Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wonderful Hymn:
“God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It”

     Last evening while studying and surfing the net, I was directed to this tender video:

     Casper and Disney are two boys who learned of the blessings of Baptism and wanted to be included in the kingdom of these benefits. Disney volunteers, saying:

And I was about five, too. At the beginning of kindergarten, I was crying a lot because I didn’t have a baptism and everyone else did.

     He was cut off before he could finish explaining. When asked why Baptism was so important to him he says: “Baptism was so important to me because I, because we become a child of God. That’s why it’s important to me.”

     This is why these boys wanted to be baptized. Their parents had not given this to them. They wanted what the other children had received. They wanted to be generated from above into the kingdom of God. They wanted to be adopted as God’s children. Disney automatically paused when he began to say “I” and corrected himself saying “we become a child of God.” This is a display of an amazingly deep theological understanding. This was not taught by his teachers but rose from his own realization of what Baptism is. While Baptism is applied to each individual, it is the way for all who are truly generated into God’s family. While it is unlikely that young Disney made this connection to the statements of Jesus in John 3, he received the Holy Spirit in his baptism and the Holy Spirit imparted to him the true faith and continues to instruct him in the understanding of this faith that has been generated in him.

     I find the mater-of-fact manner of responses from children to be delightful. This is the way that children speak when they are certain of their responses. These two boys have been catechized. They have been taught what the Holy Spirit declares. But their responses are more than what is heard as the result of programmed indoctrination. They are speaking from their hearts of what they have been moved by the Holy Spirit to believe. This is more than merely repeating what they have heard many times from parents and teachers. They speak from their hearts of what they themselves know. Disney’s response is especially delightful when he says:

Yeah, we get to be God’s child, like I just said.

     He says this after he was asked, “And what do you get in Baptism?”

     His response is: “The forgiveness of sins.”

     His questioner seems to be fishing for more, very likely what St. Peter declares in Acts 2:38, where he speaks of the gift of the Holy Spirit as well as the forgiveness of sins, but young Disney responds with what the forgiveness of sins means to the regenerated child of God, “Yeah, we get to be God’s child, like I just said.”

     When Peter preached to those who were gathered at Pentecost, he explained the how of the new life that accompanies the reception of the remission of sins through Baptism. The Holy Spirit is the one who works this miracle of faith through which the remission of sins is worked. The Holy Spirit is the one poured out in Baptism to preserve this faith within the newborn child of God so that this faith is nurtured and strengthened, so that it grows to maturity and in deeper understanding. But for young Disney, the unity of the Holy Trinity is so clear that he responds to the foremost issue, that the remission of sins means that one is received back into God’s family forevermore. Just as the Holy Spirit does not direct attention to Himself, neither does the child of God reflect upon this but rejoices first in the remission of sins through which he gets to be a God’s child. This is what Baptism foremost means to sinners who realize that their sin cuts them off from God. It is only when people begin to rely upon their own understanding and begin to focus upon their own displays of sanctification that they begin to focus strongly upon the gift of the Holy Spirit. When sinners truly realize their sinfulness, they count the remission of sins as the most important of their needs, and they rejoice in the reconciliation with God that remission of sins establishes.

     For this reason, it makes me very sad to realize that these dear boys are part of a church body that robs them of the fullness of being regenerated into God’s Holy Communion. I regretfully confess my own sin as a pastor in this regard, having taught the false doctrine and practice of Confirmation as a necessity for partaking of the Holy Supper through which the continual remission of sins is promised to the children of God. It saddens me that sweet children of God are baptized into His Holy Communion and then are taught that they must achieve an elevated status of understanding before they are allowed to be counted as true partakers of God’s kingdom. The very food by which God promises to sustain His children is denied to those for whom He promises it. Just as these two boys were denied Baptism until they cried for it, so they are being denied the family meal so that they still are looking on for what belongs to all of God’s family but they are not being counted as true communicant members.

     I rejoice that these dear boys have been baptized and that they rejoice in the promises of their baptism. Yet I grieve that the primary proclamation of the Lord’s death till He comes (1 Corinthians 11:26) is denied to them. Even though they are rightly instructed that their sins are remitted and that the true faith is generated in them and that the Holy Spirit is poured out to them to keep them with Jesus Christ in the one true faith, yet they are denied the Sacrament of the Lord’s Holy Communion for which their baptism generates them. The Supper of Life is denied to them. They are instructed that they are not yet worthy, even though the true faith in the merits and promises of Christ is the only cause of worthiness.

     Is it any wonder that more than half of those who are baptized in these church bodies become confused and disheartened and fall away? Is it any wonder that of those who do progress to the rite of Confirmation, more than half then lose their desire for the Sacrament? Is it any wonder that in these church bodies that their own statistics show that in nearly every congregation that less than half and usually even less than a third of the so-called communicant members partake of the body and blood of their Lord on a given Sunday?

     Should this be surprising when for the most important years of their lives they have been taught that they do not need the Sacrament? For the years of their greatest development bodily, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, they have been taught that all that they really need is their baptism and that the Family Supper is not necessary. Then, after Confirmation, these dear saints who have been thus falsely taught are suddenly to cast away all of these years of instruction in the lack of need for the Sacrament and now to begin to crave the Sacrament as a great necessity.

     Does this make any sense at all?

     Saint Paul is often quoted in this regard. This would be wonderful if his instruction were taken as he gives it rather than applying private interpretation to his words. Here is what the dear apostle says:

     Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.

     For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

     When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.

     For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

     For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. (1 Corinthians 11:17-33)

     Sadly, verses 27-29 are usually quoted apart from and even contrary to the context in which St. Paul is speaking. These verses are usually used as a proof text. A proof text is a text used to make a predetermined point, rather than quoting the text in accord with the point for which it stands written.

     Thus these particular verses are quoted as proof that individuals must examine themselves concerning what they understand before counting themselves properly prepared [worthy] of partaking of the Lord’s Communion.

     However, even with only the immediately preceding verse as a reference for the context, these verses instantly are perceived very differently than they are generally interpreted. What is the context for the necessity of a man examining himself? If we review the second paragraph above the perception is greatly enhanced.

     For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

     What is the point of St. Paul’s chastisement? He is chastising for the divisions that exist within the congregation. In the third paragraph he declares that because of the aforementioned heresies that the congregation’s suppers are not even the Lord’s Supper. He is declaring that merely following the outward form and labeling it as the Lord’s Supper does not make it the Lord’s Supper. He is warning that this form of practice is actually the opposite of proclaiming the Lord’s death till He comes. Instead, it is actually a mockery of the Lord’s death and thereby brings judgement upon the communicants of these false suppers.

     So the real issue that a man is to examine is whether or not his household is gathering with a true congregation that is truly offering the Sacrament as a “shewing of the Lord’s death till He comes” in accord with the pure teaching of the Gospel.

     In this particular setting, the Corinthian congregation was so far from the right shewing of the Lord’s death till He comes that they were not even considering the purpose and meaning of the Supper. Their treatment of the Supper was so bad that they did not even care who partook of the Supper. They treated it as an individualistic participation rather than the Lord’s family meal of forgiveness and nurturing in His Communion. They were not rightly discerning the Lord’s body and therefore they were ignoring others so that they were left out, just like the doctrine and practice of Confirmation does to those who have not been “properly instructed and confirmed.”

     Young Casper and Disney have it right. “Baptism was so important to me because I, because we become a child of God. That’s why it’s important to me.”

     These boys have been taught a marvelous hymn, a hymn which they prize and sing from their hearts. It is a shame that the doctrine of this hymn is ignored by their teachers and pastors regarding their true place in God’s family.

