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General Introduction to the New Luther’s Works Project

April 30th, 2009 3 comments

titel_luther1I thought you might like to read the general introduction that appears in the volumes in the new Luther’s Works translation series:

“Since the publication of the American edition of Luther’s Works in English began in 1955 under the general editorship of Jaroslav Pelikan and Helmut Lehmann, there has been an explosion in the translation of Luther into the languages of the globe. Scholarship on Luther continues to flourish not only in its traditional northern European seats and its newer homes in North America but also throughout the world. Although the fifty-four volumes of the existing American edition are the most extensive collection of Luther’s works in translation, they do not contain everything that has attracted the attention of historians and theologians in subsequent decades nor everything that Luther’s contemporaries and successors esteemed and republished. The twenty planned new volumes of Luther’s Works, though not attempting to translate all of Luther into English, are intended to reflect both modern and sixteenth-century interests and to expand the coverage of genres underrepresented in the existing volumes, such as Luther’s sermons and disputations. The goal of the translation is to allow Luther to speak in modern English, yet as a man of the sixteenth century. The translators have been asked to resist bowdlerizing Luther’s language to conform to modern sensibilities about such matters as society, gender, or scatology. Editorial introductions and notes are offered to familiarize the reader with the particular circumstances of each text and its theological and social context. The primary basis for the English translation is the comprehensive Weimar edition (D. Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe, Weimar: H. Böhlau, 1883–), supplemented where possible by edited texts from more recent editions of Luther’s selected works. Scholars able to work in Luther’s own German and Latin will want to consult the Weimar edition and its notes, especially for textual issues. The equivalent Weimar page numbers are printed at the top of the page in each new volume of the American edition and approximate page breaks are marked with a stroke ( | ). References to Luther in the notes are given from the American edition of Luther’s Works wherever possible, and otherwise from the Weimar edition. In the case of texts scheduled for translation in future volumes, both the Weimar reference and the prospective volume in the American edition are viii LUther’s WOrks given. For Luther’s Church and House Postils, the English translations of John Nicholas Lenker and of Eugene F. A. Klug are cited. With each substantive Luther citation, the short title of the work has been given along with its date, for the convenience of the reader. Where the dates of original composition and of first publication differ by more than a year, both are indicated, separated by a slash. Biblical passages within Luther’s works have been rendered in fidelity to Luther’s own text, even when this differs from modern critical texts or conventional English translations. Necessary expansions of partial references have been rendered in brackets from the appropriate edition of Luther’s German Bible, from the Vulgate (including Luther’s 1529 revision thereof), or in consultation with Luther’s translation of the passage in his lectures, as appropriate. This approach has made it impossible to use any single English translation throughout, though the English Standard Version (ESV) has been used as a starting point where possible or, occasionally, the Authorized (KJV) or Douay versions where these correspond more closely to Luther’s own text. Biblical language has been modernized after the model of the ESV, including the use of “you” as the second person form throughout. A comparison of the present volumes with the Weimar edition will immediately reveal the profound debt that the editors of the American edition, past and present, owe to the long succession of Weimar editors. But the publication of these texts in a new English edition affords the opportunity to draw on the accumulation of decades of scholarship since the appearance of many of the Weimar volumes, as well as on new electronic resources, and thus, on occasion, to make some new contribution in token repayment of that vast scholarly debt. Although the present edition is addressed chiefly to scholars, pastors, and theologians working in English, whether as a first language or a language of scholarship, it is hoped that the annotations and the translations of difficult texts may be of service even to those working with Luther in the original tongues. Even now, amid the fifth century after his death, Luther remains an epochal figure in the history of the Christian Church, a prominent shaper of the religious and cultural history of the West, and a provocative voice still heard and engaged by theologians, pastors, and laity around the world as a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The editor and publisher trust that these new volumes of Luther’s Works in English will, in harmony with the original goals of the American edition, serve their readers with much that has proved and will prove its “importance for the faith, life, and history of the Christian Church.” Christopher Boyd Brown, General Editor, Luther’s Works, Volumes 56-75

Bible order forms are coming

April 30th, 2009 1 comment

Wow, how often do you see people ginning up their own order sheets for forthcoming books? I just saw a pastor posted some to his blog today. Pretty cool! We have an order form/sheet in the works and we’ll be posting it at some point next week. Hang in there. It is on the way. Here is a screen shot:

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New Luther Translations!

