Official Publication of the LMS-USA

May 2001

Volume 8, Number 2

The Annual LMS Confernece / Convention Issue

Witnessing the Gospel Through Loving Service

St. Matthew Lutheran Church
2837 East New York Street
Indianapolis, IN 46201
June 22-24

In this Issue:

W.W.J.D. in Counseling?
by Rev. Ralph Spears

What would Jesus do - is not a new question despite one of the latest gimmicks in the Christian book stores! The first time the Apostles began to act on their own without their Lord physically present - that was the question, what would Jesus do? -- What would He have done?

Now before we imagine Peter with his WWJD tee shirt on with "The Rock" emblazoned on the back above the large red #1, perhaps the question is even more basic, "Is there anything new under the sun?"

If it's counseling we consider, is there such a thing as Christian counseling that is so different from any other counseling? Many people seem to think so!

But if we base Christian counseling on 'what Jesus would do' or might have done, we may be in for trouble. If anything is true of the internship of the Apostles under Jesus, it is that He was totally unpredictable. The question was more like -- 'What would He do next'? They could hardly guess!

Once when a poor woman from the wrong side of the Jordan came begging help, He completely ignored her! Furthermore, she began to cry after the Apostles which was both annoying and embarrassing. Was Jesus following the model that she was a Caananite and a woman and not worthy of an answer, or what! They asked Him to please help the lady as much to get her off their backs as anything.

Yet He was surprisingly cozy with a Samaritan woman of all things, when they went into town (present day Nablus) to buy some food. Go figure!

Then there was the time when He became livid at the practice of money changers and animal sellers encroaching on the Temple grounds and 'turned tables' on them - almost totally out of control. Was this a good example of behavior in such a situation? They had to dig hard to come up with a prophecy that "zeal for my House shall consume me" as an explanation for this enormous outburst. What Would Jesus Do - NEXT?

When miles from any town, Jesus suddenly late one evening when they were all tired, asked them to feed some thousands of people. What He was up to became apparent as each of these people ate their fill and then some.

Face it, you simply couldn't predict what Jesus would do any more than you could predict what God would do next - calming the storm, eating with sinners, walking on water.

Once when they tried their best to heal a young man while Jesus was on the mountain being transfigured, their attempt ended in miserable failure. "Fasting and prayer" was all He said, "more fasting and prayer for cases like these!"

The attempt to use Jesus as a model for what we should do in a given situation in ministry or counseling - except for the LOVE He showed, might be very tricky indeed!

There is the hint, there were certain underlying principles then - that can still be applied -- now.

Back in seminary, years ago our professor of modern pastoral counseling, Dr. David Oestegren, applied some of these principles directly to counseling cases in a way to promote compassionate interaction with clients and church members. Dr. Oestegren used two simple questions effectively and often to the exasperation of some of his students:

  1. What is going on within what is going on - he used to ask.. . Jesus looked for sincerity and faith in that Caananite woman during the silence, and found it. And He congratulated her! Our Lord sensed the doubt and acrimony among the pharisees when he was about to heal a young man, and confronted their thoughts directly!
    "Listen with the third ear" Oestegren used to say, to sense what is really going on. And - you know - after a while - it worked! Little by little it does work!
    Jesus sensed the determination and the faith of those who brought the young paralytic; he saw the faith of that foreigner - the Centurion - in his appeal for his servant, He (perhaps) noticed the severe static in the lives of those 'good' men who would cast the first stone at the adulterous woman and the list goes on and on. Half of this stuff we could never do - could we? But wait, Jesus said that possibly we could, "and greater things... you will do etc." Jesus was teaching, He was always teaching!
  2. The other favorite question of Dr. Oestegren was; Who's need? This he would interject as we recounted our counseling adventures or talked about what was most important in the counseling encounter -- Who's need is really being served? Are you doing this or asking that question for your own need or for the ones that you would counsel? Now that might seem subtle, but it is a very good question for anyone who would help another!
One of the most remarkable things about the ministry of Jesus is that he never did anything in a self-serving way, to call attention to Himself, or just to get His point across.

He tried to instill this in those that He worked with as well. "Go and show yourself to the priest", He said "and tell no one about it," keep it to yourself!

