Saturday, December 19, 2009

Wrong Number

Yesterday a call came from a number that appeared on the caller ID several times previously. As with numbers of this type, automated calls, a disconnect occurred on the previous calls. This time, the caller asked for a person whose name was totally unfamiliar to anyone at this number. Surprise was the reaction of the caller when he learned that the number was given or received falsely/wrongly.

The caller sounded like a debt collection person, but did not identify himself, only stating that he would remove my phone number from the records.

This is the result of calling upon someone without being certain that the right means of calling upon that someone is being used. Apparently, as is often the case, this caller had the right name. Apparently he had been assured that the means of contacting this person was correct. The caller apparently used this information more than once, calling upon the name via incorrect means. Finally the person learned that all of his attempts were in vain.

There is a point of comparison to be made to those who call upon the name of the Lord via incorrect means. They call and call and call, using the correct name, but with the same results as the debt collector who called using the right name but the wrong phone number.

It is puzzling to me that among those calling themselves Christians that it is hard to find anyone who truly acknowledges that calling upon the Lord involves more than simply using the name of the Lord. It amazes me that people forget that the Second Commandment was given as a warning against the false notion that using the name of the Lord is without defined parameters. Through Moses the Lord declares,

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. (Exodus 20:7)

The Lord Jesus states this even more powerfully to His disciples in Matthew 7:21-23,

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Is this not the same as what the caller heard from me when he asked for someone by name but calling for that person at the wrong phone number? Is the Lord not warning that He will hold everyone accountable who calls upon His name not in accord with the way that He has ordained?

Will people calling themselves Christians not listen to this warning from the very lips of the one that they claim to be calling upon? Will they continue with eyes, ears, and hearts closed to His warning? Will they endlessly cry that all that matters is that one “believe in Jesus” even though Jesus Himself sternly warns that this belief must be according to the faith that the Holy Spirit works and not according to what individuals or even churches declare from their own hearts and minds?

James writes in Chapter 5:

And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
(James 5:15-20)

How often do people quote this passage while ignoring the point of this admonition? The point is that we be converted from our errors of doctrine and errors in practice of that doctrine so that our prayers are truly prayers of righteousness, prayers that are moved by the Holy Spirit and thus are truly righteous and heard by God. Otherwise it is as though we are simply dialing the wrong number and calling out for one who is not at that number. Calling out more frequently and more loudly and more fervently does not make the wrong means effective anymore than if the debt collector keeps calling my number calling upon the name of a person who is in no way connected with that number.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Born Alive

Quite a remarkable comparison to the Christmas story:

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7)

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. (Matthew 2:16)

Monday, December 14, 2009

In the Womb

Don’t you know who I am? Can you not see me? Can you not feel me? Will you not acknowledge me for who I am?

This is National Geographic’s “In the Womb” video.

On a couple of other blogs the following video is presented. I present it here as well.

Thanks to Happenings and Mary Matthew for sharing this video.

Here is the full 89 minute video of “In the Womb.” This video tells more about the marvelous mystery of reproduction in humans.

This video makes some amazing observations and statements. One such amazing observation is the fact that from the instant that the first sperm penetrates the cell wall of the ovum the membrane of the ovum changes so that it is impenetrable to all other sperm. From this moment, the new human individual has come into being. This is the person that shall be ejected from the mother’s womb when the gestation is complete.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Flu Season

Do you remember last year’s flu season? How about the flu season before that? How about the flu season that occurred every year of your life?

The flu season comes every year. Yes, every year!

Every year the stores' shelves have many varieties of flu and cold remedies.

Every year the schools have had brief periods during the flu season when it seemed almost as though more students were home sick with the flu than were in class.

Why is it treated so differently this year?

All the publicity regarding this so-called (and redefined) pandemic, and yet the numbers of people suffering the flu seem to be less than in many previous years.

Why the big push for vaccination?

When at the seminary, I voluntarily received my one and only flu vaccination. That year I had the worst case of the flu of my entire life! When I asked the doctor, he said that was the reason that he never recommended the flu vaccine, because in his experience sixty-five percent of those who received it contracted the flu!

I learned my lesson.

Sleep. Healthy and balanced diet. Regular exercise.

These are the most important ways to avoid sickness of every kind.

So why is the “government” promoting this flu vaccine?

More later as time permits.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Reaching People

On the home page of a congregational web site that I visited this evening the following was stated:

In case the text is hard to read here it is again:

Reaching People.... Changing Lives

We are here to serve our community with God's Word, and to make a difference in people's lives for eternity!

I am not supplying a link to the web page as I do not wish to make the congregation itself the focus, but rather to address the “mission statement.”

If we examine this mission statement we can perceive the misunderstandings that are prevailing in churches today, misunderstandings that are turning Christianity upside down and inside out.

The first phrase of this statement is very revealing. When reading the Scriptures, whom are we commanded to serve? Are we ever commanded to serve the community? Are we not commanded: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve”? (Matthew 4:10)

Regarding serving the Word of the Lord to people, to whom are we commanded to do this and in what setting? Is this not to the Church, the communion of the saints, that the Word is to be served, and thus we speak of the divine service of Word and Sacrament?

It certainly is true that we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves, and thus we will be of service to our neighbors. But whom are we serving in doing this? Who is our master that is being served? Who therefore is the one to whom we look for the definition of such service to neighbor?

The second phrase is also revealing. In what way do the Scriptures say that the Church and the churches and the saints who are of the churches to make a difference in people’s lives? Do the Scriptures speak of the Church as being sent to the world to “reach out” to the world? Or do the Scriptures speak of the Church as a light set on a hill to which the people of the world will draw near? Moreover, what light enlightens the Church so as to make it a light to the world? What are the means by which people are served?

Regarding the Church’s world view, is the Church commanded by Christ to reach out to the world or to avoid the world?

Regarding those who do not repent but seek to mingle worldly elements with the life of the Church, how does the Lord Jesus say that such people are to be regarded by the Church? (Hint: Matthew 18:17 ; Romans 16:17)

In Matthew 18 the Lord Jesus teaches that the purpose of the office of the keys is to lead sinners to repentance. The purpose of the Church is the administration of the means of grace, which are the means of forgiveness and life. The Church is not about what we do but about what God does for us and for all who observe what God is doing for us and amongst us so that they come to be converted to be recipients of His grace, too. This can only happen when the Church stands apart as those who have called out of the world.

Sadly the churches have forgotten this and have actually ceased being the Church, the called out. Today the churches imagine that they are the ones who are to call out, rather than being the called out. They imagine that being witnesses is equal to being those who have the power to call people to faith. Then they imagine that they also have the authority to determine how the calling out is to be done.

When this shift occurs in the focus of the churches and the members they themselves become the focus of their witness. Their works and their efforts and their love is what rules the hearts and minds of the congregation.

The message of the Gospel is the proclamation of the works and efforts and love of God in Christ. It is the proclamation of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, proclaimed in words and deeds, more accurately, in God’s words and deeds, that is, in the words of Christ expounded purely and in the right administration of the Sacraments.

Looking back to the “mission statement”, whose mission statement is this? Are the words of Christ even mentioned? Are the Sacraments that He ordained mentioned? Is this not upside down and inside out from what Christ says of His Church and of the meaning of being His witnesses?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Natural Air Freshener/Neutralizer

In the post below I share about a dangerous malfunction in “green” light bulbs. With this malfunction various toxins as well as odors permeated our house.

