Thursday, December 30, 2010

Name of Jesus

Indeed, dear friends, seeing the accumulating sin of this nation and the mounting apostasy from the gospel and the horrid rage against it, we can make a calculation on two matters: The judgment of God will finally and all the more harshly come to bear upon this land, proportionate to God’s blessings upon her and to the duration of His patience; finally, open persecution against the gospel and those who confess it will break out in the land that hitherto has been its sanctuary.....

The Almighty, who sits on the throne of glory, who rules in the midst of His enemies, before whom all His enemies must bow down, before whom every knee must bow, whether in heaven or on earth or under the earth—He is our Savior, Brother, Bridegroom, and Judge.

Friedrich Wyneken
2nd President of the LCMS
Sermon for the Eve of the Name of Jesus, January 1, 1868
At Home in The House of My Fathers, pp. 433-34

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christ the Paradox

A marvelous and mighty paradox has thus occurred, for the death which they thought to inflict on Him as dishonor and disgrace has become the glorious monument to death's defeat."

Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word of God, 24

Collect for Holy Innocents

Almighty God, the martyred innocents of Bethlehem showed forth Your praise not by speaking but by dying. Put to death in us all that is in conflict with Your will that our lives may bear witness to the faith we profess with our lips; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Monday, December 27, 2010

by grace!

According to this doctrine of His they should abstain from their sins, repent, believe His promise, and entirely trust in Him; and since we cannot do this by ourselves, of our own powers, the Holy Ghost desires to work these things, namely, repentance and faith, in us through the Word and Sacraments. 72] And in order that we may attain this, persevere in it, and remain steadfast, we should implore God for His grace, which He has promised us in Holy Baptism, and, no doubt, He will impart it to us according to His promise, as He has said, Luke 11:11ff : If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

On the Feast of Stephen

+ First Sunday after Christmas+
December 26, 2010
The Church at Home “Rise, take the child and his mother!” Matthew 2:13
1. The domestic church listens to the Word of God.
a. Joseph receives specific instructions
(flee to Egypt; go the land of Israel; being warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee)
b. We are also guided by the Word of God
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.” (Psalm 32:8) (10 Commandments, Lord’s Prayer, Apostles’ Creed)

2. The domestic church moves in obedience to divine direction.
a. Joseph serves, protects and provides for the body of Christ
b. We make sacrifices for what is truly important. Ministry Teams!
O divine fruit of the Virgin’s womb, may I love you in union with the holy mother of God. Fill my life with the obedience of St. Joseph and the missionary fervor of the shepherds so that the witness of my life may shine like the star that led the Magi to your manger.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christ Mass Eve

+ Christmas Eve+
December 24, 2010
Emmanuel, God with us! (Prepositions of Christmas)
God and us; us and God. Not exactly so very clear when you put it like that, with the simple conjunction “and” -- is it. Just as the familiar carol reminds us that we need at least 12 days to unwrap all the gifts of Christmas, so also we need the prepositions of Christmas to tell us how things really stand vis a vis God and us. Because a preposition usually indicates the relationship of its object to the rest of the sentence, getting the prepositions of Christmas correct will have a significant impact on the meaning of this day. How to get it right? We turn for help to St. Matthew, who tells us: So the Lord's promise came true, just as the prophet had said, "A virgin will have a baby boy, and he will be called Immanuel," which means "God is with us."
By looking at the prepositions of Christmas revealed in the Holy Bible, all of our fears and doubts about how things really stand between God and us are resolved.
1. Not against -- God is FOR us. The prophet Isaiah said it so well: For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given. St. Paul said, if God is for us, who can be against us? And Luther said in his Small Catechism concerning the Sacrament of the Altar, he is truly worthy and well-prepared who had faith in these words, Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.
2. Not without -- God is IN us. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
3. Not foreign -- God is LIKE us. Therefore in all things He had to be made like his brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God.
4. Not distant -- God is NEAR us. For the cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the participation of the blood of Christ? And the bread which we break, is it not the participation of the body of Christ?
5. Not opposed -- God is OVER us. He watching over Israel slumbers not nor sleeps.
6. Not apathetic -- God is UNDER us. The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before you; and shall say, Destroy them.
7. Not beyond -- God is WITH us; in our birth, body, pain and death. In 1745, Charles Wesley published Hymns for the nativity of our Lord.
Let earth and heaven combine, angels and men agree
To praise in song divine th’incarnate Deity,
Our God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man.

He laid his glory by, he wrap’d Him in our clay
Unmarked by human eye the latent Godhead lay,
Infant of days he here became, and bore the loved Immanuel’s name.

See in that infant’s face the depths of Deity,
And labor while ye gaze to sound the mystery,
In vain; ye angels gaze no more, but fall, and silently adore.

Unsearchable the love that hath the Savior brought,
The grace is far above or men or angel’s thought:
Suffice for us, that God, we know, our God is manifest below.

He deigns in flesh t’appear, widest extremes to join;
To bring our vileness near, and make us all divine,
And we the life of God shall know, for God is manifest below.

Made perfect first in love, and sanctified by grace,
We shall from earth remove and see his glorious face,
His love shall then be fully showed, and man shall all be lost in God.

"Dr. Richard Selzer wrote a penetrating book entitled Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery. In it he writes:

I stand by the bed where a young woman lies, her face postoperative, her mouth twisted in a palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of a facial nerve, the one to the muscles of her mouth, had been severed. She will be thus from now on. The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh; I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to cut the little nerve.

Her husband is in the room. He stands on the bed, and together, they seem to dwell in the evening lamplight. Isolated from me, private, Who are they, I ask myself, he and this wry-mouth I have made, who gaze at each other, and touch each other generously, greedily?

The young woman speaks. 'Will I always be like this?' she asks. 'Yes,' I say. 'It is because the nerve was cut.' She nods and is silent. But the young man smiles. 'I like it,' he says. 'It's kind of cute.'

All at once I know who he is. I understand, and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with a god. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth, and I am so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate hers, to show that their kiss still works. I remember that the gods appeared in ancient Greece as mortals, and I hold my breath and let the wonder in.

That is the spirit of Jesus. Man's link with God had been severed through sin. And He twisted Himself to accommodate us, and give us the kiss of eternal life. But not without giving His own life on our behalf. Jesus. At the same time, so tender and powerful. The most remarkable figure ever to have lived. And why not? He was God incarnate.

The birth of Jesus split history like a thunderbolt on a hot July evening. Everything before His birth we call B.C., before Christ. Everything after, we call A.D., anno Domini, in the year of our Lord."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Image of the Father

"But, again, it could not have taken place unless death and corruption had been done away with. Therefore He assumed a human body, in order that in it death might once for all be destroyed, and that man might be renewed according to the Image. The Image of the Father only was sufficient for this need."

Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word of God, 13

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Word and Spirit

For the Word, whereby we are called, is a ministration of the Spirit, that gives the Spirit, or whereby the Spirit is given, 2 Cor. 3:8, and a power of God unto salvation, Rom. 1:16. And since the Holy Ghost wishes to be efficacious through the Word, and to strengthen and give power and ability, it is God's will that we should receive the Word, believe and obey it.
Book of Concord, 1580

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

an end to death

Henceforth the whole conspiracy of the enemy against humanity is checked, and the corruption of death which before was prevailing against them has simply ceased to be. For the human race would have gone to ruin, had not the Lord and Savior of all, the Son of God, come among us to put an end to death." Athanasiua, Incarnation of the Word

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

preserve thy Church

For it is not we who could preserve the church. Our ancestors also did not do it. Our posterity will also not be able to do it. But it was he, is he, and will be he who says: ‘I am with you to the end of the age.’ [Matthew 28:20] As is written in Hebrews 13:8 ‘Jesus Christ, yesterday and today and forever.’ And Revelation 1:8: ‘The Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.’ Yes, this is the name of the man, and no other man is named in this way, and no one else is supposed to be called this way. He who is called ‘yesterday’ and ‘who was’ preserved the church one thousand years ago, when we did not yet exist. And even today the church is not preserved by us, the living, but only by him who is called ‘today’ and ‘who is.’ Likewise, we will also not contribute anything when we are dead, but he will do it who is called ‘who will come’ and ‘in eternity.’ -- Martin Luther

Monday, December 13, 2010

full of grace

The holy Maid and Virgin Mother of God was this vessel, so she was proclaimed by the Archangel Gabriel as full of grace (Lk. 1:28), being the chosen one among the chosen, blameless, undefiled and worthy to contain the person of the God-Man and to collaborate with Him. Therefore God pre-ordained her before all ages, chose her from among all that had ever lived, and deemed her worthy of more grace than anyone else, making her the holiest of saints, even before her mysterious childbearing. For that reason, He graciously willed that she should make her home in the Holy of Holies, and accepted her as His companion to share His dwelling from her childhood. He did not simply choose her from the masses, but from the elect of all time, who were admired and renowned for their piety and wisdom, and for their character, words and deeds, which pleased God and brought benefit to all.

-- Gregory Palamas

all is a gift

"But behold God gives a new soul (for it was cleansed), and a new body, a new worship, promises new, and testament, life, table, dress, and all things new absolutely. For instead of the Jerusalem below, we have received that mother city which is above (Gal 4:26). Instead of a material temple, we have seen a spiritual temple (1Co 5:1). Instead of tables of stone, fleshly ones (2Co 3:3); instead of circumcision, baptism (Col 2:11-12); instead of the manna, the Lord's body; instead of water from a rock, blood from His side (Jn 19:34); instead of Moses' or Aaron's rod, the Cross; instead of the promised land, the kingdom of heaven; instead of a thousand priests, one High Priest; instead of an unreasoning lamb, a spiritual Lamb. With these and such things in his thought he said, 'all things are new' (2Co 5:17). But 'all' these 'things are from God,' by Christ, and His free gift."

