Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone. Verses taken from biblegateway.com, Isaiah 9:1-7 (KJV):

1Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.

2The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

3Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

4For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.

5For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.

6For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

7Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Monday, December 10, 2007


I know is has been a while since I blogged, but time has slipped away lately. I do want to post something that was troubling from Sunday, 8 days ago. My family was all ill with a very bad cold (we are still on the tail end after 2 weeks), so I decided to go to the local LC-MS Church. The service was uneventful, and the sermon less Scripture and more pep talk. The part that was most disturbing came at the end. In the narthex, in full view of the main door was a listing of the Ten Commandments. They were, however, the reformed version (4 God centered and 6 worldly, with the change from "Thou shalt not murder." to "Thou shalt not kill."- a big difference). I brought up that this was not in keeping with Lutheran Confessions (what all LC-MS churches are supposed to follow), I got a weak, noncomittal reply from the senior paster. The response was, paraphrasing, that a member had given it "in love" and, well, they just didn't have the "guts" to let this member know that it wasn't right! He willingly and knowingly let incorrect teaching exist because he, as he claimed, didn't "have the guts"! This is appalling. This is also why I drive an hour one way every Sunday- to ensure my family are properly taught good Doctrine.

I am troubled that Pastors are allowed this lee-way and who allow poor doctrine to invade the church. I think this is a fundamental problem within the LC-MS church- a lack of discipline within the church. No amount of "Ablaze" or Church Growth Movement will stem the flow of dissatisfied church goers who simply wanted the Word or are enticed by shiny "worship" baubles pandered by other, larger churches. If the LC-MS doesn't enforce some discipline among the Pastoral office, she is in for a rough future.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Good Article on Gov't and Authority

This was a pertinent article by Pastor Stiegemeyer on the authority of a government. Enjoy Pastor Stiegemeyer's article- it is a very good one.

The rancor in American politics is frighteningly high. We also just had an election day last Tuesday and the Presidential debate has been going on for about a couple weeks shy of eternity (alright, closer to a year and a half..). It is understandable that some of us has our government on our mind. We also read of politicians saying strange things, like this one from Cuba's Vice President "a president's legitimacy stems not only from his election by voters ... he must also be legitimate in the exercise of power." This is in opposition to the authority given by God to serve and protect the people. Legitimacy comes from God alone.

However, our first allegiance is to God. In a world of political correctness, a man can be seriously incriminated for simply implying some sort of discrimination. In Finland, a Lutheran Pastor has been brought under charges for sex discrimination for not conducting a service with Communion with a female pastor. He is following God's design and is in trouble. I stand behind his decision because he did what God directed, not what man, or in this case a woman, wanted. If you don't think it won't happen here in the US, just wait a couple more years. I wouldn't be surprised.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Soft versus Hard

I work in the Aerospace and Defense business, and there are two types of "kills" in a military mission. There is the "Hard Kill" where something explodes, disintegrates, or otherwise dies in a fairly certain fashion. A "Soft Kill" is a result that renders the target unable to fight, but not necessarily dead. This "soft kill" is hard to figure out if it has worked in most cases, leaving the slight doubt that the target might still be able to shoot. It occurred to me that this is analogous to how people in general view sin. They haven't done the "hard sins" of praying to budda, allah, or some other deity. They haven't stolen from a bank, shot anyone, committed adultery, or used God's name in vain. Often, however, the "soft" sins are committed with abandon. They deny God's deity through evolution and trust in their 401k and job security. They steal what is other's due by skipping payment here or there. They support murder through abortion and murder in their hearts by wishing evil on another. They lust after pictures of women/men as long as they "look but don't touch." They hit their hand with a hammer and the next words are "G-- D--- IT!" These "soft kills" are just as deadly, even if they seem less dangerous. Just a different way of terming it, but the end is the same. Thank God for the sacrifice of Christ!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Victor's Parade

Pastor's sermon today spurred an interesting thought in my mind. The background are verses discussing Christ's return to heaven at Ascension. One of the verses Pastor used was from Psalm 24:7 "Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in." There is a "challenge and response" methodology in Psalm 24. One demanding the doors be opened, and the challenge being "Who is it?" The response between the two is a victor's style request of a king returning from battle victorious. It reminded me of the parades Rome would put on when a general returned from a successful campaign. The general would parade through Rome's streets, trailing behind him the spoils of war. Usually captives, treasure, and exotic beasts would be behind him, showing a sample of the spoils for the emperor. It occurred to me that Christ, upon returning to Heaven's Gate, was doing the same thing. He was returning as the victor. He paraded through the gate to show the victory and the spoils. The spoils were Himself as the resurrected Christ- the first resurrection of any man.

