Thursday, December 31, 2009

Philosopher's New Year

the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short -- Hobbes

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

+ Christ-Mass Eve +
24 December 2009
Your joy may be full John 16:24

Merry Christmas! In our family, one of the important preparations for Christmas is making and distributing your Christmas gift list. The Christmas gift list is one way of letting your family and friends know what it is you are asking for this year at Christmas. Usually, these lists are comprised of things you can buy with money. Let me hasten to add there’s nothing wrong with that. However, we would do well to remember that Gift-Giving is only one of the five basic love languages. Here are the other four. Words of Affirmation: in Letters from Dad this year nine guys from Concordia discovered how powerful personal letters of love and appreciation can be. Quality Time: When our power went out last Friday night, we lit candles and played Apples to Apples together for over three hours – what an expression of love and family closeness. Acts of Service: can you cook meals, clean house, paint walls, wash and wax cars, cut grass, sew clothes? You can give love. Physical Touch and Closeness: can you give hugs, or hold hands on a walk? You can give love. and last but not least, Gift-Giving: most likely you’ve got that one covered. When Jesus says in our text, Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. I can’t help but remember that He also said, “love one another as I have loved you.” So what I’m asking Jesus for this Christmas is to learn how to love people just as God loves all of us.
Receiving and giving such a gift of love will truly make our joy full and overflowing to those who live as if God had never sent His Son to be our Savior from sin and death.

1. There is joy when the virgin bears a son: Emmanuel!
a. There is joy when The Virgin’s Son comes as the God-promised sign: For unto us a Child is born; unto us a Son is given! Who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man.
b. There is joy when God is with us – Visible Words!
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining. It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining; ‘til He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices; for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born. O night divine, O night, O night divine.


2. There is joy when the love of God is made manifest among us
a. We are given joy as we see how God sent his Son into the world to save his people from
their sins. In the Revelations of St. Bridget of Sweden, the Blessed Virgin Mary says, “when I was nursing my Son, he was endowed with such great beauty that whoever looked upon him was consoled and relieved of any sorrow he may have had in his heart. And so, many people said to one another, “Let us go to see Mary’s Son, that we may be consoled.”
b. We are given joy as we confess that Jesus is the Son of God, abide in God and love one another.
Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and his gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we; let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever; His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

3. There is joy as we welcome and obey the Word of God
a. Joseph’s change of plans!
b. What is God saying to you? What are you going to do about it?
In closing, I offer you this Christmas prayer by Ian Oliver, who serves as pastor at Yale University Church.
On that holy night
Somehow,
It happened.

Somehow,
God took a handful of humanity:
Proud, petulant, passionate;
And a handful of divinity:
Undivided, inexpressible, incomprehensible:
And enclosed them in one small body.

Somehow, the all too human
Touched the divine,
And was not vaporized.
To be human was never the same,
But forever thereafter,
Carried a hint of its close encounter with the perfect.
And forever thereafter,
God was never the same,
But carried a hint of the passion of the mortal.

If God can lie down in a cattle-trough,
Is any object safe from transformation?
If peasant girls can be mothers to God,
Is any life safe from the invasion of the eternal?
If all this could happen, o God,
What places of darkness on our earth
Are pregnant with light waiting to be born this night?

If all this could happen, O God,
Then you could be, and are, anywhere, everywhere,
Waiting to be born this night in the most
Unbelievable places;
Perhaps even in our own hearts. Amen.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

our vision

"The Holy Spirit gives the Church her vision,
which comes from our identity in Christ as His Body.
This vision is identical with the
vision of all those who have gone before us
precisely because it is the same Body, with the
same vocation, mission, and identity: to be the
Body of Christ: the One, Holy, Catholic, and
Apostolic Church. Whenever we add elements to
that vision, we distort it, no matter how noble our
qualifications and agendas may be. Whenever we
subtract from or diminish it, we do likewise. If we
change the vision in any way, we exclude ourselves
from it and from the Body which it constitutes." Metropolitan Jonah +

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

the bishops' letter on family

Read the entire document at:
http://www.usccb.org/laity/LoveandLife/MarriageFINAL.pdf.

"At the same time we are troubled by the fact that far too many people do not understand what it means to say that marriage—both as a natural institution and a Christian sacrament—is a blessing and gift from God. We observe, for example, that some people esteem marriage as an ideal but can be reluctant to make the actual commitment necessary to enter and sustain it. Some choose instead to live in cohabiting relationships that may or may not lead to marriage and can be detrimental to the well-being of themselves and any children.
In addition, the incidence of divorce remains high. The social sanctions and legal barriers to ending one‘s marriage have all but disappeared, and the negative effects of divorce on children, families, and the community have become more apparent in recent decades.
We are alarmed that a couple‘s responsibility to serve life by being open to children is being denied and abandoned more frequently today. Couples too often reflect a lack of understanding of the purposes of marriage. There is a loss of belief in the value of those purposes when couples readily treat, as separate choices, the decisions to get married and to have children. This indicates a mentality in which children are seen not as integral to a marriage but as optional. When children are viewed in this way, there can be damaging consequences not only for them but also for the marriage itself.
We note a disturbing trend today to view marriage as a mostly private matter, an individualistic project not related to the common good but oriented mostly to achieving personal satisfaction.
Finally, we bishops feel compelled to speak out against all attempts to redefine marriage so that it would no longer be exclusively the union of a man and a woman as God established and blessed it in the natural created order."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Luther still relevant

From "Where have the young people gone?: Some churches suffering loss of attendance" By Lucienda Denson (The Broken Arrow Ledger),

...The Rev. John Wilke, senior pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church [in Broken Arrow, OK], has read the book (“Already Gone,” by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer, with Todd Hillard.) and said he found it to be a fascinating study.

He cited one of Luther’s writings as something for church leaders to consider: “A faith that costs nothing and demands nothing is worth nothing.”

“I think that is where the church is today. I get too many things in the mail from churches that say, ‘Come just the way you are, you don’t have to change,’” Wilke, said.

“While God loves you where you are, he expects you to change. We don’t put the fear of God in our churches, we don’t have that respect. We’ve made Jesus our homeboy. He’s not our homeboy, he’s our Saviour.”

Wilke said the only church he knows of that is experiencing growth in the 20-to-29-year old age group is the Greek Orthodox Church.

“The Greek Orthodox Church is a liturgical church. Kids want to return to something different from what they get from the world. If we want to reach these kids again, we are going to have to return to what the early church was doing. We need to raise the bar,” he said.

an idea whose time has come?

www.goooh.com

Possibilities that you will not perceive in the mainstream media are permeating the population.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Gaudete Sunday

+ Third Sunday in Advent +
13 December 2009
The LORD rejoices over His people

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs." Zephaniah 3:17

Listen to Jesus who talked about His joy being imparted to His disciples. He said, "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. (John 15:11)
"And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves." (John 17:13)
Now, if Jesus and the Father are one (John 10:30), when Jesus says "my joy", He could well mean "my Father's joy". There's another analogy given in a verse likening God's joy to that of a groom rejoicing because of his bride (Isaiah 62:5 - "as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee"). Certainly if a proud father rejoices because of his righteous and wise son (Proverbs 23:24), certainly God, our heavenly Father, also rejoices when His children are righteous and wise.
But the most direct statement we have concerning the Joy of God is found in Zephaniah 3:17.
For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
Because God lives among us and rejoices over us, He invites us to be always ready for His coming by sharing his death - defeating joy with a weary, defeated world.
1. God is living among you as a mighty Savior
a. Who is living among us? Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace
b. Prayer of humble access: We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful
Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.

2. God takes delight in you with gladness
a. There is a wonderful collection of messages about God's joy in Luke 15.
-- There is joy over the one found lamb.
When the shepherd, leaving the 99 safe sheep, finds the one that was lost, Jesus compares the joy of the shepherd to that experienced in heaven. "I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." (Luke 15:7)
Of course we know Jesus as the Good Shepherd, but God in the Old Testament is also known as "shepherd" (Psalm 80:1).
-- There is joy over the found coin.
After telling the story of the woman who finally found her dowry coin, Jesus says, "In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." ( Luke 15:10) Most people think that it is the angels who are doing the rejoicing. But it doesn't say that. The rejoicing is "in the presence of the angels". So who's celebrating? Could it be God?
Whenever there is repentance and conversion, there is joy in heaven. Surely the Father would be involved in this celebration.
-- There is joy over the returned son.
This is the final story in this trilogy about joy. Notice, it is the father in the story who throws the party, and then tries to talk the elder brother into joining it. "Let's have a feast and celebrate."
( Luke 15:23) Is there any doubt that this shows God the Father rejoicing?
So we see that there are several analogies that indicate that God is rejoicing:
The shepherd rejoices because of his found lamb; The home maker rejoices because of her found coin; The father rejoices because of because of his returned son.
b. Our citizenship is in the Kingdom of God. Definition: The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and JOY in the Holy Spirit.



3. God calms your fears with His love and rejoices over you with joyful songs.

a. Let God calm your fears with His love as a parent comforts his/her child – kept in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You.
b. What a witness – joy in the midst of suffering, dying.
Remissio peccatorum soll dich froelich machen!

