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Archive for May, 2009

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-05-31

May 31st, 2009 Comments off
  • entrust your future to the Lord in prayer. He will prepare
    your way before you. #
  • Jesus, our King, may we never tire of watching in prayer before Your throne, and may Your will be our delight. Amen #
  • Open our eyes, Father. Send us Your Spirit, that we live our lives for You, avoiding sin and helping others. In Jesus’ name. Amen. #
  • “Our freedom is no carefree fleshly freedom, not obligated to do anything, but a freedom that does many works of all kinds.” – Luther #
  • God is generous in His grace through the spoken Word, by which the forgiveness of sins is preached in the whole world. #
  • You can now receive a link, M-F, to a reading in the Book of Concord. http://www.twitter.com/bookofconcord pls RT #
Categories: Uncategorized

The Dangers of Anonymous Blogging

May 30th, 2009 Comments off

When people blog anonymously, it comes back to haunt them, when they are found out. And they always are, eventually. It is embarassing for them. So, if you are going to blog, do so under your real name. To blog anonymously demonstrates a lack of integrity. A word to the wise is sufficient….

Categories: Blogging

Classic Daily Prayer: Helpful Overview

May 30th, 2009 1 comment

matins1549I just bumped into another pastor’s presentation on the classic orders of daily prayer, as featured in Treasury of Daily Prayer. These orders of daily prayer are also known as “offices.” The word “office” comes from the Latin word officium and derives from the term officium divinum meaning “divine office” or “divine duty,” the term used to describe the various orders of prayer used in the Western Church, developing eventually into seven set “hours” of prayer, hence the expression, “The liturgy of the hours.” Here is a PDF file that Pastor Karl Bachman prepared. divine_office (PDF) and here is the Word format of this document: divine_office

ENI Story on First Lesbian Lutheran Bishop in Sweden

May 29th, 2009 5 comments

Ecumenical News International
Daily News Service
29 May 2009

Swedish Lutheran church elects bishop in lesbian partnership
ENI-09-0436

Uppsala, Sweden, 29 May (ENI)–The newly-elected Lutheran bishop of Stockholm says that being a lesbian means she wants to stand alongside people who feel powerless.

“I know what it is to be called into question,” Brunne said in an article on the Web site of the Church of Sweden (www.svenskakyrkan.se) after her 26 May election. “I am in the lucky situation that I have power and I can use it for the benefit of those who have no power,” said Brunne, currently dean of the diocese of Stockholm.

Brunne is the first Church of Sweden bishop to live in a registered homosexual partnership, the Uppsala-headquartered church said, and she is believed to be the first openly lesbian bishop in the world.

Fifty-five year old Brunne lives with priest Gunilla Lindén in a partnership that has received a church blessing. They have a three-year-old son.

“Once you have been baptised, no one can say you cannot be part of the Church because you are homo-, bi-, or transsexual,” the Web site of the French periodical Tétu quoted Brunne as saying.

She clinched the post by 413 votes against the 365 votes for Hans Ulfvebrand and she will succeed Bishop Caroline Krook, who is to retire in November.

In 2003, the consecration of a V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay divorced man who lives with a male partner, as an Episcopal (Anglican) bishop in the United States, triggered a deep division and threatened a schism in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Lutheran churches throughout the world hold different views about matters such as the acceptance of homosexuals in church life, and blessings for same-sex relationships in some Northern countries.

The Church of Sweden, which offers a special blessing for same-sex couples, has faced criticism from some other Lutheran churches, particularly those in African countries.

In 2005, leaders of the Lutheran World Federation removed Kenyan Bishop Walter E. Obare Omwanza as an advisor to its main governing body, the LWF Council, after he consecrated a bishop from a breakaway Lutheran grouping in Sweden, opposed to women priests and same-sex marriage. [355 words]

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Missional and Highly Liturgical: Is that possible?