April 30th, 2009 4 comments
Title Page of First Volume to be Published in the New Twenty Volume Extension of Luther's Works

Title Page of First Volume to be Published in the New Twenty Volume Extension of Luther's Works

Did you know that Concordia Publishing House is extending the translation of Martin Luther’s writings into English? A twenty volume extension of the American Edition is well underway. I have several things to report about in this post. First, thanks to Dr. Mayes, for pointing me to the fact that Google Books now has a number of volumes of the Weimar critical edition of Luther’s writings available, for free of course, online. How to find them? Go to Google Books and enter in your search “D. Martin Luthers Werke.”

Second, the first volume in the new translation series of Luther’s writings is finished and is now presently in production. We anticipate it will be available for purchase by the beginning of September.

We have a dedicated web page set up to begin taking subscriptions to the series. And if you look around on that page you will find the new series’ prospectus explaining what it will provide, and why. I heartily encourage you to go to the page, look around, and place your subscription. We are providing a 30% discount off the full price to subscribers and are working on providing a concurrent digital edition that we will substantially discount as well, when it is purchased with the print edition.

What are scholars and church leaders saying about the new series of Luther’s Works?

Luther’s analysis of human life and his proclamation of God’s merciful deliverance of humankind from sin and evil through Christ ring true across the cultural boundaries of time and space. This supplement to the historic edition of the reformer’s writings, completed a quarter century ago, is bringing significant additions to the texts from his pen that are currently available in English. It will also provide English-language readers access to documents that aid in understanding Luther’s own life and the development of the Wittenberg Reformation. The volumes are being edited according to the highest academic standards and their introductions and notes offer readers helpful guides to the context and content of the reformer’s writings. Casual readers and those seeking to expand and deepen their knowledge of the Reformation will profit greatly from these carefully translated and edited volumes. Robert Kolb Missions Professor of Systematic Theology, and Director of the Institute for Mission Studies, Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis

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There is no better way to understand Luther than to read his works. This edition will give insight into Luther’s development and the exposition of his biblical theology. English-speaking readers will become acquainted with crucially-important texts like the Heidelberg disputation or his lectures on the psalms, presented in a very accurate manner. I welcome this important undertaking on the way to the Reformation jubilees in 2017! Volker Leppin Chair for Church History at Jena (Germany) Member of the Academy of Sciences of Saxony at Leipzig Member of the Continuation Committee of the International Congress for Luther Research and of the Advisory Council for the Preparation of the Reformation Jubilee in Germany

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Even those who can read Luther in the original languages often find it difficult to express his ideas clearly and accurately in English. There are obstacles to the comprehension of the texts— technical vocabulary and historical circumstance, for example—that mere competence in Latin and German cannot deal with. So from the beginning, the Luther’s Works: American Edition has been an invaluable tool for specialists as well as non-specialists, and the publication of this beautifully planned new series will make it even more so. James Estes Professor Emeritus of History, Victoria College, University of Toronto

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Concordia Publishing House is providing a tremendous service to historians, theologians, pastors, and students by producing these new translations of Luther’s works. The editors have chosen key texts for illustrating Luther’s life and thought, from his earliest works to the biographies written soon after his death. The volumes devoted to Luther’s sermons, lectures, and disputations are especially welcome, because they will give English readers a more complete picture of Luther the preacher and professor. Amy Nelson Burnett Professor of History, University of Nebraska—Lincoln

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I am delighted to see that more letters, sermons, and prefaces of Luther will be available in the American Edition. Our appreciation of Luther’s life and work will be enriched by this new series and the scholarship that undergirds it. Scott H. Hendrix Professor Emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary

Read more…

Need More Copies of the Sampler?

April 27th, 2009 4 comments

7098_dtI have good news. Many of you have indicated you have received the new sampler for The Lutheran Study Bible and have asked if it would be possible for you to request more copies for your congregation. My colleagues in our sales/marketing department just asked me to alert you to the fact that we will be happy to send additional copies to any Lutheran congregation asking for copies for general distribution. So, if you would like to pass copies out to the members of your congregation, please call CPH at: 800-325-3040 and ask for The Lutheran Study Bible Sampler, item number: 750117. We ask that you ask for only as many copies you as you actually will use and distribute. We would like to ask that this request be made only by congregations, not individuals. If you are a pastor, there you go. If you are not, kindly let your pastor know. NOTE: The picture is NOT the Bible sampler, which is, frankly much more delicious and tasty than a box of chocolates.

Categories: Uncategorized

Jesus-Centered Spirituality: What does this mean? How is this done?

