Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

I wanted to wish everyone out there that comes across this small blog a Merry Christmas. I hope you remember the real reason for this season isn't the Macy Parade or Santa Claus or football. The real reason comes in a few months in Easter. This is merely the warm up for the "advent" of the ultimate gift- salvation. Something to think about if your church isn't astute enough to remind you already.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Reason for the Season...and the Universe

Welcome to the Advent season. This is a two parter.

The first part plays off the common saying this time of year- "Jesus is the reason for the season." While this is entirely true, it does gloss over the reason Christ had to come in the first place- our sin. Trite and catchy sayings cannot catch the essence of our faith. I would argue these sayings only hurt Christianity in that it provides a shallow message to the world, one often sullied by inappropriate actions. (How many cars with a Christian symbol have you seen drive dangerously and/or illegally?) If it takes God the entire Bible, why should we think we can narrow it down further? It might be a bit gloomy to consider that this season is simply for the tree that we nailed Christ to with our sin, but what greater joy than one that compares our hope with the price paid? A sober celebration is important this time of year. So please, dispense with the endless, pointless mirth. Look at yourself in relation to your sins. Then look to the cross- and thank God for His mercy!

The second part is an article on whether to calculate a universal constant based on the premise that if it was wrong, humans couldn't exist. (Click here for the article) Normally this is a counter-intuitive, even blasphemous, idea in science. The most interesting thing is that the calculation based on humans is almost exact, while the best of quantum physics is off by 120 orders of magnitude! (that is like the bank estimating you have a penny in your account when you actually have 10 billion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion dollars- i.e. a lot) This almost screams "Design by God!" The chances of an evolutionary universe is pretty remote then. The argument could be made that it is simply by chance- we couldn't exist otherwise to calculate a different value. I would counter by pointing out that there are now only two options- a very very narrow random chance or a God. Given that the chance is narrowed significantly more when you factor in evolution and all of the other variables, you end up with two choices- God or a chance universe so remote that physics currently estimates that constant better!

I know this is probably over most of your heads, but I put it out there for you to consider. Without knowledge, we can only sit on the sidelines and not provide an answer for our faith.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Some Links to Share

I hope everyone enjoyed Thanksgiving. It is getting to be that hectic time in the year, but I wanted to put some links on here that I found interesting. I won't provide much commentary, only some lines to give you an insight into my thoughts.

The first grouping appeared within a week or so, but I found them interesting because of what the two implied.

Human Genome is more different than previously thought

Neanderthal matches 99.5% of the human genome

These two don't mean much apart. I don't believe in evolution, and the human genome being more different than we thought really doesn't impact our daily lives. However, the new human genome research shows we can be as much as 12% different from other humans. Compare this with the Neanderthal being "99.5% human" and you could have a case for removing the "Neanderthal" classification. Maybe Geico is right- they never disappeared and live among us even now! All joking aside, the other aspect of the Neanderthal is that they "disappeared" around 30,000 years ago. The thought in my mind was a simple theory- Neanderthals are really humans, only with different physical characteristics, and the reason they "died out suddenly" was a small thing called the Flood. There isn't any evidence to back the theory up, and I don't really expect there to be. But until you look at those articles in that manner, you won't think of these connections. It is possible to see where science might be missing the forest for the bark imprints.

Aetheist Scientist vs Christian Scientist (a man, not the religion)

A good read and fairly interesting. The aetheist ends up slightly affirming that a god is a possibility, but one he doesn't think is valid. I think Christians should spend a little time thinking about these aspects, and science in general, and being aware. Science is an area I think Christians in general do not do well in. Theology is by far more important, but I find the world around us also provides a brilliant tapestry of God's handiwork and adds to our faith. It's one thing to know there are sparrows or lillies; it is different to look at the complexity and beauty of the design. God really does know what He is doing on a whole different level than us. Thank God!

Rocky the "Christian Warrior"?

I never thought about this and I am not a fan of the Rocky movies. However, there is a quote that I think is a good summary of lives as Christians. Stallone said "I feel the same way about Christianity and about what the church is: The church is the gym of the soul." Profound isn't it?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


It has been blogged and articled to death, but the fall of Ted Haggard should be seen as a warning to us all. He believed that he didn't need to hear of his sins often, and he probably thought he didn't sin all that much. It is a common lie we tell ourselves, especially those of us in regular contact with Baptists (of all flavors) in the "Bible Belt." Many people consider Lutherans to just be depressing, wallowing in our sins. But what better way for a dose of reality than to know that we can't do what we naturally want to do? If you read the necessary sacrifices in the Old Testament, the temple had to have been awash with blood. The ground was most likely reddish with the tint. We rationalize that our sins are "minor" or light. Christ paid the ultimate price for each of them. This is why Christians are to remember their sins, then praise God that He has provided the perfect sacrifice for them. If we aren't reminded of them often, we forget too quickly and merrily fall off that tall cliff. We are most definitely sheep; in need of remembrance and grace.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Busy Busy Busy

I have been rather busy the past few weekends and I am still playing some catch up. I am thinking of things to write on, but I need to do a little research on it first. I wish all of you God's blessings.

Something to think about. Scholars have said in recent years that the sea the Israelites crossed when they left Egypt for the Exodous was miswritten as the "Red Sea" when it was the "Reed Sea" (think a swamp). However, Isaiah 51:10 says:

"Was it not you who dried up the sea,
the waters of the great deep,
who made a road in the depths of the sea
so that the redeemed might cross over?"