Rejoice!

Remissio peccatorum soll dich froelich machen!

Friday, December 11, 2009

liberty

Here in East Tennessee, the fires of liberty are still burning. Keeping hope alive;
www.et-liberty.com/CC2009-Declaration.pdf.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

they're drinking the kool-aid

"In October 2009 the LWF Council at its meeting in Chavannes-de-Bogis near Geneva called on member churches "to observe 13 December 2009 as a day for prayer, confession and action on the issue of climate change." Churches around the world were invited to join churches throughout Denmark on that day in ringing bells or taking other symbolic actions in solidarity for climate justice, Noko added. According to Noko, the LWF "has committed itself to raising up the voices of the vulnerable and the poor, highlighting especially the impacts of climate change on food insecurity and increasing human vulnerability."
(LWF = Lutheran World Federation)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

This is not us!

CHICAGO - The presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is suggesting that the Bible isn't the last word on homosexuality.




In a town hall meeting Sunday, Bishop Mark Hanson said, "the understanding we have of homosexuality today does not seem to be reflected at all in the context of the biblical writers." Therefore, he said, Lutherans should consider more modern views on sexual orientation.


At its churchwide convention in August, the ELCA lifted its ban on partnered gay and lesbian clergy, prompting some traditional congregations to withhold funds and begin forming a separate denomination.


But Hanson insisted the ELCA can accommodate both views. In his words, "God is still speaking to us."



He also suggests that more homosexual-friendly policies may help the denomination grow.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Second Sunday in Advent

Ready for His Coming
Introduction
The word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.

1. Made Ready for His Coming by the purifying word
a. The body of Christ is purified by the Word
b. The individual believer is purified by the Word
 Acknowledge the reality of your struggles and sin
 Confess your sin
 Repent of your sin, which means turning from it and rejecting it
 Seek assistance through accountability
 Destroy all material evidence, internet access and other occasions of sins be they people, places or things.
 Put yourself under the spiritual direction of a mature believer
 Make amends, where possible, with anyone you have harmed
 Focus on learning more about Jesus, his love and sacrifice for you
 Find ways to serve others instead of yourself
 Continually turn away from deeper sins as they come to light

2. Made Ready for His Coming by the word of grace
a. The word of grace is present even in imprisonment
b. The word of grace allows us to defend and confirm the gospel

3. Made Ready for His coming by bearing fruits in keeping with repentance
a. Valleys filled, mountain and hill made low, crooked straight, rough places become level ways that all flesh may see the salvation of our God.
b. 2 Peter 1:2-11; 3:8-18.

don't forget St. Nick!

Almighty God, You bestowed upon Your servant Nicholas of Myra the perpetual gift of charity. Grant Your Church the grace to deal in generosity and love with children and with all who are poor and distressed and to plead the cause of those who have no helper, especially those tossed by tempests of doubt or grief. We ask this for the sake of Him who gave His life for us, Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Treasury, p. 989

Friday, December 4, 2009

contemplate creation

In the world of God all the creatures of God, wisely fashioned, are ranged on one side, while on the other are ranged men, endowed with the power of reason, to the end that with this power of reason they may contemplate the creatures and, seeing infinite wisdom in their creation and organization, may rise to the knowledge and contemplation of the hypostatical Word, that is before time, the Word, by whom "all things were made" (Jn 1:3). Thus from actions we naturally see him who acts, so we have but to judge rightly and soundly, and finding faith in what he has created we shall see in the creation its Creator, God.
(Fr. Lorenze Scupoli + 1610)

John of Damascus

But since some find fault with us for worshipping and honouring the image of our Saviour and that of our Lady, and those, too, of the rest of the saints and servants of Christ, let them remember that in the beginning God created man after His own image. On what grounds, then, do we shew reference to each other unless because we are made after God's image? For as Basil (the Great, c. 330-379), that much-versed expounder of divine things, says, the honour given to the image passes over to the prototype. Now a prototype is that which is imaged, from that which the derivative is obtained.
But besides this who can make an imitation of the invisible, incorporeal, uncircumscribed, formless God? Therefore to give form to the Deity is the height of folly and impiety. And hence it is that in the Old Testament the use of images was not uncommon. But after God in His bowels of pity became in truth man for our salvation, not as He was seen by Abraham in the semblance of a man, nor as He was seen by the prophets, but in being truly man, and after He lived upon the earth and dwelt among men, worked miracles, suffered, was crucified, rose again and was taken back to Heaven, since all these things actually took place and were seen by men, they were written for the remembrance and instruction of us who were not alive at that time in order that though we saw not, we may still, hearing and believing, obtain the blessing of the Lord. But seeing that not every one has a knowledge of letters nor time for reading, the Fathers gave their sanction to depicting these events on images as being acts of great heroism, in order that they should form a concise memorial of them. Often, doubtless, when we have not the Lord's passion in mind and see the image of Christ's crucifixion, His saving passion is brought back to remembrance, and we fall down and worship not the material but that which is imaged: just as we do not worship the material of which the Gospels are made, nor the material of the Cross, but that which these typify. For wherein does the cross, that typifies the Lord, differ from a cross that does not do so? it is just the same also in the case of the Mother of the Lord. For the honour which we give to her is referred to Him Who was made of her incarnate. And similarly also the brave acts of holy men stir us up to be brave and to emulate and imitate their valor and to glorify God. For as we said, the honour that is given to the best of fellow-servants is a proof of good-will towards our common Lady, and the honour rendered to the image passes over to the prototype. But this is an unwritten tradition, just as is also the worshipping towards the East and the worship of the Cross, and very many other similar things.
Moreover that the Apostles handed down much that was unwritten, Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, tells us in these words: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast and bold the traditions which ye have been taught of us, whether by word or by epistle." And to the Corinthians he writes, "Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the traditions as I have delivered them to you."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

real peace

The theme of our first mid-week Advent service was REAL PEACE:

Redeemer
Everyone
Always
Liberty

"I hope that God will supply everything and I feel a confidence in his divine Providence which keeps me above all troubles. So I remain calm and in peace in the midst of a thousand worries and complications in which I should have expected, naturally speaking, to be overwhelmed...Let us accept everything from the hand of our good Father, and he will keep us in peace in the midst of all the greatest disasters of this world, the fashion of which passes away in a flash. Our life will be holy and tranquil in proportion as we trust in God and abandon ourselves to him. Without that self-abandonment, there is no solid virtue, no sure repose."
(Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Claus Harms 95 Theses -- 1817

94. Herrlicher als beide ist die evangelische-lutherische Kirche. Sie haelt und bildet sich ...am Sakrament wie am Worte Gottes.
(my translation/paraphrase) More glorious than either (Catholic or Reformed) is the evangelical-lutheran Church. She keeps and builds herself on the Sacrament as on the Word of God.

worship reasons

A contemporary understanding of what it means to be Lutheran in terms of the liturgy, then, assiduously arms the freedom that is ours under the gospel on the one hand. On the other, Lutheran liturgical understanding regards highly the liturgical heritage of catholic Christianity, in its freedom adapting it as necessary to the changing exigencies of history and culture, but treasuring and conserving it with all deliberateness for its time proven utility and for the continuity it visibly proclaims with the Church catholic of ages past. To borrow a phrase from Charles Porterfield Krauth, the continuity of the Lutheran liturgy is one of the most visible aspects of the grace given the “conservative reformation.” (From the WELS website)

Monday, November 30, 2009

happy new year

+ First Sunday in Advent +
29 November 2009
Ready for His Coming

"...so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints."
We can be ready for the coming of our Lord Jesus by welcoming Him as He chooses to come to us with His gifts of humility and love.

1. Ready for His Coming by Humility
a. Christ humbled himself and became obedient even unto death
b. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.

2. Ready for His Coming by Love
a. God will fulfill the promise He has made; Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell securely
b. Increase and abound in love for one another and for all

3. Ready for His coming by welcoming Him as he chooses to come to us
a. “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!
b. Word and water, bread and wine.

Monday, November 23, 2009

renewal through the Word

“Others would heal Joseph’s wounds with tighter church governance. They say, if our presidents, visitors, and commissions had more authority, if they could prescribe things to congregations and the congregations had to obey, then life would be brought to those dead bones. Without question, if such a yoke were laid upon the necks of the children, many external works would be produced. Indeed, it wouldn’t even be that difficult to get the money to begin flowing. But that would in no way elevate spiritual life. In fact, it would suffer a terrible retrogression. The Gospel tolerates no hierarchy.”

– Friedrich Pfotenhauer, “Revitalization of the Synod Shall Come from Neither Missions nor More Synodical Power: The Word is the Only Remedy,” 1936

Christ the King

+ Christ the King +
22 November 2009
A Kingdom Treasure of Love and Freedom
Introduction
The time has come for us to get over our problem with Commitment! Commitment is part
and parcel of who we are as human beings made in the image and likeness of God our Almighty Father and Creator. We see it in smaller ways such as the commitments made by some college students to attend chapel a certain number of times each semester, or in the cadets at a military academy who commit to the following: We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Upon entering the estate of holy matrimony, husbands and wives commit to be faithful to each other for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and health, to love and to cherish until we are parted by death. The founding fathers of our sometime republic ventured to commit themselves thus: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor. It’s past time for us to get over our problem with commitment!
Our problem with commitment stems from our forgetfulness that we are made in the image and likeness of God and from not fully hearing the Gospel of God’s radical commitment to us poor sinners.
Christ Jesus our crucified and risen King gives us a kingdom treasure of freedom and love that we offer back to His glory alone.