April 27th, 2009 4 comments

dummies-guru3Everywhere you look these days, “spirituality” is a big deal, among Christians of all stripes, denominations and groupings. “Spirituality” means something entirely different, depending on whom you are talking to. The goal is to have a Jesus-centered spirituality, a life of prayer and meditation on God’s Word that is anchored in Christ, one in which our eyes are firmly fixed on Him (Hebrews 12:2). But not just any Jesus will do. The Jesus who is the author and giver of life is known only through Sacred Scripture. Jesus-centered spirituality is a Word-centered spirituality. So, what does it mean to have a Jesus-centered spirituality? And how is this done?

If we regard the Scriptural text as being, primarily, “information on a page” we are regarding the Scriptures entirely incorrectly. The Scriptures are the God-given, God-breathed words of life. They were written precisely so that we would know Jesus, and that by believing in Him, have life in His name (John 20:31). A profoundly deep and authentic life of Jesus-centered spirituality is our Lutheran birthright, but one that has been allowed to go dormant, as Lutherans chase after the latest fads in pop-Christianity, spirituality that float free from the text of Scripture and instead thrust a person into his or her feelings as the primary source of “spirituality.” Just the opposite is the case: the Word is the anchor and foundation and the bedrock, through which we communion with our Lord.

Here then are some suggestions for establishing and deepening your spiritual life.

(1) It takes work to be disciplined about your daily life of prayer and meditation on the Word. There are no short-cuts and quick fixes. An intentional life of prayerful meditation on God’s Word is a habit that must be formed, shaped, developed and increased through daily use. It like any other habit: it takes some time to develop it, but it is well worth it. I promise you, beyond a shadow of doubt, that as you develop the habit of intentionality and purpose in your prayer life, you will find it to be a very rich blessing. Why? Not because somehow it will earn you eternal points on your heavenly credit card, but simply because you are spending time with the Word of God, you are being put into the presence of God when you come before Him through His Word. God’s Word never returns empty and without accomplishing its intended purpose (Isaiah 55:11).

(2) Practice makes perfect. In other words, stop reading about spirituality and start doing it. Many make a hobby of Christianity spirituality and accumulate many books, guides, handbooks and how-to guides. It is not a hobby. It is our calling in Christ, and it is the source of our life in Christ: being rooted deeply and richly in the Word of Christ. There is no substitute for simply doing it. And, with anything else, practice is key. You won’t grow in your devotional life, unless you do it, and you won’t do it, unless you simply force yourself to do it. Don’t fool yourself into thinking, “Oh, I don’t feel spiritual enough today” or “I’m not in the mood.” Your mood and feelings don’t matter. Just do it. Feelings and moods, come and go. Stick with the Word. Stick with Christ. As we abide in Him, He abides in us. (John 15:4). We continue as His disciples, as we continue in His Word. No Word? No Christ. No Christ? No disciple. (John 8:31-32).

(3) Pick a time that is good for you. For me it is very early morning. A friend recently gave me a nice way of putting it: “I’m in the Word before I’m in the world.” In other words, before the cares, worries and responsibilities of our various vocations crowd into our thoughts, it is good to spend time with God’s Word, first thing of the day. If it means setting your alarm clock to wake you up fifteen minutes or half and hour early, set it. For other people, the best time is in the evening, or before bedtime. Again, no rules. But do identify a time to remove yourself to be about prayer with your Lord (Matthew 6:6).

(4) Use the classic Christian treasures of prayer. Take up a resource that puts before you the classic prayer hours and forms of the Church, like The Treasury of Daily Prayer. I’m aware of no single-volume resource that is better and more complete than the Treasury of Daily Prayer. But whatever resource you use, you may find it very meaningful to be using resources that are in line with the great traditional of prayer and spirituality since the earliest days of the Church, using the classic key hours of prayer: morning and evening prayer. Of course, the essential resource is God’s Word, and particularly, the Psalms.

(5) Remember there are no “rules” that “must be followed” in order to have a meaningful life of prayer. Key is being in the Word, as much, or as little as needed. If you use a resource like the Treasury, do not think you “have to” use all of it, or a certain part of it. Use whatever is helpful. Grow into a more robust use of the classic prayer hours, if you wish. For me, Matins is the key prayer office of the day and allows me to read a good portion of the Psalms, an Old Testament and New Testament reading. Prayers continue through the day, but Matins is the full prayer office I find most helpful to me. Others may wish to use Matins and Vespers and then the final prayer office of the day and Compline. Remember though: no rules, just guidelines. Don’t think that unless you have put yourself through some extended liturgical prayer experience that you somehow are doing something “less” or “not enough.” If that is the attitude by which we approach the liturgical orders of prayer, we are going about it all wrong. All these things are helps and aids. They give us a framework and the very words we can use to structure our prayer life.

