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.
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.
Our complaints about God's grace always sound the same: "It was good to see him in church with his son this morning. But, I can’t believe pastor let them come up to communion. And did you see? I mean, pastor's just got to know he blew half the family's savings on booze and drugs. You know what else?
The author, Flannery O'Connor, said, "All I can say about my love of God is, Lord help me in my lack of it." O'Connor's characters often betray their true nature from behind a mask of good-hearted religiousity. This usually happens when the delusion they've projected onto the world is upset by personal crisis
The power and pressure of sin on us, from conception to the grave, is immense. That's why we struggle to differentiate sin from sin. "Maybe," we imagine, "if I can just stop lying to my spouse about going out for drinks after work, and dedicate myself to being a better parent, and..." We wrongly believe that we're sinners because we sin, but that's not the case.
Jonah doesn't care about Israel's great enemy. He certainly doesn't want to be the first prophet in history to leave his own country and preach to a people who regularly attack, rob, rape, and enslave Jonah's family, friends, and neighbors. So far as Jonah is concerned, he'd rather drown in a watery abyss than show his face in Ninevah.
If we get past Sunday School moralizing what do we discover in the Old Testament? We read about remarkably immoral people loved by God. The Old Testament is one long history of God's reckless love for unlovable sinners. Godless Abraham. Murderous Moses. Arrogant, womanizing Samson. Tyrannical Solomon.
A pastor who's got his antennae tuned up for a person's confession will listen for where the First Command has broken loose in a Christian's life. He will listen for where the command has laid him open and left him naked and exposed and ashamed before God and his neighbors.
I’ve always been more at home in the Old Testament than in the New Testament. When I first came to believe that there was a God, I purchased and read the Koran. I had watched the movie, Malcolm X, a couple months before and thought, “If the Koran helped him straighten out his life, maybe it can help me too.”