Monday, June 26, 2006

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Interesting Discussions

Rev. Paul McCain has stumbled into (but more likely kicked!) a liturgical hornets' nest on his blog Cyberbrethren. Interesting discusion, and as one might suspect when dealing with a subject so close to the heart and the soul as worship practices, very heated. Readers of this blog will note that I lean pretty far over into the camp of "chancel prancers." I'm not ashamed of that. There is great meaning and depth in historic forms of liturgical worship. And worship does form and shape doctrine, just as the kind of clothes one wears forms and shapes not only others opinions of him, but his own view of himself.

What I like the best about Pastor McCain's discussion is the idea that it is not right to radically change practices of worship in either direction. I'm not talking one pastor who chants the liturgy and another who speaks it. I'm talking no vestments, might-as-well-be-Baptist Lutherans vs. Lutherans who present worship styles that suggest prayer to saints, an unhealthy veneration of the Blessed Virgin (which some people might think calling Mary "the Blessed Virgin" is unhealthy), and an attitude of why-did-we-ever-leave-let's-be-more-Catholic-than the pope.

I fear that vast differences in worship practice in the LCMS is terribly confusing to laity, devisive among clergy, and in general do not in any way aid or adourn the Gospel of Christ. But, can anything be done about it? I worry about the possibility of a split in the LCMS a lot, but is there an alternative? Would it be better to split rather than calling ourselves a Synod? Isn't that kind of hypocritical? Just some thoughts.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Antichrist rides again!!

Check out this from Rome. Nothing new here really, just holding fast to the office of the antichrist.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

On Mini-Blind Cords and Sin

I am in my office and I noticed that the cord to my mini-blinds has become terribly tangled. I have no idea how this happened. I don't play with the cord. All I do is pull it up in the mornings and pull it down in the evenings. I suppose it has been slowly tangling for some time, but I only took notice of it this morning because it was so horribly tangled. It's a real mystery.

But isn't our sin like this simple little cord? If we just acknowledge it on Sunday mornings and don't give much thought to it any other time, it is likely that it will slowly start to tangle up. We won't notice it for a while. We'll still pull on it on Sundays. But one day, like my mini-blind cord, you'll find that it has become horribly tangled. It may become so tangled that you just stop pulling on it all together. You stop going to church, because, really, what's the point? The words of the Pastor aren't going to do anything. Why not just let the shade of your heart down? Do you really need to see out? Do you really need the pesky light of Truth to shine in?

The reason my mini-blind cord has gotten all tangled is because, although I did not personally sit and tangle it up, I did nothing to prevent it from tangling. God has won for us and freely gives us eternal life, forgiveness of sins, and salvation. It is His work that urges us to "check the cord" so to speak. It is His Word that tells us our life is getting tangled up. And it is His Word that untangles it.

I will spend probably the next 5 minutes untangling that cord. I hope it can still be untangled. It's pretty bad. I may need to have someone who does not have "sausage fingers" do it for me.

Spend some time with God, in prayer, in His Word, He will untangle the knots of sin that have bound your heart. Turn to God and He will do it for you.

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
For when I kept silent,
my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,"
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.
Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you
at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
they shall not reach him.
You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.
Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
Psalm 32

Happy Anniversary!

Ok, it's to my wife and me, but if I didn't say anything then no one would know, and I'm much too self-absorbed to not have people know that I have a great wife!! Three years ago today Lesa and I were married by Pastor Steve Ahlersmeyer at Zion Lutheran Church in Woodburn, Indiana. Who would have ever guessed we would be celebrating 3 years later in central Texas? It has been a wonderful 3 years and I am confident in saying that I would not be where I am today without the love and support of such a wonderful wife.

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. (ok, this is a stretch!)
Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all."
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
Proverbs 31:10, and selected verses

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Vestis virum reddit

"Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society." --Mark Twain

Behold, with the words “He who abides in Me, and I in him,” (John 15:5) Christ wants to indicate that Christianity is not brought in from without; it is not put on like a garment, nor does it consist in the adoption of a new manner of living, which, like monasticism and self-chosen sanctity, is concerned with works. It is a new birth brought about by God’s Word and Spirit; there must be an entirely new man from the bottom of his heart. Then, however, when the heart is born anew in Christ, fruits will follow naturally, such as the confession of the Gospel, works of love, obedience, patience, chastity, etc.
Luther, M. (1999, c1961). Vol. 24: Luther's works, vol. 24 : Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 14-16 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (Jn 15:6). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

It is true, Christianity is not put on like a garment, it does not come about by some new manner of living, it is a new birth, a recreation. However, just as a man should wear men's clothing, a woman woman's clothing, and children children's clothing, the new man in Christ does put on the clothes of Christ.

As Mark Twain said, naked people, especially "naked" Christians, have little to no effect on society. So...GET DRESSED!!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

This just in from the "It Could Be Worse" files...

In much of the western world, Christianity is struggling, and, saddly, in some cases, succumbing, to the battle to preserve Biblical marriages. Same-sex unions are sinful, they are totally opposed to Biblical doctrine, and they are socially dangerous as well.

But, as with most things, we could certainly have it a lot worse! Check out this union of matrimony in the Hindu false religion. So, where does the inter-species couple register at? TSC, or maybe Petsmart?

The Happy Couple!!

Friday, June 02, 2006

On incense, chanting, bowing, and other things "Taboo"

Why are these things taboo in most mainstream, contemporary Lutheran circles? We have had it instilled in our collective psyche from the first moment the hammer hit the nail at Wittenberg that we were possibly wrong. Then, as the peasants threatened to tear the world apart, we got that feeling even more strongly. And all the time we question and second guess ourselves. Did we go far enough? Can we really do what we have done? Is it ok to put the Bishop on a boat and send him across the Mississippi?

We have a lot of fears in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Fears of being “too Catholic.” Fears of not being “relevant.” Fears of being “too evangelical.” Fears that we somehow are not right, even though we know we are.

We did not leave the Catholic Church, we reformed her. By remaining true to the Gospel and standing up to Satan and his lies, we have been given the mantle of the Catholic Church. There are many things that did not need reforming. Liturgical worship was and is a blessing. The use of incense and other tools to aid us in attaining a reverent and awe-filled attitude in the presence of the Living God are blessings. Making the sign of the cross as a remembrance of one’s baptism is a blessing. Bowing out of respect and awe for the holiness of God as He gives us His holy Body and Blood are a natural and healthy response.

So, my Lutheran brethren (and sisteren!), stop looking over your shoulder to see what all the other “reform” minded people are doing. Be Lutheran! Be Evangelical! Be Catholic! Be the Church! Be a beacon of the most precious and beautiful of all of God’s gifts: The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ. (And don’t worry about the capital letters!)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Prayer of Someone

And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, "What are you arguing about with them?" And someone from the crowd answered him, "Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that made him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid...But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." And Jesus said to him, "If you can! All things are possible for one who believes." Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!" Mark 9:14-18a, 22b-24

I know and believe that with God all things are possible. I know and believe that God works for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purposes. I know and believe all these things, but how often, O Lord, do I behave as if i don't believe? How often do I let doubts and concerns and fears and stress blot out the bright rays of Your Holy Love? Lord God, my God and my King! I believe; help my unbelief!


Church Mural

A couple of months ago the Sunday School Superintendant of the church asked me if I could paint a mural for the Family Life Center. I told her I'd be happy to and made a suggestion of what I'd like to paint. This is what I've been working on for the past couple of weeks. The tasks of a Vicar! Oh the variety!