(6) Be intentional about your life of prayer. Don’t allow yourself to get lazy and slip bad habits. An ordered life of prayer and meditation on God’s Word sets you free for a deeper life of prayer and meditation on God’s Word. That’s the point. Skipping around from thing, to thing, or thinking that somehow you are not “really praying” unless you can sit with your eyes closed and think prayerful thoughts for long blocks of time is the wrong way to go. Meditative prayer is prayer grounded in interaction with Holy Scripture.

(7) Remember that you never pray alone, even if you are physically by yourself. First, you are always, in Christ, as His own dear child (Galatians 2:20). You are a new Creation in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17). When we fail for words in our prayers, the Holy Spirit prayers with us and for us with groans and sighs too deep for words (Romans 8:26). And recall that as you pray daily, there are literally millions of Christians around the world whose prayers also are ascending. One of the beauties of using the classic forms and hours of prayer, like Matins, is that you are in a great line of Christians who have prayed using even the very same, or similar words, for thousands of years. Key is the use of the Psalms, which is the church’s prayerbook. I can’t recommend highly enough Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s masterful short work on the Psalms.

(8) Don’t consider your daily devotions a substitute for Sunday’s church service. It might be tempting for Christians to think, “I’ve done my daily devotions, so I can skip Church.” No, in fact, the daily devotions are the bridge from Sunday to Sunday. We receive Christ’s gifts in Word and Sacrament on Sunday and then daily we are refreshed with His Word so as to come together again on Sunday around the preached and taught Word and the Sacrament of the Altar. Certainly it is never a case of either/or, but always very much a both/and situation.

I hope these thoughts are helpful to you. You are loved by God. You have a dear father in heaven who waits to hear your prayer, who wants you to pray, who commands you to pray, and who delights in your prayers, offered in the name of the One who loved You so much, He gave Himself up for you, and was raised again, so you too may walk in newness of life. Rejoice in the gift of prayer He gives to you. And may God bless!

Here is the article by John Kleinig on how to meditate on God’s Word that I’ll append to this post, in order to have these two pieces together. Read more…

The Lutheran Study Bible: Update and Mail Alert

April 21st, 2009 Comments off

homebkgrd_03We began this project first with an extensive and wide reading/research project, by which we invited lay people to read parts of the Bible assigned to them and write down every single question they had as they read the Bible. We had nearly 500 people reading the Scriptures in this very intentional way. This project produced a large data base of questions and comments which guided all we did in preparing this Bible. We asked professors from our seminaries to provide us with the most recent scholarship on all the books of the Bible, with issues identified clearly and then we turned to a team of note writers, the great majority of whom are active parish pastors, to write and help edit the notes. The result is a Bible that is scholarly, pastoral, practical, devotional and faithful to God’s Word, and clearly presented for the lay reader in view, with a keen focus on the Christ-centered nature of Scripture in the paradigm of Law/Gospel, which is that “particularly brilliant light” for proper understanding of the Bible, as our Lutheran Confessions put it. I’ll give you a list of the “priorities” we had in view as we did this Bible, as a PS at the end of this note.

Simply put, in the history of our Synod, there has not been a study Bible like this one produced for English speaking Lutherans. We have created this Bible with research, notes and commentary produced, “from the ground up” from Lutheran sources, scholars, pastors and writers. Previously we have borrowed notes from other non-Lutheran publishers and modified them for use in our church. I guess the situation is comparable to making a meal from scratch, with your own ingredients, and buying something pre-made and slightly changing it.

When describing The Lutheran Study Bible project to the CPH Board of Directors, to CPH staff, and to potential contributors, we included six goals for the work. We sought to create a study Bible that does the following:

1. Presents justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, as the chief teaching of Scripture (Lk 24:44-;47; Jn 5:39; SA II I 1-4)
2. Properly distinguishes and applies Law and Gospel (reading the Bible as a book about justification; Jn 1:17; Gal 3:21-22; Ap XIIA 53-54)
3. Emphasizes God’s work through the means of grace (Mt 26:26-29; Jn 3:5; 20:22-23; Rm 10:17; SA III IV)
4. Functions from a “Scripture alone” point of view and presents a “Scripture interprets Scripture” approach to using the Bible (Ps 119; 1Tm 6:3; 2Tm 3:16-17; FC Ep Sum)
5. Equips the laity for works of service, with a particular focus on evangelism in their various vocations/callings in life (Ps 145:4–13; Eph 2; Ap XV 41-42)
6. Presents a uniquely Lutheran study Bible that features genuinely Lutheran notes and comments throughout, references to the Lutheran Confessions where appropriate, focus on the Small Catechism for helps and explanations, citations from Luther throughout, and materials to aid daily devotion and prayer

TLSB will be out by this October. I would invite you to look around the following web sites for a lot more information and samples of the Bible: http://www.cph.org/lutheranbible You will find at this web site pre-publication pricing information.

