Sunday, March 30, 2008

First Sunday after Easter




Quasimodo Geniti – The First Sunday after Easter

KJV 1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. 9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. 10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.

KJV John 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. 21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. 24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. 30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank Thee, that of Thine ineffable grace, for the sake of Thy Son, Thou hast given us the holy gospel, and hast instituted the holy sacraments, that through the same we may have comfort and forgiveness of sin: We beseech Thee, grant us Thy Holy Spirit, that we may heartily believe Thy word; and through the holy sacraments day by day establish our faith, until we at last obtain salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

The First Sunday after Easter

The Hymn tune – Doxology vss. 1-8 #331
The Invocation p. 15
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual 1 John 5:4-10
The Gospel John 20:19-31
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn vss. 1-10 #208
The Sermon
The Two Natures and Communion

The Offertory p. 22
The Hymn #314
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn (Koren) vss. 1-4 #44

KJV John 20:19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side.

Preface

It is such a privilege to be able to teach and preach the Word of God. I am currently teaching some students an Old Testament survey course. They live all over the United States. Many have limited backgrounds in the Bible, so they love taking a required course in the Old Testament, followed by a required course in the New Testament.

Every day I write to them (online) about the Gospel in the Old Testament, the Trinity in the Old Testament, and what Luther says about the Bible. Sometimes I teach the same students in the Old Testament and then the New Testament.

Now this opportunity has arisen to provide the Word of God to people all over the world. We are already hearing from people. One man said, “I never thought I would need the Internet to have a service from The Lutheran Hymnal.

John 20:19-31
This passage is one of the great doctrinal sections of John’s Gospel. The Fourth Gospel is undoubtedly a supplement to Matthew, Mark, and Luke. John’s Gospel assumes we know the first three Gospels. Therefore, each passage in John is especially important to learn, because the “disciple Jesus loved” (John), the man commended to care for Mary, had significant things to teach through the Holy Spirit’s revelation.

Lutherans often say, “What people teach about Christ is what they teach about Holy Communion.”

This passage is one of the best examples.

The doors were locked for fear of the Jews, but Jesus stood in the midst of them.

John Calvin did not accept Jesus being able to pass through the walls. He had Jesus coming by a secret passage. This is important for his view of Christ. Calvin imagined that the divine nature of Christ was limited by His human nature. Therefore, Calvin also taught against the Real Presence and made fun of it in his Institutes (the main doctrinal book of Calvinism).

Calvin was the founded of the Presbyterians and those who call themselves Reformed. Lutherans generally lump them together, even though there are differences. They agree about the rationalistic interpretation of the appearance of Jesus in the locked room and the Lord’s Supper being merely symbolic. For them, the Lord’s Supper is a law to obey, to witness to their faith, not a sacrament where our sins are forgiven.

The Calvinistic phrase used to defend this is – the finite is not capable of holding the Infinite. The bread and wine could not also be the Body and Blood of Christ, in their opinion.

But the Scriptures teach us otherwise, in two different ways.

One is through Christ Himself. His human nature was and is united with His divine nature. When He was surrounded by crowds ready to take Him and kill Him, he passed through them. It does not say they parted to let Him by. The Son of God, the Creating Word, does not have human barriers.
Coming into the locked room twice (John 20) is another example of the divine nature of Christ not being limited by His human nature.

If that were so, how could He ascend into heaven?

In so many passages we see the emphasis upon one nature, then the other nature, to show us the union of the two natures in the One Person, Christ. Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, John 4, “I am thirsty.” To her He was only a human being looking for water. And Jesus did experience all our human emotions, desires, and pains. But then Jesus spoke to the woman with such divine wisdom that she knew immediately He was the promised Messiah. He knew her heart. Only God could know her heart that way, so she immediately began witnessing to her friends about Jesus.

The crucifixion emphasizes the human nature of Christ, His enormous suffering, but that alone is not enough to make Him our Savior. The innocent Son of God died on the cross, not just a good and kindly Teacher. The Son of God rose from the grave, taught His disciples, and ascended into heaven. But He did not discard His human nature.

When Jesus entered the locked room, He showed His disciples His wounds. This revealed to them that He was not a vision, not a ghost, not a spirit. The crucified Messiah was in their midst with the wounds of His warfare against Satan. He came as the victor over Satan, the Hero, as Luther often mentioned in his writing. He won the battle against sin, death, and Satan.

Another way is way in which the Bible teaches us about Holy Communion. Paul in 1 Corinthians 10 speaks about the bread and the Body, the wine and the Blood. That clearly teaches us that the Lord’s Supper is not merely symbolic (where 2 remain 2), nor is it the sacrifice of the Mass (where the priest turns 2 into 2), but something else. The 2 elements, bread and wine, remain bread and wine, but they include the Body and Blood of Christ through the efficacious consecration of the Word.

Inventions
The human mind invents so many barriers to the truth of God’s Word, but the Scriptures have more insights than we have doubts.

How can the Son of God give us His body over the centuries, to millions of people?

That question is not answered by human reason but by the Feeding of the Five Thousand. Jesus took ordinary food and multiplied it so that far more was left than He received from the boy. The same introductory formula is used, “Jesus took the bread and broke it and gave thanks,” reminding us that the Feeding of the Five Thousand was a prefiguring of Holy Communion.
Why does God need so many Means of Grace?

God has appointed the Means of Grace (the Word and the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Communion) because of man’s need, not His need.

Why so many revelations of the Three Persons, One God? Every article of faith is backed by hundreds of interlocking Biblical passages? Why so many? Does God need them or does man?

Doubting Thomas
Much is said about Doubting Thomas, who denied the resurrection of Christ until he saw and felt the wounds of Christ. Thomas is not the major emphasis of this passage. Christ is. When Jesus appeared the second time and offered His wounds to be touched, Thomas cried out, “My Lord and my God.”

Jesus rebuked him in a gentle way, by saying, “Because you have seen Me you believe? Blessed are they who believe without seeing.”

That is a blessing for all those listening today. Blessed are you for believing in the death and resurrection of Christ without having visible evidence.

Miracle service
Some long for miracle services. I have even read of famous miracle rabbis in Poland in the last century (Isaac B. Singer’s stories). That is one way to bring people in. I know of large churches near us where they promise miracles to people.

We have a miracle every time Holy Communion is offered. The Word consecrates ordinary bread and wine. People receive the Body and Blood of Christ. God forgives the sins of those who receive the Gospel in faith.

KJV 1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? 6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Jesus, Priceless Treasure:
Migrates to Lulu.com



Cover by Norma Boeckler


Jesus, Priceless Treasure is being prepped for publication through Lulu.com. Distribution is far easier and corrections can be made easier.

I plan on making many things completely available and free, either through PDFs on Lulu.com (free download) or on a banner-free, ad-free website, or both.

The Efficacy of the Word in Holy Communion:
Book of Concord


Holy Communion, by Norma Boeckler


8 Now, what is the Sacrament of the Altar?

Answer: It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, in and under the bread and wine which we Christians are commanded by the Word of Christ to eat and to drink. 9] And as we have said of Baptism that it is not simple water, so here also we say the Sacrament is bread and wine, but not mere bread and wine, such as are ordinarily served at the table, but bread and wine comprehended in, and connected with, the Word of God.

10] It is the Word (I say) which makes and distinguishes this Sacrament, so that it is not mere bread and wine, but is, and is called, the body and blood of Christ. For it is said: Accedat verbum ad elementum, et fit sacramentum. If the Word be joined to the element, it becomes a Sacrament. This saying of St. Augustine is so properly and so well put that he has scarcely said anything better. The Word must make a Sacrament of the element, else it remains a mere element. 11] Now, it is not the word or ordinance of a prince or emperor, but of the sublime Majesty, at whose feet all creatures should fall, and affirm it is as He says, and accept it with all reverence, fear, and humility.

12] With this Word you can strengthen your conscience and say: If a hundred thousand devils, together with all fanatics, should rush forward, crying, How can bread and wine be the body and blood of Christ? etc., I know that all spirits and scholars together are not as wise as is the Divine Majesty in His little finger. 13] Now here stands the Word of Christ: Take, eat; this is My body; Drink ye all of it; this is the new testament in My blood, etc. Here we abide, and would like to see those who will constitute themselves His masters, and make it different from what He has spoken. It is true, indeed, that if you take away the Word or regard it without the words, you have nothing but mere bread and wine. 14] But if the words remain with them, as they shall and must, then, in virtue of the same, it is truly the body and blood of Christ. For as the lips of Christ say and speak, so it is, as He can never lie or deceive.