     The words of this hymn are available at God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It and at Witness, Mercy, Life Together: God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It. From these I quote the 2nd and 3rd stanzas:

Stanza 2

Sin, disturb my soul no longer:
I am baptized into Christ!
I have comfort even stronger:
Jesus' cleansing sacrifice.
Should a guilty conscience seize me
Since my Baptism did release me
In a dear forgiving flood,
Sprinkling me with Jesus' blood!

Stanza 3

Satan, hear this proclamation:
I am baptized into Christ!
Drop your ugly accusation,
I am not so soon enticed.
Now that to the font I've traveled,
All your might has come unraveled,
And, against your tyranny,
God, my Lord, unites with me!

     What is the purpose of Baptism? What is the purpose of the Lord’s Supper? Young Disney says it wonderfully.

     Isn’t it time that the pastors, teachers, and parents learn it, too? Isn’t it time that they stop eating and drinking judgment upon themselves by refusing the Lord’s command to suffer the little children to come to Him? Is this not the invitation of the Supper as well as of Baptism?

     At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. 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 11:25-30)

     The wise and the prudent imagine that admission to the Supper is dependent upon being able to express one’s understanding, forgetting that:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)

     Is this not what this wonderful hymn that is taught to the children teaches? Is this not their understanding that the Holy Spirit imparts to them and continually instructs them in connection with the one true faith given to them in their baptism?

     Here is the full hymn presented by Gillian and Paul Norris as a YouTube video:

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Monday, February 25, 2013

The U.S. Health Care Money Making Scam

For a very disturbing look at the US Health Care System, see 50 Signs That The U.S. Health Care System Is A Gigantic Money Making Scam That Is About To Collapse.

Included in this article is a warning against government provided health care.

Others are urging us to become more like Europe.

But do we really want what they have in the UK?...

Sick children are being discharged from NHS hospitals to die at home or in hospices on controversial ‘death pathways’.

Until now, end of life regime the Liverpool Care Pathway was thought to have involved only elderly and terminally-ill adults.

But the Mail can reveal the practice of withdrawing food and fluid by tube is being used on young patients as well as severely disabled newborn babies.

One doctor has admitted starving and dehydrating ten babies to death in the neonatal unit of one hospital alone.

Writing in a leading medical journal, the physician revealed the process can take an average of ten days during which a  baby becomes ‘smaller and shrunken’.

The article in the link mentioned above is Now sick babies go on death pathway: Doctor's haunting testimony reveals how children are put on end-of-life plan.

According to what is reported in this article, the health care industrialists have determined that some people should be sent home to be murdered.  They are not merely sent home without medical assistance, but actually have their food and water denied to them so that they die of dehydration and starvation.  This is a very different action than declaring that no additional medical treatments will be administered.  This is a determination to kill the person.  The person is condemned to an agonizing death as this hospice pediatric nurse reported in the article:

     ‘I have also seen children die in terrible thirst because fluids are withdrawn from them until they die.’

     ‘I witnessed a 14 year-old boy with cancer die with his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth when doctors refused to give him liquids by tube. His death was agonising for him, and for us nurses to watch. This is euthanasia by the backdoor.’

What does it take to cause people to become alarmed?  This is appalling!  These decisions are not based upon helping people but upon judging people as unfit to live and to receive love and care.  This is not “end of life” care.  This is determining to end life.

Doctors do not know whether a person can survive.  Anyone with any long term experience in these issues has seen multiple cases where the doctors were DEAD wrong.  People have been healed of what doctors declared to be incurable diseases and circumstances.  People have recovered and lived when doctors judged them to be terminal, often even audaciously predetermining the time frame.

Acceptance of the judgment of doctors in these matters becomes more and more common as fewer and fewer people trust that these matters remain in God’s merciful judgment.  As God becomes reduced to technology and the limitation of medical ‘science,’ people begin to trust the arrogant judgments of doctors and bureaucrats and begin pondering the “most humane” ways of “letting people die.”

Truly loving and caring people will recognize that there are times when what is called “heroic measures” should not be pursued when a person’s heart has stopped beating and the person has stopped breathing.  But this is not the same as determining no longer to give hydration or nutrition to a person, or administering lethal drugs to hasten a person’s death.

True caring for people involves standing by their bedside, speaking kind words, leading in prayers and hymns and administering the means of grace.  Such acts truly comfort a person facing life threatening illness and even death itself.

But who believes in such things today?

As for me and my house, ... (Joshua 24:15)

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Cough and Cold Suffering Relief

It seems that everyone has been afflicted with the viral attacks currently circulating.  I have heard from many people who say that they have been bed ridden for several days.  Here are several videos sharing some very interesting sources of relief that are not the pharmaceutical drug based suppressants and decongestants.

Coughing Fix: How to Suppress an Annoying Cough

Apple Cider Vinegar with Honey Knock Out Any Cold!

Apple cider vinegar + honey = natural cough remedy

Using raw honey that is locally produced is a very important aspect of the honey remedies.  Cooking and pasteurization destroy many of the benefits of the honey.  Locally grown honey also has the benefit of assisting in relief from local allergens.

Another beneficial practice is nasal rinsing, using equal parts of table salt (NaCl) and Baking Soda.  A very safe level is 1/8 teaspoon of each dissolved in a cup of warm water.

Other natural aids for colds and especially head colds and sinus congestion and drainage include Bromelain and Wild Oil of Oregano.  The bromelain must be taken separately from meals or it will be utilized in the digestive process rather than absorbed and used as an anti-inflammatory. Turmeric and ginger can be consumed also as anti-inflammatory foods.  Turmeric aids in reducing headaches and heartburn as well.

For a list of such ingredients see What Are the Best Anti-Inflammatory Spices?.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Not OK, for You, Man

Yesterday produced various reports of a domestic incident in Darien, CT.  According to police, a family fight ensued between CBS news personalities Robert and Ashley Morrison.  Ashley’s mother called the police to report the incident.  The police found red marks on Ashley’s neck and arrested her husband for felony strangulation.

Here is Robert’s mug shot:

While the various reports all mention that upon arrival the police found Robert’s face bloodied, not a single word is mentioned in any of the news reports concerning how this occurred.

How did Robert receive these injuries?

In the elevated family fracas, who first acted with violence against the other?

How can it be that with two people suffering injuries that only one is charged with violence?

In the film, Joe Somebody, Joe and his girlfriend, Meg, have an argument where she gives him an ultimatum regarding his plan to do something very stupid and wrong.  He has planned and prepared for a fight with a bully who previously assaulted him and humiliated him.  She presents the ultimatum of a choice between keeping the appointment for the fight or keeping her.  He sadly says that he cannot make that choice and walks away.

After facing the bully and declining to fight him, Joe comes to Meg to share the news of his choice.  She does not listen, but reacts angrily and violently.  She first gives a two-fisted and forceful thrust to Joe’s chest.  Then she punches toward his face, which he blocks.  He explains how important she is to him and she calms down and all is wonderful.

How many times is this sort of scene portrayed in the movies?  How many times is this encountered in real life?

How many people will be inclined to call the police upon seeing a woman striking a man?  If a man calls the police saying that his wife is pushing him around and hitting him, will they even respond to the call?  If they do, will they arrest the woman or will they bring a straightjacket for the man and take him for a psych evaluation?

How many wives hit their husbands and when confronted act as though they did nothing wrong?

Admittedly, in many cases it is like a flea attacking a dog.  Yet even the tiniest flea can drive a dog crazy.

I have witnessed women acting violently toward men on many occasions, even as they walked down the street or in a shopping mall or parking lot.  I have never seen the police called unless the man responded in similar manner.  In fact, I’ve never seen people intervene in any way unless the man became forceful.  This is especially true in less affluent areas.

