Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Law

Reading The Law by Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) will explain what is happening in our financial markets with such simplicity and clarity that anyone (with the possible exception of the Treasury Secretary!) can grasp his ideas. Fortunately for us, a majority of the House of Representatives still understands Bastiat's definition of legal plunder -- but how is this legal plunder to be defined? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some person what belongs to them and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.
Then abolish this law without delay, for it is not only an evil itself, but also it is a fertile source for further evils because it invites reprisals. If such a law -- which may be an isolated case -- is not abolished immidietely, it will spread, multiply, and develop into a system.
Read The Law and ask your representative if they have a copy and have read it. Our temporal liberties may depend upon it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

St. Michael and All Angels

2 Kings 6:15-17 (ESV)
When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?" He said, "Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." Then Elisha prayed and said, "O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see." So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
521 Christ, the Lord of Hosts, Unshaken

1 Christ, the Lord of hosts, unshaken
By the devil’s seething rage,
Thwarts the plan of Satan’s minions;
Wins the strife from age to age;
Conquers sin and death forever;
Slams them in their steely cage.

2 Michael fought the heav’nly battle,
Godly angels by his side;
Warred against the ancient serpent,
Foiled the beast, so full of pride,
Cast him earthbound with his angels;
Now he prowls, unsatisfied.

3 Long on earth the battle rages,
Since the serpent’s first deceit;
Twisted God’s command to Adam,
Made forbidden fruit look sweet.
Then the curse of God was spoken:
“You’ll lie crushed beneath His feet!”

4 Jesus came, this word fulfilling,
Trampled Satan, death defied;
Bore the brunt of our temptation,
On the wretched tree He died.
Yet to life was raised victorious;
By His life our life supplied.

5 Swift as lightning falls the tyrant
From his heav’nly perch on high,
As the word of Jesus’ vict’ry
Floods the earth and fills the sky.
Wounded by a wound eternal
Now his judgment has drawn nigh!

6 Jesus, send Your angel legions
When the foe would us enslave.
Hold us fast when sin assaults us;
Come, then, Lord, Your people save.
Overthrow at last the dragon;
Send him to his fiery grave.

Text: © Peter M. Prange Used by permission: LSB Hymn License .NET, number 100010138.
Created by Lutheran Service Builder © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

neighborhood survey

We took a prayer walk and neighborhood survey on September 20, and will be going out again on October 18. I have revised the survey as follows:
Hi! I’m ______________ from Concordia Lutheran Church (and this is…). We’re taking a short spiritual survey to help us better understand and serve our community.
Do you have a moment for a few questions? Great!

1. What do you think are the greatest problems or concerns facing our community?

2. What do you think is important for the church to be doing?

3. What do you think about Jesus?

4. May I tell you what Jesus means to me?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

pulpit freedom Sunday

The Alliance Defense Fund has designated 9/28/08 as "Pulpit Freedom Sunday." On this occasion some ministers of the gospel will exercise their right to free speech in contradiction to the 1954 ammendment to the 501(c)3 code on tax-exempt organizations. This change (instigated by LBJ) purports to prohibit preachers from speaking out about specific candidates (and by inference, specific issues) of the day from the pulpit. Certain things have been designated as "hate speech" by our neighbors to the north (Canada). Apparently, the Orthodox bishops of California either haven't heard of the 1954 ruling, or have concluded that in this case, it is better to obey God than men. We all face similar choices. Here is the final paragraph of their statement:

Therefore, we, the Orthodox bishops of California, call upon the faithful, as responsible and concerned citizens of California, to overturn this ruling by the California Supreme Court by voting in favor of Proposition 8 this coming November. This proposition is a regrettably necessary measure to restore the true definition of marriage in the eyes of our state. A state that believes same-sex couplings constitute “marriage” implicitly — and sooner or later, explicitly — denies the role of the Church and all faiths that adhere to traditional values in public life. Please exercise your citizenship and vote in November. The passage of Proposition 8 is an imperative.

What a Feast

Lutheran Service Book #623

Lord Jesus Christ, we humbly pray
that we may feast on You today;
Beneath these forms of bread and wine
enrich us with Your grace divine.
GIve us, who share this wondrous food,
Your body broken and Your blood,
the grateful peace of sins forgiv'n,
the certain joys of heirs of heav'n.