1. Christ the King loves us like an ocean without a bottom or a shore
a. The commitment of God’s love for us –The Word became flesh and dwelt among us!
b. Mary models commitment for all believers: “Be it done for me according to Thy Word.” What does the Word say about money?
2. Christ the King freed us from our sins by His blood.
a. The commitment of His shed blood that breaks the power of sin and death
b. Our commitment to pay the price of preserving and extending freedom: “Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice…the truth shall set you free.”
We give so that others may hear His voice!
3. Christ the King made of us a Kingdom and priests unto His God and Father.
a. Jesus gives us His Kingdom treasure of love and truth, the presence of God
b. One of the ways we seek first his Kingdom is by giving back to God the tenth.
This Christ calls to Himself all sinners and promises them rest, and He is in earnest [seriously wills] that all men should come to Him and suffer themselves to be helped, to whom He offers Himself in His Word, and wishes them to hear it and not to stop their ears or [neglect and] despise the Word. Moreover, He promises the power and working of the Holy Ghost, and divine assistance for perseverance and eternal salvation [that we may remain steadfast in the faith and attain eternal salvation].

thankful for

Things we have to be thankful for Things we DON’T HAVE to be thankful for
Adoption Abandoned
Blessed Broken
Creation Condemned
Doctrine Doubt
Eternity Emptiness
Faith Foolishness
Generosity Guilt
Hope Hardness
Invitation Infirmity
Jesus Judgment
Kingdom Kindled
Love Lost
Marriage Mocker
New Night
Opportunity Overthrown
Peace Perish
Quiet Quarrel
Rejoice Rejected
Spirit Sin
Truth Trouble
Understanding Unclean
Virgin Vanity
Word Wickedness
XL Xenophbia
Yoke Yesterday
Zion Zedekiah

Friday, November 20, 2009

Baltic Bishops Rock!

At the present time a common witness of churches is vitally important, therefore we express our
deepest concern about modern tendencies that weaken the fellowship among Christians and cause
divisions in and among churches. The recent decisions made by some member churches of the
Lutheran World Federation to approve of religious matrimony for couples of the same gender and
to equate such conjugal life with marriage or to ordain non celibate homosexual persons for pastoral
or episcopal office epitomize these tendencies that are tearing apart fellowhip among Christians. We
affirm that the marriage is the conjugal life between a man and a woman and that a homosexual
activity is incompatible with the discipleship of Christ. We believe that in following the modern
trends, churches are departing from the apostolic doctrine of human sexuality and marriage. We see
the Lutheran communion and eccumenical efforts endangered by such decisions and actions
because they lead to a situation where the Lutheran churches, members of the Lutheran World
Federation are not able to fully recognize each others ecclesiastical offices, to exchange the
ministries and to participate together in preaching the Word and celebrating the sacraments.

We call upon our Lutheran sisters and brothers to unity and co-operation based upon the foundation
of Holy Scripture and loyalty to the Lutheran confessions. Contemporary challenges demand a
firm stand based upon timeless truths and values. The common understanding of the Gospel by
churches is a treasure we cannot afford to lose and it needs to be passed on to the current and future
generations. Our mission is to be faithful in that which we have received, God’s mercy. We are to
serve our Lord and our neighbours thus until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of
the Son of God (Eph. 4:13)



Archbishop of Riga Janis Vanags
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia


Bishop of Daugavpils Einars Alpe
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia


Bishop of Liepaja Pavils Bruvers
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia


Bishop Mindaugas Sabutis
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lithuania


Archbishop Andres P├Áder
Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church


Archbishop emeritus Kuno Pajula
Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church


Bishop Einar Soone
Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church

prayer from Magnficat

O God, our Healer and our Good, you sent you Son to cure the world's sickness by taking upon himself the burden of its guilt. Heal the diseased vision which causes us to mistake evil for good; heal the sickened mind which causes us to mistake selfishness for love; heal the unhealthy habits which we have made our own, that we may stand before you, whole in body, soul, and spirit, to sing your praise for ever with all the saints, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Monday, November 16, 2009

talent in Christ

+ Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost +
15 November 2009
The Question of Talent
Introduction
I’m afraid we have a rather distorted idea of “talent” nowadays, largely because of the dominant media control of pop culture through shows like “American Idol” or “Britain’s Got Talent.” These shows can turn someone into a star almost overnight given the right combination of circumstances. From a biblical world view, however,talent has very little to do with entertainment, pleasing the judges or winning contests. For the believer, talent is not so much a matter of getting the approval of men as it is being faithful and getting the approval of God.
As we see from today’s lessons, talent has more to do with being wise, faithfully attending the Divine Service and being prepared for the dangerous last days. As the prophet Daniel said, “those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” All the baptized have been given talents in Christ to use both within the Christian community and through their vocation in the world to build up the kingdom of God.
1. Talent in Christ makes you shine like the brightness of the sky above
a. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10). That’s you and me!
b. How will many be turned to righteousness? Only through the Word and Spirit of God.
2. Talent in Christ strengthens our community of faith.
a. As we hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering
b. As we meet together faithfully and thus stir one another up to love and good works
3. Talent in Christ defines our vocation in the world
a. We have work to do! Jeremiah 29:4-7, 10-14. “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. “For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
b. Love that casts our fear and anxiety can withstand persecution and endure to the end.

role of Synod

C.F.W. Walther: According to our constitution, no synodical resolution is binding on the individual congregations. No resolution. Mark that well! What we resolve here in convention the pastors and lay delegates must report to the home congregations and say, “This is what the convention resolved.” But they cannot say, “Now you must also observe this.” No; on the contrary, the congregation can say, “As soon as it is a matter that has been left free for us as Christians, we can disregard the resolution of the convention,” and the Synod can say nothing against that (Harrison, 271).

Friday, November 13, 2009

good advice

You will not be sorry that you took the time to watch "Don't Talk to Police" on You Tube. Know your Constitution:)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

what ever became of sin?

C.F.W. Walther: "The second type of so-called orthodox Christians, on the contrary, maintains that with Christ, a person can continue to sin safely. These individuals portray Christ as a servant of sin. They, too, have a false Christ in their heart. Christ wants to cover our sins, but He also wants to take them away. He wants to clothe us with His righteousness, but He also wants to take shape in us, to be the High Priest who reconciles us with God, and to be the King who rules over and in us. He suffered and died to atone for our sins, but He also rose and ascended into heaven that He might live in us and we in Him and so we might walk in new life." *God Grant It!* p. 888

HT: The Rev. William Weedon

Monday, November 9, 2009

His house

We are the house, building and temple of God, built as living stones, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone and one foundation. Jesus promised that He would build His Church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. We are fully equipped to storm the gates of hell with the full armor of God and the love that first loved us and conquers all things. To this love and this truth all authority in heaven and on earth belongs. We love Muslims, Hindus, communists etc. but hate their confession, their teaching. They will be won to the Prince of Peace with unconditional love against which the evil foe has no defense.

Friday, November 6, 2009

awake, my soul

Christ, whose glory fills the skies,
Christ, the true and only Light,
Sun of righteousness, arise,
Triumph o'er the shades of night;
Day-spring from on high, be near.
Day-star, in my heart appear!

Dark and cheerless is the morn,
Unaccompanied by thee;
Joyless is the day's return,
Till thy mercy's beams I see;
Till thou inward light impart,
Glad my eyes, and warm my heart.

-- Charles Wesley (1707 - 1788) LSB 873

Monday, October 26, 2009

a little love

“Love little things, and strive for that which is modest and simple. The Lord watches over us, and He is pleased that you long for His peace. Until the soul is ready, He will only sometimes allow us to see that He is present everywhere and fills all things. At these moments the soul feels such joy!… But then the Lord conceals Himself from us again, in order that we might long for Him and seek Him with our hearts!”

­­—Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Philip, Johann, Paul

Nicolai, Heermann and Gerhardt, that is -- commemorated by our Synod today for their gifts to the hymnody of the Church. Here is stanza four of Paul Gerhardt's "A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth" (LSB 438):

Lord, when Your glory I shall see
And taste Your kingdom's pleasure,
Your blood my royal robe shall be;
My joy beyond all measure!
When I appear before Your throne,
Your righteousness shall be my crown;
With these I need not hide me.
And there, in garments richly wrought,
As Your own bride shall we be brought
To stand in joy beside You.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Reformation continued

+ Reformation Sunday +
25 October 2009
At the time of the Reformation, traditionally dated 31 October 1517, when Martin Luther
nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg Germany, the following
issues were of critical importance: grace, faith, scripture and Christ. These have become
known as the great Reformation slogans: grace alone, faith alone, scripture alone and Christ
alone, also the trademarks of our own Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. While recognizing
in one sense the timeless truth of these time-honored slogans, I think that there are other
pressing problems facing the church in our day that equally call for Reformation. God’s
Word for us points out the path for hope, healing and Reformation for the family, for the
faith and for freedom.