How is it that a woman can be abusive to a man without a strong likelihood of being held accountable, but if a person acts abusively to a horse the person is very likely to be charged with a crime?

What actually transpired in the Morrison household is not known publicly.  Yet the reporting certainly reflects this inequitable perception in society.  Moreover, the reported assumptions of the police also seem to reflect this injustice.  The police responded to a reported incident.  Upon their arrival at the home they find two people with injuries.  The man is arrested and charged with multiple crimes.  The woman is presumed to be an innocent victim.

Maybe the police were correct.

Certainly Robert’s love for his wife should have restrained him from acting as he did, whether or not he was provoked by his wife or even if she bloodied his face.  Certainly he should have found a non-violent way to address whatever issues existed between them, even if this meant leaving the issue alone until they both could confront one another calmly and rationally.

And from a Christian perspective, the responsibility does fall upon the husband to act as the head of his family. This means that he will be the one to bear the injustice and unfairness of the situation.  He will be the one to step back and wait patiently for his wife and family to become calm again.  The Lord has placed this upon the man.  He is to be the stronger one who bears all things in love, dealing with the issues from the strength that the Lord gives.

It is amazing how often extremely heated arguments if viewed in retrospect are perceived as arising from very insignificant issues.  Pride and an unwillingness to bear what is perceived to be unfair are usually the main problems.

     And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
(1 Peter 4:8)

Agape kalupsei plethos hamartion. (1 Peter 4:8)

of lacking of share in/missed marks

Husband and wife, sharing together in Agape, see not the missed marks of the other, perceive not the short comings of the other, count not any lacking of sharing in the union with the other, for all that they perceive is the Agape.  It is as though the bridal veil is again covering the bride’s face so that she sees her husband through the veil and he sees her through the veil.  Both are viewed with the perfection of the love that binds them together.

When this veil is removed and cast aside or stored away someplace, then they see each other very differently.  Then every fault, every failure, ever shortcoming is viewed and accounted.

In Joe Somebody, when Joe stops Meg from hitting him and pressed beyond her anger to express his love for her, he tells her: “You're what I want.  I don't think there's anything about you that I don't like.”  She responds: “My ears aren't perfectly even.”  Joe responds: “I like that.”

Joe seems not even to have noticed that she tried to hurt him.  He counts no insult from her ridiculous minimization of her faults with the vain remark about her ears.  He sees only the beautiful perfection of his love for her.

This is the way with Agape.  It is a one-sided love.  Agape is of God.  Thus it covers all to whom He gives it so that they begin to see through God’s love for us, which covers all imperfection with God’s perfect love.  This is more than an emotional attachment or infatuation. For those to whom God’s love is poured out in their baptism, God’s love covers them and fills them completely so that their view of the world is changed.  This is because they themselves are changed.

The beginnings of this are experienced even now for those who are baptized into Christ.  In the resurrection they shall experience this in its fullness everlastingly.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

The Love of Many Shall Wax Cold

     And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. (Matthew 24:11-12)

     Upon viewing this video I was amazed that the driver in the car was so alert as to stop. The danger was quickly assessed and proper safety maneuvers were enacted.

     Then I was astounded by the same driver’s actions as he inspected the front of his car for damage, giving only a cursory glance toward the driver of the truck, with seemingly no concern whatsoever for the other driver’s well-being.

     This sort of love waxed cold is becoming more and more evident today, at least in my daily observations. The caring that I remember observing as common in years past seems to be fading into the shadows.

     At the YouTube page for this video a number of people commented. Some expressing alarm or disappointment that the man did not display any apparent concern for his neighbor. Others, however, expressed sentiments like this one:

     You think YOU'd care about some asshole who almost just killed you? I wouldn't. I commend the guy for illustrating his apathy for the other driver's health.

     This is very disturbing to me. I cannot imagine not caring. Furthermore, I cannot imagine praising such apathy. This is entirely alien to me.

     My citizenship and mindset are not of this world, and so I suppose that I must simply accept that from the worldly perspective, I am the alien.

     If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:1-2)

     In times past there were many, especially in this country, who embraced this mindset. There are far fewer today who truly hold to this and indeed we are seeing the love of many waxing cold, just as the Lord Jesus forewarned. The more that the Christian churches muddy their doctrine and practice, the less grounded that they are in the pure preaching and administration of the Word and Sacraments, the less that God’s love shines.

     This is not to say that even among those of other religions and corrupted Christianity and even among atheists that no sense of caring is displayed. One would be acting blindly to make such a claim.

     For the law of God is written upon the hearts of all men, having been inscribed from the sixth day of creation, when Man was made in God’s image. Thus even in our corrupted state, we still show the dim reflection of how we were originally created. Even the various other religions and false Christian religions reflect this. This reflection is, however, very dim and lacking the true love that is of God.

     For example, the yin and yang philosophy, embraces a dichotomy of supposedly complementary forces. Thus fighting styles and methods are often used to teach peace. This is a very, very different way from the way of Christ. This concept of peace and especially of love is expressed as a balance of forces. Not so for the way of Christ, where love prevails and rules the heart and life of the believer. Christ’s way is not at all harmonious with the worldly way. For the Christian love is not a choice. For the Christian love is the very essence of one’s life in Christ.

     Such love does not wax cold. Such love prevails even when one’s reactionary response would be that the other person deserves to be treated with apathy or even worse. Even when the Christian becomes momentarily lost in the way of the sinful nature, the Holy Spirit speaks peace and love to the regenerated nature so that God’s peace and love again rise triumphantly in the heart.

     It is sad to realize that many will never know this love of God in Christ. Many will settle for the worldly notions of love that depend upon a person’s own willingness to act lovingly and caringly. Even from this perspective, most imagine love to be merely an emotional response. Such a view of love is flighty at best and has no real substance.

     The love of God is such that one’s enemies are blessed rather than cursed. The true Christian is moved by God’s love to pray for even one’s enemies, even as the Lord Jesus Himself did from the cross and as St. Stephen did as his enemies were stoning him to death.

     In a world where even most who call themselves Christians think of love as a choice and often even as a meritorious work, when this essential article of Christian doctrine is obscured, it follows that the love of many will surely wax cold. Thus Christians will want to prize the pure means of grace and flee to them where they receive God’s love, His grace, mercy, and peace, freely as His gifts from above administered to us in forms that we can see, touch, taste, and hear, even as He Himself took bodily form to live, suffer, die, and rise again for our redemption, salvation, justification, sanctification, and regeneration to life in communion in His love.

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Huh? Oh! Duh!

I saw this graphic today and wondered what was so hard?

I started naming all sorts of brands:

Kellogg, Doritos, Frito Lay, Pepsi, Coca Cola, Walmart, Kmart, Sears, Craftsman . . .

I read people’s comments and wondered what kind of brands they were mentioning.




My mind automatically added the missing R, or at least what my mind perceived as the missing R.

I don’t even know the names of any bands. Oh, well, of course:

Steel, aluminum, rubber (but it has 2 Bs), woven, nylon, polyester, muscle . . .

And of course:

Curad, Johnson & Johnson, Nexcare . . .

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Thirty Day Challenge versus Forty Day Humbling

I truly love Lententide as it is a very powerful season calling us away from the false worship that we devise for ourselves.

One of the stations that I hear when driving has a 30 Day Challenge in which the challenge is to listen to their station to hear only Christian Music for 30 days and see how it changes a person’s life.  I would actually love to be able to do this.  I truly would.  If only such a station existed where Christian music is what is played.

Rather, all that is available is the pablum found on stations like theirs.  If it were merely pablum, maybe I could still utilize it, but it is also bad theology, false theology.  Thus, they are right, if I were to listen to this for 30 days, I would become the kind of Christian that these songs inspire, one who in self-delusion speaks of relying on Christ while ultimately relying upon my own reason and strength.

