May 2008


Here is a clear example of a man who was broken by the law, completely understood that he was unrighteous, and in complete fear of God’s wrath. He asked a series of heartfelt questions such as, “How can I even hope for forgiveness?”, “Is atonement even possible?”, “What does God want from me?”, the chaplain could not answer one bit of his questions. We know however, that for everyone of his questions the answer is found in Christ, this is why we must cherish the gift of Absolution.

So here are my questions:

1. Who was closer to the Kingdom of Heaven? The Man or the Woman?

2. What would you have said in her place?

3. What does this clip say of the significance of Truth?

After watching this scene, this passage from Isaiah 52:7 finally makes sense to me, “How Beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news, proclaim peace, bring glad tidings of good things, proclaim salvation, and proclaim to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

In my first post a few days ago, I published the speech that my roommate gave to the congregation at one of his last Sunday’s at our Lutheran Student Center.  One week later, I had my own opportunity to address the congregation after the Offetory in the Divine Service. 

This is what I said: 

It has been almost three years since I first began coming to the Lutheran Student Center.  Much has happened in the past three years and much has changed about me in that time too—but rather than tell you the whole story, I will summarize in one sentence:

 

Throughout my time here at Immanuel Lutheran Student Center, I went from disliking the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod to being confirmed in it with hopes of someday becoming one of her pastors.

 

What caused the change?  Was it the friendly people who welcomed me every time I kept coming back after the first day?  No—the people were most certainly friendly and welcoming, but that’s not what kept me coming back.  Was it the beautiful hymns and music that I got to sing and hear when I came that kept me coming back?  No—while Lutherans do have one of the richest repertoires of hymnody of churches, that wasn’t what kept me coming back either.

 

While many factors contributed to both my change of heart about the Missouri Synod and my desire to become a member, there is clearly one that stands out far above the rest: the clearly proclaimed Gospel message of Jesus Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins.

 

As with many people, starting college was a tough time for me emotionally and spiritually.  There were many changes that were taking place in my life.  However, as my comfort and confidence levels were on shaky ground, there was one thing in my life that I knew would always be there: sin.  The first night I came here to Immanuel for worship and Bible study, I came in convicted of my sinful imperfection and total depravity before God—those were not things anyone needed to tell me I had, because I was already well aware of my possession of them.  In fact, I was aware of my sin to the point of despair.  Past mistakes and shortcomings coupled with sinful habits made for me a very heavy cross to bear—a cross that I actually could not bear and did not know what to do with.  If you can remember what you learned in confirmation, you might recognize that I, as a young freshman, was broken by the Law: I was convicted and convinced of my sinfulness and need for help. 

 

That help came to me when I came to the Lutheran Student Center—it was the purely proclaimed Gospel that lifted the heavy burden that I was carrying. 

 

That Gospel I heard was that of the forgiveness of sins that was sure and certain in the words of Absolution after Confession when Pastor said: “As a called and ordained servant of Christ, and by His authority, I therefore forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  The message of Christ’s sacrificial life, death, and resurrection for the sins of the world—for my sins—was spoken in the sermons.  Here in the Lutheran Church, I found what I was looking for and am still looking for: the certainty of God’s forgiveness of my sins.  And that forgiveness, my friends, is not something that I could find anywhere else.

 

St. Paul tells us in Romans 5:

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 

 

And this message is also proclaimed in Galatians 2:20—one of Bible verses that Pastor Burdick had us memorize the first semester I attended Bible Study at Immanuel:

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who love me and gave himself for me.”

 

No social club, party, videogame, or television show you can find has news that is this good.  Nowhere but in the Church can you hear the great depths of God’s love for us—a love so deep that He sent His one and only son to this world to live the perfect life that we could not live, and die the horrible death that we deserve so that we may be found blameless and forgiven of all our sins against God.  Nowhere but in Church is this good news found.  Nowhere but in the Church can you be made righteous by the Blood of Christ poured over you through the water and Word of Holy Baptism.  Nowhere but in the Church are such great gifts found. 

 

So come today and receive this good news—the forgiveness of sins—here in the Holy Supper. Believe this good news for your sake, and tell it to others.  

 

As you can see, I kept coming back to Immanuel.  And I kept going to Immanuel for no reason more than this—it is in this place that I hear about what Jesus has done for me.  And what he did for me is summed up nicely in the words of this stanza from one of my favorite hymns. 

 

Because the sinless Savior died,

My sinful soul is counted free;

For God, the Just, is satisfied

To look on Him and pardon me.    

Maxine Waters does a wonderful job defending her position against the Big Oil execs.

Was theoldadam was right? (“Obama is a socialist. The Dems are socialists as are an increasing number of Repubs.”)

Finally, they admit it. How sad. (NB ~ 1:10 – 1:30)

My thanks to Matt for inviting me to blog here at Planet Augsburg.  For those of you who are curious, I am a university student in Illinois who will be attending seminary (http://www.ctsfw.edu) after a National Guard deployment to Afghanistan next year.  

Ironically, my first contribution to this blog is not something that I wrote.  Following this introduction is the address given by my roommate, JJ, a few weeks ago during the Sunday service at the church we attend here at school.  For many years it has been the practice at our Lutheran Student Center (which is apart of the local Lutheran parish) to have graduating seniors get up and say a few words during one of their last Sundays here. 

The following is JJ’s address.  As you read this, know that these are words that needed to be said–not only to our congregation here at school but also to the greater synod and Church.  I cannot add anything to what he said because, in my opinion, he hit the nail on the head in his admonition of our congregation. 

Here is what JJ said:

2 Timothy 4:2-3 says, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage-with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”

There’s that word that makes many Christians cringe: doctrine. Maybe it makes you cringe a little bit as you think of how many ‘doctrines’ are out there and how many different beliefs there are about it. Whatever you may think of that word, it’s biblical and it is commanded of us to keep in accord with sound doctrine. Which means this: there is truth when it comes to doctrine. There is one view that is right on Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, original sin, election of grace, etc. and all the others are not only false, they are unbiblical. 

Do not give into your itching ears. They will lead you astray. Believe me, I know. My itching ears lead me to disobey God. My itching ears want me to put aside sound doctrine.

Hold fast to sound doctrine. The way that you practice things at Immanuel Lutheran will affect what you believe and vice versa. Doctrine and practice are united in a symbiotic relationship. You cannot separate the two. Your itching ears may want something new and something more creative than the same old stuff that we do every week. Your itching ears may convince you that we need to change styles in order to attract more people, to grow as a congregation. Biblical change can be good and it is important to recognize that the only way this congregation will grow is by that very Word that you are currently hearing weekly.

So come to Church every week and listen. Recognize that Christ is serving you. Sit at His feet and let Him teach, let Him serve. It’s what He wants to do more than anything. Pay attention to what is being said to you and know that God Himself is saying it. Go to bible study. Go to Catechism class. Read the Lutheran Confessions. Let Jesus serve you as you study His Word. Spend time in God’s Word at home, in your dorms, or apartments.

Keep in accord with sound doctrine. Hold fast to the teachings of our Lord. Let Him serve. Continue to proclaim Law and Gospel. Continue to Baptize. Continue to come to the Lord’s Supper to be fed by His body and blood. You will grow if you spend time in the Word and listen to what God has to say. That growth should not be measured in numbers. Ultimately numbers are irrelevant. Christ’s command to be the Church is relevant. To be the church you must have sound doctrine. People may leave because of it. That’s ok. Pray for them and winsomely talk to them. If this church is pure in doctrine and 100 years from now there are only 8 members left because itching ears have got the best of everyone else, this church will still be strong as ever because church is not about people. Church is about doctrine and doctrine is all about Jesus. So long as Christ crucified for sinners remains the cornerstone, the church will go on and Immanuel Lutheran will be a shining light in a world of darkness.

That 2 Timothy 4 section does not end with law, it ends with Gospel. By being the Church you may one day join St. Paul in saying:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.”

Thank you for welcoming me as a brother in Christ. The peace of Christ be with you.

Does anyone want to allay my concerns about a President Obama’s intentions?

The presumptive Democratic Nominee declared: “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK,” Obama said.

Hmmm, I drive an F-150 (I bet that qualifies as a SUV in Obama’s book), I pretty much eat as much as I want (which explains why my belt notches keep changing), and I keep my house in the low seventies pretty much all day long. Obama’s talking about me.

Meanwhile, the candidate’s wife, Michelle Obama, recently stated: “The truth is, in order to get things like universal health care and a revamped education system, then someone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so that someone else can have more.”

Pie tastes good. I like pie. Pumpkin, coconut, pecan, chocolate, lemon, mmmmm. This goes too far. To paraphrase an old NRA bumper sticker, the Obamas can have my piece of pie when they take it from my cold dead hand.

But seriously, what sort of government do we have when the type of car you drive, the quantity of food you eat, and the temperature you keep your house at are appropriate subjects for Presidential candidates? What kind of view about the State and its role in the life of its citizens does this presume?

This is fascism, pure and simple. It may be wearing a fuzzy bunny suit instead of jackboots and a brown shirt. It may not be building gas chambers. But, this is fascism to be sure.

Please tell me why I am wrong.

Returning to the California Supreme Court’s evisceration of the definition of marriage, the California Constitution, and the will of the voters of California:

Make no mistake, this was not a decision compelled by past precedents or an example of Justices simply following the logic and dictates of the California Constitution. This was an exercise of raw judicial power. Four justices in the State of California did not like the current state of the law regarding marriage and decided to change it. I am quite certain they believe they are doing the “right thing.” They believe that justice has been served.

Most tyrants do.

They conceded that “[f]rom the beginning of California statehood, the legal institution of marriage has been understood to refer to a relationship between a man and a woman.” Indeed, if we are to talk about a “right of marriage,” that is what we are talking about. Indeed, this “traditional” understanding of marriage had been recently reaffirmed by a 2000 initiative that was passed by a 61.4 percent majority.

But, the notion that a marriage should be defined by a relationship between a man and a woman was just too much for the Court to allow. Citing California’s alternate legal “civil union” status that was set up just a few years ago as an alternative to marriage, the Justices found that there was no rational basis upon which to distinguish these civil unions from marriages. Wasn’t just a few years ago, that the proponents for civil unions were arguing that this would be enough to placate supporters of gay marriage? Obviously, that’s been revealed to be false.

Fundamental to the court’s “reasoning” was the past precedent of holding inter-racial bans on the marriage to be unconstitutional. So too, the court could find no basis to distinguish an inter-racial ban from a sexual orientation ban on marriage.

Hmmm . . . let’s see. Can you spot the difference? Race is incidental to marriage. It is irrelevant. The differences in sex DEFINE marriage. Indeed, marriage JUST IS THAT – a relationship between a man and woman. I can no more have a marriage with a man, than I could with my car, my house, my dog, my child, or the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.

Yet, in our inexhaustible supply of hubris, that is exactly what California has now done. Make no mistake, the others statuses are coming. Once we detach marriage from its traditional hinges, it will now mean all things to all people. Polygamy? Sure! Incest? What rational basis is there to distinguish one’s right to marry his daughter, sister, or mother? Once marriage means all things to all people, as it now does. It means nothing.

And in the master’s chambers,
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can’t kill the beast

Save the LCMS has worked a new 95 theses specifically for the context of American Evangelicalism, here is an excerpt:

In publishing these theses, we do not intend to foment division, but to expose those who are creating division within the body of Christ. We are not addressing any particular church body or person, but invite all who love the Gospel of Jesus Christ to engage in this debate. We do so in the spirit of the great Reformer, Martin Luther, as we implore the mercies of God upon His Church, for the sake of Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Church and Bishop of our souls.

1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said “Repent,” He willed that the whole life of believers should be one of repentance.

2. To “repent” means to be contrite for one’s sins and to trust Jesus Christ and solely in His completed work for one’s forgiveness, life, and salvation.

3. Those who describe the Christian life as purpose-driven deny true repentance, confuse the Law and the Gospel, and obscure the merits of Christ.

Here’s the two that got me…
4. Impious and wicked are the methods of those who substitute self-help and pop-psychology for the Gospel in the name of relevance.

5. This impious disregard for the Gospel wickedly transforms sacred Scripture into a guidebook for living, a pharisaic sourcebook of principles, and sows tares among the wheat.

6. Relevance, self-help and pop-psychology have no power to work true contrition over sins and faith in Jesus Christ.

7. Like clouds without rain, purpose-driven preachers withhold the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins won by Christ on the cross and enslave men’s consciences to the law which they cleverly disguise as so-called ‘Biblical Principles’.

8. By teaching tips for attaining perfect health, debt-free wealth, and better sex in marriage, the purveyors of relevance undermine true fear, love and trust in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

9. They are enemies of Christ, who distort the Word of God by tearing verses from their original context in order to use them as proof texts for their self-help, pop-psychology agendas…..

And the rest you can find here.

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