Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Introducing Theology Geek blog

Today, I stumbled upon Theology Geek blog by Jason S. Evans. Actually, I believe that somebody... I think Daniel of Random Confessions blog, introduced him a while back on his blog as well, but I can't find that post. Anyway, I checked out Jason's blog because of this comment posted to Here We Stand's post by Chris Williams on How To Get People to Care...?

I am just coming into Lutheranism from being a reformed Baptist. My previous church actually grew tremendously when theology started being taught from the pulpit and on Wednesday nights. I think a lot of people want more out of church than a country club, but most churches are so "purpose driven", all they get is bland country-club Christianity. I think if the pastor or someone in the congregation is a good Bible teacher, then some of deeper things should be explored. There's nothing wrong with studying a book on systematic theology or the Book of Concord with your congregation. At least the congregation will know that this stuff is important, and not just the irrelevant thoughts of a bunch of old dead guys.

I am always interested, intrigued and encouraged when I find other recent coverts to true Lutheranism from "generic evangelicalism" and I try to highlight them on this blog as an encouragement for others. I am still reading through his blog and will continue this holiday weekend (when I'm not at the rink for son's big hockey tournament!).

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Two great posts on the power of God's Holy Word


The Proclaimed and Present Word by John of Confessing Evangelical

The confessional Lutheran church taught me this: When the Word is invoked, Christ is truly present. We have more than a symbol of Christ, we have Him in truth. Until very recently in my faith life, I never fully understood the power of God. His power has literally silenced me. I am finally safe resting in His arms. I no longer try to help or manipulate God by my actions. The day I stopped "trying" to be a good Christian, He started to work through me. I have seen seven family members come to Christ in less than two years, after twenty years of my pathetic attempts to "be a good witness" to them.Truly excellent posts, Rob and John. Thanks for teaching me. I am very thankful.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Introducing Beggars All blog

There is yet another confessional lutheran blog in the blogosphere. Please check out Beggars All. It is written by three men, Rob, Mike, Karl. They explain their joint blogging purpose:

1. The name of this blog is "Beggars All", which is an allusion to the last words of Martin Luther: "Wir sind Bettler, das ist war!" ("We are beggars all. That is true.") In what ways can you and I say, with Luther, "That is true!"

2. Then let's outline our own strange experiences with American Evangelicalism. Why have we both been made, by God's grace, Evangelical refugees?

Please read My Father's Day by Rob. It is a very touching story of father and son. (warning: strong kleenex/crying at work alert!). Mike writes an interesting commentary on the Navigators and his experiences with them. Also read, Does the Church have a Sanctuary?. I think Karl must manage the commentaries.

Beggars All was recently highlighted in Bunnie Diehl's blog, as an Ablaze story of the week, and prompted numerous comments by her readers.


Thursday, November 18, 2004

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi

This new blog, Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, will be my new morning devotions for a while

It bills itself as daily meditations on the sanctoral calendar and lectionary as found in the Lutheran Service Book. The writer describes himself as Contra Mundum.

I am nothing but a simple Lutheran seminarian and vicar. Join me on my pilgrimage through the daily lectionary. May the Holy Spirit stengthen our faith as we meditate upon His Holy Word.

I highly recommend this blog, if not for the outstanding artwork alone.

I've noticed lots of interesting rants in the Confessional Lutheran blogosphere regarding the Emergent Church concept, so as follow-up reading, check out "Why the Lutheran Church is a liturgical church." and the discussion on same at John's Confessing Evangelical blog (see his post, "The Medium, the message and the Divine Service.") Also interesting reads are Rob's latest posts on the emerging church concept on Love and Blunder blog: Church: The rules have changed; Emerging E*CA; and An Emerging Question.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Holy Communion or Ice Hockey?

Yesterday, ice hockey won out over holy communion. Yes, ice hockey won out because, unlike my church, my son will get kicked off his team for not showing up to games unless we come up with a really good excuse...like a funeral in Canada - and we already used that one last Thursday. Actually, my church offers a Monday night service for those of us who came up with really great excuses for missing church on Sunday. OK, I'm not one of those people with a really great excuse, but our pastors really make it clear to us that worshipping on Monday night, on occasion, or any other day or night, is a choice. It is not commanded to worship at 10:45am on Sunday mornings. Still, I show up 99% of the time at that very hour.

The only problem I have with evening church is that I FALL ASLEEP! I don't want to, but during the sermon I really fight sleepiness. I don't think God did mean for us to worship at night or he would have given us a different internal body clock. At 7pm, my body is starting to wind down and if I sit down for very long, even in church, I get very sleepy. Still, I'm very thankful that my church offers me the opportunity to strenghten my faith through corporate confession, absolution and holy communion. Praise God for this opportunity tonight. I'll just have to order a double espresso at Caribou beforehand.

