Friday, October 28, 2011

All the Law and the Prophets

Reflecting upon my preparations for last Sunday’s sermon, as well as the many texts on which I have expounded, I wonder how many sermons can be written from a specific text. Each time that I approach one of the pericopal readings I wonder, how can I preach this with freshness? Yet each time, as I wrestle with God in His Scriptures, I find that He has said more than I previously realized and that there is most certainly more to be brought out from the great treasure-house of the Scriptures.

In Sunday’s Gospel reading Matthew 22:31-46, the Lord Jesus says:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40)

The Lord Jesus says that on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. This means that all of the Scriptures were written based upon these two commandments. That is a lot of writing and explaining and exposition! And then we have the Scriptures of the New Testament, too!

St. Paul shows himself a true apostle of Christ when he says: “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:10)

How many sermons can be preached concerning the right understanding of this? Ultimately, is this not the focus of every true exposition of the Gospel? To grasp this is to grasp all the riches of the kingdom of God.

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As Thyself

This past Sunday’s Gospel reading is surely familiar to all who call themselves Christian. The reading is Matthew 22:31-46.

But how many people understand what this text teaches? Sandwiched into the middle of this text is the question: “Which is the great commandment of the law?” The Lord Jesus answers more than the lawyer realized that he was asking. For the lawyer, even with all of his study of the law, knew nothing of its true meaning. The Lord Jesus answers, quoting Moses:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40)

I’d like to examine this beginning in reverse, since this is where we usually begin in our daily lives. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” The reason for beginning in reverse is because this is how we generally function. We struggle to do for ourselves what is really the outflow of what needs to be done for us and in us. We struggle with our actions toward neighbor.

Why do we struggle in this way? Why do we find it difficult truly to love our neighbor? Is it not because of selfishness? And what really is selfishness? Why do we act selfishly? Is it not because we do not feel complete in ourselves and so we seek after and grasp after things as though they could somehow fulfill us? What is the result? Do we find ourselves feeling fulfilled? Do we find ourselves feeling satisfied? Or do we find ourselves struggling more and more to gain that which is beyond us? Don’t we find ourselves feeling empty and full of nothing but failure?

How often do we end up saying something like: “I hate myself!” and “I wish I were dead!”

But this is the exact opposite of what the Lord our God desires for us and commands as what should be for us.

Do you hear, first of all, how differently this is stated than how we often interpret it? God’s commandment is concerning what should be for us, not what we should do for ourselves. This will become more clear shortly.

The second great command is like the first. Both are concerning love. The second great command says “You will love your neighbor as yourself.” This is not an imperative but a future indicative. It indicates what will be, not what one must do. It begins saying how a child of God will live in connection with neighbor: “You will love your neighbor.” This is further defined by what absolutely must precede it: “You will love your neighbor in the same manner as you love yourself.”

Before we can love our neighbor, we must love ourselves. Thus self does come before neighbor. Because we do not rightly understand this, we end up acting selfishly. Because we do not understand the true meaning of loving self, we become selfish and unable to see beyond what we cannot make happen on our own. This is because love for self is not something that we do of our own accord but as that which naturally follows the first great command of God.

The first great command is: “You will love the Lord your God in all of your heart and in all of your soul and in all of your mind.”

Again this is future tense indicating what will be. God speaks His command in this way because He is the one who will make it happen in us. And this little word “in” carries a very big meaning, a very different meaning than the way our translations interpret this. For our translations choose to change this to “with” rather than what stands written as “in”.

This is why we struggle so terribly with love. We hear that we must love with all of our heart and soul and mind when the Lord promises that He will change us so that we love in all of our heart and soul and mind. Love is of God and God is Love. (1 John 4) When God fills our heart and soul and mind then His love fills our heart and soul and mind and drives out the emptiness that drives us to selfishness. Selfishness is not the result of loving oneself but of desperately desiring love for oneself. Since we cannot supply this love for ourselves we seek to steal it for ourselves.