This also occurred with a very stupid act that I recently did. As with many stupid acts, the stupid person did not realize the stupidity of his action until after he performed it.

I washed a spill from a pair of sweat pants. So as to be able to wear them without the cold wet spot that I created, I decided to dry the pants in the microwave. I have seen others do this and I have successfully dried items in this manner before. However, I kept heating the pants over and over because the moisture evaporated very slowly on this occasion. What I did not realize was that the areas that were folded over and more densely compacted were overheating. Those areas actually burned.

Not good!

I ruined my pants and I filled the house with that smell.

I pulled out the bottle of Febreze. After spraying the entire house twice, the smell remained. While spraying I also noticed the scent of perfume. I read the list of ingredients to learn that indeed the claim of removing and neutralizing odors was not honest as perfumes also are added to mask the smells.

I began wondering what ingredients the company could be using that would neutralize odors. As I pondered this, I wondered what things actually do neutralize odors.

Activated carbon is one effective neutralizing agent. But this is not something that I want to spray throughout the house.

Another agent is baking soda. “Aha! Let’s give it try!”

I poured a tablespoon or two of baking soda into this spray bottle and then filled it with filtered water. I set the nozzle to the finest setting and began misting the household air. I was amazed at the effectiveness. I sprayed throughout the house twice, and I sprayed the mist in the area of the furnace’s return duct to be sure to get it circulated throughout the ducts as well.

The odors were almost entirely eliminated.

I performed this ceremony after the lightbulb incident with the same effect, but with only one misting of the household air this time.

The one drawback is that the spray does leave a white residue that must be dusted and vacuumed (eventually). The powder is so fine that it is not easily noticed. My wife, who ordinarily detects such things immediately has not mentioned it yet. But she is such a proficient housekeeper that she will likely dust and vacuum it away before she has a chance to notice it.

The point is that it works. And it is 100% natural with no harmful side effects. Baking soda ordinarily will not damage fabrics or alter their coloration. Additionally, it truly does absorb the odor causing chemicals and toxins so that they can be completely removed by vacuuming.

I’m sure that I am not the first to make this discovery, but it is a delight to me to have this natural and very effective odor neutralizer available.

Perhaps some others will benefit from it as well.

Fire Bulbs

Last night as I was working at my desk my olfactory senses detected an alarming smell. It was the smell of electrical smouldering.

This is not something to be ignored. I began sniffing throughout the house and looking for any signs of smoke.

I spent an hour or more searching. I checked every electrical outlet, looking for browning discoloration and touching each one to feel for heat. I brought the stepladder in so as to enter the attic. I checked every ceiling fan and light. I checked the extension cords and the Bunn coffee maker. I checked the stove and microwave and the refrigerators. I checked the breaker box, the power line entrance and the meter.

Finally, I commended the matter to the Lord and went to bed, trusting with the men of old who faced the fiery furnace that the Lord would keep us safe from fire, or that He would take us home.

This morning I noticed that one of our wonderful “green” fluorescent bulbs made in China had burned out. This term is not usually used literally, but in this case, as the photos below show, it was quite literal.

Notice the browned areas in the base of the bulb. An olfactory test verified that the burning smell originated with this bulb.

I have encountered this experience in our house before, but never found the culprit. The smell went away and I never identified the cause.

While it is a relief to know that our electrical circuits have all been checked and found to be in safe working order, it is nevertheless disconcerting to know that these bulbs manifest such a dangerous malfunction.

Thankfully, the locations of all of the bulbs that we use are in fixtures that are extremely unlikely to catch fire. Yet this is still a dangerous malfunction. Moreover, what toxins are emitted into the household air when this happens? The house still reeks with the odor. My fingers still reek with the smokey odor that my fingers absorbed while removing the “burned” out bulb. This time of year, with the windows all closed tightly, such toxins do not depart quickly from the house, which means that we will be breathing them for some time to come.

With the season’s advent of Christmas lights both indoors and outdoors in many homes, this is a good time for every head of house to check the electrical circuits and outlets throughout the house. The extra load placed on the circuitry and wiring by the additional lights makes this a very important and necessary activity. After the lines overheat and cause damage is not the best time to perform this safety procedure. But this often is the pattern in family life. Perhaps my experience will serve to motivate a few readers to take the safety precautions. Checking of smoke alarms/detectors is also a worthy precaution.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer

Turkey Day? How far the mentality of the citizens of the United States of America has drifted from the time of the founding of the nation.

In 1789 both Houses of Congress voted to urge the president to proclaim a day of public thanksgiving and prayer. The text of President Washington’s proclamation along with some comments is posted here.

His proclamation, given at the urging of Congress, is worthy of reading again. The last full paragraph is of special importance.

It saddened me to see the extreme emphasis that has been made this year on “Black Friday.” It was reported that people were lining up outside of Best Buy on Wednesday to be ready for the store’s opening on Friday so as to be able to grab greedily the special sale items. Some people completely bypassed the National Day of Thanksgiving so as to be ready to grab Black Friday specials.

As I post below, the true Black Friday treasures are available every Lord’s Day, and those who want them can partake of them freely. Black Friday, the day when retailers say that they move from the accounting status of Red to Black, is a minor reflection upon the one true and great Black Friday of history when Christ paid the world’s debt of sin so that by faith forgiveness is received of all debts everlastingly.

Is this not worthy of standing in line to receive, far and above any specials offered at Best Buy or Sears or Walmart? Once upon a time in this country such appears to have been the focus of Thanksgiving. For some, it still is.

Thanksgiving Day

Yesterday was a wonderful day. It was like having an extra Lord’s Day in the week. It was another glorious opportunity for partaking of the wedding feast that the Lord has instituted for our renewal and strengthening in His grace.

While my wife prepared the turkey and other fine foods for the Thanksgiving meal, I had another time of feasting in the text of the Holy Scriptures preparing for another sermon. Then the Divine Service and the Holy Supper. Then a bit of discussion and study. Then the wonderful meal of Turkey and other delights for our tastebuds and bellies, as well as more discussion and reflection.

Sunday we enter into the season of Advent. How wonderful!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Yesterday was my wife’s birthday anniversary. It was a joy to celebrate with her the gift of life that God has bestowed upon her and the gift of her life and love that He has bestowed upon me through her.

This celebration was also a reminder to me of the reality that I face every day, the reality that I can never be to her the husband that I desire to be. She does not fuss about this fact, but I do. I often ponder the frailty of my love and the impotence of my strength in providing for her.

I have often wondered how I would do if anything ever happened to her so that she truly depended upon me. Before we were married she had cancer. What if it should return someday and she depended upon me to care for her? What sort of husband would I be? When I consider the poverty of my current bestowal of love to her, I cower to consider how I could fail her if she ever really needed my love to be strong.

I am very grateful to know that my strength comes not from my internal fortitude but from the Lord. I also am very grateful that my wife knows this as well, both regarding my strength and hers.

How can I even properly account how blessed I am to have such a wife in the Lord? She tells me regularly that her greatest blessing and joy is in having a husband who preaches the Gospel. She speaks of her gratitude to God for the fact that I count the Gospel as the one thing necessary and that I spend my days searching the Scriptures so as to be able to direct her to that one necessary thing in her life and in our life together.

