Donavon Riley is a Lutheran pastor, conference speaker, author, Online Content Director for Higher Things, a contributing writer at 1517 Legacy Project, Christ Hold Fast, and LOGIA. Pastor Riley co-hosts the podcast: 'The Higher Things Simul Cast'. He is pastor of Saint John Lutheran Church in Webster, MN. A graduate of Concordia Universities in St. Paul, Minnesota and Portland, Oregon, Pastor Riley received his seminary and post-graduate education at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He colloquized into the LC-MS from the ELCA in 2008. He is married to Annie, and is the father of four children: Owen, Alma, Hoshea, and Hallel.
In the beginning, we read about the invention of religion. It begins simply enough in Genesis 3 [6-13]: The woman saw that the tree had fruit that was good to eat, nice to look at, and desirable for making someone wise. So she took some of the fruit and ate it.
Jesus is the Word of God. God’s Word—on two legs. I’d read it in the first chapter of John’s Gospel many, many times. God’s Word was born, suffered, bled, and died for the sins of the whole world. It was all there in the Gospels. It was testified to in the New Testament Epistles.
The devil isn’t a popular subject nowadays. The argument is made that we’ve progressed as a culture. We’ve evolved as a society. Primitive superstitions don’t help anybody. It’s not healthy for people to believe that God kicked one of his angels out of heaven, who now works behind the scenes to ruin and destroy us and all our plans.
She said, “Keep coming back, and you’ll know joy.” He wanted to vomit a rainbow of resentment, bitterness, and loathing all over her faux-leather boots. He already knew about joy. It was horrible stuff. Christians kept trying to rip it out of their hearts to share with him.
Love is the sum of the law. Love God with all your heart, spirit, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. That means that if love can't be done when it needs to be done then get rid of the law, because it's not lawful. Being lawful isn't the purpose and goal of the law.
Would you go to the church on the corner knowing that the pastor is an ex-con? What about the congregation three streets over, where the pastor is prone to lying? You know which one. The pastor at the store-front church who’s always questioning the truth about what the Gospels say about Jesus?
For the past twenty years that I've been a Christian, I've not found any evidence in my reading of Judges 13-16 that qualifies Samson for the "book of faith" (Hebrews 11). Selfish, manipulative, short-tempered, and homicidally violent, Samson's a borderline-psychotic personality.
Christians have long enjoyed an absurd love affair with white-washing biblical saints. Since the earliest days of the Church, saints have been held up as role models for great faith and godly behavior. From the Old Testament, for example, Abraham is often held up by Sunday School teachers and adult bible study leaders as a role-model.
The Gospel is simple to confess. That is, we are justified by faith alone, through Christ alone, without the works of the Law. And so long as we don't add any limits, measures, or conditions to this, the Gospel is easy to confess to others. The message that we are justified by faith alone through Christ Jesus is good news anyone can deliver.