Wednesday, April 25, 2012

FW: A Lutheran Manifesto




Feed: The High Mid Life
Posted on: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 12:39 PM
Author: (Pastor Fiene)
Subject: A Lutheran Manifesto


I am a soldier in the worship wars.  Though I've only been a pastor for a few years, I have already lobbed countless bombs at those who seek to pervert our confession of faith.  Though I am but a lowly grunt, I have fired innumerable rounds at those who attempt to inject our fonts and pulpits and altars with the poison of Calvin and Zwingli.


And as I look at my fellow soldiers, as I survey the men burrowed in the Confessional trenches with me, I must admit that the deadliest wounds and the deepest scars we bear are not the result of the enemy's attacks.  They are nothing more than self-inflicted carnage, the result of our collective frustration and exhaustion, the fruit of giving into our anger and pride and hatred and becoming exactly what the enemy has portrayed us to be in their vilest propaganda.  


And it's time for this to stop.  It's time for a strategy change.  It's time to fight the worship wars by putting down our guns and picking up our megaphones.  It's time to fight the worship wars by leaving the Pseudo-Lutherans with no one left to deceive.


In our nation, in 21st century America, there is no culture of Lutheranism.  The world around us does not know who we are and what we believe.  While your average American is highly ignorant of the basic teachings of the numerous religious groups in the world, his ignorance of Lutheranism is far greater than his ignorance of most other Christian-ish groups.  Here is a table to illustrate my point:



A phony Romanist can't trick the world into believing that the Catholic Church has women priests because the world knows better.  A false Evangelical can't convince people that his community cherishes the Word and Sacraments because everything else those people have ever seen tells them that the real marks of his church are Starbucks and soul patches.  But, with a slate as blank as ours, a Pseudo-Lutheran can get away with pretty much anything.


And he will get away with pretty much anything until we teach the world who we are, until we teach our children and friends and neighbors to know what a Lutheran looks like and sounds like.  And if we want to fill in that blank Lutheran slate, we won't do it by expending all our energy firing shots at the rebels.  We won't do it by out-politicking the opposition at the synodical convention.  We won't do it by mocking our enemies in secret rooms, in between puffs of cigars and sips of fine scotch.  And we won't do it by sniping at the other side from a nest woven together with confessional message boards and blog posts.


No.  If we want to stop the false teachers in our midst from digging their fingers into the toilets of Willow Creek and passing off their findings as compatible with the Book of Concord, then we must teach the people around us to recognize the lie of evangelical form and Lutheran substance.  And in order to teach them to recognize that lie, then, when it comes to those who sell it, we must out-confess them, out-proclaim them, out-evangelize them, out-outreach them.  We must simply out-work them, both inside and outside of our congregations.


So when they sing vague, meaningless, mantra-driven,spiritualistic blech, we sing the best of our hymns and we sing them right in the face of the word.  We pour those hymns out in concert halls, in youtube videos, at our dinner tables and anywhere else we can fit them until the world knows what Lutheran music sounds like and knows that Lutheran music doesn't sound like a horrible, husky voiced U2 sound alike.


When they teach purpose-driven poppycock, we teach Law and Gospel and we teach this to any set of ears we can find in this world.  We teach it, with the aid of the internet, to people starving for the Gospel halfway across the country and on the other side of the world.  We teach it in conversations with our friends.  We teach it to our neighbors when a couple of Mormons come knocking on their door and we insert ourselves into the discussion in order to show them that our Gospel is so awesome it just swallowed Joseph Smith's gospel in one bite and crapped it out the other end.


When they teach their youth to talk like hipster-evangelicals, we teach our youth to talk like Lutherans.  We brand the Catechism into their memories.  We give them the vocabulary of the Scriptures.  And we train them to know their theology so well that the pastors of the other churches in town secretly hope their youth group members don't bring any of their Lutheran friends to the next Bible study, lest another 14 year old respond to their denial of baptismal regeneration by tearing them apart in a fury of theological evisceration so bloody it would make Quentin Tarantino nauseous.


