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Archive for January, 2012

iBook Edition of The Small Catechism Coming Soon….Really Nice!

January 27th, 2012 8 comments

Apple released their new publishing tool called iBooks Author and it is designed to allow for the production of iBook textbooks. We thought about it and quickly realized that we should put our number one best selling “textbook” of all time, the Small Catechism, into an iBook edition. This edition will feature all of Luther’s catechism hymns, a complete audio recording of the Catechism and a complete sung version of the text of the Catechism. Pretty awesome. Here’s an early proof of how it will look, a screenshot from my iPad. Enjoy.

I expect this to be out in a couple months. And, no, there is no Android version of the Catechism like this. Somebody tell Google to get cracking on their own iBooks software! Click on the image to see the 1080 version.

 

Would you like to spend a year with the Church Fathers? Get the best treasury of Church Father quotes available in English today

January 27th, 2012 8 comments

Concordia Publishing House recently published Dr. Scott Murray’s book A Year with the Church Fathers. You can read more about it here and see a sample from the book. At the recently concluded theological symposium in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Rev. Dr. Benjamin Mayes made a formal presentation of the book to Dr. Murray, with these words. I thought you would appreciate them.

“Christianity is a historical religion. And we know from the fourth commandment that we have the obligation to honor not only our physical fathers and mothers, but also our fathers in the faith, and our mother the Church. Thus, we should hear the voice of our church fathers, those who have taught Holy Scripture in the history of the Church. These church fathers, of course, are not infallible oracles, but fathers and teachers.

“Dr. Scott Murray’s A Year With the Church Fathers shows that among these fathers and teachers, the Gospel was alive and well. This book is:

• Much more than a devotional book.
• It’s a garden of sweet spices having the aroma of Jesus Christ.
• It is a liturgical book, following the daily lectionary of Lutheran Service Book and the Treasury of Daily Prayer.
• It is well suited for daily personal use, and daily use amid a worshipping community.
• It is a patristic commentary on nearly the whole Bible, offering thoughts and comments for preaching, teaching, and devotions.

“Dr. Murray sums up what we can gain from the fathers when he writes:

“I am continually amazed by the courage and true leadership displayed by the ancient Fathers. Upon reading the work of these saints, bishops, presbyters, and theologians, I have often prayed for leaders like them who, conversant with Scripture as their meat and drink, would write sublimely Gospel-centered sermons, letters, and courageous defenses of the faith of the Church. Upon reading their words, I repent of my arrogant modernism that presumes that what was written before I was born is unimportant, stuffy, and faded. Upon studying them, I grieve for the lack of immediacy in my own expression and my inability to paint a picture of Christ crucified with sufficiently compelling colors (Galatians 3:1). Their speech is full of the Gospel. They are clear that salvation comes not from us but from God. John Chrysostom, the great preacher and bishop, testified that “Nothing is from ourselves” (John Chrysostom, Homilies on 2 Corinthians, 11.4). Everything comes from God. No wonder then that the Fathers often exhibit powerful insights into the Word of God.

“Dr. Murray, Concordia Publishing House congratulates you on the occasion of the publication of your new book, the best treasury of the fathers that the English language has yet seen. Thank you.”

Categories: CPH Resources

Highest Resolution Image of the Earth Ever Produced

January 26th, 2012 6 comments

NASA has a new sattelite and it has generated the high resolution image of the earth ever produced. It is simply breathtaking. I’ll post it here, but I encourage you to download the original 8,000 x 8,000 pixel version here. The image is free and in the public domain, subject to this Creative Commons license. Image from NASA Goddard Photo and Video.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Lent Begins in Less Than a Month . . . Are You Ready?

January 24th, 2012 Comments off

Just a quick reminder/note and word of encouragement. Lent begins in less than a month and I simply wanted to remind you pastor-types out there that Concordia Publishing House has a great Lenten package for you, including all you need to sermons, midweek services, bulletins and so forth. Please take a look here. Our comprehensive Lent preaching and worship resource is titled God’s Gift of Forgiveness. Complete details available here.

Categories: CPH Resources

Thirty Nine Years Ago and Fifty Four Million Lives Later

January 21st, 2012 4 comments

Sunday and Roe v. Wade

by Rev. Dr. James I. Lamb

Executive Director, Lutherans for Life

God and abortion come face to face this year with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, January 22, 1973, falling on a Sunday. People will gather to worship the Lord and Author of Life on the day when, thirty-nine years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively took the right to life away from the defenseless unborn and declared the right to murder them constitutional.