Can any man be more richly blessed?

Oh, what a happy birthday! Oh how wonderful that God has brought my wife into the world and has given her to me for as long as we both shall live.

Happy Birthday, Dear! Thank You, Lord!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

S.1796 The Healthy Family Act

Is it not amazing how the media continues to portray all of the usurping of the authority of States and of the individual American as “what the people want”? Yet in my daily discussions with people I cannot find anyone who supports this or desires it, especially when people begin to realize what is really being done.

Do you support this?

Yet onward the senators are pushing, once again calling for a vote on a weekend when the people will not be able to respond.

What is being pressed upon us is the notion that there is nothing that can be done.

But the Constitution grants us the right to call upon our State Legislators to impeach the US Legislators who willfully and belligerently violate their oath of office and mock the people of this nation. Yes, we can remove these rascals.

For a bit more on this, and what you can say to the Senators through their staff people, here is a site with a little more information.

Emergency Alert! Instruct Senators to Vote NO on O-No-Care S.1796 The Healthy Family Act (The Happy Insurance Companies Act).

More on this is available at TomWoods, especially under the headings, “How to Resist the Federal Government?” and “The States’ Rights Tradition Nobody Knows.”

The bottom line is that the actions that the federal government, from the President and his czars to the Legislators and the Courts, are illegal. They are committing criminal acts against the Constitution and the people of this nation, against the States, and against liberty.

Calling to say “vote no” is not enough anymore. It is time that the American people utilize the authority that is entrusted to them to hold these criminals accountable, not in a future election, but today.

The founding fathers of this nation revolted. They went to war against this kind of tyranny, in order to insure that we would be able to fight without bloodshed. The so-called civil war resulted because of similar acts against the States and the people. But we do not have to take up arms. We do not have to make physical threats. We have Constitutional authority to remove those who perjure themselves, swearing to uphold and defend the Constitution but then ignoring it and worse, outright violating it and all that it declares.

Moreover, we do not have to follow the two-party farce that continues to pit Americans against one another, not on the basis of ideals, but on the basis of us against them. It is time for the people to promote a third party or parties that actually offer candidates who do what they promise to do.

But first we must deal with those who are seeking to force us into a world-wide tyrannical rule by the centralized banks and international corporations. We must actually hold these Senators and House of Representative members accountable for their acts of betrayal. We must tell them that we know what they are doing and that we have the Constitutional authority to remove them from office. If they go ahead with their illegal activity, we must act with the authority that is ours.

But time is ticking and the window of opportunity is a narrow one.

If you want to contact your Senator, the Congressional Switchboard is nearly always busy. The easy number is 1-877-SOB-U-SOB. Yes, this is the real number. But it is always busy.

However, a couple of web sites that provide more direct information, phone numbers, and contact links are:

Contacting the Congress


Project Vote Smart.

It is not enough for even those of our Senators who claim that they will not vote for the health care bill and other usurpations of our liberties. We need to be calling upon them and demanding of them that they speak out loudly and ceaselessly that this bill is illegal as well as immoral. It is not only against the will of the people, but it is a direct assault upon the Constitution and therefore is not binding upon the people.

Those “Republicans” and “Conservatives” who do not cry out in this way need to be told that they are as guilty as those who vote for these criminal bills and that we will remove them from office for neglecting their duties just as we will remove those who criminally enacted the bills. Negligence of duty is just as serious as actively committing the crimes.

What is more, we should not imagine that just because the bail-out and stimulus fraud was passed that we cannot reverse it. We can hold these criminals, both in the White House and in Congress, as well as in the big banks, accountable. We told them “NO” and they did it anyway. When they ignore us and pass this heath care fraud, we can say “NO!” We can remove them from office and throw out their illegal bill. We do not have to accept them as our masters! We do not have to live as their slaves!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Does Anyone Know
Where the Love of God Goes?

I remember growing up hearing this song of tribute by Gordon Lightfoot. Even today it strikes my heart with a very deep and powerful sense of sadness. Such tragedies move us deeply.

In Lightfoot’s song a question is asked somewhere near the middle of the song:

Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?

Is there anyone who has not asked this question in some form or another? Is there any person who has not suffered the anguish of feeling as though God’s love had been withdrawn in times of great emotional distress?

Even the Son of God Himself, God Incarnate, cried out when in His own flesh He carried the burden of our sin and the emotional and spiritual separation of the curse of sin that wells up over us like the waves that struck the Edmund Fitzgerald, crying out:

Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46)

Thanks be to God that His love does not go anywhere! As Jesus cries out on the cross, He cries out as our substitute. He took the full measure of the curse of sin into His own flesh and died in our stead. He cried out with our sense of abandonment so that we would know that we do not stand forsaken by God. Jesus cried out in the darkest moment of the history of the world. Jesus cried out when the full measure of evil converged upon a single point in time. So powerful was this cloak of the darkness of evil that even the sun’s light was darkened at mid day. All of this was laid upon Jesus, our brother. He took it into Himself for us.

This is the fulfilment of what was promised in the garden millennia before and reiterated many times throughout the millennia that preceded this “Great and terrible day of the Lord” of which Joel prophecies in Joel 2:31.

In Matthew 14:22-33 the disciples of Jesus were in a storm on the sea, thinking themselves alone. But the Lord Jesus came walking to them upon the water. When Peter realized that it was indeed the Lord, he asked whether the Lord would have him come to Him on the water. Such is the way of true faith.

True faith always hears the voice of the Lord and then asks what the Lord would have the person to do. The answer is always the same, “Come!”

The Lord has clearly told us that He is with us in every circumstance, every trial, every fearful reminder of the evil age in which we live. In every moment we may come to Him in prayer and in prayerful contemplation of the inspired words of Holy Scripture and in singing the hymns. Faith opens our eyes to see and our ears to hear and our hearts to believe the comforting voice of the Lord our God, our beloved Savior.

But like Peter, we are inclined to turn our eyes away and to heed the sound of the crashing waves. Then fear floods our hearts and minds and we cry out like Gordon Lightfoot: Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?

The truth is that the love of God has not gone anywhere. We are the ones who have turned from God’s love so that we can no longer see or hear or believe it.

But in a moment His love is restored to us when we hear His voice through the means that He has promised and ordained.

This is why the Liturgy has been given to us. No, not a particular ceremony pieced together by fallible men, but the form of true worship in spirit and in truth. This is why the Lord Christ ordained the Sacraments for the life of the Church. He ordained real means by which we would actually see and feel the Word coming to us and giving us the faith that we cannot obtain for ourselves. The Sacrament of the Altar is the ultimate proclamation of the Lord’s death till He comes. With the bread and the wine the Lord Jesus declares that we actually receive His body that unites us as one in Him and His blood by which we receive the forgiveness by which we have life itself. When we receive Jesus in the ways that He has ordained, then we truly know His presence with us throughout every moment of our lives and our fears are turned to confident faith for the facing of whatever waves may buffet us and the ships that we build for ourselves.

Our ships and houses and all of our works are easily destroyed by the tempests that come against us. But the works of the Lord are almighty and the one who trusts in His works is never left to wonder where the love of God has gone.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Giant Gator Tale

Or should that be Giant Gator Tail?

Below I have linked to the photos included in the article at OutdoorLife entitled: “Giant 1,000-Pound Class Florida Gator”. The article tells the story of the capture and kill of this giant monster. The tail, which is very good eating if prepared properly, is as large as a grown man. Read the story for yourself. The pictures are linked below.

