Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Resources Received


Tizon, Al. Missonal Preaching: Engage Embrace Transform. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 2012. 192 Pages. Paper. (Spiral-bound pre-publication galley received.) $16.99. (P)

Murphy, Paul. The Thirteenth Apostle: A Novel. Mobile, AL/Southport, NC: Evergreen Press, 2004. 216 Pages. Paper with CD-Rom curriculum guide. (Two copies received.) $11.99. (N)

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

FW: The decline of psalm-singing: the rosary


A bit of history…


Feed: Evangel
Posted on: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 8:34 AM
Author: David T. Koyzis
Subject: The decline of psalm-singing: the rosary


We are given to understand that many religions have something akin to prayer beads to assist the devout in saying their prayers. The rosary is one such aid used especially by Roman Catholics. However, it seems that the prayers accompanying the rosary long ago supplanted the Psalms for the use of illiterate people who had no access to the latter. Here is the story, according to this website:

The Rosary is actually believed to have developed as a result of the monasteries, because in the monasteries the monks would pray the Psalms, 150 altogether. However, many monks as well as townspeople were unable to read, but wanted to be in solidarity in prayer with the monks, and so developed a means of praying 150 "Our Fathers" which later, given the rise in devotion to Mary, added the "Hail Mary" as well. This is why sometimes the Rosary is called "Mary's Psalter." However, what would happen is given the amount [sic] of prayers, it would be hard to keep track, so they developed a sort of abacus in order to keep count, originally it was stones but later developed into beads on a string.

This is confirmed elsewhere. Finally, here is the account given in the Catholic Encyclopedia (with sources deleted for ease of reading):

But there were other prayers to be counted more nearly connected with the Rosary than Kyrie eleisons. At an early date among the monastic orders the practice had established itself not only of offering Masses, but of saying vocal prayers as a suffrage for their deceased brethren. For this purpose the private recitation of the 150 psalms, or of 50 psalms, the third part, was constantly enjoined. Already in A.D. 800 we learn from the compact between St. Gall and Reichenau that for each deceased brother all the priests should say one Mass and also fifty psalms. A charter in Kemble prescribes that each monk is to sing two fifties (twa fiftig) for the souls of certain benefactors, while each priest is to sing two Masses and each deacon to read two Passions. But as time went on, and the conversi, or lay brothers, most of them quite illiterate, became distinct from the choir monks, it was felt that they also should be required to substitute some simple form of prayer in place of the psalms to which their more educated brethren were bound by rule. Thus we read in the "Ancient Customs of Cluny", collected by Udalrio in 1096, that when the death of any brother at a distance was announced, every priest was to offer Mass, and every non-priest was either to say fifty psalms or to repeat fifty times the Paternoster. Similarly among the Knights Templar, whose rule dates from about 1128, the knights who could not attend choir were required to say the Lord's Prayer 57 times in all and on the death of any of the brethren they had to say the Pater Noster a hundred times a day for a week.

I am unaware of any Reformed Christians using a rosary, and certainly no Reformed church endorses the practice. However, I have come across two efforts to reconnect the rosary with its origins in the Psalms and other scriptures: Pray the Rosary with the Psalms and The Daily Prayer Rosary.

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FW: Calculating Christmas - In the Archives


More history…


Feed: Touchstone Magazine - Mere Comments
Posted on: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 8:39 AM
Author: James M. Kushiner
Subject: Calculating Christmas - In the Archives


This article by William J. Tighe from the December '03 issue is one of the most read in the Touchstone online archives and December is when the numbers really go through the roof. I suppose it's because people like to do a little research before Aunt Trudy gives her annual spiel on how Christmas is nothing more than a Christianized pagan festival while she is digging into the figgy pudding at the Christmas party.

Calculating Christmas

William J. Tighe on the Story Behind December 25

Many Christians think that Christians celebrate Christ's birth on December 25th because the church fathers appropriated the date of a pagan festival. Almost no one minds, except for a few groups on the fringes of American Evangelicalism, who seem to think that this makes Christmas itself a pagan festival. But it is perhaps interesting to know that the choice of December 25th is the result of attempts among the earliest Christians to figure out the date of Jesus' birth based on calendrical calculations that had nothing to do with pagan festivals.