May 29th, 2009 12 comments

Often, one is given the impression that that only those congregations that are willing to move away from the historic liturgy are those that are “missional” churches and “mission-minded” congregations. This video of a congregation that uses the hymnal, goes “by the book,” if you will, and celebrates the Lord’s Supper every Sunday, with a liturgy that would be considered “high church” by many, is very much growing. The congregation is pastored by a convert to Lutheranism, from the Baptist Church, and, as you will see, is attracting many young people, with families, to  a deeper, fuller, richer and more meaningful life of prayer, meditation on the Word, a Christ-centered approach rooted in the historic worship life that we Lutherans, as heirs of the Western Church liturgy, have always fully embraced throughout our history. They are attracting people who are finding it to be a great and wonderful blessing to be able to turn away from the shallow theology and worship life commonplace in American Protestantism. Here is a video about Grace Lutheran Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma:

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qo0V57INpA

Why Buy a Copy of The Lutheran Study Bible, if I already own a copy of the Concordia Self-Study Bible?

May 28th, 2009 Comments off

I’ve heard from a number of pastors saying, “Hey, Paul, we love The Lutheran Study Bible and all the samples you’ve shown us, but I need something to help my pastors understand why they should buy it if they already own a copy of the Concordia Self-Study Bible.” Here you go! Feel free to use this however you wish.

Why should I buy The Lutheran Study Bible  if I already own the Concordia Self-Study Bible?

The Lutheran Study Bible (TLSB) is the most complete Study Bible ever produced for Lutheran Christians. Making the decision to buy a copy of TLSB, when you are already own a copy of the Concordia Self-Study Bible (CSSB) can be a bit challenging, but there are many reasons why owning The Lutheran Study Bible makes good sense. It’s important to stress that the Concordia Self-Study Bible is not “bad”; on the contrary, the CSSB has served its purpose well for more than thirty years. The Lutheran Study Bible is simply a very significant improvement over the CSSB. Consider these impressive “upgrades.”

• TLSB was designed, researched, and developed from the ground-up by hundreds of contributors including more than 27 Bible scholars, as well as Lutheran professors, pastors, teachers, writers, and editors. The CSSB was not. Its notes were borrowed from a non-Lutheran publishing company, and were lightly edited to fit Lutheran doctrine.

• TLSB provides life application notes and prayers for every portion of the Scriptures. This guides readers toward a prayerful-meditative approach to Bible reading. The CSSB does not include personal application notes or devotional helps.

• TLSB is keenly focused on equipping readers to understand the proper distinction between Law and Gospel, and to encounter all of God’s Word as focused on Christ and our salvation in Christ. CSSB does not provide this kind of help in distinguishing Law and Gospel and lacks the same keen focus on Christ.

• TLSB articles and notes address contemporary issues, practical needs, and concerns. The content also explains trends and teachings that are contrary to God’s Word . It emphasizes true Biblical teaching and reaching out with the Gospel of Christ in all circumstances. CSSB does not include such real life, practical commentary and helpful guidance.

• TLSB provides significant quotes from many of the church’s greatest teachers, from the periods of the Early Church, the Medieval and the Reformation era, and modern times. The CSSB does not offer this insight from the rich conversation of the whole Church through the ages.

• TLSB uses a more accurate translation of the Bible, the English Standard Version and It thoroughly reflects the teachings of the Lutheran Church, based on the Bible, and offers practical tools that equip readers to understand and apply the Lutheran faith to real life, and to share faith with others. Unlike the CSSB, the TLSB explores the Biblical teachings on Holy Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and many other topics, in a much more thoroughly Lutheran manner than was possible to do with CSSB.

• CSSB is thirty years old and does not reflect any of the trends, teachings, research and findings of faithful scholarship in the past thirty years. For example, there is no mention of all the more recently archeological findings and discoveries that shed additional light on the meaning of Scripture.

• TLSB presents a warm, devotional, and pastoral tone and quality in its notes, which makes them easier to read and understand. CSSB uses a clinical, academic approach.

• TLSB is available in a larger print edition. The CSSB comes only in a regular smaller print edition.

• TLSB sets a new standard for thoroughness in biblical commentary and practical application, not only for Lutherans, but for all Christians. TLSB is the most thorough and in-depth study Bible available today.

