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New Commentary Available On Proverbs: The Wisdom of Christ

February 18th, 2010 3 comments

Concordia Publishing House (CPH) announces the availability of the newest Concordia Commentary—Proverbs by Dr. Andrew E. Steinmann. The latest title to the popular series is available at cph.org or by calling 1.800.325.3040. You can download a sample from the book at the CPH web site.

“Proverbs is often seen as a set of guidelines for ways to succeed in life,” says Dr. Christopher Mitchell, CPH commentary editor. “However, this commentary shows that it is, first of all, a book about Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He has accomplished the victory for us by His death and resurrection. Through faith in Him, God endows us with wisdom and guidance on the path of everlasting salvation.”

Mitchell continues, “Proverbs teach prudence and discretion for the life of faith, which is contrasted to the ways of the world.” Some sections of Proverbs are connected thematically while others feature short, pithy aphorisms that challenge the interpreter. This commentary explains both the larger features of the book and the individual proverbs that comprise this treasury of divine wisdom.

“This is a favorite book of Scripture for preaching the legalistic gospel of self-help, synergism, and a theology of glory. From it you can easily glean ten easy steps for achievement. In contrast, this commentary demonstrates that Proverbs is about the hypostasized Wisdom of God who became incarnate in Jesus Christ. He speaks through Proverbs to grant prudence and discretion for the life of faith under the cross.”

The Concordia Commentary series supports pastors and teachers of the Word to proclaim the Gospel with insight and clarity. Concordia Commentaries affirm the inspiration and authority of Scripture and offer a literal translation, textual notes, and theological exposition to present the distinctive themes of Holy Scripture.

Categories: CPH Resources

Atheist Pwns Liberal Christian

February 17th, 2010 7 comments

If you have been around teenagers playing video games, you may have heard them say, “I was pwned” which, being translated into English, means, “I was utterly defeated by my opponent.” So, when Rod Dreher used this term in his recent post, you can only but agree.

The infamous militant publicity-hound/opportunistic atheist totally pwned a liberal Christian when he said recently:

[Unitarian;] The religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I’m a liberal Christian, and I don’t take the stories from the scripture literally. I don’t believe in the doctrine of atonement (that Jesus died for our sins, for example). Do you make and distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?

[Hitch]: I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.

He was, and is, quite entirely correct. Let’s simply face facts and insist on even the most minimal amount of integrity here when we are dealing with liberal mainline theologians who claim to be Christian, or anyone for that matter. I am quite willing to give a person the benefit of the doubt and assume the best, when it is clear that lack of knowledge or ignorance is behind errors in confession of the Faith. But a willful and knowing rejection of the basic facts of the Faith, as beautifully summarized in the Apostles’ Creed, for example, marks that person as a non-Christian. Period. End of story. Then such a person must be treated as such and prayed for and witnessed to as one who needs to come to a saving knowledge of who and what Christ is.

Time for Treasury of Daily Prayer Users to Make the “Great Skip” for Lent

February 16th, 2010 2 comments

From my colleague Rev. Scot Kinnaman, comes this helpful note: Users of Treasury of Daily Prayer will need to make the Great Skip in preparation for devotions on February 17th, Ash Wednesday. With the beginning of Lent, the Daily Lectionary changes from using calendar dates to using liturgical days. This handily accommodates the changeable dates of the festival half of the Church Year, which are all based on the date of Easter. So, long story short: February 17th, move your bookmark from the back of Treasury to page 24 in the front. And then carry on. (There is another Lesser Skip that happens at the conclusion of the Season after Easter, but well remind you about that in May.)

Categories: CPH Resources

CBS Evening News Segment on Jeff Williams

February 16th, 2010 Comments off
Categories: CPH Resources

Vatican Official Proposes Ecumenical Catechism

February 14th, 2010 10 comments

Cardinal asks dialogue partners if an ecumenical catechism might work

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A Vatican official has floated the idea of a shared “ecumenical catechism” as one of the potential fruits of 40 years of dialogue among Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and members of the Reformed churches.