And when they embark on gimmicky outreach programs riddled with a theology of glory and a denial of original sin, we respond by reaching out further with our hands filled with big, fat chunks of Lutheran bread.  So when they build sleek websites that boast of their faithfulness to God, we build equally sleek websites that make it very clear to people in half a second that Lutherans aren't interested in marketing themselves but in confessing Christ and His forgiveness.  When they build coffee shops for seekers where one can learn how to have a proactive faith walk, we build shelters for the needy where sinners can say to themselves, man, when those Lutherans feed me and clothe me and care for me and pray with me and talk with me, they don't tell me about how my suffering will be gone if I just believe more or trust more or obey more.  Instead, they tell me about Jesus and His love for me in the midst of my suffering, even as they're trying to take my suffering away.


So this is what we do.  When the Pseudo-Lutherans speak, we speak louder to our friends and neighbors.  When they yell, we shout to the public.  When they shout, we scream to the world.  And we don't stop screaming until God gives us what we need-a culture of Lutheranism, a world where people who have never even set foot in one of our churches know what a Lutheran looks like and sounds like, and a world where people understand that the only reason a Lutheran doesn't preach or teach or worship or act like a Lutheran is because he's not a Lutheran.  


So we can either spend the rest of our lives firing on an enemy we'll never hit, or we can let him shoot himself in the foot by letting the world call into question his doctrine and practice.  We can either keep piercing ourselves with our own ricocheted bullets, or we can teach the world to walk away from that enemy when he tries to sell them a Lutheranism that isn't real.


I've already torn my flesh apart enough doing the former.  It's time to try the latter.

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FW: In Defense of Pastoral Tweet Bombing




Feed: Having Two Legs
Posted on: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 10:26 AM
Author: Toby
Subject: In Defense of Pastoral Tweet Bombing


What use is Twitter and Facebook when it comes to pastoral ministry? Should we even try? Is it really smart for pastors to lob verbal grenades into cyber space where any number of people in any number of conditions and situations may do anything they like with them? Is it really all that helpful? I want to defend the practice and encourage those who feel inclined to give it a try.


First of all, I would defend the art of pastoral tweet bombing by pointing to the perfect pastor: Jesus Christ. He's the Head Pastor of the Church, the Chief Shepherd, and we take our cues from Him. Jesus invented Twitter. Jesus was the first pastor to employ Twitter in His pastoral ministry.

He may not have had a smart phone or even a dumb phone, but Jesus was the master of throwing out short truths that were calculated to poke, prod, and offend.

Here are a few samples from Matthew's Twitter Feed:

"Follow Me, and let the dead bury their dead." (Mt. 8:22)

"Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Mt. 9:12-13)

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword." (Mt. 10:34)

"I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." (Mt. 10:35)

"Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees." (Mt. 16:6)

"If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come follow Me." (Mt. 19:21)

The point is that Jesus frequently said things in short, pointy ways that not only could be misunderstood, but which frequently were and were meant to be. Jesus didn't apologize and promise to only write essays, books, and give long sermons that explained everything more carefully. Jesus kept right on saying things that were startling, confusing, and could be easily misunderstood. In fact, Jesus ultimately was condemned for statements that were twisted and taken out of context.

If Jesus had only said things that were more helpful to everyone, He probably could have avoided the cross. Oh good, would someone please let Him know? Actually, there were lawyers and pharisees lining up to give Him the memo.

The fact that some people will read Matthew's quotes above and think that they are reasonable, unobjectionable statements only goes to show that the modern Church has asked a neutered Jesus into their hearts. And now they're frequently wagging a grandmotherly finger whenever anyone says anything that's actually slightly Christ-like.

The point isn't just to say anything that might get a rise out of someone. The point is to tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may. The point is to tell the truth without being bothered with exceptional cases and devilish nuances. The point, dare I say it again, is to tell the truth.

Furthermore, the gospel itself, while it is big and expansive and glorious, is also reducible to Twitter form, and the apostles do not shy away from this.

"I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…" (1 Cor. 15:1-4)

"This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." (1 Tim. 1:15)

"For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit." (1 Pet. 3:18)

And there are others of course.