Growing up in Orlando, I have seen many alligators, especially when fishing as a boy and young fella. In college I once tasted deep fried cubes of gator tail that some friends had prepared. They were very good.

At the seminary, professors warned of “alligators” in the parish. They spoke of tactics in attempting to “deal with the alligators.” There is even a book with that in the title, written by a so-called expert.

As these photographs show, the so-called alligators are not the real problem, not in the swamps of Florida nor in the parish.

The real problem is that alligators are a protected species, both in the Florida swamps and in the parish. At least a licence can be procured for the Florida swamps. Not so in the parishes of the churches of today.

Alligators can be fearsome monsters, especially when provoked. But the true parish pastor is fully equipped to deal with alligators, if he is permitted to do so.

Like this big brute, parish alligators can be worn down, overpowered, and slain. That is what the Law of God’s Word does. As I was once told, “Pastor, it’s not fair that you always quote the Scriptures. I can’t defend myself.”

But the true pastor is not satisfied with the death of the alligator. The true pastor is a slave of his Master, who desires that all the alligators be saved. Truly the alligator must be slain by the Law. But through the proclamation of the Gospel, the alligator can be resurrected to live the new life of peace and love.

Claws like these appear fearsome when used for destructive purposes. But alligators also use their claws to dig places for laying their eggs. In a similar way, those who previously lashed out against the pure Gospel and Sacraments can become great builders of peace and concord when the Word is preached purely and the Sacraments are administered as the Lord has ordained. Such is the way when the alligator is slain and resurrected with the heart and soul and mind of a sheep.

Sadly, the real dragons are those who forbid the pastor from using the fullness of the power of the Word to slay the alligators so as to resurrect them with the Gospel and the water of regeneration. Rather, those old dragons come after the pastors, driving them out or eventually slaying them.

Of course, no pastor should remain in an alligator infested swamp. Only a fool would build a shanty in which to live in the midst of a swamp full of alligators. Sheep don’t live in a swamp. Neither do shepherds.

But then, this is only an alligator tale. Right?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Congressional Switchboard

Has the Congressional Switchboard ever been as busy as in the last few years? Trying to dial the numbers for the Congressional Switchboard today yields a busy signal or the nasty 3 tone ear blast followed by “We’re sorry, all circuits are busy.”

An interesting aside was noted by a friend regarding one of the toll free numbers for the switchboard. The number is 877-762-8762. Using the keypad letters this spells 877 SOB U SOB, or Servants of Bankers You Servants of Bankers.

This is an interesting observation. One can hardly count it as funny, though.

At the pace that Congress is working to force new legislation into law, letters via the US Postal Service are too slow. Emails seem largely to be ignored. And the Congressional Switchboard is overloaded.

So the frustrated people of the country turn to talk radio where they pacify one another, telling each other that they are great Americans and the like.

More and more diatribe and lambasting is encouraged as banter and even more perverse, as making a difference. What should be acted upon is turned into a game, into word play. Talkers sign contracts for millions of dollars while those calling in are pacified and directed to useless tea parties and other impotent gatherings of noise makers who cry out about how their government is abusing them and bankrupting them. Meanwhile, those who actually take action by stepping outside the two party system are vilified or demeaned and diminished, if not completely ignored.

How many people have even heard of the recent bill that has been sponsored that calls for a complete audit of the international banking cartel known as the Federal Reserve? How many people have even heard of H.R. 1207: Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2009? Have the so-called conservative talk show hosts been discussing it? Have they encouraged people to consider the merits of this bill? Or is the traditional lambasting of the Democrats what they have promoted?

What value exists in lambasting others without taking decisive action oneself?

Where does all of the interest earned by the Federal Reserve go? The interest that is charged to the federal government should be accounted for, should it not? Does the Federal Reserve association of bankers pay taxes on its income? Why is the federal government charged interest on its own money in the first place? Does anyone keep track for the sake of the general welfare of the citizens of the nation? Why is HR 1207 not front page headline news?

Health Care Reform Criminals

PELOSI: Buy a $15,000 Policy or Go to Jail

JCT Confirms Failure to Comply with Democrats’ Mandate
Can Lead to 5 Years in Jail
Friday, November 06, 2009

Today, Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp (R-MI) released a letter from the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) confirming that the failure to comply with the individual mandate to buy health insurance contained in the Pelosi health care bill (H.R. 3962, as amended) could land people in jail. The JCT letter makes clear that Americans who do not maintain “acceptable health insurance coverage” and who choose not to pay the bill’s new individual mandate tax (generally 2.5% of income), are subject to numerous civil and criminal penalties, including criminal fines of up to $250,000 and imprisonment of up to five years.

This is the opening of a press release from yesterday sharing the intentions of those who are ramming the so-called health care reform down the throat of the US Constitution and the people it was written to protect.

For the full press release click here.

The actual November 5 letter from the Joint Committee on Taxation is available here.

An article on this subject, Health Care Reform Assumes Millions Would Pay Fine Rather Than Get Coverage shares similar information, prior to the disclosure of the severity of the intentions of those seeking to enslave the American people through the facade of health care reform (and economic bailouts, etc.).

An article in the Boston Globe, Penalties to rise for shunning insurance, gave warning of these intentions already in January of 2008!

Will the American people allow this to happen? Will they remain transfixed before the American idol of the television while the Congress and President and Judges and other servants of the Centralized Banking System take over the nation and the world? How long will the people hold to the tradition of the two party system that continues to dictate the same institutionalized puppets? Several so-called third parties continually offer candidates who pledge themselves to make a real difference, candidates who openly reject the way of international enslavement of the common people. Are these really Third Parties, or are they actually the true representatives of the liberties upon which this nation was founded? Are the so-called third parties really the muffled voice of the people? How long will the people continue to wear the muzzles that have been placed upon them, especially by the Republican Party?

If ALL of the people who claim to hold to the Constitution as the governing authority for the USA were to act in accord with their claim instead of continuing to vote for so-called conservatives or moderates within the Republican Party, if they stopped listening to the fraudulent pundits who insist that a third party choice is a bad choice and that the obstinate Republican party must be reformed, what would be the result? What would happen if even ten percent of Congress were replaced by third party candidates? But why stop at ten percent?

More importantly, how long will the American people allow those who currently hold office to violate blatantly the oath of office that was taken? How long will they allow such criminals to continue without being held accountable? After all, who is the real criminal: the American citizen who believes that health care should be under one’s own jurisdiction, or the Congressman or Czar who manipulates the law to work against the Constitutionally provided freedoms of the people? Or is the real criminal the American citizen who continues to vote the political criminals into office? Ultimately, it will be the American citizens who pay the penalties.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Perhaps a person may ask why the Republican Party should be addressed so strongly and nothing be said concerning the Democrat Party. The answer is that the Democrats openly show themselves as proponents of destruction. They are so overt in their actions that no one ever accuses them of being “conservative” or “originalist”. The Republican Party, however, continues to be labeled as the bastion of conservativism and of Constitutional governance and of small government and the like. Yet the Republican Party continues to lead quietly and even covertly in the same globalist path as the Democrat Party. There are a few within the party who cry out, but they do not rise within the party, or they eventually conform to the facade.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Lord’s Diner

Here in Wichita the Roman Catholic Diocese operates a charity named The Lord’s Diner . Information about this “soup kitchen” is available at their web site.

