Sunday, February 26, 2006

Dawn Eden on words to love by

For someone very dear to me who probably won't read this...and to anyone else who does read it, these are very wise words from Dawn Eden's blog:

Words to Love By

I have come to realize that, when I am on a date, one of the most appealing things that a man can possibly do is protect my chastity. It's a sign not only of the highest respect, but also of great personal strength, as in Proverbs 16:32: "[He that is] slow to anger [is] better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."

These words that I just discovered on the Americans on Call Web site sum things up beautifully:

  • Female sexuality is one of the most powerful forces in this world (the only one God uses to create life).
  • It is a privilege that a man must earn by promising his life to her.
  • She has lost something if she does not demand a commitment first.
  • The measure of a man is how much he willingly gives of himself. (Our troops are an example of that.) A good man pays this price willingly, by putting a ring on her finger first--whether she demands it or not.
  • Every day is a new opportunity to live up to this ideal.

If your best defense of a sinful situation (definition = pulling you away from God and/or you know it's not compatible with scripture) is that he's (or she's) a nice person, ask yourself if a nice person would put you in that situation.

Lutheran Carnival: Once Again Looking for Lutheran Carnival Hosts

Carnival of Lutheran blogs seeks hosts for upcoming dates, according to carnival master Daniel in Lutheran Carnival: Once Again Looking for Lutheran Carnival Hosts.

Lutheran Carnival XIX- Hosted by me here at Be Strong in the Grace. Posts due by March 10, 2006. Carnival up by March 12, 2006. Send some posts my way as soon as you can. I'd prefer to have some posts as soon as possible, rather than saving them for Friday (like I do!). Lent ought to inspire some good posts!

Entering a post in the carnival is a great way to pick up new readers, have interesting discussions and confess the Gospel of Christ. Who may submit their posts? Basically, you have to make a quia subscription to the Book of Concord. What does that mean? You have to believe that the Book of Concord is a right and proper exposition of the Word of God. In essence, you can't believe the Book of Concord was a neat historical leap, but we're beyond that now. I'll leave it up to you to judge whether you meet this criteria. Posts may be on any topic as long as they are written from a confessional Lutheran perspective.

Rest of the dates:

Lutheran Carnival XX- Hosted by Daniel and Elle at the main site. Posts due by March 24, 2006. Carnival up by March 26, 2006.

LC XXI-- Palm Sunday, Hosted by ___________, Submissions due by April 7, Carnival up April 9

LC XXII-- Easter 2, Hosted by __________, Submissions due April 21, Carnival up April 23

LC XXIII-- Easter 4, Hosted by Random Dan, Submissions due Cinco de Mayo, Carnival up May 7

LC XXIV-- Easter 6/Ascension, Hosted by Nerd Heaven, Submissions due May 19, Carnival up May 21

LC XXV-- Pentecost, Hosted by Journalistic Jargon, Submissions due June 2, Carnival up June 4

LC XXVI-- Pentecost 2 (Trinity 1), Hosted by A Beggar at the Table, Submissions due June 16, Carnival up June 18

LC XXVII-- Pentecost 4, Hosted by ___________, Submissions due June 30, Carnival up July 2

LC XXVIII-- Pentecost 6, Hosted by ___________, Submissions due July 14, Carnival up July 16

LC XXIX-- Pentecost 8, Hosted by ___________, Submissions due July 28, Carnival up July 30

LC XXX-- Pentecost 10, Hosted by Lutheran Carnival, Submissions due August 11, Carnival up August 13

If you have a date in mind or wonder what this carnival thing is all about, email Carnival master Daniel or read How Do I Enter.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Extra Nos: J. Edward's Famous Sermon

Jonathan Edwards

Join Mr. Cruz as he comes to realize there's no gospel in a famous sermon: Extra Nos: J. Edward's Famous Sermon

He writes:
Do you know Jonathan Edwards? He was a revivalist preacher in New England, USA in the 18th century. He is considered to be the finest American philosophical theologian.

I have a copy of his sermon "Sinners in the hands of an angry God". It has been sitting for years in the book shelve so I decided to do an exercise of Law and Gospel. Read on...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Dawn Eden on getting fired from the New York Post

Featured today on Katie's Beer:

In her review of Annabelle Gurwitch's new book for the New York Daily News , Fired, Dawn Eden shares some incredible details of her last days at the New York Post:

"...maybe my own pink-slip experiences have made me overly skeptical of dismissals that are tightly plotted and teem with deadly zingers. Even the firings of mine that came suddenly were, in retrospect, the result of long-simmering differences that finally bubbled to the surface.