But the fact of the matter is that Twitter is inescapable. This is the idea of sound bites. We live in a sound bite culture, and there are plenty of reasons to lament that. Our sound bite culture is full of superficiality, hypocrisy, and consequently it is full of morons and easily duped masses.

But even apart from our modern, slack-jawed idiocy, the sound bite has always existed. This is because part of the glory of finitude is the inability to say everything all the time. We always abbreviate, summarize, and abridge. And this does not automatically damn the speech of the human race. In fact, God is the original leader in this venture. When God spoke light into existence, He did not give a lecture on the topic – though He surely could have. He could have exhaustively spoken the entirety of all that light is and means. But instead, He abbreviated. He called Light by a short, potent utterance that commanded it into existence. The whole concept of naming is the same. God brought animals to Adam, and authorized him to name them. And whatever Adam called the little, squatty rodent, that was its name – despite the fact that Adam had only existed for about five minutes and could not have had a very thorough taxonomy figured out on hedgehogs. But God was pleased. He wants His image bearers to name the world like He does, with short descriptions and names. He is not worried if Adam hasn't said everything else he can possibly say about the creature, even though a modern biologist might be able to run circles around him. It is actually incredibly God-like to speak big truths in 140 characters or less.

But the world wasn't a week old yet, and Satan, the Father of Lies, showed up with a lexicon, hoping to tease out some of the nuances of the Word of God. This isn't a case for anti-intellectualism; it's actually the opposite. It's perilously easy for pastors and theologians to get distracted by gnats in the text, while their people are getting trampled by camels in the pews. This leaves the faithful to fend for themselves, digging a few crumbs and scraps out of the theological pile of hot, stinky stuff that frequently passes for a sermon. And of course there are others on the opposite end of the spectrum who actually think the crumbs are the feast. They probably also think that Twitter is all-sufficient for every pastoral need, and they will have their reward.

But ultimately, it is not a pastor's job (or any Christian's for that matter) to make sure everyone understands. Sometimes, God sends pastors and prophets to preach in such a way as to make sure the people don't understand, to tell parables, and perform prophetic charades until the people are deaf, dumb, and blind (Is. 6:9-10, Mk. 4:11-12). It is not necessarily a failure for the truth to be told in a way that stirs up discussion, demands clarification, and confuses people. Jesus did it all the time. And Jesus did it so that some people would be confused, turned off, and reject Him, and others would be drawn to Him, to ask questions, to find out more, to figure out what He meant (Mk. 4:33-34).

Pastors should not think that creating questions and confusion is failure. Even when words might have been chosen more carefully, we should always think of those situations as opportunities. If you need to correct what you said, then correct it. But when people demand answers, the answer is always Jesus. And when people clamber for more, you're in a win-win situation. There is no down side to getting to talk about Christ.


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FW: The three stages of error




Feed: Cranach: The Blog of Veith
Posted on: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 4:00 AM
Author: Gene Veith
Subject: The three stages of error


Charles Porterfield Krauth was an American Lutheran theologian of the 19th century.  His book The Conservative Reformation is a classic of theology and church history.  You may perhaps have heard what he said about the three stages of error–from the request for toleration to a demand for equality to the imposition of superiority over truth–but thanks to Pastor Mark Schroeder for posting the actual quotation:

"When error is admitted into the Church, it will be found that the stages of its progress are always three. It begins by asking toleration. Its friends say to the majority: You need not be afraid of us; we are few, and weak; only let us alone; we shall not disturb the faith of the others. The Church has her standards of doctrine; of course we shall never interfere with them; we only ask for ourselves to be spared interference with our private opinions. Indulged in this for a time, error goes on to assert equal rights. Truth and error are two balancing forces. The Church shall do nothing which looks like deciding between them; that would be partiality. It is bigotry to assert any superior right for the truth. We are to agree to differ, and any favoring of the truth, because it is truth, is partisanship. What the friends of truth and error hold in common is fundamental. Anything on which they differ is ipso facto non-essential. Anybody who makes account of such a thing is a disturber of the peace of the church. Truth and error are two co-ordinate powers, and the great secret of church-statesmanship is to preserve the balance between them. From this point error soon goes on to its natural end, which is to assert supremacy. Truth started with tolerating; it comes to be merely tolerated, and then only for a time. Error claims a preference for its judgments on all disputed points. It puts men into positions, not as at first in spite of their departure from the Church's faith, but in consequence of it. Their recommendation is that they repudiate the faith, and position is given them to teach others to repudiate it, and to make them skillful in combating it."

via Steadfast Lutherans » Charles Porterfield Krauth's Three Steps to Doctrinal and Ecclesial "Nihilism".