Care to hear what Martin Luther’s sermons must have sounded liked preached?

May 28th, 2009 Comments off

It’s a joy to hear Martin Luther, not simply to read him. Rev. Matthew Harrison reads a bit of a Lutheran sermon for us. Enjoy it here. And do make sure you’ve subscribed to his blog. It is a delightful and fascinating mix of all kinds of encouraging, educational and entertaining posts. We often forget that the chief means by which the Reformation was spread was through Luther’s sermons. Nothing Luther wrote proved more popular, over the long haul, than his sermons. You will understand why after even hearing but a taste of Luther’s preaching.

Categories: Uncategorized

Congregations and New Pastors: A How To Guide

May 27th, 2009 8 comments

ordinationThis is the time of the year when the Church receives many men into the Office of the Holy Ministry. We Lutherans have a particularly beautiful word for the Office of the Holy Ministry, used in our beloved Book of Concord. It is the word Predigtamt, or “Preaching Office.” The man who serves in the pastoral ministry is, first and foremost, one who comes into our midst to be a spokesman for Jesus Christ. Our Lord Christ told His apostles, and all those who would, through the ages, stand in the office of public preaching and teaching of the Word, “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” (Matt. 10:40). So, as a congregation receives a new pastor, it should receive the man as One whom the Lord has sent to be His spokesman. As St. Paul says, “Here is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” (1 Cor. 4:1). Your pastor is the ambassador of Christ, as St. Paul explains of the ministry, “We are ambassadors of Christ, God making His appeal through us.” (2 Cor. 5:20). Receive your new pastor with thanks and joy. Thanks, for the gift God has now given you. Joy, that the Lord continues to answer the prayer Jesus told us to always keep praying: “Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers.” (Matt. 9:37).

Receive your new pastor with understanding and charity. If the man you are receiving is new to the ministry, do not expect him to be an expert in all things. Do not expect him to have the wisdom that comes with greater experience. Be patient with a man who is new to the ministry. He will make mistakes. He will learn as he goes. He will stumble and fall on occasion. Forgive him, even as the Lord has forgiven you. Focus on the Word He brings and the Sacraments He administers, not so much on him and his personality. Some men are, by nature, gregarious and outgoing. Others are more shy and retiring. Every pastor, every man, is unique and different. There is no one “perfect pastor” and no pastor is a clone of another. So, don’t expect your pastor to be “just like” some other favorite pastor in the past. Don’t let your pastor be hearing constantly, “But Pastor So-and-So did it this way.” That gets very old, very quickly. And, if a pastor is a young man, keep in mind St. Paul’s advice to young Pastor Timothy, “Let no one despise you for your youth” (1 Timothy 4:12).

Don’t allow yourself, or your family, and friends, to fall into the trap of making one of the items on your Sunday lunch menu “roast pastor.” Sadly, sometimes people find themselves gossiping about the pastor, or his family. If you have a true concern with your pastor, about something he said, or did, please make it a point of going directly to your pastor with your concerns. Give him the opportunity to hear you out and then give him the opportunity to explain himself and help clear up something you may have misunderstood.

Be careful about playing the “Pastor, people are saying” game. Sometimes when people have a concern to express, they choose to approach the pastor with these words: “People are saying, Pastor…” and then proceed to recount something to the pastor. If a member of your congregation has something to say to the pastor, don’t let them tell you and then encourage you to tell the pastor. Instead, if, or when, you hear a person beginning to complain about the pastor, or offer some kind of criticism, please encourage that person to go speak to the pastor.

Welcome your pastor’s family into your home. Don’t assume “everyone is inviting the pastor over” for in fact, what might be the case is that everyone is assuming everyone else is, and in fact, nobody is. Please make sure your pastor and his family does not have to spend a holiday by themselves, alone, perhaps far from their loved ones. Your new pastor loves you, as the flock over which the Holy Spirit has made him the overseer. Receive him then as a father in Christ, one who has care of your very soul, for indeed he does.