Rather, the pagan festival of the "Birth of the Unconquered Son" instituted by the Roman Emperor Aurelian on 25 December 274, was almost certainly an attempt to create a pagan alternative to a date that was already of some significance to Roman Christians. Thus the "pagan origins of Christmas" is a myth without historical substance.

continued . . .

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Monday, November 28, 2011

FW: ‘And with your spirit’




Feed: Evangel
Posted on: Monday, November 28, 2011 6:36 AM
Author: David T. Koyzis
Subject: 'And with your spirit'


Yesterday, the first sunday in Advent, our English-speaking Roman Catholic brethren began using a newly revised liturgy that is closer to the Latin texts than the previous 1973 version in use for nearly four decades. Liturgy Training Publications has posted a comparison of the two texts for those wishing to see the differences side by side. Perhaps the most immediately noticeable change comes with the greeting at the beginning of the eucharistic prayer, which runs as follows in the old version:

"The Lord be with you"
"And also with you."

This now reads:

"The Lord be with you."
"And with your spirit."

This brings the English liturgy into closer conformity, not only with the Latin of the Novus Ordo mass, but with its translation into other languages as well, for example, French and Spanish. This month's issue of First Things carries Anthony Esolen's fascinating discussion of the new English texts: Restoring the Words.

Many other church bodies followed the Roman example during the 1970s, adopting the texts of the ordinary of the mass for their own use in, for example, the Episcopal Church's 1979 Book of Common Prayer, the Anglican Church of Canada's Book of Alternative Services and the Lutheran Book of Worship. Our own congregation yesterday celebrated the Lord's Supper with the now familiar greeting: "The Lord be with you." To which we responded: "And also with you." This new disparity in our liturgies prompts me to wonder whether other denominations will eventually follow the Roman lead once again and bring their own liturgies into closer conformity with the new, more accurate, texts.

At this point I am reluctant to speculate on this question. Official ecumenism has fallen on hard times in recent decades, as various denominations have gone their own way on a variety of divisive issues, seemingly unconcerned with the impact on their sister churches, and sometimes even on their own communions. A more practical consideration is that composers have used the 1973 texts for their own mass settings, which are in use in countless congregations throughout the English-speaking world. Without a Vatican-style authority to impose a different translation on them, force of habit will likely incline them to stick with what they have. In the meantime, as of yesterday we are all just a little further apart, liturgically speaking.

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Closing Volume 5 and Issue 5.4 and Opening Volume 6 and Issue 6.1



With the beginning of Volume 6,
we intend to discontinue making pdf editions of this blog (unless there are overwhelming requests for them).


In response to an expressed need,
we now have two sub blogs that both feed into
Liturgy, Hymnody, and Pulpit Quarterly Book Review


The content of
should appear to remain the same. 


Readers that wish to receive only our forwards
can now also go to


Readers that wish to only receive
our original book and resource reviews
and be notified of new resources that we have received
may go to,
the LHP Lutheran Book Review blog.
We DO plan to make pdf versions of LHP LBR.


A Blessed New Church Year to all!


The Editor 


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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pulpit Review: Ancient Christian Doctrine



Edwards, Mark J., editor. Thomas C. Oden, series editor. We Believe in the Crucified and Risen Lord (Ancient Christian Doctrine 3). Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2009. 194 Pages. Cloth. $50.00. (P)

Elowsky, Joel C., editor. Thomas C. Oden, series editor. We Believe in the Holy Spirit (Ancient Christian Doctrine 4). Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2009. 309 Pages. Cloth. $50.00. (P)

Di Berardino, Angelo, editor. Thomas C. Oden, series editor. We Believe in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church (Ancient Christian Doctrine 5). Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2010. 316 Pages. Cloth. $50.00. (P)

Our Modern world gets a regular glimpse at Ancient Christianity thanks to InterVarsity Press. 