But Love is of God for God is Love. Love for self comes from knowing God fully as He comes to us through His means of grace and fills us through and through with His gracious and loving presence. When the Lord has filled us in our heart and soul and mind, we love as He loves. We first know His love to us personally, and knowing His love moves us to respond in love toward Him. As we love ourselves with this love that fills us it overflows in our lives so that we love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This is not what we do as much as what we have been regenerated to be.

This is what we must learn regarding true love. Love is not a choice. Love is who we have been regenerated to be. In Baptism God gives to us the Holy Spirit who takes up residence in us and fills our heart and soul and mind. Through this holy union God sanctifies us and sets us apart, recreating us in His image again. Notice that God does not say that He created us with His image but in His image. (Genesis 1:26-27) This image of God is Christ. (Colossians 1:12-18)

Those who have been regenerated into Christ have been regenerated into the image of God and as they begin to understand this more and more their lives begin to reflect their newborn identity more and more fully. Since God is love, this is what begins to show more and more. For as we grow in understanding what God has done for us, we respond to His love in love. As we begin to love ourselves as God loves us, it is only natural that we will love our neighbors as ourselves.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What Is Happening to Our Money?

As prices continue to rise faster than incomes can compensate, do you share in wondering: “What is happening to our money?”

Here are two articles that deal with this issue:

Who Or What Is Really the World’s Central Bank?


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Friday, October 14, 2011

Amazing Customer Service

I have posted about the non-existent customer service by most of the bigger companies today. I often am extremely frustrated by the bad treatment that I receive very consistently these days. Other people talk about this as their common experience as well. Moreover, it seems to be nearly a universal expectation, or at least a universal experience, today.

However, there are a few companies who continue to amaze me with their service and their reliability. Two companies who stand behind their product and warranties have amazed me on more than one occasion. One of these companies is Moen faucets. On the sink faucet for our kitchen, when I called them about the problems that developed, they sent a brand new kitchen sink set. All that was required was that I give them the numbers from the old parts and they sent a brand new faucet set within a few days. I was truly amazed.

Moen Logo

Bunn-O-Matic coffee brewers is another amazing company.

The heating element quit working on our coffee maker. I called their customer service inquiring about the possibility of using their discounted program to obtain a replacement. The lady informed me that the coffee maker has a three year warranty and could still be under warranty. I expressed my doubt that it was still covered and she insisted that I check the date code on the bottom of the coffee maker. After I read it to her she informed me that it was still covered and that she would send me a replacement. I was amazed. However, we had already purchased a replacement at the local retailer. I informed the lady of this fact and she responded saying that she would send me a refund! So I sent back the old machine with a copy of the receipt as she instructed me.

Within a short time the refund check came in the mail for the full amount, including the sales tax!

Service like that is rare today and it is cause for thanksgiving and praise to God. Moreover, I believe that such service is worth sharing with others who may also benefit from doing business with such companies. Furthermore, I very much want to help such companies to do well by spreading their good reputation.

We are very pleased with both Moen and Bunn-O-Matic.

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Happy Reminders

Here are a few bright and happy reminders of God's goodness and mercy and love that show through as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

Liberty for All

This past evening I was wandering in the local hardware store and made a very disturbing discovery. To my dismay I observed this sign by the cans of spray paint.

I inquired whether I understood what I read. Indeed, a law has been passed in Wichita that makes it illegal to sell to minors and for minors to purchase a can of spray paint or a broad tipped marker.

Here is the link for Ordinance 48-803.

I was shocked to learn of this outrageous attack on the rights of the young people of this city. How many thousands of innocent young people are treated wrongfully by this ordinance?

Most adults probably count this as a “minor” thing.

But what can be done against one group can also be done to all. History has shown this repeatedly.