In the next couple of weeks we are mailing to every Lutheran congregation across the United States and Canada a forty-eight page “sampler” of TLSB. I hope you get a chance to see it. If you don’t, you can download a copy of it from the Internet. It is a large file (13 megabytes), so it will take a few minutes to download to your computer. When you click this link, the download will begin: <http://www.cph.org/cphstore/pages/resources/tlsb/tlsb%20sampler_body.pdf> Our congregations should have this mailing by the end of May, if not earlier. We will follow up this mailing later in the summer with a larger set of promotional materials for our congregations to use to gather orders. We are also featuring this Bible at our district convention displays, so be sure to stop by our booth.

Categories: Uncategorized

Treasury Thoughts and Comments

April 20th, 2009 1 comment

The Treasury of Daily Prayer

The Treasury of Daily Prayer has been a big hit and just this morning I was telling a group of people, “People who have it and use it, love it. But when I say ‘love it’ that is an understatement.” Here is my request. Would you please send me, in a 100 words or less, your personal reaction to the Treasury of Daily Prayer? And would you have your friends who are using it, or members of your congregation, also send me those comments? Would you also share this request with your various groups, web sites, blogs, Facebook groups and pages? Please invite them to send their reply/response to me at my Concordia Publishing House e-mail address, which is: paul.mccain@cph.org. Please ask the person making the comment to provide their name and location. Many thanks. Submission of comments is done with the understanding that we may quote them for marketing and promotional purposes. I’m looking specifically for comments about how the Treasury of Daily Prayer has helped, changed, improved, enhanced, revolutionized (?), your life of prayer and meditation on God’s Word and the same for anyone else willing to share a thought/comment. Would you please share this post on your blog sites, Facebook page, Twitter feeds, etc. etc. etc. Many thanks!

Categories: Uncategorized

The Tyranny of the Urgent: An Effort at Breaking Bad Habits

April 19th, 2009 3 comments

computer+addict+1.jpgI’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the fact that I do not do enough thinking. I do too much reacting, too much responding, but not enough thinking. Why? Because of the tyranny of the urgent, and I’ve come to realize a major culprit in my slavish attention to the urgent is: e-mail and the computer in general. I’m going to try to break some bad habits and form some good habits. Here are some excellent things I’ve read that I’m going to be putting into place over the next two weeks. I’ll give this a whirl and let you know how it is going, in two weeks. And, yes, this applies to Twitter Tweets and Facebook messages and blog reading and writing, as well. Here are some tips I’ve picked up, starting with a blog post by Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson:

“I am reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss. He’s only twenty-nine-years old, but wise beyond his years. This is probably the best book I have read on productivity since Getting Things Done by David Allen. Tim says, “… limit e-mail consumption and production. This is the greatest single interruption in the modern world.” He’s right. It is amazing how distracting e-mail can be. Does this sound familiar? You are working on an important project and you get a notice that you have received an e-mail message. What do you do? You stop what you are doing to read the message, despite the fact that this can totally derail you from your current task. The worst part is that people go through their entire day like this. No sooner are they engaged in doing something important and meaningful and—da-ding!—they get a notice that they have received a new e-mail. They stop what they are doing, switch to their inbox, and read some inane e-mail that contributes nothing to their current priorities or the project at hand. What makes us do this? This is border-line neurotic behavior. I should know. I suffer from the disease myself. If you keep doing this long enough—let’s be honest here—it makes you A.D.D. You stay busy all day long and have virtually nothing to show for it at the end of the day. Can we agree to stop the madness? Based on Tim’s advice, I have resolved to check e-mail only twice a day. It is already having an enormous impact. Here’s what I suggest:

“1. Work on your computer in “offline” mode. You don’t need to be notified when you receive a new e-mail. People can wait. Yes, even your boss. Instead, let messages accumulate in your inbox and then batch process a whole bunch of messages at once. For example, I’m on a plane now. I downloaded my messages just before we boarded in Dallas. I have processed 68 messages in 45 minutes, and generated 21 replies. I am now writing this post. It took 30 minutes. If I had dealt with these in real-time, as they landed in my inbox, it would have likely taken two to three times as long. Why? Because my attention would be divided between my e-mail and all the other things yapping for attention on my desk.

“2. Only check e-mail twice a day. I mean really … isn’t this sufficient?

