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Showing posts from 2005

Pocket of Thoughts

Ok, to prove I'm still alive, I'm finally going to post again (I know its been over a month!) but I've been greatly enjoying the holidays! Merry Christmas to everyone!

So here are a pocketful of thoughts that I've been carrying around, meaning to post for some time now. They are unrelated quotes that I've picked up, especially from my theological ethics course.

1) Gerhard Forde, from "The Captivity of the Will" said something to this effect (I'm paraphrasing) concerning the debate between Luther and Erasmus : "Luther starts with the presupposition of bondage and ends up with freedom, whereas Erasmus starts with the presuppostion of freedom and ends up with bondage." I'll have to read the book to get the exact quote, but food for thought!

2) Avery Dulles (Roman Catholic theologian) commented regarding the ecumenical dialogue between the ELCA and the RCC in the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ), saying "I always …

Sermon on Mark 13:33-37

In the name of Jesus, Amen. The sermon text is the Gospel reading. As we begin this new season of Advent, we begin a new year in the church. A new cycle in the ongoing remembrance of Jesus Christ’s life and His working for our salvation. Advent is when we remember Jesus’ coming for us, in the past, present, and future. As the church moves toward Christmas, we call to mind Christ’s first coming to us in the manger—to enter humanity on our behalf, to redeem us from sin. We also call to mind the daily, weekly coming of Christ to us in His Word, and in His body and blood in the Lord’s Supper. And finally, we call to mind the future second coming of Christ to us, on that Last Day we call judgment day. The Day when Christ will usher in a new heavens and a new earth by His Almighty power.

We’ve been jolted to alertness by the signs of the end. Like an unexpected shock we’ve been awakened by the images of horror on the daily news. Destruction rains down on the world from all sides, as the wo…

2005 Student Advent Devotional

For anyone that is interested, the 3rd and 4th year students of Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne have written a Student Advent Devotional booklet with daily readings, prayers, and devotions for this coming season of Advent. If you are interested in reading them for your Advent devotions, they are available in PDF format at the CTSFW website. Look for the link in the upper left hand corner titled "2005 Advent Devotions" or here is the direct link. I hope they are a blessing to you this Advent!

P.S. There is an error that we are working to correct, a reduplication of the Dec. 2nd and 24th devotion.

****Updated 11-29-05, the error on Dec. 2nd is corrected.

Consistent or not?

I came across this article about a recent letter that the 65 bishops of the ELCA sent to Congress regarding proposed budget cuts. Here is the relevant portion:

"For example, all 65 synod bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have signed a letter to members of Congress vehemently opposing the proposed budget cuts, saying in part, "The Biblical record is clear. The scriptural witness on which our faith tradition stands speaks dramatically to God's concern for and solidarity with the poor and oppressed communities while speaking firmly in opposition to governments whose policies place narrow economic interests driven by greed above the common good.""

Now what I find peculiar about this is how willingly and in fact vehemently the bishops of the ELCA will take a stand on this political issue and claim that The Biblical record is clear on this matter. Does anything strike you as odd about this? I certainly agree with what they say about God's conce…

I'm still alive!

So since I've been lax in posting, and since some folks (mutti et al :) have been asking what I'm up to, I thought I'd give a brief update! The eighth week of classes begins tomorrow, and I am trying to begin work on a couple of papers that have me interested. Overall my class load has been light, but I've been trying to focus my free time on getting research together and starting these papers. One of them is for a class on 1 & 2 Chronicles, and I'm examining the relationship between the Solomonic temple and the temple of Ezekiel's vision in ch's 40-48. We'll see how that turns out. The other paper is my master's thesis paper, which I am also preparing to begin writing this quarter. The topic I'm loosely working with now is understanding how the Scriptures speak of judgment in relation to Christians--adressing some questions such as "When is judgment forbidden for Christians? What is the realm of human judgment vs. the realm of God'…

Objective Justification

Ok! I promised I'd post this week, since I've not been posting since my return to sem...so here is an interesting quote on objective justification that I came across in class. It pertains to both separating faith from its object (Christ) and the fact that justification is externally and objectively true.