Since then, over 54,000,000 little lives have been slaughtered under the death cry of “the right to choose.”

Many would say I exaggerate the importance of the convergence of Roe v. Wade and Sunday. They maintain there is no connection. Their oft repeated mantra: “Abortion is political and the Church exists to proclaim the Gospel not to be ensnared in politics.” This flawed and deadly reasoning is precisely why the carnage of abortion continues.

The killing of little boys and little girls at any stage of development for any reason is a travesty. Killing little boys and little girls created and gifted by God, purchased by the blood of Jesus, and children God desires to call into an eternal relationship with Him is a travesty against our Triune God.

Therein lies the connection. Abortion is not just a choice that destroys life. It destroys life precious to God.

Add to this the immeasurable guilt and regret an abortion choice eventually brings to the hearts of those involved in that choice and you have a set of circumstances that compels the Church of Jesus Christ to speak and act. You have a mission field tailor made for the proclamation of God’s law and especially the proclamation of His life-changing Gospel.

For the Christian, abortion is at its core idolatry, a failure to “fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” We choose the death of the helpless to deliver us from a difficult situation rather than trust in God “my help and my deliverer” (Psalm 40:17).

But the Church dare not merely pound her pulpits and demand, “Trust God, choose life” as if trust in God is something we can conjure up if we just try hard enough. Time and time again the Scripture associates help from God with salvation from God. “Help us, O God of our salvation” (Psalm 79:9). Those who profess Jesus Christ as the source of their salvation must be led to see and trust that the God who saved them from sin is the source of their help and will never abandon them.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32 ESV)

Because God’s love for us was demonstrated on the cross, we can confidently trust that nothing “in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39b ESV). Christ’s Church has a responsibility to help her people connect this wonderful promise to the life issues.

Our prayer at LFL, is that the Church will make this connection, not just this Sunday, but frequently Sunday after Sunday. We stand ready to help and equip the Church to connect and apply what she is already proclaiming, the Gospel, to these issues of life and death. It is the Gospel that truly changes hearts and lives.

Categories: Uncategorized

Happy Martin Luther King Day!

January 21st, 2012 15 comments

It is time once again for me to make my annual comments about Martin Luther King day. Sadly, every year when I do this I get the same sort of responses, no matter how hard I try to be clear on why this day is so important to so many of our African-American brothers and sisters, and, why it is so important for all of us in this nation.

Sure enough there are those quite happy to entirely ignore the point of my post and gas on about how Martin Luther King was this, that, or another thing, about how his theology was bad, or how he was a liberal or immoral, and on and on. And indeed, he was, in several respects. I’m not denying that, but the lengths to which some people choose to go simply to stick their head in the sand and not appreciate what Dr. King did for this nation, boggles my mind. I am ashamed to say at least a few Lutheran pastors use this day to go into their whole silly “The Civil War” was not about slavery routine. Unbelievable insensitivity knows of no bounds, not to mention appalling self-imposed ignorance of facts.

I will again however say that such comments display an astounding lack of sensitivity toward, and concern about, the feelings of our fellow Americans who look to Martin Luther King as a significant figure in advancing civil rights in this nation. And there is no question that he did. And please do not, please, do not say, “Some of my best friends are Black.” Oh, really? Do you realize how this makes you sound? Let me put it this way: Some of my best friends are left-handed. I even married a left-handed person. See how hollow that sounds?

I do wonder how many of us who have less melanin in our skin have ever shared a meal with a Black person, in our home, actually have spoken at length with them as people, not as “Blacks.” Similarly, how many Blacks have had Whites into their homes and hosted them for a meal and spoke to them as people, not White? I know the problem cuts both directions, but on MLK day, this is not the appropriate time for White folk to go on and one about their gripes with Black folks.

And then, I hear from people telling me how terrible the civil rights movement has been for African-Americans, and how it has only led to what is now a permanent underclass in this country, etc. etc. There is plenty to talk about here. But that the Civil Rights movement was a good thing in many ways is undeniable.