In this review, we complete a series of reviews on the five-volume Ancient Christian Doctrine series, now complete.

Read our review of Volume 1:

Read our review of Volume 2:

Volume 3 continues the series' Ancient Commentary on the Nicene Creed.

The resurrection changed everything. "But for the resurrection," writes Mark J. Edwards, "there would have been no reason to argue for a union of two natures in the person of Christ, let alone for a dyad or triad in the Godhead. All that he had said and done in the course of his earthly ministry would have sat well enough with the character of a prophet who excelled such predecessors as Isaiah and John the Baptist only in power and closeness to God."

That is the story that unfolds as Edwards gathers together the most salient comments from the early church on the latter half of the second article of the Nicene Creed on God the Son as the crucified and risen Lord. The deliberations of ancient Christian writers on these matters are regarded now as the nucleus of Christology. The work of Christ is customarily considered, in Western Christendom at least, as the principal object of his coming. That Christ died for our sins was an axiom of all apostolic preaching.

In these pages we see that the doctrines of the Trinity and the incarnation were not the second thoughts of Christendom after its encounter with Greek philosophy. Rather they were forced on the church by its refusal to adopt the polytheism of the Greeks as a means of reconciling the sovereignty of God with the exaltation of Christ as Lord.

It is ultimately in the work of Christ that the essentials of his Person are revealed. The church's early teachers ultimately combine to denounce the critical maneuvers that would persuade us that the Scriptures do not mean what they plainly say. Here, as throughout the Creed, we see how the early church rooted all its claims in Scripture. (publisher's website)

Where Volume 2 focuses on the person of Christ, Volume 3 focuses on His work for us and our salvation in his crucifixion and Resurrection.

Choice Quotes:

  • From the Introduction: "There is no consensus now that the high Christology is a proof of late composition" (xvii)
  • Jerome: [Peter] means it cannot be and my ears cannot bear, that the Son of God should be killed...[Jesus] means, "Because you are speaking in opposition to my resolve, you deserve to be called an enemy." (21, Peter's Confession)
  • Cyril of Alexandria: For all that, let them not divide him double-mindedly or foist on us two sons but confess him as one and the same, as the Word of God become man, and predicate everything of him, words and deeds alike. For since the same one was at the same time God and man, he speaks both what befits God and what befits humans, and likewise his acts are both human and divine... (40, Miracles and the Two Natures)
  • Hippolytus: This was the salvific desire of Christ, this his spiritual love, to show that the types were but types and to give his holy body to his disciples in place of them: "Take eat; this is my body. Take, drink; this is my blood, the new covenant, which was poured out for all the remission of sins." (79, The Last Supper)

Christian catechesis abounds in resources to teach the Apostles' Creed. Let us hear from ancient pastors how Scripture presents the truths we confess in the Nicene Creed.

The Third Article gets two volumes in this series.

 Volume 4 focuses on the person of God the Holy Spirit.

"The Spirit blows where it pleases," Jesus said to Nicodemus. "You hear its sound but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."

The Spirit, like the wind, is hard to pin down. Any discussion of the Spirit is fraught with the difficulty of speaking about something or someone who defies definition and who purposely averts attention from himself toward someone else. So it is with the Spirit. And so it is with the church's reception of and conversation about the Spirit, even in its early centuries. It is hard to pin down, and the church's voice on the Spirit has been about as loud as the whisper of the wind that indicates the Spirit's presence.

The church's teaching on the Holy Spirit is perhaps what Nicolas Berdayev has called "the last unexplored theological frontier." In these latter days of the church, this "final frontier" is receiving increasing attention. The rise of the Pentecostal movement, the engaged witness of the Orthodox churches, which have historically been more sensitive to the role of the Spirit, coupled with the fact that people in general are looking for a deeper and more relational faith, perhaps help explain in part the increased attention the Spirit is getting.

It is appropriate then that the base camp of this exploration be established in the early understanding of the church on these matters. Following the outline of the succinct third article of the Nicene Creed, Joel Elowsky opens up to us vistas of the Holy Spirit with expertly selected passages from ancient Christian writings.

