Friday, December 31, 2010

The Reason for the Season - Revisited

With the Season of Christmas upon us, my thoughts ran once again to the saying: “Jesus is the Reason for the Season!” In 2006 I wrote on this in the post: The Reason for the Season.

This year I have revisited those thoughts, yesterday even as I climbed and trimmed a large oak tree, and I realized something more. Previously I had concluded that Jesus is not the reason for the season, but we are, as I explain in my 2006 post. But as I pondered this anew, reflecting in part upon the fact that most people do not even know when the season of Christmas begins, as well as the good intentioned invention of the misguided slogan that Jesus is the reason for the season, I came to realize that Jesus IS the Season!

Much more can be said in this regard, but for now, it is worthy of pondering that Jesus is the season and we are the reason.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Let’s Argue!

What kind of a fool sees an argument in progress and imagines that he can enter into it peacefully? What kind of a fool imagines that something productive can come from an argument? What kind of a fool imagines that his opponent in an argument will actually listen?

This is what I am asking regarding myself.

I cannot count the number of arguments in which I have been a participant. Was anything ever accomplished? Was there ever a positive outcome?

What a fool!

What is the purpose of an argument? To WIN! To press one’s position over another person’s position! To show oneself to be right or more right (as if there were such a thing) than another. To show oneself to be smarter. To prove . . . whatever.

Does anyone truly listen in an argument?

Only a fool expects to be heard in an argument.

As soon as true listening or hearing takes place, the argument is over.

Once listening begins, arguing ceases and discussion begins.

But listening requires voluntary subjugation to another. Listening requires counting the other person as more important than self.

Is there any place among saints for arguing?


(1 Samuel 26:21) Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly.

(2 Samuel 3:33) And the king lamented over Abner, and said, Died Abner as a fool dieth?

(Psalms 14:1) To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

(Psalms 49:10) For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others.

(Psalms 53:1) To the chief Musician upon Mahalath, Maschil, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.

(Psalms 92:6) A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this.

(Proverbs 7:22) He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks;

(Proverbs 10:8) The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.

(Proverbs 10:10) He that winketh with the eye causeth sorrow: but a prating fool shall fall.

(Proverbs 10:18) He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.

(Proverbs 10:23) It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.

(Proverbs 11:29) He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.

(Proverbs 12:15) The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.

(Proverbs 12:16) A fool's wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.

(Proverbs 13:16) Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge: but a fool layeth open his folly.

(Proverbs 14:16) A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.

(Proverbs 15:5) A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.

(Proverbs 17:7) Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.

(Proverbs 17:10) A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.

(Proverbs 17:12) Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly.

(Proverbs 17:16) Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?

(Proverbs 17:21) He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy.

(Proverbs 17:24) Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.

(Proverbs 17:28) Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.

(Proverbs 18:2) A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.

(Proverbs 18:6) A fool's lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes.

(Proverbs 18:7) A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.

(Proverbs 19:1) Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.

(Proverbs 19:10) Delight is not seemly for a fool; much less for a servant to have rule over princes.

(Proverbs 20:3) It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.

(Proverbs 23:9) Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.

(Proverbs 24:7) Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate.

(Proverbs 26:1) As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.

(Proverbs 26:3) A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool's back.

(Proverbs 26:4) Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

(Proverbs 26:5) Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

(Proverbs 26:6) He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off the feet, and drinketh damage.

(Proverbs 26:8) As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.

(Proverbs 26:10) The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.

(Proverbs 26:11) As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.

(Proverbs 26:12) Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

(Proverbs 27:3) A stone is heavy, and the sand weighty; but a fool's wrath is heavier than them both.

(Proverbs 27:22) Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.

(Proverbs 28:26) He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.

(Proverbs 29:11) A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.

(Proverbs 29:20) Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

(Proverbs 30:22) For a servant when he reigneth; and a fool when he is filled with meat;

(Ecclesiastes 2:14) The wise man's eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all.