15] Hence it is easy to reply to all manner of questions about which men are troubled at the present time, such as this one: Whether even a wicked priest can minister at, and dispense, the Sacrament, and whatever other questions like this there may be. 16] For here we conclude and say: Even though a knave takes or distributes the Sacrament, he receives the true Sacrament, that is, the true body and blood of Christ, just as truly as he who [receives or] administers it in the most worthy manner. For it is not founded upon the holiness of men, but upon the Word of God. And as no saint upon earth, yea, no angel in heaven, can make bread and wine to be the body and blood of Christ, so also can no one change or alter it, even though it be misused. 17] For the Word by which it became a Sacrament and was instituted does not become false because of the person or his unbelief. For He does not say: If you believe or are worthy, you receive My body and blood, but: Take, eat and drink; this is My body and blood. Likewise: Do this (namely, what I now do, institute, give, and bid you take). 18] That is as much as to say, No matter whether you are worthy or unworthy, you have here His body and blood by virtue of these words which are added to the bread and wine. 19] Only note and remember this well; for upon these words rest all our foundation, protection, and defense against all errors and deception that have ever come or may yet come.

20] Thus we have briefly the first point which relates to the essence of this Sacrament. Now examine further the efficacy and benefits on account of which really the Sacrament was instituted; which is also its most necessary part, that we may know what we should seek and obtain there. 21] Now this is plain and clear from the words just mentioned: This is My body and blood, given and shed for you, for the remission of sins. 22] Briefly that is as much as to say: For this reason we go to the Sacrament because there we receive such a treasure by and in which we obtain forgiveness of sins. Why so? Because the words stand here and give us this; for on this account He bids me eat and drink, that it may be my own and may benefit me, as a sure pledge and token, yea, the very same treasure that is appointed for me against my sins, death, and every calamity.

23] On this account it is indeed called a food of souls, which nourishes and strengthens the new man. For by Baptism we are first born anew; but (as we said before) there still remains, besides, the old vicious nature of flesh and blood in man, and there are so many hindrances and temptations of the devil and of the world that we often become weary and faint, and sometimes also stumble.

24] Therefore it is given for a daily pasture and sustenance, that faith may refresh and strengthen itself so as not to fall back in such a battle, but become ever stronger and stronger. 25] For the new life must be so regulated that it continually increase and progress; 26] but it must suffer much opposition. For the devil is such a furious enemy that when he sees that we oppose him and attack the old man, and that he cannot topple us over by force, he prowls and moves about on all sides, tries all devices, and does not desist, until he finally wearies us, so that we either renounce our faith or yield hands and feet and become listless or impatient. 27] Now to this end the consolation is here given when the heart feels that the burden is becoming too heavy, that it may here obtain new power and refreshment.

28] But here our wise spirits contort themselves with their great art and wisdom, crying out and bawling: How can bread and wine forgive sins or strengthen faith? Although they hear and know that we do not say this of bread and wine, because in itself bread is bread, but of such bread and wine as is the body and blood of Christ, and has the words attached to it. That, we say, is verily the treasure, and nothing else, through which such forgiveness is obtained. 29] Now the only way in which it is conveyed and appropriated to us is in the words (Given and shed for you). For herein you have both truths, that it is the body and blood of Christ, and that it is yours as a treasure and gift. 30] Now the body of Christ can never be an unfruitful, vain thing, that effects or profits nothing. Yet, however great is the treasure in itself, it must be comprehended in the Word and administered to us, else we should never be able to know or seek it.

31] Therefore also it is vain talk when they say that the body and blood of Christ are not given and shed for us in the Lord's Supper, hence we could not have forgiveness of sins in the Sacrament. For although the work is accomplished and the forgiveness of sins acquired on the cross, yet it cannot come to us in any other way than through the Word. For what would we otherwise know about it, that such a thing was accomplished or was to be given us if it were not presented by preaching or the oral Word? Whence do they know of it, or how can they apprehend and appropriate to themselves the forgiveness, except they lay hold of and believe the Scriptures and the Gospel? 32] But now the entire Gospel and the article of the Creed: I believe a holy Christian Church, the forgiveness of sin, etc., are by the Word embodied in this Sacrament and presented to us. Why, then, should we allow this treasure to be torn from the Sacrament when they must confess that these are the very words which we hear every where in the Gospel, and they cannot say that these words in the Sacrament are of no use, as little as they dare say that the entire Gospel or Word of God, apart from the Sacrament, is of no use?

33] Thus we have the entire Sacrament, both as to what it is in itself and as to what it brings and profits. Now we must also see who is the person that receives this power and benefit. That is answered briefly, as we said above of Baptism and often elsewhere: Whoever believes it has what the words declare and bring. For they are not spoken or proclaimed to stone and wood, but to those who hear them, to whom He says: 34]Take and eat, etc. And because He offers and promises forgiveness of sin, it cannot be received otherwise than by faith. This faith He Himself demands in the Word when He says: Given and shed for you. As if He said: For this reason I give it, and bid you eat and drink, that you may claim it as yours and enjoy it. 35] Whoever now accepts these words, and believes that what they declare is true, has it. But whoever does not believe it has nothing, as he allows it to be offered to him in vain, and refuses to enjoy such a saving good. The treasure, indeed, is opened and placed at every one's door, yea, upon his table, but it is necessary that you also claim it, and confidently view it as the words suggest to you 36] This, now, is the entire Christian preparation for receiving this Sacrament worthily. For since this treasure is entirely presented in the words, it cannot be apprehended and appropriated in any other way than with the heart. For such a gift and eternal treasure cannot be seized with the fist. 37] Fasting and prayer, etc., may indeed be an external preparation and discipline for children, that the body may keep and bear itself modestly and reverently towards the body and blood of Christ; yet what is given in and with it the body cannot seize and appropriate. But this is done by the faith of the heart, which discerns this treasure and desires it. 38] This may suffice for what is necessary as a general instruction respecting this Sacrament; for what is further to be said of it belongs to another time.

39] In conclusion, since we have now the true understanding and doctrine of the Sacrament, there is indeed need of some admonition and exhortation, that men may not let so great a treasure which is daily administered and distributed among Christians pass by unheeded, that is, that those who would be Christians make ready to receive this venerable Sacrament often. 40] For we see that men seem weary and lazy with respect to it; and there is a great multitude of such as hear the Gospel, and, because the nonsense of the Pope has been abolished, and we are freed from his laws and coercion, go one, two, three years, or even longer without the Sacrament, as though they were such strong Christians that they have no need of it; 41] and some allow themselves to be prevented and deterred by the pretense that we have taught that no one should approach it except those who feel hunger and thirst, which urge them to it. Some pretend that it is a matter of liberty and not necessary, and that it is sufficient to believe without it; and thus for the most part they go so far that they become quite brutish, and finally despise both the Sacrament and the Word of God.

Formula of Concord

The Mouse That Squeaked



Rev. Mouse, trying to get strong and brave.


A. Nony Mouse has left a new comment on your post "Bethany Lutheran Worship Will Be Weekly":

A degree in journalism? Don't you mean YELLOW journalism? I'm sure you could teach the class on that one, too.

***

GJ - I do not follow the communication standards of WELS, if that is what Rev. Mouse means.