Your pastor is not a mind-reader. He will not simply “know” or “sense” when somebody is sick or hospitalized or needs pastoral care. If you, or a member of your family, need to go to the hospital, do not think your pastor will find out about it simply by hearing about it from somebody else. Please let your pastor know. He wants to be your pastor and bring you the comfort and promises of God’s Word and the Lord’s Supper at those moments when we find ourselves, or our family members, in crisis. Do not hesitate to call your pastor, at any time of day or night, when a loved one dies. He wants to know, right away and to come to your side and support and encourage you at these particularly dark and sad moments when death touches us. Nor is your pastor a miracle-worker, though of course miracles never cease.  But your pastor should not be the “last resort” when your marriage is having problems, or when you face a struggle or problem in your life. You will be greatly blessed by God when you turn to your pastor for the private confession and absolution it is his privilege to provide for you, in keeping with his duties. Go to him sooner, rather than later. Turn to your pastor for spiritual counsel and help when you face issues and challenges that feel overwhelming. He will cherish the opportunity to be your pastor. Let him be pastor to you.

Your pastor may come into your congregation with suggestions and new ideas for your congregation. He may do things differently than your last pastor, or other pastors. And if, in his enthusiasm, he fails adequately to explain what he is doing, don’t become upset or angry. Speak gently to him and let him know your feelings. But also do consider that sometimes changes are good and even necessary. If however your congregation chooses not to accept some of the things your pastor is doing, don’t “go to war” over it. Sometimes your pastor has been influenced by other pastors in our church who have particular hobby-horses they like to ride and axes they like to grind, on all sides of these kinds of potentially emotional issues. Particularly inexperienced pastors are prone to these kinds of influences. Gently make suggestions and where necessary, offer corrections in a spirit of humility. And by all means, do not fault your pastor when he makes use of the approved hymnals and other worship materials from our Church. If your pastor asks the congregation to learn a new hymn it has not sung before, go ahead, learn it. You will never learn anything new unless you try it. There are so many wonderful things to learn from our new hymnal. So, enjoy it and don’t begrudge your pastor’s desire to help your congregation grow in its worship life.

Respect your pastor’s privacy and his family’s privacy. Just because your pastor may live in a church-owned house gives absolutely nobody in your congregation the right to treat the house as “public property” and come barging in to it. If your congregation provides a parsonage, than take care of it and keep it well repaired and maintained. Understand that unless it truly is a genuine life/death emergency, or some other profound spiritual crisis, your pastor and his family would very much appreciate not being interrupted during the meal time, or in the later hours of the evening. Your pastor will need time with his wife and children. They, in turn, will need time with their husband and father. Encourage your pastor to take a day off once a week and to spend time with his family. It is very easy for a pastor, quite literally, to work non-stop, all day long and into the evenings, every day of the week. The pastoral ministry is certainly not a 9-5 job, but don’t let your pastor be so consumed with his work he falls into bad habits of neglecting his family and his own personal needs.

As for your pastor’s wife, here it is very important to understand that your pastor is the man with the call to be your pastor, not the pastor’s wife. Her call is to be your pastor’s wife, and the mother of your pastor’s children. Do not tell her things that you should be telling your pastor. It is inappropriate and not helpful. Do not use the pastor’s wife to relay information to the pastor. Just give the pastor a call, drop him an e-mail, etc. Your pastor and his wife will be very polite, and will probably never tell you that they really would appreciate it if you would keep these distinctions clear. A pastor’s wife will want very much to support her husband’s ministry and will be a loved member of your parish, in short order, but keep in mind that the pastor is the pastor, not his wife.

Pay your pastor as well as your congregation can afford to pay him, not just enough to make it from paycheck to your paycheck. Your pastor has not taken a vow of poverty and your congregation should not treat him as if he has. Never balance your congregation’s budget on the back of your pastor and his family. Take care of him, as is your duty toward him. “The laborer is worthy of his hire” and “Do not muzzle the ox while he is treading out the grain.” (1 Timothy 5:18). If you don’t know what you should pay your pastor, your circuit counselor and district office can help provide good guidelines and advice. Make sure your pastor has time for true vacations. Make it possible for him to get away from the pulpit, from time to time, with a substitute preacher. Provide funds for your pastor to increase his learning and skills, by attending seminars, classes and adding to his library.

