Archive for January, 2009

We Praise You, and Acknowledge You, O God

January 16th, 2009 9 comments

A beautiful recording of the new setting/version of the Te Deum as contained in Lutheran Service Book, hymn 941. Recorded by the Kantorei of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Download Tedeum

Categories: Lutheran Hymns

“I’ll pray, but don’t worry, it won’t be Christian” — well, at least he is honest about it.

January 15th, 2009 12 comments

make up for inviting evangelical pastor Rick Warren to give the prayer
at the inauguration, Barack Obama has invited the gay episcopal bishop
Gene Robinson to offer a prayer at an earlier inauguration event. See this. What gets me, though, is this comment from the bishop:

Bishop Robinson said he had been reading inaugural
prayers through history and was “horrified” at how “specifically and
aggressively Christian they were.”

“I am very clear,” he said, “that this will not be a Christian
prayer, and I won’t be quoting Scripture or anything like that. The
texts that I hold as sacred are not sacred texts for all Americans, and
I want all people to feel that this is their prayer.”

HT: Mollie Z. Hemingway

Categories: Liberal Christianity

Protestants More Loyal to Their Favorite Toilet Paper Than to Their Church

January 15th, 2009 5 comments

Yes, apparently, it is true.

"On the Protestant side, there are scores of different denominations,
with some of them fairly similar in practice and theology," he noted.
"The story of this research is that many Protestants may not see a lot
of difference among some of these denominations. It may not be lack of
loyalty so much as it is the presence of so many options that is
causing Protestants to be about as loyal to a brand of toothpaste or
bathroom tissue as they are to their church denomination."

Now, gentle readers, what does this mean for a church's mission and outreach strategy and its own internal emphasis on what makes it unique?

God Hates You and Your Little Dog Too: Thoughts on Calvinism

January 12th, 2009 20 comments

In light of my recent posts with pictures of my little dog, I found the title of a recent post by Anthony Sacramone particularly upsetting, until I read the article. This is a very well done critique of classic Calvinism, acerbic, to be sure, but Tony lays the issues out very clearly. Click through the link to his blog site, and add it to your blog reader, if you have not already. Here is the text of his post:

God Hates You and Your Little Dog Too
by Anthony Sacramone

All right, maybe not you

The NY Times has this profile of Mark Driscoll,
pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Driscoll has a large
congregation in a very secular city. He talks dirty  and preaches a limited gospel, by which I mean the doctrine of limited atonement.
Sometimes referred to as “particular” atonement, it refers to the idea
that God has brought into being the overwhelming majority of humankind
for the sheer purpose of sending them to hell. This, to his glory.

Imagine a God who seeks His glory in such a fashion.

Wait — it gets worse. Not only are the majority of people doomed to
an eternity of torment, but sometimes God will “awaken” a defective
faith, “an inferior working of the Spirit,” in unsuspecting
individuals, for the sheer purpose of faking them out into thinking God
loves them and that Jesus died for them when, in fact, His Holy Wrath
abides on them.

Read more…

Categories: Calvinism

Christmas Tree

January 11th, 2009 1 comment

We had a great Christmas tree this year, and just took it out yesterday. We bought it from a local tree farm that was selling trees for the last time this year, and this one was sort of off by itself. Boy did it last! Sorry to see it go.

Christmas Tree

Categories: Uncategorized

For Pastor Cwirla

January 10th, 2009 2 comments

Pastor Cwirla asked for more photos of Sunny, so here you go. Just shot this one today with my new "nifty fifty" on the camera, and did some clean up in Photoshop.


Categories: Uncategorized

Cute Dog Picture

January 10th, 2009 6 comments

This is my dog. His name is Sunny. Yesterday he got a haircut and came home with a blue ribbon tied in his hair. I'm glad it bothered him. This is how he looked before he looked before his haircut. Basically "before and after" is marked by fluffiest and fluffier. My son took this shot with his new Canon 450D.

I know. He is a foo-foo dog. But we love him. He is a Bichon Frise.