Can you think of some examples of this?

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

FW: Encouragement for Pastors, “a little while”




Feed: Steadfast Lutherans
Posted on: Monday, April 23, 2012 2:41 PM
Author: Pastor Joshua Scheer
Subject: Encouragement for Pastors, "a little while"


While doing my prep work for this Sunday's sermon, I ran across a quote which was very fitting for many men who serve in the Office of the Ministry.  From Luther's House Postils (volume six of the "Complete Sermons of Martin Luther") page 90.  Luther is preaching on this Sunday's text for the one year lectionary

(John 16:16-22)  "A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me." So some of his disciples said to one another, "What is this that he says to us, 'A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me'; and, 'because I am going to the Father'?" So they were saying, "What does he mean by 'a little while'? We do not know what he is talking about." Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, "Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, 'A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me'? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Now here is what Luther had to say in his sermon on the text:

This [sorrow being finally transmuted into eternal joy] is something we should learn very well, so that we still have the right perspective in times of affliction and temptation, enabling us to say, I do indeed have grief now but it's only for a little while and then this sorrow will be turned into joy.  Especially do we need this attitude if we are in the preaching ministry.  The devil and the world will never stop assailing you.  If you speak the truth, the world rages madly; it begins to curse, condemn, and persecute, and you'll have to endure scorn and mockery.  And if the world can whip out its sword against you, it will surely do that too, with master devil joining the fray driving such poisonous, fiery darts into your heart that you will almost literally suffer a meltdown!  When you experience this kind of tribulation – the world cursing and persecuting, deriding and laughing, and the devil also plaguing you – what will you do?  Become impatient, give up the ministry, walk away from it all, even cursing?  Not at all!  Instead have patience, wait it out, take courage and say, So what?  Didn't my Lord Christ predict, "Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice."  But, He added, Your sorrow will turn into joy after "a little while."  Because He's always trustworthy, never having lied to me about the "little" namely, that I do not now see Him and therefore weep and lament, so He will also not deceive me in regard to the other "little," namely that I will see Him again and my heart will rejoice!  And that's why we need seriously to ponder His words when He describes this alternating between not seeing and then seeing Christ, being sorrowful and then rejoicing, weeping and then being cheerful!

If you know a pastor who is going through a tough time share this with him.  For even his ministry is but "a little while".

I would strongly encourage regular reading of Luther's sermons for your own studies or devotional life.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

FW: LetUsPray - May 27, 2012 (Pentecost Day)



From: LCMS e-News []
Sent: Sunday, April 22, 2012 8:48 PM
To: Paul Cain
Subject: LetUsPray - May 27, 2012 (Pentecost Day)


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Download the prayers for May 27, 2012 (Pentecost Day) in Word format

Download the prayers for May 27, 2012 (Pentecost Day) in RTF format

Prayer of the Church
The Day of Pentecost
May 27, 2012


Each petition ends with, "Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord," and the congregation responds with, "hear our prayer."


P          Let us pray.


P          Almighty God, we give thanks for all Your goodness and bless You for the love that sustains us from day to day. We praise You for the gift of Your Son, our Savior, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. We thank You for the Holy Spirit, the Comforter; for Your holy Church, for the means of grace, for the lives of all faithful and just people, and for the hope of the life to come. Help us to treasure in our hearts all that You have done for us, and enable us to show our thankfulness in lives that are wholly given to Your service. Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord,

C         hear our prayer.


P          By Your Helper, the Holy Spirit, bring spiritual renewal in this congregation, in the Synod, and in the Holy Christian Church on earth, that we may live sanctified lives wholly dedicated in love to the neighbor, having been justified by the blood of Your beloved Son. Come Holy Ghost, God and Lord,

C         hear our prayer.