(Ecclesiastes 2:15) Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity.

(Ecclesiastes 2:16) For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? as the fool.

(Ecclesiastes 2:19) And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity.

(Ecclesiastes 4:5) The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh.

(Ecclesiastes 5:3) For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words.

(Ecclesiastes 6:8) For what hath the wise more than the fool? what hath the poor, that knoweth to walk before the living?

(Ecclesiastes 7:6) For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.

(Ecclesiastes 10:2) A wise man's heart is at his right hand; but a fool's heart at his left.

(Ecclesiastes 10:3) Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom faileth him, and he saith to every one that he is a fool.

(Ecclesiastes 10:12) The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself.

(Ecclesiastes 10:14) A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him?

(Jeremiah 17:11) As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.

(Hosea 9:7) The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come; Israel shall know it: the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred.

(Matthew 5:22) But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

(Luke 12:20) But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

(1 Corinthians 3:18) Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

(1 Corinthians 15:36) Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:

(2 Corinthians 11:16) I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little.

(2 Corinthians 11:23) Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.

(2 Corinthians 12:6) For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.

(2 Corinthians 12:11) I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.

Worthless Seminary Stuff

Today I reached the final stage of weariness regarding piles of junk in my office. Piles of useless material from the seminary using up vital space that I need.

I began sorting books. I am amazed at how much stuff I accumulated, junk that I was taught, and then junk that I have kept and transported multiple times.

Most of what I am discarding has absolutely nothing to do with the pastoral office or the preaching of the Gospel. “Purposeful Parish Administration,” has not one word about the means of grace. Every concept is secular and worldly. I am discarding dozens of books like this.

How I wish that the seminaries were preparing men to be effective pastors. But that would require a change in the church bodies. For what good would it be to prepare men to be true pastors in church bodies that do not want pastors of this understanding.

The LC-MS spent several decades eliminating such pastors. The WELS has been equally vigorous. The ELCA never even knew what such pastors were. So the seminaries have gone through the motions of talking theology, but also preparing the students to function as CEO’s and spiritual activity coordinators.

The men who believe that the pastoral office is more than this have been persecuted and driven out or starved out of the parishes of the church bodies that pretended to want them. The CEO’s are thriving. The spiritual activity coordinators are thriving. The churches are dying.

Why on earth did I hang on to these worthless books for all of these years? “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” I spent a lot of money on those stupid books. I spent many hours reading them, studying them, and being tested on their worthless theories and strategies.

Yep. It is certainly long past time that I be rid of them. I am quite pleased to learn how good it feels. Purging out the old leaven only seems painful. It is actually very refreshing.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Miracle of Safety

In my daily encounters, I meet many people who have had serious injuries due to accidents of various kinds. One gentleman whom I met recently has told me of his most recent injury, requiring rotator cuff surgery. Yesterday he responded that he was hurting quite badly when I asked how he is doing. He said that changes in the weather cause his leg to hurt badly as years ago he fell from the back of a flatbed truck and broke his leg in eight places.

We tend not to realize how extremely frail our bodies are. It is truly a miracle that our bodies do not fall apart. We put our bodies through terrible tests and ordinarily they hold up. This is a miracle!

In my life I cannot count the times that I have had things happen, often by my own negligence, that could have caused me serious injury. In fact, by all rational explanation, these things should have caused me untold harm. The only explanation is that God intervened and kept me safe. Either by direct intervention and protection or through an angel, God has prevented harm from coming to me on many occasions where there is no explanation according to the physical laws of this world.

Sometimes I have thought that by being careful I have remained safe. That is simply idolatry. Certainly it is God’s will that I be careful and not tempt Him regarding my safety. Nevertheless, my caution and carefulness do not keep me from harm. God does.