“We have affirmed our common foundation in Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity as expressed in our common creed and in the doctrine of the first ecumenical councils,” Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, told representatives of the churches.

Opening a three-day symposium at the Vatican to brainstorm on the future of ecumenism, Cardinal Kasper said it is essential “to keep alive the memory of our achievements” in dialogue, educate the faithful about how much has been accomplished and prepare a new generation to carry on the work.

He said the members of his council “proposed an ecumenical catechism that would be written in consultation with our partners,” but “we do not yet have any idea how such a catechism could be structured and written.”

One thing for sure, he said, is that there is a need for “an ecumenism of basics that identifies, reinforces and deepens the common foundation” of faith in Christ and belief in the tenets of the creed. The churches may hold those positions officially, but if their members do not hold firmly to the basics of Christian faith, the dialogue cannot move forward, the cardinal said.

Cardinal Kasper, a theologian who will be 77 in March and has led the council for nine years, also said that ecumenical dialogue “is perhaps in danger of becoming a matter for specialists and thus of moving away from the grassroots.”

He called for “a people-centered ecumenism” that would support and give new energy to the theological dialogues.

The symposium was a follow-up to the publication in October of “Harvesting the Fruits,” a book complied by Cardinal Kasper and his staff summarizing the results of 40 years of official Catholic dialogue with the Anglican Communion, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Methodist Council and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.

As for questions that still must be tackled in order for Christians to reach full unity and be able to share the Eucharist, the cardinal identified two basic areas: a common understanding of the church and its structure; and a common approach to applying the Gospel to modern social and moral concerns without falling into relativism.

Ethical issues, such as homosexuality and women’s equality, not only divide churches, he said, they raise more fundamental questions for modern and post-modern society, such as, “What is man, and what does it mean to be a man or woman in God’s plan?”

In the area of church structure and ministry, he said, the dialogues have seen progress toward a common agreement on the sacramental nature of ordination and on apostolic succession in the ministry of bishops, and have taken initial steps toward discussing the primacy of the bishop of Rome, the pope.

But on a more basic level, the dialogues must get into “not only what is the church, but where is the church? Has God given his church a specific structure or has he left the church to find its own structure, in such a way that a pluralism of structures is possible?” Cardinal Kasper asked.

The cardinal said the Vatican needs to better explain to its dialogue partners the Catholic conviction that “the Catholic Church is the church of Christ and that the Catholic Church is the true church,” even while “there exist many and important elements of the church of Christ outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church.”

The Catholic Church does believe “there are deficits in the other churches,” he said. “Yet on another level there are deficits, or rather wounds stemming from division and wounds deriving from sin, also in the Catholic Church.”

Ecumenical dialogue is the place where all Christians “learn to grow and mature in their faithfulness to Christ,” he said, and as each moves closer to Christ, they naturally will move closer to each other.

END

Categories: Roman Catholicism

An Amazing Story of Discovery and Faith in Christ: Colonel Jeffrey Williams’ Voyages in Space

February 12th, 2010 2 comments

On Monday February 15, Colonel Jeffrey Williams will be featured on CBS Evening News as part of the Everyone in the World Has a Story series from journalist Steve Hartman. Over the past months as part of the series, Williams and other astronauts at the International Space Station have spun an inflatable globe to help select the locations where Hartman travels to find his stories. Monday’s feature focuses more specifically on Williams. Jeff has spent more time in space than any other person. Jeff is a committed Christian, and his forthcoming book The Work of His Hands: A View of God’s Creation from Space is a powerful and beautiful story of the joy of discovery, the intense challenges of living and working in space, and a profound confession of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. You are really going to love this book. It is filled with photographs, most of which were taken by Jeff himself while on board the International Space Station. The photos and views of our planet in this book are simply stunning. But what most impressed me about Jeff’s story are his comments about what all these adventures have mean to him and how it has impacted his faith. Read his remarks for yourself:

