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Wilhelm Löhe: The Real Spiritual Father of the Missouri Synod

July 19th, 2010 1 comment

I was perusing one of the recent issues of a certain newsprint missive sent out from a small town near Saint Louis. I was bemused again to see the editor of accusing yours truly of declaring Wilhelm Löhe to be the father of the Missouri Synod. I’m flattered to be confused with C.F.W. Walther, but it was Walther who said it, not I. Here is what Walther published in Der Lutheraner, in 1852:

Next to God it is Pastor Löhe whom our synod must almost solely thank for the happy increase and rapid strengthening in which it rejoices; it must rightly honor him as its real spiritual father.

But, since facts have never stood in the way of said publication, no doubt the mythology will continued to perpetrated.

Categories: Uncategorized

Our Mouth Was Filled with Laughter, and Our Tongues with Shouts of Joy

July 19th, 2010 Comments off

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like streams in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.

Psalm 126

Categories: Uncategorized

“Help Me” Favorite Bible Verses

July 19th, 2010 Comments off

Pastor Michael Walther recently posted a helpful listing of Bible verses that he turns to, both for himself, and those to whom he ministers, when they are facing a situation in which they call out to the Lord, “Help me!” Here they are from his blog site:

Help Me When I’m…

Afraid, Anxious or Worried

Psalm 34:4 I sought the LORD, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.

Psalm 118:6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?

Matthew 6:33-34 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Angry

Romans 12:19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Colossians 3:12-13 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

1 Peter 2:21 & 23 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps… 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;

Depressed, Discouraged, Defeated

Psalm 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.

Psalm 118:25 Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success!

Romans 8:38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Doubting

Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; 24 And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.

Nahum 1:7 The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.

Mark 9:24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Feeling Guilty

Proverbs 28:13 He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Jeremiah 31.18 Turn Thou me, and I shall be turned.

1 Corinthians 6:9 & 11 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?… 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1 John 1:8-9 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Lonely

Joshua 1:5 I will not leave you nor forsake you.

Psalm 23:1 & 4 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want… Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 27:10 When my father and my mother (or anyone else) forsake me, Then the LORD will take care of me.

Matthew 28:20 Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Sad, Sorrowful, Suffering

Psalm 126:5 Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy.

Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.

John 16:20 Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.

2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Sick, In Pain

Psalm 33:22 22 Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, Just as we hope in You.

Psalm 40:17 But I am poor and needy; Yet the LORD thinks upon me. You are my help and my deliverer; Do not delay, O my God.

Lamentations 3:32-33 Though He causes grief, Yet He will show compassion According to the multitude of His mercies. 33 For He does not afflict willingly, Nor grieve the children of men.

Isaiah 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

Psalm 103:2-3 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: 3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Revelation 22:20 “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Tempted

Matthew 26:41 41 “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

1 Corinthians 10:12-13 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Colossians 3:2-3 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Weary

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Galatians 6:9-10 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Hebrews 12:3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.

Categories: Uncategorized

Facebook Will Reach 500 Million Users This Week: What Does This Mean?

July 18th, 2010 6 comments

My first computer was a Macintosh IIc, which my wife and I purchased just before I started my vicarage in 1986. Oh, how I loved that little machine. I taught myself “basic” just enough to wow and amaze myself with my programming prowess, which means, I could hardly do anything. Then I learned how to program in hypertext, and had fun modifying some hypertext desktops for myself. Wow, amazing. In the next year, we purchased a Macintosh SE, and at that point, I started using “e-mail” and got on Genie as our Internet service. There were a few forums. It was all very primitive. Then, when I moved down to St. Louis to serve as an assistant to the president, e-mail became more widely used. But, the majority of all contacts made with the President’s Office were still in the form of paper letters. I had to learn how to use a dictating machine and I had a secretary who helped me assist Dr. Barry with the voluminous amounts of letters we received every week. Dr. Barry made it a point, personally, to read and review and sign every letter/answer we sent. Nothing left the office without his attention. Stacks of letters. Every week. There were e-mails, but they were few compared to the letters.

Fast forward to today.

Now, if I receive two letters, a week, that’s unusual. Junk mail? Sure, loads of it. People using actual physical letters to communicate? Rare, very rare. It’s all e-mail, well, only sort of. Enter Facebook. I would say that 30-35% of contacts I receive are coming through via Facebook, and because anyone can send you a message on Facebook, “friend” or not, anyone using Facebook can send you a message. But there’s something more about Facebook, the contacts are much more personal, conversational, relational. Facebook has revolutionized the nature of communications via the Internet. It is like having a friendly phone chat, much more than any other communication medium has been.

