I'm with my good friend, Pastor Weedon, on the latest Batman movie: it was trying much too hard to be profound, and finally, was not. It packed too many plot lines into the (too long) movie and I found it really nothing but disturbing and depressing. I'm thinking that men dressed up like flying rodents do not make for moral exemplars. The movie basically took all the fun out of the Batman genre, and that's too bad. I feel the same way about the newest Superman movie as well. The best movie I saw this summer (and summer is over, in my book, with the start of school), was Wall-E. Now there is one brilliantly executed movie that, whether the makers intended it not, contains one of the best "pro-life" message I've ever seen in a movie.
The old evil foe of an aversion to sanctification continues to rear its ugly head in Lutheran circles, sad to say. Most recently I was in conversation with some folks who flatly asserted that Christians have no need of the Law since they are now guided by Love through the Gospel.
While this sounds quite reasonable and true, upon closer inspection we realize that in making such an assertion what the result is, is that the Gospel becomes Law.
Even as we reject legalism in the Church and put forward, firmly, the all sufficient sacrifice of Christ on the Cross for us, and His continuing power of salvation for us and therefore in us, we dare not forget that we are called to lives of good works, in Him, for Him and through Him: justification and sanctification. Lutheranism teaches both. We are to talk about the good works we are to be doing, and no, this is not merely/only by way of condemning sin. The Scriptures are replete with St. Paul describing the nature and consequences of the new life in Christ. A blog site put up this wonderful twist on the Rick Warren "Purpose Driven Life" book, which finally leaves the Christian not comforted, but only thrown back on his own resources. On the blog where this picture appeared, I provided a number of quotes from the Small Catechism that go along perfectly with a clear exposition of the Gospel. And here they are.
Christ lived, and lives, for us. We live in Him, and for him.
He gives us all His good gifts "all…out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without
any merit or worthiness in me." What is our response? "For all which I owe it to Him to thank,
praise, serve, and obey Him."
Concordia Publishing House is now offering a special lower price on the Concordia edition of the Book of Concord: $22 a copy. If you purchase more than $70 worth, you receive free shipping/handling.
So, it is time for congregations to stock up again. I highly recommend that you promote the book in your congregation, and then send in a group order at one time. Call 800-325-3040, or place your order on the web.
At over 65,000 copies in distribution, Concordia continues to gain in popularity as a "one stop shop" for learning what it means to be, and remain, a Lutheran.
This is a sermon by the Rev. Dr. Gottfried Martens. Dr. Martens is the pastor of St. Mary's Lutheran Church in Berlin-Zehlendorf, a member congregation of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany. You can read more about Pastor Martens' ministry in Berlin, in an article that appears in the seminary magazine For the Life of the World. This sermon was translated by Pastor Peter A. Bauernfeind. I went to the church's web site and am enjoying hearing one of Dr. Martens' sermons on "wellness propaganda"! Hearing Law and Gospel proclaimed so clearly, in Germany, brings a particular joy to my heart. In the Berlin area, for instance, only 4% of the population attends any worship service at all, and of that number, far fewer are blessed to hear the faithful proclamation of God's Holy Word, such as is delivered by God through His servant, Pastor Martens. Thanks be to God. Consider then the enormous challenge of ministry in modern-day Germany and realize how even more unique it is to hear such a message, challenging all us to recognize the ongoing relevance of the Augsburg Confession.
righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight
the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you
were called and about which you made the good confession in the
presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who
gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony
before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment
unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus
Christ, which he will display at the proper time – he who is the
blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who
alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one
has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
Today we examine another confession, not the Apostles’
Creed, which we have spent the the past few months looking at. Today is
about the unaltered version of the Augsburg Confession, which was
delivered 478 years ago today at the Diet in Augsburg to the Holy Roman
Emperor, and yes, there is also an altered version of the Augsburg
Confession that contains problematic content! The pastors of our
Lutheran Church to this day will still bind themselves at their
ordination to that unaltered version, just as the congregational bylaws
of St. Mary’s Church cite the unaltered version as the basis for all
our doctrines and confessions. Yes, the Augsburg Confession is the only
confession in our Lutheran confessional writings which the Church year
has given its very own day of commemoration, and so this evening we
will again reflect on what we actually confess and what the Confession itself says.