I thought it was interesting since it mentions "the deep." The "Reed Sea" isn't much deeper than about 2 meters (around 10 feet). I don't know if that qualifies as "great deep" in Hebrew. I don't know any Hebrew, but I think it would be interesting to compare some of these phrases with the actual word for the sea they crossed. I suspect it wasn't shallow like a "reed sea." Anyone out there with training in Hebrew willing to look this up?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Can I get a testimony?

These are words found more often in Baptist churches and rarely in Lutheran. However, this past weekend I visited my mom and my family went to her church, which is a WELS congregation. They are starting up some "new" thing where someone gets up at the end of the service and mentions how God has worked in their life. They didn't call it a "testimony" I don't think, but that is precisely what it is. On the surface, it might sound good. Some good, relevant comments from parishioners might be useful in providing reassurance to other communicants, right?

The part where this goes all wrong is, at the end, it becomes something that focuses on what we did for God... sacrificed a car, a house, a marriage, billions of dollars, etc. (and, oh yea, God made it work out ok) But the focus is still on self! What has God done for me? The fact I exist and am at church should say it all. Remember the parable of the rich man and the beggar? When the rich man asks for Moses to send the beggar to his brothers, the reply states (paraphrased) "If they don't believe the prophets, they won't believe someone who rises from the dead!" Why do we need "current" examples? Why won't the Bible fit this role? The reason, I think, goes to the fact that the Bible is, at this point, objective to us. We don't know anyone in there (other than Christ), we don't live in the area, and for the most part it exists outside of ourselves. However when your example is someone you know, it is easier to rationalize and justify, and even puff yourself up. These become pharasaical "sharing." This is a dangerous introduction. It would be far better to include an additional reading from the Bible, perhaps of one of its many examples, than it would be to have these subjective talks.

Has anyone else seen this? This was a first with a Lutheran church of any type. Thoughts are welcomed as I am still a bit puzzled and definitely concerned.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Correction and Clarification

An anonymous commenter for the last post pointed out some issues with my post on the passing of Prof. Marquart, and I wanted to address them here because of their importance. I must ask for your forgiveness for these Omissions.

First the reader took me to task on the phrase "Jesus Christ was the Word incarnate- LAW and GOSPEL. There is no dividing the two- they are one and the same." He referenced two latin phrases: "opus alienum" and "opus proprium." Unfortunately, I am a lay person and have no experience with Latin. I did some checking and as best as I can get this to make sense is, respectively: "someone else's deeds" and "a deed I have done." His comment was "Is the law opus alienum, or opus proprium?"

This is where I omitted the important clarification, although I did allude to the calrification. Because of this omission, it changes everything, and I was in error due to it. I am going to go about it the long way so it is very clear where the error was.

There are two important doctrines of salvation (capitalized for clarity)- LAW and GOSPEL. These aspects are quite different and are separate. The LAW shows us our sins, and proclaims to us our inability to do anything to warrant any blessings of God. The LAW, while it is good, will damn us to hell. The GOSPEL is the wonderful news that God has given us mercy through the sacrifice of Christ. Christ takes our place and has fulfilled the LAW, allowing us to live eternally with God. This is where the latin comes in- "opus proprium" applies in the LAW (works you do mean zilch for salvation) and "opus alienum" applies to the GOSPEL (works of Christ provides for our salvation). In failing to be precise and clear (what I even suggested in the post), I am in grave error and must beg your forgiveness.

The intent was to point out that Christ is the Word made Flesh. He embodies both LAW and GOSPEL- they are combined in Him. He was under the LAW and fulfilled it, becoming our salvation. Since both LAW and GOSPEL complement one another perfectly, they are the two halves of our salvation. The LAW drives us to seek God, and the GOSPEL provides the mercy of God. I was looking at the LAW and GOSPEL as the two parts that make us Christian and provide the whole package for our salvation. As C.F.W. Walther says in Thesis I of God's No and God's Yes, the Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel "Both are equally necessary. Without the Law the Gospel is not understood; without the Gospel the Law benefits us nothing." The intent was to suggest a better phrase is "Word of God" since the secular/baptist translation often just means the GOSPEL and not the LAW (which is at odds with the Bible and Lutheran teachings). This was the intent, but the post fell far short.

The poster also took issue with my peeve of doing something "in someone's honor." The genesis of this peeve is the ubiquitous listings, at least in the southern US, of "driving (or another activity) in the memory/honor of ." This is blantantly wrong on so many levels- namely you do not drive in memory of someone, but to get to work, school, or another location. It only belittles their memory, even if they were pious. Let me get to what the poster wrote:

"You also have this problem, namely, the Lutheran Confessions in fact teach us to honor the saints, and imitate them. Before you are so quick to judge those who would honor this great servant of God, perhaps you might want to consider whether you yourself in fact have a full and complete grasp of the teachings of the Book of Concord. You might start with CA XXI and Ap XXI. Prof. Marquart was a very humble man, and did nothing for his own honor. But it is not right for you to teach such un-Lutheran ideas in a post about him."

First off, I did not intend to in any way relate this to Prof. Marquart. He has the respect of everyone I know who knew him, and my own, even though I did not know him or take classes under him. I know him simply by reputation, which was spotless. I was simply reflecting on a single passage in an article about his passing. I am sorry this was understood in such a way, but it was not my intent, nor did I say it directly or otherwise.