Consider my exit from the New York Post. On the day I got the ax as a copy editor, Col Allan, the editor in chief, called me into his office and told me that he was "very concerned" about my blog, where I discuss my beliefs as a Christian conservative. He then lowered the boom (those "fired" synonyms just keep coming). But the first intimation that something was up had come days earlier.

It was then that I got in trouble with my boss, and a Post reporter, by making changes in an article about in-vitro fertilization. I was merely trying to add factual balance. (When three embryos are implanted and two "take," the third one--it seemed worth mentioning--"dies.") The newspaper, however, thought that the changes reflected "rabid anti-abortion views," as a Post gossip column would later put it. When my boss refused to fire me over the incident, the unsatisfied reporter found my blog, printed out certain passages and took them to the top brass.

The word then came down from on high: "When you give an interview, if you talk about being Christian, don't mention that you work for the New York Post." I agreed. But I had agreed to the same thing four months before, after I gave an interview to a media-gossip Web site and my comments had stirred concern at the paper. When Mr. Allan finally fired me, then, it wasn't entirely clear whether the reason was my blog, my beliefs or my editing. But for days I'd had the feeling that something bad was going to happen."

I haven't highlighted any particular phrase in her account, but certainly some of it shocked me. Of course, I'm not an intrepid journalist but just a wife, mother and employee who likes to write. In my world, I can't imagine being fired for my views unless they were just so extreme from the main or I was just downright beligerent that working with me was impossible. Sounds like Ms. Eden has found a good home at the New York Daily News. Has the day finally come where a reporter can have opinions and beliefs and still be given a fair chance as a mainstream journalist? I would think that the Get Religion thinktank run by Dr. Terry Mattingly, whose goal it is to make sure the reporters report stories with religious components accurately, is a good example of this positive trend.

Dawn Eden's blog can be found at Ms. Eden does a good job of reviewing Ms. Gurwitch's book, Fired. Isn't she the girl from that movie show? Yep, it was the show, Dinner and a Movie. Hilarious!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Luther Library: The Battle Isn't Over

The Luther Library posts an excellent review by blogger Polly on a popular Christian book, Every Young Man's Battle. She writes:

Every Young Man's Battle is featured prominently in every Christian Book store and catalog. Part of the "Every Man Series on Sexual Integrity," it's touted as offering "strategies for victory in the real world of sexual temptation...

From a Lutheran standpoint, the book is mostly Law and little Gospel, and somewhat works-oriented. The authors' worldview is that pleasing God by living a blameless life is possible and that God rewards those who earnestly seek Him...

One weird struggle for me as we made the switch from a focus on pietistic Christian practice to a focus on salvation by God's grace was in the area of kids and purity. During my kids' preteen years, I had been teaching my kids that God demands purity in their personal lives. Like Polly said, that message is mostly Law and little Gospel. The rest of the story of that expectation is that I believed, as a parent, that the Very Worst thing my kids could do was to lose their purity.

As my kids entered their teen years, it was a struggle for me to switch from outward purity as a way to please God and ensure salvation to living a life of gratitude to God and awareness of your sin nature in order to protect your faith which surely can be lost. The end result of that new mindset is realizing that my own kids can and will FAIL to live a life of purity and indeed already had in ANY impure thought they surely already have had.

I hope this realization doesn't sound as if I've given in to sin nature and am passing that message on to my kids. God still demands purity! Without it, we are doomed to hell. Since we cannot possibly leave the house in the morning without an impure thought, what is our hope? Our hope and the reason for our great joy is that God has provided a Savior who is the substitutionary atonement for our sure sin nature. And then He provided the Holy Spirit to seal us in faith of that salvation.

Is being impure the worst thing that could ever happen to my kids? No! The worst thing is that they would ever lose their saving faith. So what's the best prevention of sexual impurity? Not a focus on sexual purity, but a focus on staying strong in the grace that is Christ Jesus. And that Book has already been written! That lesson was bigger for me than it was for my kids.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Did Jesus die for the opportunity to save us?

Did Jesus die for the opportunity to save us? Or did He die to save us? Lately, I've been seeing a bumper sticker which really irritates me.

Give Jesus a chance.
He died for the opportunity.

What kind of backward theology is that? Jesus died for our sins because we are incapable of giving Jesus a chance. But would that fit on a bumper sticker?

Jesus died for our sins because
we are incapable of giving Him a chance.

In a related post, Scottius Maximus writes in The Importance Of Getting It Right- Justification:

"Every single sin made by every single person who ever walked this planet is already forgiven by God, including the 'most evil' of us. Because Christ took on the sins of the WHOLE WORLD.

Isn't that great? All that we have to do is have faith this is so.

But even God does that for us through the Holy Spirit. So we have nothing of ourselves, but everything by God.