By all means, hold your pastor accountable to preach and proclaim the Word of God purely, according to the Lutheran Confessions, even as he has promised to do in his ordination. But even as you do, do not ask or expect your pastor to act, and preach, and teach contrary to the public confession of our Synod. For example, when your pastor can not commune your Methodist aunt, or a member of your family that is not a communicant member of our church, or is a member of a church with which we are not in fellowship, do not fault your pastor for carrying out his duties to be a faithful steward of the Lord’s Supper. Don’t be angry with your pastor when he points out the problem with singing secular pop love songs at a wedding, or not permitting some non-Christian organization from being involved in a church funeral. Don’t be upset if your pastor can not participate in a public community worship service where all gods, and all opinions about God, are treated as merely being equally true points of view. Don’t demand that your pastor act contrary to his ordination and contrary to the doctrines and practices of the church in which he is now an ordained minister. It is unfair and wrong to demand your pastor to “make exceptions” that are actually actions contrary to God’s Word. Don’t expect your pastor to do something contrary to his ordination vows and that would be a sin against his conscience.

Finally, pray for your pastor. Daily. Ask God to guide, strengthen, protect and keep your pastor and his family safe. Ask God to bless your pastor’s ministry. Pray for your pastor as he conducts his ministry. Remember his preaching in your prayers. Pray for him as he makes his many sick calls and speaks and ministers to people in your congregation. And then, let your pastor know you are praying for him. If you really want to surprise and delight your pastor, ask him how he is doing. Ask him how you can help him. Your pastor is not a spiritual superman. He has his moments of sadness and doubt and discouragement. He needs your encouragement, just like you need his. Remember him in your prayers but then demonstrate your commitment to be praying for him by letting him know about your prayers and seeking out ways to encourage him and help him. Recall what God’s Word teaches us: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17).

May God bless all new pastors and the congregations they serve!

Daily Prayer Helps and Hints

May 26th, 2009 1 comment

Pastor Esget posted some of his notes at a workshop he has given on how to use the Treasury of Daily Prayer. Very useful! Check it out. I particularly love the advice Pr. Esget gives, and other pastors are giving and the advice the Treasury itself offers: if you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up and give up. Remember the words from Luke’s Gospel: “Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should pray and not give up.” (Luke 18:1). By the way, if you have been noticing an uptick in posts on this blog about prayer and the devotional life, you have noticed correctly. I’ve been studying and researching Lectio Divina for a number of months and will soon be putting some thoughts down about it and about how Lutheranism has the best approach to Lectio Divina and has the best theological resources for truly Christ-centered prayer and meditation on the Scriptures. Does that surprise you?

The Book of Concord is Now Twittering

May 25th, 2009 4 comments
The title page from the first edition of the Book of Concord. Dresden, 1580. Image courtesy of Concordia Seminary Library, Saint Louis.

The title page from the first edition of the Book of Concord. Dresden, 1580. Image courtesy of Concordia Seminary Library, Saint Louis.

Yes, the good, old Book of Concord has joined the Twitterati and is pumping out daily tweets, with a link to a daily reading from the Book of Concord. Sign up for them here. And, while you are at, be sure to visit the Book of Concord’s home on the Internet, where you can choose from a variety of different options to receive daily readings from the Lutheran Confessions.