The diner has operated for a number of years, serving evening meals 365 days per year, with the numbers ranging from 400-500 per day. The diner has become an object of controversy by expressing a desire to establish a second location with the desire of providing more meals to more of the city’s needy. Some folk in the second area have objected to this, as is reported in the Wichita Eagle’s Tuesday edition entitled, “City sets public hearing on controversial Lord's Diner location for Nov. 17”.

The building is owned by the city. It is currently vacant, but some would like to see the building used for other purposes, including a job training center.

One very disturbing comment is reported to have been put forth by Kevin Myles, president of the Wichita chapter of the NAACP. The Eagle reports that he “said he wants the city to consider an alternative where the Diner delivers its prepared meals to churches throughout the central northeast neighborhood.”

This is a disturbing notion. Why? This is a privately operated charitable soup kitchen. That the NAACP should suggest that the city government should dictate to a private organization how it may conduct its charitable work is disturbing, even frightening. Perhaps Mr. Myles will realize this when given time to think about his stated desire. Surely he would not consider this to be appropriate if someone were to suggest that the city government dictate to the NAACP how it may operate and conduct its work. But when tyranny rules over one group, it can rule over all.

Another disturbing comment is reported to have been stated by Council member Lavonta Williams. The Eagle reports: “She proposed a public hearing be set for Nov. 17, instead of Nov. 3, as city staff proposed. And she indicated that she supports the Diner but questions the location when the city is trying to improve the area and has discussed a job training center at the building. "You can give a person a fish and they'll eat for a day but if you teach them to fish they'll eat for a lifetime," she said.

Why are these comments disturbing? First, it is delusional to imagine that a job training center will help people who are hungry now. It is furthermore delusional to imagine that spending money on a job training center will help the jobless when the availability of jobs continues to decline. The Lord’s Diner is offering to pay the city to use the building, and further to provide meals to people who are hungry.

Council member Williams quotes the cliche about teaching a person to fish, without taking into account the futility of such training. This cliche very accurately manifests the thoughtlessness of such propositions. Teaching a person to fish, does not make fishing possible where it is illegal to fish without purchasing a licence. If the people had money for a fishing licence, they could buy quite a few fish. Moreover there are legal restrictions placed upon where fishing may occur and how many fish may be caught and kept.

The point is that a job training center does a hungry person no immediate good, especially when this training center is being proposed as an alternative to a group who is offering free food now. Perhaps Councilwoman Williams has never been hungry. It is unlikely that anyone who knows the pain of hunger, the hunger that comes from poverty and helplessness, would ever imagine such a suggestion to be worthy of consideration or even mention. Certainly a job training center is a good idea for assisting people to prepare for the future, but not as a substitute for a group who is working to provide for the immediate needs of people who could starve or become weakened before any training would benefit them.

The area of town where The Lord’s Diner wants to operate the second soup kitchen is an area where many hungry people currently reside and traverse. Those who have expressed concern over having homeless people and other needy people congregating to be fed would do well to consider that desperately hungry people are far more likely to get into trouble than those who are congregating with the hope of receiving a meal to fill their bellies. People with the promise of receiving a meal may mill about, but those who have no such promise often will look with envy upon those who have something.

How much better it would be if the kind folk who operate and volunteer to serve in The Lord’s Diner were left in peace to carry on with their acts of compassion without interference from others.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Comfort of Romans 8:28

     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.

This is a truly comforting passage from God’s Holy Scripture. These words, recorded by the Apostle Paul, speak to our hearts in times of trouble, in times of deepest distress, when we imagine that the darkness that fills this world and the days of this evil age is too great to endure.

This particular verse is magnified by the words that follow:
     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. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (Romans 8:28-34)

When examined in the greater context of the entire epistle, verse 28 becomes so much greater than the darkness of our times that the light of God’s grace fills us with hope that cannot be extinguished. For that light and that hope are from everlasting, even from eternity.

Following the word order our passage is translated:
     “Moreover, we know that to those loving God all things He works together (synergizes) into good according to the setting forth called being.”

Synergei, which means synergize or work together, is third person and singular. This is why we know what we know about these things, because they do not work together for our good on their own, but rather, God synergizes them into good for us. God is at work in the midst of absolutely everything that is happening and He synergizes all things with His good and gracious will for us so that they must turn out for good to us.

This, St. Paul informs us, is the synergy that God works “according to the setting forth called being.” This is an ancient way of speaking, going back to the very first recorded Scriptures from Moses. (Exodus 29:23; 40:4 & 23; Leviticus 24:8) This “setting forth” is the exact same term used for the shewbread that the Lord set forth to be continually before Him in the Sanctuary. This shewbread is the body of the Lord Jesus, who stands in the presence of God interceding for us. This is the body of Christ that is given in and with the shewbread that is broken and distributed in the Sacrament of the Altar in the divine service each Lord’s Day. This is what makes us the “according to the setting forth called being.” This is what makes us truly to be the body of Christ, gathered in His name. According to the body of Christ in the Sacrament, we are the called being.

Truly this is terribly wonderful! For not one thing of this depends upon what we do. Rather, everything that we do as the body of Christ, the “called being”, depends upon the “according to the setting forth,” the shewbread that is on the altar for the priests of the New Testament to partake. Yes, as St. Peter says in 1 Peter 2:9, we are the “royal priesthood” for whom the shewbread is reserved. Thus we are maintained in the Holy Communion of God to partake of all good things in communion with Him. As such we have been generated through Baptism as “those loving God.”

It is through Baptism that we are “conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” It is through the blessed Sacrament of the Altar that we are maintained in His image as His brethren.

Because these Sacraments are God’s synergism and not ours, because He is the one who joins the natural elements to the power of His command and promise, they accomplish the good that He has purposed for us. And since all things are synergized by God according to this setting forth of the body of Christ for us, all things are worked together into good for us. God works all these things together to call us to repent of our own efforts and our own goodness so that we trust Him to be our God and Savior and rely upon Him for all that we need both of body and soul. As long as we continue in the synergism that God works for us, everything is good.

This is why St. Paul warns in 1 Corinthians 11:29 “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” For it is not possible to receive God’s holy synergism except in accord with His setting forth in the body of Christ gathered as the “called being.” If we do not discern the body of Christ, how can we be gathered as the body of Christ? If we are not gathered as the body of Christ, how can we partake of the good things that are offered only in His body? But, rightly discerning the body of Christ, we continue in the communion of the saints, the called being, those loving God. Then we truly know that God is synergizing all things into good for us. Then we abide in the complete and absolute confidence of His grace, mercy, and peace, even when everything around us appears to be darkness and dread.

Nutrition and Mental Health

The following video can also be viewed in full screen at The Truth about MSG Monosodium Glutamate Clinical Nutrition.

Here Dr. Vincent Bellonzi speaks to the issue of excitotoxins that are added to processed foods and the effects that they produce in the human body, especially in neurotransmitter function. Some of the neurological symptoms/diseases that he addresses include autism, depression, obstruction of clear thinking, emotion instability, irrational behavior, migraines, and attention deficit disorder. Diabetes and obesity are also included in this presentation.