So how could anyone believe Christ did not die for all? That would make me terrified."

Update: This bumper sticker must have Minnesota roots, because fellow Minnesotan Madre has also ranted on this form of bad theology.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Three Hierarchies: Things I Just Thought I'd Say

Encouragement today comes from CPA of Three Hierarchies. In Things I Just Thought I'd Say he gives me hope for unity among confessional Lutherans. It may or may not happen anytime soon, but we can raise our kids to expect it. Thanks, CPA!

Aardvark Alley: Building a Lutheran Presence; Part 2

For all would-be, new or shy bloggers, Lutheran or not, the Aardvark gives great advice for developing and furthering your blog. Here's a little sample of his advice:

No Blog Is an Island

If you want to reach others, it helps to join with others. The easiest way is through some form of blogrolling. You'll notice that the Alley has a rather large blogroll. This is intentional; if we were all professionals, I'd call it professional courtesy. I don't read all the blogs on my Confessional Lutheran blogroll every day, but I do keep an eye on them. I list them not because I agree with everything they say in total, but because we are theological brothers and sisters and because I've learned to trust the output to be interesting and edifying. You may favor certain blogs over others; this is fine. Give them top billing or a bright color scheme in your blogroll. But don't forget to list some of the others who are plugging away, making their own contributions to Lutheranism in cyberspace in their own way. Especially, consider reciprocal links whenever possible.

Reciprocal blogrolling is the backbone of increased readership.

Part One

Part Two

Monday, February 13, 2006

Don't Teach Me

I heard a beautiful song recently. The lyrics really caught my attention and I spent some time trying to figure out what the writer meant.

A New Law

by Derek Webb

album: Mockingbird (2005)

don’t teach me about politics and government
just tell me who to vote for

don’t teach me about truth and beauty
just label my music

don’t teach me how to live like a free man
just give me a new law

i don’t wanna know if the answers aren’t easy
so just bring it down from the mountain to me

i want a new law
i want a new law
gimme that new law

don’t teach me about moderation and liberty
i prefer a shot of grape juice

don’t teach me about loving my enemies

don’t teach me how to listen to the Spirit
just give me a new law

what’s the use in trading a law you can never keep
for one you can that cannot get you anything
do not be afraid
do not be afraid
do not be afraid

The musician is Derek Webb and the song is A New Law. The song got me thinking about the things I was being taught at some of the churches of my past. I have indulged in the sin of blaming others for the false teachings I bought into. As I go on in this life, I am coming to terms with the fact that I willingly believed bad teachings and willingly ignored good teachings...yet another illustration of the continuing sin nature of Christians and the importance of remaining in a solidly biblical church.

To begin my search for Webb's mindset, I found a couple of interviews and reviews at Christianity Today. You gotta love a guy who says he was inspired by The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour. I also appreciate that his songs are about his own mistakes and not just preaching to others.

Interview with Derek Webb

...Webb also studied the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour album for inspiration, resulting in a few sonic surprises that audiophiles will really enjoy. "It's fascinating to see how they placed everything in the mix," Webb says. So, taking a few cues from the Fab Four, the band made Mockingbird what Webb describes as "a fascinating record for headphones."

It's no surprise that Webb was so clear on what he wanted the album to sound like. Those who've met him quickly realize he's someone who knows who he is and what he wants. As a result of that confidence, it's easy to imagine the messages in his songs aren't for him but for us. Nothing could be further from the truth. "There are a lot of revealing moments like in 'A New Law,'" Webb admits, referring to a song about wanting to be told how to think instead of hashing out the issues ourselves. And the title track hits home as well. The mockingbird is known for its ability to mimic, something that can be good or bad, depending on the source. "And yes, it's true that I need this more than you," Webb sings, making it clear we're all in this process together...

Review of Mockingbird

... "A New Law" is particularly stimulating, as Webb notes how readily we cling to the law instead of the freedom found in Christ, preferring to be told what to think rather than think for ourselves—a sad but true perspective on human nature and Christian culture...

I believe that Derek has put to words the picture of Christians as both saints and sinners. We often absorb what we think we want to hear. I know that describes me. In fact, I am guilty of church-hopping until I found a church that preached what I wanted to hear and sang songs that made me FEEL better. I can't legitimately say that the churches I sailed through didn't preach the gospel, because that wouldn't be a true statement. I know that I clung to teachings that were what I wanted to hear, though.

Webb also mentions how Christians find it easier to tackle a list of spiritual dos and don'ts rather than listen to the gospel message. Isn't it funny how we gravitate to the law in search of happiness? A trip to the local evangelical bookstore will show us hundreds of titles on how to make our lives better and faith stronger if we just do _____________.

