

“‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied.

“He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’

“The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”



Serving two masters!  This is a challenging thought, isn’t it? Yet in our world today we are quite skilled in the art of doing so. At least we think we are. We think we can ’have two bob each way’ and it won’t hurt us. We think we can live as if money and what this world has to offer is the be all and end all of life. At the same time the view is that when life is up here on earth then we automatically are up there in heaven.



We think we can lead a double life without any great impunity. After all, God is a loving God. So in the end it doesn’t matter too much how I live here; as long as I am not an absolute rotter. Too often we live our life every day without any consideration for God, while at the same time living as though money and the good things of life is the only thing that is important. Yet in the end, we think, we all, except a few really evil people, will be up there in heaven.



With that in mind we need to consider carefully Jesus telling statement at the end of our reading here today:

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”



So it is obvious that we can’t have it both ways. We know that in the work place for instance. If there are two bosses each giving different instructions for the work to be done, it is disastrous. We are torn between the two and in the end seek to please either the one who makes the easiest demands on us or the one who holds the purse strings. Usually it ends up us doing what is easiest at a given moment to hang with the long term consequences.



When it comes to our relationship with God things get even worse. For here we all too often are trapped into going along with the world around us and what we can see, rather than a God we cannot see. We think of the here and now and what is easiest at the moment. We will take God seriously later in life when we have more time.



Also our wealth and what we can have here and now is what we focus on. Having the modern cons and pleasurable life is what we see as important. What I think I want and need for here and now is what is central to us. So we use our wealth and other gifts that we have to ’shore up’ our life here and now so that we can enjoy ourselves for the moment and for our future here on earth. Because we are so self-centred that is all we think of.



We think of the here and now without any great consideration for the bigger picture. Eternity is a long, long time. It is forever. On the other hand, here and now, and our whole life here on earth for that matter, is but a blink of the eye in comparison. In the bigger picture there are only two alternatives, either eternal life with God in heaven with the very best of everything. Or on the other, in eternal damnation with the absence of anything good. They are poles apart – day light and dark.



The question is which do we really want? We can have and do as we want here on earth living for self and ignore God for the moment. However, then God’s Word is quite clear that our eternity then is one in hell. The other alternative is to live here and now in preparation for the eternity that God has in mind for us. Which do we want? A critical question for us all.



Too often however, as I have already said, we want to live for the here and now as I please, with the attitude, eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. We will play life fast and loose with our selfish, self-centred thinking, hoping that the future will work out okay.



Then we justify our thinking by telling ourselves that God is a loving God who accepts us anyway, so it doesn’t really matter. Anyway God wants us to be healthy, wealthy and happy, so what is the problem. We focus on those passages of the Bible that speak this way and ignore the rest. We twist, change and overlook what he says to suit ourselves, and we think we are doing God a good turn.



 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”



The parable that Jesus uses here speaks of how we operate in a worldly sense so that we can get by. We too can be very shrewd and dishonest in our dealings in our worldly life so that our future in this life is secure. Yet when it comes to God we are as thick as two planks. We don’t even give a thought as to how we might use all the resources that we have at our disposal, to ensure that our eternity is secure.



Here we have so much available to us. So much promised to us. So much offered to us as a free gift. Yet we turn our backs on it or give it token acknowledgement, and then go on living our worldly life. We love our wealth here and serve it dearly.



Here remember that Jesus is talking to his disciples. He is warning then so that they too do not get caught up in this thinking and acting. Instead to recognise and appreciate who God is and what he has done for us and promised us. Then use everything at our disposal to ensure that we do not lose out as we face the rough and tumble of life in this world.



We are encouraged to be just as shrewd in insuring that we never lose sight of Jesus Christ and all that he has won for us. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. Use everything that we have at our disposal to gain friends that can help us through this life and into heaven.



Now yes, Jesus has done it all for us through his death and resurrection. He has paid the penalty that we deserve so that we can be forgiven and have the assurance of eternal life in heaven. We have been extended the greatest gift that we could ever hope to have. So, now we will seek to ensure that nothing in all creation can separate us from this love.