Some WELS journalism highlights:

1. In Milwaukee, headquarters of Holy Mother WELS, Pastor Tabor murders his wife with the help of his mistress, moves to a new call in Escanaba, Wisconsin. Tabor was received into WELS in spite of general knowledge Cape Girardeau that he was an adulterer with a bastard child. WELS was silent.
2. District Pope Ed Werner routinely molested girls in his congregation for 20+ years. All the pastors knew. He was finally arrested. WELS lied about why. When he was convicted, WELS was silent.
3. Vicar Scott Zerbe had an affair with a minor child in Pastor Fred Adrian's congregation. Zerbe was convicted. WELS was silent.
4. WELS teacher Al Just murdered his wife in Phoenix, but claimed she rolled over a steak knife many times in her sleep. WELS defended him, sent people to support him, with DMLC President Huebner serving as a character witness. Just married his children's baby-sitter while in the slammer, got divorced from her, and now participates in WELS congregational life. He was seen with a youth group, but WELS was silent.
5. Floyd Stolzenburg was forced to resign from the LCMS ministry on a Saturday. The DP preached for him on Sunday. His wife divorced him - for cause. WELS embraced him and made him a Church Growth consultant in Columbus, Ohio. When he and divorced pastor Roger Zehms made a thorough mess of things, VP Paul Kuske wrote him a letter of recommendation to serve as pastor of Emmanuel, Columbus. So did WELS pastor Schumann. Stolzenburg never joined WELS but played the role of a WELS pastor - but WELS was silent.
6. A synodical VP propositioned a woman in the process of providing pastoral counselling. He was forced to resign from the ministry and lied about it. Why was his slot suddenly vacant. WELS was silent.
7. Vast amounts of money came to WELS via the Schwan Foundation, but WELS became insolvent. What happened to all the loot? WELS was silent.

We are all looking forward to honest journalism standards in WELS. Where would we find that? In FIC? The synod is too ashamed of the name Lutheran to have it in the magazine title. We are all ashamed together, Rev. Mouse. I am just as ashamed as you - that you are a Lutheran.

When the Last Domino Falls in the LCMS




I used to think there was some point where a synod would say, "Stop! We have run away from Luther's doctrine long enough."

Instead I have seen pastors grow fat and lazy while watching one outrage after another in their own district or circuit. Viewing another synod is the safest approach. Pick up the phone or email another pastor to denounce another synod. Telescopic orthodoxy is the rage. Identify a problem far, far way. Ignore the real problems next door. Never rock the boat. That's a good boy.

Pastors have secret email lists and secret blogs where one must have a password to read the precious words. How brave.

I look back on all the ousted pastors who said nothing until they became the targets. Some were happy enough to put the skids under another pastor or professor, to reduce the competition. WELS pastors told me Richard Jungkuntz was a genius at getting his fellow professor out on a limb and letting him hang there stranded. Jungkuntz became the head of a college doing that.

From my limited perspective, the first wave of this in the Missouri Synod began with the Robert Preus faction fighting to win control of the synod with Christian News helping. That never happened for various reasons. Bohlmann and Barry pushed Robert Preus out. McCain gleefully greased the skids under Preus, then gave Mrs. Preus an award for her late husband. Chokes me up, really.

Wally Schulz was not exactly an advocate for conservatives when he was riding high, working happily with one of the most liberal leaders in the LCMS, Oswald Hoffman. Schulz was successfully ousted.

Martin Niemoller is famous for this quotation:


  1. "When the Nazis came for the communists, I said nothing; I was, of course, no communist.
  2. When they locked up the Social Democrats, I said nothing; I was, of course, no Social Democrat.
  3. When they came for the trade unionists, I said nothing; I was, of course, no trade unionist.
  4. When they came for me, there was no one left who could protest."


The new flap over the LCMS radio program Issues, Etc. is a replay of the Schulz defenestration. I doubt whether the staff got their program established after publishing in Christian News or being known for rattling the cage of the LCMS. A conservative bigshot in the LCMS is one who knows how to pose while never appearing to be a threat to apostasy.

I am not arguing that everyone in the LCMS should rise up and restore this program. The staff could easily recreate the show for a broader audience without the synod. They would lose the falling-apart Lutheran Hour network, which has become a joke. They would gain freedom.

I told one LCMS conservative leader, who phones me from time to time, "You have to stop participating. That is only encouraging people to think there is hope. No money for the popes. No attendance at their conferences. No participation in any of their meetings. Imagine what would happen if half the audience walked at the next convention. Walked away and met in a nearby hotel. Or just went home."

He said, "Yes, you are right." A few months later his photo was in Christian News. He was running for a national office. He lost.

The issue is not "leaving the synod." Too many take Holy Mother Synod with them when they leave. The two CLCs represent the refined and distilled Pharisaical works-righteousness of the places they left, with the inherent problems of incest added to the brew. I have heard that line-breeding can improve offspring, but there is no evidence of that in either CLC.

I thought the emergence of the Lavender Mafia in the LCA would awaken people. Instead, I have watched people remain in ELCA while converting their initial outrage into a defense of the gay agenda. The newest ELCA report is another leap in the wrong direction.

Bethany Lutheran Worship Will Be Weekly




The Bethany Lutheran Worship broadcast will be weekly from now on, with broadcasts saved at the site. Cable or DSL are ideal for watching the service.

People can watch live on a 56k telephone line, but sound and images are not exactly together. Perhaps the recorded version is better. This is new to all of us. We are working on various ways to improve the service.

Hymnal improvements do not include feminist, Church Growthy, or ELCA-ish hymnals.

For some of us, the word improvement means something better, not something worse. The rash of Lutheran hymnal publishing has not been an advance.

A WELS member sent a check to help out with the broadcasts. His note said, "I never thought I would need the Internet to participate in a TLH service."

Education in Doctrine
Educational broadcasts can be planned, once the worship service is more routine.

Some ideas mentioned previously are: The Book of Concord and a series on Catholic, Lutheran, Protestant. I plan on making the PDF of CLP free.

A lot of things are happening at once. I am behind in my homework, which is funny, because I urge students to be on time. About one month of the semester is left. Then I can catch up with some of my promises. I am getting a degree in journalism and having a great time, but it is one more thing to do at the end of a long day.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Kieschnick's Latest Folly Makes the Wall Street Journal



Evangelistic Messages from Satan - LCMS Ablaze!


Norm Teigen and other blogs have noticed the growing furor in the LCMS over the Kieschnick administration's latest folly.

But now the Wall Street Journal has made it a feature story. I have copied a few sections only from the story, to avoid being sued by R. Murdock.

On its last show, on March 17, listeners learned about the life and faith of St. Patrick; scientific and philosophical arguments in defense of the human embryo; the excommunication of two Roman Catholic women who claimed ordination; and the controversy surrounding the sermons of Barack Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

Despite the show's popularity, low cost and loyal donor base, Mr. Wilken and Jeff Schwarz, the producer of "Issues, Etc.," were dismissed without explanation on Tuesday of Holy Week. Within hours, the program's Web site -- which provided access to past episodes and issues of its magazine -- had disappeared. Indeed, all evidence that the show ever existed was removed.


***

GJ - The Church Growth gurus cannot stand having their pet false doctrines criticized. WELS reacted the same way when I exposed their doctrinal apostasy by quoting their so-called evangelism material. Much of it was supplied by WELS pastors who refused to do any heavy lifting themselves. The CLC (sic) - ditto.

More from the WS Journal:

Since Mr. Kieschnick narrowly won election in 2001, the church has embarked on a program, called Ablaze!, that has the admirable goal of "reaching 100 million unreached and uncommitted people with the Gospel by 2017," the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Historically the church kept statistics on baptisms. Now, however, it keeps a tally of what it calls "critical events." On March 17 a man reported discussing Jesus with his waitress -- and the Ablaze! count went up by one.

One congregation near St. Louis took a $25,000 Ablaze! grant and used it to put up billboards with kitschy statements purporting to come from the devil (e.g., "JeffersonHills Church Sucks," signed "Satan"). A Michigan mission congregation replaced the historical message of Lent with a speaker series on sex. Following marketing principles, neither congregation uses the word "Lutheran" in its name or advertising campaign. While "Issues, Etc." never criticized Mr. Kieschnick or his colleagues, its attacks against shallow church marketing included mention of some approaches embraced by the current leadership. It opposed, for instance, the emergent church -- an attempt to accommodate postmodern culture by blending philosophies and practices from throughout the church's history -- and the Purpose Driven Church movement, which reorients the church's message toward self-help and self-improvement.

***

GJ - I recall many LCMS, WELS, and ELS pastors standing by, refusing to say anything against the Church Growth Movement. They saw it in their own denomination but wanted the easy road for themselves, too. There is no larger fraternity than the clergy who whisper their dissent during coffee and silence themselves in the actual meetings.