“3. Don’t check e-mail first thing in the morning. This has been the most difficult part of my experiment. I am used to checking my e-mail first thing in the morning and last thing at night (and a hundred times in between). Instead, I am now focused on getting my two most important daily priorities done first. Before, I would often go days without making any real progress. At best, I was reacting and just trying to stay caught up. Now, I am proacting and making substantial progress on my goals and to-do list items.”

And here’s another set of tips.

1. Shut off auto-check – Either turn off automatic checking completely, or set it to something reasonable, like every 20 minutes or so. If you’re doing anything with new email more than every few minutes, you might want to rethink your approach. I’m sure that some of you working in North Korean missile silos need real-time email updates, but I encourage the rest of you to consider ganging your email activity into focused (maybe even timed) activity every hour or three. Process, tag, respond to the urgent ones, then get the hell back to work. (See also, NYT: You There, at the Computer: Pay Attention)

2. Pick off easy ones – If you can retire an email with a 1-2 line response (< 2 minutes; pref. 30 seconds), do it now. Remember: this is about action, not about cogitating and filing. Get it off your plate, and get back to work. On the other hand, don’t permit yourself to get caught up in composing an unnecessary 45-minute epistle (see next item).

3. Write less – Stop imagining that all your emails need to be epic literature; get better at just keeping the conversation moving by responding quickly and with short actions in the reply. Ask for more information, pose a question, or just say “I don’t know.” Stop trying to be Victor Hugo Marcel Proust, and just smack it over the net—especially if fear of writing a long reply is what slows your response time. N.B.: This does not mean that you should write elliptically or bypass standard grammar, capitalization, and punctuation (unless you want to look 12 years old); just that your well-written message can and should be as concise as possible. That saves everyone time.

4. Cheat – Use something like MailTemplate to help manage answers to frequent email subjects. Templates let you create and use boilerplate responses to the questions and requests to which you usually find yourself drafting identical replies over and over from scratch. At least use a template as a basis for your response, and then customize it for that person or situation. Don’t worry—you can still let your sparkling prose and winning wit shine through, just without having to invent the wheel 10 times each day.

5. Be honest – If you know in your heart that you’re never going to respond to an email, get it out of sight, archive it, or just delete it. Guilt will not make you more responsive two months from now, otherwise, you’d just do it now, right? Trust your instincts, listen to them, and stop trying to be perfect.

Categories: Web/Tech

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-04-19

April 19th, 2009 Comments off
  • The ‘way of the ungodly’ is fleeting happiness…Your way is narrow but consider how ample a field it comes into at the last.” —Augustine #
  • “In the holy Scriptures, if we look carefully we shall often find that what is virtuous is called useful” -Ambrose #
  • Scripture contains nothing else than the promised grace and forgiveness of sin through the suffering of Christ. -Luther #
  • Victorious Savior, daily put to death my foolish pride and wisdom, and teach me the way of humility and self-sacrifice. Amen #
  • “Jesus lives! The vict’ry’s won! Death no longer can appall me; Jesus lives! Death’s reign is done! From the grave will Christ recall me.” #
  • Christians are called to do more than “obey”; they are called to treasure God’s Word in their hearts. #
  • Consider Christ in what He has done, He is God! Consider Him in what He has suffered, He is Man! —Augustine #
  • The very same Christ who was born of Mary truly rose again, just as He showed His disciples the scars in His hands and His side. -Luther #
  • Remember your Baptism. His love and care are new for you every morning. #
  • “Christ is arisen from the grave’s dark prison. So let our joy rise full and free; Christ our comfort true will be. Alleluia!” -Luther #
  • “The wicked rely on dead things, while the righteous rely on the living Lord.” —Luther #
  • While some people accept Christ’s humanity, only those who acknowledge Him as Savior and God have the certain hope of salvation. #
  • Understanding the provisional nature of material things leads us to place our highest hopes in what God has in store for us in heaven. #
  • Temptation can cause the Christian to depart from the path of the righteous. When they come, dismiss them by the Lord’s power. #
  • By sharing our human grave, Christ sanctifies our tombs and makes them places where our bodies can rest, confident in the resurrection. #
  • “How do I approach this Savior and Redeemer? By means of rules? No! Just cling to the Son in faith.” -Luther #
  • The Lord chastises His children to turn them from temptation. Sin not confessed becomes a burden on body and soul and causes great despair. #
  • “Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands For our offenses given; But now at God’s right hand He stands And brings us life from heaven.” -Lu #
  • “Let us joyful be And sing to God right thankfully Loud songs of alleluia! Alleluia!” -Luther #
  • It is not without reason that the tongue is set in a moist place, but because it is so prone to slip. — Augustine #
Categories: Uncategorized