As we look around us and see how so many have fallen away from God and no longer take him seriously, we will be shrewd enough to do all that we can to see that we do not lose out. We will make friends with those who help us to see that we do not lose sight of Jesus Christ and what he has done and won for us. We will gather around people who will regularly encourage us to week by week join with our Lord in his house. We will use our wealth and other gifts to maintain and support God’s Church so that it can give the support, encouragement and help that we need in order to maintain our focus and faith in him.



Most importantly however will be, that we will do all that we can to maintain our friendship with our Lord. We will endeavour to be the people that he would have us be. When we fail, as we regularly do, we will readily turn back to him for forgiveness and the help to do better in the future. We will constantly be looking to him, seeking to be in a right relationship with him, and listening to him and receiving from him all that he has to offer.



Now this message is one of law – Jesus telling us what we need to do if we are not to lose out on this wonderful gift that he has for us. This is the message of the text that we have before us. So let us take seriously what he is saying to us.



But let us remember that he has saved us. He has forgiven us and has won eternal life for us with himself in heaven. All this and more is there for us. Won for us by Jesus Christ, through his death and resurrection. So we have a great and wonderful Lord and master who has for us a magnificent inheritance as a guarantee.



So let us not turn our backs on all of this and serve the masters of wealth and this world and lose out. Let us continue to look to Jesus Christ alone as that which is all important for us and our lives here on earth. Let us use worldly wealth to gain friends for ourselves, so that when it is gone, we will be welcomed into eternal dwelling. Then all glory will go to where it truly belongs, our great God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For to him alone belongs this glory now and forever. AMEN.

Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Saturday, September 10, 2016


Luke 15:1-10.                     This man welcomes sinners                                         11/9/16



Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”



Today in this reading we are challenged big time by the way God deals with us as sinful human beings. Whichever way we look at this issue there are big problems for us. God’s attitude does not sit comfortably with us, despite the fact that it is the greatest and most joyful thing that can happen with regard to each and every one of us.



Here the accusation is held against God that: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Again we have message that flows nicely in our minds as long as we don’t think too deeply about it. For when we do a few home truths hid hard. But as we come to terms with the real significance of what this is saying, then we see a joy that surpasses all understanding.



Now in this reading we begin with Jesus associating with sinners. Now this was something absolutely shocking to many of Jesus day; and many, many people today as well. How can someone who is clearly a sinner ever come to be in God’s presence. The Bible is quite clear that a sinner cannot be in God’s presence; for he is a holy God and any sinner would be destroyed by that glory. Holiness and sin cannot dwell together.



There is a reality here that we need to very much keep in mind. Sin and God are not compatible. In fact, God’s Word is quite clear that anything less than perfection is not able to dwell in God’s presence.

The problem for humanity is that we do not like to see ourselves as sinners. Sinners are only those really bad people out there who mess with children or are completely heartless killers. However, that is not what God tells us clearly in his Word. All, have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Not one is righteous; no not one.



Along with this, so often we also see sin as the bad things that are done. Rather than the bad nature of the person which is manifested by the bad that we do. Sin is a heart that is turned in on itself. This is seen in all of us in our ego-centric selfish way that we are and live life. Because of sin, we all have a corrupt nature, that focusses on self and not God and what he says.



By putting ourselves in the centre of the picture we generally see our own goodness and fail to see our own failures and short-comings. We judge ourselves and others by our own views, instead of listening to what God himself says. Here we want to see ourselves as basically good people, who only do a few bad things. Instead of the fact that we are bad people, who are despite ourselves, enabled to do a few good things.



This comes out quite clearly here in the views of the people who accuse Jesus of associating with sinners. Firstly, they viewed their own lives as being pretty good. In their own eyes they were obeying God’s commands, even if they changed the meaning to suit themselves. Secondly, they saw and judged their goodness very much in terms of what they were doing. It was all about themselves and how good they saw themselves. Then, they went on and judged everyone else according to those views, seeing their acceptability to God in those terms. They sought to see and Judge them rather see them from God’s perspective.