What Confessional Lutherans believe about Holy Communion (or why I jump at the chance to take holy communion):
According to Christ's Word and institution, His body and blood are truly present, distributed and received in the Lord's Supper, under the forms of bread and wine. This Supper is intended for Christians who know and adhere to theteachings of God's Word, who are able to examine themselves on the basis of that Word,and who repent of their sins and look to Christ alone for forgiveness. The body and blood of Christ are offered and received in this Sacrament for the remission of sins and for the strengthening of faith. The forgiveness of sins which is offered by God through the Means of Grace can be rejected by an unbelieving heart, but it is received for salvation by all who believe in Christ.
Also,

Lutherans believe and teach that in the other Sacrament, Holy Communion, the Lord Jesus Christ, according to How own plain Word, gives us His body and blood for the remission of sins; that the Lutheran belief, call the 'Real Presence', does not imply, either by transubstantiation or consubstantiation, any king of change in the visible elements, that the bread remains bread and the wine remains wine, but by virtue of Jesus word of institution, this bread is the Body and this wine is His blood; that all who eat and drink at the Lord's Table receive His body and blood in and with the bread and wine, those who believe to the strengthening of their faith, those who reject to their condemnation; and that this Sacrament ought therefore to be withheld from those who are unable to examine themselves in the Christian faith.

References: Matthew 26: 26-28; Mark 14: 24; 1Corinthians 11: 24-25; 1Corinthians 11: 26-28; Matthew 7: 6; 1 Corinthians 11: 29.

Borrowed from the ELCE and ELS websites, and Confessing Evangelical.




Monday, November 08, 2004

Be Strong in the Grace

This passage is the cornerstone of this blog.

Timothy 2

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs--he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this. Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God's word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

Here is a trustworthy saying:

If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him.
If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness." In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Letter (and post) of repentance

A little while ago on Kiihnworld, I wrote with disgust about two Episcopal priests who were involved openly in the Druid religion. There was a lot of buzz in various religious blogs and I got lots of hits from this post. I felt a little proud to be involved in a very small way in exposing a travesty. I must confess that I underestimated God’s power to continue to work in the life of someone who had received faith through the holy waters of baptism. I confess that I doubted that this man would even care what God thought of his activities. I was so wrong; God has power to work in the heart of this man and He did! The saving waters of baptism are the one thing I withheld from my children and that is the one main thing I repented when I became a confessional Lutheran Christian. I had doubted God’s power to create faith in an infant, even when the Bible clearly says the Holy Spirit does this. I repent that I have once again doubted God's power in saving an individual and working faith through him. I suppose I am jaded from years of seeing myself and others doubt God and make wrong choices, but that is no excuse. I ask Reverand William Melnyk to forgive me when I chastised him openly, but forgot to pray for him. Obviously, he had others praying for him who knew his faith and loved him.

A Letter of Repentance from The Rev. William Melnyk


November 4, 2004


This morning, the IRD received a copy of the following letter of repentance sent from Rev. William Melnyk to his bishop. We are grateful for his humble and direct letter. We hope that the leaders of the Episcopal Church’s Office of Women’s Ministries will likewise repent of that office’s promotion of neo-paganism. We also hope that this direct act of recantation of wrong and reaffirmation of the historic faith of the Church will serve as a model for other Episcopal leaders who have been called to express regret for their actions in the context of “the repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ” (Windsor Report, paragraph 134).

To the IRD, I have today sent this letter to my Bishop. My wife [The Rev. Glyn Lorraine Ruppe-Melnyk] has sent a similar letter:

Dear Bishop,

Recently it has been brought to light by several agencies and individuals that I have been involved in work with Druid organizations in the United States and England, exploring the relationships between Christian and pre-Christian Druid spirituality and theology. These individuals and agencies have presented you with pages of documentation of my activities from the internet. You and I have discussed this material, and you have pointed out to me that it is the opinion of the church that my involvement, writings, and activities go beyond the bounds expected of a Christian and a Christian priest.

I affirm to you with all my heart it was never my intention to engage in such error, but only to help others who had lost connection to the Church to find a way to reconnect. I also thought that there was much in our early British heritage that could help those of us in the Church to broaden our understanding of Anglican tradition.

I was wrong. I repent of and recant without qualification anything and everything I may have said or done which is found to be in conflict with the Baptismal Covenant, and the historical Creeds of the Church. With God as my witness, I reaffirm my belief in the historical creeds of the Church, and the Baptismal Covenant, and reaffirm to you my faith, as expressed in that covenant. I am resigning my membership in the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, as a sign of my repentance.

I have been a follower of Jesus Christ since my Baptism in 1947, and a faithful Deacon and Priest of the Church, with the exception of the error admitted above, since 1981. It is my desire to continue as such, and I ask for the mercy of the Church, and of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sincerely,

The Rev. W. William Melnyk

I now take pains to publicly affirm this statement, and to thank the contributors to the various Anglican weblogs for bringing this to my attention and helping me to see the truth.


Here is a link to Titus 1:9 which posts this same letter and has an interesting bunch of running comments from the readers. I don't know if I will post on this again because it seems that there is a strong conservative element within the Episcopal church and they are handling it themselves.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Speaking the truth in love...

Since discovering the confessional Lutheran approach to faith in Christ, so many of my lingering questions have been answered. Not all my questions, but a lot of them.