"If someone were to say to the fanatics: 'Here is bread, but it has a nourishing power only if it is eaten by him who is hungry,' or: 'this medicine has its healing power only when a sick person takes it'; then they would themselves realize that this is nonsense. But so also the Gospel has its power not only where a penitent hungerer for grace hears it, but also when it is proclaimed to the godless. That of course is true: he who does not eat the bread, him it does not nourish; who does not take the medicine, him it does not heal; and he who does not believe the Gospel, him it does not comfort. But even a fanatic ought to see that the power of the Word doe…

False Self-Image

Some musings on Law and Gospel:

The Law, when it is preached or taught to us full-strength, convicts us and makes us squirm because it forces us to face the person within us--the person we ourselves hide from and that we hide from others. The Law unveils our deepest and most wicked impulses, impure motives, and base desires. It shows us that at our core we are not what we want to be nor what want others to see and know. God's Law cracks the facade, exposes our weaknesses (if at first only to us) and leaves us burdened with the guilt of this dark self-realization and exposure. So what are we left with? We are left perfectly helpless, ripe for the Holy Spirit to send us His comforting Word of Gospel, that our sins have been forgiven by Christ Jesus' death on the cross. For He has truly seen the depths of our hearts, of the wickedness, malice, the sugar-coated deceit, and the white lies that we use to protect our flimsy facade. But with the sharp two-edged sword of His Word He exp…

America's Fictional God

A few weeks back, I was stuck in a hotel watching movies, and happened to see part of the Jim Carrey flick "Bruce Almighty." One of the things that stuck out to me was that when Morgan Freeman, who plays God in the film, gives Bruce (Carrey) his powers, one of the conditions he gives for using them is that 'you can't violate anyone's free will.' I didn't get to see the rest of the movie to see how that theme plays out, but I think its a humorous and somewhat accurate caricature of how most Americans see God. God is a benevolent old man, with great powers, but He doesn't dare transgress our free will. So apparently 'free will' is greater than God.

I thank God that He is not bound or limited by our 'will', nor does He wait for us to take the initiative before He acts. Thank God that He did not consult us first before decided upon His course of salvation for us in sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross. And I thank God that He did not l…

Sermon on Matt. 16:21-26

In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. The sermon text is the Gospel reading.

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!" Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he …

Zoom Zoom Sputter

Well, after completing my vicarage, I had one exciting trip home. What should have been a two day trip turned into a four day affair. I left Sunday after church and then decided to stay one extra day in St. Louis at my friends' place. Then I left early Tuesday morning to drive the last leg home, and was making really good time when my engine died just before the I-55/ I-80 interchange, which was about 6 hours from Detroit. All of a sudden the engine just stalled and I coasted to a stop, fortunately I still had a shoulder because I was about 50-100 feet from a construction zone w/ no shoulders (thank God!). So after examining the oil, antifreeze, etc, and determining that the engine hadn't overheated and the fluids were fine, I tried to restart it---which it did, and I was preparing to merge back into traffic when it stalled again, and this time I couldn't restart it. I ended up walking about a mile to a factory and they let me use their phone to call AAA. They came to tow…

Time keeps on ticking...

Vicarage is nearly over! Tomorrow after church I'm heading home! Since my computer will be disconnected and I'll be traveling, I probably won't post in the next ~2 weeks...but I'll be back. I feel like this is a significant milestone in my education, and only one year left!

Final Sermon for Vicarage! Isaiah 55:1-3a

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. The sermon text is Isaiah 55:1-3a,

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.

I’ve heard it said that you shouldn’t go shopping for groceries when you are hungry. According to some people, if you shop while you’re hungry, you are much more likely to buy more junk food or unhealthy food choices. Or you end up buying more than you need. I don’t really know if this advice is generally true, but I know that when I shop hungry I do tend to buy more snack food. Regardless of how true this advice is, here in today’s Word to us from Isaiah and also in the Go…

Submission to Gov't cont'd

Since the discussion I posted awhile back on "Submission to government or Independence" is still ongoing somewhat
here, I decided to start a new thread.
Rick Ritchie posted this comment:
Do you have a definition of revolution? Do we just go by the historical label?
The Continental Congress was called in part to respond to the king's actions, one of which was to restrict the activities of the Massachusetts legislature. So you have a legal question as to whether or not the king had the right to restrict such activities.
The term 'insurgent' itself begs the question.
While I would likely side with Bonhoeffer against Sasse, I don't see even Bonhoeffer's action in the same light as the American Revolution. You would have a better parallel if when Hitler dissolved the German parliament, it had continued to meet and it called for armed resistance.


So to offer some balance, perhaps, I offer a quote from Gene Veith's book that I just read, "God at Work: Your C…

"Sharing the Eternal Truth with an Ever-Emerging Culture"--a response

Just the other week I received an email containing this article by Rick Warren, explaining his philosophy or method of outeach:
Sharing the Eternal Truth with an Ever-Emerging Culture. Here follows my response and attempt at offering a Lutheran critique of Warren's principles of evangelism.