The tax collectors and sinners on the other hand knew they were not the people that they should have been. They felt trapped and bound not just by the ‘system’ but by their own nature. They knew that things were far from what they should be and that they needed the help that only God could give.



So when they hear of Jesus and all the miracles and great teaching that he was giving, they came to him, hoping that here they might find the help that they needed from God. The publican at the rear of the temple, gives the tone of their thinking: God be merciful to me a sinner. To these Jesus gives the full assurance of God’s forgiveness and acceptance.



Which brings us to God’s perspective on all of this: he came to seek and save the lost. That is all of us. He created us to live and be in a relationship with himself and one another. He created us to willingly and freely look to and serve one another and himself. In doing so he gave us the free will to do this. In order for that to be the case he gave us one simple rule to follow: listen to and heed what he tells us.



Now for Adam and Eve that entailed enjoying all the many good things that God had for them, but not eating from that one tree in the middle of the garden. However, on the devils leading, they chose to do their own thing, instead of what God had told them. They wanted to do what they thought was best for themselves; and as a result brought death and destruction on themselves.



So they and all have us have set ourselves as enemies against God. We all have sought to be the centre of life and are reaping the rewards of it. This sin has corrupted us all. Because of this sin, all of us are unable to make our own way back in God’s presence and have eternal life with him and all that is good. Not one of us can make up for our sin and so deserve eternal damnation.



However, God in his love for his creation – his people, seeks to give us a way out. He sends his own Son into our world to make it possible for us all to once again live in that perfect relationship with himself. God sends him to take the punishment, that we deserve for our sin, on himself. He dies in our place so that we all can be freely and fully forgiven and so once again live with him in his glory; loving and serving each other.



So Jesus comes to seek and save the lost – that is, those who recognise that they are sinners in need of the help that only God can give. To the broken and hurting he comes to them to remind them that he is there to bring healing, hope, and life. To those who are prepared to acknowledge their hopelessness and need of help, he comes alongside and reassures them of the life and salvation that he has for them. To those who know that they are sinners and outcastes, he tells them of the forgiveness life and salvation that is available to them through his death and resurrection.



Then to those who think that they can stand in their own self-righteousness he comes to them with his Word of Law and judgement. To those who think they are good enough to get there on their own merits, he reminds them of the need to be perfect. And to those who think that they can twist, change and lessen the absoluteness of his demands he gives the Sermon on the Mount and more.



So to this group of people he speaks his Word of Law to remind them of how lost they really are. He wants all to know how bad we really are so that we turn to him and receive the Good News that he has for us all. We are all sinners in need of the salvation that only God can give.



To all then, he seeks to draw them with his Law and Gospel to repentance. He seeks all to turn to him and receive the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation that we all so desperately need. He comes to each of us wanting to be in fellowship with himself. “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” He wants, and has made possible for each of us, to be with him in heaven.



However, many still do not want to accept the fact that they are sinner, dependent on God and his salvation alone. As a result, they lose out on this wonderful gift.



But for those who are found by God and who do not reject this great gift, there is great rejoicing in heaven. This is spelt out quite clearly in the parables that he tells in this regard. In the second he says this: “ suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. [Today we might say a $500,000 cheque] Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?  And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’  In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”



How amazing is that that he should search us, who have set ourselves up against God by being so ego-centric and selfish; that he should search us out till he can find us. Doing all he can so that we might repent and be saved. Turning to him and letting him draw us to him and receiving all the goodness that we could ever hope to get.



“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Thank God that Jesus Christ has come and welcomed us into his presence and his eternal banquet. To him be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


Friday, September 02, 2016


Deuteronomy 30:15-20.                Choosing life or death???                             4/9/16



15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.



According to our reading here this morning there are two ways to live life – one leading to life and prosperity and the other to death and destruction. God calls us here to make a choice on which we would want for ourselves. Now that would seem to be a bit of a dumb question, doesn’t it? Of course we want life and prosperity, don’t we? Don’t we all long to have health, wealth and happiness; with a long life, with as few a hassles as possible?