Would you have preferred the continuation of Jim Crow laws, lynchings and telling people they can’t drink from certain water fountains, use certain bathrooms or ride only in the back of the bus or not be served a meal just because their skin is dark? Would you feel the same if the laws were in reverse and it was the white-skinned who could not do these things? “Good Christians” are not immune are they? I still have a vivid memory of angst being expressed by some members of my home congregation when Black folks showed up once for Holy Communion, from the common cup! And that was only in the late 1960s, not that too far long ago.

After the Civil War and well into the 1960s many, many African-Americans were still treated nearly like slaves in so many places. Despite the Civil War, many states made it impossible for blacks to vote and via indentured servanthood [aka sharecropping] created a serfdom across the South. Can we be a bit sensitive to the bitter, hard and long struggle of a people brought to this country as slaves?” [Yes, yes, I know blacks sold other blacks into slavery in Africa...and yes, African-Americans can be as prejudiced against others because of race as anyone else].

So, I apologize for what appears to be a gloomy post, but it is always sad that whenever anyone tries to say anything about Civil Rights, particularly on MLK day, we have to have a litany from white folks criticizing, whining and complaining, thus quite entirely missing the point of MLK and his meaning for our nation and for so many of our fellow citizens.

I’m actually seeing signs that the times they are a changing. When I was a child it was inevitable that we would refer to African-American children as “that black kid” and no doubt they would refer to us “as that white kid.” My own children have delighted me in that they have spoken of friends by name and never once have referred to them as “that black kid” or “you know, my Chinese friend.” They’ve had friends over to the house that we have heard about from school for weeks and I’ve been delighted to find they are African or Chinese, and not once did our kids refer to them by race, but by their qualities as persons. A good sign indeed and this is where we need to be. No, it is unrealistic to believe we will ever be “color blind.” That’s not what I’m suggesting, but it would be great if we would not always jump to race as the first way to describe a person.

Recently in an interview on 60 minutes one of my favorite actors, Morgan Freeman, laid it out in a blunt way. He just wants to be referred to as a person, not a black man, but as a man. And he thought the notion of a “black history” month to be absurd, and even insulting, trying to suggest his “history” could be reduced to a month on the calendar.

I believe it is a necessary and good thing in the kingdom of the left, to work for that day when across this great nation people will be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. And I suspect that if people’s skin tone was a bit more dark than it may be now they might have some better sense of why this is a dream worthy of our full support, and sympathy. So, I say, “Happy MLK day.”

Categories: Culture

The Drama Button

January 20th, 2012 Comments off

You may find this useful as you peruse the Internet or for life in general…I present:

The Drama Button

Categories: Uncategorized

Friends of the Law

January 20th, 2012 Comments off

“God intends that the one He has declared righteous by grace through faith may enjoy freedom in his conscience and that the righteous man may, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, bear the fruit of the Spirit to the praise of God’s surpassing grace.  In view of this, Luther taught that God’s people may daily take up the commandments of God’s Law, sing them on the way to their work, and actually use them to the benefit of their neighbors.”

Quote from: Friends of the Law. Order a copy here.

This was how a recent unsolicited review of Rev. Edward Engelbrecht’s spectacular book concluded on the  with Angels and Archangels blog. Here is the rest of the review.

This.  Book.  Is.  Amazing. I can still remember being slightly foggy on the whole idea of Sanctification, good works, and the 3rd use of the law during my last year at the Seminary.  This book makes confusion about the 3rd use of the law practically impossible.  Mint!

Engelbrecht does an amazing job of putting Luther’s 3rd use of the law in context, yea imagine that… a Lutheran concerned about context!  Engelbrecht does a great job of succinctly illustrating for the reader how the Fathers talked about the Law.  He puts the Father’s thoughts in chronological order leading up to Luther and then shows how Luther built off what they had already laid down.  It is really quite simple & beautiful.

When he finally gets to Luther’s writings he makes a rather brilliant move.  He looks at ALL the different writings of Luther.  Engelbrecht doesn’t just look in the doctrinal writings of Luther but he also looks at Luther’s sermons.  He looked to Luther’s proclamation!  What a logical place to look.  Hmmmm, is Luther preaching 3rd use? Yes… but he doesn’t believe in it!?! Anyways, Engelbrecht also points out that these postils were actually some of the most widely used of all the writings of Luther.