Categories: Uncategorized

Commemoration of the Cappadocian Fathers, January 10

January 10th, 2009 Comments off

Basil the Great of Caesarea, 1 January AD 379
Gregory of Nazianzus, 9 May AD 389
Gregory of Nyssa, 9 March AD 395

Saints Basil and the two Gregorys, collectively known as the Cappadocian Fathers,
were leaders of Christian orthodoxy in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) in
the later fourth century. Basil and Gregory of Nyssa were brothers;
Gregory Nazianzus, Patriarch of Constantinople, was their friend. All
three were influential in shaping the theology ratified by the Council of Constantinople of 381, which is expressed in the Nicene Creed.

defense of the doctrines of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Trinity,
together with their contributions to the liturgy of the Eastern Church,
make them among the most influential Christian teachers and theologians
of their time. Their knowledge and wisdom continues to be heard and
known in the Christian Church today.

When we commemorate the brothers, we do well to remember their sister Macrina
(Makrina), as well. The eldest child of their generation, she did much
to support and encourage the brothers' theological studies, moral
development, and later work.

Please note that this day of celebration was chosen by The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod for its list of commemorations.

Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus are two of the four Eastern theologiansCappadocian_fathers
among the eight great Doctors of the undivided Church. The other two are Athanasius and John Chrysostom. The four great early Western (or Latin) doctors are Augustine, Jerome, Gregory the Great, and Ambrose of Milan.


God, who revealed to Your Church Your eternal Being of glorious majesty
and perfect love as one God in a Trinity of Persons, give us grace
that, like Your servants Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, and
Gregory of Nyssa, we may continue steadfast in the confession of this
faith, and constant in our worship of You, Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit; who live and reign one God, now and forever.

Read the extended entry for a longer biographical note on the Cappadocian Fathers and futher background on the heresies against which they battled, and the truth of Christ for which they struggled.

Source: The Missouri Synod's Commission on Worship and Pastor Walter Snyder

The Constant Temptation Lutherans Face

January 9th, 2009 3 comments

I have observed, for a very long time, that there are Lutherans who wish, very much, to act, talk, walk, and otherwise appear to all to be not too much different from the surrounding Reformed/Evangelical/Non-Denominational church bodies that are all over America. Apparently this is not a new temptation, or problem. Pr. Weedon shared this choice morsel from C.P. Krauth with me:

When the Lutheran Church acts in the spirit of the current denominationalism it abandons its own spirit. It is a house divided against itself. Some even then will stand firm, and with the choosing of new gods on the part of others there will be war in the gates. No seeming success could compensate our church for the forsaking of principles which gave her her being, for the loss of internal peace, for the destruction of her proper dignity, for the lack of self-respect which would follow it. The Lutheran Church can never have real moral dignity, real self-respect, a real claim on the reverence and loyalty of its children while it allows the fear of the denominations around it, or the desire of their approval, in any respect to shape its principles or control its actions. It is a fatal thing to ask not, What is right? What is consistent? but, What will be thought of us? How will the sectarian and secular papers talk about us? How will our neighbors of the different communions regard this or that course? Better to die than to prolong a miserable life by such compromise of all that gives life its value.

–“The Right Relation to Denominations in America,” in Lutheran Confessional Theology in America, 1840-1880, edited by Theodore G. Tappert (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972), p. 135

Categories: Lutheranism

Antinomian Antidote and Medicine for Good Works Allergies

January 9th, 2009 Comments off

There must be a continuous progression from Sinai to Zion, so that the
object of justifying faith does not become Epicureanism or, as Peter
says, "a cloak for maliciousness."

- Martin Chemnitz (Treasury of Daily Prayer, p. 1097)

Categories: Christian Life

Lenten Materials: O Sacred Head and He Was Crucified

January 9th, 2009 1 comment

Another new item from Concordia Publishing House: our new comprehensive parish preaching/worship/bible study for Lent: O Sacred Head. I really can't say enough good things about this resource. It is far superior to what is available from some other publishers who aim their resource at various liturgical churches, including Lutherans. Here is a sample from O Sacred Head. The sermons were worked on by Pastor William Weedon, the devotion book was prepared by Pastor William Cwirla. It is superbly done.

And there is a companion book for the entire parish, that will dovetail nicely with this Lenten resource. It is now also available, titled He Was Crucified. You will love this book. Here is a sample from the book.