So why is it then that we have the opposite? Why is pain, suffering and death the order of the day for most of us; or dare I say it, for all of us? Despite the constant spin that we are constantly confronted with, about how good life is and how good we have it. Underneath, and in many cases out in the open, we all, to a greater or lesser degree, are confronted with death and destruction.



Life for all of us is not what we know deep down it should be for us. It promises so much and yet it is far, far from what we know it should be. For so many, life is a living hell: sickness, broken relationships, poverty, abuse and war are but a scratching of the surface of what life really is like. No matter what mask we put on, or how glitzy our surroundings, life does not measure up.



But interestingly, that is the life that we have chosen. Even though we have life and prosperity placed before us and given free access to it, we have chosen to turn our backs on it and have thereby received death and destruction instead.



You see, we want this good life, but not the God who makes it possible. We think that we can have this life without taking seriously the God who has created life itself. Even if are prepared to acknowledge him, we simply want him to give us what we want, without us taking what he has to say seriously. We want life to be what each one of us selfishly thinks is what is good. That naturally leads to death and destruction, are not doing what is good for us all.



This takes us right back to the Garden of Eden. Now I know that most people today don’t believe in the reality of it. After all, science has told us the we are simply products of an evolutionary process. Sadly, even many ‘christians’ go along with this, claiming to believe that God was behind this whole process. But that then makes a mockery of what he tells us in the Bible and even Jesus Christ himself say in this regard. Not to mention, that if death and dying happened for millions of years before humanity came into existence, then death as a result of sin is discarded.



In turn that makes a nonsense of what God tells us with regard to Jesus death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. The results today then are that we have many ‘christians’ downplaying sin; and then also the true significance of his death on the cross. Then we also no longer follow what the Bible says in many other areas as well. We want to play at religion on our own terms. Life again then is about our ego and not what the creator say is good and right.



So just as was the case in the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve chose to ignore what God had told them and instead to do what was pleasing to their own eyes; so also has humanity all the way down through history done the same thing. Remember also that God told them and us if we do so we will die; death and destruction will be a part of life for us.



As Luther brought to the fore in his time, so also for us today; we are trapped in this life of death and destruction. Because of this sin that clings so closely to us, we are bound into this way of life. Our natural tendency is to do what we want, especially when it goes against God’s will. So death and destruction follows us all the way to the grave. It would seem that we are trapped in a horrible mess with no way out.



However, God in his wisdom has chosen to give us a way out, if only we would take it seriously. He sends his Son into our world as a human being so that he can take the punishment that we deserve for our self-centredness and sin on himself. He dies the ultimate death and takes the real destruction from us, by dying on the cross. In its place he offers us forgiveness of sin, life and prosperity.



He has made possible for us the very best of everything, including eternal life in heaven, where there will be no more death, dying, suffering, pain our anything bad. He there has a mansion prepared for us where we can have the very best that there is to be had. There we will live with God without fear or favour, receiving everything that we need for a happy and contented life.



Even here in this life we already are assured that we would be able to live free from the pall of death and destruction that hangs over us, and which we also readily experience in our own lives. We are now assured that they are not the end of the story for us, but now a means which he uses to draw us and others to himself and the life and prosperity that he has for us.



He uses the troubles and heartaches that we experience to remind us that sin and selfishness brings these things to bear in our world. When humanity goes its own way, ignoring God and what he has to say, that is why death and destruction is all around us. When we twist or ignore his Word to suit what we would like to see and experience, then we reap the rewards. He wants us to repent – that is turn to him and not only receive forgiveness for our sin, but also all the help that we need in order to live this new life.



Let us remember that God has given us very clear commands for us so that we can live happily with God, each other and ourselves; if only we would heed them. They are simple, easy to understand and follow if only we would follow them, instead of ignoring, twisting or changing their intent to suit ourselves.



Even when we fail, as we all to readily do, he has given us a way out and a fresh start. As well as the constant reassurance that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. He pledges his ongoing forgiveness and help throughout. In fact, he even promises us his own Holy Spirit to lead and guide us as we go about our daily lives.



Week by week he calls us into his presence in Divine Service so the he can reassure us and help to cling to the life and prosperity that he has for us. Through forgiveness of sins, Word and Sacrament he constantly and tangibly gives us what he knows is good and helpful for us.



