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)