Thursday, January 31, 2008

Burdening God

No one ever wants to be a burden to their loved ones. We want to be the ones who help, who comfort, who bear the burdens of others. I have been a pastor for a short time, but already, that has been one of the biggest fears I have encountered, "I just don't want to be a burden."

And yet, we are a burden to God. We burdened Him on the cross, we burden Him with our sinful pride, we burden Him by refusing to let ourselves recognize that we are a burden.

I think that is why Jesus emphasized child-like faith. Children are fist and foremost a burden. This is not a criticism of children, it is just the truth. I can see the burden our child puts on my wife's body. I can see the burden I put on my parents as a child. I do not feel bad about that. Children never do feel bad about burdening their parents. It was what we must do. In order to survive childhood, we must be a burden at some point.

This is why a child-like faith is so important. It is not that it is innocent, on the contrary, a child-like faith is one that happily burdens our Lord. A child-like faith is one that looks at the burden of Christ crucified and says, "Thanks, daddy!" A child-like faith lives in the simplicity and peace of depending on another so completely that every thing it does is borne by the love of another. This is the faith we are called to have. In reality, we can have no other faith. Faith that does not burden God is no faith at all. Hence our Lord's words, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (St. Matthew 11:28-30)

And maybe this being a burden is why some find the crucified Lord so disturbing. The thought of burdening another is so utterly repellant to them that they run the risk of missing the beauty of the Gospel. It is always important to remember that Christ Crucified is both Law and Gospel. And this is what we preach.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Isn't it annoying when...

you realize you are one of the biggest perpetrators of your own pet peeve?

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say "That's ok" in response to an apology. I think this is especially damaging in the communion of saints. It's not "ok" when someone sins against you. It is bad, so bad that God Himself is the only one who could make it "ok." He did this through the blood of Christ Jesus. And we so casually say "That's ok."

And I do this just as much as anyone. But I am going to make a conscious effort to stop. When someone asks me to forgive them, I am going to tell them that I forgive them. I'm not going to shrug it off and just say "That's ok."

I'm sure many people will be uncomfortable by this practice. Ultimately, I don't think people really want to be forgiven. They just want to have their sins and tresspasses overlooked. God does not overlook our tresspasses, He overwhelms them with His mercy and loving-kindness and He tells us to do the same..."forgive us our tresspasses as we forgive those who tresspass against us."

Where you find vigilantes...

You often find a society, institutions, justice system that is either totally corrupt, useless or ineffective(or all of the above!)

I bring this up because some have said my e-mail from the previous post is vigilantism. It may be.

Think about what kind of institution would breed vigilantism. Is that necessarily a bad thing? If things are not getting done, if rules are blatantly being broken or just flat out ignored with absoltely no consequence, what is the responsibilty of the individual? Should we sit around and wait for the proper authorities to do their job? If the proper authorities refuse to do their job, are they still proper authorities?

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Joys of E-mail...

The following is an e-mail correspondence I had with a fellow pastor in the Missouri Synod. It is regards to my concerns about a video he had posted on YouTube of a woman preaching. To be fair, she was not preaching from a pulpit or to a congregation. However, this pastor teaches a homiletics class at his church and this was her final exam. At best, this kind of thing is confusing and borders on false-teaching and a vast misunderstanding of AC XIV, at worst, this is a denial of what Scripture teaches regarding the role of women, our Confessional Documents and the doctrine our church body holds to.

I admit that I was a bit over-zealous and have called him to apologize for being so harsh. I have left two messages with my brother in the hopes that we can work this out.

As you will see in his response, he was not interested in explaining himself or his actions. He was condescending, trite, and arrogant in his response to me. I am a new pastor and I do strive for integrity to the Holy Scriptures and the Confession of Christ's Church. I encourage all Lutherans to strive for the same integrity, however, learn from my example. Don't be jerky in defense of your beliefs.

Also, do not assume new, young pastors are somehow fundamentally lacking because they have not been infected with "life-experience" (i.e., blatant liberalism and a compromising attitude toward all doctrine). If someone asks you a question, even if it is a bit (or a lot) snarky, you can't automatically play the "Pharisee" card. We are supposed to be in communion with one another. I still am waiting for a defense of his practice.

I saw a video on YouTube of a woman preaching and it claims she is studying homiletics under your supervision. Is this the actual case? If it is, as a brother pastor in the Missouri Synod, I am very disappointed and disturbed by this disdain for Scripture, the Confessions and our own church's
teaching on the role of women in the Church. I can certainly understand if you
do not agree with the teachings of Holy Scripture, the Confessions, or our
church body, but if you do not agree, why would you so blatantly scandalize and your brothers and sisters? Why not leave? Do you want there to be a rift? Are you trying to cause problems, to offend your weaker brother?
Please clarify this for me, as your dear brother. I will await your reply
while putting the best construction on what I hope is an innocent mistake.


I read your email and couldn't help but think of how Jesus continually attacked the Pharisees. The Pharisees were white washed tombs. The outside of their cups were clean but the insides were dirty. Jim, you are a modern day Pharisee.