Discovering and Escaping Liturgy

April 18th, 2009 5 comments

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As I was driving with my family to our church for one of the Holy Week services, I was struck with the thought that I really do feel sorry for Christians who attend a church that does does not follow the Church Year. Why? Because the Church Year is such a remarkably good and useful teaching tool, a way for us to organize our time and our thoughts around all the major events in the life of Christ, “salvation history” as some might say: both the Church’s and our own personal and individual salvation as part of the body of Christ. Plus imagine being a pastor with no lectionary to help shape and guide our thinking and preaching. The Church Year is such a blessing. The older I get, the more I realize how much we “cradle Lutherans” take for granted about the unique aspects of our Lutheran church life. The Church Year is one of those things. So is the liturgy. Across Christendom, there are ongoing tensions, debates and so forth over worship practices. I find it instructive to read the thinking and reflection of folks from non-liturgical churches. It is interesting that just as some in my church are heading away from the liturgy, we are passing folks on the highway who are headed toward it, with great interest and joy. Here are a couple pieces I’ve found recently on the liturgy that I found helpful. Maybe you will too.

An interesting read, for those of us in church bodies experiencing tension when it comes to traditional v. contemporary worship trends. Are there ways to transcend the traditional v. contemporary debates? Can we find a way to be deeply liturgical without seeming to be ossified? Here is a clip:

“I was suddenly made aware of the myriad ways the church has worshiped throughout history, and I decided to experiment with some of these forms in the young adult ministry I led. It sounds cliché now, but we started by darkening the room and lighting candles and incense. We began singing some hymns and the Doxology. We also recited readings and prayers from The Book of Common Prayer. One of the elders at the church was concerned. He asked me, “Are you going Roman Catholic on us?” The older generation may have been confused, but the younger adults found the changes refreshing. All they had known in church was pop bands and video screens. The introduction of ancient practices helped them feel grounded and rooted to something bigger than themselves. Then I spoke at a conference about our rediscovery of liturgy and tradition. The room was packed—by that time liturgy had become a very hot topic. During my presentation, a leader raised his hand and commented in a very disappointed tone. “I don’t understand,” he said. “You’re telling us that young adults are drawn to liturgy and ancient worship forms, but I serve at a liturgical church and our young people want to get away from liturgy and traditions. They think it’s boring. I came to this conference to learn new ideas from contemporary churches. I want to move forward, not back.” I realized that worship trends among the young were complicated. Those raised in contemporary churches found practicing liturgy and following the church calendar refreshing and meaningful. But some who had grown up in traditional and liturgical churches saw these same practices as lifeless or routine. They were eager to incorporate more contemporary forms. One group wanted to rediscover the past, and the other was trying to escape it.”

And here’s another blog post I came across that I found interesting:

“Liturgy is gaining popularity again. It has wide appeal to emergent communities because it seems to make the sacred accessable, and hearkens back to a time where the church seemed to be more…pure…authentic. Whether this is a passing trend remains to be seen. I hope it isn’t! Liturgy has much to offer, and I continue to grow in my appreciation of it. First, liturgy helps us to keep the facts of faith from becoming muddled. The Apostles and Nicene creeds and hymns like the Nunc Dimmitis and Magnificat witness to a message that doesn’t change with history and trends. Whereas the speed of life seems to narrow our focus to the tyranny of the so-called urgent, what liturgy points to remains unchanged and becomes a vital source for touching the eyes of our hearts and restoring our sight. Second, liturgy is pedagogy: a repeated reenactment of the redemption story. In this reenactment we are doing more than going through the motions of some kind of divine skit. Redemption happens. Through confession and absolution, scripture readings, the preaching of God’s word, and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper God meets us with his gifts of forgiveness and strength to live our faith. Spiritual amnesia comes easily. The repeated reminder of our need for grace and forgiveness is vital for us to remain what Luther called “pure receivers”. Without this, we so easily drift out of the arena of God’s favor. In a word, liturgy keeps me humble. It doesn’t leave room for the cancer of self-effort.”

Flitterin

April 17th, 2009 Comments off

sm-cartoon

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“Missional” Descriptor du jour, but what does it mean?

April 17th, 2009 23 comments

We hear the word “missional” when church administrators speak. We read it in denominational publications and magazines. Meetings and discussions are held around the them of “being missional.” The term, and concept, “missional” is everywhere across evangelical protestantism. But what does “missional” mean? Here is the perspective from Dr. Ed Stetzer, recognized widely as a leader in the “missional” movement. He offers cautions and clarifications that we do well to consider. Here is an article from Biola University’s magazine, an interview with Dr. Stetzer.