This portion of the Creed, apart from the filioque, is largely uncontroversial. The full deity of the Spirit is highlighted not so much by theological definition as by the emphasis on worship and action. While the Creed itself does not speak directly of the work of the Spirit in justification, sanctification and the like, the early church theologians nevertheless had much to say on these issues. Here we see clearly how the Spirit is "giver of life." (publisher's website)

Seeing the Greek, Latin, and English of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed should encourage all Christians to work toward unity with the mind of Christ, and encourage us to keep confessing the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, not anticipating an earthly visible unity, but in hopes of better appreciating our heavenly unity with Christ and through Him, with one another.

Of issue in this volume is a possible misunderstanding by the reader of what is a loaded term in the East, theosis (137ff); Synesios of Cyrene's confused hymn about the Spirit (18); and a muddled explanation of the current muddled situation (xv, in contrast to the clarity of Martin Luther's explanation of the Third Article of the Apostles' Creed on the active work of the Spirit).

The editors do a marvelous job of making the appeal to Scripture first, Nicene Creed second, and Fathers as third authority in what could have been the most controversial volume in the set. We pray for a Nicene unity!

Of note:

  • From the Introduction: "The early Christians approached their teaching about the Holy spirit more cautiously and humbly than subsequent ages have done at times" (xxxiii).
  • This abundance of caution is seen especially when explaining blasphemy (36).
  • The Giver of Life (Historical Context): Repentance precedes justification in the sense that it prepares the heart to receive God's gracious gift of forgiveness by tearing down any notino of self-justification...(84)
  • A vital section: A Vital Sacramental Union (163-166).
  • Filioque (217ff, especially note 16 on page 219)
  • Hymns (248-249)


I would propose that Volume 5 is as much a volume on the work of the Holy Spirit as Volume 4 was on the person of the Holy Spirit.

When was the church founded? Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God and not of a religious organization subsequently called church. We don't find in the Gospels expressions which make reference to the foundation of a new religious community, a new and distinct community of followers of Jesus. But after the resurrection of Jesus, his followers, as a result of his express command, gather together not only those from the people of Israel but men and women of all nations.

The final clauses of the Nicene Creed spell out, briefly and to the point, the church's self-understanding in these early centuries. Angelo Di Berardino assembles a wide range of texts and teachers of the church during these years to enrich our understanding and deepen our faith in the great mysteries expressed here.

The Creed quickly hits the four marks of the church--that it is "one holy catholic and apostolic." What do we mean by professing each of these? Di Berardino helps us to give an answer with the help of the fathers of the church.

The volume closes, as does the Creed, with a consideration of baptism (the traditional entrance for people into the church) and two central features of the church in the future--the expectation that all of God's people will enjoy the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. (publisher's website)

In conversation with ancient and modern Christians, I would assert:

  • Apostolic doctrine is of more importance than the form of apostolic succession (cf. 78ff).
  • Comparing teaching to the teaching of the Word is the most important guarantee of apostolic doctrine (cf. 83).
  • Defining baptism as "immersion" or "ablution" (87) is an incomplete definition given that various washings in Mark and Acts use the same Greek term and do not everywhere and always mean "immersion."
  • Dear Victorinus of Petovium (and his modern readers and followers), don't take "a thousand years are as one day" out of context, please (167). Thank you! 

Readers should note:

  • The importance of the Greek term ekklesia in classical Greek, the Septuagint, the New Testament, and beyond (xix).
  • Augustine on Psalm 138, summarized by the Editor: The Church Was Born from the Cross (33).
  • Pacian of Barcelona on the term "catholic" (75).
  • A helpful section defending Infant Baptism (107ff).
  • A most helpful Conclusion of the Ancient Christian Doctrine Series by General Editor/Series Editor Thomas C. Oden (269ff).

I am impressed by the five volumes of Ancient Christian Doctrine. This set should grace the shelves of every Christian pastor. Consider sharing a set with your pastor (perhaps as a congregational gift to him) for Christmas.