I once sat in on a counseling session with a student pastor where he was so busy citing Scripture passages that he was paying little attention to the needs of the couple whom he was supposedly counseling for marriage. It was as though the important thing was, this young man's knowledge of the Bible. But it's much closer than that. I can think back on counseling sessions with some embarrassment, when it seemed so necessary for me to get my example out and my point made, that I was no better than that young man. All of this takes away from the most important thing that a counselor does, listening to the other, listening carefully and completely to the one across from us. This means listening for what they say and also - for what they don't say! It means putting them and their needs first. This truly is client centered managing as they would call it today in the counseling world! After all, our real counseling teacher had no place to lay his head or to call home. Perhaps that was really a metaphor for always putting others and their needs - first. Then and only then, can we be one who serves instead of the one being served.

Some of the best counseling in my parishes was done by concerned lay men and women who simply cared and did their best to relate to their neighbors. I was called to the home of one lady in the congregation who was so afraid of doing something wrong. It seems that a couple of the ladies on her road dropped over for coffee on Monday mornings and felt comfortable enough to talk about their problems. These were no simple problems, either. They were crucial to their marriages; they asked openly if they should even stay married. Mrs. "B" carefully listened to them and gave them sound advice but she felt the enormity of the responsibility and so the question, "Pastor, did I say the right things"? She wanted me to talk to them until I told her the truth. At that point she was much more effective than I and I was only too pleased to act as her back up and review the Monday morning sessions with her as she wished.

These simple but profound questions, are based on the common good sense of Scripture. Is there any better advice anywhere? Is there any better method of counseling anywhere?

And the love that was shown, probably the most important principle of all the compassionate love, was the unconditional love that Jesus gave.

One of the shortest interchanges with a man in all of Scripture, is also one of the most profound and effective, "and looking on him, Jesus loved him!" Is there any better method than that?

What Would Jesus Do? What Did Jesus Do? He was the embodiment of love which covered a multitude of sins and touched everyone!

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Discernment Needed Today
by Rev. John Erickson

Most everyone has heard by now of the 2001 national tour called We Will Stand! In connection with this, I was among the pastors who received a letter from the American Clergy Leadership Conference inviting me to attend the "We Will Stand" program at the historic Bethel Baptist Church in Milwaukee, WI.

The Milwaukee Conference was (is) part of a 50 state tour with the key note address being given by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. What is most interesting in all of this, is the list of persons who are involved with this program. A look through the partial listing of the invitational committee and those involved in the actual celebration reveals the involvement of the Church of God in Christ, AME, United Pentecostals, Baptist Convention, Lutheran, Southern Baptist, among others.

Very few, it seems, are asking how it is that those who consider themselves a Christian church or denomination can involve themselves in a program with someone like Sun Myung Moon? Here, for example, are some quotes by Rev. Moon: "I have inherited the mission and work, and succeed Jesus in his work. I am fulfilling what Jesus left undone" (Sun Myung Moon, Unification News, Nov. 1993, p. 3). "I know the established Christian theology. I know the enemy, but the enemy doesn't know me. Thus the enemy has already lost the war" (Sun Myung Moon, Today's World, Nov. 1993, p. 4). "Until our mission with the Christians is over, we must quote the Bible and use it to eplain the Divine Principle. After we receive the inheritance of the Christian church, we will be free to teach without the Bible." (Sun Myung Moon, Master Speaks, #7, p. 1). "In early July, I spoke in five cities around Korea at rallies held by the Women's Federaton for World Peace. There I declared that we are the savior, the Lord of the Second Advent, the Messiah." (Sun Myung Moon, Today's World, Oct.,/Nov. 1992, p. 7).

It is extreemly important that as, Biblical Christians, we do not by our word, or by action, or by association with false teachers or teachings, give cause for persons to question just what it is we believe. Or, that we by the same become a stumbling block to a weaker brother or sister in the faith.

Jesus stated on one occasion, "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters" ( Matt. 12:30). Paul asked, "What do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God.... Therefore come out from them and be separate says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing and I will receive you..." (I Cor. 6:14-17). James also speaks to this in his Epistle: "... don't you know that friendship with the world [i.e., This would include, would it not, teachings that have their origin in something other than God?] is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God" (4:4). And it is John who warns against "sharing in [the] wicked work" of one who does not hold to Jesus Christ as the God/man. (I Jn. 2:11).