1. Reformation for the FAMILY Revelation 14:6-7
a. The eternal gospel is for every nation an tribe and language and people
b. Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come


2. Reformation for the FAITH Romans 3:19-28.
a. We are justified by grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus
b. The Gospel preserved by the canon of catholicity: Vincent of Lerins (+ 434)
“I have continually given the greatest pains and diligence to inquiring, from the greatest possible
number of men outstanding in holiness and in doctrine, how I can secure a kind of fixed and, as it were,
general and guiding principle for distinguishing the true Catholic Faith from the degraded falsehoods of
heresy. And the answer that I receive is always to this effect; that if I wish, or indeed if anyone wishes, to
detect the deceits of heretics that arise and to avoid their snares and to keep healthy and sound in a
healthy faith, we ought, with the Lord's help, to fortify our faith in a twofold manner, firstly, that is, by the
authority of God's Law, then by the tradition of the Catholic Church.



Here, it may be, someone will ask, Since the canon of Scripture is complete, and is in itself
abundantly sufficient, what need is there to join to it the interpretation of the Church? The answer is that
because of the very depth of Scripture all men do not place one identical interpretation upon it. The
statements of the same writer are explained by different men in different ways, so much so that it seems
almost possible to extract from it as many opinions as there are men. … Therefore, because of the
intricacies of error, which is so multiform, there is great need for the laying down of a rule for the
exposition of Prophets and Apostles in accordance with the standard of the interpretation of the Church
Catholic.
Now in the Catholic Church itself we take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed
everywhere, always and by all. That is truly and properly 'Catholic,' as is shown by the very force
and meaning of the word, which comprehends everything almost universally. We shall hold to this rule if
we follow universality [i.e. oecumenicity], antiquity, and consent. We shall follow universality if we
acknowledge that one Faith to be true which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity
if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is clear that our ancestors and fathers
proclaimed; consent, if in antiquity itself we keep following the definitions and opinions of all, or certainly
nearly all, bishops and doctors alike.”



3. Reformation for FREEDOM John 8:31-36
a. Freedom means I don’t have to do what I want to do
b. Freedom comes in relationship with the Word and the Truth in Christ Jesus

Thursday, October 22, 2009

fasting from the fathers

For this healer of our souls is effective, in the case of one to quiet the fevers and impulses of the flesh; in another to assuage bad temper, in yet another to drive away sleep, in another to stir up zeal, in yet another to restore purity of mind and to set him free from evil thoughts. In one it will control his unbridled tongue, as it were by a bit, restrain it by the fear of God and prevent it from uttering idle and corrupt words. In another it will invisibly guard his eyes and fix them on high instead of allowing them to roam hither and thither, and thus cause him to look on himself and teach him to be mindful of his own faults and shortcomings. Fasting gradually disperses and drives away spiritual darkness and the veil of sin that lies on the soul, just as the sun dispels the mist. Fasting enables us spiritually to see that spiritual air in which Christ the Sun who knows no setting, does not rise, but shines without ceasing. Fasting, aided by vigil, penetrates and softens hardness of heart, where once were the vapors of drunkenness it causes a fountain of compunction to spring forth...we shall readily, with God's help, cleave through the whole sea of passions and pass through the waves of temptations inflicted by the cruel tyrant, and so come to anchor in the port of impassibility.
But without fasting, no one was ever able to achieve any of these virtues or any others, for fasting is the beginning and foundation of every spiritual activity.

--St. Symeon the New Theologian

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

freedom defined by love

The Letter to the Livonians (1525)
re: Martin Luther's famous letter to Christians in Livonia “concerning public worship and concord.” At the beginning of this writing, Luther described the situation in this Baltic territory thus (AE 53:45f.):

I have heard from reliable witnesses that faction and disunion have arisen among you, because some of your preachers do not teach and act in accord, but each follows his own sense and judgment. … This causes confusion among the people. It prompts both the complaint, “No one knows what he should believe or with whom he should side,” and the common demand for uniformity in doctrine and practice.
(46): “I hope that you still hold pure and unblemished the teachings concerning faith, love, and cross-bearing and the principal articles of the knowledge of Christ. Then you will know how to keep your consciences clear before God.”
(47): It is un-Christian to quarrel over such things and thereby to confuse the common people. We should consider the edification of the lay folk more important than our own ideas and opinions. Therefore, I pray all of you, my dear sirs, let each one surrender his own opinions and get together in a friendly way and come to a common decision about these external matters, so that there will be one uniform practice throughout your district instead of disorder—one thing being done here and another there—lest the common people get confused and discouraged.
(47f.): … even though from the viewpoint of faith, the external orders are free and can without scruples be changed by anyone at any time, yet from the viewpoint of love, you are not free to use this liberty, but bound to consider the edification of the common people, as St. Paul says, I Corinthians 14 [:40], “All things should be done to edify,” and I Corinthians 6 [:12], “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful,” and I Corinthians 8 [:1], “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” Think also of what he says there about those who have a knowledge of faith and of freedom, but who do not know how to use it; for they use it not for the edification of the people but for their own vainglory. Now when your people are confused and offended by your lack of uniform order, you cannot plead, “Externals are free. Here in my own place I am going to do as I please.” But you are bound to consider the effect of your attitude on others. By faith be free in your conscience toward God, but by love be bound to serve your neighbor’s edification, as also St. Paul says, Romans 14 [15:2], “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to edify him.” For we should not please ourselves, since Christ also pleased not himself, but us all. … This I said to the preachers so that they may consider love and their obligation toward the people, dealing with the people not in faith’s freedom but in love’s submission and service, preserving the freedom of faith before God. Therefore, when you hold mass, sing and read uniformly, according to a common order – the same in one place as in another – because you see that the people want and need it and you wish to edify rather than confuse them. For you are there for their edification, as St. Paul says, “We have received authority not to destroy but to build up” [II Cor. 10:8]. If for yourselves you have no need of such uniformity, thank God. But the people need it. And what are you but servants of the people, as St. Paul says, II Corinthians 2 [1:24], “We are not lords over your faith, but rather your servants for the sake of Jesus Christ.”

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I ordered mine!

At Home In the House of My Fathers

G. K. Chesterton once famously said that the church is the ultimate democracy; saints are not disenfranchised just because they happen to be dead. Harrison's volume confirms this truth in spades. Great fathers of the LMCS speak also to us on a wide range of topics from the church's call to mission at a time of opportunity (Pfotenhauer) to her response to moral issues in society (Schwan on the temperance movement) to a touching discussion of the nature of women as human creatures within the church (Brohm). But "worth the price of admission" is the multifaceted and very personal piece of correspondence from Wyneken to Walther on Anfechtungen, depression, and church politics, including the difficulties of their own personal relationship. Read, appreciate, and learn!

Friday, October 9, 2009

not so highly-prized

"Obama's winning the peace prize shows these prizes are political, not governed by the principles of credibility, values and morals," said an Islamic Jihad leader, Khaled Al-Batsh.

"Why should Obama be given a peace prize while his country owns the largest nuclear arsenal on Earth and his soldiers continue to shed innocent blood in Iraq and Afghanistan?"

Issam al-Khazraji, a day labourer in Baghdad, said: "He doesn't deserve this prize. All these problems -- Iraq, Afghanistan -- have not been solved...The man of 'change' hasn't changed anything yet."

Liaqat Baluch, a senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami, a conservative religious party in Pakistan, said: "It's a joke. How embarrassing for those who awarded it to him, because he's done nothing for peace. What change has he brought in Iraq, the Middle East or Afghanistan?"

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

timely advice from Boethius

"Boethius (480-524) is, after Plotinus, the greatest author of the seminal period [Late Antiquity], and his De Consolatione Philosophiae was for centuries one of the most influential books ever written in Latin... Until about two hundred years ago it would, I think, have been hard to find an educated man in any European country who did not love it."

Alas, what wretched ignorance leads
Mankind from the path astray!
Who looks on spreading boughs for gold,
On vines for jewels gay?
What man sets nets on mountain-tops
For feasts of rich sea-food?
What huntsman has the wild goat
Upon the sea pursued?
The very ocean’s depths men know
Beneath the waves on high;
They know which strand is rich with pearls,
Which shores with purple dye;
They know the bays for tender fish,
For shellfish where to try.
But in their blindness they do not know
Where lies the good they seak:
That which is higher than the sky
On earth below they seek.
What can I wish you foolish men?
Wealth and fame pursue,
And when great toil wins false reward,
Then may you see the true!

Monday, October 5, 2009

end the fed

The Fed should take to heart the words of consolation the American people
are given whenever a new government surveillance program is uncovered: if you’re not doing
anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.
The superstitious reverence that Americans have been taught to have for the Federal Reserve is
unworthy of the dignity of a free people. The Fed enjoys a government-granted monopoly on the
creation of legal-tender money. It is not an unreasonable imposition for Americans to demand to
know about the activities of such an institution. It is common sense. (Testimony before Congress of Thomas E. Woods, Jr.)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

lutheran liturgy?