Secondly, a humble man will not, by definition, wish you do anything in their name or to honor them. That is the definition of humility! I take issue with the poster on this point due to the obvious contradiction. I sincerely doubt Prof. Marquart would want anyone to do anything but believe in God wholeheartedly. Even Luther cringed at the thought of the Lutheran denomination being named after him. I hope the poster can and does provide clarification on this point.

Thirdly, on the articles that the poster references, they mention two articles from the Augsburg Confession and the Apology to the Augsburg Confession that deal with the Invocation of the Saints. These were written in response to the Roman Catholic teaching of praying to the saints (Mary, the Apostles, and others). In Article XXI of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the article seems to relate to saints as the Roman Catholic church understood them, not as the Lutheran doctrine of simultaneously sinner and saint. That difference not-with-standing, there is a clear prescription for honoring the saints.

The Apology says there are three ways we should honor the saints (sentences 4-7) in Article XXI. The first honor is to thank God for their examples of mercy, because God wishes to save people, and He has given the Church gifts (teachers are called out specifically). Second honor is the strengthening of our faith in that God has forgiven them of their sins and will forgive ours also. The third honor is to imitate their faith, and then their other virtues in our vocations. As I read and understand that, you honor the saints by 1) praising God for their example, 2) using that example as reassurance we also have salvation from God and 3) use our faith to be an example to others. Since faith is ultimately God's work, ultimately this boils down to: we are praising God for his examples and asking that we would in turn be those examples to others. The focus is on God alone.

While the original intent of the author of the article might have been to suggest we honor Prof. Marquart's memory by being faithful, I would argue that a line was crossed when the following was written "honor the blessed memory and legacy of Kurt Marquart is...redoubling our efforts and even more energetically advancing the cause of authentic, genuine, confessing Lutheranism..." Why do we confess our faith and keep it genuine? Is it because of Kurt Marquart? Or that which God has done, and does, for us? This point isn't as clear as it should have been, making the rememberance seem more than it should be- turning Prof. Marquart's example into a rallying cry.

I hope the anonymous poster will review this post and provide corrections and/or some form of acceptance that this is proper doctrine. I am a layman, and I am human. I will get some things really wrong, and other things slightly so. I can only correct error when it happens and I am made aware of it, and ask for forgiveness. I hope those who read this blog will provide me with the necessary correction when necessary.

It is my desire to use this blog to defend the faith, and in times of correction, grow in it. I only hope that this provides some benefit to those who read it as well.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Ft. Wayne Professor Passes...

It is unfortunate that I must include the news that Professor Marquart at the Fort Wayne Seminary has passed away. I won't include the details, but you can find them here.

I do want to briefly touch on a quote from the link because it shows something that is troubling- the loss of the distinction of Law and Gospel. First, the quote:

The greatest way we can, and will, honor the blessed memory and legacy of Kurt Marquart is by holding fast to the confession and tradition that he passed on to us and redoubling our efforts and even more energetically advancing the cause of authentic, genuine, confessing Lutheranism -- the cause of the pure and unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What stands out in that sentence? It is certainly well meaning, but something else is there, or rather not there. I don't want to pick it to death, but the phrase "...cause of the pure and unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ." is missing the LAW! Jesus Christ was the Word incarnate- LAW and GOSPEL. There is no dividing the two- they are one and the same. It shoud read "... cause of the pure and unadulterated Word of God." (The Word is Christ.) This isn't just a technicality. By removing the Law from the Gospel, you have removed the very essence and power it entails. This is the secular/Baptist type saying, which has unfortunately also entered the lexicon of the Lutheran church. Gaurd your mouths and fingers (in the case of blogging) lest someone misunderstand the unadulterated Word. We should seek clarity, simplicity, and accuracy in all things lest our answers be unclear.

I also want to point out as more of a peeve that if Marquart was a confessional Lutheran (by all accounts he is - yes IS; he is just in a much better place), he by no means would relish anything done in his honor. That is another American/Baptist-ism and we would do well to avoid it. Want to do something in memory of someone? Go to Communion!

Rest in Peace, Brother Marquart.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


My son is getting to the age where he can associate results from actions. So this means discipline starts. My daughter is also trying her bounds to see what her parents will do and allow. So we are a household full of learning moments. Sometimes this is the part that parents really hate- your kid(s) do something against the rules or something you have said to do and they are being coy about it or are just pushing a little and something inside you says "eh, it wasn't that bad..." If you are a parent, you rember the rules and the punishment and you carry it out. Anything else is a disservice to both you and the kids.

It occured to me a couple nights ago that some people associate punishment with pain. Others associate it with teaching violence. Some punish little, if at all. Others punish excessively. Both believe that doing so is the right thing. But none of these thoughts are true.

Punishment and discipline, when done in the proper context, will, of necessity, inflict some amount of discomfort and pain. The point is to knock off a burr, smooth a rough spot, purge the dross from the child. You do it to render the person better in the end. Parents forget that Satan has already started on their children before they (or you) were born. They look innocent, but their heart is dark and their ways are corrupt. Until Baptism in Christ, they have no redeeming qualities when it comes to eternity, or life here on earth. They want to do whatever suits them. So we start with a rough, corroded heart and we must polish, pound, and even burn off those behaviors they will try in order to teach them to be a benefit to society and how to be a Christian. This is our Christian and parental duty. God does the same things in our lives- He presents us with opportunities to learn, be disciplined, and grow in faith. Children is simply God's way of showing us what He does.