Certainly those who deface property not their own should be held accountable. But this law does not do this. It punishes and restricts the freedoms of all who are of a certain class, and who have no legal voice, no vote.

More than 40 million pre-born citizens have been silenced since 1973, having no voice, no vote of their own. 40,000,000! And this figure does not include the last 11 years.

Where does the injustice stop? Will it stop when it reaches our rights? Oops, it has been quite a while since I have gone to the airport or to the city hall or the county courthouse.

But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. (Matthew 12:7)

Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed; To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless! (Isaiah 10:1-2)

Oh that I could plead innocence! But how many times have I simply turned away saying, “What can I do?” And now, truly, what can I do? I suppose that I can continue to speak out. Most certainly I can proclaim God’s forgiveness and salvation in Christ to one and all.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

More on Pastor Nadarkhani

The Washington Post has an article, Clearing up the facts on Pastor Nadarkhani’s fate.

It includes a link to this translation of the Iranian Supreme Court verdict against Nadarkhani.

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Meaning of Mormon

At another blog, christian-with-a-view, is posted an article entitled: RESPONSE TO A READER.

Here is the opening section:

Monday, October 10, 2011
The reader said: "So what would you do if I told you that, having read both several times, and having prayed about them both, the Book of Mormon is truly the word of God, and it does not contradict the teachings of the Bible........"

The author of the blog proceeds to give a series of quotations from the Book Mormon, showing valid examples of how the Book of Mormon directly contradicts the doctrine of the Bible. To see the examples that he gives, please visit the post at his site. He also gives a quote from the Mormons’ Doctrine and Covenants, demonstrating one example of how this Mormon book of doctrine additionally contradicts the Book of Mormon.

In this post, I do not intend to try to disprove the Book of Mormon. Rather, I want to address the issue raised by the questioner regarding praying to God regarding knowing the truth. Certainly we are to pray to God with this request. However, is this to be prayed as the Mormons presume? For that matter, is it to be prayed as most Christians presume?

Before I address this, however, I would like to exercise and stretch some learning.

For the moment, I draw attention to the meaning of the word mormon.

At Mormon Meaning and Definition has the following:

Mormon Meaning and Definition

1. (n.) A genus of sea birds, having a large, thick bill; the puffin.
2. (a.) Of or pertaining to the Mormons; as, the Mormon religion; Mormon practices.
3. (n.) One of a sect in the United States, followers of Joseph Smith, who professed to have found an addition to the Bible, engraved on golden plates, called the Book of Mormon, first published in 1830. The Mormons believe in polygamy, and their hierarchy of apostles, etc., has control of civil and religious matters.
4. (n.) The mandrill.
5. (n.) A member of a sect, called the Reorganized Church of Jesus of Latterday Saints, which has always rejected polygamy. It was organized in 1852, and is represented in about forty States and Territories of the United States.

I searched the Internet for “meaning of mormon,” wanting to see whether perhaps the word had any meaning besides that of the person invented by Joseph Smith and the apparition that approached him with this amazing revelation. Lo and behold, I learned meanings to the word that I had never imagined.

The first listed meaning is “A genus of sea birds, having a large, thick bill; the puffin.”

I am an Animal Science bachelor, and I did not learn this in my undergraduate studies. But I am pleased to be made aware of this fact now. (I suppose that if I had read ALL of the material in my textbooks that perhaps this genus was listed somewhere that I overlooked. But then again, perhaps not.) At any rate, I believe that it would be reasonable to assume that Joseph Smith did not know this either.

Even more curiously I noted the fourth definition: The mandrill.

I had to look this up as I had NO idea what a mandrill is. Do you know? If so, Wow! has mandrill listed.



a large West African baboon with a brightly colored red and blue face, the male having a blue rump.
* Mandrillus sphinx, family Cercopithecidae

mid 18th century: probably from man + drill

This was a surprise to me. Interestingly enough, this word existed at the time of Joseph Smith’s encounter with Moroni. It seems that he would have been surprised to know this.