This awareness is humbling. It is also cause for rejoicing. Such awareness gives understanding to the proper fear of God. What if God for even a moment withdrew His hand, His power? This is what we sinful humans express as our desire whenever we turn from Him so as to commit sin. This is what most people do with their life choices and their daily ignorance. Truly this is cause for terrible fear. Yet God, in His mercy, preserves the world, until the Gospel is preached and heard by all who will be saved. In our daily lives He gives us opportunity to see His gracious intervention on our behalf. Sometimes in big ways that we can only explain as miracles, other times He simply provides for us and keeps our bodies from falling to pieces, which we tend not even to notice.

Truly, in every way, our safety, our health, our happiness, our general welfare, is a miracle.

Good Health and Superfoods

Here is an interesting article that lists some common food items that help prevent flu and other illnesses: Super foods will help you fight the flu better.

Good nutrition is essential for good health.

Of course, sufficient sleep is also important. Most of us do not sleep for sufficient periods of time to allow our bodies to be fully restored from the day’s activities. With all of the stresses that we impose upon ourselves both from without and especially from within, we need to get enough sleep. Worry in all of its forms is destructive. Anger, too, even when it is “righteous anger” is destructive. Both worry and anger eventually turn to deep depression, oppressive depression. Actual bodily ailments are caused by these emotions when they are allowed to rule over a person.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Praying with Hearts that Hear

The Collect of the Day for this past Sunday teaches us to pray with amazing boldness what can only be prayed from the most absolute humility.

Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Thine only-begotten Son, so that by His coming we may be enabled to serve Thee with pure minds; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth, and reigneth, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.

Does anyone really pray this way anymore? How many churches even use this prayer in their worship anymore? Of those that do, do they actually believe that God gives what is besought in this prayer?

Does anyone today really believe that God enables those who are His children and who gather in the name of Jesus to serve or worship Him with pure minds?

Do people even understand anymore what it means that we should worship with pure minds?

More and more what is said or professed by people as their belief is that the perfect Church cannot be found or exist on earth. More and more what people confess rather than the holy catholic Church is that the Church cannot be holy because it is made up of imperfect people, sinners. More and more the belief that the Church is the gathering of those whom God has purified into the name of Jesus through Baptism to believe and confess with the same mind and mouth the one true faith by which He keeps us united with Jesus Christ through the means of grace is set aside and discarded, except perhaps in their so-called “quia” subscription to their official book of doctrine. But do they still believe that God grants that we may be enabled (by Him alone) to serve Him with pure minds?

It is amazing how many do quote the Psalms regarding “singing a new song.”

This would be truly wonderful if these folk had any clue as to what this means. They imagine the “new song” to be one that they produce and sing. But the new song that the Psalms teach is the new song that God has given, the new song of the new man. This song is new to the Old Adam, but is actually the original song given to Adam in Creation. This new song is the renewed song that is written for us in Holy Scriptures. This is why the New Testament admonition is as in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16:

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

This is the new song that the Old Adam and our sinful flesh resist and reject. According to our own reasoning we imagine that the original song is worn out and weak. We do not realize that the real strength for happiness and true exuberance comes from the original song of Creation that is established forevermore as the New Song of Regeneration. This song is called the new song because it takes lifeless and corrupt fleshly people and makes them new again in Christ.

This can only happen when we are made to serve or worship God in the unity of the pure mind that God renews to each of us in Baptism and preserves in us through His Holy Communion.

It is interesting that in the prayer that the Lord Jesus gives us to pray that there is absolutely nothing new from what has already been fore-written in the Scriptures. Everything that He teaches us to pray is what the Lord God has already declared to be His holy and gracious will for us. He teaches us the meaning of being made to be a new creature again, new as God ordained from the beginning and even from eternity.