Here is more information about the Lenten program resource:

Sacred Head Now Wounded
for Lent-Easter preaching materials will assist your planning for the
services and celebrations of the Lent and Easter season. Bringing
together the themes commonly heard in The Passion of Our Lord-Drawn
from the Four Gospels and in the beloved and eloquent hymn, "O Sacred
Head, Now Wounded," these resources explore Christ's Passion and
resurrection through the themes of Jesus' wounds.  

The Sacred Head Now Wounded book with CD includes:

  • Nine sermon studies and sermons (Six midweek services, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday)
  • Seven Bible studies (6 midweek plus Easter Sunday)
  • Nine children's messages

Ash Wednesday
Sermon text: Joel 2:12-19
Theme/Title: A Wounded Savior for a Wounded People

Lent Midweek 2
The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ – I. The Lord's Supper
Sermon text: Matthew 26:20-25
Theme/Title: The Wound of Betrayal

Lent Midweek 3
The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ – II. Gethsemane
Sermon text: Matthew 26:36-45
Theme/Title: The Wound of Apathy

Lent Midweek 4
The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ – III. The Palace of the High Priest
Sermon text: Matthew 26:69-75
Theme/Title: The Wound of Denial

Lent Midweek 5
The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ – IV. The Praetorium
Sermon text: Matthew 27:27-31
Theme/Title: The Wound of Mockery

Lent Midweek 6
The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ – V. Calvary
Sermon text: Matthew 27:45-48
Theme/Title: The Wound of Abandonment

Maundy Thursday
Sermon text: Exodus 24:3-11
Theme/Title: A Meal for the Wounded

Good Friday
Sermon text: Isaiah 53:1-6
Theme/Title: The Wounds That Heal

Easter Sunday
Sermon text: John 20:11-16
Theme/Title: He is Risen! The Wound of Death is Vanquished

Complete your resources with Sacred Head Now Wounded daily devotion booklet and bulletin.

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Categories: CPH Resources

A Grief Observed: Richard John Neuhaus, 1936-2009

January 8th, 2009 12 comments

Richard John Neuhaus died today. I feel a sadness of heart and an emptiness of spirit. A place at the table of enriching conversation that I enjoy with a number of people across Christendom is now empty, a very large empty place, indeed. Father Neuhaus, once LCMS Pastor Neuhaus, then ELCA Pastor Neuhaus, was, for me, a source of ongoing inspiration and encouragement.

Encouragement? Yes, encouragement to be and remain the very best Lutheran God allows me to be. Now why do I say this? I fervently differed with Father Neuhaus on several core issues of the confession of the Christian Gospel, and he knew that. Over the many long years I had struck up a very informal and not-frequent-enough conversation with him, as I'm sure thousands of other people. I know he kindly entertained my letters and thoughts because of our shared Lutheranism, a Lutheranism he believed fervently was realized fully in communion with Rome, a Lutheranism I believe must remain apart from Rome as long as Rome clings to its Gospel-obscuring errors.

Having said that, I am already cringing at the possibility that there will be featured in a certain newspaper from New Haven a graceless, ham-fisted tirade against Richard John Neuhaus the Catholic convert and more's the pity. But the Roman Church has its share of graceless, ham-fisted apologists and I suppose we must have our fair share too.

I always enjoyed my back-and-forths with Father Neuhaus. He opened several doors for me while I served The LCMS President, making it possible for LCMS leadership to make direct contact with the Vatican, when ELCA leaders were intent on cutting us out of formal conversation with Rome. Father Neuhaus was able to make direct personal appeal to Pope John Paul which led to direct contacts with Cardinal Ratzinger, with the result that the The LCMS was again given a place at the table of discussion and dialog with Rome, and most importantly, a point sadly lost on some, the chance in this formal context to make the good confession of faith. I learned from Father Neuhaus how the highest levels of the Vatican looked with considerable appreciation on the bold confession The Missouri Synod made at the time of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, and it was from Father Neuhaus that I learned that Cardinal Ratzinger had made the point, "If the Lutherans do not take their Confessions seriously, why should we?" But then he would always say, "But there is the Missouri Synod!"

Father Neuhaus kindly asked me to write a couple pieces for FIRST THINGS and he was always interested in what The LCMS was up to. He introduced me to George Weigel and others through the years. Like I said, these kindnesses were commonplace and I know many, many others shared my experiences with Father Neuhaus. 