The whole set of five volumes is available for $200 from the publisher. While price remains a concern to us with our readers in mind, other vendors sell individual volumes for less. Still, if you would like to bless a publisher for good materials and encourage them to do more Ancient Christian resources, purchasing them direct may be a good idea!

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

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FW: Helft mir Advent jetzt feiren




Posted on: Saturday, November 26, 2011 3:13 PM
Author: Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes)
Subject: Helft mir Advent jetzt feiren


Here is my translation of "Helft mir Advent jetzt feiren" (Michael Ziegenspeck), translated by Clauder as "Adventus appropinquat…" The German first appeared in the Königsberg Hymnal (1650). The tune is "Helft mir Gotts Güte preisen."

NOW GLAD the Advent viewing,
Dear children, raise your voice
To hail the year's renewing,
And let us all rejoice!
For Christ His Advent kept,
When He, the Prince of Glory,
To Salem turned His story,
O'er which He once had wept.

2. Yet did that Advent sadness
That filled our Savior dear,
Fill all the world with gladness
And bring salvation near.
Our Help and Righteousness,
Of whom the prophets chanted
His Passiontide was granted,
To win us heavn'ly bliss.

3. The Advent keep with singing,
No more let Zion groan,
As all, with Salem bringing
Their shouts, their Lord to own,
Hosanna loudly cry;
"Blest be King David's Scion,
The Lord, who comes to Zion,
Hosanna sing on high!"

4. The King of Grace yet duly
His Advent keeps aright,
And, coming, makes most truly,
Our heart His palace bright.
Through Sacrament and Word:
Lord, let Thy help attend us,
Prosperity now send us,
Forever be our Lord!

5. Soon shall that Advent meet us
When in His glorious shape
The Lord again shall greet us,
And bring our glad escape.
O Bridegroom, dear art Thou!
Come, come, no longer tarry!
For lo, what griefs we carry,
How deep in sorrow bow!

6. But grant us to believe Thee,
And ever ready be
With shouts, Lord, to receive Thee
When we that Advent see.
Let heart and mouth then cry,
Blest be King David's scion,
The Lord, who comes to Zion,
Hosanna sing on high!

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2011.


1. Helft mir Advent jetzt feiren,
Ihr lieben Kinderlein!
Das Jahr tut sich verneuren,
laßt uns all fröhlich sein!
Advent gehlaten hat
Jesus, der Fürst der Ehren,
als er sich jetzt tät kehren
nach Salem, Davids Stadt.

2. Zwar hielt Advent armselig
diesmals der teure Held,
macht uns doch alle fröhlich,
bracht Heil der ganzen Welt.
Unsr Hilf und Grechtigkeit
nach Sage der Propheten
kam in den großen Nöten,
erwarb uns himmlisch Freud.

3. Drum halt Advent mit Schalle
samt Jungfrau Zion fein,
mit Jeruslem jauchzt alle:
Den Tag laßt unser sein!
Hosanna psallite!
Gelobt sei Davids Samen,
Der kommt ins Herren Namen,
Hosanna in der Höh!

4. Jetzt hält Advent ohn Scherze
der Gnaden-König groß,
zeucht ein in unser Herze,
machts zu seinm Freudenschloß
durch Sakrament und Wort;
drum wir mit David singen:
Hilf, Herr, laß wohl gelingen,
bleib unser Hirt und Hort.

5. Bald folgt Advent der Ehren,
da in der Herrlichkeit
der Herr wird wiederkehren,
zu holen uns zur Freud.
O edler Bräutgam wert,
Komm, komm und machs nicht lange!
Uns ist oft Angst tund bange
Allhier auf dieser Erd.

6. Verleih nur, daß wir alle
stündlichen fertig sein,
zu empfahn dich mit Schalle,
wenn du jetzt brichst herein.
Aus Herz und Mund dann geh:
Gelobt sei Davids Samen,
der kommt ins Herren Namen,
Hosanna in der Höh!