I have a copy of the Book of Mormon, ANOTHER testament of Jesus Christ (Something that St. Paul specifically and vehemently condemns)(Galatians 1:6-9). I cannot currently find my copy as it must be buried in one of my many piles. However, it is available on-line, a resource which I will utilize in connection with this posting.

Returning to the question of praying to God to reveal the truth, how do the Mormons actually pray this? How one prays makes a difference, as James says in Chapter 4:

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4:3)

So how do the Mormons pray concerning this issue? They state this in their Introduction to the Book of Mormon.

We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. (See Moroni 10:3–5.)

Here is what is written in Moroni 10:3-5:

3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

There are two very important points to consider in reading this admonition.

First one should realize that the answer to the prayer has already been determined by the one praying. The person has already determined that this Other Testament of Jesus Christ must be from God and that God will therefore make it manifest to the praying one that it is indeed the truth.

The second thing to consider is that this admonition declares that this manifestation of this truth is dependent upon the intent of the one praying. That is, if the person prays this prayer believing that the Book of Mormon is true, then the answer that will be received is that the Book of Mormon is true.

The second is really a reiteration of the first.

Another way of saying this is to say that a person should pray to God to show one that the Book of Mormon is true, being convinced that God will show that the Book of Mormon is true, and to keep praying this until one is convinced that his desire to believe that the Book of Mormon is true is a desire that the Holy Ghost is working in the person so that the person will be convinced that it is God’s will that one should believe that the Book of Mormon is true.

Does this sound circular?

When Moses presented the two tablets of the Ten Words or Commandments, did he tell the people to pray to God to show them that this really was the Word of God and that it is true and to be received as true? No, in fact, Moses had to tear down the idolatrous notions and punish them for their false prayers so that they could receive the words that God wrote with His own finger. The Lord already made it manifest that this was His doing. For the forty days that Moses was on the mountain the mountain trembled and caught on fire! Nothing was done in secret! No one had to ask afterward whether or not this was truly from the Lord.

The first Testament was given to keep the people in the Word that declared the coming of the Christ. All of the prophets pointed to this. The birth and ministry and sacrificial death of Christ was the fulfillment of that Testament.

Having fulfilled that Testament Christ instituted the New Testament, His own Testament. And what does He say is the New Testament? He says that it is the cup by which His blood is given for the forgiveness of sins.

Now, how hard will a person have to pray to fulfill this testament so that another testament should be instituted?

But this is the problem. Who is responsible for accepting this Other Testament? The person praying is responsible. The person must decide to accept this Other Testament so as to pray for God to manifest it as true. This is why it is impossible to present anything from the Bible that will convince a person who has so prayed that the Book of Mormon is not of God. The person has already convinced oneself that this is of God and has prayed it into oneself so determinedly that to deny it is to deny oneself.

And this denial of self is what the Bible teaches that Jesus says is necessary for one to be a true disciple of Him. (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23)

If a person is unwilling to deny oneself and one’s own prayers, how can a person hear when God says that one is praying wrongly? How can a person hear when God speaks a word of correction if that person has already determined to pray until God says that the truth that the person is praying to be manifested is true? If a person is convinced that the burning in one’s bosom that comes from praying so hard to be convinced that this is true is proof of its truth, how can this burning be distinguished from the burning that the Holy Spirit works when He convinces the person of being wrong?

If the person has already determined to count the burning in one’s bosom as proof that the Book of Mormon is correct and truly from God, will it be possible to hear what the Bible says to the contrary?

Doctrine and Covenants 9:8

8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

Does the God of the Bible ever teach to pray this way? Does the Lord Jesus ever teach His disciples to pray this way? To what does Jesus tell people to look for evidence that His doctrine is true? Is it not to His works? Is it not to the fact that everything that He says matches perfectly with the will of God as it is taught in the Scriptures? Is this not the way of His apostles also?