Thus I often turn on the radio and listen to such a station for as long as I can stand it, hearing the weather and a few other reports as well as the “uplifting Christian music,” and then I turn it off and sing and hum hymns and portions of the liturgy.

Lent is a time that helps me with this as the entire focus of Lent directs us away from self to the preaching of Christ crucified.

I often am befuddled when I observe how many people choose for themselves songs that consist of a few fragments of a Psalm or other Scriptural selection and twist these into a mindless orgy of delusional “praise.”

The Psalms were the hymnal for the Church of the Old Testament.  They consist of the deepest doctrinal content.  They rarely repeat except with those particularly written as responsive prayers, such as Psalm 136.  Some are quite short and others are quite long.  But they always are full of deep content and are written to fit within the greater life of worship with the coming of the Christ as the foundation.  They teach of the grandeur and marvel of God’s work of creation.  They teach of the fall of mankind and the promise of the Savior.  They teach of the giving of the Torah/Law/Word of God for the enlightenment of mankind concerning the God of grace and salvation.  They were compiled into a grouping together, to be understood one with the other, never as fragmentary praises to stand alone.

While a radio station may extend a 30 day challenge to listen only to their music as motivation to be changed in one’s focus and view, the Church has the 40 day season of fasting and prayer, calling us to be humbled so that we may turn from seeking to be uplifted so that we rather willingly and even eagerly fall to our knees before God to receive His merciful absolution and blessing of regeneration into His kingdom.  Lent calls us to bow down and hear again our baptismal promise of absolution and reconciliation with God.  Lent calls us to turn from the sweet notions of birthday parties for Jesus to the battered and bloodied Son of Man who cried out with our sin for us on the cross of our salvation.  Exuberant cries of “Joy to the World” and “Happy Birthday Jesus” are turned to tears of thankful joy that God would take such suffering from us on our behalf.

Lent is still a time of praise, but of a very different kind than what the old Adam chooses.  The old Adam wants to flaunt the freedom of the new life.  The regenerated man  rises up from being baptized into God’s kingdom and praises the eternal sacrifice of the Lamb who even from eternity volunteered to save the brothers whom He created.

It is quite marvelous to observe the manner of St. Peter after the resurrection contrasted to his manner prior to the crucifixion.  Lent calls us to be turned to this humbleness of spirit, too.  Lent calls us to look to the Holy Supper as our Thanksgiving.  Lent directs our hearts to hunger and thirst for the pure administration of the body and blood of Jesus as our greatest praise of God.  There we bow to His grace rather than to raise ourselves up to our own noise.  There God is honored most fully, even as He Himself has said thus to do.

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Christian Fraudulence

“Liar!  Liar!  Pants on fire!”

This is in part, the message of Lent.

Yes, as a Christian I face this every day.  As I profess to believe in Jesus as my Savior, I continually am confronted with my own unbelief.  The greatest reminder of this is my internal war with those sins that seem to own me.

Which sins?

We each have our own lists.  What is more is that we have sins of which we don’t even realize.

Lent is a time to be reminded how total our corruption is.  Apart from the Gospel we are truly corrupt, that is, dead and rotting.

Throughout my life I have often encountered a dead animal that needed to be buried.  Even something as small as a dead squirrel run over on the road can be horrific enough to send my olfactory senses into a reaction that produces convulsions of my guts.  In such circumstances I have learned to dig the burial pit first so that I can scoop up the rotting corpse and hold my breath while carrying it to the hole.  Sometimes it is so bad that I then have to walk away from the hole to get a breath and return to cast dirt over the corpse.

Anyone who has dealt with this has no question as to the rottenness and corruption of death.  This is what sin makes of us all.

But we manage to keep our distance so that we can delude ourselves regarding our own corruption.  Thus we need to hear, “Liar!  Liar!  Pants on fire!”

Truly this is an apt description.  We go about our business, scurrying here and there, not realizing that our pants are on fire, telling ourselves that we are OK.

Lent is a season when we cry out to remind one another and ourselves that our pants are on fire and that repentance is not something needed by other people, but by ourselves.

But in order to repent, that is, in order to be turned again, we need to hear that we have someplace to turn.  This is the ultimate goal of Lent.  The Gospel is the ultimate message.  Repentance is worked in us when the Holy Spirit implants the Word in us so that we hear both our need for salvation as well as the good news that in Christ this salvation is come.

Thus in His Church Christ ordained His means of grace.  Through these we continually receive the administration of His forgiveness and renewal.  Through these we are brought into His kingdom and preserved in His kingdom.
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Blessed Lent

Lent truly is a blessed time in the Church Year.  In my own appreciation of the seasons of the Church Year, I find Lent to be the most powerful.  My heart finds its way back to the thoughts and especially the hymns of Lententide throughout the year.  The comfort of the Lententide proclamation of my deep need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified is very powerfully beneficial to me in my daily struggles in this sin-filled world.  Without that comfort I would surely despair.  Thus I treasure this message of comfort.

Today I saw a video that troubled me greatly.  It is a presentation from the current president of my former church body, the LC-MS.  This video presentation reminds me of what a dear friend was recently told by one or our former peers, by a current pastor in the LC-MS.  He was told:

Do you know what your problem is?  Your problem is that you actually believe this stuff.

My heart breaks every time that I think of this.  I most assuredly experienced this myself regarding the “faithful” pastors of this church body.  This is why I am distressed by the following video presentation.

This style of mild mannered preaching is not new.  In the past I was more easily duped by such a style, where the very kind and gentle manner of the synodical president gives the impression that a grandfatherly approach is being displayed.  However, grandfathers who truly love their children and grandchildren do not calmly allow their families to continue in dysfunction and discord.  Rather they take a strong position in calling those whom they love to be turned from the things that cause problems.

In this video Matthew 6 is quoted to make the point that Jesus loves prayer.  Mention is made of Luther’s wonderful explanation of the Our Father.  These are wonderful points to make.  These surely are to be preached and with loving gentleness.

Harrison further notes the value of the Litany.  The portion that he quotes is on pages 288-289 of the Lutheran Service Book and is available online here.  The LSB has slightly altered this responsive prayer from the earlier versions, but it still teaches the same basic points.  It still is a very good example of true prayer.

Harrison directs his hearers to the Litany as a wonderful help in praying as the Lord Jesus and His apostles teach that prayers should be made.  This is wonderful advice.

Then Harrison says at 3:35 on the time line:

Sometimes, when I get to this part, “We poor sinners implore You to hear us, O Lord.  To rule and govern Your holy Christian Church; to preserve all pastors and ministers of Your Church in the true knowledge and understanding of Your wholesome Word and to sustain them in holy living;” I stop.

At this point he shares the need for a person to pray for and support one’s pastor.  He instructs on the need to be aware of one’s failure to honor God’s gift of faithful pastors and to repent of this, calling upon God to forgive this failure and to move the people to pray for their faithful pastors.

He concludes urging, “Thank You for giving me a faithful pastor.”  Indeed, this is true cause for thanksgiving.

However, can this prayer rightly be urged in a church body where there are pastors who say things like: “Do you know what your problem is?  Your problem is that you actually believe this stuff.”

Is it loving to ignore the fact that congregations in this church body have pastors who are not faithful?  Should this Lenten admonition ignore the urgency for praying that the Lord of the Church rule and govern His holy Christian Church so that the pastors are only those who are preserved in the true knowledge and understanding of God’s wholesome Word and in holy living?

Should this Lenten admonition not also to include the rest of this section of the Litany?

