Friday, March 28, 2008

The Christian Vote

In a country where the citizens are given the opportunity to vote, a very special privilege and duty is entrusted to the citizenry and to each citizen. It seems, however, that very few citizens actually remember today what a vote really is.

The first two listings for vote in the American Heritage Dictionary are:

* a. A formal expression of preference for a candidate for office or for a proposed resolution of an issue.
* b. A means by which such a preference is made known, such as a raised hand or a marked ballot.

The vote is the citizen’s voice. It is the citizen’s opportunity to stand publicly for what that citizen believes. The vote is the opportunity to have a say in the way that the nation’s and society’s life is ordered. It is the person’s expression of what is right and good, not only for self, but for family, friends, neighbors, for all.

So what does a citizen actually say when that citizen votes for a person that does not stand with the same principles? What does the citizen say when a vote is cast for the lesser of two evils?

On what does a citizen stand when such a vote is cast?

The answer seems to be “winning.”

So what does the citizenry win when a vote is cast for the lesser of two evils?

Some Christians argue that we always cast a vote for the lesser of two evils since all human beings are sinners and all human beings have faults and make errors in judgment.

Well, isn’t that clever? Since all people are sinners and make bad judgments the conclusion is that no one can ever actually stand for what is right and good.

This is ludicrous reasoning. This is the reasoning that has resulted in the kind of politics and politicians that we have today, politics and politicians who say whatever sounds good at the moment but are never held accountable by the people and so they lie and change their promises from minute to minute.

What is worse is that people have started listening to the voices on the radio, voices that actually encourage the voters to be like the politicians. One such clever strategist has named himself the commander of “operation chaos.” Since his party of choice can no longer be called conservative and no longer stands for anything, now, rather than encouraging people to vote for a candidate with conservative principles, now he encourages people to try to cause chaos in the other party by voting in that party.

Why? Why would someone promote such dishonesty? The answer lies in the title that he has claimed for himself. It is about gathering followers to himself.

The really sad point is that people do follow him and boast of their mischief. They speak of themselves as liars and as dishonest and then pride themselves as taking one for the cause.

What cause?


They hate themselves for remaining with a party that is represented by someone they distrust, someone who openly undermines what they believe. So what is their answer? To cause trouble in the other party.

Why not let go of the party and take a stand for what is right? Why not let John McCain have the Republican Party? Why not let the dueling duo have the Democrat Party?

Why not stand back from both parties and regroup? What does anyone win by preserving a party that no longer stands for the principles on which it was founded?

What is worse is that people would rather cause trouble when the nation needs to be reunited in the principles that made this nation strong.

Voting is not about one side or another winning. Voting is the voice of the citizenry. It is that which makes this a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people, rather than a battleground for politicians who care only about being elected at the expense of the citizenry.

Do the American people really want to follow the ways of the politicians, or do they want to have the politicians follow the voice of the people? Once upon a time in this nation the people claimed to follow a voice that was greater than their own, a truly reliable voice. When this was their claim, this nation called itself and was known throughout the world as a Christian nation.

Isn’t it time for the citizenry to remember and hear again the voice by which this nation has been blessed beyond that of any nation in history? Isn’t it time for the people of this nation to stop giving their voice away to leadership that leads us in the opposite direction of what we know to be right and true? Isn’t time for the citizenry of this nation to take back their voice and be heard again over the ruckus of the corruption of the media and the politicians?

Monday, March 24, 2008

     * Religion is for the weak... *

The video is brief and to the point. You can view it at Religion is for the weak . . ..

This individual shares his belief that those who embrace religion or faith are weak. He says that there are two kinds of religious people: those who are born with it because their parents believed; and those who fall upon hard times and are vulnerable and need to believe in something and that gives them strength. He concludes that it is therefore “a strength from delusion and in that sense it’s for the weak people.”

Curiously, in this 32 second video this self proclaimed “non-believer” uses the phrase “I believe” twice and “I feel” (an oft misused pseudonym for belief) once.

“I believe . . .”

“I believe . . .”

“I feel . . .”

Naturally, in perfect accord with his belief system, his profession of faith in non-belief is based purely upon his own very limited experience and perception and without a single statement of fact, but only upon his own opinion and beliefs and feelings.

Could this be counted as delusional?

Entering into debate with someone who has already made up one’s mind, someone who has already clearly stated a commitment to a belief system, is of course, nearly always nonproductive. Such is the way with any attempt to debate a person of the religion of atheism of anything factual.

However, it is very interesting to note that this atheist’s statements are true. What he chooses to do with the truth is false, but he does make true statements.