I don't want to read too much into the role of parenting and what example it shows- mainly because there is such a plethora of failed families out there that the meaning would be lost on many people. Those who it wouldn't be lost on probably already understand this. I could be wrong. Suffice to say, anyone who loves their kids will discipine them. Anyone who doesn't only hates them. I have great pity for the kids of those who are too caught up in themselves to care about their children.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Good stuff

Get Religion has some good items. The one I will reference is by Mollie entitled "God of Nice Things" about a Time Article on the "Just Believe and all will be well." I think the last quote sums it up nicely. If I copy it here, I won't spoil the ending I don't think.

“Who would want to get in on something where you’re miserable, poor, broke and ugly and you just have to muddle through until you get to heaven?” asks Joyce Meyer, a popular television preacher and author often lumped in the Prosperity Lite camp. “I believe God wants to give us nice things.”

Let's see... I want something in this life that corrodes, can be lost or stolen, and that will only distract me from God OR I can have Heaven, which won't pass away. There is a tough one! I feel it's only right to end this with "May God have mercy on their souls..."

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A new link

I wanted to point out that I have added a link to "Get Religion", specifically with Mollie Ziegler. She is an excellent writer and a good Lutheran. I know because she goes to my church. I recommend her blogging, and her other articles she writes. Her name will change soon (getting married) so I will update that once I know what it is! ;-)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

What you see is what you get!

My coauthor and myself have submitted our paper's first draft. I have a lull and can put down something that has been banging around my mind for a couple days.

The thought relates directly to the "Christianity Lite" and the recent abduction and release of the Fox News people in Gaza. First, "Christianity Lite", also known as the "worship celebration," the "don't-bother-me-with-words-just-good-vibes" or, my phrase, "marshmellow services." What do you really get here? A sense of community? A discount at a spa? Maybe the church you go to isn't that far, it just has a contemporary service, maybe some more "upbeat" music. Yea, the music is low on substance, but it has more pep that some of the older hymns. Maybe the only thing that bugs you is how things seem a little off, but you can't put your finger on it. I know the last part- I have lived that one myself. Something is off, and you can't figure it out. It most likely is NOT the theology- or at least not directly. Surprised? You should be. The theology in these churches is, more or less, on. They read and try to adhere to the Bible. But what is the theology? Where is the error?

Think on it while I go to the next aspect- kidnappings in Gaza, and the Middle East as a whole. The Fox News people were held for about 2 weeks in an unusual abduction. They were released alive, in keeping with previous kidnappings. But something HAS changed in that warfront. The journalist from the Christian Science Monitor, these newspeople, and the latest from al-quiada all have something in common. Conversion. If you don't convert, well thats too bad for you. Never mind the conversion happens at the end of a gun (or willingly for that matter, as long as it happens). As long as you aren't currently attached to the wrong end of a weapon or its projectile, a conversion seems to be a "willing" conversion in islam.

Back to Fox News- both of their correspondents claimed to have "converted", but pulled a "fake out." (term from the 80's related to lying for those less than 18) They said they didn't mean it. Granted, I have never had a muslim put a gun to my temple and start reading the koran. I have not had the pleasure of sitting in their version of the "Hanoi Hilton." I pray everyone who reads this does not also experience this. Hoewver, given all that humans can do and say, the words of Christ come to mind "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it." (Mark 8:35 NKJV) There is a lot of pressure to follow the easy path in prisons such as these. This is why the Christian is to trust God always. "Convert" to save your life? You might well loose that which you should mind above this life. Your life here is temporal. This is exile. Why do we grasp it so? (good Christian answer: old adam and sin!)

How does this relate to the question above? America has had a wonderful state of prosperity and peace. Our homeland has not been invaded by a foreign army since the War of 1812. (Mexican minor incursions not withstanding- I am talking about actual invasions. Civil War doesn't count- that was us on us.) Our religious freedom is unprecedented. This sort of conversion is not something we are used to. What does "kumbaya" give you to fall back on during such conversions? Where does the "happy clappy" fall into the Lord's Prayer? How much do you really keep to use in time of stress and trouble? This is the error- they have theology, but it is liquid, weak, and not providing the strength for battle! Read that again- the theology is "correct", but weak. "How can God's Word be weak?" I hear some screaming. God's Word is never weak- only faith of individual people. The "lite churches" revel in spiritual immaturity. They only want milk, suckling long past their time. Doubt this happens?

12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14)

Those "lite churches" do not provide the sustenience to "fight the good fight" or run the race. They provide sweet milk, but watered down. Think of it as spiritual formula- kinda like the real stuff, just no where near as good. I know this sounds harsh, but in the end, you will have to stand and defend your faith. It might be at the end of a kid with a gun anywhere, a muslim with a sword (gun, etc), or the guy who says "it's all the same isn't it?" No! Again- NO! It is not the same! Fight the fight- defend your faith! Eat the meat of the Word, do not dwell in the nursery! The milk can leave you guessing. It is the meat that sustains, leaves no doubts. Do you want to doubt when the time comes to know?

Maybe I shouldn't watch action movies prior to posting. ;-) On the other hand, the movie I watched has a chilling image of the current situation. I watched "Chronicles of Riddick." It was an action flick, but the arch enemy either converted you or killed you. It sounds a lot like some words from the koran. The interesting thing is they destroy a muslim planet. Some irony, huh?

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Whey Lay tagged me, and I hadn't forgotten. Let's see... I will go grab the list from his site and answer the Tag.

1. One Book that changed your life: I think the unspoken one on Whey Lay's site, but the one I will list here is the Bible. Without it I know I would have no hope, and probably wouldn't be anywhere near where I am today. The second best book I guess would be Luther on Vocation. Excellent book. The rest that I have read for fun don't compare to the value of the Bible or Luther on Vocation.