Yesterday we sent Treasury of Daily Prayer off to the printer and the final pages were printed out. The easiest way to carry them around for final approval was to put them all on a push cart! Rev. Scot Kinnaman snapped a pic with his iPhone of the "Cart Edition" of the Treasury of Daily Prayer. God willing, we'll have books to ship out toward the middle or end of October.
Please take note of two fantastic new resources from CPH (Yes, I know I say everything is fantastic that I mention, but they are!). And if you find these things of interest would you pass all this along the Internet, the old, “world-wide-everybody.”
Away in a Manger: Resources for Advent-Christmas Preaching and Worship
Pastors, in particular, be looking for the mailing from CPH describing our newest children’s Christmas program for 2008: Away in a Manger. But….also please notice in that mailing the flyer for an even newer resource from CPH, a comprehensive Advent and Christmas program for the entire parish, that dovetails perfectly with the Christmas program. It too is called Away in a Manger and it is authored by Rev. Dr. Scott Murray, of Houston, Texas. It offers four sermon studies and sermons (three midweek service); four Bible studies (student and leader pages); four children’s messages; worship resources for Advent and Christmas; and a CD-ROM with all these resources on it for personal adaptations in Rich Text Format. The pastor’s kit also comes with a sample of the Away in a Manger Devotional Book and the worship bulletins created for this series.
For more information about this comprehensive Advent/Christmas resource, and to see the sermon series, visit the product's web site.
The price is $26.99 and you may place an order either on the web, or by calling CPH at 800-325-3040 and requesting item number: 15-5112
Sing the Faith: The Small Catechism Set to Music
This is a complete recording of the Small Catechism, with the entire text broken down into manageable “chunks” all set to song. It is incredibly powerful and the reactions we have been getting from teachers and pastors have been: “I want it, now!” It’s that good. The music was composed by the gifted church musician, Phil Magness, and Singing the Faith comes presently as a CD-ROM and there is also a companion songbook with the complete music for instruction or performance.
You can hear samples and read more about these resources. The price is $7.99 for the CD-ROM (item number 79-0004) and $19.99 for the songbook (item number 22-3109). You may place an order for these items on the web, or by calling 800-325-3040.
Just one more thing….
In conjunction with our new Fall catalog, that is now “live” and ready for you… We are offering the Concordia edition of the Book of Concord at a promotional price point again, of $22.00, and orders from the catalog of $70.00 dollars or more qualify for free shipping and handling. You can also shop from the new catalog on-line.
So, word to the wise, and all that….take advantage of this lower price. Consider batching an order together from your congregation and sending it in for your Fall study programs. Call your order in at 800-325-3040. Or place your order on-line.
I hope this information is useful to you. Would you please spread the word on these resources to your various friends, colleagues, e-mail lists, blogs, groups, etc.
PS — In a little bit I’ll be able to tell you more about the Treasury of Daily Prayer which went to the printer this week. Here’s a picture of it, as the the “push-cart edition” — we had to load the final pages up on a cart to push around. More later, oh, one more thing….coming soon I’ll be able to tell you and show you a great new Sunday children’s worship resource titled Growing in Worship. You are going to love it. Exciting things. I’m bursting with anticipation but I need a bit more time before I can spill all the details. Coming soon though. Be looking.
I have good news for all existing owners of the most comprehensive collection of Lutheran theological resources in digital format: the Concordia Electronic Theological Library. All the files have been updated to be fully compatible with the latest version of the Libronix edition software that runs it. So, it can now take advantage of all the latest and greatest features of the LOGOS DLS system.
NOTE: You must own the CETL file in order to update them. May sound
like something obvious, but you would be surprised at the questions I
So, here are instructions on updating, but kindly do note that I can
not, nor can CPH, provide technical support. If you need more help
please be in directly contact with Logos:
Email Support: email@example.com
There is a very good Logos blog post (from last Wednesday) about
updating resources here:
Basically – it winds up being a link that I have added to My
Favorites. It runs a similar script to Logos update (the one you
access from Tools->Libronix Update) but instead of updating the
Libronix "engine" and key resources, it looks for any updated files
on the Logos ftp site and downloads them. I tend to run it once a
week rather than once a month (as the blog post recommends for a
If you have never run this, you may find that there are a huge number
of resources to update. If you have a fast connection – no problem.
If a slow connection, you may want to do it in chunks.