“The objection: "What would be the use of uniformity of ceremonies?" was answered with the counter question, "What is the use of a flag on the battlefield? Even though a soldier cannot defeat the enemy with it, he nevertheless sees by the flag where he belongs. We ought not to refuse to walk in the footsteps of our fathers. They were so far removed from being ashamed of the good ceremonies that they publicly confess in the passage quoted: "It is not true that we do away with all such external ornaments."”

From an editorial by Walther in Der Lutheraner, Vol. 9, No. 24, p. 163 (July 19, 1853)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

the King of angels

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 a steely cage.

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 earth-bound with his angels;
Now he prowls, unsatisfied.

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!"

Jesus came, the 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.

Swift as lightning falls the tyrant
From his heav'nly perch on high;
As the word of Jesus' vic'try
Floods the earth and fills the sky,
Wounded by a wound eternal
Now his judgment has drawn nigh!

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.

(test: Peter Prange, b. 1972 LSB 521)

re-thinking Darwin

www.themysteriousislands.com

St. Michael and All Angels

Ye watchers and ye holy ones,
Bright seraphs, cherubim, and thrones,
raise the glad strain: Alleluia!
Cry out, dominions, princedoms, powers,
Virtues, archangels, angels' choirs:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Monday, September 28, 2009

rekindling hope

"A world that does not love or repect little ones, that does not defend those who are weakest in this life is a world of the dead, a world of truly desperate people. A world that rejects life, which does violence to the life of children, cannot even be called a world. Yet God calls us specifically to love this world, to be carriers of hope and sparks of light and kindness that resurrect humanity." (Mother Elvira Petrozzi)

Friday, September 25, 2009

new study bible

Gregory the Great (540–604) said: “Scripture is like a river, broad and deep, shallow enough here for lambs to go wading, but deep enough there for the elephant to swim” (from Rev. Matt Harrison's endorsement of the new Lutheran Study Bible, CPH).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

fight the good fight

Christian, do you see them
On the holy ground,
How the powers of darkness
Rage your steps around?
Christian! up and smite them,
Counting gain but loss;
In the strength that fills you
From the holy cross.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

new hymn

go to http://cyberbrethren.com
to see the latest from Rev. Stephen Starke,
coming to a Lutheran Church near you:)

Monday, September 21, 2009

constitution or sharia

John D. Guandolo:
Response to FDLE Investigative Report on Rifqa Bary Matter
Upon my review of the report filed by the FDLE regarding the Rifqa Bary Matter in Florida, I offer my professional opinion.

1. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Investigative Summary OR-73-1741 encapsulates the investigation into allegations made by Fathima Rifqa Bary (hereafter referred to as "Rifqa Bary") that she is or may be in physical danger from her father, Mohamed Bary, or others. Point 4 on page 2 of the report states Rifqa Bary believes her life to be in danger from an "honor killing" by her family or others, which she states is in accordance with Islamic Law. The report finds: "Ms. Bary's concern that she may be killed because of her conversion from Islam to Christianity remains a subjective and speculative concern..." and concludes there is no conspiracy to commit violence against her. The investigators in this matter offer this opinion void of any knowable facts.
In fact, a due diligence review would reveal the existence of authoritative Islamic Law texts officially translated into English. This review would further reveal Islamic Law - which is real law - has requirements and rules as to how to deal with those who leave Islam [eg The Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law, "Umdat al-Salik" also known as "Reliance of the Traveller" - publicly available]. If it can be shown (1) there is a requirement in Islamic Law for killing Ms. Bary as a publicly declared apostate from Islam, (2) that her parents adhere to Islamic Law, and (3) that she did, in fact, leave Islam and convert to Christianity, then the FDLE has a professional responsibility to include these facts in this report, and investigate this matter fully. There is nothing subjective about this - these are all ascertainable facts. I would hope the Florida State's Attorney's Office has done their due diligence on this matter and is aware of this

2. Mr. Bary's comments to the Investigators claiming there is "absolutely not" any concept of Honor Killings under Islamic Law can also be comparatively and factually reviewed against Islamic Law. There are, in fact, rules and requirements as to how apostates should be handled within the context of Islamic Law, and these facts must be reviewed by FDLE if a professional and factual report is to be completed.
3. It was noted that the Executive Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) -Columbus (Ohio) and the Staff Attorney for CAIR were present during the interview of Mr. Bary by FDLE Investigators. Absent from the FDLE report was any mention that CAIR is a known Muslim Brotherhood entity and an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial - the largest terrorism financing trial in U.S. history - revealing HLF as a Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood front in the United States. All defendants in this case were found guilty in November 2008 and are serving long prison terms. These facts about CAIR were testified to at trial, and accepted as legally true. They are irrefutable - the documents demonstrating these facts were stipulated to by the defense. The Muslim Brotherhood's (MB) creed is "Allah is our goal; the Messenger is our guide: the Koran is our constitution; Jihad is our means; and martyrdom in the way of Allah is our inspiration," and their stated objective in America is a "Civilization-Jihad" to destroy the United States from within, and the MB exists to implement Islamic Law here in the United States.
All of these facts are relevant for two critical reasons. First, these material facts should be made known to the State Attorney's Office and any Judges involved in this case as a matter of course. Secondly, when representatives from an organization that is objectively known to be hostile towards to the United States and unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism financing trial in U.S. history, are allowed to be present during a law enforcement interview of someone, it raises questions as to why they were allowed to be present at the interview at all.
These facts further demand an objective look to determine if the Muslim Brotherhood itself has a position on Islamic Law and Apostasy. One of the MB's two stated objectives is to implement Islamic Law in North America (and across the globe), and it is known they call for adherence to Islamic Law wherever Muslim communities exist. The Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law: Reliance of the Traveller is approved as valid Islamic Law by the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), a known Muslim Brotherhood entity, as proven in the HLF trial.
In Reliance of the Traveller, Investigators will find specific legal doctrine on how apostates are to be treated under Islamic Law. Furthermore, the Muslim Brotherhood has a history of officially addressing the issue of Apostasy. In 1984, Ismail R. Al-Faruki , the Founder of IIIT, stated: "That is why Islamic Law has treated people who have converted out of Islam as political traitors...[Islam] must deal with the traitors when convicted after due process of law either with banishment, life imprisonment, or capital punishment...but once their conversion is proclaimed, they must be dealt with as traitors to the state."
Apostasy is also specifically addressed in Peace and the Limits of War, published by IIIT and written by Louay Safi, the former Executive Director of IIIT, Malaysia, the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (a proven Muslim Brotherhood entity), and the Executive Director of the Islamic Society of North America's (ISNA) Leadership Development Council. ISNA was proven to be a Muslim Brotherhood entity and is also an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism financing trial in U.S. history - HLF. The book is also approved by the Secretary General of ISNA. In it, Mr. Safi notes that individual apostates cannot be killed for a "quiet desertion of personal Islamic duties," but can be put to death as "just punishment" when the apostate deserts Islam publicly (p. 31).

4. This is a statement of facts regarding this matter:
•There are requirements in Islamic Law regarding someone who deserts Islam
•The Muslim Brotherhood's objective is the implementation of Islamic Law in the United States
•Rifqa Bary has left Islam and become a Christian
•Rifqa Bary has made statements to FDLE officials and others that her parents have threatened to kill her because she has left Islam
•The Bary's appear to be adherent to Islamic Law
•The Bary's appear at an interview with two Muslim Brotherhood representatives doing business as CAIR, a group known to be hostile towards the United States which is also an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism financing trial in U.S. history
•The Muslim Brotherhood supports the killing of Muslims who publicly leave Islam
5. It is my professional opinion that sufficient Probable Cause exists to believe that Ms Bary's concerns for her personal safety are based in a realistic and factual understanding of her situation, and, therefore, a further criminal investigation is warranted.



John D. Guandolo is a 12 ½ year veteran of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Friday, September 18, 2009

50 years

Celebrating our 50th anniversary this weekend, by God's grace, fills my heart with thanksgiving to God for His mercies that are new every morning, for faithful ministers of Word and Sacrament, for hymnals that give us songs that are both faithful and new, for countless saints whose labors of faith, hope and love have brought us thus far.

Preserve in wave and tempest
Your storm-tossed little flock
Assailed by wind and weather,
May it endure each shock.
Stand at the helm, our pilot,
And set the course aright;
Then we will reach the harbor
In Your eternal light. (LSB 658)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

walking in darkness

+ Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost +
13 September 2009
Isaiah 50:10
Who among you fears the LORD
and obeys the voice of his servant?
Let him who walks in darkness
and has no light
trust in the name of the LORD
and rely on his God.