First, many if not even most religious people are “born with it.” Such people believe because their parents believe. If this is the only basis for the person’s faith, then this is indeed a delusion and has approximately the same value as the beliefs of the atheists. This kind of believing does in fact exist on the basis of a delusion that gives only a false hope.

Secondly, the atheist speaks truly when he says that we who turn to the faith do so because we are weak. But the atheist is wrong in feeling that this is a delusion. Such a conclusion is nothing but allowing one’s emotions to rule over one’s reason. The truth is that in expressing this and then following it the atheist admits fear of facing the truth. For human beings truly are weak and unable to make things right or safe or happy or anything else that one wishes to change. Even one’s own feelings are not completely under the individual’s own control.

Yes, we who are not delusional admit our weaknesses and our dependency upon the One who is strong to save. We have His written record of His gracious will toward us and His mighty acts of salvation. We have the evidence of nature that points to Him and His creative acts as well as His continual providence. We have His Church that has existed and provided safe haven for the weak ever since the beginning of time. We have eyewitness accounts from those who personally observed the life of God in the flesh, who lived and worked mighty signs and wonders, who preached peace and forgiveness, who sacrificed Himself and then rose again from the dead and ascended to the throne of glory. We have the witness of the Holy Spirit, who speaks to our conscience and strengthens our heart. We have the Sacraments by which forgiveness and life and peace are received.

So to the atheist who says that I am weak, I respond with a hearty “Amen!” And to the Lord who says to me, “Come, and I will give you rest from your weariness and from your heavy burdens,” I again respond with a hearty “Amen!”

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The Easter Yeahbut

Did you encounter the Easter Yeahbut this year?

Many people did. In fact, we all encounter him at various times and need to chase him out of the garden of our lives so that he does not eat up the fruits and produce of the true faith. Sadly, however, for many, the Easter Yeahbut is a welcomed guest.

The glorious message of Easter is the promise of the Resurrection of our Lord. The promise is the proclamation of the Lord’s death till He comes, and this proclamation is the Holy Communion. Since the Lord Jesus redeemed us from the powers of sin, death, and the devil by sacrificing Himself in our place, His gift of restoration to life in God’s Holy Communion is accomplished for us in Baptism so that we may come to the Lord’s Table in the good conscience of our baptism and partake of the body and blood of our Lord for our forgiveness and our nurturing in His kingdom.

All of this is by the working of the Holy Spirit through the Word and the Sacraments. All of this is a gift. God works it for us and we enjoy the fruits of His works.

Often people refer to this as salvation by grace through faith. They express a hearty “Amen” and shout “Hallelujah” to the good news!

However, then the Easter Yeahbut comes forward and lays his Yeahbut eggs all around. Then people say “Yeahbut” to God’s gift and the good news that our new life is purely God’s work. They say, “Yeahbut, I have to cooperate using my free will, don’t I?” “Yeahbut, I must decide to believe, mustn’t I?” “Yeahbut, I must commit my life to Jesus, mustn’t I? “Yeahbut, I have to believe, don’t I? “Yeahbut, I have to make Christ the center of my life, don’t I?

The Easter Yeahbut is very prolific. He seems to have an endless capacity to produce Yeahbut eggs and he seems to have lots and lots of Yeahbut assistants, because these Yeahbut eggs seem to be everywhere.

Even to the clear promises of Baptism and the Holy Communion the Yeahbuts bring forth disconcerting arguments. The Scriptures plainly declare that Baptism saves us, like in Acts 2:38-39 and in Titus 3 and in 1 Peter 3:21, and people read these clear promises of God and respond, “Yeahbut, these passages don’t mean what they say. These mean to say that Baptism symbolizes the salvation that Jesus won for me and that I choose to accept from Him.” There are many other Yeahbut arguments regarding matters of the true faith and regarding the life that God gives to us. The Lord’s Supper receives all kinds of Yeahbut responses. The Easter Yeahbut seems to spread responses of doubt to every article of faith declared in the Scriptures.

But the Easter Yeahbut is very friendly. He is very good friends with the Old Adam and with all who are of his family. Anyone with a personal interpretation of the Scriptures, anyone with contemporary ideas about how to win people for Christ and how to make the Church more appealing, anyone with an agenda of satisfying felt needs and accepting people where they are, will immediately receive the Easter Yeahbut as a close and trusted friend.

So be on guard. The next time that you encounter the Easter Yeahbut or find one of his eggs lying around, remember the one whom the Easter Gospel proclaims. There are no yeahbuts in the Holy Scriptures. There are no yeahbuts in the kingdom of God. In Christ God’s promises are all “Yes and Amen!” (2 Corinthians 1-18-20)

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The Hallelujahs Return!

The Hallelujahs Return!