All of which is to say, this week Facebook will hit 500 Million Users. Read that again. 500 million. Again, my respectful encouragement is for pastors to incorporate Facebook into how they communicate and as a way to reach people.

Blog of the Week on Issues, Etc.

July 18th, 2010 Comments off

Dear readers, one of you just kindly pointed out that my favorite Lutheran radio show, Issues, Etc., named this blog as its “blog of the week” on July 16th. As always, its an honor to be mentioned in the company of so many great Lutheran blogs out there. You can listen Rev. Wilken and Mr. Jeff Schwarz talk about the blogs of the week here.

Categories: Blogging

Hair Dryers and De-Baptisms

July 18th, 2010 8 comments

Yup, you read that right. Here’s a story on atheists using hair dryers to “de-baptize” themselves.

Here’s the story.

Here’s a snippet.

U.S. Atheists Reportedly Using Hair Dryers to ‘De-Baptize’

Published July 17, 2010

American atheists lined up to be “de-baptized” in a ritual using a hair dryer, according to a report Friday on U.S. late-night news program “Nightline.”

Leading atheist Edwin Kagin blasted his fellow non-believers with the hair dryer to symbolically dry up the holy water sprinkled on their heads in days past. The styling tool was emblazoned with a label reading “Reason and Truth.”

Categories: Culture, evangelism

The Little Flock that Hears the Voice of Its Shepherd

July 18th, 2010 Comments off

“In contrast to all the learned speculation about the church, Luther set this simple sentence: “A child of seven knows what the church is, namely holy believers and the little flock which hears the voice of its shepherd.” …the church is the holy Christian people in which Christ works, rules and lives. This people of God, Christendom as Luther called it, is the work of God created by his will, in which every day great wonders happen, like the forgiveness of sins, the defeat of death, the bestowing of righteousness and eternal life – things seen only by faith.”

From a talk by Hermann Sasse, given in Erlangen, Germany, 8th August 1943.

Categories: Hermann Sasse

God Does Not Seem Too Interested in Making us Happy, but Rather Giving us Joy

July 17th, 2010 3 comments

I found this blog post by Dr. Albert Mohler on the subject of whether or not children making parents “happy.” I thought it was very well put, you may as well. Here’s a snippet:

Christians must see children as gifts from God, not as projects. We should see marriage and parenthood as a stewardship and privilege, not as a mere lifestyle choice. We must resist the cultural seductions and raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and understand family life as a crucible for holiness, not an experiment in happiness. And when it comes to happiness, we must aim for something higher. Christians are called to joy and satisfaction in Christ, and to find joy in the duties and privileges of this earthly life. Every parent will know moments of honest unhappiness, but the Christian parent settles for nothing less than joy.

Categories: Christian Life

Convention-Watching Essentials

July 16th, 2010 5 comments

I was thinking yesterday that is an incredible blessing to be able to sit at my desk in Saint Louis and watch The LCMS Convention. I must confess I’ve been a tad grumpy about the audio problems and the poor quality of the video stream and the fact that there are not helpful prompts on the screen, like, the constant display of the resolution number under consideration, poor lighting in the hall, blah, blah, whine, whine, etc. But then I realized, “That’s stupid. Sure, they need to make improvements, but what an amazing blessing it is to have the technology that allows members of the Synod to watch the convention.” It makes you feel like you are there. I thought I’d show you my “convention configuration” on my desk. All the essentials for making sense of a convention:

Bible
Lutheran Confessions
Convention Workbook
Today’s Business, No. 1
Nomination biographies
Copies of each day’s “Today’s Business”
The LCMS Handbook
The Lutheran Annual (contains lists of all boards, commissions, etc.)

Oh, yea, a picture of a good looking girl is also helpful.

: )

Categories: Uncategorized

What’s “Lutheran” About Lutheran Youth Ministry? A New Book Helps Answer That Question

July 15th, 2010 2 comments

Is youth ministry such a generic activity that it really makes no difference what you believe about Scripture, justification, or the Sacraments? Is it all pretty much the same? And if there are a few distinctive qualities brought to youth ministry by Lutheran theology, what are they? How would you notice them? What would they look like in practice?

CPH has released a new book called Eutychus Youth: Applied Theology for Youth Ministry in the 21st Century. This isn’t a study in theology applied to adolescent psychology, but rather, what Lutheran theology adds to the whole field of youth ministry that is not found anywhere else.

Whether you are a pastor, director of Christian education, parent, youth leader, or simply interested in reaching out to youth, this book will be indispensable to your ministry. Order yours today at cph.org or by calling 1-800-325-3040.