To put an end to all schisms and causes of offense; to bring into the way of truth all who have erred and are deceived; To beat down Satan under our feet; to send faithful laborers into Your harvest; and to accompany Your Word with Your grace and Spirit:

How can Pr. Harrison ignore the fact, especially during this time of Lent when his duty is to call the pastors and congregations to repentance of their waywardness concerning God’s Word, how can he ignore the fact that there is indeed great division in his church body concerning the doctrine and practice of that church body?

Could it be that he is actually one of those pastors who says: “Do you know what your problem is?  Your problem is that you actually believe this stuff.”?

The Epistle of James warns about this idea that faith can somehow exist without the good works that flow from faith.  He warns that such faith is dead.  If a congregation, pastor, church body, synodical president, talk about faith and faithfulness but do not agree in what this means, just making noise to be heard and seen for their words, is this not what the Lord Jesus warns against in the very text that Pr. Harrison used to teach that Jesus loves prayer?

"Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. "Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  (Matthew 6:1-2 ESV)

"And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. "And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.  (Matthew 6:5-9 ESV)

Surely Jesus does love true prayer that flows from hearts that have been baptized into Him and the new life breathed into them by the Holy Spirit.  This new life is one of true unity in the confession of the one true faith, a life of worship in the doctrine and practice of the apostles.

But does Jesus love prayer that stops short of actually embracing this unity in the true faith of Jesus?  Does Jesus love prayer that says, “Thank you for giving me a faithful pastor” when this pastor does not demonstrate this faithfulness?  Does Jesus love prayer that pretends that a pastor is given by God when in fact this pastor is chosen and ordained without true concern for what the Lord has clearly declared as the definition of a true pastor and congregation and worship?

Can the season of Lent be a truly Blessed Lent without recognizing the gifts through which the season is made to be blessed?  If Lent is a penitential season, should this penitence not begin with acknowledging and turning from the trespasses of the church body and congregations and pastors so that the people may be rightly instructed concerning the blessed preaching and administration of the means of grace?

At the end of his video Pr. Harrison says regarding what he and others have to confess regarding not praying for and supporting their pastors: “Lord forgive me, I deserve to be removed from that congregation and for my pastor to be taken away.”

This is truly ironic, for they truly have starved out hundreds of faithful pastors.  Some were driven out forcefully.  They have removed all of the pastors who were willing to stand unmoved so that now their pastors are those who on one side make a show of contemporaneity with the world and much preaching of love and tolerance, and on the other hand, those who make a show of liturgical fidelity and propriety.  Both sides urging the people to remain steadfast to the synod.

Is this the message by which Lent is blessed?

Other people could point to the church bodies most familiar to them and show the same lack of the true preaching and practice that the Lord declares to be the marks of His Church.  I speak of the one most familiar to me, the one in which most of my loves ones still abide.

Lent is certainly a good time to call out with such observations.  As we journey toward the observance of the betrayal of the Lord Jesus, and His false condemnation, suffering, crucifixion, death, and burial, this is a very good season to ask ourselves whether we are congregating with those who are truly His body, His Church on earth.  This is a good season to be asking whether or not the congregation where we seek to receive the blessings of Lent is really a congregation where these blessings are administered as Christ has ordained them.  This is a good season to be examining ourselves to know for certain that we are indeed bound to Jesus Christ in the things that we are receiving.

This is why St. Paul writes:

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
  (Philippians 2:12)

Since Lent is a season for being called to remember what is most important to us regarding our everlasting salvation, is this not what we truly need to consider?  Should we not fall to our knees with fear and trembling at the thought that we could have become misled in our beliefs?  Should be not tremble at that thought that we could have chosen for ourselves an alternative to what Christ and His apostles have proclaimed?  Should we not scrutinize everything that we embrace as true to be certain that what we believe really is true?  Should we not be moved beyond our complacency to study with the utmost care to be certain that our salvation has not slipped away from us while we sat in the pew praising God from our own imagined safety?

What one of us is truly safe?  What one of us can be absolutely sure?

Such certainly is promised.  Such certainty is declared in the Holy Scriptures.

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
  (John 20:30-31)

He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
  (1 John 5:10-13)

For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
  (1 Corinthians 11:31-32)

Jonah was sent with a very simple message to the people of Nineveh.  The people of Nineveh heard the warning and in their hearts they were turned again from their waywardness to the Lord and they were saved, at least that generation was.  But over time their children and grandchildren drifted and forgot and they lost the salvation in which their parents believed.

Isn’t it time that we begin to pray the entire Litany again, praying it from the heart and not just as part of a Lenten liturgical tradition?  Isn’t it time that we begin again to pray confessing ourselves as poor miserable sinners who desperately need the pure medicine that only in its purity has the power to save and heal us?

Surely then this would be a most blessed Lent.  Surely this would also be a truly blessed celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

An Apology Is Not Repentance

In the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000) is the following conversation between Rannulph Junuh and Adele Invergordon.

Adele approaches Junuh and sits beside him on the bench, uncomfortably.

Junuh:  There something you wanted to tell me?

Adele:  Well, I'm trying to think of how to say it, Junuh.

       There is a purpose to this visit...
       ...and that's to apologize.

       I'm not an apologetic woman, it takes me longer to organize my thoughts.

       I want to seem properly contrite for having gotten you into this match...
       ...but not seem what I did was ill-intentioned, since it wasn't.

Junuh:  What exactly are you apologizing for?

Adele:  For publicly humiliating you.

Junuh:  That'd be a good thing to apologize for.

Adele:  However, I think that...

       Basically, what I'm trying to say is...

       ...that I'm sorry.

       But it's not my fault.

       You're the one to blame.

Junuh:   That's one hell of an apology, Adele.

Adele:  I'd stop the tournament in a flash, if I could. I truly, truly would.

       Because I know it's just gonna get worse.
       The way you're playing, you're destroying...
       ...any chance Jones and Hagen have of doing well.

       And your supporters? Every man, woman, and child in Savannah...
       ...are so demoralized that they can barely hold down their lunches.

       So, you want my apology or not?

Junuh:  No.

Adele:  Well...

       That's the Junuh I know. Just full of little surprises.

What was this?

Why did Adele even approach her estranged husband?

Years earlier poor Junuh was the sole survivor in a World War I battle.  He did not know how to face people after this.  He could not explain it for himself.  He was counted as a hero by everyone except himself.  He felt guilty for surviving.  So he returned to his hometown but not to his wife.  He was not able to forgive himself so as to face himself, so he could not be open to face her, either.

This was wrong.  She was deeply injured.  She suffered for over ten years because of his inability to face the circumstances of his life honestly.  He sought for answers without turning to the source of truth and goodness.  So he tried to hide from himself.  He could not do this while embracing his wife.  The marital union requires honesty.  All unity is completely dependent upon the Truth.  Junuh had turned his face, his heart, his soul away from the Truth.

Adele wanted to save her father’s legacy.  She wanted to save the golf course and fortune of her father.  She devised a grand plan to have a legendary tournament to initiate interest in the golf course.  So she coerced her husband to come forth and play in the tournament.  Her motives were mixed, but were selfish.  She thought only of what she wanted, even though deep down that included reconciliation with her husband.  But even this reconciliation she sought for selfish motives.

Eventually she confronted her husband with his sin against her.  He apologized sincerely.  He confessed his sin and asked forgiveness, which she initially refused to give.  But he repented nonetheless.  Eventually she did forgive him and rejoin him.  And he forgave her even though she never truly confessed her own sin against him.  But she did turn from her sin.  She stopped blaming him and hating him.  Though her confession was incomplete, she was turned again to love and true compassion for her husband, and he received her with no demands upon her.  Her confession and contrition were false, but she was nevertheless turned from this falseness back to the truth of their love.

The confrontation took place.  Both hearts were turned.  Forgiveness and healing and reconciliation resulted.  They began life together anew.

