Sunday, August 28, 2005
Friday, August 26, 2005
Thursday, August 25, 2005
The ELS website has a fascinating collection of ELS convention addresses, including 18 speeches given by Reverend Herman Amberg Preus.
In the 1893 address in Chicago, Illinois, Rev. H.A. Preus has a message to us in the future. I am not making any specific statements by highlighting his comments; I just find it fascinating that, indeed, there is nothing new under the sun. Our battles of today in keeping false teachings, often disguised by Satan as well-meaning attempts at unity for the sake of Christ, out of our churches are nothing new. Our forefathers also fought this battle. Our children and great-great grandchildren will also fight the same battles, so we need to teach them well and in love.
If by the grace of God the Norwegian Synod also in the future will remain faithful to its lofty task: to be a faithful witness for delivering souls, then it will never be able to enter into any union of churches with a church body which will not purify itself of such gross errors, even if a person wants to attempt to build the union over a many-sided, deep ditch which was supposed to cover over differences of belief.
...At this moment an extremely dangerous current is flowing through the various church bodies nearly everywhere in the world. It is a current which even if not always intended by its leaders and their followers, yet, however, by the instigator, Satan, the tempter, aims at nothing less than emancipating from the absolute, divine authority by the rejection of the doctrine of God’s Word concerning the inspiration of Scripture, that is, that all Scripture is inspired by God and is therefore the Word of God. As you know, at the present time not one theological seminary is to be found in “Lutheran” Germany which holds on the old Lutheran doctrine of inspiration. Similarly, unfortunately, it is discussed among leading theologians in the church of our dear fatherland as a theory abandoned long ago by everyone capable of forming an opinion. It is true, a clear testimony on the other side is heard in Germany from one or another old-Luth-eran pastor, just as in Norway there surely are also found many among the older clergy who do not want to be along in this apostasy from the Lutheran Church but who hold fast to its doctrine in this chief point.
This sentence, giving a picture of days long gone, also caught my eye:
And here, we will always remember with thanks to God the faithful help and support which the Lord gave us in the older, much experienced, Missouri Synod.The entire speech is a great history lesson, as are many of the speeches. If you, like me, are less than knowledgeable about the history of the Norwegian Lutheran Synod, you can match the speeches up with this timeline.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
An article in the Chicago Tribune (free registration required, but worth it for the articles) caught my eye while on vacation there recently. On the surface, the story about some young newly-ordained Protestant pastors using their God-given gifts to bless other people is heart-warming:
The lights are dim, and the musicians are young and Latino, twenty-something dreamers creating magical jazz fusion sounds on bass, bongos and drums. The college-age crowd rocks to the beat, and the fresh-faced band rocks with them, improvising tunes that fill the small Pilsen cafe.This is a beautiful description of vocation- using our God-given gifts and talents in our daily lives, whether at work or play, freely sharing the joy of the gospel as the situation fits. Scripture tells methat only the Holy Spirit can work faith in the heart of anyone I meet; scripture also tells me to be ready to give an account of the joy I have in my heart.
Few in the audience know that the performers are not just musicians, but newly ordained Protestant pastors, passionate men of God using music to bring their message to the music lovers and would-be artists in this traditionally Catholic enclave of Chicago.
Now the story of these young men and their work in the community takes a sad twist. They've gone into the community saying that they aren't trying to change the faith of the Catholics, yet they are clearly drawing a line in the sand with their definition of a true Christian. For many evangelicals, it is firmly (and falsely) believed that you will only enter the kingdom of heaven through your own act of establishing a personal relationship with God. That kind of reversal of grace, a misunderstanding of Romans 10, is an excellent example of what drove me to despair after twenty years of evangelicalism. God, in my despair, drew me to a church that showed me a God who cannot be contained. I learned of a God who is jealous for His own and ceaselously seeks them out like water seeks any hole in a cup. I learned of the power of His Word to save us, even as we attempt to deny it; His Word works on our hearts whenever it is proclaimed. I also learned that He works through the Water, as He promised He would, planting a seed of faith in the hearts of those who are baptized.
They don't mention God during their performance, but Eli Orozco, Sam Menesses and Tony Escobar hope to spread the word of Christ to enough cafe patrons to cultivate a few potential congregants by October. That's when Community Christian Church, a Naperville-based "megachurch," hopes to launch its first urban satellite here
CCC leaders, aware of the potential for controversy, downplay the idea of competition. John Ferguson, one of the pastors, said the church is not coming to Pilsen to "impose our evangelicalism" on Catholics. Instead, he casts the young pastors' work as helping people "establish a personal relationship with Jesus."
Noel Castellanos, president of the Latino Leadership Foundation and an evangelical pastor, said he thinks Orozco's technique is original and bound to be effective.
"They're saying, `We're going to come in and integrate into the social fabric of the community, and that's going to provide opportunities to engage with potential members,'" Castellanos said. "I think it's working."
The young pastors say their mission is to reach people who might be alienated from their own church, whatever the denomination, by getting to know them in a casual atmosphere, befriending them and inviting them, eventually, to a group function during the week.