To what does Jesus say that the Scriptures testify?

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (John 5:39)

Is this what the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants teach? Is this how they say to pray and to look to know the truth?

Is this the way that most Christians pray for understanding and knowledge of the truth? Or do most Christians approach the doctrine of the Bible in the same way as the Book of Mormon teaches?

By the way, do you know who else urges people to pray and to consider God’s Word in this way? Do you know who else teaches people to seek understanding through their own attempts at understanding God’s will and what is right and good and true?

     Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:1-5)

Do you see the problem here? How did the serpent urge the woman (and her husband who stood there allowing it instead of doing his duty in teaching the Word) to approach knowing what is true? He presented to her the notion that it is proper to examine the Word of God regarding its validity. Moreover, he tempted her to imagine that she needed to defend the Word with her own wisdom.

How many Christians approach understanding and knowing truth in this same way? How many imagine that they should interpret the Word that the Scriptures declare rather than seeking to hear the Word? How many Christians approach the doctrine taught in the Scriptures asking, “Did God really say?” Joseph Smith and his Moroni set an entirely other testament beside it. But how many Christians do likewise with their presuppositions, their doubts, and their worship? For example, how do people approach what the Scriptures teach concerning Baptism? Do they argue against the Scriptural doctrine that babies can have faith or do they accept the words of Acts 2:38-39; 1 Peter 3:20-21; and Titus 3:3-7? When they pray regarding what the words of the Scriptures say concerning this, how do they pray?

Now the Mormons pray to God to show them that the Book of Mormon stands along side of the Bible as being true. They assume that the Bible is true, but then pray concerning their Other Testament.

How do Christians pray regarding the Bible? How many Christians still even believe the Bible to be true? Of those who do still believe the Bible to be true, how many pray that they hear what the Bible teaches so as to deny themselves and their own faith so as to hear and be convicted of the faith that the Bible teaches? How many Christians even believe that God will do this? How many Christians want God to do this?

The Mormons decide what they want to hear from God and then pray that God will show them that they are right. They do not realize that this is what the Smith/Moroni team admonish them, but if they read their admonishments carefully and honestly they would realize this.

How about you? How do you pray? Who is leading your direction in your praying? Is it God? Is it a church body or church leader? Is it you? Is it someone even more fiendish? Have you even seriously pondered this so as to be sure?

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I was curious whether perhaps the site above could have made up the information regarding the genus mormon. I found a direct reference here.

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I also decided to double check the reference to mormon and mandrill. Here is one of the links that I found, which includes a black and white picture. Here is another.

Just to be thorough.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Epitome of Misnomers or Oxymorons

Today as I sat waiting at a traffic light I snapped this photograph. Since it is not at all clear, I am including a graphic link below it.

Is this not the epitome of misnomers or oxymorons?

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More Smoke and Mirrors?


In the article, 2 Charged in Alleged Plot to Kill Saudi Ambassador to US, it is reported that the “Obama administration on Tuesday accused agents of the Iranian government of being involved in a plan to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States.” Near the end of the article it also reports that “President Barack Obama was first briefed on the plot in June.”

That was four months ago. Why the wait?

According to both this article and the one by the New York Times: U.S. Accuses Iranians of Plotting to Kill Saudi Envoy, this accusation by the administration was made on Tuesday. That is today. At the bottom of the NY Times article is this footnote:

A version of this article appeared in print on October 12, 2011, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Iranians Accused Of Plot to Kill An Ambassador.

Just in case this is changed later so as to deny it, here is a picture of it:

Does this seem strange to anyone else? On Tuesday, October 11, 2011, a footnote is included on a web page article saying that a version of this article appeared in print tomorrow, Wednesday, October 12, 2011.

Is this not peculiar reporting style? What does this indicate regarding the facts of this story?