Clearly, anyone involved in a function such as this, We Will Stand 50 state tour, should be considered an endorser of what is going on. If one does not speak out against teachings that clearly contradict orthodox Christian doctrines, that one, by their silence, has endorsed what was said.

Pastors have a responsibility to be "watchman" in the world and in the communities of which they are called to minister. They are to warn those in their care against the very things Paul warned young Timothy against (see II Timothy 4). And notice, Paul points out to Timothy that if the dangers inherent in these false teachers are pointed out to "the brothers" he would then be "a good minister of Christ Jesus" (v. 6).

In light of the above concerns, the following article is reprinted for consideration. Pastor Nervig published this in his volume, Christian Truth and Religious Delusions, over a half century ago (1941), but what he writes is most pertinent yet today.

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A Christian Responsibility
from, chapter 1, Concern For the Truth
from the volume: Christian Truth and Religious Delusions
by Casper B. Nervig

It is not a popular task to be on guard against falsehood. The world today especially is ready with the words "bigoted" and "narrow-minded." So if we take this Christ-given responsibility of fighting falsehood and false prophets, we will find that even some of our friends will use these and other uncomplimentary epithets. For this, too, Jesus has a word, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets" (Luke 6:26). We need hardly look for praise from the world when we take a definite stand against heresy. This is the era of "tolerance," interdenominationalism, "and non-sectarianism." He that dares to raise the banner of his confessional standard too high must be ready to meet ridicule. The above words of Jesus suggest that we should rather be afraid of the praise and approval of the world lest we, too, shall have slipped from our moorings of faith.

What, then, is truth? This skeptical question of Pilate to Jesus has an answer. Jesus is the truth, its source, its symbol, and its very embodiment. "He is yesterday, today, and forever the same." Religious truth has that same quality which we see in Him: always and everywhere the same. Truth is constant and reliable. Current conceptions of what is true may change from generation to generation, but such variation comes out of the minds of men who modify truth to fit their own thinking. The cardinal truths of the Christian religion are given by the revelation of God and cannot be discovered by human reason. Our Christian task is not to decide what is true but to find out what is true by a study of God's Word.

All that is false is misleading. Such falsehood is a delusion. In contrast to the truth of the Word of God, there are false religious ideas of innumerable varieties. These are RELIGIOUS DELUSIONS.

When we discuss the religious delusions that afflict the Christian world and especially our land we are not dealing in personalities. Many of us may think of men and women, perhaps very good friends, who are followers of such religious delusions. We are not denouncing them. They may be among the finest people we know, for all their deluded religious convictions. It is not against them as persons we direct our studies but against the delusions that have captured them. In a spirit of true Christian tolerance we will defend their civil right to believe what they wish according to their own convictions. May that right laid down in the first amendment to our federal constitution never be taken from them or us. But we will fight the fight of faith against the falsehoods which have captured them in order that we shall not be likewise led astray and in order that, if possible, they too may see the light of truth and be set free.

God has placed a responsibility upon all those to whom He has entrusted the truth; they shall hold it fast and teach it to others. With this responsibility God has given a blessing: "My brothers,. if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins" (Jas. 5:19 -20).

Those who have a sincere concern for the truth and purity of the Gospel of Christ have abundant blessings promised by God. "Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior" (Ps. 24:3-5).

Even as Jesus came into the world so He sends out His followers "to testify to the truth" (John 18:37). Therefore Christians need to join often in the prayer which Jesus prayed for them, "Sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth."