God does indeed cause us to serve Him with pure minds, when the minds with which we serve Him are the minds that He renews in us through His pure and unchanged means of grace. When our services are purely the gathering to receive from Him the service that He has ordained, we do receive the pure minds for which we pray, the pure minds that He gives in place of the corrupt minds that we bring to Him. In true humility we pray and even expect to receive what only He can give. What we pray with the humility of expectant faith, He grants with His own mighty AMEN!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Angry People

This evening I was in a store where the business was momentarily slow so that the check out girls were a bit chatty. (I call them girls, not disrespectfully but because to me nearly everyone seems like a young kid anymore. I received my second invitation to become a member AARP this week.)

The one young lady made a comment that seemed to be out of nowhere, seeming to have nothing to do with anything. She did not know what it meant either. Then the two young ladies explained that their thinking was a bit jumbled from having been yelled at by the last two customers in a row.

One was angry because he did not know that the store charged late fees. Previously the store did not charge late fees and made a big deal about this. When they changed the rules, no big deal was made and this customer did not notice.

The other customer was angry because his rental involved the process of placing a temporary charge on his credit card and then immediately crediting the amount back to the card, as a security measure to be sure that the account was valid. Apparently this also is a new policy change that was not announced.

The Rules are NOT supposed to change.

This is what people expect, ordinarily. What is required of people is supposed to remain constant.

This is the mindset that we all have. This is especially true when consequences accompany the rules. This is even more powerfully expected when we suffer those consequences unexpectedly.

But then, we never like the consequences and we often become angry when facing consequences to breaking the rules. The only time that we want the rules to change, is when we face consequences and would like to be excused and would like to have those consequences remitted.

Nevertheless, people expect the rules to remain constant. This is the nature of rules. This is essential for good order in society. This is necessary for people to know how they are to function in society.

In our day and in our society the rules have become unstable. This is especially true regarding banking and financing. The banks and financiers and governments keep changing the rules, and not in the people’s favor.

People are becoming more and more angry as they experience the unfairness of those who are manipulating the rules. People are feeling more and more helpless and defenseless. People are justified in their anger.

Sadly, those who instigate this anger are not the ones to whom the anger is expressed. The poor cashier or bank teller or stock clerk or waitress or receptionist or other service person, the one who has no say over how the rules apply, such a person is usually the one who bears the heat of the anger. Sometimes it is the person at the intersection or turning lane. Other times it is a spouse or son or daughter or other family member.

So what is the answer?

In this post I only intend to give answer to what each of us needs so as to be kept safe from our anger turning to sin. This, by the way, is an enormous undertaking.

So what is our protection from having our anger turn to sin? God’s peace that flows from knowing His forgiveness is our protection. When we become angry, God has provided His peace to rule our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. As we remember the enormity of our own sinfulness and our own debt to God, we also remember the vastness of His love and forgiveness. As we remember His love and forgiveness to us personally, the wrongdoing that we endure from others is shown to be infinitesimal by contrast. When we remember God’s mercy to us personally, we remember that those with whom we are angry are just like us, sinners in need of God’s forgiveness. This then snuffs out the fire that burns within us, for how can we be angry over someone who is just like us and acts just like us? How can we remain angry with someone when we remember how desperately that we need for God not to let His anger loose upon us?

It simply is not possible to remain angry when we honestly evaluate our need for God’s forgiveness personally, and recall His promise to us in our Baptism and in His gracious call to the Supper of forgiveness. When this is what we have foremost in our thoughts, our anger is left behind as we come running to our gracious God and Savior who stands ready to lift our sin from us and give us His peace once again.

Yes, I can tell you from personal experience, much personal experience, God’s peace truly does have this much power.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Are You Scholarly?

The other day, as I was deep into study, I suddenly thought, “Oh wow, I suppose that I actually am a scholar!” This came from realizing that I very much enjoy studying and growing in knowledge. I have never really “liked” school, but I have always enjoyed learning, even studying.

I’m not sure, though, that my attitude truly fits with the definition of a “scholar” or being “scholarly”.