This story does not fully portray the life of the forgiveness that is in Christ, but it does demonstrate some of the important aspects.  The reconciliation that God works is far greater.  It is a one sided reconciliation in that God initiates it and fulfills it.  He is the innocent one, the one who has been wronged, and yet He willingly takes the blame and buries it with His own death.  He rises up and continually calls to us to confess our waywardness and to be reconciled to Him in His love.  Even though we are unable fully to confess our sin, He eagerly forgives us and restores us.  Even though we turn from the truth, He proclaims it openly and fully so that we are moved to believe it and be turned again to Him to receive His grace, mercy, and peace.

Like Junuh, we need to hear the good news that though we are lost, our place has been reserved for us.  When we finally hear this in faith, we are turned from our obstinate unbelief so that we gladly and humbly return to the one calling us back to His fatherly embrace.

Like Adele, though we are confused and angry, often not even knowing why we are angry, God’s continual call melts our stubbornness so that His love prevails and we are rejoined to Him in His Holy Communion.  Deep down that is what we want all along, but because we seek to be strong on our own we resist His loving call to return humbly to Him.  When we finally hear the truth that His love and His calling are the answer, when we finally are broken with the weariness of fighting to make things right in our lives by our own reason and strength, when we finally admit that we cannot do for ourselves what God graciously does freely for us, then we look up and see that the battle has already been won and the life is already restored for us.

I was moved to write this as my heart sought a way to address the fraudulence in the following video.  In this video the president of the LC-MS seeks to effect healing within his church body through a pretense of repentance.  In this and the letters at Pastoral Letters on the Newtown Tragedy no wrongdoing is ever actually confessed or addressed.

If one carefully observes both the video and the letters, both Adele and Junuh show forth in various ways.  There is hiding from the truth.  There is lack of open confrontation of wrongdoing.  There are false attempts at apologies that really are not apologies at all.

In the end this is much worse because there is no repentance, no forgiveness, no healing.

There is, however, a very subtle pointing of the finger of blame away from those who are in the middle of the conflict.  Very subtly the blame is placed upon those within the church body who are calling out for the leaders and pastors and congregations to turn from the pretense.  Those who are calling for the truth to be confessed and the hypocrisy to be abandoned are being told that they are unloving for not being willing to pretend that all is well.  Those seeking honest confession and absolution and a genuine turning from corruption of the truth are being told that they should turn a blind eye and be quiet for the sake of a pretense of unity and love.

This is not the way of true healing.  This is not the way of real unity.

It would be wonderful to see the leaders and people of this church body to realize this and to be turned to the Truth so that they may receive the healing that their hearts long to receive.  The problem remains for them that they serve their mammon and imagine that they can serve God also.  They continue to fight to preserve what they hold most dear, that is, their church body.

It would truly be a joyous day if like Adele they realized that saving the legacy of their fathers is not what matters.  Then they would walk away from their church body and be reunited in the union of the true faith.  Then they would truly be “synod” not through a corporate charter and a constitution and by-laws, but as those truly in the “together-way.”

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Saturday, February 09, 2013

Truly Sad Business - Answers

     In response in the comments for my post Truly Sad Business, my friend the Canadian Atheist presented some very thoughtful questions.  I believe that they were presented both as respectful challenges as well as inquiries to my understanding.

     I very much admire the manner of presenting these questions as well as the depth of thought that they display.

     Here are his questions, followed by my response:


Just say that they outlawed abortion tomorrow. Do you seriously think abortions would stop? Do you think unwanted children would be better off? Do you think there wouldn't be sick people with coat hangers doing the work instead of trained professionals? Would these women be any better off in the hands of a man swinging a coat hanger?

And finally, what do you think the solution is?

Dear Canadian,

     You are asking some wonderful questions.  Thank you for the opportunity to address them.

     In order for abortion to be outlawed again as it was in times past, a major shift in understanding would have to occur.  Decades of misinformation and treacherous indoctrination would have to be reversed.  The entire mindset of the people would have to be turned back from what has been systematically inculcated over several generations.  While this could happen overnight as you suggest, it rarely does.

     If such a return to valuing human life did occur, then abortions would most certainly stop, even without the force of the law being imposed.

     From my world view, from my understanding of reality, there are no unwanted children.

     I believe in Yahweh, the Everlasting Father, the Creator of all that exists, the Father through whom all families have their name, the Redeemer who counseled from eternity to sacrifice Himself to save His beloved children from their self-destructive rebellion through His life and sacrificial death as one of us.  He has declared that He wants all children to be counted as precious even as He counts them thus.

     The concept of unwanted children is the product of selfishness and of turning from the understanding that all children are planned by their Everlasting Father, who graciously blesses the coming together of man and woman to bring forth new children into the world. When people return to considering children from this perspective, there are no unwanted children.  Rather, all children are counted as blessings and as beloved.

     Parents who love their children do as the Father of all and they selflessly sacrifice themselves for the sake of their beloved children.

     Early in our marriage, my wife and I discussed this as we drew close for sharing as husband and wife.  I initiated the topic, saying that if she were to become pregnant and the doctors were to determine that her life were threatened, that from my side, as frightening as the thought of losing her would be, that I could not say that her life was more important than the baby’s, that I could not turn from trusting the Lord in this matter and that if the decision were left to me I would have to insist that the doctors work to save both lives, no matter what.  She agreed.  I stated that I feared how I would feel if she died from such a decision, and she assured me that it would nevertheless be the right and loving choice.

     Being at least somewhat informed about “professional” abortion procedures, I cannot see the professional as any less sick than the person who uses a coat hanger, especially since the professional supposedly has full medical training and is fully aware that the mother is being put at risk by these procedures.  The person with a coat hanger is not going to advertise and openly try to convince people that this is a valid choice.

     In the days when abortion was illegal, abortions were relatively rare.

     As for a woman turning to coat hangers and twigs, such tactics are ordinarily only utilized early in the pregnancy, when the risk is somewhat lower to the mother.  But that really means nothing in this issue.  When women make this choice, instead of letting the pregnancy follow its natural course, they have made a very dangerous choice.  This is on their head, not society’s.

     Society’s responsibility lies in the overturn of viewing sexual relations as properly belonging only within the lifetime commitment of the marital union, where family and lifelong loving union is the mindset.  Society is also at fault for treating the pregnant woman and her unplanned pregnancy as the issue rather than teaching the great blessing of honoring sexuality for what it really is.

     So I believe that the solution is a return unto the source of Life for our understanding of our lives, both individually and communally.  When the Life is honored our lives are treasured.

     As you already know, for me absolutely everything is founded upon the continual communion of people with and in the Lord.  When this communion is genuine and unbroken, life is restored to what it should be.  Everything is again made right and good.  For people with this understanding, the notion of abortion and all of the associated troubles is not even existent.  For such people, people who make mistakes are offered forgiveness and help and healing.  For such people the pain of guilt and the continual need for the promise of absolution are felt personally to such a degree that this is their desire for all others who honestly face their own iniquity.  Among such people those who face the results of their thoughtless actions, those already feeling their own self-chosen and self-applied condemnation, turn to those who know the promise of God’s forgiveness and healing and reconciliation.

     This is the purpose of the true Church of God on earth.  The true Church does not seek to change society or to promote laws and regulations.  The law is given to restrain wickedness.  The Church does not seek this.  The Church is the congregation of the communion of saints unto their Lord in His holiness poured out through the means of grace.  The Church cries out against wickedness, calling everyone to be turned from the wickedness to receive forgiveness and reconciliation and restoration.

     The solution to abortion is not outlawing abortion.  The solution to abortion is Love, which is of God.  Love does no wrong to its neighbor.  Love defends its neighbor, especially the helpless.  Love forgives its enemies and prays for them.  Love is patient and longsuffering.  Love is of God because God is love.  Love never fails.