A grieving father wrote this: “Sometimes the grief hurts so much that even though you confess truth, believe truth, and deep down know that someday everything will be okay, there is a rainstorm going on in your heart that just won't go away. As I sit on the front porch and cry, mourning the loss of (my son) Stephen, the gentle, tearful streams of faith are almost drowned out by the loud, pounding rain of feelings.”
Isaiah, the prophet, anticipated times when it would be hard to keep focused on the comfort and security we have in God. Consider Isaiah 50:10,
Perhaps it is surprising to find these conditions grouped together:
• Fears the Lord and obeys the voice of the servant of the Lord
• Walks in darkness and has no light
Even as we walk through valleys of deepest darkness, the presence and power of God are with us and comfort us.
1. Who fears the Lord and obeys the voice of the servant of the Lord/
a. Job
This kind of trust is what made Job say, "Though he slay me yet will I trust in him" (KJV). Job was willing to trust God in spite of having no idea why he was being afflicted. Just like us, Job had lots of questions. However, God never answered them. Surely if anyone ever deserved an explanation it was Job.
Job continued to trust God, and we need to trust God the same way. This kind of trust says that I don't have to understand what's going on around me. I don't have to try to make sense of my circumstances. This is faith that trusts God unconditionally.
b. Post-modern people: We live in a society that pays a lot of attention to feelings. That's not all bad: feelings are real and are not to be ignored. But faith and trust transcend and rise above feelings. You can decide to trust God unconditionally no matter how you feel.
Will this make the pain go away? No.
Will you immediately feel better? No.
Will it still hurt? Yes.
Will you still be sad? Yes.
So what's the benefit of this unconditional trust?
However, when you can trust God amid great sorrow and disappointment, you quietly preach a sermon that not only grabs the attention of detractors and skeptics but is noticed in the unseen world as well. Your quiet sermon of faith and trust baffles the unbelieving. It is also of great benefit to believers, encouraging them as much as would the most polished sermon.
Your faith and trust in God can sustain you, even while your emotions drag you down like a ball and chain. Faith transcends pain; faith transcends emotions; faith transcends feelings.
Indeed, even though the rough, sharp, piercing edges of despair will still be there, in time, as they rub against your faith, they will polish it, making it shine brighter than ever before.
2. How can we walk in the darkness as if we had no light?
a. The name of the Lord has been put on us in Holy Baptism
Romans 5:3-5 describes the benefits of persevering in the midst of trouble:
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (NASB)

b. Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. Word and Sacrament, communion of saints+
As we endure dark days let us not lose heart. Let us heed the words of the prophet Isaiah. Let us trust in the name of our God and rely on him.
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NASB)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

freely you have received, freely give

(Comment by Metropolitan Jonah, OCA, at the beginning of the Orthodox new church year, 9/1/09)
Our Church has many challenges before it, financial, legal, organizational. But we must remember that, as important as these things are, as critical as they may be the life of our Church at this time, they can quickly become distractions from the one thing needful: to keep focused on Jesus Christ and the ministries which He has given us as a means of participation in His own ministry. While we might have budget challenges, there is nothing that can prevent us from preaching the Gospel, consoling those alone and abandoned, and setting at liberty those held captive by their sins.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

belated birthday wishes

Inside the back cover of my 1897 German Bible from Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO (loose translation): Epistles and Gospels for Apostles' Days and certain other Feasats which will be celebrated in certain areas. "On the Day of Mary's Birth" (that would be September 8, although no dates are given for ANY of the feasts); Sirach 24:2-31; Matthew 1:1-16.

Monday, August 31, 2009

one doctor's observation

As Congress and the people consider restructuring the American healthcare system, they must keep in mind that rationing health care may not be undeniable, but it is unavoidable. To claim that Congress will devise a new federal healthcare plan that will not involve rationing is like claiming that it will invent a triangle that doesn’t have three sides. Currently, within the private sector of health care, we have a large number of private insurance companies vying for the business of their customers. They ration health care on the basis of evidence-based medical necessity. The Obama health plan, the details of which are still being worked out, will also ration health care. The alternative to that is an accelerated escalation of aggregate healthcare costs. But the single-payer system to which Obama’s plan will lead will have no competitor and no pressing financial incentive to please its customers. No competitor for the single payer means no alternative for the patient. We can reasonably expect that a single-payer system of rationing will be largely implicit rather than explicit, and governed as much by cost and political considerations as by medical evidence. Such a system would likely combine the fiscal responsibility of the Postal Service, the customer friendliness of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and the smooth efficiency of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

You can bet your life on it.

Eric Chevlen, M.D., is a medical oncologist in Youngstown, Ohio.

13th Sunday after Pentecost

+ Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost +
August 30 2009
Deuteronomy 4:9
Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life.
Make them known to your children and your children's children—
 The malady: We forget what we have seen and heard and consequently God’s Word and Spirit departs from our hearts.
Introduction: “Don’t Give up on the Child of God. He’ll be there when the battle is over. He will make it through the storm, find his way through the darkest night. Don’t give up on the child of God. He’s the one whom God is keeping. Don’t give up on the child of God.”
As those who receive God’s strength and spiritual armor, we can not only stay in the race but cross the finish line as faithful servants.
1. God’s Word is our only life assignment
a. Listen to them, do not add or subtract, keep them and do them.
b. Make them known to your children and your children’s children
2. God’s Word is our only source of strength and protection
a. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood
b. Only safe way to use the Word of God is by praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
3. God’s Word is our only heart cleanser
a. We are obsessed with externals, with religion
b. The Word of God can enter and cleanse our hearts

Friday, August 28, 2009

hell?

"Hell was not created by God, but by His creatures and their refusal of His love; and that God equally loves those in hell, but His love is inoperative where it is rejected" (St. Isaac the Syrian.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

full communion?

And while the resolution allowing for homosexual ministers in the ELCA passed by a relatively slim margin (559-451), the resolution concerning fellowship with the Methodist Church passed by an amazing 958-51 vote.

First of all, what is “full communion”? According to an ELCA news release, it is defined this way:

Full communion is not a merger. But it means that the two churches express a common confession of Christian faith; mutual recognition of Baptism and sharing Holy Communion; join worship and freedom to exchange members; agree to mutual recognition of ordained ministers for service in either church; express a common commitment to evangelism, witness and service; engage in common decision-making on critical matters; and a mutual lifting of criticisms that may exist between the churches.

Starting with the issue discussed above, that of practicing homosexual ministers, one is surprised to read this statement: “mutual recognition of ordained ministers for service in either church.” Now, the UMC’s official position still is this:

While persons set apart by the Church for ordained ministry are subject to all the frailties of the human condition and the pressures of society, they are required to maintain the highest standards of holy living in the world. The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.


Good for the UMC!

believers need the law

the Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration VI:

For this reason, too, believers require the teaching of the law: so that they do not fall back on their own holiness and piety and under the appearance of God’s Spirit establish their own service to God on the basis of their own choice, without God’s Word or command. As it is written in Deuteronomy 12[:8,28,32], “You shall not actall of us according to our own desires,” but “listen to the commands and laws which I command you,” and “you shall not add to them nor take anything form them.” Furthermore believers also require the teaching of the law regarding their good works, for otherwise people can easily imagine that their works and life are completely pure and perfect [FC-SD VI, 20,21].

Sunday, August 23, 2009

we condemn

"they (these controversies)are of such a nature that the positions of the erring party, neither could nor should be tolerated in the church of God, much less be excused or defended." (Quoted from the Lutheran Confessions by Rev. Gerald Kieschnick, speaking at the church wide assembly in Minneapolis on 8/22/09).
Sadly, our SP did not apply these convicting sentiments directly to the apostasy of the ELCA this past week. How unlike our unapologetic and politically incorrect Lord Jesus in today's Gospel, confronting those who "make void the Word of God for the sake of their tradition."

Friday, August 21, 2009

praying for our children

“Pray and then speak. That’s what to do with your children. If you are constantly lecturing them, you’ll become tiresome and when they grow up they’ll feel a kind of oppression. Prefer prayer and speak to them through prayer. Speak to God and God will speak to their hearts. That is, you shouldn’t give guidance to your children with a voice that they hear with their ears. You may do this too, but above all you should speak to God about your children. Say, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, give Your light to my children. I entrust them to You. You gave them to me, but I am weak and unable to guide them, so, please, illuminate them.’ And God will speak to them and they will say to themselves, ‘Oh dear, I shouldn’t have upset Mummy by doing that!’ And with the grace of God this will come from their heart.” He also said, “It is not sufficient for the parents to be devout. They mustn’t oppress the children to make them good by force. We may repel our children from Christ when we pursue the things of our religion with egotism.”

Wounded By Love by Elder Porphyrios

Thursday, August 20, 2009

mere christianity

"The real test of being in the presence of God is that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether...If you do not think you are conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed." (C.S. Lewis)

Friday, August 14, 2009

worshipconcord journal

The Worship Narrative

What is this narrative?