As Engelbrecht critics other scholars he is fair but also willing to call a thing what it is.  I am not a researcher or professor but it seemed to me like these other researchers simply did a word search for “third use” and based their conclusions on those results.  Engelbrecht also took into account when Luther was “doing” the third use to his readers while not using the exact terminology, which also tended to fluctuate within Luther’s writings.

In my humble opinion, this book belongs in the library of every Lutheran Pastor.  This book is meant for PROCLAMATION.  Every. Sunday. :)

In his conclusion Engelbrecht states:

“God intends that the one He has declared righteous by grace through faith may enjoy freedom in his conscience and that the righteous man may, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, bear the fruit of the Spirit to the praise of God’s surpassing grace.  In view of this, Luther taught that God’s people may daily take up the commandments of God’s Law, sing them on the way to their work, and actually use them to the benefit of their neighbours.”
That. Is. Mint.

+soli deo gloria+

Categories: CPH Resources

When People Say There is Nothing Good on the Internet…

January 19th, 2012 4 comments

Just show them this and sit back and with a satisfied smile tell them, “See? You are wrong.”

Categories: Culture

Return to the Lord Your God – A Brief Video Explaining Lent

January 18th, 2012 Comments off

Your humble blogger is featured in this video, offering a brief explanation of Lent. Feel free to share/post/distribute…

A Year in the Life of a Pastor and His Congregation

January 17th, 2012 1 comment

My friend, Rev. William Weedon, prepares an annual report for his congregation, given to them early in the new year. He has produced yet another one and I thought to myself, as I always do when I read them, “What a great way to give people who may otherwise have not a clue what goes on in a fairly typical congregation an idea of life as a pastor serving a Lutheran congregation.” Enjoy. Here is the report:

The year 2011 was the 155th year that the Lord Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit gathered together a family of Lutheran Christians at St. Paul’s, New Gehlenbeck. A community that delighted to sing praises to our heavenly Father and receive all the good gifts that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have to give to us (and through us!) as we share in their unending life.

In January of last year, Pr. Gleason completed the windows in the doors between the Narthex and the Nave of the Church. Looking outside in, sort of hard to tell what’s what. Looking from within the Church out, though, we see the door devoted to God the Father – gold trimmed and shining white. We see the doors devoted to God the Son, the Lamb of God, blood red and glowing. We see the door devoted to God the Holy Spirit, blue as the sky above from which the dove descended and as the waters over which He brings the church to new life – Baptism. Dave Heidbrink has been protesting since we took down the symbols of the Trinity on the front wall that our nave had removed all reference to the Trinity – and he was among the very first to note that this has now been more than remedied. Janet Engelke and several other folk noted how natural the new art was – looked like it had been here since the building was built. Truly, Pr. Gleason is a master craftsman. But mightier than he, is the Lord Himself who crafted Himself a home, an abode of the blessed Trinity, within little August Paul Schumacher on the very feast day of our Lord’s Baptism. Where the Baptismal waters flow, there the Blessed Trinity continues to build His Church and give life.

Read more…

Categories: pastoral ministry

The Glock – America’s Gun

January 16th, 2012 1 comment

I’ve been reading a really interesting book on the history and development of the Glock pistol and popular it has become across the United States, particular as the weapon of choice of police departments around the country. The Glock pistol is used by over 65% of all police and law enforcement agencies in the country. Even if you have absolutely no interest in firearms or shooting, this book is interesting because it examines America’s gun culture and the various issues that continue to swirl around the use of firearms and the Second Amendment. I highly recommend the book. Here is a link to where you can buy it.

Here’s a little video I put together about the Glock for those who have no knowledge of them.

Which One is Your Church?

January 14th, 2012 8 comments

For the Love of the Chicken – Brilliant Satire

January 14th, 2012 10 comments

This is a briliant piece of satire that is so funny, because it is so true. HT: GE Veith, via Joanna Veith.

Categories: Culture

More Thoughts on the Tabor Supreme Court Decision (Note: “Inside Baseball” Type Lutheran Stuff)

January 13th, 2012 7 comments

I have a number of thoughts I’d like to share on this recent Supreme Court decision about the Lutheran teacher and the Lutheran church.

(1) First, it is a tremendous victory for First Amendment freedom and protection in this nation. It is a great blessing to be in a country that does NOT try to interfere in matters of the Church and we should thank God for this fact.