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2001 Conference / Convention Schedule

Friday, June 22
12:30 PM---
1:00 PM---
1:30 PM---
2:00 PM-Youth Arrive-
2:30 PM---
3:00 PM-MixersMeeting
3:30 PM-Devotions-
4:00 PM-Meal Prep-
4:30 PM---
5:00 PMDinnerDinnerDinner
5:30 PM-CleanupMinisterium
6:00 PM-Meeting-
6:30 PM-Play Prep-
7:00 PM-Banner-
Saturday, June 23
8:00 AMBreakfast & RegistrationBreakfastBreakfast & Registration
9:00 AMConf Session 1DevotionsConf Session 1
9:30 AM-Service Session 1-
10:00 AMBreak-Break
10:15 AMConf Session 2-Conf Session 2
1:00 PMConf Session 3-Conf Session 3
2:30 PMBreak-Break
2:45 PMConf Session 4-Conf Session 4
4:45 PMConf Wrap-up-Conf Wrap-up
5:00 PMDinner (speaker)DinnerDinner (speaker)
6:00 PMChoir PracticeChoir PracticeChoir Practice
6:30 PM-Play Prep-
Sunday, June 24
8:00 AMBreakfastBreakfastBreakfast
9:30 AMSunday SchoolSunday SchoolSunday School
10:30 AMWorshipWorshipWorship
1:00 PMConvention 1-Convention 1
2:30 PMBreak-Break
3:00 PMConvention 2-Convention 2
4:30 PMParting DevParting DevParting Dev

With regard to the Conference Presentations:
Dr. Robert W. Hotes has been informed as to the purpose of the LMS Annual Conference, and as to who the participants are. At first glance it might appear as if all this is something far beyond the average lay person. However, Dr. Hotes has assured us that he understands what we are about, and that his presentations will touch base with all in attendance.

Further, it is important for congregational leaders as well as for the person in the pew, to have some understanding of the place of counseling in the ministry of the church today, as well as have some knowledge of content appropriate to a Bible based ministry.

Conference/Convention information, registration, lodging:
The quickest and most efficent means of dealing with any of the above is to contact Rev. Ralph Spears. You may do so by phone at 1-888-637-8880, or by e-mail at, or by regular mail at 2837 East New York Street, Indianapolis, IN 46201.

Directions to St. Matthew Lutheran Church.
Turn South off I-70 at Rural Ave. Continue south to East New York Street and turn left (East) for a half block to St. Matthew Lutheran Church.

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2001 LMS Conference Program

When the LMS was established back in 1995, it was decided that one thing that would separate the LMS from other Lutheran Church bodies is that the LMS would be an on going forum for discussion - for clergy and lay alike - of matters and issues (theological and otherwise) of concern to the church. This year will be our eighth forum. As in the past, these forums are open mainly to members of the LMS, but anyone is invited to attend. Something unique to this year's Conference is that participants can acquire C.E.U. if they so desire.

There are a number of LMS pastors who are involved in counseling and chaplaincy ministry. And since parish pastors too are involved in counseling and chaplaincy, it was decided to focus on this aspect of the ministry of the church in our Annual Conference this year. And for lay men and women, this is an excellent opportunity for you to become familiar with this aspect of the Christian ministry.

Our Presenter: Dr. Robert W. Hotes has seven degrees and licenses besides the Ph. D. and is currently Executive Director of the American College of Counselors which is sponsoring six (6) C.E.U.s or Continuing Educational Units for any counselors who would need/request such units at our Conference on that Saturday June 23rd.

Dr. Hotes' education and experience is extensive in theology, philosophy, psychology, linguistics and computer and engineering technology. He had a Catholic theological education but has also been an elder for several years in the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod and currently is a deacon in the conservative Southern Episcopal Church. Among so many other worthy accomplishments and titles, Dr. Hotes is Certified as a Christian Counselor at the Doctoral level.

The Conference - Soul Healing: Cognitive Psychology, Spirituality and Mental Health
Saturday, June 23
8:00 a.m. Registration -
9:00 a.m. Session 1 - Dr. R. W. Hotes
Cognitive Psychology, Behavioral Therapy and Mental Health: Issues in Spirituality and Pastoral Care
a) Review basis concepts in applying Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
b) Relate Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Mental Health and Pastoral Care Issues
c) Identify strategies in applying the principles of Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to mental Health and pastoral Counseling
10:00 a.m. break -
10:15 a.m. Session 2 - Dr. R. W. Hotes
Psychopharmacology and Behavioral Care: A Primer for Mental Health Professionals
a) Review basic principles of psychopharmacology as applied to mental health counseling practice
b) Discuss how to integrate knowledge of psychopharmacology appropriately into a scheme of pastoral counseling.
c) Discuss specific roles of psychopharmacology and spirituality in mental health.
d) Psychopharmacology of addictions
12 noon> Lunch -
1:00 p.m. Session 3 - Dr. R. W. Hotes
Spirituality and Aging
2:30 p.m. break -
2:45 p.m. Session 4 - Clinical Workshop
Application of principles discussed in the workshop through case studies and discussion
4:45 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. wrap-up -

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LMS 2001 Convention Business

In addition to the usual matters of business, there are a couple of items that will be on the agenda at our June convention as a follow-up to decisions made a year ago.