P          Pour out Your Holy Spirit on our missionaries, at home and abroad, giving them the words to speak as they proclaim salvation through Jesus Christ to those who do not yet know Him. Give them the Spirit of truth, and use them as Your instruments as You bring unbelievers to faith. Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord,

C         hear our prayer.


P          Protect the armed forces of this country as they protect our nation from those who would harm us. On this Memorial Day weekend, we especially give You thanks for those who have given their lives in service to the nation, sacrificing themselves for our well-being.  If it be Your will, grant peace among all nations. Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord,

C         hear our prayer.


P          By Your Word and Holy Spirit, comfort all who are in sorrow or need, sickness or adversity (especially ___________). Be with those who suffer persecution for the faith.  Have mercy on those to whom death draws near. Bring consolation to those in sorrow (especially ___________), and grant to all a measure of Your love, taking them into Your tender care. Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord,

C         hear our prayer.


P          Let Your holy angel guide all those who travel this holiday weekend, and protect them from any harm. Make our ways safe and our homecomings joyful, and bring us at last to our heavenly home. Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord,

C         hear our prayer.


P          Creator Spirit, by whose aid the world's foundations first were laid, come visit every humble mind; come pour Your joys on humankind; from sin and sorrow set us free; may we Your living temples be; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Father, one God, now and forever. 

C         Amen.



Download the prayers for May 27, 2012 (Pentecost Day) in Word format

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

FW: Wie lieblich sind doch deine Füß




Posted on: Saturday, April 21, 2012 7:04 AM
Author: Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes)
Subject: Wie lieblich sind doch deine Füß


Here is my translation of the hymn "Wie lieblich sind doch deine Füß" (G.W. Sacer, †1699), on Jesus' paschal greeting of peace in Luke 24. The appointed melody is "Du Friedensfürst, Herr Jesu Christ."

HOW LOVELY are Thy piercèd feet,
Thy mouth how tender now!
How comforting Thy sentence sweet,
My Ground of faith art Thou!
Good Messenger,
Death's Conqueror
Of peace the true Restorer.

2. Now is the Most High's Word fulfilled;
Now mind and sense, be glad!
Now is the Father's vengeance stilled,
Now fear and doubting fade.
My Jesus, dead
In my own stead,
Hath paid for my transgression.

3. The peace of God doth reign in me
That doth all thoughts excel.
The door of heav'n I open see,
Away, ye hordes of hell!
Ye strike no fear,
My Savior here
Says peace with me abideth.

4. Whene'er the Law as thunder peals
When on mine ear the curse
From Moses' written record steals,
My Lord doth them reverse;
Ye strike no fear,
My Savior here
Says peace with me abideth.

5. Whene'er the world aggrieves me sore,
As if to pierce my breast,
Beset beside, behind, before,
Then Jesus gives me rest.
They strikes no fear,
My Savior here
Says peace with me abideth.

6. When need and sorrow weigh on me,
When fickle friends disdain,
Yet I am quickened mightily,
His comfort doth remain
Need strikes no fear,
My Savior here
Says peace with me abideth.

7. When by my flesh I am disturbed,
My passions kindled high,
Its wicked will is quickly curbed,
If I to Jesus cry.
Flesh strikes no fear
My Savior here
Says peace with me abideth.

8. When fearsome death shall press with pow'r
And beckon: "Thou art mine";
E'en then in life's last anguished hour,
With Jesus I'll recline.
Death strikes no fear,
My Savior here
Says peace with me abideth.

9. Thanks be to Thee, O Prince of Peace,
For this Thy good possessed,,
Which Thou wilt keep and yet increase.
My heart, in Thee at rest,
Though failing here
Will have no fear:
In peace I'll be departing.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2012.

1. Wie lieblich sind doch deine Füß,
wie freundlich ist dein Mund,
wie tröstet mich dein Wort so süß,
O meines Glaubensgrund!
Du guter Bot,
Du Todestod,
Du Friedens-Wiederbringer.

2. Nun ist des Höchsten Wort erfüllt,
sei froh, mein ganzer Sinn!
Nun ist des Herrn Zorn gestillt,
nun ist das Zagen hin.
Mein Jesus hat
an meine Statt
die Sündenschuld gebüsset.