During the season of Lent the Hallelujahs are traditionally omitted from the liturgy in order to help highlight the penitential focus of the season and to emphasize the fact that the Resurrection is the joyous seal of guarantee that Christ not only paid for our sins so that we would not suffer forever in hell, but He also redeemed us to live forever in God’s Holy Communion, even as Christ is risen from the dead and lives and reigns to all eternity.

This year, as I studied and prepared the sermon and especially as this preparation “came together” into the outline and manuscript that flowed from the text, and then as I reviewed the hymns, the return of the Hallelujahs was an especially joyful awareness that filled my being. Truly the liturgy is jammed full of the Gospel and the blessings that Christ won for us. The joys of the good news of “The Lord is Risen! He is risen indeed!” are beyond measure and will fill our souls everlastingly. Truly the response of the heart that trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ when hearing and singing this great message of the Gospel is “Hallelujah!”

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Paschal Sabbath

On this day the Lord rested from His mighty work of taking the sin of the world. From the cross He cried “It is finished” and He gave up His spirit, commending it to the Father.

Why the wait?

Because the disciples needed to be taught to know the one on whom they depend. The Lord’s Sabbath was declared to last forever. The Church needs to spend this time remembering that the Lord is the one who calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies His Church on earth. The Church needs to remember that her life is bound to the sacrifice of the body and blood of the Lord.

Thus, we take time to remember the great feast of salvation that we eat again on the Lord’s Day. He feeds us the body of His Holy Communion and the blood of His forgiveness and salvation. We do nothing to prepare for this meal except to remember the one who has given it. We remember that He is the one who has established the Church as the Holy gathering into His name. We remember that He is the one who gives us His body and blood for our life in His body. We remember that we are the recipients and He is the provider.

Then our life in Christ is not a burden but a Sabbath in and unto the Lord.

Tomorrow is the Festival of the Resurrection of our Lord. Tomorrow in the great Feast He shows Himself to us and we receive Him in the means by which He has promised to be with us to bless us and keep us. All is done. The work is complete. Now we rest in His grace and enjoy the fruits of His mighty labor.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mother!

Today is the birthday of our mother, the Church of the New Testament!

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

This night, the night of our Lord’s betrayal into the hands of sinful men, is the night in which the Church of the New Testament was brought into being. The Church of the Old Testament, the Testament of the Circumcision and Passover, gave birth to the Church of the New Testament of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The Church of the Old Testament had reached the day of parturition. The Lord fulfilled the Old Testament by sacrificing and pouring out His blood. The Old Testament, sealed temporarily with the blood of the men and boys of God’s household and with the blood of animals, needed to be constantly renewed with new blood until the day that the Lord sealed the Testament with His own shedding of His own lifeblood. Now the Old Testament was carried to completion so that no more sacrifices would be needed. Now the Lord’s own blood would be given in the Cup of the New Testament, sealing all to whom it is communicated in the Lord’s death till He comes.

And so the Lord continues to be betrayed, that is, handed over, into the hands of sinful men to seal them into His Holy Communion. First they are sealed with the renewal of the Holy Ghost in the washing of regeneration (Titus 3). Then they are fed the body and blood of the Lord Jesus so that they may be continually and regularly strengthened and renewed into the Holy Communion into which they have been baptized.

Truly this is a holy day of blessed memorial as we remember the birth of our mother and partake of the life that is poured out freely for us and the many.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Impending Darkness

Yesterday has been labeled by a number of bloggers as “Black Tuesday” and “a black day in the LC-MS” or “a dark day.” This has been the response of many to the action of the LC-MS to terminate the KFUO-AM program: Issues, Etc. This response is the expression of shock and grief over the unexplained actions of the LC-MS in terminating a program that brought a sense of hope and light to the lives of those who lent their hearts, ears, and attention to the message of this program.

Some have expressed shock and indignation that such an action against the listeners and against the program staff should be enacted during Holy Week.

Really, though, what more appropriate timing could there be? After all, did the Lord Jesus not promise that those who follow Him will be treated in like manner as He was treated? What is more, is not Holy Week a time of impending darkness? Is not Holy Week not the time in the Church Year where we celebrate the darkness that the Lord Jesus faced on our behalf? Is this not the season of impending darkness that reaches its darkest on Good Friday, when the Sin and Evil of the world and the prince of darkness come against the Light of the world and work their worst against Him? Was this week not a time of confusion for those who looked to Jesus? Was this not the time that led to Judas betraying Jesus into the hands of evil men for reasons of “programming and business”? Was this not a time that led to the scattering of the sheep and to Peter’s trinitarian denial of the Lord? Was this not a time that led to the sense of the loss of all hope according to human reason and strength?