Look Inside

Eutychus Youth: Applied Theology for Youth Ministry in the 21st Century
by Rev. John Oberdeck
Item #: 223120WEB
Paperback 160 Pages
Price:$19.99

Categories: CPH Resources

A Real Savior for Real Sinners

July 15th, 2010 Comments off

Get used to believing that Christ is a real Savior and that you are a real sinner. For God is neither joking nor is He dealing in imaginary affairs, but He was deadly serious when He sent His own Son into the world and sacrificed Him for our sake, etc. (Romans 8:32; John 3:16). Satan – who is alive and well – has snatched these and similar reflections, which come from soothing Bible passages, from you memory. Therefore, you are not able to recall them in your present great anguish and depression. For God’s sake, then, turn your ears my way, brother, and hear me cheerfully sing. I am your brother. At this time I am not afflicted with the desperation and depression that is oppressing you. Therefore, I am strong in my faith. The reason I am strong in the faith – while you are weak and harried and harassed by the devil – is that you may lean on me for support until you regain your old strength.

Letter from Martin Luther to George Spalatin, quoted in in Walther’s Law and Gospel, CPH 2010, p. 120.
Source for quote: St. Louis Edition of Luther’s Works 10:1730.
Categories: Martin Luther Quotes

The Lutheran Confessions: Pastoral, Practical and Personal — What Do You Think About Them?

July 14th, 2010 7 comments

The Lutheran Confessions are Pastoral

The constant drum beat throughout them is the goal of comforting and caring for souls. The Lutheran Confessions are not theological speculations or abstractions. The times in which it was written called for pastoral care on a scale that could only be compared to a national emergency. Souls bruised and bullied by legalisms and demands placed on them outside of and beyond the Sacred Scriptures were healed by the healing and life-giving Gospel. Persons who were not hearing the comforting promises of the Holy Gospel, the free and full forgiveness of all salvation through Christ, received the mercy of God as they heard of the Savior who loved them and died and rose for them. The Lutheran Confessions speak to us today because they speak of the most important issues any of us ever face in our life. Who am I? What is life’s meaning? Who do I know God? Am I loved? How can I be sure? What am I do to with my life?

The Lutheran Confessions are Practical

They go right to the heart of the key issues and, even in spite of the length of some articles in them, never wander off on side paths. It is a book on a mission and that is to deliver the Gospel: purely, cleanly, correctly and practically, again, for the care of souls. They are not journal articles indulging in scholarly pursuits, or the pet interests of their authors in the pursuit of credibility and respect in the academic community. The Confessions are practical resources for people’s faith and life, as they live and especially, as they die. Why? Because the golden thread running throughout them is the chief and most important teaching of the Christian faith: justification by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, on account of Christ alone, the teaching drawn from Scripture, alone: the Gospel.

The Lutheran Confessions are Personal

The Book of Concord was written by people who had deep and long first-hand experience with the various theological ills they are decrying and had first-hand knowledge of just how powerfully comforting and consoling the Gospel is. Therefore, for example, when you read about monasticism in this book, always behind these discussions stands the man who spent well over a decade of his life in this lifestyle, tortured and tormented no end by the lack of Gospel: Martin Luther. The book could almost be said to be a spiritual autobiography of all those who contributed to it. They are not dispassionate scientific essays. They are not mystical and obscure texts. They are personal statements of faith expressed on behalf of the Church, and for the Church, in order to gather more and more into the Church.

Those are three reasons why I am so passionate about the Book of Concord.

Reader, why do you like the Book of Concord? What have you found helpful in it? What do you keep coming back to in it that has been of particular help and meaning to you?

Categories: Lutheran Confessions

First Interview with President-Elect Matthew C. Harrison

July 13th, 2010 1 comment

Great interview with the President-Elect of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, on the show Issues, Etc.

Listen to it here:

Categories: Lutheranism

The Crying Dog: How to Tell if the Law is Hitting Home

July 13th, 2010 2 comments

If you want to know which dog has been struck, it is the one who cries out. Therefore, you are accusing yourself , if you grumble, and are defaming yourself. As Cicero says, when vices are rebuked in general terms, whoever becomes angry at it shows himself to be guilty. Whoever cannot bear it when unbelief is rebuked along with the fruits of unbelief, he is most certainly the dog who has been struck.

(Martin Luther, sermon of June 7, 1545, in Luther’s Works, Volume 58, forthcoming from Concordia Publishing House in November 2010).

Categories: Martin Luther Quotes

Joy in Jesus!

July 12th, 2010 7 comments

“May our dear Lord Jesus Christ show you his hands and his side and gladden your heart with his love, and may you behold and hear him only until you find your joy in him. Amen.”

Martin Luther, Letter of April 30, 1531 to Barbara Lisskirchen who suffered from anxiety. Letters of Spiritual Counsel (Westminster, 1955), 117.

Categories: Christian Life