2. One book you've read more than once: I don't think I could list these. I was quite a bookworm until college, when time became a scarce commodity. I once took 14 books home from a library in High school and had them read in a week! I think it was something like 3000 pages of text total. I can't say I remember everything, but it was fun! ;-) Anyway, I think I have read half of my library at least twice. And that isn't a small collection- we have about 6 bookcases in our house, and need to buy another one. So in the interest of keeping this short- Genesis.

3. One book you'd want on a desert island: Besides an NKJV Bible, a book on a million ways to prepare seafood and coconuts. (I don't need a book on boats. ;-))

4. One book that made you laugh: Hmm... I think the last one I read was More Riddles by Bennett Cerf. This is one of the old "Beginner Books" series with a "Cat in a Hat" logo with a copyright of 1961. I was reading it for my daughter, but there are some nice silly riddles in there. Sometimes the best humor is the simplest.

5. One book that made you cry: The only book I could have cried on was Executive Orders by Tom Clancy. No- it wasn't the story line or the death of a character. Just at 1200 pages, it took me almost 2 years to finish! I wanted to cry- mainly out of frustration in the long delay from start to finish.

6. One book that you wish had been written: Heh... Why Relative Morality Causes Your Brain to Melt. Or something along those get the drift. Reminds me of the egg-frying, brain-on-drugs ads of the 90s.

7. One book that you wish had never been written: Anything by Karl Marx or any other socialist. Their arrogance and insistence on a godless culture is appalling. So many have died and been misled by their ideology. It is quite sad.

8. One book you're currently reading: Unfortunately, not really anything for pleasure. I am reading a book, but the title is upstairs. I will amend this list with the actual title. It is an entrepreneurial book that I am reading out of interest in the topic. I hope to pick up something from #9 shortly though.

9. One book you've been meaning to read: Anything by C.S. Lewis- I have been meaning to pick up some of his stuff, but haven't got the time- yet!

10. Now tag someone else. Hmm... who can I tag? I don't know- this will take some looking. I might have to answer this one later on.

Well, 9 out of 10 isn't bad I think. I hope this means my blog won't be hit by any nasty bad luck, viruses, horrible dislocations of bits or any other normal internet curse. ;-) (Sorry Whey Lay, I had to toss that in there. ;-)) All in good fun. Now you all know I read too much, but now I do too much. If I ever retire, I don't think I will ever notice. (Current trends means that retirement age will be about 152 years old by the time I can retire...)

Thursday, August 24, 2006


I have been trying to write about this off and on, except I kept forgetting the point just when I sat down to write it! I am going to keep it short, but I think you will get the idea.

To a Christian, it is easy to see that sinful man wants so badly to run his own salvation. It is a little harder to see, but still evident, that man also blames his actions for his failures. What a contradiction! You want to be saved by the same things you first blame when something goes wrong! "What did I do to get cancer?" "Why did I get into the car wreck? I must have done something wrong." "Katrina hit New Orleans because of ." God does allow for punishment in this life for things we do. However, isn't it also the defninition of insanity to also rely on e gloomy and deprethose very same works to save you? Thank God for His Mercy!

I think this probably isn't anything too deep to think about for the Confessional Lutheran. However, it bears repeating because it is so basic and easy to fall into the traps and lies we tell ourselves. It is a practice in self-deception that we can save ourselves, that we really "aren't that bad," or that we are ok anyway. If you don't come out of the service sobered (not drunk with your sinful self), then you either didn't hear the proper preaching of the Word, weren't paying attention, or any number of detrimental aspects. You should be sober and realize that you can't do it yourself, everything you have done is "vanity" (as in Ecclesiastes, written by Solomon), and your only hope is in Christ. To expect to either be happy and joyful, or on the flip side gloomy and depressed, is to expect vanity in place of real worth. It is something to think about and be wary of. Our works mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. Only the work of God (whether through us or not) is what matters. True self-deception is using the boards of the bottom of the boat to bail it out. It just doesn't work.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Exciting News

This post isn't a rant, but a blog of Thanksgiving- my wife has just found out that we are expecting our third child! Praise Him from whom all blessings flow! The tenative due date is April 26. I will periodically give updates as things progress.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Two posts in a day...

This is a record for me. I wanted to post this separately because it is so much more different than the other post. I just wanted to throw this out there.

Anyone who knows me, also knows that I hold modern science just above pond scum in its ability to reason. Evolution, global warming, and other concepts are, in a phrase, a pipe dream. (Ok- the why: pipe dream refers to the hallucinations of someone in an opium den- not only is it considered unreliable, but those "dreams" are also usually scary/horrifying and entirely fictional.) My thought relates to those who try to tie the Bible in with modern science and the creation story. They try to include evolution and say "Well God must have meant many years and used evolutoin to make the creatures of the earth." While that might SEEM reasonable at first blush, it violates the most basic principles of the Bible. First, that God doesn't lie. Second, if the Garden was perfect, why would animals need to die and mutate to be perfect? This adds contradictions and removes "original sin." (doubly bad) Third- if you are that unsure on the Word of God, why do you try and marry it with bad science? Evolution is so pitiful, I was able to destroy it twice in my biology class in 10th grade. If a 10th grader can see through it, it has some pretty big holes. Marrying that junk to the Holy Writ should be incomprehensible to anyone who cares about the Word of God.