Paul McCain, MDiv, three years of parish experience, continues to pose as a confessional Lutheran, but the Barry-McCain administration was one of appeasement and compromise. The only people treated rudely were the conservatives who elected Barry. In fact, the only way to view the friendly side of McCain is to read his posts at the ELCA-centric American Lutheran Publicity Bureau's blogsite.

Al Barry, the LCMS savior, according to the politicians, did nothing against the Church Growth Movement and said nothing against it. McCain was furious when I pointed that out to him in the Purple Palace. Thus another infallible reign took over from the infallible Bohlmann. The papacy has nothing on the Missouri Synod. The Church of Rome admits to having heretic popes. Missouri, WELS, and the Little Sect on the Prairie do not.

McCain spent 9 years in the Purple Palace doing nothing about Benke (except granting him absolution) and nothing about St. John, Ellisville, a few miles away. I hope we hear no tongue-clucking from McCain about this latest episode. He is the midwife of apostasy, the enabler of Church Growth and Purpose-Driven nonsense. If you seek McCain's monument, look around you.

Yes, I can hear the Wisconsin and Norwegian tongues clucking from here. "The LCMS suppresses the name Lutheran? How terrible!" All their market-driven congregations-- like CrossWalk, CrossTalk, CrossRoads, CrossPurposes, and DoubleCross--will not notice because they do not read Lutheran news anyway.

Rolf Preus (Rolf Synod) will shudder, in print. His father got the Church Growth degree program going at Concordia Seminary, Ft. Wayne.

Jay Webber, ELS, will suffer acute bouts of telephonic Schadenfreude, forgetting perhaps his studied silence on these topics for decades now.

Episcopal Church Tactics Should Warn Lutherans About the Future



PB Jefferts-Schori, Filled with Wrath


NORTH DAKOTA: Orthodox Bishop Denies License to Lesbian Priest

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue
www.virtueonline.org
3/25/2008


The Evangelical Anglo-Catholic Bishop of North Dakota, the Rt. Rev. Michael Smith has denied the Rev. Gayle Baldwin a license to function as a priest in the diocese because she is an open and avowed lesbian.

Baldwin, 62, is an associate professor of religion at the University of North Dakota. She was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1980. She came out as a lesbian a decade ago in Wyoming, where she has a license to preach and administer the sacraments. She came to the university in 2000, according to news reports.

She blasted Smith in an open letter saying he refused to grant her a license to fulfill her ordination vows in the state of North Dakota. "His reason is that my life partner, whom God has given me to love and cherish, is a woman and not a man. He has stated that he will only grant a license to a priest who is celibate or married," she raged.

Bishop Smith responded, "I have been clear from the beginning what my expectations are, that is fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those not called to marriage." Bishop Smith is the leader of nearly 3,000 Episcopalians in North Dakota.

In a letter VOL obtained, Smith said it is "a confused time, for the Episcopal Church as the issue is debated." He is upholding what the church always has taught.

The bishop who succeeded Bishop Andy Fairfield (who resigned from The Episcopal Church and was later deposed) says he is following a policy set out in the 2004 Windsor Report, which called for a truce until the matter is settled. It also asked Episcopal bishops not to ordain gays and lesbians or to hold gay marriage ceremonies.

Outraged by his refusal to license her, Baldwin wrote an open letter to Mrs. Katharine Jefferts Schori, TEC Presiding Bishop, and all the Bishops of The Episcopal Church noting especially homogenital New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson complaining bitterly about the bishop's "denial" in extending her a license.

"I am writing all of you as a response to the recent refusal of Bp. Michael Smith to grant me a license to fulfill my ordination vows in the state of North Dakota. The reason he has refused me has nothing to do with my character, nor my skills and gifts of ministry. His reason is that my life partner, whom God has given me to love and cherish is a woman and not a man. He has stated that he will only grant a license to a priest who is celibate or married. Since we cannot be formally married, our family is not considered legitimate by the church."

She went on to rage saying that, "If a bishop can do this to one, then anyone is potentially at risk. This is why I am writing this open letter to all so that we might begin a dialogical conversation over this matter."

Bishop Smith "needs to be challenged, on the issue of denying me a license to do what God called and what the church already has ordained me to do," Baldwin wrote.

"I am trying to be faithful to the scriptures and trying to be faithful to the tradition of the church, while at the same time being open to what God might be doing in a new way," Smith said. "We are in a period of discernment. It's not an issue of civil rights."

Smith said the diocese was mostly a diocese of moderately conservative and moderately liberal people. "We are not of one mind on the issue, so it's much more important for me to be consistent with the policy."

Before coming to the diocese Baldwin wrote saying that she was warned by Bishop Bruce Caldwell of Wyoming that then Bishop Andy Fairfield of North Dakota was rabidly against affirming the full humanity of gays, lesbians and transgender people.

On Maundy Thursday Baldwin led a service in Christus Rex Lutheran Campus Center at UND, an informal time in a fireside room. She did not serve the Eucharist as an Episcopal priest, both to respect the nondenominational aspect of the group and to avoid violating Episcopal law, since she isn't licensed to practice in the Diocese of North Dakota. About 38 people attended.

Dr. Louie Crew, The Episcopal Church's first sodomite emeritus and founder of the pansexual organization known as Integrity wrote at his blog, "I have no doubt that Bishop Smith has canonical license to bully Gayle in this matter, but he has no such license as a Christian. I grieve that Gayle must yet take up her cross."

By going public, Baldwin is trying to garner sympathy and support for her lesbianism. Because the Episcopal Church has formally accepted homosexuals and lesbians to all offices in the church, Ms. Baldwin believes she has an ecclesiastical, if not divine right, to yell and scream at the bishop for denying her access to an Episcopal pulpit in his diocese.

The truth is, he is well within his rights to deny her. There is no canon that demands or necessitates that he give her a job in his diocese. Not even Mrs. Jefferts Schori can coerce him, though she may try to do so by withholding money as a tool and weapon of the national church along with a few dioceses, who give money to support Native American Episcopalians in the diocese. Money is a powerful tool and it will be interesting to see how far this plays out.

If using the canons for coercion is possible then one needs to ask why is it that for nearly a quarter of a century, evangelical graduates of Ambridge-based Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry have been systematically denied pulpits in liberal Episcopal dioceses. The Rev. Dr. Paul Zahl complained mightily about this when he was president and dean of the School.

Consider, too, that Charles E. Bennison, the now inhibited Bishop of Pennsylvania, refused to license the Rev. Professor Allen Guelzo, Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era and Professor of History at Gettysburg College, a brilliant Lincoln scholar and former REC member who was ordained into the Episcopal Church by the Bishop of Quincy, the Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman. Guelzo, who resides in a Philadelphia suburb, was denied a license to preach because, as VOL was told, he was too old and too smart. Bennison's rejection flew in the face of ageism, another Episcopal sin along with homophobia....one of many Bennison has committed and for which he will shortly receive just retribution.

Furthermore, no bishop did more to exclude straight white males from his diocese than did the former Bishop of Washington, Ronald Haines. For over seven years, he refused to allow or ordain heterosexual men in his diocese, a stance that shocked incoming bishop John Chane when he was told. An Anglo-Catholic writer living in the Diocese of Washington noted that, during the tenure of Bishop Jane Dixon, black straight men were not ordained, either. It might also account for the fact that if it weren't for the Soper Fund, the diocese would be bankrupt.

Another hater of orthodox Episcopalians, specifically Anglo-Catholics, is the Bishop of Long Island, Orris Walker. He has managed during his tenure to make life so miserable for orthodox Episcopalians, whose only "sin" was to use the 1928 Prayer Book, that he publicly and privately berated them and systematically drove them out of the diocese. Most have now fled the diocese.

More recently, there was the case of a married Nashotah House graduate whom Bishop J. Jon Bruno refused to ordain in the Diocese of Los Angeles. Did the seminarian take his grievance public? No, he stated on his blog that he would not discuss it other than to say that he would seek ordination in the Diocese of Fort Worth.

If Bishop Michael Smith can be coerced or bullied into submission, then the sodomite and pro-sodomite lobby in The Episcopal Church will have won over the canons, canons that are now being liberally misapplied in the removal of Bishops John David Schofield and William Cox.