John Chrysostom, Homilies on 2 Corinthians, 11.4

Thursday, December 9, 2010

with the ancient orthodox church

We, therefore, hold and teach, in conformity with the ancient orthodox Church, as it has explained this doctrine from the Scriptures, that the human nature in Christ has received this majesty according to the manner of the personal union, namely, because the entire fulness of the divinity dwells in Christ, not as in other holy men or angels, but bodily, as in its own body, so that it shines forth with all its majesty, power, glory, and efficacy in the assumed human nature, voluntarily when and as He [Christ] wills, and in, with, and through the same manifests, exercises, and executes His divine power, glory, and efficacy, as the soul does in the body and fire in glowing iron (for by means of these illustrations, as was also mentioned above, the entire ancient Church has explained this doctrine). -- Solid Declaration, FC 1580

Monday, December 6, 2010

Advent 2

+ Second Sunday in Advent+
December 5, 2010
Speaking the truth has ever been and will always be a liability. And yet those whose hearts have been captured by the wonderful story of the Word made flesh cannot help themselves. John’s heart was captured – filled with the Spirit – even while in his mother’s womb. He who came in the spirit and power of Elijah still turns the hearts of children (you and me) to their fathers (the apostles, prophets and martyrs) by directing us to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. As we pay attention to John’s preaching on this Second Sunday in Advent, we too will be prepared to welcome aright the long-expected Savior, God with us. We hear again:
John the Baptist: Do the things that show you really have changed your hearts and lives. Mt.3:8
Apostle Paul: I began telling people that they should change their hearts and lives and turn to God and do things to show they really had changed. Acts 26:20

Martin Luther: Q. What is the meaning of such a water Baptism?
A. It means that the old Adam in us should be drowned by daily sorrow and repentance, and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, in turn, a new person daily come forth and rise from death again. He will live forever before God in righteousness and purity.

Q. Where is this written?
A. St. Paul says to the Romans in chapter six:
``We are buried with Christ through Baptism into death, so that, in the same way Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, thus also must we walk in a new life.''
Having devoted his entire life to the Advent of the long-expected Lamb of God, the message of John the Baptist clearly reveals what things need to be done in order to welcome Christ Jesus every moment until the Last Day.
1. Recognize the seriousness of my old Adam, my selfish sinful nature
a. It all begins with confessing our sins
b. The chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire
2. Renounce daily the devil and all his ways and works
a. Yesterday’s renunciation won’t help you today
b. Disguised as an angel of light = not so obvious
3. Receive with humility the Word and Spirit of God
a. Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!
b. As often as you do this – how often do you need to receive His gifts?

4. Reorganize our priorities to reflect sacrificial love
a. The Kingdom of God revealed by teaching and healing
b. A bruised reed he will not break; a smoldering wick he will not quench. Therefore I exhort that you listen eagerly and lovingly to this Word, receive it with deep gratitude, and beseech the Lord God from the bottom of your heart for a firm faith to cling to this teaching. You may be certain that this will bear fruit day by day, as you become more humble, obedient, loving, chaste, and godly, for it is in the nature and art of this teaching to create godly, decent, obedient and pious people.
Martin Luther
Sermon for the First Sunday in Advent

Man with God is on the Throne!

Hence also the human nature, after the resurrection from the dead, has its exaltation above all creatures in heaven and on earth; which is nothing else than that He entirely laid aside the form of a servant, and yet did not lay aside His human nature, but retains it to eternity, and is put in the full possession and use of the divine majesty according to His assumed human nature. However, this majesty He had immediately at His conception, even in His mother's womb, but, as the apostle testifies [ Phil. 2:7 ], laid it aside; and, as Dr. Luther explains, He kept it concealed in the state of His humiliation, and did not employ it always, but only when He wished.
-- Solid Declaration, FC 1580

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Origins of Christmas

It’s older than you’ve been told!

The present Feast, commemorating the Nativity in the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, was established by the Church. Its origin goes back to the time of the Apostles.

In the Apostolic Constitutions (Section 3, 13) it says,

“Brethren, observe the feastdays; and first of all the Birth of Christ, which you are to celebrate on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month.”

In another place it also says,

“Celebrate the day of the Nativity of Christ, on which unseen grace is given man by the birth of the Word of God from the Virgin Mary for the salvation of the world.”

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

psalms are good medicine

Any part of the Scriptures you like to choose is inspired by God. The Holy Spirit composed the Scriptures so that in them, as in a pharmacy open to all souls, we might each of us be able to find the medicine suited to our own particular illness.

Thus, the teaching of the Prophets is one thing, and that of the Historical books is another. And, again, the Law has one meaning, and the advice we read in the Book of Proverbs has a different one.

But the Book of Psalms contains everything useful that the others have. It predicts the future, it recalls the past, it gives directions for living, it suggests the right behavior to adopt. It is, in short, a jewel case in which have been collected all the valid teachings in such a way that individuals find remedies just right for their cases.

It heals the old wounds of the soul and gives relief to recent ones. It cures the illnesses and preserves the health of the soul.

Every Psalm brings peace, soothes the internal conflicts, calms the rough waves of evil thoughts, dissolves anger, corrects and moderates profligacy.

Every Psalm preserves friendship and reconciles those who are separated. Who could actually regard as an enemy the person beside whom they have raised a song to the one God?

Every Psalm anticipates the anguish of the night and gives rest after the efforts of the day. It is safety for babes, beauty for the young, comfort for the aged, adornment for women.

Every Psalm is the voice of the Church. St. Basil the Great

Monday, November 29, 2010

Our wake up call

+ First Sunday in Advent+
November 28, 2010
The hour has come for you to wake up from sleep. – Romans 13:11

1. We wake up by casting off the works of darkness
a. Excess and immorality – golden calf; Baal Peor; David; today.
b. Quarreling and jealousy – Korah’s rebellion; Korea; C.S. Lewis The Great Divorce

2. We wake up by walking properly as in the daytime
a. Moderation and chastity, compliments and contentment – power of praise!
b. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ – a sacramental, liturgical spirituality

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

numbers, numbers, numbers

From St. Gregory the Theologian (Valedictory Oration #42)

You did not know that three gathered together in the Name of the Lord count for more with God than tens of thousands of those who deny the Godhead. Would you prefer the whole of the Canaanites to Abraham alone? or the men of Sodom to Lot? or the Midianites to Moses, when each of these was a pilgrim and a stranger? How do the three hundred men with Gideon, who bravely lapped, compare with the thousands who were put to flight? Or the servants of Abraham, who scarcely exceeded them in number, with the many kings and the army of tens of thousands whom, few as they were, they overtook and defeated? Or how do you understand the passage that though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved?

And again, I have left me seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to Baal? This is not the case; it is not? God has not taken pleasure in numbers.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

an intractable, refractory ass!

So, too, this doctrine of the Law is needful for believers, in order that they may not hit upon a holiness and devotion of their own, and under the pretext of the Spirit of God set up a self-chosen worship, without God's Word and command, as it is written Deut. 12:8,28,32: Ye shall not do ... every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes, etc., but observe and hear all these words which I command thee. Thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish therefrom.

For the old Adam, as an intractable, refractory ass, is still a part of them, which must be coerced to the obedience of Christ, not only by the teaching, admonition, force and threatening of the Law, but also oftentimes by the club of punishments and troubles, until the body of sin is entirely put off, and man is perfectly renewed in the resurrection, when he will need neither the preaching of the Law nor its threatenings and punishments, as also the Gospel any longer; for these belong to this [mortal and] imperfect life. 25] But as they will behold God face to face, so they will, through the power of the indwelling Spirit of God, do the will of God [the heavenly Father] with unmingled joy, voluntarily, unconstrained, without any hindrance, with entire purity and perfection, and will rejoice in it eternally.

Solid Declaration, FC 1580

Monday, November 15, 2010

prayer for the persecuted church

+ Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost +
November 14, 2010
This will be your opportunity to bear witness – Luke 21:13
The three-fold jihad/struggle/strife: Money Blood Immigration
70:1-2 Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!
Let them be put to shame and confusion who seek my life!
Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt!
1. Bear witness by our use of resources
a. Generous giving = good works that move people to glorify our Father in heaven
b. Allows us to speak the truth in love with boldness. Resist the spirit of passivity!
“After the sharp point of terror has been made dull, the cause of the struggle remains, a struggle which is stirred up terribly by the crafty enemy in the fury of persecution, but brought in all the more harmfully by the appearance of peace. When the battles are out in the open, the crowns are also evident. This, too, nourishes and inflames the strength of patience, that, when disaster is nearest, the promise is also at hand. After the public attacks of the wicked ones cease and the devil restrains himself from the slaughter and torture of the faithful, lest by the intensity of his cruelties there be a manifold increase of our triumphs, the raging adversary turns his bloodthirsty hatred to quiet treachery, and those he could not overcome with hunger and cold, with sword and fire, he will wear out with an easy life; he will snare with willfulness, inflame with ambition, and corrupt with luxury. + Leo the Great, 461.
2. Bear witness by the blood of Christ
a. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.
b. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin (Hebrews 12:4).
3. Bear witness by loving the children God has given us
a. Children are an inheritance from the LORD. They are a reward from him. The
children born to a man when he is young are like arrows in the hand of a warrior. Blessed is the man who has filled his quiver with them. He will not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the city gate.
b. Big brother- big sister, foster care, adoption, reading/mentoring in the schools, VBS to the community, etc.