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Liturgy Review: Advent and Christmas



Gilmore, Rachel. 'Tis the Season: Church Celebrations for Advent and Christmas. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 2011. 110 Pages. Paper. $14.99. (L)



Rachel Gilmore is back for another resource book for churches. We reviewed here previous release favorably (


'Tis includes church celebrations intended as worship services (Part 1), multigenerational celebrations (Part 2), and celebrations that could be adapted for different circumstances (Part 3). Reproducible Resources and Handouts are provided in the Appendix and online (

I would not personally be comfortable using the "services" as outlined in the resource guide. Nor, must I say, would my congregation. Perhaps this is an example of the cultural and practical differences between Lutheran and Baptist Christians. Perhaps it is more than that.


American Baptist Churches USA do ordain women (xii). The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod refuses to do so on the basis of the New Testament. This author appears to have a high regard for Scripture. Thanks be to God! However, the Gospel does not predominate in the content of the services (12, 20). The Gospel is shared, and often is the last word, but it does not have place as the primary message. In a service of hope, we are directed to our own prayers rather than to Christ as our first stop and resting place. The Interactive Service (13ff) has much in common in structure with an Anglican service of Lessons and Carols, but the inclusion of "We Three Kings," while popular and well-known, shows a toleration for things added to Scripture. (The Wise men were not kings, were not from the orient, and were not necessarily three in number.) Call me picky if you will, but if I'm worshiping in Spirit and in truth, there is no room for error.


Parts 2 and 3 may be more useful for liturgical Lutheran congregations that want some creative options for members of the congregation to be occupied in between an Advent supper and Vespers or Evening Prayer. Various options in the text present "stations" for groups to visit, not unlike a VBS experience with multi-age groups. This time, include parents and grandparents!


I commend the author's inclusion of Townend's "How Deep the Father's Love for Us" (24), Chapter 10's carol history (43), and the honest fact-checking behind rumors about "The Twelve Days of Christmas" (79). The volume may be worth the purchase simply because of the Biblical symbolism handout for "The Twelve Days of Christmas" (108).


Rachel Gilmore is a creative writer who wants depth of experience for Christians at Christmas and as Christians prepare for Christmas during the season of Advent. She is to be commended for this sourcebook. If she is currently considering one for Lent and Easter, I would recommend more research into historic Christian practices and adapting them for modern use in Baptist and other Christian congregations. 


Not every resource in the book has to be used. Pick one to start. Not every resource in the book has to be used as-is. Modify with the author's blessing to fit your Christian community of faith. Grow in faith and knowledge of Christ this Christmas season!




The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

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FW: Advent 1 Hymn: In Memory of John Gerhard




Feed: Lutheran Hymn Revival
Posted on: Saturday, November 26, 2011 1:49 PM
Author: (Amberg)
Subject: Advent 1 Hymn: In Memory of John Gerhard


Giotto Triumphal Entry

I wrote this hymn after reading John Gerhard's sermon on Matthew 21:1-9. Well, actually I also read one of my dad's sermons on Advent 1, but I could dedicate every hymn to him then...

I hoped to mingle the coming of Christ into Jerusalem (inseparable from the purpose of his first coming into the flesh) with his coming to Zion today.

The tune is "Wie Soll Ich Dich Empfangen," or whatever Rev's. Fish Jr. or Van der Hoek come up with, should they be so inclined in this busy Advent season.


1.What King now comes to save you,

O Zion, Church of God?

He is the Lord who gave you

And wears your flesh and blood.

No power and no glory

Comes Jesus to display,

But Zechariah's story

Is seen fulfilled today:



Rejoice, O Zion's daughter,

Behold, your King has come:

The Lamb ordained for slaughter,

The humble, righteous One;

And having free salvation,

He speaks eternal peace,

And ruling every nation,

His reign will never cease.



His crown and strength are hidden

In sorrows that he feels;

The throne to which he's bidden

A cross of pain reveals.

All innocent and holy,

He bears our guilt within

And thus he calls the lowly

To find release from sin.



Has darkness come upon you?

Are you in sin's control?

This Light from Light has won you

Forgiveness for your soul;

Nor find Him in your effort,

Nor seek Him in your will,

His Gospel is your comfort

That bids your sins be still.



