I’m beginning to like Texas.
Driving westbound on Highway 290 early on a Sunday morning, I saw the light glimmer in the rocky hills with goats, sheep, and cattle in the distance. This was my first time visiting Fredericksburg, Texas and I was told it would be a pleasant drive. The coolness of early spring air gave expectancy to an unseasonably warm afternoon. Yes, it was going to be a pleasant drive, but not without surprises.
I didn’t expect to drive through Johnson City, a small town that makes no mistake to any visitor that this was the birth place of Lyndon B. Johnson. I didn’t expect to come across almost a dozen wineries beckoning visitors to come and tour their facility and taste its wares. You mentally reserved a perfect place to come back and spend a day visiting the countryside and tasting the variety of wines. I didn’t expect a large museum dedicated to the war in the Pacific and proclaiming Admiral Nimitz as a locally grown hero.
Upon arriving in Fredericksburg, it was already starting to bustle with its boutiques, cafes and shops on what would be a busy Sunday afternoon. I had come to visit Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church to join them in worship and share about the work of Truth in Love Ministry. I was greeting warmly by its members and appreciated my time with them.
The work of Truth in Love Ministry is to share how Christians can speak the truth in love to those souls who are following a different gospel of Mormonism. Biblical Christianity is all about what Christ has already done for us. Faith receives all the benefits of free and full forgiveness that Christ won for us on the cross. By his substitution, we are declared perfect and righteous. The gospel of Mormonism teaches that Christ has paid our debt and we are obligated to pay him back through our works and attitudes. They teach that we earn forgiveness through out obedience to gospel principles and a difficult process of repentance. If there was a John 3:16 to Mormonism it would be 2 Nephi 25:23 from the Book of Mormon which states, “For we know it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do.” Mormonism is all about what we can do to earn God’s favor and biblical Christianity is all about what has already been done. Speaking the truth in love includes understanding the differences, the language and culture of Mormonism, and treating those who have an earnest desire to know God with both love and respect.
After Fredericksburg, I drove back to the Austin airport to pick up board members for a retreat at a ranch outside Killeen. Nestled within 280 acres, Robert and Karen have built up a place for men and youth groups to come for a time of reflection on God’s Word, His creation, and some fun. It was here that we asked God for guidance and strength to craft a vision to bring as many people to heaven as possible.
Before leaving Austin, I was blessed with the opportunity to visit with my friends at Cross and Crown Lutheran Church in Georgetown, Texas. A forty-five minute drive north of Austin, Georgetown is right off of I-35. When you arrive in communities outside of the city, you are surprised by the amount of deer. Driving through a neighborhood, you saw deer grazing on front lawns as if they were Christmas ornaments. It was a joy to be greeted with enthusiasm and great interest from the members at Cross and Crown. Due to the growing presence of Mormonism throughout Texas, there were many questions. However, in sharing the truths of God’s Word, many people don’t know where to start. After every presentation, I encourage each person in attendance to remember one simple phrase that will plant the seeds of God’s Word in the heart of Mormons. You can say, “I’m already perfect in Christ.” This statement succinctly separates the teachings of Mormonism with the orthodox truths of the Bible. Plus, it can provide a way to share what Christ has already done for us.