I found it to be interesting the duality carried even to Heaven with the Ascension, as it has to if Christ is truly raised man and God in one. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised, but one is always learning and finding new things in the Word.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thorns of the Soul

Drudge Report carried a link to a Times article on Mother Teresa, or rather her "Crisis of faith," as exposed in her letters and confidential writings to Priests and confidants. First, she wanted those writings destroyed, but she was overruled by the Vatican and her request ignored by the recipients. Her main concern was the focus on herself and not Christ, and I think this is an important point they overlooked. But, given that these writings exist, the article is interesting and actually fairly decent. Obviously you miss the context of the writings, but it is clear from some of it that she couldn't "feel" God's presence in her life and was "tortured" by that. Some of the text of "conversations" with Jesus sounds a bit like Satan to me. They include an emphasis on works and doing something for God, which is what leads me to that conclusion. They also have a "passive aggressive" tone that I don't find Christ using anywhere in the Bible.

The article is also startling in how it shows the danger of emphasis on works. I don't think she ever felt like she did enough. I also noticed that all of the people who conversed with her never mentioned (at least in the article) the promises of God. To be sure, that was probably assumed. However, don't we all need to hear that from time to time?

It is a good read and I recommend it simply for the perspective it places. The article does have a section near the end that includes the assertion that faith isn't a feeling. I am sure this is news to Charismatics and contemporary worship devotees.

I just wish the people who she confided in would have gone a little farther and mentioned the promises of God, and if they did that it had been included in the article. I think that portion of the Gospel would have been the salve to her soul, as well as anyone else traveling in "the shadow of the valley of death..."

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sin Rights

If you read through the Old Testament, you will come across the phrase "..did what was right in their own eyes..." a significant number of times, relating to Israelites and their disobeying of God's Word. Sometimes it reads almost like a broken record where the punishment and the straying are only verses apart. This same phrase comes to mind when I see fellow Christians wallowing into areas they don't belong with reckless abandon. A case in point is the ELCA looking to "accept" homosexuals, even to the point of ordination! For those who wonder what the fuss is about, see this excellent post from Cyberstones titled The Power of Naming an Enemy. Rebellion against God is the essence of sin. Homosexuality rebels against the order God has made, the nature of the blessings of marriage, and the marring of those two aspects in the imagery of Christ and his bride, the Church. We want to "not offend" and let people do what they think is right. But a Christian must call a sin a sin, lest he grow blind to it.

The devil always says "Did God really say....?" because that is one of the most effective weasels he has. God has said "Thou shalt not commit adultery." We twist that around to any number of meanings. Our flesh cries out "I have a right!" God, if He so cared to, could respond (rightly) "To do what?!" We wouldn't have a great answer to the Creator of all things. Our flesh just wants the right to sin. The warfare we face to beat back this devilish impulse is intense and we will fall a multitude of times. Only God fighting for us keeps us from falling forever. Thank God He has the right to choose to fight on our behalf!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Soldiers and Heaven

The Life of the World (a publication of the LC-MS Seminary in Fort Wayne, IN) had the theme of chaplains for its current issue. An article titled "What does this mean?" discussed Luther's arguments that a soldier is not in peril of eternal damnation due to his vocation as a soldier. And I agree with this article. However, I cannot seem to rectify myself to full satisfaction the difference between soldiering in ancient times and the American methodology. Previous generations were conscripted (drafted in modern parlance) to fight when there was an enemy. The only other source of soldiers were mercenaries who fought for money. The modern American soldier is a "volunteer", which means they sign up for service without being directly "asked" to do so. While this is a proper vocation as it is an arm of the government emplaced by God, does the vocation take on a slightly less proper hue when the soldier is a volunteer versus a draftee? I don't think it would, but I can't seem to reason out the solution. Thoughts on the subject are welcomed.

Friday, July 20, 2007


This is a quick plug for my Pastor's blog. You can find it here and I will be adding it, when time permits, to my sidebar. Enjoy!

As an aside, I think time will be more permissive for posting soon as I am changing jobs which will reduce the commute (at least 30 minutes one way!). But, I have a paper to write, so until Aug. 1, I will still be spotty. Then I will pick up with some stuff on Ablaze.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Still Here

My apologies for not posting lately, but life has been fairly busy. I have spent a large amount of time between family, house repairs, changing jobs (official in two weeks) and an assortment of other duties. I hope to post more in the near future once the new job starts. Until next time, God's blessings.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Persecution of the Church

I wanted to bring some examples of persecution of the Faith through direct and indirect means. I am not sure how much you see, but these came across my screen in the past day or so. The Devil is alive and well, and assaulting the Church anywhere he can.

Read about the Taliban giving Christians until this Thursday to convert to islam or face bombings. Obviously the Christians are concerned, but apparently not the government officials. Hopyfully they stand firm in their faith, even to martyrdom. I am sure many churches in the US would also provide sanctuary for those leaving town/country. I wonder if there is anything we can do through our missionary channels.