***

PB: Keep questions about sexuality in conversation
The Boston Globe reports:

Saying "I don't believe that there is any will in this church to move backward," the top official of the Episcopal Church USA said yesterday that the election of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire has been "a great blessing" despite triggering intense controversy and talk of possible schism.

In an interview during a visit to Boston, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori compared the gay rights struggle to battles over slavery and women's rights, and said she believes that it has become a vocation for the Episcopal Church "to keep questions of human sexuality in conversation, and before not just the rest of our own church, but the rest of the world."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

WELS Lutherans For Life/Walter Drake Catalogue



Ideal for the executive director's office.


Christian Life Resources subjects itself to the doctrine and practice of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, but it is not supervised or funded by the WELS budget or its administrators. (Warning on Christian Life Resources site.)

The Wisconsin contingent left Lutherans For Life because they did not want to become polluted by the unionism and false doctrine of the LCMS. Don't spray your keyboard with morning coffee. Put the mug down before reading the daily Ichabod.

So WELS LFL went into stealth mode. WELS LFL is Christian Life Resources now. The newsletter artfully conceals WELS membership from the readers. Yes, the still small voice is there, but camouflaged as much as possible.

The latest newsletter is packed full of gift catalogue stuff. I wonder how much is made in China. All the items for sale raise the issue of tax-exempt status. Is this a commercial gift store, a Lutheran Walter Drake catalogue, or para-church organization? Who owns the gift business, which has a separate website?

Family Treasures and Gifts
A ministry of Christian Life Resources
2949 N. Mayfair Road, Suite 309
Milwaukee, WI 53222-4304
1-800-729-9535

They have a store set up at world headquarters for CLR. I would love to send in some agents to purchase some superfluous nose hair clippers and other staples of the Walter Drake catalogue. "Do you have coffee mugs that say, like, What Would Waldo Werning Do?" WWWWD.

Family Treasures and Gifts Dot Com overlaps the website with Christian Life Resources, just like Church and Change used to do with the Love Shack website.

My favorite gift is the frame for wedding photos. The idea is to buy two: one for the first, the other for the second wedding. When the ex walks into the office, demanding more alimony, flip the second marriage photo frame against the wall and show the first wedding only. There is no better way to make a witness in this benighted world.

The last time I looked, CLR had $2 million in the bank.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Oh! Oh! Oh!
I Found Antithetical Statements in the Book of Concord



"Now what do I do?"


We used to laugh about the febrile WELS leaders having CG-asms. They would announce with great excitement that they just discovered "another Church Growth Principle."

I have just discovered antithetical statements in the Book of Concord.

All these years I have been pummeled for stating that marketing the Gospel is false doctrine. "That is Christian-bashing" I was told. I have been eviscerated in public for saying Fuller Seminary is the Great Sewer of Protestantism in America. "That is legalism. They are Christians. We can learn from them, too. I went to the Ohio Conference to deal with legalism down there." (Valleskey, on his Spoiling the Egyptians masterpiece, plagiarized from Larry Crab, who plagiarized Augustine, each crib far dumber than the previous one).

Here is one antithetical introduction in the Book of Concord:

From these, the antithesis also, that is, the false contrary dogmas, are manifest, namely, that in addition to the errors recounted above also the following and similar ones, which conflict with the explanation now published, must be censured, exposed, and rejected, as when it is taught:

That is from the Righteousness of Faith section in the Formula of Concord. Not it is not the Righteousness of No Faith, as the UOJ people would claim. They should read their Book of Concord, that big fat book behind the pile of synodical 3-ring binders.

Oh! Oh! Oh! I found another one:

38] However, it by no means follows thence that we are to say simpliciter and flatly: Good works are injurious to believers for or as regards their salvation; for in believers good works are indications of salvation when they are done propter veras causas et ad veros fines (from true causes and for true ends), that is, in the sense in which God requires them of the regenerate, Phil. 1, 20; for it is God's will and express command that believers should do good works, which the Holy Ghost works in believers, and with which God is pleased for Christ's sake, and to which He promises a glorious reward in this life and the life to come.

39] For this reason, too, this proposition is censured and rejected in our churches, because as a flat statement it is false and offensive, by which discipline and decency might be impaired, and a barbarous, dissolute, secure, Epicurean life be introduced and strengthened. For what is injurious to his salvation a person should avoid with the greatest diligence.
(Good Works, Formula of Concord)

Censured and rejected? Strong words. A good test of Lutheran knowledge is this - Which man promoted good works as necessary? Which one denounced good works as injurious to salvation? Both men were important leaders after Luther. Major - good works are necessary. Amsdorf - good works are injurious. Can anyone imagine this happening today? No, the synods are too busy proving everyone is infallible by kicking out anyone who dissents.

The old Synodical Conference will keep on breeding Universalism by teaching justification without faith, absolution of the world without the Word. One man went to a dreary Easter service where everyone was promised death. "But that's OK. Everyone here is going to heaven." As he said, there is not much preaching that can be done with UOJ.

It is, therefore, dangerous and wrong to convert the Gospel, properly so called, as distinguished from the Law, into a preaching of repentance or reproof [a preaching of repentance, reproving sin]. For otherwise, if understood in a general sense of the entire doctrine, also the Apology says several times that the Gospel is a preaching of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Meanwhile, however, the Apology also shows that the Gospel is properly the promise of the forgiveness of sins and of justification through Christ, but that the Law is a doctrine which reproves sins and condemns. (Law and Gospel, Formula of Concord)

Dangerous and wrong? Are they talking about Paul Kelm, who starts with the Gospel and moves to the Law? Or Wayne Mueller? Oh my.

Luther did not start the Reformation, by the grace of God, because he discovered the Gospel. After all, Spalatin explained the Gospel to him. The Gospel never went away. Luther mortally wounded the Whore of Babylon by distinguishing between sound doctrine and false doctrine. The pope (like our Lutheran popes today) could not stand antithetical statements. Without them, anything can be claimed, no matter what is intended.

Lutherans teach salvation by grace. So do Roman Catholics. A Lutheran/Roman Catholic conversation can be quite pleasant until one defines what is and what is not grace.

The Lutheran organizations have adopted a Roman Catholic attitude about doctrine - You can teach and believe whatever you want as long as you do not denounce anything. That is why pockets of dissent exist here and there, happily chirping to each other about how bad things are, but silent about false doctrine. A Roman Catholic priest can march in a religious procession with the seminary professors of the ELS and no one objects. An archbishop pedophile can teach WELS and the public while district popes defend and deny.

Ichabodians - watch and listen as pastors studiously avoid doing what the Book of Concord practices: publishing the antithetical statement. Until that happens consistently, the visible Lutheran Church will remain in the Slough of Despond.

An Unworthy Prayer



"Please make him stop quoting our leaders. Amen."


One of my students, ready to graduate, said, "What synod are you?" I said, "You are Lutheran, aren't you?" He denied it three times.

Non-Lutherans ask, if they know us fairly well, "What syNOD?" Only a trained Lutheran would say, with proper pronunciation, "What synod?"

Later he admitted to being raised Missouri Synod. He has served as a lay-pastor in a Pentecostal denomination. Many people tell me they used to be Lutheran, and this is definitely not a Lutheran town. Phoenix has the second-largest concentration of Mormons in America.

Why are there so many former Lutherans? The whining about verbatim quotations on Ichabod may give a clue.

Objections to quotations fall into two categories, both covered by the iconic prayer portrayed above:
1 - Do not quote the great Lutheran theologians of the past.
2 - Do not quote the apostate Lutheran leaders of today.

The Scriptures are plain and simple to comprehend. They have the power of the Holy Spirit to convert and to sustain faith. Unfortunately, people have battled to obscure the meaning of God's Word.

One cause is the promiscuous publication of Bible translations.

Another cause is the fog of Biblical interpretation, created by the last century of unbelievers who could find no other job than teaching the Scriptures to innocent seminarians.

The most destructive is the promotion of a union theology which dare not speak its name. Recessional Lutherans have spent the last 30 years leading people out of the faith via a cynical, discount Reformed-Pentecostal marketing strategy or a mystical and deceitful Roman/Eastern Orthodox confidence game. Either way, the duped are made to feel the real Church is anything but the Lutheran Church. But this goes under the banner of Confessional Lutheranism.