(text: Henry E. Jacobs, 1844 - 1932)

Monday, September 22, 2008

laborers in the vineyard

Here is a marvelous explanation on yesterday's Gospel of the workers in the vineyard:
Let us imagine that one day all the inhabitants of the world would assemble to put into effect this sharing of goods; and that in fact each person, granted that the world is very big, received an exactly equal portion of the wealth existing on earth.
Then what? That very evening one man might way, "Today I worked hard; now I am going to take rest." Another might state, "I understand this sharing of goods well; so let's drink and celebrate such an extraordinary happening." On the other hand, another might say, "Now I am going to set to work with a will so as to reap the greatest benefit I can from what I have received." And so, starting on the next day, the first man would have only the amount given him; the second would have less, adn the third would have increased his.
Then what do we do? Start redistributing the wealth all over again? Even if everybody began to work right away with all his might and at the same time, the results would not be identical for all. ...To continue the argument, even if there were only two persons in the world, they would not succeed in maintaining absolute equality; for in the whole universe there are no two things completely identical in every respect.
(Maximilian Kolbe, + 1941)

Friday, September 19, 2008

first prayer walk

Tomorrow will be Concordia's first prayer walk in response to the second prescription in our revitalization process to address our lack of clear vision. Prior to and during the prayer walk, Satan will try to convince you that this is not for you, that it does no good, that there is no visible result, that others are not as committed as you, that you are using your time foolishly. He will try to disrupt your sense of unity and bring in outside adversity. He will attempt to distract you from your focus and purpose. The best resistance to such schemes is praise and thanksgiving to God for all his promises and presence.
In addition, teams will be taking a brief community survey asking three questions:
What three words would you use to describe the Church in our community?
What needs to you see folks in our community struggle with meeting?
If you were looking for a church home, what characteristics or qualities would you look for?
May God help us to see our community more clearly and have the same love and concern for it as He does.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

a 10 commandments day dream

I had a wonderful daydream in which our state and federal legislatures ran a 10 Commandments audit on all past, present and future legislation. They were actively correcting old laws and prayerfully enacting new ones that reflected the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”, as the Declaration so nicely puts it.
Here follows a partial list:
-- (I) Encourage the public posting and study of the 10 Commandments
-- (II) In partnership with private business, sponsor an annual Youth in the Arts festival/contest, celebrating the godly heritage of each state in music, art, dance, poetry, etc.
-- (III) Call on the churches to lead an annual Day of Prayer, Fasting and Repentance for our national sins
-- (IV) Grant tax incentives for businesses that close on Sunday
-- (V) Eliminate the marriage tax penalty; increase the child tax credit; create a tax credit for stay-at-home mothers
-- (VI) require informed consent (abortion terminates a whole, separate, unique living human being) and parental notification for all abortion providers; prohibit euthanasia
-- (VII) remove rewards for bearing children outside of marriage; remove so-called “no fault divorce” laws and require counseling for troubled marriages
-- (VIII) recognize and resist all forms of legal plunder
-- (IX) institute vigorous tort reform to dramatically reduce law suits
-- (X) provide tax incentives for debt elimination and savings plans.

on that day

The day of resurrection, the eighth day, this eternally present gift and reality has the potential of breaking into our mundane, temporal affairs and transforming them by the light of Jesus who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. The holy prophet Zephaniah spoke of this here:
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion;
let not your hands grow weak.
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.

A timely word as we pass through these perilous timeswhen many things are being and yet will be shaken, so that what cannot be shaken may be clearly seen.