     In this world of wickedness laws are necessary.  Laws are not the answer, but when they are just laws that are rightly enforced, they do help to restrain the wickedness.  But the answer is Love, which overthrows wickedness and replaces it with righteousness. If this were the one and only way, we all would live together again as one big and happy family.

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Brilliant Public Speaker

At WND is reported Watch Obama get his 'medicine' on live TV.

I much prefer my title, for this is a brilliant example of public speaking.  None of malice that is displayed by WND’s title is shown in this speech.  WND should be ashamed.  While they give a good sampling of news, they certainly do not do so in accord with their claim to be a Christian network.  Perhaps some of their energy should be expended in examining the Eighth Commandment.  Luther’s explanation ought to be posted on their newsroom wall.

The Eighth Commandment.

    Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

    What does this mean?—Answer.

     We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, [think and] speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.

As I point my finger at WND, I am reminded of my own need for this continual reminder and call to be turned again to the love that motivates defense rather than the propensity toward judgment of others.

In this video I find myself admiring this speaker.  And no Teleprompter or manuscript.  It is clear that he writes his own speeches and that they are expressions of his heart.

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Friday, February 08, 2013

Truly Sad Business

The Real Choice article, NAF Member LeRoy Carhart Just Killed Patient in Maryland shares information and links to more information regarding a 29 year old woman who died as a result of complications during a 33rd week late term abortion when her abortion doctor could not be reached.

The abortion business is truly a very sad business.  The abortion profiteers promote their business as a caring industry that has the rights and needs of women as the primary motive.  But when one looks at how these women are treated, care is not what one observes.

It is truly a sad and even dreadful sort of care that these women receive.  After receiving dangerous drugs that are administered in lethal doses with the sole purpose of causing death, the death of the prepartum baby, and the insertion of material that gradually expands the cervix, then the mother is sent away, often to a hotel, to endure this process.  The procedure is described at Late-Term Abortion - Induction Abortion - Also known as the “MOLD Technique”.

It is hard even to imagine how traumatic this must be for the woman.

Myself, I find myself torn emotionally regarding the death of this mother.  My first emotional reaction is one of horror and grief over this woman being killed.  I also feel rage that such doctors do such wicked things, both to the babies and to the mothers.  Then I bounce to the thought, but if she had not chosen to have her baby killed, this would not have happened to her.  And true as this is, I immediately bounce again to the anguish of the mother, who has been told that this is a safe procedure and has been misinformed about the identity and worth of her baby.  The mother has been played by the abortion industry.  Her fears have been exploited.  And it this case, she was murdered.  At the very least this was negligent homicide.  And this is not the first time that this abortion doctor is guilty.

But is this so-called doctor the only guilty party?  What about the rest of us who continue to allow Congress and the White House and the Supreme Court to promote this mass murder industry?  How can we as a nation not share in the guilt?  This mass murder industry was instituted and promoted within my lifetime.  I was a teenager when this industry was birthed.  It has been nurtured and brought to full growth.  It is sustained with federal money.  It is promoted in the government schools and social programs.  It is preached through the media as right and good.

On rare occasions a few souls tortured by their awareness of this societal guilt have taken matters into their own hands and have become murderers.  Under the delusion of righting a wrong they chose to commit the same evil themselves.

Indeed, from every possible view this is very sad business.

How sad may be expressed even more powerfully by contrasting this to the number of murders versus abortions in America.  According to How many murders committed per day in US? there were about 45 murders per day in 2008.  According to the FBI Report for 2011 the Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter total was 14,612, which would be about 40 per day.

According to American Life League there were 1.2 Million abortions in 2011, which is 3,288 per day.  The CDC reports that there are 234 abortions per 1,000 live births.  This means that the abortion rate is nearly 19 percent.

Imagine the outcry that would erupt if the number of daily reported murders went from 40 to 3,288.

Or imagine if the mortality rate for wanted babies jumped to 234 per 1,000 live births, equaling a mortality rate of over 23 percent.

The gestational period for humans is approximately 38 Weeks.  The abortion procedure that resulted in this mother’s death was in the 33rd week.

What is wrong with us as a nation that we are not horrified by this?

If an abortionist is not concerned with the fact that a baby is being murdered with less than five weeks to go before parturition, how much concern can really be expected to be shown for the health and safety of the mother?

Sad business?  This is sick.  We are a very sick society.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Who’s Your Daddy?


     I’m just here to support the president of the United States. The president of the United States is, you know, our boss. But he’s also, you know, the president and the first lady are kind of like the mom and the dad of the country. And when your dad says something, you listen. And when you don’t, it usually bites you in the ass later on. So, I’m here to support the president.

     Wow! I wonder whether this was meant as a joke. After all, Mr. Rock is a professional jokester who will say or do anything for a laugh.

     Having observed the decline in societal ability to think, however, it seems that he may be serious. For the last hundred years Americans have accepted more and more spoon-fed doctrine from the media, Hollywood, government and so-called education.

     This is actually a very easy sell. The most effective deceptions are those that mimic the truth the most closely.

     Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. (Ephesians 6:2-3)

     From this all authority flows. This is the natural order, ordained by the Lord God from the very beginning. This law, this truth, is written on our hearts and in our consciences. It is taught to us by our generation into this world. It is taught from our conception, gestation, parturition, and rearing. We come into this world by the coming together of our father and mother. We are brought forth into the world entirely dependent upon them for everything. Honoring them is the natural response. In honoring them, we ourselves are blessed. In honoring them we are kept safe by their protection and care and instruction. In honoring them, we are properly fed and clothed and housed. In honoring them, we learn what is good for us. These are undeniable facts, even when the parents are not all that they should be. Even when parents are abusive and evil, many of the blessings that accompany honoring them still manifest themselves.

     So it seems that Mr. Rock is actually right. The President is our boss and the president and his wife are like our dad and mom. It is indeed meet, right, and salutary that we honor them.

     It is sad that very often the full declaration of the Fourth Commandment is not embraced.

     Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
     And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
(Ephesians 6:2-4)

     Parents and those in authority are not to forget the one from whom this special honor is entrusted. They are not to act as though this authority were theirs for their own purposes or glory. Parents and those in authority are given this authority from above. They are specially designated servants of their Father, to rule according to His will for the sake of His family.

     When parents and those in authority forget this, their actions do indeed provoke the children to wrath. Where the love of God is not acknowledged as the source of all good, parents and rulers become abusive of their power and those under their rule eventually rebel. Neither the abuse of power nor the rebelling is good. Neither is of God and His gracious will.

     From the beginning all things were created good. Life was peaceful and harmonious. But the devil tried to raise himself above God and thereby cast away from himself the love of God. Lucifer cut himself off from the good and gracious will of God and led a rebellion in a vain attempt to make himself God. The stupidity of such an attempt is astounding, to think that the creature would seek to overthrow the Creator.

     Once the rule of God’s love was lost to Lucifer, he acted according to his self-made image. He acted hatefully and deceitfully, seeking to overthrow and destroy everything that God had created. Adam fell for the temptation, but the Lord came calling him back into the life of grace with the confrontation of his sinful choice and the promise of the Seed of Woman who would crush the hateful head/ruler of the serpent.

     With this promise, stated as a condemnation of the serpent and its head, flowed the further promise of restoration of the family order. Woman was promised that despite her usurpation of her husband’s rule that she would be moved toward him again so that he would rule over her and that together they would be God’s instruments of life through the promised Seed. Adam was promised that the ground from which he was made would resist his efforts so that he would be continually called to turn from his own efforts and choices to trust the Lord and His Word.