Friday, November 12, 2010

laugh or cry?

George Carlin's observation:

"They want me to call that thing in the street a personhole cover. I think that's taking it a little bit too far. What would you call a lady's man, a person's person? That would make a He-man an It-person. Little kids would be afraid of the boogieperson. They'd look up in the sky and see the person in the moon. Guys would say come back here and fight like a person. And we'd all sing 'for it's a jolly good person.' That's the kind of thing you would hear on late-night with David Letterperson."

tertio usus legis

For the explanation and final settlement of this dissent we unanimously believe, teach, and confess that although the truly believing and truly converted to God and justified Christians are liberated and made free from the curse of the Law, yet they should daily exercise themselves in the Law of the Lord, as it is written, Ps. 1:2;119:1: Blessed is the man whose delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in His Law doth he meditate day and night. For the Law is a mirror in which the will of God, and what pleases Him, are exactly portrayed, and which should [therefore] be constantly held up to the believers and be diligently urged upon them without ceasing.
Solid Declaration, FC 1580

Thursday, November 11, 2010

and the good news is...

For everything that comforts, that offers the favor and grace of God to transgressors of the Law, is, and is properly called, the Gospel, a good and joyful message that God will not punish sins, but forgive them for Christ's sake.
Solid Declaration, FC 1580

Friday, November 5, 2010

God's back

Thus we conclude from seeing God's back that so much evil cannot be inflicted on us that God will not heap far greater blessings on us -- Martin Luther

Thursday, November 4, 2010

faith and good works

For, as Dr. Luther writes in the Preface to St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans: Thus faith is a divine work in us, that changes us and regenerates us of God, and puts to death the old Adam, makes us entirely different men in heart, spirit, mind, and all powers, and brings with it [confers] the Holy Ghost. Oh, it is a living, busy, active, powerful thing that we have in faith, so that it is impossible for it not to do good without ceasing.
Solid Declaration, FC 1580

Monday, November 1, 2010

Reformation Day

+ Reformation Day +
October 31, 2010
The eternal Gospel
1. Fear God and give Him glory
a. We should fear, love and trust in God above all things
b. What gives God glory?
John Chrysostom: "'How is it then, when a man being wicked is rich, and suffers nothing dreadful?' you ask. Since if being good he has wealth, he has it justly. But if bad, what shall we say? Even therein he is to be pitied. For wealth added to wickedness aggravates the mischief. But a person who is a good man, and poor is in no way injured. A bad man, who is poor is justly so and deserves it, or rather it is even beneficial to him. But you say, 'What of a person who received his riches from his ancestors and lavishes it upon harlots and parasites, and suffers no evil?' What are you saying? That he frequents prostitutes and that he suffers no evils? That he is drunken, and you think that he is in luxury? He wastes his time in idleness, and you think he is to be envied? No, what could be worse than this wealth that destroys the very soul? If the man's body had been broken and maimed, you would say that his was a cause of great lamentation, wouldn't you? But look, his whole soul is mutilated, and yet you count him even happy? And you contend that he does not perceive it. Well then, for this very reason again he is to be pitied, as all frantic persons are. For he that knows he is sick will of course both seek the physician and submit to remedies; but he that is unaware of sickness will have no chance at all of deliverance. Tell me, could you call such a one happy?

2. Worship Him who made heaven and earth
a. Prof. Paul Raabe: We are monotheistic Trinitarians who confess the Nicene creed!
b. Romans 8:18-23. I consider our present sufferings insignificant compared to
the glory that will soon be revealed to us. All creation is eagerly waiting for God to reveal who his children are. Creation was subjected to frustration but not by its own choice. The one who subjected it to frustration did so in the hope that it would also be set free from slavery to decay in order to share the glorious freedom that the children of God will have. We know that all creation has been groaning with the pains of childbirth up to the present time.
However, not only creation groans. We, who have the Spirit as the first of God’s gifts, also groan inwardly. We groan as we eagerly wait for our adoption, the freeing of our bodies from sin.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

impure obedience

Hence, even though the converted and believing [in Christ] have incipient renewal, sanctification, love, virtue, and good works, yet these neither can nor should be drawn into, or mingled with, the article of justification before God, in order that the honor due Him may remain with Christ the Redeemer, and tempted consciences may have a sure consolation, since our new obedience is incomplete and impure.
Solid Declaration, FC 1580

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

for the sake of troubled hearts

In order, therefore, that troubled hearts may have a firm, sure consolation, also, that due honor be given to the merit of Christ and the grace of God, the Scriptures teach that the righteousness of faith before God consists alone in the gracious [gratuitous] reconciliation or the forgiveness of sins, which is presented to us out of pure grace, for the sake of the only merit of the Mediator, Christ, and is received through faith alone in the promise of the Gospel. In like manner, too, in justification before God faith relies neither upon contrition nor upon love or other virtues, but upon Christ alone, and in Him upon His complete obedience by which He has fulfilled the Law for us, which [obedience] is imputed to believers for righteousness.
Solid Declaration, FC 1580

Monday, October 25, 2010

22 Pentecost

+ Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost +
October 24, 2010
God, be merciful to me, a sinner!
1. What spirit brings us to this point in time? Why go to church? (article)
a. The pride of a Pharisee: either I’m basically a good person, or at least I’m not like those people.
b. The humility of the sinner: nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling! No odious comparisons allowed.
2. As we hear God’s Word now, what spirit prevails?
a. The spirit of Cain – impenitence
b. The spirit of penitence – the prayer of Christians, the Divine Service
3. How will we go home today and one day to our eternal home?
a. Still burdened by self-justification, cast out and condemned. What a tragedy not to see my sin, therefore no Savior, and therefore no need for preachers of the cross.
b. Like a little child, unburdened, innocence restored, dare to laugh and sing

God's mercy

poor sinful man is justified before God, that is, absolved and declared free and exempt from all his sins, and from the sentence of well-deserved condemnation, and adopted into sonship and heirship of eternal life, without any merit or worth of our own, also without any preceding, present, or any subsequent works, out of pure grace, because of the sole merit, complete obedience, bitter suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord Christ alone, whose obedience is reckoned to us for righteousness.
Solid Declaration, FC 1580

Friday, October 22, 2010

What is Islam?

Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Is Islam a Religion?
Vijay Kumar writes:
A recent Tennessean article mulled about the legitimacy of Islam as a religion in relation to the disputed Murfreesboro mosque, but never defined either "legitimate" or "religion" so came to fatally flawed conclusions.

The word "legitimate" has several relevant meanings, one of them being "according to law." Every fundamental of Islam stands diametrically opposed to the supreme law of the land, our Constitution.

Islam opposes separation of church and state; the First Amendment of the Constitution requires it.

Islam seeks to eradicate freedom of religion; the First Amendment defends it.

Islam suppresses freedom of speech; our First Amendment guarantees it.

Islam strips man of the right to trial by jury, due process, and freedom from self-incrimination; our nation's forefathers bled and died to preserve these precious rights, memorialized in our Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Amendments.

Islam commands cruel and unusual punishments; our Eighth Amendment forbids them.

Islam proclaims all men slaves to Allah and to Islamic leaders; our supreme law abolished slavery and involuntary servitude with the Fourteenth Amendment.

In short, Islam is the single most authoritarian, oppressive, and consummate enemy to our cherished God-given rights and freedoms, guaranteed by our Constitution, that this nation has ever faced.

That is not a "religion;" that is a political totalitarianism whose ultimate stated goal is to wipe actual religion from the face of the Earth, and make every knee bow to Islamic hegemony and to Islam alone. Islamic imperialism is infinitely more dangerous than Nazism and Communism combined. Nazism was defeated in less than twenty years of its creation, and Communism was in power less than 70 years, but Islamic imperialism and hegemony has been with us 1400 years and has consumed innumerable nations, cultures, and civilizations.

Islam does not recognize Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Sikhism, or Taoism to be legitimate religions, and it considers Judaism and Christianity to be failed, imperfect, and corrupt religions--even though they all predate Islam, and themselves defined the very concept of "religion." Such is the arrogance of Islam's worldview of its own supremacy.

The word "religion," according to Cicero, comes from relegare, "go through again, read again," and "consider carefully," and it correctly implies strongly a bond to the collected wisdom of man about his relation to a supreme being and the universe, and his responsibility to his fellow man. This tradition of religious wisdom goes back thousands of years in many civilizations worldwide.

Islam contributed no such wisdom to mankind. Its purported religious wisdom was plagiarized from the actual religions it disdains, and was arrogated to the purposes of violent conquest, slavery, looting, and totalitarian authority over others. It isn't accidental that the very word "Islam" means "submission," nor that its punishment for renouncing Islam is death.

The fact that the Quran itself is a political document is not open to argument: it is the political constitution of Saudi Arabia, where Islam came into being as a political and military force.

Islam's trail of violence, terrorism, and conquest throughout its history tells any reasonable person that it has become imperative to study and evaluate Islam and Arab imperialism objectively, empirically, and critically. Such analysis is not bigotry; it is simply empirical deconstruction, using reason, observation, and the scientific method.

The people protesting the building of the mosque in Murfreesboro are protesting because they are the most informed members of the community, who have actually studied the subject and know with unshakable certainty the truth: Islam is not a religion; Islam is totalitarianism masquerading as religion.