We come from our daily lives into the presence of the Triune God with praise.
But in that presence we are aware of our utter unworthiness because of our sin, leading us to confess our sin and our sinfulness.
God, however, answers our confession with His word of absolution, the verbal Gospel.
We respond to this forgiveness and grace of our saving God by praising Him.
Our relationship with God restored, He teaches us so that His Word might shape us more and more into His image. He teaches us through the Word of Scripture itself, and the Word of Scripture explained and applied in the sermon.
We respond to this Word by confessing our faith in Him, lifting our prayers to Him and offering our lives to Him, represented in our financial offerings.
Then He invites us in closer, through the veil, into the Holy of Holies, with a foot in heaven itself as we gather around the table. Here we are drawn into Christ’s own narrative, brought into the upper room as the narrative of the Last Supper is recited. And here the Gospel comes to us again, this time the Gospel as bread and wine, body and blood.
Forgiven, renewed, and strengthened, we are blessed and sent back out into the world to bear His image as His disciples, to take His narrative into the narratives of our lives.

into the darkness

The journey of Moses into God's presence is an apt symbol for the odd progress in our spiritual life; the progress takes us through the darkness father than from the darkness into the light of God. As we mature in faith, we move away from pride in ourselves and our own achievments to a gradual awareness of our spiritual failure and Christ's work in us as we entrust ourselves to Him. We move away from the conviction that we are self-sufficient to the repeated experience of spiritual bankruptcy. We move on from delusions of our spiritaul importance to a growing sense of our utter insignificance and the glory of God. We move on from delight in our own power to the painful recognition of our spiritual weakness....Christ fills our emptiness and justifies us by grace. (From Grace Upon Grace: spirituality for today by John Kleinig)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

out of touch?

Detroit, Mich. - Michigan just experienced its coldest July on record; global temperatures haven't risen in more than a decade; Great Lakes water levels have resumed their 30-year cyclical rise (contrary to a decade of media scare stories that they were drying up due to global warming), and polls show that climate change doesn't even make a list of Michigan voters' top-ten concerns.

Yet in an interview with the Detroit News Monday, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) - recently appointed to the Senate Energy Committee - made clear that fighting the climate crisis is her top priority.

"Climate change is very real," she confessed as she embraced cap and trade's massive tax increase on Michigan industry - at the same time claiming, against all the evidence, that it would not lead to an increase in manufacturing costs or energy prices. "Global warming creates volatility. I feel it when I'm flying. The storms are more volatile. We are paying the price in more hurricanes and tornadoes."

And there are sea monsters in Lake Michigan. I can feel them when I'm boating.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

keep fanning

Fan Into Flame! – the Ablaze! campaign to raise $100 million by 2010 – had raised only $14.9 million in cash by the end of fiscal 2008. But fundraising costs totaled over $10 million, meaning that the entire campaign has cleared less than $5 million – in four years!



Of the $10 million in fundraising costs, a whopping $5.3 million was spent on fundraising consultants in the last three years alone. This despite the fact that Fan Into Flame! has its own large staff and fundraisers at LCMS headquarters.



Domestic Ablaze! funds have been given to dozens of churches that hide their Lutheran identity – not even including the word Lutheran in their name. One Ablaze!-funded church ran a sermon series during Lent on the topic of improving your sex life. Another ran billboards purporting to come from Satan with the phrase “Jefferson Hills Church Sucks.” One district gave Ablaze! Funds to start a Cub Scout troop, even though no religious outreach can take place in troop meetings. Ablaze! funds have even gone to churches that have been denied membership in Synod for failing to meet basic standards.



MISSIONS IN PRECIPITOUS DECLINE

A top-heavy ratio of over two St. Louis bureaucrats for every one missionary in the field. As of August 2008, the LCMS has only 29 pastors serving as foreign missionaries and 67 World Mission staff members sitting in St. Louis headquarters. The number of bureaucrats in St. Louis has more than doubled since Ablaze! began while the number of career missionaries has declined.



Pastors who serve as foreign missionaries are required to raise some 85 percent of their own expenses. In some cases this amounts to more than $100,000 each year – a difficult feat while serving remote lands. The LCMS only picks up 15 percent of the costs. New missionaries now have to collect 100 percent of their operating expenses.



Overhead for LCMS World Mission is reported to range as high as 65 percent, depending on the mission field. According to the Better Business Bureau, a charity should spend no more than 35% on fundraising.



Synod priorities and resources are skewed. While the number of actual pastors to preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments in the field declines, the number of laypeople sent on week-long “missionary tourism” trips has skyrocketed to over 500 each year.

happy transfiguration

In honor of the vast majority of Christendom celebrating the Transfiguration of our Lord today, this quote from Fr. Richard Veras:
The love of the Father is the origin and goal of everything. It was dependence upon the Father that brought us Jesus in the flesh to reveal to us the Father's love. I can depend upon the Father by depending upon Jesus present in the flesh of his Church and in the flesh of that part orf the Church in which the Father's love reaches me.

sadness of separation

If we fear the grave as little as our bed, because we know that Christ is risen indeed, then we shall not fear nor flee the sorrow of separation, either, but rejoice in the communion of saints and the great cloud of witnesses with which we are ever surrounded: from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets.
Posted by Rev. Rick Stuckwisch

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Three Dollars

I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don't want enough of God to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please. -- Wilbur Rees (From Voice of the Martyrs, August 2009)

Friday, July 24, 2009

leaders of the church

GRAND RAPIDS -- Amy Fleming started going to summer conferences for young Lutherans because her father, a local pastor, suggested it.

Now she returns each year to see old friends.

So next week's Sola 2009 gathering of about 900 teenagers at Calvin College will be a reunion of sorts for Fleming, one that organizers hope will continue reshaping her identity from Lutheran pastor's daughter to Lutheran woman.

"Just being with some of those people helps strengthen your faith that you're not the only one out there," said Fleming, who will be a senior this fall at West Michigan Lutheran High School.

The conference, Tuesday through Friday, dares young Lutherans to grab hold of their faith.

It is organized by Higher Things, a grassroots effort of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, which ran a similar conference this month for about 800 teenagers in San Antonio.

Like many Christian churches, the denomination is losing touch with what could be its next generation of leaders, said the Rev. William Cwirla, a California pastor and president of Higher Things.

"It's a genuine concern for us that a large number of young people abandon the faith of their fathers when they are given the freedom to stand on their own two feet," he said. "Part of the problem is they haven't been apprenticed."

Cwirla said Higher Things puts the tools of Christian faith in teenage hands, urging youth to see the faith as a tradition that perhaps they can uphold better than the previous generation.

Named on the theme "Christ alone, grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone," Sola aims to cultivate a Lutheran identity through three to four daily worship services and a series of workshops offering a Lutheran take on topics ranging from atheism to economics to relationships to organ playing.

"We're daring them to embrace their Christian faith and their Lutheran tradition," Cwirla said.

"Kids like a crowd, and kids like to see other kids from different parts of the country worshipping the same way and believing the same things.

"These kids develop long-distance, long-term relationships with each other. The conference becomes like an annual reunion. We've had Higher Things marriages and Higher Things babies, in that order."

Cwirla said the "liturgical, hymn book worship" steers clear of laser light shows and rock bands, embracing organ music instead.

"I think American culture more and more sees worship as a kind of personal entertainment event," he said. "The focus (in worship) is not on us and what we're doing and how we're feeling, but the focus is on God in Christ, the gifts of Jesus Christ. Out of that come our prayers and our hymns."

Although formal, worship at past conferences has been loud, Fleming said.

"It's amazing because everyone sings," she said. "When you're surrounded by all those people, it's sort of like more OK to do it."

sing to the Lord

Lord Jesus, We Give Thanks to Thee; Christoph Fischer 1597 (TLH 173);

Lord Jesus we give thanks to Thee
That thou has died to set us free;
Made righteous thro’ Thy precious blood,
We now are reconciled to God.

By virtue of Thy wounds we pray,
True God and Man, be Thou our Stay,
Our Comfort when we yield our breath,
Our Rescue from eternal death.

Defend us Lord, from sin and shame;
Help us by Thine almighty name
To bear our crosses patiently,
Consoled by Thy great agony.

And thus the full assurance gain
That Thou to us wilt true remain
And not forsake us in our strife
Until we enter into life.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

holy anger

Do we not understand that the stings of anger have also been given to us for a very good reason, so that we might be displeased with our vices and errors and occupy ourselves instead with virtue and spiritual pursuits by being most loving to God and patient to our brothers?

- St. John Cassian, The Institutes VII.iii.3, trans. Boniface Ramsey [NY: Newman, 2000], p. 170).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

why do we commune?

In the first prayer of St. John Chrysostom in the Prayers Before Communion:


For it is not insolently that I draw near to Thee, O Christ my God, but as taking courage from Thy unspeakable goodness, and that I may not by long abstaining from Thy communion become a prey to the spiritual wolf.

from the worship/concord journal

I like using the metaphor of a tennis match to explain the idea of Gottesdienst, because it visually captures the rhythm of worship. Throughout the traditional worship service, the act of “serving” moves back and forth between God and the worshipers. First, God (astonishingly!) comes to us. The Creator of all things chooses to serve his people with a great gift, placing his Name of blessing upon our gathering. As a tennis ball is then returned over the net, we respond to God’s action in the only way that makes sense, by falling to our knees and confessing our unworthiness.

Speaking through his called and ordained servants, God then serves our greatest need through the assurance of forgiveness. In response, we offer a song of praise and words of prayer. We are then once again the recipients of service through the reading of his Word, the great source of faith and growth. And on it goes, back and forth, in a deliberate and beautiful pattern of giving and responding.