“The whole of creation is manifest with beauty and wonder, and with evidence of the Creator. But the creation provides but a glimpse—that “small whisper” described in Job 26—of God, who is the Creator. When people see Earth from the perspective of orbit, whether firsthand or through the descriptions of those who have been there, their thoughts often turn to God, or at least the question of God. I often get asked questions such as: “Do you feel closer to God up there?” or “Has the experience changed your faith or belief in God?” It may come as a surprise that I answer the questions no—with a caveat. Anna-Marie and I have a strong Christian faith that had its beginning in the late 1980s, and we labor to live accordingly. Over the years of studying the Bible, I have grown both in awe of it and in complete trust in it as the source of the truth of reality, wisdom, and all things necessary for life. I have also come to realize we can only know about God by viewing creation, irrespective of our vantage point. It is only through the revelation of God in the Scriptures that we can actually become close to Him in relationship and actually know Him. This is God’s most profound gracious provision to us.

“No, my experiences as an astronaut did not bring me closer to God or change my beliefs about His existence. My relationship with God does not hinge on my looking at Earth from orbit and experiencing that “small whisper” that is so evident in creation. True, life-transforming faith in God and relationship with Him is based not on a whisper, but a shout—the shout of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in His work on the cross as revealed in the supernatural revelation of the Bible. So my closeness to God in relationship with Him is through faith in the person and work of Christ. With that said, the experience did have an impact. My faith was already established through the objective means of His written Word and its Gospel message. The experience of being on the Space Station only intensified the content of the Word and my response to it as I viewed the work of His fingers (Psalm Eight) through the lens of the Bible in a special way. That response occurred in ways I will attempt to explain.

“I was able to reflect on God as Creator in a fresh way. The wonder and awe of viewing all of the elements of Earth from orbit was overpowering. Some have heard me speak of the beauty of the blue planet, of the vastness of the oceans and varied landforms, the magnificent cloud formations and water currents, the wonder of lightning storms stretching over a thousand miles, and the dazzling light display of the aurora over the poles. The relative thinness of the atmosphere that provides for life, the day-night cycles, and the beauty of the atmosphere during sunrises or sunsets are also vivid memories. Viewing all of those things intensified for me the meaning of passages such as Job 26:7, 10: “He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing. . . . He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness.” Psalm 8:3–4 speaks of the humility that comes when one considers creation: “When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers . . . .” The view from orbit was humbling in ways well beyond previous experience. And Psalm 19 is among my favorites because it speaks of how creation reveals God’s existence but how He is only fully revealed in His Word. The experience on the Space Station also intensified my faith by helping me consider God’s providence and governing of His creation—that is, God as the Sustainer and Provider.

“Providence is a term not used much in modern times, but I love the richness of it. The reality of God’s providence transcended the entire experience of Expedition 13. Psalm 139 speaks to providence and the manifestation of God’s ever-present care, and verses 9–10 took on special meaning: “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” In Colossians 1:16–17, Christ is acknowledged as the Creator and also the one who sustains—that is upholds and governs—His creation. While in orbit for six months, I grew in appreciation of being sustained and upheld day by day. Of course, the special revelation found in the Scriptures climaxes in the redemption of sinners—that is, God as Redeemer. And that redeeming work is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ—the good news of the Gospel. That reality of God as Redeemer also became more vivid from the spaceflight experience as a direct result of the deepened perspectives of God as Creator, Sustainer, and Provider.