Take these words to heart. Share them with your Lutheran friends and family members. Challenge your congregation to take a real and genuine interest in studying the Lutheran Confessions. Pastors, share this comment with your congregation. Lutheran laymen, hand this quote to your pastor and ask him to lead your congregation in a parish-wide study of the Lutheran Confessions. Thanks to LOGIA: A Journal of Lutheran Theology, for an excellent recent issue devoted to Löhe, here is a snippet from an article in that issue, titled, "Why I Declare Myself for the Lutheran Church." Wilhelm Löhe, whom Dr. C.F.W. Walther described as the true spiritual
father of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, had this to say about our
The Lutheran Church lacks many things I would like to see in it, but it
has something that lets it be the true church despite all shortcomings,
and for the sake of which I find it easy and beautiful to be faithful
to it in its outward misery. Do you know what I am talking about? I
am talking about its utterly pure confession and its pure doctrine in
conformity with its confession. Who has ever proved that its
confession is in error in any doctrinal article? When speaking of its
confession, I am not only talking about the Augsburg Confession, but
about the entire Book of Concord from the Augsburg Confession all the
way to the Formula of Concord. You do not know these writings, dear
reader, otherwise you would agree with me. Get to know them and you
will agree. What is more beautiful, lovely, powerful, and lively than
Luther’s catechisms? What is more catholic than the Augsburg
Confession and its Apology? What is more thoughtful and bold than the
Smalcald Articles? And what is slandered more wrongfully than the
beautiful Formula of Concord in its clean but mild definition of all
teachings? Dear reader, I repeat, you do not know your
Church’s confessions of faith. Get to know them in order to know why
you adhere to your church.
An excellent explanation by a Lutheran pastor to his congregation on why the Book of Concord is important, and why they need to read it. You might want to consider using this in your congregation's newsletter, or on your own blog site. Thanks, Pastor Krenz. Pastor Jonathon Krenz serves a parish in Dorr, Michigan.
Beloved in the Lord, hopefully you’ve been reading and meditating on the Book of Concord readings included in your bulletin each week. These come to us from the Book of Concord website, www.bookofconcord.org, where you can read the entire Book of Concord, along with background information, some great Lutheran resources, a blog devoted to the Book of Concord,
as well as finding links to Lutheran sermons and a daily devotion
called “Five Minutes with Luther.” I highly recommend this website and
encourage you to check it out.
The Book of Concord is
also known as the Lutheran Confessions, or the Confessions of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church. Published as a collection in 1580, it
contains the three ecumenical creeds (the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene
Creed, and the Athanasian Creed), the Augsburg Confession (written in
1530) and its Apology (defense) (1531), the Smalcald Articles (1537),
the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope (1537), Luther’s
Small and Large Catechisms (1529), and the Formula of Concord (1577).
Together these writings, known as symbols, tell us what it means to be Lutheran.
Lutheran Confessions are not the Bible. No one claims that they are.
The Holy Scriptures alone are the inspired and inerrant Word of God and
the sole rule and norm of our doctrine and life. But as Lutherans, we
believe the Lutheran Confessions contained in the Book of Concord
are the correct “summary and explanation” of the Scriptures. This is
what the frequently asked questions
section of the Book of Concord site says: “Since we have the Bible, why do we have the Book of Concord?
The Lutheran Confessions are a summary and explanation of the Bible.
They are not placed over the Bible. They do not take the place of the
Bible. The Book of Concord is how Lutherans are able to say, together,
as a church, ‘This is what we believe. This is what we teach. This is
what we confess.’ The reason we have the Book of Concord is because of
how highly we value correct teaching and preaching of God's Word.”
So why should you read the Book of Concord? There are many reasons. Here are at least five:
1. If you’re a Lutheran, the Lutheran Confessions are your confessions. The Lutheran Confessions tell us what it means to be Lutheran. At the very least, you should know the Small Catechism and be familiar with the Large Catechism and the Augsburg Confession. We include the weekly Book of Concord readings with the hope of familiarizing you with these confessions.