Hong Kong is pondering giving the Bible an "indecent" rating. I guess it has too much sex and violence for the Chinese to distribute directly. This is probably a means to censor and track those who buy it. I doubt that people are genuinly offended by the sex and violence, but the parts about "Thou shalt..." and their sinful flesh.

One last one, and this one is self-inflicted. Can you imagine your pastor dressing up as a... clown?! Niether can I, but I came across this and I couldn't believe it. This is self-inflicted by inciting derision of the church through crappy theatrics. The pastor has this to say in response. He ends by saying "So, those of you pursuing us, God bless you! See you in heaven! Lord, thank you for being the judge for us, so we don't have to judge others." He has no idea what he is doing. This is a prime example of being so doctrinally lax, your faith falls out. The phrase "Doing what was right in their own eyes" comes to mind. I pity the congregation and their pastor. If their souls aren't in danger now, they most certainly will be in the near future.

Pray for all believers. We are in a war to end all wars in the spiritual sense. Gird yourself with prayer and faith for the battle is long, but the war won.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


This has been my first opportunity to post, but my son was Baptised last Sunday. A new Christian and a new man (in baby form of course). Childbirth is an amazing thing. Rebirth into Christ even more so. Praise God!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


This is the first opportunity that I have had on writing since my last post. This weekend has been a roller-coaster. My son was born Friday morning after a relatively uneventful labor which changed dramatically with a footling breech birth that had to be delivered via c-section after the water broke. I was just recovering from the birth when the news reached me yesterday about the shooting at my alma mater, Virginia Tech. Anytime news like this reaches me, it just generates such sadness and a loss to even understand. This is even more so when it is somewhere I know, and really do love to be at. Man is sinful, and that is why these things happen. Americans aren't good, no one is. That is why Christ had to save us. Pray for those who lost loved ones and those who have been wounded. God bless those affected, and those on campuses around the country and the globe.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


This blog will be short because my third child, a son, was born on Friday morning and I have been fairly busy with other important matters. I had to put this out because it puts in clear focus the reason for those "repetitive, boring services" that are the same week after week. You learn them! Doubt it? I don't. Last night, while dressing my two kids for bed, my daughter started saying a phrase that I couldn't help but wonder at. She was saying "very God of very God..." over and over. She was reciting part of the Creed without studying it! I explained where it came from and the next couple lines before she lost interest, but she knows part of the Creed. She is 3!

The service is the basics of the Word, and the Readings and the Sermon should include the meat. But the point of the repetition is to teach the service, the psalms, and the important aspects without the need for fancy classes. It is placed in the rote memory. It is just there. If you toss that out for ever changing services, there is no continuity. You deprive yourself and your kids from the consistency and the rote memory of the Church. It isn't a catch all for preventing apostasy, but it is a great spot to start. If you don't have a doctrine, how do you know if you have left it?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Bumper Stickers

You can learn a lot from bumper stickers. I saw one today that, I believe, is used by pro-abortion supporters. The sticker said "Keep your theology off my biology." Catchy, huh? There were also several budda references and Eastern mysticism stickers. My thought was "without "theology" (ie God), you wouldn't have a biology." People think they can force God out just by saying "I don't believe in you," as if God is an "imaginary friend" that you can wish away. It is sad, but it is a fact of the fallen human nature. Sometimes what people stick on their bumpers (or email signature or whatever) gives you better clues as to who that person is than actually meeting them. I try to avoid stickers myself- I don't want to peel them off later on when they are faded. Plus, if I put a Christian sticker on, then violate a law (regardless of intending to or not), I might cause someone to fall. So my car is boring.

So, what's on your bumper?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Steeped in the Secular

Many of us view our Church as a sanctuary from the trials of life. And it is, for the most part. However, how many of you look closely at how the Church body has slowly absorbed the world? Suffrage for almost everyone in the church is a new, "American" thing. Suffrage for women is controversial because, given the nature of the Church, some of the votes might involve matters of theology. Since the wife is to be submissive to the husband in Churchly things (Eph 5:22-33), this poses a theological dilemma. If you thought this was easily corrected, try to change it. The reaction would be more strenuous than if you asked to change the Creed! (Sad state of affairs)

There are other encroachments that depend on the Church body. Some liberal churches want "current music" (another way of saying they want to be entertained). Some Churches still have the American Flag flanking the altar. (It belongs elsewhere.) The avenues are many, varied, and muddy the line between Church and the world. So please be careful, and teach people the meaning of the Churchly things. Hopefully then you can remove the secular without resorting to a divisive conflict.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Sex still sells...

