Sunday, April 30, 2006

Thursday, April 27, 2006

To Whoever wishes to be a Pastor...

"Whoever wishes to be a pastor must be committed with his whole heart to seek only the glory of God and the welfare of his fellowman. If, however, he does not solely seek God's honor and the good of his fellowman, but by his office seeks for personal gain or his neighbor's hurt, you may be sure that he will not stay the course."

--From Martin Luther's second sermon for Misericordias Domini, 1534.

A Great Example of what a Good Shepherd is

I love the movie "Babe the Pig." It's cute, it's fun to watch, I like farms, I like sheep dogs and sheep herding, I grew up on a pig farm, and it's got great theological use too! For me, it has everything!

This morning I used a clip of the movie in our preschool devotional. It was for the three-year-old class, so anytime a movie is on, you have their attention.

For those of you who haven't seen it, Farmer Hoggett wins a piglet at a Lion's Club raffle. The pig is different from the start and is adopted by the mother sheep dog, "Fly."

It isn't long before Hoggett notices Babe's unique talent for working with the other barnyard animals and he gets in his head the idea that Babe could be trained to work the sheep.

But Babe works with the sheep in a very different way. Instead of using intimidation and physical force, Babe simply talks to the sheep and asks them to do what needs to be done. He is so curteous and likeable that the sheep are more than happy to follow his lead.

The last scene has Babe and Farmer Hoggett at a sheep herding competiton. Babe runs into a little trouble when he isn't able to communicate with a different breed of sheep, but after receiving the right words, they also listen to him and follow him.

Now, I know that many may think it is absolutely ridiculous to compare the saving work of Jesus Christ with a children's movie, but I am not suggesting we make Babe part of the canon. It's always a blessing though to see how our Savior's love for us pops its head up in the most unusual places!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Education is the key!

Issues, etc. Book Review: Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen.

It's good to know what lay people are influenced by and reading. I often get too caught up in the volumes of Lutheran theology and works to stay abreast of the most recent charlatans. It's good to know where to look though!

On This Day...

Again, my Old Lutheran Tidbit of the Day Calendar has come in handy in keeping me informed of great moments in Lutheran Geschichte.

On April 26, 1518, the Heidelberg Disputation began. At this meeting, Luther participated in a discussion on some of the newer evagelical ideas of the day. Luther took this opportunity to present his theology of the cross.

Lord God, Almighty and Everlasting Father, we give You all thanks and praise for enlightening our hearts and souls to the truth of Your love in and through Jesus Christ and Him crucified. We thank you for Your humble servant and defender of the Gospel, Martin Luther. Help us ever to retain the true doctrine of Your Word which You allowed Luther to teach in truth and purity.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Luther on the importance of Prayer...

Luther said, "To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing."

Prayer is an important part of our spiritual life, but who do we pray FOR? Do we pray for our benefit of for God's? Do we pray to be better people, to somehow earn favor with God?

To take Luther's comparison of prayer and breathing further, who do we breathe for? Do we ever breathe for anyone else? Certainly not! We breathe to have life. In prayer, we "breathe" so that our new life in Christ will be made stronger. Just as God provides the oxygen we need to breathe, He also provides the Words we breathe in prayer. And the pneuma, that is the Spirit, "helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." Romans 8:26.

I encourage you to be healthy "breathers" and not asthematic Christians. If you don't know what to pray, try this "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner."
Or, "Holy Spirit, my Comfort, pray for me a sinner."


Friday, April 21, 2006

St. Thomas

Stichera for the Aposticha (Tone 4)
What miraculous wonder, that lack of faith became conviction of faith; for Thomas exclaimed, "Unless I see, I will not believe." Wherefore, when he searched the side he spoke of the Godhead of the Incarnate, who is Son of God, and knew that he verily did suffer in the flesh, and thus cried proclaiming the Risen God, shouting in a loud voice, "My Lord and my God, glory to Thee."

What miraculous wonder, that grass should touch fire and be safe: for Thomas cast his hand into the fire of the side of Jesus Christ God, and was not consumed by touching Him. Verily, the obstinate soul turned with fervour to true faith, and he shouted from the depth of his spirit, Thou art my Master and my God who didst rise from the dead. Glory to Thee.

Arm yourselves

With the upcoming Davinci Code movie coming up, as well as the much ado about nothing in regards to the Gospel of Judas, I think it is important for Christians to be educated. Here are some tools that might be helpful:

DaVinci Code online resouces from a very sage man.

and an audio discussion on the Gospel of Judas from two very knowledgeable seminary professors.

Education and knowledge are invaluable gifts that God gives us.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Nice try, but not quite right

ABC's The Ten Commandments may seem like a great victory to some Christians and otherwise "religious" people. Isn't it thoughtful that a major network would go to the trouble of producing an updated and "good looking" version of the well-known Exodus story? It's interesting that a network with programing like Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, and other programming that has been frowned upon by Christian viewers has annual "religious" broadcasting around Easter and Passover.

It's unfortunate that they miss the mark by so far though. It's unfortunate that many Christians miss the mark. Christianity is NOT about keeping the commandments, it's not about what we do. It's about what God has done for us through Christ. It is about the grace of God in flesh. It is about the love of God that gave up everything to make us His own people. I plan on watching the new and updated Commandments. As a Christian, it is an important part of my heritage and faith. But I will be watching the law with the assurance of the gospel.

And, just a little advice for ABC from our brother and Apostle St. Paul:

"You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law." (Romans 2:23)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Check your ears!

One of the temptations and dangers of serving a congregation is getting caught up in praise (not of God, but of yourself.) I'm not saying this to be boastful, but I do get a lot of praise as a Vicar. The congregation likes me and likes to tell me that and I admit sometimes I get to thinking I am pretty great. I was going along with my head about the size of a football field when I turned the page of my Old Lutheran "Tidbit of the Day" Calendar. It had a quote from Luther that really brought me down to earth.

"If you are highly pleased when someone praises you in the presence of others; if perhaps you look for praise, and would sulk or quit what you are doing if you did not get it; if you are of that stripe, dear friend, then take yourself by the ears, and if you do this in the right way you will find a beautiful pair of big, long, shaggy donkey ears."

Dear Lord, You spoke truth through Balaam's ass. I pray that You would continue to use me as Your servant when I am an ass. Keep me and all of Your servants humble as we serve Your Word, that Word that was made flesh for us, that Word that was crucified for us, Jesus Christ. In His name hear all of our prayers!


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Now, that takes a lot of faith

Jesus could have walked on ice?!? This "genius" bit of crud from the scientific community shows its absolute hypocrisy. Don't believe in an intelligent God that formed everything and has a hand in the daily intricate workings of all human life. Instead believe in an absolutely absurd set of highly improbable coincidences that would only happen if a butterfly in the Amazon farted at the exact same instant a monkey in Africa sneezed. Give me a break! This is absolutely ludicrous! The scientific community screams bloody murder anytime the dreaded religion or faith seeks to shine the light of truth, yet the universal Christian community is expected, and unfortunately taught by many clergy (some even in the LCMS), to swallow hook, line and sinker the ridiculous claims of evolution and now Jesus on ice? What's next? Jesus fed the 5,000 with a really good coupon from Denny's?

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." (ICorinthians 1:18-19)

Sometimes all that needs to be done to "destroy the wisdom of the wise" is to give them enough rope.