Obama was briefed on this plot in June. His administration waits at least four months to act. The news report speaks of Tuesday (today) as though it were past tense. Then one report speaks of a past appearance of a version of this article on a day in the future.

Again, what does this indicate regarding the facts of this story?

The NY Times article bounces all over the spectrum regarding what the “experts” conclude regarding the likelihood of this plot having approval from high-levels of the Iranian government. Yet the hateful attempts to murder a man for converting to Christianity have gone to the very highest level in the Iranian government. Why does the media go to such extreme efforts to excuse or explain away the very facts that they report?

Should this concern us? Should we look to this peculiar reporting and this askew perspective of the Obama administration with uneasiness?

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Today some are very boldly calling this an act of war on the part of Iran. See Kessler: Bomb Iran Now for Washington Terror Plot. This article says that former Rep. Pete Hoekstra and Newsmax chief Washington correspondent Ronald Kessler say that this is a clear act of war against the USA.

Clear act of war against the USA?

First, the reports deny the likelihood of this being approved by higher levels of Iranian government. The next day the reaction is to call it a clear act of war.

But what of the evidence and the reporting of that evidence? What attack actually was perpetrated? What and whom were blown up? Where are the explosives?

Does anyone recall the reason for going to war against Iraq? Clear evidence of weapons of mass destruction was reportedly held by Saddam & family. Oddly though, those weapons were never found.

Now are we to go to war with a nation on account of a plot to kill an ambassador from another Islamic nation?

What is the point? How does going to war with Iran prevent war, especially when no actual ACT of war has been perpetrated? A plot is not the same as an act, even if it should be proven that this plot reaches to the high levels of Iranian government. Has a Lusitania been sunk? Would a plot to sink the Lusitania have been an act of war or merely a strategy?

The followers of Islam consider themselves to be at war with the world. Their Quran and other religious sources make this clear.

But Communism teaches the same. Why have we not bombed China or North Korea and the former USSR? They have each committed actual acts of war, and yet we have not bombed their nuclear plants. Each of these have most certainly plotted against the USA.

Who gains from war? The international bankers and the big military industrialists gain. But the people lose and lose big. It has always been this way, except on a smaller scale in the past.

James addresses this issue in James 4.

If the USA were not going to war around the globe forcing centralized banking and big corporate exploitation of resources and people upon nations in the guise of democracy and freedom, would we actually find ourselves at war with these nations? In older times this was called colonization. Today it is called spreading democracy. Soon it will be called world peace through global police enforcement.

When it finally reaches this stage, the people will cry out. But will they not be the ones who endorsed it all along? Will they not be the very ones who cried: “USA! USA! USA!”? Will they not be the ones who waved the flag, or burned it in a feeling of superiority while collecting welfare and food stamps and government jobs and social security or big corporate benefits and pensions?

In the end, will we not be getting exactly what we have endorsed or at least accepted and permitted?

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Petition on behalf of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been in the news as a man sentenced to death in Iran for his refusal to repent of his conversion (apostasy) from Islam to Christianity. International pressure has helped to forestall at least temporarily the Iranian government’s plans to execute him. Additionally, the Iranian government has circulated propaganda claiming that the charges in the court documentation are not the real crime for which he is sentenced to death.

More information is available at Youcef Nadarkhani Still in Danger: Ayatollah Khamenei to be his Final Judge . As this article reports, the matter has been carried to its highest level in Iran, to the Ayatollah Khamenei.

The ACLJ, the American Center for Law and Justice, is preparing a petition to present to Secretary of State Clinton urging her to “call for Iran to overturn Pastor Youcef’s death sentence and demand his full and unconditional release from prison.” The petition is available at Petition to Secretary of State Clinton - Call on Iran to save Christian pastor. A form is provided at this link for having your name added to the petition if you would like to join the outcry on behalf of this man’s life. Alternatively, you can call the PETITION LINE at 1-877-989-2255.

If you know of people without Internet access who would like to have their names added to the petition, this phone number gives easy access to do so. It is again: 1-877-989-2255.