Dr. Bellonzi’s web site, for further information, is

For information regarding the many ways that the chemical additives are listed (disguised) as ingredients on labels, check out the information provided at This site also has information regarding MedImmune’s H1N1 vaccine.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

More than Conquerors

     Hupernikomen = we are over/above conquerors

      For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (2 Corinthians 4:5-11)

     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. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:28-39)

     We Are Above Conquerors!

      The victory is not in the temporal things but over and beyond the temporal. For the temporal does not endure, but fades. The everlasting, THE EVERLASTING, God Himself, is our victory.

     "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."

     Consider what this means. We are MORE than conquerors. We are above-conquerors! We are those for whom the victory has been won. We are the kings for whom the servant-warrior went forth and won the everlasting battle. We don't have to fight. We are more than conquerors. We are the ones for whom the battle has been fought and we now live in the victory that has been won.

      And so, like dear Stephen, even as the stones strike us and beat us down in the flesh, we look to the right hand of God and see the place that the man, Jesus, holds for us. We see that our place has already been won for us, purchased and held by the presence of Jesus at the right hand of God. Man now rules the universe in the union of the God/Man Jesus. The Lord Jesus has ruled as God from eternity, but with His ascension in the flesh to the right hand of power, He also rules as Man, our brother in the flesh, the first fruit of the resurrection, in whom we have our share in the resurrection and the kingdom of glory.

      This is what empowers us to live in absolute confidence. For Christ not only won the victory over sin for us by His suffering and death on the cross, but He rose from the dead, with His body, into which He incorporates us through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. He rose to verify our new life in Him as the Son of Man risen from the dead, joined with the Son of God everlastingly as one in the flesh. There is no power that can separate or dissolve this union. And thus, when we are conjoined with Christ through Baptism, as long as we do not surrender the faith that He has poured out to us, there is no power that can separate us from the love of God, for as St. Paul concludes, the love of God is in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have been conjoined. As long as we do not choose to separate ourselves from Christ, no power in heaven or on earth can or will separate us from God's love. The victory is in Christ Jesus, who rules on our behalf at the right hand of power. Truly, we are more than conquerors through the one having loved us.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lean on Me

“Lean on Me” is a song that I always enjoyed immensely, until today.

Today I truly listened to what this song says, what this song teaches.

"Lean on Me" is of a shallow and selfish nature. Think about it. Lean on me, for now, eventually I'll need someone to lean on and then it will be time for you to repay me by letting me lean on you. What about the fact that this person is already weak and needy? What happens when this person does not become strong enough to allow the other person to lean on the weak one. Then both are weak and the first weak person must flee to keep from being crushed by the second weak person or the two fall together and are injured even more.

The love of Jesus is such that He says, "Lean on me, I will never let you down. Lean on me and I will hold you up forever and carry you through all of your trials and struggles. Lean on me, for I have taken your burdens for you and in turn, I give you my light burden and my easy yoke of the Gospel. Lean on me, lonely brother, lean on me now and forevermore. I will never be weak. I will never be selfish. I will never grow tired of holding you up. Lean on me, lonely brother. I will never abandon you. No matter how badly you fail, turn to me and lean on me. I am here for you, always. I am your friend, even when you forget me.”

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Jesus is the friend who comes to us even before we call. He calls to us, calling us out of the darkness of our weakness and despair. He calls to us so that hearing Him our troubles fade from our hearts and minds as we hear the comforting words of His grace, mercy, and peace. He calls to us and we hear the promise of forgiveness and healing and life everlasting. These are the things that He carried into the world from heaven in His own body to exchange on the cross for our miserable condition. He took our burdens so that the burdens that He carried into the world for us would be made to be ours through the faith that He authors and perfects for us, through the yoke of the Gospel and Baptism, and through the burden of the eating and drinking of the Supper of forgiveness, renewal, and life.

It is in His body, as members of His body, that we, then, lift up one another and carry one another’s burdens.

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:1-2)

“Bear ye one another’s burdens.” Of which burdens does the apostle speak? “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. ” Our faults, our sinful desires and actions, our selfish inaction and cravings, these are what bring us down. These are what we are to address as unbearable burdens and to carry for one another.

This the apostle explains more fully, saying:

For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. (Galatians 6:3-5)

These burdens are truly unbearable, not only for the one who is brought low, but also by all of the rest of us poor sinners. We cannot bear even our own faults, so how can we bear the faults of one another?

This why St. Paul instructs that we approach one another in meekness to restore one another to be truly spiritual. In other words, we are to pick up our brethren in the Lord and carry them to the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, where the person is restored again to the likeness of God, free of the burdens of the sinfulness that we have inherited from Adam. We pick up our brethren and carry them to the Lord, who then takes their burdens from them and gives them the healing of heart, body, mind, and soul.

The Lord Jesus comes to us in the water in which we have been treading. We have been treading for a long time. Perhaps we even made for ourselves or purchased for ourselves a kind of floatation vest that over time has become tattered and is becoming water logged. We are about to go under the water for the last time as Jesus comes to us in the water and tells us that He has brought with Him something that will preserve us. He takes His own robe, His own skin, from His body, strips us of our devices, and covers us with His bloody robe of salvation. He assures us that this robe will keep us above the water. He further assures us that when the wind blows us to the shore and we walk up out of the water that this robe will protect us from the scorching sun (the attacks of the world) and from the freezing cold (the loneliness and rejection) and from the fiery darts (the temptations and trials) and from the flames (the despair and the hot passions and desires).

When we begin to imagine that this robe is too restraining and we take it off and then succumb to our faults again, our brethren meekly come to us and pick us up and bring us back to the water’s edge, where we confess our stupid rebellion and the Lord restores us by placing His robe of righteousness upon us again with the Holy Absolution. Then He raises us up and we humbly walk with hearts filled with thanksgiving and joy to partake of the Supper of the Lord’s Holy Communion, restored to the life that we share with our brethren in the Lord’s body.

So, brother, don’t lean on me, except to crawl with me back to the water’s edge to be restored by the one who is truly our friend, who gives Himself completely for us and to us. If you want to lean on me, you’ll have to fall to your knees to do so. You’ll have to join me in and with the same broken and contrite spirit that I have. So, please brother, do call me and lean on me, for you then will find yourself stooping down with the humbleness of spirit that leaves you with only one place to fix your gaze, upward to the one who was raised up for our salvation. Then together we will lean on Him and receive His strength and be carried through every trial and struggle unto the final day of salvation.

(By the way, I still like this song, only no longer immensely. I see its faults, but I still appreciate the fact that it causes me to think of my and your true friend, Jesus, on whom we truly may lean with complete confidence, and who continually calls to us bidding us to do so.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Church versus Movement

What does it mean when a church begins to refer to its church body as a movement?

The congregation in which my wife and I were married, where my mother-in-law is a member, a congregation that has changed so much that we no longer recognize it, has this statement on its web site:

Holy Cross is associated with other Christians world-wide in a movement known as the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS).

What does this mean? Perhaps the movement is the direction that is being taken that moves the people farther and farther in a new direction. Perhaps it means that the congregation and church body are moving away from what they once believed, taught, confessed, and practiced to what is counted as an improvement upon their past moorings.

Perhaps the rest of the material presented on the homepage for Holy Cross helps to illustrate what is meant by being a movement.