Through these means he wants to reassure us that he loves us, forgives us, and has good for us as we live out our lives every day. There he also guarantees us of the eternal life that he has in mind for us. So we can live with confidence and hope, in the midst of the death and destruction that is all around us.



So now we have life and prosperity placed before us as a free gift. It is all there for us to make the most of. It is all ours. God has even given us the faith to believe that this is all true and good. So we have every reason to get on with life, boldly and confidently.



So why is it then that we choose to turn our backs on this wonderful gift, and then reap death and destruction in abundance? Are we so stubborn and self-centred that we will not let even God Almighty himself give us what we so desperately want and need? Are we so rebellious that we will not take him and what he has to say seriously? Instead seek to live as we please, even though the reality is that we will reap death and destruction?



Let us take seriously what God says to us here in this reading when he says: See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.



Then even more so when he goes on and says:  But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you ………. enter and possess.

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you, life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he has promised.



So with that in mind let us make the most of living that life of prosperity that God has given us, instead of choosing the way that leads to death and destruction. Let us take God and his Word and promises seriously; after all he is truly God and Lord to whom belongs all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish.

Saturday, August 27, 2016


Hebrews 13:7-8           Today's Message - same yesterday's                            28/8/16



{1)  Keep on loving each other as brothers. {2} Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. {3} Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. {4} Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. {5} Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." {6} So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" {7} Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. {8} Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

{9} Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them.

{15} Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name. {16} And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.



Is the message that we hear and take on as our own today, the same as it was yesterday and in years gone by? Is Jesus Christ and his death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, still preached as boldly and consistently as it was? At a time when we are hearing all kinds of strange teachings being put forward - within Christian circle and outside; and when things are changing at such a fast rate in our world, is there something that we can hang on to as a constant and secure thing, that will help us through it all? Or are we at the mercy of the winds of change - being blown this way and that; never quite knowing what is right and wrong?



As we look around us we see many people who are in trouble in this way. There are many who no longer sit here in this building or any other such building. While a number of others who do so, do so only occasionally. And perhaps there are some of us here who are not quite sure: hearing lots of other thoughts and ideas which make us question that which we have been brought up with; making us think of changing our ideas or even doubt the value of our church.



However, we are constantly warned in Scripture to beware of those who try to lead us astray with all kinds of fancy talk. It warns that in the later days there will be many who will come in God's name, but not with God's Word. They will come in their own name giving us that which our ears are itching to hear. They will claim they are ‘christian’, but in reality be far from it; even if they use the name Jesus. They will quote from the Bible without really considering what God is and has said in and through it.



We are living in very difficult times when it comes to the Christian faith; but the answer is not to walk away from that which is all important. Nor to let go of that which ultimately is the only thing that is beneficial to us all. Or again to follow that which will only simply makes us feel good, but does not deal with the real issues. To do so, is to even further erode any security and hope that we would have that will be able to give us life and salvation; and help us through the difficult and troubled times of life. As well as leaving us even more uncertain and alone. Which is of course the devils aim.



Our reading here today however gives us some very simple and important advice in this matter. So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.



Now I know this sort of thinking is out of tune with what is happening in our world today, where change at all costs is the order of the day: Where we are constantly encouraged to ignore the past as out of date and no longer relevant; And to go ahead and be more broadminded in our thinking and to accept all kinds of different thinking as being OK; and all the rest. Yes, even within the church.



But here we are encouraged to hold firmly to that which is important and to follow closely that which has been handed down to us from the very beginning; imitating the faith of the great leaders that have gone before us. Here again we are encouraged to remember Jesus Christ and what he has to say and what he has done on the cross for us, as all important.



Some time back I listened to tape where one young man, when asked who he wanted to be most like and whose example he would follow; said that he wanted to be like his father who was a committed Christian and evangelist. All his lecturers and peers got into him suggesting that he had a real psychological problem: no one follows the example of their fathers any more [ unless it their bad traits]. Now it was great to hear that he stood up and told the lot of them that they were the ones who had a problem, if they were not committed enough to stand up and imitate those many good points of their fathers.