Here is the petition that is to be presented to Secretary Clinton:

To: Secretary of State Clinton

We cannot allow this atrocity to be carried out. Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani faces imminent execution in Iran for his Christian faith. In July, your office stated that it was “dismayed over reports that the Iranian courts are requiring Youcef Nadarkhani to recant his Christian faith or face the death penalty for apostasy.” Now, Pastor Youcef faces execution that could be carried out at any time.

It is absolutely critical that you call for Iran to overturn Pastor Youcef’s death sentence and demand his full and unconditional release from prison. As other world leaders denounce Iran’s condemning this man to death just for being a Christian, it is critical that America – the land of liberty – take a stand and pressure Iran to release Pastor Youcef.

I urge you to take immediate action to call on Iran to stop this ultimate human rights abuse, and free Pastor Youcef before it’s too late.

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Saturday, October 08, 2011

CPH & LC–MS versus TLH

For many years I have desired to produce a little booklet that would include the order of service from TLH, The Lutheran Hymnal, with a side by side explanation of the portions of the liturgy for the benefit of people who desire to understand the worship life of the Church. For years CPH, Concordia Publishing House, and the LC–MS, the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, told me that I would need to receive permission from the copyright department of CPH. Throughout my lifetime this information was given to the congregations regarding use of the liturgy and hymns.

Yet some time ago, perhaps a year or so ago, I called the CPH permissions department regarding use of the printed liturgy for this purpose and I was told that this information could not be supplied to me. I was told that I would have to research the various portions of the liturgy for myself to determine whether or not each portion was in the Public Domain.

This sounded very peculiar to me. I wondered why this change in policy had occurred.

I began to examine the hymnal more thoroughly than I had in the past. Lo and behold I found a big piece of the puzzle on the very first page of actual information, that is, on page 2, the Preface page.

I had never really paid attention to what this page says. I had seen it countless times and cursorily read it as well. But on this occasion I actually heard what is contained in this declaration. I was astounded.

Here is a photo of the page:

The startling portion I will quote:

We have freely used whatever we found of value and, by way of acknowledgment, have carefully indicated all sources. In turn, we freely offer for the use of others all original contributions or translations made by the committee as such or by its individual members.

This is truly astounding! For how many years did the LC–MS and CPH tell people the exact opposite?

According to the Preface to the hymnal, every portion of the hymnal has always been free to be used. This is in fact the stated purpose of the hymnal! Permission for free use of the materials is given in the Preface to the hymnal.

Back when I first desired to produce this little booklet regarding the meaning of the worship life of the Church as is so wonderfully expressed in the liturgy, back when I did this sort of work full-time and did not have to earn my living through such work as arborist services, I was misinformed by CPH and the LC–MS. (Is misinformed a strong enough term?) Even now the truth has not been clearly stated by the LC–MS and CPH personnel and leaders.

Now, however, I am happy to realize that I am free to pursue this endeavor. Now I am happily aware that this little booklet can be produced if I so desire and can find the energy over and above my other daily tasks.

In fact, I do so desire.

However, I would like to hear whether or not anyone else shares such desire with me. Are there people who would like to have such an explanation available to them? If such a booklet were made available in PDF format, and perhaps also printed format to be purchased, would anyone actually want to receive it and use it? If I go to the effort of producing portions here on the blog or at the Bride of Christ ELC web site, does anyone desire such explanations? My primary desire is for the Order of the Holy Communion, beginning on pg. 15.

Does anyone share this desire?

Who is in charge of your account?

Have you seen this incident?

Online banking with Bank of America has been changed, also. About a year ago BoA changed its access requirements for online banking. One day I tried to log on, and after entering my username and password, it would not allow me to access my account online, not even to see the account information. Now one must grant them permission to use electronic notification at their discretion. If one allows this, then BoA can make changes to one’s account and notify by e-mail only, if they so choose. This gives them absolute control over the account.