In your email you call me brother. I can assure you that you are not a brother in any sense of the term. You are self righteous, proud and arrogant. I checked and I see that you are a recent sem graduate. Now your email makes sense.

You are young and in need of a mentor. I suggest you find a pastor who has life experience to take you under their wing. You and any ministry you are involved in need that help.

I will not read any further correspondences from you. I will delete them immediately. If you want to give me a call and apologize I will be happy to discuss any and all issues you would like.

Monday, January 21, 2008

"We upped ours..."

Both the LCMS and the ELCA have recently come out with new hymnals. Our hymnal price will soon be going up, but still is reasonably priced. I can just hear the heads of CPH and Augsburg Fortress now. (CPH Guy to AF Guy) "Hey, we just upped our price, up yours!!"

I know, its corny and tacky, but it makes me laugh every time I think about it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

NEW from ABLAZE! (TM) Industries!

Light your friends on FIRE! with the enthusiasm of something in the new ABLAZE! (TM) game! Don't let the cold, stodgy, waters of Baptism and Doctrine stifle your enthusiasm! WE NEED TO BE RELEVANT!!!

Our Heavenly Heritage

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, our country saw an explosion of immigration from several European countries. This is not really all that new, our country is, after all, technically made up of entirely of immigrants. What was interesting about that wave of immigration was that it presented a much larger scale problem for U.S. culture. The problem of assimilation. It is a problem we face with the increasing immigration from Mexico and Latin America today. How much of your native land do you hold on to and how much do you assimilate and become like the new land?

I think it is funny when older people, especially 1st or 2nd generation German-Americans, complain about Hispanic immigrants not learning the language. Truthfully, if there had not been two devastating wars in which Germany was a very big pain in the butt (to say the least), many Midwestern Lutheran Churches would still be having exclusively German services, there would be exclusive German neighborhoods, businesses, schools, libraries, etc.

This struggle with assimilation into a new culture is a very real struggle with Christians. We must never forget that, as Christians, this worldly truly is not our home. We are foreigners, strangers in a strange land. So, how much of our heavenly heritage do we hold on to and in what ways can we be like our present culture? Over and over again Scripture tells us that we cannot assimilate one bit. It is, in fact, impossible because we are dead to sin and alive to Christ.

It is part of the pastoral office to maintain our heavenly heritage. That's one very good reason why we do not simply do things the same on Sunday as we do the rest of the week. Our worship should be the last place we assimilate, and yet it is often the first place. My Fathers would weep to know of my limited knowledge of their native language. They would find it inconceivable that I do not have the German Small Catechism memorized. They would wonder if I were, in fact, truly Lutheran.

Perhaps our church Fathers would also weep to know of our limited knowledge of the native language of the Church, the divine liturgy. They, I'm sure, would find it inconceivable how little I know about the doctrines and struggles of the Church, perhaps they would even wonder, from all outward appearances, if I were even a Christian at all.

Our heavenly heritage is of great importance. While assimilation is a tempting thing, it is not an option for one who truly loves and longs to return to the Fatherland.


An excellent post by Pr. Tom Chryst on what "open" communion really is.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Pendulum of History...

seems to always swing between extremes with a brief encounter with stability. The problem is knowing what is true stability and what is your own brand of extremism. Our guide as truly orthodox, catholic Christians (i.e., Confessional Lutherans) is always Holy Scripture, which never changes. Again, the problem is knowing what is truly Holy Scripture and what is your own brand of faulty interpretation.

Is there a connection...

Between the generation (mostly, from what I can discern, in my grandparents age, commonly called the "greatest generation") that was told by "knowledgeable" doctors, nurses, mothers, friends, etc. that breast feeding their babies was the worst thing they could do and the same generation that was told by "knowledgeable" pastors, district presidents, seminaries, etc. that weekly communion was the worst thing they could do???

It seems to me that there must be some connection and it seems the connection lies in some uber-confidence in the know-how, intuition and ultimate perfection of man through scientific reason and theory. In both instances, the good gifts of God, given for the perfect nourishment of His people are utterly disregarded in favor of a starvation diet of the intellect.

As my lovely wife and I are taking pre-birthing classes, I am amazed, as are many of the younger nurses and doctors, that there was ever a time when something as perfect as breast feeding would have been cast aside. My parents generation, and in many cases, my own generation are now reaping the bitter fruit of that "wisdom" of men with lowered immunities, hightened allergies and a long list of other possible ailments that came from this denial of God's provision.

Many of my peers in the Office of the Holy Ministry are also amazed that there was ever a time when pastors, well-meaning or not, would have denied the faithful feeding of their flocks. Our Church is also reaping that bitter fruit with apathy, spiritual anemia, allergic reactions to sanctification, and general disease.

And yet, there are still some die-hards who insist breast feeding is not nearly as good as formula, those same die-hards insist that weekly communion is not nearly as "special" as monthly, or even, God forbid, quarterly communion.

What a shame. God, preserve us from looking too highly on our own abilities and know how and turn us to Your perfect wisdom which shines forth from the bright light of the Incarnate Word!