Vijay Kumar, a long-time resident of Nashville, recently ran for United States Congress from Tennessee's Fifth Congressional District in the Republican Primary.

cure for what?

Komen for the Cure Donated $730K to Planned Parenthood Abortion Biz in 2009 is reporting that the The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation donated $730,000 to Planned Parenthood in 2009.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


For conversion is such a change through the operation of the Holy Ghost in the intellect, will, and heart of man that by this operation of the Holy Ghost man can accept the offered grace. And, indeed, all those who obstinately and persistently resist the operations and movements of the Holy Ghost, which take place through the Word, do not receive, but grieve and lose, the Holy Ghost.
Solid Declaration, FC 1580

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Means of Grace

For since we receive in this life only the first-fruits of the Spirit, and the new birth is not complete, but only begun in us, the combat and struggle of the flesh against the spirit remains even in the elect and truly regenerate men; for there is a great difference perceptible among Christians not only in this, that one is weak and another strong in the spirit, but each Christian, moreover, experiences in himself that at one time he is joyful in spirit, and at another fearful and alarmed; at one time ardent in love, strong in faith and hope, and at another cold and weak.

69] But when the baptized have acted against their conscience, allowed sin to rule in them, and thus have grieved and lost the Holy Ghost in them, they need not be rebaptized, but must be converted again, as has been sufficiently said before.

72] This doctrine, therefore, directs us to the means whereby the Holy Ghost desires to begin and work this [which we have mentioned], also instructs us how those gifts are preserved, strengthened, and increased, and admonishes us that we should not let this grace of God be bestowed on us in vain, but diligently exercise it [those gifts], and ponder how grievous a sin it is to hinder and resist such operations of the Holy Ghost.
Solid Declaration, FC 1580

Monday, October 18, 2010

21st after Pentecost

+ Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost +
October 17, 2010
…a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. Genesis 32:24.
What is wrong with me? Why am I having these struggles in my life? Will they ever go away? I’m getting weary of this struggle. Do any of these sentiments sound familiar? Once you have been in the new life of Christ more than a few months, you quickly realize a mysterious paradox or tension that makes us uncomfortable with ourselves, and tends to pull us to extremes. Despite our desire and many attempts to prematurely resolve this tension, our life of faith needs to be seen as a gracious struggle in Christ.

1. The struggle takes place in a context of grace.
a. We overemphasize our struggle. Our efforts, our hours of prayer, our
dollars given, our years of bible study, and service add up to the blessing of God.
b. This life can be seen as a gracious struggle. Jacob’s struggle as one left alone.

2. The life of grace never comes without a struggle.
a. We overemphasize grace – Christianity is easy! Struggle and suffering do not belong here.
b. This life can be seen as a gracious struggle. Israel = one who struggles with God! His vision of God comes slowly, painfully and mysteriously. After a long night’s struggle, the man is revealed to be more than a man. With a dislocated hip, Jacob painfully holds on, crying out for blessing. Even after God’s blessing, Jacob is named “Israel” and continues to live in a gracious struggle with God. Though Jacob has seen God, God still remains a mystery (Jacob’s request to know his name is never answered) and this God becomes known as the God of Israel, as Jacob builds an altar to the God of those who struggle.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Only with the Helper

From this, then, it follows that as soon as the Holy Ghost, as has been said, through the Word and holy Sacraments, has begun in us this His work of regeneration and renewal, it is certain that through the power of the Holy Ghost we can and should cooperate, although still in great weakness. But this [that we cooperate] does not occur from our carnal natural powers, but from the new powers and gifts which the Holy Ghost has begun in us in conversion, 66] as St. Paul expressly and earnestly exhorts that as workers together with Him we receive not the grace of God in vain, 2 Cor. 6:1. But this is to be understood in no other way than that the converted man does good to such an extent and so long as God by His Holy Spirit rules, guides, and leads him, and that as soon as God would withdraw His gracious hand from him, he could not for a moment persevere in obedience to God.
Solid Declaration, FC 1580

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

40 Days in East Tennessee

Longtime abortionist Gary Boyle lives in Northeast TN where he and his business partner Wesley Adams, along with their wives, own and operate the Bristol Regional Women's Center, an unlicensed abortion facility. The couples also own and operate similar abortion facilities in both Nashville and Charleston, SC.
Dr. Boyle was arrested on October 2, 2010 after pointing a loaded gun at pro-life protesters participating in a peaceful vigil in front of his Charleston abortion facility. The handgun held 15 rounds and Dr. Boyle was charged by local police for having illegally pointed the weapon at peaceful protesters.
Unfortunately, Dr. Boyle has been released on a 25K bond and is free to continue his campaign ot eliminate as many unborn children as possible for as much money as possible. But clearly, Dr. Boyle has less and less peace about the gruesome practices which have financially enriched his family while leaving a poverty of heart, soul and spirit.
Please pray for the conversion of Gary and Leisa Boyle and their partners, Wes and Debra Jo Adams to soon join the ranks of former abortion practitioners who now promote respect and protection for the helpless unborn and their abortion-vulnerable mothers and fathers.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

only the Holy Spirit

Reason and free will are able to a certain extent to live an outwardly decent life; but to be born anew, and to obtain inwardly another heart, mind, and disposition, this only the Holy Ghost effects. He opens the understanding and heart to understand the Scriptures and to give heed to the Word, as it is written Luke 24:45: Then opened He their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures. Also Acts 16:14: Lydia heard us; whose heart the Lord opened that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. He worketh in us both to will and to do of His own good pleasure, Phil. 2:13. He gives repentance, Acts 5:31; 2 Tim. 2:25. He works faith, Phil. 1:29: For unto you it is given, in behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him. Eph. 2:8: It is the gift of God. John 6:29: This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.
Solid Declaration, FC 1580

Monday, October 11, 2010

20 Pentecost

+ Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost +
October 10, 2010
This is a Trustworthy Saying (pistos ho logos)
I Timothy 1:15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
I Timothy 3:1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task
I Timothy 4:8-9 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.
2 Timothy 2:11-13 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.
Titus 3:8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

1. since we died with Him" or "in view of the fact that we died with Him.” HOLY BAPTISM! We shall also live with Him. This verb combination conveys the picture that we have been entwined with the essence of Christ's life. We are identified with Him and because of His resurrection we share in and can experience the resurrection life of Jesus (walk in newness of life). Christ lives in us in the Person of the Holy Spirit. His life is in us. He is our life. In this present life and the life to come, which is likely Paul's meaning in this passage.
2. "If" means "If, as is the case, we are persevering..." Endure (5278) (hupomeno from hupó = under + méno = abide or remain) means literally to remain under but not simply with resignation, but with a vibrant hope. Hupomeno was a military term used of an army’s holding a vital position at all costs. Every hardship and every suffering was to be endured in order to hold fast, even as Paul was continually enduring "all things for the sake of those who are chosen that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus." (2 Ti 2:12) The present tense calls for continuous enduring
there shall no longer be any night; and they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever. (Rev 22:5)

On the other hand…
3. "If we deny and disown and reject Him, He will also deny and disown and reject us."
Note that the "If" (ei) means "If, as is the case, we are denying Him..

4. Amplified: If we are faithless [do not believe and are untrue to Him], He remains true (faithful to His Word and His righteous character), for He cannot deny Himself. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

pray without ceasing

And after God through the Holy Ghost in Baptism has kindled and effected a beginning of the true knowledge of God and faith, we should pray Him without ceasing that through the same spirit and His grace, by means of the daily exercise of reading and practising God's Word, He would preserve in us faith and His heavenly gifts, strengthen us from day to day, and keep us to the end. For unless God Himself be our schoolmaster, we can study and learn nothing that is acceptable to Him and salutary to ourselves and others.
Solid Declaration, FC 1580

Friday, October 8, 2010

go reason!

For, first, although man's reason or natural intellect indeed has still a dim spark of the knowledge that there is a God, as also of the doctrine of the Law, Rom. 1:19ff, yet it is so ignorant, blind, and perverted that when even the most ingenious and learned men upon earth read or hear the Gospel of the Son of God and the promise of eternal salvation, they cannot from their own powers perceive, apprehend, understand, or believe and regard it as true, but the more diligence and earnestness they employ, wishing to comprehend these spiritual things with their reason, the less they understand or believe, and before they become enlightened and are taught by the Holy Ghost, they regard all this only as foolishness or fictions.
Solid Declaration, FC 1580

Thursday, October 7, 2010

we offer nothing

Namely, that in spiritual and divine things the intellect, heart, and will of the unregenerate man are utterly unable, by their own natural powers, to understand, believe, accept, think, will, begin, effect, do, work, or concur in working anything, but they are entirely dead to what is good, and corrupt, so that in man's nature since the Fall, before regeneration, there is not the least spark of spiritual power remaining, nor present, by which, of himself, he can prepare himself for God's grace, or accept the offered grace, nor be capable of it for and of himself, or apply or accommodate himself thereto, or by his own powers be able of himself, as of himself, to aid, do, work, or concur in working anything towards his conversion, either wholly, or half, or in any, even the least or most inconsiderable part; but that he is the servant [and slave] of sin, John 8:34, and a captive of the devil, by whom he is moved, Eph. 2:2; 2 Tim. 2:26. Hence the natural free will according to its perverted disposition and nature is strong and active only with respect to what is displeasing and contrary to God.
Solid Declaration, FC 1580

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


The work of spreading the gospel where it is forbidden or hindered must be treated as an emergency. Pastor Richard Wurmbrand

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Jesus, our Brother

Hence all the old orthodox teachers have maintained that Christ, according to His assumed humanity, is of one essence with us, His brethren; for He has assumed His human nature, which in all respects (sin alone excepted) is like our human nature in its essence and all essential attributes; and they have condemned the contrary doctrine as manifest heresy.
Solid Declaration, FC 1580

Monday, October 4, 2010

making distinctions

Therefore, in order that God's creation and work in man may be distinguished from the work of the devil, we say that it is God's creation that man has body and soul; also, that it is God's work that man can think, speak, do, and work anything; for in Him we live, and move, and have our being, Acts 17:28. But that the nature is corrupt, that its thoughts, words, and works are wicked, is originally a work of Satan, who has thus corrupted God's work in Adam through sin, which from him is transmitted by inheritance to us.
Solid Declaration, Formula of Concord 1580

19 Pentecost

+ Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost +
October 2, 2010
“Faith comes from hearing the Message”
In The Word

1. Living in the Word comes with a cost
a. I have suffered much; preserve my life, O LORD
b. The wicked have set a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your precepts
2. Living in the Word comes with a reward
a. Your statutes are my heritage forever, the joy of my heart
b. As You sent Me, I have sent them into the world…I pray for those who will believe in me through their message…that the world may believe that you have sent me. “Only those who absolutely refuse to be saved will perish.”