2. You should read these confessions precisely because
they are the correct “summary and explanation” of the Scriptures. They
will help you grow in your knowledge and understanding of Scripture and
strengthen your faith. The Lutheran Confessions can be prayed and read
3. The Lutheran Confessions unite us to our
fathers in the faith throughout history, including the Reformation and
the Early Church. The Early Church fathers wrote the creeds, and our
Reformation fathers wrote the rest of the confessions. The Reformation
fathers also made use of many of the Early Church’s writings. In other
words, the Lutheran Confessions show us to be an authentic catholic
church body, solidly grounded in the Holy Scriptures and one with the
one holy Christian (or catholic) and apostolic Church confessed in the
4. The Lutheran Confessions promote the unity of the Christian Church. The word “concord” means “harmony.” The Book of Concord
was compiled as a collection of confessions around which Christendom
could be united. If anyone confesses the Christian faith as we confess
it in the Book of Concord, we consider him one with us. The Book of Concord
also serves as a piece for doctrinal discussion with other church
bodies. These church bodies know where we stand on the basis of the
Lutheran Confessions, and what we require for altar and pulpit
5. The Lutheran Confessions proclaim Christ, and Him
crucified (1 Cor. 1:23, 2:2). They proclaim above all else the chief
doctrine of the Holy Scriptures and the Christian Church: justification
by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. This is the chief
reason you should read the Lutheran Confessions.
continue reading and studying these confessions together in Bible
classes and in the weekly bulletin. I encourage you to read them at
home as well. We can only be strengthened as we use them to gain a
deeper understanding of the Scriptures and what it means to be a
I know many of you are all excited about the summer olympics starting in a few days, but I’m really more into the Ninjalympics. The full-contact downhill gymnastics is particularly fascinating. Never heard of them? I’ll let the man himself explain.
(1) They tell me exactly what they think and when they think I’m wrong (of course, I’m not <g>).
(2) They never hesitate to tell me when they think I’m full of baloney (which is to say, often).
(3) They speak the Gospel to me when I need to hear it (always!).
(4) They always make me laugh, usually when they are making fun of me.
May you always have such friends! A precious gift indeed!!
We are receiving more reactions about Treasury of Daily Prayer
From Pastor David Petersen:
I really love it and I think it is going to be single best resource the
Church has ever seen (excluding the Bible) for both family and
individual devotions. This is far, far better for this purpose than a
hymnal or any devotional book we’ve seen to date. . . . For ease of use, for individual or family prayer, the TDP can’t be
beat. Including the full Scripture readings, hymn, psalm verses, and a
devotional reading is really fantastic. I am convinced that this book
will be of great aid to those who are trying to have family devotions,
etc. . . . I think it was a brilliant vision and am eager to see the finished
product. Thanks for getting it done. I think it will be another feather
in CPH’s cap and a credit to everyone involved.
From Pastor Rick Stuckwisch:
I could not be more delighted with the end results than I am. The book,
so far as I can tell from everything that I have seen and heard, is
exactly the sort of resource that was envisioned and, indeed, prayed
for. The number one priority, at least so far as I was concerned from
the outset, was that each day be easily found in the book, and that
everything needed for each day be located in that same spot. Thanks to
you, and to Brother Kinnaman, for keeping that primary goal intact.
From Pastor William Weedon:
The wonder of Treasury of Daily Prayer
is hard to overstate. I’m thinking of the song about the Pushmepullyou
in Dr. Dolittle: “I’ve never seen anything like it in all my life!”
real beauty of the book is in how it can be used VERY simply (just read
the assigned materials for the day – that will give you a section of
psalmody, two biblical readings, one non-biblical reading, a hymn verse
and a prayer at the very least; on feast or festival days or days
commemorating a saint, also a brief bio or commentary on the feast) or
as a complete breviary (use the materials as appropriate in the
included daily offices).
And how would a prayer manual
possibly be complete without helps for Confession and the Order of
Confession and Absolution? Without preparation for the Eucharist and
prayers for preparation and after receiving our Lord’s Body and Blood?
These are all there, together with repeating prayers for each day of
What I think will be a great blessing is the
seamless manner in which the Church’s commemorations are built into the
year. As you journey along, you’ll be meeting saints here and there
along the way, learning a bit about their lives, and thanking God for
their faithful witness. AC/Ap XXI leaps to life! For example, in
December you’ll meet John of Damascus, Theologian and Hymnwriter on the
4th; Nicholas of Myra, Pastor, on the 6th; Ambrose of Milan, Pastor and
Hymnwriter on the 7th; Lucia, Martyr on the 13th; Daniel and Three
Young Men, on the 17th; Adam and Eve on the 19th; Katherina von Bora
Luther on the 20th; St. Thomas on the 21st; St. Stephen on the 26th;
St. John on the 27th; Holy Innocents on the 28th; and David the Prophet
and King on the 29th! And that’s JUST December! The writer to Hebrews
speaks of being “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” – and
through the Treasury, you’ll come to know and recognize some faces in that great cloud!