3. Der Friede Gottes herrscht in mir,
der über die Vernunft;
mir öffnet sich des HImmelstür.
Weg, weg, du Höllenzunft.
Du schreckst mich nicht;
mein Heiland spricht,
Mit mir soll sein der Friede.

4. Wenn des Gesetzes Donner knallt
und wenn mir in das Ohr
der Fluch aus Mosis Büchern schallt,
so schütz ich Jesum vor.
Du schreckst mich nicht;
mein Heiland spricht,
Mit mir soll sein der Friede.

5. Wenn mich die Welt erbärmlich plagt
und setzt mir heftig zu,
von einem Ort zum andern jagt,
so schafft mir Jesus Ruh.
Die Welt schreckt nicht,
mein Heiland spricht,
mit mir soll sein der Friede.

6. Wenn mich die Not und Trübsal drückt,
wenn mich mein Freund verstoßt,
werd ich doch kräftiglich erquickt,
mir bleibt des Herren Trost.
Die Not schreckt nicht;
mein Heiland spricht,
Mit mir soll sein der Friede.

7. Wenn mich mein Fleisch unruhig macht
und reizt den Lüstern Zahn,
wird doch sein Wille nicht vollbracht,
ruf ich nur Jesum an.
Das Fleisch schreckt nicht;
mein Heiland spricht,
Mit mir soll sein der Friede.

8. Wenn auf mich dringt der grimme Tod,
und rufet: Du bist mein;
so will auch in der Todesnot
mein Heiland bei mir sein.
Der Tod schreckt nicht;
mein Heiland spricht,
Mit mir soll sein der Friede.

9. Dank sei dir, O du Friedefürst,
für das erworbne Gut,
daß du mir wohl erhalten wirst;
in dir mein Herze ruht,
und wenn es bricht,
erschreck ich nicht,
ich fahre hin im Friede.

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FW: Hiding From God Behind His Law




Feed: Tullian Tchividjian
Posted on: Friday, April 20, 2012 4:57 AM
Author: Tullian Tchividjian
Subject: Hiding From God Behind His Law


There are two ways we can miss the mark of righteousness before God, two ways the relationship can be destroyed.

One is more or less obvious: outright sinfulness, unrighteousness, lawlessness, self-indulgence, what the Bible would call "worldliness" or, perhaps in more modern dress, carelessness or heedlessness. In other words, we can just say to God, "No thanks, I don't want it, I'll take my own chances."

The other is much less obvious and more subtle, one that morally earnest people have much more trouble with: turning our back on the free gift and saying in effect, "I do agree with what you demand, but I don't want charity. That's too demeaning. So I prefer to do it myself. What you are offering is too cheap. I prefer the law to grace, thank-you very much. That seems safer to me."

What this means, of course, is that secretly we find doing it ourselves more flattering to our self-esteem–the current circumlocution for pride. The law, that is, even the law of God–"the most salutary doctrine of life"– is used as a defense against the gift. Thus, the more we "succeed", the worse off we actually are. The relationship to the giver of the free gift is broken…the Almighty God desires simply to be known as the giver of the gift of absolute grace. To this we say "no". Then the relationship is destroyed just as surely as it was by our immorality. To borrow the language of addiction, it is the addiction that destroys the relationship…One can be addicted either to what is base or to what is high, either to lawlessness or lawfulness. Theologically there is not any difference since both break the relationship to God, the giver.

The law is not a remedy for sin. It does not cure sin. St. Paul says it was given to make sin apparent, indeed to increase it. It doesn't do that necessarily by increasing immorality, although that can happen when rebellion or the power of suggestion leads us to do just what the law is against. But what the theologian of the cross sees clearly from the start is that, even more perversely, the law multiplies sin precisely through our morality, our misuse of the law and our "success" at it. It becomes a defense against the gift. That is the very essence of sin: refusing the gift and thereby setting what we do in the place of what God has done.