Monday, September 27, 2010

18 Pentecost

+ Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost +
September 26, 2010
“If they do not hear Moses”
The intent of Jesus’ parable is not to give a literal description of the after-life, a subject about which there swirls never-ending currents of curiosity, but to teach important lessons about how to prepare for that inevitable conclusion to our journey through this vale of tears.
1. The mercy of God in Christ Jesus our Lord determines our destination
a. Many live as if mercy were no concern of theirs – don’t need it
b. Those who receive mercy become merciful themselves
2. The time for concern about others is NOW.
a. I have five brothers – please warn them!
b. They have Moses and the Prophets – let them hear them.
2 Peter 1:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

Luther on Galatians

"As I have said, therefore, Paul is painting a picture of the whole of the Christian life in this passage: inwardly it is faith toward God, and outwardly it is love or works toward one's neighbor. Thus a man is a Christian in a total sense: inwardly through faith in the sight of God, who does not need our works; outwardly in the sight of men, who do not derive any benefit from faith but do derive benefit from works or from our love

Saturday, September 25, 2010

desert = people

"We have to remember that we look for solitude in order to grow there in love for God and in love for others. We do not go into the desert to escape people but to learn how to find them: we do not leave them in order to have nothing more to do with them, but to find out the way to do them the most good." Thomas Merton

Thursday, September 23, 2010

power of the Word

He shall break the power of the wicked, while the strength of the just shall be exalted. Psalm 75

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

how is it possible

But how is it possible for us to miss the impact of God planting His Church here in this place not only for our sakes but for the sake of the world around us? How is it possible to meet Christ where He has promised to be (Word and Sacrament) and then go home as if the most important thing on our agenda were finding something good to eat? Is this a matter of bad people or bad attitudes or is it a symptom of the fact that we have forgotten that the Church is not ours, we do not create it, and we are not the objects of the Church's existence. -- Rev. Larry Peters, Clarksville, TENNESSEE

a pure Christian symbol

To this Christian [pious] Augsburg Confession, so thoroughly grounded in God's Word, we herewith pledge ourselves again [publicly and solemnly] from our inmost hearts; we abide by its simple, clear, and unadulterated meaning as the words convey it, and regard the said Confession as a pure Christian symbol, with which at the present time true Christians ought to be found next to [which pious hearts ought to receive next to the matchless authority of] God's Word; just as in former times concerning certain great controversies that had arisen in the Church of God, symbols and confessions were proposed, to which the pure teachers and hearers at that time pledged themselves with heart and mouth. -- preface to Solid Declaration, Formula of Concord

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Schwenkfeldians: go away!

Erroneous Articles of the Schwenkfeldians.

22] 3. That the ministry of the Church [ministry of the Word], the Word preached and heard, is not a means whereby God the Holy Ghost teaches men, and works in them the saving knowledge of Christ, conversion, repentance, faith, and new obedience.

23] 4. That the water of Baptism is not a means whereby God the Lord seals the adoption of sons and works regeneration.

24] 5. That bread and wine in the Holy Supper are not means through and by which Christ distributes His body and blood.

25] 6. That a Christian who is truly regenerated by God's Spirit can perfectly observe and fulfil the Law of God in this life.

26] 7. That it is not a true Christian congregation [church] in which no public excommunication [some formal mode of excommunication] or no regular process of the ban [as it is commonly called] is observed.

27] 8. That the minister of the church who is not on his part truly renewed, regenerate, righteous, and godly cannot teach other men with profit or distribute genuine, true Sacraments. -- Epitome, Formula of Concord

Monday, September 20, 2010

17 Pentecost

+ Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost +
September 19, 2010
“One who is faithful”
And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails, they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. Luke 16:9 With these words, Jesus gives us the reason he told this strange story that leaves many people scratching their heads in confusion. Why would Jesus tell a story in which a worldly, dishonest man is commended? In order to make a point about how to use temporal things for eternal gain. As followers of Jesus, we are called to a higher standard of faithfulness, both with unrighteous wealth, and with true riches. And remember, my friends, God’s standard can only be met by complete reliance on the grace and mercy of God revealed in His Son.

Be faithful in a very little
a. Does God have a plan for handling money? Spend less than you have coming in, get out of debt in order to have savings and be generous in giving.
b. If you have not been faithful in that which is another’s – it all belongs to God! Attitude check!

Be also faithful in much – only those who have clothed themselves in Christ!
a. How do we see the faithfulness of Christ Jesus? We read in John’s Gospel:
Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do, for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner…I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge, and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me….I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me…When you lift up the Son of man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself, but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things…For I have not spoken on My own authority, but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak…Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority, but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.”
b. Those who love money will ridicule us, but Jesus has the last word: what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. Let them laugh. What qualifies as “your own”? What is in your heart! Love of God, love of your neighbor, your time and energy, your choices of how to give your time and energy to your family, church and community. This no one can take away from you. What a joy to serve God and play a part in filling those eternal dwellings with the souls Christ died to save!

We’re pilgrims on the journey of the narrow way
And all who come behind us light the way
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary,
Their lives a stirring testament to God’s sustaining grace

Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.
Let us run the race not only for the prize
But as those who’ve gone before us Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness Passed on through Godly lives

Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful,
May the fire of our devotion light the way,
May the footprints that we leave, Lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh, may all who come behind us Find us faithful

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone,
And our children sift through all we’ve left behind
May the clues that they discover And the memories uncover
Become the light that leads them To the road we all must find

Thursday, September 16, 2010

from the bisho's sermon

from the good Archbishop's homily at the installation of President Harrison:

The catholicity of the church is known by these marks:

The Holy ministry headed by the faithful ministers of the Word.

The Holy liturgy as has come down to us through the ages. The so-called contemporary - that I only compare with the spontaneous fashions in ladies dresses that appear in the market almost every six or even four months in Kenya - deviates from it.

The pure preaching of the Word – Law and Gospel.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

beward of Arius!

When it is taught, and the passage Matt. 28:18: All power is given unto Me, etc., is thus interpreted and blasphemously perverted, namely, that all power in heaven and on earth was restored, that is, delivered again to Christ according to the divine nature, at the resurrection and His ascension to heaven, as though He had also according to His divinity laid this aside and abandoned it in His state of humiliation. By this doctrine not only the words of the testament of Christ are perverted, but also the way is prepared for the accursed Arian heresy, so that finally the eternal deity of Christ is denied, and thus Christ, and with Him our salvation, are entirely lost if this false doctrine were not firmly contradicted from the immovable foundation of the divine Word and our simple Christian [catholic] faith.
-- Epitome, Formula of Concord

holy cross day

Again, as one preacher has said, if you were telling someone how to make a cross, you might say (at least to an English speaker), "Draw an I and then cross it out." As we make the sign, we first draw a vertical stroke, as if to say to God, "Lord, here am I." Then we cancel it with a horizontal stroke, as if to say, "Help me, Lord, to abandon my self-centeredness and self-will, and to make you the center of my life instead. Fix all my attention and all my desire on you, Lord, that I may forget my self, cancel my self, abandon myself completely to your love and service." -- anonymous via James Michael Thompson

Monday, September 13, 2010

personal union =

7. Hence we believe, teach, and confess that Mary conceived and bore not a mere man and no more, but the true Son of God; therefore she also is rightly called and truly is the mother of God.
-- Epitome, Formula of Concord

Thursday, September 9, 2010

true worthiness

We believe, teach, and confess that all the worthiness of the guests of this heavenly feast is and consists in the most holy obedience and perfect merit of Christ alone, which we appropriate to ourselves by true faith, and whereof [of the application of this merit] we are assured by the Sacrament, and not at all in [but in nowise does this worthiness depend upon] our virtues or inward and outward preparations.
-- Epitome, Formula of Concord

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

two kinds of music

by Cantor Philip Magness, Board of International Mission, LCMS:

The relatively new academic discipline called Sentics has demonstrated that music can independently generate two very different reactions and emotions, termed Dionysian and Apollonian. The first is emotive and turns one inward. It is self-gratifying and clearly anthropocentric. The second, while not denying the emotional impact of music, maintains control and gives room for the intellectual processing of the truth of the text. In the first type, the music dominates the text. In the second, the music is in service to the text. Christian Contemporary Music, a bad clone of popular music, is clearly Dionysian. Luther called Dionysian music “carnal” and he wrote his music to wean people away from the love ballads of his day.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

proper understanding of good works

For especially in these last times it is no less needful to admonish men to Christian discipline [to the way of living aright and godly] and good works, and remind them how necessary it is that they exercise themselves in good works as a declaration of their faith and gratitude to God, than that the works be not mingled in the article of justification; because men may be damned by an Epicurean delusion concerning faith, as well as by papistic and Pharisaic confidence in their own works and merits. -- Epitome, Formula of Concord

a time to be silent

"Just so with regard to the things of God. Should we desire to explain them by human wisdom, great derision will ensue, not from their weakness, but from the folly of men. For the greatest things no language can explain."