The Lutheran Study Bible Update

May 23rd, 2009 4 comments

611px-lutherroseI have several things to update you on about The Lutheran Study Bible. Cover materials have been finalized and chosen for The Lutheran Study Bible. The regular hardback editions will be bound in the same burgundy materials as Lutheran Service Book Hymnal. The genuine and bonded leather materials have been chosen. The genuine leather will be a nice matte black and burgundy leather, which will take gold foil imprinting very nicely. The bonded will be offered in black and burgundy as well. We’ve settled on the size of the larger print edition. It is going to be about a 7.5 x 10 book, so we could get the type size noticeably larger than the regular print edition. We will be sending a good printed sample of the difference in type size so everyone can give it a good look and make their choice. Me? I’m going with the larger print edition. I suspect a *lot* will opt for the larger print. We will see. The final files of the whole Bible were sent to the printer on Friday, and all has cleared what we call “preflight” in which the printer takes the files and checks to make sure all is formatted correctly. The next step is for the printer to make the printer’s proof and return it to us. We should be on press and printing by the end of June. Signature sewing and bind up, then binding, will take a number of more weeks. The regular and larger print editions are being printed in two different facilities. The large promotional kit will be mailed out toward the end of July which will contain a whole host of helps and aids to help Lutheran congregations promote the Bible and receive orders for it. The pre-publication prices are in effect through October 31, but it will be wise to gather and send in orders as quickly as possible. Deliveries of Bibles will be first come, first served. From the volume of questions and interest and pre-orders we are receiving, we anticipate a very large response and many orders and are trying to anticipate that with our first print run. But once we run out of the first print run, we are out again for up to twelve weeks due to paper supply and manufacturing schedules, so….word to the wise, don’t hesitate to get your order in. The promotional mailing is going out to all Lutheran congregations in the USA, over 20,000. Remember: your best source of information on the new Bible is http://www.cph.org/lutheranbible You may view samples there. And be sure to tell others about this Facebook Group and invite them to join. Don’t forget the Twitter feed, daily notes from The Lutheran Study Bible: http://www.twitter.com/lutheranbible

The Porpoise Driven Life

May 23rd, 2009 3 comments

If we can’t laugh at ourselves, we are in a bad way. I enjoyed this spoof on the whole notion of Christian fads and the, often, extremely bad theology on which these things are founded.

[youtube]20Q32xIyoeo[/youtube]

The Missing Missing Link

May 23rd, 2009 1 comment

fossilman1As per the usual, the mass media picked up and ran with a story recently declaring that “the missing link has been found!” thus “proving” Darwin’s theories that man descended from the apes. And, as per the usual, the mass media is wrong. Answers in Genesis has a nice page of quotations from prominent scientists worldwide poo-pooing the media hype. For example, and this is typical of the reaction of reputable scientists:

“On the whole I think the evidence is less than convincing,” said Chris Gilbert, a paleoanthropologist at Yale University. “They make an intriguing argument but I would definitely say that the consensus is not in favor of the hypothesis they’re proposing.” . . .

“The PR campaign on this fossil is I think more of a story than the fossil itself,” said anthropologist Matt Cartmill of Duke University in North Carolina. “It’s a very beautiful fossil, but I didn’t see anything in this paper that told me anything decisive that was new.”

Most experts agree that the find is significant, if only for its impressive degree of completeness, but some were put off by the bells and whistles that went along with the publicity campaign around Ida. . . .

“It’s not a missing link, it’s not even a terribly close relative to monkeys, apes and humans, which is the point they’re trying to make,” [Carnegie Museum of Natural History curator of vertebrate paleontology Chris] Beard said.

And then I stumbled across this bit of fun today. HT: Sacred Sandwich

Categories: Humor, Science

Reflections on the Possibility of Being Blown to Kingdom Come

May 23rd, 2009 2 comments

abc_blackwater22_070928_sshI have a friend who is serving in our armed forces and he offered this meditation on his blog site recently. I’ll avoid identifying him, since that is a somewhat sensitive issue when you are where he is, doing what he is doing. Here are his thoughts on the possibility of being blown, literally, to bits and pieces. A word of encouragement to us all in whatever challenging situation we find ourselves in, no matter what it is: sickness, job loss, bad news from the doctor, etc. Here then is his post:

On Ascension Day this year, I found myself staring at two unidentified pieces of ordinance. I was laying on my stomach looking for something when I discovered them less than a meter away from my face. They were not supposed to be there and I did not expect to find them. It could have made for a very bad day because they had been violently disturbed moments before I saw them. I am being intentionally vague, but I am sure that you get the idea.