The Gospel is not only offensive, it also just doesn't make sense to us. God provides the means to create faith in us, provides the means for us to believe that He has provided our salvation and provides means of strengthening our faith. It's all too easy and becomes offensive because we want to do something to save ourselves.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

You can't underestimate the value of a caffeine buzz and a good cupholder (longer version)

You can't underestimate the value of a good cupholder.

Have you ever stopped by your favorite coffee shop before church and then had to leave half of it in the car because you can't bring it into church with you? Why can't I bring a cup of my favorite "medium dark roast with half steamed skim with sugar free vanilla" into church? Is there a sign on the door of our church that says I can't? No. I just know that I am there to worship God and walking into worship with a cup of coffee kind of screams that I'm not really focused on worshipping God at the moment.

Besides, where would I put the cup of coffee. I'd surely kick it over when I stood to sing, reached for the hymnal or rose to join in the liturgy. No, coffee wasn't really meant to be brought into church. I'm not even sure that I like five year old munching on Cheerios in church, although I am not opposed to one little piece of gum or a roll of lifesavers. (Once I caught myself munching on my kids' Cheerios in church and then quickly looked around to see if anyone saw.)

That's what is so great about the postmodern movement. They aren't bound by such things as denying yourself a cup of coffee during worship (breakfast is surely the next step). A church in Minnesota has designed itself to be consumer friendly, complete with cupholders in the chairs (no pews, though!) , but without those annoying hymnals or bibles. The pastor even advocates the value of a caffeine buzz during worship. Anything to make worshippers comfortable.

Last night, Pastor Brooks preached a message on how the gospel isn't comfortable to anyone. He used one of Luther's confirmation questions to illustrate his point. It asks, "What is the Gospel?" The confirmand's answer is: The Gospel is the Word of God which reveals the salvation Christ has won for all people." (ELS Catechism, 2001, p. 35) Pastor Brooks went on to give three reasons why this answer is offensive. First of all, it is offensive because it speaks of us needing a savior. The fact is that we are in sin and are headed to hell without our savior. The gospel is also offensive because it implies that we need a savior who is not ourselves. Saving yourself is a popular message today, from modern culture to most churches. Finally, the gospel is offensive because it contains the word "Christ", which is rapidly being removed from our culture and even our churches. While I won't suggest that the gospel is not preached at this new church, I know I won't visit it to find out. I've been there and done that with huge slide shows, bands, no hymnals, no offensive creeds, etc. I left because I couldn't hear the gospel from all the other distractions. Maybe if I have been drinking coffee, I might have been able to stay pumped up for Christ.

By emphasizing 'comfy' on a grand scale, Minnesota's newest megachurch building attracts record-setting numbers of worshippers.


featured on Pioneer on 2-7-06

Inside, the sanctuary looks like a large theater, with comfortable movie-style seats with armrests. The razzle-dazzle services include comedy sketches, rock music from an 11-piece band and staging that would fit right in at the Guthrie Theater. There are no pews, no Bibles, no hymnals, no stained-glass windows.

The church is designed to feel homey. Which brings us to the cup holders.

"Our little coffee shop is humming on Sunday mornings," Anderson said. "It's a huge hit."

But church leaders figured it was difficult to stand, sit or praise the Lord with your hands in the air while worrying about dumping a hot latte onto fellow Christians. So they decided to add cup holders — anything to boost their reputation for putting people at ease.

"You can't underestimate the value of energy and buzz," Anderson said. "Those things bring people through the door."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Baptism wear

This is just too cute! I wish I'd thought of it! Pastor Stiegemeyer sells them at his blog. Click here to see more.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Theology Geek's not so random thoughts...

Jason writes:

Sorry for the nearly incoherant random thoughts…

Any evangelistic effort that does not include catechesis and baptism is not evangelism. It is an open door to heresy and shallow Christianity!

I also firmly oppose the popular idea of “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” Yeah, I know what St Francis was talking about, but the True Gospel can only expressed with words.

Law—> Gospel—> Catechesis—> Baptism. Is there really any other way?

Law without Gospel—> Legalism and eventual burn-out
Gospel without Law—> Shallow Christians
Evangelism without Catechesis—> Immature Christians
Evangelism without Baptism—> Christians without Assurance

You have spoken the truth, Jason! Excellent words to reflect upon.

Putting Out The Fire appears under the radar

I have slacked off on my blog discovery and blog surfing since Christmas for a variety of good reasons, but the downside is that I am missing some great posts and even missing some new confessional Lutherans bloggers. Putting Out The Fire is kept by Frank, a confessional Lutheran from North Carolina. To learn more about Frank, read here: Putting Out The Fire: Curses, I've Been Tagged