Perhaps the link to the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) provides insight. On this page I noticed a new format and new links. Interestingly one of the new information blurbs, or advertisements, regards the inclusion of “Time of Grace” on the KFUO broadcasting schedule. Time of Grace previously was advertised on the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod home page. The WELS home page no longer promotes Time of Grace, a program produced by a WELS pastor and congregation. But the LC-MS has “moved” toward promoting it on its radio programming. WELS moved somewhat away from the promotion of Jeske and the LC-MS moved toward promoting Jeske.

In contrast to the notion of movement is what the Lord Jesus says concerning His Church. He says:

Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)

Christ, the Son of the Living God, says that He is the builder of His Church and that He builds it upon the rock of this confession. Accordingly, He builds His Church to be immovable, standing even against all the works of the devil, standing unmoved by the coaxing of the gates of hell.

So when a congregation or church body begins to speak of an identity that is equated with a movement, what does this really mean? What are those who are speaking really saying about themselves and the direction in which they are choosing to move?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Exciting Glory of the Gospel

Today’s sermon text was so exciting to me as the sermon developed in the writing of it that when I finished I could hardly wait to preach it! How wonderful, exciting, and glorious is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ!

2 Samuel 22:21-29 — “The Lord Rewarded Me According to My Righteousness”

HTML Sermon

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MP3 Sermon

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Agreeing to Disagree

A statement that is very commonly heard today, especially among people discussing their confessions of faith, is “We will agree to disagree.”

Do the people who make this statement even realize what it is that they are saying?

What they are really saying is that despite whatever things that they discuss and debate that they really are in agreement after all. What is the basis of their agreement? They agree that none of the things about which they disagree really matter.

When people say that they will agree to disagree, what they are saying is that they do not count these matters as important enough to press to the point that the other person is left with only two possible responses: either to abandon the belief that has been erroneously held and to come into agreement with the truth; or to reject what the other person believes and to reject the person who presses it as absolute truth.

This kind of conviction regarding what is believed is completely abandoned when people agree to disagree. Such an agreement is an agreement that the areas of disagreement really do not matter beyond being the expression of one’s personal opinion. Therefore the two parties can continue to be friends in the agreement that these matters are not of any real importance. They have agreed that there is nothing so important as to argue to the point of absolute agreement, and so they absolutely agree that nothing is to be absolutely rejected.

I, for one, do not agree.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Do You Renounce

In the rite of Holy Baptism the person who is baptized is asked to confess the Christian faith, which includes the following statement and vow as the very first:

Do you renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways?

What are the works of the devil and all his ways? What does a person renounce with this vow?

Is compromise of doctrine a work or way of the devil?

Is compromise of practice a work or way of the devil?

Is acceptance of divisions in a congregation or church body, divisions that stem from divided understanding of doctrine and administration of the Sacraments, is this acceptance or tolerance a work or way of the devil?

Do you renounce?

Is this for real? Do people actually mean anything when they make this promise? Do people really mean that they reject the devil and his works and his ways and refuse to have anything to do with them?

Do you renounce?

How far does this question reach? After all, if this is treated seriously, it will completely change a person’s life. If this is treated seriously, it will affect every earthly relationship that the person has. If this is treated seriously, many former associations will also be renounced. If this is treated seriously, the person will be treading a very narrow path through life.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105)

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (Matthew 7:13-15)

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:1-6)

Do you renounce?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

For Thou Art Great

For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone. (Psalm 86:10)

Truly God is great! Out of nothing He created the heavens and the earth and all that exists therein. He created the angels as ministering servants. He created man, perfect and holy, to live in His Holy Communion forever.

But mankind fell into temptation and chose the way of destruction rather than the way of life.

God has demonstrated the extent of His greatness by going far beyond the marvelous works of creation. For God has done a far greater thing in the redemption and salvation and sanctification of sinners. God has redeemed that which could not be redeemed. He bought back His sons from the condemnation of their rejection of His goodness. Those who were lost and beyond redemption, those who had entered again into the chaos of unbelief and sin, God redeemed with His own blood. Having redeemed them, He also called them out of the darkness of their sin and unbelief to be recreated again in His image. He established for them His Church on earth so that they would have a place of gathering into which He would continually gather them to receive the means by which He regenerates them and renews them. In this Church He washes them and gives to them new spirits that live in His holiness, thus sanctifying them through the justification that He declares in connection with the atonement of the cross of Christ crucified. He feeds them with His Word and with His own body and blood to keep them in this new life that flows from Him.

Truly this is far greater even than calling into existence out of nothing the cosmos. For in this He takes filthy sinners who have been corrupted in their very nature and regenerates them with new hearts of faith to live again in that which their corrupted nature despises and hates. He takes enemies and makes them His friends. He takes the irreconcilable and reconciles them to Himself.

Truly it is marvelous that in the beginning He made a perfect world from nothing, a world that He declared to be in every way, good, including the first couple of the human race. But how much more marvelous it is that from those who had become completely evil, God has brought forth those whom He once again may and does declare to be in every way, good! Even more marvelous still is that He works this in His Church on earth where His little congregation is continually persecuted and opposed by the world!

Yes, truly Lord, Thou art Great!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Be Nice to Me

Today the lady at the blood donation center put this little sticker on my shirt, saying that now people would have to be nice to me. She said, just point to the sticker, it says so.

This sounds silly to hear. The sticker obviously does not have the power to make people obey the command that is written upon it.

Yet people treat the Law of God in this way, imagining that by quoting the Commandments that people’s lives will be changed. Preachers hold the statements of what God says should be and imagine that doing so will change people’s hearts and minds.

But the power for salvation, the power that regenerates the heart and mind is the Gospel. The power for a new life is the power of God, the Word made flesh, who perfectly obeyed the will of the Father and lived without yielding to the power of sin. He defeated sin. He defeated all the powers of wickedness and disobedience. He overpowered all that works against us. He did so not with commandments, but with love. He is love, and He gave Himself as a sacrifice for sin so that sin would be destroyed by His sacrifice.

Preachers imagine that it is their job to teach people how to live. But this is a false understanding of the preaching office. Preachers are ordained to preach the one who is life. It is in receiving Him through the ordained means that life is restored to people dead in their sins. The life that is lost on account of sin can be restored only through the one who takes the sin of the world. Jesus takes our sin and gives to us in its place His life of holiness. He imparts to us the forgiveness that He purchased with His suffering and death. He raises us up to the new life that He guaranteed by rising from the dead. He rules our hearts by the Gospel and the Sacraments that He entrusted to His Church on earth and by the Holy Spirit who is poured out to us in Baptism. He keeps us united in His body and in His forgiveness and new life through the Holy Communion. Living each day in the knowledge of this that we receive by faith is what preachers are ordained to teach and proclaim.

This, then, is truly teaching people how to live, by grace, through faith. This is what is taught from the cross where God is nice to us, saying, for you I gave blood today. And He continues to give His blood for us in the supper of forgiveness and life so that we may truly learn how to live.

VBS Crock

It seems that Lutherans have largely forgotten who they are. It seems that Lutherans have forgotten why they are Lutherans. This is demonstrated quite clearly in the crock of Vacation Bible Study programs that Lutherans are using these days. The congregation in which I was raised is a prime example. My “home” congregation is known as Trinity Downtown , formerly known as Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church. The shift from Evangelical Lutheran has taken many years, but now seems to be complete.