First I want to say that I do admire Warren's passionate desire to spread the Gospel, and his enthusiasm for evangelism. But his whole premise in this letter is that the church should be changing as rapidly as the culture. A few examples:

--Warren says, "In other words, someone who prefers a choir and more traditional music can worship in that atmosphere, and then at the scheduled time, see the exact same sermon as those worshiping in our main auditorium. This is duplicated across our campus with an acoustic worship, another aimed at Gen-X, and so on. "

This is one of the biggest mistakes of 'church growth' in my opinion. He openly admits that they are trying to make wor…

Pro-life apologetics

I just listened to an excellent discussion of Pro-life apologetics on Issues Etc, with guest Scott Klusendorf. One of the statements that really struck me, pertaining to the Schiavo case was this: "Terri Schiavo had no duty to get well." How true. Just because a person may not be able to recover from their handicaps, does not make their life any less valuable or worthy of our protection. Listen to the program here and here.

Sermon on Isaiah 44:6-8

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. The sermon text is Isaiah 44:6-8, (I’ve made a slight revision of the first verse to match with more accurate translations)

Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and last; apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come—yes, let him foretell what will come. Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”

When the prophet Isaiah recorded these words, the Southern Kingdom of Judah was witnessing the Northern Kingdom of Israel fall to the Assyrian empire. The Assyrians were a ruthless people, known for their cruel warfare. It was a time of fear and uncertainty for bot…

New and Improved! version 2.0

Well folks, I've finally done some tinkering with my blog, beyond the bare essentials. I've added a blogroll of the blogs that I read or browse, and I also changed my profile to include my email address, so that if anyone wants to send a private comment instead of posting publicly, they may choose to do so. If you want me to link to your blog, and don't find it on my list, feel free to shoot me an email.

Good advice for the young book-worm (me)

"It is not many books or much reading that makes men learned; but it is good
things, however little of them, often read, that make men learned in the
Scriptures and make them godly too. Indeed the writings of all the holy
fathers should be read only for a time, in order that through them we may be
led to the Holy Scriptures. We are like men who study the signposts ad never
travel the road. The dear fathers wished, by their writings, to lead us to
the Scriptures, but we so use them as to be led away from the Scriptures,
though the Scriptures alone are our vineyard in which we all ought to work
and toil."

I read this Luther quote today, and it happened to be while I was relishing the opportunity to begin reading the Church Fathers, which I purchased on Libronix software. He makes a good point about better learning coming from reading and re-reading few good books instead of the tendency (like mine) to just keep reading endless piles of books. I still greatly look forward to rea…

Will heaven be boring???

Have any of you ever thought, as a child or as an adult, that heaven might actually turn out to be boring? I think as a child I had thought like that, but have long since abandoned such a notion. Yet I've heard it crop up again in various places, even among adults, which has caused me to ponder, "Why do people think that heaven will be boring?" Some of the images that no doubt lead to such a notion include: floating around on clouds playing harps and/or singing hymns to God for eternity. Maybe this picture of heaven seems almost as bad as getting stuck at choir practice for eternity :)

First off, I'd like to poll the readers here of what suggestions they have for the root cause behind the notion that heaven will be boring. (Ok, you with the short attention span :) --if you've lost interest already, please skip down to my third point and PLEASE read the sermon [it's not mine! :) ] )

Secondly, I propose my theory: I think that much of this fear of a boring aft…

Submission to the Government or Independence?

Perhaps it was just coincidence, but I happened to be reading an essay by Herman Sasse this Fourth of July, that addressed several of the pertinent questions about the rise of new governments from the anarchy of revolution, and the fall of old governments that have neglected their God-given responsibilities in the maintenance of peace and justice. Some of those questions might be whether citizens have the right to rebel against government; what constitutes legitimate government; and how does a government become established as an authority under God? So on this Day of Independence, I thought I'd offer some particularly illuminating (and possibly controversial) quotations from Sasse's essay, "The Social Doctrine of the Augsburg Confession." (For those who don't know Sasse, he was a German-born pastor/theologian who was a contemporary of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and though he vigorously opposed the Nazi's he was not of a like mind with Bonhoeffer in regards to how t…

Sermon on Romans 7:15-25a "Saint and Sinner"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The sermon text is Romans 7:15-25a,

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the la…