Mother’s Day Greetings

Mother’s Day is fast upon us, and is a happy time for many mothers. School are sending home crafts of flowers and baskets, children are serving their mothers brunch or dinner, and mothers of all ages are being blessed.  But Mother’s Day is a spiritual holiday too: a day when we remember the first mother, Eve, or Jesus’ mother, Mary.  It is a day we remember the nurturing of the Father over Christ, over creation, and every day.


Living in Tension

If someone asks you about your life, what do you think of? Do you think about your family, or your work? Your ministry, or your hobbies? Often we find ourselves creating these dichotomies and categories, but our lives are not a divided as that.

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.
For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.

For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.
Romans 7:18-19

One of the more important teachings of the Lutheran Church is expressed in the Latin phrase Simul Justus et Peccator, that is simultaneously Saint and Sinner. We believe that the sacrifice of Christ is sufficient for our forgiveness, that we have been washed clean and are God’s holy saints. We also believe that our flesh compels us to sin and that we are in need of constant repentance, confession, and sanctification. At first glance these ideas seem contradictory and mutually exclusive, but it is not so! It’s is a paradox we exist both fully as sinner and as saint, as forgiven and as a slave.  We exist in tension between these states, constantly showing different aspects of each throughout the day and throughout our lives.

Work is not the central purpose of our existence on earth. God is the center of life. He’s why we exist. He’s whom we serve. From Him flow all good things. – Dennis and Barbara Rainey

The concept of vocation is one frequently misused in secular communities. Vocation, far from being merely a trade or job, denotes any roll a person fills in their many stations in life. For example, a woman can be a wife, daughter, mother, employee, and employer all wrapped into one. This is not to say that the woman fulfills her motherly duties in her interactions with her husband, or that she fulfills her daughterly duties with her employee. These different vocations all manifest in tension within us, manifesting differently in different situations.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.  ~Philippians 4:8

Life in tension is a regular part of the Christian faith, especially for Lutherans. It is no different as we approach ministry. We are often faced with tensions between competing needs to minister to our families and to the congregation, or tensions between different ministry groups and activities. This tension while far from comfortable, is something that all ministries have to face, and all Christians face as well! With every Bible Study, event, service project, and meeting the tension increases and we must prioritize ministries. Sometimes, good ministries fall by the side because there are other priorities, but we should never abandon all, for it is in tension that we live in vocations, it is in tension that we live as Christians, and it is in tension that we minister.

Are there attachments that need to be let go, or vocations to strengthen as you go about your own ministries as members of Faithful Savior, as citizens of the Church in the Portland area, as saints of the Holy Apostolic Church? Saint, you are a minister in the priesthood of God’s holy kingdom. This Lenten season, identify some of the tensions in your life. You may find that there are there attachments that need to be let go, or vocations to strengthen as you go about your own ministries as members of Faithful Savior, as citizens of the Church in the Portland area, as saints of the Holy Apostolic Church.

Thanks to God and Help to Our Neighbor

As the church year comes to an end, many of us are preparing our tables for Thanksgiving feasts, peppermint mochas in red cups, and Christmas carols. As we come to this time of thanks, let us remember the many who have gone before us as witnesses to the glory of Jesus Christ. Let us not be troubled when a company takes “Merry Christmas” off of their cups. Let us not grimace at the lack of public school students singing in the Grotto.  We should never sit idle while the name of Christ is rejected and the Church is under attack –


But we should never rely on a secular company to fulfill the Great Commission.


These last few weeks of the Church year, we read of the coming judgement, the end of days, and the New Jerusalem.  As we prepare our hearts of the coming advent and the final Advent, remember that Jesus is with us TODAY.  He is present in our baptism,  He is present in the Eucharist,  He is present in His Word, He is present in His Church, and He is present in the least of these.


So, let us mourn the loss of lives in Roseburg, Paris, Beirut, and in Portland to the ways of the enemy. Let us watch for our neighbors who sleep under the Prescott bridge over I-205. Let us speak words of life to the hopeless, and words of hope to the abused. Pray for the widows among us, and serve the fatherless.  Let us do unto the least of these, our brothers, and also do so unto our Christ our Lord.


A servant, Geoffrey Balke

Loving Those We Are Told Not To

Today is the 14th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and my social media was flooded with memories. Some were remembering the lost, some the families who suffered, and some the men and women who continue to serve in our local fire and police departments. I have also seen a great deal of anger and even hatred. It has even become popular to hate.
We are told that we are to hate Al Qaeda for what they did on 9/11. We are told to hate ISIS for what they are doing to Jews, Christians, and other Muslims. We are told to hate those who lie to us, who cheat on us, and who harm us. We are told to hate our government and those who hold us back in some way. Democrats hate Republicans, and Republicans hate everyone else.
But we aren’t to conform to the pattern of this world.