“In hindsight, I have come to realize anew that viewing and living out life through that lens intensifies the trust, confidence, and sense of contentment that come in living out our faith in even the most challenging times. That perspective also invokes an intense humility and grows gratitude. It causes one to slow a bit and contemplate life issues in a new way. Additionally, it magnifies the sense of responsibility and stewardship that comes with getting such an experience. I have an obligation to share the experience and bring it back to those on Earth. With all of that in mind, among my favorite portions of the Earth to observe was the Middle East. The significance of redemptive history recorded in the Bible was brought to mind when I could see, in a single panorama, the entire area in which it took place. All of that history—from Abraham to Moses to David, the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the subsequent journeys and work of the apostles in the spreading of the Gospel—was, in a sense, made visible in a fresh, tangible way when the biblical lands were in view out the window. I know I will never look at the maps in the back of my Bible the same way.”

— Colonel Jeffrey N. Williams, The Work of His Hands, p. 149-153.

Categories: CPH Resources

The Blessings of the Church Year

February 10th, 2010 3 comments

The Christian Church Year is such a blessing. Many people who are new to the Lutheran Church, or other liturgical churches, coming from general evangelical protestantism, are unfamiliar with the ancient custom of observing a series of festivals, also known as “feasts,” and unique times throughout the year, known as “seasons.” in what is known as the “liturgical year.” While the basic structure and words of the core components of the liturgy do not change from Sunday to Sunday, there are changes in other texts, particularly the various readings from Holy Scripture appointed for every Sunday and festival day, that give the various times in the Church Year their unique emphases and nuances. Pastor Weedon found a beautiful summary of why the Church Year is so important and useful:

As the seasons of the church year make their annual circuit, the preacher has no other task than to unfold the mysterium Christi, the mystery of Christ. He makes it known in all its splendor, with a sense of awe and wonder and with all its meaning for the faltering lives of Christ’s little ones. Source: Ernest Koenker, Worship in Word and Sacrament, p. 46

How true this is! If you have not given much attention to the Church Year, I certainly would encourage you to do so. It is such a blessing both to preachers and to hearers! Why? Some people think that having a rigid order of every-Sunday readings is too restricting. I must respectfully, but strongly, disagree. I’ve noticed, so often, in congregations that do not follow the Church Year and the appointed readings that there sets in an impoverishment of teaching, it is easy to miss the major events of Christ’s life and the chief doctrines of God’s Word when there is not a thorough presentation of the Scriptures main stories and teachings, as is made possible through the Church Year and its appointed readings. The Church Year allows us, together, to hear about all the major events in the life and ministry of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in the first half of the Church Year, then to reflect together on the fuller implications of the life of Christ on our lives. It is a wonderful pattern, or rhythm, that the Church Year Provides. By the way, the picture on this post is the Church Year poster/calendar published by Concordia Publishing House.
Here is additional information on the Church Year that you will find helpful, from The LCMS Commission on Worship:
“In our daily lives we keep track of our activities and special events with a calendar. The church throughout the centuries has also “kept track” of days and seasons and commemorating special occasions with a calendar. The Christian church has continued to follow the example set in the Old Testament of structuring the year around the marvelous acts of salvation that God completed for us in his Son, Christ. We call this structure the Church Year. Certain colors are assigned for use during the seasons of the Church Year and on specific feast days. Click on this link to learn about the colors of the liturgical season. The scripture references appointed for the Church Year are available in PDF and Word formats. Click here to find color-coded charts for both the three-year and one-year readings.”
You can read more about the various seasons, and colors, in the Church Year in these articles:

Digital Resource Specialist Wanted

February 9th, 2010 3 comments

Are you interested in joining the CPH Team, to research and develop new digital resources? Our Emerging Products group has an opening. Check it out!

Are you interested in joining the CPH Team, to research and develop new digital resources? Our Emerging Products group has an opening. Check it out!About the Job

Concordia Publishing House (CPH), the publishing arm for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, is seeking a Digital Product Specialist to work in its Emerging Products area.  This position is full-time and would be located at the main headquarters in St. Louis.

The Digital Product Specialist will be responsible for research, analysis, design, development, and production of digital products from concept to launch. The successful candidate will have a demonstrated ability to define user needs, design user interfaces, and produce high quality products adhering to best practice workflows.

