Friday, May 29, 2009

prayers for pentecost

(from Grabau's 1848 Kirchengesangbuch - church hymnal -- my translation)

...You are a divine anointing, poured out over us in Holy Baptism; and have made us al ive unto eternal life with your divine breath, and have made known to us that which to all creation was a hidden secret, namely, the gospel of our salvation, and teach and make known Jesus Christ, of whom all the prophets testify, that through his name, all who believe on him shall receive forgiveness of sins. For we are not able to believe on Jesus Christ by our own reason or strength, or come to him, flesh and blood cannot reveal him; rather you call, gather, enlighten, sanctify and keep us in the saving Teaching, Truth, Wisdom and Faith of the Gospel and show us in the Word the way we should live.

O Thou rich-in-love, dear Flame of God, enlighten us!
O Thou living Water, flowing from eternity out of the heart of God, enliven us!
O Thou Breath, moving from the mouth of God, make us alive today and always!
O Thou Holy Finger of God, inscribe the Word of God on the slate of our hearts!
O Thou Power from on high, strengthen our weak faith!
O Thou heavenly Oil of Joy, gladden the distressed in their sorrow!
O Thou rich-in-love Dew of Heaven, enliven our wilted heartes!
O Thou Gracious Rain of heaven, make fruitful our withered hearts!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

hyperbole or heart?

“This man is extremely smart – he can communicate ,” Reid said. “But the best part of Barack Obama is his heart is bigger than any heart in the world.” That would be Senator Harry Reid, current majority leader, rumored to be facing a tough challenge in 2010 -- speaking at a fund-raising dinner that cost only $2,400./person. Somehow I am not comforted by Reid's diagnosis, knowing what the Scriptures have to say about the heart of man.

Friday, May 22, 2009

self-government is cool

"While civil government is a divine institution with an important purpose, it is very limited in what it is supposed to do. It basically is to protect the life, liberty and property of its citizens (Romans 13:4; I Peter 2:14). But we have made it like Babel, thinking the state (something of our own creation) will do much more than God say it is to do, where it takes on the role of God, the family, the church, and business. Many people look to the state to meet their needs from cradle to grave, to bring peace and utopia on earth, to help them in times of trouble, to solve all their problems, to care for them when they are sick, and to control and regulate all things. We as a nation have given over to the sate many of the responsibilities that God says belong to individuals, the family, or the church.
Earthly authorities are not intended to control us. We are to govern ourselves under God and His standard of truth. We should seek to change the mentality of letting others govern us." (exerpted from: Statism: Rendering To Caaesar the Things that are God's; by Stephen McDowell, Intercessors for America Prayer Leter, June 2009)
As the apostles said, "My brothers, these things ought not to be so!"

Thursday, May 21, 2009

ascension blessings

(From the notes in Magnificat for today) "The meaning of Christ's Ascension," writes Pope Benedict XVI, "expresses our belief that in Christ the humanity that we all share has entered into the inner life of God in a new and hitherto unheard of way. It means that man has found an everlasting place in God." It would be a mistake to interpret the Ascension as "the temporary absence of Christ from the world." Rather, "we go to heaven to the extent that we go to Jesus Christ and enter into him." Heaven is a person; "Jesus himself is what we call 'heaven'".

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

when tempted to complain

The crowd in Philippi joined in the attack on Paul and Silas, and the magistrates had them stripped and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After inflicting many blows on them, they threw them into prison and instructed the jailer to guard them securely. WHen he received these instructions, he put them in the inner-most cell and secured their feet to a stake.
About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened..." (Acts 16)
We draw courage through our God to speak to you the gospel of God with much struggle (I Thessalonians 2:2).
No kidding! And from the Treasury of Daily Prayer this morning came the reminder that in our struggle against sin we have not yet resisted to the point of shedding our blood. i'm starting to see a pattern here. How's the struggle going? If you are struggling, take heart! Things worthwhile are worth struggliing for a while. No more path of least resistance.