When times grow dark and appear to be growing darker, this is when we need to remember the promise of the Scriptures regarding our good and gracious God.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. . . . (Rom 8:28)

It is important that we never forget the source of our light and our hope. It also is important that when we recognize the source of darkness that we do not continue to bind ourselves to the darkness. When we recognize a way that leads to more darkness, the Lord calls us to come to the Light. While Jesus marched to the cross, darkness surrounded Him and His disciples. But the Light continued to shine in the darkness. The Gospel was most certainly not being vanquished, not even at the darkest hour of Good Friday. In fact, this was the Light’s brightest manifestation, which continues to fill the world with the light of life even today.

So, then, whenever the darkness seems deepest, this is when we may look to the body of Jesus and see that He is the one who has taken the darkness upon Himself for us. The dark hours of our life can serve to draw us into ever deeper dependence upon the glorious preaching of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. So when the Lord brings us into a trial that seems especially dark, rather than sinking into despair or grief, we are free to rejoice and to sing “Hosanna in the highest!” As we turn to the crucified Lord of glory, we truly see the light that cannot be comprehended or overcome and our hope and our confidence is renewed.

The way of the cross is the way of the resurrection.

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Issues, Etc.

Yesterday quite a turbulence was caused by the decision by LC-MS leaders to terminate the Issues, Etc. program from KFUO’s programming. The program was discontinued and for a time the archives were inaccessible as was the entire KFUO-AM web site. Today the following explanation is posted:

For programmatic and business reasons, the decision was made this week to discontinue the "Issues, Etc." program on KFUO-AM. We look forward to bringing you new programming in this time slot in the near future. Also, we thank "Issues" host Rev. Todd Wilken and producer Mr. Jeff Schwarz for their years of service on behalf of the station. Those interested may still download past "Issues, Etc." programs from the "Issues" archive on this website. Thank you sincerely for your continued support of KFUO's radio ministry

For those who desire to access the Issues, Etc. Archives, you would do well to do so and to download them while they are available.

It is truly grievous to observe the manner in which those who seek to hold to what they profess to believe are treated. Pr. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz surely have fallen into the hands of the ways of the LC-MS. It is very good to see that at least some people are concerned for their well-being and are responding with attempts to help these men and their families during their time of duress. More information is available here.

In the last few decades many pastors and families in the LC-MS and other so-called Lutheran bodies have faced very severe trials at the hands of their church bodies. Some have been injured so badly that they surrendered the ministry. Some even turned to various chemical addictions. A few have turned to other religions or have stopped believing in God altogether. In most cases these valiant souls braved terrible circumstances, and generally without any substantial support from their conservative/confessional brethren. They and their families often lost all that they had in this world or became very much buried in piles of financial burdens and debts. Some of them, even after many years, still suffer the emotional trauma.

If you know of such a pastor, remember him and his family as well. Use this time of grief to remember also some of those who have not received the support that they have needed from those who profess to be their brethren.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Saint Patrick’s Day

It seems to me to be a special treat that this year Saint Patrick’s Day coincides with Holy Week. After all, the focus of St. Patrick’s Day is the Gospel of our salvation, the very Gospel that is so powerfully held before us during this week of progression from our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the day of suffering and death to redeem us from the powers of sin, death and the devil, and finally having reestablished the eternal Sabbath or Rest, rising to everlasting life.

Truly this is a fitting time for observing the ardent zeal of St. Patrick for the Gospel. Truly St. Patrick’s Day represents for us what these final days of Lent really mean. For even as dear St. Patrick was taken captive and then became free from his captivity so that he learned to know the joyous freedom of the Gospel, so also this week draws us ever more to the preaching of Christ crucified where our freedom has been won for us. Moreover, as St. Patrick grew in his understanding of the freedom that Christ won for him, his great desire was that he could carry this liberating Gospel to those who previously were his captors and abusers. Such is the power of God’s forgiveness. As we observe the ensuing ministry of Patrick, we behold the necessity of purity in the preaching and practice by which we are made to be communicants of Christ’s body and blood. For the Gospel is emptied of its power when it is conjoined to anything other than Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

For more on the history of St. Patrick, Aardvark Alley has a nicely written piece.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

How Did Jesus Die?

In a Wichita Eagle article entitled, “How Did Jesus Die?,” the sub headline reads, “Physicians say studies of Jesus' crucifixion and death led them to a stronger understanding of their Christian faith.”

In this article the various bodily traumas are pondered and conclusions are drawn as to what caused Jesus to die so quickly. While the studies are very astute, one very important fact is ignored. The Scriptures record that Jesus surrendered His spirit to the Father. The Lord Jesus plainly declared:
As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?

Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?
(John 10:15-21)

Jesus died by the will of God. He laid down His life. It was not taken from Him. He suffered. He suffered all the suffering of the world. Then He laid down His life by the power of the author of life. The power over life is His and for our sake He surrendered His life that we might live. He laid down His life in order to take it up again so that in His resurrection we also would have the victory over the power of death. Because He lives, so do we.

Yet many still quarrel over His sayings. Many still look for answers beyond His clear words. Many look for evidence, when the evidence already stands written.

When the Author of Life has given us the written record, and has added to it the body of life into which He baptizes us and feeds us the Supper of forgiveness and life, what other evidence could come close? What other evidence could we possibly imagine that we could need?

Draft Social Statement on
Human Sexuality

The ELCA has drafted a new statement on sexuality to be studied and responded to by November 1, 2008, entitled “Draft Social Statement on Human Sexuality”.

A Chicago Tribune article on the subject was included in the Wichita Eagle entitled, “Lutheran statement on sexuality puts focus on trust.”

The ELCA has been pressing this agenda for a very long time. It would appear that this church body is drawing nearer to its conclusion on the matter.


“The Passion of the Christ” by Mel Gibson is quite a marvelous portrayal of the love of God. While Gibson does introduce certain unscriptural traditions and visions into the movie, he does do a marvelous job of highlighting “. . . what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:18-19)

For this reason, having purchased the DVD, I find myself desiring to watch it once or twice annually. I usually watch it during the season of Lent and sometimes Advent. Twice is all that I have the emotional energy and strength to endure, as there are portions where I sob to the point of near convulsions.

It is not the brutality done to the Lord Jesus that strikes me so strongly. It is not the evil of the religious leaders. It is not the evil of the world, nor the helplessness of the onlookers, nor the corruption of government officials. Even the most horrible brutality directed against humanity and against God is not what tears my heart to shreds.

What tears at the fabric of my being is the clear portrayal of the true cause of all of what Jesus endures. The point that absolutely strips me of all strength is when Jesus receives the initial flogging and collapses, then, drawing upon strength from the love that brought Him to be born of the virgin, He stands again to be certain that the suffering is sufficient to cover my debt and the debt of the world. Such love brings forth from my heart and soul the question, “Why Lord? Why?”

Every time that I see this, this question springs from my soul. For I know that I am not worthy of such love and sacrifice. The purity of His love, His divine holiness, is manifest beyond any denial in this action. As St. Paul writes, such love truly surpasses knowledge. Where in the world is such love ever displayed? Only in the passion of the Christ. Nowhere else is such pure and unadulterated and holy love observed.

It is a strange sorrow that observing this produces. It is a sorrow that weeps with both overwhelming grief and overwhelming joy. It is a sorrow that produces both contrition and repentance. As I observe such unknowable love, I do know God’s love. As I observe this love, I truly hate my sinful self and want nothing to do with my sin, being turned by God’s love to look toward His righteousness as my only desire. While I cannot know this love in my own actions and attitudes because of my sinfulness, nevertheless I do know this love in the gifts of Baptism and the Holy Communion. In these I truly encounter God’s love declared to be my own.

This is the why that gives the peace that surpasses all understanding and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

So while watching this movie completely drains me, it also leaves me renewed, in the knowledge of the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord.

Friday, March 14, 2008

No Country for Old Men

This was not a movie that I had planned to watch, but my wife rented it for this evening. As we loaded it into the machine I said, “You know, this is going to be a brutal movie.”

When Llewelyn finds the money my wife asked, “What would you do?” I asked, “Do you mean would I keep it or turn it in?” She replied, “Yes.” I said, “I don’t expect that would even be a decision that I would have to make as I would likely call the police and leave it to them to handle the entire matter.” She said, “It doesn’t belong to anyone. I think I should keep it.”

At the end of the movie, after seeing all the evil that resulted from Llewelyn’s greedy decision, I asked, “So, do you still think that you should keep the money?” She gave a sheepish smile with a lowered countenance. I replied, “You see, Dear? Honesty is not the best policy. It is the only policy.” She gently nodded.

Frankly though, I don’t believe my wife would keep the money. She’d think about it, but she would act in accord with the good conscience given to her in her baptism.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Evolution Fantasy

Today I heard a radio talk show host declare that Creationism is absolute fantasy.

Interestingly, on his web site he admits that in his early days of education and even through college he was an absolute loser who never took education seriously. Yet, he speaks authoritatively regarding a matter far beyond his feeble grasp.

What is this fellow’s area of expertise? What area of study did peak his interest? The study of the law in preparation for becoming a lawyer. So when he finally became interested in learning, it was to learn how to manipulate evidence in such a way as to convince others to believe what he has already determined to prove. Hmm.

