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?