(2) The Church is where the Church should deal with and sort out its disputes and troubles among itself. St. Paul is quite clear that going to the civil authorities is a lose-lose situation. Some have brought up a situation in our church body’s relatively recent past when a prominent seminary president sued and went to civil court when he was removed from his position. This incident has been cited in order to assert that church workers can, and should, sue in civil courts when their positions are eliminated. I think the text of Scripture is remarkably clear that it is an offense to the Gospel when Christians drag one another into courts: “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.” 1 Cor. 6:1-8.

(3) As for speculations about the precise details of this situation, such speculations are not founded/grounded in knowledge of the situation at the church. The media reports on the situation are not reliable sources of information, so it is unwise to try to delve into the specifics of the case we all know very little, to nothing, about. As one wag put it, “No matter how flat the pancake, there are always two sides.”

(4) Without commenting on details about this specific situation, about which none of us have all the facts, in general I think we may be forgetting that incapacity and inability to discharge the duties of one’s call is grounds for having that call rescinded. There is nothing radical about this idea, it has long been one of the grounds for removal from a call.

(5) The idea that we should “appeal to Caesar” in these matters is extremely dangerous. The sad history of the Lutheran Church in Germany shows precisely what happens the moment an unbelieving, wicked, or heterodox ruler is suddenly put in charge of the Church in his territory. This happened quickly after Luther’s death when Maurice of Saxony betrayed the Lutheran Church. It happened when the Elector of Brandenburg went Calvinist. The Consistory system in which the ruler of the land ultimately had control over the church in his territory was a fatal error in the Lutheran church’s history in Germany. Luther’s appeal to the local territorial ruler to guard him from death by sword from the Pope and Emperor was one thing, we thank God for the protection granted him, but when Luther went as far as to call the Electors “emergency bishops” there the ball was sent rolling down the slippery slope that finally led to the union of 1817, which was directly responsibly, by the way for the formation of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, here in this country, in 1844, by refugees from that dreadful government-imposed union of Calvinism and Lutheranism by the Prussian ruler.

(6) As to the issue of the word “ministry” and “minister.” Here I think we are over-reacting just a tad. While my choice when it comes to nomenclature is name the person by the office they hold: pastor, teacher, etc. – the fact that The LCMS chose to use IRS language to classify its rostered/professional/full time church workers/servants, call them whatever you will. They are persons who are charged by the Synod with discharging essential functions of the one divinely instituted office of the ministry, for that reason, they are rightly called and put into their office in an ordered, churchly manner. This is not a new concept. Walther clearly asserts that in the Church, there are “helping offices” that support and aid the pastor in his ministry. And before we go and get too twisted up over the word “ministry” and “minister” let’s keep in mind it means, simply, “servant” … the old German was so helpful. We had the Predigtamt “preaching office” into which men were placed, who performed various functions, not only/merely being a “parish pastor” – we have the Lehramt … the teaching office. We had Kirchendiener … church servants…a wide variety of offices, but all understood to be persons who were trained and placed into specific full-time/lifelong positions of service in and to the Church and her people. I think it is unfortunate when we start squabbling over who has the “right” to be termed a servant, a ministry and who is the only one can say to be have a “ministry” or work of service in the church. I can’t help but be reminded of the argument the disciples had one day over who was the leader among them, who was the greatest. Jesus kind of settled that one by washing their stinking dirty feet.

(7) And finally, I’m disturbed by comments that are speaking of the “government” in the United States in such a way that it is regarded as something apart from we, the people. In fact, we need to remember that we, the people, are the government. Those who serve in the government are servants of us, the people. The rights affirmed again by our Supreme Court are those rights that we, the people, decided were inalienable rights afforded us by the Creator and as such the government has no business involving itself in the internal affairs of the Church. That is a wonderful blessing! Let’s not forget that in this country, we, the people, are those who choose how to organize our life together.

The main point in this case has been stipulated above, but bears repeating: the court has clearly affirmed the First Amendment and the right in this country for the Church to govern itself free from the interference of the state. Somebody should write a book on that subject!

Oh, wait…somebody did already.

The Proper Form of an Evangelical Lutheran Local Congregation Independent of the State.

On sale now…bound together with The True Visible Church on Earth, from your favorite Lutheran publishing house, for only $12.99

Link here.

Categories: Uncategorized