The following is the web site’s summary “update” stating the completed activities and fulfilled objectives of the VBS program for 2009:

Vacation Bible School
Crocodile Dock - UPDATE
Vacation Bible School 2009 ended July 24, but the memories and experiences of seeing God everywhere will continue. Approximately 100 children everyday learned how to be fearless kids shining the love of God. We collected well over a hundred canned goods for the food pantries; dozens of bottles of bug spray for Compassion Corner to distribute; children’s vitamins for Hands of Mercy mission in Sudan; and diapers for BETA house. The children made 200 stuffed turtles for Operation Kid-to-Kid, a mission of care and love for children suffering natural disasters. What a great week!

The VBS theme of the Group Ministries materials is restated in this update:

“Approximately 100 children everyday learned how to be fearless kids shining the love of God.”

Is anything missing from this theme?

Is the Gospel in anyway whatsoever even mentioned? Is the name of salvation mentioned as being taught to the children as even a sub-theme? Were the blessings of Baptism in any way a part of what the children were taught? How exactly are the children to be “fearless?” Is this fearlessness the gift of God that accompanies the good conscience of 1 Peter 3:21? What is the source of this fearlessness, since no mention is made of Jesus or the Holy Spirit or the Father or even of God, how did the children see God everywhere? Since the means of grace by which God makes Himself known are not mentioned, how were the children taught to see God? Since the means by which God promises to come to His children with His love are not mentioned, since the means by which God’s love shines in the world are not mentioned, how were the children taught to shine with God’s love? What does this notion mean apart from the means of grace declared in the Holy Scriptures?

Is this what the congregation professes to be? Is this what the congregation has bound itself to teach and practice?

From the constitution of the congregation:

In the church and public services of this congregation purely Lutheran hymns, and in all ministerial acts purely Lutheran forms only shall be used. Thus, also, in the parochial school, besides the Holy Scriptures and Luther's Small Catechism, such books only as are purely Lutheran shall be introduced and used for instruction in Christian doctrine, and all other books used in the school shall be free from everything which is in variance with Lutheran doctrine.


Of this constitution, paragraphs 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15,16, 17, and 19 shall be unalterable and irrepealable.

Is there a conflict between what Paragraph 12 states regarding the doctrinal literature used in the congregation and school and the materials purchased and utilized in this VBS program?

These materials are produced by Group Publishing. Group’s Statement of Faith says:

Statement of Faith

What we believe:

We believe the Bible is the inspired, authoritative Word of God.

We believe there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, in his virgin birth, in his sinless life, in his death on the cross, in his bodily resurrection, in his ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in his personal return.

We believe people receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life through Jesus.

Group’s mission:
We equip churches to help children, youth
and adults grow in their relationship with Jesus.

Does this sound like what is stated in Paragraph 12 of the congregation’s constitution? Does this sound like literature that is purely Lutheran? Where are the means of grace? Where is the need for the proclamation of the Gospel? Where is the Holy Spirit’s work of calling, gathering, enlightening, sanctifying and preserving in the one true faith? Where is any declaration of how the salvation that is through Jesus is imputed to those who would receive His forgiveness and eternal life?

According to Group, faith grows through serving others:

Group's Faith In Action

We don’t just say it. We do it!

At Group, hammering nails, painting porches and meeting
practical needs have just as much to do with serving churches as creating books, magazines and curriculum. Each year, more than 20,000 youth and their leaders venture across the U.S. and beyond to grow in their faith by serving others. Whether it’s building wheelchair ramps, insulating drafty trailer homes, working at a homeless shelter, or running a VBS, participants shine the love of Jesus in every dark corner they can find.

Thus, Group teaches that doing good works is the means by which a person’s faith grows.

How do Lutherans teach that faith grows? Lutherans teach in accord with what the Scriptures declare, and as the one holy catholic Church has confessed in the Ecumenical Creeds, that faith grows not through one’s own works, but through the works that the Holy Spirit works through the preaching of the Gospel and through the Sacraments. The Third Article of the Creed directs us to this for our comfort and assurance. Luther beautifully expounds upon this in his explanation to the Third Article, saying:

The Third Article declares:

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.

Luther explains:

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.

What a marvelous contrast! One way is pure grace, the other way is completely dependent upon the works and efforts of the individual.

Does it really matter whether pure Lutheran literature is used? Without a doubt!

The literature published by Group always directs away from depending upon the grace of God in Christ. It always directs to little programs and projects of service as the means by which a person convinces oneself that faith is alive and growing. Pure Lutheran literature always directs away from one’s own works and efforts so as to direct us to the pure grace of God in Christ as our only source of hope and comfort. Then we see God being present in the means by which He has ordained. Therefore we do not need to look for Him everywhere, because we actually receive Him through the means of grace. Then, rather than working to become fearless kids who shine the love of God, rather, we take comfort in the promises of God in our baptism and in the Holy Communion and in the pure preaching of the Gospel. Then we rest in His peace rather than working to become certain of our faith. When God is the one who works our faith for us, all that we need to do is what St. Paul writes to the Philippians, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. What this means is to be certain that we truly are receiving our understanding only through pure Lutheran literature, which always teaches us to trust in God’s grace in Christ. Then we truly are fearless because we realize that in Christ we have no cause to be afraid. (Rom. 8)

So then, why do congregations like the one in which I was raised, Trinity Downtown in Orlando (LC-MS), and Risen Savior in Orlando (WELS), as well as congregations in many places and denominations, use materials from Group, materials that they have promised not to use? Is it because of laziness? Perhaps, but more likely it is simply because they trust in cutesy gimmicks rather than in the Word. If they trusted in the Word they would actually use the Word. But they choose these cutesy cartoons and silly little projects rather than the Word. They hold onto the name of Lutheran for the sake of their tradition and heritage, but they use the methods and doctrine and practice of the preachers of faith by works. Lutherans teach as the Scriptures do, that works are the result of faith, not that faith is the result of works.

So, what is VBS today anyway? The letters stand for Vacation Bible School. This seems to be appropriate, for what is taught does seem to be a vacation from the doctrine of the Bible. But what sort of vacation is that? After all, it is the clear doctrine of the Bible that assures us of God’s love. It is the clear and unadulterated doctrine of the Scriptures that comforts us with the merits of Jesus as the cause of our forgiveness and salvation and new life of peace and hope and joy.

The Holy Spirit continually calls us to congregate to enter into the vacation that God provides, also called the Sabbath. He calls us regularly to take a vacation from the cutesy things that have no substance and have no power to give hope and peace. He calls us regularly to take a vacation from our own self-delusions and our own corrupt and frail efforts at holiness and goodness. He calls us to take a vacation from the lies and the disappointments of the world. He calls us to take a vacation from our own failures. He calls us to receive the holiness offered in Holy Baptism. He calls us to partake of the meal of life. He calls us to step out of the struggles and stresses of daily living in this world of sin and sorrow to rest in the mercy of Almighty God.

Why would anyone choose gimmicks over what the Lord provides? Why would anyone choose works over the freely bestowed gifts that God provides through the means of grace? Why would anyone choose anything other than what is taught and given in the pure Lutheran literature?

As for me and my house, we will continue in the vacation that the Lord provides.

(All images are from Group’s free downloads in connection with the CrocodileDock VBS page. The noticeable absence of anything relating to God, Christ, or the Gospel is not by choice but according to what was provided at the site at the time of downloading.)