Luther properly identified the danger of all false doctrine in taking away from the glory of God, the clear message of the Scriptures. Can anything be more Satanic than taking people's attention away from God at work in the Means of Grace and getting them to focus on organizational strategy?

One WELS circuit pastor, driven out of the ministry by his brothers, said this, "We used to be a well run group of people. We never talked about the organization. Now that is all we talk about and the synod is falling apart." His sin against the Holy Spirit (from the Wisconsin perspective) was being mildly critical of the Church Growth Movement. His years of faithful service counted for nothing.

As long as the organization comes first, any lie is better than facing the truth. One WELS pastor wrote to say that he learned about his district, thousands of miles away from me, by reading my doctrinal bulletins. "You know more about what is happening a few miles away from me than I do." Rather than deal openly with the cause of multiple lawsuits and statutory rape by church workers, the district concealed the truth from everyone.

District Pope Robert Mueller said, at an official meeting, "If I tell the congregation that they are calling an adulterer, they don't want him." He was excusing his deceptions. A layman was astounded. "You don't tell them?" Later, Mueller complained about the need to certify that his clergy were not sex offenders. Psst - there is something in the Bible about that. Several places, I think.

As long as people think their job is to make the organization strong and prosperous, they can be led to and fro in error's maze confounded. Strangely, the Episcopalians have seen the light and reacted, with far more courage than can be found among the Lutherans. Bishops, usually the most timid of clergy, are leading groups of congregations away from apostasy.

Lutherans have lost their trust in the pure Word of God. They have lost track of their own theologians.

I estimate there are three approaches to the Book of Concord.

ELCA indifference - Oh yeah, this Book of Concord thing. I have the new edition.

LCMS/WELS/ELS rabbit's foot. I read it a little once. Had to in seminary. Not relevant today. Yes, we have a kiwi subscription to it. Quia? Oh, forgot. Yes, not a tennis subscription. Quatenus? Whatever.

The Great Discovery. Some have found that the Book of Concord deals with the great spiritual issues of all time. The Book of Concord is a one volume collection of Biblical exposition, the clearest possible teaching about God's Word. The Book of Concord collects the ancient confessions (Ecumenical Creeds) Luther's writings (Small and Large Catechisms, Smalcald Articles), Melanchthon's (Augsburg Confession and the Apology, Treatise), and the Concordists (Formula of Concord and the Book of Concord itself).

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Service Was Recorded



"I missed your service."


Grey Goose, a member of the _____ District of WELS, wrote to say he missed the Bethany Lutheran Worship service.

Not exactly. The service was recorded and saved at the website. Click here for the location.

Worship services and educational programs will be saved at that location. We will probably need to place them on a separate site or use the Bethany blog, so people can tell Quasimodo from Cantate, worship from adult education.

Yes, the wonderful Latin names will be preserved. The Lutheran worship-nazis have decided that the laity are too dumb to know what the Latin names mean. Or perhaps the clergy no longer know and feel ashamed to say, "I don't know what Septuagesima means."

ELCA Report? I Didn't Read No ELCA Report.
Lipstick? Haven't Seen It.


Another View on Easter





Like the Golden Sun Ascending Hymn

Like the golden sun ascending,
Breaking through the gloom of night,
On the earth His glory spending
So that darkness takes to flight,
Thus my Jesus from the grave
And death’s dismal, dreadful cave
Rose triumphant Easter morning
At the early purple dawning.

Thanks to Thee, O Christ victorious!
Thanks to Thee, O Lord of Life!
Death hath now no power o’er us,
Thou hast conquered in the strife.
Thanks because Thou didst arise
And hast opened Paradise!
None can fully sing the glory
Of the resurrection story.

Though I be by sin o’ertaken,
Though I lie in helplessness,
Though I be by friends forsaken
And must suffer sore distress,
Though I be despised, contemned,
And by all the world condemned,
Though the dark grave yawn before me,
Yet the light of hope shines o’er me.

Thou hast died for my transgression,
All my sins on Thee were laid;
Thou hast won for me salvation,
On the cross my debt was paid.
From the grave I shall arise
And shall meet Thee in the skies.
Death itself is transitory;
I shall lift my head in glory.

Grant me grace, O bless├Ęd Savior,
And Thy Holy Spirit send
That my walk and my behavior
May be pleasing to the end;
That I may not fall again
Into death’s grim pit and pain,
Whence by grace Thou hast retrieved me
And from which Thou hast relieved me.

For the joy Thy advent gave me,
For Thy holy, precious Word;
For Thy baptism, which doth save me,
For Thy blest communion board;
For Thy death, the bitter scorn,
For Thy resurrection morn,
Lord, I thank Thee and extol Thee,
And in heaven I shall behold Thee.


One of our greatest Lutheran hymn-writers is Thomas Hansen Kingo.

Bethany Lutheran Worship will feature the great Lutheran hymns at each service. There are many fine non-Lutherans hymns. Beyond question, the finest examples of Christian hymnody are found in the Lutheran Church.

Easter Service




We had some audio problems during the Bethany Lutheran Worship service. I learned afterwards that it was probably the computer calendar program trying to remind me of a date. And you thought noisy kids were the worst problem in church!

We had 51 households viewing at one point. That indicates far more interest than I would have imagined. Our technology team is stunned.

Fellow pastors, I suggest doing this. The shut-ins and scattered members can watch, no matter what the weather. The broadcast can be saved and viewed later. I am learning how to use those files on a separate website.

Independent pastors - this is ideal.

The congregation needs a fairly recent computer. Our broadcast computer is a laptop, about five years old. It works fine. The congregation also needs a webcam ($100) and broadband (DSL or cable). Viewers will do better with broadband but can get by with 56k. How many grannies have Internet? Plenty. The alternative is an audio service through a telephone teleconference bridge.

Anyone can view the service. A 56k phone line will mean that the live service will be out of sync, as one viewer told me. Perhaps the downloaded file will view better than live. The trouble is, downloading video at 56k can be troublesome.

I used to wonder why I got into computer science just in time for the boom to collapse. The technology I have learned has been useful ever since, but I have a lot to learn. I hope to keep up with my grandson. His father will probably teach him to count in hexadecimal. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-a-b-c-d-e-f. ff= 255 or 11111111.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Who Moved My Cheese?
For Lutheran Pastors




Who Moved My Cheese? is a great little book for understanding change in the job market.

I mentioned it in a class of graduating seniors, mostly business majors. Most of them had read the book. Some companies buy it for everyone.

The concept is simple. Four mice enjoy getting their cheese at one location and build their lives around it. The cheese diminishes and disappears. Hem and Haw get angry, wondering when the cheese will come back. The other two mice put on their running shoes and go looking.

Finally Haw decides to go looking for cheese and enjoys the chase. One moral of the story is - Someone will always move the cheese.

Lutheran pastors are peculiar in their dependency on Holy Mother Synod to provide the cheese. They fear offending the great Cheese-Provider. No, not God - the district pope, Who is infallible, vindictive, and easily annoyed.

Lutheran clergy mice constantly find their cheese moving. People age and die. The best members relocate for better jobs. The worst members never leave, except chest-high, and then not soon enough. Other Lutheran clergy mice steal their cheese without shame.

The answer, the clergy think, is to get rid of competing clergy mice, to dominate the great cheese supplies, and to worship the great Cheese-Provider. They do not admit to worshiping the District Pope. Instead, they say, "I love the synod." They have an excuse for every wrongful action and every false doctrine: "That is a g-r-e-y area of Scripture," and "That could be understood correctly." Frowning while saying those bromides is a good idea. Stretching the words out places an emphasis on the thoughtfulness of the reply. If someone asks about clergy mice felonies, they squeak sharply, "Who told you?"

The demographic research--which the Lutheran clergy mice trust so much--shows the cheese is going away.

Teaching the Gospel in a Secular Setting



KJV John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:


When I applied for a license to teach in higher education, I did not ask for accreditation in religion. I was teaching computers at the time. The certificate came back: Computer science and religion.

When I began teaching at a business school, I never thought of teaching religion. I was told they needed instructors in computer science. Soon I was teaching writing and world religion. The school decided people needed to know more about world culture. The class is very popular as an elective, so I teach it all over Arizona.