One matter up for discussion, and hopefully resolution, has to do with who has a vote at our synod conventions. Our present practice reads as follows:

The question being raised is this: Should a subscriptional pastor who is serving in some capacity on the LMS have a vote at the convention? An example would be a subscriptional pastor who might be serving as president of our seminary, or who might be in charge of the synodical financial programs, or might even be a synodical officer, but who is not, at the same time, under call to a LMS congregation.

There are a couple sides to this issue. The original intent was that decisions on synodical business should be as much a lay decision as clergy. On the other hand, because of our membership at present, we have more subscriptional pastors than subscriptional congregations. A number of these pastors are in very legitimate ministry (i.e., hospital chaplains, counseling), and yet they have no vote in the business of our church body. Granted, they have a say. They can contribute to the conversation, but they have no vote.

There has been some thought as to a solution. For example, maybe those subscriptional pastors who are under call or in a ministry approved by the LMS, could have a vote. And to balance this, each congregation could be given two lay votes. This would not only keep some balance, it would also encourage lay involvement. And lay involvement was the intent in the first place.

If you cannot attend the convention but have some ideas on this matter, please contact Pastor Spears or Pastor Erickson.

A second matter that needs attention has to do with attendance at the Convention and meetings of the ministerial by the pastors of the LMS.

As with any organization, so with the LMS, when people express a desire to be a part of the LMS, and they are given membership, we would hope they have enough interest and concern that they would be at the scheduled meetings of the organization. On the other hand, common sense dictates that there will be times when attendance, by a particular individual, at a particular event, would be impossible, or at the very least, an unreasonable demand.

So, the question becomes, "What is reasonable to expect of pastors as members of the clergy of the LMS." And, maybe beyond this, "What is reasonable to expect of congregations who are part of the LMS?"

Pastors and congregations have come together in order that there might be a mutual giving and taking as we reflect on, and do, the ministry to which our Lord called us in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20). As members of that body, each one of us - congregations and clergy alike - have a function. Thus, if one is not doing his or her part, the rest of the body suffers (see I Cor. 12:12-30).

Do plan on being a part of these discussions the weekend of June 23-24.

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Women of the LMS

A number of persons have expressed interest in forming an organization for the women of the LMS. We are asking that the women who attend the Conference/Convention this year, come with ideas as to what they would like to see in a women's organization. What should such an organization provide?

Time will be provided in the weekend schedule for discussion and the sharing of ideas in the hope that something might be up and running in the coming year.

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First National LMS Youth Gathering
June 22, 23, 24, 2001

Witnessing the Gospel through Loving Service

This gatheirng is for young people age 10 and through high school. There is no cost for the weekend.

Participants will be involved in:

Youth are encouraged to bring the following items: Bible, notebook, sleeping bag, toiletries, clothing, pillow, towel, wash clothes, swimming suits.

An application may be obtained by contacting -
Pastor Eric Gernert
St. Thomas Lutheran Church
7302 Northland drive
Stanwood, MI 49346

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Contact Information

The LMS-USA is a Biblical, Confessional, Evangelical, Liturgical, Congregational expression of the universal (catholic) orthodox Church on earth. It is a 'Forum by Subscription.' As a 'Forum' the intent is that there will be an ongoing discussion of theological issues and concerns among clergy and lay alike. The LMS-USA meets annually for a Theological Conference and this publication, besides carrying news of the Ministerium and Synod, functions also as a vehicle for this continuing dialogue.

For information or to make comment contact:

President/Pastor, LMS-USA
2837 East New York St.,
Indianapolis, IN 46201

Table Talk
P. O. Box 31
Chetek, WI 54728

email - or

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