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.