This position will work closely with cross functional teams to execute a technology integration plan across multiple product lines, and will use online collaboration tools to provide cross-team project-based support.

Other duties include:

·         Researching and analyzing customer needs to identify opportunities for new product innovation and existing product improvements.

·         Educating and consulting with internal stakeholders on technology initiatives and providing feedback/recommendations based on proposed requirements.

·         Translating factual data into product specifications to develop digital prototypes for testing and review purposes.

·         Serving as primary point of contact for day-to-day development activities including milestone review, feedback aggregation, and approvals.

·         Coordinating routine projects update meetings with internal stakeholders and external development partners.

Candidates must possess a bachelor’s degree in education, visual design, instructional technology, IT or related field.  In addition, candidates must have 2-3 years demonstrated knowledge of HTML, CSS, XML, and other rich media formats.  Experience with learning management systems and mobile platforms is a plus.

CPH offers a comprehensive benefits package and competitive pay.

To be considered for this position send your cover letter and resume via e-mail to cphresume@cph.org

For more information on Concordia Publishing House, a 2009 Missouri Quality Award recipient, please visit www.cph.org .

Categories: Uncategorized

Old and New Testament: You Can Never Understand One Without the Other

February 9th, 2010 8 comments

A key understanding and teaching in Christianity is that the Old Testament requires the New Testament to be understood properly, and the New Testament requires the Old Testament to be understood properly. You would think this would be a self-evident truth, but trust me on this, most modern Biblical “scholarship” absolutely denies this and forcefully rejects this belief. Modernist Lutherans have thoroughly swallowed this poison as well. Here is a good insight into what the Church has always taught, everywhere, at all times:

From the beginning “the harmonious agreement of the Law and the Prophets with the Testament delivered by the Lord” was the “rule of the Church” [a quote from St. Clement]. In the conjunction of the two Testaments was woven a single vesture for the Word; together they formed one body, and to rend this body by rejecting the Jewish books was no less a sacrilege than to rend the body of the Church by schism. If indeed the coming of Christ determined the “end of the Law”, [telos], the Law itself bore witness that its end was Christ, [skopos]. … For a Christian to understand the Bible means to understand it in the light of the Gospel. “No one can understand the Old Testament without the teaching of the New, since the spiritual meaning of the Old Testament is nothing else than the New.” … Or, as Origen remarked: “We who belong to the Catholic Church do not despise the Law of Moses, but accept it, so long as it is Jesus who interprets it for us. Only thus shall we understand it aright.”

Lubac: Catholicism, pg. 176-177, 178.

Categories: Uncategorized

Civilizing the World: Ultimately Unsatisfying

February 8th, 2010 1 comment

Only the Christian is in a position to judge clearly how basically unsatisfying it is for man, both as an individual and as a social being, to have as his ultimate goal the civilizing and humanizing of the world, because he himself has found his own fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ. . . . If it is true however, that man is endowed by his very nature with the capacity to begin the work of making the earth his subject .  .. then only the Christian, and he alone, since he knows God’s involvement for the world in Christ, will be able to direct right man’s strivings in the world and his efforts to attain transcendence. (pp. 69, 70)

Source:

Engagement with God (Ignatius Press, 2008), by Hans Urs von Balthasar.

Categories: Uncategorized

Currently Reading: God’s Battalions-The Case for the Crusades

February 7th, 2010 13 comments

Everyone knows that the Crusades were horrible miscarriages of justice, and examples of Western Imperialism, right? The Pope called the Crusades to find a “release valve” for the warring knights in Europe and to rob the East of its wealth and to plunder the Arab states in the Holy Land. That’s the common take on the Crusades. The Crusades were assaults on the otherwise peace-loving Islamic nation-states. These and other myths are shattered to little pieces in this fascinating book.

Stark marshalls impressive evidence that the common view of the Crusades is far from the truth in this fascinating account of the motivations of the Crusaders and the often overlooked reality of just what was happening in the Holy Land at the hands of Islamic armies bent on spreading Islam by force of arms.