If it didn't, the proliferation of escapades wouldn't be in the news and on the commercials every moment. One particular headline caught my eye today. The headline was "Sexually Suggestive Sermons From Michigan Pastor Leave Some Hot and Bothered." The part that piqued my interest was the story was on a Lutheran Pastor. Thinking it was a crazy ELCA thing, I clicked on the link. Nope- it is a LC-MS Pastor! I had to investigate further. The hubub is about the sermon topics the pastor has chosen.

The pastor has a whole series of sex-related topics for Lent. While there is something to be said for educating the congregation on proper sexuality, I don't think it has to do with Lent. This is a time to recall the direct path to the Cross and our sins, not on "Puresex." (BTW if you want to see the intro movie that has caused the commotion (it is not explicit for those who are wondering), click here.) The sermon topics should, at the most, be studies in Scripture. I have some familiarity with the Pastor, and he tends to the liberal side and most likely views the entire service as something secondary and adjustable.

To his credit, their "About Epic" part of the webpage (Epic is the name of the church) is pretty much on the theological mark. My concern is where they say "
Through music, video, performing arts, and the spoken word – our desire is to create an engaging community where you can discover both who God is and how you can connect your story to the epic story of Jesus. We’ve made every effort to eliminate all of the nonessentials that take away from God. No getting dressed up because God cares about our hearts, not our appearance. No long boring sermons filled with terminology you don’t understand, just messages that relate to real issues in your life!" What have they thrown out? Apprently the historical Liturgy has taken a blow. They claim to include the "spoken word," but I would hazard a guess that "the spoken word" might be open to (significant) interpretation.

Now I have nothing wrong with exploring the use of more "modern" technology in the Church. It just shouldn't be done in the Service! The Liturgy IS the WORD, and to that end is not a "nonessential." Even if this Pastor is 110% always on Scriptural cue and Doctrinally sound, churches that suffer the loss of their Doctrine in the Service usually fall away/fail within a generation or so. I hope this isn't the case, but history is a harsh teacher. Proper Theology is not a cure for improper practice. See Luther in the Small Catechism on Prayer for an example.
The true comfort of the Service is not in fun songs, but the sureness of the Forgiveness, the WORD, and the Sacraments. Anything different (song, epics, and/or charisma) only dilute and dispel the good things God gives.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Compromising Duty

I am in the South-East District of the LC-MS, which includes the Carolinas, Virginia, and Maryland (I don't think it has much if Georgia, if any). I can count the number of confessional churches on one hand, and I dare say it might be as, or more so, liberal as California and Massachusetts. Being in the Bible Belt and Baptist country, there is a lot of influence on the SE District from those aspects. This is a challenging District, if only for those reasons.

Given the fairly universal influence, I am not terribly surprised that some of the Pastors let things bend one way or another in a limited (or sometimes extreme) fashion to accommodate the expectations of the congregation. However, I would expect a higher level of attention to detail at district meetings. I have it on good authority that a majority of the Pastors balk at a full service with communion for the meeting. They wanted a shortened version without a lot of the parts of the service that set the stage for communion. I do not know their reasoning, but a failure to practice the full service (and the Word that the service uses) indicates a greater reluctance to the more important things. I am not surprised at this, but it is disheartening. If the shepherds of the flock act like "hired hands," what does that say for the hope and direction of the flock? I dare say it will scatter (John 10:11-13).

This is also one of the objections I have to "incorporating" and entailing business-like terminology. It robs the church of the history and Biblical references that Shepherd and Servant give. I think being a Pastor is less of a career choice and more of a commitment to something above and beyond yourself. I know I am counter to the "second" and "third" career Pastor terminology (which I have used myself). However, I think leaving the vestiges of the business and worldly terminology has its own benefits which outweigh growth charts, market studies, and other man-made junk.

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Kantorei

I was privileged to go to the Kantorei service on Dec. 31 and my family was able to host two fine Seminarians that night. For those who are interested, Pastor Stiegemeyer posted their schedule here. They are quite good and worth a decent trip to hear. For those who are unable to hear them in person, I know they have CDs that are accessible via the CTS bookstore website.

The Seminarians we hosted were about my age. One was a 4-year student who should receive his first call this spring and has a family similar to my own. The other was a first year student and isn't married yet (he is engaged though). Both were conservatives, and it was interesting talking about how they got to be a conservative and theology in general. It was a late night, but worth the time. I certainly hope I can keep in contact with these new friends as they enter the official position of Pastor. If you get the chance to host a Kantorei or Seminarian, don't only ask them about the new Lutheran Service Book (LSB), but ask who they are. I found the whole discussion to be enjoyable and will do it again if the opportunity presents itself.

As a side note, I have started looking at the Ablaze propaganda to attempt to figure out where the root issue starts. So far my impression is there is something wrong, I just can't stick my finger on it. I have found things that display a stunning lack of forethought, but I will save those for an Ablaze only post. I want this post to simply point out the Kantorei's ability and the men that make it up. Conservatism isn't for old guys anymore.