John Chrysostom, Homilies on 1 Corinthians, 4.2

Monday, September 6, 2010

words to live by

Our new president, Rev. Matthew C. Harrison:

There is nothing for any of us in the Missouri
Synod to be smug about. “For what do you have that you
have not been given?” Luther reminded the Germans of his
day that the precious Gospel can be and has, in fact, been
lost by whole nations.
Buy while the market is at your door; gather in the
harvest while there is sunshine and fair weather;
make use of God’s grace and word while it is there!
For you should know that God’s word and grace
is like a passing shower of rain which does
not return where it has once been . . . when
it’s gone it’s gone. . . . And you Germans need not
think that you will have it forever, for ingratitude
and contempt will not make it stay. Therefore, seize
it and hold it fast (Luther’s Works 45:352).
The good news is that the Lord delights in
having mercy upon sinners, just like us. In fact,
“Christ dwells only in sinners” (Luther).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Labor Day Sermon

+ Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost +
September 5, 2010
Loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him. Dt. 30:20
As we celebrate the annual Labor Day weekend, it would be helpful for us to reflect on the Biblical view and meaning of work. Where do we look for jobs? Do we look to the government? Do we look to major corporations? Or do we look to God. God speaks to us through his servant Moses even today: “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.” What does this message have to do with work and labor? Well, think about it like this: our work can produce life and a blessing; or death and a curse. Work produces goods or services. So evaluate the goods and services that your work produces on the basis of life and death, blessings and curses. Let me sate the obvious: Please don’t stick around a work environment that is committed to producing death and curses! Listen very carefully! Our work, those 40 hours a week, more or less, represents the single most important opportunity believers have to be the ambassadors of Jesus Christ, people who let their light shine before men who can see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
1. Loving the LORD your God
a. We love, because He first loved us. Begin and end each day with this thought
b. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren…..
2. Obeying His voice
a. The written word; 10 commandments
b. The voice of the Church, the Holy Spirit through the means of grace
3. Holding fast to Him
a. Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they kave not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them. (Isaiah 41:10; 42:16)
b. Like a little child in trust and confidence. Confirmation vows:
Do you intend to live according to the Word of God, and in faith, word and deed to remain true to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, even to death?
I do, by the grace of God.
Do you intend to continue steadfast in this confession and Church and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it?
I do, by the grace of God.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

reverence for reality

This is the title for the following reflection from Czeslaw Milosz, the Nobel Prize winning poet and writer. He was a Roman Catholic.
"Little animals from cartoons, talking rabbits, doggies, squirrels, as well as ladybugs, bees, grasshoppers. They have as much in common with real animals as our notions of the world have with the real world. Think of this, and tremble."
Perhaps we think of what takes place in our midst during the Divine Service, and tremble. Not timbrel, mind you, but tremble. After all, we gather at the Altar surrounded by the truly real world of the heavenly realms, with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. We are in the presence of the Most Holy Trinity, the Creator of heaven and earth. We are sinners in the presence of a Holy God. This should make us tremble like Moses, Isaiah, John. We should fall on our faces, only to get up and receive the mercy of our God in the living Christ's precious body and blood. If our liturgies do not begin to reflect the real world, then we will always remain fools in the cartoon world of these dark days. If we do not conduct ourselves with fear and reverence and respect and awe and devotion, then we do not believe in the real presence of Christ, except in some docetic spiritual sense. If we insist on the casual, relevant, popular, consumer-driven models of worship, banging our timbrels down the aisle and exalting ourselves, rather than trembling on our knees with thanksgiving, then we effectively deny the reality of our Lord deigning to be in our midst. If we are ever to be relevant to this cartoon world, then we must become irrelevant to it. In our worship, we must become irrelevant to the chimera that is this world, bearing witness to that which is truly real, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting that is ours through the incarnate, risen, and ascended Christ.
(thanks to Rev. Mason Beecroft for this post)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

our human brother

Moreover, the Son of God has assumed this human nature, however, without sin, and therefore not a foreign, but our own flesh, into the unity of His person, and according to it is become our true Brother. -- Epitome, Formula of Concord

Monday, August 30, 2010

not even a finger's breadth

We indeed (to repeat in conclusion what we have mentioned several times above) have wished, in this work of concord, in no way to devise what is new, or to depart from the truth of the heavenly doctrine which our ancestors, renowned for their piety, as well as we ourselves, have acknowledged and professed. We mean that doctrine, which, having been derived from the Prophetic and Apostolic Scriptures, is contained in the three ancient Creeds, in the Augsburg Confession, presented in the year 1530 to the Emperor Charles V, of excellent memory, then in the Apology, which was added to this, in the Smalcald Articles, and lastly in both the Catechisms of that excellent man, Dr. Luther. Therefore we also have determined not to depart even a finger’s breadth either from the subjects themselves, or from the phrases which are found in them, but, the Spirit of the Lord aiding us, to persevere constantly, with the greatest harmony, in this godly agreement, and we intend to examine all controversies according to this true norm and declaration of the pure doctrine. -- Intro to the book of Concord, 1580

he who humbles himself

+ Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost +
August 29, 2010
Go and sit in the lowest place…He who humbles himself will be exalted. Luke 14:10a, 11b
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29
We cannot find humility by our own efforts, but only by confessing our helpless pride and taking the yoke of our Savior Christ Jesus.
1. Find humility by showing love to those who cannot repay
a. Show hospitality to strangers – time to end the isolation with our own neighbors! Luke 14:13-14 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed because they cannot repay you.
b. Remember those in prison, those who are mistreated -- but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil. 2)
2. Find humility by embracing God’s priorities
a. Holding marriage in honor, being content and thankful (gay pride?)
b. Remembering your leaders who spoke the word of God to you, who keep watch over your souls.
To neglect your church, your prayer, your Bible study, your devotions, is to tell God that you have no desire to grow, to become more and more His child, that you are satisfied with being a weak and shaky Christian, and that you have had as much as you want from Him. How perilously such a person is slipping away from God. Everything that is not in accord with God's will is given over to death and the power of darkness. But, my friends, if we cling to Christ and His Word, growing daily in the will of God, striving to bring our lives into harmony with that will, what strength is ours, what then can harm us? When we are given over to the will of God, nothing can destroy, no more than God and His will can be destroyed. The unshakeable strength of the will of God is in us, though the world turn upside down. -- Dr. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons, p. 245.


What is “Islamophobia”? How should Christians respond to such charges?
In their own words:

(Organization of Islamic Conference) OIC-CS-3rd OBS-REP-Final-April, 2010 (1)
Islamophobia has been described as ‘fear or suspicion of Muslims and Islam and matters pertaining to them’, and as such Islamophobia is prejudice, intolerance and discrimination against Muslims and Islam. Academicians have also defined Islamophobia as ‘anti-Muslim or anti-Islamic racism’ and ‘hostility towards Muslims and Islam’. Regardless of the definition, Islamophobia constitutes an affront to the dignity and human rights of Muslims. It represents an unfounded fear that lends itself to irrational manifestations of discrimination, prejudice and hostility.
A Report by the Runnymede Trust1 defines Islamophobia as a world view involving an
unfounded dread or hatred of Islam and the subsequent fear and dislike of all Muslims. The same report also refers to the phenomenon as practice of discriminating against Muslims by excluding them from social, political and economic life. It needs to be appreciated that Islamophobia connotes a social anxiety about Islam -one of the three Abrahamic religions-and its followers that views Islam as a political ideology rather than as a religion.

 Distinctions must be made between individuals and ideas, between people and religion. The OIC fails to do this by joining “Muslims and Islam” in the same breath. Christians rightly reject this construct as we are called by God to love all people, even our enemies. On the other hand we are instructed to pray for those deceived and held captive by the devil through heresies, false teachings, false prophets and the like. We are told to resist the devil, to tear down strongholds, to remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood. Thus to say we believe that Islam is a satanic stronghold, that it is evil and leads to eternal suffering is for us to speak the truth in love. To say otherwise or remain silent in the name of tolerance would be exactly what the OIC accuses us of: hatred, cruelty and discrimination against Muslims.
 Christians uphold the inborn dignity and human rights of Muslims and all people regardless of their faith.
 Despite the OIC’s denials, Christians recognize the reality that the Islam is very much not only a spiritual belief but also a political ideology and system of this world. Wherever Muslims have become a majority, Sharia law has been imposed and classic First Amendment rights denied. This rightly raises grave concerns and anxiety about unrestricted immigration laws for Muslims whose world view is by definition inimical to the freedoms enshrined in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. A restrictive immigration policy would rest not upon irrational fear and hostility, but upon a rational observation and analysis of societies and religious claims that are foreign to the Judeo-Christian heritage.
 We make a distinction between the fear and dislike of Muslims, which we abhor, and fear/dislike of Islam, which is completely reasonable from a Christian world view.