I added another for-profit school to my schedule last year. The Biblical courses are required, so I teach Old and New Testament.

I get to teach whatever I want at both schools. I teach the efficacy of the Word, the authority of the Scriptures, the Six-Day Creation. I quote Luther often. That always riled up Lutheran leaders (Lutheran in Name Only - LINOs), but others are quite respectful. I teach Catholics, Muslims, Evangelicals, ordained pagan priestesses, and atheists.

I lost track of how many books have been given away to students. I am glad the apostates have given me so many opportunities. They did not mean to do it, but things worked out that way. There are many ways for the sheep to hear the Good Shepherd's voice.

Bethany Worship Questions and Comments


Norman Teigen has left a new comment on your post "Dial-Up Works with Ustream":

Greg,

I don't understand how you can set up a congregation as a Minnesota corporation when the actual site is in Arizona?

Norman Teigen
ELS layman

***

GJ - Norm, Bethany Lutheran Church began in New Ulm, Minnesota, in 1998, as an independent congregation. We hired a lawyer and incorporated there, then got our IRS number. We have been operating as Bethany with teleconference bridges.

Kuske's LRP in Columbus did not get tax-exempt status, which made things sticky for someone who donated a large sum. Kuske is the financial genius of the Michigan District, WELS.

***

A. Nony Mouse has left a new comment on your post "Dial-Up Works with Ustream":

Anything to make a buck, eh, "Dr." Jackson? Amazing how a church you started in MN now finds its way to AZ. I wonder what the MN Attorney General's office would say about that. Maybe I'll send him your blog and he can investigate.

***

GJ - Rev. Mouse took a long time for his latest squeak. He was going to investigate my degrees in a previous post. If he had the guts to do so, he would have to retract and apologize. That would be precedent setting for him and for WELS. They are bothered by people who earn degrees at accredited institutions.

I explained matters above, responding to Norm Teigen's polite, signed comment. Has anyone else noticed that the nasty notes are always anonymous, that the anonymous writers express their terror of becoming known?

ELCA has its headquarters in Chicago and is incorporated in Minnesota. Rev. Mouse needs to brush up on his Lutheran doctrine and on his corporate law expertise.

I have been a tent-maker for 12 years and enjoying it.

KJV Acts 18:1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; 2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. 3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

Most of my work is teaching, and the opportunities are growing. I was not looking for a new activity, but I am pleased it is working out so well. I expected about six households viewing the Good Friday service. We peaked at 21. I know we had East Coast and West Coast viewers because they wrote (and signed their names)!

Dial-Up Works with Ustream



Lilies, by Norma Boeckler


One of our intrepid readers tried to watch the Good Friday service on a dial-up, 56K telephone line, and it worked.

I confused the broadcast requirement (broadband, CPU speed) with the receiving requirement. I hope others will try it and let me know how it works for them.

Bethany's email is bethanylutheranworship@gmail.com.

Bethany Lutheran Church is an ecclesiastical corporation, registered in Minnesota, so donations are tax-deductible. We are working toward every Sunday services and other features, such as educational broadcasts on the Book of Concord, Catholic Lutheran Protestant, and other doctrinal topics. The broadcasts can be saved and provided on a website. That will be another item to learn. Fortunately, we have consultants in broadcasting, wireless, and the Internet.

If you wish to donate, the address is:

Bethany Lutheran Church
6421 W. Poinsettia Drive
Glendale, AZ 85304


A good friend is working with me to get previously published books on Lulu.com. We are finishing up Jesus, Priceless Treasure. The next new book will be a book about Jesus for small children.

I would like to encourage Lutheran pastors to investigate Lulu.com and Internet broadcasting. Lutherans can be independent of the apostate synods and thrive.

Easter Service




The Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord

KJV 1 Corinthians 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

KJV Mark 16:1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. 5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. 6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. 8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.

Lord God, heavenly Father, who didst deliver Thy Son for our offenses, and didst raise Him again for our justification: We beseech Thee, grant us Thy Holy Spirit, that He may rule and govern us according to Thy will; graciously keep us in the true faith; defend us from all sins, and after this life raise us unto eternal life, through the same, Thy beloved Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Easter Sunday

The Hymn (Gerhardt) vss. 1-8 #192
The Invocation p. 15
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual 1 Corinthians 5:6-7
The Gospel Mark 16:1-8
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn vss. 1-4 #199
The Sermon
Christ the Victor

The Offertory p. 22
The Hymn (Kingo) #207
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn vss. 1-5 #341

Mark 16:6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.

Easter Sunday remains the most religious Sunday of the year. This day marks the resurrection of Christ, His victory over death, our greatest enemy. Every Sunday marks His triumph. The earliest Christians gathered each Sunday at dawn and sang hymns. The rising of the sun reminded them of the trip to the Empty Tomb. Sunday was renamed in Revelation – the Lord’s Day:

KJV Revelation 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

The actual event was predicted by Christ and yet a shock to His followers. That shock should not surprise us. Believers often find themselves forgetful of God’s promises, prone to despair, pessimistic about what God can do, sunk in the Slough of Despond, as Bunyan described it in The Pilgrim’s Progress.

The women went to prepare a corpse. The men were in hiding “for fear of the Jews.” We have no record of Jews hunting for them, but they were locked in a room. Fear does that to people. The disciples trusted their knowledge, experience, and feelings. When we trust those things instead of the Word, fear determines all our actions. Faith is gone, at least for a time.

The women headed for the tomb, worried. Those worries should make us smile. The sparse narrative of the Resurrection gives us details which the Holy Spirit determined were important for all believers. The women were worried. Why? The tomb was empty. We know that. The stone door had already been taken down, to show everyone that the tomb was already empty. But the women worried. Who will roll that monstrous rock for us? Their reasoning was superb. I have a small slab of rock attached to a floor-lamp, to make it steady. Two of us men had trouble getting it to move across the clay tile and into place again. That was nothing compared to a stone covering the entrance to a tomb. The reasoning was good, but the women’s faith in the Word had vanished. So had the disciples’ faith, even though they heard the prediction three times:

KJV Mark 8:31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

KJV Mark 9:31 For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.

KJV Mark 10:34 And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.

The question is not whether they knew this to be true. They knew it, men and women both, but their fears and anxieties drove faith away. The Gospels show us many examples of the frailties of the followers. They panicked in the boat during the storm. They accused Jesus of not caring if they died. They worried about having food after the Feeding of the Multitude. In other words, they were a lot like us.

God let them fall down on their own and picked them up again, many times over. Their faith in Jesus grew with each incident. They were tested and strengthened with the Word. We know faith drove out their fears because they died as witnesses to the Gospel. We only know of John living to an old age. What terrified them during Holy Week was their loss of the Savior and the threat to their lives. Later, they realized they had the Savior for eternity and no longer saw death as a threat.

The women approached the tomb, bent with worry, then saw the tomb was empty.

Recently a student in my New Testament class noted something important. Some artists show the angels letting Jesus out of the tomb, by rolling the stone away. The student saw that this was not Biblical and certainly not necessary. How could the creating Word be bound by the stone He fashioned in the beginning of time? – “whose Word the mountains rendeth” (Gerhardt, #142).

The women entered the tomb and saw an angel (a young man in a long, white robe) who addressed them. “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.” That may seem like an ordinary way to speak about the risen Lord. But the name is very specific. We get involved in the same issues today with identity theft and fraud. People have to prove who they are. Jesus, the Greek form of Joshua, was a common name. In Hebrew or Aramaic He was called Yeshuah – salvation. The first name and the city of origin identified Him as one particular man, a unique individual.

The women must have nodded yes, in stupefied amazement. The next statement is quite remarkable. The angel tells them the new identity of Jesus:

He is risen;

He is not here.

behold the place where they laid him.


We are used to various titles of Jesus: Son of God, Messiah, Savior, Redeemer, Son of Man, Lord. These two sentences define Jesus in the positive sense – He is risen—and also in the negative sense—He is not here.

Those are really the most powerful descriptions of Jesus, since all the titles are generally shared in one way or another with earthly rulers. Apostates glory in that knowledge. An emperor was called Lord. The kings of Israel were called Messiah-King, which means Anointed King. Christ is the Greek form of Anointed.

