December 2007


Found this over at New Reformation Press, hope you enjoy.

Sock to 'em

Here’s the description the site offers:

Weak On Sanctification T-Shirt

Lutherans often get accused of having no doctrine of sanctification.
As hard as it is to believe, some would rather focus on their good works rather than on what Christ has done for them, putting the cart before the horse, as it were.
To this the true Lutherans have always confessed that good works are the fruit of their salvation and that Saint Paul strongly encourages us to look to Christ, rather to our good works. (Hebrews 12:1b-2a, let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith)

As hard as we brothers in the faith may try, we always fall short of the good works which we are commanded to do and strive to do. As Saint Paul says in Romans 7:14-19:
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.
That was a bit long to fit on a shirt, but we did include Romans 4:5 on the back, which is a little more succinct:
And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness…

I like the idea of this shirt. It’s got three things going for it:

1. It’s humorous, and I think “chic”.

2. It is a succinct slap in the face to those who mock our view of sanctification.

3. Of all the Christian T-shirts ever made, this one provides the greatest opportunity to offer a witness to both struggling Christians and to the lost.

In Summary:

There are still 8 days left in the 12 days of Christmas, and if anyone would like to buy this for me, I would be much obliged. Here’s the link!

Drunkenness is next to the worst thing I know. The worst is self-righteousness. If I had to choose, I would rather be a drunk hired man at Osterby fair than to sit self-righteous and self-satisfied at a pious coffee party“.
-Bo Giertz, “The Hammer of God”

…to be converted means to take refuge in grace. It is to believe in Jesus, in Jesus only. It is a salvation for sinners. There is no other salvation“.
-Bo Giertz

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I couldn’t go to sleep last night, for almost four hours I was tossing and turning, thinking and trying not to think (some would call it wrestling with God). For a week now, it has been absolute noise and distraction inside my head. If you could climb inside, I guarantee it would sound like a busy New York City traffic jam mixed with road construction. Then it finally dawned on me: college is over, and now I’m back home with my parents until June; I’m in a “transition” period. Receiving this epiphany was divine intervention from God, because with the proverbial light bulb going off, I now have three desires that only God can work and accomplish. I say “only God can work and accomplish” mainly, because it’s true, and secondly because I know my weaknesses and my inadaquacies. I’ll illustrate quickly, I can want repentance and desire it, but it is only God who can give repentance and forgiveness (Acts 5:31). Therefore, I’m going to share my three desires with you, and I will only ask that you keep me in your prayers.

Desire #1. In love, I want to know God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, for “knowledge puffs up, but love edifies”. J.I. Packer puts it like this, “And this must be our attitude too. Our aim in studying the Godhead must be to know God himself better. Our concern must be to enlarge our acquaintance, not simply with the doctrine of God’s attributes, but with the living God whose attributes they are. As He is the subject of our study, and our helper in it, so He must himself be the end of it.” The greatest and most blessed assurance however, is that I, and other Christians were known by God first. This is the God who claimed us and washed us in Holy Baptism that we may have life in Christ (Rom 6: 4-11). This is the God who pitied us when were His enemies (Rom 5: 9-11). This is the God who justifies the wicked (Rom 4: 4-5), and in this grace, we can draw closer to God with a confidence that not even the gates of hell can overcome.

Desire #2. I need to be more mature, accountable, and responsible. I don’t know how else to say it, but “play times over”. St. Paul through the clarity of the Holy Spirit puts it like this, “When I was a babe, as a babe I was speaking, as a babe I was thinking, as a babe I was reasoning, and when I have become a man, I have made useless the things of the babe”. By the way, does anyone know where I can get my hands on a Young’s Literal Translation Bible? I think I might be in love.

Lastly,

Desire #3. I want to take better care of my body. I’m not getting proper rest, proper nutrition, and adequate excercise.

Please keep in me your prayers. By the way, if anyone would like me to pray for you, please comment back on this post and let me know.

O God of earth and alter, in mercy hear our cry;
our earthly rulers falter, our people drift and die;
the walls of gold entomb us, the words of scorn divide;
take not Thy thunder from us, but take away our pride.