"We're trying to get unreachable people, the ones who are burned out, disgusted and haven't been to church for years," said Escobar, the bongo player.
"We don't go there and preach," Orozco added. "We see them at the cafe, and then we meet in a small group later on in the week. It could be a sporting event, an art exhibit or Bible study. We might say, `Hey, let's go to the movies.' It just depends."
The young pastors techniques are hardly unique; they are doing what any Christian should do and I commend them for that. Luther also encouraged Christians to do the same 500 years ago. In Luther's Large Catechism, he introduced the fourth through tenth commandments in this way:
Thus far we have learned the first three commandments, which relate to God. First that with our whole heart we trust in Him, and fear and love Him throughout all our life. Secondly, that we do not misuse His holy name in the support of falsehood or any bad work, but employ it to the praise of God and the profit and salvation of our neighbor and ourselves. Thirdly, that on holidays and when at rest we diligently treat and urge God's Word, so that all our actions and our entire life be ordered according to it.
Likewise, here is my advice to anyone who wants to share the gospel with people: Start a band and share the joy of the gospel with your community as you sing. Get to know people because you love them with a love that comes from the joy of your own salvation. Find out why they don't attend church. Share with them the good news of our salvation through Jesus. Encourage them to take joy in their salvation and rejoice in the baptism of their youth. If unrepented sins weigh them down, remind them that scripture says we are to confess our sins and we will receive absolution. But please don't tell them that they must experience a personal relationship with Jesus. Work with the faith that God has already planted in their hearts through the word and the water; if none has yet been planted, continue to proclaim the good news and don't save it for later on. God's Word does not come back empty-handed. I also encourage those bright young pastors to find a new organization. From their home church website I find the following:
Here is what SCRIPTURE actually says:
Romans chapter 10 tells us that if we have faith, we can profess with our mouths and believe with our hearts that Jesus is Lord. Scripture also makes it clear that faith is a gift from God that we cannot possibly give or attain for ourselves. Share those passages that tell us that faith is not a decision we make (or a personal relationship we "experiene"), but a miracle worked in us by the Holy Spirit whom God gives to us as a gift of his grace: 1 Co 2:14, Ro 5:5, 1 Co 12:3, Eph 2:8.
Romans 10: 5-13
Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.” But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Join Us At The Table!
Today is Tuesday which means that it will be our mass gathering of confessional Lutherans in the chat channel I've told you all about, TableTalk. Since it is so nice outside, we will move it outdoors at the picnic tables behind the lodge under the great pines, the setting sun, rising moon and twilight stars. Fine cigars are always welcome, beer in moderation; young and old alike are welcome. It is sure to a good night for mutal consolation of the saints.
While the channel is always open, we're trying to gather specifically on Tuesday nights for great discussion. If you're interested in dropping by (9 p.m. EST 6 p.m. PST), the instructions are here . We used to keep a list of the blogkeepers and blog readers who have already stopped by, but the list grew too long! Hope to see you there!
Monday, August 08, 2005
While we were in Ireland, we visited a lot of ancient ruins, like this Baptismal font in Fore Abbey. I would touch the walls and stones of these ancient buildings from the 1100's and 1200's and just basque in awe at the thought "these things are so old". Read on: Beckfest: Touching Really Old Things
Saturday, August 06, 2005
Your submission may be on any topic as long as it is written from a confessional Lutheran perspective and should be your best, favorite or otherwise notable post from from the previous week.
I can't wait to participate! Thanks to Daniel and Elle for helping to solidfy the renaissance of Christian writing, albeit through a keyboard. Read more here: Lutheran Carnival
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
I can only wonder who is talking to Jennifer. I KNOW, however, that Jesus said:
5"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9"This, then, is how you should pray:
" 'Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
11Give us today our daily bread.
12Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.[a]' 14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Jesus said this, too:
The Lord's Prayer is a model prayer. It is not only a prayer for us to repeat; it is a lesson in how to pray and what to pray for. It covers all our needs of body and soul, but it is also concerned about the needs of all our fellow Christians and of all the uncounted millions who do not yet know the Lord Jesus as their Savior. It is an appropriate prayer on every occasion that calls for prayer. It puts first things first, but it leaves nothing out.From the Matthew commentary by G.J. Albrecht and M.J. Albrecht from the People's Bible Series.
A Tree and Its Fruit15"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
False prophets direct people through the wide gate and along the broad road that leads to eternal destruction, so Jesus tells us to watch out for them. This implies that we should be able to recognize them and to keep them from leading us astray. They will not be easy to recognize at first glance, because they look harmless, as though they belong among us. They may even be gentle and perfectly sincere. They may be convinced in their own minds that they are proclaiming God's truth on the basis of the Holy Scriptures. And there will be some who claim that they have received special revelations from the Lord in addition to the truths revealed in scripture.From the Matthew commentary by G.J. Albrecht and M.J. Albrecht from the People's Bible Series.
The reason that this person appears, to me, to be a false prophet is that she leads people away from God's Word. She says that God is still talking and that he is talking through her. That confuses the faithful and will lead them astray. That's this mom's take on it. What do you think?
Note: this post was compiled from the actual website and from an interview with her on the radio this morning.