If you are looking for an authority on the missional movement, Ed Stetzer is your one-stop shop. A leading figure in contemporary evangelical thought, Stetzer has been called “the best missional thinker in North America” and has written some of the best books on the subject (see here and here). On his popular blog, Stetzer authored a “Meanings of Missional” series of posts that have been among the most trafficked on his site.

Currently serving as Director of Lifeway Research and Lifeway’s Missiologist in Residence, Stetzer is also a preaching pastor and a church planter who has planted churches in New York, Pennsylvania and Georgia and transitioned declining churches in Indiana and Georgia. He has trained pastors and church planters on five continents, holds two master’s degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Stetzer served for three years as seminary professor at the Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and has taught at 15 other seminaries, including Biola’s Talbot School of Theology.

To supplement the current issue of Biola Magazine and its focus on missions and the missional movement, managing editor Brett McCracken talked with Ed Stetzer about the uses, complexities and challenges of “missional.”

BM: Ed, would you say that the average Christian has an understanding of the term “missional”? Or is it still an “insider term” among church leaders and theologians?

ES: I would say the term has started to gain wide acceptance since the turn of the millennium among Christian leaders, however I don’t think it has gotten down to the rank-and-file level. I’ve written a book, Compelled by Love, which is trying to be a lay-level explanation of missional, and other authors are trying to do the same. But yeah, primarily it’s still a pastor’s or theologian’s word.

BM: My sense is that there is widespread confusion about the word, even among the pastors and theologians. Is the word useful? Is it too confusing for its own good?

ES: Well, it certainly has become the descriptor du jour. I think the problem is that people tend to see in missional what they want to see. If they want to see the church do more social justice, that’s “missional.” If they want to be more evangelistic, that’s “missional.” But I still think there’s a power in a new or modified word that enables us to say, “We do need something different.” I think missional has become a descriptor — an imperfect one — of the shift we might need in evangelicalism.

Read more…

The Smell of Books

April 16th, 2009 5 comments

can-newbookjpegAdmit it, you book lovers, you. You love to bury your nose in a new book and breathe deeply. It’s ok, you are not alone. We all do it. But what to do in this age of e-books and the cold plastic odor of an iPhone or Kindle? Your worries are over. Oh, and do note they offer a crispy bacon option too. So, for those of you who thought the bacon covered Bible was a good idea, well, there you go. Thanks to alert reader: Bob E.

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Do Lutherans Do Apologetics?

April 16th, 2009 4 comments

I was speaking recently to Professor Adam Francisco, of Concordia Theological Seminary, and he had a number of very perceptive remarks to share about Lutherans and our, frankly, disconcerting tendency not to attend to apologetics and a vigorous interaction with our culture. We need to do so in a manner that is not rude, but yet assertive. He just pointed me to some excellent thoughtful articles that I’ll be sharing with you here in the next several days. First up: Do Lutherans Do Apologetics? by Korey Maas. It was published in the most recent issue of For the Life of the World, the magazine produced by Concordia Theological Seminary. I highly recommend it. Here is a quote from the article:

The modern apologist says merely that if there are certain objections to the faith that can be addressed by reasonable appeals to evidence-or certain foundational facts that can be similarly established-then by all means, when speaking to the rational unbeliever, make every possible use of reason and evidence. By all means, tear down the intellectual barriers the skeptic has constructed to “protect” himself from a confrontation with the Gospel. No, doing so will not argue anyone into faith. But by means of reasonable and persuasive argument, as by means of the Law, “every mouth may be silenced” (Romans 3:19). And with mouths closed, perhaps way is made for ears to be opened.

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Why we should no longer be cowed by the chattering classes who sneer at Christianity

April 15th, 2009 3 comments

A.N. Wilson issues a challenge to Christians to be Christians, boldly.  Here is his Easter article, and here is an excerpt:

“For ten or 15 of my middle years, I, too, was one of the mockers. But, as time passed, I found myself going back to church, although at first only as a fellow traveller with the believers, not as one who shared the faith that Jesus had truly risen from the grave. Some time over the past five or six years – I could not tell you exactly when – I found that I had changed.

When I took part in the procession last Sunday and heard the Gospel being chanted, I assented to it with complete simplicity.

My own return to faith has surprised no one more than myself. Why did I return to it? Partially, perhaps it is no more than the confidence I have gained with age.

Rather than being cowed by them, I relish the notion that, by asserting a belief in the risen Christ, I am defying all the liberal clever-clogs on the block: cutting-edge novelists such as Martin Amis; foul-mouthed, self-satisfied TV presenters such as Jonathan Ross and Jo Brand; and the smug, tieless architects of so much television output.”

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