If you have ever wondered if there is more to the story of the Crusades than the received wisdom we were all given in our basic history courses, you will enjoy this book, very much.

Categories: Books

The Bach Project is Complete and Ready for Purchase

February 6th, 2010 Comments off

I’ve been looking forward to this for a very long time, and now it is finally finished: The Bach Project. It is a fascinating series of interviews with various world-class musicians all discussing Bach’s music. Check it out here

Categories: Bach

Faith: It’s More than a Feeling

February 6th, 2010 1 comment

Where is the Christian to look for assurance of God’s love? Many Christians think, and are encouraged by their church’s practices, to think that our assurance of God’s love for us and our status and standing before God is to be based on our emotional reactions and feelings. This is a dangerous trap. Here is how it was put a number of years ago, when a Lutheran commented on the problem with Christian churches that point people to their emotional reactions to God’s Word, rather than the objective assurance of the promises of God’s Word. One of the ongoing problems with much of American Protestantism is an emotion-based faith, rather than a means-of-grace faith. Here is why.

“[Many American Christians] disregard the orderly means of grace, the Word and the Sacraments, and seek the assurance of divine grace and the validation of the divine working of grace in their soul not from out of the Word and Sacraments alone, but chiefly from the feelings of their hearts, which they infer have come down immediately from God. Consider what soul-care, or rather, soul-abuse comes from this. Let’s consider what happens in the case of many Christians. A person has himself baptized, certainly out of an honest longing for salvation and grace, then he’s told to give himself this witness that he’s longed for. When there is a longing after grace, that person is also ready for grace. Then that spark of faith should have been aroused and brought near, in order to be able to joyfully grasp hold of the great promises of God in Baptism. But instead of that, this poor little baptized fellow is now first cast into his own heart, into doubt about grace. That is, since the Holy Ghost is not jumping around in him, or bursting out in laughter, or giving evidence of his presence in some other “sign,” then he is forced to wrestle after the witness of the Holy Ghost. The poor fellow is thrown into anxiety and confusion. He dare not believe that he’s already received the witness of the Holy Ghost with Baptism. He satisfies himself with the outer ceremony and confesses that he has not yet received the witness, but he seeks it. So the poor fellow is misled, to turn with his trust away from the promises of the means of grace ordained by God and instead to trade them for his own deceptive heart. The comfort that baptism is for him is completely lost, and to him it is merely an external ceremony. And what significance can this ceremony have for him when it has not given him what is most important, the assurance of grace? Thus this kind operverse treatment of souls destroys every steadfast assurance on the Word and the promises of God and turns people over to the self-deception of their own hearts. The good fruits awakened through their preaching of repentance is returned again into its seed through their ignorant treatment of souls, and instead of a healthy, well formed man in Christ, he has yet to be born.”

Source:

Pastor Schieferdecker, “A Critique of Methodism,” in Der Lutheraner, Volume 1, Number 17, April 1845 (Saint Louis, Missouri), translated by Pastor Joel Baseley. Edited by PTM.

Categories: Christian Life

Christ Speaking to Us: The Essential Nature of God’s Word

February 4th, 2010 5 comments

This is an essential catholic and evangelical truth: the Word of God does not speak of something the way, for example, I may speak of something I know or have an opinion about. Scripture is God speaking. When Scripture speaks, we hear the voice of God.

For most of Protestantism Scripture has become a book of rules to be followed, a set of principles to inform how we reshape the world, a set of practical tools to better your life, or a road map to lead you from here to eternity. But that is just plain wrong. Scripture is the voice of God. Scripture is the discourse of God in human words. This Word is powerful and can do what it claims and keep all its promises. This Word has the power to call and gather the Church.