From all that terror teaches, from lies of pen and tongue;
from all the easy speeches that satisfy the throng;
from sale and profanation of honor and the word;
from sleep and from damnation, deliver us, O God!

-G.K. Chesterton, 1906

On behalf of everyone at Planet Augsburg, we would like to wish you a very blessed and merry Christmas. As we look for gifts under the tree, let us not forget the greatest gift ever given…our Savior Jesus Christ. Be safe and come back and visit.

Thy Nativity O Christ our God, hath shined the light of knowledge upon the world; for thereby they that worshipped the stars were instructed by a star to worship Thee, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know Thee, the Dayspring from on high. O Lord, glory be to Thee.
– Dismissal Hymn of Nativity

From Flannery O’Connor’s “The Violent Bear It Away”

God told the world he was going to send it a king and the world waited. The world thought, a golden fleece will do for His bed. Silver and gold and peacock tails, a thousand suns in a peacock’s tail will do for his crib. His mother will ride on a four-horned white beast and use the sunset for a cape. She’ll trail it behind her over the ground and let the world pull it to pieces, a new one every evening.

Jesus came on cold straw, Jesus was warmed by the breath of an ox. “Who is this?” the world said. “Who is this blue-cold child and this woman, plain as the winter? Is this the Word of God, this blue-cold child? Is this His will, this plain winter-woman?” The world said, “Love cuts like the cold wind and the will of God is plain as the winter.”

This movie came out last year so the review is a little late. However, it has been making the rounds on cable/SAT TV and is certainly available on DVD. I watched it for the second time last week.

It is a great movie.

Of course, it is not the first movie to depict the events of the birth of Christ, but I think it may be the best.

A few things struck me in particular about the movie:

It was well researched and well done. It takes us back to 4 B.C. Judea or thereabouts. We see the culture and life of the Jews at that time living under Roman occupation.

The movie focuses on that period between the annunciation to Mary and the birth of Jesus. It brings to light the scorn that Mary must have received after becoming pregnant while betrothed to Joseph. Indeed, she was subject to execution by stoning by virtue of the fact that she became pregnant out of wedlock. Her visit with Elizabeth brings a brief respite from this cultural shunning because only Elizabeth knows the truth. The moment Mary and Elizabeth meet is made sweeter as a result because we can she Mary’s burden lift as she realizes she can share what is happening to her with her cousin.

So too with Joseph, we see his character revealed when he is told that Mary is pregnant. He refuses to make any accusation against her (he knows this would lead to her death) though he feels bitterly betrayed. This reaction in itself brings disapproval from his peers. They believe he is being weak and acting contrary to his duty.

Once Gabriel tells Joseph what has happened to Mary, a bond is formed between these young people. Joseph tells her that he will declare the child as his own and they will marry. Rather than save Mary from scorn, this act means Joseph will share in it. Both Joseph and Mary are shunned by their friends. But, this only brings them together. When the order for the census comes, it is almost a relief for them to leave Nazareth.

The magi were also a highlight of the movie. They are sort of the comic relief, almost mad scientist-like, in the way they obsess over the meaning of heavenly occurrence they anticipate. They research ancient Hebrew scripture and determine for themselves what significance of the “star.”

All of this leads to the moment of the birth, and it is beautiful. What a wonderful way to remind yourself of the true meaning of Christmas. Of course, another way is to attend Christmas Eve or Christmas Day worship or both.

Just FYI, Our Savior Lutheran will have Christmas Eve service at 7:00 P.M. and Christmas Day Communion Service at 9:30 A.M. Merry Christmas!

There are two albums that are on continuous shuffle in my iPod. First, Sufjan Stevens’ “Songs for Christmas” and Jars of Clay’s Christmas Songs. I wouldn’t be able to do both albums any justice if I just explained them. So instead, I’ll leave you with some videos from their albums.

Put the Lights on the Tree by Sufjan Stevens

or stream the whole album here.

Love Came Down at Christmas by Jars of Clay

or go here

You have to love the bizarre themes of both videoes.

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