But what about this theory of Evolution? Is it consistent with the evidence found in the cosmos?

It is interesting to note that this theory itself undergoes endless evolution. It is not the same as when Darwin developed it. It is not even the same from year to year. Yet it is taught as the one consistent fact of life.

What is the one thing upon which the theory of Evolution is absolutely dependent?

Answer: Mutation.

But the mutation upon which the theory of evolution is founded is not the kind of mutation that is found in the world. Mutations occur daily, even continually, in living organisms. Mutations occur on such a vast scale that it would be impossible to number them.

However, these mutations are not the kind of mutations that are necessary for evolution of new and more advanced species. The mutations that occur and can be readily observed are the exact opposite of what would produce evolution of species. The mutations that are regularly observed are always a breakdown in the genetic code. These mutations are always mishaps or mistakes. They are a breakdown in the order and structure of the cellular reproduction. Sometimes these are of little significance, but in many instances, they are deleterious. Most deleterious mutations result in the destruction of the cell, but sometimes they continue until either the body of the organism eliminates it or the mutation grows to destroy the life of the organism. Sometimes the organism survives the mutation, resulting in a change in the organism. When this occurs during embryonic development such mutation is counted as birth defect, often a very serious defect. When it occurs after the organism is fully developed the mutation results in a tumor or cancerous growth or some other abnormality.

What is never observed, however, is a mutation that advances the cell or organism from a lower order or structure to a higher one. Such a mutation has never been observed or reported. If so, it certainly would be BIG news.

This is the type of mutation that is necessary for evolution of species to occur. Not only this, but such mutations would have to happen on a regular basis. In order for the theory of evolution to be a plausible theory, these mutations from lower order to higher order would have to be happening on such a regular basis that they would be observed daily.

The theory of evolution is dealing with huge advances in genetic code and huge advances in anatomical and physiological function and design. These advances involve many changes that are interdependent. These advances are not the type that could happen slowly, but would have to happen simultaneously within the same organism. Moreover, since these advances are in sexual organisms, they would have to happen within at least a pair of organisms that could mate and reproduce the advancement. Moreover, for this to occur, this pair would have to develop in the same locale within the same life span.

For this to occur, the number of daily mutations in an upward order would have to be astronomical.

How is it, then, that no such mutations of advancement in genetic order are reported?

Yet this is presented as genuine science and the answer to the mysteries of life.

The genetic code of the highest organism of the cosmos declares a very different answer to the mysteries of life. Observing the gestational development of a human being a person observes the order of creation declared in the first two chapters of the Bible. All of the organisms of the cosmos are represented in the gestation of a human child. The order of human development demonstrates the fullness of the plan declared in Genesis 1-2, and shows that this plan has a common source. Observing the development of a new person of the human race is to observe the order of the cosmos according to its mysterious design.

But the mystery is answered when the designer is encountered. When the one who designed the cosmos as the dwelling place for all of creation and especially for mankind is encountered, he gives the answers to the mystery of life.

Those who take science seriously, observing the evidence rather than manipulating it to reach a preconceived conclusion (one based on avoidance of truth rather than submission to truth), recognize that the evidence all points to a singular and undeniable source. Moreover, such true scientists recognize that this source of life also continues to maintain life according to the good order originally established.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Judica — The First Sunday of the Passion — Season of Judgment

In the historic liturgy the Introit is frequently the source for the name of the Sunday in the Church Year. The Introit is the entrance psalm. It marks the approach of the celebrant to the altar, the place of God’s mercy.

On this Sunday of Judica, the Introit is from Psalm 43 and begins with the cry to the Lord to enter into judgment on behalf of the congregants. “Judge me, O God,” is the plea.

This is what we cry during this season of Lent and every day that we pray the Our Father. “Judge me, O God,” we cry. In the name of Jesus we beg that God would judge us. We come to God with Jesus as our righteousness and beg God to judge us.

The Psalms teach us how to pray, how to come before the Lord our God. In Psalm 7 we are taught to pray:

The Lord shall judge the people: judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.

My righteousness? My integrity? How can we possibly pray such things? How can we possibly call upon the perfect and holy God to judge us according to our righteousness and our integrity?

The answer is that we pray this according to God’s own decree. We pray this as we have heard it from Lord our God. He is the one by whom we are made to have righteousness and integrity. He is our righteousness! He is our integrity!

He comes to us by the Word in the Water and declares us to be righteous for Jesus’ sake. He comes to us by the Word in the Water and baptizes us into Christ Jesus. It is in the Holy Communion that is established in us with the body of Christ that allows us to come before God and believe that He will judge us as integral members of His Holy Communion.