A particular strength of the Treasury is the monthly Psalter, following the order of monthly Psalm reading from The Book of Common Prayer,
of the Anglican communion, which is also used in the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America and among the Western Rite Orthodox. Thus,
we’ll be joining many fellow Christians in the discipline of praying
the same Psalms on the same days each month.
So much more to praise, but that’s enough for the day. Get your checkbooks ready, folks! You WANT this new book.
From Pastor Fraser Pearce, Australia:
This is great news. I hope that this material is well publicized down here in Australia as well. I am looking forward to getting a copy of a one-volume, all-inclusive, Lutheran office book.
I had a friend tell me once, “You Lutherans talk too much about Jesus.” I took that as a compliment, while he meant it as a criticism. But it speaks to a problem in a lot of modern Christianity: not enough talk about Jesus. Can you ever have too much Jesus? No, that’s impossible. In fact, our problems are often precisely caused because we are casting our eyes, thoughts, hearts and minds elsewhere rather than fixing them on Jesus.
How many people find themselves feeling lost, empty and hopeless when they do not “feel” something in their hearts, or look at their lives and see that there is little there that “proves” to them that God loves them. What do Christians do who do not see grand “progress” in their desire to love God? What happens when you find yourself making the same mistakes, despite your best efforts? What is one to do? Look to Christ. Set your eyes on Jesus.
All the while Christ is right there, where He always is, in the precious Gospel that is blessedly outside of us, that is, in a good news that never, ever, depends on how I feel, or what I think, or what my attitude is. Our emotions and thoughts ebb and flow and go up and down, from one day to the next. But Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Looking within ourselves we see our sin. We see the depth of the darkness of our doubts, our fears, our worries, our concerns, and the impact of the old evil foe’s temptation. We confess that sin. We look outside of ourselves to the light of Christ, that comes, as it always does, bursting into the darkness, dispelling it. We look to Christ.
Christ is for me. Christ is, as we sing in A Mighty Fortress, by my side, upon the plain, with His good gifts and Spirit.
I’ve so often counseled hurting, grieving, confused Christians to fix their eyes on Jesus. Look to Christ. Cling to Christ. Focus on Him. You will always be disappointed if you choose to look inside of yourself for comfort or security. You will always be let down if you put your hope and trust in other human beings, no matter how close they are to you. You will always be disappointed if you put your hope, security or feelings of personal worth in your job, your marriage, an organization, an institution, even in the earthly manifestation of the Church on earth (a particularly insidious danger, I might add).
St. Paul discovered the secret of being content and joyful, even in the midst of sorrow: Christ. “In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:12-13). And in Galatians 2:20 we understand precisely what Paul means, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
There is the “secret” of the Christian life: Christ and Him crucified for you, and for me.
It’s all about Jesus. Christ loves you, with an eternal love. Nothing can separate you from His love, in all creation. Nothing. He has you firmly in His arms. He has purchased and won you from sin, death and the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death. Why? So that you may be His own, and live under Him, in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness.
Amen, and God bless!
There is a terrific interview on Issues, etc. with Pastor Ken Wieting on the topic of the blessings of weekly communion. I recommend you hop on over to the link and listen to it. Pr. Wieting has a terrific book on the subject that offers a wonderful evangelical-pastoral approach on this issue. There is also a very positive review of Pr. Wieting’s book in the latest issue of the Concordia Journal by Dr. Jeff Gibbs.
By the way, there is a terrific and ever-growing collection of on-demand audio available on the Issues, etc. web site. I had not really done much with subscribing to Podcasts, etc. through iTunes. But now I’m a big believer. It is really a great way to listen to the shows, whenever you want to.
You can also read an excerpt from Pr. Wieting’s book. Here is a description of the book. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Great spiritual blessings come
to Christians who partake of the Lord’s Supper on the Lord’s Day. They
receive a “visible Word” which gives to them the forgiveness of sins,
life and salvation. Their faith is strengthened. Their inner man is
renewed for a life of good works. They are formed in the image of
Christ. In the Apostolic church, communion was celebrated every Sunday.
During the period of the Reformation, the Lutheran churches practiced
weekly communion. The influence of Protestantism in the United States
has suppressed this practice. Each chapter includes discussion questions to help readers reflect
and apply the material to their personal and corporate worship.
The book will help restore this worthy and biblical tradition to our congregations.