Alright, I will end the rant. Just keep in mind that modern science still requires a team of people to do simple heart surgery due to the complexity. We still don't understand basic physics, and biology just now figured out that genes can work for multiple functions. This is not possible by chance- only by God. The more I see and understand, the more in awe I am of His power.

Teaching the Why

No, I didn't mean "The Who." How many times have you heard people say "I don't know why I do this this way..?" There is a mayor of a small town (I am not sure where the internet article is that I read this) that has stopped mowing his lawn. His reasoning "Why do we do it?" This led to a deeper thought that this touches on while I was doing my own mowing today.

The answer for mowing your lawn goes back to the late 1800's and early 1900's. It was quite fashionable to have a lawn of tall grasses. That is until they discovered that the insects (i.e. mosquitos, gnats, etc) and pests (cockroaches, rats, mice) that carry disease all love tall grasses. It didn't take long to connect that with plagues and the spread of disease, and those lawns weren't so fashionable if you ended up with a contagious disease (even the flu was deadly then). So the push mower was born, and the rest was history. Now why is this on a Lutheran blog site? Well, since people no longer know WHY you mow your lawn, they think it's purely ornamental. So you either get 1) no lawn mowing or 2) inane and anal mowing restrictions (such as your lawn must not exceed 2.1756380 inches in height.. (ok so thats a little extreme in measurement, but you get the idea). Alright, here is the tie in.

How many times have you heard "We don't need such an old tradition/method/etc for..." and you can fill in the blank with whatever is the topic du jour: abortion, gay marraige, contemporary worship, Lord's Supper, etc. They aren't taught the "why," and so are left to make it up. This is evident in everyday life when anyone teaches another person any task, method, or morality. They remember to teach the mechanations, the rules, and the expected outcomes. But hardly do they teach the "why." "Why don't you play with guns?" You/others get shot and die. "Why don't you drive drunk?" You and/or other people will get badly hurt and/or die. "Why don't we marry gays?" (Do I really need to spell this one out?) "Why do I have to...?" Every parent and Pastor has to keep this in mind when they teach their children/flock. First you explain the rules, and then the why. (I try and do this with my children regarding ledges and other dangerous/important details.) God has done this throughout the Bible, and provided not only the why, but the who, what, when, where, and how. If only human teachers were so effective.

Next time you hear someone asking "why" (or one of the many variations that mean the same thing), provide the "why." "Why don't we sing newer more upbeat songs?" Because they aren't founded on the Word, they are not beneficial to the congregation, and "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" will continue to be sung to the end of time- this pop-rock song won't make it till next week! Provide a why, and the questions usually end. Provide the why, and cause the doubt to wither instead of the faith.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A little sparse...

I apologize for the sparse posts, but I have been very busy lately, only to be compounded by a paper I am co-authoring with another engineer. So what little time I have is now less/non-existant. I will get back as soon as the time presents itself.

I did want to post a little thought provocation before I get too busy. In the USA, there is an "expectation", usually referred to as a "right," of privacy. My question is this- is it truely a right? Before you start to wonder how this applies to a Christian blog, think of it this way. Is our "desire" for privacy simply the fear of the publicly unknown things in our lives becoming well known? If there is nothing to hide, why hide? I think this goes back to the fallen man placing clothes on in the Garden of Eden. It isn't because it's needed, it's only because man wants to feel "protected and secure" from the sins he knows are there. (Knowing isn't necessarily a conscious knowing.) Anyway, I put this out to make you think, and possibly post your thoughts. This will be most "offensive" to Americans simply because it is such a part of the culture.

As a sidenote- privacy isn't explicitly stated in the Constitution. The only reason it exists is due to a Supreme Court ruling... interesting, huh?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Little "Off Topic"

I figured I would post a little info on myself. I am still figuring out the "blog machine" in my spare time, so I apologize if this is a ponderous method instead of the profile. (This might very well make it in there some time.) I am an Aerospace Engineer, the result I think of too many sci-fi movies and books. I like to read, but being an adult and a father limits the time I have to enjoy printed words. I enjoy paintball, but it's expensive and there aren't many fields around, so I don't get out very often. My music choice is quite eclectic, and I pick and choose based on my mood at the time, or the need to stay awake. (I have a long commute, so driving at 5 am is not conducive to "easy listening"!)

I hope this has been somewhat informative to the few people who read this. A fellow blogger, Pastor Stiegemeyer, is considering a call to be an administrator to the Ft. Wayne, IN LC-MS Seminary, so for those who don't read his site (which is here), please pray for him.

Anyway, that's all for tonight. Since my commute starts early, so does the bedtime routine. *sigh* I am naturally a night owl, so this schedule is not the most enjoyable. Any prayers for continued safe driving is always appreciated. Till I get a few minutes to write again, I guess I will sign off as "Caffeinated in VA." ;-)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Going Back to the Future

No, no Marty McFly here- just something for those who read this blog to think about. Part of what is causing so much of this mess in the LC-MS, and other denominations, is a lack of knowledge of the core teachings. The poor preaching/teaching starts with the Bible and goes from there. How many LC-MS Churches will go through Romans for the 3rd time in 2 years in their Bible class, and not touch the Book of Concord... or the Augsburg Confession.. or the Apology to the Augsburg Confession? All to often its a light study on Christianity pressed through some pop/secular Church grinder, which is merely breezed through with cursory readings of the Bible and a paragraph prayer each Sunday. How many know how to pray the Psalms? Anyone? I know I haven't been taught (and still don't rightly know, although sometimes I can see how it might be done). Anyone know what Article 14 (or XIV) of the Augsburg Confession says? (For a refresher, see here) How about Luther's Large Catechism explanation on the Apostle's Creed? Anyone know who wrote the Augsburg Confession? (No, not Luther- Philip Melanchthon!)