He wields His Spirit's scepter

With grace and mercy pure,

His Word dispels the Tempter,

And by it we endure,

And wait in expectation

For Christ to come again

And bring us full salvation

From sin and death and pain. 



Let Zion sing Hosanna

And lift her heart to Him,

Whose body is her Manna,

Whose blood absolves her sin;

On earth she here rejoices

To find her Lord and King,

To whom, with heavn'ly voices,

Her praises ever ring.  

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LHP Review: Doctrine at Prayer and in Life

Bell, John L. 101 Things They Never Told Me About Jesus: A Beginner's Guide to a Larger Christ. Chicago: GIA/Wild Goose Resource Group, Iona Community, 2009. 144 Pages. Paper. $15.00. (LHP)

Lawton, Liam. The Hope Prayer: Words to Nourish the Soul.  Chicago: GIA, 2009. 252 Pages. Cloth. $21.95. (L)

Doctrine remains important.


And especially in inspirational and devotional literature.

Not another book about what we already know, but one about what we overlook.
In Ten Things They Never Told Me about Jesus, John Bell explores facets of the personal life, relationships, and ministry of Jesus, which are seldom the stuff of preaching or conversation, but which are all rooted in the Gospels and are necessary if we are to be freed from the passive stereotypes that still dominate thinking about Christ.
Much of the book is rooted in encounters with people on the periphery of religious life and in situations where politeness was not a prerequisite for discussing faith. (Publisher's website)
My personal comfort level was stretched as a reader of Ten Things. Bell writes to comfort the afflicted, but especially to afflict the comfortable. His orthodoxy is not in question. For me, his clarity is. A case in point is the end of chapter 7. Just when it sounds like he is going off of the deep end (92-92), he clarifies the uniqueness of Christ (93). Still unclear for me is the "salvation status" of those he commends while he maintains that Christ is unique.

I love that Bell can ask humbling questions (74ff). I appreciate that he can make us uncomfortable with the uncomfortable humanness of Christ (120ff). I wrestle with the propriety of his Bibliography (137). I would not necessarily endorse any of the titles personally, save one. Bell makes his readers think. That would be a very valuable quality in a guest speaker. He is uneven in such shock-value thought-provoking questions in print. There is more chance for misunderstanding (not unlike sarcasm in email; see 10, 40, 82, 84, 107). There is much in this brief volume that would benefit from fresh eyes and ears that could improve a second edition.

In preparation for the Nativity of Our Lord, I commend to your attention a revision of "O Little Town" (35).
Liam Lawton's writing provides a marked contrast to John. L. Bell.

Liam Lawton is widely known for his spiritual and inspirational music, which has touched the lives of many thousands of people across the world. In The Hope Prayer, he has created a beautiful book of over forty new prayers-each one expressed in his distinctive and illuminating voice. Including selected song lyrics, this book will take the reader on a comforting journey of the soul, across all kinds of terrain.

Here are prayers of friendship, love, death, healing, illness, calm, inspiration, marriage, Christmas, providence, remembering, working, celebrating life-all brought together through the theme of hope.

The Hope Prayer is a book to be treasured, offering strength, sustenance and wisdom for today's challenging world. (Publisher's website)
Where Bell excels in afflicting the comfortable, Lawton's strength is the gentle and caring way he comforts the afflicted. 
Lutheran readers will kindly disregard Marian references and prayers to saints and angels (128, 162, 176, 206, ). Mysticism and pilgrimage also influence Lawton's prayers and meditations (19, 24, 26, 189ff, 219ff).

Lawton's challenge is also one of clarity: specificity. Many prayers have unclear yet assumed references to the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They could sadly be taken out of context. 

I focused upon the content of his prayers and meditations in a Christian context. My favorites were
the Prayer of the Musician (54ff), his confession of Christ in the midst of darkness (113, et al), Prayer of Forgiveness (199), and Prayer to Jesus (202).