They turned out to be inert (“not dangerous” for you civilians). They could have just as easily been live rounds or some kind of improvised explosive device. I was fairly certain that they were just inert when I saw them, but you really want to be more than “fairly certain” in that kind of situation. Looking back, there was that split second before my army training kicked in where I thought about being “blown to kingdom come”. I have to chuckle at the irony of thinking of that phrase on that particular day in the church year.

I guess a Christian who is also a soldier at war thinks about the heavenly kingdom a lot… regardless of his duties or situation. It is always in the back of his mind that the only constant about war is that it can be incredibly indiscriminate and random. My Ascension Day experience was like that: random. Why me? Why inert? The mind can spin rather easily about such questions.

I think that a lot of the stress comes from the powerlessness of these kinds of random situations (which happen just as often–if not more often–back in the States.) It seems more intense here because it is compounded by the isolation of being away from home, from the church, and from her gifts. The combination can be a real test of faith and endurance.

Lots of things start to dip: sleep, energy, cognitive function, and even prayer. It is really easy for peaceful meditations on God’s Word to turn into fits of frustration and exhaustion. The devil pounces on this opportunity and throws your wretched sinfulness in your face. It can be a real battle. You start to really understand the psalmist when he says:

I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, and he will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
my soul refuses to be comforted.
When I remember God, I moan;
when I meditate, my spirit faints.

You hold my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I consider the days of old,
the years long ago.
I said, “Let me remember my song in the night;
let me meditate in my heart.”
Then my spirit made a diligent search:
“Will the Lord spurn forever,
and never again be favorable?
Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion?”

Boy can I relate! Here I will interrupt the psalmist to speak about Christ. In the Creed we confess that, at the conclusion of His saving work on earth, Christ ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. Christ spoke this very truth on the night of His arrest.

This doctrine was affirmed by the Apostle Peter at Pentecost when he preached, “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’” [Acts 2:32-35]

It is there at the Father’s right hand that the glorified Christ intercedes on our behalf as our Mediator and Great High Priest. It is because of Christ, Our King and Deliverer, that we have reason to rejoice. By recounting His marvelous deeds, this bleak psalm turns in verse 10 and brightens for us at this point where the psalmist recalls the God who delivered Israel out of the land of Egypt. Pay close attention to a familiar, creedal term used in the first phrase in this transition from despair and frustration to hope and faith. It is hard to miss the Christological imagery here.

Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.
You with your arm redeemed your people,
the children of Jacob and Joseph.

When the waters saw you, O God,
when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
indeed, the deep trembled.
The clouds poured out water;
the skies gave forth thunder;
your arrows flashed on every side.
The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
your lightnings lighted up the world;
the earth trembled and shook.
Your way was through the sea,
your path through the great waters;
yet your footprints were unseen.
You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Amen and Amen.

In the dark, isolated times we turn by faith to the one who sits at the right hand of the Most High and remember the deeds of the Lord. These deeds of deliverance and of salvation. We look to Jesus Christ… incarnate, crucified, buried, resurrected, and now ascended.

Categories: Encouragement

My Annual [Hopeless] Appeal Regarding Memorial Day

May 23rd, 2009 7 comments

Once more, as we approach Memorial Day, I’m already beginning to read notes on the Internet reflecting the complete confusion out there over what Memorial Day is, and what it is not.

Memorial Day commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in military service. It is not a day to honor living veterans or those presently serving in the military. It is unfortunate that we have allowed Memorial Day to turn into a day for honoring those living, and serving, rather than those who died in war. Let’s do our part to distinguish between Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day and Armed Services Day.

The other confusion is that Memorial Day somehow became observed as “Decoration Day” and people visit the graves of their deceased loved ones, regardless of their military affiliation. I noticed this was particularly popular in Iowa when I served there as a pastor.

I would prefer we reserve Memorial Day for what it is supposed to be and not let it be confused with Veterans’ Day or Armed Forces Day.

Categories: Culture