From the definitions of scholar and scholarly are:

Definition of SCHOLAR

1: a person who attends a school or studies under a teacher : pupil

2a : a person who has done advanced study in a special field

b : a learned person

3 : a holder of a scholarship

Definition of SCHOLARLY

: of, characteristic of, or suitable to learned persons : LEARNED, ACADEMIC

Am I a scholar? Am I a scholarly? Perhaps not. But then, I suppose that depends upon the one being counted as my teacher of whom I am a student or disciple.

Happenings: Sermon: Last Sunday of the Church Year (OT)

Ask the Pastor, a.k.a., Pastor Walter Snyder, has two new sermons posted.

Happenings: Sermon: Last Sunday of the Church Year (OT)
Happenings: Sermon: Last Sunday of the Church Year (Epistle)

I always wondered how Pr. Snyder was able to produce so much. Anyone can produce piles of material, but his was always very well researched and documented as well as extraordinarily accurate and orthodox (usually). It has been quite a while, however, since he has been active.

I have thought many times that I would offer something akin to ATP. However, such an effort would be overwhelming for me. I find researching and careful contemplation of people's questions take me many hours, sometimes days or even weeks. The proper care for accuracy and faithfulness to the Scriptures, with the additional concern for actually understanding the inquirer's actual question and concern so as to address it so that it may be comprehended, is an enormous task. Moreover, my answers are not cushioned with the allowance for alternative views, which people can perceive as arrogant and intolerant. I do not give answers in the form of “perhaps you should consider”. When I am speaking as Christ's representative I am bound to declare: “Thus saith the LORD!” and “Believe it or perish everlastingly.” Very few people desire to inquire with such as the anticipated answers.

That is not to say that I never receive correction from others. Being challenged drives me to reexamine my understanding. Thus I find that I benefit greatly from such challenges, especially from those who present them respectfully. On a few occasions I have learned some important new points or have learned that I had previously misunderstood. A few times I realized that I had obstinately held a wrong position, from which repentance, being turned by the Holy Spirit, was necessary. Thanks be to God that when He is the source who is sought, He does provide the needed correction, humbling, and turning.

I have often learned new things and have been reminded of old treasures from Pr. Snyder’s “Ask the Pastor” articles. These two new sermons of his are worthy of hearing as well. I am glad to see that he has made them available.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Sneaky Play

This video makes me laugh harder each time that I watch it:

It is even better in full screen. Just click on the little four arrows at the bottom right hand corner of the video player.

The star sneak is Quarterback Jason Garza of Driscoll Middle School from San Antonio, Texas.

While I laugh hard each time I watch this, it nevertheless makes me sad on account of the association my mind makes with this and what is happening in America and in the churches. The bureaucrats and party leaders are pulling sneak plays continually and we, the ordinary, honest, unsuspecting citizenry, stand and watch in bewilderment, wondering, "What are they doing?" By the time that we, as a whole, realize the deception, the game is lost. What is even more sad is that the sneaks keep using the same plays and we still don't catch on.

Oh well, at least I enjoy watching the video!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Bicycling into the Outer Limits and Back

"Way Back Home" - Amazing Freestyle Bicycling by Danny MacAskill

This video is amazing beyond description.

From the video page at where I first viewed this, the following is stated:

The incredible bicycling skills of Danny MacAskill on his journey from Edinburgh back to his hometown Dunvegan, in the Isle of Skye.

Be impressed, but please do not try these stunts at home. Music: "Wax and Wire" by Loch Lomond "A Little Piece" by The Jezabels

I have to wonder how many times Danny has hurt himself learning these feats. I wonder how anyone can possess such a fabulous sense of balance and control.

Somehow I am not inclined to imagine that “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God,” (Matt. 4:7) is part of Danny’s thinking. On the other hand, perhaps his many, many hours of training have prepared him so that for him, these feats are as common place as tree climbing and limb walking are for an arborist. Perhaps such feats are not pressing the limits for a person such as Danny. For me, such is way beyond even the Outer Limits.