But the tennis match metaphor has a significant weakness. It implies an activity played out by equals. Although our responses – our prayers and praise, confessions and offerings – are a core element of worship, they are only that: responses to the great things God is doing as we gather in his name. I am only a hungry beggar. I do not go to worship because I have something I want to say to God, or because I have to show him how much I love him. I go to worship because I am starving, and God has invited me to a feast. Perhaps surprisingly, in our fallen world, the function of divine worship is not primarily to satisfy God’s righteous desire for praise and honor. Rather, as described in the Lutheran Confessions, “The chief worship of God is to preach the Gospel” (Apology XV.42; see also Apology IV.152-154; IV.310).

Worship is a place and time in which Christ’s forgiveness is offered through readings, preaching, sacraments, song. By the Spirit’s work, it is a place and time in which this saving Gospel is received and believed. And as those things happen – as children of God are born and comforted and strengthened – it is a place and time in which we unworthy guests are invited and enabled to join the angels themselves in great songs of “praise and honor and glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.”

Timothy Frusti

+ sdg +

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

NEA strikes again

The National Education Association has thrown its full support behind homosexual "marriage."





The NEA recently held its annual convention in San Diego, California, where members voted on two issues of importance to those involved in the culture war. One of those issues was whether the union would support same-gender marriage. According to Jeralee Smith, co-founder of the Conservative Educators Caucus, the resolution passed by roughly a two-thirds majority.

"There are quite a few items where the NEA absolutely puts its political muscle behind taking down any legislation in any state that they consider to be discriminatory to homosexuals," says Smith. "And some of the language in the resolution also hints that the NEA will try to take down the Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA] on the federal level."

Smith told Baptist Press that when a representative of the Conservative Caucus spoke against the resolution and mentioned the words "marriage should be between a man and a woman," the speaker was booed.

Also up for a vote was a resolution for the NEA to take a "no position" stance on the issue of abortion. That proposal was voted down 61 percent to 39 percent.

During the meeting, the organization's retiring general counsel, Bob Chanin, complained that "conservative and right-wing bastards" are after the NEA and its state affiliates. Smith called that statement "refreshing honesty" on Chanin's part about how he feels about conservatives. (See related article from LifeSiteNews.com)

from Larry Christenson

"One of the great traps in living the Christian life is the tendency to substitute principles for the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit...The danger in this approach is that it can foster a belief in Scripture that effectively neutralizes the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Lutherans run the danger of all but handcuffing the Spirit to "Word and Sacrament". THe Holy Spirit is politely invited to confine His work to inspiring and authenticating the Word. We end up with a Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Scripture....The ways of the Kingdom of God cannot be mastered simply by knowledge...We need divine presence, we need the indwelling Holy Spirit."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bishop Bo Giertz on Baptism

That baptism truly can be the foundation for a person’s deepest personal
faith—this is rarely seen when one looks out into the world. Rather, the vast
majority break their baptismal covenant. It can occur through wilful defiance
of God’s commandments or disregard of God himself, which most clearly
manifests itself in that one never prays and never seeks His church. More or
less intentionally, man has for his part ended the covenant with God. But he
is not capable of destroying it. I certainly cannot nullify God’s promises; I
cannot wipe out the heading which he has written over my life. It follows me
as an accusation—but also as a promise. I have an inheritance, which, it is
true, I can scorn, but which nonetheless is preserved with God and is waiting
for me. Even more so: I have a home. I can leave this home and become a
prodigal son. But I cannot wipe out the fact that I have a home and a Father
who has not forgotten His child and never ceases to yearn for it. I also cannot
prevent Him from seeking me and sending offers to me.
And this is exactly what God does. So this is how “man finds the way to
God”.

Monday, July 13, 2009

let us pray

Prayer at Daybreak
to be said each day on rising from sleep

Eternal King without beginning, You who are before all worlds, my Maker, Who have summoned all things from non-being into this life: bless this day that You, in Your inscrutable goodness, give to me. By the power of Your blessing enable me at all times in this coming day to speak and act for You, to Your glory, in Your fear, according to Your will, with a pure spirit, with humility, patience, love, gentleness, peace, courage, wisdom and prayer, aware everywhere of Your presence.

Yes, Lord, in Your immense mercy, lead me by Your Holy Spirit into every good work and word, and grant me to walk all my life long in Your sight without stumbling, according to Your righteousness that You have revealed to us, that I may not add to my transgressions.

O Lord, great in mercy, spare me who am perishing in wickedness; do not hide Your face from me. And when my perverted will would lead me down other paths, do not forsake me, my Savior, but force me back to Your holy path.

O You Who are good, to Whom all hearts are open, You know my poverty and my foolishness, my blindness and my uselessness, but the sufferings of my soul are also before You. Wherefore I beseech You: hear me in my affliction and fill me with Your strength from above. Raise me up who am paralyzed with sin, and deliver me who am enslaved to the passions. Heal me from every hidden wound. Purify me from all taint of flesh and spirit. Preserve me from every inward and outward impulse that is unpleasing in Your sight and hurtful to my brother.

I beseech You: establish me in the path of Your commandments and to my last breath do not let me stray from the light of Your ordinances, so that Your commandments may become the sole law of my being in this life and in all eternity.

O God, my God, I plead with You for many and great things: do not disregard me. Do not cast me away from Your presence because of my presumption and boldness, but by the power of Your love lead me in the path of Your will. Grant me to love You as You have commanded, with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my mind, and with all my strength: with my whole being.

For You alone are the holy protection and all-powerful defender of my life, and to You I ascribe glory and offer my prayer.

Grant me to know Your truth before I depart this life. Maintain my life in this world until I may offer You true repentance. Do not take me away in the midst of my days, and when You are pleased to bring my life to an end, forewarn me of my death, so that I may prepare my soul to come before You.

Be with me then, O Lord, on my great and sacred day, and grant me the joy of Your salvation. Cleanse me from manifest and secret sins, from all iniquity hidden in me; and give me a right answer before Your dread judgment-seat.

Amen.

Friday, July 10, 2009

unfortunate necessities

In late 2007, Congressman Ron Paul introduced the American Freedom Agenda Act of
2007. The Act says, "No officer or agent of the United States shall kidnap, imprison, or torture any person abroad based solely on the President's belief that the subject of the kidnapping, imprisonment, or torture is a criminal or enemy combatant: provided that kidnapping shall be permitted if undertaken with the intent of bringing the kidnapped person for prosecution or interrogation to gather intelligence before a tribunal that meets international standards of fairness and due process." Knowing violations of this section are to be punished as felonies. Paul states, 'It amazes me that this kind of legislation should even be necessary in America. These are principles that Americans should insist their presidents not only observe, but actually believe in.' (The Revolution, p. 124)
Is this the USA we live in or Stalinist Russia?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

overruling Providence

In the exercise of this power of intermeddling with the private pursuits and individual occupations of the citizen a Government may at pleasure elevate one class and depress another; it may one day legislate exclusively for the farmer, the next for the mechanic, and the third for the manufacturer, who all thus become the mere puppets of legislative cobbling and tinkering, instead of independent citizens, relying on their own resources for their prosperity. It assumes the functions which belong alone to an overruling Providence, and affects to become the universal dispenser of good and evil.
(The Revolution by Ron Paul, p. 72 -- quoting William Leggett)

Friday, July 3, 2009

from the founding fathers

An
Oration
Delivered
Before the Inhabitants
of
the Town of Newburyport,
at their request,
on
the Sixty-First Anniversary
of
the Declaration of Independence,
July 4th, 1837.

By John Quincy Adams.

"Say ye not, A Confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say A Confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid." Isaiah 8:12.


ORATION.

Why is it, Friends and Fellow Citizens, that you are here assembled? Why is it, that, entering upon the sixty-second year of our national existence, you have honored with an invitation to address you from this place, a fellow citizen of a former age, bearing in the records of his memory, the warm and vivid affections which attached him, at the distance of a full half century, to your town, and to your forefathers, then the cherished associates of his youthful days? Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the World, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day? – And why is it that, among the swarming myriads of our population, thousands and tens of thousands among us, abstaining, under the dictate of religious principle, from the commemoration of that birth-day of Him, who brought life and immortality to light, yet unite with all their brethren of this community, year after year, in celebrating this, the birth-day of the nation?

Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon earth? That it laid the corner stone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity, and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfillment of the prophecies, announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Savior and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets six hundred years before?

sage advice

From Second Terrace, a blog by Fr. Jonathan:

A man gets married and has a wife as his closest friend, and children for whom he lays down his life. He has friends. There are no "soul mates."

Making a soul mate with someone else, while married, is already unchaste.

So here is my suggestion for a rewrite of Sanford's script. So that in the movie version, the actor can do his role better than he actually did:

Governor Sanford: "I betrayed my wife, as I have done so numerous times."

"I am unchaste. The passion of lust is in control of my soul."

"I resign all public office."

"I will learn about remorse. I will ask for the sacraments."

"I will repent and be baptized. I will seek to be born again."

Then, maybe, the image of manhood will emerge just ever so slightly out of the murky depths.