GIA continues to present the whole Church with unique, thought-provoking, and comforting resources. I personally would appreciate more that helps me as a Lutheran Christian re-embrace the publisher's original Gregorian Chant content.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

Resources Received


Schuermann, Katie. Collects by Deaconess Melissa A. DeGroot. He Remembers the Barren. Fort Wayne: Lutheran Legacy 2011. 116 Pages. Paper. $14.95. (LHP)

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

FW: If You Hated… You Might Like…





Feed: Musings of a Country Preacher
Posted on: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 3:49 PM
Author: Country Preacher
Subject: If You Hated… You Might Like…


I've been neglectful of my blog-world friend(s) for too long.  Recently I began posting a series on Facebook that I like to call, "If you hated… you might like…"  It's a take-off on the tendency of every website (Amazon, Netflix) to assume they can discern your interests based solely on the last thing you looked at.  I am doing the reverse.  Here is the series, so far, with hopes that I continue it (think up other ideas….)  Add your own to comments.  I may post them.

If you hated "The Shack", you might love "The Hammer of God."

If you hated, "The Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper", you might like "Dying to Live, the Power of Forgiveness."

If you hated "The Purpose Driven Life", you might love "The Spirituality of the Cross: the Way of the First Evangelicals."

If you hated "Every Day A Friday", you might love "A Little Book on Joy"

If you hated "Acquire the Fire", you might love "Higher Things."

If you hated "The Power of Simple Prayer" by Joyce Meyer, you might love "Lutheran Spirituality: Prayer" by John Kleinig.

More posts to come on a variety of topics.  But always focusing on the joys of being a simple country preacher.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

FW: Great Stuff Found on the Web — The Lutheran Church Is and Is Not




Feed: Steadfast Lutherans
Posted on: Friday, November 18, 2011 6:50 PM
Author: Norm Fisher
Subject: Great Stuff Found on the Web — The Lutheran Church Is and Is Not


On Pastor Lovett's blog, ORATIO + TENTATIO + MEDITATIO, he has a question regarding The Lutheran Church Is and Is Not.


Consider the following statement. I'd like to hear your comments below. (While I loathe to admit it, the statement was adapted from a very similar statement about the Eastern Orthodox Church here.)

The Lutheran Church is evangelical, but not Protestant. It is catholic, but not Roman. It is orthodox, but not Eastern. It isn't non-denominational, neither is it merely a denomination – it is pre-denominational. It has believed, taught, preserved, defended and died for the witness of the Apostles since the Day of Pentecost some 2000 years ago.

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FW: Being Thankful for Lutheranism




Feed: God the Crucified
Posted on: Friday, November 18, 2011 5:17 PM
Author: (Pastor Lange)
Subject: Being Thankful for Lutheranism


The Internet Monk has been blogging in the "Post-Evangelical Wilderness" for 11 years. Now, having become a Lutheran he has posted a series of articles titled: How Lutheran Tradition Answers Many Post-Evangelical Concerns"

Life-long Lutherans often cannot know the richness of their own tradition simply because they don't have anything else to compare with it. Non-Lutherans may not know of its richness for the simple reason that it appears irrelevant to the concerns of popular Evangelicalism.

Either way, Chaplain Mike's articles are a worthwhile read for anyone interested in God the Crucified.  He provides seven reasons to be thankful for the Lutheran tradition which are summed up as follows:

1. The Lutheran tradition provides a solid historic tradition with roots.

2. The Lutheran tradition gives priority to Word and Table liturgical worship.

3. The Lutheran tradition places a strong emphasis on pastoral ministry.

4. The Lutheran tradition has a healthy emphasis on the vocational callings of all believers.

5. The Lutheran tradition is centered on Christ and the Gospel.

6. The Lutheran tradition keeps proper distinctions between Law and Gospel.

7. The Lutheran tradition has a sacramental theology that corrects the inefficiencies of revivalism.

8. The Lutheran tradition teaches most clearly the biblical doctrine of the Theology of the Cross.

After these 8 points, Mike gives a bonus post called "10 Reasons to Love Luther." All five articles can be accessed by following this link.

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