As much as I disagreed with Father Neuhaus, I agreed with so much of what he wrote in RJN
First Things. Of course, he was a constant advocate for his "new" church, but he was fair and even-handed in his criticism, liberally applied, from a conservative point of view, of all trends and movements in Christendom. I admired his rhetorical and writing skills and the first section I always turned to in First Things was his column at the end. I suspect most First Things readers did! His wit, wisdom and breadth of engagement with contemporary trends in our culture was breathtaking. What a noble and bold spokesman for unborn human life he was!

I will miss Father Neuhaus. Through all the years he was a Roman Catholic priest there was no doubt that his Lutheran piety and catechesis was clearly a part of his very being. I felt Richard John brought to the Romanism he embraced a hearty and full measure of the joyful Gospel rediscovery of Martin Luther, for which I am grateful.

I will miss Father Neuhaus, and I join with many others in expressing my appreciation for his life and work, both for what he did that I fervently agreed with, which was much, and that which I had to disagree with, which was substantial. In both cases, he challenged me to think, to reflect, to grow and to strive for excellence in our common confession of Christ. Here is a nice reflection from a fellow Lutheran who worked with Father Neuhaus, Anthony Sacramone.

And here are comments from Fr. Neuhaus, reflecting on his own death, written a number of years ago:

“When I come before the judgment throne, I will plead the promise of
God in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. I will not plead any work that I
have done, although I will thank God that he has enabled me to do some
good. I will plead no merits other than the merits of Christ, knowing
that the merits of Mary and the saints are all from him; and for their
company, their example, and their prayers throughout my earthly life I
will give everlasting thanks. I will not plead that I had faith, for
sometimes I was unsure of my faith, and in any event that would be to
turn faith into a meritorious work of my won. I will not plead that I
held the correct understanding of “justification by faith alone,”
although I will thank God that he led me to know ever more fully the
great truth that much misunderstood formulation was intended to
protect. Whatever little growth in holiness I have experienced,
whatever strength I have received from the company of the saints,
whatever understanding I have attained of God and his ways – these and
all other gifts received I will bring gratefully to the throne. But in
seeking entry to that heavenly kingdom, I will…look to Christ and
Christ alone.”

- Richard John Neuhaus.  Death on a Friday Afternoon.  New York:  Basic Books, 2000)  p. 70.

Requiescat in pace

Categories: Roman Catholicism

The Ultimate Lutheran Man’s Sweater Vest!

January 8th, 2009 2 comments

Now you can make both a fashion statement and a doctrinal statement….thanks to the sweater vest with pockets!

The Power of the Sweater Vest Pocket!

Categories: CPH Resources

Birth Announcement: Baby Concordia Is Here!

January 7th, 2009 14 comments

Isn't it a cute little Book of Concord? It looks just like its father, a chip off the old block. The "Pocket Edition" of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions is now available. It contains the complete text of the various Lutheran confessional documents, the reading plan, Bible text reference index, subject index, and also the Catalog of Testimonies and Saxon Visitation articles. The print is readable, not "micro-size" and it fits in a jacket pocket. What it does not include is all the notes, annotations, woodcuts, etc. The price? Single copies are: $14.99, if you order ten or more copies, they are $10.99 each. Place your orders here, or call 800-325-3040.

We have jokingly referred to this pocket edition as the "Mini-Me" edition of the Reader's Edition of the Book of Concord and all I can say is, "Mini-Me, you complete me."

To my knowledge, the Book of Concord has never before been published in a "pocket size" edition and this particular edition offer the Book of Concord in the most inexpensive printed edition available, in any language.

Here are a couple photos, to show the size in comparison with the full size edition, and the type size.

Photo 41

Photo 43

Categories: CPH Resources

You Can Never Have Too Much Memory

January 7th, 2009 3 comments

I've never seen memory prices this low…and I've been into this stuff for a long, long time. Word to the wise: You'll never go wrong maxing out your computer's memory capacity! Here is the site I use.

Three things that are never true:

I have too much bookshelf space.
I have too much memory.
I have too much hard drive capacity.

Categories: Web/Tech