This is the focus of the season of Lent and especially in the final weeks of Lent as we enter into the Paschaltide. This season of the Passion of our Lord Jesus is the fullness of the season of penitence. This is the time when we become most fully aware of the repentance that God works for us and in us. As we observe the Passion of the Lord Jesus, we see the power of God unto salvation, we see how God turns us from ourselves and our own thoughts, words, and deeds so that we trust rather in the judgment that Jesus won for us. Yes, because of the passion of Jesus, our hearts are turned to the kingdom of God and His righteousness. This is the judgment that we beg God to use in judging us. This is the judgment by which we come to His Table and receive the body and blood of Jesus for our salvation and renewal in true faith. By this judgment we know that we shall not be turned away, but shall feast upon the Lord, who is our life in righteousness and integrity. In Him we receive the judgment of the sons of God and rejoice in His goodness and mercy that never ends.


My mother-in-law, a retired school teacher, shared with me her joy in playing a vocabulary game at I have played it quite a few times as well and I do find it to be fun as well as beneficial to my vocabulary.

It is a free game designed to challenge people in their knowledge and use of vocabulary. It also offers advertizing space to sponsors, by which each right answer results in a donation equal to 20 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.

This last point is the one thing that troubles me about this program. I ordinarily do not support the United Nations or any of its programs voluntarily. Yet if by playing a free game food will be given to hungry people, even if the UN gets the credit, hungry people are nevertheless fed.

It does trouble me that the UN is the instrument for distributing the food. Yet if people are kept alive, perhaps a few people will live to hear the Gospel and receive not only rice for their bellies, but also the bread of heaven for their souls. If God can work through the Pharaohs of the world and through the many corrupt government officials of the world, surely He also is working good even through this UN program.

I would be interested in hearing whether anyone knows of more specific reasons to be concerned about this game and the UN World Food Program.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


My wife sent this with the caption:

Don't you just feel this way sometimes????

In The Valley Of Ellah

We watched a video that claims to be inspired by a true story. What this means, one never really knows. How much is actually inspired from the true events and how much is inspired by the motivations of the movie maker?

This movie includes a telling of the account of David and Goliath, and like the movie itself, the telling of the account has some changes from the truly inspired account. The account recorded in 1 Samuel 17 is told in the movie from a different perspective. In the movie the story is told to inspire a little boy to find courage from within himself, courage to face imaginary monsters and whatever else may be encountered in the boy’s life.

But Samuel, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, directs the reader and hearer of this account to a different kind of courage. David truly does act with incredible courage. No one else demonstrated such courage when Goliath challenged the people of Israel, the Lord’s chosen people of faith and salvation. All the men of Israel’s army and even King Saul shrank back in fear at this giant who mocked both the Lord’s people as well as the Lord Himself.

David, however, upon hearing the blasphemous and arrogant challenges of this uncircumcised and unbelieving Philistine, volunteered to slay the enemy of God’s people. Truly this was courageous beyond imagination. Goliath stood six cubits and a span tall, approximately nine feet and nine inches tall. His coat of mail alone likely weighed more than David, weighing about 160 pounds. The head of his spear weighed about 19 pounds.

Yes, for David to face Goliath required extraordinary courage. But what was the source of David’s courage?

David’s courage was based in his confidence in the faithfulness of the Lord his God, the God of Israel. David knew the Scriptures and all the promises of God. David knew the mighty acts of salvation that the Lord had worked throughout the ages, even as he had learned from the Holy Scriptures.

But David’s faith was more than an internal belief in the Lord. David knew the Lord his God. His faith was more than his own belief. His faith was produced in him from beyond his own reason and strength. For David, faith was the assurance of things not seen, the absolute confidence that comes from living in the relationship that God establishes with those who are His own. David knew the faithfulness of God, and thus while all the other men shrank back, David stepped forward.

David also had another matter driving him forward. In chapter 16 we read that the Lord had proclaimed David to be His anointed one. By the Lord’s command, Samuel had anointed David to be Saul’s successor as the one to lead the people in the name of the Lord. David trusted that the Lord is true to His promise. The Lord anointed David to lead the people, and so, even though he was not yet king, when Saul faltered in his unbelief, David stepped forward in the name of the Lord.

In the early days of his service to the Word of God Saul had demonstrated great faith, too. He began his time of leadership as a true servant of the Word. But in time, Saul began to rely upon his own reason and strength. He began to do what seemed right in his own eyes and made certain changes in what God had ordained. When this happened, his faith became compromised, and his relationship of true faith in the Lord and His Word died. His faith had become his own work of believing, and no one has this power in himself. Therefore, Saul could no longer lead the people of God in the victorious walk of true faith, as his fear of Goliath demonstrated. Saul now feared Goliath more than he feared God. Saul had more confidence in the strength that Goliath demonstrated than in the strength of the Lord his God.