Our failings are in our theology- but they are deeper than that. They go into our teaching. We have failed miserably at this. We must first teach our families rightly. Then start by suggesting a class on the Confessions, if your church doesn't already. I am sure those churches with no love for Christ won't stand for the absolutist position Luther takes on any of the Commandments. Those which remember their true love will soon find those who press for contemporary worship either fleeing, or making the biggest rukus you will ever see. (If so- press them back and out! Get rid of that leaven!)

As far as I can tell, this is the only way to stem the tide- with the Word of God and proper teaching. If we want to spend time doing something useful on this earth- something that will last a while, we can only delve into God's Word. Anything teaching less should be unacceptable. Know your religion, or stop pretending.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Not Shying Away from the 'Blaze

Anyone affiliated with the LCMS has heard of the "Ablaze movement." Simply put, it's a "bait and switch" Church Growth operation. This means they provide some things that satisfy the flesh (songs, creature comforts, etc) and hope somewhere along the way you pick up some of the Word of God. One of the many problems with this approach is to satisfy the flesh, you have to remove the Offense of the Cross- i.e. all of the stuff that makes us Christians! Some people don't see a problem with this. DON'T LISTEN TO THEM! They are snakes in the grass, wolves in sheep's clothing. They want you to do like the Church in Ephesus that lost it's true love in Revelation (Chapter 2:1-7), be like the "undead" ("I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.") in Sardis (Rev. 3:1-6), and lukewarm to God like Laodicea (Rev 3:14-22). Beware this trend- it will lead people astray, passing "marshmallows" as the "ultimate food" for Christians. It is nothing but air and sugar- pleasing but worthless.

It's also interesting to note that almost every time the word "ablaze" is used in the Bible (NIV translation), it is in the role of judgment. I post the following verses for you to consider:

" 30 The LORD will cause men to hear his majestic voice
and will make them see his arm coming down
with raging anger and consuming fire,
with cloudburst, thunderstorm and hail.

31 The voice of the LORD will shatter Assyria;
with his scepter he will strike them down.

32 Every stroke the LORD lays on them
with his punishing rod
will be to the music of tambourines and harps,
as he fights them in battle with the blows of his arm.

33 Topheth has long been prepared;
it has been made ready for the king.
Its fire pit has been made deep and wide,
with an abundance of fire and wood;
the breath of the LORD,
like a stream of burning sulfur,
sets it ablaze."
Isaiah 30:30-33

" 1 Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains would tremble before you!

2 As when fire sets twigs ablaze
and causes water to boil,
come down to make your name known to your enemies
and cause the nations to quake before you!

3 For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,
you came down, and the mountains trembled before you."

Isaiah 64:1-3

8 "While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully.

9 "As I looked,
"thrones were set in place,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
and its wheels were all ablaze.

10 A river of fire was flowing,
coming out from before him.
Thousands upon thousands attended him;
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was seated,
and the books were opened."

Daniel 7:8-10

"7The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.

8The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, 9a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed."

Rev. 8:7-9

At the least you would think the "Ablaze" people would have checked this out. But apparently such things were not checked- how much of their theology is from their minds and not the mouth of God?

As I close, I leave you with one more aside. If you search for "Ablaze" on Google, you will get a ton of answers. The first one is the LCMS "movement." The fourth is a book called "Ablaze!: The Mysterious Fires of Spontaneous Human Combustion." I think this says it all.

Don't worry- I will have more on the Ablaze group as I find time to research it. The main thrust here is anything that attempts to supplant the Word and usurp the worship service as things we do for God (instead of what God does for us) is a lie and a blasphemy!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

What really is "Contemporary Worship"?

For those who noted I couldn't figure out the title bar, it was due to a setting. Thanks to Whey Lay for the head's up. I have since changed the setting, and will have more easily denoted sections!

Now to the subject matter at hand. It's quite popular in "secular" Christendom to talk about church growth and "modernizing" the church. I say "secular" because they fall more into the "popular culture" due to their exposure and approaches. The general "church growth movement" is focused on growing a church at a good rate through "modern" songs, "celebration services" and other silly things. I want to focus in on one aspect called "Contemporary Worship", the "modernizing" of the music in church.

This usually involves none of those old, stodgy hymns. You remember the ones with 6 long verses, you had to sing all of them, and all of the old people knew them (but no one else, so goes the claim). Ring a bell? A lot of new, "modern" songs are fairly repetitive, the music is simple enough to be played without notes accompanying the music, and generally make you feel good. However, this format does cause one thing to be lost- the Scripture behind those old, stodgy hymns! My 2-year old put it best- she calls the hymns sung in church "Bible songs." I thought this was a strange way to put it, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. The hymns the Church has sung for generations are based on the Psalms and the Bible as a whole. Luther's "Mighty Fortress," and even some of the more recent hymns in the same "stodgy" format, have Scripture behind them. Where does this leave the "Contemporary Worship" songs? Well, I liken them to marshmallows. Don't get me wrong, I love marshmallows. But, if you get right down to it, all a marshmallow contains is a lot of sugar and air. They are pleasing to the tongue, but provide no real nourishment, and frankly aren't all that good for you.