He is risen. He is not here. Both statements go far beyond human experience and reason. They can only define God Himself.

Jesus was raised for our justification. Lutherans like to quote that passage. Let’s look at it in context.

22 And therefore it was imputed to him [Abraham] for righteousness. 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Righteousness shall be imputed to us also (we shall be justified) if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was turned over (betrayed, delivered) for our sins and lifted up for our justification.

Since we look back upon the death and resurrection of Christ, we may miss the association everyone had with His death. He died as a guilty man. There was a terrible stigma attached to someone who was crucified. We assume today that the death sentence means a horrible crime has been committed. The crucifixion was just one of hundreds unless it had special meaning. That was a difficult message to get across for the apostles. When Jesus rose from the tomb, He showed everyone that He did not die as a mortal sinner but as the crucified Messiah, the innocent Son of God.

Paul used an early Christian hymn or creed to repeat the same message to Timothy. God declared Jesus innocent in raising Him from the dead. (The resurrection is described both as God raising Him from the dead and as Jesus rising from the dead.)

The creed or hymn is more easily seen as poetry, thus:

KJV 1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:

· God was manifest in the flesh,
· justified in the Spirit,
· seen of angels,
· preached unto the Gentiles,
· believed on in the world,
· received up into glory.

The two passages complete the meaning of the death and resurrection of Christ. He died for our sins and became sin for us. He was so completely sin on the cross that God abandoned Him. “My God. My God. Why have you forsaken Me?” This cry of desolation shows how terribly Christ suffered for us in bearing our sins.

His Resurrection means that He did not deserve His punishment, that God declared Him righteous, innocent of all sin. He was raised for our justification because His death was meaningless if He was also a sinner.

Justification by faith is a continuous blessing enjoyed by Christians. We are daily forgiven:

I believe in the Holy Ghost; one holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
What does this mean?--Answer.

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.


This continuous forgiveness is something we should cherish, but we take for granted, the way we take for granted anything in abundance. The difficulties of life bring to mind how important justification is, how great a treasure the Gospel is.

Easter Sunday reminds us at Bethany of those believers who have gone before us: Brenda Kiehler, Walt Boeckler, and my mother. We communed with them on earth, in preparation for that day when we would join them again.

Christ is risen! Hallelujah!
Risen our victorious Head!
Sing His praises! Hallelujah!
Christ is risen from the dead.
Gratefully our hearts adore Him
As His light once more appears,
Bowing down in joy before Him,
Rising up from grief and tears.


Chorus:
Christ is risen! Hallelujah!
Risen our victorious Head!
Sing His praises! Hallelujah!
Christ is risen from the dead.


Stanza 2:
Christ is risen! all the sadness
Of His earthly life is o'er;
Thro' the open gates of gladness
He returns to life once more;
Death and hell before Him bending,
He doth rise, the Victor now;
Angels, on His steps attending,
Glory 'round His wounded brow.


Chorus:


Stanza 3:
Christ is risen! henceforth never
Death or hell shall us enthral;
We are Christ's, in Him for ever
We have triumphed over all;
All the doubting and dejection
Of our trembling hearts have ceased;
'Tis His day of resurrection,
Let us rise and keep the feast.

Christ Is Risen! Hallelujah!

Lyrics ~ John S. B. Monsell, 1811 - 1875
Music ~ Frederick C. Maker, 1844 - 1927


Quotations

"When Christ arose, He brought with Him complete righteousness. For He arose for the sake of our righteousness, Romans 4:25. So then, when you, in a similar fashion, arise from sin through true repentance, you are justified from sins, for faith lays hold of this completed righteousness in Christ, by which we are enabled to stand before God."
Johann Gerhard Eleven Easter and Pentecostal Sermons, Malone: Repristination Press, 1996, p. 80. Romans 6:3-4; Romans 4:25.


"That the Lord Christ, after His resurrection, wishes peace to the disciples and eats the broiled fish and honey comb in their presence, and thereby portrays the benefit and fruit of His resurrection. For through His death and resurrection He has reconciled us with God, His heavenly Father, so that we may from now on, through faith in Him, have peace with God, have peace in our hearts, and have peace against the accusations of the devil and our conscience. When a war lord victoriously overcomes the enemy, peace follows after. So also, since Christ has overcome all His and our enemies in His victorious resurrection, He can thereafter wish [us] peace...Through Him, Samson's riddle was fulfilled: From the eater came something to eat and sweetness from the strong one...He is the powerful Lion from the stem of Judah, Rev 5:5, which mightily fought and overcame so that ours souls find honey-sweet food in Him."
Johann Gerhard, Eleven Easter and Pentecostal Sermons, Malone: Repristination Press, 1996, p. 52. Judges 14:14,18.

"Furthermore, another reason for stating that the Lamb of God was slain from the beginning of the world is that God the Lord, soon after the Fall in the beginning, made the promise that He wanted to have the Seed of the woman step on and crush the head of the hellish snake; and, it would also occur that the snake would bite the woman's Seed in the heel. This stinging of the heel is none other than that Devil's inflicting himself on the woman's Seed and bringing Him to the cross."
Johann Gerhard, Eleven Easter and Pentecostal Sermons, Malone: Repristination Press, 1996, p. 60. 1 Corinthians 5:7-8; Genesis 3:15.

"He who follows his feelings will perish, but he who clings to the Word with his heart will be delivered."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 245. Mark 16:1-8.

"For when the heart clings to the Word, feelings and reasoning must fail."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 246. Mark 16:1-8.

"Therefore the Holy Spirit must come to our rescue, not only to preach the Word to us, but also to enlarge and impel us from within, yea, even to employ the devil, the world and all kinds of afflictions and persecutions to this end. Just as a pig's bladder must be rubbed with salt and thoroughly worked to distend it, so this old hide of ours must be well salted and plagued until we call for help and cry aloud, and so stretch and expand ourselves, both through internal and through external suffering, that we may finally succeed and attain this heart and cheer, joy and consolation, from Christ's resurrection."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 253. Mark 16:1-8.

"If I do not believe it, I will not receive its benefits; but that neither renders it false nor proves that anything is lacking in Christ."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 258. Mark 16:1-8.

"For this reason one should not be too credulous when a preacher comes softly like an angel of God, recommends himself very highly, and swears that his sole aim is to save souls, and says: 'Pax vobis!' For those are the very fellows the devil employs to honey people's mouths. Through them he gains an entrance to preach and to teach, in order that he may afterward inflict his injuries, and that though he accomplish nothing more for the present, he may, at least, confound the people's consciences and finally lead them into misery and despair."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 322. Luke 24:36-47.

"Thus we have two parts, preaching and believing. His coming to us is preaching; His standing in our hearts is faith. For it is not sufficient that He stand before our eyes and ears; He must stand in the midst of us in our hearts, and offer and impart to us peace."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., xd., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 355. John 20:19-31.

"The first and highest work of love a Christian ought to do when he has become a believer, is to bring others also to believe in the way he himself came to believe. And here you notice Christ begins and institutes the office of the ministry of the external Word in every Christian; for He Himself came with this office and the external Word."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 359. John 20:19-31.

"Now God drives us to this by holding the law before us, in order that through the law we may come to a knowledge of ourselves. For where there is not this knowledge, one can never be saved. He that is well needs no physician; but if a man is sick and desires to become well, he must know that he is weak and sick, otherwise he cannot be helped."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, II, p. 370. John 20:19-31.

"Who are the people, therefore, to whom God makes known the resurrection of His Son? Women of little learning and poor fishermen."
Sermons of Martin Luther, The House Postils, 3 vols., ed., Eugene Klug, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996, II, p. 22. Luke 24:13-35.

Click on this link to get there:

Bethany Lutheran Worship

You will need broadband (cable or DSL) to get the service, plus speakers to hear the service. You will be watching it live on the Internet. We will make provisions for saving files and posting them on a website.

Double-click on the Bethany logo at the link to start the service. We start early to test some things. You will see the altar at that time.

You can use this link below to determine your local time compared to Phoenix, where we do not deal with the fraud of Daylight Savings Time:

Time Zone Comparisons

Easter Sunday's service will be Holy Communion at 8 AM Phoenix time.