There is something in us that is always suspicious of or rebels against the gift. The defense that it is too cheap, easy, or morally dangerous is already the protest of the Old Adam and Eve who fear–rightly!–that their house is under radical attack. Since they are entrenched behind the very law of God as their last and most pious defense, the attack must indeed be radical. It is a battle to the death.

Gerhard Forde, On Being a Theologian of the Cross, pg. 26-28

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FW: Why do we kneel?




Feed: Pastoral Meanderings
Posted on: Friday, April 20, 2012 5:00 AM
Author: (Pastor Peters)
Subject: Why do we kneel?


There were a few folks who were not so sure about the decision to include kneelers in our new church (well, 11 years old and counting).  Some did not know Lutherans knelt (ever a surprise to find out how catholic Lutherans are).  Some knew about kneeling and did not like it (not a surprise to find out some Lutherans are suspicious of things they might deem a little too catholic).  Some did not want anyone to kneel if they did not (or could not due to inability) -- thinking that the different postures would divide the church (surprising since we have always had folks who did not kneel though the majority do kneel for Holy Communion).

Anyway, I did find a section on the Pope's homily for Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday) where he directed us to the postures of prayer in Scripture.  It was nice and short but very well written.  So I pass it on to you here:

Before reflecting on the content of Jesus' petition, we must still consider what the evangelists tell us about Jesus' posture during his prayer. Matthew and Mark tell us that he "threw himself on the ground" (Mt 26:39; cf. Mk 14:35), thus assuming a posture of complete submission, as is preserved in the Roman liturgy of Good Friday. Luke, on the other hand, tells us that Jesus prayed on his knees. In the Acts of the Apostles, he speaks of the saints praying on their knees: Stephen during his stoning, Peter at the raising of someone who had died, Paul on his way to martyrdom. In this way Luke has sketched a brief history of prayer on one's knees in the early Church. Christians, in kneeling, enter into Jesus' prayer on the Mount of Olives.   When menaced by the power of evil, as they kneel, they are upright before the world, while as sons and daughters, they kneel before the Father. Before God's glory we Christians kneel and acknowledge his divinity; by that posture we also express our confidence that he will prevail.  


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Thursday, April 19, 2012

FW: Why would any Christian read the Psalms?




Feed: Justification Rules
Posted on: Thursday, April 19, 2012 1:20 PM
Author: (Jay Hobson)
Subject: Why would any Christian read the Psalms?


Today's Christianity doesn't want anything but to be happy. It wears the facade of righteousness and ignores the fact that each and every Christian is a dirty rotten sinner. Because of this, most of Christianity must ignore the Psalms.

Take Psalm 22:6 "But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;" What self-righteous Christian would ever let these words pass from his mouth believing it was about him? None. No person thinks that he or she is a worm and not a man.

Thus the Holy Spirit must preach it into our hearts. He must convict the world and each of us of sin through the preaching of God's Law. He must bring us to a realization that we aren't righteous people, but worms. See the proof in the crucifixion: As Jesus cried out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?", we know that he spoke the entire psalm. He cried out these words as a sinner, though he was not one. He died the death of a sinner, felt the condemnation of the Father on behalf of all mankind, and had imputed to him the guilt of all sinners, which declared him a "worm and not a man."

Christ died for worms. He died for sinners. If you cannot say that you are "a worm and not a man," then you don't believe that Christ died for you.

I am a worm and not a man.

But Christ died for this poor worm, and gave birth to a new man who will be made whole on the return of the Lord. He forgave me, and where there is the forgiveness of sins there is also life and salvation.

Read the psalms. Read all the psalms.  Know that you're a sinner, and that God has promised mercy and has given it to you through His Son.

+Kyrie Eleison+

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FW: The Beauty of the Traditional Christian Prayer Services! Listen and watch this.




Feed: Cyberbrethren Lutheran Blog Feed
Posted on: Thursday, April 19, 2012 9:30 AM
Author: Paul T. McCain
Subject: The Beauty of the Traditional Christian Prayer Services! Listen and watch this.


Please enjoy this beautiful order of Matins, prayed at The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod's International Center, with the Concordia Theological Seminary's select choir, the Kantorei, lending their gifts to the service. You can hear them harmonizing during the singing of Matins.


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