1. “The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) is an Islamist supremacist organization. Composed of 57 member states with Muslim majority populations, the OIC is the largest Islamic body in the world. It is also the largest international organization of any kind, second only to the United Nations. It represents an estimated 1.5 billion Muslims across the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
Pastor Paul Becker

Friday, August 27, 2010

no problems

our theologians in the Book of Concord, and by the norm of sound doctrine which is in it, testify that both our constant and perpetual opinion and that of this book is that with regard to the Lord’s Supper godly men should be led to no other foundations than to those of the words of institution of the testament of our Lord Jesus Christ. For since He is both almighty and true, it is easy for Him to do those things which He has both instituted and promised in His Word. -- Intro. to Book of Concord

Thursday, August 26, 2010

to the end

This Confession also, by the help of God, we will retain to our last breath, when we shall go forth from this life to the heavenly fatherland, to appear with joyful and undaunted mind and with a pure conscience before the tribunal of our Lord Jesus Christ. -- introduction to the Book of Concord

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

the undivided church

The doctrine comprised in it, (Augsburg Confession, 1530) which they knew both to be supported by firm testimonies of Scripture, and to be approved by the ancient and accepted symbols, they have also constantly judged to be the only and perpetual consensus of the truly believing Church, which was formerly defended against manifold heresies and errors, and is now repeated.
(Book of Concord, 1580)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

adult stem cells

GREAT NEWS FLASH: AP Surprises With Article Noting Adult Stem Cell Research Outpacing Embryonic
The Associated Press surprised readers with a new story on the contrasts between adult and embryonic stem cell research and a headline indicating what pro-life advocates have long known: the use of adult stem cell research is helping patients now and far outpacing embryonic studies.
"For all the emotional debate that began about a decade ago on allowing the use of embryonic stem cells, it's adult stem cells that are in human testing today. An extensive review of stem cell projects and interviews with two dozen experts reveal a wide range of potential treatments," AP admitted.
A few of the examples highlighted include multiple sclerosis, heart damage, juvenile diabetes, and blindness from chemical burns.
"Apart from these efforts, transplants of adult stem cells have become a standard lifesaving therapy for perhaps hundreds of thousands of people with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood diseases," AP noted.
Dr. David Scadden of Harvard told the news service that the ability of adult stem cells to help patients with a wide range of diseases and conditions helps it stand out from embryonic, which has never helped a single person

Monday, August 23, 2010

the cross

“Unum praedica, sapientiam crucis!” [There is one thing to preach, the wisdom of the cross!] That is the answer (in a sermon-fragment of 1515; WA 1, 52) which Luther gives to the vital question of the ministry [Predigtamt] of all ages: “What shall I preach?” -- Hermann Sasse

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

the more things change...

A Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope
Treatise Compiled by the Theologians Assembled at Smalcald - 1537
1] The Roman Pontiff claims for himself [in the first place] that by divine right he is [supreme] above all bishops and pastors [in all Christendom].

2] Secondly, he adds also that by divine right he has both swords, i.e., the authority also of bestowing kingdoms [enthroning and deposing kings, regulating secular dominions etc.].

3] And thirdly, he says that to believe this is necessary for salvation. And for these reasons the Roman bishop calls himself [and boasts that he is] the vicar of Christ on earth.

4] These three articles we hold to be false, godless, tyrannical, and [quite] pernicious to the Church.

road map

Even while developing his New Deal measures in the Great Depression, President Roosevelt – in words later repeated by President Reagan – warned:

The lessons of history, confirmed by the evidence immediately before me, show conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit. . . . It is in violation of the traditions of America.
(from Road Map, by Congressman Paul Ryan)

Monday, August 16, 2010

a child knows

For, thank God, [to-day] a child seven years old knows what the Church is, namely, the holy believers and lambs who hear the voice of their Shepherd -- Smalcald Articles.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Real power

For the Holy Ghost does not permit sin to have dominion, to gain the upper hand so as to be accomplished, but represses and restrains it so that it must not do what it wishes. But if it does what it wishes, the Holy Ghost and faith are [certainly] not present. -- Smalcald Articles

pro creation

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

repentance continues

And in Christians this repentance continues until death, because, through the entire life it contends with sin remaining in the flesh, as Paul, Rom. 7:14-25, [shows] testifies that he wars with the law in his members, etc.; and that, not by his own powers, but by the gift of the Holy Ghost that follows the remission of sins. (Smalcald Articles)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

false alternatives!

"We are called not simply to look back on what was, but, honoring and appreciating all that was, to go forward with new ideas to win the hearts of sinners for Christ. Our Synod’s success in meeting that challenge, under the forgiving love and grace of God, will play a significant role in determining our Synod’s future—innovation or extinction?" (Rev. Gerald Kieschnick, August 5, 2010) Unless we adopt GK's "new Ideas" we face extinction? I don't think so. President-elect Harrison and the critical mass of faithful LCMS pastors and people will prove him wrong.

Monday, August 9, 2010

in flames

The world is in flames. The conflagration can also reach our house. But high above all the flames towers the cross. They cannot consume it. It is the path from earth to heaven. It will lift one who embraces it in faith, love and hope into the bosom of the Trinity. -- Sr. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, aka Edith Stein +1942

Little Flock

+ Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost +
August 8, 2010
Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.
Luke 12:32
Faith in many different things (family, government, money, self) vs. living faith in the Triune God: Father Creator, Son Savior, Holy Spirit Sanctfier! And now to help us answer the question “what is faith?”, we offer a brief Latin lesson
fides qua creditur the faith by which it is believed-- the personal faith which apprehends,
fides quae creditur the faith which is believed -- the content of "the faith,"
Faith does not nullify reason or critical thinking but rather places them in their proper role of servant; it is neither produced by nor based on emotions, therefore it does not necessarily make you “feel good”; it leaves many questions unanswered even as it does answer the most important questions; it can be neglected, grow cold and even suffer shipwreck or it can grow stronger and bear an increasing harvest of love and good works.
1. Faith receives – it is your Father’s good pleasure to GIVE you the Kingdom!
a. Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit
b. What can we do? Treasure, thank and tell!
2. Faith offers/obeys God’s will
a. Abel, Noah, Abraham
b. What sacrifice will you make? what building up of the body of Christ will you seek? What faith-stretching promise of God will you believe?
3. Faith seeks a better country
a. Apostles, prophets and martyrs
b. Where is your treasure?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

get ready for Higher Things 2011

"The best week out of my year, hands down, is the Higher Things conference," said Heidi Gaub, a college volunteer from Petaluma, Calif., who has attended four of the conferences. "The worship services always fill my eyes with tears," she continued, "simply because I am so amazed at so many youth singing 'We Praise You and Acknowledge You' and chanting the liturgy with such sincerity and faith. It has been said before that we live in a time that makes it very difficult to be Lutheran, but these youth truly dare to be Lutheran."

Rev. George Borghardt, who is the Higher Things conference executive, noted that this year's young participants "will, without doubt, have memories of GIVEN that will carry on long after their conference T-shirts have faded. They learned how it's all given to us in the Divine Service: the cross, forgiveness, eternal life, salvation and service to others."

"I am proud of what Higher Things has achieved by the mercies of God over this past decade," said Rev. William Cwirla, its president. "Young lives have been impacted and shaped; friendships have been forged; a new generation is ready to run the race set before them. It is exciting to see the bright young faces of our youth engaged in worship and in the Word. It is a privilege to deliver Jesus through Word and Sacrament, and watch what He does with them."

For more information about Higher Things and its youth conferences, visit (from

Friday, August 6, 2010

whatevere happened to stewardship?

In the kingdom of the left hand, millions of dollars are spent by candidates to gain the votes of folks they hope to represent in local, state and federal government (listed in order of importance!). I'd like to focus on local and state races since we just had our primary here in Tennessee yesterday. In my home county, only 22,000 of about 90,000 registered voters bothered to vote. These numbers do not justify the expense of two weeks of early voting borne by the candidates and the tax-payers alike. Three days would suffice. When I think of how many millions of dollars and untold hours of time were spent by candidates, their families and volunteers in the three-way race for Republican candidate for Governor in Tennessee, I can only shake my head in dismay. This is a colossal waste of time and money that could have been much better spent on things that really matter. If the political parties don't get their act together, they will suffer for this unimaginable amount of time and money literally gone down the drain.

Monday, August 2, 2010

what all believe

IV. That the Son became man in this manner, that He was conceived, without the cooperation of man, by the Holy Ghost, and was born of the pure, holy [and always] Virgin Mary. Afterwards He suffered, died, was buried, descended to hell, rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, sits at the right hand of God, will come to judge the quick and the dead, etc., as the Creed of the Apostles, as well as that of St. Athanasius, and the Catechism in common use for children, teach.

(Smalcald Articles)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

causes of division

(from the Conclusion of the Defense of the Augsburg Confession)

Surely, all the world, all wisdom, all power ought to yield to Christ and His holy Word. But the devil is the enemy of God, and therefore rouses all his might against Christ, to extinguish and suppress the Word of God. Therefore the devil with his members, setting himself against the Word of God, is the cause of the schism and want of unity. For we have most zealously sought peace, and still most eagerly desire it, provided only we are not forced to blaspheme and deny Christ. For God, the discerner of all men's hearts, is our witness that we do not delight and have no joy in this awful disunion.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

pastoral wisdom

(from an interview with Bishop THOMAS of the Antiochian Orthodox Church)

6. As your clergy reflect back to you their concerns and hopes, what are some common themes as they express themselves to you? What can we as laypeople do, to help and support them, and their families?