Friday, May 15, 2009

true friendship

A true friend is a vehicle upon which the mind of the other friend invisibly carries and the friend is carried, and it is remarkable to see how from the two of them there emerge two who carry and two who are carried. Christian friendship which alone indeed is true is a glorious crown of good deeds and gives trust in life, a protection and a staff supporting even those who have shown weakness, a sure refuge, a haven from the sea, relase from prison, freedom from slavery, an invaluable abode of divine protection, a tower of safety, a vineyard of joy, an ever fertile field, a pleasure garden of consolation, a repository of perfume, a full storehouse, an apiary of honey, a mirror of brightness and an intellectual vision, a bride by one's side with whom the comforts of life are shared, a pious mother, an obliging attendant, a ready handmaid, a convenient body guard, a favorable bathing place, a spring of living water, an unsleeping guard against evil, prudence in the midst of good, a bond with life.
(Blessed Simon Fidati of Cascia + 1348)

never alone

(Thanks to Pr. Paul McCain for this)

The truth is that while we may be “in private” we are never alone when we pray.

First, the Holy Spirit is with us constantly, often providing words and sighs and groans too deep for words, when our words fail, the Holy Spirit strengthens us. Second, the Living Christ and in fact, the Blessed Holy Trinity, is with us in a mysterious indwelling and communion. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, who never acts as a “free agent” but is always, and ever, with us, in communion with the entire Holy Trinity. Then, there is the mysterious Body of Christ, the holy Christian Church, in which we are constantly in communion, even when we are physically alone. And so, it is entirely appropriate that we pray Matins, even when we are alone, because at all times we are, actually, in truth, never alone. We are always praying with the Church. We are, in Christ, and therefore, where Christ is, there is His body. Here is how Luther put it, very nicely:

Never think that you are kneeling or standing alone, rather think that the whole of Christendom, all devout Christians, are standing there beside you and you are standing among them in a common, united petition, which God cannot disdain. Luther, AE 43:198

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

unity in the Word

No little dissension and debate
Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.” Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the Apostles and presbyters about this question. (Acts 15:1-2)
Dissension and debate have been present in the church from the first generation on to the present day. In October 2008, Rev. Matthew Harrison gave the church a gift in a paper entitled “It’s Time” (available online at In it, he points out that our disunity is killing us and our mission effectiveness, and that attempts at political coercion, or focusing on mission and structure without unity in the Word of God are all doomed to fail.
Harrison proposes that instead we follow the pattern that produced the Formula of Concord…”under the influence of Martin Chemnitz, points of controversy were set out not only in positive terms (theses) but also in negative terms (antitheses) – that is, the clear rejection of errors….It wasn’t until all sides agreed to proceed in this manner with each controversial issue that real agreement could be forged. It was an approach both doctrinal and honest about real differences. And this is how we must proceed to deal with matters which beset us now…This route is the hard route. It will take time and effort. It will take courage. It will take men and women of integrity.”
In the spirit of seeking true harmony and agreement for the sake of the Church and her mission, some members of the Johnson City/Knoxville Circuit meeting on May 12, 2009, identified the following broad areas in which there is no little dissension and debate among us:
 Role of men and women in ministry
 Clergy and laity, roles and distinctions
 Theology and form of worship
 Theology and methodology of mission
 Role and relationship of congregations and Synod
If anyone can clarify this list, suggest additions, deletions or corrections, that would be most appreciated. Could there be a group formed in Tennessee to discuss these issues and seek a better way forward? Perhaps our regional vice-presidents could take this on and schedule meetings based on Harrison’s proposal. With prayers for Resurrection joy to overflow from our hearts,

lost Easter hymn

In Lutheran Worship (146) we had this wonderful, typological text:

Lo, Judah's Lion wins the strife
and conquers death to give us life.
Come, join in joyful praises!

As David, so our David too
The jeering huge Goliath slew.
Oh, sing with festive voices!

Our strongest, fiercest foe he foils
And waves aloft the victor's spoils.
Now let us sing his praises!

Our Samson storms death's citadel
And carries off the gates of hell.
Oh, praise him for his conquest!

The pow'r of death he broke in two
When he arose to life anew.
To him all praise be given!

He frees the prisoned and oppressed
And pardons all whom sin possessed.
Oh, praise him for his mercy!

In festal spirit, song and word,
to Jesus, our victorious Lord,
All praise and thanks be rendered.

Praise God, all-holy and triune,
For this all-gracious, glorious boon;
Now gladly sing we Amen.

Who will write a tune we can SING?!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

letters from dad

Mens Ministry update: We had our kick off dinner for Letters from Dad last Friday night and scheduled four sessions (5/30, 6/20, 7/11, 8/8). We hope to recover the lost art of letter writing by writing to our wives, our children, our parents and posterity in general. We (men, that is!) have something to say to our families, we just need a little help getting started:) provides that assistance, seasoned with grace.