     For those who trusted in the Lord and clung to His Word and promise, no other rule was necessary. It was always the refusal to trust the Lord that led people to appoint rulers for themselves to whom they would be subjected. The chosen people of Israel had only the rule of the Word, taught through their parents, until they chose not to trust the Lord and to demand to be subjected to a king like the other nations had chosen for themselves.

     In the Church, however, we see the Lord’s order restored. In the Church there is only the servant/slave of the Word ordained over the families. This slave is called shepherd, or pastor, or elder, or presbyter/over-seer. His rule over the Lord’s household is strictly defined as the pure preaching and administration of the Word and the Sacraments. From this all the families are restored to the life of grace, mercy, and peace in which parents are honored and obeyed and children are brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

     At Pentecost this was manifested with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the conversion of at least 3000 souls. The life in which they shared was a beautiful manifestation of God’s gracious rule amongst His saints. And in every place where the Lord rules through His means of grace, this is the result. It is true today just as it was then.

     Sadly though, it is a rare occurrence today. As with the people of Israel, those professing to be the Church often do not trust the Lord to rule through His means of grace and so they begin to subject themselves to rulers of their own choice. In every case tyranny is the result. The people turn from the Lord and what He has ordained and bind themselves to various forms of tyranny with such devotion that they endure terrible things as if they were necessary. It is as James warns in James 4 and James 5.

     Those who trust in the Lord and walk in His ways do not appoint earthly rulers for themselves. Rather, they subject themselves to the rulers whom the Lord raises up over them. First He gives them parents. Secondly He gives them pastors. He also gives them rulers whom the rebellious have raised up in their rebellion. The saints subject themselves to such rulers for the sake of good order, obeying in all things which do not demand sinful acts on their own part. Wherever the rulers demand what is wrong, the saints peacefully disregard the tyrannical orders and suffer the abuses that result.

     And so Mr. Rock is right, regardless of whether or not he knows why. But does this mean that the president should be supported in disobeying the authority under which he is subjected? When he is placed with an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, is he to be supported when he willfully disobeys the authority under which he is placed?

     The American people have squandered the power given to them to hold such unlawful rulers in check. They have chosen to squander their votes, voting for the lesser of two evils. They have worshiped their false security of the promise of pensions and Social Security checks and voted according to their idolatry. They have voted for a woman’s right to choose death rather than voting to defend life for all. They have voted to support our soldiers, even when the military was being used for wicked and evil agendas. They have voted with selfish and irresponsible motives and so they have elected selfish and irresponsible and even wicked rulers.

     Now they cry out and wonder how this could happen, and worse, many say that they are thankful that the consequences will come after they have departed from this world without genuine care for those who will be left to endure the consequences. What sort of parents and grandparents would speak with such selfish and wicked disregard for their responsibilities? Mr. Rock stood and said that he supports Obama in violating the Constitution. Is this not what the passing generation has done as well? Have they not ignored their responsibilities concerning the younger generations? Those who fear, love, and trust in God above all things do not act in this way. They love their neighbors as themselves. They honor father and mother and they display this honor as loving fathers and mothers. They endure abuse while speaking out for what is right and true and calling for right treatment of their families and neighbors.

     Oh that people understood the holiness of the Lord that is taught to us in the Ten Commandments. Then we would not have wars and rumors of wars but we would fall together on our knees confessing our need for remission of our sins and reconciliation to God and one another. No one who bows the knees and head to God as Father and Redeemer and Savior and Justifier and Sanctifier rises up rebelliously to murder and make war. Rather, the peace of God that surpasses all understanding guards their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus forevermore. Where peace rules honor is displayed toward all.

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Monday, February 04, 2013

Amoral, Immoral, or Merely Pathetic?

Are words even necessary?

This is becoming more and more common.  This is something that in years past was occasionally observed, but now I see it every time that I park.  Sometimes I see it multiple times per visit.

Seeing things like this makes me hurt.  It is hurtful to see people act in this way toward their neighbors.  I have stood by and watched people push their cart behind or sometimes even into their neighbor's car.  It leaves me between bawling and brawling.

So I walk over and grab the carts and push them to the cart corral or to the store.  I certainly cannot leave them for the wind to slam into the neighbors' cars.  I cannot leave them for some struggling elderly person to encounter.  I certainly cannot change the hearts of those who do such things to their neighbors.

What can I do?  I can move the carts to a safe location.  I can turn from my feelings of distress and look to God for the peace that only He can restore to my heart.  I can pray for those who do such selfish things.  I can rejoice and give thanks that I am physically able to do a few little things on behalf of my neighbors.  I can rest in the assurance that for Christ's sake God forgives me of my own selfishness and thoughtlessness and that He calls me continually to be restored in His grace, mercy, and peace.

Hmm!  Life is really very, very good.

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Saturday, February 02, 2013

All Things Are Permissible

     In the post below, Tattoos, another statement is made in the referenced article that should be examined more carefully:

But at the end of the day, having a tattoo does not impact one’s salvation. As always, salvation is a matter of Christ’s work on our behalf. The verse that comes to mind for the question of Tattoos is one that comes to mind for a lot of similar issues, “All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. All things are permissible, but not all things build up.” (1 Cor 10:23)

     Is the pastor’s point correct?

     When St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10 that all things are permissible or lawful, is he saying that these things Do Not Impact a person’s salvation?

     In the verses that immediately precede this verse St. Paul says:

     Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he? (1 Corinthians 10:18-22)

     While the pastor rightly says that salvation is a matter of Christ’s work on our behalf, does this mean that the choices that we make in our lives Do Not Impact a person’s salvation? Does this match what St. Paul says of the Holy Communion?

     In this pastor’s admonition to the inquirer concerning tattoos, he applies 1 Corinthians 10:23 as though it applies only to the issue of how we act regarding the weak in matters of adiaphora, things of indifference.

     But what made the thing that St. Paul specifically addresses in this passage a thing of indifference? St. Paul addressed the purchasing of meat in the marketplace that came from pagan sacrifices. This meat came from animals that the pagans had slaughtered as sacrifices to their false gods, and the leftovers were sold in the marketplace. To those who purchased it without thought to the false gods, it was just another piece of meat.

     However, for some of the newborn Christians, this would be perceived as partaking of the sacrifice to the false gods. Since many of these new converts had previously worshiped these false gods, this would be a terrible stumbling block for them. Those who were not recent converts would not be troubled by this for themselves and could purchase and eat this meat without a troubled conscience. But for those who were weak so that their consciences were troubled, such an action would be sinful to them for they would be acting not from faith but with doubting. This would indeed Impact their salvation. On this St. Paul writes to the Roman saints:

     Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin. (Romans 14:22-23)

     If a person does something that the person fears may be wrong, the person is acting contrary to faith. By this, even if the action is not actually in itself sinful, acting in this way the person acts in opposition to faith.

     Does the merit of Christ cover or remit such sin? Yes, most certainly it does. However, is a person who acts in opposition to faith relying upon this remission or turning away from it to something else?

     Thus we need to be very careful in all matters. We need to be continually partaking of the pure means of grace so that we rest in the assurance of receiving the merit of Christ and resting securely in the remission of sins that He purchased for us. If this is where our hearts are secured, we won’t even trouble ourselves with questions over whether or not to cover ourselves with questionable tattoos and the like. Rather, we will be rejoicing in our baptismal grace and identity and doing the things that naturally flow from them. In such a mindset there is no question of what is good and salutary.

     For those who have tattoos, they should not be judged by others on account of them. Rather, they should be embraced according to their identity in Christ that they received in their baptism. But for those who are contemplating tattoos, pastors should direct them to the means of grace where the saints hear themselves proclaimed God’s holy and beloved children, recreated into the image of God. With this as their mindset, who will even entertain marking themselves with anything else?

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