On Sunday morning we often treat the Word of God as if it were nothing more than a book of wise sayings, some of which may be practical enough and pointed enough to make a small difference in the ordinary and mundane of our world. We treat so casually what is essentially the Voice of God who speaks to us and is speaking to us in Scripture.

We act as if the gems of Bible study were the hints or conclusions reached from that study — like a school child reads the encyclopedia for things he or she can use in a paper that is due tomorrow. Bible study is important because it is time with God, it is the conversation in which God is the speaker to us and we who have ears tuned in faith can hear Him speaking. It is not what we learn from Bible study but what we learn in Bible study as a people gather to hear every word and as a people who know that this every word is important.

Nowhere is that more true than in worship — the Word of God predominates not because we have found it useful but because it is Christ speaking to us. In this respect liturgy is the only real context for us to hear Scripture — everything else flows from this assembly and is not in competition with it or can substitute for it.

This is what we need to rediscover – the urgency, the immediacy of God’s voice in our midst. In response to that voice, we come, we listen, we hear, and we grow. The distasteful practice of cell phones and watch alarms going off in worship is a sign that we have not understood that Scripture is God’s voice speaking to us — or surely we would shut those things off. The strange practice of people moving in and out of the Sanctuary as the Scriptures are read and preached is a sign that we do not understand that Scripture is God’s living voice speaking to us or we would find a way to fit our bathroom needs around this holy and momentous conversation in which God is the speaker and initiates the dialog that brings forth faith in us and bestows upon us all the gifts of the cross and empty tomb.

Instead of burying our faces in bulletins to read, we would raise our heads to listen. I am convinced that the reading of Scripture is heard differently than the reading of Scripture from a service folder page. We don’t listen to each other with our heads buried in a booklet. We listen to each other by looking at the point where the voice is coming from and by learning to tune out the distractions so that we might hear what is said. This is the discipline that is so missing on Sunday morning.

All because we think of Scripture as a vehicle that delivers something to us instead of the thing that is delivered — the voice of God speaking grace and mercy, conviction and condemnation, redemption and restoration, death and life… Wisdom!! Attend!!

Source: Pastor Larry Peters

A Drunkard and Glutton

February 3rd, 2010 2 comments

Great insight from John Halton, a Lutheran in England. Or as he describes himself, a “First-Evangelical.”

One of the accusations levelled at Jesus during his earthly ministry was that (in contrast to the ascetic John the Baptist) he was a “glutton and a drunkard”:

‘For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, “He has a demon”; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.’ (Luke 7:33-35)

Now, I think we can take it as read that this accusation was (to put it mildly) an exaggeration: a defamatory slur directed at Jesus’ hanging out with “the wrong crowd” rather than an impartial assessment of his behaviour.

But, reading Deuteronomy 21 this morning, it struck me that there is a darker undercurrent to this accusation thrown at Jesus by the self-righteous. Deuteronomy 21 includes the following passage (a somewhat troubling one for the parent of three sons!):

If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father and mother, who does not heed them when they discipline him, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his town at the gate of that place. They shall say to the elders of his town, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.‘ Then all the men of the town shall stone him to death. So you shall purge the evil from your midst; and all Israel will hear, and be afraid. (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)

In other words, those describing Jesus as “a glutton and a drunkard” were not making a random accusation: they were implying that he was a “rebellious son” who deserved to be stoned to death.

Indeed, the very next paragraph in Deuteronomy reads:

When someone is convicted of a crime punishable by death and is executed, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse must not remain all night upon the tree; you shall bury him that same day, for anyone hung on a tree is under God’s curse. You must not defile the land that the Lord your God is giving you for possession. (Deuteronomy 21:22-23)

- a passage that was applied to Jesus’ death on the cross by the early church (Acts 5:30, 10:39; 1 Peter 2:24). This in turn was a classic example of appropriating an insult: “You say Jesus was a rebellious son? Under God’s curse? That’s only because he took upon himself our (and your) rebelliousness, and bore our (and your) curse.”

Categories: Uncategorized