Monday, June 30, 2008
Those arguments are all dangerously bordering on mocking that most precious gift of God in the sacrifice of His Son for YOU! Your Jesus did die for your sins! Your Jesus bore the burden of every sinful, blasphemous, mocking thought! Your Jesus did hang on that cross for you, He bled for you, suffered for you and died for you! If that isn't YOUR Jesus on the cross, then its not YOUR Jesus who was raised and it is not YOUR Jesus who continuously offers His own Body and Blood for your forgiveness.
Enough of this foolish argument. Christ died for sinners, of which I am chief! We preach Christ crucified. Look to Him on the cross and give thanks for the loving-kindness and steadfast love of the Triune God offered on the altar of the Cross.
Of course, my sinful, cynical nature assumed this young man was looking for some kind of financial help and saw an easy mark in a clergyman. I asked him if I could help him. He asked if I was a priest, I told him I am a Lutheran pastor. To that, he responded with several very deep and serious questions about our Christian faith, especially when compared with the Roman Catholic faith. We talked for about 20 minutes. It was truly wonderful. Had I not just listened to two hours on Roman Catholicism from now fired Reverends Todd Wilken and Martin Noland, I would not have had the answers I did for this young man and his friend.
This is what true mission and outreach are about. It's not all about programs and gimmicks. It's not about "critical events." It's not about asking a waitress if you can pray for her. It's about the work of the Spirit creating these amazing and low-key opportunities. It's about Christians living their faith, being ready to give and account for the hope that fills them.
These two people may never come to Good Shepherd. I have certainly been praying that they would, but it is not for me to give the growth. I am simply a laborer in the Lord's vineyard. I can only give what He has given me to plant. He will cause all the growth.
So, now I wonder if I turned this witnessing story into the Ablaze! (tm) story page, that through the power of the Spirit I was able to share our Lutheran Confession of faith. That I was prepared to do so by the teaching of two faithful men who have been fired for "programmatic and business reasons." That the opportunity came only because I was dressed for work, that is in the clerical uniform of the Church of the Lutheran Confessions.
Well, they didn't post my daughter's baptism story, so we'll see.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
If this is true, it is certainly disturbing news and faithful pastors and laity need to stand up for the true Biblical teaching on the role of women in the Church.
I would certainly hope and pray this is not the case considering Pres. Kieschnick affirmed the Biblical teaching that women are to not hold the pastoral office. However, in the same letter he does acknowledge that there are some disagreements about the role of women in the church.
Please, clear this up someone. There are too many unspoken, unpleasant goings on in our synod. If this is or is not happening, let's clear it up soon.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
I couldn't help but think of that old favorite portrait of Christ at the door. I guess someone inside is telling him "Come back at Christmas and Easter, we don't want to see you too much, it would make it less SPECIAL!!"
WHERE DID THIS FOOLISHNESS COME FROM!?!? Listen to the archives with the good and faithful Dr. Wieting to learn our love-hate relationship with the Eucharist.
To quote the Church Lady, "Well, isn't that SPECIAL?!"
We first meet Barnabas in Acts 4 when St. Luke, the author of Acts, says that the early Christians "were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common" (Acts 4:32). In our day, when diversity is trumpeted and even Christians seem to revel in how different they can be from one another, such a comment from St. Luke is quite the encouragement that there can indeed be something better. The unity of Christians in faith and life is indeed an encouragement and consolation.
We can indeed learn a lot from the early Church of Acts, and from Barnabas himself. As we are told of the early Christians selling their own property - perhaps the equivalent of "vacation homes" and extra land - we meet Barnabas in Acts 4:36: "Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet." What a great example of Christian charity! Barnabas saw the opportunity to use his wealth to proclaim Jesus Christ crucified and risen and to extend the kingdom of God. What great encouragement our Lord gives when His people give generously so that the Gospel may be proclaimed and His kingdom promoted.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
But, I was not content (or really able) to stay in my family's homeland. After getting married my new bride and I moved to St. Louis so I could attend seminary and she grad school. I never imagined living that far from home for so long! My vicarage year took us to central Texas and I was not blessed to see the flat lands of corn, soy beans and wheat for a whole year. Back to St. Louis and now in Western Michigan.
My wife and I have done a lot of traveling by car in our five years of marriage. One constant about any kind of travel or moving is having an itinerary. You need to plan a trip. Know your stops, plan how far you want to go in a day, where you want to eat, pack up everything that you could conceivably need (and now with a little one, that list of "conceivable" needs boggles the mind!)
One thing is certain: when you travel, you want to be prepared. Nothing, in my mind is worse than getting to your destination and finding you have left a key component at home. Or worse, not even getting to your destination because you didn't plan well enough! I guess given my family's history of putting down deep roots in a place, my sometimes obsessive trip planning is understandable.
Perhaps that is why the Gospel reading for the fifth Sunday in Pentecost (Matthew 9:35-10:20, Series A) causes me to worry just a bit.
These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying,'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics nor sandals nor a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.