Can e-mail notification be trusted? The banks recently allowed hackers to steal information through the processing company that they use. Moreover, have you ever had an e-mail fail to reach its destination, being lost somewhere along the way? Furthermore, what is to keep BoA or any other company from claiming to send notification that was never sent? What individual account holder could prove it?

This incident with this gentleman shows the objective. Who controls the accounts?

The sheep are being led to the slaughter.

What if this gentleman truly needed his money on that particular day?

But then, is this even the real question? Whose money is it? Whose account is it?

What does it mean when a bank can call for a SWAT team or any other law enforcement team to keep people from accessing their accounts? What does it mean when a bank can block people from accessing their accounts online unless they give “permission” for the bank to change its notification policies against the account holder’s wishes?

I have mentioned this change to a number of tellers at BoA. Each one I informed of this said that the person was unaware of this. How many customers of BoA simply grant the permission for the sake of “convenience”? How many have said, “No. You will not take control of my account!”?

But then, as this video demonstrates, they already have taken control of the accounts. The government at every level enforces it.

Why do I bother posting this? Why should this concern me?

This concerns me because of what I see happening to my neighbors as well as to me. Our liberties are being nullified. Our possessions are being absorbed by banksters and corporations. I care about my neighbors.


What? What sort of question is that? I am a child of God, generated from above through Baptism. God is my Father, both as my Creator, and again as my Redeemer. He loves my neighbors, even as He loves me. He provides for us all everything that we need for this body and life. How can I not also love and care for my neighbors and their well-being? How can I not protest what I see done to this man in St. Louis? How can I not call attention to this? How can I not be filled with desire that my fellow countrymen be informed of this outrage? How can I not desire that my fellow countrymen be informed so that they can speak out as well?

Is it possible for one who knows the love of God to ignore the wrongs that he sees done to his neighbors? Is it possible for one who lives in God’s grace in Christ to be vacuous of concern for the encroaching tyranny that he observes?

Ultimately, however, is this even the truly great tyranny?

Is not the greater tyranny the stealing of the Gospel from the churches? Is not the greater tyranny the theft of God’s grace, forgiveness, peace, and everlasting life from the repository that God has established for all of mankind through the pure means of grace? When God, our loving Father, has paid all of our everlasting debt with the sacrifice of His only-begotten Son on our behalf and has placed the fullness of this payment on reserve for us to be administered to us through the pure means of grace, is it not a crime against humanity when this free access is changed by those who claim to have the authority to control it?

Oh that the people would awaken from their stupor! Oh that the people would hear what the Spirit says to the churches! Oh that they would hear and be gathered truly into the name of Jesus to be fed and nurtured and renewed through God’s true Church!

How can they recognize this true Church? All that they need to do is look at how their account is being treated. Are the gifts of God being administered in accord with what He has ordained? Are the bank administrators changing the requirements for access to the accounts? Or are these administrators (pastors/teachers) administering the gifts in accord with the pure Word? Are they preaching this Word without changing it? Are they using the Sacraments as genuine means of grace? Are they guarding against adulteration of the doctrine of the Scriptures? Are they guarding against mockery of the Holy Communion by which people eat and drink judgment on account of not discerning the body?

Recognizing the Truth really is not difficult. The Truth is consistent. The Truth does not vary. The Truth does not contradict itself.

     Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. (John 5:39-40)

     And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
     And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
     Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
     But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
     But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
(1 Corinthians 2:1-16)

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Monday, October 03, 2011

Collect for the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity

     Lord, we beseech Thee, let Thy continual pity cleanse and defend Thy Church; and because it cannot continue in safety without Thy help, preserve it evermore by Thy help and goodness; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

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This week’s sermon: Galatians 5:25- 6:10 — “If We Live in Spirit in Spirit also We Should March”.

Audio/MP3 Sermon.

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