How should we praise the Creator? Should we sing songs that make us feel good for a while, but provide nothing to fall back on? Or should we reiterate the Word of God, giving us something to fall back on? Remember that the easiest way to remember something is to have a rhythm or a song about it. That's why there are those silly sentences for memorizing just about anything, why that stupid song just won't leave your mind, and why children learn their "A, B, C's" with a tune. Which is more useful? Thirty-five verses of "Yea god I love ya" or the Scripture? What is more filling- steak or marshmallows?

Monday, June 05, 2006

The few people who have been to this blog before should have noticed a change in the title. I decided to change it to make it more "sound-byte-able" (I doubt thats a word, but it works for me!) and easier to remember. Thats all the time I have for tonight.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I am finally in a position to post again. The house is in some semblance of order, and I have access to the internet. So far, so good.

I wanted to provide a thought before I quit for the evening. Late last night, my wife was busy taking care of our infant son, and our daughter, who is two, woke up crying and saying "Mommy!" I got up and laid with her in her bed, and she snuggled up, quit crying and went to sleep, feeling secure that her father was there. It stuck me that God gave us so many parallels with His relationship with us. When we cry out in distress, He is there to comfort us. He is there when we succeed. When the terrors of the night (or even the day) hem us in, and there is no respite, God is there to comfort. When the devil and his hordes attack, He is our sure defense. As Luther wrote in the Hymn "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." All we have to do is call on Him, and he is faithful. When the pressures are too much, cry out to God. Let your spirit cry out all the more, and trust He is there. For thats really all faith is- trust in God in all things. Our trust isn't perfect until the day of Judgement, but trusting like a child trusts their parents is the model we should heed.

Monday, May 01, 2006

If I could figure out how to title the entries, this one would be called "Night of the living dead." For those who know about horror films, you would rightly claim I ripped a title off- and you would be right. Why is a movie about zombies and the living dead worth a horror flick? What's so horrifying of corpses running around? Such silliness, right?

I would posit that it isn't at all. The Bible mentions multiple times that we are sinners, and as such have no life in us. Starting to sound familiar? As sinners, we are the "living dead"- corpses so full of corruption that God cannot stand us. And yet, He provides for this world full of zombies and flesh with breath, health, food, drink, joy, and many innumerable blessings.

People often cry out, thinking they are justified, "Why has god done ...?!" and "A loving god doesn't do..." and shake their fists towards heaven. They don't stop to consider that the very breath they curse God with is a gift. God could very well have extinguished the entirety of Creation when man first sinned. However, wonder of wonders, He provided for our salvation. A hateful god would have tortured us for eternity. A loving God, a God who is Love, disciplines and blesses for our benefit. As Christians we are no longer zombies obeying the corpses around us, but the Living God, Christ crucified and raised.

Monday, April 24, 2006

To the possibly 2 people who read this post, my posts will be a little varried and not as consistent since I will be moving in 3 weeks. Soli Deo Gloria.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

I hope you had a Happy Easter. The death and resurrection of Christ is our only hope. Without this, there is no hope or life.

Luke 24:1-7 (KJV)

"1Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

2And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.

3And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.

4And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:

5And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?

6He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,

7Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again."

"Praise God from whom all blessings flow..." Doxology

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Yesterday was Good Friday. It isn't called "Good Friday" because its the last day in the week. It is named that in remembrance of the sacrifice of the Son of God. What's the big deal? Jesus Christ became our "whipping boy" and took our punishment. Several centuries ago, it wasn't unheard of among rich families that there would be a slave that would take the punishment for whatever transgressions the child of the owner would do. Normally this would involve whipping or some other form of capital punishment. In Jewish sacrifices, there were specific rites where sins were laid upon a goat and set free. This is in addition to the bloody sacrifices for the sins of the people. The goats and the whipping boys were there to take the punishment for the people. This is exactly what Christ did.

It is fitting that Christ became man, in the form of a servant- a slave. He came to be our sacrifice so we might enter heaven to be with God. Without this sacrifice there is no hope for we are rotting, decrepit flesh. Every sin you have done, now and until you die, was laid on Christ. He took our guilt and punishment so that when God would see us, He would see perfection.

Keep this in mind as you celebrate Easter, and more importantly as you start your work week. If you consider this just a good story, and Jesus an inspiration only, then you are in danger of hell! Consider yourself, your actions. Write out all the ways you can sin from the Commandments and Christ's teachings, then do none of them for a month... a week.... a day. If you are truly honest with yourself, you will sin on a disturbingly regular basis. Until you know you are a fetid being, sinful and without hope, you won't realize you need Christ.

Enjoy the celebration at Easter... but also give proper thanks to the God who gives you a reason to celebrate.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Gospel of Judas is all the rage in the media. You would think the very Holy Grail was found! However, this is much ado about doo-doo. This "ancient" script is nothing more than the rantings of a sect called the Gnostics. While I could go into detail, I will link to someone I know has a proper angle on things. I will let Mollie Ziegler take this to task in her article at GetReligion. Enjoy the article and the education it provides!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

This is my first blog, so please forgive me for the basic nature. I am sure I will add more, once I know how to do it! I will try and update it as often as I can.

As for the title, it's fitting because of the nature of the secular Christendom today. It focuses on the "loving and friendly" guy known as Jesus and forgets about the cross, Christ throwing out the money changers, or their own filthy state. If you take one aspect of Christ, and throw away the rest, you are an idolitor! Only worshiping the True God counts- not your interpretation. Christ brings peace with His Father, not with the heathen. This is what He means by "...came not to send peace..."