Questions that have been answered

Why don't I become a more perfect Christian the longer I am a Christian? When is my child old enough or ready enough to be baptized? Or, how do I know I am really a good enough Christian to enter heaven? Why do the children of really great Christian parents totally reject Christianity? Why do I need to listen to CCM to keep myself emotionally connected to God? Why do seemingly solid, years-strong Christians fall the hardest into sin? Why is so and so an alcoholic or drug addict when s/he has been a Christian for so many years? Why don't I speak in tongues? Why do people get cancer and die? Why is a child killed in a car accident? What is a sacrament? How could Holy Baptism create faith in an infant? How can Holy Communion strengthen my faith? I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture...

I tell you the truth that it took 22 years for me to find a church that had the answers to these questions.

Have I discovered a secret sect? Have I joined an isolationist cult? No! I just finally found a church that teaches I am a sinner living in a sinful world, permanently separated from God and incapable of saving myself. My church tells me that God loves me so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die in my place, so that I could live forever in heaven with Him. I could go on and on, but I think you've heard this story....

Boy: Will you be my nasty girl? Girl: I can't because my God is an awesome God!

Rob, of Love and Blunder, has an excellent commentary on a recent article posted at Associated Baptist Press. The article is entitled Speakers predict sermons will change in next wave of postmodern worship. Seems like lots of my evangelical readers have been blessed with rock-solid churches, but that was not my experience. Many of the mega-churches seem to be throwing out Jesus and the Word and replacing it with logic and reasoning, mixed in with emotion-based entertainment; this change is found in worship and in the education programs of the church, such as confirmation and Sunday school.

If this post's title doesn't make sense, read the related posts below. If you are in a rush, I will just summarize those posts by saying that the world we and our kids face today is tough and they need to know more than trendy songs. Our God is an Awesome God is a catchy tune, but does it prepare us for facing sin and temptation on a daily basis? Maybe. But, knowing "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral." would be more a little more useful when a teen is pressuring another teen for sex. We all need to be well-trained in God's Word, since that is how He speaks to us today. My church just added a year to the formal confirmation training, which along with fun events and singing, involves scripture memorization and thorough three-year study of God's Holy Word and Luther's Small Catechism. (Don't be thrown off by the study of Luther's Small Catechism; it is a thorough summary of the Christian faith and is useful for instructing new and young Christians.) The program is taught by our pastors and includes lots of discussion and pratical application. Our pastors even utilize all the senses to help the kids stay awake and interested. But it is often boring, just as any in-depth training can be at times. We parents encourage our kids and remind them of how important and useful their confirmation program is. We study the lessons together and relearn it ourselves.

My daughter recently learned the Latin word, confirmare. I was struck by its meaning: to strengthen, to declare, to make firm. That is what we do in confirmation: strengthen our kids and then they declare that they want to continue as adult Christian members of the church, then the pastor introduces them as such. The three years of hard work pays off and we all celebrate the end of their childhood training and the beginning of lifelong learning of scriptures.

Related posts:
Lack of doctrine among U.S. teens
Redefining Confirmation
Confirmation Follow-up


Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Do you love me?

Thanks to Glen, I am posting this little quiz. Since I am introducing Glen to you through this quiz, I think it would be fair to say that this quiz is not representative of the offerings of his confessional lutheran blog. I have chosen his post,Context Matters, as my favorite.

Click “Comment” on this post and do this:

1. Tell me one thing you love (like is fine, too) about me and/or my blog. I realize that most of us actually don't "know" each other, so don't let this question trip you up.

2. Tell me two things you love about yourself. This one I’m particularly interested in, so make it good. I mean it. No self-deprecation allowed!

3. Do this in your blog so I can return the favor - and if you’ve already done it, tell me so, so that I can go back and give you some love.

4. Consider just randomly telling people why (and that) you love them. Spread some real compliments.

I like this last point. I hope to visit all my links this month and tell the person what I like about their blog. We should all encourage each other to keep up the good work.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Why you should vote...

My totally awesome church sent this great message to me in our November newsletter which I received today...

"The Apostle Paul has very firm instruction for us in the matter of government: "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves, " Romans 13:1,2".

"Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor," Romans 13:7"

"It is our responsibility to respect, honor and participate in the election process. Prayerfully vote your conscience on November 2nd. On November 3rd, as you learn who won and who lost, remember that God is in charge. His will be done regardless of what man may design, but He does act through His people."


Also...

"The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse where he pleases. Proverbs 21:1"

And...

"The LORD is still in control! He will use, guide and direct, even if it appears bad to us, for the sake of precious souls and for the spread of His holy and saving Gospel. It has always been that way and will always remain that way until the kingdom of the left hand (earthly rule as Luther called it) bows to the Kingdom of the right hand (Jesus' rule made visible at the end of time). Then there will be no need for earthly kingdoms - heaven will be our home."

Finally...

"So, exercise your right and responsibility and vote your heart. Then at the end of November, gather on Thanksgiving Day and give thanks - no matter who is elected - that we are so blessed in our wide and free and happy land where the LORD is still in control of our greatest blessings!"