Our clergy in this diocese, for the most part, are concerned with the salvation of their people. Laypeople can support them by coming to the church for the purpose of working out their salvation. They can support the clergy by worshiping more, confessing more, taking the sacraments more, and focusing on the Kingdom of God. In short, the best thing the laity can do for their clergy is to become serious about Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. The rest follows from that.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Law and Gospel

Although you indeed have not seen these things with your physical eyes or heard them with you physical ears as the apostles did, you ought to expeience them with the eyes and ears of your spirit. C.F.W. Walther (9/12/1884)

Monday, July 26, 2010

9 Pentecost

+ Ninth Sunday after Pentecost +
July 25, 2010
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Luke 11:13
“There are basically two approaches to life” says Mark Batterson, pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C.; “playing to win and playing not to lose. Too many of us are tentatively playing the game of life as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. We need to take our cues from the early believers who competed for the Kingdom.
There is nothing remotely passive about following Christ. Some of us approach our relationship with Christ like we’re called to play a “prevent defense” when we ought to be in a “two minute offense”. Some of us see faithfulness in making no turnovers when faithfulness is scoring touchdowns. Faithfulness has nothing to do with maintaining the status quo or holding the fort. It has everything to do with competing for the Kingdom and storming the gates of hell.” Challenging words for those of us who believe and confess correctly that God has done everything necessary for our salvation and that we only need to passively receive His gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation. What happens once we receive those gifts, however, is another story. As our Lord teaches to pray to the Father for His Kingdom to come, to continually ask, seek and knock, we discover what a mighty, living active faith we have been given in the Christian life – a faith that depends from beginning to end on continually receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.
1. We WANT to give what is best for others
a. We are, sadly, evil – we don’t know what is best.
b. Sometimes, we still know how to give good gifts to our children “Bless them with a rich measure of Your Holy Spirit!”

2. The Father ALWAYS gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
a. God invites to keep on asking, seeking and knocking. Story of “Push Back”!
The enemy comes to steal – we give! To kill – we love! To destroy – we build up!
b. God longs to give us the best gift, the Holy Spirit who calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.

Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord,
with all Your graces now outpoured
On each believer's mind and heart;
Your fervent love to them impart.
Lord, by the brightness of Your light
In holy faith Your Church unite;
From ev'ry land and ev'ry tongue
This to Your praise, O Lord, our God, be sung:
Alleluia, alleluia!
Come, holy Light, guide divine,
Now cause the Word of life to shine.
Teach us to know our God aright
And call Him Father with delight.
From ev'ry error keep us free;
Let non but Christ our master be
That we in living faith abide,
In Him, our Lord, with all our might confide.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Come, holy Fire, comfort true,
Grant us the will Your work to do
And in Your service to abide;
Let trials turn us not aside.
Lord, by Your pow'r prepare each heart,
And to our weakness strenght impart
That bravely here we may contend,
Through life and death to You, our Lord, ascend.
Alleluia, alleluia!
--"Come, Holy Gost, God and Lord" LSB 497

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mary Magdalene 7/22/10

Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored Mary Magdalene to health of body and of mind, and called her to be a witness of his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by your grace we may be healed from all our infirmities and know you in the power of his unending life; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

quo vadis?

My travels and meetings in July (youth gathering and Synod convention) were quite instructive about the future of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.
How can I begin to praise Higher Things? If you don’t know much about one of the newest RSO’s (recognized service organization) of the LCMS, please visit 1100+ young people and adults gathered at Vanderbilt in Nashville, TN July 6-9 for worship, study and fun. In addition to the opening and closing Divine Services, we were GIVEN three (3) services daily: Morning Prayer, Vespers and Evening Prayer. Dormitory groups were encouraged to pray Compline before going to bed as well. The catechesis involved two plenary speakers (total of four hours), one in-depth (3 hours) and three elective break-out sessions (one hour each). All were very stimulating, challenging and rewarding. Fun time included a downtown “fun place” where line-dancing was taught and enjoyed by all, swimming, and general outdoor games on the large grassy areas of campus. We were all very fired up by this great experience and can’t wait until 2011 in Atlanta, GA! Higher Things’ motto is “Dare to be Lutheran!” and bodes well for keeping our young people active in the church of their fathers.
The 64th convention of the LCMS, July 10-17 in Houston TX was another matter. Having just come from the mountaintop of Higher Things, the worship and catechesis of the convention suffered by comparison. Some context: Five years ago, President Gerald Kieschnick appointed the blue ribbon task force on synod structure and governance (BRTFSSG). Floor committee #8 was responsible for taking all their recommendations and crafting resolutions, 38 of them. The floor committee made two major miscalculations, in my opinion. First, they used most of Sunday to sell their resolutions to the delegates. This was largely perceived as a waste of time. Secondly, they presented entirely too much material for us to possibly consider even with two extra days tacked on. After a trial balloon failed to receive the necessary 2/3 support for a constitutional change, the floor committee focused on by-law changes which only need a majority vote. Several major changes to our structure and governance were passed with less than 52%, a very painful and divisive experience for the assembly. Then on Tuesday afternoon, after an outstanding sermon by Pastor Kenneth Klaus (Lutheran Hour Speaker), elections were held. Pastor Matthew C. Harrison was elected on the first ballot by 54%. At this point, the mood and spirit of the convention changed dramatically. Most subsequent elections were overwhelmingly in favor of those who supported Pastor Harrison. When we finally got to the work of the other seven floor committees, in stark contrast, many resolutions were passed almost unanimously. Beyond the elections, I believe that all matters that effect our walking together should require a 2/3 majority to pass. 2/3 is required to cease debate and to pass changes to the constitution. Why not for other matters as well? This would go a long way to promoting the healing and unity, trust and spirit of forgiveness that we desperately need to once again move forward as the body of Christ. Surely we can arrive at consensus by speaking the truth in love and listening to one another. At this point, I am cautiously optimistic about the future of the LCMS. Please keep Pastor Matt Harrison and his team in your daily prayers.

Monday, July 5, 2010

freedom in Christ

+ Sixth Sunday after Pentecost +
July 4, 2010
THE MESSAGE: So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.
Galatians 6:9-10
Despite the ever-present danger of becoming fatigued, or growing weary in doing good, as those who are receiving the power of the cross we will work together for the benefit of all.

1. Danger of growing weary in doing good.
2 Thessalonians 3:13 But as for you, fellow believers, do not grow weary in doing good.

a. Why do we get tired? No change, few results, no end in sight.

b. 2 Corinthians 4:1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, 2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we)do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.
His mercies are new EVERY morning!

2. Blessings of working for the benefit of all, especially the community of faith

a. “Redeeming the time (moment), because the days are evil” Ephesians 5:16
Hebrews 11:33-34. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight.

b. What benefits all? What did our founding fathers quote more than any other source? The Word of God!
Governor Samuel Johnston, July 30, 1788 at the North Carolina Ratifying Convention Those who are Mahometans, or any others who are not professors of the Christian religion, can never be elected to the office of President or other high office, [unless] first the people of America lay aside the Christian religion altogether, it may happen. Should this unfortunately take place, the people will choose such men as think as they do themselves. [Elliot’s Debates, Vol. IV, pp 198-199,]
Jedediah Morse: "To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. . . . Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all blessings which flow from them, must fall with them."
Benjamin Rush: • “I lament that we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes and take so little pains to prevent them…we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government; that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible; for this Divine Book, above all others, constitutes the soul of republicanism.” “By withholding the knowledge of [the Scriptures] from children, we deprive ourselves of the best means of awakening moral sensibility in their minds.” [Letter written (1790’s) in Defense of the Bible in all schools in America]
Noah Webster “All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.” [Noah Webster. History. p. 339]
“The Bible was America’s basic textbook in all fields.” [Noah Webster. Our Christian Heritage p.5] “Education is useless without the Bible” [Noah Webster. Our Christian Heritage p.5 ]

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

Friday, June 25, 2010

huge miracles

Faith thinks: "This poor beggar has been redeemed by the blood of the Son of God. As far as I am concerned, this makes this man worth as much as a king or an emperor." These are the kind of huge miracles that faith works in our hearts.
-- C.F.W. Walther

Augsburg Confession, 6/25/1530

"I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings, O Lord, and shall not be put to shame." - Psalm 119:46

"Our Churches do not dissent from any article held by the Church catholic. They only omit some newer abuses."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

persecution in America

Still happy about Muslims moving to the good old USA?

'Allahu akbar!' shouted as Christians cuffed
Witness: 'I never thought I would see this in America'
Four Christians were arrested and thrown out of a public Arab festival in Michigan – and at least two people claim a crowd cheered "Allahu akbar!" while the Christians were led away in handcuffs for doing nothing more than engaging in peaceful dialogue and videotaping the event.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

good works

Do good works that you may persevere in your calling, that you [do not fall away again, grow cold and] may not lose the gifts of your calling, which were given you before, and not on account of works that follow, and which now are retained by faith; for faith does not remain in those who lose the Holy Ghost, who reject repentance, just as we have said above (253:1) that faith exists in repentance.

...For we do not make void the Law, says Paul, Rom. 3:31; yea, we establish the Law, because when by faith we have received the Holy Ghost, the fulfilling of the Law necessarily follows, by which love, patience, chastity, and other fruits of the Spirit gradually grow.

Apology of the Augsburg Confession XX