We too, need to stand up once again and imitate those many good Christians that have gone before us. They are the ones through whom God's grace has been at work carrying the Good News of Jesus Christ on to us here today. God has been at work in and through his Church for many hundreds of years, speaking his word to each successive generation; encouraging them to stand firm in their faith. And our church here stands in that line: The Gospel being the centre and focus of everything that we stand for.



But will we be responsible for that Word going forward to the children of the coming generations; or will our slackness and indifference mean that our children and grand-children will no longer have anything to follow and imitate. Will our running here and there, following every wind of doctrine, leave nothing solid for those who come after us.



Remember again what Jesus Christ and his life, death and resurrection means for us and for the Church of all time. It is he alone that stands central to our whole being, existence and future. What he has done and continues to do for us is paramount to everything. Forgiveness of sins and eternal life through him, is what gives life and hope.



Our fore-fathers in the Faith held firmly to the biblical view that both Law and Gospel were to be understood clearly, but at the same time to be rightly distinguished. So they held to the biblical view that we are all sinners deserving death and hell and unable in any way to get ourselves out of that mess that we have made for ourselves. But at the same time they clearly proclaimed that Jesus Christ came to earth for the express purpose of taking our punishment on himself so that we might be forgiven.



Now, that we see from many of the Christian leaders that have gone before us. With full assurance that they had been forgiven through Jesus’ death on the cross, they knew that they had salvation and life eternal: they had a joy and hope even in the midst of the most terrible of situations. They were able to put away from their lives many of those things that are bad and wrong such as drunkenness, envy, greed, selfishness etc. And in their place came those qualities that are good, helpful and positive. Love becoming the basis of much of what they did.



But undergirding this, always was Jesus Christ and his death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, that he has made available to us. They clung to that which they could not see, feel or touch; trusting that in Christ and his death lies their only hope and their only life. Then with that faith, they gave their all to share that which was so important, with those around them. Even as they faced death in whatever way or form it came, they trusted that nothing could ever separate them from the love of God in Christ Jesus.



Now then, that is what our reading is calling us also to do: to imitate that faith, - carrying on forward that same hope and trust in our own life and as we face our own death. Primarily we are called to put aside all those thoughts of self and my achievements, commitment and whatever. The whole work of salvation and life now for us, lies firmly at the foot of the cross and Jesus Christ. Then with that as our basis for life, to go forward living and being the people that God has called us to be; knowing always that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.



We do so because he is forever faithful and true. He alone stands as the one who offered himself for all sinners in the past. But also who ever intercedes for us in the present. He always remains our faithful Saviour and Lord. That is the message that has been passed on to us through our Church from the past; and is that which I give you today; and I pray that it is the same message that will go on being given and imitated for years to come.



So don't ignore the Church, this message and the truth that has been passed on to us. But let us continue to see Jesus Christ and the forgiveness that he offers as being that which is of utmost importance; trusting him and so giving your all to see that this same message and faith goes on to those who follow.



 Let us pray that God will help us to continue to imitate those great men and women who have gone before us. Through it all may we always remember that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. To him alone be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Saturday, August 20, 2016


Luke 13:14-15.                   Why is Sunday so important???                                 21/8/16



14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?

Hebrews 12:28-29.

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Isaiah 58:13-14.

13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
    and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
    and the Lord’s holy day honourable,
and if you honour it by not going your own way
    and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,
    and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
    and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.



This morning in our readings we are confronted with what our Sunday worship is all about. Here in particular it is addressing why it is that we have so many problems with, not only our worship, but life itself.



These days we hear all too often that worship is boring or not fitting to our societal thinking today: or that it doesn’t do anything for me; or even that it is not done right. Along with that we think that we can worship when and where it suits us; or that I don’t need to go because I still have my faith. Then there are also those who think that we can change almost anything and everything about worship to suit what I and the people around me think would be good and nice.



But already just in that I think we can already begin to see a major problem with our attitude today about Sunday worship. It is all about me and what I think and feel. Our Christianity has thereby become a religion, rather than a faith. It is more about what I and we do, than about Christ and what he has done. Therein we have a major problem. Also we find that we have lost the joy and strength that God desires for our lives.