Monday, September 15, 2008

the power of the cross

We adore You, Christ, and we bless You, for through Your cross You have redeemed the world.
"...for all our power is in the power of Christ who was crucified; all our sinfulness is mortified by the death of Christ on the cross; and all our exaltation and all our glory are in the humility of God, who humbled himself to such an extent that he was pleased to die even between evil-doers and thieves. For this very reason Christians who believe in Christ sign themselves with the sign of the cross not simply, not just as it happens, not carelessly, but with all heedfulness, with fear and trembling, and with extreme reverence. For the image of the cross shows the reconciliation and friendship into which man has enetered with God.
Therefore the demons also fear the image of the cross, and they do not endure to see the sign of the cross depicted even in the air; but they flee from this immediately knowing that the cross is the sign of the friendship of men with God...
To the degree of the reverence which one has toward the cross, he receives corresponding power and help from God." Saint Symeon the New Theologian + 1022 (from the First-Created Man, Seven Homilies)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

anniversary of the attack

Jesus said to his disciples: "To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you...But rather, love your enemies and do good to them...and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked." (Luke 6)
Almighty, everlasting God, through Your only Son, our blessed Lord, You commanded us to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us, and to pray for those who persecute us. Therefore, we earnestly implore You that by Your gracious working our enemies may be led to true repentance, may have the same love toward us as we have toward them, and my be of one accord and of one mind and heart with us and with your whole Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

why do we go to meetings?

I'm glad our counselor, Pr. Steve Harmon asked the question at our pastoral circuit meeting yesterday. I answered in good three-part fashion as follows:
1. because the encouragement not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together as is the habit of some applies also to me, and not using Sunday mornings as my excuse, but seeing my need to meet with other brothers in ministry on a regular basis;
2. because of the presence of Jesus who has promised to be in the midst of us whenver two or three gather in His Name; and
3. because of the humility (greatly needed!) given as a gift unsought and unmerited when I hear and see examples of what God is doing in and through my brothers for the building of His kingdom of grace.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Are you celebrating her birthday?

Many Christians around the world celebrate each year on September 8 the birthday (nativity) of Mary the mother of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If every human life has inestimable value being made in the image and like of its Creator, and therefore is a priceless gift from God, how much greater is the gift of Mary who by grace was made worthy to bear not only the image and likeness of God, but her Creator and Savior in the flesh? How can we not celebrate such a gift that truly keeps on giving life to the world through the Son, Jesus, she brought forth? Give thanks to God for His unspeakable gift! Our Orthodox friends give us this text to express our joy and thanks to God:
Your birth, O Theotokos, brought joy to the whole world, for from you dawned the sun of righteousness, Christ our God. Freeing us from the curse, He gave us His blessings. Abolishing death, He granted us eternal life.

Friday, September 5, 2008

science and scripture

Every so often I read something that shows the truth of God's Word confirmed through scientific study. Since there is an unsurpassable gulf fixed between science and Christianity in the (post)modern mind, these revelations delight me to no end:) This from the September 2008 issue of Voice of the Martyrs newsletter (www.persecution.com), Tom White, director.
Recently, my pastor and his wife, Joe and Dawn Marie Colaw, spoke about scientific research which shows that black holes are burned into the brain by hatred, anger, bitterness, and other negative emotions.
Dr. David Amen, Dr. Marian Diamond, Dr. Caroline Leaf and other neuroscientists and biochemists describe the toxic chemical flood our bodies release into our brain when we think malicious thoughts. Microphotographs reveal these chemicals burn tunnel-like holes in branched nerve cells called dendrites. (For views of brains showing this damage, see www.amenclinic.com, and go to "Brain Disorder Research.")
Dr. Leaf calls these burned places "emotional black holes". By contrast, positive thoughts actually create more dendrite nerve fibers in the brain. She says, "You can grow a new memory over the old memory." One of the elements she mentions in this healing process is forgiveness.
The world laughs at the biblical motto, "Jesus Saves." The truth is, He does. His love and mercy can bring healing to abuse victims and preserve the minds and hearts of our persecuted brothers and sisters. When Christians are under stress, or even torture or imprisonment, and they praise God, sing or quote uplifting Scripture, they are putting on the helmet of spiritual and physical salvation. As Joe and Dawn Marie Colaw point out, "All believers can be light in a dark world -- light to futile, toxic thinking. The dendrites of our minds can literally flourish as we feed on the Word of God, allowing it to stop the negative chemical bath and create a new network of dendrites that act as a super highway, bypassing, even shrinking the 'holes' of the past."

Seems like we had a word about "the renewing of our minds" recently. Oh, the amazing, healing grace of our great God and Savior Jesus the Anointed One!