Sunday, March 27, 2016

Christ is Risen!

Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is Risen! Our hope is in Christ conquering death and providing the sacrifice for our wretched sin. Gone is the sure death of hell. Those who die in the faith sleep for a while, then rise on the last day to be with their Lord. Those who rise without Christ do so on their own, and suffer the wrath of a God who provided all and was rejected. Praise to God for all He has done. Praise the Lord!

Friday, March 18, 2016

"We are all Jews here"

Fairly recently there was a series of articles where the phrase "We are all Jews here" was uttered by a POW US MSgt in order to protect the Jews in his command from the horrors of the Nazi death camps during the waning days of WW2. With Lent, the phrase seems to have a different meaning. During the first Lent, when Christ was flogged, beaten, tried, convicted, and killed, we were truly "all Jews" then. Our sins were just as cruel as the Israelis and Romans were while killing the Messiah. We certainly didn't cast a stone or speak a word, but still our rejection of Jesus was as complete as the Israeli people's at that time and place. After the wonderful miracle of Easter and the Resurrection, the phrase "we are all Jews here" doesn't have any meaning. The previously rejected Christ returns, bringing salvation to all people who have Faith. It is no longer just the Israelis that have God's Word, but all people. The only thing that eternally matters is "Child of God." The WW2 phrase saved lives in the horrors of world war. But it is the saving act of God that saves us for eternity.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The reality of the "force"

All over the media is the latest Star Wars movie "The Force Awakens" which had a massive opening weekend. Personally, I enjoy the movie series, perhaps a little too much given the time I spent on it in my younger years. The idea of the "force" is intriguing- something that moves throughout all things in the universe that you can control. The reason why it is so intriguing is what it represents. And no I am not talking about the weird mitichlorian explanation. It is the desire of man to be his own god. Think of the aspects- the force is everywhere, allows you to sense things anywhere or any time, and you can control it for life or death. If you follow the movies and books, it is even rumored to allow a resurrection of sorts. All of these things are attributes of God, and not of man. They are the powers sinful man covets, which is why it is so enticing. The mysticism included in the jedi ("good") and sith ("evil") sides of the force (think yin and yang) provides enough of a structure that there are literally "jedi churches" and I suspect also "sith" variety as well. There are people worshiping a religion based on a fictional book for powers they cannot attain. Unfortunately, without Salvation through Faith, they will discover all too late that it was the work of the devil and the flesh that led them down the "dark path" to hell.

The Star Wars series is an enjoyable movie to me, but I also know what the false religion is that hides behind it. I strongly urge you to talk to your kids about it so they can learn about it. I also suggest waiting until your kids are old enough to have a clearer understanding of the fictional world and the real world. That distinction is quite important when dealing with matters that leech into critical understanding like Faith and sin. This might be a great opportunity to teach and enjoy a movie, so long as it is kept a movie and not a way of life.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Excellent blog post

"Sellers of Purple" has an excellent post about the difference between legalistic, man centered social churches and churches with the life-giving Word preached. While she mentions the LCMS, there are other church bodies with the same focus that are just as pertinent.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Vocation of Citizen

Lutherans teach a concept called "vocation" in which God utilizes us in this world to do His work. Luther wrote extensively on it, and I suggest reading his words and explanation as they are much clearer than can ever be posted on a blog. Some examples posted by the LC-MS are here, and there are books that can be ordered with further developments that I won't list here due to length. In the United States, Nov. 3 is an election day. Not all states have elections as each state has its own cycle. Virginia votes on local elections this year, and I believe at least a few others do as well. In any case, if there is an election for you, it is part of your vocation as a citizen to vote. Many people don't "get into" anything that isn't a major election, like governor or President. The truth is your vocation obligates you to weigh the candidates and vote accordingly regardless of the level of the election.

Please fulfill your vocation and vote if you have the opportunity.  If you don't, you can still fulfill your obligation as a citizen to encourage those who can vote to do so, and to be current on the issues important to your local, state, and national level government. Each level has different concerns and responsibilities, and those need to be weighed with thoughtful Christian consideration for what is the wisest course of action.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sadness and Prayer

This morning's killings of two reporters on air by a deranged killer shocked and saddened most everyone. The media will turn to various experts decrying this issue, that injustice, this systematic failing or some other issue. While these things might have some sort of impact, the root cause is sin. As shocking and brutal yesterday's killings were, there is no difference in God's Law with any other sin. The tortured deaths of Christians and others in ISIS controlled lands is just as evil as the on-air killings or those committing adultery with the Ashley Madison site. The claim that hinduism and Christianity are just shades of the same is as sinful as coveting your neighbor's possessions or simply stealing gum. A Just God requires the same from all. Thank God that He is also merciful and has provided a means of Grace. All of the sins we daily commit, intentionally or not, are covered by the sacrifice of Christ. To have that gift in spite of our flesh's daily rebellion is joy unbound.

Prayers for the families of the slain and the unfortunate killer. May God use this to the betterment of the Kingdom in His own way.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sherpherds, Hirelings, and Wolves

This is a very short excerpt from "Sermons of Martin Luther" edited by Lenker, Vol 3-4 from the sermon for the Second Sunday after Easter focused on John 10:11-16.
There are three kinds of shepherds: good or true shepherds, hirelings, and wolves. Good shepherds are like the good Shepherd Christ, who tends the sheep, goes before them, cares for those that are sick, scabby, or have the snuffles; who does not flee when the wolves come, but "who giveth his life for the sheep," as Christ here in this Gospel describes. It is not enough that we preach correctly, which the hireling can also do; but we must watch over the sheep, that the wolves, false teachers, may not break in, and we must contend for the sheep against the wolves, with the Word of God, even to the sacrifice of our lives. Such are good shepherds, of whom few are found. ... This the hirelings do not; they care not for the sheep, they receive temporal wages, riches and honor, and feed themselves; yet they are good to a certain extent and Christ also preaches through them; but they are not true to the sheep.... This is clearly seen, when trouble comes, when the wolves break in there is no one who remains faithful to the sheep."
This is what I see in the LCMS and other church bodies. They are staffed by hirelings and not shepherds. True, shepherds are more rare. But the encouragement of hirelings over shepherds dooms a church body to eventual heresy and falling away. The Church is always under assault by wolves, and the hirelings do little to counter the wolves, running away from the "controversy." The reason doesn't matter, whether it is riches, pensions, or even not wanting to be inconvenienced. Ultimately it scatters the flock and subverts their office as specified by Christ. Take heed, then, that your shepherd is a true shepherd, and not a hireling just earning a paycheck.