In the first of these three readings we have God very clearly addressing this issue. He says:  “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
    and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
    and the Lord’s holy day honourable,
and if you honour it by not going your own way
    and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
 then you will find your joy in the Lord,
    and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
    and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”



Here God is talking about consequences that flow from the decisions we make with regard to what is important in life; and particularly here with our attitude toward God and our worship of him. If you – then you will…. If you take God seriously and follow what he says and wants, then we will find joy and blessings.



Conversely then, if Sunday is all about me and what I want, then the opposite is also true. If we make no attempt to keep the Sabbath holy and just do as we please: and if we fail to see Sundays as God’s special day for us and honour it as such: and if we go our own way and do our thing; then it should not surprise us if we find no joy in the Lord, and no real blessings in our daily lives.



Sunday is about taking God and what he has to say seriously. It is about following what he has to say is right, good and beneficial for us, rather than we doing what we think we would like. He is Lord. In other words, he is all important and what he says goes. This is vital that we get our heads around this. Our sinful human nature always wants to turn the focus to ourselves, and we get into real trouble as a result.



God tells us in the Ten Commandments that we are to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. And Luther’s explanation of this in the Catechism goes like this: We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and his Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.



Yet we all too readily worship only when we feel like it and have little regard for God’s Word. This is readily seen today as more and more we change and ignore what God has to say in his Word to suit what we and our society would like it to be. Then we wonder why everything goes wrong for us. We wonder why there is a huge drop off in church attendance.



Then when we look at the Gospel reading this morning we see another aspect to this that is equally a big problem. Again however, the same underlying problem is there. The synagogue leader was so focussed on doing the right according to the rules that they had made up as an extension to what God hold told them. In the process they had forgotten that God and his love for sinners was to be ever present.



14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?



He points out that they look after their own animals on the Sabbath but do not have the same compassion for a cripple. They are more concerned about everything going the way they want, so that everything looks and feels good for them and their own worship. Again it is ‘all about me’, rather than who God is and what he would have for us.



Here it is that Jesus reminded the Pharisees of his day, as well as us today, that there is a far more central issue involved here, than what we do and how we do it. This day has to do with us being freed from that which binds us and grinds us into the ground. He speaks of being freed from Satan. It has to do with forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. It has to do with our Lord and who he is and what he does.



It has to do with, as Paul says to the Hebrews:

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.



Yes, that is what God has in mind for you and me here this morning and every time we gather here in his presence. He wants to meet with you here, together with all the saints, and he wants to reassure you that you are part of a new covenant where we can have that guarantee that we are forgiven for all our selfishness and sin, and that he has many blessings surrounding that for you and me. God and what he has to offer is what is essential for this life and the next. He is here to do just that and along with that he gives us the directives that we need for our worship and for life.



So also as Paul said to the Hebrews:  See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. [That is Jesus and his word of forgiveness] If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken--that is, created things--so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire."



We certainly do have a great God who has done something truly remarkable for us who in no way deserve it. We who have turned our backs on him and even the worship that he has in mind for us. We have made ourselves the centre of life and worship and brought nothing but misery and hardship on ourselves. By doing what we want and changing to be all about ourselves we have lost the joy and blessings that God has in mind for us.



Yet he still loves us and still wants to remind us again that he is Lord of the Sabbath. He still calls us back to himself and seeks to impart to us the joy and blessing that is so much needed in our worship and in our lives. He calls for us to look beyond ourselves and our wants and desires, so that he can give us those things that are truly needed in our lives. He wants to serve us so that we receive what we need in order to get through this life and into eternity with himself.



So we have a great, awesome, and loving God who calls us week by week into his day of rest and receiving of all the good things that he has in mind for us. Through Word and Sacrament he seeks to richly bless us.  Who then are we to deny him this opportunity. Or do we think that we are greater, stronger and wiser than God himself. No let us be challenged and encouraged to see the Sabbath as God’s gift to us for our welfare and good. And through it all may all glory and honour go to our great God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. AMEN.



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish