WretchedMan


B-Rod, (Rod Blagojevich), b-rodthe now-former governor of Illinois, has been impeached by the Illinois Senate which voted unanimously both to impeach him and to bar him from public office in Illinois.

So, is it right for a Christian to shout “Yippee!” about such events? I understand that it’s most unfortunate that a governor should have to be impeached, and his fall was unfortunate. But justice is all too infrequently upheld in this world, and his brazenness was unmatched; in fact, one thing that brought the man down was a new ethics law that would have made it more difficult to trade government contracts for contributions – he had to get “extra fundraising” done by the end of 2008.

Oh, and he shook down a hospital, too – a children’s hospital.

So what do we do when this happens? Do I hide my gloating? I can certainly pray for the man, as we have done regularly ever the last half decade for both him. I am ashamed to be thrilled, but I don’t know what I should be.

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[Preface: I know, global warming is a vast, left-wing conspiracy. And really, what unexpected consequences might come from modifying the chemical composition of the atmosphere?]

If, for the sake of argument, polluting the atmosphere might cause unforeseen consequences (as CFCs did with the ozone layer), and if we’re going to continue filling our cars with gasoline, how might we keep from modifying atmospheric carbon dioxide levels?

A few nutty ideas have been proposed, like pumping the carbon dioxide into the ground. A low tech approach is to turn agricultural byproducts (wood chips, stalks, husks and the like) into charcoal and then burying it. The charcoal reenters the atmosphere far more slowly than the decomposition of primary byproducts and so effectively sequesters carbon.

You make charcoal by heating organic materials in a low-oxygen environment. It produces methane and hydrogen which can be used for heating, while the balance of the carbon is turned into charcoal. Charcoal is a soil conditioner so there is a double benefit to farmers.

I see two advantages over, say, pumping the carbon dioxide back into old wells

  1. There is no prospect of catastrophic release. Buried CO2 would be an excellent target for terrorists on enemy countries in time of war.
  2. It can be done cheaply and profitably by individual farmers rather than being an expense to government or industry. Individuals could do it for immediate gain rather than governments or industry doing it as an expense.

Sounds like a great idea. Perhaps it’s time to take out the composter and to build a charcoal maker!

Anybody you know?

Anybody you know?

From TheGuardian.co.uk

“A statue of the crucifixion has been taken down from its perch on a church in Sussex because it was scaring local children and deterring worshippers, a vicar admitted today.

“The Rev Ewen Souter, the vicar at St John’s Church in Horsham, West Sussex, ordered the removal of the 10-foot sculpture of Jesus on the cross just before Christmas, branding it “unsuitable” and “a horrifying depiction of pain and suffering”.

“The 10ft resin sculpture, by Edward Bainbridge Copnall, a former president of the Royal Society of British Sculptors, will be replaced by a more “uplifting” stainless steel cross – to the dismay of more traditional parishioners.”

In my church we parade the crucifix up and down the aisle, with all eyes fixed on it. I imagine that running through everybody’s mind is “Thank God that’s not me.”

Beer alone

Beer alone

Many brothers say, ‘surely you think that I contributed something to my conversion.’ And the answer is ‘Sure: Darkness of mind, weakness and boundness of will, hatred of God, sin in thought, word and deed. You made all sorts of contributions to this deal.  — Dr. Rod Rosenbladt

You’ve got to love Dr. Rosenbladt. Beyond any other, he sounds like the archetype of all Lutherans. Why him more than my pastor or Todd Wilken or even President “not your grandfather’s church” Kieschnick? Because whenever he speaks, he’s very earnest. And whenever he speaks, he sounds like he’s had a couple of beers. And there’s nothing more Lutheran than earnestly talking theology over beer.

Compare his voice and his message to John MacArthur, one of the great evangelical preachers, and you can instantly understand the difference between Lutherans and Evangelicals. Both MacArthur and Rosenbladt know the fundamental truth that all things necessary for salvation have been done by Jesus. The difference is in the response. MacArthur sees this as a stepping off point to sanctifying action – “this is how we are to live” and so on. Rosenbladt and we Lutherans relax and wallow in what a marvelous thing Christ has done and let the Holy Spirit  do the work of sanctification. Lutherans are the most mellow of Christians because there is no goad of uncertainty driving us on.

Compare his message to Joel Osteen’s and what do you find? You find that Lutherans know that we can’t improve our relationship with God, only Jesus can do that. And we know that it’s all been taken care of for us. The Osteenians don’t have such position or such certainty. It’s the Lutherans who have a better life now.

On Issues, Etc., Dr. Rosenbladt is doing a series on the solas – the reformation “alones” that we acknowledge are critical for understanding salvation. Excellent theology, and entertaining listens. Highly recommended. The first two are listed here:

Grace alone

Christ alone

Your best life now!

Let’s say your pastor is the psycho pastor from Hell:

Your pastor shows up to the service riding an elephant up the aisle. He begins the service by leading the creed: “I’m smart, I’m beautiful, I’m rich, I want it all, and I deserve it!” Perhaps Metallica makes a guest appearance during the service. The children put on a professionally-produced skit portraying Jesus as a black girl living in a 21st century housing project. A prayer begins with a dramatic and breathy “oh Jesus, beautiful wonderful Jesus, brother sister Jesus…” The sermon, which lasts for 45 minutes, is based on a single verse misquoted from The Message Bible paraphrase, and seems to have something to do with God being the God of all religions and how Christians are sent to lead the charge for world peace; next week we begin the series of Christian sex. Or maybe the sermon exhorts us to live more moral lives to be pleasing to God. The offering is accompanied by trained dogs jumping through fire hoops. The benediction is led by a set of cheerleaders chanting “G! O! D! He’s For Me!” and whips the congregation into a post-Biblical frenzy.

Now drop him into a good liturgical service.

He begins the service with the words of John: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” He goes on to absolve the congregation of its sins. This liturgist and the congregation sing the words of a psalm, ending with a doxology to the trinity. The service includes substantial readings over which the pastor has no choice, being dictated by the lectionary and including old testament, epistle, and gospel, read from a sound translation. The hymns, rather than short fluffy phrases repeated over and over, are theological tomes about what Christ has done to save us undeserving men. The prayers are either dictated word for word or else fill-in-the-blanks style, taken from scripture. Communion is likely, with the words unchangeable and coming straight from the Bible. Even to the benediction, his liturgy is scriptural.

When the liturgy is ignored, the pastor is free to craft a complete service’s worth of false teaching and man centered theology, ignoring or misusing the person and actions of Jesus. In the context of the liturgy, the pastor’s only latitude comes in the circumscribed timeslot of the sermon. The rest of the service is dictated in writings and actions going back to the days of the apostles – that is, you have 20 minutes of garbage sandwiched within 40 minutes of word, sacrament and doctrine from the scriptures. The liturgy inoculates us to bad preaching and protects us from false doctrine. Like the keel of a sailboat, by sinking deeply into the waters of the historic church it stabilizes our services and keeps them pointing in the right direction – at Christ.

A blessing indeed.

Thanks to Rod Rosenbladt of White Horse Inn who made a throwaway comment about this in a recent program.

Only if convenient

I would never tell a lie unless it was absolutely convenient.

When I was young, I lied easily. Nothing big (as if a lie isn’t big by nature), just what was convenient. Having learned better since then, it is safe to report that I’m a repentant liar with a great respect for the truth and a great sensitivity toward that which is false.

Issues, Etc. has a nice web extra where Todd and Jeff speak about why Issues, Etc. was cancelled at KFUO. It is a story of paranoia, ignorance, sucking up, and plausible lies. Now paranoia is an honored tradition of those in power, unhealthy and false in the end, but understandable as a human trait and I’m not convinced that paranoia is a sin. Ignorance can be irritating, moreso when it is deliberate, but again even a Christian might be excused for being ignorant. Sucking up might well be included in the doctrine of vocation, e.g., “sucking up as to the Lord.” But lies anger me because I know them too well and they have no place for a Christian. The great thread of the Issues, Etc. firings and the operation of KFUO is the great thread of ostensible lies that wend through it. The lies weave through it both in time and throughout the workings of those entrusted to run the LCMS. Purported Christians who instead of laying out the truth without regard to consequences instead lay out a soft bed of lies to cushion the effects of what they do.

Lies are not a part of Christian liberty.

Two lies run through the story:

  • The operation of the secular KFUO-FM station. Over the years and in any number of ways (though often corrected), the losses of KFUO-FM have been covered up through accounting practices that knowingly and falsely attribute FM expenses to the Christian AM station. These practices have been known to any number of responsible people and yet they have been accepted practice, and they were implicitly relied upon in the Issues firing. But accounting is by nature supposed to be fact, not fiction – and we to will one day have to render a factual account: “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Heb 4:13). Ought not Christian accountants fear giving any false statement? Should not those who sign off on such accounting either through action or through assent hate falsehood?
  • The real reason for the firings was not financial – Todd and Jeff even offered to go independent and run the show for free on KFUO-AM, which would have been cheaper than running a replacement show. The true reason for the cancellation was because Issues, Etc. is assertive in a most Lutheran way, and by nature an offensive program to those who do not believe the gospel. Also, apparently, offensive to the leadership of the LCMS. I can understand the firing, silly as it would be, if it were reported accurately, “We found Issues, etc. to be too clear in its doctrine, an offensive program, and instead have decided to rerun sermons of Joel Osteen, whom all the world loves.” But it was falsely reported as a financial decision. It was the WMD excuse. People found a convenient lie, a lie that would ease a difficult problem and allow them to save face, and like this little liar they waddled happily into the wide, joyous road. And now, instead of repenting the lie, they have simply hardened themselves in it.

Think before you lie. It is weak and despicable. Take it from an expert.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. (Eph 6:5-8)

“Woe to you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Mt 23:27)

Whitewashed Tomb

Smells bad inside

Lutherans hold to the doctrine of vocation, which is loosely to say that what we do we do in service to the Lord, each of us a part of God’s care for this creation It’s a comfort because it says: not everybody has to be a missionary or a clergyman. We serve God as fathers and mothers, as grandparents, as programmers and as waitresses. In all of these things, we are in the profession where God has placed us to serve him. We need not be rich, or beautiful, or athletic, or popular. We don’t even need to think about success, instead we think about how we can serve the Lord best in what we are doing. Even the humblest activities count.

The “Whitewashed tombs” reference is self explanatory.  Jesus is handing out seven woes to the scribes and pharisees. He condemns that their external righteousness belies their internal unrighteousness. These sorts of things all men understand and condemn

Where do the two ideas come together? They come together at 3:30 in the morning when cleaning up after a dog with diarrhea. The idea of one’s vocation including cleaning up after “the dog you gave me” (as Adam might have put it) and doing so “as to the Lord” is a comforting one. I’d much rather be cleaning up after God’s dog than my own.

And whoever thought that a dog that could smell perfectly fine on the outside could smell so utterly awful on the inside?

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