Since David truly feared the Lord, he had no fear of Goliath. He did not have to fight back his fears, for his only fear was of the Lord his God, and David knew the Lord as his faithful God of never ending mercy and love. He knew that this was not his own personal battle, but the Lord’s battle, and that the Lord cannot fail.

Sadly this is not the kind of courage that most people recognize in this amazing account of the Gospel. Most people look at David as a man who found courage in his own faith. And so, like the father in this Hollywood inspired story, they teach their children how they need to gather up their strength and to stand in the confidence of their faith. “You must believe in yourself,” they say. Sometimes they even go the next step and say, “You must trust God.”

David, however, shows us the meaning of true trust in God. For David did not stand in the confidence of his own faith. Rather, David proclaimed the saving works of the Lord. When Goliath mocked David and cursed David in the name of the Philistine gods, David replied,

Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hands.

What a contrast! This is an amazing contrast even from what most Christians imagine to be the way of true faith. Most Christians imagine that they must muster up courage by praying diligently and by believing more firmly. But dear David simply lived by the faith that he received from the Lord. His confidence was not in his prayers or in his faith. His confidence was the Lord. Fearing the Lord David knew no other fear. And even as David boldly declared, the Lord was true to His Word and saved not only David, but all of Israel, and ultimately all the world.

Truly on Good Friday, the Lord made His final declaration of victory, crushing the head of the enemy just as surly as He did with the stone from David’s sling against Goliath. Only our Lord Jesus faced a much greater giant than Goliath. Our Lord Jesus crushed the serpent’s head, Satan, and delivered us from the fear of death and damnation forever. He cried out mightily saying, “It is finished!” so that now we join David in walking in the fear of God and none other. Such courage never fails.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Forgiveness, there is nothing more wonderful, more beautiful!

Yet forgiveness is impossible for us to believe. We look at our lives and see actions that deny God’s forgiveness. We look at our own thoughts, words, and deeds and we see actions of rebellion and overthrow of God’s lordship in our lives.

Forgiveness is divorce from sin. When God declares us to be forgiven He divorces us from our sin. He separates us from our sin. He puts our sin away from us.

The actual time and place of this was at Golgotha, the place of the skull, also called Calvary. The day was Friday. On this day the Lord took our sin, all of our sin, our collective sin, the sin of the world, and declared it to belong to the only Man who lived His life entirely free of sin. He had no sin of His own, but received our sin into His own body on the tree. He who knew no sin was made to be sin for us. He received the condemnation of both God and men. He was crucified, dead and buried. God declared, “It is finished.”

This is something truly too good to be true, at least according to what be can observed by our own reason and strength. We do not see “It is finished.” We still see the effects of sin in the world. We still see the effects of sin in our own bodies. We still see the effects of sin in our own thoughts, words, and deeds.

We simply cannot believe what we do not see.

This is why God gives us His signs by which the divorce is made believable. This is why He gives us His means of grace by which we know that this divorce is by His doing and not by ours.

In the Old Testament He gave the sacrifices so that the people could see that the divorce was accomplished by someone other than the sinner who needed to be set free. By the blood of animals God showed that His decree is real. Through the blood of animals God showed that the payment for sin was not required of those whom He pronounced to be freed from sin. Through the blood of the animals, through the separation of the lifeblood from the animal, God made His promise to be real in the sight of all. But since animals could not serve as a true substitute, these divorces had to be repeated over and over until the true substitute should be separated from His lifeblood. Then the sacrifices would be finished. Then the divorce could be declared finalized.

Now, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are given as the signs by which God unites us with His bloodbath. Now we receive upon and into our own bodies the proof that God’s declaration is real. The divorce has been enacted, even though we cannot perceive it according to our own reason and strength. But God joins us to Himself in the holy divorce from sin through Baptism and keeps the new marriage alive through the Holy Communion.

Through these God gives and sustains the faith that we cannot believe by our own reason and strength. By our own reason and strength we cannot even believe that we believe! Therefore, God has supplied us with the means by which this faith is not our work but His. Since He works this faith in us through means that are entirely not our doing, we do believe. Through these means we see what cannot be seen and we hear what cannot be heard and we believe what cannot be believed.

In Christ we are forgiven. We are set free from our sin to live in the purity of God’s sons forevermore. In Baptism, the death and resurrection of Jesus is given and sin is forgiven. In the Supper the very blood of forgiveness is given as oft as we drink of it. The proof is in the means by which it is given.

Forgiveness is ours. The pure life is restored. We are free to live again! What more wonderful and beautiful good news could ever be told?